Falling Back & Stepping Down

“I don’t know anyone who does as much as you.”
“You’re starting to look worn out.”

I told myself, if I’m starting to physically look tired, they don’t even want to know what my brain looks like right now.

I kept my hair tied up. I don’t go to work with makeup on my face so the bags under my eyes flourished immensely all week. The death of Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO put me in a somber place. Robin Williams death nauseated me as I had just watched What Dreams May Come the night before. Something had to give. I needed to step back from social media, put down my phone, back away from the things I thought I had to do and clear my head. I wrote. And in my journal were entries upon entries of beautiful calligraphy written by an exhausted woman. Within the words were forced sentences, someone holding the pen fighting sleep yet putting ink to paper and formulating paragraphs on ironically, needing sleep. 

To get through another day.
To meet the demands and live up to my everyday responsibilities.

People were pulling me in every which direction and I was partially to blame for it. I took on these roles. I extended both hands… and feet, with open arms for others. It became normal to give, give, give until I became depleted of energy and all I needed was a weekend of rest and I was right back it. But the events of the past week had me feeling dark and a few days of relaxation wouldn’t be enough. Right now, I need a refill – an emotional, spiritual, mental one.

My mental state is the most important to me right this moment. The mindset of police officers led to the murder of a child. Mental illness took the life of Robin Williams. We need to take the well-being of our mind more seriously. At the end of last week I tweeted, my body is on E & all week, Twitter had my anxiety on 10. There’s no balance. When we get to places like this, we need to take two steps back in order to take the next twenty steps forward without tumbling or it’ll be a perpetual cycle of provide and come up shortfulfill the needs of others and feel empty personally. I have a habit of putting out until I’m reduced to nothing. I see it in my bank account and how I spend money frivolously and later complain about low numbers and negative signs. I see it when I’m tired and work alongside people who toot the word loyalty around which gives birth to feelings of guilt and leads me to continue to commit to others’ needs.

But how loyal am I to myself? When will I wholly commit to taking care of me before anyone else? 

Small steps.

I stepped down from two positions last week when I acknowledged the fact my sanity wasn’t in its rightful place. By partaking in so much, all I heard was noise and it became hard to find some solace at any time because I grew so accustomed to chaos, moving around, and staying busy. Being productive meant being involved in something, anything. I’m now finding productivity lies in resting periods too. When it’s quiet, when no one is around, when I’m alone in my apartment I have time to actually think and time to spend with the person who matters most.

People will feel a way. They’ll be angry. They’ll count me as unreliable, but I need to feel right. I’m falling back from people and stepping away from positions. I read a post on Twenties Unscripted that really had me thinking. People have asked me the question, how was your day/week/summer/etc. and it’s always been the same answer –  the generic, monotonous okay, consisting of the hundreds of things I’ve done (you’ve read it in the brunch post). But sometimes, I am not okay and sometimes, I’m far from good and it’s because I need to back away from it all and clear my head. 

So as the days of summer wind down, so do my obligations to others and I feel no guilt about that. My body is currently thanking me tremendously and right now actually feels like a great time for a nap…

Sacrifices v. Selfishness

My horoscope Monday morning:
Social & business invitations could come your way. Know your priorities when you choose what to accept. Your life can change dramatically from a creative opportunity (via Daily News).

Associates cheer for you. Hold yourself to high standards. Invest in your home & family by pushing your professional envelope (via amNY).

I remember when the feeling of guilt was brought to life. The six weeks of maternity leave came and went and before I knew it, I had to return to life as a sales associate at Gap. Rob was unemployed and I had to put in twice as much work in order to keep the rent paid, the lights, cell phones and cable on, all on retail pay (which is equivalent to $9.75 and then $11/hour). I once wrote about how I missed some major milestones in my children’s lives and how depressed it made me. I did what I had to do in order to provide for my family but I felt like less of a mother because my boys were “supposed” to say mama first or they would have a certain happiness that lived in their eyes when they looked at their father in comparison to me. I was doing the right thing, but I felt wrong. Guilt trips will weigh you down and pity parties are the types of functions I never want to be invited to again.

I remember the moment I was called selfish. I grew tired of being the crutch for someone else, yet couldn’t support myself. I grew accustomed to spoon-feeding everyone around me with positive sentiments and pats on the back but my own soul grew hungry and I felt malnourished spiritually. The guilt kicked in again and I tried so hard to keep the Reliable Friend medallion but when doing so much for others began to feel like an obligation and a burden, I had to redirect my focus and shift my energy into myself, the person I have to see and deal with everyday. I gave the gold medals back in order to give myself some gold stars. The backlash of loving myself was mistaken for “acting Hollywood and stush” but I mean, I guess. I started sleeping better at night so…

I remember the moment I really fell in love with the idea of blogging and although my work schedule was more fixed and provided consistency, my innate ability to keep myself moving and productive remained. I had more hours at home but my face was glued to a screen, typing away the thoughts in my head. My children got used to it and certain nights, like all this week, Rob will just fork over his computer and allow me to do my thing. He knows that I believe something good will come out of all of this and well, he’s grown to be a very supportive person who started believing too.

When I told him two weeks ago I had two blog functions to attend this past weekend, he cleared his schedule to make sure I was able to accomplish what it is I wanted to do. Friday night I went to my first Mommy blogger event hosted by MyMommyVents and the next day, woke up at 5a.m. to volunteer my time at the annual Blogging While Brown conference until 4p.m. Physically I was tired, but spiritually, I was energized and ready to tackle more, as a blogger/writer, as a mother and as a woman. The coordinators and founder of Blogging While Brown, Gina McCauley, allowed the volunteers to peek in for some sessions so when I received word that one of the co-founders of BlogHer was a speaker for the afternoon, I jumped on board and read something that’ll always stay with me:

Elisa Camahort’s last question reminds me of the importance of work. Most people don’t believe in giving their A-game anymore. The hype is in the bullshit and the praise in the mediocre, so people aren’t willing to put in extra effort and go just a smidgen harder than the rest. All of the events I attend for hours on end and all of the work I do is not selfish, it’s just a sacrifice I have to make. Surrendering the things I want for the sake that something better will come isn’t just for me, it’s for my family, the ones who let me delve on a computer once or twice (maybe even three times) a week for hours on end without interruption because they know that “Mommy loves what she does.”

When you receive that kind of support, it isn’t selfish behavior, because see, if I eat, we all eat.

Put in the work and don’t allow anyone to make you feel bad about it.

Break You For Your Breakthrough

In the past week, I’ve seen several posts and articles on redesigning your brand when you get that urge to shift the initial direction of your platform. I follow several women on social media who change the categories in which their blogs can be placed in two or three times a year. Someone once made a comment that, “this kind of indecisiveness is annoying”, but what’s beautiful about art, in any form, is its constant evolution. Everything EnJ for one, has had its fair share of trying to find its spot in the blogging world, with my header featuring the word clusterfuck at one point; it was just all over the place.

But something special happened, to me at least, when I found that thing called my voice. I won’t say when it happened or what post solidified the feeling but the moment I threw my hands up and said fuck itI’m going to tell this story and write it with the rawest emotions, Everything EnJ took a different course. 

That’s how your brand comes about – personal battles translating into something broader for other women. Something is born from something very intimate and personal.” Tyece knows. 

The feedback from the post actually made me uncomfortable – it was widely received. I had blogged for years and not one piece resonated with readers until I got real about my shit, aired out my business, and used this space as an online diary in the most literal sense. I cringed at some points writing the piece but I pushed myself through it for the simple fact that it had burned me to the point that if I didn’t get it out, I’d fall into a depression. I shared something personal with the world and I was accepted. The virtual hugs and moral support broke me – and it was my breakthrough. 

I share that with you – the aspiring writer or the underpaid musician, the exhausted college student or single parent struggling to make a way, to say that sometimes you have to take risks and do things you think won’t work. You have to play in the mud and go through the moments of feeling uncomfortable. You have to try something different, even if the end result is what you define failure. If you swore by your initial idea for a project or vision and find yourself reneging, know that setbacks are often set ups for comebacks. You have to break yourself into a million little pieces just to get to that one thing you’ve dreamed of for so long. 

That’s a sacrifice. Are you willing to take it?