Category Archives: family

Five Ways to Re-Member Yourself

The alarm goes off on your nightstand.  You hit the snooze button, stay in the bed and begin to race your entire day through your head.  ‘Take a shower, the iron is in the basement so wear something that doesn’t need ironing, wear sandals today (wait, how is your toenail polish?), gloss or lipstick today?’  All these thoughts come to the front of the day and then a knock on your bedroom door… ‘Can I come in?  Can we have French toast for breakfast?  Can I use your phone charger?  Do I have to go to swim class today?’   Now your priorities have shifted once again… and you still aren’t out of the bed.

This is the typical day for any single working mom.  And in my case, a writer/artist and newly active aunt of five.  My life became guided with demands and needs from other people.  I had to abandon my “in the spur of the moment” lifestyle and be more proactive.  I now had to plan meals (actually write a grocery list), wash loads of clothes, comb four heads instead of one, add teachers, guidance counselors and coaches to my speed dial and so much more.

I recall one of the first days a cousin of mine volunteered to get everyone out of the house.  I sat on the couch and couldn’t think of the first thing to do for myself.  I could’ve written two pages worth on what I needed to do for the kids.  Believe it or not, it actually took me some time to figure out what I should do with myself while the kids were away and I found myself writing some of my former past times in my journal.

So, when you get that afternoon or evening alone and want to clear your head and escape all of your “to do’s” for everyone else, try these five things to re-member yourself.

(5) Pay back to get back!  Be conscious and in the moment and give sincere compliments to total strangers.  Their immediate and genuine eye contact with you will be very connecting.  Additionally, on the back end you’ll get compliments in return when you least expect it.

(4) Get lost in a bookstore or even the local library.  Look through the pages of your favorite authors new book.  Pick up a magazine and be entertained with the latest fashions and/or entertainment news.

(3) Find a bench and people watch.  You still get a lot of motion around you but you are not involved.  Enjoy some ice cream while doing this!

(2) Take a long bath.  Make it aromatherapy and add your favorite oil.  Pop in your favorite cd to add to your relaxation.  And don’t be afraid to put your head under the water!

(1)  Call a friend and talk for hours.  Share what has been going on in your life and seek advice.  And don’t forget to laugh and drop the phone and pick it back up and laugh some more! 😉

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Kenny the Leo

my hand ached.  my right hand gripped the pen with mission.  I had to write down everything he was telling me.  can’t miss a single adjective because I had not been there and he would not be here.      /soon

jake or jacque?  what tribe in Oklahoma?  who is still there?  do we have land?  where is your mother buried?

‘nik, memorize the smells and sounds’,    ok… slight hint of ben gay is embedded on his heating blanket, his body reeks of medicine excreting from every pore, … I smell water…

his face / his face, looks so worried when the doctors enter the room.  his eyebrows raise with storyline spaces for someone to hear him until the end.  he wants his bible near by and his playstation on the television screen.  (some army game, the name escapes me right not)  still so tender towards me, he entertains everything except my conversations of him barbecuing in the summertime.  he never says it from his mouth, but his eyes tell me / beg me… accept he is leaving soon.

so I write the secrets he kept even from his brothers.  I write about the alcoholism.  I write about the child abuse.  I write about the abandonment.  I write about his mother’s beating with a black jack.  I write about the robbery.   I write about the players ball.  I write about the love he never lost for my mother.  I write about his fears of being a father to me.

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I write about his girlfriend with the snake.  I write about Tall Mike.  I write about his grandmother’s pet ducks.  I write he never speaks of his father.  I write he never speaks of the shooting.  I write about the look in his eyes when I finally mention his father’s name, Big Kenny.  I write about him overcoming paralysis and living a life he loved.  I write about his voice cracking when he mentions how often he thought of me.  I write the definition of dead beat dad.  I write it doesn’t fit him.  I write he was afraid I would be mad at him.  I write how proud he was of my books and poetry cd.  I wrote until after his funeral… then stopped.  and cried.

my dad was true to his word and true to his heart.  viewed selfish by some but he passed with no fear or regrets.  he has given me a great story.  he has given me beautiful cheek bones.  he has given me a golden smile. he has given me an example to live true to my heart.  Kenny the Leo.

a Meter for Matter

Matter Matters

….

Catch the memories like fishnet

too many to hold in my palm

and too capacious for the thesaurus description

Matter Matters

Now that I carry the tales behind my 100 year old cheekbones

and my cheap heart you repeatedly bought with

sincere laughs

yet made strong with your explosive hustle

Matter Matters

When the matter is your Dad in the wind.

For Kenny, transition 2/20/09

The best of my Mom, I am taking with Me

She is a first generation city girl. The advantage is she is the beginning. The disadvantage is she is the beginning. No one ahead to show her how to make a sharp turn left or that stop ahead doesn’t necessarily mean to quit. This is the personal genius she created from Mounds City, Arkansas to Kansas City, Mo. The mistakes she hides behind stones in the garden. The best of my mom I am taking with me. Indeed, all of her.

There are parts about her that are silently me and other parts I defy loudly. I am her history and sense of being. We both long to feel we “belong”. She is avid in knowing the parents of her parents parents and when and how and why. I love history. I have always been intrigued with before, the first and alpha. She is an artist. She is a writer and singer. Characters and voices move about in her head. She can differentiate them into various connotations and dictions. She is the inner shell, poked and laughed at. Mocked at for “thinking” she could be a singer. However, she is my outer shell. Protected me from these family discussions that killed dreams and independent thinking.

She signed me up with free modeling lessons at the community center. She helped me with my lines for the black history shows in elementary. She went outside her budget and bought me stickers to visualize my second grade poetry book. She allowed me to pretend and be “Coco” when I needed to escape my reality.

I defy her silence. For never speaking out just keeping me away. Keeping me separate from courage or confrontation. Keeping me safe but not protected.

I am her fear of not trying again. I am her fear of “once burned” so don’t do it again. I live her fears because I was taught to follow someone’s example, literally. I live her fears because I was taught how to live religiously not religiously live. And I was taught how to cope and cover pain and carry brick buildings on my back. At 20 years old I vowed to “not be like her.” Now 20 years after 20 years old, I would be an insane person to not embrace all of what she is… for her to be whole. For her to know I love all of who she is.

With three nieces looking to me and two nephews listening to me, I pray I give them the tools to accept my duality and love me 20 years from now. Love me through my contradiction. Love me past my fears. I pray they continue to break shoddy family traditions, take the best of me and grow themselves closer to God.

roadpic

Wave Jumping

flsignphoto

After hours of wave jumping and being captured and tossed by the tides, the kids are still wrapped in bed sheets and comforters clinging to sleep. I pray the days memories keep them warm and connected. I pray these times sustain a smile in their hearts when they really need one.

I have decided to keep the children here for the summer.  Yes, yes… I will relinquish my silent days and just have my sister come visit them sometime during the summer.  I am buying another home and I just won’t be able to juggle all the tasks that comes with that and getting them ready for school. If you haven’t done the “buying a house” process… it can be a BEAST.

So, I really needed to get away. Originally, my middle niece planned a trip to Chattanooga but then I got an inkling to be on the beach.  We’ve done Savannah twice before, we’ve been to Folly beach in Charleston, SC, and American beach in Amelia Island, Fl. I’ve heard people talk about Panama City Beach, Fl but had never gone. They were excited to go to Chattanooga but the mention of a beach sent them in overdrive! The drive is about five hours out of Atlanta which I told them we would do as an overnighter from Sat morning through Sun early evening. The timeframe didn’t seem to bother them one bit! All they heard was, “out of Atlanta” and “go to the beach”.

Panama City Beach… had beautiful ocean water! You could clearly see the three rip tides of various blue water. Not too crowded and not many children. And parking was easy and free, I like free! I like to eat what the locals eat when I go to a new city but I gotta’ tell ya’, the pickings were slim where we were. We stayed on the hotel strip near highway 231 and shopped and swam on Front Beach Rd. Not too many “local” places to choose from to eat and the one place we went wanted a RIDICULOUS $29.95 for my nephew and myself only! (I had them stop after that quote so I don’t what the cost for the girls would’ve been.)

We went to Ripley’s Believe It or Not and the kids enjoyed some go kart racing and an adventure with a haunted house. The haunted house will be a separate hilarious story for another blog! They SHUT IT DOWN! Literally… THREE TIMES! (hahahahahaha!)

Anyway, being with the water was just what this single aunt/mom needed! Some time away from my routine city and quality time with the sun. Visions of my communication and relationship building with them became more clear. A summer bucket list for me became even more clear. Beach ballin’ on a budget, ask me about it 😉

How to Grow Air

she was in my shadow. the shadow of an overachiever. she rebelled because of that/because of me.

you came in 1993, in the morning.  the winter snow had not yet come but scarves accompanied our turtle neck shirts.  you may have brought about the first time we communicated, your mom and me.  or shall I say, she listened to my advice.  better than that, she asked for my advice.  she asked what should she name you.  I was in my senior year of undergrad and I sent her a list of names that I thought would be different and memorable.  she chose Tajh Jelani, (Prince Almighty).  why?  because it’s easier for God to find you with a name like that.  ashe.

I remember seeing you in the nursery.  you were the only baby not crying and looking around at every noise you heard.  I couldn’t wait to hold you.  I couldn’t wait to show you off to everyone.

I wanted to make sure you knew where love lived.  I wanted to show you how to grow air.  I wanted to make the world appear like sugar for you to place in your pocket.  new places to eat, activities outside of our neighborhood… I wanted you unafraid.

creating an everyday home with you was nothing like our 40 days of summer we were routine to.  you were now 15, with experiences of your own.  some I will never know.  ask God how much I prayed.  ask God how purposeful they were.

fear stole my sleep when I realized my words were no longer reaching your altitude of 6′ and then some.  but you would stand there because you knew something would stick. you now had discernment. your eyes were begging I could reach your soul as I did when you were younger.  you were a young man, living with his aunt, and younger brother and three younger sisters.  in a different city.  ask God how purposeful my prayers were.  ask God how I asked to find a way to reach you.

20 years old.  ask God how purposeful my prayers are now that you have moved out.  now that your darker skin has given you doubt.  now that your natural leadership serves you alone.  Almighty Prince, keep your eyes open amongst all the noise.  remember, your life extends outside your neighborhood.  I always have a pillow for you.  your name makes it easier for God to find you so pray.

call me if you forget how to grow air.

tajhwithglasses2

love ya,

aunt nikki

her pillow, my money!

Her tooth was loose for days now and literally hanging on by a slither of a root.  This would be her 1st tooth out and she had heard from her sister and two older brothers about… The Tooth Fairy.

You get money for your two top and bottom teeth.  She was excited to get this money but so afraid for someone to pull it out!  She ate gingerly for days.  Chewed her food oh so carefully around this tooth so it would not fall out.  But I had a plan!  If I made her chicken fingers and gave her an ample amount of buttermilk ranch to dip them in she would focus on eating only.  It worked!  The top tooth fell out during one of her chicken dips!

Right before her bath, I could feel the energy had changed around this whole tooth fairy and getting money scenario.  Her questions were quite serious, “is she mean?”, “is she going to come in the room while I’m sleep?”, “do you know her?”  I realized this tooth fairy story was disturbing.

Think about it, a white woman with wings coming into your room while you are sleep to collect teeth???  I believed the concern in my nieces’ eyes and told her if she didn’t want her to come to let me know.  Her older sister immediately jumped in and told her she was, “crazy for not wanting to get money.”  Before she went to sleep, I privately reassured her she did not have to put her tooth under her pillow if she didn’t want her to come.  She told me, “she can come… but I want the money under my pillow.”

I set my alarm for 2am to check under her pillow and the tooth was not there.  I was pleased that she was thinking so critically to even address concern with someone sneaking into her room at night.  Then I remembered her last sentence to me, “under my pillow.”  I looked across the room at her older sister who was acting oh so brave and teasing her the evening before.  Something told me to check under her pillow… YEP! She put the tooth under her sister’s pillow but wanted to collect the money for herself!

Smart girl!  Proud she thought outside the box to reap a reward at five years old!