lemonade and unconditional love

A few weeks ago, Beyonce notified the entire universe that she had a surprise presentation prepared for us all entitled ‘Lemonade’ and it would be displayed on HBO. As a big Beyonce fan, and an even bigger fan of all things ‘girl power’ I was completely excited by this surprise announcement. I came home late Saturday night and immediately grabbed some snacks and watched my recording of Lemonade. It was a candid and risky-honest visual production about Beyonces journey to self-realization through her marital woes. In Lemonade, Beyonce insinuates that her husband Jay-Z cheated on her and that they were contemplating getting a divorce. In the end, Beyonce and Jay-Z reconcile and commit to healing together and being better for one another. Jay-Z even makes a cameo appearance at the end of Lemonade during the ‘reconciliation’ scene.

Infidelity happens often, especially within the relationships of couples in the limelight. I used to negatively judge women who did not leave their husbands that cheated on them. I remember speaking with my hair dresser a few months ago while getting my hair done, about how I hated that women are always expected to ‘take him back’, compromise, play the supporting role and tolerate the brokeness of men in relationships. We ‘date down’ and choose personality over looks and give up our careers to support our partners even if ours is more lucrative. I know that in part, my judgement came from the fact that in the past I stayed in a relationship where there was a moment of infidelity and I deeply regretted that decision for a while. I felt ashamed of it.

Since experiencing infidelity within a romantic relationship I began to believe that bad behavior in a relationship should always be rewarded with neglect, rejection or a break-up. I thought by doing so I was re-righting my wrong from the past.

I never was.

Marriage, I’m sure, is such a complex relationship to maintain; because of societies expectations of it, social norms, gender roles and the war wounds that all of us humans acquire in life. With this marital union both parties are publicly declaring that “no matter how ugly your truth gets, I am committed to loving you and supporting you as you figure out how to heal yourself.”

Relationships require you to master boundary setting while unconditionally loving. Which is really hard! If the other party isn’t looking to grow and to change, then setting boundaries helps you to not be abused and also give the other person space to grow. Sometimes you have to wait in that boundary for a long time until the person is ready to practically apply the critique but ultimately you have to be committed to loving them, which I personally find completely challenging. I think to myself ‘why do I have to deal with this?!’ I want to run, server the relationship and move on, but that’s not how life is.

In those moments of waiting in your boundary while still being committed to loving, supporting and seeing the potential and value in another you get to experience a part of life that is not merely self serving. You get to be self-less, learn patience and you also get to find your own joy and fulfillment from within yourself that is not dependent on your friends family or significant other behaving in a certain way.

unconditional love will ultimately lead you to you yourself; because humans are all so imperfect.

I no longer negatively judge women like Vanessa Bryant, now Beyonce and even myself, who have stayed/stay in relationships after experiencing infidelity. Although I find it provocative, they are dispensing unconditional love.

-Amber B

what’s your story?

I was reading an article earlier today about Vanessa Bryant, Kobe Bryant’s wife. She’s seldom in the limelight or speaks to the press but the interview that I was reading today was one of the few she’s given. In the middle of her story she began to talk about how she wouldn’t like to be married to someone who doesn’t win championships. She went on to reason that when you’re sacrificing birthdays, holidays, dance recitals and quality time with your family in order to play basketball games you better be winning and you better be bringing home some rings because if not, its not worth sacrificing time to spend with the ones you love that you’ll never get back. Despite the many layers to her claim, Twitter users world wide clung to one layer and ran with it, claiming that Vanessa Bryant is a gold digger for claiming that “she would not like to be married to someone who does not win championships.” Given her high profile status and filthy rich context, what she said was pretty grounded. Given her context, her claim makes sense and so does the way that she went about explaining herself.

Its funny how we cling to only one side of a story. The side that’s most convenient for our pride, fears or insecurities to tell.

There’s this up-and-coming singer of whom I’m a big fan, named Kehlani. She was dating a fellow up-and-coming rapper but they broke up. It was a fairly significant and life changing experience for both of them but apparently the timing wasn’t right. Shortly after they break up, Kehlani begins dating an NBA basketball player and their union seems to be a fairy tale. Kehlani is sharing on social media how in love she is and her significant other is doing the same. She shares how he met her when she was in a dark place and felt unlovable and how he helped her believe in love again. A few months into their union, Kehlani and her new boyfriend discontinue professing their love for one another on social media for a couple of weeks. After these weeks pass, Kehlani’s first boyfriend–the up-and-coming rapper–posts an image of himself and Kehlani in bed together with a caption suggesting that the two have gotten back together. The internet goes crazy and begins making assumptions that Kehlani cheated on her current boyfriend with her ex, calling Kehlani a whore and many other names other than the one given at her birth. People began questioning Kehlani’s integrity and completely turned on her. Later on we find out that Kehlani and her basketball player beau broke up a while ago, that she did not cheat on anyone and that she’s still a person of integrity. We also find out that her mental health was at the time unstable and that she’s going through a hard time.

Why do we fill in the blanks with fear and negativity? We fill in the silence with stories that are convenient for our pride, fears and insecurities to tell.

There’s a Ted Talk by one of my favorite story tellers Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie titled “The Danger of a Single Story” in this Ted Talk Chimamanda highlights how catastrophic it is that the stories that are told about world history are single sided. She illustrates how the stories told by American historians about Africans are filled with fear, insecurity and the need to feel better than and how these stories have defined her interactions with many Americans. Chimamamanda was raised by a typical middle class Nigerian family. During her Ted Talk, she shared a story: while a child and still living in Nigeria, Chimamanda’s families cleaning lady had to discontinue her services with them and subsequently her mother brought in a young man from a low-income area to replace their old house keeper. The only story that Chimamamanda’s mother told her about the young man was that “he and his family are poor.” One day Chimamanda and her family took their house keeper to visit his family. Upon their arrival the families greeted one another and began to become acquainted. Chimamanda noticed that their housekeepers mother could sew these extravagant and beautiful fabrics from scratch, that their family was very happy and laughter filled their home during the entirety of their visit. Chimamanda felt completely guilty after her family went back home. It never occurred to her the her house keepers family may have talent, skill and even joy! When her house keepers family were merely “poor” they were no longer human to her.

It’s so tempting to allow insecurity to tell our story, and to allow fear to fill in the silence of the unknown. By doing so, however, the only person we do a disservice to is our self. By doing so we are merely feeding ourselves simple minded lies and foregoing the opportunity to live a life of trust, peace and contentment. The stories that we tell ourselves of the happenings of our experiences are what become of our lives. The stories that we tell ourselves about experiences and circumstances are not THE truth, but instead, merely our interpretation. I’ve taken the time recently to dissect the stories that I’ve been telling myself about scenarios that have taken place in my life, and the themes are very consistent and also very telling. What stories are you telling yourself about your life? That would be a great topic to journal about 🙂

-Amber B

Successful?

I’m an expert at ‘doing me’
At being independent
At doing my own thing
I have so much success
I’m an expert at being successful
At achievement

But

I don’t want anymore of it
No more
I don’t need anymore success
Achieving success
In order to make yourself lovable
In order to attract a mate

Is exhausting
And it doesn’t work
It’s not effective

I mean, are dudes checking for me?

Absolutely.
Everywhere I go.
Every single day.

Success is good at attracting men

But I want a man to

love

me

I don’t want a man to want me cause I’m shiny

But because I have a good heart
I’m fun to be around
I’m beautifully flawed
And completely worthy of acceptance forgiveness and unconditional love

I want to love a man
And remind him everyday that he is valued and appreciated
And loved by me

I want to be loved by a man

I am tired of having success
And no significant other to share it with
If I got married and had children
I would quit my job and share the success of my lover and nurture and mentor our children

I don’t want to exploit success for love anymore

I just want to be confident enough that being myself is enough
That with all of my talents and successes aside
That I alone am worthy and deserving of being loved

I just want to show love and be me
be comfortable in my own skin
be fearless
be funny

But not successful

Success is something to be worn in the way you walk
In your being
In the way you are comfortable being alone
Or withholding from sharing your job title in conversation

Success is a mental state
Not an accolade to show off

-Amber B

impermanence

A few months ago, I set out to become more forward focused and make my present into something more appealing than my past. I was focusing a bit too much on what I didn’t want instead of what I did. So, I decided to focus on redesigning my website, get new head-shots for dance auditions and create video footage for my new redesigned website… As I began to direct my energies towards creating an appealing present I started to reach out to my contacts/friends who are creatives to help me actualize my goals. Connecting was easy, creating was more challenging but fun, but the actual execution was the hardest part. With each leap and each risk I took towards my dreams, my expectations were never fulfilled; things seldom turned out as I had planned. With each unmet expectation I’d adapt adjust and create a new vision for myself and keep pushing forward. Even then—new vision and adjusted expectations in hand—I’d encountered even more unexpected twists. People and experiences that I placed all of my hopes for success in inevitably fell through, multiple times, and what I thought would be a fun and easy journey to dream actualization ended up being a journey filled with all of these obstacles and lessons; lessons that will prepare me to manage and maintain my dreams but with a good perspective. The journey is still currently unfolding and the current lesson I am learning is about impermanence;

The impermanence of sadness, joy, fulfillment and failure. The impermanence of the accessibility of my video-ographer, or the excitement I feel right before and shortly after buying a new pair of designer boots. The hikes and declines in our well-being are fleeting and guaranteed and all that is left that is in our control is our ability to trust God, accept ourselves and discover all of the ways in the present moment that God is showing us that he loves us.

There’s this rush that I get whenever I publish a blog post. It feels exciting. I love to feel excited, who doesn’t? That’s what attracts us to romance, gossip, fighting and even eating; it’s that dopamine rush. But once I realized the impermanence of this rush, I still loved to write, but my purpose for writing came to mind.

“Why do I write? On A blog…for subscribers…an audience even. Am I performing for applause?”

I thought to myself, “I can still write for the rush-the rush is fun, but I also want to write for a reason that feels good for a longer period of time than right before, during and right after I press that ‘publish post’ button. The only way to do that is to write from a place of completion; from a place of abundance.”

When I write, I am giving. Giving away a part of me. I don’t want to give if I need something in return for my giving. I don’t want to give for gratification, applause or a specific response. If I can’t give without wanting I don’t want to give at all. If I am giving while wanting something in return then I am giving out of desperation and not abundance and desperate giving is incomplete; it is not changing both the giver and the recipient. In a lot of cases, when the giver gives out of desperation (for something in return) they don’t know how to give in an empowering way, only in an enabling way, and in those instances no one is changed by the giving.

Giving from a place of desperation, in order to receive fleeting emotions in return, makes the reality of impermanence devastating. Catastrophic. When you give from a place of desperation your world is always ending, the sky is always falling. If you do not get what you want from your giving, you cannot “be ok”

Impermanence, for me, means that my only means of survival is to become God sufficient. Self-sufficient. It means that I become one with the present and one with what God allows to become of my life. It means I drop my expectations and trust the process. Impermanence to me means that no-thing belongs to me. I don’t own anything or anyone. My only job is to be loved. Only after I am loved, then, my job becomes to give love. Impermanence is death. Everything dies. Facing death and confronting impermanence is complicated, but on the other side of its complicated-ness I have found beauty, freedom and completion

 

 

An essay,

 

Amber B

 

Monthly letter: Taking Responsiblity

Hi friends! Happy April! I hope this month is off to a great start for you. Last month, we named March the month of unconditional love and acceptance, of ourselves. We said that we would direct all of our energies towards being good to ourselves, in order to have peace, trust, feel loved and make our dreams real. Specifically, I committed to focusing on forgiveness and acceptance of myself, as an act of self-love. You know, I didn’t know what to expect just because this is a goal that is very difficult to measure, it’s more so something that is felt and noticed. In order to make it easier to keep track of my progress I implemented a few self-love activates: every day I wrote down 8 things that I like about myself and three scenarios that happened during that day that I am proud of.

While implementing this self-love ritual, my sense of self definitely has shifted, I feel good about who I am, but I also feel safest knowing that even on my off days I can trust God to provide for all of my needs, and that where I am is where I am meant to be.

Acts of self-love are relaxing, they make you feel good, and while feeling good is awesome, it is not the greatest motivator for paradigm shifting change creation:

“There is a difference between feeling good and changing your life. Feeling good and validated doesn’t push you to reach your goals. To the contrary, it might even discourage you to stay mired in dysfunction” -John Bowers

The month of self-love led me to name this April, taking responsibility of our lives. During the last week of December, I flew out to New York to spend the last week of the year exploring the city and spending time with my family. During my explorations, I went to see the Broadway play “an American in Paris” In this play, there are two male main characters, and one female lead; Jerry Mulligan, Adam and Lise. The crowd related to Adams character the most; all of the characters are artists, but Adam is the only character who’s only source of sustenance is his artistry. He is the good guy who didn’t get the girl, the guy who gets the short end of the stick but maintains a positive attitude even so, and his character is very insightful, multi-talented and gifted. He is the well-deserved victim; that the entire audience related to him the most was an implication to myself that everyone feels like a victim; everyone feels as if they’ve got the short end of the stick, that their starting point is much worse than others, that everyone has it better than them, they feel behind; behind some invisible expectation. All of this is false.

Having a shitty upbringing doesn’t make you different, going through unfair circumstances and making poor decisions doesn’t make you different. We’ve all been through our fair share of nonsense, whether we’ve welcomed it into our lives or not. What does differentiate us, however, is our response to the bull-shit. Some people are in rehab because they’ve been deeply affected by constant rejection from their romantic partners, some people are trying to get through college while also having two parents that died before the age of nine and one committed suicide. This is the world that we live in. This is the world that we have created. Us humans—our ego’s and our desperation for unconditional love and unconditional trust—messed it up, and the only way to make it better is to 1. Love yourself and 2. Take responsibility for your life.

An American in Paris took place, in Paris following World War II. After the war ended families were broken, the parents of children died, the children of couples died, economies were completely wrecked, homes were burned down, business estates ruined. The fact that Italy, Germany and Japan surrendered and subsequently ended the World War did not take away the damage that was created by their choice to go to war with one another; their relationship is severely damaged and it will take years of trial and error to get to a new and healthy state together. Had they been more responsible with their emotions, their wounds and with the emotional vulnerability of one another, they could have avoided the tragedy that was inflicted on so many innocent citizens and negotiated a much more equitable present with fewer permanent losses. Had they been more responsible, maybe things would have turned out differently and for the better.

Our lives are no different. Making excuses doesn’t help anybody, even if it was a mistake, it was your mistake and the only way to learn from it is to own it. Take responsibility for it. Your intentions don’t matter, “but I was upset” “I was tired”, no matter your intentions or excuses, your actions have consequences and your intentions or excuses don’t stop those consequences from positively or negatively affecting the course of your life.

What does it look like for us to take responsibility for our lives? For me, it means successfully implementing a ritual. I’ve always wanted to implement this ritual where I wake up at 530 every morning, read and pray, go to yoga, come back home and write, and then get ready for work. Because I’ve always wanted to do it, taking responsibility for my life means, that I stop making excuses, and do it. And when I am making excuses, to own that I am actively participating in allowing my morning ritual daydreams, to remain a fantasy. It also means that I take responsibility when I’m engaging in bad habits, like when I’m wasting time aimlessly surfing the internet when I have a list of things to do that are much more worthy of the awesome woman that I am. What does it look like for you to take responsibility of your life? Please share with me below : )

 

With Love and Light,

You Know Who ❤