This was me possibly in fifth grade or middle school; the Fear Street loving, braces having me. Here, I’m happy to be taking a picture, but I’m not used to smiling. You wouldn’t know what my teeth looked like because I rarely smiled. It was a rare commodity for me. My mouth was shut tight like a hyper security center protecting something sacred. My words were private or at least they were stored and kept away from the world in my mind. Letting people know who I was was something I could not dare do. I spoke when spoken too and liked to sink into the vessels of my soul. My thoughts and my feelings were a secret I could not let just anyone see. Only those people who could deal with my silence and be willing to walk past my force field of protection could maybe get a little sense of who Tiffany was.
Today in 2018, this Tiffany still exists but far more open than once before. The castle of Tiffy is open for all (For the most part). My smile is a regular gift I provide to those around me especially those who care. My thoughts are welcome to those willing to hear them. My feelings are still a bit locked up tight, but I definitely open up the safe for those worthy of hearing them. In 2018, I have evolved far more than this Tiffy that you see above. I used to be so quiet that my voice would get scratchy when I finally did open my mouth. Now I’m a chatterbox to some friends (Well when I have some drinks to loosen up the ole vocal chamber) I love meeting new people and showing them a puzzle piece of who I am. Of course, it would take years to solve the puzzle of Tiffy, but I believe the same goes for every human.
I am more of social butterfly, but I definitely still have my introverted ways. Sometimes, I want to be alone and unbothered by the world. Friends or family call and all I want to do is delve deeper into my space of solitude. I’m out in the streets or nature and at times I just want to be alone, collect my thoughts and experience my surroundings in my own skin without the companionship of another. When I write, create, listen to music or read, my alone time is definitely of utmost importance to me. Then there are situations when I am around others that I either get awkward or I recoil in my shell; especially when I am around others who are super outgoing or extroverted. This invisible form of protection has blocked me from social encounters my whole life. I am not willing to just throw it to the side.
My wings, you will see them soaring at times. At other moments, you will see them hiding under the enclosure of a leaf. But I have definitely blossomed from the cocoon that was once my home. I am free. I am Tiffy. Take me as I am; Nothing more, nothing less. And for other social introverts out there like myself, you are awesome when you show your wings but also when you don’t.
Tony Medina, author of “I Am Alfonso Jones” and myself.
This past Saturday, I was in Harlem and just happened to pass by the Schomburg Center. There was a line with people waiting in this crazy cold weather. Curious, I asked someone what was going on. I found out that there was a Black Comic Book Festival going on that day. I knew about it, but thought I missed it. This was an opportunity I couldn’t miss.
After waiting in the annoying freeze, I encountered the library for research and black culture filled with comic book enthusiasts. Different tables showcased the melanin authors work on the main floor, upstairs and in the basement. It was dope. I geeked out and bought like four. I honestly wished I bought more. There were various books filled with pages of crime fighting child engineers, a super mom trying to win back her child from her own company, an infested South Bronx world overrun by zombies, and more. One author even created an encyclopedia of Black Comic books. Someone was even selling the entire collection of Black Panther. (They had a bunch of dope content on Black Panther the day before) However, the book that most intrigued me was a graphic novel about a child who was murdered due to police brutality. It follows the child in the afterlife as he meets others on a ghost train to guide him through in the spiritual realm. I had to get it.
As a writer still navigating my way through this creative space, it was a real treat to meet accomplished melanin folk doing their thing. I loved how they brought their dynamic energy to the editorial space and gave it life for others to enjoy. I wish them all the best and hope to get more of this experience next year.
Happy New Year!!! How you doing? Lol. Today, I wanted to mark down the transitions my hair has gone through in the past year. I have made drastic changes with it from 2016 to now. Check out how my hair used to look back in early 2016 :
How my hair looks now:
I went through the transitioning stage (that was a challenge), cutting off the rest of my permed ends, working out an Afro, trying out a brownish red tapered look and now currently rocking out a fiery mo-hawk. During my permed days, I would just depend on the hairstylist to make my hair magic. Now I make my hair magic. Or at least try to. =).
It was not easy understanding my hair. I am still learning so much about it and am still making mistakes in this journey. But I am overall happy about it. In the past two years, I tried different products, went to CurlFest, looked at different YouTube tutorials on various topics like dry hair, my hair type and unique hair styles. Last November, I even went to an awesome class by Ancestral Strands where I learned more in depth about the biology of hair and the best oils to use to treat your scalp and hair qualms. (Now my hair consistently smells like lemongrass. Lol.)
Through this self-discovery of my hair, I have evolved. My tresses have grown with me; flowing and screaming for attention at times when touched. I am here for you; my strands, you are a part of me and you carry on as I develop. Here on the Heartbeat Life I decided to showcase the transitions my hair has made. I am excited to see how it flows in 2018.
Nola Darling (Tracey Camilla Johns) Credit: IMDB
So Spike Lee has always been an iconic film maker in the wacky world of film. He is a mogul to look up to not only in the African American community, but as an overall creator of art. Growing up, especially if you come from Brooklyn, you had to catch a Spike Lee joint. I tried to keep up with as many as I can. When his movies was popping, I was a little Tiffy crawling and running around on the carpet of our Brownsville/East Flatbush apartment. I can never forget the favs: Do the Right Thing, He Got Game, Crooklyn and School Daze. Upon hearing about the remake of his 80s hit “She’s Gotta Have It,” I decided to check out the original. Home girl was living it up. Ms. Nola Darling had three attractive men pawning after her. The black and white flick was bold in introducing a type of romance you rarely see highlighted. This woman was owning who she was and not allowing anyone to control her desires. She saw the good in all three men she was dating; Jamie was the poet who kept her feeling secure, Mars had her rolling in laughter while Greer was all about the sensual experience. She had the best of all worlds; she enjoyed the makeup of what they had to give cause she had to have it all. My point in this little write up is that Nola Darling was a woman unafraid to live how she wanted. She refused to bend over to society’s standards; she refused to bow down to the roles placed on women. Nola was honest in what she wanted. She often times mentioned that these men could leave if they could not rock with her ways.
I admire and respect her for her strong stance. She is a mountain of unwavering beauty which seeks to be honored for how she sees herself in the world. She hated to be called a freak. She hated to be boxed in by men or by society. She needed to define herself to her own choosing. I resonate so much with that. In truth, I did not like that she was dating three men at the same time when they all seemed to want her for themselves. However, I loved that she was so strong about what she wanted.
Our culture says that women must only be with one man while men are praised for being with countless females. We allow men to define us based on what has been passed down by our parents and their parents and so on. We become defined by what we see in the media. We get dressed up in labels to honor without much choice. Otherwise we get the side eye or attitude from anyone within distance. We are defined on whether we are married. Our womanhood is tested on whether we have kids or not. We are judged on if we can make great homemakers. Growing up, I learned it is standard for a woman to know how to cook, clean, and raise kids. Oh and she got to have a bangin’ body too. All of which revolved on whether a man wanted us or not. This is what I was used to, but it is exhausting. (While writing this, an image of Barbie popped into my head. *shudder.*) In the midst of this tornado of labels, where do I come into the picture? Can a brother like me for me and not just whether I can throw down in the kitchen? I have always been about something deeper; Connection for me is key. Intimacy is key. Intellectual stimulation is key. Spiritual growth is key. Communication is key. Anyway, Nola breaks through the barriers of what society tells her to do. “F*** you societal labels. I’m doing me.” (My own words of what she is doing.) In a sense, Nola is living in her truth and not the one someone created for her. This, for me, is perfection.
It is important for us all to live in our own truth. The compelling authenticity of Nola is her stance in not allowing anyone to define her. The remake of this incredible tale does a great job in doing this as well. (I binge watched the series on Netflix. It is pretty dope. I like the characters more actually and love how they highlighted today’s issues. Nola is also such a dynamic artist. She makes me want to pick up a brush.) I think we should all not allow society or other people to define us. Live up to who you are in the best way you know how. Let your true self shine. Don’t ever let anyone overshadow the essence of who you are. I know I won’t. Thank you, Nola for being you.
I am currently working on a paper for a class, but decided to take a mini break to release my creative energy. This energy was balled up all day and deserves to be let out. Almost two weeks ago, I decided to randomly drive out to Long Island to check out the Fall Foliage. My favorite part about this time of the year is experiencing the beauty of the various hues which pop out from the trees here in New York. I remember when I had this one job with Bricks 4 Kids in Scarsdale. It was far from where I lived, but the best part about it was working with the little munchkins and the drive up. Riding past the city bustle of Queens and the Bronx led to a serene, immense strip of road that made up the Hutchinson Parkway. Less cars, more lanes and a scenery of collective trees huddled together adorning the path ahead was the experience of upper New York. It was difficult not to stop and just bask in the beauty. So this year, I figured why not take the opportunity to bask in one of nature’s wonders more closer to home.
I was in Queens and looked up the best places to view the Fall Foliage closest to me. I decided on Sands Point where it took me about 30 mins to get to. When I arrived, there was literally a castle awaiting me. It had this pull and spoke in silent whispers among the surrounding trees. The warm Friday weather was equally inviting in providing me the ease to exploring. Of course when I started my venture, I got a bit lost. Lol. But the best moments at times arrive in not knowing the destination. While lost, I stumbled into a gorgeous wedding that was nestled on a look out point above the Long Island sound. I embarked in the woods and was greeted with friendly spirits passing by, a collage of yellows and oranges, and a variation of picturesque settings; it was just what I needed. My favorite moment was sitting on a bench on a foot bridge encompassed by the lovely arcs and bends of nature. No city sounds, just the Earth; it’s exactly what I wanted and what my soul was asking for.
As I make November the beginning in my commitment to self-love and self-care, my trip to Sands Point was the first in my journey. I can’t wait to shower myself with love through more spontaneous trips, self research and action to better health, meditation, positive vibes and just an overflow of love and light from anything I put my energy into.
The other day, this past Wednesday, I had an influx of feelings. Both positive and negative. I had so much on my mind, but I can’t remember it all now. Anyway, I was on one of the green line trains heading to 125 St for class and this song from Ari Lennox came on my Spotify playlist. Let me tell you about this track; it immediately lifted my spirit. It sent me somewhere (as most good music does); a destination of paradise. It doesn’t bombard you with too much sound all at once. It is gentle. The light instruments guide you into a place where you are quietly embraced by the soothing power of Ari’s voice. Her croons jump and play with the background sound making a beautiful introduction to the ethereal magic produced later on. Close your eyes and let “La La La La” emanate your spirit. I forgot I was underground, in the subway while listening to it. This tune makes time stand still in a moment of serenity. After a long day going back and forth from Harlem to Midtown, when I turned on my music again to head home, there it was again recreating that same dominating feel of tranquility. I wrote about this song before, but it is all deserving to receive some nods once more. When I hear this track, I know that I am love, peace and light; it fills me. Please check it out and let me know what it does for you.
P.S. Also check out one of her more fresher tracks, “Night Drive” as well as other tunes from her latest album PHO. It is also a pretty dope listen. =)
It’s all about the vibes for me lately. Another tune that has captured the joy in my spirit is “Sunday Vibes” from Masego and Medasin. Mmmm….. the sax sweetly grabs you by the hand and guides you to sashay on the dance floor. It will have you doing a light two step whether it be how your head moves or the tap in your feet. The beat collabs well with a sexy sax to make one divine choice of a track. Check it out below!