Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Intentional Acts of Kindness: 26 years and counting

One year and a day ago today I posted "Bu's 25th Birthday Bucket List"  a collection of goals I set for myself in an attempt to be more intentional about how i spend my time, money, and energy. I have done so much growing since I first made that list and will share with you all some of the things I accomplished, some of the things I'm working on, and some of the things I decided I really don't want/need/or care about.

I will have a new task for my 26th year, and I want you all to join me. Instead of "Random Acts of Kindness" I will be focusing my 26th year on Earth by doing a series of "Intentional Acts of Kindness". Intention, that has become more and more important to me. How am I living, loving, and giving of myself to others, intentionally. The randomness of kindness is beautiful and I want to be more intentional and see others do the same.

With being intentional, I want to think about the privileges I have, the spaces I occupy and how I can uplift others. Whether that's buying someone who identifies as financially insecure lunch, or smiling at someone who seems sad, I want to be less weary of human connection (#introvertproblems) and more open to spreading intentional joy and kindness. So that's that! 26 is soon approaching, join me on my journey of intentional acts of kindness, write to me throughout the year about what intentional acts you have done, lets uplift and celebrate each other.

Now, for my 25th birthday BUcket list, here is an update:

1. Girls only trip - I had a fabulous girls only trip celebrating my dear friend Jaid's birthday this past May in California. We drank wine, went out in San Fran, ate delicious food, and soaked up the sun. It was a much needed weekend getaway to celebrate a beautiful human being. 

2. Spa retreat- well i didn't do a full spa retreat (YET! I still have 6 days) but my wonderful partner took me to get my first hot stone massage just a few weeks ago. That was his intentional act of kindness and it was so needed and appreciate. 

3. Learn to make cocktails-...cocktails? not so much, but I am amazing at pouring wine. 

4. Tough Mudder - I am in full Tough Mudder training! I have a great trainer i see once a week who is trying to help me prepare for a Tough Mudder, which I WILL complete probably at 26. Although, the cookouts, the drinks, the picnics in the park really have delayed my progress. Maybe when the cold weather hits I will do better. 

5. 25 letters of appreciation- ugh, i know, im terrible, they are coming. 

6. Music festival- whats better than the Hartford Jazz Festival!?? NOTHING!  

7. Mardi gras 

8. 25 hour movie marathon 

9. Buy Louboutins - this was stupid. I don't know why this was on my list in the first place (well i do know but I wont dive into that). Taste, needs, and wants change. Crossing it off just because I don't want those anymore. 

10. Date night with myself once a month - Well if watching netflix by yourself with a glass of wine counts then, CHECK! but really, I did not do this intentionally, that will be something to work on next year :-) 

11. Read 5 books (for pleasure)- ugh, have I mentioned, even with how brilliant I seem I actually HATE reading :-/ I have the shortest attention span. 

  • Brene Brown: The Gifts of Imperfection 
  • Gayl Jones: Corriegadora

12. Crawfish Boil (not broil - I'm so New England)

13. Adopt a rescue dog- well i didn't adopt a rescue dog but i do have a loving new four legged family member (actually two of them) and Capone has a new playmate and a cat to chase around the house. Charlie and Isis, welcome to the family.

14. 25 random acts of kindness 
15. Winery - so much wine, just so much.

16. Skinny dipping
17. Save for a piano

18. Gun range
19. Say "no" ...more than once.

20. Learn to bake

21. Fall in love - this is probably my favorite of all the things on my list. I wrote this with the intent to summon love into my life. Not necessarily a romantic relationship but love. I checked this off about seven months ago when I was leaving Kansas to return to CT, when I realized that I had fell in love with my job, my colleagues/friends/family, my apartment, Lawrence, everything...and then! I fell in love again, unexpectedly, with an activist and community organizer, Derek Hall...I don't know if there are words to describe how I got to a place of loving him. I don't think words are needed but if I had not completed anything else on this list, I would be just fine with this love being all I accomplished this year.

22. Karaoke

23. Get a hobby - does binge watching Netflix count as a hobby?

24. Road trip 

25. Dance in a rain storm

a few more days left... lets see what else I can check off this list before the big 2-6 !


Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Soul of this Black Woman

I was asked about three months ago to contribute to piece "A Look into the Souls of Black #sapros" for The Student Affairs Collective. In this piece, four Black student affairs professionals answer the question presented in W.E.B. DuBois "Souls of Black Folk": "how does it feel to be a problem?" specifically now, in the 21st century. I wanted to share below my full response to that question as the piece on The Student Affairs Collective blog only shared an excerpt:

1. Exist

I struggle writing about what it feels like to be a problem for what I know is a predominately white audience with whom I have engaged in conversations with in the past that has remained in the head space and not heart space. This question is one that does not linger in my head but rather in the depths of my soul.

To be a problem in the 21st century, to explore that reality, I could only speak from a heart space, from the area in the deepest of my core that holds all of my fears, worries, intimidations, hopes, and sorrows. It would require the absence of respectability and the disregard of professionalism for the sake of proclaiming my humanity but I cannot do that because even in this space there are parameters to what I can say and how I can say it. It is because I am a problem. In my black womanhood my existence is a problem, my being is a problem and as a result my writing this is in essence a problem. 

As W.E.B Du Bois said, "And yet, being a problem is a strange experience, - peculiar even for one who has never been anything else..." 

To be a problem and to be a Black woman is to constantly live in my double-consciousness, maybe even a triple-consciousness. Knowing that at the intersection of my blackness and womanhood there is the me I know, there is the me I present to the world, and there is the me that people are taught to see –how I am perceived is a product of the many histories, experiences, and narratives told (or not told) of the women who came before me.   

It is strange though, being a problem. But we have known nothing else. The feeling is indescribable, but I will try. It's like the feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you’re going down big roller coaster drop, like a hundred horses trampling on your chest- it's the not knowing if this predominately white room, restaurant, movie theater, meeting, university I'm in is also occupied by someone who hates my being. Not knowing if the police sirens behind me might result in my rape or death for no other reason than my black womanness, my existence being a problem. That my little brother or even my future children, the beautiful black babies I might have, with the glowing mark of their ancestors will be unwanted, unloved by the world, deemed thug, violent, stupid, ghetto. That I, as a black woman know the safest place for my children would be in their non-existence or housed forever inside of my womb. That nothing other than their blackness might result in someone being careless and reckless with their life.

And once again - I am vulnerable – I share my feelings and hope that someone will finally hear me-us. I beg you not to look for statistics and numbers, a theory or policy to prove what we feel. You cannot quantify our reality. You cannot theorize our fear. We all have problems but to BE a problem – that is immeasurable. The feeling at our core, the feeling that saves us, ignites us, unites us, pushes us, breaks us, scares us, motivates us – it is all we have ever needed, “An American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder”