There’s a season for everything. To be born. To die. To live. And in living, we connect with many other people. Many other souls. Some hang around for a lifetime (or what seems like one). Others linger momentarily or pass right by. Some people find a way to get inside us, causing massive transformation – for better or worse.
But even what appears to be strong, steadfast bonds can dissolve. Sometimes without warning. You look up and realize…you can’t sense their presence anymore. Then suddenly – sometimes many seasons later – they return. Often, as if they never left. It all makes that adage seem truer. You know, the one that says some people are here for “a reason, a season, or a lifetime.”
Last summer, I spent a lot of time celebrating life. The birth of a nephew. My cousin’s first birthday. High school graduations. Parties galore for family and friends – new and old. And myself. God, it had been so long since I celebrated myself. Celebrated life. Really enjoyed me. Smiled genuinely, no mask on. Gave myself permission to be happy and be proud of who I am as a person.
Life really had me feeling low. I was buried under an emotional tundra. Then God brought the spring thaw. And that spiritual breakthrough led to an epic summer. So much light. So much growth.
In July, I was going through some old mementos, and I came across a class photo from some years ago. I had bangs and braces, so it must’ve been my first or second year teaching at Chamberlain. Sixth grade math. Standing right beside me is Zion Beard. We’re both cheesing. And behind that picture was a handmade card. Red with a black star on it. The back read “From: Your loving student Zion Beard; To: Ms. Williams – Thank You.” So surreal.
As I read the card, I could barely process my own thoughts and emotions. I still miss Zion, and I think of him often. Losing him and his sister, Rickelle, was another horror I faced over the past few years. We faced. But the real kicker was the hand drawn Tweety Bird on lined paper behind the red card. On the top is written “Teacher of the Year.” Again, addressed to Ms. Williams. This time, from Marquette G. May he also rest in perfect peace.
Messages from a couple of my angel students: received; loud and clear. Live. Boldly. Loudly. On purpose. With purpose. Without fear. Right now. And just a few days later, my play nephew suggested a book – “All About Love” by the late, great bell hooks. I opened that book, and everything changed.
And I needed that book. Because even in the best of seasons, like last summer, everything isn’t always going to be chillin’ poolside, playing cards on rooftops, and catching flights. I don’t reside solely on beaches, and I don’t live off lunch dates alone.
No matter how much fun you’re having and no matter how many great people you’re blessed to have in your corner, you still have to be alone with yourself sometimes. With your thoughts. And while I’m not suggesting anyone dwell on the past or languish in anguish, you have to deal with your shit. You have to resolve your issues. Heal your heart. Soothe your soul. That’s our best chance.
I credit bell hooks and my tribe for reaffirming what my heart and soul instinctively knew, but my head had let get away from me. Love is everything. I am love. Love is me. I exude it in all I do and in who I am. And I am worthy of and deserve to receive it. And once you return to love, you have a standard.
I understand no one owes me anything. But I owe myself everything. And while I have momentary lapses, I’ve gotten very good at weeding out people and interactions that don’t vibe with who I am and what I want my life to be like.
And it’s no offense to anyone! We’re all on our journey, learning and growing as we go. I am just more keenly aware of the things that agitate my energy and disturb my peace. Lack of reciprocity is one. A sense of entitlement over my time, energy, good works, or body is another. And sometimes, people aren’t necessarily violating my “terms and conditions” – it’s just not a good fit. Plain and simple.
As a black woman, God granted me with the highest, most sensitive intuition. I take a lot more time nowadays to slow down, be still, and listen to what I’m being told. I promised Him that if he brought me through that last season – full of storms, drear, and cold – that I would let Him guide and use me.
No more trying to do it all by myself.
Following that inner voice is one way I honor that promise. And it feels good. To set boundaries, have stronger convictions, and possess a greater knowledge of self.
It’s not always easy, though. Lord knows my mind takes a trip to the dark side here and there. As the season changed and Summer gave way to Fall, I started to…fall.
Everyone was getting back into the routines of school and work. Off the computer and back into the real world. I could feel the brunches, festivals, and get-togethers slipping through my fingers.
As the days grew shorter and nights longer, I could feel sadness and loneliness creeping in.
Earth, Wind & Fire may remember “Dancing in September,” but I mostly remember working overtime to stave off confusion, depression, and resentment. All I could think to do was dig deeper into the Word, turn up Sunday Service Choir, and read a little more from ms. hooks.
More to come.