LOST

My heart racing

Thumping

Vibrating my eardrum

Will I make it through? 

Sweating 

Remembering 

Why?

What happened?

What caused it?

Should I inhale? Leave?!

Deep breathes

Calming thoughts

Outweighed

Breathing slows 

Thoughts increase

Fight, fight, fight

Fight thoughts. Fight him. Fight it. 

Lying down but body still erect

Emotions skip

To another body until it’s over 

-TanyaG

© 2016 All words & images by Tanya Graham unless otherwise noted.

My Plan Not My Purpose (part 4)

Just as I was about to settle into my new freedom another thorn stabbed me deeply. I awoke abruptly from my spell.

His actions affected me with the piercing pain of thorns from a “rose” bush. However, I did not see a beautiful rose flower in my presence. My mind drifted into hollowness. I began to hallucinate of beautiful roses that symbolized beauty and love. My nostrils inhaled pleasant scents that made me feel at peace. A spectrum of glowing colors burst in my optical senses. I was overwhelmed with such ecstasy and serenity. I took a deep breath.  I was feeling overjoyed that I was finally in my purpose. I could feel my body becoming lighter. My muscles relaxing. There were a crispness and clarity to my thinking.  God, I haven’t felt this feeling in a long time. If I had ever felt it at all.

Just as I was about to settle into my new freedom another thorn stabbed me deeply.

I awoke abruptly from my spell.

The room was filled with people. I had forgotten where I was. The thorns of lust were jabbing deep. Their eyes and body movements showed their attraction to each other. Her desire to be the attention of the false illusions that were inhabiting this space revealed itself each time she tried to look through me to him. She stood with a sensualness that I did not have the confidence to hold. She giggled like a mindless child playing with her favorite cousin at a sleepover. The smell of roses that occupied my nostrils during my hallucination was actually instigating from this girl that now challenged the entire room. Challenged the relationship that I ignorantly misunderstood was more important than my own sanity.

But I discerned my place in this space. I never was supposed to be here. I wasn’t supposed to be in his company. I wasn’t supposed to be in such a challenge because it was not part of my purpose. I wasn’t supposed to be holding this drink. Or in this room were these thorns of disrespect, disregard, and dishonesty was making me bleed from my soul.

I was disheartened. My plan, not my purpose had me bleeding. With each drop of blood, I felt myself losing control and my mind drifting back to that hollowness but this time my nostrils smelled the aroma of a stench. The disgusting odor of dreams dying because none of us would admit the plan that we wrote for ourselves was unbecoming of our purpose. The weeds disguising themselves as beautiful roses were suffocating me.

My plan, not my purpose was leading me to nowhere.

To be continued…

My Plan Not My Purpose (part 3)

My Plan Not My Purpose (part 2)

My Plan Not My Purpose

©2017 All words & images by Tanya Graham unless otherwise noted.

My Plan Not My Purpose (part 3)

As I walked each day to clear my head and shed the tears of regret, I begin to devise a way to say “I messed up. I am sorry. I am lost to my next step.”

Part 3

The streets are lit, busy and filled with litter. Not just the litter of empty bottles of Cisco, Alizé, MD 20/20, Malibu, Jack Daniels, Thunderbird, Colt 45, Old English, old cigarette butts, and fast food boxes from all the restaurants the lined the streets of this impoverished neighborhood… but deeply littered with lost souls with no direction. Souls like mine that were embarrassed and angry that their plan, not their purpose was taken them to nowhere. But unlike me, most did not know the difference between their plan and their purpose. They did not know the magnitude of their misdirection. 

Their days filled with drugs and alcohol showed on the young women with vanishing clothing, loose talk, and behaviors that mimicked the overgrown and wildly growing weeds that lined the streets. Pretending they did not need or want a man with purpose, drive, and ambition.

The boys trying to portray themselves as men but only successful at passing themselves a blunt. A blunt of idiocy that gave them a false illusion of control, dominance, power, confidence, achievement and success. Only to sit the next day in front of the little television that sits propped on the chair serving as entertainment that in a short period of time proved to be their distraction out of poverty.

Sadly, I knew it all to be a lie. And it haunted me with each waking day, with each step in the wrong direction, with each tear I shed. Each time I compromised my purpose to pretend that my plan was working just as I had planned in my undeveloped mind with lack of experience. How do I escape the position I placed myself? How do I say “My plan was full of childish decisions of false illusions of grandeur” that was supposed to be better than the couple of years of education I had completed at one of the best colleges in Georgia?

As I walked each day to clear my head and shed the tears of regret, I begin to devise a way to say “I messed up. I am sorry. I am lost to my next step” because my next step could lead me into drug addiction, prostitution, or even death. But this too proved to be as hard as the souls that walked with me. As hard as the souls that littered the streets of this impoverished neighborhood that was lined with empty bottles of false illusions and overgrown weeds disguising themselves as people.

My plan.

Not my purpose.

Was still taken me to nowhere. To be continued.

©2017 All words & images by Tanya Graham unless otherwise noted.

 

My Plan Not My Purpose (part 2)

My Plan Not My Purpose

 

My Plan Not My Purpose (part 2)

My plan, not my purpose had me embarrassed and angry at the position I had placed myself in.

Part 2

One chair sits across an empty room on a plain discolored wall next to the door. A little television sits propped on the chair serving as entertainment that in a short period of time proved to be a distraction out of poverty. For the next four hours, cartoons would be the choice of education for these men. Men that had single mothers, children and “baby mommas” that awaited the attention of a man with purpose, drive and ambition that was so needed to destroy the generational curses of sin and poverty that was exposed every time I stepped onto the pavement of the apartments that were gravely positioned down a stretch of road littered with trash on both sides.

My plan, not my purpose had me embarrassed and angry at the position I had placed myself in.

The smell of crack cocaine came in between the stints of empty Vodka bottles littered about me. As we sat on the crumbling brick wall that lined itself along one of the apartment buildings, I listened to the meaningless and uninformed conversation of the men and women who determined success by the amount of money spent partying over the weekend. As the liquor continued to flow, a deep-seated sadness began to fill me. The only way to survive was to partake of the spirits.

But I sat quietly with a slight buzz from the Vodka because I am considering that I am out of my purpose, and anger is rising because my plan, not my purpose put me in a poverty ridden apartment overgrown with weeds that disguised themselves as people.

My plan.

Not my purpose.

Was taken me to nowhere.

To be continued…

© 2016 All words & images by Tanya Graham unless otherwise noted.

My Plan Not My Purpose

Living Your Life Out Loud (The Move part 5)

Michelle Obama Farewell Speech with Oprah was on my list of shows to watch in the new year. As I sat watching the interview on YouTube, I knew that I would be inspired. There was no way that inspiration would bypass me while sitting watching two of the most powerful and influential women in the world. But I wanted to be more than inspired to watch and feel hopeful, I wanted to be inspired enough to change. Inspired enough to live my life in a way that would evoke change in others.

This statement from the First Lady moved me.

“Let me live my life out loud so that people can then see and then judge for themselves. Live it out loud. Don’t dial it back. Don’t dilute it. Don’t apologize for it.”

So how do I “live my life out loud”? How do I say exactly what needs to be said? How do I take advantage of those special teachable moments without actually saying a word? My actions are speaking with such authority my lips need not move. My life is speaking out loud with…no dialing back…no diluting…no apologizing. All without losing the effectiveness of the message I am trying to convey. The answer sadly is “I do not know”. I am learning.

I began to think…Can this be done with an assertiveness that makes people watch and listen? A way that does not offend but creates a desire to look within. A way that will impact the people that I see every day. Or even a couple times a month.

This historical area is ever changing but hurting. Buildings and homes are being renovated. New businesses are moving in. People are coming into town to enjoy the eclectic venues, good food, and spirits. But, in between all of this, we have a group of people that are lost. Consumed with the use of drugs, the selling of drugs, prostitution, panhandling, disease, and hunger. It is not only my responsibility to live in a way that provokes hope but to also provoke a different way of thinking and living.

Yes. I know sometimes the way I talk you would think I moved to an entirely different country rather than just a different city less than an hour away. Although the distance is not so great, the world that I have been divinely appointed to be a part of is quite different than that I have lived for my forty plus years. Some days I pray with a vengeance that it is divine and not of my own will, because if not, this may go horribly wrong.

Since the temperature in Atlanta was well below freezing the last couple of days, we had quite a few homeless people that continued to come in and out of the store trying to stay warm. This calls for heightened security, awareness, a special level of sympathy and a whole lot of patience. So often I struggle to balance business and outreach. But in order for me to be effective; I need to be able to present and represent my business goals and my limits of outreach. I believe the most effective and successful people can do this unapologetically, without dialing it back, without diluting their life down to a “message” that appeals to everyone but impacts no one.

I know this can be very difficult to comprehend. But I think if we all take some time to really think about whether we are “living out loud” and living an impactful life, we would start making some changes. That statement made by the First Lady probably meant something totally different for her just as it will mean something totally different to me and you but we all can decide to live in a way that will positively impact our individual “worlds”.

Please feel free to share.

-TanyaG

Crossing the Bridge Into a New Year (The Move part 4)

The Move (Blog – Part 3)

The Move (Blog – Part 2)

The Move (Blog)

© 2017 All words & images by Tanya Graham unless otherwise noted.

Crossing the Bridge Into a New Year (The Move part 4)

Almost the end of the year and I am feeling overwhelmed, heavy-hearted and anxious for the new year. I have typed and erased this blog more times than I would like to admit. I wrote a post about the new house. I wrote a post about some people in the neighborhood then I wrote a post about the Christmas Holiday. All of them I read and re-read then decided they were irrelevant since time had continued to tick before I could hit the “Publish” button. 

Then I told myself if I could get out and take some pictures throughout the city something inside me would spark. It would spark my heart, mind, and creative spirit but to my surprise, it did not happen. As I sit here in my little but cozy home still decorated with the beautiful  Christmas tree that my husband, mom, and son surprised me with one day while I was working, I am still finding it hard to find the right words. What is important? I think I am finding this hard because I really would like to share something that is important to me as well as important to you. I ask myself –  is it really important that someone walked up to my front door and stole my Christmas wreath right off the door? Is it really important that a day does not go by in which I am in some way or another engaged in the conversation of using drugs, buying drugs, or some type of criminal activity? Is it really important that I do not understand all the people and lifestyles around me?

This year has been an evolving learning experience for me. Can I sum it up in a few words without letting this go on forever? Well, let’s see.

I have met people who are living on the streets by choice. Met people living on the streets because they are not in their right minds. I have met people who commit crimes without a heart of regret. I have met people who commit crimes because they know no other way to survive. 

This year I have watched a family member make choices that I did not understand. Choices that made me rethink every decision I had made in the last 20 years. As these decisions are being made with disregard to the hearts that are silently praying, I experienced the transition of my grandmother. An experience that I never really thought would come but I should probably not be sad because God blessed her with a long life. As I began to come to grips with this year ending with only a couple of events that shook me to slight unstableness, I hear the news of someone I worked with for quite a few years passing away tragically just 2 days before Christmas. A life much younger than my grandmother. A life too young for death leaving behind a beautiful family. 

Now it is less than a week before the new year “2017” and my heart is overwhelmed, heavy-hearted and anxious.

  • My heart is overwhelmed with gratitude that even though I have experienced loss and disappointment that I can still see hope in the future. Hope in that no decision or situation that I or my loved one’s experience is forever. Overwhelmed with gratitude for my husband, family, business and our home to lay our head at night (no matter how big or small).
  • My heart is heavy only for the moments I missed to love and show appreciation for those that are no longer with us because our time here we do not know. It can be much longer than we expected or sooner than we feel is fair. But it will be okay because more of those moments will come for sure.
  • My heart is anxious for a new year of opportunities to respond differently to people.  To respond differently to the situations I find myself in. Anxious for opportunities to love better than I have in the past that includes loving myself more.

As I know I will shed a few more tears whether in joy or pain before the new year comes, I am grateful for the times, the experiences, the people, and the spirits that have passed through my life. I lift my hands in prayer for us all. Let us be overwhelmed with gratitude; cherish our moments; and be anxious for nothing but the opportunity to love better.

-TanyaG

The Move (Blog – Part 3)

The Move (Blog – Part 2)

The Move (Blog)

© 2016 All words & images by Tanya Graham unless otherwise noted.