summer’s done, fall’s begun, what’s next?

end of summer SOM

Well, I had yet another crappy summer. Even as I type, I feel very weary of writing about this topic of loss again…but I always feel like I gain new insights.

Ever since I was about 16 or so, I haven’t really had the best summers. That first bad summer, my mom went to Ghana for the first time since she had immigrated to the States. But that meant my summer trip with my youth group was scuttled–even though I had planned that way before she thought of her trip.

Her trip was about six weeks long. Mine would have been two. I didn’t think my dad and brother would have been helpless without either of us. But I remember the one time I went to the grocery store by myself–that was the only real thing I did to keep the family going, something my father could have easily done.

I basically had fallen into the role of eldest daughter in an African family. I was the de facto matriarch of the family without any of the benefits. I wouldn’t learn of these expectations until last Mother’s Day when someone tweeted Happy Mother’s Day to women like me.

And almost 25 years later, that still stings mainly because I didn’t know of the cultural expectations that had been placed on me. And, well, as much therapy and time have done to heal a lot of the wounds that come with having two narcissistic parents, there are moments when you can see how your trajectory was thwarted–even if it was for some trip so you could spend time with your beloved youth pastor before he moved away to Virginia.

As I grew up, there seemed to be less and less time and space for fun, for just taking an unrestricted breath.

This summer, even though my life has been circumscribed by not having enough to even go to the movies or strike out to meet new friends, I really wanted to have a great summer.

I burned candles during the Summer Solstice and the full moon in Capricorn.

The evil roommate finally left.

I had found a pretty good business coach to barter my writing services for her coaching services.

I had picked up extra work from a client.

A marketing agency found me to do some work at a price that I set.

I met some new interesting people online, including some foreign guy that I had a crackling month with.

I ghostwrote an op-ed and got paid really well for it.

I had started to consistently reach out to businesses and organizations for my work.

And then things started to unravel.

I lost that client I had extra work from.

I had to fire another client because they didn’t respect the value of my work.

That guy and I parted way in a really ugly, dramatic fashion.

Prospecting clients hasn’t netted anything yet.

The marketing agency respected my rate so much, they decided not to give me work this month based on a lower rate. But that also meant no work this month.

Summer is my favorite season, yet it often seems to be tinged with disappointment and loss, to the point I’m just glad it’s all over.

I live in a state where even being out in summer is just too hot. I didn’t really go out and do anything fun–nor did I have the money to do so.

At this point, I’m just fortunate to have a roof over my head, and I am grateful for that.

I am grateful that for most of the summer, it was peaceful living here.

So now, it is autumn, which doesn’t mean much right now in Florida except right now, there are a lot of lovebugs, which means if you have a car, your paint job is being pummeled by this acidic, horny bastards.

They’re all on my window, mostly in their butt-to-butt mating pairs. Or, they’re flying the air in hordes.

I didn’t think asking for a good summer was such a big ask, but apparently it was. The real good that came out of it wasn’t what I asked for–per usual.

What I have wanted more than financial support was consistent emotional support. So when I don’t get that, it makes me wonder, even just for a second, is something wrong with me? Why can’t I have good friends like I’ve had before? Why is addressing my pain seemingly like a bother to other people when I show up and check in on them?

It’s just like that unknown yet demanded expectation of being an eldest daughter in an African family. People rely on you to be there for them–because you’re so good at truly caring for them. But they don’t necessarily care about how you’re doing, or at least in the same capacity and intensity.

It’s a way that The Golden Rule seems to backfire. It’s not done out of anger or malice. It’s an oversight, a backhanded compliment to your resilience.

But there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be recognized and appreciated for you who are.

And what looms larger is that was my desire when I came to grad school, a desire unfulfilled and smeared with betrayal. I had wanted to find my people, but I found a long, mostly solitary, spiritual journey of transformation instead.

I keep looking back at my journey, just in Florida, and cringing. Even though I know so much has changed in my character for the better, it’s like being a piece of marble, chipped and chiseled away. I can’t see what’s going on, just pieces of marble flying off and away.

The thing is, I’m not festering in pain right now. I feel rather solid, which is in deep contrast to how I felt just two weeks ago–alone, frightened, and frustrated.

I felt great firing that client, even though it took a big leap of faith to say yes to my work’s value–and my value.

The ache that is here and now is how do I make sense of the past six years? What are the other stories, the redemptive threads, I’m not seeing?

And then even going further back to my 1995–how can I redeem that time, too? What is the bigger story that isn’t marred with hurt, anguish, looming depression, and disappointment?

Sure, there’s some societal pressure to put some big red bow on this harrowing story of mine. But as I’ve been kind of moaning about for the past few weeks and months, I want the story to change, too.

I wish there was comfort knowing that, as much shame and anguish that I feel, I should also be feeling proud of my countless feats of survival. And I do.

Part of that change in my story is continuing to let things hurt so I can heal. I can’t speed past this part–where I have to, primarily alone, deal with and accept all that has happened.

Grief takes as long as it takes.

But just when I think I’m OK, I get pulled back into the past.

Last week, I was talking to an old online friend from my college days about how I was depressed back then, and I thought I was OK about how college turned out. But that still stings, too. It took eight years to finish.

I could focus on the ending, that I finished–as so many people want me to when I tell this story. The story is definitely one of ultimate triumph. But again, like grad school, I was looking for my people–and I had actually found them this time.

But due to nonpayment of my tuition (because my family’s financial and legal upheaval), I wasn’t allowed to return for my senior year and lost pretty much all of my friends. And that’s the part that still hurts–not even the time that it took to finish.

The theme of connection and disconnection is a big one in my life, and I’m just exhausted. It really shouldn’t be this hard to connect to like-minded people, right?

So what’s next? Well, it’s not all doom and gloom. There’s a business opportunity that seems promising, but I don’t want to deal with the roller coaster of my hopes being raised and dashed.

Still, things are turning around? I guess?

Whatever happens, the burdens of misery and dread are now going to be laid down, that I can find some sort of empowerment in how I feel about my life, even if it feels like circumstances have continually clipped my wings.

So ultimately–this isn’t about money, and it never really has been. It’s been about people.

As we’re in Libra season now (Happy Fall or Spring!), I feel that pull to keep calling in my peeps. I have to remind myself that I haven’t changed so much that I don’t deserve real, tangible support.

It’s almost like being gaslit by life’s circumstances–if you don’t receive the things you need for an extended amount of time, you start to think you don’t deserve them.

When I was talking to that old friend about college, I was reminded of how supported I was, even in the darkest moments of my life as I suffered from clinical depression.

I’m sad I don’t have that sort of support now. It was support I took for granted.

Doing life by yourself isn’t how life is supposed to be lived, and yet that’s what’s happened for me for a good while now. And whether that’s made me a stronger person or not, I’ve lived off of veritable scraps and crumbs of human connection.

And that’s not a healthy diet.

So, as heavy as this hope is to find my people, I have to keep carrying it.

I must remind myself that although I’m highly resilient and adaptable, it’s OK to want to be around others even if I’m unable to be right now.

It’s OK to give voice to that grief, even if the grief is persistent, even if the grief rankles myself and anyone who reads this post.

It’s OK to keep trying to bravely and openly make sense of my life.

I have to remain positive that things will eventually work out, especially because the human brain attenuates to things that are bad because that’s a survival mechanism.

So if I have to fight my own biology and societal mores, just so I can find true joy and be at peace, then I will fight on.

I’ll end with this tweet from Dr. Elliot Adam, a tarot reader. It’s his tarot card of the day reading, about the Wheel of Fortune. He talks about how you should be in the inner hub of the wheel, where you are not as affected by the outer rim of life’s circumstances.

My hope is that in every blog post I’ve written here, in every conversation I’ve had, in every prayer I’m whispered or thought, in every meditation I’ve had, this has been a steady progression to the inner hub of life.

And as tired as I am of tending to my wounds, of even discussing my wounds, I am not my wounds. I am the person being healed.

So I had another shitty summer, but I am ready for the harvest and abundance of fall.

If you liked what you’ve read, I’d love your support as a patron on Patreon. Tiers starts at just $1/month. I blog about things that I don’t post here.

If you want to give a one-time gift or monthly gift, hit me up on Paypal.

Thanks for your support! 💘

 

 

Advertisements

a softening

soft stuff som

Lately, there isn’t much to talk about except my business. So my apologies for going full-on Capricorn here.

Last week, what looked like more work coming my way was the complete opposite. What was great about this was that last week, I found this group of writers and found a lot of support and advice for my client quandary.

The advice went along with my gut feelings: it’s time to move on.

Including with that situation, I’ve taken two other leaps of faith–joining another writing platform and a mastermind group.

Investing in my business while it seems everything else is going to shit–it’s scary, but it’s necessary.

One message that has been showing up over and over, in my own daily tarot readings that I post on twitter and just in things I’ve read–it’s being true to myself.

Currently, that message seems to be about knowing my worth–and not compromising to get it.

And that can be extremely hard to form when circumstances are trying to shape your own self-concept. And the past few months have been an invitation to push back on those circumstantial messages.


I said this in my monthly post for my $10+/month patrons on Patreon, and elsewhere here on this blog–that if circumstances aren’t shifting, there’s something greater being worked.

The past couple of weeks have been particularly rough, mainly because other work that I thought was coming through this month didn’t come. A client decided that the work available was below my rate and not worth my time or money. Then I did a maybe unnecessary backbend to do the work. But I wanted to make sure that it wouldn’t be a precedent for my rates.

Summertime is slow, and I wanted to help us both out.

But the work had already been assigned. Oof. I could have used that work! And I was using that promise of work as a way to stop myself from freaking out. Now it seemed like my freakout was warranted.

I have been spending my time prospecting, but that process probably needs refinement–just because the results suck. Maybe my expectations are way too high.

It’s also a process that requires, upfront, a lot of time and effort. It also takes time for my efforts to show any fruition.

And I don’t feel like I have any time left. And trying to effectively communicate that frustration with time, and the lack of it, was really hard to do last week.


Last week, I had a conversation with my biz coach which made me feel misunderstood.

If you haven’t gotten a sense of who I am already, I’ll just tell you that I am an emotionally intense person. I’ve come into acceptance that this is who I am, for better and for worse.

I’ve known this coach for a few weeks, but I’m starting to get the sense that because they are from the coaching realm, they are also in the realm of performative positivity. I can’t really express the darker sides of owning a business without popping back up and being positive about it.

I felt judged. And I felt like I needed to hide this large part of myself in the future.

Yet there’s no time to hide who I am, either. It’s a conundrum. I do think intimacy requires trust, and there are levels. From that conversation, I learned that she wasn’t properly prepared to deal with my emotions–which aren’t freak or strange. It is par for the course to be emotional about your work as a business owner.

I’m grateful for their presence in their life, but that convo requires a boundary and opacity adjustment.

And thankfully, I’ve found others who can take on those weary woes and provide support and tips on changing my mindset without excusing the rather stark circumstances I’m in.


And those circumstances…last week, with all the disappointment and with feeling unseen, but also finding great support at the same time…I’ve had to accept that even though I’m doing the best I can, things still aren’t going my way, like psychology Rick Hanson talks about accepting difficulty.

But these undone things are not who I am.

I didn’t know that I took a certain deep pride in being able to take care of myself. And, I still am taking care. It just involves me putting out more fires, quelling the insistent voices that want things from me.

I’ve talked about how humbling it’s been for the past six years to live here in Florida. But last week, I really felt like I had been made low.

I’ve never been this pathetic in my life.

I asked for a lot of help in grad school, with many mostly unsuccessful fundraisers–and I got over my pride with that. Grad school was and has been impoverishing–although I have no regrets.

It’s more that I have always felt above all of this happening to me.

Being this helpless happens to other people, but not to me.

But no–this has happened to me, over and over. Four years ago this month was when I became homeless and was wandering around the city for a month, and finally the trauma of that manifested into high anxiety, sadness, and shame last week.

I don’t know if you could call it PTSD, but I could call it a very painful reminder of how precariously placed I feel.

I have never really had time to process that. For a while, my mom was wiring me money so I could be in Airbnb every few days until a couple I went to church with decided to let me stay with them for a month.

That charity came at a cost, though–they basically pushed me into an abusive situation with a fellow church member.

And then I ended up here–in stable housing on going on four years. I never thought this would be an accomplishment, but it is.

And not to be super dramatic, but I’m trapped here without a car (but thank goodness for Lyft). So that means no real social interaction offline, or even a chance to say–screw freelancing, I’m going back to work.

I really am doing the best I can, even if I don’t like the results. And that’s especially tough to swallow during Virgo season, that wants to find the best or most efficient way to do things.

But then those expectations, for the best, start to be almost unattainable…


As someone who is entirely too hard on herself, I have to remind myself that I don’t live in a vacuum, that even if my mindset is jacked up on doom, the environment I live in–my house, my city, my state, and my country–all play a key role in how I can see opportunities from the challenges I face.

In particular, how we see individuals with money vs. how we see corporations with money are entirely different. Corporations are officially seen as people thanks to our kinda screwy SCOTUS, but they aren’t seen as morally corruptible like people are.

If you’re broke in America, then it’s your fault. You’re lazy, unproductive, and spend your money on the wrong things. It doesn’t matter if you’re paying taxes into a system that isn’t completely serving you (and a lot of this depends on the state you reside in). You’re just not working hard enough.

But if you’re a corporation who gets a myriad of tax breaks from the state and federal government, hide money in offshore bank accounts, pay workers poorly while give C-Suite executives golden parachutes, then you’re serving your stakeholders. Good job!

In America, poverty and debt are moral failings, even if the game has been rigged in your favor or against you.

So with that in mind, how can I keep beating myself up for doing my darnedest to support myself?

Something has to give here. And something has.


There’s a softening that’s happening inside of me and towards myself.

It’s not even that I have high expectations of myself (I still do). It’s that I can’t even clear a bar of self-sufficiency right now.

And in Capricorn terms, that makes me feel pretty useless especially to myself. And that’s even without capitalism incessantly whispering lies in my ear that I’m not productive, or valuable, enough.

So who is this person emerging…the one who can’t pay all her bills, the one who struggles and sees lights of hope flicker on and off on the horizon?

Going even deeper–I thought I had overcome my perfectionism, a perfectionism so deep and layered, it was a part of my everyday life.

So OK: I wasn’t publicly crying over test grades in junior high (this only happened once but you know how bad it must be for a double Capricorn to cry in public).

In high school, I gave up trying to be perfect scholastically in general because I knew others would excel despite my best efforts.

In college, I learned to compete with myself because again–someone would always be smarter

I’m doing good enough and it’s still great! Hallelujah!

I really thought that my adult life didn’t involve the crippling perfectionism. But here it was, still wrapped around me like a kudzu vine.

But I still was used to having all the right answers for everything. And that goes back to wanting to feel useful.

Even still–that’s a lot of pressure to put on someone, to put on myself, even if money is tight and I’ve been used to being great at everything.

Don’t I deserve some grace? Some understanding? Some love? A break? Wouldn’t I offer the same to someone who is in my shoes?

Even within my work this summer, I’ve noticed places where I was missing the mark. It felt foreign–to miss things, to be wrong. And of course, stress is probably adding to it, but I’m so used to not missing the mark.

I’ve performed under immense pressure for most of my life and it not affect my work. And this year, that era is ending. I can feel how fragile and susceptible I am.

Whether it’s a cumulative effect of being in survival mode, or just a place in my life that is calling me to identify with inner riches…I can’t keep doing things the way I’ve done for the past 40 years.

Maybe my whole life is a coping mechanism…


There’s so many trite things I can say about learning from mistakes, but one thing I’ve missed from being “so above it all,” was the freedom to be a fully human being.

Again, it’s hard for me to separate myself from the world I live in. If you’re not a rich, straight cis white man, the freedom to be fully human becomes limited. And maybe this is something I picked up on as a kid and internalized.

But even within restrictive cultures, within restricted finances, within restricted spaces…there’s still space to free myself from the expectations that I have to have it all together.

I’m trying to use (maybe too many) words to talk about how this softening is happening. I started to notice it in the past couple of days. I don’t know how to explain it, but I do feel like a different person.

I’m not as interested in surface-level hierarchies of how we view people, of who’s better, smarter, more affluent, more connected. And a lot of times, these are Capricorn concerns…as we climb the mountains of life.

It’s not just that we want praise or recognition. Capricorns want security.

But as my rubric for success continues to change, my rubric for security has to change, too.

There’s a lot falling into arrears, falling away, and I don’t have enough emotional bandwidth to hold it all.

I am not my past due bills. I am not my lack of transportation. I am not my dreams deferred or dashed. I am not the countless rejections and heartaches I’ve received and endured. I am not even the loneliness that I’ve become used to.

I am not all the things I lack.

And I try to think about the other freelancers and solopreneurs that are struggling just like I am right now, on the brink of a new life.

I’m not alone in this.

I’m not alone not only in this business struggle, but just in life in general. When I write these words, I wonder if someone has ever felt these things before, before I was born, before this century or millennium, even before we had words…

I may have a unique life, but I know this isn’t a novel feeling–of inadequacy and soul exhaustion, but continuing on anyway, knowing that circumstances are temporary.

Can I tap into the history of humanity, or even to the consciousness right now, and feel that this isn’t new? That there are others right now, just as human as me, trying their best, failing, and continuing to try, and trying not to take this on as a moral failing…but as a sign that they’re trying?


In the ashes of my hopes and expectations, I stand…looking for places to be grateful.

I work towards being more grateful, because I don’t want to be covered in bitter ashes forever

Gratitude is not a feeling, but a daily practice.

I am grateful right now that I’m not homeless. I am grateful that 22 years ago this month, when I was supposed to go to college and my father’s paranoia prevented me–that I was able to go to the following year and finally finish.

I am grateful that for now, my phone is still on. I am grateful that if and when it turns off, I’ll be eventually to turn it back on.

I am grateful that I will be paid for work later on this month. I am grateful that I’m creating space for better clients to come along.

I am grateful for the little personal pizza that I’ll be heating up in a few minutes for lunch and that I don’t have to eat ramen again (as much as I love it).

I am grateful for all these lessons that have introduced me to someone who could be more unfettered…someone who isn’t all exact angles…someone who can carry greater compassion for herself, and in turn greater compassion for others.

I am grateful that I can keep writing about the same thing over and over and glean more wisdom and grace for myself…and that people like you continue to keep reading.

I am grateful that I’m learning that I am not the things that happen to me. I’m something far more weighty and valuable.

I am a fallible human being, worthy of love, grace, and compassion.

I am person who keeps trying.

If you liked what you’ve read, I’d love your support as a patron on Patreon. Tiers starts at just $1/month. I blog about things that I don’t post here.

If you want to give a one-time gift or monthly gift, hit me up on Paypal.

Thanks for your support! 💘