Clean Your Life

What does that mean?

When I started putting my vision board together this year with a group of friends, I didn’t know why I cut those words out. Something about them screamed at me. Each letter grew two arms and reached for me to rescue them from the dated magazine they originated from. So I obliged. How could I leave them there?

Clean your life. I attempted my version of clean eating multiple times. I have our house cleaning on a schedule with apps, planners and reminders so everyone can chip in. The kids are rewarded for their chores. They practice goal setting. It’s quite beautiful to see. Does that mean the house is spotless? Nah. It is definitely warm, sanitary and inviting and that makes us happy. However, laundry has always been a thorn in my side.

In this house the laundry room was an explosion. I was too embarrassed to take a before picture. Recently, I purchased a sorter. I bought special detergents for the darks, oxy clean for the whites and all the stain removers and cleaners to make Martha Stewart and Snoop proud. I swept and mopped the entrance and put down a new mat. I’m still working on getting it just right but I’m happy with the results. What else in my life am I missing?

I spoke to my sister once and shared an experience that was unpleasant (to say the least.) She said, “I wish you wrote more about stuff like that on your blog. People can relate to that.” Isn’t it great when people give you those transparent moments? I always wanted this platform to be positive. I stopped over sharing years ago because I felt like my vulnerability was taken advantage of (we’ll save that for another post.)

I saw a college friend on my way to pick up my kids one day from school. We had a quick conversation in the middle of the street. A memorable conversation. He was open and kind and it seemed like we were back at the student activities center chatting in the cafeteria. Time passed hadn’t ruined familiarity. He talked about a tough relationship and the challenges of parenting and his career goals. When it was time to conclude, he mentioned this blog. He told me he was thankful I was still writing. He admired the fact that I could do it while juggling my other hats. I was astounded because I didn’t even know he was a follower. He doesn’t comment but he sees. I admitted I wished I was more disciplined. He assured me, what I have time to do is still impactful.

What if “clean your life” means, stop hiding the dirt? What if you can only help yourself and others by being completely transpicuous? I love all of my friends but there is something absolutely amazing about the person who tells you how they actually are when you ask. It’s cool if you legitimately are “fine.” I just really treasure my translucent friends and I treat them like the magical fairies they are.

Clean your life…

I have difficult days. I often sacrifice effort in one area in order to be exceptional in another. Parenting full time at any time is hard. Parenting during a pandemic is anxiety ridden and complex but I’m doing my absolute best. I cry all the time and I don’t think anything is wrong with that. I am also wary of people who cannot openly express all of their emotions because I believe when they do finally come out, it can be cataclysmic. I am an advocate for life coaches, motivational speakers, counselors and therapists. I believe we should normalize ALL health including our mental health and well being. I have an ill family member and I am actively forcing myself to be “normal” each day without thinking about the fact that I cannot support them in the way that I want to. I have wonderful parents and a consistently loving step father. My godparents are astronomical. They don’t ask questions and they are unwavering. I know whose team they are on…mine. I diligently work to be as good of a god parent as they have been to me. I am often creativity constipated. So having great people around me to motivate me and keep me accountable are a godsend. My husband is the first person I remember ever telling me, “Your best is enough.” I think most of our arguments are because he’s satisfied with the effort I’m putting in and I’m frustrated by not reaching my own ridiculous expectations.

What if cleansing was more like a mud bath? Can you be bare and cover yourself in what others may consider to be a mess just long enough to accept, maybe forgive and hopefully move on?

Clean your life.

-Shaun Liriano

They

I remember watching Claire Huxtable come home from work. She was an attorney. She would go into the kitchen and put on her apron. An apron! This Brooklyn woman with 5 children and a husband wore an apron after a full day of real work. I was flabbergasted.

I made my first apple pie today. I wanted to be like one of those apron wearing moms. A Pinterest mom. I wanted to be Claire Huxtable. I have an apron on my Amazon wish list. I wanted to bake a pie. I bought the ready made crust and the pie filling. So I cheated a little bit. I’m going to come correct next time. The recipe was from YouTube but I made a pie, damnit. I worked all my 8 hours and then some. Raised 4 kids who despise their remote learning days. I made a pie.

See, because they told us that good women cook dinner. Good women are humble and Faith filled always. Good women fold laundry. Good women don’t dance lewd. Good women wear aprons. Good women make pie. I don’t know who they are but I could swear that’s what they told us.

I think I made that sh$t up. I think “good women” are fabricated fantasy characters morphed in my mind. I’m blessed to know a lot of good women. They’re abstract. They’re powerful. They’re colorful. They’re freaking tired. Exhausted, not by your expectations but by their own. Baking pies and posting pictures of perfection. If you take the time to ask them how their day was, they’ll give you an honest answer. If you’re open minded and your guard is down, you’ll feel their heartbeat through your fingertips. They’re people battling myths. Most battles cause bloodshed, remorse, and sometimes defeat.

I made a damn pie. At first, because I really wanted to satisfy an ideal I created. I needed to prove something to myself. My kids LOVED it and that was gratifying. I just finished writing a screenplay and I’m happy I completed it. It’s registered. It’s a whole thing. I didn’t brainstorm on a page and then abandon it. It’s alive. Through a pandemic. Through social distancing. Through distance learning. Zoom birthdays. Masks. Stress. Fear. I wrote a screenplay and it gives honor to someone I respect. I am proud of myself.

One of the things on my dream board is a line that says “flowers always.” My husband has always bought me flowers. When I was young, my dad would give a rose to his mom, myself and his sisters. My mother would get a bouquet. In the past I wasn’t big on flowers but as I grow, I enjoy all beautiful things. I celebrated myself this evening in two ways: I made my first pie and I asked hubby to go pick up some flowers. He laughed and said ,”How do you know I wasn’t going to do that?” I didn’t know, honestly. I just know that maybe good women ask for what they want. Maybe good women don’t get out of the car until the song they like is over. Maybe good women leave the laundry in the basket for someone else to fold. Maybe they go to sleep when they’re tired. Maybe they throw pies in your face and laugh with you. Celebrate your wins better than anyone else because you know what it took to accomplish that thing. Ask for what you need and even what you want. I smell the pies you’re baking.

-Shaun Liriano

Nothing To Lose {Chest Naked In The Park Part 8} (Meet the Demigod)

He walked carefully.  All his belongings were in a black backpack, with the straps adjusted so he could feel the pressure of all his “monetary assets” up against him.  Inside were his running sneakers, his last packet of protein powder, his bible, “The Autobiography of Malcolm X”, 2 boxer briefs, and a white V-neck t-shirt.  He had a money clip with no money.  His sister bought it for him for his 21st birthday.  The engraving said “Take or be taken.” He had a pre-paid cell phone with about 14 minutes left on it.  He had Vaseline wrapped in aluminum foil just in case his lips got chapped. His keys were digging into his side so he reached into his fitted jeans and threw them in a gutter.  He had no need for them now.  He was never going back “home” again.  It wasn’t safe there.

He walked carefully.  Not by choice but by circumstance.  He walked corner to corner.  He looked both ways before he crossed the street. Left foot…hobble…cane.  Left foot…hobble…cane.  Left foot…hobble…cane.  He once was a quick, strong, sexy, confident, man with an unrivaled stature and an intimidating presence.  Now he was unemployed, homeless, single, scared, far from athletic, and semi-cripple.  What happened to him?  All he wanted to do was make enough money to do something big for a change.  He spent his whole life running both literally and figuratively. Fight or flight?  He was the biggest bird you’ve ever seen.  He was a big pigeon defecating on anyone who got in his way.  High school dropout, 2-3 dead-end jobs a year, hoopty after hoopty, and still women would flock towards him.  Tamara was no different at first.

He didn’t even have to say a word.  His significant others had been telling him for years, “just stand there and look good baby.”  He was always the trophy piece.  He knew how to stay in his lane and never ever speak unless he was confident that he could add something intelligent to the conversation.  His looks were his weapon.  His strong jaw, white bright smile with a subtle gap, flawless skin and full lips were comparable to a Mac-10.  His love-making was his suppressor.  So even if a woman had become displeased with his performance as a sound “life partner”, she would stay and shut the hell up.   Tamara was supposed to be no different.

His instructions were simple.  He was to seduce Tamara, divert her attention away from her husband, and make her fall in love.  Then she would divorce Travis and move in with her “chest naked demigod” (he heard her refer to him as a demigod when he was spying on one of her conversations one day.)  Yet, Tamara was different.

There were a few times when he tried to get her attention at the track but she was so emotionally committed to Travis.  Deep down he knew that she wanted things to work with her man.  She was attracted to him but she had self-control.  He wasn’t accustomed to that.  He approached her a few times but it seemed as though Tamara didn’t recognize him with his shirt on.  That wasn’t entirely Tamara’s fault.  Leon didn’t have much character with his clothes on.  Leon was far from a demigod.  Leon was Hades himself.

He had way too much fun with this assignment.  He slept with Tamara’s cousin, Courtney (he couldn’t resist.)  He slept with Travis’ girlfriend, Special (it was so easy.)  He even slept with Travis’ loud mouth bitter mother (she needed some loving.)  He couldn’t complete the task so he figured he would enjoy the perks.  When he and Travis had a falling out over payment, Leon decided to make things more interesting.  He stalked Tamara at her job and he shot out her back window.  He knew all signs would lead to Travis and he thought for sure that Courtney’s feisty ass would retaliate and remove Travis from his list of unhappy clients.  Instead, Travis disfigured Leon’s leg and threatened to do more harm unless Leon left New York.  Leon had one stop to make first.  One person had taken away his chance to do something big.  He had nothing left to lose.  He stopped, readjusted his backpack, and pulled out the only sentimental valuable thing he had left.  “Take or be taken”, he read aloud.  “Damn right,” he said.

To Be Continued…