Summer Love

Wine Out Of Water Summer            Every summer has a love story.

There isn’t anywhere else in the world I want to be during the summer season in the western hemisphere than in New York City. The bright blue skies and warm air do something to my heart that I cannot describe. NYC itself is like a bad lover. Summer swoops in and takes me off my feet; my eyes light up like the stars and I can’t stop grinning madly. It’s enough to make me forget that only six weeks prior I had been shoveling through feet of snowfall to get out of my house, and that a mere twelve weeks from now I will be cursing the cold again as I pull my jacket around me just a little tighter while trying not to lose my life by slipping and falling on black ice. All I can see are the flowers, all I can feel is the warmth, all I want is the salty sea air in my nostrils, music in my ears, and the ability to stand barefooted in the earth. Summer brings me these things. True, I can have this in several other places, and once I tried my best to leave. But living in NYC spoils you for many things. Sucky public transportation that doesn’t actually suck, pizza and gyros at 2AM, and the ability to let go of my inhibitions and simply be myself because this city is huge and no one cares if you cry or wear pajamas or your favorite cosplay on the train because no one is paying that much attention to you …

When New York City calls your name, you come home.

So I returned, the prodigal lover, with all my battle scars in the sweet, sweet summer air, penitent for having left yet grateful for having had the chance.

My most favorite summer in NYC was the summer of 2002. I’d just gotten here from Trinidad where I’d grown up and spent most of my life. I’d gotten a job at a local discount clothing store in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, and was living with a family, a mother and her son, whom I had never previously met and to whom I was not related. My days and nights were filled with equal parts excitement and dread. I’d never spent more than a couple nights away from my parents’ home, so being alone and completely on my own with no chance of going back was as terrifying a prospect as it was liberating. I never slept. The sun didn’t ever seem to set completely and Brooklyn was perpetually noisy. I would begin my first semester of university soon but for the moment, I was very small in a very big world I’d only ever seen before on television. I visited the church where I was baptized, went to Mass there and was astonished by the aesthetics of the building and the grounds. I considered trying to find my older sister and her mom, but reconsidered it because I figured they must have moved away from that address by now. I went to work everyday and never called in. On my days off, I would explore as much of the city as I could. I got a subway map and would randomly ride a bus line or the train to the last stop, get out and explore. One of those bus rides got me lost in the neighborhood of Brighton Beach, which is close to the beach, but the bus as I soon discovered doesn’t go directly to the beach, and though I could hear the waves and smell the salt, I couldn’t find the seashore. I got a ride back to Flatbush with a trucker named Chuck (yes, Chuck owned a truck…thank you, peanut gallery!) who gave me his worn out map book of the Five Boroughs, and warned me to never, ever take rides from truckers.

I went to backyard parties and concerts with my coworkers, got my first tattoo, got promoted to “Assistant Floor Manager” (which meant when the Manager went on her extended lunch breaks I got to hold the cordless phone. I also closed the store more often than not because I was the only person who could ever account for every single pair of unsold jeans in the place, thanks to my photographic memory. Apparently “doing inventory” had never been less stressful!). I hung out with that one coworker who lived in Bed-Stuy and whose mother gave her money to buy pot and us permission to smoke and hang out on the fire escape on the condition that we didn’t draw attention to ourselves nor cause the cops to come to her door. I still have no idea how I got home some nights.

Then there was BJ.

Every Summer Has A Story...

He walked into the store one day and upon seeing him I simply couldn’t catch my breath. I hid behind a clothing rack and chided myself for blushing so hard, but I couldn’t help it he was so gorgeous. He saw me hiding awkwardly behind the clothes by the fitting room and sent one of my coworkers over with a piece of paper with his phone number on it and instructions to call him. So I called him that night. We talked for a couple hours and he came by the store again to say “hello” the next day. We had lunch together (this time, I took an extended lunch!), the conversation varying across several topics. I loved his face, his voice, his smile…he was tall, rugged and extremely handsome. He said he was intrigued by me, that he thought I was “cute”. His name was John, but they called him BJ in the streets, which stood for “Black John” but I didn’t need to know why. That summer, John became my black knight.

One night in particular we met up after I got off work and hung out with some of his “boys” on the block. He hoisted me up and placed me to sit on the hood of someone’s car that was parked at the side of the street, and we stayed outside way past midnight drinking malt liquor and talking. Our conversations always seemed to stretch on forever. He put his arms around my waist and began to recite a poem he’d written. Truth be told, I wasn’t listening. I was looking at his lips move but I couldn’t hear the words. Instead, I was aware of everything around me. The rhythm of his voice floated through my body. I felt the warmth of the hood of the car radiating upward through my hips and up my spine. I felt the intermingled warmth and coolness of the summer night breeze flowing through my hair and caressing the back of my neck. I imagined kissing him and felt the strongest case of butterflies I ever remember experiencing. He stopped talking and asked me what I was thinking about and I told him. He smiled, said, “Word?” and nodded his head. That night he walked me home and before he left, he kissed me, right there in the lobby. That night I slept.

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Something about BJ drew me in. Somehow, he knew everything about me- that I loved deep, analytical, philosophical conversation, that I enjoyed staying inside and watching movies after work and on the weekends; he knew how to touch me and where and for how long; how to kiss me and where and for how long. He was a thug in the streets with a revolver in his belt, always in the ‘hood uniform- a white t-shirt and blue jeans and white sneaks- but in the apartment behind blackout window shades, he was a boy. I thoroughly adored watching him go from gangsta to lover once company left and the door was closed; he would simply melt in my arms, and I relished every moment of it.

I never asked about his girlfriends even though I heard about them and realized slowly that there were several. I never saw any of them despite being at the apartment with him every time I had a spare moment, and never calling before I showed up. I never asked him what his last name was, nor did I ever find out. He never took his socks off, not even that one time in the shower when he swore he just knew I was going to sneak in there to find out what his feet look like. I never asked him for anything (except repeatedly to see his feet, and he ALWAYS said “No”.), and he never asked me for anything (except to please, get nicer underwear because I still wore “little girl” cotton panties at 20 years old, and he said it made him feel like a pedophile).

It’s as though our souls met in that space and time and simply knew each other- we connected in ways I’d never understood before. I had never experienced that level of intimacy before or after. I always knew, too, that he wasn’t meant to be with me forever. We never argued (except about his feet). I didn’t want to own him and apart from asking me once to move down to Maryland to be with him, he never tried to own me. We were both simply present, in the moment, loving and taking delight in every moment and every little detail about each other. He appreciated my mind and every inch of my body, and I savored being in his presence, hearing the sound of his voice, picking his brain for weird facts and sayings, and lounging in his embrace. That summer, I was drawn to him over and over and over again, and I relished every single instant- every breath with him, every touch, every kiss, every conversation. The last time I saw him was the Thanksgiving break during first semester freshman year when he traveled up from Baltimore and spent one night with me. The next night, before he left to return to MD, he called briefly from some other girl’s phone, “just to say “hi” and I’m thinking of you”. I ended that conversation by saying, “…I just want you to know, I love you.” He replied, “Thank you”.

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I’ve never seen or spoken to him since. I sometimes think I dreamed him up. I close my eyes and in an instant I can feel him and hear him again; I’m back in the apartment in 2002, in the armchair, wrapped in his arms with my head on his chest. Whenever I feel the night time summer breeze caress my shoulders, I’m sitting on the hood of that car again, fantasizing about my sweet, sweet Black John, whose voice filled my ears like a Nubian siren.

Sweet Prince of the ghetto…

This summer was one of my first summers as a truly single woman. I made the decision to remain consciously single, and to spend some time consciously loving myself. One of the conversations I had with BJ that has always stuck with me was centered around me learning, understanding and loving myself.

I still remember him asking me, “How can you expect a man to love you when you don’t know how to love yourself? How is he supposed to know what to do to please you when you have no idea how to please yourself? How is he going to give you an orgasm when you don’t know how to give yourself one? He’s not going to know, and you won’t know what to tell him. You have to learn yourself. Learn yourself first and then you’ll have something to teach the world.”

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Ironic then, that I never had to tell him anything and yet he seemed to always know what I wanted and needed and with the exception of maybe a couple things, he was an expert in pleasing me. Unconsciously, after that I lived expecting the men in my life to instinctively know what I wanted and demanding that they deliver by reading my mind..or perhaps some novel…or possibly by watching The Notebook & The Time Traveler’s Wife…

I crave the ease of that relationship today, the deep, unspoken connection I felt with him, the way he always left me satisfied- physically, emotionally and spiritually. So many years later, I still remember how being with him made me feel even though I can hardly remember what he looks like. It’s possible that I’ve seen him on the street or on the train since then and completely overlooked my long-ago lover. But I will never forget the way he made me feel, and the conversations that stirred my heart and my passions so many years ago. I will never forget the many, many things he taught me, the secrets he unlocked inside my soul for me to find so many years later.

And this summer, I spent my time and energy loving myself, caring for me- spending time exploring my body and examining my physical, mental and spiritual health, filling my heart in anticipation of meeting my soul partner, the one with whom I will spend the rest of my life- because I know deep within my soul that he is coming. He is the lover of my soul, the one whom my soul loves, and I am excited to meet him. Summer in the western hemisphere may be almost over, but for me, it is just beginning.

Photos courtesy google images

Art by Patsy Stirling, courtesy Sageword on facebook. 

Dear Future Husband, Never Give Up

Jeremiah 29:11 says “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (New International Version).

In my first letter I told you that I was living out Gods plan and pursuing him. As God keeps revealing His plans and purpose for me each day, I sometimes wonder what are His plans are for you? What is your journey like? What plans do you have for yourself? Then I just pray for you because it’s all I can do and will keep doing for you, always.
Prayer is how we communicate and meet each others’ needs.
Tell me now- what are your plans? Do you have a short term plan or life time plan?
I am a planner by profession and gifting, so I have a 5 year plan and a lifetime plan. It’s basically a list of goals I have set for myself to be achieved in a certain time period. In my plans you fit in, but knowing God, He has His own plans and timing, which is perfect and beyond my wildest dreams. I’m yet to see how and when He reveals us to each other!

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In this letter, I just want to encourage you to never give up.

#1.Never give up yourself. You are your number 1 fan, cheerleader and success story. So chin up, suit up and smile. You’ve got this!

#2. Never give up on God. He will never give up on you, even when everyone else has. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He loves you like that. He also is your biggest fan and cheerleader. He is your pillar of strength, support system and provider of all things. Ask Him and you shall receive.

#3. Never give up on your plans. The heart racing and ever burning plans I believe are the ones God has placed in our hearts. His plans. If I had given up on being an Event Planner, I would have never discovered the great plans God has beyond event planning. God sees the tree in a seed, while we look for the fruit or flower. Let your plans (seed) be planted and rooted in God, nurtured by God and grow into a tree that will produce an everlasting harvest.

And I am encouraging you with words that I am using on myself. Our plans, visions and dreams may be different, but the one who approves them is God. His approval comes with prosperity, hope and a future. He has approved the plan for when we will meet, fall in love, get married, buy a home, have children. He is the architect of our lives and keeper of our time. I have asked Him for you and He told me, “Soon” and I said, “thank you”.

I pray that as we draw near to the point where our journey’s cross paths that God will be there with us and lead us on the path we take together to reach our goals and dreams. I pray that as you continue on your journey that God leads you and His angels guide you, always.

I pray that you will seek Him in every way and for everything as He is your provider of all things.

And lastly I pray that you may grow spiritually as you read God’s word and commune with Him.

I thank God for you and your ability to fulfill the plans He has for you.

You are a conqueror. You are the head and not the tail. You are filled with great wisdom and knowledge to be the best in your field and capacity. You have the power and strength to be a great man of influence and impact.

Now go out there and be You, in prosperity, hope and a beautiful future!!

With love,

Harmony

#DearFutureHusband notes started last year (2014) as love notes to my Future Husband.  God has not brought him my way yet, but I am still believing in Him for my gift.  Putting the notes on social media was a way of hopefully grabbing his attention. I was basically making conversation and in doing so, inspiring other women to empower and encourage their Future Husbands before meeting them, to see the good in a man and want the best for him. Some of the posts are personal and for my #DearFutureHusband and some are for #DearFutureHusbands and Husbands out there.

About The Author: 

10428640_10205536827637733_491797516647396958_nHarmony Zenande Botya is an inspirational writer from Western Cape, South Africa. She is a first year student at The Aleit Academy and aspiring Events Coordinator. She loves good books, good food, good music and being surround by people with good conversation and energy. One other thing she loves is sending words of love, encouragement and empowerment to others. Says Harmony, “God is my first and last love, desire and focus.  I am who I am today because of His love, grace and blessings.”

(Author’s photo used with author’s permission)

Editor: Asa-Mari Thompson 

Photo credit: google images

What Is Your Definition Of Love?

As seen on a tee shirt on the Uptown 2 train today.

I think most people would argue that this is a pretty pedestrian definition of love…that love in and of itself cannot be defined. I say love can be defined and should be defined by everyone, individually. There are 7 billion people on this planet. 7 billion different definitions should suffice.

I’m curious. What’s your definition of love?

Post in the comments below, and I just may use your definition in an upcoming article! ❤

Love

Dear Future Husband, What Is Love?

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#DearFutureHusband,

Today someone said “Focus on the things that are within your control” and again someone said “There comes a time where you will have to learn patience.”

Got me thinking. What was I waiting for from you that I didn’t already have in my life?

What was the main focus on you appearing into my life that was so important to me?

The answer is your love.

I am surrounded by love all the time, but somehow I have only held on the picture of love to be romance instead of everlastingI looked forward to seeing it, feeling it and hearing it from you. I’ve now come to know that love is not packaged or categorized but lives within us and around us. I see love every day, I feel love every moment and I hear it every second. However, I happened to overlooked that, even though I knew it, in waiting for you and being focused on how I’d know you love me, see how you love me, feel and hear your love. I played the scenes back and forth in my mind- how I would love you, show you love and make you feel loved by me. The funny thing is I don’t even know you yet, but somehow I just know that love would bring us together.

So I asked myself- what is your version of love? Not what others have told me love is or what it looks, feels and sounds like.

Silence.

I don’t know what love is.

For me to figure it out I had to go back to God and asked Him about love.

“Oh Beloved Father, please reveal to me what love is. Please show me what love looks like, feels like and sounds like. Please help me understand the truth about love and what it is that makes it so important to us. Teach me how to love myself so I can love You back and love others as I love myself.

He has sent me back to 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8. This verse I have read over many times and seemed to have not understood it well. As I am reading the verse over again it hits me that I have no control over love, how it feels, looks and sounds. It may live within me and around me, but it’s an on-going thing.

Verse 8 says, “Love never ends”. Verse 4 says, “love is patient”. Love may be what brings us together, but our interpretations may be different. The lesson here is I have no control of what brings us together, but who does?

God is love. He is everlasting. He is patient. He is kind. He has been waiting for me just like I have been waiting for you. It’s about time I pursued Him and His love. His love will bring us together and that will be because you have been pursuing Him too. I will soon discover the love I have been waiting for.

This is one thing that is within my control, to know what love is.

Your beloved,

Harmony

#DearFutureHusband notes started last year (2014) as love notes to my Future Husband.  God has not brought him my way yet, but I am still believing in Him for my gift.  Putting the notes on social media was a way of hopefully grabbing his attention. I was basically making conversation and in doing so, inspiring other women to empower and encourage their Future Husbands before meeting them, to see the good in a man and want the best for him.  It later became a platform to inspire and encourage Future Husbands and already Husbands to be the best they can be. Some of the posts are personal and for my #DearFutureHusband and some are for #DearFutureHusbands and Husbands out there.

About The Author: 

10428640_10205536827637733_491797516647396958_nHarmony Zenande Botya is an inspirational writer from Western Cape, South Africa. She is a first year student at The Aleit Academy and aspiring Events Coordinator. She loves good books, good food, good music and being surround by people with good conversation and energy. One other thing she loves is sending words of love, encouragement and empowerment to others. Says Harmony, “God is my first and last love, desire and focus.  I am who I am today because of His love, grace and blessings.”

(Author’s photo used with author’s permission)

Editor: Asa-Mari Thompson 

Photo credit: google images

Dear Future Husband, Meet Me In The Promised Land

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#DearFutureHusband

I have spent most of my life waiting for you. Waiting to experience and explore life with you. Waiting to meet you, see you, touch you, love you and most of all hold your hand. I have been waiting. In the many years of waiting, I’ve met a few guys who seemed to be like the man I imagined you to be, but truth be told, they weren’t you. I took some time out to fix myself up and surround myself with love so when you came you’d notice me as beautiful and filled with love. I wrote you love notes on Facebook, hoping you would see them and notice me. I prayed for you and spent time talking to God about someone only He knew existed.

I’m done waiting, I’m done talking, I’m done dreaming and I’m done writing.

You are only just a part of my dreams and plans, not yet my reality. Day and night, same thing. Reality is the life I am living now, God wills and plans. I have moved from this place of “waiting” for you to appear and journey with me. I am moving on with God’s plans and no longer my plans.

You were a part of my plans. Only God knows where and when you fit into His plans. To dream of you every day is only holding me back to what I wanted and never got; what is expected of you right now and are not here to fulfill. It’s time I let go of the dream and idea of you and just live out God’s plan for me right now, which is a dream come true everyday. If this means continuing this journey alone, then so be it. I’ve come this far with God; we can keep going on together.

If along the way we do cross paths, I hope that you are everything I imagined and more, A man after God’s own heart. And I hope I am everything you imagined me to be and what God has me to be for you. Don’t look for me here or wonder if I am coming back to the place I first prayed about you and for you. The place where I waited for you. I’ve gone to where God has me to be right now, the Promised Land. Ask Him where that is and where I am; He will show you the way.

Don’t get angry with God if you reach a place and I’m not there; I’m on the move now, pursuing my purpose. Don’t get upset if I don’t see you or notice you; I’m purposed and God-driven now. Don’t get upset with God when it takes years to find me; waiting taught me patience. Don’t lose focus on God in pursuit of me; I did that, and that’s how you first broke my heart. You never appeared.

You will eventually reach the Promised Land and that’s where I will be; not waiting, but living and loving life as God planned for me.

With love

Harmony

#DearFutureHusband notes started last year (2014) as love notes to my Future Husband.  God has not brought him my way yet, but I am still believing in Him for my gift.  Putting the notes on social media was a way of hopefully grabbing his attention. I was basically making conversation and in doing so, inspiring other women to empower and encourage their Future Husbands before meeting them, to see the good in a man and want the best for him.  It later became a platform to inspire and encourage Future Husbands and already Husbands to be the best they can be. Some of the posts are personal and for my #DearFutureHusband and some are for #DearFutureHusbands and Husbands out there.

About The Author: 

10428640_10205536827637733_491797516647396958_nHarmony Zenande Botya is an inspirational writer from Western Cape, South Africa. She is a first year student at The Aleit Academy and aspiring Events Coordinator. She loves good books, good food, good music and being surround by people with good conversation and energy. One other thing she loves is sending words of love, encouragement and empowerment to others. Says Harmony, “God is my first and last love, desire and focus.  I am who I am today because of His love, grace and blessings.”

(Author’s photo used with author’s permission)

Editor: Asa-Mari Thompson 

Photo credit: google images

Have You Seen This Video?

Childhood Is Not A Mental Disorder.

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This video captures exactly why I parent exactly the way I do; why I’d prefer to keep my children out of the traditional school system and away from conformist ideas of who they “should” be…and why I fight so hard to reinforce in them that I believe in them exactly as they are.

There is no such think as a “bad” child. Children are curious, passionate, adventurous, tenacious…there are so many wonderfully positive adjectives one could use to describe them! Instead, for the comfort and ease of the elite few, we resort to these labels, and prefer to medicate children instead of educate ourselves.

Let’s just stop and think for a minute before we extinguish the flames of intellectual curiosity in our little ones.

Children are humans too.

On Diversity, Persons With Disabilities & The Media

I struggled for a while on April 2 with whether or not I would post something about Autism Awareness to my facebook page. I considered it for a few minutes and decided not to. Both my children are on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum, so everyday at our house is Autism Awareness day- they’re not poster children.

I don’t mention autism to or even use the word “disability” with my children because that’s not what defines them. Sure, they communicate and process information differently. I do acknowledge to them, especially to my nine year old girl, that they are different, and that it’s okay to be different. Different is good. And when we see children who look like them, talk like them, act like them on tv, we celebrate those moments. I love the look on their faces when they recognize themselves as people who can and will accomplish many great things. I’m not looking for a cure. I don’t want to change them and I don’t want the physical world to change for them either- I simply want them to grow up knowing there is a place for them in this world, and to give them the room and the tools with which they can figure it all out- because they are capable of living wonderfully exciting lives.

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Maysoon Zayid- Brilliantly beautiful actress, comedienne & activist.

What I’d love is for people’s attitudes toward autism and other “disabilities” to change.

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I’m glad Maysoon is lending a voice to these ideas to the larger world so that we can stop and think differently about the how we view people in general. She’s very clear about how we can change our views on how people with disabilities are portrayed in the media.

The following was reblogged from BigThink.com :

“Outside of RJ Mitte, who played Walt Jr. on Breaking Bad, there are very few actors with disabilities who get the chance to tell their own stories on television. Actress and comedian Maysoon Zayid, who like Mitte was born with cerebral palsy, discusses her disability in this Big Think interview while also stressing the importance of positive media portrayals of people with disabilities. “When you do see disability on television,” she says, “we’re reduced to two storylines. Either ‘heal me’ or ‘you can’t love me because I’m disabled.'”

Zayid hopes someday soon television will make a stronger commitment to actors with disabilities.”