Turning 50: Advice I’m No Longer Taking

I’m turning 50 on May 23rd, and in true kegarland form, I need to process and document it. Being on the earth for half a century, interacting with people, has taught me a few things, and I’ll be sharing them with you through June.

The first thing I’ve been thinking about is advice I was given in my youth.

When I was a child, my mother used to say, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it,” and I totally understand the sentiment behind the suggestion. If you want someone to listen to what you have to say, then you should maybe consider your tone and choice of words. When I’m writing, I do think about those things. And for about ten years, beginning in my 30s, I also tried very hard to take a beat before I opened my mouth to communicate.

But this didn’t serve me well. A lot of times, I ended up sugar-coating what I really wanted to say to appease the person and suppressing my tone and intent, which physically affected me. So, no more.

If I see that there is information that would benefit you because you may be headed down a difficult path (in my opinion), then I don’t worry about my tone or choice of words. I’ve learned that two things can happen: either the person will receive my message as intended, which is typically to be helpful, or they will focus on how I communicated, which leads to the use of negative adjectives (i.e., rude, mean, arrogant, know-it-all).

But at 50? I’m not worrying about that anymore.


In addition to my mother, my grandmother, who was born in 1926, used to also provide advice. Many times, she told me to simply talk about the weather in social situations, so as not to get into arguments with people. I mean, you can’t argue about if it’s raining or not. Again, I understand why this is. Most people at your job, at the grocery store, or in the parent pick-up line, don’t want to really hear about how you’re doing, even though they asked. We’ve become accustomed to using hello, how are you? as a greeting, as opposed to an expression of care.

But I want you to consider this: How hard would it be to answer honestly? You don’t have to tell someone your life story, but you could say something like, I’m having a rough day. And maybe we can learn to respond in kind. You don’t have to go into fix-it, therapist-mode. You could just say, I hope you feel better.

See how easy that is?

Another thing we could do is re-vision how we interact in situations that are supposed to be more intimate. If I spend hours driving to your home for a holiday, then I don’t want to talk about how awful your job is. I want to hear about why you’re at a job you hate, with a boss you dislike…after all these years. Again, I don’t want to fix it for you. I just want to discuss something that matters…to you, something that helps me to understand who you are as a person.

So, I’m leaning into engaging in more thoughtful ways with people. If I ever ask you how you’re doing, then I want to know. And if we’re spending time together, then I’m probably going to ask a deeper question that goes beyond surface-level descriptions. If you choose not to respond, then that’s fine, too. Everyone doesn’t have to be like me. I’ve lived long enough to know that my intent will always prevail, and as a result, bring likeminded individuals into my space so that we can commune.

Post-script: To be clear, I have no intention on spitting venom toward others, but I’m also not worrying about how I say things. Folks either get me or they won’t 😉


Monday Notes: I Don’t Want your Child (or Dog)!

I vibe with dogs and kids. That’s the way I’ve always been. If you have a dog and 24 hours, then we’ll probably be besties. The same applies if you have a child under 12. He, she, or they will be my best friend by the time I leave your home. I’ve accepted this about myself; however, those outside of my immediate circle don’t know this information, and thus, problems arise. Sometimes, people think I want their kid and dog, or at least that’s how they act.

When I visited my in-laws, my youngest niece attached herself to me as soon as I arrived. We’d never met, yet she stuck by my side and offered me a snaggle-tooth grin every time I looked her way. She followed me around the house and said she wanted to come home with me. She sat beside me at church and whispered jokes.

“Does anyone want to give their life to Christ?” the pastor asked.

“She does,” she shouted, pointing at me and trying to raise my hand.

“Oh yeaaaah?” the pastor’s eyes brightened.

“No. No,” I assured him, and then to my niece, “you trying to get me in trouble…at church???” I teased, giving her a side-eye.

She returned a gapped-tooth smile.

She insisted on sitting next to me at dinner, her mother on the opposite side of the table. “You like your Aunt Kathy?” she asked, through a tight grin.

When we returned home, she began calling me “Mama,” instead of Aunt Kathy.

“You don’t even know her name,” her father said, clearly bothered by her instant affinity.

I remained quiet as insecurity filled the air. Children don’t have to know your name. All they have to feel is safe and seen. It’s a vibe. I don’t want your child I wanted to holler. She’s clearly starving for attention. Instead, I lay on the couch and pretended to be sleepy, in hopes that she’d leave me alone and perhaps spare her parents the sound of her eight-year-old voice calling me mama.

The next day, she cried and hid under the table because she didn’t want me to leave.


Fast forward years later, and I met a three-year-old cousin, who hadn’t seen me since she was born. At first, she was shy, as many tots are, but eventually, after I began asking her questions, in Spanish and English, and wiping her runny nose, she warmed up, so did her parents’ ten-year-old dog.

Her parents and I went to a store, where I asked, “Do you like toys?”

Her head bobbed up and down.

“Good. Let’s go look at some,” I suggested. “You wanna go look at toys?” I asked with my hand outstretched.

More head bobbing.

“We’re gonna go look at toys,” I announced to her mother, and then she put her tiny hand in mine and we traipsed away toward Barbie and them.

We picked over Pepa the Pig trinkets and a box of Marvel bowling pins. “You like those?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said quietly.

“What’s that?” she asked.

“A skate…”

“Issa skateboard,” her mother said. “You know how to use a skateboard?” she had found us and decided she’d show her child around the toy aisle. As her mother showed her how to kick and push, I slowly slipped away because it started to feel a lot like my niece and her mother years ago. It felt like insecurity, as if she didn’t really want her daughter to be with or like me, even though she was and did.

I thought I was tripping, projecting even, until we returned to the house where the mother’s dog greeted me at the door as if we were old friends. He barked for me to pick him up, and feed him the attention he, too, craved and lacked since his doggy parents had had a baby and become mommy and daddy to a human.

He sat on my lap and we played a game where my fingers came close enough to his mouth for him to snap at them, but not really catch them. He barked and snarled and wagged his tail with happiness. Like the toy aisle, where she skated her way back into her child’s view, the mother made cute clicking noises to distract her pet from my lap and from the fun, but it didn’t work. Instead, he settled down right next to my thigh, licked my hand, and then fell into a deep sleep with a slight snore.

My cousin, the mother’s husband, laughed at the sight, and said, “You gotta new Mama now, huh,” while his wife looked on fuming.

Again, I wanted to yell, I don’t want your child (or your dog). I just don’t mind offering a little attention.

But of course, I didn’t say this. Again, I shied away from the dog and the child and made as little eye contact with both.


I hope you hear the empathy in between these narratives: I’m a mother, and I wouldn’t want one of my daughters calling someone else mother. I’ve owned a dog, and I wouldn’t want my dog sidling up to someone else as if he didn’t have an owner. However, I also understand children and dogs. They both need constant attention, something that is oftentimes impossible in today’s busy world. And if I happen to be around for a couple days, I’m happy to offer it.

At the same time, I understand the careful balance of human beingness that has to be in place. I’ll only indulge if everyone is comfortable in the situation, but sometimes, ego makes that impossible.


Monday Notes: A Reflection on Last Year’s Goals

In 2022, I had three goals:

  1. I would no longer persuade people to see my point of view.
  2. I would no longer chase people for reciprocity.
  3. I would no longer ignore my gut, figuratively or literally.

Here’s how I did:

Not persuading people to see my point of view was hard. A healer friend of mine shared a post on Instagram that said you don’t have to always let people know how you feel before you release them. You can just stop talking, interacting, etc. I told him that I knew I needed to balance this behavior because “I be having all the words.”

“You want them to hurt like you? Or do you have a deep-seated need to be understood?” he asked.

I knew it was the latter. I hate for people to not understand what I’m saying, to not consider what I’m saying to be truth, and to ignore what I’ve shared without thinking about how an experience could have affected me. As a result, I usually end up saying a whole bunch of stuff, when I really should’ve just released them from my life. This year, I only felt as if I had to persuade one person to see my point of view, but a back-and-forth conversation lingered much of the year.

I didn’t do well with this goal, but after our chat, my healer friend sent me a homework assignment and a bible verse so that I could learn to heal what’s at the root of this need. I know I’ll be doing better in 2023.

I did really well with not chasing people for reciprocity, mainly because I’m tired of what my friend, Dr. D. calls one-way, transactional relationships. There were a few situations where I felt as if I was doing much more calling, texting, or planning. But once I slowed down or stopped altogether, people noticed. When those friends said something (I considered) passive, like oh, we haven’t talked in a while, then I brought the reason why to their attention, which was usually because if I don’t reach out, we don’t talk. Friends and family either accepted this and changed their behavior, or they didn’t. Either way, the result was I no longer had to chase anyone for reciprocity. This behavioral change worked.


Literally paying attention to my gut was easy. Two years ago, I accepted the idea that my parasympathetic system had been disrupted long ago when I experienced several subsequent traumatic events in childhood and adolescence. (That’s a mouthful). Anywho, as a result, I learned that I have to not only eat differently, but also keep my stress levels low; otherwise, there’s a physical and mental breakdown. In 2022, I focused quite a bit on these two things. For example, I knew when Dwight and I were out of the country and I didn’t feel right, I had to return to strategies that kept my anxiety at bay. My step-mother coming to visit was also a reminder of how important listening to my gut is, so this was successful.

Figuratively listening to my gut was also easier this year. To be clear, I mean following my intuition. One time, I could sense that my cousin’s wife seemed bothered for some reason. I could feel my belly swirling, and it almost seemed as if our spirits were fighting, even though we hadn’t engaged in an argument. I decided to leave her alone for the remainder of the day. The next day, without my prompting, my cousin revealed this was true. His wife was, indeed, angry because of something I said. In these situations, following my gut doesn’t mean confronting the person. I’ve learned that’s rarely necessary. What it does mean is paying attention to what I feel and then focusing on what I can do on my part to dissolve the situation.


This year, I’m focusing on the following:

  • Prioritize my artistry/writing.
  • Heal the part of me that wasn’t heard as a child.
  • Flow with the elements.

See what I did there? That second one is a re-frame of the first goal from last year. It’s not about not persuading others to see my point of view. It’s about why I feel the need to persuade others to see my point of view. Once I heal this, then the need will cease to exist 😉

How’d you do last year? Did you commit to doing something in order to strengthen your human beingness? Are you doing something this year to be a better person?


Monday Notes: I Let Go

I let go of relationships of convenience, where people put you on hold, until you fit into their lives.

I let go of relationships which lack symbiosis, where I visit, and they make excuses for passing my home en route to see someone else.

I let go of relationships where I am not a priority, where careers and other people constantly come first.

I let go of relationships bound to outdated traditions, ones where innovative ways to interact are dismissed.  

And when I let go, I allow for experiences aligned with who I am today.

I open space for new relationships to develop. Relationships where I have authentic discussions with friends about overall wellness—mental and physical.

I recognize friends who have been consistently present, those who communicate in multiple ways during varied times and those who’ve settled in for a lifetime of connection.

I embrace my sister, someone I’ve known for four years, but someone with whom interacting is as natural as breathing. An international trip solidified what I’ve always suspected; relationships are not hard.

I notice old friends reentering, reengaging, and recalibrating at just the right moment. Either I need them, or they need me right now.

I accept my cousin’s invitation to commune with her and her family post-Christmas in a different city and state. Her suggestion is timely.

When I let go, I allow myself to expand in newness.

And when I expand in newness, I’m no longer stagnant, resentful, or bitter. Instead, I am growing and evolving in self-awareness and self-love. In this state, I can begin accepting current circumstances, accepting that all relationships don’t last forever, not even if you wish upon a star and meditate on them during the new moon. Some connections are seasonal, and that’s okay.

Peace to everyone letting go of something this fall.



Monday Notes: Therapy Every Day

“You want your friends to do therapy,” my goddaughter said. “And that’s too hard.”

            I had just shared the details of a failed friendship, and my goddaughter’s words made sense. You see, I’ve spent the last eight years in self-therapy. I allow my intuition to lead me to a new concept, then I research who the “leading authority” is on that idea, and then I read his or her work. For example, attempting to understand my oldest daughter and her choice of boyfriend(s), led me to the concept of codependence, which led me to Melody Beattie’s work, which led me to read The New Codependency. Consequently, I began to understand myself and how I’d embodied similar traits.

            This is normal for me. I not only read about concepts that reveal a deeper understanding of myself, but I also apply them. When I realized I’d lived much of my young adult and adult life sans boundaries, I read about and learned how to create and enforce them, so I could show up as a healthier version of myself. This is a part of how I live, so I can function in new ways.

            The problem is, as my goddaughter pointed out, everyone is not like this, and sometimes, it impacts how I relate. A lot of times, I’m having a conversation that is normal for me, but difficult for others. In essence, I’m asking others to dig deeper than they care to, than they usually do. I’ve asked friends to think about how they interact with me in relationship, and especially for those my age, it’s quite a challenge. I’ve had friends who’d rather end the relationship than to stop and figure out how to engage in a better way or to consider how I may have felt in situations. This is too hard, a friend recently told me. The this to which she referred was understanding that she never initiates a phone call with me.

            For a while, friends’ responses felt personal. Each situation seemed as if the person didn’t want to see my point of view, or as if they believed that what I was saying was ridiculous—as if I’d asked them to do drugs in the alley. They’d cross their eyes and fumble their words, until we were no longer communicating effectively. Now, I realize their reaction wasn’t personal. People are made up of their childhood and adolescent backgrounds and how they’ve learned to handle situations from those foundational times. Many people project, instead of reflect.

            And, as my goddaughter told me, “Most people don’t want to do what the therapist says, much less read something on their own and follow through with that.”

            “Hmmmph,” I said. “That’s interesting. I do therapy every day.” Therapy is not just for the therapist’s office. Just like yoga isn’t just for the mat, and practicing religions isn’t just for the church, synagogue, or mosque. It’s a daily practice and part of my life. Meaning, I will look at myself several times over in a situation, before I accuse someone else of being the problem. I’m always willing to take ownership, and subsequently, do better, if my doing better is a requirement for maintaining a bond.

            But again, everyone isn’t like this. Everyone isn’t interested in examining their life or taking steps to improve. My goddaughter reinforced something else the day we talked. “It’s okay if they don’t,” she said. “Everyone’s different.”

            You can only change you is an idea I consistently reiterate on this blog, and I stand by it. I will continue to do “therapy every day,” with a primary goal to improve myself. However, I also know from experience that changing me for the better also changes those around me, whether they consciously know it or not.  


Monday Notes: “Where’s Waldo”

I call him “Where’s Waldo” because he wears a red and white striped shirt and blue pants. He’s an older man, who frequently walks around the neighborhood. During the summer months, he walks to the pool, strips down to his swimming trunks, and does several laps. I’ve watched him repeat this pattern several times from our community gym’s window.

Sometimes when it rains, and he cannot swim, he comes inside the gym. This is how we met.

“They should have another treadmill,” he once said, taking slow strides.

“I agree,” I replied, while using the elliptical. “I’ve told them that before.”

“I can only walk. And swim,” he added. “I have an injury, so I can only do those two things.”

“Maybe you can ride a bike?” I offered.

“I can only walk. And swim,” he repeated.

Before he left, he waved good-bye and bid me a good day. I did the same, and as is customary, I felt a little closer to him. I wished I would’ve asked him his name, so I could stop secretly calling him “Where’s Waldo.”


The next time I saw him was a few months later.

I drove to the fitness room, as usual. As usual, I sat my yoga mat next to the treadmill, wiped down the surface, and placed my phone, water bottle, and towel in each appropriate place. Then, I went back to my car to get my free weights.

That’s when I saw “Where’s Waldo.” He was either headed to the pool or headed to the gym.

“Good morning!” I said, happy to see him.

“Morning,” he mumbled.

Turns out, he was headed to the gym, because when I returned with my weights in hand, there he stood…on the treadmill.

“That’s my stuff,” I said, pointing to my belongings: the white towel, hanging on the equipment’s right arm, the water bottle in the cup holder, and my phone, sitting in front of him.

“Well, get it then,” he spat.

“Oh no,” I clarified. “I was about to use the treadmill. That’s why my stuff is here. I just had to get my other things.”

“Well, I’m here now,” he said.

For a moment, I thought he wasn’t for real. However, his wide-legged stance implied that not only was he not playing around, but he also wasn’t moving.

Though there were many thoughts rolling around in my head, they weren’t polite, and I’ve been working on being as kind in speech as possible.

“This is incredibly rude, you know.”

“So,” he replied.

I’m positive I resembled the wide-eyed emoji. I stood behind him…on the treadmill and retrieved my belongings, and I said, almost in his ear, “I hope you have a good day.”

“You, too,” he said, with a laugh.

Then, I practiced what I knew to do, so I wouldn’t let this man’s behavior dictate my morning:

Grounding: For those of us who ruminate, it can be quite easy to keep going over a situation, until it culminates into a bunch of “what-ifs” and “I should’ves.” That’s not helpful. For us, it’s important to ground ourselves in the present moment. So, I called my husband and told him the entire story. I didn’t need validation that I was right, but rather, I needed a way to release the narrative, so it wouldn’t fill my head. Talking to Dwight for five minutes helped.

Exercising: I was red with anger at this man’s behavior and my helplessness in the situation. I almost went home. But then I remembered, exercising helps move energy around and out of the body. I was actually in the perfect place to be angry. I stayed in the fitness room, and worked out in a different order. He left after 20 minutes, and I was able to use the treadmill at the end of my routine.

Ignoring: In the past, I would’ve placed my phone call to Dwight inside the gym, so the guy could hear the conversation. That’s called being passive-aggressive, and I’ve worked extremely hard to not embody this trait anymore. Long ago, I also would’ve stared the man down, which probably wouldn’t have ended well. Instead, I set up my equipment so that my back would be to him. I needed to work out, but I didn’t need to look at him. Our interaction had ended.

Like I’ve said before, we’re living in some weird times. You never know what folks are going through, and it’s important to reman level-headed. People seem to be on edge, which is understandable. But it’s important to remember that we can only control ourselves. I couldn’t make the man get off the treadmill, but I could control how I reacted in the situation, which prevented things from escalating.

Be safe out there. People are unstable, and sometimes peace relies on you.

October Blogger Spotlight

I’ve been spotlighted! Jen over at Bossy Babe interviewed me for her blog, and I think she put together a really nice feature. Head over there to read and comment, if you’re so inclined 😉

BosssyBabe

Welcome to my series in which I spotlight one of my followers. I’ve always had a deep fascination with people: how they became who they are, the struggles they won, and the hard lessons they learned over time. All of these scars and stories make up a person’s life. While I think it’s important to reflect on your own journey, it is also equally important to hear other voices and see diverse perspectives. In this series, the spotlighted blogger will be able to tell their story through curated questions I’ve asked of them.

October’s blogger feature is someone I greatly admire for her insight and candor. I love how she unabashedly expresses herself through her unique perspective. She is a prolific writer whose work has been featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul: I’m Speaking Now (Black Women Share their Truth in 101 Stories of Love, Courage and Hope), The…

View original post 1,836 more words

Monday Notes: Emotion Words

There’s a scene from Four Christmases, where the main character’s nephew unexpectedly learns there’s no Santa Claus. Once he finds out this heartbreaking information, the little boy takes off his clothes, jumps out the window, and runs away.

“When he gets to hurtin’ inside and can’t use his emotion words, he takes to streakin’,” his mother says, as the little boy leaves his underwear behind.  

We’ve all been there, I think, running away from the thing that hurt us, our drawers limp on the windowsill. We’ve all had a moment where we’ve felt an emotion but didn’t know how to express it in a healthy way; however, since this movie released in 2008, I’ve noticed not knowing how to use your emotion words can present differently in each of our lives.

A personal example I have is my grandmother. Her sister is in a nursing home, and because my grandmother is in her nineties, there’s really nothing she can do about it. One time after visiting my great aunt, my grandmother told me about how she broke out into hives. Eventually, she realized it was because she was worried about her sister.

Books like The Body Keeps Score and people like, Louise Hay have written about how the energy of our emotions can be stored in the body, resulting in specific pain or illness. So, when my grandmother retold this story, it seemed obvious to me what had happened. Instead of being able to say something like, “I feel helpless because my only living sister is living with dementia in a nursing home” or even being able to sit and cry about it (remember, my grandmother lives by if you’re sad, you better scratch your butt and get glad), she seemed to have held on to her real emotions, and the result was hives.

A more global rendition of not knowing how to use your emotion words is when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock. Although this event was unfortunate for multiple reasons, it was a great example of what can happen when you don’t know how to take time to process emotions in a healthy way. Not only can you hurt yourself, but you can also hurt others and jeopardize your career. I don’t think it’s ever okay to put your hands on another person; however, this moment was an opportunity to show us that no matter how happy you may appear on the outside, and no matter how much money you may have, anyone can have unresolved issues that may result in not knowing how to use emotion words.

Finally, I’ve had several moments where I’ve learned to bury emotions so deep that when they resurfaced, I didn’t know how to deal with them, much less communicate how I felt in an effective way. I’ve written about that here and here. But luckily, I’ve taken time to learn how to use my emotion words so that I no longer injure myself or others. Here’s how:

  • Learn to feel emotions when they appear. For example, if something makes you sad, then take time to notice the sadness in your body: where is it?  How does it make you feel? You may even want to announce to yourself, “I am sad.”
  • Consider journaling about why you’re having the emotion. In the Will Smith scenario, I’d bet money he wasn’t really upset about Rock’s joke; something else was going on. We’re no different than a celebrity. Sometimes, what’s angered us is an unaddressed trigger. That’s worth exploring.
  • Find ways to release the emotion. One thing that helps me is exercising. Last year, I was so negatively affected by someone’s actions that the space around my heart physically hurt. The only thing that helped was a thirty-minute run/walk on the treadmill. Once I was done, I felt lighter and less bothered.
  • If another person is involved in your painful emotions, then maybe you need to have a conversation with that person…when you’re no longer angry, of course. Write out what you will say in a loving way, and then give them a call, so you can engage in positive dialogue about the issue.

Welp. That’s all I’ve got today. Feel free to add any advice in the comments. I’m all about helping one another as a community.


If you want to hear about the three levels of emotional fitness, then watch Mastinkipp’s explanation: