"It's really about control, my body, my mind." -Nola Darling (She's Gotta Have It, 1986)
Happy New Year!
I have yet to set my resolutions for the New Year. Honestly, I'm not sure that I plan on setting any resolutions for this year. In my experience, resolutions often breed stress and disappointment at the end of the year when I realize that I haven't met a specific goal. This year, I've decided to set my intentions for the New Year based on the achievements of other awesome women of color. As a result, I've ended up with a group of women that I intend to role model throughout the year. One of these women is Nola Darling, the fictional character from Spike Lee's, She's Gotta Have It, series on Netflix.
First, I must confess. I've watched, She's Gotta Have It, at least, 4 times now. Each time, I find myself more and more captivated by the tenacious, and self-aware spirit that is Nola Darling. If you haven't had the time to bless yourself with this fantastic Netflix series, you're slacking. She's Gotta Have It is truly a must watch, especially if you're a 20-something year-old woman of color. In an effort to entice you to watch the series, and because I don't want to ruin anything for those of you who haven't yet finished the series, I won't offer up any spoilers. Seriously though, get on that. If you're familiar with Spike Lee's cinematograph signature, then you're in for another dope watch. If not, then prepare to enter this cinematically unfamiliar territory filled with visual and aural gems.
Just to make sure that we're all on even ground, I will give you some type of foundational premise of the series. She's Gotta Have It, like the original film, is set in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. As the series is a modern approach to the Spike Lee’s 1986 film version of She's Gotta Have It, viewers now experience Fort Greene as it is forced to accommodate a new wave of white, wealthy, and young property owners. Gentrification plays a huge role in the series, and instead of shying away from the issue, Spike Lee chooses to address it head on. Throughout the series, Lee introduces a variety of quirky and charming characters that influence and support the series' main character, Nola Darling. Darling is a native Brooklynite and rising artist. Her paintings are unapologetically Black and frequently intertwine her love for Black culture, Brooklyn, and her personal experiences and traumas. At the center of her experiences (and traumas) are the people that she's involved with: Mars Blackmon, Greer Childs, Jaime Overstreet, and Opal Gilstrap. The initial focus is on the 3 men, but Opal’s character is introduced a little later in the series.
If you are still setting your resolutions or intentions for 2018, here's a few ways that I plan on being my own Nola Darling. Whether you’ve watched the series or not, I think that after reading this, you will consider embracing your inner Nola Darling in 2018, too.
Stay surround by your POC friend group or create a POC friend group. Nola Darling is constantly surrounded by supportive and creative people of color - with the exception of Rachel, Nola's white friend who loves African dance, and probably African men, too. While surrounding yourself with a mixed (POC and non-POC) group of friends is always dope, Nola's experiences illustrate that having a POC friend group yields a different level of comfort and connection. This is especially true when you're trying to talk about POC things.
Send calls to voicemail. In 2017, I developed this stressfully reliant relationship with my phone and receiving calls, texts, tweets, likes, and comments. I HATED this and have decided that this is not a sustainable relationship. One of the things that stood out to me about Nola Darling was her ability to simply not pick up the phone. Now, I get that this is not feasible for everyone to do. Still, in 2018 I intend to implement Nola Darling levels of scarcity with my cellular device - you should, too. People can wait.
Be serious with your craft. Dedicate time to your craft (and stick with it). As the series develops, we see Nola become more and more dedicated to making her mark in the art world, and to finding her artistic fingerprint. The result? Nola has to be less lenient about how she's spending her time and more strict with her craft. Though she struggles with finding her balance, a lot can be said for her efforts to become more intimate with her craft. If you don't have a craft, find one! To keep it a buck, I didn't have a craft until 2017. My blog is my craft and I couldn't be more grateful for having it. This year is all about nurturing what brings me joy.
Date. Start a dating rotation (and don't be afraid to let them know). When I say date, I mean date however you define dating. If that means outings only, that's perfect! If that means sex only, that's perfect! If that means a mixture of the two, that's also perfect! A large part of the series is centered on the complexities of Nola's dating life. Basically, Nola has niggas. Nola Darling is the Queen of the Rotation. Still, even the Queen can have complications with her rotation. Nola's rotation, while almost perfect, does get a bit complicated during the middle of the series. Nola's niggas offer a range of personalities and characteristics, so that ultimately, she receives a plethora of intellectually, physically, and emotionally stimulating pleasures from each of her lovers. Variety is the spice of life, honey. So make like Nola, and get you some niggas. As of now, I'm chilling. You, on the other hand, should get yours.
Be receptive. To follow up no. 6, the only way that Nola is able to enjoy all of these pleasures from her lovers is by being receptive! Each of her lovers offers her something that she willingly accepts, no matter how grandeur the gesture. I am definitely guilty of this. Sometimes, I worry that I may be too simplistic in my expectations of my partner. Overall, I think it's fine to be simple. If that's your style, then that's your style. Nola, too, is simple. However, she recognizes that she is worthy of the time, effort, and money that her partners put into her gifts and dates. If someone wants to splurge on you, let them! Most importantly, don't feel guilty about or feel the need to reciprocate.
Live for yourself. Be uncompromising with what's at your core. Yes, compromise makes relationships work, but you should never feel as if you have to compromise your core set of values. This seems to be the foundation of all of Nola's complications with each of her partners. Nola is not willing to compromise her freedom, both in the artistic and literal sense, for her partner's sake. Nola is firm about what she wants, does what is needed (even if it's not what she wants), and is not willing to put anyone's needs above her own. She indulges, and her self-love is active. Undeniably, this is what I adore most about Nola Darling. As I prepare for all of the changes that are coming in 2018, I realize that I will need to be even more mindful about putting myself first. I am sensitive, and I am easily affected by negative energy. I have a tendency to force myself to endure situations riddled with negative energy simply to ensure that I'm not making anyone feel uncomfortable - this is not sustainable. Eventually, I will drive myself insane, and as of now, that's not something that I'm interested in for 2018.
How will you be your own Nola Darling in 2018? Wishing you prosperity as we navigate through this New Year!
*Disclaimer: God's good grace brought this blog to life