…not in 2016, oh Lord!

static1.squarespaceI’ve come to learn that ex boyfriend issues are like daddy issues. They won’t go away unless you make them. For me, making them hasn’t always been easy. It’s better said that I haven’t always tried. But, as life keeps trudging along I’ve come to realize that a few things keep holding me back.

My first boyfriend spent a great deal of his time controlling access to information about everything – our relationship, his whereabouts, my ambitions. Weird, I know. But ultimately, when you’ve been secretly someone’s best friend for 5 years, you pretty much end up becoming each other’s worst enemy for life. My last boyfriend spent a great deal of his time neurotically controlling his own life and, consequently, controlling basic functions of mine: what I ate, when I worked out, (shit, THAT I worked out), what I wore… What was supposed to be a relationship built around health, actually turned out to be pretty unhealthy. Admittedly, I can blame a lot on my inability to use big girl words when in frustrating situations,*one very important thing I learned about myself in those 2 years.*

Sure, there were lots of short lived crazies in between: a flaky guitar player, a writer/ band producer of some sort, a philosopher, a customs agent, but let’s focus on the big fish…

I’m realizing that parts of my past relationships are holding me back from the future I think I deserve. Better yet, the future I think my family deserves.


Ok to swim, Greece (2015)

Accepting that there was some island of good in that sea of bad, I’ve got to admit that I have been throwing out the baby with the bathwater. I’m realizing that now, while in a healthy and happy relationship, I’ve been rejecting certain behaviors and experiences for what they conjure of my relationship skeletons. I pretty much stopped working out and I threw myself back into artificial flavors and colors. Defying the controlling relationship my ex had with the food I put in my own body was a huge act of self redemption then. Now, 5 years on,I’ve got to get over it and realize that this act of defiance is no longer befitting. Actually, in his weird way, perhaps he was saving me from my own lack of discipline.

Going back even further, I realized a few years ago that my twenties were spent traveling not just for travel’s sake. I was running away from so many things. In many ways, travel was what justified my need for personal space and the ability to be expectation-less. It stopped my workaholic nature for just a moment, and it gave me some much needed distance from the excellence I was expected to exude. Like the Army reserves, “one weekend a month, two weeks a year” I could do what I wanted with my own life.

Now, perhaps, I have an unhealthy relationship with travel as escape, especially since I travel quite a bit for work – hence, I don’t get my own life anywhere anymore. So what now?

I say all this not to bash the people of my past or the memories of yesteryear but to put into the ether that some of the things I love have grown as a reaction from circumstances I hate(d). And while I’ve come out with all ten fingers and all ten toes, there’s still more to learn.

As we all gear up for the new year ahead, I’d say it’s about time we reflect before we resolve. Let’s do more than make lists about what we will do differently next year, let’s figure out what or who has stopped us all year long (or all these years) from doing what we’re promising now. Confronting the emotions those people, things,or situations conjure is important for success AND for self-correction. And we’ve got to own our role in our past, in order to reclaim direction.


One thing I’ve learned is that humility never hurts. We are never the victims we believe ourselves to be at our weakest point, but we are certainly never as strong as our best reflection gleams. There’s a large swath of lifetime in between… so let’s inch one step forward in 2016, by taking a glance back.

Reflection Eternal

They ask me what I’m writing for… I’m writing to show you what we fighting for. Being outside of the great 50 states has me feeling more American than ever this new year. So forgive me if this comes off like an Uncle Sam (or UncleTom) commercial during the broadcast of the ball drop… but you’re already reading… so you’re stuck:

Ask me what I do and I’ll have to say, ‘I have decided NOT to live the American dream, but to participate in a process that permits others to do so.’ I feel most American when I’m not actually in America. I serve my country by living outside of it, acting as a representative of America, helping to decide who can and cannot come to America – How truly un American.

How does one define un American? I’m not sure exactly, but its something like living as if you’re always wearing a brand new pair of shoes. They look nice. Shhheeeeeittttt, you look great! But you’re uncomfortable, despite your intentions to fight the feeling. It’s an unsettling that can grow to the point of being prohibitive. That’s the majority of my adult days in the 48 contiguous. And it’s not something I fully grasped until now. I’m learning that I’m not alone in this sentiment, but most like me have already made their exodus. When joined with these atypical Americans in far flung places, I realize that this roving lifestyle is where I feel safest in my own skin, unapologetically sure of who I am and what I am not – normal, that is.

I am not your average American. And, let me say, your average American expat is certifiably cooler than your average American townie, hands down. Don’t debate with me on this, I’ve thought it through. We might have a few more loose screws and a more liberal policy on the use of controlled substances, but we are the adventurous types. We don’t fear planes. We don’t think home is a house. We can’t answer ‘where are you from?’ with a straight face. We’re used to being lied to. We don’t live in a bubble. We spend our money liberally. We live like today is tomorrow and yesterday didn’t happen, because we’re always jet lagged, we don’t have a sense of time, and the possibilities are endless.

Enough about us, more about you. Americans, I’ve learned, often underestimate the power & privilege of their passports – even when they don’t have one. Just by virtue of being American there are many of life’s trials that you don’t experience. Sewers exist. Safe drinking water pipes into your house. Streets are passable. You have public transportation and welfare for goodness sakes! Despite the inequities and disparities, America presents the most opportunities for its populace – above and beyond anywhere else I’ve ever visited or lived. And frankly, our rich don’t do rich like other people do rich. I mean – the other day, I wanted to ask this lady if a diamond mine exploded over her entire life. We don’t bling like Indians bling. We don’t trick out cars like Southern Spaniards trick out cars. We don’t do palaces like Middle Easterns do palaces. Sometimes we have an inflated sense of self, but most of what we lack is perspective.

I wish it was on sale at Walmart for New Years, because then everybody would be able to get some. I know this is the season for turning over a new leaf and believing we are capable of doing things in the new year that we’ve never been capable of in our entire lives. It’s a time to set high hopes and build unrealistic expectations, that still may deliver us to a happier medium than the habits we currently employ. We say we’re going to live in the now and love smarter, live bigger, act better. Well, my resolutions from 5 years ago are pretty simple and they ring true every day. So why change a good thing?

1- STAY AWAY FROM UGLY PEOPLE: Ugly people exist in all shapes, forms and stripes, but what they have in common is that they permit themselves to behave badly because they’d rather not address the fact that they’re spiritually vacant. I can’t be around these people because that isht is contagious and their company is a poor reflection on me.

2- BUILD THAT BEACH CHAIR: Jay-Z ain’t never lied

3- USE THE PRESENT TO LIVE PURPOSEFULLY: Barnard women are always ’bout that work. As my fellow alumna wrote, ‘Do yourself a favor, instead of being sorry, just enjoy being yourself.’ These words are applicable outside of the context in which they were originally delivered. Doing & being better begins with simply being honest about what that means and having the back bone to live it out, unapologetically.

Here, there and everywhere I’ve seen how not living in my own skin has resulted in a dream deferred. And while I was perfectly fine reading revolutionary Cape Verdean writers in soul food restaurants in DC, and dancing to Zouk at clubs near Grand Central Station, I’m thankful to ring in the New Year in the reality that I’m reading contemporary New England writers while eating Chinese food in Thai restaurants, and listening to young American rappers while shopping in Indian boutiques.  I’ve learned to be ok with not being normal. At this point, I’m pretty convinced that diversity actually lives on the tips of my eyelashes, and every time I blink I send a little bit more out into the world – for the taking. That’s my truth.

Perhaps I’m resolved to unapologetically live without borders and to be the center of my own universe, because it just feels so good. I wish I could box it up, sell it on the black market and send the surplus wrapped in gold leaf to my friends, family & frienemies. I make no secret of the fact that this time last year, I didn’t think I’d make it to this day. So in this day and every day forward, I feel obliged to live my truth; I accept that God makes no mistakes, coincidences don’t exist, and I got work and atoning to do. Now that I am able to step back, oceans away from my abnormal norm, I realize that happiness is like a new pair of retro Jordans in Atlanta – in short supply and in high demand. “And no one’s takin’ mine…”

I’ve chosen to live on the other side of the world, and that – my friends – has taught me a thing or two about living purposefully happy. In general, I don’t advise skipping town and country, but at some point you have to stop expecting a different result from the same situation. It’s time to get some perspective.

I’m not too sure how you plan to get your happy/ healthy fix this new year, this new month, this new day. But, I do wish you well on your journey to finding it and living it; and I am at your disposal to assist in whatever way I can to help you take steps forward. My progress is yours and yours mine… we’re worlds apart, but ultimately in this together. And while we are truly beautiful just as we are today, we are too privileged for mediocrity of any hue.

Now watch [we] work…