About Dragthepen

J. Rahshemah Floyd, a New York resident, currently works as a Writing Consultant and Religious Educator. She presented at the BMCC/CUNY Writers Conference, is a recipient of the Audray Lorde Collective Award, and a winner of the Jacob A. Weiser playwritting award for her work, The Conversation. She was a freelance writer for Streetnews for several years. And she appeared in the gospel play, Oh Lord; Why Did I get Married? She is a member of the BMCC Downtown Chorus. she is also the creator of the You Tube channel , Conversations With J. R. Floyd. The author of two novels , The Waiting Game followed by A Different Flavor of Love. Both books can be found in Amazon

Confessions of the Virus

One of the most difficult aspects of this pandemic is not the temporary loneliness, or the occasional overeating, the periodic boredom, or the wondering when will this be over, for me it is the absence of closeness. We live in a society that thrives on having personal space, in our homes we desire to have our own room, so we can close the door and keep others out. Some people often find themselves hiding in basements, closets or even the bathroom to escape people. 

We are told to seek quiet time to slow down and learn to enjoy our own company. Some parents often teach their children how to play alone. In the process these children invent imaginary friends or they cling to their favorite doll or stuffed animal for comfort. 

I am a proud Introvert and over the course of my life I have learned how to live with others who understand my need for quiet time and to dwell in a clean organized environment. We all have some area of life that is deeply impacted by this period of social distance. I miss the closeness of  being near people without fear. 

I miss sitting in the kitchen with my mom sipping coffee and catching up on life. I miss the hugs from family members, yes we are hugers. I teach college students and often they would initiate the invitation for a hug. I miss the intimacy of holding hands with a friend. I miss sneaking a gentle pinch from the cheek of a sweet plump baby. I especially miss the voices and camaraderie of my weekly chorus. 

Although some restrictions have been lifted and people are going out to enjoy meeting up, however, there is still that sense of being careful to connect but not fully. I spent this entire pandemic living alone; very few people stop by to do a wellness check. I am grateful for the few times I have ventured out to meet friends for dinner, coffee, or to attend a church service. I haven’t been to a mall, department store or to the movies; or any other place that I fear maybe a crowd of people.

I am thankful for spring and I’ ve made a trip to the mountains and it felt amazing to connect with nature, but I was alone. In July I am planning a cross country drive from New York to California. I am so excited because this is something I have dreamed of doing. While compiling my packing list I  remembered to add some extra items like, Lysol spray and wipes, extra masks,  rubber gloves, and hand sanitizer. I am excited, but how well I know that voice of caution will be with me whispering, have fun, but be safe.

Prince Charming Left the Building

Dear Readers,

It’s been a long time since I’ve talked about a relationship topic. The world has been turned upside down by this pandemic, and people have more pressing issues to think about then relationships. I’ve heard people talk about the challenges they faced during the first half of the pandemic when we were ordered to be sheltered in place. 

Now that some restrictions have been lifted I guess people are beginning to venture out and start to date again. In my case I’ve been dateless for two years, partly by choice and also because I am on a journey of healing and self discovery, but I know I can’t hide forever. 

What do men and women like me do when they fear going back out into the hopeless society of dating. My first book entitled The Waiting Game is inspired by my tragic relationships and my  misconception that everyone in the dating game is  looking for the real deal. 

It took a lot for me to admit to myself and to confess to you that I don’t want to be alone, don’t get my message wrong, I am comfortable with my own company, and I will continue to discover more of who I am and what I need and don’t need from an intimate relationship. The bottom line for me is that I am afraid of being played again, and having to start over getting to know someone new and thinking about who to truth. 

In the past I realized I moved to fast in the relationships that turned out to be messy situationships. not only did I move too fast, but I allowed myself to be pushed in directions that I felt uncomfortable with. Is it just me or my thinking that men are not interested in being patient and taking things slow. They want to know right away what’s in it for them in other words they are not wasting their time if they are getting their needs met. 

I am 57 years old and it’s been my experience that men my age want younger women. You know the type of  OG’s  who are looking to relieve their youth.  Or the men I use to meet who are only interested in netflix and chill nights at home. Now that the coronavirus is here this adds another hindrance, so now I don’t dare think about venturing out into the dating scene.

Listen, I am not asking for prince charming to come alone and sweep me off my feet, that fantasy sailed a long time ago. It’s  simple: where are the honest men who haven’t been tinted by gold diggers, cheating women, or been broken and beaten by too many bad relationships, not on the DL,  know who they are what they want, and are emotionally stable and want to be in a relationship for the right reasons. Where are the men who appreciate women like me who go out every day to earn an honest living, have a plan for the future, good family and friend relationships, and live by a moral code of good ethics and values. 

Where are the men who desire to be in a monogamous relationship without the urge to have side pieces. Where are the men who dare to go the distance in a long term partnership regardless of the ditches and valleys. Where are the men  who are willing to accept me for who I am the way I am and not reject me based on what I don’t have. 

Where are the men who don’t believe in being community property by sleeping around and collecting baby mamas. Where are the men who understand their responsibility and accountability when they make the decision to enter into a relationship they claim they want. It’s simple, just be honest with yourself first, I don’t want to be played or layed. I desire to be respected, except, loved, protected, supported and understanding for my life vision and open communication. I want honesty, romance, creativity, someone with a strong family bond, confidence, intelligence, sense of humor, good hygiene and healthy eating habits, belief in God, and someone who believes in friendship is the foundation of any relationship. 

I don’t know where these men are but if they are out there somebody let them know that women like me are waiting for them.

A Change of Mind

Dear Readers,

My last post I talked about being worthy thank you for the support and feedback I received. The word for this post is CHANGE, not getting back to normal or adjusting to the new normal. 

The change I am talking about is when people make the decision to transform their lives in a positive direction this transformation leads to making changes. For some people change isn’t easy, and it’s been my experience that when people make changes in their behavior, thinking, environment, the company they keep, lifestyle changes that lead to eating healthy and exercising,  to stop wasting money and live on a budget, or stop engaging in bad relationships, making  changes in the home to improve family life, some people decide to go to church and seek spiritual guidance, or make changes in their parenting style to become better parents. 

Some people adapt the idea that change is good, and they look forward to making improvements transforming their lives into what some people refer to as” their best life.” But what happens when you decide to change, to take your life in a different direction because you’ve become weary of doing the same thing, the same way and the outcome isn’t what you expected; and change becomes difficult when the people around you are resistant to change. 

For some individuals change means that the lives of the people around them will be inconvenient because they have become complacent and don’t see a need for change. Let me explain….. If you’re married, have a family, in a domestic partnership, situationship, live at home with your parents and other family members the decision to make changes in your life might affect the people connected to you, and their interaction with you might become strained. In other words, they are afraid they might have to change too.

Here’s an example, at the age of 28, I decided to enroll in college. Although I was living on my own there were changes that I made that affected people’s attitude towards me. At the start of my journey towards earning my Bachelor degree I spent every weekend partying. Over time I realized that I couldn’t keep up with the party lifestyle and be a good student because I wasn’t absorbing the content of the courses I was taking in Education and English literature. I looked forward to spending the weekends with my family and friends, but I was struggling to keep up with my assignments. I had to slow down, stay home and create a schedule that allowed me to balance work and school making time to focus on my assignments, while having time for myself. This meant less time partying and Sunday dinner at my parents house. No one was supportive of the changes I made. 

Acquiring my education was very important to me because at the time I was working a dead end job. I truly wanted to transform my life by establishing a career in Education and Social Work. The majority of people around me, mainly my family and friends felt that I was putting too much into my education. The more I tried to explain to them about balancing my time, they continued to oppose the changes that I made. Needless to say, I lost people who I thought I created solid friendships, the reason they gave was because I didn’t have time for them. But the truth was I couldn’t be available when they wanted me to be. I missed out on many family gatherings not intentionally, but due to some of these events happening when I had major assignments due and I could not sacrifice the time. On the day of graduation everyone wanted to celebrate my achievement. These were the same individuals who left me by the roadside so to speak. 

If you’re in the process of transforming your life for the better,  you will have to consider the people around you, meaning husbands wives, childrens, and others who might be opposed and resistant to their lives being affected by the changes you make in your life. Be prepared to:

1. Stand firm in the belief that the changes you’re making will be good for all involved.

2. Be willing to be patient with the setbacks that happen during the process of change.

3. Be prepared to motivate yourself when others are not eager to encourage and support you. 

4. Make sure you’re walking the right path towards change and putting in the effort to make  changes happen.

5. Make sure you understand that change isn’t wishful thinking. You will need a well thought out plan,set goals and check your process.

6. Be very clear about the rationale for the need to change and the benefits.

There are many more suggestions when considering moving towards change, but I think you get the message by now. Change is good because it means moving forward and making progress. When people become stagnant because they are deeply ingrained in living a routine life, and they settle for the status quo then change is a difficult step for them to make. Change does not happen overnight and there might be some unforeseen sacrifice you have to make that others will not. In the end the choice is your to make.

Thankyou for stopping by dragthepen

The Big Setup

Dear Readers, 

You might disagree with what I am about to say, while on the path of healing from years of mental confusion, abusive relationships, and emotional brokenness; I reflect back to my youth, and I arrived at the conclusion that my parents and other adult members of my family set me on a collision course for failure. I am not using my parents as a scapegoat or pointing the finger of blame at them for my poor choices that led to horrible experiences. However, my upbringing wasn’t easy and I struggled through many obstacles and hardships. I am reminded that I wasn’t successful in many areas of my life due to the lack of basic life skills that weren’t taught to me by my parents. 

The rationale for my statement is that I believe that family sets the foundation for a child’s readiness for life. Home sets the stage for children to apply to real life circumstances what they learn from family role models. The lessons about life and life skills this training should begin at home not in the streets or from their peers who know less than they do. The knowledge of living  by good morals and values should begin at home. I’m a baby boomer and the world is completely different from when I was a child, the structure and function of the family has changed. Today’s generation has more odds stacked against them and they need to be prepared to face the challenges of this world.

Unfortunately, my parents did not teach me the value of saving, budging, buying property, securing employment in positions that offer benefits such as pension, or investing for my future. In my childhood home education wasn’t important, instead, I constantly heard from my mother 

” can’t wait until you’re eighteen so you can get out on your own.” Who says this to a child who has nothing to stand on. My parents were anxious to get us, meaning all eight of my siblings out of the house. It didn’t matter where we went or how we got there, the rule was graduate high school, get a job and leave. 

This area of my life has been a source of deep anger, why, because over my life I’ve  established friendships with people from various cultures and economic backgrounds. One key factor I observed is that my friends lived in homes where a foundation was set in place to help them to succeed. In these homes were examples of good work ethics, education was valued, family time meant a sit down meal every night, and my friends family gatherings were not about getting drunk and fighting, but time for bonding and good creating memories. My friends parents had a plan for their children and they were allowed to remain at home until they were stable enough to provide for themselves. I remember one time when I had to return home my presence wasn’t welcomed, and again I was constantly asked ” was I saving money to get another place to live.” That was the first and last time I went back. 

I used to imagine how my life would have been if I was raised in an environment where I was nurtured, and asked about my future dreams, if my mother had given me mother daughter time, and talked to me about the birds and the bees. If my father had shown me more love and a softer side of him, instead of dealing out cruel punishment for childhood mistakes. 

My childhood home felt more like a detention center, my father the warden, and the other family members fell in line and supported his military style of ruling with an iron fist. By the time I left home at 18 with a young baby I was no warfare, scared, and clueless about being a single mother and how to survive on my own. I struggled never having enough money or food. 

Fast forward…..

Despite the rough beginning I found my way but it wasn’t easy. I suffered and my family did not offer any support. I gladly accepted therapy to help work through the pain of my lost childhood, the horrors of my young adult life and the poor choices I made that lead to severe emotional damage.The path to recovery from years of abusive relationships and setbacks have been a rocky journey, but there is good news, the last five years I’ve been able to plant my feet on solid ground. Discovering my true self, learning self care, my worth, and being one hundred percent self sufficient is difficult, but worth the sacrifices I made because it’s all for me. 

I currently work with college students as an Academic Coach. Each day I do my best to make a difference in their lives. I listen when they talk, I find resources to help them work through life’s  problems. I tell them that they are important and capable of achieving their goals, and what they feel and think is relevant. I put forth an effort to ensure that I am not another adult in their lives that will set them on a collision course for failure.

Thank you for stopping by dragthepen

Coffee In Bed

Dear Readers, 

This is one of those days that I am grateful for singlehood. I live in New York City, it’s Saturday, rainy, chilly and cloudy. The small apartment complex I reside in is unusually peaceful. I slept late ( 12 noon). I woke up to my cat, Hamlet angry 😡 cries for food. I decided this is the perfect day to spend in my bedroom. I prepared my coffee tray, grabbed the laptop, bottles of water, and positioned myself in the middle of my bed. 

Oh, the joy of peace, coffee in bed, and living alone affords me the space and quiet time to recover from the wear and tears from the outside world. At 57, I would appreciate a partner who understands how to benefit from quiet time. I’ve experienced marriage once and it didn’t afford me quiet time. I’ve lived with roommates and don’t care to revisit those horror stories. My last relationship two years ago, I was engaged and lived with my fiance for 30 days. I realized it wasn’t going to work. 

He did not understand quiet time. He had big screened Tvs in every room except the bathroom. He woke up making noise, talking, talking, he was 6 feet 2 and had a loud voice. He misunderstood my need for silence as anger, I moved out in a hurry into a roommate situation. It was a spacious apartment, clean and bright. But my roommate a tall handsome man in his 60s and a retired carpenter, was an early riser  7 days a week, and he was VERY noisy. I endured living there for a year, over time he caught onto my need for quiet time and toned down the noise.

Dec 13, 2019, I moved into my own space. The apartment complex has three floors and unfortunately for me I am on the first floor. I have noisy neighbors who walk like beasts. My landlord has done an amazing job of helping to keep the peace, so on the rare days of silence I enjoy coffee in bed and movies. 

After the fiasco with the last relationship, I’ve been paying attention to how I enjoy living something I’ve never done previously. Here’s what I learned. I like being alone 75 percent and the other 25 percent,  I like to cook and entertain friends and family, and after two years of being free,  I don’t want any males in my living space, and there are no plans for dating in the near future. I’ve rediscovered the joys of sleeping alone, the benefits of having my own bathroom, and the delight of coming home to silence.

This has been a great weekend starting with Friday, the weather was amazing, warm, sunny and all the snow has melted. I cooked and cleaned, and  I had a visitor who brought me my first house warming gift, a glass chess set. The food, wine and company was just what I needed to end such a glorious day. So, here I am in the glory of a beautiful, mellow, silent Saturday, now this is what it means by living in the moment.  

I hope you are enjoying your weekend.

The Narrative of Worth

Dear Readers, 

When was the moment you discovered the narrative about being unworthy. By narrative I mean the private conversation that you have in your head about being unworthy. Then there is society and all the confusing voices measuring and judging your worth according to your net worth, education, class status, your circle of friends, where you reside, and whether you are a renter or a homeowner. 

What relationship were you in when he or she told you that ” you were fortunate to have taken up space in their life” and they made you feel that  you were beneath their standards, and you brought into that lie. Who was the family member or members who told you as a child that you were ugly, undeserving, mischievous, and wasn’t going to amount to anything good? Did those voices of negativity follow you into adulthood? 

At your place of employment you grind to shine only to be demeaned, belittle, devalued, and told that the work your produce isn’t good enough, and you are barred from membership in the office clicks, thus you brood and begin the narrative that your not good enough.This game of labeling individuals not good enough leads to feelings of being unworthy, and it’s a form of bullying. So what do you do? When all the arrows of being unworthy point at you, beating down your self worth, self esteem, and breaking your spirit.

Night and day this narrative of being unworthy haunts you, and you doubt who you are and what you’re capable of achieving. Then you become trapped in a ugly cycle of trying to fix yourself to become the ideal image of worthiness. You seek approval and hope others will build up your confidence. You buy name brand clothes, and shoes, you become an addict staying neatly groomed, you eat at the right places, buy membership into health clubs, and network with people who are only name droppers. 

You strive and strive to the point of frustration because you don’t see progress in being worthy. You continue on this cycle of trying to prove that you’re worthy, until you’re so beaten down and deep into the abyss of untruth that you’re willing to accept anybody’s truth about your worthiness. 

Then the bough breaks. All the emotional damage, mental stress, physical hardship, sleepless nights, tears, fears, come rushing forward all at once. What do you do? 

The only thing you can. 

You stand still, look in the mirror and tell yourself you are worthy. You block out the voices and

images in society that tell you that you need to believe the hype that buying into someone else dictating your self -worth isn’t an option for you. You greet each new day with you head up, shoulders squared, and walk with the stride of a Naval officer, erect and determined. You keep staying to yourself that you are worthy and then you create your life based on what you know your worth by your own standards. 

You refuse to play this dangerous game of  giving your soul over to others who will mishandle you. You play by your own rules and refuse to bend to the cries of conformity. And at the end of the day you can look those naysayers in the eyes not with anger and resentment, but with pride and strength because they know you know your worth and there is nothing they can do. 

Thank you for stopping by dragthepen

At the heart of the Matter

Dear Readers,

I want to love the world through the heart of a child. To experience unconditional warmth, acceptance, to embrace life with pure openness. To love with the heart of a child is to be brave, adventurous, and unassuming. To love with the heart of a child means to be fearless, playful, selfless, and bold. To love with the heart of a child means to forgive, hold no grudges, to be curious, and ask why? When children love they embrace you with hugs that melt your heart and chase away the boogeyman. Children love with deep loyalty, and their love is not conning or wonders what they will gain or lose by loving. 

Unlike the heart of adults that have lost its warmth, locking out hope and possibilities. The heart of adults is weak, selfish, cold, and holds grudges. It’s been traumatized by disappointment, neglect, abuse, broken promises, lost love, anger, and resentment. Adults love with a heart that questions loyalty, and loves with the mindset that questions, ” what’s in it for me”? Unlike adults when children love there is no plan B, or leaving options open. 

The heart is an organ that is the center of life,  yet we are careless and neglectful in the way we take care of our hearts. The majority of humanity is guilty and careless about expressing,  practicing and showing authentic love. We take love for granted like we do our hearts until there is a breakdown then and only then we perceive how important authentic love is, and how vital it is for our survival. Nothing grows ( Matures) without love, every creature and human needs to be nurtured. But, sometimes we wait until the very thing or person that we claim to love departs from our lives to understand that love is much more than a momentary feeling, and that love is healing just as much as it is destructive. 

Are we a society that has given up on understanding the sacred power of love? I loved once it was sweet, joyful, trusting, and as blissful as the rising sun after a spring rain. I shall love again because I believe in a child like love.

Those Eyes

Dear Readers,

I rather see the world through the eyes of a child. To see the world with innocence, joy, playfully, no judgement, bright and smiling. Eyes that believe in fairies, and laughs at the stars. Eyes that are amazed at discovery and are in awww at silly things and butterflies, lady bugs, and rainbows. Eyes that don’t lie about emotions and sleep with angelic peace. The eyes of a child are unbiased, clear, and blameless. The eyes of a child uplifts, heals, and gives hope. 

Unlike the eyes of adults that are dark, unfocused, unsure, and they frown. These eyes are tinted by experience, they stop believing, they are filled with mistrust, and evil. The eyes of an adult beam with betrayal, anger, bitterness, shame and guilt. These eyes are serious, dull with responsibility, pain and suffering. Lost is the ray of hope, joy, happiness, and trust. The eyes of an adult are bleak, and have lost direction. 

I rather look at the world through the eyes of a child then I could wipe the tears from my adult eyes, smile and giggle at the funny man in the clouds. 

Thank you for stopping by Dragthepen

My Week

Dear Readers, 

I have a week off. No remote teaching until February 9, and job number 2, where I worked as a Director Support Professional in a group home only scheduled me for one day.  My first reaction was anger, I had planned to work a few extra days to pay for my birthday trip in March. I thought this sucks, what am I going to do with myself for an entire week?

As luck would have it this week off worked in my favor. First, I live in New York City. We recently experienced a snow storm that dropped 12 to 18 inches. Second, I compiled a list of things I really needed to accomplish, however, I’ve been in procrastinating mode. Here is my story. I am planning my retirement by building a tiny house ( 200-250 square feet) during my research and online chats with people in the tiny house community. They recommend that I begin to downsize and decide what I can and can’t live with or without. 

So, I began with the filing system. I never knew I had so much old paper. In three hours I shredded six ( 13 gal sizes) garbage bags. I will need to schedule another to reorganize new files, but the good news is all the old stuff is gone. And the new rule is check the filing system every six months. I took a coffee break and moved onto the next project, my CD and DVDS.

I can’t live without my music. I am an oldie but goodies kinda gal. I was able to let go of ten DVDS, but I know there will be more. I let go of 20 CD’s and kept about 40 of the classics. That was easy, now for the hard part my books. I had previously downsized my collection twice over the last three years. I don’t buy new books, but if I see a good deal I read them and let them go. I have about 80 books, including photo albums, I don’t think I can let them go. Therefore, when I build my house, space for my books is very important. I didn’t mention the box of journals that I’ve been keeping in an airtight container in my closet. I’ve kept a journal each year since 1992. My goal is to hire a typing pool of college students and have my journals bound into books for my grandchildren. 

I have always lived in small spaces because of affordability and I’ve learned to buy only what I need. I was also advised by the people in the tiny house community to preserve and recycle any items that can be included in building my house. The hardest part of this downsizing is going to be my kitchen, I want to keep everything. I like to cook, bake and entertain, so this will be my last project. 

In the meantime, I am learning from the people in the tiny house community, to cut spending as much as possible, only buy what’s necessary, clean up my credit, pay off all credit cards, and practice living like a minimalist advice that I am taking very seriously. 

Before the sunset I ventured outside for a fifteen minute walk in the snow and rewarded myself with a muffin. So, this is day two of my week at home. The next three days I will spend completing two books I am reading at the same time, and preparing for next week. I am ready to get back to teaching and going outside traveling to work at least two days a week.

I enjoy this time at  home, but I do need to have interaction with others and not so much isolation.

Thank you for reading. How is your week?