20 Lessons I’ve Learned Since Leaving the Church

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IMG_0196 My unapologetic, Black self. 2016.

I haven’t been to church in over a year now, and I’ve been pondering how I should address what I’ve discovered along the way. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you probably could’ve never guessed that I would end up here. I never imagined that I could exist outside the Church I once held so dear. But due to the routine state-sanctioned violence that is being inflicted on my people, and the inadequate response from the church (among other things), I have decided to remove myself entirely from a system that claims to value my soul, but fails to show up for my Black body. I’ll probably end up writing a book about this one day, but in the meantime, here are 20 things I’ve learned since leaving the church:

  1. God is not a man.
  2. There is no pre-determined path called “God’s will”…

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And Isn’t It Wonderful?

Humans lost their connection to the world. Some fundamental link has all but totally disintegrated.

There was a time when man was no different from the creatures of the wood. We were exactly where we belonged, and we knew this to be true.

A tree or bush wasn’t just something to be chopped and carved to our liking, used to decorate our lawns in different patterns that all look the same.

There was a time when you could breathe deep…smell the wind. OXYGEN. The clear, God given air could fill your lungs without fumes from buildings, exhaust from pipes, or your cancer-loving neighbors secondhand smoke incessantly swirling in.

We could drink the water from the earth, and it was clean, reviving. It brought us life, not sewage and wastes. Not sugar. Not caffeine. No treatments necessary…

…it was clean. So were we.

And just to believe we created this thing called “progress”, we destroy all that is natural to replace it with something New. Because we humans are so smart, you see, we Adapt and become Advanced, more amazing day by day.

Now we dwell in roach infested apartments. Swim in chemically treated pools. Drive our air contaminating cars…what is progress, really?

We go to our toxic desk jobs that we describe as fulfilling careers to anyone who’ll listen, just so we can avoid what’s really meaningless work and scroll the twitter feed on our cell phones so we won’t notice as much, just how much, our lives are drained and sucked away. Day by endless boring day…But this is Happiness?

We all need xanax. A painkiller, or 3… 4?

This is the dream…even though we’re low key lost.

And when I sit and think of all this, How wonderful would life have been if we just stayed where we belonged?

Yeah, I’m Fat and HAPPY!

I am 270 pounds. Yup, thats right, I just broadcasted my weight to the whole world and I’m okay with it.  People think of obese and overweight people as lazy, insecure, ugly, depressed, and the list goes on and on even though thats not always the truth and it’s not always that simple.  I used to be very depressed about my image, so much so that I struggled with bulimia. It wasn’t until I stopped caring not only about what other people think but also about what I thought when I looked in the mirror that I learned how to be happy with myself, my body, and comfortable and confident in my own skin.  Once I did that it was so much easier to focus on being healthy (and I am a little bit of a health nut now) and a whole new world opened up to me….but being happy first was the key.

Many people struggling with weight issues think once they lose weight then they’ll be happy. For me it worked in reverse and it wasn’t easy, it was a lifelong journey.  Anyone who’s been overweight knows the harsh judgments of society all to well.  One of the worst criticisms, in my opinion, is that we’re lazy or don’t care about our health.  I’ve been overweight since I was a child (about 2nd grade) and the pounds slowly packed on.  You think I gained all these pounds in just a few years??? Absolutely not! If you gain an extra 10 pounds every year for 10 years that’s already 100 pounds. Now try from 8yrs old to 26. Thats almost 20 years and most of those years had gains rather than losses.  When you have a certain diet and lifestyle from childhood to adulthood, certain habits become a learned behavior and it doesn’t matter if today at this moment you’re old enough to make healthier choices. You have to unlearn those habits and re-train yourself to do something totally different from what comes naturally. That is quite a task!  What kills me is how people will say these misguided things about someone who’s overweight without knowing anything about them.  You might see a 350 pound person and think they’re lazy or pathetic.  If you’re really mean then maybe you even joke about them. But what if that person goes to the gym every day and actually just loss 50 pounds? What if they’ve been trying to get on the right track? Are they still lazy?  What if a person is very slim and “attractive” but happens to have an eating disorder? Are they healthy?  You can’t judge a book by its cover and if our society focused more on HEALTH  and not on WEIGHT, our obesity problem would probably be less severe.

For some reason around 2014 I started feeling really comfortable with what I looked like and who I was. I ate fairly healthy and was losing weight slowly but surely. This was the ONLY time period in my life (2012-2014) where I consistently maintained my weight without having to diet or exercise regularly. I had adopted a healthy lifestyle and it was starting to come naturally. Then in 2015 I decided to give the health food a rest and eat a cookie for once….which led to some cake….which led to many trips to Daddy’s Dairy, Wendy’s, Papa Gino’s and everywhere in between.  I called this my brownie cookie take-out diet (I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS).  That lovely diet lasted about 7-8 months and got me to my top weight ever, 270 pounds.  But you know what? During that whole time I never felt bad about myself. I felt a little guilty because I knew I should be eating better, but I never looked in the mirror and felt any form of worthlessness.  I  knew at that point that I would love myself no matter what I looked like.  I had learned what self-acceptance really meant and I treasured it.

I had learned to accept myself but I also accepted that at 270 pounds my body had reached its limit. Here’s where I emphasize the importance of being healthy.  I noticed the stairs seemed a bit harder lately, my knee problems had gotten worse, and of course, my clothes didn’t fit!  So I got off my Brownie Cookie Take-Out diet (jumpstarted by a green smoothie cleanse) and got back to healthy eating and I exercise when I can.  I’m now 260 and hopefully that number will continue to drop. I must say this is the healthiest I’ve felt in a long time and I can’t wait to get even better. I have no set goal and I’m not looking for specific results. Theres no pressure. I plan to listen to my body, do what feels right and most importantly, focus on overall health rather than where I tip the scale. In my opinion, Health and Happiness go hand in hand.

Misogyny Gone Viral

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Why are so many men intimidated by any sign of strength in a woman? Does it threaten them somehow?  Do they feel like they’re losing their place in society? Is the mere idea that any woman may not NEED or WANT them infuriating? I’d really like to know because some of the things I hear men say or read in those lovely Facebook comment sections are so hateful to women thats it’s completely baffling! I mean, really…you mad?

To be perfectly honest, I have no idea where this hate comes from and it seems pointless and unfounded.  When a woman has opinions that she’s not ashamed to voice or strong convictions that make her who she is, men (not all, but many) run scared.  In fact, they not only run scared but they run, huddle in a corner together and bash her for speaking her mind! It seems that even in 2016…I repeat… in the year TWO THOUSAND AND SIXTEEN women are still preferred to be seen and not heard.  Be quiet. Mind your masculine partner. Submit…Please have SEVERAL seats!

Could someone please tell me where in the book of life it says that if a woman is independent, strong, or powerful that men become obsolete and must bring her down?  What are these men trying to protect?  From what I see it’s all based on fear.  Fear that we won’t need them, fear that we can do things better (or can’t do things better), and fear that there will be no one left for them to control if we as women take control of our lives, our wellbeing and ourselves. Let me be blunt…massage your fragile ego all by yourself because it’s not our job to do it for you. Your insecurities are showing. It’s such a shame, because women will always need men just like men will always need women. On a very basic and natural level this will always be true.  We should each lift each other up and be pillars of support for one another rather than trying to dominate or put the other in their place…and by the way that goes for men AND women.  Just like there are men who hate on women there are women who hate on men, and guess what? It’s all rubbish. Get it together.

Only Black Girl

I walk into my job and turn the corner towards the offices, of which mine is last.

In one office I spy all my co-workers.

What is this? A meeting? No one told me…how typical.

Why does everyone look so emotional?? One is sighing with a look of perfect contentment.  Others make exclamations…”Wow…”  “How?…” “Why?…”

Has something happened? Is this a private intimate moment between friends? Has something miraculous occurred and I missed the memo?  Why am I the one always left out?

I walk closer.  Another co-worker bursts into hysterical laughter as the conversation continues in muted tones.

Perhaps this is a happy occasion.  Someone has good news?

I walk up to one of the group, a grin on my face, eager to join in the camaraderie, wondering what event impacted this weekday morning so much more than any other.

I whisper to him, “Hey, whatcha talkin about?”

He grins at me in sheer delight, “Paul McCartney :D”

……”oh”……..

*pops tongue and keeps it moving down the hall*

Fav Song of the Week 2/16/16

Words can’t express how much I LOVE SIA.  Most of her songs have so much raw emotion and when you really listen to the lyrics (glass of wine in hand) you’ll find yourself connecting to a place deep inside yourself without even knowing how the hell you got there.  She’s becoming one of my favorite artist and, unlike Adele (who I also love), she has many upbeat and fun songs as well.  I think of Sia and I think of overcoming obstacles, all of the bad things, and finding that stable place again. That place where you’re almost happy.  This is just one of the many Sia anthems that make my playlist, “Bird Set Free”.

Yes, We Matter…And Yes, You Do TOO

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I’ve tried, I’ve really tried to cut all you #AllLivesMatter ranters some slack out of misplaced sympathy towards your completely insensitive ignorance….I’m done now. I honestly cannot begin to understand why people are still ok with using that phrase. I’m browsing through comment sections like, honestly? This is really still a thing?? The reason why that phrase is disrespectful has been explained So Many Times I can’t count. In case you missed it:

#BlackLivesMatter was created because the Black community felt the need to state what should be obvious but clearly isn’t: that Black people matter. We are human beings the same as anyone else, citizens of this country that deserve equal treatment, opportunities and protection. We all are supposed to have these rights but when you look at our nation that is simply not the case (cop killings, media portrayals, incarceration rates). This is why people began to verbalize it, a way to say, “Hey, we matter TOO! Its about time we fixed this!” More or less when you say, “All lives matter” you’re downplaying the simple statement that Black people matter, that our lives matter. “Black Lives Matter” does not say that others don’t matter.  It’s not anti-police or anti-White.  We’re reminding the world that we matter TOO because that is easily forgotten. “All lives matter” is something said to shut us up and keep us in our place rather than raise us up. We don’t want to be raised over everyone else. We want equal treatment, and that goes for other races as well.  When Black Lives Matter gained speed I also saw a lot more publicity on Latino and especially Native American issues. This is about everybody. “Black Lives Matter” is simply a slogan started by the Black community because we were talking about problems specific to us that we’ve been struggling with for too long. But we’re not saying other races don’t have issues or don’t need raising up.  We all should be on the same level.

Now, most people get this by now but some of you guys are way behind the curve.  The even sadder part is that now  when people use it they almost say it like an attack…which is exactly what it is. “Police lives matter” also gained popularity which is arguably even more vile. We all know all police aren’t murderers and yes their lives matter…but why was the Black lives Matter movement started to begin with (refer to previous paragraph)? People were protesting largely in response to recent killings by police of unarmed Black men. Now “Police lives matter” has become a rebuttal and I have one more reason to never eat at Chik-fil-A again *sigh*. Anyway, I’m not trying to convert anyone over to the movement. I just needed to vent and I wish people would be more mindful of what they’re saying and what it really means. Do you care about Black lives? If yes, don’t say all lives matter or blue/police lives matter. If no, well, you know what THAT means and you can say what you like but I strongly advise you take a look at your life and sense of morality. That’s all.

Is #OscarsSoWhite Right?

There’s been a CRAZY amount of conversation about Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee’s decision to boycott the Oscars due to the lack or recognition of people of color in Hollywood.  I support their decision and give them props for standing firm on something they obviously feel strongly about. Strangely, I haven’t seen many people with the same mindset, Black or White.  There are several arguments floating around but I thought I’d discuss the three that stand out most to me.

The first is one I’ve seen from a lot of different people that basically says there’s more important and far worse things going on (stating the obvious much?), so who  cares about an award ceremony? Stop boycotting and protest something legit.  No one said that we should all focus on the Oscars and stop caring about world hunger. It reminds of BLM and how some people say life is far harder for other people around the world so Blacks in America should quit complaining.  One injustice cannot devalue another. It may be the understatement of the year but, this is an imperfect world.  Its imperfect and too often unjust for MANY reasons.  Are we only supposed to focus on a few of them?  Jada and Spike Lee are a part of the entertainment field. This is THEIR industry so they should be the ones to spark that change. Who is going to fight for equal representation if not people like them?  We all should work within our own personal communities and circles to make changes for the better. It starts with small steps in small spaces and gradually the whole is improved. To me thats just common sense.

The next attack actually comes from Black people who say something to the effect of, “Stop whining about what White people won’t give you and create your own awards with your own standards!”….So, for anyone who may not get what they mean, this is basically how in the Black community we create things that caters to our culture and community and its nothing new.  Think of Soul Train Awards, BET, all Black casts, HBCU’s.  All of these are examples of things that were created for the Black community because something was lacking.  Now, I will admit that this is a very good point. We could make our own awards….BUT, bear with me here, something about that feels backwards to me, especially at a time where racial tensions seem to be rising in this country.  Do we really want to divide ourselves more? Is that a step backwards in the wrong direction?  There was certainly a need for us to create our own schools, films, shows and groups and in no way am I saying to do away with all of that.  Im just asking the question, In 2016, do we really need our own Oscars too? To me the best outcome wouldn’t be to have a predominantly White Oscars and a predominantly Black Oscars.  There should simply be one show that doesn’t exclude some but includes all.  However, I’m sure that’s a long time off and there are many factors involved…It has to start somewhere.

Lastly, I’ve heard comments like,”Who cares!? They’re still actors, they’re still famous and an award doesn’t always depict talent.”… Also true. However, to me the overall point of #OscarsSoWhite is that we need more representation of people of color and not just at award shows.  Of all the films watched that contribute to these nominations, how many Black actors were cast in comparison to White actors? Take it a step further, How many Asian? Native American?  The obvious issue is not just nominations, but there aren’t as many  actors of color to choose from because there aren’t that many actors of color in Hollywood period.  That’s how I see the fundamental problem.  It’s a lot harder to nominate Black actors/actresses if they just aren’t in these films. I don’t condemn Jada or Spike Lee for their actions but there is definitely room for them and others to do more.  Go after the studios who make the films as well, and as the general public we could take a stand by avoiding the theaters when diversity is lacking in popular films. There is a great deal of power in the American dollar.  There needs to be a collective effort by actors, viewers, and ticket buyers to force a real change.