Love Is Here, Now.

We are grateful for this honest and personal reflection on relationships from our friend Margaret A. Brunson. Read her hopeful words on love below.

Although I have enough stories to create a pretty entertaining web-series, I choose not to write about romantic relationships, too often.  For a long time, I’ve felt ill-equipped, and often insecure, to share anything that would be helpful to those seeking love; especially my sisters.  

One side of my insecurity is grounded in the pervasive popularity of our very curated understanding of relationships.  Many Black women who are single and desire to be married or partnered, are constantly consumed by beautiful wedding photos (#blacklove) or photos of beautiful couples traveling or working out together (#relationshipgoals).  I’ve even heard friends speak of placing certain dreams (buying a home, traveling to an unknown place, etc.) on hold until they have a partner. I also see many of my counterparts suffer disappointment after disappointment but continue dating in hopes of finding the right one.  

However, the other side of my insecurity is grounded in a sense of vulnerability with the assumptions and preconceived notions that accompany the reality of being both a “great catch” (intelligent, kind, successful, attractive, bright, funny, free-spirited) and a single Black woman.

Like many others who’ve dared to be in relationship with other flawed humans, I’ve experienced unfulfilled expectations, unrequited love, and emotional unavailability.  I’ve hurt others and I’ve been hurt by others. Yet, I continue to believe in both the benefit and blessing of partnership.

As I ease into my 40th birthday, I’m finally beginning to wholly embrace the beauty of my journey as a Black woman; including this messy part.  I’m beginning to speak out about my singleness and invalidate the myth that it is a condition of brokenness that requires a fix. I’m beginning to share that our hearts still have the capacity to experience, express and hold love in the absence of romantic partnership. I’m beginning to share my own stories of healing, with my sisters, as an act of solidarity in this common experience and to be a guiding light as we hold, in one hand, our hope for partnership and, in the other, a zeal to live a life of love, now.   

Holding hope often feels like an emotional rollercoaster of hope.  We dip down into doubt and uncertainty on the bad days, then, find ourselves in a high place of joy and gratitude on the good days.  

On one of my bad days, during my daily meditation, I had a life-changing vision about my broken heart.  As I meditated on and prayed for healing, I felt led to visualize myself sending a warm and bright light to my heart.  As I went deeper into this vision, I moved closer and closer into my pain and quickly realized that it wasn’t a warm light I needed.  I saw my perfectly healthy, beating heart sitting inside of a large glass case filled with sand. My heart actually wasn’t broken, it was trapped.  

At some point on this annoyingly chaotic and unstable journey (or rollercoaster) of love, I’d tossed my heart into this case as an act of protection.  In doing so, I was protecting my heart from being broken again, but I inadvertently imprisoned her; no love in, no love out.  

In that moment of meditation, I visualized myself hammering the glass until it broke open.  As the sand rushed out of the case, my heart began to beat faster and stronger. I gasped back into the present moment, took a deep breath and as I exhaled, I felt exhausted, but free.  At that moment, I invited love in and committed myself to a regular practice of cultivating open-heartedness, so that love would freely flow to and from me.  

Life did not instantly change, however, I consciously decided to do the work.   While I know the work is different for each one of us, I want to share what my regular practice of open-hearted living looks like:

  • Maintaining spiritual disciplines that remind me to center my identity on my connection to the Spirit/Divine and not my ego. 
  • Meditating, consistently, on words of affirmation that replace my old thought patterns about who I am and what is important.  My favorite affirmation: I Am Enough
  • Challenging my flawed tendency to have all the answers by seeking counsel/therapy for support.  
  • Sharing my journey of doing hard things (overcoming divorce, unemployment, low self-confidence, and feelings of hopelessness) with other Black women to encourage my personal and our collective healing.   
  • Practicing rituals of letting go, such as writing down painful memories and burning them. 
  • Doing what I love, even if I have to do it afraid and/or alone: Dancing, traveling, trying new restaurants, going to concerts and parties, etc.
  • Letting go of my prejudgment of men, opening my eyes and heart to their humanity, and going on pressure-free dates for fun.
  • Maintaining healthy connections with my people as a daughter, sister, aunt, and friend.  
  • Genuinely celebrating joy and excitement with those who find love and partnership.
  • Accepting my solitude as a gift and using my time to care for myself and  incorporate healthy practices: rest, eating clean, movement, communion with nature, journaling.
  • Seeking meaningful and impactful opportunities to be of service to my community.

What am I saying to you?

If you desire and hope for a loving partnership, I encourage you to hold on to that hope.  Simultaneously, I’d like to invite you to fervently embrace the idea that love is here, now.  

Embrace the truth that every day, you are presented with opportunities to live in loving partnership with yourself, your community, and with a beautiful creation.  We are here, now, to experience the fullness of all that life is and all that life can be. We will find peace, clarity, and joy when we capture the wonder of love and alchemize it into the supernatural strength that we need to live as flawed, vulnerable, open-hearted human beings.  

May we see that love is here, now, and follow her, wholeheartedly.     

Dr. Margaret A. Brunson is a leader and luminary who considers brunch a verb, has an affinity for trap music, gets giddy over passport stamps, and has never left a dance floor untouched.  Margaret leads people to purpose through writing, speaking, coaching and consulting. Throughout her life’s journey, she has learned the spiritual discipline of relinquishing control and regularly yields to the power of Love to share stories that cultivate authenticity, healing, and liberation.  She calls it, The Love Life.

Photo by Sonja Matheny of Matheny Media

We all find ourselves in this particular season of uncertainty and anxiety as people across the world are forced to come to a stillness. We hope this blog post finds you well and in peace.

 

The personal essay below is written by Aeran Baskin, a member of The Beautiful Community and a dynamic writer who participates in Maya’s Room, our writing circle. This time we’re in is a good time to awaken the artists inside all of us. May Aeran’s words inspire you to encounter the artist within yourself, to reflect, and to create. 


At 14, I wrote in my closet with the door closed. The closet light had stopped working at some point. Daddy never committed to fixing it–there were more pressing things to do–so I would bring in a flashlight. I would bring others into that closet, too. My books. My pens. My thoughts. And God. We would giggle to each other on blank paper. Those times in the closet were girl talk. 

I can’t recall how much time would pass between when I would pull the doors of my closet shut–trapping myself in sanctuary–and when Momma would pull them apart–exposing me to the world. “It’s time to eat…you didn’t hear me calling your name?”

How could I hear her? I was creating worlds. I was speaking light. This was my way. This was my worship. Infinity bound by blank paper.

But I’ll tell you a secret. 

The girl in the closet grew up. I got tall and thick around the hips. I started thinking about my future instead of imagining it. 

And then I traded writing for security. 

Perhaps it was because I thought that artists starve (lies the devil tells). Or that writing ain’t a real career (another lie the devil tells). Or I just got scared of showing people what I wrote (there he goes again). 

I was committed to my lies. My security and I jumped between two coasts and 5 major cities. But, secretly, I kept a box of notebooks, loose pages, and napkins with poetry and scenes in the passenger seat of whatever U-Haul I was driving. I would sometimes revisit the box, wondering if I could fall back in love with the words it kept. 

Last year, Maya’s Room invaded my security. 

I’m not sure what I was expecting. Perhaps I thought that I would just attend and write a few scenes. Maybe I thought that I would just revisit the Artist’s Way and go on an artist date or two. I suspect that I had no expectations at all beyond being present. 

But whatever my expectations Maya’s Room took me on a journey. 

I lie. 

Maya’s Room took me on three journeys: A Journey Towards Self, A Journey Towards Sisterhood, and A Journey Towards Artistry.

A Journey Towards Self: If I’m honest, which I should be, writing had turned into a hustle. Writers write. My writing was limited to legal memoranda, grant reports and the occasional poem. When I wrote, it was because I was writing towards what I thought I should be. I wrote because writers are supposed to write. 

I discovered in Maya’s Room that I write because I am. I am before I write. Writing comes from a place of wholeness and rest and not hustle to become something or someone. 

A Journey Towards Sisterhood: The journey towards self was traveled alongside my sisters. At some point, our conversations evolved from exploring ourselves as writers to discovering ourselves. Even in those moments when I wanted to close the closet door to only sit in the darkness, I had women around me asking me if I heard them calling my name. 

A Journey Towards Artistry: I have always considered myself a good writer. One of the most exciting revelations was understanding why I am a good writer and where I can improve to become a better writer. Talking with other writers helped me to identify where I was strong. 

I often felt that I was writing towards a dragon that was constantly changing form or deliberately moving away from me. I also found myself engaged in a tug-o-war with myself because I did not want to dive into the personal details that would give my writing more meaning, more flesh. I suspect that these difficulties may occur when writing on any topic of personal significance. I suspect that they won’t go away. But I did notice that my comfort with the discomfort of writing towards the dragon increased each time I shared what I wrote. 

Maya’s Room has, unexpectedly, revived my love of writing. I no longer feel inclined to have security over wholeness. The question now is what will I do with this new love? I definitely don’t intend to abandon it again as I have before. I plan to make writing, even if for five minutes a day, part of my daily practice. Besides the daily practice of writing, I plan to develop further as a writer by continuing to let others read my work. This is Maya’s gift. 

I’m grateful. I suspect that the little girl in the closet, writing by flashlight, is grateful, too.


Aeran N. Baskin developed a love for words at a young age from her mother’s spontaneous storytelling about warrior princesses, crafty assassins, and misunderstood dragons. Aeran channeled this legacy of storytelling into an affection for building worlds through poetry, short stories, and creative non-fiction. She deeply believes that writing is a spiritual baptism that provides the writer and reader with an opportunity to commune with God. Through the word, Aeran has dedicated herself to tell the stories of and advocate with Black women, girls, and families.