Respecting Aretha: Respecting Ourselves

Today, I am hopeful that Ariana Grande knows what to do, after she was disrespected,

While many were watching.

There are times when apologies don’t mean a damn thing,

But I know what will,

And, Aretha Franklin knew.

We can talk all day about what it is to be a queen,

But to be a queen, or like a queen, haven’t we learned that we MUST demand respect?

In this world, we MUST stand, and fight and be heard

A queen stands up for herself and for her people, even when it is clear that the fight could be lost.

As the “Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin taught us how to stand up and be heard; she showed us, like so many other cultural leaders have shown us, how to respect ourselves.

To know respect, WE must say it, sing it, and believe it,

We must tell the world that respect is ours.

And we must first own and embrace the respect that we desire from others.

We must spell it out,

R – E – S – P – E – C – T

Until we find out what respect means, for ourselves, as individuals and as a collective,

Ain’t nothing gonna change.

When we know respect for ourselves,

When we tell our loved ones and the strangers that we meet that it is their responsibility to “find out what [respect] means”

When we make our boundaries clear,

When we stand up for ourselves and fight for ourselves in our own lives and in our own kitchens,

And bathrooms,

And bedrooms,

And garages (Marissa Alexander),

And conference rooms, classrooms, and boardrooms,

And in any of the rooms that we occupy

That there will be respect for who we are and what we are.

When we refuse to accept the unwarranted and violent advances that the world tries to place on us in private AND in public,

Then we are respecting Aretha,

Just as we are respecting ourselves!

This I have learned, and it was not easy.

Now, Ariana, you’ve got the mic.

And it is okay to use it as Aretha once did.

Some of us are with you, but you must stand up for yourself. We cannot do it for you.

And, what you choose to do, or not, will teach others to respect themselves, or not.

© 2018 annalise fonza, Ph.D.

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Finding the Strength

We find the strength in ourselves

And the strength to go on

When we are the most vulnerable,

And the least likely to be strong.

© 2018 annalise fonza, Ph.D.

 

Insanity

When a man is insane,

He does not even realize that

He

Has

Lost

Himself.

So he continues to give himself away,

Over, and over again.

Until he can muster the courage to gather the pieces and recover,

He will make a sure fool of himself

With distorted thinking and unacceptable actions.

As long as he refuses (and is perhaps afraid) to accept his many truths,

Not just the ones that boost his ego,

He may never really know what it means to be found,

And in his right mind.

© 2018 annalise fonza, Ph.D.

The Difference Between Love and Hate

When someone loves you they will do whatever they can to put a smile on your face.

They will not look for opportunities to make you upset or mad.

They will not ignore your calls, or disregard your feelings when you are feeling afraid, down or hurting.

They will not hide from you when there is trouble between you.

They will seek to be a part of your peace and healing

And the truth will not be far from their lips.

You won’t have to ask them or beg for their attention.

What is important to you will be important to them.

They will be there for you; they will try to understand you.

When someone loves you, they will look for every reason to hear your voice,

See your smile,

And bring you joy.

(Sending texts back and forth, all day, will not suffice, rather, this can become like a cruel tease);

Your face will be what they desire to see at the start of each and every day, or as often as possible.

Your voice will cause them to smile and laugh, perhaps outloud, even when you are not around.

The memory of your smell will fill them with warmth and anticipation,

And the thought of touching you will enable them to face the most frustrating of moments and people.

When someone loves you there will be a genuine sense of safety, happiness and freedom of mind and body.

Laughter will be more apparent than sadness or tears.

True love fills us with courage, not cowardice.

It took me most of my life to learn the difference between love and hate,

And it is one of the greatest, and hardest lessons that I have ever, ever had to learn

From the ones who did not and could not find it within themselves to love me,

Like they said that they would.

© 2018 annalise fonza, Ph.D.

Black Panther: And the Beauty of Sunsets (and People) We Never Could Have Imagined

There is always more than one way to win when you are in a fight, or when you are facing an enemy or oppressor. What I liked about the movie Black Panther was seeing that it is not always necessary or wise to let the hate or contempt that you feel for those who hurt you eat you and every one you come into contact with, alive.

I know far too many people, a few that I still love, deeply, to this day, who are consumed with anger and hate. In some cases, they destroy everything that they come into contact with: good, bad, and in-between; until eventually their hate and resentments lead them to destroy themselves.

I’m all for insisting upon accountability and justice from those that I would consider to be my enemies and generally as hateful and abusive individuals, but, I’ve also learned that it is not to my benefit or for my good to destroy my own chances at happiness and joy because of what someone else did or said that harmed me or others. I cannot live my life wallowing and drowning in the inadequacies and transgressions of others who seem or who actually are oblivious to their own brokenness and failures.

Approaching the age of fifty, I have learned that living in this way – caught in the grip of my past and pain – will keep me from seeing the beauty in life, the sunsets, the people and the places that I never could have imagined.

I walked out of the movie, Black Panther, being keenly aware of how important it is to heal from the losses and tragedies of the past (and even those that I encounter here in the present).

If we are ever going to be useful to ourselves and a gift to others, including the next generation, these actions, the evolution of self and letting go of hate, are what we must take the time to embrace before our time is up.

© 2018 annalise fonza, Ph.D.

A Cautionary Note on Surviving Abuse

Careful, that you don’t become just like those who failed you with hate, anger, and abuse.

You deserve a life that is truly free from their madness and confusion.

Just getting away from them is not enough.

Letting them go and surviving the trauma is also refusing to carry your abuser’s self-destructive thoughts and ways around inside of you.

© 2018 annalise fonza, Ph.D.

Finding “The Strength to Love”: MLK Jr. Day 2018!

One of the most admirable character traits of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is that he was not a hateful or divisive man. He was a man who routinely embraced and expressed love, even when it was not the popular or convenient thing to do. Dr. King was not a man of anger and hate, and I truly admire that.

The person that you become in life is up to you and you alone. Going forward, find “the strength to love.” Resist the urge to hate or be consumed with anger. We honor and celebrate Dr. King by being a loving people, even in the face of hate.

© 2018 annalise fonza, Ph.D.

N/B: Indeed, the use of “Strength to Love,” is an allusion to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 publication, Strength to Love, published by Harper & Row.