Archive for February, 2016

I am resolute.

February 28, 2016 Leave a comment

I am resolute

in how I feel.

This is right.

This is happening.

Doubt manifests fleetingly,

vanishing like an iridescent soap bubble

which balances at the end of a plastic wand.

Forgotten as soon as it is formed.

This is happening.

This is right.

This is how I feel.

I am resolute.



Categories: poetry, Uncategorized Tags: , ,

Haikuesday 02.23.16

February 23, 2016 Leave a comment

This will be my year,

as I release fear and doubt

to be my best self.

Confidence and vulnerability.

February 20, 2016 2 comments

Why is it scary to believe in yourself? Why is scary to tell yourself you can meet any challenge with commitment and grace? Why is it scary to imagine yourself getting what you want?

Perhaps I’m asking these questions for myself. Maybe very few people experience difficulty rallying confidence when facing change and opportunity, but I do. My confidence comes in waves. I wake up and tell myself I am in control of my life. I can do anything I want if I put the work in and stay open to learning. I can be great. Then a few hours later, one little thing tips the scale and I begin to wonder who I think I’m kidding. How did I fool others into believing in me? Maybe I don’t have it. Maybe I can’t do it. There I’ll be, staring at myself in some bathroom mirror at work, at home, at the gym, asking, “What are you so afraid of right now? Is failure? Or is it actually getting what you want?”

When I was kid, I was a terrible loser in sports. I had no sportsmanship. I had unreachable standards for myself in school as well. Nothing less than perfect was acceptable. Losing made me cry convulsively. Anything lower than an A- made me physically ill. In adulthood, I’ve worked on easing up on myself and finding the value in failure. Failure makes you look at yourself and see where you need to rise. Sometimes, it can show you what you did well even when everything fell apart. Failure can bury you, but ultimately it can allow you to re-focus and give yourself new purpose.

So that’s failure. What about success? What will I gain if I commit, focus, and have everything go my way? Sometimes when I think about success, whether it’s in my career or in martial arts, I feel this little jab of fear cut me in the ribs. Success comes with anticipation and expectation. Evidence predicts that you should be the best again. Stay at the top. Show it wasn’t a fluke. Show you earned it. Maybe that’s not so terrible. Maybe the scary thing is what I have to unleash in order to be successful. I have to let go of doubt and hesitancy. I have to show the side of myself who won’t compromise my instincts. I hold ferocity that I often try to suppress to make myself more palatable to others. But I have to let go of inhibition. Of course, this looks different in the world of social work than it does in grappling sports. I think it’s like a full assertion of your sense of self. It’s not hiding behind only the nice parts of yourself. It’s showing all of you at once.

I want a lot of things for myself. I have specific career goals that I am actively pursuing. I have a plan. I am dedicating this year to judo over jiu jitsu because I could feel myself shying away from judo since I’d run into some mental blocks. I want to bust through them. When you go after something you really want, you become vulnerable. That’s probably why failure hurts so much, because you made yourself vulnerable to the world and it didn’t work out. I think in order to show confidence, you have to embrace your vulnerability. Maybe vulnerability is the key to success.



Haikuesday 02.16.16

February 16, 2016 Leave a comment

BJJ was rough,

so I wanted to regroup.

Then Kata was good.

Cousins and confetti hearts.

February 13, 2016 1 comment

I had no expectations for last night. All I knew was that after training, I was going to head over to 15th and South for the opening of my friend’s showroom. Nicole and I have been buddies since we were maybe 16 years old. In our adult lives, Nicole has worked endlessly as fashion designer to elevate Philly fashion through her line, Lobo Mau. Last night, she and her partners were having a celebration for the opening of their new shop. I was excited for Nicole and so proud. Knowing how many supporters she and her partners would have at their event, I asked my cousins, cutest married couple Noah and Shawnette, if they were interested in going with me for a few reasons: 1) They love art and fashion 2) They like supporting Philly artists of all kinds and 3) I wanted to have some buddies with me so I wasn’t squished in a corner trying to figure out how to make small talk with strangers. When I asked, Shawnette wasn’t sure if it was going to happen. I know their lives are jam-packed with work and kids and projects, so I didn’t push it. By the time I headed over to the showroom, I had put it out of my head that I’d see my cousins.

When I arrived at the event, the space was spilling over with people. I saw Nicole right away and we gave each other a girly, squeely hug. As she began introducing her to some of her friends and colleagues, she said, “Oh! I see Noah!” I turned and in stroll Noah and Shawnette. I think my heart burst in an explosion of love-colored confetti. As Nicole continued on with her hosting, Noah, Shawnette, and I examined the pieces in the showroom and got caught up in the energy in the room. Noah and Shawnette go to a lot of gallery and exhibit openings, so they are good at assessing scenes. Even though I’m a novice, I could tell it was a good scene. As the event came to a close, we  we did not want to stop having fun and decided to get some food. It was all I could to restrain myself from bouncing up and down like a little Tigger. After some silly, drawn-out postulating over the optimal dinner spot, we decided to get Ethiopian in my neighborhood in West Philly.


Me and my cuzzies out on the town like grown-ups. Shawnette’s jaunty barrette courtesy of her mommy. Not shown: Noah’s leather sweatpants.

During the car ride to the restaurant and all during dinner, I was equal parts relaxed and giddy. I felt 100% like myself. But not like an overly comfortable lazy self. Like a chill, happy, confident, curious self. My cousins are my family in the best sense. We rely on each other for terrible grandpop-style jokes and making up ridiculous songs, but I know if I want to have a real conversation or need advice or some perspective, Noah and Shawnette will never let me down. The rest of the night, we talked about relationships, families, taking risks, going after your passion, personal growth, race, and identity. It was the kind of night where you talk about anything and everything. If the three of us were younger with less responsibilities, we probably would have stayed up til four in the morning carrying on.

I feel like my best self around Noah and Shawnette because they bring out the the thingss I like in me. How lucky am I to be related to two people who are so fiercely intelligent, hilarious, creative, and motivated? Beyond that, they are loving and generous. I can’t help but feel at ease around them. I knew I missed my cousins. I hadn’t seen them since Christmas Eve. After we said goodbye, I realized I’d had a giant Noah and Shawnette-sized hole in my heart. It’s filled again. I don’t even mind knowing that I’ll miss badly again since I know they will keep surprising me and making my heart burst into confetti over and over again for the rest of my life.


Haikuesday 02.09.16

February 9, 2016 Leave a comment

I can’t rush my goals.

Impatience can hurt progress,

so I’ll keep steady.


It’s me again.

February 6, 2016 Leave a comment

During grad school, my friend Leslie and I would frequently growl to each, “I didn’t come here to make friends. I CAME HERE TO WIN!” Of course, we were making fun of reality television bravado while making fun of ourselves and our competitive Ivy League environment, but there was truth in our humor. I did want to to win at grad school because I want to win at life. Winning means something different to everyone, and I don’t always have a clear picture of how winning looks to me. I think most of the time, it just means that I’m doing things that I care about, that I’m impacting the greater good, and I’m committing fully to my endeavors. Even if I’m not the best or a natural, I will be someone who stands out.

About six months ago, I was offered the chance to “win” at work. In addition to my role as a clinical social worker, I was asked to perform some internal quality assurance auditing for the agency. I was excited for the work because a big piece of myself loves spreadsheet and percentages and making graphs. Also, I wanted the varied work experience so that I can keep carving out future career opportunities. When the auditor role was proposed to me, the only negative aspect of the position was that I would have to perform my auditing duties as overtime since I still would carry my full social work caseload. So I started working before work and after work, which turned into 10 and 11 hour days. Monday through Friday. I was killing it in my new role, but I had nothing left inside for anything else.

A major force in my life that keeps me driven, keeps me confident, humble, and curious is training judo and jiu jitsu. I need to have something in my life that pushes me  mentally and physically and provides continual learning. Training fulfills this need. With my new work position, I had to cut out practice. I worked too late to make it to class, and then I soon lost the motivation to get up early to maintain my conditioning. Then I started on the self-pity diet, choosing burritos and pizza over lean protein and roasted vegetables. By October, I could not fit into my pants comfortably. In turn, I stress-online shopped several new dresses with my overtime pay. I looked adorable, but I felt like I was in a tornado getting attacked by bees. My life seemed out of control and I was operating in survival mode.

Thankfully, my agency does value me and starting January 1st, I was relieved of all the overtime. My duties shifted so I could perform my auditing role and some other clinical work withing the reasonable confines of an eight and a half hour day. Finally, I could train again. I needed to get back to class. During the months that I was working all that overtime, I realized I have no other positive coping skills for stress and anxiety besides training. If I’m not training, I’m stress eating. And while my stress eating led to a nice wardrobe expansion, I did not feel happy, confident, or motivated. Mainly, I just felt a mix of defiance, guilt, and defeat. After ringing in 2016 hugging a bottle of NyQuil as my only weapon to murder a cold, I got back on a mat on January 9th. Although I’ve learned that my recovery time is not as bouncy as it used to be five years ago, I didn’t feel as terrible as I thought I would. I was ready to feel miserable and humiliated by how much I lost. And sure, breathing was hard and I could feel how stiff I’d become, but I could get through classes. I felt encouraged. I felt relieved. I felt motivated.


Happy me in the middle, surrounded by two of my awesome teammates after my first judo class in five months.

This week, I was me again. I felt strong. I could see myself walking with my head up and shoulders back instead of head down, shoulders dropped, feeling punched in the gut by responsibility and sacrifice. I’m sure as heck not losing any weight, but my body is different. It wants to be pushed. It craves getting on the mat. I’m sprinting now instead of trudging.

It’s perfect timing, really–getting my strength and drive back. In the last two and half weeks, I learned that my agency wants to give me another great opportunity for my career. It will be more responsibility than I’ve ever had to manage. I’m equal parts honored and terrified. But I’m me again. I can do it. I came here to win.