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deep thoughts

Things I wish I could tell my younger self….

October 1, 2017

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That when you find yourself explaining away the behavior of a man who you think loves you more than anyone has ever loved you with words like ‘he doesn’t really mean it’ or ‘it’s just a cultural thing’ or ‘it will get better when we are married’, you really shouldn’t proceed with the marriage. In fact, you should listen to the voice screaming in your head that the path you’re going down is the wrong one. Yes, he does make you feel amazing sometimes. And, yes, he does awake this crazy passion in you. But, he also hurts you. So deeply. His words will wear you down to the point you don’t even recognize yourself, his anger will scare you to the point that you’ll lock yourself in your bathroom or sleep in the little space between the wall and the bed to feel a modicum of safety. Within just a few months of your marriage, you’ll find yourself going to your shift in the hospital after having the worst fight of your life that somehow ended up with you on the floor getting pummeled by his fists. It will be a long, long road to get over that and all the other pain he caused you. You’ll happen upon the scars even years later. It will make it hard for you to fully love someone new, even when he actually is amazing. If you’d just listen to yourself and that quiet voice inside, you’d avoid so much pain.

That when people make you feel small inside because they have an opinion that your body should be smaller than it happens to be, you should summon every ounce of strength you have to ignore them. Ignore it all. When you overhear them talking about you. When they come to you with concern over your weight gain after your freshman year of college. Even when they praise you for losing weight after being so sick while living abroad that you laid in bed late one night scared that you were actually going to die. Ignore it all. You’ll save yourself so much wasted energy, not to mention thousands of dollars of therapy. Perhaps if you ignore it, you’ll be able to stop the automatic thoughts that cause you to berate yourself. It’s like a marble rolling down a mountain of sand thousands of times – all those thoughts on autopilot. You’ll eventually learn to reprogram them, but it’s not easy and it’s not permanent. It will be something you’ll likely work on for the rest of your life.

That adulthood really is about keeping up with the Jones’ if you’re not careful. Somehow you’ll get caught up in a stressful job in a town you hate for a few years, piling up bills and not taking your vacation time. You’ll think back to the adulthood you idealized as a kid and wonder how you made a wrong turn. You didn’t, really, it’s just harder than you thought it would be. You can make it easier on yourself by marching to the beat of your own drum, watching out for consumerism and lifestyle inflation and only pursuing the things that truly matter to you. Even at 31, you won’t exactly know what that means, but you’ll at least have the wisdom to know to keep trying to learn.

That Mas will pass away someday. Yes, I wish you could’ve know that the little boy you fell in love with while living in Gambia was only going to make it to eights years on this earth. You probably would’ve loved him even better and even deeper when you had the chance to live in his light. You might’ve tried to teach him to swim even though he was deathly afraid of the water. Probably not, but maybe it would have occurred to you. Losing him will be one of the hardest things you’ll have to face in this life and it will always, always hurt. BUT, and this is a big but, someday you’ll realize that even though losing him was hard, loving him was worth it. Unfortunately, you’ll waste a lot of time trying to fool yourself into believing that it’s better to never love than to risk your heart breaking to someone. You’ll lose a lot of time to thinking that isolation is a worthwhile trade-off to make for the deep love of true connection, but thankfully you’ll wake up at some point and realize that you’re crazy and open your heart again. It will be worth it and you’ll find ways to honor your love for Mas for the rest of your life.

That you should listen when your gut tells you to make a change. Don’t wait until you’re miserable and mean to listen to your own intuition. Move to a new town, take a new job, get a new puppy. For God’s sake, just take action and deal with the consequences later. Who knew that the girl everyone thought was so impulsive would end up so scared?

That calling is always a good idea. Yes, it sucks to actually pick up the phone, but you’ll stack up a lot of regrets in life due to your unwillingness to call someone when you know you should. If your friend’s dad passes away unexpectedly, just call. If you feel like you need to ring your  own dad out of the blue, just do it. If you feel like you did something kind of shitty to someone, have the balls to pick up the phone and tell them sorry. If your friend is dying of cancer, god dammit, just call her. Call her until she knows for sure how much she means to you.

That you’ll always feel like your writing sucks and that it’s not worth even trying to write when it’s so hard to be successful at it. You’ll lose years that you could’ve been writing to second-guessing yourself. Your writing will suffer for it, you will suffer for it. Somehow ten years will pass without much happening on the writing front and you’ll only have a half-assed blog to show for it. Keep writing anyway. Even if nothing comes out of it, it’s worth it if only for the peace of mind it brings you.

 

daily diary, deep thoughts, editor letter

So many updates…

August 20, 2017

maddy-what-a-time

Hi friends. I have missed you. I have so much to share. So much. I’m going to break it up into a few different topics, below:

Home

Living in Oakland is better than I hoped it would be and, trust me, I had really high hopes. The mixture of the physical beauty, the perfect weather, the progressive spirit, the close proximity to the boys and the feeling of being in alignment with my life hopes and dreams is something I just can’t describe. My soul has found its home. It’s not without its stresses…we can barely pay the bills living here and sometimes the grind of that brings me down. I’m also still commuting, which is its own beast. Still, it’s so worth it and I am so grateful for the opportunity to be here.

Money

As I mentioned above, it’s stressing me out. I think I’m going to stop telling myself this story about being bad with money and find a financial planner that can help me sort things out. I hope to own a house someday in this beautiful town and I am just not on that path right now. What’s worse, I don’t even know how to get there. Time to call in the professionals!

Food

Over the past several months, I’ve been feeling my heart pulled toward veganism. I’ve finally gotten the hang of vegetarianism and this is the next step. For me, it’s hard to love my dogs and other animals so much and rationalize eating other animals that are sentient. It doesn’t add up. I still totally believe in intuitive eating and am working to integrate this personal belief into my intuitive eating practice. It’s not super easy, because sometimes I do feel deprived even when eating vegetarian. I eat fried chicken and hamburgers sometimes and I’m trying to give myself grace through it. I know that I’m causing way less suffering through my imperfect attempts at veganism and vegetarianism that if I hadn’t even tried at all. Last week, I started a 30 day vegan challenge, which I am documenting on my instagram stories. Follow along if you’d like. I’ll be sure to post some updates here as I go along, but overall, I’m learning that it’s really not as difficult as I thought it would be. It basically comes down to good planning. If you know me, I’m not the best planner, but I am trying to learn.

Community

Living here in what I hope to be my permanent home, I feel so compelled to contribute to this community. I’ve started volunteering by meeting with an English learner at Cal who needs a bit of help with conversational English. I’ve only had one session so far, but it has been a total pleasure. I haven’t volunteered much in the past few years and it’s time to change that. I don’t have a ton of time in my schedule, but this is one small step I can take for an hour a week.

Happiness

On paper, my happiness should be higher than it ever has been. I’m living in Oakland!! A lifelong dream. I have a wonderful boyfriend and his two beautiful, sweet kids in my life every day. I am eating vegan and I am volunteering and I have great friends and family in my life. It’s all SO good, but I have noticed myself feeling really down and negative. Instead of focusing on the good in my life, I notice myself attracted to the less-than-perfect parts. My commute bums me out, our money problems stress me out and I am fixated on my career and whether or not I am pursuing my life’s purpose in my work. Overall, I’m diagnosing this as a lack of contentment. I thought that living in Modesto was the source of my unhappiness, but now I’m realizing that it’s my own brain. I’m on a mission to fix it. Of course, I don’t expect to be 100% happy all the time, but I can cultivate a practice of contentment that I don’t have now. I’m going to start reading the book, The Happiness Equation: Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything tonight. I heard about it on a podcast last week and I can’t stop thinking about it. I’ll report back.

Culture

Seriously, what is going on? We are in crisis right now in America and it is scary and sad and demoralizing. There is so much wrong with what is going on in our world and it feels overwhelming to know how to speak out and act out effectively. Do you have links to resources you’d recommend? I need to learn more and do more.

Writing

I’ll close with this. I was listening to the Dear Sugars podcast on my way home last week and it really changed my perspective on writing. I get so caught up on this writing thing and whether or not anyone reads and whether or not I’ll have any success that I don’t do it right or consistently. If there’s one thing I know for sure, I am a better, happier person when I’m writing and it’s the one thing that I know without any doubt that it lights me up inside in a way that I’ve never experienced elsewhere. I’m done chasing the success of it. I just want to write my truth, document my life and my thoughts, and forget about success or patrons. It’s not the measure of worth I’m going after. Can you keep me accountable to this, friends?

 Photo from DesignLoveFest. 

 

adventure, california, deep thoughts, oaklandish

Home

May 8, 2017

oakland hills boomer

We up and moved. Hightailed it out of Modesto and followed our dreams. We live in Oakland now and we’re over-the-moon excited about the new life we’re building together. We can see the future and it looks so bright. We make big sacrifices for this new life every single day. I drive three hours round trip every day to get to work, Keith drives two hours, we work different schedules so we only see each other on the weekend, we pay an exorbitant amount of rent each month, we no longer have a yard so we walk rounds and rounds in the neighborhood so the pups can do their business.

Even still. Even still, we’re so much happier than we were in our old lives in Modesto.

I wish I could go back five years and shake myself so hard, reprimand myself for hiding in fear of trying something new. I wish I could go back and force myself to listen to my gut that was leading me here. I wouldn’t have lost so much time. I know the years I spent in Modesto taught me many things, but god I wish I could get that time back. Seven whole years of psyching myself up every day to be happy. I get a pit in my stomach when I go back to that place, so I’m not going to go there right now and upset myself again.

I try not to be preachy in this space, but please, please learn from my mistake and the years I squandered talking myself into something that I knew beyond a shadow of doubt wasn’t right for me. Life is so, so short. Your gut talks to you for a specific reason. Please listen.  You’re the only person who knows what’s right for you and you’re the only one who can make it happen for yourself. When you read these words, your gut is probably talking to you and whispering a reminder of what your own heart wants. Follow it. Make it happen. It’s the most beautiful thing to feel your own soul in alignment. It’s priceless and worth every sacrifice.

Now that we’re here, my heart is reminding me of this space and the dreams I have to pursue my writing and a creative life. So, I’m listening and showing up.

Here I am. Let’s make it happen.

deep thoughts

Jumping in

October 5, 2016

garance-dore

I loved the profile on Marina Khorosh and her site, Dbag Dating, today on Garance Dore.  Since I’ve rededicated myself to this little slice of the internet I call mine, I keep seeing signs that I should keep up the work. This article is a prime example. Here are a couple of my favorite snippets:

‘People always ask me: Do you think it’s still time to open a blog today? And I always respond yes, yes it’s time, however you do it. Because you never know what can happen when you give yourself a channel to express yourself.’

and,

‘For days, I was plagued by doubt – was I really going to go against everything Russian literature had taught me about being a woman of mystery, and start airing my dirty laundry in front of my 1500+ Facebook friends? What if my dad decided to read it? What if my employer found out?’

and, lastly…

‘And yet, I would be lying if I told you that writing hasn’t changed my life in every way.’

Sharing in this forum feels supremely natural to me. I love the joy it brings my life. I think I live more fully when I have to be clued in to the world around me enough to write about it. I was talking with my boyfriend Keith about it tonight and he said that it will always be worth it to be vulnerable enough to create. It’s scary, but it’s so worth it.

What’s your biggest dream in life? As silly as it sounds, being a blogger is mine and has been for at least the last seven years.

PS – we are thinking about getting a puppy! Will update tomorrow if we decide to do it. Who are we!?

deep thoughts

Poor, beautiful Amy

April 30, 2016

amy poster large

I finally watched the Amy Winehouse documentary tonight and it was just so gutting. I keep thinking about her, her artistry, her love for music and her demons. I wasn’t very familiar with her while she was uber popular and I just vaguely remember the media tearing her apart because of her addictions, but watching the movie made me ponder on how truly terrible fame can be, especially for a sensitive soul like hers. I know a documentary can paint a biased picture, but it seemed obvious that she had a kind heart and wasn’t playing the game for fame. She just wanted to make amazing music, but her past and her relationships and her addictions literally broke her down.

After the past couple of weeks, when we lost yet another music legend too soon, it makes me wonder how much longer we can manufacture this machine that chews people up and churns them out for our entertainment. It just feels so wrong to me. I wish Amy and Prince and Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston and, and, and didn’t go out like they did. They deserved to share their art for a much longer time and we all pay the consequence of losing them too soon.

I know this post is a lot of rambling, but suffice it to say that I heartily recommend that you give Amy a watch. A truly beautiful tribute and a very sad story.

deep thoughts

Life Lately

January 16, 2016

I haven’t been to work since December 29th because I had to have my gallbladder taken out. While the surgery wasn’t exactly a walk in the park, it wasn’t too terrible after the first few days. I’ve taken full advantage of my time off by reading a million books, watching entire seasons of Sex and the City in one sitting, staying up until 2am, waking up at 11am and thinking about what I want to do this year and in life in general.

Above all, my goal this year is to just chill the eff out. I can get a bit angsty about life and I want to find a way to just roll with the punches and not stress out too much about the future. This year will be all about continuing the positive momentum I started last year with my therapy and my debt reduction. If you’ve ever tried to work on your personal issues or chip away at personal debt, you know that it’s definitely a marathon and not a sprint. For those of us who want everything done yesterday, it’s hard to just relax and trust the process, but that is exactly what I have to do. Two years from now, I hope the inside of my head and the inside of my bank account look vastly different than they do now. Long-term goals for the win.

I also want to find ways to extract maximum enjoyment out of the life I have RIGHT NOW, not pine away for the mythical future, perfect life that I envision. That means weekend camping trips, more walks with the dog, taking up my old hip-hop dance classes and prioritizing the time to connect with the people I love and care about. It also means finding ways not to get sucked up into the bull of work life. I want to do my job, do it well and still find ways to care for myself without losing myself in my work.

I also want to paint the living room this year.

Other than that, I just want to be me. This is the first year that I haven’t started the year out promising myself that this is finally MY YEAR to lose weight, save all the money, travel to all the places and get all of the promotions. You know how dogs turn around in circles several times before they finally lay down? I feel like the last thirty years of my life have been all about me chasing my tail. Now it’s finally time to just nestle in and find a bit of peace.

What about you? What are your goals for this year?

deep thoughts

A potential infinity

August 16, 2015

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In a chapter in one of my favorite books on the planet, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Life and Love from Dear Sugar, Cheryl Strayed wrote a concerned reader who was struggling with whether or not to have children. Strayed encouraged her to consider all of the different potential futures she could choose to have in her life, to think deeply about what her life would look like with children and what it would look like without them. What would the cadence of her days look like? What would her retirement look like? How would she spend her free time? Strayed argued that, sure, the future is pretty unpredictable, but it still doesn’t hurt to think about it before making major decisions that affect it.

Even though I’m not quite thirty, I already feel like I’ve lived nine different lives. Right now, I am in the California chapter, but in the past, I lived through The Gambia chapter, the college chapter, the divorce chapter, the study abroad chapter. When I was in The Gambia chapter, I definitely saw my life lived pinging between The Gambia and the United States. I thought I would raise interracial, intercultural children with my then-boyfriend. I imagined what that life would look like. I felt so close to it that I could taste it.

For me, that future didn’t come to fruition and I am completely okay with that now. I still feel a bit nostalgic at times for what could’ve been, but I acknowledge that the way things turned out was for the best.

The ‘Motherhood around the World’ blogger featured a couple of weeks ago on Cup of Jo is basically living the life I had imagined, albeit on a different side of the African continent. She has a beautiful family and what looks like a beautiful life in Kenya. I reread her post this morning several times because I loved peering inside of the coulda, woulda, shoulda well every once in awhile. It’s nice to pull out that other life, imagine it from different angles, and then put it away.

Definitely give the post and the series a read. The blogger also has her own blog, which you can find here.

Do you ever think about other ‘lives’ you could have lived?

deep thoughts

Mindy Kaling, I love you

August 9, 2015

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This article, ‘Mindy Kaling’s Guide to Killer Confidence’ has made the rounds on the internet this weekend. I clicked through, thinking that it would be a bit of a sugar-coated snooze fest like I’ve heard from her in the past, but I was wrong.

She actually addressed the fact that she’s been a bit trite in the past with her answers to ‘why are you so confident?’ and then proceeded to answer the question with the grit and power that you’d expect from a woman as successful as Kaling.

It’s nothing new to be told that you have to work hard to be successful, but I liked that she encouraged women to actually believe that they deserved success once they put in the work. I can easily forget to do this, so I took it as a very timely reminder.

Cheers to Mindy and her new book, launching Sept 15. Will you watch the next season of her show on Hulu?

deep thoughts

On being ‘stepmom’

October 13, 2014

Keith and I were already pretty much in love by the time I found out that he had kids. We met and quickly clicked and after a couple of days of seeing one another near-constantly, he told me he had kids. It was strange and surprising and I think he thought it was going to be a deal-breaker for me. I am much younger than he is and adding the kids into the equation so early – well, we just didn’t know what to think about that.

We took things very slow in the kid department. I had my own deep sadness from falling in love with an ex-boyfriends younger brother and then losing him when I lost the relationship. I didn’t want to go through that again. It was just so heartbreaking.

We’ve been dating for years now and as we’ve started building our lives together, my relationship with his boys grows deeper every single day. They live about two hours away and we see them whenever we can. At 12 and 10, they’re starting to have their own lives and independence, so we don’t see them nearly as much as we’d like.

This weekend, we went to San Francisco together to check out Fleet Week and see the Blue Angels perform. Our friend threw a party on his rooftop in the Marina and we spent a couple of vertigo-inducing hours watching the planes fly about. We took this photo and it is probably my absolute favorite.

blue angels

I will be the first to admit that I am completely winging it when it comes to how I fit myself into these boys’ lives. I know I’ve messed a lot of things up and will definitely continue to do as we move forward together. But, I just love them so very much. I love seeing them grow and spending as much time with them as I possibly can. I love being able to go to their football games and talk to them about what their lives are like and seeing them grow up.

I hope that, even though I am definitely learning on the job in my role as pseudo-stepmom, that I am somehow conveying to them how much I love them and how privileged I feel to be a part of their lives. I consider it my job to make them feel like they have a bonus adult in their lives aside from their mom and dad – someone who cares about them so much and is willing to do anything to help them grow into considerate, smart, independent young men. Someone who wants to wrap them in an additional layer of love and support as they go about their long lives. A not-mom mom who loves them unconditionally.

deep thoughts

On contentment

September 2, 2014

A few months ago, I finished nearly two years of reading and studying and writing and working on my Masters degree while also working full-time. It was crazy stressful and busy, but it was fulfilling. I loved my job and I loved my school and I think I took a lot of pleasure in the out-of-control way my life was unfolding. It was ridiculous, but it was also exciting.

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I finished school in May of this year. When I submitted my final paper, I felt a strange mix of relief and overwhelming sadness. I called my boyfriend Keith a few minutes after I turned in my assignment and proceeded to cry my eyes out. I think my exact words were “I’ll never be able to learn again”. Obviously, I was being a bit melodramatic. There are opportunities to learn all of the time in our lives, but the guided learning I experience when in school is just my absolute favorite thing. To be honest, I am a bit lost without it.

This summer, I’ve felt like the worst version of myself. I am so lost without the constant mental stimulation of school and I spend most of my days oscillating between wanting to go back to pursue my PhD, wanting to work on my writing, wanting to do well at work, wanting to lose weight, wanting, wanting. I’m exhausting myself.

While I’ve been so focused on myself, I’ve lost sight of all of the goodness I am blessed with. I am in a healthy, loving relationship. I’m part of my boyfriend’s children’s lives, I have enough money to pay all of my bills, I have the world’s sweetest dog. I could go on and on.

Today, while observing Labor Day by laboring and piddling around the house, I decided that enough is enough. If time is any indicator, things will work out just perfectly. I hope that I’ll be able to return to school some day, but in the meantime, I just want to stop and smell the roses.

Er, succulents.