I’m currently writing the beginning of this blog post on my phone. It’s the beginning of December, 2021. I’ve known I wanted to make this post for the last few months, but today I’m actually writing it finally. It’s sort of compulsive to start the blog post this way, on my phone. I’ve never in my 7 and-a-half years of blogging written a post on my iPhone aside from quick editing here and there. I just wanted to start writing. I’m at a stage in my life where I’m much more open to sharing. I’m more vulnerable. I’m more soft.
I’m on the rooftop in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, having just finished laundry and kinda sunbathing under the hot sun, but with a hoody and old sparkly ugg boots on. I was cold all morning, and this beating sun is warming me right on up. The picture I just painted or you is this: cozy. I’m cozy while I’m writing this post, but I’m also cozy in my spirit…
I recently just celebrated my 39th birthday. THIRTY. NINE. YALL!!!! I’m just a hop, skip and jump away from FORTY!!!!! (cue Macaulay Culkin’s face from Home Alone)
*runs screaming down the steps*
Of Okay I really didn’t do that for real. But isn’t it crazy to even think about?! Like what miss ma’am?! How the fuck did we get here?!! I started this blog back in 2014 when I was 32, and now I’m damn near 40! Omg! It’s so cliché but when I was in my twenties I used to think 40 was *ahem* such a mature age. Think Oprah Winfrey-esque. And now that I’m almost there it’s like dang! It feels like this? …normal?! How?! And also, I’m like and adult adult!
But this blog post isn’t about my birthday or how I’ll be able to ask for a senior citizen discount soon. This post is about how moving to Mexico almost 3 years ago brought me to know one of the greatest loves of my life.
And that love is…myself.
When we moved to Mexico back in 2019, I was so excited for this new adventure my family was about to embark on. (If you want to read about us moving to Mexico, you can read that here.) We are coming up on three year mark of living in Mexico, and as I reflect on the time spent here, I know that I am forever changed.
Moving to a new country back in 2019 was not the first time I had moved to a new country. In the Fall of 2011 when I was 7 months pregnant with Zé, we moved to Bologna, Italy. Navigating a new city, let alone COUNTRY, can be very intimidating and scary. And the first time I did this, I was very pregnant, did not speak Italian, and actually traveled abroad there with 2 bengal cats alone (while pregnant!) because Supreme was already there. I remember landing in Italy and being like, “wow! This feels like a whole new world!” I also remember going to the grocery store in Italy for the first time. Talk about a culture shock! I would be walking down the aisles searching for familiar (American) brands of food, and not having a whole lot of luck! Now of course, this was over 10 years ago, so options and distribution probably were not as plentiful in the stores then. But I remember thinking “wow, this is…different.” After getting over the fact that dang, everything is in Italian in these stores, I would eventually adjust to my new life and this new way of living. What social media pictures don’t always show are the frustrating transitional periods of adjusting to a new country, because so much of the culture and the way that they operate are different from what I was used to. I would of course go on to give birth to Zé there in Bologna, Italy, becoming a mom for the very first time. As I write that out, I kind of beam with pride. I became a mom for the first time in a dark, intimate and peaceful hospital room…in Bologna, Italy. As I look back on that moment, I feel so proud of myself. I was scared as hell when I knew I woke up with contractions the day I gave birth. I was like oh shit the day has come! How is this all gonna feel?! I’m in fucking Italy doing this!!
Well I did it. I gave birth naturally without meds and yes it hurt like hell but afterwards I was like, “damn. I DID THAT SHIT!!” Giving njbirth really made me feel like a superwoman. And I feel that now today more than I did even then.
Living in Bologna, Italy taught me a lot about myself. It taught me that I am way more fearless than I previously thought, and that I can successfully adapt to life anywhere. Living there and becoming a mother would also create a new layer of consciousness for me, because now I was experiencing life as a person who had a child that depended on me for her very existence, and who’s future childhood was in-part in my hands. Life was beginning to get even more deep.
While Mexico is my current home, I have lived in many cities in the United States as well. NINE to be exact. Nine U.S. cities y’all. I realize that during my whirlwind of a life whilst moving from here to there, raising children, running households, and then eventually running businesses, I kind of got lost in the sauce. And by being “lost”, I mean I sort of lost…myself. I can say that now because I am totally clear on who I am now, but back then, I wasn’t really checking in with me. I would make sure the kids are taken care of, that my husband was good, and everything else that needed attention or some tending to. What I failed to really check on and be more in tune with, was myself. Sometimes I would be on autopilot or distracted by life’s events to really take time for myself. To give myself space and permission to process feelings of anxiety or sadness. I mean if we’re living life we are going to experience all the feelings. But that was the thing, somehow I hid from my feelings, unaware that I do and have done this since childhood. I didn’t realize how detrimental that was to my overall well being until I really started feeling the feelings.
Being in tune with myself means feeling emotionally connected to well, myself. To be emotionally connected to anything, one must actually feel emotions. I, like many people I’m sure, was raised in a household where showing strong emotions or expressing them freely wasn’t necessarily encouraged. The emotion I know how to quickly identify since childhood is happiness. This emotion is easily recognizable, comfortable to experience and process, and is an emotion that is universally expressed pretty freely. Happiness. Yep! I know what that feels like! I know how to process and express that. What I didn’t realize until years ago though, is that I feel lots of other emotions other than happiness. Hell we all do. I just couldn’t always identify what those other emotions were. Showing or feeling emotions other than happiness made me majorly uncomfortable in front of people. It wasn’t until I started meditating back in 2014 that I would begin to really, truly sit with these uncomfortable emotions, and actually become acutely aware of them and actually feel them during these moments of silence.
And facing them was me being in meditation, ugly crying as I dug deep into myself. I had to face my childhood traumas, my triggers, where they came from, and other things I had subconsciously rejected about myself. Years of suppressed and repressed emotions would come tumbling out during my meditations. I was beginning to heal. This is and has been a long process y’all. Years of shadow work. Years of becoming myself, followed by a rollercoaster of yep you guessed it, emotions. And let me be clear that meditation can mean me doing yoga and meditating on my yoga mat at 3 AM, going for long runs to the lake to sit, reflect and talk to God, or me being in the shower in stillness during that time to reflect and go inward.
Not to go too in-depth on meditation, but meditation changed my life. To have to sit still with myself and go into the darkness that was my soul, was incredibly humbling. Meditation forced me to slow down in such a fast-paced life and just sit with myself. To be present in my daily life. To show gratitude to God for the gift of life and all that comes with it. To face the ugly sides of myself. To face any shame I carried. The side where I was emotionally immature in previous friendships or relationships. The side where I myself embodied generational family traits that I wasn’t necessarily proud of. All of this was me doing shadow work. Shadow work is doing the process of everything I just described: going and facing the least desirable traits about yourself. The hidden and suppressed side of you that even you yourself may be scared to face.
But I faced them.
After doing shadow work for awhile, over time facing my “demons” as they say, would become easier. I could easily recognize them. I could identify why I would shut down when I become upset. I could see clearly traits in my children like them pretending everything was okay when it wasn’t, which unfortunately is a familiar act that was deep rooted in my cells and bones. I could identify why I would sometimes betray myself in the past by people pleasing. I could identify why I bonded with certain friends that in the end were not a match for my true authentic self. I could pinpoint why I subconsciously tried to escape myself by being in certain relationships…
But that’s the thing y’all. We cannot escape ourselves.
As I began healing and facing my true, authentic self, I began to realize that in spite of my trauma and less proud moments in life, inside I was still a great person. I was kind. I was loving. I was generous. I was compassionate to everyone. I was forgiving. I was funny as hell! (Lmao!) I loved to make people feel good. I was me. And accepting all these parts of me—‘good’ and ‘bad’—has been a beautiful journey. It has made me become even more compassionate and empathetic to others.
In my 20’s (and even 30s) I was still figuring myself out. I remember when I first moved into my own apartment in Memphis, TN in my early twenties. I had no clue about life yet! I had previously just graduated college at The University of Memphis and was about to experience life as a young single woman who had so much to learn. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned that it is absolutely okay to pour into myself. To share my true feelings with people. Hell this blog post is me doing that. I’m sharing my true self. Not the foo foo surface shit. Michelle Obama wrote a book called “Becoming Michelle Obama”, and while I haven’t read it yet, I can imagine she discusses her incredible life’s journey that led to the remarkable woman that she is today. I’m sure that journey of hers includes one of self-love. And I feel like her book is the perfect title because in reality, that is what we are all doing if we become self-aware and conscious. We are continually becoming who we truly, actually are.
As I mentioned, doing shadow work has a been years long process, and moving to Mexico, away from everything familiar and where I knew no one at first, forced me to spend even more time with myself. Mexico is also where for the first time I had my own design studio to create for myself. I had no idea how important and soul-filling this was for me! As a mom with kids, and I’m sure other moms can attest to this, having your own space to do anything can be hard to come by. Your kids are always up in your space lol! But having this formal in-home studio just for myself to just exist, be, and create was something that I didn’t even know I needed. And create I did. Everyday. Whether it was sketching some new designs, coloring old ones, writing blog posts, or creating videos, I had ample physical space to do this, and I absolutely loved it.
The more I created, the more I realized that it was my therapy. Writing, drawing, designing, and painting has been a form of creative expression of myself. I may not have always been able to express my emotions through words, but visually I would express them through my art or through my designs. I would hang my work on my studio walls and be like “Wow! Raven girl you’re super talented!” When I would hit certain personal records during my jogs outside I would be so pleased with myself! I share those small wins on my social media story pages because I’m that damn proud. Just the other day I ran the longest I had ever run and also ran the highest elevation ever (hills and steep inclines). Every time I reach these little personal goals that really only matter to me at the end of the day, it makes me feel so so good about myself.
The more I did for myself, the more I felt. I started to see myself as someone who can continually do hard things, all while continuing to love my way through life despite my trauma or life’s hardships. I would always pour so much love into my children and other people, and over time I would begin to see that I deserved that same love, and began to give that love to myself. This love would look like me slowing down to actually enjoy my meals and not standing up because I’m in a hurry to clean up afterwards. This love would also be me beginning to regularly do a 3-day detox each month beginning in 2020, and after each detox I have an imaginary victory lap waving my flag. I detox to show love to my body by giving my digestive system a break after eating all the things all month long to strengthen my immune system and overall health. This love also would look like me establishing a self-care routine jjjwhere I take my time after the shower, luxuriating in lotion and oils and not be in a perpetual hurry. This love would also look like me allowing myself to rest during the day or sleep in, when in the past I may have been felt guilty for this on some mom shit. I now happily, easily, and without hesitation set boundaries with my kids and with the people I love in my life so that we can all function in a healthy and happy way.
This healing journey undoubtedly has led to an appreciation of self that I never knew could even exist. I’ve always thought I was a nice-looking woman, but these days I’m like, “girl you’re a bad ass bitch! Like wow!” I’ve always thought I was pretty smart, but these days I’m like, “girl you are genius level intelligent!” I truly love myself, at this ripe age of 39. Of course I am still a work in progress and have so much more to learn, but I lovingly embrace all of my quirks, neurotic tendencies, and everything else that make up Raven LaKisha Rogers from Jackson, Mississippi. Being in Mexico, navigating a new world, facing tough challenges, going through a pandemic where even more isolation had to occur, really forced me to see myself. Sit with myself. Experience myself. And this journey continues. I am finishing this blog post a month later from when I first started. Still cozy, just this time in my bedroom and not on the rooftop. But still in Mexico. Still in love. Still becoming.
I like who I’m becoming.
I love who I’m becoming.
I love me. 🙂
And I love you too! Have a wonderful rest of your week Fabbies!