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The Start of Something New

Last night I was cleaning and organizing photo albums from my entire life. Many albums had fallen apart so I was putting the pictures into new albums. I came across so many memories that I was crying and laughing at the same time and occasionally sent snapshots to my kids. Those photos showed me a beautiful life.

This morning I decided to own my entirety. I designed business cards for myself which include my contact info, my website, Pawtucket Poetry information, and my picture. This is a first for me because I tend to keep my circles of friends separate-people of faith apart from poetry people, contacts from the past separate from my most recent contacts. It has been an identity crisis for me. Today that came to an end.

It’s perfect timing as today is the last day of my 52nd year of life. The struggle ends today.

I joined a woman’s bible study group a couple of weeks ago and it is wonderful to be connected with “my people.” In the past that would have meant “Christians” but now it means women who’ve walked the same streets as I have, who’ve suffered and endured the same hardships, and who’ve found a reason to seek Jesus without compromising their individuality and without erasing their identities.

The thing about these women, that’s different from every bible study group I have ever attended, is that they do not judge!!! This is a monumental, foundational expectation for me. Yes, that means the importance of this is huge yet it is the basis of everything I stand on. In my life experiences I have found that people who love people don’t love Jesus and people that love Jesus don’t really love people because they judge them.

I’m excited already after the first week’s study of Sarah. I’ve always known her story but never have I ever considered it the way I do now. You see, God gave them (Abraham and Sarah) a promise that they would be parents of a nation yet in their old age they had not yet conceived a child. They laughed at the voice of God and took matters into their own hands. They suffered because of their own doings. Here’s the kicker- God knew they would and he still had a plan to make his promise come true. God forgave their shortcomings, and still used them to fulfill his purpose for them.

This lesson showed me that God is not finished with me yet. I, like Sarah, took matters into my own hands and suffered as well. Recently, as in about 5 years ago, I felt like I had failed God in the worst possible way. I couldn’t stand myself for the choices I had made in life. Slowly, I worked through the damage and worked at rebuilding my… well, my entire existence until I got to the point I’m at now.

I like who I am. I think I am the best version of me there has ever been. I’ve accomplished great things and now, well, now I’m ready for something more. Now I have a fresh understanding of life and people, which, as stated earlier, is non-judgmental. And now I’m ready to look at my past mistakes and realize they were also for a purpose. That purpose I don’t know yet, but I am looking forward to seeing what it is.

Tomorrow is my 52nd birthday and the start of a beautiful journey. I expect to be posting more often with these revelations.

Be well.
Lori

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Dancing in the Moments

Do you hear it?

The music is beautiful. The sounds of life around me playing the soundtrack to this new journey I’m on. The voices of people, no matter what they are saying, all contribute, even the negative outbursts of those unknown add a deep beat to the track and give me something to rise up from. It’s a matter of perspective to be honest. It is refreshing and restoring to finally be able to declare that I am happy!

A deep indwelling of acceptance from my belief that God does in fact still love me, that I can still have a relationship with Him no matter what anyone else thinks or says. I still believe in Jesus and in the redeeming power of His love.

Acceptance is also believing I am worthy of every good and righteous gift that comes my way. Blessings of untold value are bestowed upon me and I receive them with thanksgiving.

To find love, to be loved, to be accepted in all my ways, as I am, is an experience I am enjoying. It is part of what makes me dance in happiness. Some things I’ve never experienced before are creating new and mysterious excitement in my life.

You see, I’ve reached this point where I am finally starting to understand that my worth is not dependent upon what others say about me. Imagine 50 years on this earth and I’m just now getting this. Now, the voices of people just add sounds to the music my heart is creating as a song. Love, in all ways, is writing a beautiful soundtrack that my soul is dancing to, in all of the moments, no matter where I am.

Welcome Summer- June 21, 2021

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Intentional Isolation

It’s been four months since I last wrote so it’s time for an update.  Everything has been going as planned and I am thrilled about it.  I can’t remember what clever way I described what I had been through in 2020 but I remember saying I was entering 2021 as if walking through the amusement park with a toolbox in order to maintenance the rides, so-to-speak.  I believe that meant doing inner work on myself  in order to not breakdown or make the same mistakes of the past, in the future.  

I haven’t really done anything to write about.  I haven’t enrolled in any programs, taken any courses, seen any doctors or therapists- nothing.  I have just been sitting in my own space with myself.  Some days I have watched endless Netflix, some days I organized my storage spaces in my apartment, some days I just sat in the silence.  Many times I went to bed early and stayed in bed until the next day.  I don’t fight it.  I figure my body needs the rest. I listened to the aches and pains in my body and changed things to aide their recovery.  I removed anything from eyesight that brought negative thoughts or memories from the last year.  I bought plants and continually buy flowers.  I let my nails heal from the damage of acryllic  nails and now my own nails are healthy and polished by me and look just fine. 

There is one big change that has happened.  I now love to cook. I believe that by taking these steps to love myself better, I realized how important it is to feed myself right.  By right I mean, healthy for me.  This has taken some work though.  I had such messed up thinking about food from years of psychological trauma regarding food that I had to reprogram my brain.  Once I did, I realized that by creating recipes and preparing the meals for myself, I was actually loving myself.   It is strange to me to walk through the store and select not the cheapest items, not the least fat items, not the zero carb items, not the vegan items or the keto items but the ingredients I need for the recipes I create.  I taught myself to buy the food I want for the sake of loving and nurturing my body with goodness. I seriously stood in front of the meat section, held a steak in my hand looking at the price $14 and had to tell myself it was okay to buy it for myself.  I had to tell myself I was worth it.  Now I don’t even look at the prices.  I just get what I need and do not think about the price.  What a difference!!!  

It seems the more I write the more I realize I have something to say.  

I have also been restoring my relationship with God on my terms, meaning not according to anyone else’s expectations or rules of faith.  And quite honestly, it is refreshing!  I have been praying again and it’s good for me. I’ll leave it at that for now.  

Two things left to touch upon and this blog post will be finished.  Black Lives Mattering and the vaccine have been hard hitting in 2021, as separate topics of course.  I am not an advocate of vaccines by any length.  I do not get the flu shot, and wouldn’t get any shots if some form of government didn’t require it.  My health insurance will lower my monthly rates if I do whatever they tell me, so I had to get the shingles vaccine.  The government says I can’t travel without the covid vaccine and I sure don’t want to be grounded forever.  So as much as I did not want to get whatever poison they put in my arms, I got the shots. Just yesterday the CDC announced that anyone who is fully vaccinated for Covid can now go outside without a mask.  Just think about that for a minute.  This is 2021 and this is what is happening.  WOW.  Just crazy stuff.

My whole heart aches and weeps and is torn up by the extreme violence against Black Americans in the United States. I am stunned by the opinions of people I know who do not seem to understand the hate they are speaking when they defend the oppressors.  I have lost respect for people I know, have asked customers to leave the store for their disrespect of Black Lives lost to police violence, have reached out and helped where I can, and have loved where there is a need.  To be honest, I am surrounded by people who do not feel as I do and it is sad and scary.  To think that one human does not value the life of another human and thinks it’s justifiable that other human lives have been taken by force- is just sickening.  I cannot speak on this anymore.  I see you and I have lost respect for you. We are not the same.

Overall, the last four months have been beneficial to my healing, growth, and understanding of myself and my life choices.  I know me a little better now.  As the pandemic in America slowly gets better and people slowly get back to life outdoors and everywhere else, I plan on staying home.  People are fed up with the isolation they’ve experienced, they’re tired of being home, they have lots of energy to get out and have a good time.  You can see these people on the roads and in the stores and everywhere -in a hurry and impatient.  I don’t want to be around those people.  I have been working with the public through the entire pandemic and I could use some therapeutic isolation.  I am loving it so far.  Today I did some research on traveling outside of the US and it is not possible.   The pandemic is global and it is not getting better in other countries.  I wanted to travel to a remote location, somewhere tropical, but it seems as that won’t happen in 2021.  It’s okay with me.  I will find things to keep me well.  Plus, I have my children in my life and things are great with us.  

Life is good.  

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Tickets Please: 2021

It took a ride on an experimental roller coaster for me to figure out that I need to modify the type of adventure I seek. I walked into 2020 confident about my motives, unsure about the execution, and curious about the outcome of all that I set out to achieve. Not only did Covid shut down much of 2020, after trial and error, I had to shut down much of my own personal experiments. Let me explain.

I’m referring to personal choices of 2020 as “experiments” because I tried something new, tried to navigate through it, didn’t like it, and ended up shutting it down. Then I tried again but the same process happened. It became a pattern which I then observed as a greater experiment. This took me straight to the end of December. As I sit here on January 3rd of 2021 looking back over the last year trying to analyze the sum of all of my actions I realize something I hadn’t before. I’m not ready for the roller coaster yet.

I was hooked on the exhilaration of the ride but not ready for the maintenance of the equipment. I tried everything I knew to keep it moving and keep it fun but I discovered that I have no idea how to keep it functioning properly. Eventually equipment needs deep servicing and that’s what I need as well. I can’t keep riding wild roller coasters without taking care of the deep inner workings of my heart and soul.

It’s been a week so far that I’ve been silent. Sitting for hours in silence listening to my inner workings. I’ve randomly watched documentaries and movies and just letting the messages seep into my mind. I know this sounds weird and all but this is honestly the way I process life. Our physical bodies are designed to filter out toxins and I believe our minds can as well.

I don’t have the answers today. I am not even trying to find them right now. I do know that I am not ready to ride any rides, go on any adventures or seek any type of sensory satisfaction. I am going to do some deep work on my inner self. I don’t know exactly what that means yet as I have no itinerary.

This post serves as a launch pad to document my progress over 2021. Last year it was to create a poetry space and I did. I know that I will achieve whatever I set my mind to do. This year I am silencing the outside chatter, putting away the credit cards, not making any resolutions, and walking through the amusement park with a tool box in my hand.

I want the thrill of the ride, believe me I do, but I don’t want to find myself on a ride that is broken while I am in the middle of enjoying it. I don’t know how long it will take. I don’t know what I will find. I don’t know if I am able to fix what might be broken. Maybe nothing is broken and maintenance is all I need.

This year I will be requiring tickets to access the park. Admission is not free and there are requirements to get in and for each ride. For some, it will be simply to walk with me, for others it will be to do some work, and yet for some or one it will be to ride the rides with me when they are ready. I learned that not everyone is entitled nor should everyone have access to this amusement park.

I look forward to whatever will be in 2021.

Tickets please.

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Heart Space Facts

How to navigate this space without being distracted is proving to be quite difficult. What space you might ask. Well, the space between my thoughts and my feelings. There it is. The place I love to dwell, the place I wish to converse with others, the place where mysteries are solved, theories are debated, and psychology is snack food.

I’m not the first to be here and certainly not the first to contemplate the gap, however, I am here and fighting. I want to be smart and make sound decisions, ones that will protect my best interests and keep me on the right path. Here we go- what path? to where?

Yet, my heart speaks louder than my mind. It rallies in protest and weeps in defeat all while desiring to rise in revolution. Lenny had it right when he said “Let Love Rule” and I sure wish I could. Love is dangerous though. Love is costly and wildly risky. I love yet do so in silence even though I recently wrote and spoke about loving openly and freely-I think I meant that in a broad sense.

Loving intimately is contrasty different. It requires allowing vulnerabilities to surface and weaknesses to be revealed. Loving intimately requires trust and that is something I have none of. How is trust born? How does it come into a relationship? I cannot for the life of me fathom such a thing. I fear I may never trust anyone, no one, not ever, never.

So what then is this love that I am trying to speak of? Who am I endeavoring to be intimately in love with yet at a distance? Can I say I love you yet stand far enough away to not get hurt? That’s what I want. That’s what I’m doing. Yeah, that’s me right now.

God for one is someone I love but feel the need to be a safe distance from. I have a hard time confessing this affection with my heart, yet, my head knows of the fact. So, is it still love? Oh the way this space between my head and heart confuses and stifles my growth. Here’s another thought- what if I choose to embrace intimate love and get hurt, will it forever scar me and prevent me from loving again? Is there any way to be safe in love?

I know He says he will never leave me nor forsake me and though my head knows this as fact, my heart felt broken and abandoned when my life came crashing down. Why do I cling to this? Am I trying to give Satan his due by allowing myself to hold this fear like a treasure? It sure seems that way.

Jump to loving a person. Do I feel the same fear with people? Well, in a sense, yes I do. I feel like love has its own mind and wants to express itself without my permission. I have been holding back “I love You’s” for some time. Once many months ago and now once again. It’s hella scary to admit you have loving feelings for someone. So, like with God, I just accept it as a fact in my mind and keep it behind my teeth unspoken.

It is what it is and until I can navigate this path, I will just leave this here as a declaration of love in its existence. That’s it. Like a matter of fact. End of story.

Stitch Ripper

We don’t notice the threads being woven together or consider even what goes into creating the fabric of our lives until it comes time to make alterations.

When our choices no longer fit our preferences or become uncomfortable in our daily activities, habits, or thoughts- that’s when we stop to analyze the situation. That is where I found myself recently. Looking back over the last 18 months as an outsider viewing a movie reel, I noticed the words being spoken didn’t match the movements on the screen and there were no subtitles.

I read the script. It held the narrative of freedom in the life of a woman no longer bound by the shackles of abuse. A woman exploring the freedom of independence and empowerment. This woman knew how to take charge of her life. So it seemed. Yet, she had a weakness for being loved and fell to the wills of those who claimed to love her. What did she know of love though?

What I saw on the screen was a sad story of a woman unable to discern toxic narcissistic traits, who fell for every manipulative trick of his lips. Not one set, but several. Each one catered to a different need she thought was getting fulfilled but in reality was just smoke and mirrors. Her kindness twisted and contorted to appear as if he/they were doing the loving but it was her. It was always her because she had pure intentions, they did not.

Then God spoke.

This forgotten voice played a new movie reel for her to see and that’s all it took. She was offered the starring role in the best movie ever made and suddenly the fabric closest to her flesh needed major alterations. First thing she did was cut out the painful past; not all of the past, just the parts that still hurt. She created safe spaces around her for herself and for her friends and took new measurements. The fun part began when she had to select new fabrics.

With a catalogue of resolutions and affirmations, she began designing her future. Something wasn’t lining up though. Each time the new movie tried to play it would just get stuck at the same place. Something wasn’t fitting so she brought out the stitch ripper and began to completely separate integral threads in the fabric of her life. Gone were the pictures and emails, text messages and profile pictures, along with jewelry, perfume and household gifts that had taken up residency in her home. She ripped out every single thread that was keeping her soul tied to another from the past until they were all gone-deleted, blocked, destroyed, and banned from ever returning.

In this movie, the words heard on screen were perfectly choreographed with the stunning visuals. This she thought was true freedom and a welcoming invitation for integrity, honor, loyalty and love. She acknowledged that she knows nothing of real love but with trust and hope in God she is reshaping her expectations and preparing her heart with open arms.

When these garments are recreated to align her newly visioned future there will be no doubt whose hands did the sewing. There will no longer be a need for the stitch ripper nor the shears for the one who holds the future is the one who holds her heart.

Make it Make Sense

Make it make sense. That’s what I’m trying to do. Every aspect of my life, everything I endeavor to work on, every time I move in a new direction, none of it makes sense.

I wonder if that is the point. I wonder if I am not supposed to try to make sense of anything, only experience things and move on to the next. I’m talking about trying to control life. Now, when I say it that way, it seems obvious that I cannot. But don’t we try, every day, to control life?

I spend a considerable amount of time evaluating the choices I make each day and can honestly say that when I rest my head to sleep, I have no guilt, no shame, no worries. I rest knowing I did my best with good intentions. Then I learn from things that didn’t go as expected. This sounds like a winning strategy to living. Yet, I want things to make sense.

I want to understand “why” to an infinite amount of questions. It seems for every answer there is a contrary answer. It seems endless the amounts of scientific theories there are to things like diet and nutrition, other-worldly concepts and beliefs, research and development constantly discovering new layers to previously documented proven facts, along with the endless expert advice in constant contradiction among experts.

The toll this has on human emotions is devastating as witnessed, a sea of people all striving to make the right choices for themselves in hopes to help others as well, only to find themselves in battles of the mind and heart as they navigate through the riptide of information.

I think back to a simpler time. A time without access to information. A time where people lived to survive- mind, body and soul. My mind takes me to open fields of undeveloped land, unpolluted, unbothered territory, where there are people living off the earth in the most natural way. Imagine with me if you will, no mirrors, no cameras, no media, no pageants, no celebrities, no influencers. Now, look through the eyes of those people. What do you see?

When I open my eyes, I see the morning light from the sun telling me it’s time to wake up. I see my clothes and I just put them on and because they fit, I do not give them another thought. If I am beautiful, it is seen in the eyes of my family and if they tell me, I smile because I believe them. I see food growing in the fields and I harvest what I need for meal preparations. I see flowers and twigs and make decorations for the house. I dry herbs and flowers and make my home smell good. I see my family outside enjoying life with the natural things of this earth. Everyone stays busy all day and gathers together in the evening. We love each other and pray to an unseen being we imagine created everything for us to live. We do this until we die. And the cycle repeats.

I think back to the beginning and wonder how it went from there to now. What was the thing that made us question everything? Why am I questioning everything?

In my quest to find the answers, I realize that whatever I discover is true, will in fact be in conflict with another’s realization. Someone back in the beginning wasn’t happy with whatever they had, whether it be attention, food, land, plants, affection, etc. Someone back then made a decision to find something else and ventured off to discover it. I must stop this train of thought because it explodes into, well, into what we have now, modern life.

I’m going to remember how simple life can be as I try to make sense of it. Unfortunately, I cannot undo centuries of evolution, so I will adapt as we all do.

Now, if only I could figure out these macro and micro nutrients.

My People (redefined)

My People (redefined)

I recently referred to a bunch of women I just met as “my people” and in the moments I am with them and we are doing “our thing” they are my people. However, it doesn’t mean I am of the same mindset as them on all things.

I have been at cookouts with people and have been referred to as “sista and auntie” though I am not family by blood, they have accepted me and I call them “my people.”

I have been in groups of co-workers and have felt a sense of connection. I refer to these as “my (work) people.”

I have been at concerts with strangers who vibe with the music I do and I completely feel like they too are “my people.”

Let me not forget poets! These are for real “my people” because they get the heart and soul of me and I, them.

I have been at BLM marches and know without a doubt that these are “my people.”

No matter what we (you the reader and I) connect on, no one is “my people” 100% of the time. Each one has his/her place in my life. To keep these boundaries clear and defined allows me the ability to connect deeply with people in the moments. It also protects me from giving anyone the space to judge me entirely, or wholly.

Likewise, I won’t judge you entirely for your life choices, will not hate you for our differences, but will in fact separate myself from those that don’t sit well with my soul.

I have been silent on social media about Black Lives Mattering because the constant posting I was doing became too heavy for me. I am still, continually, and daily aware of what’s going on in their world. Yes, their world because life is different if you’re black in America.

My heart was forever changed when I understood what has been the life of Black people since the beginning of “America.” I’ve done the research and I’ve heard the first hand stories. I’ve seen the fear in their eyes and the different ways they have to live just to not get killed. I’m with them! I will always stand with them and others who do not have the privilege to experience freedom in America.

No matter where we connect, no matter what circle you and I are in, I am ALWAYS linked arm in arm with my Black friends and family. I will always stand up for them.

This post serves to redefine what I mean when I say “my people.”

8/26/21

Eve of the Inauguration

For the last four years I did not listen to one word the President of the Unites States said.  I did not respect him nor care about any of his opinions.  He is repulsive to me and I cannot stand to look at him nor even say his name. 

On the eve of the inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris, I have some thoughts; a bit of my personal history.

As I became old enough to vote, my parents lacked the wisdom to explain politics to me.  The only advice I received from them was “go in the booth and pull the Democrat lever” which I did for several years.  I had no idea what I was doing except obeying my parents. (For the record, I never could comprehend American history in school.  It bored me and was overwhelming to learn.  I was a math and science kid.)

At age 25 I joined a Baptist church and began to learn of things I had never considered. Some of what I learned was a bit contrary to my deep personal beliefs but I was an obedient student of the faith and followed along. As you guessed, I changed my voting preferences to selecting all of the Republican candidates without much consideration. I did that mindlessly for 20 years. (Yes, I am ashamed of that.)

Five years ago I selected the Unaffiliated box on the voter registration in the new city in which I live.  I began deconstructing of everything I had ever believed. I stripped all of my childhood learning and my Christian learning down to bare bones and then I listened to what the politicians had to say.  I observed their actions.  I voted my conscience which was sometimes Republican, sometimes Democrat, but never all one lever.

I am not politically minded whatsoever.  I don’t follow it much.  But I know when somethings speaks to me and I know how to research things when I really need to know.  

Our country is and always has been a mess- don’t give me your facts- I have a strong opinion on this. I’ve learned so much over the last five years about the role politics and government has played in the oppression of black and indigenous people of color that I am sick over it.  My heart is BROKEN and devastated that I believed lies told to me by others- all of my life.  I cannot identify with a political party nor with a label of religion anymore.  No one can define my heart with a label.

I voted for Biden/Harris and I did so because I believe they will bring change to the United States. If not real change, then HOPE of change, as many have already begun to rise up and stand for what is right in the name of equality.  If we are truly “one people” then there should be no white supremacy.  All people should be treated the same no matter what their skin color. This is sadly not the case in America. 

Are they perfect for the job? No.  Is anyone? No. Have they said and done things in the past that would indicate they’re falling short of perfection? Of course they have- and so have I and so have you.  But I know for sure that I do not want my actions today to be judged by my past.  

I am not politically minded, I am people minded.  I stand for the people- all the people to be treated the same.  It is terribly sad that there are people in our country asking not to be shot the same way the whites are not shot.  That’s not right.  It’s horrible and yet it is a reality here in a country that identifies itself as “united”- a gross misrepresentation to say the least.

I’m not looking back to shame myself.  I am looking back only to grow from where I’ve been and become the change I want to see.  Standing in solidarity with all people of all colors.

God Bless America- we need it.

The Price of Beauty

Art by Ariel Cruz / Poem by Lori Minutoli

Lipstick smears across her cheek

Her tiny fingers can’t hold steady

Still she paints the required mask 

Bold eyes make men and women look

Plump red lips brings them closer

Smooth cheeks makes them touch 

Everywhere this is the message

From toddlers to teenagers

Models to mothers they all want this

Perfecting the mask becomes her life’s work

Hiding herself in an image of perfection

Deceiving her identity 

Criminalizing her authenticity

This violation of her born characteristics

Not a choice of her own doing

But a deception of her mind 

Society corrupted her mind

If Daddy had only validated her worth

If Mommy had taught her she was worthy

If boys weren’t programmed to lust

And girls not encouraged to tease 

She would be walking unmasked in her truth

Her smile would defy popular opinions

Her energy would attract sincerity

Her need for acceptance wouldn’t be

Her tiny fingers only wanted to play 

Mud pies and butterflies in Daddy’s eyes

Finger paints and silly string with Mom’s applause

Hugs and kisses just for  being present

But Daddy was gone long times in a row

So Mommy kept lipstick in her purse

The waiter, the trainer, the doctor too

Mommy’s mask made her happy 

Tiny minds just want to play

And see things a different way

Mommy was always happiest

When Daddy was  gone away

©️Lori Minutoli 2020

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