Tuesday, October 18, 2016

JESSICA HAMPTON #Sayhername


Jessica Hampton Mother - Daughter - WOMAN 
She was on the Red Line train in the middle of the day this past June.  25 year old young woman Jessica Hampton, whom I read was working incredibly hard to get her life together.  She was learning to love herself again. She stopped drinking and was probably thinking of what her next steps to living her best life with & for her daughter who she has left behind...a six year old daughter. Jessica Hampton was loved by many.  She was on her way somewhere and she shook her head no to him and he stabbed her multiple times.  No one stepped in to help her.  People screamed and ran in the opposite direction.  People videotaped her death and took in her demise through a lens and did not step in to stop it.

Like many women, she found herself with a man whose intentions for her ended up being violence at all costs.  This individual has gone to jail for this crime against a woman who simply said no to him and yes to herself.  Jessica's daughter is now a secondary survivor of violence because she could have easily been part of this tragedy.  We could have been reading and watching her demise on youtube, but thank God that was not the case.  I pray she never witnessed her mother and/or any other woman experience physical violence. I pray that she never will have to see it, but I think that is a very big prayer.  I pray that she never will have to personally experience violence.  I pray that her experience with violence ends with her mother.

Violence against women is becoming so normalized...violence against women of color is already a "normal" daily occurrence.  With the help of media and the history of violence against women of color in America, a black woman can sit on a train in the middle of the day and repeatedly get stabbed without one finger being lifted to assist her because it is normal...her pleas for help fell on deaf ears.  She died because it was normal to see the destruction of her body.  She deserved to be heard.  Black women's lives matter!

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  Minimizing and ultimately ending violence against women and girls.  There are many organizations around the country whose mission is just this.  One organization, based in Chicago is called A Long Walk Home.  http://www.alongwalkhome.org/
They will be one of the groups organizing a Freedom From Violence March this Thursday honoring Jessica Hampton's life.


#sayhername #blacklivesmatter #blackwomenslivesmatter
REST IN PEACE


Monday, October 10, 2016

#FreeBresha..But Can Her Mom Get Free Too

I woke up this morning with Bresha Meadows on my heart.  I was wondering what she was going through right now.  What it took for her to be pushed to her breaking point.  At the tender age of 14, she gathered everything inside of her to pick up her father's gun...the same tool her father handily used to terrorize Bresha, her sisters and her mother, and shoot her father.  Her 14 years of unrest, trauma and horrific home-life gave her all that she needed to stop the destruction the man she was supposed to look to for love and protection caused. She loved, served and protected her family in their time of need...So the question so many are asking, where was her mother?  Why couldn't she be the one to stop the violence?  Why couldn't she remove her family from the hell that her husband cause?  I know I initially asked these questions.  I wondered why, as a mother, she could allow ANYONE to hurt her children.  As I cried over her daughter's plight, my questioning Brandi's absence during this time had me wondering how much she must be questioning herself.  How much guilt she must be feeling during this time as her daughter is locked up and on suicide watch.

Brandi spent 22 years of her life be broken down.  Her last moment with her husband was him asleep on the couch and her on the floor next to him.  He owned her life and her daughter was the only one that was able to set her free.  22 years, she tried to fight and was broken.   In those 22 years she had three babies...all girls.  Not much is said about the youngest girls, but Bresha is a vibrant young lady with a vision for life.  A great student and friend...All this to say, mom was seemingly doing her best to give her daughters some hope.  Mom seemingly was trying to show up at least for her girls in the world outside.  She just struggled desperately to show up for them at home...where it was truly dangerous.

My heart goes out to this family...Yes, my heart is heaviest for Bresha, but I am definitely weighted down with the guilt and anguish this mother is feeling.  The reality is, she has to find her strength and her footing and build herself back up.  She needs to see her worth again as a woman, as a mother as a being so that she can fully and properly support her daughter(s).  She needs to create a safe place for her daughter to come home to.  What does her support system look like?  I pray there is a psychiatrist, teacher, preacher, sister, friend and family around that can support Brandi is rebuilding herself.  I pray for her strength that she realizes that she has it.  I pray that Brandi stops being a victim and finds a way to be her own hero.  Right now, Bresha is wanting out of this life because home is no longer home anymore.  Brandi needs to create that space for her. I pray that Brandi embraces the ultimate gift/sacrifice her daughter made for her and her family and releases herself from her proverbial prison so that in turn Bresha could find her way home to freedom.

Free Bresha...But Brandi, free yourself first so you be strong enough to help your babies act of heroism not be in vain.

For more about the story, here is a link to one of many articles written.
http://jezebel.com/15-year-old-bresha-meadows-faces-a-life-sentence-for-al-1787575676
https://campaigns.organizefor.org/petitions/free-bresha-meadows

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Mirror Mirror

Here I am stumbling through the process of learning to love myself…
Yup, I’m challenged, but pushing forward because I can’t look back, I don’t want to look back.  This my friends, is so important.  This is my chance to finally get through the fear and bust through the ribbon at the finish line, only to train for yet another journey.  It ain’t over till it’s over!  Loosing my mother has taken away a part of me that was unconditional love for me.  The day she passed, that void of feeling loved purely and unconditionally without question of worthiness felt so vast and empty.  Nothing could fill it up.  I've hated how awful and lonely that has been/had been making me feel.  So I've decided to do something about it.  I decided to find a way to fill that empty space with self love.  Face to void and fill it!

So let me tell you about my last couple of days of loving myself.  I started out my Sunday morning spending time with my snooze button.  My tired body was in a tumultuous battle with my hungry spirit and sadly, the body won.   Yes, that disappointment that just laid itself on my heart and stayed present with me even after a very long and thorough shower.  As I applied lotion to myself and put on my intimates; I stopped and stared into that space between void and feelings convincing myself not to step deep into the void but embrace my feelings, my pain, my joy, my pride, my sense of accomplishment, my feelings...I thought back to the day before when I promised to love myself blindly, unconditionally and without self Judgment.  I sat in judgement of myself and found myself entrenched in the void.  

I told myself that I was ok, but without skipping a beat, the  “you’ve messed up again - It’s not in you -you aren’t worthy  -"so typical of you" recording started playing in my head.  I listened to this mantra and allowed it to disrupt the flow of good energy I was feeling from my five minutes of prayer and meditation from the day before. 
But the interesting thing this time is the self depricating self talk pissed me off enough for me to want to face myself.  I reluctantly approached my mirror.  I fought myself extremely hard to catch my own gaze.  I discovered many new lines on my face, counted fading freckles and experimented with new hairstyle options all to avoid my own gaze.  Why was it so damn hard?  Why was this such a challenge to face me?  It was a strategically placed freckle in the corner of my left eye that forced my eyes to catch themselves in the mirror...my own big brown anxious, yet disarming eyes.  Now that I had my own attention, what would I finally tell myself?  What would I finally embrace?  I guess simply that I was going to be just fine.  Maybe even stare long enough to admire how much I loved how deep and penetrating my eyes were.  Even to have the courage to look into my own eyes and say I…L..LO..I….I LOVE YOU!  It totally felt silly for not having done that sooner, but I promised no judgment. 

Monday morning, I started with the same tumultuous battle of tired body and hungry spirit, but this time spirit was a bit stronger and triumphed.  I woke up with no judgment, just resolve. Pray – Mediate – Exercise – Love yourself and Repeat... pushing toward the next phase of this journey.  The deeper, more realized part of my journey.

Tuesday will be another new day and on this new day, I will look in the mirror again and remind myself of my journey thus far, say something kind to myself and keep it moving...forward.

I love me...even in those moments when the words are merely words...I will continue you to say it until the words are the truth in that moment.

Mirror Mirror On The Wall Who is The Most Present One Of All...me


Nourish  Nurture  Sustain  Build - Mother Milk





  





Sunday, July 17, 2016

July 7th, 2016 - Rest In Peace Mom




Us...
It's been one week and a few days since my mother transitioned.  My heart is both broken and relieved. Broken because I can no longer hold her hand, hear her laugh, see her smile, look into her kind eyes, lay my weary head on her lap, listen to her voice...Relieved because her body and mind can no longer cause her pain and torment.  She suffered for so many years.  This life had given the chance to see & experience so much of the world, explore her boundaries, realize her strength and unfortunately feel emotional and physical pain deeper and more profound than most people could bear.  It was to much...She held on through pain until she felt my son and I were going to be okay...supported & loved through this life...This is what I shared at her memorial...

July 27th 1942 - July 7th 2016



My mother really didn’t want any fuss “when the time came”.  I believe part of it was her not wanting to inconvenience anyone and the other part was her not realizing what a brilliant woman she was. 

From as far back as I can remember, my mother worked so incredibly hard at every task she put her mind to.  She would not stop until something was done just right…She was just under five feet tall, but you would never know that from way she boldly lived her life.  She was in a country far from all of her family except for her child.  What makes her even more amazing was that for all of my life, my mother battled with mental illness.  We all struggle with our negative self-talk or “demons”, but a quick talking to with friends, family therapist and a prayer usually did the trick.  Her demons felt very real to her and were very loud.    My mother was diagnosed with Schizophrenia.  I went back and forth about weather I should even talk about this, but I realized how important it was to talk about the miracle her life was despite this horrible disease. 

So when I say my mother raised me for most of my life as a single mother; she went to school to further her education; she landed her dream job, she made sure I was fed, loved as best she could, safe and looked after.  She kept her disease at bay in front of the outside world for many years.  The hospital she worked at had no clue, because she was meticulous about her work and usually worked nights where her interactions with coworkers although sincere, was very routine and practiced.  She wanted to care for people and make sure they kept their dignity intact. 

At home we definitely had our challenging times, but whatever demon she was battling still didn’t stop her from making me clean my room nor did it stop her from throwing me birthday parties or making sure all my needs were met.  I wanted for nothing. 

My mother was kind.  Up until the day she passed, people always were drawn in by her kindness and loving heart.  She would give of her time neighbors who needed help to coworkers or church friends just needed prayer.  She was the one to make it happen. 

My mother was completely head over heels in love with her grandson.  She would give her last breath if it meant he would okay or better or fed.   The moment he showed up in the world, her life was full.  At times I felt like I was a surrogate.  They have so much love for each other…they made each other better in so many ways. 

My mother was my friend.  The latter part of her life was so HARD!  Age made it harder to keep her disease in check.  Her final few years were at a nursing home.  It was the first time she was able to be regulated with medication and started coming to terms with this disease.  I’m so glad she was able to not recall much of what her life was off of her medication, so instead we would just talk about everything.  These were the years I finally convinced her to get her first manicure and eyebrows done and King Spa.  She loved them all.  I felt like we got to bond over our woman-ness together.  I felt like she shared her vulnerable underbelly with me like she would a girlfriend.  I cherish those moments. 

My mother is both my son’s & my angel.  She has left this physical space and transitioned into her heavenly form.  She is free of physical and mental pain.  She is our watcher our guide and our protector in death as she was in life.


Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Sixth Sense

Life is what you make it.  I've learned that through so many lessons and in so many ways over the years.  Most of those lessons i've learned have been from the women in my life.  Some have been my ride or die homies who have mothered me through whatever emotional or physical trauma I was experiencing to the random momma stranger on the street who's momma .  It was these moments that made me understand the importance of my circle of women.  

I'm so thankful for the many times I was emotionally rescued by these surrogate mothers in my life also known as my friends, my sisters, my aunties, my co-workers, my son's friend's moms, my friend's moms, and at the top of that list...my mom .  Women who had no obligation to my healing.  They simply were expressing their mother-nature, an extremely challenging emotion to avoid.  It's like an impulse...much like child birth when it comes time for a woman to push, it is an impulse that women cannot stop themselves.  It just happens.  There are no questions of weather she wants to push, she just needs to...impulse.  The impulse to mother weather a woman has physically given birth or not is simply an additional sense...touch, smell, taste, hear, see, nurture...I believe it is the sense that makes a woman.  

So imagine that extra sense in action when a woman does become a mother.  When the universe bestows on her a child(ren).  The sense of nurture becomes the dominant sense to the fives senses which are now tools used to strengthen or sharpen the nurturing of a child.  Making sure that all spaces the child comes in contact with is safe to touch, smell, taste, hear and see...making sure to keep the child away from anything that could adversely affect the "sub-senses".   

In my space of thankfulness...I acknowledge myself for showing up when it was super challenging but knowing that my heart was full of love and nurture for my son.  I chose not to stop.  I chose to nurture and him and shield him from the negativity that he has touched, smelled, tasted, heard and seen.  I, his mother, chose to be just that...his mother and boy am I blessed because although it has been 16 plus years, I am still amazed that I was the one chosen to raise him, I was the one chosen to guide him, I was the one chosen to love him, I was the one chosen to be his mother.    In that acknowledgement, I also know that in choosing to mother him, I must also remember to allow myself to be mothered...to allow someone else to use their sixth sense to help me heal and be my strongest self so that I can be the best mom to my boy.

Ashe...Happy Mother's Day!

Please also check out my podcast and let me know what you think:







 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Denying Thy Self



Who are you?  As we embark on the journey of motherhood so many of us find ourselves merging our childhood, teenage, young adult dreams with the dreams that we now have for the being that we've birthed from our loins.  This representation of all things beautiful, free, innocent and right about you.  So your focus, ok, my focus is now place squarely on this gift releasing any dream distracting you from the gift.  


Funny thing is, that gift i've fallen on the sword for...that gift I've selflessly starved my desires and dreams for...that gift that was born of me...specifically chose me, which means releasing my wishes and desires...the same desires and passions that helped form this gift is actually you denying the gift...this representation of all things beautiful, free, innocent and right about you is denied the opportunity to meet their maker...really know their maker...be affirmed by their maker.Moral of the story mother...don't give up who you are by letting go of those dreams and desires that  inspired this gift to be birthed through you.  Motherhood is not only about nourishing and nurturing the lives you've been charged with raising...Motherhood is about nourishing and nurturing self not denying self.


Mabel aka My Mommy

I love my mother so much!  She has been my rock and my salvation.  She has been the person who understood me the least but comforted my in ways that no other being could satisfy.  I love my mother.

Ms. Mabel...

Like many folks, I really didn't start getting to know the woman whom I called mom until later in life.   She was always just mom.  It didn't help that she was also very guarded as are many african women, so wearing her emotions anywhere on her person was not a thing, unlike her daughter whose emotions should be tattooed across her face...Just sayin'.

My mother's name is Mabel.  She is the second youngest child out of six.  She was raised in Zimbabwe with her parents and siblings (3 sisters and 2 brothers) on a farm.  My grandmother was a midwife and my grandfather farmed but also was a musician.

My mother has always been driven; so much so that she left the home that she new in Zimbabwe at sixteen to come to the US as an exchange student.  Did she fly from warm Zimbabwe to Florida, Atlanta, California, The Carolinas?  No, she flew to Green "Damn Winters Are Rough" Bay Wisconsin!   She was one of the only people of color in Green Bay so of course she ended up in the newspaper.  Anywho, she finished high school there and decided to move to Chicago where she attended DePaul and became a nurse.  She met my dad, who was also from Zimbabwe and going to law school at the time, on a blind date.  Not to long after they met, they were married and then them had me.  They weren't married very long.  Dad moved back to Zim and mom stayed in the states and raised me. These are all the facts of her life.  This is how she always presented herself to me and the world.  The fact of the matter is my mother was alone in another country, raising her child by herself, trying to keep a roof over our head, finishing school.  She was also dealing with what i'll call emotional issues as I don't want to get to deeply into that.  She struggled.  I believe by the time she was 30, her vision verses her reality were very different, so I think she started to isolate herself.  Her life was now all about work and me.

It wasn't until I had a child that I started to really ask questions of my mother.  Who are you mom?  Why did you come to the states?  What do you love?  What were your dreams?  How many came true?  What are your fears?  So many questions I asked her and soon realized that so many years sat between her past dreams and her present reality that she really had few answers for me.   That broke my heart and made me realize how much she truly sacrificed for me and my future.  She released her dreams to make room for mine or at least make room for her dreams for me...Like i said, my didn't completely understand me growing up, i know she loved me.

Being the age now that I was when she was really loosing control of her mental state, i'm amazed by her.  She somehow managed to deal with my teenage angst and keep her job at a prominent hospital for many years.  She was a great nurse despite her mental state.  She also tried dating and almost married a man from home, but he was violent with her.  She survived that too.  This was all around the age that I am now (forty something).  So much trauma yet she still stood.  I'm definitely not as strong as she was at this stage in her life.

Fast forward to the present.  My mother is in her 70s and struggling through physical pain, memory loss, being overly medicated and not living in a place that she feels good about.  She smiles so sweetly when she sees her grandson or I touch her and look deep into her eyes and tell her I love her. She hugs me so much more than when I was growing up.  She even says she loves me without me even soliciting.  Her mind sometimes take her back to her youth when things were more simple and will share a nugget or two about her you with me.  Those are the only time she really remembers anything outside of working and raising me.  Those details are starting to blur more too.
I know her heart wants to reconnect with her sister back home, but she always says "it's not God's will".  She is so loved by everyone who meets her because her spirit is so incredibly sweet.  She looks at me with so much love and light and pride...she also looks at me with sad and helpless and hopeless eyes, but only until she starts to see me as her daughter and not a woman in her space who is listening and loving her.  She is generous in love and material things, even when she has nothing to give, she will give her last dollar if it means making me or her grandson happy or at least smile.

Words I never thought I would say: I pray to be more like my mother in her strength, resilience, and loving heart.

My mother is my moral compass, my strength, my gold standard, my light.  I thank you God that she raised me.  I thank you God that she loves me so much and so hard that I learn to love myself.

I thank you God for the woman I have been blessed to call mom.











Friday, April 1, 2016

Second Quarter...Here we go!



Hello April!  It's hard to believe you have already arrived.  You being here requires me to do a quick check in with my 2016 plan of attack.  Am I on a good path?  Have I been diligent and disciplined with my plans?  Have I changed my mind about how I feel about any accomplishments?  Did I surprise myself in anyway?  Am I feeling disappointed or proud of myself?  So many questions you bring to me April!  

So 2016 was/is supposed to be the year I push myself outside of my comfort zone.  Do things that make you uncomfortable because the further out they are the more you find yourself stretching and growing in unexpected ways.  How has it been thus far?  

Quick self assessment, like most folks, I started out incredibly strong.  I knocked out a few things on my list...Travel to LA for the first time...go on a dates(yipes!)...Okay, you get the idea, i've done some ish already and that feels pretty good!  

Let's discuss procrastination though...Why do we procrastinate?  Seriously, why!??! Is it because we or I am afraid of messing things up?  Putting off the failure or hell, putting off the success?  I mean think about it, the longer I put of that next line item on my list the longer it is for me to do the work to keep said line item going...the longer it is before I have to be accountable to said line item, the longer it is before I get an chance to achieve my goal...huh??  That's the problem with procrastination, you don't get ish done.  You actually miss opportunities because you weren't prepared...Thats a problem.  A problem that stunts your ability to grow.  So we flash back to the beginning of this post, I stated that 2016 was/is supposed to be the year I pushed myself outside of my comfort, which means procrastination needs to be what's put off.  There is no time for procrastination, because there are only twelve months in this year and April has arrived signaling the beginning of the second quarter, giving me the opportunity to reset and continue pushing forward because it's only the second quarter and I got this!

April let's do this!!


Monday, February 1, 2016

My Biggest Opponent

There are very few movies I walk away from feeling proud, moved & inspired...Creed
I felt like a proud mom knowing that this beautiful movie was directed by a young driven brother whose honored his father who passed away by directing this gem of a movie.  Both my son and I spent the rest of our night obsessing over the soundtrack quoting the movie. One of the quotes that stuck with me.  That resonated deeply because it felt so relevant at this moment in my life was...

"You see this guy here? That's the toughest opponent you're ever going to have to face. I believe that's true in the ring, and I think that's true in life. Now show me something!" 


God this has been my lifelong battle.  I have effectively talked myself out of so many opportunities that the universe set up for my good.  I've taken a thousand momentous forward moving steps only to suddenly stop & dig my heels into a bed of quicksand layered with fear. Why?  Because it felt like i was moving to fast.  Like feeling I felt of fulfillment and purpose driven could not be meant for me.  So many people around me suffering, why would I be the blessed one who was able to enjoy my life.  


I have been my biggest opponent for far to long.  It truly is time for me to start being my own personal cheerleader, my champion and move out of my own way.  It ain't easy, that's for sure.  Old habits die hard and quite often leave you pretty scarred & afraid to move forward. With fear lining the gloves that are ready to take me up,  I need to remember that fear & failure equals foundations for success!   I've got big things to do man!  

This is a year of authenticity! Of no fear of making things happen that you thought impossible but finally realizing the spelling of the word is I'm-possible! This is the year of honoring your truth...your real truth..which is not fear but being fearless...limitless! This is the year I stop being my biggest naysayer and in-turn be my biggest cheerleader. This is the year I embrace the me that people always tell me about.  2016 is going to be no joke!


#fullestexpressionofself2016


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Coma Terms

What a year 2015 was!
FREEDOM was my New Years resolution.  I wasn't sure what that was supposed to be or how it would manifest, but it was what I wanted and needed to happen for me evolve.  I had no idea what I was in for.  I didn't realize my prayers and meditation would take me down this incredibly emotional road to freedom.

A friend of mine described how she had been feeling for the last few months...like she was in a coma...man did that resonate with me!  I experienced extreme highs by celebrating my son's successes and a few of mine, but instead of me using my challenges (I don't want to call them failures or losses) as a catalyst, they became a warm weighted blanket in the heat of summer.  

I had been laid off from my job and all though I knew that I had asked for this...not loosing my job, but the freedom from having a regular 9-5...I finally get to call my own shots...but how scary.  I have been working for someone since I was 15.  It was a shock to the system to say the least...but I asked for it.  Freedom to do me on my own terms.  What were those terms??  Truth be told, the thought of my own terms was what definitely shut me down.  That was the added weight that felt way to much to even consider moving.

Thank God for great friends who had been down this road before.  Constant reassurance that this comatose feeling that i'd been having was very normal.  Going from being an employee to being self starting.

It's 2016 and i've woken up from my coma.  I'm ready to take on this freedom and see it through to it fullest potential.  I realize that showing up for my life unapologetically and honoring the universes gifts, I can and will be able to live have my best year yet!

Lets do this!