Travelling while female…and Black (Part 1)

“Travelling Home to Rome….” photography by D. M. Blake (2011)

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a long conversation with my mother that included remembrances about her childhood and my grandfather.  There was something else of which spoke that made a deep impression upon me.  That is, she spoke about her travels around the world.

It is a bit strange, perhaps, that my memories of my mother are of old photographs:  my mother standing in snow-covered places, my mother amongst tulip fields and windmills, my mother feeding pigeons in a wide and open plaza, my mother on a ship…

My mother in places that I, as a child, never understood how she came to be there or if I would ever see such wondrous sights in my life.

I remember finding and displaying all the coins from the many foreign countries in which she had travelled.  Places with strange names, strange languages, differently shaped than the money I knew as a child in Jamaica.

How could one person have travelled so far at a young age?  So very far from the island country that served as a birthplace, and where she had both children and husband awaiting her?

Then again, how could she have not?  She was teaching us, her children (and even our father), something very important.  She was teaching us that no matter who you are and where you are, you should never limit yourself.  Think big, dream even bigger, and allow life to take you where you will it.

“How to Create Dreams I” photography by Diedré M. Blake, 2011 (Rome)

There are many answers that one could give, or rather, that I could give.

The fact is, I travel because I need to understand that nothing is this life can limit me but my own self.

Not the colour of my skin.  Not the kinkiness of my hair.  Not the language that I speak.  Not the relationships that I have built through blood or friendship.

Perhaps it is selfish.  I am certain that culturally, for some, this type of attitude is selfish.  For me, I see it as setting an example for the younger generation of my family, who will undoubtedly face a world that is filled with stereotypes, some of which will be aimed at them.

Trust me, travelling is not easy for people of colour, especially in parts of Europe, where the colour of one’s skin can mean a reason to be attacked (again, this is my own opinion).

Travelling, however, is one way of challenging stereotypes.    It takes courage to say, “Let me leave everything behind and go somewhere far away.”  And that is regardless of race/ethnicity/sexuality/religion/etc… Everyone, I believe, feels some fear when away from what is familiar, and from those who are accepting of us.

When we open our eyes and our arms to the world, we allow ourselves to see beyond stereotypes…Equally important, we allow for the world to see us as individuals.  Thus, why should the world not be our oyster?

I thank my mother for passing on the wanderlust that has allowed me to have and to act upon the desire to see as much of the world as I can…I suppose she, in turn, thanks her grandfather, who was a ship engineer.

Until Next Time.

Best,

D.

P.S. —

Some YouTube Links of Black Women Travelling:

Babs in Japan: “Love life and Japan” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VLx7Yc0dwU&feature=share&list=UL2VLx7Yc0dwU

Charly in Korea: “Black in Korea” http://youtu.be/mbLVIWNtdzo

Interesting Blog from China: “Life Behind the Wall”  http://lifebehindthewall.wordpress.com/

Love: is it really necessary to state it?

Reading manga and watching anime has recently turned into a pastime of mine.  I enjoy this aspect of Japanese culture and am a very visually-inclined person, thus it works out.  As I have been going along with my soon-to-be-obsessive manga/anime thing, I have come to recognize an important difference between Japanese and American cultures.  That is, in America we use the actual words “I love you” as though we are automatic ticket dispensing machines… you know, the ones at the deli, or in a waiting room, at the post office… the ones that you push the button and out comes that little slip of paper that let you know that you will receive service?

When I first began read manga, I thought that the statement suki desu (“I like you”) were a direct translation of the English “I love you” as this is how it is often translated.  I was shocked to discover that the word aishiteru was actually “I love you.”  Furthermore, that this word was rarely used.  Initially I was dismayed at the thought of what life would be like without hearing the words “I love you,” then it dawned on me… “I love you” as it is used in English seems to hold very little meaning.  We use this statement seemingly freely, we love everything and everyone–disclaimer:  I know that I am generalizing here. 😉  Just bear with me.

The above thought left me transitioning from feelings of anger to sadness, sadness to fear, and back again to anger, only to end with resolve.  My anger stemmed from the many times I have heard, whether in my own personal life or hearing the tragic love stories of others,  the statement used “I love you” that should have been really daisuki desu “I like you a lot” or better yet “I like you a lot until I find someone I like even more.” 

No, this isn’t bitterness.  Yes, I own the fact that I have grown more skeptical throughout years, especially in more recent ones.  This is truly an attempt to understand emotionally honest and how clearly we can state our feelings given the limitations of our language.  Somehow we have lost the ability to describe our more intimate feelings using words such as “adore,” “dear,” “smittened,” etc.  Somehow it seems that we can only go from zero to one hundred in our feelings, and subsequently zoom down the love highway.  We seemingly go from “I like you” to “I love you” without hesitation, but why?

Is it that we can no longer take the time to accurately identify and aptly describe our emotional state in relation to each other?  Are we so very worried that if we do not say “I love you” that the feeling will not be conveyed accurately?  I want to return to a world where I can say that I adore, am smittened, find dear, am enamored, find beloved, yearn for, desire, long for, want,etc…

So, what does this all mean, D.?  Well, simply that I tip my hat to Japanese culture and am choosing to embrace in my life taking the slow lane to stating the profound feelings embodied within the words “I love you.”  Afterall, life and people are too precious not slow down, understand, and clearly state my feelings.  In the long run, it is simply with the aim of causing no or little harm.

 

Le poesie nuove

Lasciare il passato

L’ ho abbandonato
lo specchio

insieme con le storie
Dopo tutto,
chi vuole essere una storia?

Al contrario,
(e la vita è sempre contraria)
chi non vorrebbe piacere di avere una storia?

Non importa.
In questo momento l’ho trovato.
Qualcosa più importante,

cioé ho travota la mia belleza

nascosta
Come la verità
che credi io non dica mai,

 forse.

Comunque guardami
se vorresti scegliere
di sentirti come me.

Scoprimi mentre
comincio a sconvolgere,
a frantumare

il mio comportamento
il mio specchio
me stesso esterno

insieme con tutte delle storie
in cui noi crediamo che possiamo
 trovare la nostra belleza,

in cui noi non possiamo
trovare ci stessi
o la nostra verità.

-db

La nera

Ogni giorno
io indosso
qualcosa di nero.

Ogni giorno
mi guardate,
qualcosa di nero,

qualcosa di strano,
qualcosa di cui dovete
avere paura

come l’oscurità
della notte quando,
anche, voi diventate

qualcosa di nero.
-db

Melancholy

“Her Name is Melancholy” by FlyPi  (http://flypi.deviantart.com/)

L’ombra di me stessa

Che cos’è questa?
La tua casa dell’anima,
lo specchio perso, anche il tuo,
la finestra dimenticata a cui non possono
la vedere attraverso i tuoi occhi… come me.

Per te tutto è buio, un’oscurità
in cui siamo sospesi tra il cielo e la terra,
dove non si può ritrovare se stessi
senza la sofferenza dell’attesa
inutile, di niente.

Questa, dicesti, è la verità della vita,
in cui possiamo sempre credere.
Comunque ci sentiamo sicuri?
C’è pace qua nella realtà costruita
dalla paura vivente?

Non dovrò abbracciarla,
la casa senza futuro,
l’anima senza passato.
Lasciami ai miei sogni d’oro.
Non pensare mai più di costruire.

-db

Seasons’ loss and reason

You, like falling leaves upon a lotus
pond.  I, a heart entombed in winter’s frost,
fading circles of love circuitous
as my fingertips create ripples lost.

Then crystal-iced, sunlit, dew-touched, loved.
Unknowingly caught enraptured by id
wrought.  Encompassed as a seed beloved
but stifled by unnourished earth unwanted.

But knowledge and keys to hearts once given
prove only useless tools to fools who know
naught of winter’s cold. They harden, unrisen,
unwisely plant seeds in autumn with hope

of a lotus blossom amidst snowfall,
frost, and grasp at love formed, fading crystals.

-db

(The above poems are revisions.  I would be appreciative of any feedback, including corrections on the ones in Italian.  Thanks!)

Until next time,

D.

10 Things I Still Don’t Understand…(Part 1)

New Start 2010, photography by Diedré M Blake

Okay, there are many aspects of life that I sincerely do not understand and perhaps will never make an attempt to do so.  This list is, however, focused on two areas of interest to me: relationships and modernity (and really how the two come together or not).

      1. Text messaging etiquette… No, really.  What is a good amount of time to wait for a response? Or better yet, how much time can I wait before giving a response?  Eric Charles, I know you know already-Honestly, I’ve read the articles in my inbox.  No one, however, seems to be following the same rules on this issue.
      2. Modern dating… Yeah, I am starting to feel like I am from the age of the Flinstones.  Yes, I am that old (in some people’s minds).  What happened to a simple thing like, “Do you like me, yes or no?” You know, stated or written, or carved in stone…  Now it’s all evasive text messaging, Facebooking, and whatever-else that is happening to be out there these days.
      3. Men… On personal relationship level. Enough said.  Next.
      4. Women… At least, on a personal relationship level, when it comes to dating men.  No, I really don’t know what happens to the minds of women that seems sometimes to become so sadomasochistic (more maso- than sado-) when confronted with the possibility (and perhaps not probability) of a romantic relationship.  It’s like the temptation to hit the either “Self-destruct” button OR the “Annihilation” button (sometimes both) becomes too great.

      5. Love… I remember watching movies like The Princess Bride, and thinking, Oh, how romantic that someone so wonderful and good-looking can come into your life and do everything to be with you!  Yeah, I bought into the Disney version of the fairy tales too and even thought myself a Princess Charming at different points (and probably was to some people).  I probably was a frog too and never quite changed into what was expected after being kissed… Ahem.

Anyway, the point is that we supposedly meet someone and for some reason or another we “click” with them or are (dreaded word) “into” each other… and then we imagine ourselves skipping happily off into the future together.

I mean, this is not a belief held only by girls or boys, teenagers and young adults.  Plenty of adults and elders still hold on to this idea of the “happily ever after.”  And honestly, I don’t get it.  What really is happily ever after?  Is it happily protected from facing the reality of the person with whom you are spending time, because you are both holding up your masks still… showing your best selves?

And then, once the masks fall (because they inevitably will), suddenly will one or both of you fall out of love too?

The reality is that we tend to expose and place into the hands of the person receiving our love our very vulnerable selves…  It is this vulnerable part that suffers the consequences of our pretense of “happily ever after.”

———–

You’ve got my whole world in your hands

I’ve had to put my whole world in your hands

I’m gonna put my whole world in your hands

I’ve had to put my whole world in your hands

Charlie Winston (In Your Hands)

To put this all together:  Here’s what I don’t understand.  I don’t understand a world in which men and women get together without even really speaking with each other and use text messaging as a method of making dates and expressing feelings, even to the point of beginning and ending relationships.

So many people I have met recently have told me about being broken up with via text.  No phone call,  No email.  No face-to-face meeting.  Perhaps not even full sentences.  This is the text-speech land of love that we are in now.

The “nice tm w u b4. gd lk. bye.” world

… and we are told to accept it.  That it is okay that we no longer give each other the decency to meet face to face to part ways…  What???  Hence, I am beginning to feel a bit old.

———–

You see, I still like to write letters.  I hate to talk on the phone and prefer to meet in person.  I rarely watch television or listen to the radio and am certainly not “hip” (yes, I wrote “hip”) to what is going on out there in the world unless I am told by a friend.  I like myself this way.  I am a pretty relaxed person as a result of my decision to be the way that I am.  My relationship with technology extends to checking email, because I have to and writing my blog, because I love to.  I go on Facebook, because I wish to be connected to my family and friends as I live far away from many of them and I can make new connections through social networks.

So, I am not saying “Down with Technology!”  What I am asking is “What is happening to us that we should choose to live in avoidance of each other?”  We speak of globalization and so much connection.

Yet still, I see people spending more time being disconnected while being in the physical presence of their fellow human beings, because they are too connected to their technological playmates in the shapes of iPads, iPods, BlackBerry’s, and whatever else is out there…

Until next time!

Best,

D.

P.S. A small disclaimer: I am a bit obsessed with the music of Charlie Winston at the moment.  😉

Vision Boards, Love Games & Mechanics….

Knitting gloves, photography by Diedré M. Blake (2011)

Typically, I spend my time reading, knitting, doing crossword puzzles, watching old British comedies and cartoons.  You know, all that typically sexy stuff.  😉

Well, I have just completed reading Jackee Holder’s “Be your own best life coach” and decided to try one of her suggestions, i.e. making a vision board.

I will tell you that I’ve been making a valiant attempt at creating my vision board.  I say valiant, because my verbal Italian is not so great and trying to find the right types of magazines at the newsstands here in Rome feels like a mini-trip through hell for me.

This is partly due to the fact that all the magazines are apparently kept… sealed.  Yes, that’s right.  Here in Rome, you need to know what you want. And there really isn’t such a thing as customer service here…. So, don’t expect help.  If you get it, then give thanks to the universe. Of course, this is just my personal experience… You may have a different one if you visit.  So, keep an open mind.

(Photo Newsstand in Campo de' Fiori... They usually aren't smiling. Trust me.) Image taken from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/05/arts/05abroad.html

There is no flipping through and perusing the interesting pictures and glancing at the articles here.  And honestly, my Italianish is so not helpful for saying “I need a magazine with diverse representations of people.  You know, women, men, children.  Perhaps even different ethnicities and races might be nice.”

I’ve been offered, however, everything else from cooking to needlework.  As much as I am a fan of all of that, it certainly wasn’t what I asked for.

At this point, some of you might be wondering what is a vision board. The easy answer is that it is a visual representation of the goals/dreams you have for your life.

More recently, vision boards have been associated with the principle of the Law of Attraction (Remember The Secret?), which basically emphasizes the point that what we choose to focus upon in our lives is what we in turn receive.  That is, if you focus on what is negative, then the more negative experiences come into your life, because you are attracting it to you.  The same is applied to the positive.  This definition is highly simplistic and I would recommend that you do your own research on the topic if you are interested in learning more.

Sample Vision Board, found at http://theartisticmom.com/

Regardless of your belief in the Law of Attraction, cutting images out of newspapers/magazines and pasting them on posterboard or whatever sturdy paper available has been practiced by many artists, art educators, art therapists, life coaches and many an adolescent girl for some time now (of course children and adolescent boys too!)

As an art therapist, I see the process of creating art and the final product as inherently self-exploratory and therapeutic.  Thus, it is possible to gain a true understanding of what one desires in life by engaging in such a process as collaging.  Enough said.

So, back to my vision board.  Simply, it’s not happening.  Although I am surrounded by many cut images, and have carefully selected music playing in the background to promote my most creative self… it’s simply not on.  By now, you may be wondering why I am rambling on about this vision board thing… and why it is so important to me.

Well, as I mentioned above, I’ve been searching for magazines filled with lots of pictures with people.  In essence, I am looking for the images that would go in my Love/Relationships sectionThat’s right.  I seemed to have some block against this.  This brings me to my next topic.

Love games & mechanics…

Rome is a city of romance as evidenced by the people who make it a point to makeout next to me in the metro during the day.   I mean, really… I am the last person to have a problem with PDA.   Nor do I have a problem with people who wish to share their personal version of Lady Gaga‘s Love Games at night (again in the metro).  Hey, I really don’t mind seeing if someone is or isn’t wearing underwear as I make my way home to knit…. No problem! 😉

What all of this (including my vision board quest) is revealing to me is that perhaps I find romantic relationships somewhat threatening… (Yes, it can happen to a therapist too ;))  I have somehow managed to put up a wall/block in response to the emotion love and had not realized it until I tried to make my vision board.

Being single again has forced me to examine my past relationships. That is, what I did well and what I need to improve.  This process allowed me to recognize that I had one specific issue that was truly interpersonally and intrapersonally crippling for me.  Even though apparently, some friends were already quite aware… as one said to me a month or so ago,

“D., you’ve really got to work on your professional handicap.  It’s really a liability.”

And I wonder why no one ever to told me before that I was a blatant “love mechanic.”

That’s right.  I spent my time in my relationships trying to help resolve the issues of my significant other perhaps to my own detriment and definitely to the detriment of the relationship.

Even after my friend had made the above statement to me, I still had no idea what he was talking about.  It took reading Lisa Helmanis’ book “Master Dating” and coming across the term “love mechanic” for me to really get what he was trying to say…  That is, if I ever intend to have a romantic relationship of any kind again, I need to give up the behaviour of holding daily therapy sessions with my significant other AND gently suggest outside therapy.  😉

Well, it’s a new year and I’ve got my vision board project with an allotted love/relationship section.  So, who knows what will happen…

Until next time!

Best,

D.

So… Into What? Pretending…

"Arms Full of Words," photography by Dolores Juhas (2011). Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

Truly, no one owes anyone else an explanation for his or her relationship preferences.  When it comes to breaking the news to someone else that you cannot return romantic interest, then it becomes important to consider what you say as well as when and where you say it.

Think back to the first time or last time (or any time) that you have told someone that you “liked” or “loved” or were “interested” in him or her.  How much courage did it take?  Did you deliberate over it for some time alone?  With friends?  With family?  Did you feel vulnerable telling this person how you felt?  Were you worried about being rejected?  Were you concerned that he or she would never speak to you again?

Use your memories of emotional vulnerability to guide your words when speaking to someone about your feelings (or lack thereof) for him or her.

So, what might be good to say, if not “I am not that into you” or “I am not into you” or something similar?  Well, I am no dictator.  I believe each person can find his or her own words through the experience of empathy.

I am so into…

I might, however, suggest some guidelines (truly, this is in no particular order):

  • Focus on the positive of the person. Compliment who he or she is.  What you like about him or her.
  • Be honest about your incompatibilities.  You know… things like, interests, values, religion, culture, height, age, sexual preferences, psychological baggage, relationship status… Whatever “schtuff” (as a former colleague of mine would say) it is that you get hung-up on when you are considering someone for a relationship. Really… be honest with yourself too!
  • Be truthful.  That is, do not lie… I promise, it will come back to haunt you.
  • Be honest about what type of relationship you think can work between the two of you.
  • Be open to dialogue and encourage the other person to speak about his or her feelings, i.e. if he or she wish to do so.  Either way, allow the person to know that you are available in the ways that you can be in that moment (everything has a time limit… and the duration of that time limit should be relative to the nature of the already established relationship)
  • Be clear.  Do not leave hope.  That is, do not say things like, “Perhaps in the future…”  or “Maybe one day…”  This only causes confusion and leads the person to hang on/remain hopeful.
  • Compliment the person on his or her ability to speak with you about his or her feelings.
  • Move on… from the subject.  Normalize as quickly as possible.  This will help to alleviate the feelings of awkwardness between the two of you.  There is no need to have a long and drawn-out conversation about the issue, especially if you are clear.  If the person needs space, then allow him or her to take it… and then move on from the situation yourself.

So, what might a conversation be like?

"The Revenge of Pride," photography by Dolores Juhas (2010). Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

Well, let’s pretend ;) 

———

Person A: I really like you… and I was wondering if you would like to go out some time.

Person B: Wow, that was an unexpected compliment.  Thank you so much.  I like you too.  Going out for coffee would sound interesting, but I could only do so as friends.

Person A: Oh… I… I thought you liked me…

Person B:  I do like you, but only as a friend.

Person A:  But why only as a friend?

Person B:  Well, because typically I tend to date people who share the same interests as myself, and I know that we don’t share many common interests.  It would make things difficult.  Also, although you are a physically attractive person, I am not sexually attracted to you.  I know that that is probably hard to hear and I hope it doesn’t hurt our friendship.

——— This would be the move on point———

Okay, so… Some people might say that this statement is harsh and hurtful.  Well, it may be hurtful in the moment and for a moment.  It is, however, clear and caring.  That is, Person B is direct that there is no hope for a romantic relationship now or in the future, but she or he really wants to maintain the friendship/relationship that is already established.  Above all, it is respectful. 😉

After that interaction, I would suggest that if Person A felt wronged…. then grab a friend and a copy of the film “He’s Just Not That Into You“… watch, commiserate, laugh and learn… then come back and read my blog. 😉

Until next time!

Best,

D.

 

Self-potrait, photography by Dolores Juhas

Photographs are by Croatian photographer, Dolores Juhas, whose work has been featured in such magazines as Italian Vogue.  You can visit her website at http://www.dolores-juhas.tk or email her: d_juhas@yahoo.co.uk.  She has her own blog at http://themax.bloger.hr

Just not that into… What?

"This is Rome..." photography by Diedré M. Blake (2011)

I am the least romantic person I know.

I write this with a slight smile on my face, because I know that there will be friends, former partners, and family members who will be vigorously nodding their heads in agreement.

To say that I am practical about relationship matters is an understatement… I am downright analytical.  I weigh the pros and cons of all situations.  I attempt to look at all sides objectively, and am usually successful.
Why am I writing about this today?  Well, after writing the last three posts, you know, about relationships… I began thinking about my take on different aspects of what it takes to build relationships…;)

I mentioned in the first post on men that I truly disliked the expression of being or not being “into” someone.  I am taking a look at this today and tomorrow…

I will admit two things: 1) I am writing my way into this piece… 2) I am listening to the movie “He’s Just Not That Into You” in the background.

———-

Just not that into…


As much as I love the film “He’s Just Not That Into You,” I dislike the expression as I have mentioned repeatedly.  Yes, I am all for being straight-forward.  This expression, however, seems to take away from rather than give to the person who is on the receiving end.  In fact it is truly vague.

I could say I am into yoga. What does that really mean? It could mean that I like the meditation aspect of yoga.  It could mean that I am into hatha and not ashtanga yoga.  It could mean that I like to watch people do yoga, but am not inclined to do it myself.  It could mean that I am interested in learning yoga. It could mean that I once studied yoga.  It could mean I am Buddhist.  It could mean that I am attempting to live  a yogic lifestyle.

I could say I am not into clubbing. Again what does that really mean?  It could mean that I dislike going out late at night.  It could mean that I dislike loud music.  I could mean that I like to dance, but I dislike dancing in a room full of people.  It could mean I don’t know how to dance.  It could mean that I think going to places where there are clubs is dangerous.  It could mean that I feel I am too mature or too immature or too intellectual or too artistic to be associated with clubbing…

Get my point? Saying someone is or isn’t into something doesn’t actually say a whole lot.  Perhaps that’s the point–I don’t know.  Imagine, however, if someone said to you, “I’m sorry, but I’m just not that into you…”

Well, how would you feel?  What would you understand from this statement? Are you left with questions or answers?

Sure, there is one thing that is clear:  this person is not wanting a romantic involvement with you… Maybe

I wrote “maybe,” because of the use of the word “that,” which seems to hint at some already established interest.

More importantly, there is also an undercurrent to this statement, that is that… there is something missing or lacking in your qualities (physical or otherwise) that makes this person not into you…

But what if you could change? (I can see the wheels beginning to turn in some minds already…)

Okay, granted if someone said to you, “I’m sorry, but I’m not into you,” then this is more definitive.  Still, it leads to possible the questions:

“Well, what are you into?” or “Why?”

Until next time!

Best,

D.