Let’s rewind to about…two weeks ago…I’m on Thanksgiving Break spending the week in South Jersey with my family (I think Trenton is Central Jersey, but it’s debatable). I’ve just finished my third month of being a full time teacher and goodness knows I could use this break. As we (teachers) clocked out and say our good byes and engaged in small talk about what we had planned for the holiday to which we all agreed on “sleep” being the highlight, we set out…going our separate ways, closing the doors to our classrooms and checking out mentally.

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Yes! I thought to a mental break…a break away from teaching AND being a grad students. On Thanksgiving Break, I didn’t eat myself into multiple food comas, in fact, I barely ate (I had a Mexican food craving rather than Thanksgiving food..so what…fight me if you don’t like it) because I barely got up from my cozy bed at my parent’s house. I turned off work emails, but not my personal email account because you know…sometimes in the midst of all the junk mail, I actually find some cool shit in there somewhere. WHAT WASN’T COOL however was an email that I had gotten from an ex. YUP, you read that right…this year makes THREE years since we’d gone our separate ways so WHY IN THE NAME OF THE GOOD LORD WAS HE SENDING ME AN EMAIL?!?!?!?!? In summary, it was an email “seeking atonement” for his wrongdoing and telling me how proud he is of the woman I’ve become…and for a second, the old Dej that would’ve replied back in anger with some snappy and petty comments ALMOST surfaced, but then I realized how much I didn’t need that apology. The past three years in his absence have been about me reclaiming myself and my identity. It was about examining those six years and reflecting on the person I WAS when I was there, what I liked about myself when I was with him and what I didn’t like and during those reflections I realized that the things I didn’t like about myself when I was with him heavily outweighed the things that I did like about myself.

So I kindly responded telling him not to contact me again (I mean if I changed my number and blocked you on social media sites, why did you think email was the next best route?) and added his email to block sender with the help of several tweets and emails to the person behind the Google gmail social media account (I’m tech savvy, but sometimes I have a slow moment..sue me).

Point of the story is there is a purpose behind every. single. thing. that. happens. to. you. in. this. life. GOT THAT?! Every. single. thing. It’s an opportunity for you to RECLAIM YOURSELF!!! Even when you’ve fallen off, just experienced a horrible break up, got laid off from a job, or found yourself deep in the muddy swamps of unemployment…it’s an opportunity for you to rise from the ashes like a Phoenix (channeling my inner Dumbledore) and that’s exactly what the hell I did and you betta ZOO IT TOO BOO BOO.

xoxo

I’ve always been a fan of Rupi Kaur since “Milk and Honey,” but I had only seen clips here and there of her work. I immediately appreciated her vulnerability and transparency. It’s something that I too, strive for in my writings. So I allowed myself quiet time this past weekend to treat myself to brunch, and splurges on some books and decided to add “Milk and Honey” to my library to be read in it’s entirety. A week later, through tear-stained eyes, I’ve finally finished her first chapter, “The Hurting.” I found myself having to put it down often, not being able to fully digest her words as they were triggering to my own life. 41 pages. 2 years. 

An empath, failing at ignoring the amount of empathy her words caused me. I could feel and hear and see the hurt seeping through the pages of that chapter. I could see the beginning of healing, the letting go of pain and the nasty scars left behind. I thought about my own hurting. How I never spoke of that period in my life. How it became a repressed and almost mythical event in my life. I never thought about it, therefore it never happened. I never shared about it, therefore it never happened. It never happened. 

I thought about that period in the young and innocent lives of two nine year old girls and how one closed up so tight that she became shut off, mute, and ashamed. I thought about how the other opened up so wide until she busted into a million pieces sprinkling bits of herself asking to be made whole again. Wanting to be made whole again, but never finding the glue that stuck around long enough for her pieces to dry.

I thought about how “it wasn’t our fault,” but why did I still feel guilty all those years ago? I thought about the terror and the vulnerability I felt when being left alone for even a second with the monster from the neighborhood. I thought about all those times those two nine year old girls would scramble to get away from the monster who rode in the backseat with us on the way home from school.

A 17 year old boy from the neighborhood experimenting with his own sexual curiosities, I thought about those two nine year old girls who fell victim as his test dummies. I thought about how for the first time in my innocent life I became aware of parts of myself that were attached to myself.

I thought about that day being pulled into my mother’s room and being questioned about the monster who’d latched on to my family. Sharing family dinners with us, hanging on my family’s house stoop, chilling just because. He was my cousin’s best friend.

I thought about years later, riding the city bus home from high school seeing his face standing on the street corner in front of the bodega and feeling a heavy ball of disgust brewing in the pit of my stomach and his audacity to even say hi to me as if we cool peoples.

I read those chapters of Kaur and thought about all of these things and realized it was the first time I had thought of these things since I was one of those nine year old girls on the cusp of my tenth year.

Some days I wonder had this affected me in any way in my now adult years. Is this the reason I have a hard time committing? Am I non-committal? Am I too picky? Why do I get bored easily? Why do I often find myself extremely underwhelmed by men? I mean, I’m not interested in women, but I’m extremely cautious with men. 

Now in the later half of my twenties, I find myself thinking about these things often. I think about my desire to establish roots, build and create a family of my own and I see how easy it comes for some, but it’s such a difficult process for me because no one seems to add up.

Are the affects of my silent hurting and repression subconscious?

12342360_10153550358556997_1380704423291471423_nThis morning, I got an email from “Life According To Her” and the first line was “Deja, simplify what complicates your life. I thought it was a timely email because for the last week I’ve been in a really great place, but before that I found myself increasingly overwhelmed. I found myself having multiple breakdowns (the struggle got real) and I wanted to share a message with you all on positioning yourself for positivity because I literally had to remove somethings to tap back into that clear and free head space I felt slipping away from me. I just didn’t know how to articulate that message to you and I didn’t think I should until I had finally positioned my own self for positivity (gotta practice what you preach right?). So this post has sat in my drafts for a week now, but that email prompted me to open this and share it with you  through one of the most consistently complicated things in my entire life: math.

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I know you’re probably like where are you going with this Deja, but trust me…it’ll make sense soon. So math. You’re in pre-K and then Kindergarten and you’re learning your numbers. You learn how to count to three…and then ten and before you know it you’ve learned how to count to 100. Pretty simple right? But then you transition to first grade and then second grade and you’re learning how to add numbers together and subtract numbers from each other. It’s still pretty simple although you might stagger a bit on borrowing and carrying those tricky multiple digit numbers, but then you get to the fourth grade and you start to learn how to multiply and then divide those numbers and suddenly you realize things that were once so simple (such as counting) are starting to get more complex and complicated (imagine the person sitting in Calculus 4 right now). Well folks this is often the model for our lives as well. So in order to simplify those complicated things in our lives we have to use the order of operation. You guys to remember the order of operation right?

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So here is my Order of Operation to simplify your life:

Create a Morning Routine

I’ve never really had much of a morning routine in place. I’d usually just wake up when I did, and worked when I felt like it until I met my deadlines for the day. More recently, since I’ve begun school and work full time while juggling deadlines, I found that going to bed every single night at the same time is crucial. I trained my body to wake up with the alarm and even before the alarm in the mornings. If I’d like to have a chill and mellow day, I’ll throw on some acoustics to usher me into a relaxing day. If I’m looking to have a energized day, I’ll play some EDM and dance my way into the workday.

Having a morning routine sets the tone for the rest of the day.

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Complain Less

There is nothing I hate more than someone who only texts me to complain about their day. Or someone who constantly complains about the job they applied for. Or someone complaining about whatever. Have you noticed that when you spend so much time complaining you’re actually stewing up negative energy that affects not only your entire behavior but the mood of the people around you? When you complain less, you become more optimistic. You become more grateful. So moving forward…here’s an activity whenever you feel the urge to complain about something, write it down and think about how you can turn that complaint into gratefulness?

School is hard y’all. This week of orientation has been extremely intense. The hours are long (8am-5pm), it’s information overload and full of cramming, but if I walked around constantly talking about these things people would look at me like well…why are you even there? Truth is, I’m there because I want to be, so should I be complaining about it? NOPE! Instead I should be grateful, optimistic and see the challenges as growth areas for myself.

Balance Out Your “Yes’s” and Your “No’s”

In January rather than creating New Years Resolutions, I decided to make 2016 my Yes year ironically, this was before I had a chance to even read Shonda Rhimes “Year of Yes.” I said yes to every single opportunity that fell into my lap and found myself burnt the hell out and I decided that sometimes…just sometimes…saying no isn’t always a bad thing. Learn to balance out your yes’s and your no’s. Not everything warrants a yes. If you don’t feel like doing something, say no. Saying yes, when you should say no will eventually lead to whatever you said yes to becoming a burden and what worst way to complicate your life than having something dangling over your head that you don’t even want or aren’t even interested in?

Less Time Online

Since starting this new job and school. I haven’t had much time online. Today is the first day in a week that I’ve actually opened up my laptop and it’s to complete this post. I realize that I have more energy and time for life when I’m not spending so much of it behind a computer screen. There’s less room for negativity to filter it’s way in by sifting through newsfeeds and timelines and dashboards. Now I’m not saying completely disconnect, but limiting time online definitely increases productivity in other aspects of your life.

Fill Your Life with Those You Love

As cliche as this sounds…and believe me it’s pretty cheesy, but love is why we’re here. It’s why we exist to spread and receive love. So surround yourself with friends, family, even things that make your heart full.

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Doing all of these simple things sets you up for a positive lifestyle. When you have less to complain about and more to love, when you begin each day in high spirits, and when you are able to find balance between things that benefit you and things that would just be a burden later, how can you not help but love the life that you’ve built?