Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Flaws and All

"I don't know why you love me
And that's why I love you
Catch me when I fall
Accept me flaws and all
And that's why I love you"
-Beyonce "Flaws and All"

Acceptance is hard. It is very hard to truly accept someone or something. So hard in fact that we have all but given up on the concept in certain cases and created the idea of tolerance to replace it. We as human beings have such a hard time truly accepting people, ideas, values, and concepts completely and would rather choose to tolerate them because of their imperfections. Because they, as much as we may be drawn to them or want them or even need them, may rub us the wrong way or present us with something that we don't like and by accepting them we accept these things as well. So I pose the question why? Why is it so hard to accept something that is imperfect? Why is it hard to give grace and allow for imperfection?
I once had a conversation with a friend of mine about loving and knowing one's self. I told her that I think those concepts go hand in hand. To love one's self without exception and to understand and be content in your own imperfections to me is truly loving yourself. Sure it's easy to say I would love me but not until I lose ten pounds, start making a seven figure salary, marry the man of my dreams, and star in my own sitcom. I realize the sarcastic tone but the point I'm making is that some of us go through life waiting for something to help us love ourselves. The truth of the matter is that just as we have our friends and family and aquantainces around us and we recognize their flaws and accept them into our lives, it is paramount that we do the same for ourselves. And just as I love and respect my mother but realize that she is quite critical of me I don't wait until she stops crticizing to love her I just take the good things she says and let the bad ones roll off my back. So should we give this grace inwardly and recognize the beauty of our own humanity.

Accepting yourself flaws and all does not excuse your flaws, nor does it put you in a place to forget about them and never strive to do or be better. It simply allows you to not become so consumed in your flaws that you never have the time or courage to recognize your strengths, and the positive things about you. It all comes back to the basics. You gotta love you! And not just for you but for the world. We all have something special to offer this world we live in and if we cannot first conquer the task of recognizing that, then we can never fully be the person that love wants us to be. Our ultimate task in this life is to grow in love and that growth must start on a personal level. To know yourself and know your flaws and accept them, not tolerate but truly accept them is freedom. So accept yourself, get to know yourself, and love yourself... Flaws and all.

Until the next song plays...
- Jazz

Monday, December 29, 2008

Time of Your Life

"Another turning point a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist directs you where to go
So make the best of this test and don't ask why
It's not a question but a lesson learned in time
It's something unpredictable
But in the end it's right
I hope you had the time of your life"
-Green Day "Time of Your Life"

Ringing in the New Year has always been a metaphor for leaving old things behind and starting anew with a clean slate. Every New Year comes in chock full of resolutions, diets, promises, all things that we try to put in place to make a fresh start. But can you ever really start over? I mean how many of those resolutions are forgotten by the end of January? And how many of us that started out with a diet plan on January 1 actually notice that by March we've gained a few? Starting fresh always sounds good but it has to be more than just words. Starting fresh is also incomplete without understanding, coming to grips with, and learning from those old things that we are trying to either purge or overcome. Life has been crazy this 2008. And for the latter part of this crazy year I have focused alot on those things I need to purge. I have been so caught up in all the bad, horrible, unthinkable pain I've experienced that I haven't much looked at the "why" and "how" and most importantly "what now" of it all. What I'm saying is I don't want to get so caught up in making sure that the bad doesn't happen again that I forget to realize that not only bad things have happened. Also I want to live in the victory of overcoming and the gratitude that had it not been for those things those failed relationships, moments of low self-esteem, periods of doubt and depression, and my insaliable thirst for something new and different and better, I might never have even had the strength, desire or courage to start anew.

I believe that everything happens for a reason. Not in the sense that we have a predetermined map of life laid out before us, or that a deity is ordering us to go about life in a certain manner but I believe that everything we do, everything that we are yields us to something else. For instance those of us that value love will find ourselves in situations where we are growing in love and constantly defining and redefining what we believe love to be and do. These moments in our life that teach us lessons and mold us continually into the newer versions of ourselves are not happenstance. We do not have relationships not to learn from them, nor do we experience joy or pain not to build something from it. I've said it before we all have the same 24 hours in our day. So funny that the time is spent so differently depending on the who. I want to strive to be a person that makes the most of the 24 I have each day. I also want to be thankful for each moment of that time I spend whether it be good or bad. It's living. It's growing. For me; I also want it to be loving. Loving my accomplishments, loving my failures, loving my... self. For all that I am and hope to be, for the strengths that I am sharpening and all of the weaknesses that remind me of my humanity. See I don't want to be a person that only has comfort in my abilities and can only be consoled by what I see are the "good" things about me. It's all me. Time and Love are teaching me to be patient and secure in me. So this New Year's of course there are some things that I want to do in 2009 that maybe I didn't get to do in 08. But for the first time I'm not looking for a clean slate. A clear mind will be enough for me. 2009 is gonna be the time of my life.

Until the next song plays...
- Jazz

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Grown-Up Christmas List

"No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
Every man would have a friend
That right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown-up Christmas list"
- Linda Thompson "Grown-Up Christmas List"

All I want for Christmas.... Hmm... I wish I was young again. Well young enough that people cared what I wanted for Christmas. I mean I know I'm 23 now and the idea of Santa Claus and his benevolence is not exactly age appropriate for me but it never fails. Every Christmas I still make a list. This year I got an early Christmas present. November 4th marked the dawning of a new era in my country. The election of Barack Hussein Obama was a gift that I had secrectly been wanting for years but never really fathomed that it would come. That was surely a Christmas miracle! Even still I have more things that I would like. Some of my requests are purely selfish, like I would love for Santa to leave me a diamond or two. But most of the things on my grownup wish list are things that I would change if I could. For instance I would love to give my son a world in which he doesn't have to wait hundreds of years to see a president that is brown like him. A world in which he could turn on the television and see positive images of brown, yellow, white, red, gay, straight, male, female people. I would love to wake up Christmas morning and be greeted by a society that isn't ruled by the idea that their must be haves and have-nots. A society in which I count just as much as you and we are seen as our assets and how those assets can better the community in which we live. Christmas would be so special if I could just erase one pain from a hurting continent, or aleviate one depression from a nation in turmoil. These are the things I wish for but I'm not naive enough to think that when I go down stairs on December 25th and look under my tree that the cure for AIDS, or the answer to reversing the Greenhouse Effect will be waiting to be unwrapped. The hope that I have however is that I'm not the only grown-up that has these things on my list. I truly believe that if the rest of those people out in the world that are as passionate as I am about making their world better so that one day they can give it to their children better than it was given to them; if we all just make it our business to continue wanting these things, continue fighting for these things... One day maybe not a Christmas day but one day we can unwrap a world that would be the best present ever. We've got a lot of work to do...

Until the next song plays...
- Jazz

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Take all of your wasted honor
Every little past frustration
Take all your so called problems
Better put 'em in quotations
Say what you need to say
- John Mayer "Say"
I've always been told that I have a big mouth. I was raised by very strong minded, strong willed, quick tongued black women that taught me the importance of expressing myself. So I grew up to be a lot like these women. In essence I talk too much. So knowing this and being in a state of constantly wanting to make me a better me, I am attempting to be more intentional about not only what I say but also how and when I say those things. See I realize that in many cases in the past my mouth as my grandma would say got me into a lot of trouble. I also understand that knowing what to say when is a sign of maturity and can take you a long way in life. Because verbal communication is so important in our society it is necessary to not only concern yourself with the way you speak but also how you are spoken to.
My current dilema is this... I believe that there are things that need to be said between myself and some people that just aren't being said. It's kinda like an unspoken resentment. Something that I'm finding out about myself is that I have a way of rubbing people the wrong way without even realizing it. When I was younger I figured that it was because I just spoke and let whatever fly out of my mouth. I also was not the best people person. I was opinionated, overbearing, and close-minded. But I'm grown now. I have worked soooo hard to do better, and to be better. I have gotten to the point where I have grown to be more open-minded and to evaluate my thoughts before they become my words. So why isn't this working? Why? There is a group of people that I haven't been able to get through to. A community if you will of people that for some reason have counted me out. I can honestly say I've tried with my words and actions to build relationships and form a closer bond. For months I've tried and have gotten nothing. Well nothing more than politeness, which normally I might be okay with. My brother asked me the other day how I would respond if someone flat out told me they didn't like me. He asked if I could deal with not being liked for no other reason than someone just chooses not to like me. I know the point he was getting at. I am very much a feeler like I have said in previous posts. As a feeler I need those words. I need those explanations. I need someone to say what they feel. The question is why? Why do I need an explanation? In reality it shouldn't matter. I am a wonderful, strong, intelligent black woman. Not everyone is going to like me and that's ok. I have to like me though. I have to be comfortable being in situations where I'm loved by the masses and I must be comfortable being in situations where I am dispised. It comes from within and no amount of words from them or me is going to make it better. This is something that I slowly but surely must address but the first step is acknowledgement. So today I will acknowledge that not being apart of that particular community hurts. It hurts to know that no matter how hard I try some people will just choose not to like me. I am made content however by the reality that their choice is not an indictment on me. I am still a strong, wonderful, beautiful, feeling, loving, talking, growing, learning, intelligent black woman. That's me. That's ok. That's enough. Yeah... That's what needed to be said.

Until the next song plays...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

How To Save a Life

"Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend somewhere along in the bitterness. And I would have stayed up with you all night, had I known how to save a life..." - The Frey "How To Save A Life"

Losing a friend is a tough task. Sometimes it happens without you even knowing it. As a new year approaches and I look at who is in my life and why I begin to really examine my relationships. See I've always been the type of person that was bad in romantic relationships because I allowed whoever I was with to treat me in a way that I did not deserve to be treated. I'm growing, and learning and now I know better. But now I'm starting to notice this same trend in my friendships as well. I mean friendships all have their roles just as people do but I am realizing that I need to have the same standards in friends that I have in lovers. See I see that when I care for someone whether it be a friend or companion I have the tendency to do too much, be there too much, offer too much of myself while they have the tendency to take and never give back. I can't fault them for this because I believe human instinct is self preservation but since it has hurt me I must be the one to stop the cycle. I have come to learn that I cannot get mad at someone for doing something to me that I allow to be done.

There are times in life when you look at your life and the people in your life and you realize these people are great but maybe some just aren't great for me. Not at this time and not anymore. The saying goes, "For everything there is a season..." and I've seen alot of seasons end this year. I've mentioned before that I greive when I come to an end of a season but this time I truly believe that this will be for the better. You have to prune the rosebush in order for it to excel. This december I'm finishing up my pruning and I recognize that this is my preparation to thrive. So instead of the usual bickering, resent, hurt feelings, and bruised egos that go along with the end of a season of friendship; I offer my love, respect, and best wishes along with saying it was wonderful while it lasted...

Until the next song plays...
- Jazz

Monday, December 8, 2008

I Apologize

" I apologize, believe me I do. I apologize, honest and true." - Anita Baker "I Apologize"

I apologize. Why are those two little words so hard to say? I mean we are all willing to admit that humans are imperfect creatures and we're definitely ok with pointing out when someone else is wrong; why then is it so hard to not only admit wrong doing but also attempt to make up for it. The dictionary defines apology as the admission of fault. For some reason in my 23 years on the earth this admission of fault is the one thing that has been hardest for the most people around me. I admit I in the past have had trouble with admitting I was wrong as well but I have also recognized that this was a flaw of mine.

Based on not-so-recent events that have happened in my life I have been pondering the idea of apologizing and the reasons for the apprehension. I was in this situation. A situation in which I did all that I thought was humanly possible for another person. This was not just a fly by night situation. It was a friendship, an 11-year old, tried and true friendship. I was doing things that I thought would be reciprocated if there was ever a need. But right in front of my eyes this so-called tried and true friendship ended when I made it clear to this friend that I could no longer support someone that was making choices not to attempt to support their self. In my mind a friendship, well a sho nuff friendship should never get to this point but it did. Fine. I was hurt that someone that I would have given my all to and did just took it and went on their merry way without even the least inkling to think about my well being but I could actually deal with that. The part that was just the coup d'etat was the fact that after all of that all I ever wanted from them was a simple apology; what I got was their whining about what I did to them.

So I ponder... Why would this person rather victimize themselves instead of offering a simple apology? Have we as a human race become so afraid of being wrong that we are willing to make ourselves victims to every situation just to avoid offering an apology? Do we see our mistakes as our imperfactions being made manifest? If so then why?

I'm in a leadership program that is all about personal and professional development. In this program we have trainings around Sexism, Homophobia, Racism, Community Development, etc. In this program we have also been trained in competitive versus collaborative behavior. We learned about the power of words and the idea that when we are intenional in the words that we say to one another that is the biggest step to better relationships. I completely agree with this school of thought. I think that we as human beings ought to make apologies not somthing that we attempt to avoid at all costs but as a reminder of how no matter how we may mess up we have a reprive.

So after a little bit of soul-searching I have decided to make this my public apology. I am willing to put myself out there and apologize for all of the things I've done to offend anyone this year. Anything that I may have done or that you think I may have done. From the small annoyances to the large transgressions that may have hurt you in the least bit. For the things I meant to do and the things that I didn't even realize I did. For the feelings I've hurt, the egos I've bruised, the smart comments I've made, the sarcasm I've spewed, the personal attacks I've forged, I'm aplogizing for it ALL! I am making it right today. In my ongoing mission to be the person I say that I am I needed to do this. I needed to do this as a way of letting go of 2008 and being ready to accept all of the things waiting for me in 2009. Today. I apologize. And it wasn't so bad.

Until the next song plays...
- Jazz

Sunday, December 7, 2008

So Sick

"Said I'm so sick of love songs, so sad and slow, so why can't I turn off the radio?" - Ne-yo "So Sick"

I admit I'm a hopeless romantic. I have been all my life. It's a part of who I am. I've got it so bad that I've been planning my wedding for years, shit decades. And at this point in my life I'm realizing that this may not be very healthy for me. I am a single woman. I've been single for about 5 months and although I am very aware of why I choose to be single at this point in my life, the hard part is not constantly thinking about when my solitude will end.

This time alone was necessary. Since I was seventeen I had been in a relationship almost constantly with no break of more than a few weeks to a month. I allowed myself to continue on in relationships that were not good for me and to be with people that didn't deserve me. Before this self-induced solitude I was at the point where the thought of being by myself was a little frightening. I know what you're thinking, "Wow how ridiculous!" right? You're thinking, "What could lead a young intelligent black woman like you to have that mindset?"

I could say it was alot of things: my absent father, my constant reminder from the women in my life about how a man "completes" a family, I could even say it's sex; but in all reality I'm begining to believe the true culprit is... LOVE SONGS.

I turn my radio on each morning and I listen. I listen to the disc-jockeys talk and laugh, I listen to the news, sports, traffic, and weather, then it comes. Its like I hear the first note and it hits me like a ton of bricks; whether it's Robin Thicke telling me about his "Sweetest Love", or Usher describing what it feels like when you "Got It Bad". It doesn't matter if it's Fantasia's "When I See U" or Mariah Carey's "We Belong Together" they all get me. They all make me feel like the odd man out. When I hear the music and analyze the lyrics as I always do I am left asking, "Why not me?, Why not now?" I so much want to be in a loving committed relationship with Eric Benet's lyrics but the problem is these lyrics are not real. These lyrics are idealized accounts of what someone's imagination believes love to be. I mean we've all had a good relationship before and can any of us really say that it was all good all the time? Of course not. Love is not a feeling. Love is an action that must be expressed everyday. Love is growing together, learning together, believing together, becoming better people together. Love is learning from your mistakes, granting amnesty as necessary, and seeing this imperfect person through the eyes of your heart. These qualities are the ones I'm searching for. Although the perfection is very pleasing to my ear and my heart, and it would be wonderful to bring my guy "sunshine on a cloudy day" I'd be ok with being his best friend. Because with a best friend I could understand us getting on each other's nerves sometimes, and having fights that don't mean break-ups. Being best friends, lovers, soulmates, partners, whatever you want to call it is about wanting what's best for that other person. It's not just about how that person may make you feel but about how you both choose to invest in each other's lives to make a better "Us".

Now that I realize these things about love songs, now that I can be single without losing my sanity, now that I can recognize what I want and deserve, and now that I am taking those steps to making myself a better person so that when I am presented with a prospective "best friend/partner" I can be the best me I can be; I can't promise that I'll stop listening to my favorite artists but what I will say is that the next time Al Green starts begging me to stay together, I'll try not to get so sappy and remind myself of this personal reflection.
Why can't I turn off the radio?

Until the next song plays...
- Jazz