Today, I Cried.

This is not some rouse to get you to read my blog. Today, for the first time in a long time, I uncontrollably cried.

Here’s how it started:

Last night, around 10pm, I was overwhelmed with insecurity. I felt like I was an embarrassment to a pretty close friend, and I didn’t know how to handle it. I felt like I wasn’t good enough. I felt small and irrelevant. I ended up praying until I fell asleep, woke up around 4:30, prayed more, and got ready for work. Now, that insecurity manifested itself into something much more than I’d thought it was. All day at work today, I doubted my ability to serve my students, and work alongside my co-workers. I doubted my own growth and the growth process of my students because of me. Simply put, in less than 12 hours, I’d completely lost confidence in myself and my abilities. At this point, it had nothing to do with the initial hurt, but the fact that all of these underlying feelings even existed. I hated that I still had feelings like those toward myself, and felt like a hypocrite. I teach my babies to be bold, brash, and confident in who they are and who they’re becoming. In my head, I saw the opposite in myself. It was during my 6th hour class, now if you’re a teacher, you know that sixth hour periods generally pack some punch:

  • They’re my largest (27)
  • Most of them are athletes (they don’t sit down)
  • They just left lunch (psychotic)
  • They have 1,573 stories (from lunch)

Now, don’t get it twisted, I LOVE them, they bring me LIFE, but they equally wear me out. I was fighting for them to focus, and I caught myself getting super frustrated. I’d never struggled before, yes, taken a different approach, but not STRUGGLED. I sat in a corner behind my desk and prayed. At this point they were all doing their Bellringer assignment, so most of them didn’t notice. I just asked God to give me some sort of peace and strength. I asked Him to help me serve my kids. I got up, and continued the lesson.

Here’s how it ended:

Terek Warren, a former Senior of mine- and of course one of my babies- came knocking at the door and when my baby opened it enough to see him, I ran out. LOL. I gave him the biggest hug (because I hadn’t seen him since he left for college) and told him I loved him. He proceeded to say, “Ms. Solomon, I’m fareal teachin my roommates how to write essays! Like my grades are so good! Thank you…” I started weeping. Y’all, he was so confused and legit had no idea what to do with me. I explained to him what my night was like, what my day had been like, and the current frustrations in class. He told me he loved me and to “push through, they’ll see.” I continued to cry LOL. I went back in class and the kids said you miss him that much? I responded with, “I needed him more than he knew.” I had a long talk with my class about how my love for them will never waiver. No matter how angry I get. No matter how lazy they get. No matter how lonely I feel at school. I will never compromise my love. It was so pathetic, authentic, and sweet.

So, I cried today, and I think I needed to in order to be reminded that I need to be broken  more than I’d ever admit. My students NEEDED to see me broken. They needed to see me struggle. They needed to see ME. I try my hardest to be authentically Ms. Solomon, but there’s something magically real about a teardrop. Dear educators, let them see you be you! I understand professionalism. I understand boundaries. I understand authority, but my students have a love for me now, that I didn’t think could be established in 55mins.  I’m thankful for them.

Thank you for reading.

I love you.

Istanbul, Turkey.

 

My goal with the “Travel” page on my blog is to give you all an insight on the things I see and experience when I leave home. About two years ago I felt a yearning to see more of the world, but not just see it, experience it and impact it. This was my very first of what I hope will be many international trips. Throughout the blog, I have attached links that apply to pieces of the culture, CLICK AWAY.

My friend Sultan and I met my Junior year in college and it was love at first sight. She ignited a sort of joy that not many people have. She was so sweet and sincere with the woman she was; such a gentle spirit. After being friends for about 2 years, we wept at the thought of her returning home. I promised her that as soon as I was financially able, I would visit her. 4 years after she left, I graduated college, got into my career, and jumped on a plane to Istanbul.

Not only was this trip my first international one, but it was my first time flying. MY FIRST FLIGHT WAS 14R HOURS. Who does that? Apparently, I do. In addition to that, my plane was scheduled to leave the day after there was an outrageous terrorist attack on the Ataturk Airport that took the lives of 41 people. Good thing that wasn’t mine, right? WRONG. I was petrified. My mama was hell bent on me staying home. My friends threatened to steal my passport. Needless to say, it was not looking like I’d see my friend. After crying in my closet like a small toddler, I found myself talking to God about the power of fear. Everyone had decided on MY future, because of their own fear, and I’d slowly started to give in. I had one day. One day to decide whether or not I’d take this life altering trip to the other side of the world or let fear dictate my life decisions. After hours at the cross, I packed my bags, and left.

There were guards everywhere. I wasn’t able to walk through the airport without seeing at least ONE M16. I was terrified, and my phone was dying. I eventually met up with Su, and we were on our way.

I’ve attached images of my most impactful experiences at the bottom of this post, but they are nowhere near everything I saw and felt in the 1 week of visiting. I’ll try to be as concise as possible with my description of each, but if any of you are interested in an in depth explanation PLEASE feel free to comment. I never get tired of talking about it. The culture was so rich and my emotions were ALL OVER THE PLACE.

Before I begin, I feel the need to add that this molded my spiritual walk in ways that scared me to my knees. I had never been in a pl ace where my words held ZERO value. Nobody could understand me, I was unable to express myself, and I felt that my autonomy had been stripped away. For the first time in a long time- I was fully reliant on God, and it was a liberating and frustrating feeling. I had to submit my pride and STILL teach my friend about Christ because on many occasions, He commanded it. Those emotions instilled in me a passion for traveling and teaching, not only English, but God’s truth.

Well, let’s begin:

The Coffee: It took about 30mins to brew that small pot of coffee pictured. It was a delicacy to be prepared by the women of the house for the men as a part of Ramadan. I love cooking, so I was honored when they asked me to do it, but petrified when they told me if the men didn’t enjoy it, they would send it back. I was also taught that in Turkish culture, men could DIVORCE their wives if they were unable to prepare it to their liking…uh….BYE. I was stunned, but they were accustomed to it and Su’s father and Brother-in-law were there so clearly they’d been doing something right. I’m not sure if they really enjoyed it, or didn’t want to hurt my feelings, but they finished their cups and what was in the pot. There are MANY other Turkish traditions and old myths linked to their coffee. I’ve attached a link here.

The Corn: I know you’re probably like, “Why is this fool posting a picture of corn like it’s not in America?” Well, it was special, because I picked and husked it, LOL. So yes, it deserves its own feature. We sat on a blanket on the floor, separated it, and barbecued it outside. We, being the women.

 The Mall: After dinner, we all piled up in the car and went to an outlet mall nearby. The prices were to die for, lol. Mainly because the American dollar was worth three times more than their currency. I felt rich, to say the least. We also visited the Mall of Turkey (Sultan and I) Where I spent about $200, as 600 Turkish bills… it was wild.

The Ferry: I’m standing in front of the ferry that took us on a 30 minute ride to Heybaliada Island in Istanbul. It was absolutely beautiful. I sat next to a girl named Ann, and she shared her cookies because she could hear my stomach growling. I used Google translate to tell her I loved her LOL.

The Language: Sultan’s baby sister took it upon herself to teach me about 20 Turkish phrases to help me as we traveled. It was very seldom I left Su’s side, but in the event I did, I was a bit more confident while encountering natives. She was only 15, and we basically became bestfriends.

Turkish Engagement Party: When I posted this picture on Facebook, most people assumed it was a wedding. It was actually an engagement party. There was easily about 300 people there. We were in a 3-story complex with an outside area. The party consisted of celebrating the couple by watching them dance, then joining in. There was no meal or drinks, just dancing. It was precious. There is so much that goes into Turkish matrimony, so click the link to get a more in depth look!

The Blue Mosque: Last, but certainly not least, I’ve included a picture of us standing at a fountain in front of the Blue Mosque, or Sultan Ahmed Mosque. I didn’t have my Hijab on in the picture, but we both were pretty covered the evening we entered. There were THOUSANDS of people there for worship and celebration of Ramadan. It was breathtaking. We sat in the grass and ate a light supper before entering and there was life ALL around us.

I think I covered each of the pictures, and I hope I gave you just a small glance of what Istanbul did to my heart. I recommend visiting, but I definitely wouldn’t recommend it alone. There are programs that offer Turkish tours for prices from $300-$1,000 depending on preference and desire. Thankfully, I have a sister who is a native, but I think that’d be a pretty legit vacation spot.

Until next time!

I love you.

 

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The Year of Growth.

I’ll go ahead and get right to it. I haven’t posted in about a year, and the last time I did, it was a short poem about an exhaustive break-up. I made the conscious decision never to go back to that place. I decided that I would start fresh emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and bloggally. (I know that’s not a word) LOL.

Last year was, in short, one of the most devastating and exhilarating ones I’ve ever had. I felt pain that I didn’t know existed and experienced freedom I didn’t know was inside of me. I could meticulously break it down, and tell you my lowest and highest points, but this isn’t my diary, and I think that until told otherwise, I will be conscious about keeping certain things between myself and God.

With that, I wasn’t sure what the topic of this blog would be, but as I tried to narrow it down to 3-4 ideas, I found that GROWTH was a recurring theme. I’ve been talking about growth all year, and today I went ahead and looked up the formal definition:

“the process of increasing in physical size.”

I was pissed. I mean I knew that growing had something to do with size, but I think the idea of growth has been much more than “increasing in physical size” in my personal life. I decided to define it for myself, because choosing another word would be too easy.

“the process of refining; flourishing.”

The question is, how do we do that? As people, how do we intentionally put ourselves in a position to become more refined and full with beauty? How do we make the necessary changes in our lives in order to become who we are intended to be? I think we’re supposed to just do it. I often hear people say, “easier said than done,” when I advise them to do things they may not want to do, but I don’t think that’s true anymore. The action isn’t always the hard part, it’s the emotional effect of those actions that are hard to handle. DO IT. Break off the relationships that bring all glory to anyone but God. Do away with the self-hate that you’ve justified for as long as you’ve known you didn’t love yourself fully. Remove yourself from people. Remove yourself from things. Put yourself in a position to hurt a little, that lack of comfort may be the push you need. There is nothing wrong with breaking down in order to rebuild.

Growth is a constant and it is imperative that we never think we’ve finished. There is always room for progress, and my past relationships taught me that I am often tempted to stop my growing process for the sake of someone else’s. For years I thought that was love. For years I thought that’s what true sacrifice was supposed to look and feel like. I thought that in order for me to completely and fully serve the people around me- I had to accept them destroying my personal peace. Lies. I listened to a podcast a few weeks ago, and the author stated,

“Fear and anxieties create this world where the only thing that exists is myself and the threat to the thing that I love..”

I wasn’t sure how that related to my life until now. There was an underlying fear that I may not have been loving intensely enough, and that fear convinced me that the only thing that existed was Shakiyla, and whatever was hurting the people I cared for. In that state of being- I lived a life of combat. Every day my sole purpose was to defeat the threat, in hopes that I’d come out alive. It was exhausting. It was impossible. I had a God-complex. I wanted to be the savior of all people I held dear, and in that pursuit, I died.

I say all of this to say, love is a call for sacrifice, forgiveness, and an unconditional presence in the lives of broken people (us). At some point, though, we have to stop and reflect on whether or not we are actually loving and being loved. We have to be sure that we aren’t sacrificing and being broken down for the sake of loyalty to someone/something that isn’t grounded in true love. It’s a complex thing; love. I think that the more we slow down in an attempt to understand it, the better we’ll get at expressing it.

I’m growing. I have forgiven people who ruined all that I thought made me who I am, and I have grown to love the woman I’ve become. I am walking in obedience. I am protected. I am growing.

Feel free to comment, and share.

I love you.

Untitled ..

I never felt burdened by loving you. 

It was all so organic; it worked as if it were created to. 

We became woven into each other’s beings and together we’d grown into our own personification of peace. 

Your destruction of that is a reminder that hurt yields power, but your desire to mend it proves that TRUE love prevails. 

What happens when it’s too late? 

“I’m Black.”

prep-r1.jpg Recently I’ve been heavily burdened with the fact that my celebration of self, seems to be a problem for some. I’m Black. I’m sure you’re saying, “Duh,” but I think I need to make that clear for all of my friends who claim not to see color. I’m also a college graduate in the prime of my career. I’ve fallen into very few stereotypes that plague our society, and for that, I thank my mother and our God.

I love black culture. I don’t mean what the media says is black culture i.e., broken homes, poverty, and violence; I mean ALL Black culture.

I love to talk about Hip-Hop and R&B. I get giddy when my friends are okay with me listening to Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie. When I was  16, I named my first car Billie, after Billie Holiday. When I was 21, I named my car Lena, after Lena Horne. At 22 I fostered two small boys and had them memorize poetry from the Harlem Renaissance, and we recited it to each other before school. They loved Claude McKay; I think it was because he talked about women more often than not, lol.

My hair is a part of my identity, and I find freedom in expressing my love of being Black in ways such as style. In the past few months, I think people have taken offense to this. Please understand that my love for my culture and race does not equate a hate for any other. I know people say this all the time, but I don’t mind saying it again. The fact that some of my associates reply with, “We are all God’s children, and in being so, we are one..” is evidence of their lack of understanding.

Let’s be clear. I live to serve King Jesus. Everything that I am and everything that I pursue or desire is a direct reflection of my attempt to glorify Him. In the event they don’t I was probably a moron. I am not confident in much, but I am confident in the fact that God created us with these innate differences for a reason. Similar to my attitude being different from my brother’s and my fears being different from my sister’s, I am NOT called to walk in uniformity with everyone around me; especially not if it’s to appease what makes you uncomfortable. Christians, in order for the body to effectively go out and serve in God’s name, we CAN’T all be the same.

I went to a seminar this past weekend, and one of the headliners, Propaganda, used an amazing metaphor to describe what white supremacy looks like…

“So a few boys are playing basketball, right?  A young white male who was also playing, stops and says, “all I’m hearing is nigga this, nigga that, nigga, nigga,nigga, nigga.” And I’m like, hold up homie, that’s one too may niggas, lol. and he’s like, “I just wanna know why I can’t say the word. What’s the problem with me saying the word? & I’m like why do you have to be included in something that is clearly what has become a part of some, not all, Black culture?”

Prop goes on to explain how sad it is that we all feel the need to be a part of everything. We have to feel a sense of belonging in order to be validated by the people around us. To that I say, you don’t. Create  your own. Experiment with self, and build what others may not deem necessary into a necessity.

There is freedom in the search for self-expression, and I truly believe we all need it.When I walk into my classroom and tell a couple of my Queens, “Your black is beautiful” that shouldn’t make my white observer uncomfortable, it should affirm that I am encouraging my students that in spite of what someone may have told you, all that is you, is a kind of beauty worthy of admiration.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this anymore. All I know is, if you’re annoyed with how often and eagerly I express my love for myself, maybe you should evaluate why.

I love you.

An Epiphany…


I don’t have very many people who stick around. I don’t mean people who know OF me, I mean people who know my heart and all of its hurt. People who know my mind and why it works the way it does. People who help me be a better me for the sake of my students and service to my community. I’m thankful for those people. They’re the ones who read what I’ve written because they know how insecure I am about my art & will give honest feedback. They’re the ones who make me feel like a friend when I’m troubled, not a burden. Those people are treasures, and I couldn’t imagine life without them. If you’ve ever tried getting close to me, you know that I preface the relationship with “I’m too much to handle” and I don’t say that because I’m dramatic, I say it because I’m broken. I get irrationally angry. I take many things personally. I isolate myself. I struggle with forgiveness. I’m very self-aware, but not enough sometimes. I’m sensitive AND stone cold. I’m humble in love but prideful in progression. I’m a walking oxymoron, so if I’ve submitted my heart’s truth to you it’s because I trust that God has placed you in my life. It takes so much for me to admit that I NEED companionship, and God is continuing to humble me. Today I had a friend tell me that I do too much sometimes and it’s pushing him away, but 3yrs ago I wasn’t doing ANYTHING. I didn’t know what it meant to express myself, let alone with confidence. I was locked up and full of emotion and anger. I was a ticking time bomb, so being able to honestly share my feelings and boldly ask for reciprocity is a milestone for me as a woman. I guess I’ve yet to find a perfect balance, but I’m not sure it exists. I’ve finally stopped blaming my circumstances for my lacking as a person, and that means that I’m left with no excuse. My desire is growth and freedom in self-love. I’m to the point where I can honestly say I don’t want to pursue that alone. I know that there will be people who walk out of my life, but I guess all I’m trying to say is that I’m thankful for the ones who see me, inspite my imperfections, as worth the fight. 
*Photo by Debra Cartwright*

Rainy Day Chronicles

CHo-3TzWgAEXDQ7It’s storming; I’m writing. Initially, I was in my journal, but I figured “why not make this a blog?” It was recently brought to my attention that I don’t make my relationship status clear on social media, that if I have a boyfriend, I should be proud of it and post pictures and statuses that make it clear that he’s mine and I’m his. Instead, I post things that allude to it with little clarity. My question to that is why do I owe a stranger clarity? Are you going to pray for us? Are you going to encourage us in the ways of the Lord? Are you going to go bowling with us? Or are you just entitled?

In the event I find myself committed to a man, my priority will be to share it with my family and friends. Mainly because those are the people who will do the things previously stated. I put a lot of my personal life online, but it’s always in MY timing. I don’t like to date. If marriage isn’t the end-game, I have ZERO desire to become intimate, so dating weighs heavily on my heart. I was in the adoption process for almost 6 months before I posted it online and the small percentage of people who knew prior to then is the same small percentage who know my current relationship status. With that being said, if you are not a friend, i.e

Someone I continue to confide in and confides in me. Someone I trust with the burdens of my heart. Someone who understands the woman God has and is molding me to be. Someone who has been consistent in my life as well as my family’s. Someone who can curl up on my couch, dive into scripture, and cry with me as we figure out how to serve God in spite of what Satan has cookin around us…

 or family, you won’t know until I decide to tell you. 

I personally think that’s okay. I’m not “hiding” the real me from the world. I’m pretty open about my brokenness and God’s healing power. In some instances, I’ve simply decided to share what I’d like, with who I trust, in the timing that I see fit. I’d love to hear what y’all think!

This made me reevaluate my use of social media. It made me look at all of my profiles to see WHY I have them and WHY they take up the time they do. I read some scripture, prayed, and listened to a couple of sermons before I started this blog, so I’m hopeful that it glorifies God and doesn’t stroke Shakiyla’s ego. I also scrolled through my Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. This is what I found:

Facebook: I use Facebook as an avenue to uplift my students. I post pictures of myself and my family with statuses that tell a bunch of random people what they mean to me. I don’t generally rant about anything other than my feelings and what God does in my heart throughout the week. Working at a high school that is often under the “radar” has made it easy for me to post a ridiculous amount of statuses that prove preconceived Washington-Marion assumptions wrong. Sometimes I post selfies, too. I tag my Carla in those. 

Twitter: I talk about my students, my friends, and my diet. I ramble. If something “dawns” on me, I tweet it. If God shows me something, I tweet it. If I get a sudden urge to go jogging, I tweet it. If Lydia sends me a picture of Colby Jr., I tweet it. It’s nothing really major. Just sort of a time killer.

Instagram: This one was the most interesting. Mainly because people seldom read Instagram captions. They seem to just scroll and double-click as they see fit. So my captions on Instagram are sometimes RIDICULOUSLY long. I like to see who reads them. Those people generally leave comments. Hey y’all! I like y’all! Here I also found the most allusions to a relationship, or pictures of men (Steph) saying really sweet things. I think this is where the situation in the beginning of my blog came from.  I also post selfies with captions that explain everything wrong with me but how I don’t love myself any less because of those things, pictures with some of my students after they’ve made me cry, pictures of my friends with some sort of LONG drawn out story explaining why I love them, and art. I love posting art on my Instagram. I tag the artist, and the caption generally says something that relates to what the art meant to me and a thank you to them for creating it.

Each social media outlet seems to do different things. As I was reading and listening today, I realized that if I am honestly living for God, my sole purpose should be to encourage, educate, and serve. That sounds really cheesy, but I think it’s true. I’m not here to condemn. I’m not here to save. I’ve been placed on this earth to show Christ to a broken world by way of service and love. I don’t think I do that often enough on social media. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s more of a leisurely activity, but that shouldn’t separate it from my purpose. I just want to get to a place where everything I say and do is either encouraging, Truth saturated, or promotes peace. Working in the field that I am, I’ve learned that negativity is contagious, and it’s hard to bear witness to the light (John 1:8) while sulking in darkness.

“So whether it is a blog post or whatever it might be, I want to sustain with a brief word the one who is weary. I want to maximize what I can impart to them with a minimum of commitment on their part. So I don’t want to be the online watch dog of the Christian Church and the corrector of everything that is wrong. I want to be an encourager. I think the Lord is….”

-Ray Ortlund

Every day this year, before my students started their journal writing, I told them, “Your words have power, tap into it. Don’t just meet the quota, change my expectations” I know I have the power of Christ in me to encourage, heal, and mend. I don’t want to get to a place where I’m just wasting words. (Prop)

Y’all please please please don’t hesitate to give me feedback. I don’t write just to get my voice heard; I do it because it promotes growth and enables me to see things from a different perspective. I won’t lie and say “I promise not to take anything you say personally” but that comes with the territory. My prayers are that you see what God has put on my heart and we can come together and begin to serve Him better. That entails dying to the flesh, and I am ready to do so.

Shakiyla

art by, Debra Cartwright