Discover more from Take What You Need
What Really Matters
Greetings lovely one,
A couple of nights ago, I had the honor and privilege of attending a writing workshop/interview series featuring Nikki Giovanni. Besides being wise, real, and inspirational, she was hilarious!
When I was younger, I was a bookworm. (Big surprise, right?) Sure, I had school-assigned readings that helped stimulate my thinking and imagination. But it wasn’t until my grandmother introduced me to the works of Maya Angelou and Nikki Giovanni that I felt deeply connected to myself, and more specifically, came into a greater consciousness of my Black identity. When Ms. Giovanni showed off her Thug Life tattoo I was reminded of Tupac’s “Keep Ya Head Up” lyrics
I remember Marvin Gaye, used to sing to me
He had me feelin' like black was the thing to be
And suddenly the ghetto didn't seem so tough
And though we had it rough, we always had enough…
That was what I felt when I read Giovanni’s poetry for the first time. But I could never explain why her lines felt so significant back then, only that they did. That something she wrote enlivened me.
Have you ever felt so affirmed within yourself, like you could finally feel your face and know you were real – a deep sense of belonging because of words – words that spoke tenderly to a place in your soul you didn’t know cried out for a new vision of love?
That’s probably around the time I started wanting to become a writer. I wanted to create that “I feel seen” heart response, the way writers like Ms. Giovanni did for me. I’ve shared before that I have a complicated relationship with poetry, but that fact never stopped me from writing my little nine-year-old heart out. Somewhere along the line, I realized that the writing itself was cathartic for me. That writing didn’t have to always be about the finished product for the reader; it could also be a healing and wellness tool for the writer. And that writing for healing and wellness could be for anyone, regardless of writing experience.
Since I began school, I’ve remembered many things that the rat race tends to help me forget: namely, that there are all kinds of ways to write, to read and be read. So, my incessant worry about not measuring up to those I admire or, heck, stressing and losing sleep about not measuring up to an idealized me benefits no one.
One of the nuggets of wisdom I received that night from Ms. Giovanni (and I’m paraphrasing here) was that “If we keep worrying about the ticking of the clock … we won’t get anything done.”
What do you want to get done, dear reader? What really matters to you?
I think that 2021 has been a year where many of us did a lot of reevaluation of the vision for our lives, our work, and our “meaning-making.” I’ve personally sat with quite a few soul-searching questions; have had to continually decipher when my mental health conditions were playing too large a role in my decision making; or when I was genuinely moving with a spirit of love and authenticity. It’s no easy task. That’s why I ask for support when I need to. (Okay, it may be more accurate to say, I am getting better at asking for support when I am aware that I’m struggling and need help.)
So, as Nikki Giovanni said, “Do your best, and then try to do better.” Because we deserve better. We deserve to feel seen, and feel our face, and feel real, and worthy of belonging.
Peace, Love, and Wellness,
P.S. Next month, I’ll be sharing one of the poems I’ve written for my class portfolio project. It will be my Christmas/Kwanzaa/Holiday gift to you. :)
Thanks for reading! Care to share the love?
Pass Take What You Need on to a colleague/friend/someone you think would enjoy, and share widely.
Get access to new posts and other treasures in your inbox. Hit that subscribe button below!
What’s the Buzz? Here’s what’s happening
Ongoing I’m co-creating stigma-crushing, mental health awareness merch for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Wear your support!
Click the image below to go to the store.
Tales from the blog keepers
In many workplaces, there is still a stigma around discussing employee mental health conditions. Yet the pandemic created an unexpected opportunity for more open and supportive conversations between HR, employees, and senior leadership.
Because of the large number of people who have served in the United States military, most people have a veteran in their life. Although not all veterans have mental illnesses before, during, or after their time of service, a large percentage do. Unfortunately, this is just one group that has struggled with the stigma and barriers of mental health services.
How can people ensure the mental health services of veterans are prioritized? This article will give you information on how to do just that, as well as understand the barriers veterans face.
It can be hard to trust that doctors have best interests in mind. And taking the right blend of medication may feel tedious. As a result, treatment stops prematurely, and things can spiral from there. This is just one reason why it’s so important to accept help for mental health conditions.
Muse of the month
Blerd’s the word
If you didn’t know, Solange launched a Free Digital Library Of Rare Black Literature. The Saint Heron Community Library is a growing media center dedicated to students, practicing artists and designers, musicians, and general literature enthusiasts. It looks like they run the library in “seasons” on a first come first serve basis. Check it out!