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Encourage Yourself: Tips to Avoid Slipping into Depression

“Not that I am happy with the suffering; I simply refuse to be defeated by it”.

Huey P Newton

I am prone to fall into depressive states. When a depression hits, all I want to do is eat, sleep, and feel sorry for myself. There are certain triggers that if not handled immediately, can send me spiraling into depression until I muster the strength to pull myself up and out. This can take days and sometimes weeks.  Over the years I have learned how to recognize when I am on the verge of a depression and I take matters into my own hands to prevent that from happening. This level of self-awareness is especially important for self-mastery, personal growth, and ascension. I wanted to share with you four ways I avoid falling into depression to bring myself back to a state of equilibrium. As I wrote this article, the song Encourage Yourself by Donald Lawrence came to my mind. As you read this article, feel free to listen to this song.

  1. Practice Gratitude

“I had fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the lord

Psalm 27:13-14

Now this isn’t the gratitude that’s discussed in the post-modern spiritual circles where you write down 3 things you are grateful for and meditate. This is the gratitude of the Black Church. The, “when I think of the goodness of Jesus and all he’s done for me, my soul cries out Hallelujah, I thank God for saving me”. The, “when I look back over my life” gratitude. The type of gratitude where you use praise as a weapon. I put on my gospel music, grab my tambourine, and give God glory. It works! I thank God for all my many, many blessings. Because despite my present circumstance, despite my feelings of anger, shame, guilt, sadness, and fear, I know I can overcome them. Praise is a powerful weapon that is guaranteed to make you feel better and keep you from spiraling.



2. Exercise

“It is easier to act yourself into good thinking than it is to think yourself into good action”

Bill Gove

High intensity exercise releases feel-good endorphins that improve your sense of well-being. Exercise also takes your mind off your worries. I love a good run or a good lifting session. I may not feel like it, but once the workout is over, I feel so much better. Even a walk outdoors will help to lift your mood and stave off depression. If you are unable to do any intense exercise; stretch or do a positive activity that brings you joy; knitting, painting, or gardening.  A good workout boots my self-esteem and confidence and the negative emotions that were waiting to weigh me down have been transmuted.

young ethnic woman with fit ball sitting on floor while training in modern gym
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

3. Clean & Organize

“Like a sunflower, I am learning to always face the light”

Sabrina Laura

When I’m feeling down, I will open the windows (yes, even in the winter), let the stale air out and let the fresh air in. I will light my sage or palo santo to cleanse my aura and the energy of my home. Then I will turn some music on and get to cleaning. I will sweep, mop, dust, or clean the bathroom. If everything is already clean, I will start throwing things away. I will go through my closet and get rid of old clothes. I will go through the stack of mail and papers and toss whatever isn’t needed. Our physical environment is a direct reflection of our mental state and clearing physical clutter will clear mental, emotional, and energetic clutter.

5. Self-Talk: Encourage Yourself


“Whatever you put into your mind, in one way or another, is what you will get back out, in one way or another”

Shad Helmstetter

Like the song Encourage Yourself says, “Sometimes you gotta look in the mirror and tell yourself I can make it. You gotta remember that life and death lie in the power of your own tongue. Even if nobody tells you, you can run on. You tell yourself”. I begin to repeat my affirmations. I begin to combat the negative thoughts and words that are running rampant in my mind. I remind myself that there is nothing I can’t overcome. That there ain’t no quit in me. That I am my ancestors wildest dream, and that resilience, power and strength is embedded in the fabric of my DNA and I will not only be ok. But I will win.

Cry if you have to, scream if you must. But don’t you ever give up and don’t you ever quit. And when you feel yourself slipping into a depression, try to incorporate these steps to ground yourself, center yourself to as the old folks say in the church begin to , “ believe I’ll go on and see what the end gonna be”.

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The Themes of Life: My years of Preparation, Profound Loss and Recovery

photo of sunflower

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven”

Ecclesiastes 3:1

Life ebbs and flows, there are ups and downs and cycles and seasons. Recognizing the season you’re in while its occurring and even after it has ended can offer valuable insight. You will avoid the pitfalls of self-pity and bitterness through an understanding of the purpose of a particular season. You can even find the courage to be grateful for the hard times because it revealed the resilience and courage that would have remained dormant. It is through an understanding that life is a series of lessons to be learned and karmas to transcend that we can remove ourselves from the mundane ordinariness of life and experience the depth of all that is waiting for us, both pain and joy.

2018: The Year of Preparation

I have identified the themes of my life for 2018-2020. 2018 was the year of preparation and it was a really good year for me. I completed my first 24 hour fast and started my intermittent fasting journey on July 24, 2018. Intermittent fasting changed my life in so many ways; physically, mentally, and spiritually. I began to reactivate dormant DNA and see life completely different. I also started my Sisterloc journey on June 10, 2018. I will forever say it was the absolute best hair decision I’ve ever made, and I wish I had gotten them sooner. 2018 was also the year I took my first trip to Jamaica. Since having my daughter in 2011, I rarely traveled outside of work which kept me away from my daughter entirely too much. I felt guilty if I did anything for myself, but this trip presented itself and I had THE best time ever. It was just what I needed and because of my intermittent fasting, I was looking like a whole snack in my bikinis! I ended the year feeling good, embraced a new level of health and wellness, and did away with any more worries about what to do with my hair!

2019: The Year of Profound Loss

I am grateful for the preparation I received in 2018 because it carried me through 2019 which was one of the worse years I’ve had in a while. There was just one loss after another. The roof of our church blew off in a windstorm and the sanctuary was ruined. I watched my father, who is the pastor struggle to keep the congregation afloat. I then had a complete fall out with a group of women I had been friends with since high school. One of those women I genuinely loved, and the loss of that friendship was crushing. Then I stood outside while my parent’s next door neighbor Mrs. Parks who I’ve know my entire life perish in a house fire with her family watching completely helpless. Two days later, I received a call that I had been accepted for a Senior Accountant position with another agency. I happily accepted and prepared to leave my very first real job that I had spent 10 years of my life at. Just two days after that, my grandmother, my last living grandparent died. And without me being able to make things right between us. The year ended with me mustering up the courage to leave a long-term relationship with the man I thought I would spend the rest of my life with and have the rest of my children with. This was the year of profound loss and I ended the year deeply depressed and questioning what was next. Especially when it came to my failed relationship. I was 35, mother to an 8-year-old and now single once again. I was bent, but I didn’t break and that is because 2018 was the year of preparation. I kept fasting and praying. I started my new job, started a new business, Melanin Rich Wellness and self-published my first book, F**k Boy Free: 10 Ways to Repel F**k Boys and Attract the Man of Your Dreams. All in the midst of a season of profound loss

“Some losses are essential to our growth” J.B

“Nobody will protect you from your suffering, you can’t eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It’s just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal” Cheryl Strayed

2020: The Year of Recovery

I didn’t know I was depressed. I just kept pushing. It wasn’t until we were ordered to stay home on March 16, 2020, that I realized I was in the throes of a deep depression. The pandemic allowed me to see that I had sustained serious damage during 2019. And I fell off the face of the earth. I went ghost. I didn’t talk much to anyone, I deleted the FB and IG apps and started binge watching Ray Donovan, Insecure, The Ozarks and The Chi (all great shows by the way). I also started baking lots of cookies and muffins. I felt the loss of my grandmother. I missed her. I felt the pangs of regret that I didn’t tell her how much I loved her and appreciated all she had done for me over the years. How she was the one person I could always depend on and was there for me when I literally had no one. And I had turned my back on her. That hurt is indescribable. I wondered if I would ever have more children. Would I find someone to love me or was I destined for a life of single motherhood. I had to face some demons and shadows. I had to come face to face with my greatest fear; that everyone had been right. I wasn’t good enough. Recovery is a mutha! It often hurts more than initial hurt and pain of what one has been through. Anyone can survive. But not everyone recovers. But I wrote my way through recovery (I wrote 3 more books), I fasted my way through recovery, I received energy healings, I cried, I prayed, I talked with my ancestors, I let that man go and I let my heart love another. I was reduced to nothing but ashes. And I built myself up with all the self-love and self-compassion I could muster. My ancestors were right there. I made peace with my grandmother. I made peace with who I am. By the end of 2020, I could breathe. My heart was on the mend and I was more of myself than I had ever been.

2021: The Year of…

48 days into 2021 and I am not quite sure that the theme is. But after preparation, profound loss, and recovery I’d say there’s nothing left but consecutive wins.

“I never met a winner that did not lose” Hadiiya Barbel

“She is the perfect example of grace because she is a butterfly with bullet holes in her wings that never regretted learning to fly” JM Storm

What are the themes of your life? What are some of the seasons and cycles you have experienced? Identify them, learn the lesson, transcend your karma, and recover.

“It’s through personal development that we transcend our karma” Melissa Feick

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Remember Your Future

fashion photography of woman hands on chin with glitter makeup

Everything is created twice. There is a mental/emotional creation and a physical creation. How we generally think of this concept is that the mental creation occurs first in our minds and the physical creation or manifestation will follow.

“Begin with the end in mind” is based on the principle that all things are created twice. There’s a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation to all things.

Steven Covey

I recall a saying I would hear in church all the time, “Speak it into existence”. Along this line of thinking is the concept of the power of our thoughts. Not only do we have the power to alter our reality with our thoughts and our words, but we must also remember that our current reality is a direct manifestation of our past thoughts and words.

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. We are made of our thoughts; we are molded by our thoughts”.

Gautama Buddha

For example, we must say, “I have a job where I make six figures”. Then we must create and visualize this job in our minds. Our thoughts must be focused on the positive aspects of a life with a six-figure job. When we begin to submit resumes and networking (can’t forget this important step), or we realize we need to increase our skills through workshops, classes, and we take those necessary steps, the second, or physical creation of a job with six-figures is sure to come.

I read a book by Joe Dispenza called, “Becoming Supernatural: How Common People Are Doing the Uncommon”. He presented the concept of manifestation in a way that changed my understanding of two creations forever. What we desire, already exists. The first creation has already occurred. The job, the career, the home, the mate, the health, the wealth, the car, the business; it already exists! The second creation must then occur in our minds. He explains that we must remember our future. Once we begin to remember what our future is, we will draw it closer to us. He says, “I want you to live in that future reality in the present moment. Simply remember your future from that new state of being”.

Wow. Just Wow. I don’t have to create anything in my mind because it already exists. My amazing future where I am healthy, happy, whole, blissfully in love, and financially secure is already there waiting for me. I just have to remember it so that this future reality will become my current reality.

It sounds good, but does this really work? Yes, it does! I was skeptical but I put this concept to work in my life. When I first read his book, I was very unhappy with my current work position. But I was scared to leave. I was comfortable and afraid that if I left I would live to regret it. But I finally got to the point where I said, “f**k this job!” and I decided that I was going to leave. I packed up everything from my desk that I wouldn’t need on a daily basis. I picked a date 3 months in advance and made a calendar reminder that it was my last day at the job.

“Manifestation is a balancing act between being and doing”

 Then I did what Dr. Dispenza said. I remembered my future. My future job was already created. It was waiting for me. All I had to do was remember it and create that second manifestation. And I did just that. There was an exercise where you write down what it feels like to have what you desire, and you actually practice experiencing those feelings. I began to remember what it was like to have a job with minimal travel, my own office, a supervisor who was laid back, with co-workers who were not backstabbing; a job where I didn’t mind getting up every day and going. Not only did I remember having this job, I began to remember what it felt like to have that job and I leaned into those feelings. I practiced this and I began submitting resumes. In three months, I had a new job with everything I desired! Now I understand that I do not have to create anything in my mind first, whether it be material or intangible. It already exists, I just have to remember my future.

“Remember your future before it happens and begin to mentally rehearse what that future will be like by living in that future, make it as real as possible, calling up those elevated emotions you listed so you can teach your body emotionally what that future feels like”

Joe Dispenza

Kathleen is a Published Author, Certified Holistic Nutritionist, Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, Vaginal Steam Practitioner, Yin Yoga Instructor, Death & Mourning Doula, Herbalist, and Intermittent Fasting Specialist.

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I Didn’t Forget Where I Came From; I Just Couldn’t Stay There.

“Healing yourself is the glo up”

Unknown

I had a realization recently. I was raised to be great BUT play small. I can still hear my father, “If you ain’t gonna do it with excellence, don’t do it at all. I don’t celebrate mediocrity”. I took that message to heart. Coupled with my innately intense personality, I poured my heart into everything I did. If I was going to do it or participate in it then I gave it my all. Each and every time. Anyone who knows me, knows I go hard. One would think with that upbringing and my complete acceptance of it, I would be much further along than I am. Yes, I am somewhat successful, but when I look at my life I am frustrated and a little angry. How does one who never cuts corners, has never made excuses and who has done everything with a spirit of excellence struggle the way I struggle? Then it dawned on me. Although I was encouraged to aspire to greatness, I was also raised to play small. I was raised to be great, but not so great that it would highlight the inadequacies in others. I was unconsciously taught that it is NOT okay to deviate from the group. I must maintain the status quo of our family and church community. And if I do happen to deviate then it must be kept a secret.  I was unconsciously taught that others are more important than myself. I was unconsciously taught to not be too big because it might make others feel small. Don’t let your light shine so bright that others are blinded. My entire life I’ve been great but oh so small. That seems oxymoronic, but it perfectly explains why I have had an internal conflict most of my life. Running full steam ahead, then looking around and not seeing anyone from my family or church around me so I must stop. And not only stop, but self-sabotage in order to fall back in line with those around me.

The message I received as a child and teenager was that I was not allowed to be happy if others around me were sad. I was not allowed to be blissfully in love while others were single and miserable. I was not allowed to be in excellent shape and be healthy while others were struggling with their weight and health. I was not allowed to be financially secure and free while others lived with a poverty mindset.  I was not allowed to enjoy life while others lived from one struggle and drama to the next.

 “Learn to say that’s on you.

Your behavior is on you

The way you move is on you

The choices you make are all on you.

The way you live, its all on you

Stop absorbing the pain of other people,

recognize what belongs to you and what doesn’t

@coleen_c_kimbro20

This realization revealed yet another. I had been jumping from box to box all of my life to satisfy others. My parents, extended family, church family, and finally society. It’s as if from the day I was born, boxes have been shoved toward me and I was told, “This is where you belong. Get it and don’t ever think about getting out”. As the lightbulbs were going bonkers in my head, I was having difficulty articulating what I was experiencing. But I came across a post on IG by @iamness which perfectly described what I was feeling:

“At some point we stop taking on the energy of others. We stop absorbing the sadness, the guilt, the victim mentality, and the pressure. We stop telling our friends and family we relate to them because we honestly just don’t. We stop finding reasons to match the vibration of others and we force those around us to raise theirs on their own. You are allowed to heal and not relive the past every day. You are allowed to be unrelatable and selfish about the mindfulness of your energy. You are allowed to water yourCELF and grow unapologetically.”

Wow, just wow… And here I am. Deciding that not only will I be great, but I will also be as big as MY life allows. I will no longer use others as a measure of how far I can go or how happy I can be. If I do not relate to you, I will not force myself to. If you are not on my level, I will not bring myself down to yours. I will not participate in anyone’s story that is contradictory to mine. And if that makes others feel badly, so be it. I will no longer sacrifice my growth for others. I am choosing to not apologize for the bright and bold way I show up for life. I will not apologize for wanting more and actually putting in the hard work to get more. I am stepping out of boxes. I am establishing boundaries. Even if that means leaving family and friends behind. The guilt though. Leaving behind people you’ve known all your life. Those who have meant so much to you and have helped you along the way. The gratitude will forever be there. For those who want to come along and catch up, I’ll leave little clues behind so others know where I have gone. I’ll never forget where I came from. I just can’t stay there. Even if it means leaving others behind.

Kathleen is a Published Author, Certified Holistic Nutritionist, Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, Vaginal Steam Practitioner, Yin Yoga Instructor, Intermittent Fasting Specialist, Herbalist, Rootworker and Death & Mourning Doula.

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Carry Only What You Need For The Journey

black woman raising hand against skyline

“The knowledge we need to face most of life’s experiences is imprinted on our genes. It was passed on to us by our grandmothers, reinforced through and by our mothers”

Iyanla Vanzant

This is a powerful concept and one that I have been grasping at the root for about a year now. This also ties into the concept that everything we need to know; we already know. And the answers we need are already inside of us. There is no higher wisdom or authority outside of our own soul. If this is true (which I know it is), then I have been wasting an awful lot of time struggling to figure out my life. And that is exactly what I have been doing. Going from one struggle to the next, one drama to the next, believing that happiness, love, and peace were so far out of reach the best I could do was to survive the struggles and drama. Oh, how wrong I have been.


What keeps us from this inherent knowledge and wisdom that will save us years of hurt, pain and struggle? If it is imprinted on our genes why don’t we access it? It is like finding a needle in a haystack. There is simply too much in the way. We are carrying too much. In our effort to balance all that we carry and keep it intact, we don’t even have the ability to see that there is a wellspring of knowledge, truth and wisdom within us.

One of the most significant purposes of life is to let go, release, and move on. We’ve convinced ourselves that our strength and resilience is best demonstrated by our ability to hold on, dig in and stand firm. I’ve learned a very valuable lesson recently, it’s better to let go than to hold on. I’ve learned that it is best to only carry what I need for the journey. Everything else must go. All I need is to know myself, accept myself, love myself and be at peace with who I am. Any and everything that prevents me from doing these four things, I must let go of and release. I don’t need them for the journey.

Anger, bitterness, resentment, feelings that someone owes one something, unrealistic expectations of others, past life and current life traumas, the criticism of others, and the issues of our parents and family members that were projected during childhood will get in the way . All of these are unnecessary for the journey and must be let go of.

Once I began to let these things go and start to carry only what I needed for the journey, I began to reactivate dormant DNA. I began to access the knowledge that was imprinted on my genes. I began to live from the heart and not out of the fear and doubt that had carried me through all these years. I began to access my highest soul truth. I found my path, cleared away the debris and began to walk it. The problems and issues that had seemed insurmountable before, became beautiful stepping stones and reminders of the power that resides within. It was then that I realized I had what I needed for the journey. A deep love and appreciation for who I was. A deep desire and ability to forgive myself for past mistakes and perpetuating a cycle that kept me in bondage.

Once I began to carry only what I needed for the journey, I felt lighter. A sense of peace and calm seemed to always be close by. When those moments of fear and doubt resurfaced, my higher self immediately said, NO and began to speak my highest truth to me. Carry only what you need for the journey. Everything else must go. If you’d like to speak with me about how you can begin to carry only what you need for your journey, please feel out the form and I’ll be in touch.

“Trust your heart, for there is the truth. Sop loving with your minds, love with your heart, your true heart…”

Iyanla Vanzant
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Shame, Shoes and Stones: The Skeletons in My Closet

“Shame dies when stories are told in safe places”


Yesterday morning while I was cleaning the juicer I started screaming and hollering. The screams and hollers bellowed from my belly. My heart felt so heavy and I had to get it out. There were three huge, long hollers. My stomach hurt . The same hurt you feel in your stomach after you throw up when you’re really sick. But afterward I felt like I could breath. I felt some of the life force coming back to me.

The irony is that I had just done an ancestral reading where I conveyed to the client the need to let go. The need to release some of the things they had been holding onto. That just as if we don’t release our physical waste (poop), the toxins start to recirculate in our system, causing dis-ease. Our emotional waste (anger, shame, guilt, bitterness, resentment) will do the same, recirculate in our systems and cause emotional and spiritual dis-ease.

I’m one of those people who gives the best advice but also struggles to take her own advice. I can lift up, motivate, inspire, and encourage so many, but will often neglect to do the same for myself.

I’m at a crossroads in my life. A weird space where I’m no longer who I was, but not yet who I’m going to be. The in between, in process, still loading phase. The question is, what’s next? And it all depends on my next few moves. When the pandemic started I took a long break from social media and the world. You can read about it here. I came back to social media and the world like “yes, let’s get it”. I was getting it for a moment but still with a heaviness and burden.

When I turned 35 last year I went to sleep asking to receive a message from my ancestors about what’s next. Dreams are powerful that way. You can receive and download so much information while you sleep. That night I dreamed I was looking for my favorite pair of shoes. I kept asking everyone in the house if they’d seen them. They said they hadn’t. They were nowhere to be found. I gave up after awhile but then I opened the closet door and there they were. My favorite pair of shoes. Black, old, worn, tattered and honestly pretty ugly. I was so happy I’d found my favorite shoes!

Now time for a little dream interpretation. We put on our shoes to go places. These shoes had taken me many places and have walked a lot of miles in some not so nice places. Those shoes and I have been through some things and it shows. That is why they were so worn and tattered. And I had lost them. The message of the dream was I had lost that which I needed to take me where I must go. Those tattered shoes were the real me. I had lost myself. Most people want new, shiny, and designer shoes. To be noticed and make a statement. Look at me, I make good money, I’m stylish, I’m fabulous. My shoes aren’t shiny, new, or aesthetically fabulous. Neither is my life.

I have some stones in my pocket, secrets in my heart, and some skeletons in my closet. They’ve burdened me. Weighed me down. At this crossroads in my life, this in-between phase, it’s time to lay my burdens down. For good. Some of my closest friends and family know these things about me, they’ve been there to help me pick up the pieces, but I’ve never spoken about them publicly. My blog has been a place of transparency and authenticity as I’ve shared many personal stories of tragedy and triumph, but there’s still more that needs to be revealed.

“The journey of descent consists of encountering your shadow many, many times. Emotions as intense as shame and guilt give themselves up only a bit at a time-and you wouldn’t want more”

Deepak Chopra


Honestly, there are many things I’m ashamed of. I sometimes wish they weren’t apart of my story. I wonder if I would be better or if my life would look different without these experiences. Alas, I must fully own ALL of my story. Every part, even the ones with shame. The definition of shame is:
a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior. Sometimes this behavior is our own. Sometimes it’s the behavior of others. But Shame along with guilt are some of the heaviest weights I’ve carried. Since I’ve decided to walk in my old shoes, I realized that shame and guilt don’t match with my shoes. In fact, it’s outright tacky. So I’m no longer wearing them. These are my skeletons that carry so much shame. Someone very close to me calls them rocks or stones in our pockets.

“You either walk inside your story and own it you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness”

Brene Brown


In 2006, I had an abortion. When I was 18, my very first boyfriend and the man who took my virginity was 33. He told me he was 28. We were together 4 years. I was young, naïve, and very impressionable. He was emotionally and sometimes physically abusive. And I was madly in love with him. When I got pregnant, he told me that no child deserved a mother like me. He also had another woman pregnant at the time. I made the tough decision to have an abortion. Had that not happened, I’d be mother to a 14 year old.

In 2011 I had my daughter. I met her father at the gym. He kept trying to talk to me for weeks and I finally gave in and we developed a relationship. I later found out that not only was he married but an alcoholic and addicted to weed and cocaine. He was controlling, emotionally, physically, and sexually abusive (he raped me multiple times). One morning he came over drunk, upset that I was going to travel for work. I yelled at him and told him that I have to travel. I have to work. We fought from the living to the dining room where a knife was laying on the table. He took that knife and held it to my throat and said he’d kill me and walk out the door like nothing ever happened. My daughter was right there. Crying. In my head I said, “Jesus”. He dropped the knife, backed into the corner, and started to cry and apologize, asking me please don’t call the police. I said if he left, I wouldn’t. He left. I didn’t. And we didn’t see him for 3 years after that.

I spent most of my adult life in abusive relationships with men. I can’t count how many times I’ve been called a hoe or a bitch. How much I heard how no one wanted me and how worthless I was. How many times I’ve been held down, panties ripped off, forced to do things I didn’t want to do. I attracted alcoholics, drug addicts, and womanizers. My childhood abuse at the hands of a man my family trusted for 7 years set me up to live the rest of my life being used and abused. And that’s what happened mostly. But then I decided to make a change. And I did! And I had relationships with men who were kind and never so much as even yelled at me for anything. They were supportive and helped me grow.

In 2017 I met the man I thought I would marry. This man loved me. Said he knew me from a past life and he’d finally found me. Said he loved how radical I was and loved my organic, natural beauty. He said he was going to marry me and asked if I would have his babies. I said yes. He was perfect. And I couldn’t believe my good fortune. Was my luck finally changing. I had manifested a whole new life…And then I got pregnant. Unplanned, but still a blessing right? Well not for a traditional Igbo man who still has to fulfill his familial obligations. Having a child out of wedlock is a HUGE no-no. And with a Black American woman? There was no way I was going to get rid of this baby. But he wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready either but this was OUR baby. We loved each other. It was different. There was no decision to make because I had a miscarriage. I don’t know what’s worse; abortion or miscarriage. That experience stained the relationship. I blamed him, he blamed me. We limped along until I couldn’t any longer. My baby would have be 2 this year.

“He was part of your story but not your happily ever after”.

Mark Anthony


Instead of one child, I should have 3. The skeletons and shame of abortion, abuse, miscarriage, and failed relationships have burdened me for 14 years. The painful feelings of humiliation and distress have overwhelmed me and I’m tired. It’s too heavy. These stones in my pocket. The shame in my heart. The skeletons in my closet. I got these old shoes on and they trying to take me somwhere.

I wake up and I do what I must. I work. I care for my child. I fast. I pray. I workout. I write. I run my business. I smile. I laugh. I cry. I’m fighting for my life. I’m fighting to love and be loved. I often wonder is it supposed to be this hard. Is it this hard for everyone? Life is something, y’all. It really is. Because we get through it. Every single time. We live to fight another day.

Shame, shoes and stones.

“She has good days and some that are bad. Some feel like flying and others feel too much like dying, and none of that matters. Because every day, she is doing the best she can”

J.M. Storm
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A Sojourn Back Home: My Book of Poems

“When the dust settles and all that is left is the bones of who you have always been. Will you be brave enough to sing them to life”

Jessi Mendez

Many of you may not know, but I wrote a book of poems and self-published the book this summer. I’d like to share the introduction and 3 of my favorite poems with you from the book; “Welcome Home”, “C.J.C” and “Disruption”

Introduction

I’ve been writing poetry since I was 16. I never thought I would publish a book of my poems though. They weren’t for anyone but me… My 2019 was the world’s 2020. Everything fell apart. I lost one of my most valuable friendships, I lost my last living grandparent, I left a job after nearly a decade and lastly, I lost a nearly three- year relationship I was certain would lead to marriage and mo children. After all these losses in six short months, I was left standing alone. Everywhere I turned, there was nothing in sight. Just desolation and devastation. There was nothing left of the life I had been living. There was nothing else to do, nowhere else to go, except Home. Home to my ancestors. Home to the place where I could sort through and pick up the pieces of my life. I went back to go forward. During that time, I completely removed myself from social media and eventually changed my phone number. This was during the NYS stay at home order, so I was really off the grid.

This collection of thirty poems is the manifestation of my sojourn back home. A sojourn is defined as a temporary stay. I’ll go back home one day for good. For now, I’ll visit often in my dreams and hold on to the memoires of my time there.

During my sojourn, I found more than I bargained for. The purpose of my sojourn was to heal, to tend to my wounds and to rest my weary spirit. I found pieces of myself that I had thought were long gone and would never be recovered. I developed an even greater intimate relationship with my spirit guides and guardian ancestors. I unearthed remnants of past lives and treasures of my unique, enigmatic being. I found grace, gratitude, and guidance.

My fatal flaw is that my eyes say “Welcome Home”

to tattered,

 worn,

broken,

 nomad men.

They travel from my eyes to my smile,

down to the curve of my breasts

and finally

to the vacant, warm comfort between my thighs

“Welcome home” …

Only, I am not home

I am respite on their journey

A safe place for the night

My eyes say “Welcome home” to men that only intend to visit.

When they leave, I tidy up my space with tears.

But my tears that should erase, “Welcome Home” from my eyes

is only a whore bath.

-Welcome Home

I’ve never been a fan of easy love from easy men.

The men who walked through life

 aimlessly

 not in search of anything or anyone.

The hardened men

The troubled souls

I ache for them.

I beckon them to let me in their world

The men who travel far and wide

across lifetimes, searching.

I saw his longing and could not walk away

I followed him

wanting to witness life through his eyes

feel every ache and want of his heart.

To hear the words, he has never spoken

To be the calm in his storm

Hardened men who give hard love

The love that empties you

Leaving you breathless

not knowing where you end, and he begins.

Give me that love

The love from a hard man.

Cause I can’t do a gotdam thing with love from an easy man.

-C.J.C

I didn’t send for you

You came for me

I was not looking for you

You were looking at me

I didn’t want love

I was in search of forever home in my heart

Clearing space

Throwing shit from my past away

You interrupted me

disrupted my life

took me away from my chores

Just to love you

I didn’t send for you

You didn’t tell me you were on your way

You showed up at my door

Hat in your hand

I did not ask you to sit for a spell

I did not offer you a cold drink

And I did not ask you to stay

So, tell me, why are you leaving?

-Disruption

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The Trees Teach Us The Beauty of Death

nature red forest leaves

“In the end only three things matter: How much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you”

Buddha

My daughter and I took a walk at the park and we marveled at the radiance and gloriousness of the changing colors of the leaves. She exclaimed, “mommy, it is SO beautiful”, as she pointed at each tree that charmed us. I debated whether I should disrupt her joy to let her know that what we were marveling at was death. Yes, the changing colors of the leaves are a sort of death; a letting go, a release. Being the mother that I am, never wanting to shield her from the most important truths of life, I said, “Baby those leaves are dying. It is the only way the trees can survive the winter”. She replied with a slow and somber, “Ohhhh”. I said, “But see, even death can be beautiful”.

“There is beauty to be found in the changing of the earth’s seasons, and an inner grace in honoring the cycles of life”

Jack Kornfield

Western society shuns death. We’ve accepted that death should be eluded and avoided at all costs. We fear death because of the uncertainty of what comes afterward. No matter what one’s belief system is, no one can be sure. And even if we are sure, do we really want to experience what’s next, forever leaving what was?

“Everybody wants to go to heaven. Nobody wants to die”

Joe Louis

“This place is only a dream. Only a sleeper considers it real. Then death comes like dawn and you wake up laughing at what you thought was your grief”

Rumi

During the fall, trees release their leaves to survive winter. In a way, trees are actively “pushing” their leaves off, allowing them to die. Photosynthesis requires a lot of energy and water, and during winter there is simply not enough of either to sustain foliage.  During winter, trees go through a process similar to hibernation called dormancy. Everything within trees slows down so they can conserve energy. This is what keeps them alive during winter and allows them to get ready for the Spring season. To survive, they let their leaves die.

“Love is a kind of survival”

The trees show us the beauty of letting things go for our own survival. More than that, the trees show us how beautiful this can be. We don’t have to go into our next season or cycle kicking and screaming. We can release people, relationships, jobs, friendships, and cities with the same grace and striking beauty trees release their leaves. We can let the thought patterns, mindsets, and habits die that will hinder our survival with the same dignified brilliance and splendor that tress let their leave die.

Death can be beautiful and freeing. It can welcome a much-needed transition and even a survival. Some things you have to let go of or it will kill you. If the trees did not let their leaves die, they wouldn’t survive the winter season. And we all know that if you don’t survive winter, there will be no spring.

There are many things that we are holding onto that we simply need to let die. Look to the trees and let that death be glorious and grand!