“I Am Light”

It’s hard to write a short and simple post on how much light LUCES brings into my life. Gratitude does not seem to suffice; when I think of LUCES, I think of warmth and light, as its name denotes, but love, compassion, strength, courage, happiness. Self-care.

When I entered Loyola, nothing could prepare me. As an 18 year old, I truly believed I was ready for the world, and these four years were simply another barrier to that. My first year felt like the end of the world. I was desperate for a community, for a purpose. I joined dozens of organizations, tried desperately to make friends, develop relationships, but I never felt sufficient.

LUCES taught me bravery. From the beginning, LUCES was there, but my first gathering left me intimidated and nervous. These women were self-loving, compassionate, driven individuals; didn’t seem to make the mark. It was bravery and courage that allowed me to continue attending, to discover that the space was welcoming, safe, and inclusive.

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LUCES has the ability to show and teach every individual who enters the space what it means to be a leader and to combat the imposter syndrome that prevents us from being strong, and brave. LUCES speaks on identities and encourages you to embrace them so that you can use them as tools of strength, rather than as debilitating. When it came to my racial identity, I thought I knew exactly who I was entering Loyola. For the first time, I was able to find the word that defined who I felt I was: multiracial. I didn’t have to pick one identity and leave the rest at the door. When I questioned my sexuality, LUCES held examples of what it meant to be queer as well as a woman of color, identities that are often mutually exclusive. I felt the courage and the strength to embrace my identities, even if the world around me didn’t.

LUCES also taught me that the identities you did or did not grow up in do not define who you are. Identities are fluid, they constantly change, and I learned to ride the tide of those identities. And with those tides of identities comes radical self-love.

To love yourself each and everyday is a daily challenge, and there are days you will no doubt feel hatred, guilt, or shame about yourself. But with the support of my LUCES cohort, I know that I can do anything. Though I have only one more year with LUCES, I know that it will forever be in my heart, and the women always there to support, nurture, and care for me. Thank you, LUCES, for my strength.

Shame & Gratitude

Shame is one of the most powerful weapons in this universe. It has the ability to shut people up, to close in on themselves, to fester in it, to think about those things over and over, and continue to feel that shame over and over again. After reading about the negative effects of shame in Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are,  I came to a sudden clarifying conclusion that quite honestly, overwhelmed me. Shame is something that controls many aspects of my life.

Shame thrives when it is not shared, when it is hidden and closed off. There are a number things I can feel ashamed of, feel bad, but it is time that I take the first step to loving myself again, to sharing that shame so that it cannot survive. My actions and behavior have no doubt brought shame, and guilt, but the power of forgiveness is infinite, and it takes courage to share that shame and ask for forgiveness. I will use this blog to continue to speak about the things in my life that I find gratitude in, but I will also share the things that keep me from getting out of bed, for fighting for things I believe him. This is not a how-to, or a post that says “this is how I overcame it”. I am using this as a tool to resist, release, and transcend.

2016 has been a rough year. I have made more mistakes than I would care to count, I have hurt people unintentionally and well as intentionally. I have pushed down so much stress that it often feels like I am drowning, and it has caused me to direct my pain toward others who didn’t deserve it. This year has also brought pain, and injustice, in personal and societal ways that felt unfair. I often pray, but it felt like I was asking God “why?” rather than thanking them.

I try my best to be optimistic. But today, I cannot. Today, it feels impossible to look on the bright side. And, in remembering a book, called Just Mercy, I came across this quote:

“I am more than broken. In fact, there is a strength, a power even, in understanding brokenness, because embracing our brokenness creates a need and desire for mercy, and perhaps a corresponding need to show mercy”

Embracing my brokenness means that I am giving myself mercy, rather than continuing to punish. I cannot be good for others, unless I am good to myself. I cannot heal unless I feel the pain associated. I cannot forgive myself until I acknowledge the mistakes I have made. I cannot stop being angry until I acknowledge that every person’s decision is not as a result of me.

Until then, embrace the brokenness.

30 Days of Gratitude

For the month of July, I will be challenged. I honestly have trouble being grateful for the simple things in my life. I often stress and worry without thinking about the things I do have. While some of my daily struggles are justified, I really want to add more positivity in my life.

DAY 1. First day goes out to the OG. Mama.

My mom is quite literally, the strongest, most humble, most giving human I may know. One of them, at least. From giving me life, to giving me knowledge, she has always been my guardian angel, whether I knew it or not. These are the reasons why I love her:

  • She educates me.

For years, my mom sent my sister and I volumes of books that I had no interest in reading. From Borderlands to Life of a Slave Girlshe was determined to make sure I was as educated as possible, and not through the lessons taught in school, but in the lessons I would never hear about: slavery, systematic oppression, colorism, police brutality. Before I had a name for these issues, I had an awareness for them, and I can only thank my mom for that.

In my mom’s house, she has a book for every thought I have ever had. Whether I have wondered about spirituality in business, or Sikh women and relationships…there is a book, and she has read it. Every statement I make is a learning tool for my mom, a way to challenge me, to think critically, to understand the deeper meaning behind each of my actions and the power behind each of my words. No other woman has done that for me.

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  • She taught me forgiveness.

Since I began to live with my maternal grandparents at age 5, I have always battled with severe abandonment issues and anger issues, wondering why my mom and dad did the things they did. It took me years to understand and truly come to terms with those circumstances, and my mom continued to love me unconditionally despite every dramatic moment of angst. She never retaliated when I said mean things, when I told her she was not my mother…not once. She continued to state her love for me even when I was sure it did not exist. That moment alone made me realize that forgiveness is not about the other person…but for yourself. And forgiving my Mom for things she could not control was the greatest thing I could do for myself.

  • She gave me great genes.

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All seriousness aside, HOW HOT IS MY MOM?

  • She taught me the importance of knowing where I came from.

My Mom practices Yoruba, a following of faith that ties back to Africa prior to the slave trade in the 1700s. When first hearing about this years ago, I really thought my mom was crazy. But learning about these things through her eyes has helped me understand that while I may not practice Yoruba, it is important to know where I came from in order to determine my future. My surname is Honor, a name an ancestor took after slavery that exemplified their hard work and resilience. The name fits well with the family. I come from a long line of strong, independent, and resilient women who have sacrificed their lives for their family, their partners, and their Earth, to be better and so others could have better lives. That sacrifice lives within me. I would not be the same without it.

  • She keeps me grounded.

This woman knows every spell in the book when it comes to feeding the mind, body, and spirit. She makes the greatest food, that practically steams with love and affection. She knows every elixir (no matter how gross) that will nourish my body ravaging after a sickness. She has used an avocado to make my hair feel like a baby’s bottom. She fills my head with the women of my past, present, and future, to inspire me, to challenge me, and to allow me to reflect on my purpose here in life.

Thank you, Mama, for all that you have given and continue to give me.