Mary Mariah

Understanding Empowerment from a Lived Experience

Ego, Suffering, Happiness, and Transcendence 

Interestingly, most of my pieces published on my personal blog this year have  been about suffering (even with my resolution to be happy). 

Now to be fair, I have been able to write in a way that gives utility to the suffering for some greater gain or good. But truthfully, I haven’t written one piece this year that does not talk about me in some form of pain or discomfort. And while I knew that the pain-talk was tied to my happiness, I had no idea of how or why. 

So I kept writing and revealing (when my higher self of truth outweighed my lower self of fear), believing, even if I could not intelligently explain, that I was actually writing in my happiness…in route to something greater than happy.  

These are words I wrote back in March of this year. You see, I had ended last year with a resolve to be happy. With the passing of my grandmother and the simultaneous end to a 10-year partnership, 2017 was quite dark. So in December, I found myself looking forward to light and new opportunities and giving myself permission to be happy. So three months into the new year, I found myself assessing my resolution and progress toward that end. 

As I am now ten months into the new year, prepping to walk into a new- New Year, I have been able to reap the rewards of my happiness resolution; however, I realized I had to confront my suffering in order to get here. In other words, to be happy I had to be ok with suffering… to lean into it instead of trying to numb or escape it. 

Today’s piece is actually what I wrote back in March as I was learning more about happiness. It’s a reflection that is ultimately about transcendence but as you will see, I disover that suffering and happiness must first be understood in order to  transcend.

[Please keep in mind that when you read the word “today,” do not think today as in October. Instead, think today as in March.]


I’ve been listening to a new podcast on personality types. If you have been following my blog or even my own podcast over the past few months, you know that I’ve not only been interested in personalities, I’ve also been connecting personality psychology to my research on empowerment–particularly the Sense of Self  (the 6th principle of my Empowerment Framework). 

So this new podcast has been quite a treat for me to access. And usually when someone shares content that impacts me intellectually or emotionally, I will write some type of open letter. 

Well today’s reflection can be seen through this vein. It’s an open reflection in response to their episode on personality type and higher consciousness. As I listened, all of my outputting, specifically around pain and suffering, was brought info focus, making my case that suffering is ultimately about being happy. And, as their words (from the podcast) co-mingle with my words (in this reflection), I’m looking forward to seeing new thoughts and ideas emerge. 

So here goes…


So far, I have only mentioned suffering and happiness but the two additional words in the title suggests that this reflection is about something more. It is so let me explain.

In a different episode, the hosts explain that intuitives (who make up roughly 25% of the population) go through an evolution before they can be fully and effectively integrated into the world around them (which roughly is 75% comprised of sensors). In what is called the pre-awakening stage, intuitives know that they are substantially different than those who are around them yet because of their suffering from not knowing they were intuitive in a sensory-oriented world, they problematize the difference instead of seizing it for the treasures and uniqueness it offers. However, once they come into knowing about intuition, about its value (about the 25% of the population who exist and can potentially offer relatedness and validation of their thinking treasures), there is a certain level of growth and happiness that abounds. 

In one of my latest podcast episodes, I talked about my readings on language– how it captures abstract thinking. The higher up you go in abstraction, the more specific your words must become to precisely convey what general terms and concepts cannot. 

I read that intuitives live at higher levels of abstraction; thereby increasing their need for specific words to offer the sensing world the concreteness that it requires. Without having access to the words that exactly express the heightened abstraction, an intuitive can flounder in an abyss of silence…unable to communicate what is truly within. And existentially speaking, this muting is pure hell. 

So, in the absence of knowing about intuition, an intuitive can live problematized, invalidated and muted, making the discovery of other intuitives and an intuitive word bank pure bliss. And nothing has moved me into this blissfulness more than my writings, connecting to new words, and connecting to readers and other writers who truly get it. 


The episode that I listened to that prompted me to roll over and write this reflection, talked about the ego as part of the self that wants to exist. In contrast, the episode also talked about a state of transcendence where the individual moves beyond the self to being an observer of the self. Well, I feel my feet oddly planted in these two extremes and believe my ultimate point in this reflection is to say that I’m celebrating the self that is ego and the self that transcends ego. 

This realization is what clicked most for me as I was listening to the episode this morning. As an intuitive that spent most of my life in the pre-awakening stage (a life without words, without models and without an affirmation of the self– as well as one who has dedicated her career strengthening the visibility of other people’s selves), I am not ready to step away from my self. I am not ready to step away from my awareness of and connection to the ego (especially now that it is healing). I’m enjoying the discovery and the freeing of what has been repressed and denied…because honestly, it feels damn good!

And, truthfully, as I have been confronted by three deaths in the past twelve months, I have recently started conceptualizing my departure from the self. Without knowing, I have started peeking into my transcendence, re- imagining a place called heaven. My Christian upbringing says heaven is a physical place where there are gold pavements, a pearly  gate, and awarded gems to signify one’s goodness while on earth. Now, I have to admit, and frequently pray for forgiveness, that the existence of an individual self (as in the ego), a social stratification and a moral meritocracy in the afterlife is a little unsettling. It makes the Christian heaven too much like the social world that we currently experience while in the physical body. And goodness help me if the Big Guy or Gal (note the Christian deviation) is anything like our current world leader. No better yet…goodness help us all!!

So over the past few days I’ve started seeing a different kind of heaven… a heaven that exists as purely ideas and concepts. And when I depart  from my body, I see myself turning into a thought and then connecting to a central thought  (could it be love?) as though I’m a puzzle piece finding my way to many other puzzle pieces as we merge together in some form of unified concept (conscienceness).

But I can see my grandmother poo-pooing that type of heaven. She died a strong Christian woman so I imagine her crowned, passing those pearly gates, easing on down those golden roads…heading straight for the heavenly kitchen to create some type of heavenly meal for the heavenly Father. Because cooking and eating were her happy like reading, writing and thinking are mine. 

So I’m not going to bemoan her heaven but I am going to imagine mine. And I think this ability to see a new me beyond my individual self — beyond my individual mind and body– says I’m not overly tied to the ego. I can see me transcending as well right here while I’m still in the physical. But for now I’m going to bask in the happiness of the self, of the ego, and know that my transcendence is rooted in my acceptance of the self as being whole, dignified and validated. 


This is my happiness.  It’s the recognition of my suffering… as a condition of my uniqueness. To be an intuitive among sensors, in a body that holds very little capital in a world that centers white men, means that the struggle is real. There’s a freeing nature of knowing that the suffering is the result of tangible resistance to my self…to my ego. This is my liberation–transcendence of the systems (cultural and structural) that want me powerless. There is power in knowing the truth…to be better able to navigate the margins because I understand what they are preserving.  

I am not the margins. I transcend them …through my suffering. It is here that I confront that  I am self. I am whole, dignified and validated. I am not my body…and for that matter,  I’m not even my ego. 

I am transcendence. I am an idea. 

I am happy.  


Intimacy in Broken Spaces 

Where masks are your reality

And brokenness is your friend.

Where your heart is your enemy

And truth spirals and bends.

You can stand in her presence… vulnerable… begging to be seen. 

Suffocated by her mirror where love is lost and forever lean.

Was groomed by her projection…primed to chase mirages.

Of what is not and never will be … desires forever held hostage. 

So many iterations 

Of me

Of masked faces.

It is time to resign to the simple truth.

Intimacy cannot be accessed 

When they are pursued in broken spaces.

Integrated at the Intersections

I’m coming to really understand the value of the Mary Mariah platform in terms of writing. I knew early on it would be a place for me to lean into my social science training. And ultimately, it would be a place for me to make meaning of my own experiences as an African American woman.

There are other social structures that impact me beyond race and gender; however, I believe that my body, as the first or most obvious marker in the external world, is how all other markers are filtered. And Mary Mariah, as a platform and a guiding spirit from my foremothers (Mary and Mariah), it is a place I can come and make sense out of all of it. 

One of the greatest treats of this project is when I learn from others (men, women, black, white and beyond) that my introspections gives them clarity in their own lives. I think I’ve always accepted that my writings could one day offer empirical value, in terms of evidence for future anthropologists to understand the social climate of our time; however, to discover that it has right now value, Mary Mariah has been quite fulfilling. 

So my reflection this morning is in true spirit of Mary Mariah.  Today I’m writing about the intersections of me…how, while on travel, I saw the woman I’m becoming collide with the woman I have been. And I want to write about it. 


I’m currently in St. Louis because I was invited speak on education and social change. This is my future. Not just talking about social change with my students and staff but to talk about social change beyond my immediate reach. 

This is the wonderment of yesterday.  From flying (which was the first time in 10 years) to bypassing the restaurant  linked to the hotel in order to walk the blocks to grab groceries for dinner, I was confronted with memories of my younger self (recently speaking)… with the future I’ve been planning… with the me that I’ve been all along… with the part of me that I, up until yesterday, have still been neglecting. 

Those are a lot of intersections and for most of the day, I subconsciously and consciously moved in and about. However there was a moment, when I was confronted with the sharp realization that in my today, I was at a pivotal point AND I was distinctly stepping into my tomorrow.

That in itself was a gift! Often times, we end a day to only wake up the next day and repeat it. But yesterday wasn’t about the day before… or the day before that. Yesterday was about tomorrow. Every since my birthday when I wrote about my personal development, about the woman that I’ve become, I have been thinking intently about her and planning a designed life specifically for her to be whole, authentic, and full of impact. And yesterday, I not only saw the clarity of that life, I felt like I was walking in it…I mean, through each step and each sensation, I felt like I had literally stepped into the tomorrow I have been steadily designing. 

And this is where the collision occurred. I had to contend with the old stuff that I was yet still holding onto. There is a biblical saying that, “You can’t put new wine in old wine skin.” In short,  it means that the old can’t exist in the new. As I write this, I think about my reflection from my birthday where I captured my present day thinking. And yesterday was like, you are not even where you were then. In all truthfulness, there was a part of that series, the five part birthday reflection, where I had started imagining what I have named the 5.0 me. Yesterday, as I made her acquaintance, I realized there were some things I had to do in order to fully embody her. 


While it’s good to return to what some call front seat living,  living based on your super powers afforded to you by your personality (because for 10 years, I had pretty much parked them…in exchange for falling in love with my back seat passengers), I realized that I was dangerously close to trying to walk into the new with only those two front seat passengers. 

This is an uncomfortable admission to make especially since I did so much work to acknowledge the back seat. But as I got up this morning to process yesterday, I realized that I somehow settled into a false truth that to be whole meant to be partitioned. I was going to return to the front seat for my work and then for my play, I was going to delight in the back. 

I thought that designing my future meant creating a life that would allow me to move in and about the front and the back seat. That this was what being whole meant. Having access to all parts of me by moving back and forth to access the different parts of my being.  But yesterday’s walk into the future challenged that thinking. My future is not about access. It’s about integration.  While I have talked about integration in the past, yesterday showed me (in the collision) some concrete barriers that were still there and how I need to remove them. 


I can’t go into the specifics here about those barriers but I believe real soon, in their departure, they will reveal themselves. For now I simply want to say designed living awaits. It’s not as future oriented as I had assumed. It is right now. 

Freedom, autonomy and creativity is not just about messaging and effecting social change. Freedom, autonomy and creativity is also, and ultimately, about being whole and integrated. 

Integrated at the intersections.  As I walk further into my tomorrow, that’s where you will find me. 

Integrated at the intersections. 

My First Flight… in 10 Years

First, let me say that it hasn’t exactly been 10 years.  It’s more like 9 years and 8 months (lol, I have this weird obsession with precision).

Second I want to say that the last time that I flew, I was at the start of a relationship. With that relationship recently ending, I couldn’t help but to notice the parallels between the two. Ten years of my life that I stopped flying. Ten years of my life that I stopped being me. 

I am currently working on a piece entitled,  The Sabbatical, where I’m expressing all of the wonderful things I learned about myself during this time I had a break. I say this now to ensure that my ten year hiatus wasn’t all doomsday. Sometimes it was quite the opposite. Beautiful. That’s right. A beautiful interruption from the core life I’m determined to have. 

It’s the interruption part that captured my attention while walking through the airport this morning. Feeling like my old self has been catapulted to the future, my cognitive sensations are on full alert. 

The smells, the sounds, the sights. I have a sense that I have been here before. But, the things around me feel different. 

This is what it’s like to be single again after 10 years away from being me. I’m facing myself sensing the familiarity of me all while acknowledging that a lot has changed. 


I’m in reflection mode which means #IAmWriting. I’m getting ready to board the plane. Stay tuned because I will be back with more.

Moving On

You clipped my wings and you judged me for not flying. 

I then learned to walk and you judged me for not sitting.

I then found a chair and you judged me for not standing.

It seems you just don’t want me to be.

But what you don’t seem to know is that I am.

With or without effort.

I am.

So I’m moving on.

To be. 

5.0. In Production. 

As I envision it, the 5.0 me is purely surviving off of my freedom (body), autonomy (direction/time) and creativity (INTJ habits of mind). And honestly, the arrival of this resolution or its clarity would not have occurred without the 4.0 in its struggle to arrive. So since I have now fully grown into the 4.0 me, as celebrated by the start of this reflection on the day of my birthday, I want to dedicate one of the installments of this series to the 5.0 me that is now officially in production.


What marks the difference between 3.0  and 4.0, as already stated, is the recognition, respect and protection of my lower functions  (especially my tertiary Fi). The 3.0 me was distracted and hypnotized by the J of my INTJ–the part of me that presents myself as an actor…a decision maker…a doer– putting the Te auxiliary me up front and center.  As a result, my work was driven as much by (if not more) an external order than an internal one. As long as I didn’t recognize and validate the internal me (Ni and Fi), the intuitive and values oriented me was tied to work that was valued and structured around what the world respected and validated. And for the 3.0, that was fine  (and lucrative). But the 4.0, or the birthing of the 4.0, had problems with it. 

When I became aware that my vision and internal values did not match the values of the world, my work life became offensive. But, because I still loved the subject of my work and still deeply valued my training, I kept running back to world structures… one being traditional employment. 

Aspecific scripture came to me two years ago (in three distinct ways over a two week period) that instructed me to not limit myself to the systems of the world. At the time, I interpreted it to mean knowledge, skills and strategies. While 4.0 still holds to that lesson, it has expanded it to include work. 

Now ironically, I walked away from traditional employment almost fifteen years ago. And at the time that I was hit with this scripture, I was wrestling with my efforts to take the unbound-nontraditional me (in terms of work) to the next level. Since then, however, I have been bombarded with some personal set backs that threatened this forward motion.. this lesson altogether. 

My relationship had entered its final decent, coming to a complete end last year…almost at the same time of my grandmother’s passing. The loss of these two relationships were not only emotionally difficult, they were materially difficult. With those two relationships went my two homes. So, my initial reaction (likely influenced more by the joint timing of it all than spiritual or logical thinking) was to return to 3.0 revenue as a way to rebuild and get back on my feet. And while I had been governed by an evolved way of thinking prior to that (a thinking that prioritized impact over income), these losses put me back in a 2.0 kind of way (discussed here in Part 2). As a result, my 3.0 pursuit, for a second, foolishly felt like growth.  

Over the past two months I have been delivered from such backwards thinking and have begun to gain clarity on how I can continue on in my forward motion … even in the aftermath of those two personal and structural losses. And here, returning to that scripture, I realized that it is  not only wordly knowledge and skills that I need to be careful of  (in terms of my conforming), it is also employment. In an unstable world, the perceived stability of employment almost stunted my growth.

When I woke up the day of my birthday, I had this clarity.  I am now full steam ahead …with more force and conviction than I had prior to those two loses. Because truthfully, prior to this moment I had not figured it out. I think this was the struggle of coming into the 4.0. I had repeated turbulence (which I have only shared the two most significant challenges) because I didn’t fully know how or even if I was to move forward. I just knew old beliefs and old systems no longer felt right on me. 

And that’s what 4.0 is about…it’s about finally knowing AND accepting a me that transcends conformity…conformity as in the world that I was born into. There is another world out there more aligned to who I truly am..and maybe, when I find that world, I will conform to it. But I’ll let 5.0 contend with that. For now, I’m excited about finding my place in the world…transcending structures that feel oppressive to the INTJ me. And a huge part of of that is my work (and my love and play but there’s no time to discuss that in this reflection 😍). 

I’m excited about 4.0 because I’m no longer wrestling with the demons of my past. The traumas of my childhood can now be left to my childhood because I have faced them and now understand that they are not me. The sterility of employment can and will be replaced by the fertility of authentic entrepreneurship (social entrepreneurship).  I will serve those that I love with the rigor in which I’ve been trained but with the values and convictions that are intuitively within..those that my community deserves as well. The loss of that relationship positions me to understand and attract one better suited for 5.0… a relationship that is not just love and romance… it’s also a friendship and a partnership… a meeting in the middle, communicating and being mutually accountable to the values we both hold dear.  And finally, the memory of my grandmother and ALL that she imparted in my life gives me the backbone to take the 4.0 me right into the 5.0 that I am destined to be–to bear and grin the challenges of growth. I know this, the pain that comes from trying to grow in an unyielding/unjust world, is much better than bearing and grinning the challenges of reduction–of conforming to the very thing that I have outgrown. 

No. The 4.0 me is free and forward moving! I will not conform to the ways of this world. With my lower functions on full display and fully integrated into my INTJ partnership, I proudly live on purpose… in route to becoming the next level of me. So I’m putting the world on notice. With the strength and fortitude of the 4.0, Angie 5.0 is now in production!

The end. 

The Rock

Sturdy and steady. 

Grounded and settled. 

A soul that came in the form of a foundation

Living amongst us with a richness that can only be extracted from the earth .

A beautiful gift 

Entered as already formed 

Giving others access to that which cannot be reached within a lifetime. 

But there she was 

Strength actualized 

Wisdom ripened 

Gracing those in her presence 

With unearned access to the divine 

Prayers unprayed

Sacrifices un sacrificed 

The cliff notes to glory 

All because she was

**** I 

The rock.

These were the two words that stirred in me when I heard the news that Ms. Otis had passed away.

In this season. Grief not yet resolved. Confronting an anniversary I grossly did not want to celebrate. Ms. Oatis also took her last breath, joining my grandmother in taking the summer exit up.

And now… now I am not only mourning my grandmother. I’m mourning my grandmother’s friend. And morning all those who loved them both.

**** 2

The rock.

As I readied myself to go offer my condolences, moving from one side of the street to the next. I am struck by the front porch. A symbolic metaphor of precious days gone by, reminding me of the times I would walk that very path, to take my grandmother to visit the grandmother across the street. 

Two friends sharing time, space and secrets …as girls are known to do. Joint travelers, they were. Mothers. Matriarchs. Meaning makers. Now memories. And once again, I become  consumed  with grief. 

Taking one step at a time… putting one foot in front of the other, I finally reach the mark of my destination. Granddaughter to granddaughter, I lie in someone’s arms and cry. I  fumble out a few awkward words of sorrow and clumsily made my way back across the street… feeling the loneliness that only the passing of those two pillars, those two friends, could bring.

**** 3

The rock.

Huh. There it was again. Those two words. 

In the midst of all those emotions… swirling around… bumping around… churning deep within, this is what I kept  hearing. The Rock.

It then occurred to me that this was a poem. I’ve learned over the years, this is how I hear from the Divine. Starting off as a word or two, even before the art is fully-formed, there is nagging echo, words somehow on repeat, it is an indicator that there is a message waiting inside.

 It takes only a few seconds though, the pause of not knowing what to do next.  I pull out my pen and paper and finally commit to what was persisting to come out. 

​Sturdy and steady. 

Grounded and settled. 

A soul that came in the form of a foundation

Living amongst us with a richness that can only be extracted from the earth.

She was.

**** 4

​The rock.

I woke up the next morning not quite satisfied. With the poem finally finished, I wanted to know more about his thing called a rock. Sending me scientifically on a search.

And this is what I discovered…

A rock is a cohesive state of abundance. 

It is value with form. 

Comprised of a richness that’s held  together by a distinct bond. 

Now I have to pause for a second and say that this is just a summary of what I learned. I wish I had the time. There was so much there about a rock.  About its properties;  about this unique but distinct cohesiveness that holds the rock together; about the formation process that takes eons to complete. 

But I ask you to join me in accepting this message. This. The message I have been charged to share.  Going through my own grief and sadness, I believe I was to say to you that Mrs. Oatis was…

The rock. 

A beautiful gift 

Entered as already formed 

Giving others access to that which cannot be reached within a lifetime. 

But there she was 

Strength actualized 

Wisdom ripened 

Gracing those in her presence 

With unearned access to the divine 

Prayers unprayed

Sacrifices un sacrificed 

The cliff notes to glory 

All because she was

The rock.

**** 5

As you hold onto your individual memories, I hope your remember this. 

Ms Otis was- The rock. 

The Scab

Was just looking at it the other day

A remembrance of pain 

Going through its process

For healing

Wondered when it would fall off

And what lied beneath when it did

Newness I hoped

Not more of the same

Feeling confident

This thing between the old and the new

Better days are ahead

Scars to remind me

That as flesh and blood

That which I am

Pain is part of the journey 

And so is the  healing 

So I was rather unprepared

When another hit came this morning

In the exact space of the old

An unfortunate intrusion 

Knocking my healing to the ground. 

Leaving a mark  on top of what wasn’t finished

Wound on wound 

To start all over

The healing

The covering 

A preparation that has to stop before it can start 

In line 

In waiting 

Now delayed

Letting the flow of blood take its course. 


–Dedicated to Papa–

May your soul rest in peace with My Granny 

Crowd Sourcing

Last year when my grandmother was transitioning, I realized that thinking and writing were my lifelines to staying centered and sane.  The more people crowded into my personal space, the more I wrote and reflected.  Poetry, essays, tweets and Facebook posts… it was how I held it all together. 

Now I’m here again. Except this time it is a happy occasion. Yet I’m back at it… writing poems, essays, tweets and Facebook posts. Why the activation of my lifeline tools?

Yes, I’m overwhelmed by my niece graduating from high school.  Of knowing she’s going away for college.  Already missing game nights, freestyle style rapping sessions and an emotionalism that checks in to make sure that everyone is okay. 

But I’m also overwhelmed by the crowd.  All the people. Yes most of those people are family—her family with their own shared language around love and living — but regardless, it’s a crowd.  In a space that is personal and intimate,  they are all here to love up on my niece when I want her and my mom, sister and other two nieces to myself.  Yes, this might be the child me. But it certainly is the introverted me.  Introverted in a house that is being taken over by extroverts. Yikes!! I’m gon’ be a writing sister. 

Crowd sourcing provides a gift of words … but it definitely provides a heartache of noise. 

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