Arguing with myself -Stream of Consciousness 12/2/16 #soc

  • Set the timer for 5 mins.
  • Get comfortable.
  • Type anything that comes to mind.
  • This is a way to clear the mind before starting the day or before going to bed.
  • This may not make sense to anyone but me (maybe, ha!)
  • The people mentioned are real people. The names may/may not be their real names.
  • This is unedited.

AAANNNNNDDDD GO!

This chair is not comfortable. I should get a better chair. It’s early. Writing a to-do list is such a great idea. I may or may/not do everything on my to-do list but it feels good to write. When I am coaching full time I will coach clients to do that. Hmmm….Coaching. I have so much information to give people. I thing a lot about my worth. Am I worthy of being called a coach, a great mom, a great girlfriend. Wait..it just hit me. Am I a great girlfriend. EEk! Who knows but the dudes I’ve dumped or who have dumped me. Ha! First of all I am worthy of whatever the hell I want to be worthy of being or being without explanation. Second of all I am a great girlfriend I think. Did I just start kinda arguing with myself. LOL! That’s stupid.

I want to spend life helping others via motivational speaking, coaching, clothing, and stuff. Wait…lol! That’s only partially true. I really want to spend my life being be open and freely while waving people along for the journey. I want people to see me and be encouraged. Sheesh 5 minutes is not a long time. I am thinking more thoughts and wanting to keep writing. This alarm is annoying. I’m still typing. Wait am I defying the alarm that I set. I must STOP arguing with myself. Ha!

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Because the Judge says so?

In a Virginia court of law, a judge in my child support case evaluated my ex-fiance and I’s income according to her own judgement and the state’s child support calculator. When I told her that I had launched my company (Made by a Black Woman) in January and was currently only able to show her what I had been making (a little over $500 a month) vs. what I will be making consistently in the future she asked “Well what did you make last year?” Last year I signed on to make about $60,000 from a full-time job. I also had income from organizing events and poetry performances. She then asked “How did you go from making $65,000 to making $500 a month? I explained to her that I was laid off in August and decided to start my own business. Her response was

“If you can’t make $30, 000 – $40,000 running your own business then you need to find a job”

Immediately my blood began to boil! Who was she to make this judgment? I just launched the business in January. It’s only April. We are barely out of the first quarter and speaking in terms of quarters I’ve made significant progress for a small business considering that I’ve had to take out loans to cover expenses. Business is growing. I am Shelly Bell, LLC is the overarching business with Made by a Black Woman as a fashion company and MsPrint USA as a custom apparel printing company under it’s umbrella. She asked how much I would be making if I were recorded my income as $40, 000 which I am on par for making and quite possibly likely to exceed. I resent the idea that an honorable judge responsible for upholding the laws of the land, who most likely when into huge debt trying to become such person made a comment that has NOTHING to do with my child support case and insinuates that I could possibly be attempting to gain support for myself outside of my child. I was granted $700 a month which is JUST enough to cover costs for daycare for my 18 month old. This is all that I have been requesting of her father and all the input I needed from the courts. Whether or not I “should” continue my passion for entrepreneurship is NOT the call of any judge.

If court was a safe space where you could represent yourself and be respected as a human being who is capable of representing yourself I would have had this reply for the judge:

“While I understand that you are not a fan of marginalized groups who don’t have the resources to borrow large lump sums of money to start a business you have no right to minimize my efforts to own my own business with your limited views. Such snide remarks should be unlawful and I should have the right to request another judge. It is possible that I have the right to request another judge, but I have been advised by lawyers that I would be risking the “bad kid” syndrome where the new judge would be judging me based on your opinions. This affects my safety and trust in the court system. Your comments affect my trust in the right to fairness by someone who is supposedly knowledgeable enough to facilitate law enforcement in Virginia but lacks understanding of marginalization and how that affects entrepreneurs of color. Women of color entrepreneurs to be exact. I am appalled by the idea that a judge who lacks empathy is even presiding over my case. I came here for fairness and I am leaving in fear of neither my ex or I receiving such.”

Since this incident my ex and I have decided to settle out of court with our own document. The picture above is the picture hanging directly behind the judge while we discuss visitation and child support. How the hell can a citizen feel safe looking at that?! A BLACK CITIZEN TO BE EXACT!

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Co-Parenting…

Warning: I haven’t blogged in a while and this post is just a ramble. 

Week to week visitation has begun. Skylar (22 month old) stays with Paul (dad) one week and with me (mom) the next week. This is my third child and I have never had visitation split this way. Leading up to this week we have been to mediation and court to work out visitation and support. Through this process I realized that black men are traumatized by the idea of court, police, and a possibly other government entities that represent control (like the IRS). I was completely comfortable going through court to settle our differences, but Paul believed wholeheartedly that we could have made the decisions ourselves. This is coming from a dude who is a selfish only child and at the time was still throwing “i’m not happy” temper tantrums over really small things.

I am 7 years older than him so it is only natural that I be patient with his maturity, but I was really clear that we would not be able to communicate in a way that could resolve visitation and support easily. His qualm with court has never really been explained. He just always says “I just don’t want to go through the court.” Then he kinda emphasizes the words like “BECAUSE IT’S COURT!” I usually reply with a blank stare “OK. I don’t get it. It has actually helped.” He disagrees. I feel that court has kept him on his “A” game when it comes to paying child support and finding a place of his own quickly so that we can begin week-to-week visitation.

I had so many concerns about this new visitation schedule. Will Skylar adapt well? Will she be choosing who’s house is more fun? Will she want to stay with him over me or me over him? Out of all the things that were so hard to communicate about, this is one area where we both shared a bit of fear. It has been easy to identify all the places we disagree. Disagreement is louder than agreement. Sometimes I think we were so busy disagreeing that we could not stay together. Staying together meant acceptance. Him accepting that I am NOT a traditional woman and me accepting that he IS a traditional man. Even though acceptance may not have been the key to giving Skylar the chance to grow up with a mom and dad in the same home it surely would have been nice to try.

The week has been going fine! Paul drops her at school in the morning. I pick her up from school. He picks her up from me and she spends the night with him. It gives me more time to work. I feel guilty because I actually like having the free time at night. I miss her like crazy though! Next week is my week. I am not sure if she will understand that Daddy is not coming to pick her up. It just dawned on me while typing that maybe he should come over a few times throughout the week. Here’s the kicker! In order to make this work I have to see him more which is something that I don’t necessarily want to do. He is cool and all but he represents a bit of trauma for me. Of course, I just bite the bullet for Skylar because that’s what “good moms” do right? sigh.

The saga continues….

 

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Let’s Open Mic TONIGHT!

Open Mic Poetry Night with Award-Winning Poet Shelly Bell

For Immediate Release: April 21, 2016

In celebration of National Poetry Month the Mobile Art Lab is hosting a Live Poetry Open Mic night at the Braddock Interim Park, 600 N. Henry St., on Friday, April 22 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Poet and advocate Shelly Bell will lead the evenings events with live poetry readings and music. Everyone is welcome to attend and recite his or her own poetry or his or her favorite poems and songs. Refreshments will be available.

Shelly Bell is among the nation’s most sought after writers, community organizers and performers. Excelling as a truly dynamic force in the local (Washington, DC), national and now international media, her work as a performance poet has led to an arts partnership with the Northern VA Fine Arts Association, an interview with NerdWallet, a performance with the world renowned Washington Metro Philharmonic Association, and serving as an Arts Commissioner for the City of Alexandria, VA.

She is the author of All Women are Stupid Sometimes – a contemporary tale of what women endure for love. Her poems have been published for academia in Critical Articulations of Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation which examines the relationship between race, gender and sexual orientation. Shelly has published articles on music, arts, and culture as a contributor for Brightest Young Things, Brooklyn Bodega, and the editor of The Dope Female Critics. She is also the founder of Women Writers Rock – an advocacy group for women readers and writers in the DC metro area and beyond.

She chases the new while maintaining a savvy consistent business flair as a writer, designer, and filmmaker. Shelly Bell is unquestionably an extraordinarily gifted artist mixing uncommon honesty with a populist style. Her unflinching desire to remain honest to herself and her aspiration makes her personal motto entirely true. “Regret Nothing Write Everything!”

National Poetry Month 1/30

April is National Poetry Month! Every year poets around the world take on the challenge of writing a poem a day for 30 days. Every year I begin the challenge, but I think I’ve only completed it maybe once. This year is slightly different. I am going to begin the challenge, but I am not going to pressure myself to complete it! Writing every day is a huge task, but rewarding nonetheless. Plus, I need new poems in my life. After launching Made by a Black Woman as an online retail store and a design center I have been busy making living the entrepreneur life of hustle, happiness, and more hustle. February (Black History Month & my birth month), March (Women’s History Month), and April (National Poetry Month) are month long celebrations that vibrate various parts of who I am. Each month means a lot to me and has been a part of my journey as a designer, poet, and artist in general. So here we go!

 

Woman
You are not a penis’ bell hop,
Not escort for sperm,
Not a tool,
Not a party favor,
Not an accessory,
Not just company for the man,
Not plucked from below his ego.

Rib, is bone.
Rib, is structural.
Rib, he can break.
Rib, he can live without.
Rib, man can repair.
Rib, man has more than one of.
Rib, can be kicked.
Rib, is strong but unremarkable.
Rib, is the most forgotten part of body.

Woman
You are more than rib.
You, big bang.
You, spontaneous combustion.
You, unpredictable explosion.
You, Venus.
You, Moon.
You, cyclical.
You, stardust.
You, complex.
You, magical.
You, mysterious.
You, 5th element.
You are so much more than the bone that grew Fallopian tubes.

Woman
You appeared.
You are pulse.
More artery than bone
More muscle than rib
Man made God his image.
Man forgot how you got here.
Man don’t know what to do with you,
as if  it’s his decision,
to do,
something,
with you,
at all.

When Mantras and Bible Verses Fail

Some days the reminder that I am a single parent comes rushing through my spirit like a gust of Chicago wind. It rustles my emotions and whirlwinds my plans. While “single mother” is not synonymous with “fatherless,” most days there is an imbalance of active parent participation. A mismatched level of accountability that hovers over our co-parenting routines. I feel heavy today. Skylar needs to learn to potty. Imani needs to be pushed to balance school and to practice her basketball skills. Josiah needs to exercise more and to be told what he is doing right more times than what he is doing wrong. I just launched an online retail store that needs marketing. I have 4 dependents. None of them will be successful without me. To hold so many futures in my hands at once is exhausting. Especially on days when my super powers are running low. In the hours where my own thoughts are kryptonite. These are the moments when mantras and Bible verses fail. When my throat hurts from trying to hold back tears. When my belly jerks a little because short breaths are the cure for anxiety. Trying to think a positive thought seems like too much thought.

Feels Overwhelmed

I need a crying room right now. A place to just scream, cry an ugly cry, toss the wind back out to the world, and to have the biggest temper tantrum an adult can have. Sometimes I need space to be unreasonably emotional. I don’t have a crying room so my room will have to do. My pillow will have to muffle the yelling and the wind will have to exit quietly under the bedroom door. The soaking power of pillows beats Brawny paper towels any day! I take this moment to ALLOW MYSELF TO LOSE IT!

IT = MY COOL. MY TOGETHER’D SELF. MY CALM. MY MANTRA. MY FAITH. MY BIBLE VERSE. MY HOPE. MY OPTIMISM. MY FORWARD THINKING. MY “IT WILL BE ALRIGHT.” MY VIEW OF PERFECTION.

When I start feeling like loss is all I have I tend to lose IT. Well, I don’t really lose IT, I just throw IT down then stomp on IT until I’m ready to pick it up, dust it off, and hold on to IT again. Much like a toddler, when tantrum is over I will just have to get up and fall in agreement with the things expected of me. On the other side of this cry the situation doesn’t change. Skylar will still be pottying on Imani’s floor, Imani will still need to be yelled at to condition for basketball, Josiah will still need me as a drill sergeant if he’s ever going to exercise, and my company will still need me to network to push it forward. The before-the-breakdown me is different from the after-the-breakdown me. Releasing tears is an essential part of a spiritual detox. Though I did not consciously choose this detox my body knew it was time to rid myself of some emotions. I will probably cry on and off through the night. A good detox could take some time. I had an epiphany last week that the eyes are funnels to the brain. Everything I’m viewing is being screened through previous experiences and being sifted into my psyche as being one thing or the other. However, this is not 2002, I am not a college kid with two kids and a part-time job. I am not fighting the same battles. I am not a teen mom trying to prove to everyone that I can succeed. I am successful. I will continue to succeed.

AND just like that my mantras float back…..”Success is easy for me” “No matter what success continues for me” “I am moving forward into opportunity” “This moment in life is new and I will live it as such!”

Line up the responsibilities. Let’s rumble!

Becky vs. Precious, Lee Daniels’ Made Us Do It!

becky-williams-gabourey-sidibe
Last week (11/04/2015) on Empire, Gabourey Sidibe was the last of the hit TV show’s main cast members to have a “love” scene. Viewers went wild with fat shaming memes and terrible comments. While fat shaming is a terrible monster that rears it’s ugly head against any and everyone (especially women in Hollywood), I am not so sure that fat shaming is the totality of what’s happening here.

First Lee Daniels served us Gabourey as Precious

precious-gif

 

 
Her image was an overweight, fried chicken eating, illiterate girl who was hated by her mother because her father raped her which resulted in pregnancy. Precious’ relationship with sex was prominent in the movie. It was revealed during an award winning emotional breakdown by Mo’Nique (playing the role of Precious’ mother) that not only did her father rape her but that he would reach over and play with her private parts while having sex with the mother. This image is visceral to say the least. Lee Daniels’ could be wrong to assume that America can get over such a traumatic image so easily.

On Wednesday, Lee Daniels’ served us Becky

becky-empire-e1446736148482

 

 

 

 

Since the topic most present here is fat shaming I will describe Lee Daniels’ choice to give Becky a love scene this way with that context. Daniels’ served us a “fat women need love too. Watch her throw her leg up. You didn’t think she could do that” scene. I am not so sure that it was a love scene at all. I am all for women of any size doing anything they want. What’s annoying is that Lee Daniels’ continues to serve us Gabourey’s weight as a prop then when social media erupts with comments and memes Gabourey is the one that suffers.

Precious - Szenenbild

06 O Teatro Da Vida Filme Movie Film Preciosa Uma História De Esperança Precious Lee Daniels 2009 Gabourey Sidibe Barret Helms

 

 

 

 

The fat shaming started with Lee Daniels’. It is challenging for an actor to play a role as jarring as Precious then transition into other characters where she is much more than a fat black girl who is good enough to have sex with but not good enough to love. It is quite possible that seeing Gabourey in the love scene on Empire triggered trauma for the viewer where the response was to bash it, get rid of it, or laugh at it. I cannot assume that everyone who saw Precious also saw the episode of Empire. The images of Precious and the storyline of the movie are public enough and well known enough (especially after the Oscars) for a large group of Empire viewers to have been susceptible to it’s striking images of Gabourey as a charity case.

I challenge Lee Daniels’ to consider being more careful. Give Becky a build up. Let her be kinky. Let her kiss. Let her engage in flirty behavior then transition us into her having sex. I feel like there’s a way he can acknowledge the trauma he caused with Precious while not letting it hold Becky back from getting the love/sex she wants. Gabourey as an actor deserves a little more tenderness. Not because she is anything other than brilliant and beautiful, but because the role of Precious is attached to her like Gollum! il_570xN.334901183

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ps. Thank you for reading! None of these images are mine but are googlable. Follow the blog! Till we blog again…

What is “Living the Dream?”

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During my morning peruse of Facebook posts I came across a very inspiring post from a fellow poet about landing the VP of Marketing position at a major American bank. Immediately, I was super happy for her! To see a woman, a black woman, rising in corporate America is always something I celebrate. I was going on a “liking spree” of all of the comments that congratulated her. One comment in particular made me pause. It read “congratulations on living your dream.”

I thought, “hmm, is this her dream? Like THE dream?” It is a mark of success for sure. It is a great accomplishment that deserves many praise, congratulations, and continued acknowledgement. But was it her dream or perceived as a dream come true from the person commenting? Whether it was her dream or not doesn’t affect how amazing it is. Even though I am mentioning this post and I’m overjoyed about her success, this blog post is NOT about the beautiful successful black woman. It is more about the idea of “living the dream” and what that may mean to people.

Perception

Living the dream begins with knowing what the dream is. In reference to actual dreams, there are many times you wake up and can’t remember what you dreamed. There are many times where your dreams are half scenes of abstract symbols. Life goals as dreams can be the same. Who are you? What are your dreams? Who makes the call on whether or not you are living your dream?

Living the dream vs. Dreaming the dream

An artist on Myspace (super long time ago) said to me “at some point everyone must wake up.” Dreaming the dream is pretty, it’s whimsical, it’s being lost in possibilities. Living the dream is work, it’s building, it’s starting, it’s risky, its focused, and it can be scary. Living the dream starts with actually living it. Living day one of it. Laying the first brick. Taking the first step. Living it and arriving at the ultimate goal of the dream are two different things. No matter what obstacles come your way if you are taking intentional steps inside of your dream, you are still living the dream. It’s the difference between walking under a cloud and into the fog. The difference between walking beside the river and swimming it. Which one are you doing?

Can unemployment be living the dream?

In part of said post the author mentioned  “…I hope y’all didn’t think I was going to stay unemployed?” I thought, “when was she unemployed?” She has been so fierce and confident in her posts that unemployment never even crossed my mind. In my initial response I wrote “a woman with a boss mentality is never unemployed!” Pay attention to where you are. Being unemployed means you’re not committed to building someone else’s dream. Working for someone else is not America’s wealth building model. However, there’s a layer of fear placed on people of a certain class and/or race/ethnicity to believe that the “American Dream” will always be just a dream to them. If you have the will to live your dream you will recognize unemployment from a traditional job as an opportunity to kick start your dream. If you have the will to live your dream you will find a way regardless of what traditional employment or conservative America says.

Marks of success

Immediate wealth was never a part of my dream. In fact, the idea of immediate wealth has held me back from my dream more times than not. Money is not the ONLY mark of success available. Assets, board membership, network growth, product growth, production, and brand establishment are all marks of success. Power is probably one of the largest unidentified marks of success. Many wealthy people have filed bankruptcy. Not because they are broke per se, but to maintain the power over their assets. Media prophesies to consumers that wealth is ONLY money in the bank. That’s not true. Wealth is credit, assets, and memberships.  Being able to afford something is all about how resourceful you are.

I am inspired

In August, I was laid off with over a month’s pay, insurance, and approval of unemployment (which is not automatic for everyone).  I have support for my townhouse. I have a support circle for my sanity. I have a vision for my next move. I am living the dream! My dream!

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  • Founder and ED of Women Writers Rock which includes programming, housing, and products for self-identified women and their children.
  • No 9-5 to suffocate my goals under.
  • I am present with my children.
  • I am learning to operate a TV Studio.
  • I am networking with filmmakers and volunteering on their projects while working on my own.
  • I am applying for fellowships in Media and Arts.
  • I am writing plans for business acquisitions and rental properties.

What have I been sobbing about? Being unemployed? I’ve employed myself to build my dreams! I just needed to tweak my perception to see the path. This is one of the few days where a Facebook post and comment were awesome additions to my day!

Thank you for reading!

Living while Black ep #1: Django is not just a superhero iconic slave character

 

warning: this post has not been edited and is in it’s most organic form.

LIVING WHILE BLACK & A COMPUTER SCIENTIST

19404905-Black-woman-using-a-laptop-while-having-a-tea-in-her-living-room-Stock-Photo

The incident:

During my normal morning routine of Facebook posting the first thought that comes to mind and simultaneously checking my email for evidence that I have indeed taken over the world, I get a message from a new friend. The email subject line reads “See you at: Django Girls Workshop.”  In the message the friend expressed that she would be attending this workshop with a woman that she mentors. I click the link to get to the meetup page.

My reaction:
My initial reaction is “WHAT THE HELL?! A Django Girls Workshop run by all white women?!” She probably thought I was really stupid (will explain later). I expressed to my friend that it felt weird to see a workshop hosted by all white women and named after a pop culture slave superhero icon. She did not respond.

My action step:
I googled the name “Django” and found that it is the name of famous guitar player, it means “I awake,” and from the Urban Dictionary it is also used interchangeable with the word “dude.” After reading through the workshop description again I realized that this event was a computer programming/web development workshop for young girls. I was still puzzled about the name so I sent a message to the organizers.

I hope this message finds you well. Someone sent me an invite to your Django Girls event. Initially, my thought was “WHAT THE HELL?! A group named Django Girls organized by a white woman (picture showing in organizer corner) is really weird.” Ultimately, it’s not a matter of it being organized by white people as it is a matter of why the name “Django.” The name means “I awake,” is a nickname for a man or slang for “dude.” In pop culture it will be immediately associated with “Django Unchained.” The cause is awesome. I am hoping that the organizers can understand how it could be viewed and have explained somewhere why the name was chosen. Could you direct me to that space?

Response to my action from other party:
Two organizers responded (hereinafter referred to as O1 and O2).  Maybe O1 was prepared because her response was immediate and cold. She stated that Django was a famous guitarist and sent me two links to the Django programming language site The links included the page that explains the name and the Django Girls project. O2 gave a “+1” (a techie hi-five of sorts) to what O1 sent and added that when the movie came out she recalled thinking of the naming conflict. While O1 placed concentration on correcting my message including “Django Girls Group” vs. “Django Girls Workshop,” O2 at least acknowledged that the naming conflict did exist. I asked that the organizers at least list the two links they’d sent to me in the event description. O1 agreed. I asked a few friends “if you saw a workshop titled “Django Girls Workshop” what would be your immediate thought.” We all had the same initial thought.

Questions
Which group of young girls is this workshop targeting? Girls who know Django as a guitarist? Girls who know Django as a programming language? Girls who know Django as more than the pop culture slave icon?

This workshop is being held at Martin Luther King Library. Did anyone think it mattered that a young black girl may be interested in the workshop and not know that Django was a programming language?

Would I be blackballed by the world of DC women programmers because I reacted with my race before my degree (in Computer Science)?

What level of ignorance was I? Ignorant of the programming language? Ignorant of the white culture of great guitarist that I am supposed to know more about than my blackness?

What level of ignorant did the organizers of this event think I was? Ignorant enough to challenge them? Ignorant enough to challenge the idea of at least acknowledging in the description that someone may be as ignorant as I was in that moment?

Does any other culture ever have to think of black people and what they think when perpetuating a thing?

Am I being too overly racially sensitive?

Were these women thinking that I was/am being too overly sensitive and they had no responsibility in thinking of the name of the workshop and black girls? Does the fact that Django Girls already exists as a project make it OK for organizers to believe that this means they don’t need to add links for explanation in their description?

Final thoughts.
After reading through the Django programming language site I felt a little stupid about not knowing it was a programming language. I do not regret asking the organizers to consider that a young girl may see the name and be deterred. The world of computer programming lacks diversity on all levels. If the workshop is truly for young girls it should be considered that a programming language from 2003 that is not being taught in the majority of schools in the DC area may NOT be automatically recognized for what it is above pop culture’s way of dominating Millennial attention spans. I get that O1 could have thought that she owed me or anyone else any further explanation or understanding. For her, it’s a programming language named after a guitarist. She doesn’t have to associate it with anything other than what she knows it for because it’s name is just it’s name. Unfortunately, this is where being black sucks sometimes. I love being black. I do not love the lack of awareness people have surrounding living while black and how this affects everything you experience.

It could be that black life is inaccessible for people like O1. Welp, *shrug*

This post may contain incorrect grammar, typing or spelling errors. Leave me a comment and I’ll correct it OR GET OVER IT!  

7 Reasons I Only Cry in the Car

cry in the car

#1: The car is controllable when tears aren’t.

#2: With the doors closed and the windows rolled up tightly, it’s cozy enough to be considered a hug.

#3: I am empowered by the gas pedal. With a little extra push I can get over any hump.

#4: I can turn the radio up really loudly and make my sighs dance.

#5: There’s a clock, with numbers to tell me it’s time to let go.

#6: Whether it’s a bug landing on my windshield, a horn blowing road raging neighboring driver, or a deer peeking at the edge of the woods, I am not alone.

#7: Everyone must get out of the car at some point.

Life according to a Serial Entrepreneur, Designer & Pop Culture Analyst