This Is Who I Am

An Instagram friend shared a post in which she was asked to list “10 things I am.” I found the idea intriguing, because once I stopped actively practicing law, I lost my sense of self, and honestly, have been floundering to find myself again. This exercise reminds me of who I am at my very core, and what is important to me.

1.) I AM proud to be a native New Orleanian. I was blessed to be born and raised there. Growing up, the city was my world, and I never dreamed of ever leaving my city, my family and my friends. Unfortunately, I had to leave, because I could not find a job in New Orleans. I have been in Texas since 1981, but New Orleans will always be my heart home.

2.) I AM a meditator. Since December 2013, I have meditated every day.

3.) I AM an attorney licensed by the State of Texas, but because of the pain caused by fibromyalgia, I was forced to stop practicing law, and go on “inactive” status with the State Bar.

4.) I AM easily obsessed. My current obsessions are crystal and rocks, succulents, art supplies, lavender, orange blossom and sweet jasmine scented candles, my beautiful grands, essential oils, books, gray clothing, writing, and container gardening.

5.) I AM an artist. I have been away from painting and drawing for health-related reasons, but they are an integral part of me, and I feel the pull to return to created my art.

6.) I AM a highly sensitive person (HSP), and an introvert, with slight extrovert tendencies. As such, I am very empathetic, crave silence, and welcome my alone time. Also, I believe in the cathartic affect of tears.

7.) I AM blessed to be my Mother’s daughter, because she is MY HERO. My father abandoned us on my birthday, five days before Christmas. He left her to raise three girls, five and under, on her own, without a job. Soon after the holidays, she went to work as a cook for one of the many Catholic elementary schools in New Orleans. The pay was meager, so, over the years, she simultaneously worked 2-3 additional low wage jobs, in order to clothe and feed us, keep a roof over our heads, and provide us with the best education that she could afford. Yes, we were poor, but we always had what we needed. I admired her sense of grace and pride. She could have easily qualified for governmental assistance, but she said that as long as she could work, she would never take handouts from anyone. I’d be satisfied with a mere fraction of her strength, compassion, determination, beauty, honesty and grace. In the face of much sadness and adversity, she has always maintained an unyielding trust and faith in God.

8.) I AM a staunch proponent for equality. I believe that no one should be discrimnated against, ostracized, or singled out for unequal attention, because of his/her gender, age, race, national origin, disability, sexual or gender preference, religious preference, weight or political affiliation. I believe in, and respect the right of everyone to believe and live as they chose, so long as it is done so, with respect for others and without causing harm or animus to others.

9.) I AM one who believes in a world where there is no homelessness, hunger, war, unequal education opportunities, unequal housing opportunities, unequal job opportunities, where the top 1% richest Americans do not hold more wealth than the bottom 90% of Americans, and where the bottom 90% do not hold 73% of the countries debt. I believe in a world where no one is forced to chose between purchasing crucial medication or food, where everyone has insurance so that money need not dictate who lives and who dies, and where there are no school or mass shootings. I believe in equal pay for equal work, and a living wage for all. I believe in a world in which hospitals and insurance companies are forced to price services and medications at a price point that is fair to all. Finally, I believe in a world where everyone is entitled to his/her opinions or beliefs, as long as those beliefs do not infringe upon the rights listed in point 8.

10.) I AM a believer in hugs and “I love yous,” as often as possible,  because no one of us is promised the next minute.

11.) I AM determined to leave this world, better than I found it.

12.) I AM a believer in the power of prayer, hope, faith and the love of God.

13.) I AM a believer in standing up for what is right, even though I might stand alone.

14.) I AM a believer in the power of love to heal and change lives

15.) I AM a  blend of my positive traits, that I readily embrace, and the negative ones, which I tend to shoo like pesky flies, hoping they will go away, so I am not forced to delve into them. Well, they don’t. In fact, the more that I swat them away, the more that they return, undeterred.

Just as there is no light, without the dark, no highs, without the lows, and happy, without the sad, there are positives and negatives within each of us. We desperately try to cling to the positives, while ignoring the negatives, so that we won’t have to face them, i.e., face ourselves. They will not be ignored and until we take the time to acknowledge, accept and determine their reason for being, we cannot hope to know and appreciate all the facets of who we are. Both make us who we are.

Well, this is a partial list of who “I AM,” and it was a perfect exercise to remind of my true self, whether I am a lawyer, an artist or a role, yet to be determined. I am a woman of conviction, obsessions, compassion, kindness, hopes, dreams, love, and faith; however, I am also a woman with fears, worries, doubts, self-sabotaging tendencies and more. They are all within me, and I am okay with that.

#whoami #thisisme #selfinquiry #myheromymother #ibelieveinequality #ibelieveinstandingupforwhatisright #iamagainstdiscrimnationofalltypes #theperfectworld #nohunger #nowar #nodiscrimination #genderequity #equality #nohomelessness #insuranceforall #equaleducationforall #wearebothlightanddark 

The Missing Pieces

Pieces of a puzzle

Pieces of a puzzle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond. ~Rumi

For some time now, I haven’t posted regularly to this blog. It is not that I’ve lost interest in it. In fact, I realize that I need it more than ever, but I’ll get back to that later. Anyway, for months, my head has been stuffed with so many complex thoughts that it has been impossible to separate the wheat from the chafe. If I am to be honest, more often than not, my thoughts are not happy, happy thoughts, but those that I like to pretend don’t exist.

I mean, who wants to admit that, more often than not, their head bombarded with negative self-talk. Who wants to acknowledge that they are oftentimes overwhelmed with sadness and depressing thoughts that they can’t seem to shake. More importantly, I convinced myself that no one wanted to read about my particular bouts with my own ‘darkness of the soul.’ No, that would certainly fall into the category of t.m.i. (too much information).

Granted, this is a personal journey blog. With that said, it touches upon the inevitable thoughts, feelings and challenges that I experience on my journey towards self-discovery, mindfulness, and inner awareness. I created this blog, not to sell or market any product or service. I did not create it with the intention of attracting scores of readers; although I welcome and treasure each person who happens by. I created it as a forum upon which I could be a witness to my thoughts, feelings and impressions, and where I could confront my ego self and come to know my real self. In other words and without the woo-woo words and phrases, I wanted to tell my story, and more importantly, uncover my truths and expose the lies that I tell myself.

The thing is that I’ve come to realize is that from the beginning, I’ve censored my story. Except in passing, I choose not to write about fibromyalgia and the way it has a firm grip on me and every facet of my life. I didn’t write about the feelings arising from the loss of a hard-fought for career as an attorney, and the resulting loss of self-esteem. I didn’t write about the effect of constant pain on the body. I didn’t write about my loss of independence, which having grown up poor, was essential to me. I didn’t write about the irony of the yearned for ‘clean slate’ at the very time that my health prevents me from acting upon it. I didn’t write about the grief that etched itself into my being, and I certainly didn’t write about the depression that sometimes overwhelms me and brings with it a blanket of loneliness, darkness and at times, hopelessness. I’ve created a blog that embraces the positive, while denying the more difficult and undesirable truths about myself.

Yet, these missing pieces are, like those of a puzzle, integral to my story, to who I am and to who I am meant to be. Without exploring and integrating them, my story is incomplete and in some cases, prone to inaccurate conclusions. Without experiencing life’s lows, we cannot fully appreciate its’ highs. Similarly, to know and appreciate the light, it is necessary to welcome the darkness. I intend to begin doing just that.

I’ve learned that blogging, like journaling, is an invaluable tool that allows me to piece together things about myself that were previously unnoticed. In my case, I writing has always given me the opportunity to be open and honest about my thoughts and feelings, while, at the same time, forcing me to acknowledge and accept them in a new and different way.  It is through writing that I’ve uncovered valuable details about, for instance, why I believe and do the things that I do.

Granted, I am not turning this blog into a litany of ‘poor me’ posts. Instead, I will strive for balance, and as Rumi writes, I will meet the darkness, depression and other negative thoughts, and invite them in. Yet, I can assure you that I won’t be laughing as they waltz on in. Instead, I will begin with a grudging respect, for they are an undeniable part of who I am. 

Blessings, Lydia

My Story: The Early Years

Over the years, I’ve held many roles, namely, mother, wife, daughter, sister, g’mom, attorney, friend and countless others. In addition to the typical roles, I have chronic pain due to both fibromyalgia and migraines. Besides, there is no doubt that they, like every other challenge that I have met and conquered in life, have no small part in forming the woman that I am today. This is my story.

My given name is Lydia Marie Wright. I entered this world in New Orleans, Louisiana, 5 days before Xmas to C. and J. I was their first born of three girls. My mother is an amazing woman who single-handedly raised me and my 3 siblings, when my dad made the poor choice to leave our family–on my 5th birthday. Although I didn’t realize it for decades, this incident had a huge influence on my life and the person that I was to become. 

After my father left our family, we had to move in with my great-grandmother. My mother, a very beautiful woman, who married young and never had the opportunity to attend college, had few job prospects. She soon accepted a job as a cook for the New Orleans Catholic Archdiocese, where she remained for over 40 years. Although we were poor, my Mom always worked 2-3 jobs to make sure that we had food on the table and clean clothes.

Although she could have easily qualified, she steadfastly refused to apply for or receive any type of government aid (With the exception of the free lunch program that we had to apply for through the schools and were accepted automatically.). She is a proud woman and remains so to this day. She did the very best that she could with what she had, so she sewed most of our clothes. One perk of the job with the Catholic Archdiocese was a tuition discount at its many Catholic schools (Especially at that time, Catholic churches or schools were about as prevalent as 7-11’s came to be in other cities.). Wanting to ensure us the best education that she could manage, she did without to send us to the catholic schools where I spent twelve years.  

Nurturing creativity was not a priority in my family–getting by was. As a child, I liked to draw, so much so that I responded to a “TV Guide” advertisement for an art school. The ad required that you draw a picture of the photo provided in the ad. I was about 11 years old and I remember putting all that I had into that drawing. I waited and waited with knots in my stomach for a response. A letter arrived and while it told me that I had “some” talent, it went on to say that I was too young for the school, blah, blah, blah. . . . It was on this day that my dream of pursuing and nurturing the creative side of me died. I was also an avid reader of books. I think as an escape from a world that for me, was filled with abandonment, confusion, a lack of overt emotional affection and fear of my environment, I loved books. I could be anywhere and anyone that I wanted to be. (My love of books remains to this day.) 

In addition to reading booking, I also love to write. Although I dreamed of being a successful writer, the dream never went further than my writing my own “book.” As I sit here today, I can’t even remember what the story was about. All that I do recall is that I never intended to pursue it because I was not a “creative” person, Sadly, that is what I’d internalized from the response to my drawing, and I had no one to tell me otherwise. So, my career dreams turned to more practical careers such as a medical technologist, a nurse, or a child psychologist. I say dreams because to say “goal” would necessarily imply that I believed that my dreams were attainable, and I realize that I did not.  

My mother always choose education as our means to escape the poverty in which we lived. As the oldest of what later became 4 children; I was not deaf to her choice. She was a single woman in the late fifties-early sixties, singlehandedly raising three, later four, children, and a ‘college fund’ was definitely not an option. This was in the days before charter and magnet schools and even back then, the New Orleans public school system was not up to her standards or anyone else’s really. So that we might go to the “better” schools (i.e., Catholic schools), my mom took the job as the cook. Since there were two of us, me and my sister, Mom received a tuition discount as well. We were only one of 2 or 3 black families in the entire school. I am quite embarrassed to admit it, now, but back then, I was not as proud as I have become of my Mom and all that she went through to provide us with a Catholic school education. No, as a selfish young girl, all that I was concerned with is that my Mom worked at the cafeteria in the elementary school that I attended. Each and every day, I dreaded lunch time for two reasons: (1) the free lunch card that we qualified for because of our family income, and (2) my Mom would be in the the cafeteria serving food to me, my friends and everyone else and everyone knew it. I was embarrassed by my Mom’s job and I was filled with guilt for being such a terrible daughter.  

Anyway, I was a quiet kid and I mostly excelled in school. I was the model student in elementary school. The most memorable incident from that time was when my class took some sort of test and coincidentally, the boy sitting next to me and I got the same grade on the test. He was white and I black, so the teacher assumed that I’d cheated by copying his answers. I was forced to re-take the test by myself and to her chagrin, I scored higher on the test than the first time. This incident was another of those incidents that over the years has shaped me in ways that I never imagined. I went on to graduate from elementary school and gained acceptance into the same high school that my Mom attended; everything was going according to plan. I figured that she’d given up so much and worked so hard so that we could have an education, it was my duty to reward her efforts. To be continued…