I Moved!!

Hi friends! It’s been real on WordPress.com but I’m excited to tell y’all that now I have my own official site! It’s www.femiio.com and I hope you’ll go check it out! I promise it’s real pretty, and you can buy my artwork if you want, or subscribe to my weekly newsletter, or just keep reading my rambles, whatever your heart desires! In any case, all my posts will be there from now on, but thanks so much for reading while I was on WordPress. Hope to see you at the new spot!

 

XOXO,
Gossip Girl (Femi♥)

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“Jesus is Lord” is Not Enough

In response to the already batshit crazy we’ve seen come out of the White House this week, I’ve heard a lot of Christians say things like “Don’t worry, Jesus is Lord.”  “God is on the throne.” “Jehovah is in control” and other bullshit platitudes that, while they may be true, are wildly undermining and dismissive. I’ve also noticed that a lot of the Christians who say things like this are white. Or men. Or both.

Listen. It’s easy to say trivializing shit like that when your body is not the one being threatened. Your religion is not being criminalized. Your gender is not being denied medical care. But statements like that take away our agency. Sure Jesus is Lord, I’ll go with you on that. But you also have a brain. And a heart. And a moral sense. I, being a believer that “Jesus is Lord”, do not think that absolves us of our responsibility to think critically about toxic systems in place in our society and WORK to bring them down.  To be frank, I don’t think Jesus does either. This isn’t me giving him a political party— I feel like both Democrats and Republicans give him a migraine. But what I’m saying is that if there is injustice, Jesus says we have work to do. If there is inequality, Jesus says we have work to do. Y’all wanna say “Jesus is Lord” like that lets you to sit on your ass and not get out and fight. Or call out a bullshit ordinance when you see one. “Don’t worry about systemic racism, gender inequality, capitalist greed…. Jesus will take care of it.” Yo, FUCK. THAT. Fuck not worrying about it. WORRY ABOUT IT. Protest! Write your senators! Call Paul Ryan! (The fact that his office has been flooded with voicemails is my favorite thing). Stand outside the White House and shout until you go hoarse! I don’t care what you do, but don’t hide behind the words “Jesus is Lord”, that shit is weak. Get up and fucking fight.

 

Listen to Your Body

As you all may well recall, last year I learned that emotions occur in the body as well as the brain. I don’t mean bodily reactions to emotion, like crying at a movie, or gagging when people talk about the inauguration this weekend. I mean heartache that feels like Heart-Ache. Sadness that manifests like your chest feeling as though it’s caving in on itself. Or anger that makes your eyes burn. I always thought songs and movies were exaggerating but it turns out our bodies hold a wealth of knowledge that a lot of us never even think to access.

I feel our bodies often sense things way before our brains do, like how animals can tell when there’s a natural disaster coming before humans even see the clouds forming. Our bodies can tell us when a person is unsafe, when a situation isn’t working, when we need to take a step back, when we need to avoid a certain social event, when we need to break up with someone, when we need to find a new job, or when we need to slow down and give space to our thoughts/feelings. We may have a persisting headache or something and then get home, turn on Netflix, and start crying “for no reason”. (Hint: There’s always a reason). (Bonus Hint: You’re sad). Listening to our bodies allows us to process and release that emotion long before it turns into an outburst at the grocery store cashier, or snapping at a roommate over the trash.

Nevertheless, instead of paying attention to our physical feelings, most of us rather try to override or explain them away. You leave work feeling completely drained every day and you’re like “Well that’s just how work is! Everyone hates their job.” No dude, you need to leave your fucking job! Or you’re talking to a new person at a bar and your stomach turns and you either don’t notice at all or blame it on eating something weird earlier, when really, you should probably get away from that person! But we don’t want to be judgmental, we don’t want to make snap decisions, or quit our jobs on a whim, which are all valid concerns. However as my therapist pointed out, having a negative gut reaction to something isn’t always necessarily a judgment call about the something. It could just be that the something isn’t right for you.  Maybe your workplace does great things for the community and gives to charity and other people love working there, but for whatever reason it’s not gelling with you. That’s okay, give yourself permission to leave. Maybe that girl you’re talking to at the bar isn’t like, Jezebel incarnate, but for whatever reason it’s just not a good match. That’s okay too, your body might be trynna tell you to bail before you get caught up.

Listening to your body though, first requires making space for your body to speak. Which is probably another reason why we never do it. It’s like meditation, you can’t rush it. You have to sit still and pay attention, which is a most fundamentally un-American practice. Taking time out of your day to focus inward and take a body scan can be reallllll awkward and uncomfortable at first. And sometimes, I’m not gonna lie, the things you start to sense make you feel crazy, or like you’re being overdramatic. One time my body told me I couldn’t go to a party. I know right? #Annoying. I was like “it’s a fucking PARTY just let me go and have fun!” Long story short, I shouldn’t have gone and I did not have fun. It’s confusing in the beginning, and unnerving to feel like you sense something is wrong, but you can’t readily see why. I’m here telling you, trust that instinct. Trust your gut. It’s probably trying to help you out, and it’s probably right.

MLK Day

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and inspired by the FANTASTIC episode of Black-ish this week, I wanted to post the entire transcript of Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech and highlight the parts I think have been conveniently glossed over. I feel like the history books have whitewashed both Dr. King and his words in an effort to make him “more palatable” and erase his legacy of radicalism. People who say things like “I agree with Dr. King’s type of protest but I can’t support rioting” miss the entire point when it comes to the revolution he lead. And let me tell you, that revolution is not over. “Wherever there is oppression, there is resistance” — quote from someone not me. So enjoy reading this and feeling uncomfortable as we look forward to this weekend, and also to the inauguration of that one guy America elected to office a couple months ago who ran his entire campaign on hate. Cheers everybody.

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I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: “For Whites Only.” We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest — quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”2

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

 

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

 

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

 

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

                Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

*Taken from AmericanRhetoric.com

On Starting Over

Over the last few days I’ve been really ruminating on the idea of newness. Beginning again. Starting over. Learning. Observing. Trying to approach things I’ve experienced before as if I’m doing so for the first time. Currently that’s come in the shape of me taking yoga classes that I’ve either never been to before or haven’t been to in years, and seeing what comes up. Fear, unease, apprehension, anxiety. It’s been a practice in releasing the urge to control, or the need to know What’s Coming Next. And of course, it’s been hard. I didn’t recognize how comfortable I had gotten in my routine, knowing that each yoga class I attended would be “different” but I’d still kinnnnnnda know what to expect—even down to being able to successfully guess about how long I’d have to hold each pose. There was enough variation to make me feel good about myself without actually disturbing my comfort zone.

But this…. This has been different. Nothing says “getting out of your comfort zone” like going into a yoga class blind. Not only did I grossly underestimate my need to know what’s coming next, but I also did not realize how judgy I’d gotten about other classes. I was writing off lower level, or slower paced sessions because I thought my practice was “too advanced” for them. Or that if I didn’t feel completely physically spent after a yoga class, it was a waste of time. I know— so rude, not at all what yoga is about, and that level of pride looks good on no one. But it has been good and humbling to go back to the beginning and observe. To let the slower pace of a class give me the opportunity to really listen and pay attention to the movement of my body. And not only that, but to bring up emotions that maybe would not have had space to arise in more “advanced” classes.

Off the mat, the intention has been the same. I’m trying to enter 2017 with a gentle, open handed, and observant posture. Even with things that are more familiar to me than yoga, like my faith. What would happen if I let everything I thought I knew about God fall away, and I let him tell me his story again? What if I released my own ideas of where I would be by now, or who I would be by now, and I observed What Is without judgment?

I think every once in a while it’s helpful to remind ourselves that we don’t know everything. Or maybe even anything. And remember to approach even the things and people we think we know like the backs of our hands with reverence and curiosity. I swear you can learn any thing from any one at any time. And literally every year, every day, every moment gives us a chance to start over.

The Home Stretch

I saw this tweet the other day that said 2016 was wild because it drastically changed everyone who lived through it— that when we all look back to who we were a year ago, it seems like we can barely recognize ourselves. I read it and I was like, dang I think this random person on the Internet is right! At the very least I can see and/or sense that people around me have undergone dramatic transformations in their lives this year.

Y’all already know I did— I have been VERY CLEAR about my 2016. I say all the time that I feel like I grew five years in this last one. When I look back on who/where I was last year, the things I thought, even how I chose to spend my New Year’s Eve, that girl feels so far away. She feels really young and blissfully ignorant. Not to insinuate that I’m like, totally awake and alert to everything happening inside/outside of me now— that’s an ongoing process. But struggling through a broken heart, learning you have trauma, and starting the process of healing through EMDR will wake you the FUCK up to some shit, let me tell you.

While I have very…VERY few nice things to say about 2016…

I feel like I must say that it’s kind of cool that everyone in the world has felt marked by it. 2016 knocked us all off our asses— maybe in a shitty way by stripping us of pieces of ourselves that we thought formed core parts of our identity, or by devastating us through one the excessive iconic deaths that happened this year (RIP Bowie, Fisher, Michael, Rickman, Ali, Thicke, Prince, Lee, Reynolds, Wilder, etc.) Or maybe you’re one of the six people globally whom 2016 affected in a good way, by making space in your life for a dream career, new life partner, or the prospect of welcoming a new baby. In either case, 2016 made her fucking POINT. And now hopefully we get to send her off into the Abyss with dear friends, merriment, and a SHIT TON of champagne.

Here’s to 2017 y’all! And the incredibly low bar 2016’s set for its greatness! Cheers!

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Oh and below I’ll show you more of my Christmas presents* because I promised I’d tell you what I got. Thanks to my beautiful friend Delara for snapping the pics!

*Note: “Christmas presents” denote any fun item bought for me either by myself or someone else between November 15 and December 25, 2016. I didn’t actually get any of this shit on Christmas.

First ‘fit 
Skirt: Topshop | Necklace: Forever 21 | Lipstick: “Too Faced”, Sephora

Second ‘fit:
Jacket: All Saints | Shoes: Steve Madden | Earrings: China, like the actual country

 

 

MERRY CHRISTMASSSSbreak

Hey y’all! Listen this post was about to be a thousand different things, and I couldn’t choose, so I decided to take a break. Just for this week, since I’m sure you’re all home with your families, trying to navigate difficult conversations without drowning yourselves in wine. I get it. Let’s all take a second, rest, do something to care for yourself, we’ll reconvene next week and I can show you all my birthday — I mean Christmas — presents. Love you miss you! 😘

Aleppo

You guys, we have to care about Aleppo. The city is falling, civilians are being slaughtered— what started as peaceful protests has now been escalated to nothing short of massacre. I feel overwhelmed, as I’m sure a lot of us do here hundreds of thousands of miles away, but we can’t let that feeling make us ignore what’s happening. A lot of my friends have posted or sent me helpful articles about how to help so I thought it would be good for the blog this week to list some of the relief efforts/ideas I’ve found helpful. Not sure what else to do but write about it and give money but if that’s all we got, let’s do it.

7 Real Things You Can Do Right Now About the Catastrophe in Aleppo

5 Ways You Can Support the Victims of Aleppo

Get Wounded Syrian Rescue Workers Back on Their Feet

 

It Doesn’t Have to be A Dream

Last night our yoga teacher asked us to raise our hands if we were currently working at our dream job. About five people out of the thirty-person class raised their hands— I wasn’t one of them. Her follow-up question was: “If you aren’t doing your dream job, what’s something you could do every day to get you closer to it?” Cue full on panic-attack, and me drenched in sweat before we’d even started moving. It was like a large, heated spotlight had been pointed directly at my face. “Well?!” Femi said to herself like a schoolmarm to a child who hadn’t done her homework. “What are you doing???”

…What the fuck am I doing?

Is anyone else scared? I feel like I’m terrified, and I’ve been working to name that fear. I know what my dream job is. I have a date by when I want to be doing my dream job. But what do I do between now and then? How do I get from here to there? And the worry that I’m wasting my days is a constant presence. I’m sitting in this yoga class, fully aflame, because the teacher is right – our dream doesn’t have to stay a dream. We can do it! Or get close. But suddenly there comes all this pressure, and weight, and worry, and fear. What if I can’t do it? What if I’m not good at it? What if I keep spending all my free time watching Netflix and my life stays the same and I never get out of this job that I kind of hate? I think about those people who are like “This job was supposed to be a two year gig!” at their 20th anniversary office potluck. The last thing I want is to wake up one day and feel like my life flew right by me, and I never used it to do something that made me feel alive.

The funny thing I’m realizing about dreams is that they’re scary either way. I feel scared to do it, and I also feel scared not to. But fear is paralyzing and I think that’s how people end up spending decades in places they only intended to spend months. “What’s one thing you can do every day to bring you closer to working your dream job?” I feel like another way to ask that is how do we focus on a manageable task in front of us to help us release all that fear?

My initial reaction was “HEY GET OFF MY BACK ALRIGHT?!” which I wasn’t entirely expecting. Not directed at my teacher of course, this is a conversation concerning only me and Me. But “Me” noticed that the inflammatory response is fear-based. Because that little question pokes a hole in my “safe” bubble and I want to close it up. It makes me look to see what steps I could take out of my box, and even just looking outside feels frightening.  But if we can get past the inflammatory reaction, past the fear mongering we love doing, can we answer it?
What’s one thing you can do every day to work towards your dream job?

At this juncture I’d also like to point out that we’ll need grace. We’ll need to ask ourselves this question with grace, and we’ll need grace for ourselves on the days when we don’t do anything to work towards our dream job. Those days have to be okay too. I just want to encourage you, and encourage myself. And hopefully also calm myself TF down. We can do it, right? I think we can make our lives what we want them to be.

I don’t know what your dream job is, but at the end of class our teacher encouraged us to share it with each other so I’ll tell you mine: I want to be a blogger (lol surprise). And I’d like to be making most if not all of my income from it in 5 years. There it is, out in the Universe and on the Internet forever. Honestly it felt really vulnerable to put out there, but also exhilarating! Give it a shot –maybe not the Internet part, you can just tell a friend. Or you could make it your Facebook status— whatever feels right. And then let’s get to work, let’s share and connect and support and bolster each other in our quests. We can do this.

Happy December!

Well, friends! We made it. We’re finally at the best month of the year, and there’s only 31 days left until this God-forsaken, post-apocalyptic hellscape called 2016 is over! My apartment looks like Father Christmas had one too many Rumple Minze shots at the bar and vommed all over it, but honestly I wouldn’t have it any other way. Here’s to holiday parties, presents, family, friendship, drinking too much, taking time off work, and having a safe and non-traumatic New Year’s Eve. Cheers!