What Time Frame Do You Think In?

Sometimes I get distracted by how many different components in life there are to juggle. There are personal battles, immediate obligations, possible opportunities, and the future person you are trying to become. Within each category, we have memories from the past, events occurring in the present, and unwritten narratives of the future. I’ve been pondering the various levels of this over this last month.

In an earlier post, I wrote about setting priorities as far as selecting the right career path to take; however, I think setting priorities is vitally important to this topic. Usually, I see people create a four cornered box in which the X axis is Urgent to Non-Urgent and the Y axis is Important to Non-Important. This exercise is extremely relevant, in that it focuses on improving Time Management skills. Yet, where this doesn’t help me is that I will always continue doing the immediate work (e.g. work assessments this week and setting doctor’s appointments). But I feel more limited in attempting to work toward those Non-Urgent goals which may or may not be super important for the now, but are of interest to me.

So with there only being 24 hours in a day, how much of that time is used reflecting on the past, acting in the present, and planning for the future? Though I have no answer for this, I have always been a person who’s planning for the future. I am always thinking about my next step or my destination, which leads to a number of anxiety, perfectionism, workaholism, and negative self-talk issues. The reason for all of this stress is that I do not take the time to breathe and rest. So I’m torn between being hungry for more and reaching what is “greatness” for me or being grounded in the immediate pressing assignments which ultimately seem like busy work.

I don’t want to stay in my past, because it wasn’t the most pleasant of memories and they’re uneditable. Yet, I take comfort in hovering over memories, because they give me information about the world and its people which help me navigate the present. I would love to say that I am an “in-the-present-moment” kind of person. I say this because it would mean that I give everything my full attention, I come through on my word to follow up with someone after networking, and I enjoy the youngest moment of my life. Yet, I am limited in this enjoyment because of past experiences and I’m always hoping that the future will be better. I feel that I shouldn’t stay in the future because some immediate things are quite important. So I have to think of what’s of higher importance: investing in that which gets me closer to being a stronger version of myself or being efficient and successful now.

I guess the semi-satisfying answer is that you just have to do what’s best for you. However, the focus should be on how all forms of time co-exist. There is a way to let the past inform my present and future without limiting my choices. There is a way to live in the moment while also growing. There is a way to plan for your future with information from the past and small successes in the present. I just have not found my balance yet. My highest priority is happiness which for me comes from creating, moments of solitude, great food, and great sleep. Because I choose me, my job become secondary (maybe tertiary most times) and those who don’t help me advance toward a specific goal aren’t as important. I just want to be comfortable and in a space that inspires me to create. I want to be in a space doing something that matters. Therefore, I constantly switch between time frames.

So this post is less of “advice” and more of a “question.” Which time frame do you think in? What is most important to you? How do you balance all the confusion which is our lived experience?

Best,

Cayla Jae

 

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Raise Hell

Today, I spent 12 hours listening, talking, thinking, and learning about present day activism. With today only being pre-conference, it was amazing to think of how inspiring and energetic the rest of the week would be. We defined black girl magic, strategized how to weave activism into the classroom, considered the transformation of women’s studies over the past 20-40 years, and discussed activism in the era of the 45th. The final kick off for the national women’s studies association conference was a keynote presentation with Alicia Garza and Angela Davis.

Seeing as I promise a new post every Thursday night, please excuse typos and I now have exactly 12 minutes to tell you 12 commonalities during the meets. I will expand next week once the conference as ended.

Self love/ care: minorities (of color, ableness, gender, etc.) Often do not see self love and care modeled within their community. As Angela Davis even commented, activists during her time spent their time solely on the movement and often making sacrifices when it came to food, family, etc. For black women, this is even more important in that we have this super woman stereotype/ weight on our shoulders to take care of everyone before ourselves.

Visibility: this is a challenge for many minorities and radicals. Finding a way to give voice to the marginalized and muted becomes challenging. However social media hashtags have helped bring life to things like black girl magic and black lives matter. However, many of the older feminist worry that there’s no substance in the hashtag/ trendy.

Art and words as tools: they’re in conversation with those who craft to give visuals to the movement.

Interdisciplinary: we have to remember that everything is interconnect. One teacher taught her science class by teaching them about Harriet Tubman!

Intersectionality: not the same as multi cultural. It’s recognizing different aspects of a person’s identity. For example, black and woman, and the life experience from that.

Freedom seekers: as opposed to saying slaves or the oppressed, positive word choice is a more acquire depiction of those groups.

Personality: you have to bring yourself to the space. Instead of coming in and trying to blend in, don’t be afraid to be yourself.

Context: learn your history… The world’s history answers so many questions for us.

Politics: our whole life is political. And it’s not about parties anymore, but what people stand for and what we’ll continue to accept or discard.

Comfort: real change comes from discomfort. Alicia Garza talked about how she’ll have meetings about things that matter and watch those on the opposite side get uncomfortable. “But I kinda just like watching them squirm… They act like it’s something new. We’ve been here the whole time, you just chose not to see us.”

Humility: Angela Davis reminded us of the importance of being Hubble enough to not be so ego centric and learn from the world. We don’t always have to be the first to speak. We need to listen more and learn from the successes of others.

Raising hell: Y’all… Davis, “if you don’t do the work, there will be no change. Now on the other hand, there’s no guarantee of change if you do the work. So work as if it’s going to change.”

 

Gap Year: NCRM’s 2017 Freedom Awards

This year marks 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination in Memphis. Every year the National Civil Rights Museum hosts a Freedom Award Show Gala to acknowledge the hard work of other leaders and performers. About a week ago, I was invited to be apart of the crew backstage and my answer was “what time do I need to be there and what should I wear?”

This post will highlight 5 wow moments that I experienced during the preparation and run of the event.

First, The Orpheum Theatre:

The current structure was originally built in the late 1920s on the corner of Main and Beale Street. Over the years, it has become known as one of the hot spots in the mid-south for the performing arts. It has hosted numerous broad way shows, performers/ entertainer, concerts, and local events here in Memphis. It is huge and the aesthetic is fit for royalty.

Although I had been to a couple of plays and acts there, I’d never been close enough to touch the stage, let alone check out the signatures along the bricks toward the back. The combination of the grand interior design, the clout of how many talented artist graced its stage, and the history of this place was enough to have me fan girl (from the inside of course).

Second, Red Carpet Gala:

Something I had never seen before, which was really cute, the crew had blocked of main street and built a red carpet! Even though it usually gets really chilly in October, that night was warm, clear skies, and great lighting for the glamourous outfits swarming main street. Side Note- I’d also like to mention how much melanin was poppin’ on that red carpet. There was a great mix on people whether of color or non-color, but it was awesome seeing African American men and women in clean suits and breathe taking gowns.

I’ll be honest, while I’m not the best at picking out famous faces, everyone looked like celebrities to me. Right next to the Orpheum, we watched these beautiful people crowd the Halloran Centre for Performing Arts & Education for live music, tasty reception food, and social house drinks. The personal touches really brought out that classic, ageless soul of Memphis that we all know too well in the Bluff City.

Third, A plus list:

So in addition to the talented dance number from New Ballet Ensemble, harmonicist Frederic Yonnet, spoken word artist Ed Mabrey, and the house band directed by Garry Goin, the presenters and honorees added more sparkle to the stage and food for thought to the listeners. The three individuals presented with awards during this event were Reverend Dr. Bernice King, Morris Dees, and Hugh Masekela.

Watching the videos, listening to the speeches, and being in such close proximity to movers and shakers in the civil rights movement left me speechless. It was like being in a room with people who were too cool for school, like I definitely didn’t think that I was awesome enough to be on a first name bases with these people.

My worst moment of word vomit was awkwardly standing next to five Sanitation Workers from the 1968 “I am a Man” rally. Like how do you express in less than 60 seconds how appreciative you are for their sacrifice, bravery, and vulnerability. Many of which would say, don’t thank me because it was the right thing to do. I walk around talking about being about “the cause” and I’m interacting with the people who put “the cause” into words, images, and ideas that (at that time) were dangerous to share. There were many other motivational and influential people backstage-which I regret to say that I was too nervous and not confident enough to ask questions- whom I did not mention here. Some of these people were even familiar with Berea College (my alma mater). It was a great night.

Fourth, Rev. Dr. Bernice King’s Speech:

So you all knew this was coming. You may have listened to recordings or read quotes from her speech, but I’m just going to expand on a point she made that resonated with me. While I did not have time or free hands to write the words down, I repeated it in my head until I could recount it in my own words. Rev. Dr. Bernice King said (and I’m totally paraphrasing) that our responsibility as human beings in this current society is to not leave others in darkness, hate, and ignorance. One of her goals, which she believes is our responsibility, is to be the light in that darkness, love in that hatred, and impart knowledge in ignorance. It is to choose to not leave the table without planting a seed within them.

Regardless of your background or spirituality, this directly complements the Golden Rule: threat others the way you want to be treated. So instead of fighting with fire, tears, sweat, and blood, try laughter, empathy, respect, and love. I think that in the Trump era, some people see current events as brand new; however, none of this has been hidden. People often forget to consider context and assume that those strange occurrences “came out of the blue.” I repeat: This year marks only 50 years since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 50 years since minorities in the United States of America were desperately and tirelessly demanding for what was right. Those words aren’t even strong enough to communicate the fact that these people were striving for what I think is common sense and humanism…but if college taught me nothing else, it is that common sense just ain’t so common. We see black and white photos and imagine that 50 years ago is so removed from today.

We have allowed ourselves to take those traumatic, tense, and violent events out of context. 50 years ago isn’t old enough to retire. 50 years ago is an aunt, uncle, mother, father, or grandparent. 50 years ago may be half a century, but it is still alive and well in most households today. 50 years ago, in context, is no more than 2 generations from me writing this blog post. These people who are living and breathing within our homes and communities saw those black and white photos in color and experienced that which we have removed ourselves from. So when you see white sheets, mobs, delayed relief efforts, dehumanization of people of color, lack of interest in communities which still do not have clean sources of water, hear the whispers in the wind, feel the chill of an unwelcome place you wandered into, and see something surprising in the news…just remember that it was only 50 years. Just remember that it started well before that. Just remember that our past, present, and future will always be occurring at the same time and nothing just “comes out of the blue.” Ask for the context and none of this will have come as a surprise to you.

Finally, The 1968 Sanitation Workers:

I held the medals presented to the men who said enough was enough. I held the hands of men who wanted better working conditions, higher wages, and union recognition. I saw men who simply wanted better for themselves, their co-workers, and their families. I saw men who were engaged within their communities, fighting for economic and social justice. I met men who probably didn’t think that the medals were necessary because they had added light to darkness and thoughts to a much larger conversation.

Overall, it was a great night. I made some good friends and great networks. I learned that I need to learn more about our history and that there are meaningful conversations happening all around you. I learned this when I was struggling to match faces with names and being invited to this event. This learning matters because I like to think that I know everything sometimes, but now I know another growth area for myself. In light of this learning, I have been sharing this experience with younger students in Memphis through my work at BRIDGES USA, Inc.

Best,

Cayla Jae

Gap Year: Time Travel

This past weekend, I traveled back to my undergraduate campus. My original intention was to comfort a friend in their struggle to get to the finish line. However, as I lie in a mega bunk bed of my alma mater, I realized that I was judging them for acknowledging that they were struggling.

Often, it is easy to see negativity and hear problems from others and attempt to create solutions, rather than truly listening. Although I had heard what was causing their pain, I had not listened to its effects until I was left in the dark to the sound of their sleep. College can be tough for many of us, especially if you went to my school where there is constant pressure from all sides at all the time. It truly does take a strong individual to pause and say, “I need help. This is not working.” That level of honesty and vulnerability, luckily has kept my friend with me. Others going through similar challenges might have adopted unhealthy habits or self harmed themselves or simply stayed in that dark place like I once did.

I often hear people speak about trigger words; however, as I reflected on my travel and my conversations with my friend, I realized that my alma mater was a trigger location for this dark place that resided inside of me. I drove through campus not thinking about graduation, group sleep overs, or dancing through the night and into the next morning. I was thinking about my hike to the nearest Walmart at 6 am on Saturdays, because I was afraid of being raped or being attacked for walking alone as a black woman. I was thinking about the time when I dropped to my knees in the middle of the quad near midnight and cried until my soul was dry. And then afterward, like a robot, I dried my eyes, stood up, grabbed my things, and continued finishing my art project against my body’s will. I remembered the day that I skipped classes, turned off my phone, and went for a long drive on some back roads. On that day, I had no destination and as I sped through the mountains of eastern Kentucky, I thought to myself, “What if I just veer too far to the right? What if I go fast enough that I won’t feel the moment when my heart stops?” And those are just a few moments in which I was proud of my friend for saying enough was enough. I thanked the heavens that I could hold them between my arms and near my heart. It was memories like that that reminded me how great friends are just as important, if not more important than, blood relatives.

On my way back home, I focused on detoxing those negative feelings and ghosts of my campus from my body. I listened to music that allowed my mind to process the experience. I spoke of all the positive experiences from seeing my friends. I meditated and held my great grandmother’s necklace close to me. I had six hours of a drive to cleanse my body of those points in time in which I was scared, alone, exhausted, broken, and empty. Most people would say that this is all an exaggeration and that college is the best part of your life. Yet these are moments in my past that I have never even whispered.

Before this trip, I hadn’t realized how much time manifests itslf within our reality. I had never imagined that my first trip back since leaving the stage as a graduate would transform my energy so much. Because of this, I will be more mindful of what I allow into my space, but more importantly, who I allow into my space. This experience reminded me of my strengths and talents as a fixer, artist, and friend. It also showed me areas of growth. Overall, I think this trip made me reassess all of my toxic relationships and thoughts.

I know that as a Taurus (ya, I’m into Zodiacs…y’all the energy of this universe is real) I do not like change. For me personally, it is super tough to get rid of people who I once considered to be friends and support systems. But I learned that as I grow, my support systems can also adjust with me. It’s not necessarily that they are bad people, but they are no longer needed to get me to the next level and vice versa. Again, by dating myself and putting myself first, I have to think about what is in my best interest and what will help me grow. This does not include those who are social media followers (yet ghosts IRL), people who make me feel inadequate, people who don’t communicate directly with me, and those are not honest with me.

So while my intention was to go and solve my friend’s problem, I ended up putting myself in check and reevaluating what I know about my emotions and friends. All it took was one night with my face buried into my friend’s batman body pillow as inspiration. This trip was an important turning point for me, because it made me think about my priorities again. In light of this learning, I have reexamine my small circle of awesome friends who support my growth.

Best,

Cayla Jae

Tune In This Winter

I have spent weeks trying to find the words and the perfect quote to express this thought. What I have now realized is that it does not have to be ingenious or flawlessly crafted. What I want to say is that I am transitioning.

For years, I have created work that I felt others wanted to see. I have painted, drawn, and written narratives that we not of my true nature, voice, nor intentions. Therefore, following my explorations aboard through the landscapes of Ireland and then nationally within the suburbs of Orlando, Florida, I have reached a period which I consider the eye of the storm.

I am currently doing research, along with person soul searching, in order to properly articulate my narrative. For this reason, I have not and will not be posting as often as I have in the past; however, this Winter you can expect sneak peeks of my first exhibition. I am excited about this for many reasons, but I am most excited to be able to sincerely share myself with you.

Best,

CDJ

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
― Thomas Merton

“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.

  • Maya Angelou

Wunderlust

After this summer, I know two things for sure: if you truly want something, it is yours to have, and also remain flexible, because you’ll never know where this world will take you. With a positive mindset and a good amount of stubbornness, I have no doubt that you can turn life’s unfortunate events into dreams. I had heard an artist say before that the most important thing to them was to “craft their life” and not just let it play. Being humans, we are creatures of habit and without a little bit of creativity or curiosity, we find ourselves stuck. Always question, always challenge, and always grow…for not all those who wander are lost.

Strength

Although everyone experiences rock bottom emotionally at some point, I think it’s important to remember three time frames. The past is that which remains unchanged. Remaining in it’s suffocating embrace, weakens the spirit and mind. The present is that which remains in process, creating the future that is always ready for you to take charge. Sometimes we have to move away from our pasts, in hopes that our futures will seem like dreams.

Ask the Expert: You

“Do What the Better Version of Yourself Would Do.”- together we churn, ThinkGrowProsper

I love this short quote. It is the best way to ask “What would you do?”

You will find that giving advice to others about their lives is difficult. I do not mind giving advice to my closest friends or family members because I know so much about their lives; however, I still believe that in most cases people should look within before they look outward for help. The truth is that no one knows you better than you: you have been with yourself, in every moment, since birth (literally). So when troubles come, give yourself advice. Envision what you would say to yourself, because you are your own best friend. So, don’t allow others to color your experience.

The Choice Is Yours

“People inspire you, or they drain you-pick them wisely.” -Hans F. Hansen

This statement couldn’t be more true, in that you are in control of how others affect your life. You were given full human agency to make conscious decisions on who you are and what you want to be. So I encourage you to never allow others to dull your shine, nor poison your smile with negativity. Think about the quality of those you keep closest to you because, believe it or not, it can have a significant impact on the way in which you live your life.