Quiet Motility and Titanic.

Yesterday, I walked into the office of my therapist, sat on her couch as I normally do. 

She asked me, “So what’s going on?”

I let the weight hang in the room for what felt like a junior sized eternity, and then I just remember pulling my war torn body off of her couch and saying, “I gotta go…”

What I didn’t realize was that an hour had passed, I had spent the entire time crying. 

Between wiping my eyes, and trying to hold up my chin so that I didn't just open my mouth and try to scoop up the words that kept falling out like drunken half-truths. I eventually told her that I didn’t feel like trying anymore, I didn’t feel like being here. I told her that my outcomes don’t seem clear and that “I just don’t know anymore”.

She told me that it was ok, to feel weighted, to feel sadness, to just spend the day in “feeling”, she asked me if I was safe. 

I told her, I was fine. 

She asked me, where could I go to feel inspired, and I told her that I wanted to go to sleep. 

As I sit here, new day ahead, 1am in the morning, I can only look back and wonder, exactly how I can avoid this despair in the future. 

I don’t have answers, 

I seem to lately be filled with regret. 

Tired of the consequence of living by the light of fireworks, that possibly are just forest fires, or explosive relationships. Either way, I would love the moth in me, the one attracted to glow, to take a sabbatical. 

Logically, if I am looking for respite, wanting to let someone else drive a while - I am in the wrong job. For every one mistake I make, there seems to be at least a dozen repercussions The resilience that is required in being a proactive adult is beyond strenuous.  

I marvel at the advice of my mother, of my aunt, of my professors; they said - 

"what is your hurry Azure?

Take your time.”

At 32 years of age, weeks from my 33rd birthday I have decided to heed. To visit Hannah in Atlanta, to sit on a wrap around porch in Lexington, to finish this book that has patiently waited for me to get it out my human body. I am going to spend the remaining part of 2015 exercising quiet motility. I am going to take a vacation, finish my creative work. Hire professional services to teach me how to run my company. I am going to place my fire extinguisher in my garage, behind all the rainy day paraphernalia - this way I can get out of the habit of putting out the fires in my life. 

Yesterday, I felt defeated.

Lacking reason, inspiration, wondering why I am so slow to learn, questioning how I could possibly not be farther than I am in my life.  I do not feel differently now, at 1:15am. The same questions still burn in my belly, my eyes are still swollen from squinting through the day, the salt still sits on my cheeks, from the rivers that flowed from my brown viewfinders. 

This could not possibly be for poetry. Not for the sake of some sweet yet poignant narrative. My life is not a slam bout - where I try to tell the most epic account of a day that had every intention of being the hell that yesterday was. 

I am just trying to tell myself that I am enough. 

That I am good enough for people to stay. That I am smart enough to learn from my mistakes. That I am heart focused and do more than “mean well”. But if I am to continue being blog transparent, my self doubt, the self deprecation, the lack of love in my own heart; is currently ringing so loudly, that the affirmation is merely a morse code whisper. 

Last Friday, a young woman told me “I just have a habit of attaching myself to sinking ships”. I didn’t have the words at the time, but if I could go back, I would tell her. I am no ship submerging, the ocean and tide have had its way with me, I am calcified, patina worn and bleached with experience - but never have I sunk. I am human, but I am not built merely for fair-weather. I would tell her like I have told the rest - this poet was born in the eye of a tornado, I thrive in the storm. 

Somewhere in this tattered soul is a champion. 

Somewhere in me, there dwells a woman who knows her value, and isn’t looking for the simple equation of her worth. She knows that mistakes happen, she knows that although she is very literate, that she has the staunch ability to misread others. Somewhere in my chest is a heart that beats staccato, triple forte, even though life calls for pianissimo. She is there, I believe that, because God told me I was built in his image. 

For social media sake, I want to always deliver the anecdote. To tie the lesson to the pain and make a gorgeous metaphor out of the tragedy. Instead I will just say that sometimes you meet people from the Northwest or Oakland or Puerto Rico or the middle East. And they remind you that grace belongs in your work, they remind you to see others, they remind you to exercise caution, to listen to the beat, to let it fall right out of the melody and start a symphony all its own.

 Those are the people you never forget. Those are the moments that you place in a chamber in your heart that you may not visit just yet, because the disappointment of the estrangement or the loss is too great to bear. 

Today, I am going to exercise the ability to forgive myself. 

To keep prayers as close to my lips as I can stand. 

Today, I am going to let this day unfold without my help. Sans well wishes or expectation. I am going to dance in the reality that I am alive, and have been given the opportunity to do a new thing, and to do that thing right.  Should today not go as I am trying not plan, I will open my chest, pat this tortured heart and breathe large enough for it to find the beat. 

I am going to spend this day in total forgiveness, not of others, but of me. 

 

Talk Soon, 

AA

Alisa

She said “Everyone is sick.”

In a moment I instantly had nothing to say to my other half. 

I wanted to tell her - “no, it will be ok” or “it just seems that way…”, or or or. 

Truth was, truth is, she was right. 

 

The country, the budget, humanity as a whole, the world as we both know it - is sick.

It is unwell and in desperate need of the kind of clouds that have been blanketing the sky as of late (that is in Southern California). We have been experiencing the kind of humidity that lays claim to New Orleanian beignets, and Gainesville moss trees. All to say, indigenous to places that aren’t the west coast. 

I digress, most certainly because I am having trouble writing this blog post. 

I don’t want to give real estate to the tragedies around me. 

I don’t have any desire to give space to the silent realities that I am bearing. 

Alas, I am hoping these letters clumped together as words, will reach clear across the Atlantic and find someone, maybe 27 years of age, dreaming of the day their career as an artist will burgeon, and finding the resolve that they too, are not alone. 

 

Her name is Alisa.

Newly gracing the aggressively elegant decade of her twenties. 

She is the perfect cross between a NASA consultant and a manicured hippie. 

Her crush, former President Dick Nixon. 

Her major - divinity. 

Her guilty pleasure meets pipe dream - to become a bartender on a gap year between undergrad and post grad.

I know - dynamo. 

 

I met her when she was still in high school, she stood out even then. 

Like a sunflower in a sea of roses that bloomed just enough to play it safe. 

In a flurry of adolescent fleeting idolatry, she was among the few students mounted forward through the crowd, firmly shook my hand and introduced herself. This was concurrent with the “fangirling” that made this poet feel like a Beatle or the 6th member of One Direction. 

Alisa was steadfast in her unknowing, polished in her knowledge and unapologetic for her candor. For me, I remember thinking - 'my life would be so much easier if I were self arrived at her age’. During the course of her collegiate attendance, my career and lack of humanity time - we lost touch. However, many thanks to social media we were always a click away on Facebook. 

One day the messages chimed, my dynamo had written me. 

In her brief message she told me she had Lupus. 

For the heft of her confession, the post was far too short and the words inside were the kind of devastation that comes when you survive a natural disaster, and the only memories that you saIvaged were water logged and inoperable. 

 

To be a human that pays her way with language, I had no a cent to my name. 

Burning through the seconds that felt like moments and the minutes that neatly dressed as endless, I funneled the uneducated rage I had, and asked her the stupidest I could pull out of these lips, “Are you ok?”.

Candidly, she told me “No.”.

I said something conciliatory, like ‘totally' or 'for sure'. 

We sat in the silence.

I talked with her a while, the conversation ended. I smashed my eyes together, folded my chapped palms, and attempted to tell God to please keep her. 

Be it safe, in his eye line, in his grace - whatever, but KEEP HER. 

 

This past June, Alisa came to work for my company. 

Within a matter of hours, I could see the stained glass window she was erecting inside of my infrastructure. The window was full of detail, procedure, efficacy and intention. 

It is a sight to behold - the once mismatched scaffolding, which was nothing to stop and admire, has suddenly become, progress.

Handsome even. Girl next door type, cute. 

In one month, she had executed a standard operations procedure manual, streamlined an email auto response system and created the skeleton for an engagement flow chart. These elements may sound mundane to the average creative, however I, your atypical poetic CEO was fascinated and thrilled, equally. 

 

Last week, Alisa let me know that her health, the condition rather, was siphoning her “normal” from this theology scholar moonlighting as a scripture toting bartender. She told me that she regretfully would need to take time for herself, and attend to her physical wellness. I told her I loved her. I told her, worry about nothing regarding work, that it didn’t matter and the only thing I wanted to discuss was when we were having tea. 

When we met she told me that she needs some personal accountability, not in those words, but that is my interpretation.  I told her, in the words of the late Frank E Wilson, that she “needed a village”. 

She said “I know - but…”. 

I cut her off, and let her know that I would be the president of her fan club.  That we would write, journal, that I would type because Multiple Sclerosis robbed me of my passion for holding a pen and guiding it through shapes on paper.  We talked guitar, chords, and finding a melody that was louder than the awkward.  A melody that was thunder above the drizzle of the nuanced “How are you?”.

I told her, the next time someone asks you that - do me a favor, and just tell them the truth. That is all we have, and you know dynamo, that is good enough.

 

Dear God, please continue to KEEP HER. 

AMEN. 

 

Talk soon, 

aa

 

Simply Carforo

The other day - it struck me.

The 1/2 point of 2015 snuck past me, I started to recount the events that swallowed half of my year. Possibly to assuage my reflex to think that yet again that yet again, I was struggling with my two demons - time efficiency and efficacy. 

I recall January and February and most of March. I fell ill somewhere between Nashville, Manhattan, Palo Alto and Washington DC. I suppose that my childhood dream of being an empathetic superhero was not only alive but causing me delusions that I was well.  At any rate, the exhaustive jaunt around the country, my mostly quiet bout with Multiple Sclerosis, and the grueling task of training myself to be a proactive entrepreneur, all while my artistic spontaneity made a solid effort to assert its authority; had finally claimed residence in my immune system and promptly shut my entire body down.

I know, I know that I need to rest.

To take care of myself.

That the world will continue on its axis spin should I not respond to email, check my phone for rampant arson in the form of text messages.

I know all of that.

But what I can never seem to explain, or find the words for, is that - this career that I have stubbornly manifested by God's grace alone is the only thing I've got. Yes, I have phenomenal intimate family. I have discovered the kind of love that I know Shakespeare, Clifton and Hughes lived. However, the work, the business of living by your craft - I NEED THAT.

When the thought turns manic, turns over analyze, then lands in panic; I think that, "if this doesn't work, if I cannot manage to be my mantra, then not only will I be just one more human being included in the cadre of social media/millennial/startup stardom foolishness; I will have missed the entire reason I was placed on this earth."

My path is to speak, to encourage others to do the same. Be it a poetry, building, engineering, design or flea market artisanal passion turned legit brick and mortar.

I have yet to discover the language that conveys how much I enjoy the view of watching others discover their own lane. How much I value those before me, that have managed to flourish in authenticity before it was a trend.

It is humbling to get so many notes in email and social media, some days I am even blessed enough to get hand written notes amongst the bills that need remittances. Inside, people tell of how my work has motivated or blessed them in some way. I never quite know what to say, because my main feeling or triumphant fear is that I am not adequate enough to solicit praise. I am a mortal, some days, a lack representation of the human condition. It is customarily during this self induced pity sabbaticals that these timely notes arrive - I should say thank you, but I am too stuck in my own self reflection.

{As far as well executed transitions in narrative, well - this isn't one. So judge if you will.}

This past December I began working with a 25 year old designer, who has single handedly changed the way I view, taste and feel identity design. She is fiercely herself, steeped in her personal ideals of excellence and has the kind of delivery that could re-establish the hope that people can truly do what they say they are going to do. However, the thing I find more brilliant than her work, (which I have no modesty in saying she is going to be the name of a font family one day soon), is her personal commitment to her health. 

It was inspiring to see someone years younger - not afraid to say no. To stand for what she believed in, to take it for what it is and not what she would like it to be.

Learning from people my junior doesn't intimidate me, I prefer it. The reality started to land for me. I am not living, I am preserving. I am keeping alive the misconception that artists are bad with money, that deadlines are "boxes", that we are consoled by a cyclical life of chaos. 

I know better, in the midnight, in the mid day, and the early mornings that I awake from the habit of worry, but tell myself - you just like mornings.

As a creative, it is easy to see the goal, the andromeda of it, the true copper of a dream - and get so lost in the texture, the allure, the glow, that we disappear in the fantasy and ignore the reality.

We then are confronted with the magnitude of our desires, simultaneously being heartbroken at our own human incapacity to complete even the simplest of tasks. For me, Christine is the most articulate blend of matter of fact and ethos. 

This is not a plug - and I know her well enough to know she probably hates this. But as a CEO in training, the most educated decisions I have made in this elusive yet gorgeous year, has been hiring people that won't give me a forecast of sunshine while a tornado is just past the human eye line.

Although uncomfortable, I can unequivocally, state that having the poetry removed from the infrastructure of a burgeoning idea-lead collective has changed my life. 

And I am a better poem for it.

My advice:

Go out, find someone who has the ability to respectfully break your creative heart. 

Because when they put it back together - you will have a fully flushed identity.

You will have a disrespectful thirst for elegance, ingenuity and prestige.

And a brand that will make you feel as if you can not only survive the 3rd and 4th quarter of your fiscal year, but forecast for the next 5 with calculated ease, vetted confidence and a clean bill of health.

We could use it, an apple a day, someone to manicure our identity and make tailored adjustments to our flawed characters. If you are adept, you will find your Carforo. You will ask to be held accountable. The kind of hold that makes you want to beg to be let go, but in the deepest part of your dark and the unprotected fluidity of your impulsive mouth you say, "I'm alright - hold me tighter…".

Talk soon, 

aa

Midnight

Sometimes it is 11:28pm, and this is your second time at the office. 

Not because you have no where else to be, but because you either have the opportunity to be a victim of your own disappointment or the product of your stubborn will & success. 

I am in the dead heat of launching 3 miscreant toddler brands and establishing an aloof but kind parent company, and they happen to belong to me. 

At some point in the last 13 months, I have grown extremely weary of running my career with a fire extinguisher in my messenger bag for the ‘just in case’ element that has become my everyday life.

I spent so much time running away from what I thought was a behemoth (it being Corporate America), that I missed the gorgeousness of how processed and orderly it allowed business to be. That is of course if its unwieldy CEO’s and owners allowed it to do the job it was meant to do. 

I consider my ideas my children.

I have not yet been blessed to be anyone’s mother. 

However, with all the let downs, bold face endeavors, defiance, remarkable love, midnight hugs and silent gestures that let me know I am too am adored, I have truly found a calling in being a matriarch. Being a inexperienced mother to a host of cacophonous firecrackers dressed as half bred startup notions has grown me, in ways my skin wasn’t prepared to stretch for.

My brand as a poet is growing.

My notepad in my iPhone is full. 

& the last time I had the moment to actually sit down and pen a feeling, I made the elegant decision to write a pipeline list. 

Accessorized with reminder bullets to pay ATT mobile, call my attorney, send my mother an email and some illegible scratch about the water and power bill at my home that I do not spend enough time in or at. 

I say all that to say, I am not complaining about the work, the frequency of it, or the thrill of not ever knowing what is truly next. 

I say - it is growing. 

Some mornings, right out of the new pants I just purchased for it. 

Some evenings, it grows in heft as the mass I can’t quite identify but can only state the the enormous amount of pressure its growth has placed on my heart. 

Some Mondays, the growth looks a lot like my fiancé, beautiful, full of sun light - kind hearted and bursting with intrigue, questions to be answered and sincere compliment. 

The job my mother told me didn’t exist, being a poet - in fact does. And this gig, has me at my office at 11:38pm at night. Alas, Octavia told me “Azure you can do anything you put your mind to” and she was right. Apparently I have set my mind to drive the last little bit of sanity right out of my viewpoint. Such is life, such is grist and such is the poem that I am still trying to find time to write. 

I cannot give much more detail about my day to day as a new CEO, as I think it would cause my small readership to be microscopic (smile).  I will say that I have officially hired employees - moved my office from downtown angel city to a little piece of sound stage named, San Marino and my commute is 11 minutes on a good day, 14 minutes on a  bad one. I will boldly tell you, I am learning, the nuance of net 30, glory or having an administrator proficient in Quickbooks and being blessed enough to have a team of sweet spirited dynamos to work with on the days when 10 hours inevitably turns to 18. 

The name of my parent company is Antoinette & Marie Holdings. Antoinette is still just me, and Marie is the middle name of the two women in my life who bookend my history and future, my sister and the love of my life. A&M is behaving, she is conducting herself with the sense that none of her subordinates have.

The crown terror is our re-designed apparel brand. 

What a terribly handsome storm this is. 

But who I am kidding, I love how lighting dances in the sky and I have always been a hollowed harlot for ballads in the rain.

 

Talk soon, 

aa

 

Delineation

Hours before my 32nd birthday, my partner of 2.5 years proposed to me with a flashmob during an epic sunset at a resort that was built on the cliffs of Rancho Palos Verdes. It was the kind of thing that you only see in rom com's that made you watch them over and over again, not for the quality of the cinema, but for the brilliant amount of cheese, love factor, really good looking people and the clear understanding that this NEVER happens in real life. 

Except when it does. 

Except when you are sitting holding your 4 month old godson, waiting for this same partner to return to the chestnut colored wicker chairs that she placed on the grass overlooking the horizon, because she yet again forgot to "grab her go pro". Then as you are holding this tiny perfect human, Beyonce's "Love on top" is now playing outside and you are now seated in front of an entire dance company dancing for you. The sun is setting, your best friend has grabbed the baby from you, just for his sheer safety, because the look of shock is smeared all over your sun-kissed face. 

Except when this happens. 

The proposal was epic, emotional and the most stunning piece of magic I have ever witnessed. Even the movies, complete with Ashton Kutcher, Kate Hudson, Mila Kunis, Morris Chesnut and Justin Timberlake - they had nothing on what had just happened to me. 

Once I came down from the illegal high (metaphorically speaking), and found my feet once again holding the weight of my body; I thought to myself, "exactly how do I describe what just happened to me on Facebook, this will never make the character cut on twitter, and what picture will accurately depict this on Instagram, will I need a filter, can this be done in Afterlight?". 

I know, of all the things to be thinking about, I am thinking about social media. 

Of all the things that I am feeling, I am thinking about updating my status. 

You are free to think of me whatever you will. 

The way I see it is this:

From the time I can remember, I have dealt with an enormous amount of adversity in my life. I am adopted. I did not know so until I was 9 years of age (my older sister told me in a heated pre-adolescent argument) and it rocked my entire core. Once I assimilated the definition of the word, I regarded myself as 'coming into this world having been returned', almost as if my birthparents were not happy with their purchase, so they put me in a bag, sans receipt  and asked for store credit. From that time on, I didn't process situations easily, I was self-tormented, had awful self-esteem and always felt as if I did not fit. Figuratively and physically (as I was overweight from a young age). My teenage years were gruesome for my mother and sister, I was unpleasant to them, to say the least. Very concerned with popularity at any cost, and I am ever grateful that social media was not around when I was coming up. I could have made lives far more hellish. Needless to say, I had a huge abandonment complex and thought that people would never stay, they would never want to keep me. I thought 'Azure, keep your possessions light, you never know when you will have to move on.'

It took some time for me to realize my self-worth. 

I have made progress, worked on my ability to make amends and overall have stopped blaming myself and others for their brief entrances or abrupt exits. I have found a sheer joy in loving and living in each and every moment.

When talking to my fiancee about why I felt it necessary to post about what Facebook appropriately titles a "life event", I attempted to tell her why I thought it was necessary. I said to her "you gave me magic, I have never been given magic before, you literally handed it to me...I have every intention of sharing with the entire world."

Today, we access the world through the internet, through social media. 

For those of you that follow me, you know that I don't often post details about my personal life online. You will often see me posting about work, about my job as a speaker and poet. I have opened my life to a harsh world of critics and judgement, and that comes with the industry. So for that reason, I try to stay on task. 

 

With the announcement of this event, we were flooded comments, text messages, emails and calls. All with an outpouring of congratulations and support. I was hearing from people that I hadn't spoken to since the 8th grade. It made me evaluate, think about the 3K "friends" I had on Facebook and how I was maybe connected to 600 of them, at best - maybe. This meant that details of my life, work, which for me are often intertwined, was going out to the free world based on faulty algorithms and that I was adding to the static of empty posts and meaningless status updates. 

This made me feel a bit lost, like I had just attempted to whisper in the middle of Times Square to someone hard of hearing. What was the point? What was the point of announcing this to 2,400 people you don't remember meeting, 2,400 voices that you could never identify? Why share the most amazing day in your life to people who don't care to actually know you? These profiles are not friends - we have confused or lost the meaning of the world altogether. Personally, I blame myspace. 

After evaluating all of this, all whilst answering congratulations and celebratory text messages, I made the decision to re-activate my Facebook Fan Page. I deactivated it 2 years ago, I found it taxing to post on my friend page and the fan page. I spent a decent amount of time trying to understand the difference and necessity of having 2 separate profiles to describe the same activities. For me, I was just dually posting to both pages and although I found my work to be interesting, I certainly did not need 4 mediums of social media to articulate that I was back at the airport and headed to Omaha and Rochester for work. It was too much. It IS too much.

 

Through this 'life event', through the reconnection with my childhood friends and family I am just now getting to know, I realized the personal purpose of social media, as it applies to my life. It is to SHARE personal occurrences, in a way that is instant and lasting. Whether it is a first step, promotion, new car, trip to Europe or a new health fad that you will fail at miserably. The albums and status updates are to connect us to people we may not have the time to call or won't get an opportunity to travel to where they live. Social media was not supposed to be the place where everyone filters their life to look glamorous, inciting notions of celebrity and prominence. I have to remind people that the perception that social media gives is NOT reality. We post what we WANT others to see, we pick the best photo and attempt to write a caption to match. To really know the context, you have to really KNOW the person.

I certainly cannot speak for everyone, but I have definitely experienced an elegant epiphany.

I want to make a clear distinction between the people, family and friends in my life. Ones that I can converse and celebrate with about the courses of our lives. People that will receive holiday greeting cards from us and invitations to birthdays, graduations and reunions. How could I possibly be close to 3,000 people, I can't and I am not? In the last 48 hours I have 'unfriended' 900 people, there is still work to be done. I want to be present for the people in my life, I want to be gracious to the people that have supported my career, I want to be respectful of my personal life, and the business of my family. I cannot do that without an actual filter or separation from my life and my job. 

So, I have delineated - socially.

I look forward to writing this blog.

I look forward to establishing boundary, to growing my career and adhering to the needs of my family. 

 

I raise my glass to discretion, compassion, and balance. 

The first few days of 32 are hard, but handsome sweethearts, they are GREAT. 

 

Talk Soon, 

aa