Music is my medicine. For any ailment, music is one of my prescriptions. It fills voids, answers the questions, asks the questions, brings the release, and clarifies the message. Today I’m meditating on one of my favourites songs by Ziggy Marley while at the same time getting several “bitch slaps” from Erika Napoletano (more on her further down). From the days of the melody makers to his solo career, Ziggy Marley is DA man. His songs are so poignant even in their simplicity. Whenever I reached the point of ultimate frustration and lack of fulfillment in any J O B, and when “administration” became overbearing “hand to mouth” offered release even for the moment.
I have a number of theme songs for my life that surface at different times to suit my mood and particular circumstance. When I need to bring out my fighting spirit in the midst of difficult and challenging times, I call on Queen Ifrica’s Lioness on the Rise. In my imagination, I see myself putting on a brightly coloured and flowing Caribbean flavoured dress , one of my “bad girl” signature lipsticks in either Mac Red or Vino that ressemble blood and wine, studded combat boots, a tam to the side for the locks and last but not least – the shades. Just like that, I am ready “to face the darkest and hardest of times”. YES in my long flowing dress, because that’s how I roll. When I am loving myself, (get your mind out the gutter!!!) I pull out Jill Scott and India Arie. When I want to marinate in my creole roots the Kadans, Compas and Zouk hits are too many to mention here but Kassav holds a special place in my heart. Some sentiments are better experienced in creole.
Going back to Ziggy though, all day I’ve been meditating on one of my favourites – “got to be true to myself”. The idea of being true to yourself is one that has been heavily at the forefront of my mind for several months. Really it has always been there but in the last few months I’ve been embracing the actual BEING true to myself as opposed to just thinking about it and succeeding sporadically.
What the heck does that mean anyway? What is it to be true to yourself. At one point in my life, I used to think that living along this ideal suggested being selfish and uncaring of other people. With a Master’s degree in being untrue to myself in so many ways in the past, take it from me, the “selfish” idea is complete and utter bullshit! When you are true to yourself you are giving the world and others the greatest gift. That gift is allowing other people to be true to themselves as a result of your own courage to do the same. Being “true to yourself” means really and truly not wasting precious brain space and energy on what people think about you, what you do, why you do what you do, how you do it, who you are, and other such questions that often only YOU know the answer to. Isn’t society plagued with “what would so and so think?” or “I don’t want them to think…fill in the blank.” But really, who cares what the imaginary “THEY” think? Did THEY wake up next to you this morning? Did “THEY” pay your car note or mortgage? “Do THEY feed you regularly? I mean seriously, do THEY buy your groceries? If the answer to any of those questions is NO, then truly they should not dictate your life. Even if the answer is yes to any of those questions, THEY STILL should not dictate your life because Whose life is it anyway? YOURS. Decide who you want to run your life. Live your truth. Any time you start thinking about what THEY are going to say, please call up Etana – “people talk“
In the last few weeks, author, speaker and coach Erika Napoletano has captured my undivided attention. She is indeed a woman after my own heart.
In the true spirit of keeping it real, I have to admit that I love her writing and I love her because she is so irreverent. The picture to your left gives you an idea of what I mean. This slide was among the first in her recent presentation at AFest that I attended in the Dominican Republic this November. Self declared potty mouth, she does not give one rats ass about what you think. She is living Erika large, loud and in living colour. I gleefully imagine what it must be like for the more conservative types who happen to end up in an audience where she is a speaker audience while being totally unaware of her “brand”. Can you read their thoughts and see their faces? *clutches pearls*
I admit that there is a part of me that loves that she curses – because she wants to and because she can. I am certainly no clean mouthed angel, but I know that her way with an audience is not and will not necessarily be my way and that’s O.K.. More than her special brand of humour and delivery though, what I absolutely love is that she keeps it realer than real. As a straight talking scorpion myself, that’s the kind of truth I appreciate. No holds barred, no sugar, no butter, NO CHASER. That’s the kind of truth that not enough of us have give to ourselves.
Who really likes to look in the mirror and acknowledge that there is a huge pimple right at the tip of their noses? Of course not. Instead, lets cover it up with some foundation, powder and maybe even a little bronzer so that it can remain blocked and become more infected. With a little luck, maybe no one will notice it’s there. Wash face, repeat. That’s how many people live their lives. Act as if its not there. That’s how I was raised. Today, with my adult glasses on, I can look back and see the many instances where we played “if I can’t see it, its not there.”
The fundamental element that we need to remember when it comes to being true to oneself is that our truths do not, will not and cannot be the same. It is for this reason that while you may not understand or like one person’s life approach to their truth, the space we occupy is always a more harmonic one when each person accepts without question that each individual is operating from their own set of perspectives, experiences and understandings. One of the memorable takeaways from Erika’s presentation surrounded the obvious artwork on her arm. The story of why she decided to get that first tattoo was touching, sad, and so totally profound, I can hear her telling the story as I type this. What was interesting though was of her also telling the story of overhearing in the park as she was passing, I cant remember now if it was a grandfather talking to his daughter but basically, the person concerned made some very derogatory remarks concerning what he would do to his child if she ever put that “trash” on her skin. I wonder if knowing her story would have made a difference to his thoughts. Maybe not, good thing Erika didn’t give a shit.
So, as we go head on into 2014 here’s my truth. Late this year, I turn 40. It used to be a daunting and agonizing thought – because of all the things I thought I should have done by now but really it was what OTHER people thought I should have done by now. Turning 40 this year is now the greatest thing ever because by the time I get there (October 29th if you want to send gifts!!:-)) I will have done many things that according to my values and desires for this life will be EPIC. Some of these things have been in my consciousness for the last 15 or so years of my life. In addition to those things (which you will find out about as the year goes by), I will be paying attention to what I think instead of what YOU think, I will be looking at the pimple on my nose,(damn periods – cause them to come up in the darndest of places!!!) the stretch marks in too many places, the bags under my eyes, and loving them for what they tell me about me, about what I need and want to do and be for me. I will be saying NO when I just don’t feel like doing some shit, instead of saying yes to make you, or whoever feel better. In this chapter of my life, money making businesses DO NOT get my work for free or HOE cheap prices. In this chapter and continuing to “the end”, money is going to become my best friend and I will invest in myself so that I can be more of myself. My spiritual and physical temples need work and attention. I know this and that is my first order of business. I intend to LIVE every day that I am here on this earth. What about you? What are you going to do?
Here’s to being true to yourself!!