I’m tired. Full stop. There’s no ‘but’, ‘however’ or ‘although’ that follows that statement.
I’m tired. The kind of emotional and mental exhaustion that manifests itself physically.
I, like so many Black people, are solely existing and going through life in a fog of anger, despair, and conscious, tempered rage that we have no choice but to push/work through. I’m tired of re-sharing my racial trauma for the white masses to “learn from”.
Why? Why is it my/our responsibility? Why do I have to periodically open up a long festering wound just to show you that it exist? Why do I have to show that which is raw and oozing, forever weeping? As if you seeing the damage inflicted in real time wasn’t proof enough.
Yes, you saw every lash of the racism whip every time you said nothing when a comment was made about my hair/education/experience/tone of voice, etc. You saw the thin veneer of safety ripped away when you knew that cronyism and nepotism were in full working order and you did/said NOTHING. You said nothing because you 100% benefited, either directly or indirectly, from structural racism.
Anyone who really knows me knows that I play things close to the vest. This is especially true of anything to do with my health because things can change very quickly for the worse. Historically that has been the case for me. This time last year I had just gotten out of the hospital after an asthma exacerbation.
This year I was in due to both COVID and an asthma exacerbation and I was scared shitless. After 2 1/2+ years of being extra vigilant, being fully vaccinated and boosted, wearing N95 masks everywhere, including two trips to L.A. for work, I was exposed on a work trip to Miami. I was in the hospital within 3 days of testing positive. I left my quarantine bubble to go to the hospital, not knowing if I would ever come back. It was the most sobering and terrifying experience I’ve ever had, and that’s saying a lot.
I was in hospital for four days, released back home still COVID positive to quarantine, and continue treatment. All with the Damocles Sword hanging over my head that I may develop COVID pneumonia, and to come back if I did. Statistically, based on my medical history, I shouldn’t have survived. But I did.
I’m dealing with Long-haul COVID and residual asthma issues, but I’m here. Oh, and something no one tells you about COVID until you talk to others who’ve had severe symptoms…the hallucinations… Yea, let that one sink in for a minute. As always, I’m grateful for the team at Methodist West for taking great care of me.
This selfie below was taken the day before I tested positive for COVID, but two days after I experienced anaphylactic shock at a team dinner. Nothing like being escorted out of a 5 star restaurant by EMS and security, in front of 100 of your coworkers to make you super popular at work the next morning.
It’s World Suicide Prevention Day and for the first time ever I’m going to be open and share my truth. When I was 13, I attempted suicide by ingesting handfuls of pills, any and everything from my medicine cabinet. I was lonely, unhappy and felt unloved. I was nearly successful. I remember being able to hear but not see very well as darkness closed in. I fell off of the top bunk of the bunk bed I shared with my sister and hit my back on the corner of the stereo. The jolt of pain brought me out of my haze and I slept it off.
I remember the fear in my sister’s eyes and my already fragile heart broke even further. Over 25 years later I still see that look and feel horrible guilt over it. Suicidal thoughts accompanied a mental breakdown in 2013 while I was out of town for school (I was working 50 hrs a week and in a full-time Ph.D program at the time) and I immediately called my home crying and begging for help. When I got home from Chicago I made a beeline to my PCP and she put me on medication and sent me find a therapist.
I’ve dealt with anxiety and depression most of my life and am finally in a better place mentally and emotionally. I sought help, channeled my anxiety and fear into creative pursuits and things I found productive. I am now allowing myself the grace that I afford to everyone else and practicing self care.
If you need help, if you have thoughts of just wanting the pain to stop, there is a whole tribe of people who will embarace you and stand in the gap for you. My employer Ginger @carebyginger (soon to be Headspace Health) has some great resources that get you on the path to wholeness and wellness. https://www.ginger.com/activities/strategies-for-coping-with-depression
The weight that comes with the Black experience is laid upon us from birth and added to with every Black and Brown body that is slain, maimed, disrespected and denigrated
It’s an exhausting and crushing weight that oppresses and depresses with no relenting
Yet we have to power through life trying to be exceptional in a world that tells us that we are nothing and living on borrowed time
Our breath catching, heart pounding whenever the police come into our vicinity
If we’re stopped we wonder as the officer walks up to the window if this will be the last thing that we see on this side of Glory
We try to remain calm, as we’ve been taught, knowing that the power of life and death is solely in their hands…
And they know it, they relish in it, just like the slave patrols of the not so distant past
Yet again we find ourselves outraged and mourning for yet another Black body slain, Daunte Wright. I am so sick and tired… my heart bleeds and weeps. Just as the wounds begin to knit themselves together in an effort to heal, they are ripped open again, gaping and raw. The lies that are used every time to justify and/or nullify a LEO’s culpability are stale and of no comfort.
“I thought it was my taser”
“I thought it was my apartment”
“I feared for my life/safety”
“I thought I saw him/her with a gun”
“They had expired tags”
“They had an active warrant”
C’mon! It’s all fallacies, fairy tales and lies to negate themselves of culpability. Full Stop. No “but”, “however”, “yet” to follow. Full stop, just like the last breath of our murdered brothers and sisters. I woke up with “Welcome To The Colored Section” by Donnie in my spirit, exhausted, overwrought and wondering if this will ever NOT be the case.
As an herbalist and voice actor, my health, and specifically my vocal health, is so very, very important to me. My journey in herbalism began with my Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 17, I’m 38 now. I was looking for ways to incorporate herbal/natural remedies in conjunction with Western medicine to help alleviate my symptoms and slow the progression. As a voice actor, I had a traumatic and nearly fatal asthma attack and vocal cord paralysis in the summer of 2016 that required me to be put on a ventilator and having a tracheotomy. I ended up with complications that resulted in a tracheal resection, a pneumothorax (collapsed lung) and subcutaneous emphysema. I say all that to say that I couldn’t talk for nearly two months, I had to learn to care for a trach, etc.
Once I had been discharged and the trach was removed, I had to focus on falling back in love with my voice (my vocal range had changed) and how to best care for my voice and vocal health. Here are my tips for keeping your vocal health front and present:
Sleep– Caring for your pipes starts with whole body care. Getting enough sleep affects so many body functions; from cognition, immune system response, digestion, mental health, etc. Getting a consistent sleep routine is vital.
Foreplay – Now everyone knows you can’t just jump in the booth without any prep work and expect your voice to give you its best. In order to coax the best performance out of your voice you have to give it loving attention. Warm that thing up – vo warmups, lip trills, tongue twisters, scales, proper inflection, etc.
AHMAZING vocal coach who has an entire program to help you find your range along with practice materials and videos, etc.
Rodney Saulsberry* – has a great book “Tongue Twisters and Vocal Warm Ups” sold on Amazon.
3. Regular Maintenance– This includes voice rest, listening to your body (when it’s fatigued, stressed, etc. -see #1), maintaining a healthy diet (avoiding caffeine, chocolate, sugar, dairy and smoking -both cigarettes and weed at least 2 hours prior to a session).
Frankly putting anything into your lungs other than oxygen before a session isn’t the best of ideas. If you are a fan of, procurer or indulger of THC, please don’t smoke before your sessions. It will affect/change the texture of your voice. If you use THC for relaxation purposes I encourage you to eat it (edibles rather than smoking it). CBD can provide some of the same relaxation and anti-anxiety properties without the psychogenic properties that THC has.
Proper hydration (not just before a session/auditions) is key as well. By the time you realize that you are thirsty you are already dehydrated. Keeping your air passages moisturized by using a bedside humidifier with distilled water at night. I wouldn’t necessarily advocate their use in the booth due to noise interference.
Keep a scarf 🧣 on when out in windy/cold weather. This helps to keep warmth in and cold out. Cold temps cause constriction on muscles and tissues and decreased blood flow to those affected areas.
4. Leave it alone when it doesn’t want to be bothered
There is nothing worse than someone wanting something from you and you are in no mood to oblige. But you acquiesce to shut them up. Is it your best performance? Nope. Is the other party satisfied or generally let down b/c of a lackluster encounter? Exactly. If your voice is fatigued or stressed and you push it b/c it’s a high paying, high visibility audition you will not give your best. Not only might you not book the job, you may leave a bad impression with casting directors, agents, etc.
Stress, anxiety, illness, irritation- all these show up in your reads. It’s the equivalent of the elephant in the room sitting on the couch loudly eating your best snacks, drinking your fav scotch and who stole the remote and is watching Seinfeld reruns.
5. Protect your mental mind -give yourself grace and be patient with yourself. Frustration comes across in your reads.
Be present in the moment and take a step back if you need to regroup during a session. Trust, the director and client will respect that you have a process and need to gather yourself in order to give them your best.
Practice mindfulness 🧘🏽♀️- make your recording space a healthy and welcoming place, regardless of where you record. I have lavender/rosemary sachets hanging in my closet-booth, led light strips to set the tone and mood, and I meditate and do deep breathing before every session. Whether it is with my coach(es), a workout, audition recording, recording session or training webinar.
Lavender is known for its relaxing properties and rosemary counteracts anxiety and increases attention. I grow and dry my own lavender, add dried lavender flower and rosemary from my favorite herbal suppliers (The Bulk Herb Store, Mountain Rose Herbs & Monterey Spice Company) and a few drops of lavender and rosemary essential oils to a drawstring bag and hang it in an inconspicuous place.
I hope that these tips help you and cause you to dig a little deeper into your own herbalism journey and vocal health!
Four years ago I pinned a post that spoke to my fear and emotional turmoil over seeing that Apricot Anarchist elected to the highest position in the land. I turned it over and over in my mind how such a thing could really happen and if the ideals that I had been force fed over my lifetime weren’t just a figment of someone’s diseased imagination.
This morning, November 4th, I awoke with hope that decency, love and respect will still prevail as the votes continue to be counted. However… I along side that hope is an anger unlike any that I have vented before. So this is post isn’t for those who voted with me for the Biden/Harris ticket and the Blue Wave. This is for the rest of you, including those of you who didn’t vote at all.
I SEE YOU…
I see you for the hateful, zenophobic racist that you are. Because to vote for a man that:
Lied to the American people about the severity of COVID-19 putting millions at risk
Did NOTHING about the spreading pandemic and then even worse, worked against the states themselves to stockpile PPE
Is actively working to strip you and more than 20 million Americans of healthcare… during a pandemic
Due to his ineptness and narcissism over 200,000 Americans lost their lives to COVID-19 and he was off golfing at his own properties, which my and your tax dollars are having to pay for… speaking of tax dollars…
Has only paid $750 in taxes because he says that he’s smarter than you and everyone else who is a chump and pays taxes
Was impeached for trying to blackmail and pressure the Ukraine into telling lies against Joe Biden
Enacted a Muslim Ban
26 creditable sexual assault accusations
Has bankrupted EVERYTHING he has every touched
Owes over $400 million dollars to who knows who… shall I continue?
You chose a narcissistic, racist, authoritarian demagogue who rips babies from their parent’s arms and throws them into cages to be abused, neglected and fester in fear as your leader. You voted for a man that forcibly tore children from arms that protected, arms that would have given their very lives to ensure their child(ren)’s safety and you know who couldn’t care less. You voted for a vile racist who’s own parents were in the KKK. You voted for a hateful, lie spewing, divisive man who mocks the differently abled, ignores science, strips protections from the LGBTQIA community, says that someone being an anti-fascist, who believes that Black lives matter are thugs and put the Proud Boys on alert. Shall I continue? Is this your King?
B. Slade put out a lyrical video called “Changes” and it so accurately depicts how so many of us feel in this country. Take a look here https://youtu.be/UqDSxuxGx-g then you will understand the last few paragraphs of this post.
So no, I will not be reaching out a hand and lending a sympathetic ear to “understand” your point of view. I am quite vehemently done with the whole notion of “well… no matter who wins we have to come together…”. Hell nah! Your vote for your own interest is/was a vote against the interest of the rest of us; against the collective body who value and believe in science. Who are decent, hardworking people who think and feel that there is absolutely structural and institutional racism, and we have to put policies and actions in place that provide restorative justice.
I see you! I see who you are, I see how you really feel about me and my otherness. I see you and that you would rather vote to keep your power and majority and keep me and mine relegated to a place beneath your feet. I see for you that Black lives don’t matter, that the extrajudicial murder of Black bodies in the streets is justified and negligible.
Am I mad you ask. Abso-frickin-lutely I am mad! I am the angry Black woman with poignant words, natural hair and education that you fear. So, no, don’t talk to me because I will not be engaging you. I see you for EXACTLY who and what you are. The beauty of it is that I’m not the only one who sees you…
It has been many, many moons since I have written here and for that I am truly sorry. I got to this place where I was depressed, unfulfilled and dealing with my many chronic illnesses. And so, I took a break from the one thing that brings me so much solace and joy; the one outlet that fully allows me to relax, relate and release. Why is that? After months of introspection and wonderfully beautiful souls coming into my life, I have “found” the answer.
Writing, for me, is where truth is. Writing would force me to address, face first, all those things that I couldn’t give words to. It would demand me to confront my deepest fears, acknowledge my failures and create a plan to move forward. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to admit that I didn’t have answers, I didn’t have strength, that I needed help. And so I went into a place of deep contemplation, a place of hope and faith. We had a Diversity & Inclusion specialist speak at our all-hands meeting last week and she had us do this ADDRESSING framework.
We identified and accepted the many group memberships and cultural identities that we have and addressed our privilege, along with how we’ve used said privilege to our advantage and at times to the detriment of others. I was confronted with my own privilege and more so my lack thereof. I was thunderstruck and left breathless by the realization that I downplay my own accomplishments and shrink myself to make others comfortable with who I am. I do all of this to ensure that I remain gainfully employed and out of the spotlight.
When you are centerstage you are more open to and apt to receive harsh and undeserved criticisms. In a moment of vulnerability, I gave voice to this in public, in front of (virtually anyway) my coworkers and colleagues. And while it was cathartic, it was painful and I did what I normally don’t do… I cried off camera afterwards. They were tears of frustration and a cleansing flood of brokenness. Mind you this was the same day that Netflix launched Homecoming by Beyoncé. I am a proud graduate of Texas Southern University (HBCU in Houston, TX) and seeing how hard Queen Bey struggled to get back to her authentic self gave me inspiration. Seeing and hearing a full band and Houston music (UGK, Bun B, etc.) gave me LIFE!!
And today on a video chat with a co-worker, a friend, who is transitioning out of the company that we both work for, I inadvertently gave voice to all that ailed me, while regaling him with hilarious tales of how I came to be who and what I am. I found my voice again. I rediscovered my shrinking self.
So I am back to my most authentic self. I’m writing short stories and screenplays, I’m back blogging, I’m doing all those artistic endeavors that bring me joy and contentment. I’m acting, making jewelry (as recently seen on the Grammys red carpet and American Idol *eek*) and loving on those who love on me. Only He knows what happens next but I will face it with my head high and in truth.
I’ve had multiple instances in the past couple of weeks where someone (in this case WASP / White Anglo Saxon Protestant female manager bolstered by another authoritative WASP woman) automatically assumed I was lying and tried to “catch” me by offering up what they saw as “proof”. I had to write detailed explanations of the circumstances, justify myself and provided my own absolutely irrefutable proof that I was indeed being ethical and truthful from the very beginning. (I.e. I shut this mess down quickly with perfect tact, professionalism and screen grabs.) This was followed by the most insulting five words I’ve heard in recent memory, “Thank you for your honesty.”
Thank you for your honesty?! That insinuates that you assume that everything I say and/or do is fabricated until you feel you have sufficient proof that I’m telling the truth. This coming from the same non-POC people who, when the tables are turned, and I KNOW that non-POC has glaringly lied through their perfectly veneered teeth, tell me to “assume positive intent” or that I “misunderstood” what they said/did/asked/instructed/demanded. I am positive that it was intended to make me out a thief of time, a fabricator of salacious falsehoods and unethical to boot. Nothing there to misunderstand.
To compound all of this and add insult to injury, the earlier exchange is later followed by a backhanded compliment of a recorded WebEx presentation I did 3-4 weeks ago saying, “… it was very professional and easy to follow. I was very impressed with your presentation skills…”. There again are the micro aggressions.
It is automatically ASSumed that we are lying. It is automatically ASSumed that, despite our experience and education, we don’t have the same or better skill set than our white counterparts. And when we prove we ARE telling the truth and we DO have the knowledge and expertise, they are “impressed” with our professionalism and presentation skills. You ASSume because of my milk chocolate hued skin, my Afrocentric name and my love of head wraps that I couldn’t possibly be poised and polished and able to lead, teach, and inform the masses, let alone the white masses. I have to prove to you beyond what is expected of my white counterparts that I AM and that I CAN.
This is what it is to be black in Corporate America. This is what it is to be black in America, period.
Things have been hectic since Hurricane Harvey wrecked havoc in August and the entire region has been trying to recover and resume some sense of normalcy. While my ability to ship out orders was delayed things got done, orders were shipped and received and all went well. But it was during this time that I’ve been MIA on my blog that I was putting that time to good use. Read the rest of this entry »