Untitled Perspective

Photo courtesy of The Berry.com

Photo courtesy of The Berry.com

It was the type of morning that was handcrafted for a seven city block stroll to an independent coffee shop on 12th and locust streets. I would pass Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and a cafe/bakery to get to Square One Coffee. But there was a cup of ginger peach tea with my name on it and a community table where I could pull up my seat and breathe.

As I walked the seven city blocks between my hotel and the coffee shop I noticed banners adorning the tall lamp posts on the sidewalks that boasts of a downtown club. I smiled knowing that a guy I dated several years ago was undoubtedly a member. I laughed knowing I just couldn’t be. It wasn’t for me. It seemed a little exclusive. Had the sign read “Community Club,” well then that would be the place for me…and not for my old boo. I walked past the park and noticed the families, the folks with their dogs, and the folks that I presume were without regular lodging. “They’d probably like a community club,” I thought, and kept making my way to Square One.

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Photo courtesy of Hunger TV.com

As I sat and sipped in the city I have appreciated being from but could never return to live, I couldn’t help but wonder how there could certainly be people who have the same mixed feelings as I about Philadelphia, but certainly there are people who undoubtedly love it and maybe even those who undoubtedly hate it. The thoughts, feelings, experiences, and expectations of the city would depend on perspective. Our thoughts, feelings, experiences, and expectations of people, relationships, jobs, opportunities, and ourselves absolutely depends on how we look at it, how we interpret it. There is what is and then how we perceive what is.

Some of us are holding our breath as the year takes it last few breaths and births a new year. We are beyond ready for all that we believe the new year will bring. I hate to break it to you though, it won’t bring anything you can’t perceive. The clock will strike midnight and a new day will dawn, but if you don’t perceive the moment, day, or year to be ripe for the difference or new you need or desire, it will be continuation of the same. If you don’t conceive the possibilities It will be the downtown club you know is not for you without the imagination of a community club which would be perfect for you and others finding their way.

My hope for you as the year comes to a close is that you open your mind and heart to envision something different for you in the coming year. My hope is that you dream some of the sweetest dreams to date and hush the voices of the naysayers, self included. May you courageously craft what you desire and need to make the rest of today, tomorrow, and the new year one steeped in a commitment to be, do, and LIVE well. And when things get tough, just keep it all in perspective.

Photo courtesy of Kelly Tan

Photo courtesy of Kelly Tan

Any Way You Look At It

Photo courtesy of Barefoot Blonde.com

Photo courtesy of Barefoot Blonde.com

As I wrapped a few remaining gifts last night and signed a few more cards I came across the Christmas card I purchased for my grandparents. I cried. I hadn’t perceived when I purchased the card just before Thanksgiving that my grandparents would in less than a month become grandparent. I had known the diagnosis, the first, second, and third opinion. I remember when they were first told her cancer was back with a vengeance. Yet and still I couldn’t imagine the reality of Christmas being four days away and her not being here to sing Ave Maria, set up the Christmas village in the bay window in the living room, call me pumpkin as she shows off the new gifts my grandfather purchased for her, or eat breakfast with her and my grandfather over the holiday break at the Springfield Diner.

Tears briskly wiped away I continued wrapping and started to think about the year that has been 2015. If you would have told me a year ago I’d move back across the country, live in a little town that only my grandfather and a gentleman friend ever heard of and take a job that’s thwarted me into the reality of my passion and pursuing it by all means necessary, that my grandmother would be diagnosed with cancer in May and dead in December, I wouldn’t make nearly as much as I thought selling my house, or that my younger brother still wouldn’t be talking to me and the same folks who dismissed his behavior and treatment of me would suddenly grow silent and distant, or that I’d get to speak at the Black Girl Project conference in New York, I would have laughed so hard in your face I would have peed on myself. My current reality is one I was not able to fully perceive in my then current situation. Emphasis on fully perceive.

Photo courtesy of Etsy.com

Photo courtesy of Etsy.com

You see I was capable of perceiving that my reality this year around this time would be better than what it was a year ago. It not being so was simply not an option. The details of that difference I had not dreamed, conceived, truly hoped for-fully perceived. When we perceive a thing, it’s important to take time to conceive that thing, to fully perceive it. If not you end up in different but not necessarily in better.

I wouldn’t allow my mind to continue to do a full year in review. The year is not over which means that I still have time to conceive some of what I perceived as different months ago. I still have time this year to do, get, and be better, not just other than.  You still have time to conceive and create some of those things you perceived would be different for you this year. Maybe there won’t be a house, spouse, child, or promotion. It’s tough when we perceive being and doing well as connected to people or things we cannot control. However, when we envision being and doing well as connected to who we are apart from things and people, we notice that which we can still create in order to make what we envision a reality. There is still time for you to start a workout routine. There is still time for you to learn how to cook (even if it’s an amazing veggie and Swiss omelet). There’s still time for you to draft the business plan, complete the online application for the dream job posting you saw online two weeks ago or for the school you’ve been wanting to go back to. There’s still time to cancel the date with the person you know is no good for you, to stop smoking, to not restock the cabinets with the foods your doctor shared are a part of your high blood pressure issues.  There’s still time for you to forgive yourself, to love yourself, to enjoy yourself.

We are at the start of the very last full week of 2015. You can see this as the end or the beginning. Whichever you perceive it to be may you also conceive it to be an opportunity to be, do, and LIVE well.

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

Love the Work, Loathe the Job

Photo courtesy of Go To Glamour Girl.com

Photo courtesy of Go To Glamour Girl.com

She had hope in her voice when she asked how I liked my job. I was tempted to lie. She knew how challenging things were at the last place. I hated to disappoint her. “It’s ok, ” I responded. I couldn’t lie. She was disappointed. “Just ok?,”  she continued. “Yeah, just okay. I’m grateful for it,”  I said and smiled. She looked confused. “It’s a job Ash. And for that I am grateful but it’s there’s work that I love to do and sometimes that happens at my job, most of the time it doesn’t. That’s okay. I didn’t expect my job to be the place I did my most fulfilling work. But then again I see a job and work as two different things.”  She looked mildly satisfied with my response.

Work and jobs are not one in the same. Work, you will do until you cease to be or cease to be capable. If you are fortunate you may have a job that allows you to do work that you love. If you’re not so fortunate then be grateful for the job, see it for what it is, and make room for the work you want to do that would yield similar benefits to a job (i.e. steady income, ability to cover health insurance, etc.)

The things that matter to us are the things we work with, towards, for, and out. Work is not a desk, a shift of 8, 14, 24, or 36 hours. It is not a destination, doesn’t have a 20 or 60 minute commute. There is no 10 year or 25 year anniversary and no retirement. That’s a job.I think, at least in the U.S. we have made jobs work and this when we leave or finish a job, we think that our work is complete too. Wrong.

Photo courtesy of Exquisite Girl.com

Photo courtesy of Exquisite Girl.com

When I tell people I don’t love my job but I love my work they look puzzled. I smile and wait patiently hoping they get it. Usually they don’t. So I tell them that I love being creative, helping people, having hard but necessary conversations that offer insight, hope, and empowerment. I love creating spaces for people to explore, create, and recreate themselves. I get great joy from providing tools to help people work at relationships. I love allowing people to be courageous in telling their story or changing their story. I even love calling out ignorant and privileged administrators who sprinkle their ill informed ideas with microaggressions and exclusive commentary. However, I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT LOVE  my job.

I do not love the constraints of a schedule, the questioning of my authority or expertise often because of the color of my skin, gender, or age. I do not love meetings or antiquated systems that were never designed to help or support the people I love to partner and work with. I do not love spaces that I can’t feng shui on a whim, or being able to freely choose to work in my home, Starbucks, or the library if that’s what I deem necessary to be productive and effective. I do love not being able to plan travel when I desire because of an event to help staff.  I do enjoy being effective in 4 hours but having to stick around for another four because that’s part of my job. I don’t enjoy being surrounded by a majority of folks who can spell change but have not desire or concept of what that looks like. I loathe being placated and politics that are more times than not self serving and maintain a crabs in the bucket culture. See, ewww , I do not love my job. And I don’t just mean the current one. I haven’t loved a job in a long time. I’ve loved the work, the clients, the students, some of my team, and some of my supervisors. My jobs have been tolerable because I can insert work I love.

When I am not at my job I still work. The creativity, conversations, supporting, space creating, writing, all continue. This blog is work I adore, not a job. Speaking at the Black Girl Project Conference in October, work, not a job. All the conferences and workshops I’ve been privileged to o in the past three years have been wonderful hard yet victorious work.  My relationships, the familial, friend, and other are work. Yes, you have been fooled again if you think relationships aren’t work. They are. May you choose to relate with those who view you as worthy of that work and vice versa.

Photo courtesy of Diego Guevara

Photo courtesy of Diego Guevara

This week may you reconsider your perspective of that which you deem work and that which you see as a job. May you find liberty in knowing your job can be just that, a job, and you can still work at, on, with, for that which you are called and created to do. It’s not an either of, but a both and. May you find new energy and strength for your work (work ain’t always easy) and your job, especially if your job supports you (i.e. helps you keep a roof over your head, food in the fridge, bills paid on time, clothe for the kids, etc.) but doesn’t necessarily make room for you to do work that brings you joy. May you find courage and wisdom to work at the relationships that are hard work and express gratitude for the relationships that aren’t hard work ( I heart the ones where we just get each other, but that’s not to be taken for granted). May you fund time to create a plan that allows you to do more work and less job. And finally, may you you have a great week at your job and a great week working!

A Little Perspective

perspective1

I stepped on the scale and wasn’t the least bit pleased with the number. “Are you kidding me?!” I said aloud. Granted I knew that while I made some pretty solid strides in the direction of weight loss it was only a week. I stepped off the scale and before I could sulk and undo the healthy work I’d done for the week by ordering an extra cheese medium pizza and wings for me, myself, and I- I reminded myself that at least I hadn’t gained any weight.  While the candy free, back to the gym regularly, and increase of water intake hadn’t resulted in a single pound lost, it didn’t result in a single pound gained.  Perspective, I told myself, it’s all about perspective.

My grandmother died last Wednesday night.  She had a swift tooth and nail fight with long cancer. Days before she was home, eating the same glorious Thanksgiving meal the rest of my family ate in her and my grandfather’s home. She smiled and laughed when I gifted her the ruby red sequin slippers I picked up for her while Christmas shopping the weekend before. “Be warm and fabulous I told her. I don’t promise that they will work like Dorothy’s but at least you’ll be cute.” We laughed.

As I left her bedroom my heart was heavy  because I knew that she was in such incredible pain. I knew that the smile and shirt fragile laughter was work for her barely 100 pound body. So when my father called me pushing 11:30pm Wednesday night I knew before I answered that she had died. His weary voice only confirmed what I knew.

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Photo courtesy of Suzy Parker

We hung up and as I sunk into the couch my first thought was “Finally.” I was relieved. I was relieved that she was no longer suffering, that there would be no more painful smiles, laughs, or tries at conversation.  I was relieved that the helplessness my father, aunts, and grandfather would no longer taunt them like bullies on the schoolyard of life.  I was relieved that her fight was over and she could rest. Perspective.

Her absence will be missed, make no mistake about it. Christmas won’t be the same. Visiting my grandparent’s home won’t be the same. There will be no birthday call from her next year and no one to tell me how foxy I looked for my birthday, new head shots and photos for the blog, or any celebratory gatherings. When I move again back west or overseas, she won’t promise to answer the phone if I call needing anything or to come beat up whoever is messing with her pumpkin. Her awful jokes, reminders of her love, sporadic texting will all be missed deeply. She will be missed deeply.  Yet I could not be more at peace knowing she is at peace. My pain for her peace, and with time I know will really be her peace for my peace. Perspective.

My dad called while I was writing this. I left him a voicemail telling him I was checking on him. He started to tell me about his “suit adventure”.  My sister told me yesterday he spent 5 hours in one store looking for a suit for my grandmother’s funeral. “I left pleased having met my goal Ahyana, but I wasn’t a fan of the process.”  He could have given up his hunt, could have focused on the time it took to find what he wanted, but what he was truly most pleased about was finding not one, not two, but three suits- his goal. Perspective.

perspective3 little plastic horses blog.jpg

Photo courtesy of Little Plastic Horses Blog.com

This month the blog will be sprinkled with reminders of the importance of perspective. Life is more about perception than we often are willing to admit. I’m not willing to say that perception is everything, but it sure is something. There is something to be said for being intentional about what we see as real as well as ideal. There is something to be said for being thoughtful about the way we process our experiences, about the way we can express disappointment (I was so hoping I would have lost at least 1 pound) and be resolved to find hope, the bright side, the opportunity, the other ending or new beginning, motivation to stay the course or chart a new one.  I have always believed that as we think so are we and that includes perception. As we perceive things so we accept them to be.  I look forward to spending the next couple of weeks talking about perspective, its power, and empowering you to adjust yours as necessary.  Here’s to a week that I perceive to be nothing short of one worth LIVE-ing well. xxoo