i’ve been. broken open.

play this softly while you read my blog, for its full effect.

religion isn’t my thing anymore, i can only do relationship. theology isn’t my thing anymore, i can only do experience. it wasn’t a conscious decision i made, but the foundation of my religion inevitably crumbled because its foundation was faulty and i had no choice but to walk towards what my soul was craving; something authentic, raw, messy and real. when i walked away from religion and towards grace i walked away from living my life for other peoples approval. that is when i began to experience a spirituality that made me come alive in every moment. it showed me that i can only experience and express the amount of love i have first Received as i live my life interaction by interaction and at the whims of a loving God’s will.

it is a spirituality that has led me to follow my bliss in LA. many people have told me how brave i am to have left so much behind: social status, a good and consistent pay check, a 401k and the approval of society. yet i feel like i let go of nothing and gained everything. (no shade to my old boss if you’re reading this)

so many of us live life as if we’re not going to die one day. and yet that as well—death—means nothing. nothing significant.

” listen my beloved;
has not God chosen those who are
poor in the world to be rich in faith
and heirs of the kingdom
James 2:5 “

here in LA i spend all of my days around the ‘poor in the world’: children because i substitute teach 8-12 grade to pay my bills, artists because i am one (writer and dancer if you’re new here) and soon i will be getting paid to help a woman with disabilities run her errands.

working with children has taught me how to forgive. it has taught me how to be more generous towards the state of our humanity and to separate making-bad-choices from being-a-bad-person. even bad choices are rooted in pain, so while it is my choice to set boundaries where i see fit at the days end i know that no one has the capacity to attack me, but to only attack themselves.

artists have taught me how to love myself, choose myself, believe in myself and to not make excuses for not being my best. living out that dream that God has placed inside of my soul has developed my self-confidence and subsequently my sense of humility; i don’t try to prove myself much these days. the shinier the more damaged. i feel surrendered from worldly success and i feel that the greatest success i have/will ever achieve is to become filled with God and surrendered to Him.

surrender is all about control and control manifests itself in so many ways: unforgivness is control, pride is control, bitterness and anger and vengeance are all control. other things are control as well because control is all about intention.

preparing to assist this disabled woman is really exciting for me because of this book i recently read titled ‘broken open’ by elizabeth lesser. it is a book that is all about pain, extreme tragedy, sudden death and sudden life altering illnesses. it is one of the most beautiful pieces of literature i have ever read. every person in this book-of-true-stories, after experiencing tragedy always recounts that they did not become full of life until after God ripped the carpet from underneath their feet. for them, tragedy made more room for peace and gratitude in their lives. people with physical disabilities and terminal illnesses are forced to look at their mortality in the face every single day; what a gift. they also have the gift of considering pain on the regular and how to perceive it in a fashion that gives way to life–to being alive. and yet we are all at the risk of death in any given moment, not just the terminally ill. and yet that too—death—means nothing. nothing significant.

a poem from my book boombox in the sky

the last thing i want to speak on is love. for me, nature is the best reflection of God there is. God being love. the stunning sun always rises every morning and changes places with the captivating moon every evening, both blessing us with their beauty and presence. the ocean continues to sway and provide food and oxygen for us, the rain comes right when we need it, animals don’t hold grudges; all are consistent and loving no matter what idiocracy us humans commit. if God’s love for us is the greatest love there is, then today right now in this very moment i have everything i could ever dream of. moving to la has really taught me how to be at peace. i don’t want any of those job titles i just want to love myself and be loved by God. whatever manifests out of those relationships is a cherry on top.

 

xoxo

amber b

forgiveness and love:

forgiveness is
my ability to realize that we are all equals
and that i have committed the same misguided choices–
mistakes,
as others have.

if i am unable to see myself in the flaws of someone else,
it is my own suffering that is blocking my vision.
when i forgive, i say:

“have i made that mistake before?”

“yes”

“and am i still a good person?”

“yes”

when it is hard for me to envision myself in the flaws of someone else
i am in denial and therefore blinded by my own pain
that has yet to surface.

when it is hard for me to believe that another is still deserving
of love, despite their misguided choices
i am saying that it is hard for me to believe that i am still
deserving of love, despite the misguided choices that i
have made.

all suffering is equal.
all mistakes are equal.
all pain is equal; whether it is momentary or prolonged,
it has become from one source of general dissatisfaction.

—————————-

falling in love
is so arbitrary.
we are all equals, and therefore
have equally enchanting qualities
to offer each other.

it is all based on our
depravity and unconsciousness.

those special people out there
who have the unique ability to
brush up against the
broken parts of ourselves,
will lead us to our pain
and then to our healing.

we don’t want the relationship that
is easy because we want freedom,
and only suffering can lead us to freedom.
and that is why we are attracted to what
brings us pain; because we subconsciously know
that only it has the capacity
to set us free.

xoxo
amber b

words of a woman

words of a woman is my mini-documentary series about women, inspired by boombox in the sky, my debut book of poetry and prose that you can purchase at my books tab. it was filmed by my girl samantha menses and directed and edited by myself.

boombox in the sky is a book of poetry purposed to humanize the complicated parts of ourselves, speak beauty love and truth to the wounded parts of ourselves and to inspire readers to use their free-will to choose their highest self. a critical component in achieving that level of self-love and self-awareness is through story telling. whether it be in a journal, to a friend or with a trained professional. we heal ourselves by telling our stories.

that is where words of a woman comes in. i decided to put my money where my mouth is by sharing my own story and invited two of my girlfriends to share theirs as well. i reflected on each of our stories on my instagram each week, as each story revealed new revelations about personal freedom, self-love and becoming the Highest version of ourselves.

my series started with my girl juanita–who is a writer and playwright–who questioned life’s meaning and her purpose in it and she did it so thoughtfully and effortlessly. “if this is all that life has to offer: a job that robs me of 90% of my life, dead end relationships and just this monotony. this emptiness. if this is it…[God] come get me.“ watch the full version below.

then we moved on to my girl Monique who is an actress pursuing her career in los angeles. she spoke about about how she’s walking in her purpose but still feels unsatisfied. she discusses experiencing instant gratification constantly in her carer and desiring a consistent fulfillment in its place. “i keep going back to that in my head [to ask myself] am i…full?” watch the full version below.

then we went onto my story. i spoke about constantly searching for myself in everything except truth and always finding myself disappointed afterwards. “i searched for myself in relationships, in success, in perfectionism, in physical beauty, in friendship–in everything.” watch the full version below.

words of a woman made us ask questions like:
-what is my purpose?
-what is true fulfillment?
-how do we forgive?
-why do we forgive?
-does the future have anything to offer me
that the present does not?

words of a woman was so revelatory to so many of us and for so many different reasons. one of many conclusions that i came to was that no one is to blame for anything that has transpired in my life and my healing is my own responsibility. please share your thoughts below and make sure to check out the full series above.

xoxo
amber

word to the wise two-point-oh

hey whats up hello!
oh my sweet baby jesus it has been so long since i have written to you, but girl we got a makeover check out the new place! you’ll notice that there is a new books tab. its there because i wrote a book…

i moved to LA exactly six months ago this month and out of that jump came boombox in the sky; my debut book of poetry and prose. it tracks the journey from self-sabotage to self-love–through poetry. its themes are innocence, self-love, God-dependence and testimony

it has been so moving to listen to people express feeling as if boombox in the sky breathed love and truth into them and that its empowered them to start again but with more grace and mercy towards themselves. readers have expressed that boombox in the sky humanized the more complicated parts of themselves and that it nudged them to try and make peace with those parts instead of avoid them with all of the bad habits.

the process of writing this book and uncovering one of its themes that is testimony inspired a mini-documentary series i conceptualized titled ‘words of a woman’. in this series a few of my friends and i come forward and share our testimony. this series is so powerful mainly because of how authentic and raw they are.

i moved to la because i wanted to pursue dance full-time. i’ve been training since i was really little and decided it was time to take the leap. this leap has lead to many changes and shifts in my approach to just about everything, especially creating. it’s been about six months since i’ve written you so to get you up to speed please do the following:

to do:
-purchase boombox in the sky at my books tab
-watch the introduction to my book here:

watch my mini-documentary series about women here:

and then tell me what you think by dropping a line in my comments section.

 

i honestly can’t wait for you to read boombox!!

 

speak soon,

xoxo amber

who do you think you are?

A few months ago I set some personal goals and decided that singing at open mic’s was going to be something I wanted to do regularly. I googled ‘local open mic’ and found one that was up the street from my apartment every Monday. Monday approached and I decided to check it out first before singing. Upon my arrival I noticed that the coffee shop was occupied by mostly hipsters: women with bald heads, men with long beards, man buns, both genders typing at an actual type writer and or typing at a laptop adorned with stickers protesting all-things-mainstream. I walked down stairs to a dimly lit cave-like open-mic venue and it was packed. The stages back drop was very artsy and the nights performers together were very eclectic. Noticeably, before almost every performer spoke-or even during their poetry reading,-each proclaimed in one way or another that they were “anti-religion” and simultaneously drenched in emotional dysfunction. “I’m not a Christian even though thats what my parents wanted me to be” one performer resentfully shared.

After hearing theses sentiments consistently throughout the night my initial thoughts were about how evangelical Christianity has made many of us feel that we aren’t good enough to be loved by God; If you are a Gay, have had premarital sex, drink and don’t go to church every Sunday, date someone who is not spiritual like you—you are not good enough for God’s love. If you’ve lied, been manipulative or are a jealous person, you are not good enough for the love of God.

But as time has passed I’ve realized that self-acceptance is what we are really searching for.

So many times we project onto others that which we cannot do for ourselves. We get mad at our grandmother for not believing in our dreams and then demonize her and give her a one-dimensional identity of ‘bitch’. I mean, no human is any one thing. Our humanity is so vast. Additionally, if we believed in our own beauty and in our own ability, the opinions of others wouldn’t matter. If we believed that we were adequate and valuable, the ending of a relationship would not have the capacity to be because you lack of value and are inadequate.

We can really live in a personalized hell if we choose to. If for the duration of our lives we refuse to come to terms with who we are that’s exactly what this life will be; hell on earth. So many of us live in a constant state of anxiety, fear, depression, self-hatred, suicidal thinking, panic attacks or secretly struggle with addiction. We tourture ourselves with outlandish fears and negative thinking. Many of these habits and states are on behalf of the false beliefs we have about ourselves, false beliefs we have about others, or false beliefs we have about what others think of us (which is what you think of yourself). We are so afraid of love and peace and are addicted to pain and self-sabotage.

The Fall season is here and many of us humans fall into a depression around this time of year. Why? because of what we think of others, because of what we think of ourselves, because its fucking cold. Theres an alternative to living this way. But it takes mental reprogramming and in my experience constant self-care practice and self-love rituals. I’ll share more about how i’ve developed a healthier sense of self with my next installation. Part II if you will.

 

-amber . breezy!

on cultural appropriation and self-love

Last Thursday night I drove to LA to take a couple of dance classes. On my way to class I was walking up Hollywood Boulevard when I crossed paths with two Asian girls who had Senegalese Twists in their hair. Like, with synthetic kinky hair and shells adorning them. I had never seen this in my life; non-black non-celebrity individuals wearing a very Black hairstyle–with kinky hair at that. After witnessing this I experienced negative emotions but the fact that I was late to class ended up overriding those initial negative thoughts and I bypassed them and kept walking speedily to class focused on my tardiness. As I speedily walked up the stairs to the studio, on my way to sign in to class I crossed paths with a White girl with blonde synthetic-kinky-hair cornrows in her hair. “what?!” I thought to myself. “Is this a thing?!?” I went on to dance class 15 minutes late and it was the most amazing experience; I cried in one class. over-comer tears. On my way home I was blasting my music while singing and dancing along still on an emotional high from the experience I just had when the image of those three girls I saw before class came to my mind mid song and I burst into laughter. I thought to myself ”Their hair is as long as the synthetic hair, probably longer! Use your own hair boo you’re defeating the whole purpose!” and “They wanna be us so bad” also came to mind. But as I let the experience sink in, I was reminded of the defensiveness that my community gifts anyone who we perceive is attempting to invalidate us and our experience with. Given our experience here in the US defensiveness is totally understandable. But inevitably the defensiveness is filled with historical baggage that needs addressing and healing.

White is a color. I repeat, white is a color. Being ‘colored’ isn’t about skin tone its about which skin color society decides to exploit in order to make one people group feel better than another. Being one color versus another does not make one right or wrong good or bad—more melanin obviously is not bad since everybody is trying to be tan with a big but, big lips, big ass and now they even want to have nappy hair too!—it just makes us different. When each and everyone one of us makes an attempt to be beautiful we are emulating what ever image that we believe will give us the best opportunity to feel desired, wanted, fulfilled, complete and loved. People of all ethnic backgrounds are emulating the whole BlackQueen-BoxBraids-Cornrolls-TanSkin-BigAss-BigLips-BontuBuns trend because Black Women are just as capable of reflecting beauty as the next person. Everyone else recognizes this, but when will us Black women realize this? Wear it. When will we realize that we are just as able to be beautiful and attract love as the next? When we get upset at these cultural appropriators our messaging is “This is my only opportunity to feel pretty and be considered beautiful and you’re taking it away from me!” and that is not true. This is not our only opportunity to feel beautiful and be considered beautiful. Physical beauty might get you some attention from men but it sure as hell wont make your relationship work. It sure as hell wont make you feel fulfilled. It sure as hell wont make you feel complete and happy. Our beauty is eternal Queens. Our beauty comes from a place of peace when we realize our completion. This is true beauty and no one can take that opportunity to be beautiful away from us and everyone is attracted to it!

All anyone can do is take responsibility for ones starting point in life and play to win. I don’t want to carry historical baggage with me anymore but its not going to be shed overnight. Today I have decided to realize my equality in beauty, to take imitation for the compliment that it is and decide that what I think of me is all that matters and everything else is just a reflection of that. Today I am beautiful because I am and no one can take that opportunity away from me…except me. Today I declare that this is my truth.

-Amber B

on self-care

Last May 2015 I decided to be single for a while. I had just gotten out of a relationship that was on and off for three years and going nowhere fast at extreme speeds. It wasn’t my first dance with romantic love. Prior to this relationship I was in a 1.5 year long relationship with my first love that came to a mutually confusing and painful ending. After my second relationship ended for the trillionth time, I was done. I wanted to heal and deal with the baggage that I gained from the relationship and somehow move on. I say somehow because at the relationships end I was still very much in love and was unsure of how I would move on and love again, but I was committed and that’s all you really need. Since then, I’ve been infatuated and even felt very strongly about some but nothing has “gotten off the ground” if you will, and I’m really thankful for that. I’m not one who dates a ton, or entertains dudes for fun. If I give you my attention, I’m really digging you. I’m a wanderer, I travel alone and eat at romantic restaurants only accompanied by a good book, a journal and maybe a glass of wine if I rode my bike. I’ve been a girls-girl basically my whole life and am satisfied by being obsessed with my girlfriends, dance and dreaming. I’m hopelessly romantic and simultaneously prefer to be single…unless I’m really digging someone. The difference between the last 15 months of being single and the vast majority of my life that was spent being single is that this time around there are no illusions. Back in February 2015 I stopped going to church. It was not my first time leaving the church…it was actually my third. Being single and leaving church gave way to so many illusions in my subconscious: A false sense of security, a false sense of superiority and a false sense of completion. My last relationship didn’t work because I didn’t have my own identity, my own confidence, my own opinions, my own acceptance, my own assurance, my own love and my own spirituality. I wanted my significant other to make me feel complete, I always needed assurance from him, I wanted his approval and I looked to him for an identity and confidence. I quickly realized after that relationship ended almost a year and a half ago that I needed to learn how to take care of myself, accept myself, love myself, assure myself, believe in myself and find my happiness. I had to find myself in God and use Gods Divine Super-Powers to heal myself. I had to make God my source of love and out of that abundance give love to others. Without that I was just desperately trying to take love and power from others. Take take take. But you can’t really take anything from anyone, that’s an illusion too. When you try to take love or power from another person you’re really attacking yourself. In my last relationship, being in love was a sedative that only worked for three weeks to a month. After that it went straight to hell and only came back to heaven every blue moon. Back then, I used to be so desperate for the company of others to make me fell “ok” that I would tolerate oversized-insecure egos, the constant yet subtle discounting of my opinion and an overall lack of support. I wanted to please everyone in an effort to feel loved and complete but ended up abandoning myself in the process. Once I realized my own abundance and learned how to begin loving myself I stopped being desperate for the company of others and stopped entertaining shitty relationships. When you’re alone your trauma comes out. If you can’t handle it you’ll do anything to get away from yourself and your “loneliness”. You might even run right into the arms of a friend or a lover that is not equipped to love you. These days, quite a few of the people I used to associate with are no longer with me. But when I’m alone now, I’m not “lonely” I’m enjoying myself. Even when I do feel loneliness creep in I know that it’s a false belief or trauma and I know how to cope. These days I am not generous and forgiving and accommodating because I want to please my significant other, now I love because I am loved by God first. I can tangibly see the ways God loves me and fully take responsibility for my actions. It is out of feeling so abundantly loved by God that I can give love. That’s the only time I give love. Love too looks a lot different for me these days. What I used to call love was enabling. Now taking care of myself is the way that I take care of others. Being loved by God and loving myself is the medium through with I love others

So, I’m single. I’m following my dreams, I’m honestly not ready to share my life with someone right now, I don’t want to just yet. But if it happens even so…

Fuck it.

-Amber B

on turning twenty-six

I have never had to consider how I felt about aging until recently as my 26th birthday approaches. Turning 25 was a bit nerve wrecking but I didn’t have to come to terms with it in the same way that I have 26. As of October 24th this year, I will be in my late twenties. It started to hit me in July and the realization has not left me since. I had mixed feelings about it initially until one day a few weeks ago, I came home from work crawled under my covers and begged God to make time stop; I felt as if I’d rather disappear than turn 26. But like everything, things get really bad right before they begin to get better. It was after having this moment that I realized that I have to decide for myself what aging means for me and what my response to aging will be. I think our first natural reaction to aging is hopelessness and maybe cynicism. We all feel as if we’ve made countless unredeemable mistakes and punish ourselves for them with harsh self-judgement and condemnation. We value youth as if “being youthful” has only to do with the amount of years our bodies have existed on earth. Then I began to remember all of the Queens that lye all over the age spectrum that continue to follow their dreams, dress stylishly, are silly and happy, have deep relational bonds and some that are mothers and have children on top of that. From fashion guru June Ambrose or Jada Pinkett who are in their forties and fifties and doing the damn thing, to Beyonce and Multi-Media Artist Vashtie who are in their mid thirties and continue to create and do not let the desire to follow their dreams be affected by their age, then theres Rihanna who is twenty eight and the coolest thing you ever saw. After reflecting about aging not only have I come to terms with it, but I’m kind of excited to be 26! I’ve done good for myself. Today, I’ll be taking a trip to Hawaii with one of my closest girlfriends…for the fuck of it. I live in a cute ass studio apartment, I have an epic job with an amazing boss, I dance everywhere and sing at open mics, I’m proud of who I am and continue to become, I’m following my dreams and most importantly

I’m happy.

And that’s an inside job that none of the activities above has allowed me to experience. For me, I will follow in the footsteps of these queens who’s being alone is essentially timeless. My upcoming birthday has given me an urge to make some of the dreams I have yet to make come true, true. I feel lucky for that urge.

26. I’m turning 26. And I’m excited about it.

-Amber B

unfair loss

I’m at the Association of African American Museums conference observing a panel titled, ‘from Interpretation to Inspiration’ and an older Caucasian gentleman in his late 50’s begins the panel. He is seated next to two Black-American women. The Black American woman to his left is seated next to Black American male and the Black American woman to his right is seated next to a caucasian male. All that separates the audience from the panel, is the table sitting directly in front of the panel. The older Caucasian gentleman beginning the panel, pulls out a red sox base-ball cap, and places it on top of his salt and pepper—mostly salt—short hair. He then asks the audience to shout out words that they would assign to the baseball cap. The hat looks as if it has seen the sun more than God Himself. ‘Run-down’ ‘gray green’ ‘raggedy’ are some of the words that were ascribed to the baseball cap by audience members. After the interpretations of the hat trickle down, he then goes on to tell the audience a story. “I was married for four years until my wife passed away after battling cancer for one year. This is her hat. How many baseball fans are there in the audience?” two out of fifty audience members raised their hands. “so you two know how many baseball games there are in a season, and you also know how long they are. My Wife never missed a baseball game. Not one. And she would watch the entire game, some red sox games last around 4 hours. Once we started dating I learned quickly that I would have to learn how to enjoy baseball. She never made it to Dodgers Stadium, but her ultimate dream was to watch a red sox vs dodgers game at the dodgers stadium. It just so happens that this weekend that I’m in Southern California working, the dodgers and the Red Sox are playing at dodgers Stadium and I’m going to go and wear this hat and fulfill that dream for her” at this point his white face has red blotches all over it and he’s crying. He can barely get his words out. Many in the audience are crying along with him. All are affected emotionally. He then asks yet again, “now, what words come to mind when you look at this hat?” someone in the audience, overcome with emotion shouts ‘love’ and another shouts ‘fulfilling a dream’ and another ‘never ending love’. He went on to speak about the inherent meaning of an object. The duration of the panel was completely thought provoking, but what stuck with me was everyones reaction to his story as well as the utter tragedy of the story itself. Homeboy got married for the first time in his late fifties and was married for only four years until his wife who he was madly in love with—lost a battle to cancer. How tragic! As I scanned the audiences reaction to his story and noticed that most everyone was in tears or somehow affected by his loss, and as I acknowledge my own relating his loss that felt completely unfair, It became clear to me that that’s just how life is. Everyones reaction confirmed that to be true for themselves as well. Life can feel so unfair. You can have honest intentions and put your all into a thing…and it will still fail. Feeling as if your intentions are honest and yet love still does not win can make one feel, well, crazy!

Our life experiences will meddle with and taunt our sanity until we finally embrace that everything in life is temporary, including experiencing ‘life’ in this dimension. Impermanence.

Whenever my sanity gets away from me, the park is where I go to find it again. I’ll follow the ripples in the lake with my eyes, cut bright flowers from ordinary bushes, collect perfectly palated crunchy leaves and gray rocks with silver linings in them. Doing so brings my mind totally to the present, and there is never any threat that exist in the now. Accepting the present as it is—not as i wish it were—and taking complete responsibility for the contributions that my actions have played in making the present what it is. And remembering impermanence. always always always. Puts my soul at ease.

-Amber B

Race Relations

It took violence
To bring about change
How can we know what our ailments are
Without learning of them from trauma?
How can we SEE ourselves
without being reminded by disappointment?
Is there another way?
Is there another way?

No

Bumping into things
Salt in our wounds
Is the only indication of
What direction we should go
It is our only compass to where
Our wholeness lies

_ Amber B