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Reflections on our stuff

Ntozake Shange, author of the famous choreopoem For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf passed away this year on October 28. She was an award-winning playwright celebrated for telling women’s stories in women’s voices.

In 2010 Tyler Perry transformed her trailblazing work into a movie. One of the monologues from the choreopoem is called “Somebody Almost Walked Off wid Alla My Stuff.” It’s about what happens when a woman gives/allows her “stuff’—her voice, power, boundaries, hopes, dreams, yeses, or knowledge—to be taken away. Some of the most poignant lines in the poem are “I didn’t know I’d give it up so quick/And the one running wit it/Don’t know they got it/And I’m shouting this is mine. . ..”

Mere excerpts do not do justice to this powerful poem. My wish is that you will pull out your copy or visit a local library and read For Colored Girls . . . in its entirety. But I know that you might not have time to read the entire book. Click here for a link to a poem or you can go to Youtube and look at the monologue.

As we enter into the new year, it seems important—actually necessary—to reflect on some questions about your stuff. You might want to grab a journal and block out some time and space to reflect on the following:

  • What is your stuff?

  • Where is your stuff? (Clearly assess who you are and how are you showing up in the world.)

  • What, if anything, was lost?

  • What, if anything, did you give away?

  • Was anything stolen/taken away? And if someone took your stuff, do they know they have it?

  • What are you holding on to? What, if anything, are you glad is gone? Was there any cost to holding on to or losing to your stuff?

  • What, if anything, do you want/need to reclaim?

  • What support do you need to get your stuff back?

  • How were you able to hold on to, maintain, grow, or get back your stuff?

  • Most importantly how is your stuff aligned with your mission, vision, purpose, and destiny? (Name this stuff.)

According to those who make pronouncements about numbers and their meaning, 2019 is a year of wholeness and completion. It is also supposed to be a year of creativity, intuition, self-expression, and social connections. “Good stuff!” For me, 2018 was a challenging year. I experienced multiple deaths and losses. The news and politics of the day were weighty, and I let fears, “shoulds,” and expectations distract me from my stuff. Unfortunately, I am not alone, because every day I encounter men, women, and children—as well as organizations, schools, and systems—who have “lost” their stuff: creativity, social connections, inner knowledge, voice, self-expression, and joy. Walking into the new year, we need folks, organizations, and systems to reclaim their stuff.

Yes, you need to know your stuff, hold on to it, value it—but we also must remember that we are social beings who need social support. If you are isolated and disconnected, it’s hard to maintain your sense of self. We need friends and family (birth families or families of choice). We need reflective mirrors and anchors in our lives. Sometimes we need formal help—coaches and counselors—if we have lost sight of our stuff and ourselves. Formal support can help us mourn what has been lost or stolen or see ourselves whole and well. We also need mentors and role models who can help show us the way and share their secrets of survival. Most fundamental is the need for spiritual guidance. Keeping, maintaining, and sustaining your stuff is a spiritual quest and struggle.

Let’s make valuing, cherishing, and nurturing our stuff essential in 2019. It is the only way to access the creativity, intuition, power, and connections that transform our lives, relationships, families, communities, organizations, and world. Don't forget to download your free workbook!

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