Month: February 2016

On Forgiveness – Part One of Two:

download (1)

A few months ago, I had a falling out with a good friend. I was going through some things personally, and as a result l, I wasn’t a very good friend to her in a moment where she needed me.  I didn’t realize that my carelessness and self-absorption had hurt her until the damage had already been done, but by the time I figured it out – it was too late.  She’d ended our friendship, and I was left holding the pieces, confused and hurt over what had transpired.

My friend and I didn’t speak for quite a while, because she was unwilling to forgive me no matter how much I apologized.  We remained cordial to one another (for the most part) as we traveled within our mutual circles, but it always felt tense and forced.  We would have conversations, but didn’t communicate with each other.  I told her I didn’t know how to not be her friend – she told me she didn’t know how to be mine anymore.

My friend was operating from a place of hurt that I simply could not understand.  I knew that my intention had never been to hurt her, and I drove myself crazy wondering how an act of simple carelessness had ruined what was essentially a lifelong friendship. I made myself sick with the guilt and anger – rehashing it daily, trying to figure out how I could fix it, trying to remember why fixing it was even worth it.

Then someone gave me the best advice I could have gotten regarding that situation – *Forgive yourself, let it go, and move on*

forgive-yourself-life-is-too-short

It was so simple… I was stressing over a situation I couldn’t control (her feelings), and creating turmoil within myself that I didn’t have to.  I’d done this thing (or rather, not done this thing) that had hurt someone.  I felt terrible about it, but other than apologize, there wasn’t really much that I could do.

Today, I’m challenging you to forgive yourself for whatever happened in the past that causes you grief in the present. So many of us (me included) have a tendency to hold onto mistakes or missteps that we’ve made, even after the rest of the world has moved on.  We cannot grow and prosper in the present or future if we insist on holding on to the mistakes of the past.  This won’t necessarily absolve you of the consequences that come with your action (or in my case, inaction), but it will make it easier for you to deal with yourself from a place of love each day.

You, above everyone else in the world, deserve your love and respect.  Make sure that you’re giving it to yourself daily.

 

Love and light – Kioshana ❤

 

 

On Finding Peace with Giving Up

When was the last time you felt good about giving up on something?  I don’t mean giving up crap food or cigarettes or alcohol.  I mean, when was the last time you felt good about giving up on a goal?

mindset2
Don’t look at me like that – this is a serious question!

American culture is extremely achievement oriented.  We measure our success (and therefore our worth) by how much we are able to accomplish or attain.  We push each other to strive for “greatness” in the form of more education, more money, better jobs, nicer homes and cars, etc.  Even those of us who have rejected the stereotypical forms of success (material/status indicators) compete over who can achieve the most “freedom” or “peace” in their lifestyle. Quite literally EVERYTHING is a competition – everything is about achievement.

(Side note:  This is probably why the rest of the world side-eyes us so often.  We are so focused on being “the best” that we rarely take the time to focus on people – others or ourselves.)

One thing that I know from being a habitual over-achiever is that goal-orientation can be extremely stressful.  We put so much pressure on ourselves to achieve, grow, and do more that we often forget to relax and enjoy where we are in the present moment.  Now, don’t get me wrong – having a healthy desire to achieve can be good for you.  Anything that helps you become your best self is a good thing, and should be encouraged in your life.

The thing is, though – sometimes working on our goals stresses us to the point where it is more harmful than helpful to work toward them.  Goals should be a source of motivation, not a source of stress or depression.  Achieving our goals shouldn’t come at the expense of our emotional, physical, spiritual, or financial well-being.

black-woman-angry2

We need to know that it’s perfectly okay to walk away from a goal or plan that isn’t working for us anymore. There is no shame in not achieving something that no longer serves you – especially when the work you’re putting into it is detrimental to your overall well-being.

I encourage you to make it a point today to take stock of the goals you’re working on in your life.  Honestly ask yourself, “Is this still worth it to me?  When this is all said and done, am I going to be better or worse off from having worked on this?  Is this achievement worth what I’m sacrificing in order to attain it?”

If you can’t give a whole-hearted “Yes” to each of those questions, then maybe you should take a little time to re-think whether or not this still fits into your life.

Remember, there’s no shame in letting go of something that no longer serves you.

Love and Light ~

Kioshana

Close Some Doors

This is a post originally written last June that I felt was especially relevant today ~ just a refresher, in case anyone else needed the reminder! ❤

Close Some Doors

Earlier today, while casually scrolling through my timeline, I came across the above image and was completely blown away by the power in this message.

I don’t know about you all, but I personally am terrible about this.

There are people in my life who irritate me to no end and who add no value with their presence whatsoever.  Daily, I lament about how much I wish that they would just get the hint and go away – sometimes to the point that I become passive-aggressive in responding to their texts, posts, and calls.  I cringe when I see a message from them pop up on my cell phone, or roll my eyes when I see selfies and posts show in my social media accounts.  Even when I’m engaging them in conversation, I sometimes find myself becoming increasingly frustrated that they are seemingly so oblivious to my lack of interest in the topics of discussion.

It is maddening!

Yet I feel guilty about the thought of just letting them go because they haven’t actually DONE anything to hurt or bother me… and it seems wrong to cut someone out of life simply because I’m ambivalent about their presence.  As ridiculous as it sounds, it feels mean to tell them how I really feel – and I don’t want to be looked at as a mean person… even by people who I don’t really care about or want around me.

I’m sure that part of this is societal conditioning, and part of this is just my personality.  Growing up, I was the kid who worried about the most menial of things, because I didn’t want anyone to think I was being unfair or uncaring.  I can remember working myself into anxiety over the smallest of things – like whether to check White or Black on standardized test forms (thank God they’ve finally created a “multi-racial” box) because I didn’t want anyone to think I was showing a preference for one parent over the other.

Although I no longer stress about things as tiny as the abovementioned scenario, I still have a hard time with doing things that will portray me as a mean person – especially if the person hasn’t done anything negative to me.  I’m learning, though, that this is not a healthy practice to partake in, because it wears on me and drains me.  Letting go of people doesn’t necessarily make me a bad person, and I can do so without having to be mean about it.  However, it is important for me to do this, because keeping them in my life in an effort to preserve their feelings does hurt someone:  ME.

And if I’m being honest with myself, I’m probably not nearly as important to them as it feels sometimes.  I’m pretty sure they’ll continue to exist and survive with or without me.

I remind myself daily, and today I’m reminding you as well – we have complete control over who we allow into our space. Just because someone isn’t causing harm doesn’t necessarily mean they deserve a place in your life – especially if they aren’t inspiring good as well.

You don’t have to feel guilty about not offering space to everyone who seeks shelter in you… your time and energy are extremely valuable and you do not owe them to anyone you feel is unworthy of or unable to reciprocate it.  Acts of self-love come in all shapes and forms – adding value to your quality of life sometimes means removing things (and people) that take away from your happiness.

Do you have anyone in your life who fits this description?  How do you deal with them?  Is there anything you will change about the relationship going forward?

Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to like and share!

Make it a great day – I love you.

– Kioshana

#ShotsFired – The Brilliance of Beyonce’s “Formation”

beyonce-formation-video-blue-ivy-carter-23

This Saturday, Beyonce Knowles-Carter dropped her latest single out of nowhere and turned the entire internet upside down.  Since the release of “Formation”, social media has been alight with both praise and critiques of the fabled singer’s latest musical offering.  Is she profiting off ratchet culture?  Is her shout-out to her mom’s Creole roots an effort to center Whiteness?  Did she steal the footage of post-Katrina New Orleans?  Exactly what brand of hot sauce is she carrying in her bag?

beyonce-formation-video-blue-ivy-carter-13

Over the last two days, I’ve read dozens of think-pieces and been party to a multitude of conversations discussing this very thing.  And although “Formation” is without a doubt another hit King Bey can add to her ever-growing list, it seems that there is a huge part of the Black community that feels as if this latest tune is nothing but a cleverly-crafted and well-timed gimmick to allow the singer to capitalize on the current political climate of her fan base without actually having to put in work.  Most of the complaints center around the fact that the lyrics of the song – which are indeed, incredibly celebratory and self-congratulating – don’t match up with the somber images she’s used in the video.  And while this is most definitely a valid point, I can’t help but wonder if that isn’t exactly the point.

Over the last few years, Black America has made a concerted effort to make ourselves known and heard, on a scale that hasn’t been seen since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s – 1960s.  What we are witnessing is an awakening of the collective consciousness of Black people – particularly and specifically YOUNG Black people.  The realities of police brutality, poverty, the school-to-prison pipeline, and other maladies which contribute to the United States’ blueprint for Black genocide are more apparent to us than ever, and for the first time in our lifetime, there is a strong, concerted effort to counteract these effects.

Audre Lorde once said that, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and THAT is an act of political warfare.”  This quote made its rounds in my head over and over again as I watched the “Formation” video, and all that I could think was, “Damn, Bey – #shotsfired”.

beyonce-formation-video-blue-ivy-carter-26

Because what’s more revolutionary than watching a Black woman – a representation of the most oppressed of the oppressed in this world – sing a song celebrating herself in all of her “ratchet” glory?  “Formation” didn’t miss the mark by pairing celebratory lyrics with somber images – it made a clear statement about the beauty of being Black in America.  It took some of the absolute worst things that have happened to the Black community in history (Katrina, police brutality, etc.) as well as made nods to some of the issues we face as a community (colorism/self-hate) and juxtaposed it against a self-love anthem we can all relate to on some level.  She acknowledged how difficult it is to navigate this world as a Black person – especially as a Black woman – and basically said, “But I’m still here, with my hot sauce, and You. Will. Deal.”  And then she encouraged other women to do the same.

Blue-Ivy-Beyonce-Formation-Music-Video-Pictures

Until Saturday, I wasn’t sure I liked Beyonce’s feminism.  As a matter of fact, until Saturday, I wasn’t sure that I liked Beyonce.  And while there are definitely several things that I question about the authenticity of her feminism and her pro-Blackness, what isn’t up for debate is the power that comes with seeing this Black woman use her platform to shout-out everything that America tells us we should hate about ourselves, unapologetically.

One Black woman turned the world upside down just for singing a song – how incredible is that?

~ Kioshana

Hello, Lovely!

Picture2

Hello Lovely!

This is the first post that I’ve written in a long time, but it feels really good to be back behind my pen.

Last year at this time, The SpeakLove Project was just an idea in my head.  I was becoming disenchanted with the world, especially with my social justice efforts, from all angles.  As someone who is Black, Queer, and Woman, I felt particularly excluded from all of the “major” circles in the New Civil Rights movement.  In feminist spaces, Black women were being pushed to the back.  In Queer spaces, Black people (especially Black women) were being pushed to the back.  In Black spaces, Black women were being pushed to the back.  No matter where I looked, I could find no safe spaces for my sisters.

So, I decided to create one.

The other founding member of The SpeakLove Project is a Black woman who feels equally passionate about supporting and promoting the overall well-being of Black women.  Together she and I outlined what we wanted this space to look like and set about creating it.  In March 2015, we began The SpeakLove Project community on Facebook, and by the time our website went live in June, we had a thriving community with over 200 Black women fellowshipping together and sharing life experiences.  Since then, we’ve experienced some highs and lows, and even been slowed down a few times.  Still, I am proud to say that we’ve never stopped working toward our goal of providing a space of love and empowerment specifically for Black women.

As I look ahead through 2016 and beyond, I cannot help but be amazed by the potential that I see before me.  SpeakLove has gone through some changes, especially in the last quarter of 2015.  Although they were not all easy, I can say with confidence that this is still, at its core, an organization committed to the continued growth and empowerment of Black women in their work and lives.

Tashara has chosen to leave the SpeakLove team to pursue other endeavors, and I am so excited to see where she lands on her own journey.  As for SpeakLove, we have many great things planned in the upcoming year.  Some of the changes you can expect to see as this organization shifts from an informational focus to a service focus are:

  • MORE interactive activities, including classes, challenges, and one on one coaching sessions
  • WEEKLY #SelfLoveSunday Periscope sessions
  • A line of workbooks and other tools to assist you in figuring out how to incorporate self-care and personal growth/development techniques into your everyday life
  • OPPORTUNITIES for you to realize some of your own dreams through publishing or speaking engagements

And so much more!

From a personal standpoint, I’d like to thank each and every one of you who made The SpeakLove Project’s first year a resounding success, especially Tashara.  I appreciate you having faith in in my dream and working with me to make it a reality.

I believe in you all, and it means so much to me to know that you believe in me, too.

Looking forward to seeing where 2016 takes us!

With love and light,

Kioshana