Love don’t always taste familiar by Theeamazinggrace

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Bare. Vulnerable. I think of the many hands these thighs have touched. How my heart wrapped around a lover and then again. How my body and spirit poured into theirs. Reflecting on many of my past loves. How many seemed to carry that ole “familiar” love language. How our vibrations crashed into each other. Enamored. Wowed. That love could taste so sweet. Comforted knowing we’d been here, together before. How they took bits and pieces of my soul instead of my whole self. How depleted I felt at times. Like the euphoric feeling you get when you know someone you just met. Past lives ain’t always been kind. How that familiar feeling held me hostage, long after each relationship ended. The scars I’m still healing from just staying in it.

I’m learning that familiarity don’t always taste good. It doesn’t always mean lasting love. Healthy love. I realize that what is often familiar in a relationship stems from deep past experiences from our first human examples of what love looked like. Asking, what were some of the first examples of love we witnessed back then. In the grand plan, it might very well be the thing that kept us connected, comfortable, stuck, on edge, bitter, scared, terribly insecure, questioning our gut feelings, staying even when the relationship was killing us. How we didn’t choose to save ourselves the first time we became unrecognizable to ourselves, after the damage had been done.

Given some of my past romantic relationships, I correlated when new lovers reminded me of people, places and things from my past to “red flags” that were bright and bleeding, early on, but how I stayed anyway. I thought I could change them, or wait for them to change themselves. And I do recognize that familiarity or the “soul mate connection” isn’t always a negative thing. However, I think its worth exploring why we feel so strongly toward a person in the first place. Also, how important it is to sort out where that all comes from before diving head first into loves ocean floor. Familiarity don’t always equal happiness or longevity and could very well be a warning sign, pathway to a toxic experience or ending, a breading ground for excuse making, settling, domestic violence, or staying longer than we should, just to say we have someone that we believe we know better than themselves.

However, coming across this new interest is dope because they don’t remind me of anyone else. The irony is wild to me that I don’t recognize anything in them from any of my past loves. And while exciting is damn scary. And maybe that’s the jewel? Maybe that’s something I needed to experience this side of things? I tended to gravitate to familiar traits in people that were clearly toxic because parts of me were toxic too. Maybe it’s what I knew best of all. At any rate returning to the place where I hurt in them delayed my healing. I needed to transform my ability to make better choices for the healing I deserved.

I’m not going to lie, this new energy makes me uneasy, questioning, reserved. I can’t for-see where we’ll go. Could that be the difference? Makes me want to run. Got me searching for ways to count them out like their hands not being the shape I like lol! Yet, my heart knows better. I’ve learned to love with a filter over my heart now. I take my time. I don’t put all of my energy into “good feelings” alone. I feel my way through cautiously. I allow them to show me their power and grace. I allow them to pour into me all the love I give away. Loving this way is a new beginning in my life. A new opportunity to create a healthier frame of reference for my future. A new place to call home.

Art Always Finds It’s Way Home

I remember my brotha @phototheft calling my home a mini art museum because of the introspection, the look, the way it felt. He went on to call me Ogeechie, as if there was something special about my past. Made me nostalgic of my college days, the way people seemed enamored and terrified of my freedom all at the same time lol! Made me feel that perhaps I was in fact born fully realized after all lol! Art that is meant for me always finds its way home. Meet mama Kenya and mama Bessie Smith two of my newest. Both wildly vintage. Both starkly beautiful. Timeless. Women crush. Both thrifty in price. Having been a conscious collector for about 25-years, I collect art for the way it makes me feel and for the stories behind it.

BF520EC0-E263-4AB1-A925-681D81E821A1.jpegMama Kenya…

Came to me from an online resource in rural York County PA about a month ago. The person that owned the piece of art spoke of it as an inanimate object that had no meaning or value. Said that it had been in his basement covered in cobwebs & dust for 35-years. He continued to share a story about his girlfriend back then that worked as a missionary in Nairobi Kenya, East Afrika. He described how cool it was when she came back with all these sculptures, the shield and a spear. As you likely can guess the relationship didn’t last and in time the shield aka Mama Kenya was forgotten. I asked him why NOW did he want to get rid of the art piece. He told me that it frankly didn’t go with his current motif, plus he was married with children, LOL!

It’s funny, in a weird way, the way it all happened because he had no way of knowing the cultural significance the “dusty” old shield from Nairobi Kenya meant to me. How, my life’s work is literally to love and liberate my Afrikan cultural identity and those attached to it. How, I had just completed my Afrikan DNA test through africanancestry.com, the day before. How, I was in the process of making Afrikan inspired shields for Imani Edu-Tainers African Dance Company’s 23rd Annual recital coming up in June 2018. When we made the exchange of money and goods I beamed inside and hurried into my car before he could change his mind. I thought, what a gift I was just granted. He thanked me for being the one. I welcomed mama Kenya home!

Mama Bessie…

She appeared to be waiting for me at the corner of Woodland Ave and Chester Ave. My family and I went over to the Uhuru Flea Market in Philadelphia that day, the first one of the year, last month. There she was, a profile, beautiful like the black behind a starry nighttime sky, leaned up against an old dilapidated vendor table. She was the first portrait in a stack of about 10 other portraits and profiles. I fell in love with how she wore Afrika on her skin and in the depths of her eyes.

Interestingly, I remember learning about her in 4th grade at Samuel B. Huey  Elementary School in Philadelphia and again while in undergraduate school at Lincoln University in PA, but never took the time to really know her story, her music, her legacy. That night I submerged myself in her brief bio on Wikipedia. I gleamed at the way she lived such a vibrant and full life. I cried at the way her life ended at age 43. How racial discrimination of the time lead to her death. How racist white doctors and ambulance drivers refused her entry into their white hospital near by. How the image of  her broken body going into shock from the blood loss. How time wasn’t on her side and they left her there to die in route to the black hospital, hours away.

I was moved by ancestors to smudge. I smudged everything. All of the air, her picture, mama Kenya, mama Bessie’s terryfing final moments. I smudged it all away and asked for their permission to uplift their memories. Their vibrant memories. I believe the acceptance came when the wind blew calm and warm.

I’m always grateful  to love my people through all of our stages through life, death and in-between. To hold space for these ancestral artifacts in my home and in my heart is more than art collecting, its my birth right of passage, an honor and a privilege.

In awe of their stories.

-TheeAmazingGrace

 

#afrikanface #africanart #artistsoninstagram #bessiesmith  #girlrillavintage #mycollections #ngunihide #uhurufleamarket #vintage #warriorsheild #wcw

Absolute Elswhere: A Creative Collaboration with Gail Gray

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Absolute Elsewhere by Gail Gray

Had the honor of being one of 12 local artists asked to represent the great mosaic of our community by offering five-minute presentations of our work that woul ultimately build on a single theme captured in each of Gail’s paintings. 

I was assigned the painting, Absolute Elsewhere. I was to interpret it. Here is my word interpretation.

“Come here! Hot! The dusk is asleep on our breast bones. Sweat. Heat. Warmth, like a mothers incubation. Safe. Touch. Sounds. Bells. Hear the bells and the drums. The drums are the sweetest heartbeat. Home sweet home. Echoes in the deep, blood-orange. Feel the sun, see it bright. The scene is set. We journey back, to where my friends live, in remote, Dellol Ethiopia, in Northeast Afrika, one of the hottest places on earth. Behold the mountains. Witness the mountains. Behold the sculpted, asymmetrical mountains. The sun is the backdrop to the mountains. The shadows climb. Journey home, to wildly staccato rhythms of Afrikan drums by Archie Shepp.”

My Sweethoney Glistening

Quote

“It’s a hell of an honor supporting self reliant, little black girls and boys. Those who love themselves, or need extra support, but allowing them to love themselves nonetheless. Building self-confident, self-assured, aware, #blackchildren without fear, without burdening them with the worlds problems, or with our own needs and problems, without expecting them to fulfill all the things we didn’t, is a feat, that we’re working through. Shout out to all of the beautiful, black mamas and papas (to include loved ones of my own, doing it right now), raising RAD ASS, capable ass, black humans! It can be a difficult road, yet it’s not an impossible journey. Keep up the fantastic work. You got support! We got this!”

Had the privilege of spending a few hours with my 7-year old goddaughter, this afternoon. Her mother went on a job interview (that she scored, on the spot, by the way 🙌🏾)! I was asked to spend time with her until mama finished. We went to my goddaughter’s favorite store, or perhaps, favorite for most children her age, Toys-R-Us. As we walked through the maze of toys, she kept asking for things that I didn’t have the money to buy lol! Its a thing convincing a 7-year old that you’re not rich and barely have money to pay your rent, but knowing she’s still a child I decided to contribute to her experience the best way I could. I snappped photos of all of the items that me, I mean, she wanted, so we could show them to her mother (a big kid like me can dream right 😜 lol?!) She told me that I could show her mama the pictures, but that Santa 🎅🏾  was really the one to tell, since he did all the hard work on Christmas. I didn’t want to burst her bubble about Santa not being real, plus she was at a vibratory frequency, so elevated that I didn’t want to destroy a moment so pure.

I listened instead of talking at her. It seemed therapeutic for us both, the experience of walking through what I call a real live toy jungle #toysrus. We used the time to catch on previous weeks. She was rambunctious, yet mildly subdued while showing me her favorite toys, behaving almost well enough, so that I might buy her something (wishful thinking kid lol)! At any rate, she especially liked the #shopkins, some grocery store item toys and other funny things like that. She told me about doing well in school. I asked, what her favorite part was. She replied, “I loooooooooove reading #chapterbooks!” I asked, why? She told me a story about being able to read them really fast and that she likes all the big words. She went on to tell me that she wants a hundred chapter books to read. Talk about AMBITIOUS, you go girl 🙌🏾🤓🤪!

We walked around most of the store before my feet started to hurt lol! Before leaving, she suggested that we go over to the dolls section. Part of me was nervous because from my view, there was little representation of any dolls that looked like us. I had to trust her though. It’s something about trusting our children in their ability to lead, at least in that moment. Immediately, she gravitated to the few dolls that looked like us #blackandbrown. I was like, I’ll be damned lol! Not that I was surprised-it was more a refreshing feeling, if that makes since? I was beyond happy to know that she was intuitively paying attention! She asked me to take a picture of the first doll she liked. Talk about honored, I was! Photo below

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I captured the brief moment on video, perhaps two seconds too late because she raved on and on about this particular doll, or maybe I was right on time because she still got the point. The moment she chose a doll that had the same hair texture and complexion as her. She didn’t shy away from the familiar. She didn’t shy away from how she really felt. She was in awe of this inanimate objects reflection of herself! It was so much bigger than that. She exclaimed, she’s so pretty!” Here is the short video link from my Instagram page @girlrillavintage ⬇️

She went on to choose, several more dolls of color that she liked. She payed a compliment to her mother by showing me a doll that she said, “looked pretty like her mama”! She asked me to take more photos of dolls that she wanted for Christmas. Here are some of the photos I captured in those moments. I’m so pleased at how at age seven, she hasn’t yet been damaged by our society’s anti-black messages in that way. How inspiring it is to witness her mother, my best friend, raising, three, thriving black daughters. And to witness how the women in her family encouraged her sense of self (from her Nana, to aunties, to her older sister) all who wear their hair #natural and funky other styles!

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What an awesome experience to have had with her! How, I used the opportunity to empower the power within her. How, she sought a reflection of herself in that store. How, I watched her #fallinlove with her beautiful #afrikanface, despite, us being underrepresented in that moment. How AWESOME, witnessing her compliment the black girls in her life. How, she recognized the beautiful familiar in those dolls, and embraced the same within herself. God-mommy win of the year lol! Safe return to the little black girl inside me, living vicariously through her, and all those cool #toys lol! And although I never got to be a playful, little #blackgirl like her, look at how beautiful it is that she gets to be. Sweet honey, glistening! 🍯 ⭐️ 💫 🌟

 

Oh yes and after I showed her mother all the photos and video, she urged me to share this with the world on social-media because it made her proud too, so here we are with permission lol!

Warmest,

#TAG AKA #THEEAMAZINGGRACE AKA #GRACEBERRY #DJBOODESTANK AKA #SLEEPY AKA #MIKE AKA #BROWNSKINSKINNYKID

#RestinpowerMaryUniqueSpears

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These type of men have to be void of all emotion. Monsters, incapable of understanding the paranoia and fear us women face the moment we decide to say no. Saying, no, can literally cost us our lives. And that being polite is such a fucking rip off! Sir, did you not hear her say no? I guess stalking her made it easier, huh? Cause to have acknowledged the fact that Mary was in love with someone else and refused all parts of you would’ve forced you inward, head first, to nurse wounds-injured your whole life, so you murdered her instead. I’m sick with you. Despicable and deliberate and persistent you. #coward #stopviolenceagainstwomen #monstermen

Bless,
Gracie