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On the Summer Solstice: Finding out What Light You Are

Have you ever gotten so excited about an idea that pops into your head that you immediately think it's a good one? It’s so good, in fact, that you think you are supposed to stop everything else that you are doing to let the idea percolate and manifest itself

Well, I have. The idea of doing a book club for the Black Women at Home Project swept over me in one afternoon. I picked books, picked dates, and designed graphics all in a day’s work. Then, I pushed publish on the website for the virtual events to go live a day or so later. If you follow the BW@H Facebook page or group, you may have seen a post about the series. Well, I have canceled it.

Maybe you’re thinking, that’s good, I wasn’t going to make it. Or, phew! Girl, your selections weren’t that interesting. Or, darn it! I saw that and was looking forward to the one in October! Whatever you may be thinking (or not, because you didn’t even know this was a thing), I want you to know why I decided to cancel it.

There are two live energies in me that often feel at odds with one another. Perhaps they are Yin and Yang. Generally, my default is all that Yin - quiet, solitude, a preference for 1-on-1 conversations over group activities, moving slowly, layering in sweaters and blankets, going with the flow - like water. Then, from time to time I get surges of energy that inspire me to host a New Years Eve party with 40 people at my house, push like the wind against everything to do what I said I would, and rock with Spirit to create a delicious meal, crochet a scarf in a day, or write with keen devotion until my fingers hurt.

My Yang was strong when I designed the book club series. I wanted to hold space, live in the warmth of the summer months with others (even virtually), and believed that I would be hype to do the work of saying, “Come on, y’all! Register for this! Buy this book! Tell me what you think!”. That’s the work of marketing, promotion, getting things out there, shining a bright light on the thing you believe others will want too. However, the days leading up to this one - Summer Solstice - have been challenging. I’ve been struggling with feelings of guilt, inadequacy, and something just being off about trying to do this book club series now.

Yang brings great energy. It is necessary energy in order for ideas to proliferate, for people to share and learn. Akin to the sun, some folks are born into this world knowing how to shine that light brilliantly with no concerted effort. It just comes naturally to them. For others of us, we have to dig in the dark in some forgotten drawer to find the flashlight, hope that the batteries in it still work, and then blind ourselves when we turn it on. The latter, that’s me.

Growing up I received all kinds of guidance to just be good, do good, don’t make a mess, there’s always someone better than you so try hard but don’t be extra. For a long time, I have believed that my tendency to dwell in the background, to not want the center stage, to let my work speak for itself was rooted in a fear of being seen as arrogant, conceited, or that I think too much of myself. I believed that I was purposefully dimming my light so that others wouldn’t perceive me as too bright. It bothered me though, that I might not be shining brightly enough. Maybe I was holding something back in fear of being too much.

Stick with me though… Actually, I have had a light bulb moment. Lol. Maybe I haven’t been dimming my light. Maybe my wattage is just fine. There are all kinds of light bulbs - soft white, cool white, daylight, etc. The color or warmth of light is ranked on the Kelvin scale. The whiter the color, the higher the Degrees Kelvin. We can see that. Some lights appear really bright, more bright than others, based on the color temperature.

However, maybe what’s more important is the measurement of watts or lumens in the light bulb. Regardless of what the color looks like, the watts or lumens determine how much light you actually get. All to say, I have been comparing myself - a soft white - to a lot of the daylights around me. They appear brighter, seem to give off more energy, and thus feel like they take up more space. What I now understand is that those daylights - you know, those people defined as the life of the party, those who turn heads when they walk into a room, those that never seem to succumb to fear - are giving off the same amount of light as me. It just looks different.

Yo! This is a HUGE discovery for me. I have been beating myself up for not being bright enough. I have been trying to convince myself to show up as daylight - what looks like the sky at noon on a cloudless day - when I am a soft light - soothing, gentle, and relaxing, the shade. My 25 watt soft light bulb is just as worthy and useful as the 25 watts coming from a daylight bulb. Woah!

My light is useful at facilitating, building intimacy, vulnerability, being a good listener, weaving things together into a useful fabric that advances growth, cooperation, and change. My light hasn’t held me back from anything. I have strong loving relationships, a deeply meaningful and impactful career, and lots of leisure time to chill and relax. I have curated a life that is what I need while serving others and advancing ideas, values, principles, and practices that aim to build a more just, peaceful, and kind world.

Now that I have gotten that all out, I understand why it was a struggle for me to move into the energy of getting ready to host a book club series. As much as I want to have one, I don’t have the degrees Kelvin to do it at this time. I have a work colleague who knows her gifts and is adamant about committing to what she is good at, to using her wattage for where she will shine the brightest. Of course there are times when we have to take on tasks and projects that don’t show off our best light, but we need to get it done anyway.

This book club isn’t one of those endeavors where I need or want to try to make myself into a different light than I am. My discomfort was rooted not in fear, but in not being true to my own light right now. My strengths have never been in grand and bold messaging or creative ways of spreading the word. I’m a I told you once and don’t want to have to say it again kind of person. That energy doesn’t work well with telling people about events, convincing people and reminding people to show up to things. And, to successfully host a book club, all of those things need to happen!

What I hope, however, is that in time I will find other brilliant lights to work with who can do the marketing, promotion, and other tasks creatively, enthusiastically, and consistently. Let me know if you’re one of those people! Alternatively, maybe other aspects of my life will slow down enough to let me lean into the creative and consistent energy needed to invite people in. The Black Women at Home Project is heart work for me. It brings me joy to share things on social media and to have conversations with other Black women about how they show up for themselves at home.

So, I’ll be keeping up with the content on social media, but will hold off on event organizing for a bit longer. Phew! That feels a lot better. I hope that this isn’t disappointing to folks and if it is, I ask for your understanding of my need to change gears.

In the meantime, I am going to return to my Yin and move forward with scheduling these 1-on-1 interviews with Black women to keep the project going. More about that soon!

Be the brilliant light that you are, not the one you think everyone wants to see.

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