Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Going through the E-Motions and my thoughts on FREE SPEECH:

“Am I courageous enough to live the truth of my desires without fear?”

It’s difficult not to question myself when I am being questioned!

I am free to write about my experience!

How do we as writers respect the privacy of people in our lives while respecting and honoring our place in the experience - - and our right to write about it?

Afraid of my greatness! During one of my last therapy sessions my doctor said - - “what are you afraid will happen? What is your biggest fear about moving forward - - what keeps you back - - what keeps you from achieving success – of having what you want?”

She asked me to imagine myself standing in front of a door - - with my hand on the door knob - - and she asked me “what keeps me from opening that door? What do I think will be there once I open that door?”

I got really scared while I imagined that moment - - and my immediate response was that NO ONE would be there. That the people I loved the most would not be there.

I was sitting at my desk at work yesterday re-reading over and over again the blog I wrote that upset someone I loved - - wondering what exactly was it that I wrote that offended or hurt the person. I was thinking to myself - does the person feel I attacked them? So I called my sister immediately in mid thought and I said I need to say this to you before I forget it - - she said ok go - - I am willing to sacrifice my relationships with the people I love if it brings them together.

And today that feeling hasn’t changed - - I just wrote in my journal - - I AM WILLING TO LOSE EVERYTHING IF I AM SERIOUS ABOUT HAVING ANYTHING!

I must believe that those who love me will always stand with me even if they don’t like what I am writing about - - I can’t be a people pleaser - - its not who I am.

But on being a RESPONSIBLE WRITER… I take that very seriously. There are ideas about writing with the reader in mind. I think that as a writer I struggle with this. Are my responsibilities to write the TRUTH or filter it through others…should I check in with society and my community? I feel like I’d never get any writing done that way. Most of the writers I know have shared with me that considering how their writing will affect others is precisely what keeps them from coming to the page. This is why people don’t write or why they don’t commit to writing - - for fear of hurting a family member.

I am not afraid to speak or write the truth. I must remember who I am - -and why I do what I do and the place that I am writing from.

My daughter was upset with me for sharing in my blog Random Thoughts what happened between us during our trip away - - that I put it out in the universe for the world to see our personal business… I had to explain to her my reasons and defend my right to write what is important to me - - while at the same time never really putting in ALL the details of ALL that was said during that moment in our life. The conversation jumped to censorship and anonymity…

I’m not here to make anyone comfortable if it means I make myself uncomfortable!
I’m not here to conform!
I’m not here to be controlled!
If people don’t understand what I write – then there is nothing I can do about that!

I will never censor my truth for anyone - - not even my daughter - - it’s not what I do - - while I will always protect the real names and faces of the people I write about – I will not censor how I write my relationships. If you are in my life in any way - - and you are an important player in my game - - then there’s a very real chance you will be apart of my writers life.

I talk a lot about truth - - and that’s a big deal to me. When I allow anyone or anything to make me doubt me - -MY SKILLS - - and what my true intention is as a writer is - - I dishonor me.

If you know me at all - - you know the place my writing comes from - - I should never have to defend that. What I must understand is that I have NO CONTROL over how my words are going to be received. The only thing I ever have control over is what I put out into the world with my words and deeds. And as long as I am good with it - - then I’ve done my job!

I felt a little attacked by the person who I hurt with my words… (I need to build thicker skin because it wont be the first or last time someone calls me on something they don’t like) what I have to remember is that I will not and can not please everyone all the time. It’s just not realistic.

I found myself second guessing myself - - I can not allow others words to cut me - - or break me down - - I know who I am and why I do what I do and I owe NO ONE an explanation and I make no apologies and I don’t need to defend myself. I spent last night and night before that and this morning trying to release and let go of the feelings I got from the response I received on something I wrote. I almost took down my blog because my words made someone I love uncomfortable. I allowed it to make my words feel worthless - - not valued… (I had to keep replaying the song NO ONE, by Alicia Keys to bring me back).

My dominating feeling yesterday was ANGER…getting off the train this morning I was thinking about love and anger. How can I be angry and still love? I was juggling thoughts about which emotion I would choose to dominate my thoughts and my day… if I have two choices to be angry or walk in love - - which is my guiding force?

LOVE is always my force.

However yesterday, I kept hearing the words from the email: “FOR ALL OF YOUR SKILL…” I kept replaying that to myself - - for all of my skill - - or lack thereof - - I twisted the words even more - - so I could feel a direct hit - - a deeper assault - - for all my skill as a writer - - that I am skill-less - - without skill… and on and on I went. And it may not be how it was meant - - but that’s how I CHOSE to see it.

I had to get some perspective and really look at the source… the person wants a reason to be angry with me – all I can do is stand in love. Worse case scenario is that my family -not support me during my writers journey… (I go back to what I said to my sister - - if what I write makes my family stop speaking to me - -I am willing to risk that if it brings them closer together). It’s a chance I am willing to take.

These thoughts are emotionally draining for me.

Writing is how I heal…
Writing is how I release…
Writing is how I love…

When I allow someone to tell me how to be - - then I stop being me. You might as well put me in a cage.

So I must get back to my core - - back to filling my cup. I was feeling mentally drained and exhausted.

My BFFL Laleet read a passage to me once about people who won’t be ready to hear truth… “Cast not your pearls before swine. Neither give what is holy to dogs.”

This passage came up for me in my meditation while reading One Day My Soul Just Opened Up… the author adds “avoid at all costs giving of your knowledge, time, and energy to unworthy causes and people. How do you know if they are unworthy? If you have to fight with people to accept what you are giving them as an act of love, then they are not worthy.”

“Trying to convince people that there is something you know that could be beneficial to them when they are resistant to hearing you is a waste of valuable resources.” Iyanla Vanzant

I have to keep that in mid as I continue to find my force… that just because I am ready to hear truth, speak truth and live my life that way - - that those closest to me may RESIST it and may not be on the same page at the same time - - but that I must continue to move forward anyway. I am never alone.

The word I am meditating on today is FREEDOM

The ideas that flow through me are free speech, free to be me, free will, free to choose, free to love, free to forgive…all the things that freedom means to me.

“When I am aware of what it takes to maintain my mental, emotional, and physical well being and I make conscious choices toward that goal, I am exercising my freedom.” Iyanla Vanzant

“Freedom is the recognition of the truth.”
Iyanla Vanzant

I read today that what determines freedom - - is that once you decide what you want and whether you are willing to do what it takes to get it, you are free to follow your dreams. In order to be free you must be clear about exactly what it is you want and be open to any and all possible means of acquiring what you want.

I really needed to read this today… she closes the chapter on Freedom saying: (I changed some of the words)

“When I stopped comparing myself to others, competing with others, when I was able to honestly want the best for everyone, when I became willing to make choices and accept full responsibility for their consequences, every chain of that held me in a place of mediocrity and unfulfillment fell away…. I discovered freedom as an inherent part of my life the day I stopped telling my force what I wanted and asked how I could serve my force.”

There is something very freeing about knowing that my force believes in me.

“Freedom is a state of mind.” We are always free to choose something else.

What has a hold on you?

Are you free?


Monday, November 26, 2007

Outsider Looking In

Written on Saturday, November 24, 2007

Where was the love?

I read somewhere…

“Where there is hate there can not be love. LOVE & HATE can not dwell in a house at the same time!”

I usually start writing by creating lists for my thoughts and ideas - - often it could be a list of words to help bring out what I want to convey. WORDS I want to incorporate in a particular piece.

The words that jumped out the most for me from my weekend away and the time spent with people in my life are about how unhappy they seem and the way they speak to each other.

Words I heard this week:
This is my space!
Not in this house!
There’s a right way and a wrong way to do things!
This is how you should live!
She’s never gonna change!
When will they ever learn?
I’m sick of it!
I don’t want to forgive her!
I’m piss’t off!
I can’t live like this!

The sense I got internally with all that surrounded me was there was a lot of:
Lack of acceptance
People demanding respect but not giving it
A deep pain
Something evil
Even hateful
A dark cloud
Emotionally draining

There was an overwhelming feeling of sadness; a lack of individual acceptance and respect for each others views, thoughts and beliefs, there was a lot of DARKNESS and a great deal of pain. I found myself remembering a time when I allowed darkness to be my most dominant emotion.

So today when I read my meditation on AFFIRMATIONS - - I was thinking about the words I use to affirm myself daily. I couldn’t help but think of all of the words I heard used to address people who supposedly love each other just this week. Most of the discussions and conversations escalated into fighting and yelling. I felt the pain of the blows that were thrown with words.

I’m not going to use there real names - - I’ll call them:

Miss They Say I’m Never Gonna Change (NGC)
Miss Doesn’t Do Anything in the House (DDA)
Miss All Too Controlling (ATC)
Miss Yelling at the Crack of Dawn (COD)

From the moment I saw Miss All Too Controlling I new she was carrying so much built up anger just on her face and that she was looking for the moment to release it. She has a low tolerance for the things that tick her off and there’s plenty to choose from. She has much to say about the running of her house - - and how the rules should be adhered to. I got the feeling of WOW - - how must it feel to feel like an outsider in your own home - - or worse a prisoner in your own state of being.

Then we have Miss Never Gonna Change who acts selfish and the family feels like she’s inconsiderate of their feelings. And as an outsider looking in - - I can see why they feel that way. They feel she only does what serves her and not the greater good of the family. NGC and ATC butt heads quite a bit as ATC isn’t a fan of how NGC chooses to live her life and ultimately how her actions affect the house.

Miss Yelling at the Crack of Dawn - - does just that from the moment she wakes up – she seems to wake up resentful and angry to start the day (not without reason - - because she is in her right to be angry). I kept thinking what would make her happy? When is she happiest? Why don’t they hug each other first thing in the morning? Why don’t they greet the day with I love you’s?

And finally we have Miss Doesn’t Do Anything in the House - - and her name should say it all. This is the problem the house has with her. Its in how she keeps her room - - how she doesn’t pitch in with the house - - the complaints about all the things she could do better. Because nothing she does meets the house standards.

I was left wondering is there something in the air in the city I was visiting. Are they all doomed to a lifetime of misery and unhappiness? Its interesting - there are people who say and believe that Rhode Island is a non progress state and I have personally felt that way on more than one occasion (especially when I lived there) that as long as I was in RI - - I would never accomplish anything. I was just thinking would I have known that I was born to be a writer if I stayed there?

A friend of mine just said to me that living in Providence is like being a caged animal - - there are perimeters to where you can go. This hit me hard - - I was just hearing him out as he went on and on about why people come to RI and the kinds of people that are in RI. (That conversation is for another piece). But I’m really curious to know - - what does it feel like to be a caged animal - - WOW that shit is deep!

Do people really wake up feeling like - - THIS IS AS GOOD AS IT GETS…and because its as good as it gets - - do people settle for the little they got and do they believe this way of thinking? I can’t say that the entire state has this black cloud that follows them because that wouldn’t be fair. What I will say is that most of the folks I came across during my weekend spent the majority of their time looking miserable and just disrespectful to one another.

I try to feed myself the most beautiful words of encouragement and support. But on a few occasions I caught myself saying some pretty rude things - - even though I said it in jest - - I still meant what I said and it was pretty rude. A woman I was sitting near during a football game made fun of me for not knowing the sport or understanding the terminology and different plays… the first rude comment I let slide - - the second I told her to shut the F up… it wasn’t very nice - - but I got the feeling she wanted me to be rude to her.

So back to trying to say loving words…

The wonderful thing is that it seems to have rubbed off in my home - - because my daughter gives me beautiful words daily - we feed each other - its truly amazing - - we affirm one another constantly - - sometimes we can be a little conceited but its all in fun - - like right now we are in Providence, RI on Thayer Street at Au bon pain - - getting our work done - - I am writing my blog (its about time - - I haven’t written in four days) and she’s sitting across from me reading a book called A Separate Peace… and out of nowhere I said to myself - - man I love myself - - she just looked at me and smiled and went right back to reading.

She gets it - she gets what I am doing. I can say I am loving myself because the fact that I am sitting here right now at my computer typing these words - - shows me how much I really love myself and those around me. Writing makes me so happy. Writing is how I honor me. So as I think about how happy I am in my present state - - in most of the areas of life - - and in my day to day encounters I feel that I am walking happiness - - and that I bring that with me everywhere I go (for the most part).

I was reading my book, One Day My Soul Just Opened Up, she quotes Maya Angelou – its about the power of words - - saying that WORDS are like little energy pellets that shoot forth into the invisible realm of life. Although we cannot see the words, she said, words become the energy that fills the room, home, environment, and our minds. Maya described how words stick to the walls, the furniture, the curtains, and our clothing. She believes the words in our environment seep into our being and become a part of who we are.

MAN if that is true… then words can cut deep.

How do you suck out the words that cause hurt and pain?
How do you remove the hurtful way you speak to one another?
How do you remove the negative words you say to one another?

I can’t help but think about the people I am surrounded by – those people in my life who are NOT happy. There were stolen moments of happiness but they are not completely happy. From the moment I arrived to Rhode Island on Wednesday it was constant fighting. I wanted to leave the moment the yelling began.

I remember DARKNESS being a place I used to be at regularly with my family, my parents, my sisters, my ex who ever I felt to be a threat to me - - because I was always so angry – I was angry at world and the cards that were dealt. I constantly judged peoples actions, telling them how they should or shouldn’t be (I felt I had some right because people always judged and criticized me) - - I told people what the right way is for them to do a particular thing - - like speak to one another…

Although during this trip I refrained from saying anything to anyone about what I saw - - these days I’m just an outsider looking in - - and while I was feeling every blow of every punch that was thrown at one another with words. I also knew that in a few days I would be leaving those words behind.

Those words that I hear that were not out of genuine love - - but of criticism - - that every discussion turns into a debate or argument - - that when issues do affect a specific individual it does affect all members of the house – but there are ways to say things - - very loving ways - rather than come up with a solution to help the person it becomes attack mode – topped with examples of past flaws that the person might have committed. No words that were being said contributed to forward movement or growth as a unit… growth in love…

I was just thinking how I would love to moderate a conversation between these 4 women - - so they can really see what it is that they do to one another - - they are all guilty of hurting one another. I would love for them to really hear what the other is saying without forming their rebuttal in their minds - having them repeat back what they just heard - - and what they think the other meant by what was said… communication truly is an art (and I certainly DO NOT profess to be some sort of expert - - my daughter could attest to that) but as the outsider looking in - - what I will say is the current way that they communicate is not working - - its not bringing them closer together - - its further separating them.

I wish they could see the affects of their words on one another - - for every good moment gets outweighed by all the bad moments… as this outsider looking in - -imagining myself as a permanent player in these surroundings - - I would feel disrespected, devalued, and demoralized just by the words that float in the house. If you’re told so often that you will not amount to anything - - you tend to believe it…

I should know because this is what I believed for much of my life… that anything I wanted was impossible to have – my goals unattainable - - I believed I was unworthy, not to be respected and would never be taken seriously – that I would never find love - - where did I get these ideas from? Who told me these things? And why did I believe them? So for me being the angry biatch - - served me because I fought people for respect. That’s the thing I wanted the most - - and now I have respect for me - - so I no longer need to fight for it… (Alright so I didn’t remember that during the game - - I’m human).

The conversations weren’t spirit filled - - love filled and part of me just wanted to stay silent… and that is hard for me to do… to just hear them out - - because everyone truly wants to be heard and they deserve to be loved… I only hope that I served them the best way I could by showing them love. There is incredible healing that I see needs to happen and must happen for each of them individually - - in their own ways - - so they can come together and heal their home. I pray that they will come together in peace and love and find loving words and honor one another for who they are. There is value in everyone.

It doesn’t matter who leaves the home - -who is forced out - - the words are already in the carpets, in the walls in the pictures - - all the figurines - -the stairs - - each floor of the house - - reflected in the windows and mirrors…as a writer everyday I understand more and more how powerful words are… the words we use to address those we love – the words we choose to go off on someone we feel has dishonored us - - shit one of my favorite words is the F word… I can admit that when I am angry it feels good to release the F bombs… but once I have released it… what I am left with is the after effect of that word - - and the experience of where and who I used that word on - - who I might have assaulted with a word.

Does it make me feel good after?

Sure it does!

It feels good when I release some of my rage in the heat of the moment - - when I’m not thinking about the aftermath of the words I choose to use.

But do I feel good putting my rage on someone else? Letting them have it with my words - - because this is in effect what I am doing - - I am transferring my poison on someone else and that my friends is really shitty. It certainly isn’t very loving. In dishonoring you - - I dishonor me… so NO it doesn’t feel good to disrespect anyone - - because when I disrespect someone I am disrespecting me. And I CAN NOT and WILL NOT have that in my space.

Everyday I learn more and more how powerful words are - - how they guide my actions - - the words I heard were translated into negative perceptions of me - - perceptions that I chose to believe about me - - perceptions I chose to live up to. The words I heard in the past broke me – today and everyday I have an opportunity to say new words - loving words - - words of truth to myself. I flood my mind with positive thoughts about me…

Here’s what I say to me:

I am worthy of loving me all day everyday.
I speak words of truth, love and every good thing I desire to experience.
I am a divine reflection of universal love!
I am whole and complete!
I am unlimited and abundant - - my life is so good!
I am joy in motion and give my words as gifts.
I am all that I am, and life is graced my presence.
The truth of who I am cannot be altered or changed.
The way I treat myself determines how others will treat me.

So to the women I love:

I want you to remember who you are… a gift in my life…

Miss All Too Controlling - - you are strength. You made it seem flawless - - handling your darkest hour - - you pushed all your personal feelings aside to walk in love - - you really showed what you are made of…whatever the dark clouds are that are following you – LET THEM GO - they do not serve you - - you cannot have the happiness and love you so desperately desire unless you release the demons that have a hold on you.

Miss They Say I’m Never Gonna Change - - dream big, pray big, leap big, believe big! You are following your dreams and with every step you take - - I see how badly you really want this and I know that you will have it… you are showing me a fearlessness I have never seen….clean up the past - - because while you may want change in your life to happen - -it can ONLY happen when you are ready - - and if it doesn’t come - - its just a delay - -it can only come when you are fully ready… so keep getting ready - -there is still some work to do where you stand…

Miss Doesn’t Do Anything in the House - - you are LOVE - -you may be young but you possess a maturity that you are never given credit for - - I see how much you love your brother - - you treat him as if he was your son - - know one should worry about you because you have it more together than the adults you live with. Don’t allow anyone to tell you what you can and can’t have – there is nothing you can’t do - don’t hold yourself back for a boy - - don’t keep you from having your dreams come true - - don’t stay in a state for your friends or a man - - because chances are if they were given an opportunity to make their dreams come true they would leave you in a minute. Nothing is forever – there is not a second to waste - - get off your ass and make it happen for yourself. And yes girl - - please pick up your room. But do it for you…

Miss Yelling at the Crack of Dawn - - you are the ROCK - - the glue that holds the house together. You are the reason we go to your house, meet at your house, party at your house. Every good quality the family has is because of you. Rather than look at the things that anger you - - look to those beautiful things that you have created - - because every member of that family came from you. I love you so much.

ACCEPTANCE is so necessary… acceptance is recognition… acceptance takes you out of fear and anger…

We all want to be accepted… especially by the people we love…

Here is what I offer each of you from Iyanla:

“Acceptance is the essence of respect for ones self and others. When you accept the reality of your life, thereby demonstrating your willingness to make a conscious choice, you honor the wisdom, strength, and tenacity of the divine spirit within you. When you accept the reality of the choices others have made, realizing, although you may not like what is going on, that you have the strength and the courage to live through it, you honor the right of others to choose without blaming them for your wounds. It is acknowledgement that there are needs and circumstances other than your own.”

We do not know the damage our words have on those we love…

Who have you hurt with words?


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Random Thoughts

Today I feel like the weather, cold, damp, nasty, cranky, moody and miserable.

I woke up this morning and felt at peace - - but then when something that didn't go my way - - like putting my nose ring in - - it made me angry and I allowed that moment to take me through this day.

I'm looking out the window at my desk and it's raining - - it is just so yucky out.

I was trying to do my meditation and feed myself some positive words - - but the only words I was allowing in were negative thoughts… about people, places and things - - I don't think I smiled at one person today and that is very out of character for me.

But you know what - - I am sick of being the smile for everyone else - - I would love for someone to walk by me and lift me out of my mood with a smile.

How do I pull myself out of this mood?

Part of me just wants to stay pissed off and take out my frustrations on everyone who walks by me.

Here's a thought… yesterday I was in a really great mood - - I got on the train and sat next to the most wonderful man… he had flowers – he was so happy that day - - I wasn't sure why he was happy but I could tell he was floating on a cloud – I was reading my book and he was just humming a tune. We got to a train stop and this lady got up and stormed off – saying in a loud voice - -

"I can't wait to get off the train - - someone has on way too much perfume…"

I just laughed - - thinking good thing it's your stop lady… the gentleman on the cloud just made this sound and said,

"Oh well – yeah its me smelling all nice - - I put on perfume and bought these flowers and this card for a coworker" as he smiled at me - - saying that the woman he was giving the flowers to was like his mother – and he wanted to do something nice for her because it was her birthday. HOW SWEET… (I thought if I wrote about that moment I would smile…but it didn't work)

On the bachelor….Brad didn't choose either woman to be his bride… (Good for him) I thought if I mentioned the bachelor I would laugh - - because that moment on TV went down as the number 1 event that happened on TV last night. (no laughter)

I'm sitting her sifting through my thoughts trying to pin point what my problem is so I can go in and fix it…

My relationship with my daughter is changing right before my eyes… I never thought it would happen - - I had hoped it wouldn't happen.

My daughter and I went away for the weekend and everything was wonderful up until the last hour when we were shopping for souvenirs - we walked into this cool army navy shop and the first thing she sees is this cool army green hat with the peace sign… we have such similar taste - I sooo wanted that hat…but she saw it first.

We continued checking out some stuff - - I stopped in front of these cool messenger bags - - when she approached I offered to trade the hat for the messenger bag. She said NO that she didn't like the bag…and just got silent - - I paid for our items - -I bought her the hat – got the bag and some other things for me and we left.

Once we were outside of the store she didn't say two words to me. We went from having a fabulous weekend to ICE COLD… we didn't speak for what seemed like thirty minutes - - the only time she spoke to me was about stopping and buying her some additional items.

The weekend was ruined for me immediately.

I was so hurt – I felt bad about myself. In my own head I was trying to understand what it was that had her so angry with me.

It was that I bought the bag…a bag that is similar to her style of carrying messenger bags… I never felt so bad – I felt like one of those mom's that hangs with her daughters friends – trying to act young – wearing clothing that is not age appropriate. Yeah my thoughts went there. I was so piss't that I didn't even want to look at what I had purchased because everything in that bag made me feel like I had done something wrong.

Why am I crying?

I have been sad for two days – 2 days too long.

I feel her pulling away from me. I shouldn't take it personal but I do. A part of me wants to be so very close to her… I love the things she loves… mostly because she loves them. I think my daughter is so cool but I sort of feel like she wants me to find my own way – and at the same time I'm torn because haven't I been showing her the way all this time - - and for the longest time hasn't my way been all about her.

I feel like I am currently going through an identity crisis of my own. I'm pretty grounded but it's starting to hit me that I am more than just Courtney's mother.

Maybe that's why I am so upset today - - because I no longer have my little girl who relied on me for everything - - she is pulling away from me not because she doesn't love me – but because she is trying to find herself.

She wants her own identity separate from me - - and I should want the same for me – separate from her.

So yes I am really sad today…I'm in mourning - because I know that I must let her go - - but I don't want to. Because once I let her go - - I have NO choice but to figure out who ALICIA is and what she wants? I can no longer hide behind motherhood. This is a scary place to be.

Send me a smile.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Blogs I'm Reading~

What a wonderful weekend family. I spent all of Saturday writing with the NYCLWG – it was intense but amazing. I will blog about what I gained later. Right now I want to share a bit of reading…

Allow me to introduce you to:

I will start with my favorite read this weekend - she's known as *Boozy Irish Floozie*:



The Professor:

Bloo Writer:




Ordinary Childhood:

Wishing everyone a blessed day!


Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Masquerade Ball

We all wear masks...

Today I am thinking about all of the people who I will walk by on the streets this morning, all the people I walk by daily, everyone in my life, those people I have just met, the people I may never get to meet, the girls last night who got into a fist fight on the bus right in front of me and my daughter—who just one minute before they started throwing blows smiled at me, or the couple last night who were cursing each other out outside my window she was threatening to leave his ass telling him she would have him thrown in jail and him calling her terrible names all while I was on the phone checking in on my pops...

We're all just people in survival mode, who are just doing what we do, living how we live, many of us – most of us constantly at the masquerade ball.

The masks we wear pretending to be happy in our failed relationships, hoping that the person (our significant other) who we blame for our unhappiness, we hold onto the idea that they will change…that if we only love them more, if we just stick by them at all costs, if we take all there shit. Praying that they will stop cheating on us or abusing us (physically, emotionally, or verbally) - holding on to the faith that love really does conquer all and that they will see the errors in their ways - - somehow miraculously seeing that "our love is deep and they'll stop hurting us."

The mask we wear day to day hoping to be noticed, that our potential will be recognized and acknowledged, we the undiscovered talent, wearing our false confidence mask. Those of us who demand to be respected (but we would never dare bring that power home and speak up to the people we need to speak up to) those of us who wear the mask of "the real tuff guy" who will go off and put a person in their place that person being the cashier or that manager at Popeye's, KFC or McDonalds. These are the same masks that would never dare raise our voices to our bosses or someone we perceive to be more superior to us.

We wear a mask pretending to be COMPLETE people - people who are really broken inside with real problems and no idea how to fix them.

In my "Keep it Moving" blog - I mentioned that I stopped writing after November 4th 2003.

Here's what happened to someone I respect:

She always wore a mask - - but this time she wore a special kind of MASK for a year and this time she was fully aware she was wearing that mask. She was a zombie, a machine, the walking, talking, breathing dead. She went to the same office building for 12 months - - 6 of which she relived that horrible moment over and over again - every single day - - every day she stepped into that office after he left. The simple act of opening a door changed her life completely.

Whenever she went to open any door it sent chills up her spine. She dreaded waking up every day. But she did get up - not because she wanted to - not because she was happy to be alive - but because she had no choice but to go on living and do all the necessary things she did to get by in her mediocre life...and going back to that office was the responsible thing to do.

Before November 4, 2003, she was happy, she loved where she worked. It was one of the largest magazine publishing companies and she worked with a great man. His name was KB. He was incredibly brilliant and just a vibrant human being. She started her career as a temp, was very new to NYC and had much to prove and tons to learn.

So she put on her mask of: "super modelesque/no problems in the world/have it all under control/like she got money in the bank/all smiles all the time" that's the mask she was sporting. She would have you believe that she was no nonsense, no joke and had it all under control.

Meanwhile, back in the room she was living in, as she slept on a twin bed with her child - she prayed every night and lit candles hoping she would get hired (its funny how when shit really gets rough - we all of sudden find God -- in hopes that he will come in and save the day). But she prayed faithfully, everyday in the morning when she woke, in the shower, as she walked to the train, during her train ride, on the elevator to her job, during the day while she worked, during dinner while she ate and at night before she put her head on her pillow, She prayed and prayed. She prayed she would get hired permanently because she was so very desperate for money and living in NYC wasn't cheap and she had tuition to pay for her child who was going to private school.

She wore her mask well - she had everyone fooled.

Her temp assignment was about to end and there were no positions available. She invited KB to lunch one day (which took balls because its not customary for executives to dine with the help) she wanted to express her gratitude and her passion for the job and share with him her desire to work for him and her eagerness to be apart of his team.

He said to her, "don't worry - - I think you're fabulous - - you're not going anywhere - - even if you have to sit in the bathroom all day everyday until I find you a slot - - you're not going anywhere!"

And she just smiled because she knew he was a man of his word. And true to his words she sure did end up spending some time in the bathroom and hiding out in conference rooms where he gave her little projects to keep her around. She was hired permanently a couple months later becoming KB's assistant in addition to supporting a VP.

All she could think about was how fabulous her boss KB was. Whenever he walked into the office - he would show up with the fiercest outfits and his diva strut. He was always well put together and he smiled every time he walked by her. His door was locked this particular day which was normal for him as he would often lock his door so he could eat quietly and not be interrupted. The only exception was if he was running late for a meeting. That the only time she would buzz him.

It was 3:30pm; he needed to be at a meeting, so she buzzed his line – no answer. She knocked on his door and when she didn't get an answer she called out his name. She did this a few times and still got no response - she figured perhaps he stepped out and closed his door. She went to her desk to get her spare key - knocked on the door one more time and unlocked it. she opened the door slowly and there he was at his desk with his head down. She thought he was sleeping - she called out for him Kevin, Kevin - wake up you have a meeting. She thought maybe he had a headache because his arms were crossed and he had his head gently placed on his arms. To her it just seemed like he was sleeping.

So she went behind him to wake him touching his shoulder - Kevin wake up. she shook him a little - no movement. She touched his neck - no pulse. She touched his face - ice cold... she ran - - she ran as fast as she could for help - she interrupted a meeting and told them that Kevin wouldn't wake up that something was wrong. They ran to him and she just stood by her desk pacing, a mess, scared out of her mind, worried, crying, hoping that he would be ok and not understanding what had happened. Someone called 911 because paramedics came to the office... she never left her cube... when they finished doing whatever it was they were doing inside his office - they opened the door.

Kevin was dead - and she couldn't watch them take him away on that stretcher, covered with that sheet – she refused to leave her desk - in fact she was so scared that she was hiding under her desk because it was unbelievable to her. Still today its still unbelievable.

I stopped writing when Kevin died on November 4, 2003 when I found him.

It was the horrible, devastating, and incredibly traumatic experience I had ever encountered. I went to work the very next day and did this every day for so many months. I never mourned his loss I just kept going back to this building. I had to go back into his office every day when Kevin's replacement started – I had to open that door again and again. I was devastated.

When he died (as is the case for anyone we lose - the stories that we tell each other to console one another came pouring in and this time it was no different).

My Kevin stories are few but amazing… in August 2003 during the NYC blackout I was at the office and was scared because we thought that perhaps it was another September 11th situation (my daughter was out of town thank God) but he asked me if I had anywhere to go. I told him I didn't know what I was going to do and he invited me to go to his house and stay with him for the night. We went searching for water and flashlights. The man only had gold fish to eat, some olives, nuts and vodka – but no real (he dined out a lot). When his best friend joined us we stayed up talking for hours. He took me to lunch all the time and shared his dreams and goals - - he was going to be big - - and had already achieved greatness. The week before he died he gave me this gift certificate - which I didn't open until after he died. One day when I was on the phone taking a message he just shoved it in front of me and said, "here this is for you... enjoy... you probably can only get a pair of earrings with this – but enjoy." When I opened the envelope after he died I found a $500 gift certificate to MaxMara (which is sort of like one of those stores on 5th Avenue where they serve you champagne and give you the star like treatment). I later received an email from a coworker who said to me... "you know Kevin told me he was giving you a gift certificate. He came up to me and said "can someone buy something really nice with this?" And she told him of course. When Kevin told her who the gift certificate was for - that he was giving it to Alicia - she said wow that's really nice of you - he responded - she's really nice to me.

You just don't forget people like him. But he too wore a mask – pretending to be happy at a job that no longer was bringing him the joy that it once did. He too had a story that no one knew - - the things that made him beautiful.

Oh yeah very important detail... November 4th is my father's birthday. Kevin Belden died on my dad's birthday. I truly believe its so I never forget. And I never will forget him.

The masks I've worn:

I wore a mask when I left Florida summer 2002 when I pretended all was right in my world

I wore a mask when I started working at a new job - pretending I could hold it down

I wore a mask meeting men pretending I was a complete person – the total package

I wore a mask for my daughter that we were ok - when we were one step away from being homeless

I wore a mask after my boss died (and he was the best boss EVA) and I was left dealing with finding him and pretending to be ok and that I could still do my job while pretending to like the people I was working with

I wore a mask when I went to work for the worse boss ever

So when we walk by people on the street we must remember that they matter - people are important in this world - people are valuable - - my mentor Kevin Belden... taught me that. He didn't have to care for me - or about my life – or about my child… but he did.

Its important to care what happens to the people around us. Its so important to connect with people - - everyone has a story. We have no idea why they where the masks they wear. But once we take the time to know someone, reach out to them and touch – we find that they're less likely to wear a mask while with you.

To Kevin Belden…I dedicate my first publication…we'll meet again!

To my father…Happy Birthday!