the fine china cabinet
making and breaking affirmations
This post is the first part of a series on what I love about affirmations. I am writing this in hopes that you will understand why I share them, write them and weave them into my work.
Starting in September, I will be sharing video/audio affirmations here on Substack for paid subscribers. Perhaps my sharing here might encourage you if you aren’t already a paid subscriber, to join me on the journey.
I am a ritual person, but I rotate my rituals and reset my routines because nothing invites an existential crisis for me like predictability. When I used to drive to work, I would take different roads home just to avoid letting my mind slip into the space where the questions stole time and energy.
But I like affirmations.
I could read them every day.
I try to.
I put them in front of my face and often have one at my computer that changes every week. I never tire of reading them to others and writing them for myself and others. And the more I read, the more I realize these affirmations have their own journey home, to the center of my heart where beliefs are displayed in the precious china cabinet.
Things you will find in my mother’s fine china cabinet:
The finest of fine china. Well, obviously. Not the kind you use every day. Not even the kind you use when guests are around. (In fact, I think the only guest who would ever have the privilege of using that china is former president Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama.)
Some fine china that’s just…fine. Like, maybe we’d use it for Thanksgiving, and feel her gaze on our next every time the dishes clinked against our knives and forks. We could enjoy our meals…carefully.
Growing up those were the only two things you’d find in the fine china cabinets, which in Kreyol is called a meb. Pa touche meb mwen (Don’t touch my fine china cabinet)—was a phrase uttered more than “I love you” (—wish I was joking).
Then in high school, something happened. I got two little awards at senior dinner night. One for most creative senior and most school spirit (as class co-president, I coined the chant, “Oh-what?” to which people said “0-9!”). Those made it into the meb.
Then when I graduated high school, my mom put my diploma in there. (It’s still there.) It meant so much to me to see that my accomplishments were as precious to her as the finest of fine china and the other china sets (which she says she’ll gift me when I have my own home).
I do not wish those careful Thanksgiving meals on anyone. No fine china is worth my life—even if potentially the Obamas could dine with me. I use this fine china cabinet metaphor for my heart and I keep my most precious things there. But I am learning to be flexible with their daily use.
This past May, I graduated again. For the third time and my family was there and it was beautiful. I was celebrated by their church, where I spent my teen years and started doing ministry. I gave a tearful speech about how hard it is to hold on to who you are through school...blah blah blah….we’ll talk more about it later. Promise.
Several days after, I journeyed to Fort Worth, Texas, where I spent some time at the Rise House with Holly Stallcup. The Rise House was born from a dream of Holly’s, shaped by her servant leadership and vision for safe community and respite for Christian women. Throughout the home, Holly’s decorative favor for shades of pink and blue catch your eye around the house, including a hot pink breakfast table. All around, there were family heirlooms, including the turquoise ceramic mason jar filled with ground coffee.
After a few mornings enjoying her breakfast casserole, I woke up to prep my own breakfast on a morning she needed to rest. I picked up the coffee container to prep the coffeemaker, and my grip slipped, and the bottom cracked, and the coffee met the countertop.
The words family heirloom floated to the top of my mind with immediate concern. After saving what I could of the coffee and storing it in a plastic container, I ordered a similar jar on Amazon and texted her to let her know what happened.
Moments later, she got up and found me and said something like “My family believes in using our family heirlooms and my mom can CrazyGlue anything! Don’t worry about it!”
Something about the image of using family heirlooms daily stuck with me as someone whose family kept precious things behind glass displays. Often, it felt our best moments were behind that glass, waiting to be accessed.
My future home might have a fine china cabinet. Perhaps because something about it feels familiar and sacred. It feels like bringing my family along. It feels good to think that maybe, some china is the finest of fine. Some are just fine…and some are the kind you can use every day, piece together, and replace with Amazon apology gifts.
Affirmations for me are the same. I affirm the goodness of Blackness. That is not to be messed with, ever. Calling myself a “Soft Black Woman” is an affirmation, added to my meb to remind me of the accomplishments defined only by affirming “I am worthy of rest.”
Who are you & who are you becoming?
Existential crisis still meets me on a long and familiar drive home to myself. But I know I can feel safe exploring the fullness of who I am without being too precious with my affirmations. I can lean into who I am becoming even when my belief in these affirmations breaks.
My stay at the Rise House was made possible by generous donors, many of whom do not know me! It is a gift I will cherish forever. So most of this week’s landing tracks are all Rise House-related. This is not in any way sponsored or paid. I just really love this ministry!
Bring gentle landing to the women who seek respite and care at the Rise House by becoming a donor.
Perhaps you need a stay at the Rise House yourself! Check it out.
During my stay, I received Happy mail, cards, and letters from folks congratulating me on graduating. In this post-grad season, I’ve added many of these affirmations to my fine china cabinet. Sign up to send happy mail.
Share this post to remind someone that our belief in affirmations can break…but they can just as easily be repaired or replaced.