our words.

You Are Winning

This week has been entirely too chaotic. Every ounce of my day has been allotted and stress has been boiling over. I usually pride myself on the idea that I can say no and turn down engagements that will overload my life. However, this week I have truly been tested. Each night I lay down hoping to fall asleep quickly, yet my mind continues to race. All the things I need to do. All the things I didn’t have time to finish. OVERWHELMING. On top of a move, I have had the largest poetry slam of the year, preparation for Poetry vs. Hip Hop, a field trip at school (if you are a teacher, you know how much effort goes into a single field trip), teaching a poetry workshop for high school students, curating art for a new app, leading youth group at my church, and participating in a women’s small group. Don’t even think about having a normal dating life and never mind eating right and actually getting a decent workout. Summer body--who needs it?

Just yesterday, as I was picking up my Chick-Fil-A drive-thru dinner, it hit me: I want to remember to be thankful. I am seeing the fruit of my labor and success in my art. I am busy because I am gaining more opportunities. People are requesting me for poetry and choreography. I’m being trusted with more opportunities for leadership in my church. Chains are falling.  My community is strong. Love is there. So sure, I have a lot on my plate, but it’s a pretty fantastic plate and I am filled.

As I go in and out of chaotic seasons, I want to remember to breathe and find rest in the midst of the mess. I do not quite have that figured out yet. (If you have any suggestions… DM me lol) But I do think it’s possible. Yes, it may not be wise to overload your schedule. You may need to say no to some things. But on weeks like this; when everything seems to happen all at once, embrace it. Do your best. Look around and realize … you are winning.



30 Days All or Nothing. Help us reach our goal of $4,500 by May 5th! Learn more here: The 5th Woman Kickstarter

Till Death Do Us Part

Photo Cred:  Jasmine Newton

Photo Cred: Jasmine Newton

I have never believed in marriage. In fact, marriage has always been a bad word to me, as it was always a negative force in my own life. My parents never had a wedding. They got married at the courthouse and hid it from my mother’s parents for as long as they were able. There were never any photos or romantic stories of flowers and colors and dresses, just cynical musings about my mother’s white pantsuit and my father’s indifference. When I think of my parents’ marriage, I think of screaming and thrown objects and packing for my grandparents’ house after a particularly bad fight. Marriage was never the best thing for my family; in fact, we celebrate its conclusion. My parents’ divorce was finalized on my grandparents’ wedding anniversary, and we celebrate both with equal elation. Although we have never fulfilled our wish of having an official divorce cake, my mother and I send texts to each other every September 17th: “Happy Divorce Day!”

As I studied more history and sociology and got more plugged into the activist scene, marriage took on even more of a negative association. Marriage is an invention of the patriarchy in which a woman’s father trades her virginity for three goats, and anyone who is familiar with my poetry knows how much I love to smash the social construction of virginity. You get married and your life is over. You take your husband’s last name, and your entire identity is subsumed within his. “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith.” You literally become your husband. From Disney movies to ever more elaborate wedding announcements, our culture constantly reminds us that women are not complete unless they are legally attached to a man.

With all my disdain for marriage, I am a person with a deep need for security and stability. I always knew this about myself, but the more “adulting” I do, the more I realize this is the case. I am an introvert; rather than spending time in large groups, I like to have a couple close friends and a close partner. I like having someone to go home to. Someone who knows where my keys are when I don’t and makes sure I don’t sleep through all my alarms. The idea of a lifelong stable partner is comforting to me. For the first time, I am in a relationship with someone I can envision as the father of my children. The fanfare, the fantasy, and the ever-growing number of engagement and bridal shower and wedding photos on Facebook make it even more tempting.

My conflicting feelings about marriage beg the question: to marry, or not to marry? I am in love with my boyfriend, but I am cynical enough to know that things happen and people change. I worry about doing it too young, with the inevitable prospect of job changes and traveling and big moves. And there is pressure from millenial activist circles to reject the institution of marriage and live in rebellious domestically partnered sin; if you buy in, you’re a sellout. So what is a virginity-hating, patriarchy-smashing feminist to do?

After a lot of tossing and turning over the m-word, I’m thinking I’ll eventually take the plunge. Monogamy and lifelong partnership is not for everyone, but I think it might be for me. But if I’m going to do it, I have to do it in a way that relieves my feminist conscience. And this means getting to do some really cool things, from a nontraditional ethical engagement ring to perhaps even being the one to propose. Keeping my last name. A gothic death-themed wedding (“Till Death Do Us Part”). Red and black colors, with a red dress, not a white one, because everyone knows it’s too late for purity. Traditional Palestinian wedding songs. Slam poetry vows. The wedding and the reception all in the same place. Sidekicks instead of bridesmaids and groomsmen. Perhaps a flower boy; f*&% the gender binary. If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it loud and rebellious with two middle fingers as I dance down the aisle (by myself). Because tax breaks are fun, and because marriage doesn’t have to be a defining moment in a woman’s life. It can just be an invitation to join her along her wild, unpredictable journey.


The Cast has been Chosen

   After auditions and extra writing assignments the cast of "the 5th Woman" 2015 has been chosen. I am so excited to be working with this group of ladies. Here they are!

Coy "Oh So Coy" Kindred - a native of Syracuse, NY this young lady brings new light to the words "Poet Hustler". She is a dynamic poet with beautiful connections to the world around her.

Coy

Olivia Riggins is new the world of poetry, but not new to the stage.  She brings a brand new passion to "the 5th Woman" and will surprise you with her take on the world.

Olivia

Desiree Seay is another new comer with a connection to the church that we rarely hear from.  She is a PK and shares raw truth with us from a God perspective.  She promises to provide new views on topics for all women.

Desiree

Kari "WordNerd" Sanders is an an Atlanta, GA native.  She is the baby of the cast and promises to bring a rawness to the show that will open eyes and change lives.  She has been writing for years and shares her life of struggle openly with passion in her poetry.

Kari

and Rhea "RheaSunshine" Carmon is the founder of "the 5th Woman" and the veteran mother of the crew.  As the originator of the show and producer and director, she shares years of experience and coaching with the cast that brings the show to new levels.  

Rhea

 

Needless to say, you do not want to miss "the 5th Woman" 2015 and you don't want to miss anything leading up to this show.  #the5thWoman2015