Authorkaren marie mason

Still Here

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The last 9 months have been a blur. This fog phase started in Montego Bay Jamaica in December. Well no. It started months and months and years before that when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. But somewhere around the fall of 2018 my back started paining me. I thought maybe I pulled a muscle during my attempts at Yoga or spine twisted a little too much during Tai Chi.

I never thought for a moment that the cancer had metastasized and spread to my spine. My bones were brittle. Fractures everywhere.

Backstory. Every year my daughter and I spend Christmas together in Jamaica. And for a number of reasons I felt that December 2018 might be our last. For one, I thought** I might not make it much longer and secondly Kenya was headed to Africa and her work schedule would make it difficult for us to commune for our annual sojourn which we had already been doing for over a decade. So I packed up all my pain killers and we met in JA.

Somewhere between the rough roads of Jamaica and a cancer that I didn’t know at that time was spreading throughout my body I cut our annual vacation short and found myself back in America in Emory Hospital Emergency room. My palliative doctor spoke with the medical doctor at Falmouth hospital in Jamaica and advised him what drugs to give me so that I could get on the plane. The pain was unbearable. I arrived on a Wednesday in January and I was already on the books for spinal compression surgery on Friday. I had not consented and in fact refused the surgery despite the pain. I eventually gave in only after consultation with my ancestors, spirit guides and my closest circle of friends.

From that day until now my back has not been the same. I could barely walk and used a walker for the last 9 months while maintaining a heavy medicated state with help of morphine, fentanyl patches, hydrocodone, oxycodone and various cocktails and combination of opiods. Oh and yes, Cannabis.

In September I stopped taking opiods. They didn’t seem to help the pain and I knew after so many months I was probably hooked. So I stopped. I learned to bare the pain. My memory started to come back and I felt like I was rising from the dead.

**PS. I don’t think like that anymore. I choose life in all my thoughts and prayers

Photo Credit:  @TerrellClarkofficial

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Shrinking and Yet I Rise

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The main tumor (breast) is shrinking and so is my body. I am down to 103 lbs and I’ve lost close to 3 inches in height…from the spinal compression surgery. I was a little depressed at first but I’ve turned my thoughts into thoughts of victory. I have a Pet Scan in December to determine what is going on with the rest of my body.

I haven’t written in my “Through The Stages” ebook for a while. I am starting to write again.  Just a little. Been on my back for close to 9 months after spinal compression surgery after the cancer spread to my spine. Thank you for your continued support.

I am well. Really. I am. Signed. Shawty Karen.

PS. And while I may be in this space right now I can assure you I will NOT remain there. Change is inevitable and I am ushering and welcoming it in.

PSS.  Photo of me and babygurl in Jamaica a few years ago.

Jump!

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I love water aerobics. Combined with a good soundtrack and I can do miraculous things in the water that my body is not yet equipped to do on dry land. Today’s class was no exception. I was getting it in and when Kris Kross “Jump” pounded from the speakers and it was on in so many ways.

They were my first multi platinum group along with Cypress Hill (that story for another post) that I penned and developed the marketing plan for. And it wasn’t easy. I was just getting nestled into my new office and position at Columbia Records and as my reward my product management roster consisted of groups and labels that no one wanted, were not a priority and an uphill battle would lie ahead for this turban wearing long skirt flaunting product manager. The Ruffhouse label and their entire roster was handed to me unceremoniously. Here.

I took my time, spoke often with Jermaine Dupri and painstakingly began to implement strategy that would make an impact. It started with the album which at first was an EP. “Jump” was not on it and it wasn’t enough to compete with the hip hop of the day. Jermaine went back to the drawing board and brought back jump and a few other tunes. Now I had something to work with.

They brought the Krossed our look with them in the door. So rather than introduce them as “rappers” I led with their fashion identity and flooded the preteen magazines (Right on Blackbeat) with pin ups. No mention of music. I wanted to develop an audience who would troop for them musically when it was introduced. Next I went back and forth with Donnie and insisted that they appear backwards on the album cover. Over time with the team, publicity Chrissy Murray, street and hip hop promotion, Tyesh HARRIS and eventually Eddie Pugh and Demmette at commercial radio we started to get some traction.

But what brought everything together was their appearance on In Living Color. From day one I started to send Rosie Perez (talent booker and choreographer for the show) postcards of their fashion trend. She responded with “what is this and what am I suppose to do with this.” At that time there wasn’t much of a story at radio so my selling points were weak at best but my drive was strong. I continued to send her tear sheets from the teen mags, and keep her updated on the little victories as their story developed. Then one day she called and said such and such canceled can you get them out here tomorrow. I told her yes before I could get Donnie Ienner (President of Columbia) to agree but I knew it would happen. And it did.

That single appearance set them on the track to stardom.

So hearing them play this morning got me feeling a little nostalgic and a little sad. Loved them boys. RIP Chris Kelly. Long life Chris Smith.

Lost & Found

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“I have lost so much

but also I have gained so much

Learning to be equally grateful for both.”

Yo! That’s Hip Hop

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The year was 92′ Super Cat was one of my projects as the marketing director at Sony and I was especially proud and filled with responsibility as one of my dreams was coming true. I wanted to elevate reggae to popular status in US and position as many artist as possible for uber stardom. Outside of Shabba there was this renewed interest in reggae and (being a yardie) I had something to prove. I proved it. I will share that story later.

So on this faithful night Supercat was on the bill with PM Dawn. I don’t even remember how or why I made this happen but it was somehow part of the plan. The Sound Factory was packed.. Sardines-like packed. Cat did his thing and that should have been by cue to exit stage left.

Fact is as someone who was extremely active and extremely successful in the music business I rarely went out unless I was throwing the event or one of my artist was performing. Other than that I was home handling my business of motherhood. But on this night I invited a bunch of the folks from the Source Magazine in attendance and felt a light obligation to stay a little longer. But why.

The room felt tense. I was use to and could recognize the feeling as I had been in many a reggae dancehall where the noise being heard was not firecrackers. LIke the time I was at Red Parrot chilling with Shinehead when his bredren whispered something to him. He dipped. Quickly. Didn’t mention shit to me. I should have followed cause the next few minutes it was wild wild west up in there. Remember that Diane Cook. Gunshots everywhere. Everytime I see or talk to him I always remind him of his negligence.Not sure what I was doing there because it was not my event but a sister got to have a good time some time.

So PM Dawn starts to perform. I already told myself I would only stay for one song and dip. Don’t think he ever finished the first song because all I saw was a gang of people took over the stage (KRS One and his posse) and PM Dawn went flying in the audience. Well he was thrown after a few good licks. Two seconds later “South Bronx” came booming out the speaker and KRS One ruled the stage. WTF. And the place went wild. I had no idea what just happened. Didn’t sign up for this.

I called my car service and didn’t wait inside for their arrival. I would rather stand outside. This was too much. Why so much glee. I tried to talk to some of the guys from the Source but they were in their element and wasn’t hearing my “what’s going on” questions.

I was traumatized while most people were saying “yo that’s hip hop”.

I went home to my babygurl.

Breathe. Again. And Again. Deeply.

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In every breath is the
past
present
future

In every breath is
everything that happened
is happening
will happen

Everything. Honor it.

Inspired by my Yogi Octavia Raheem of Sacred Chill West

Feel. Again.

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Go ahead and feel what it feels like to feel.

Again.

Sometimes we get distant from our own feelings.
Get in close. Lean all the way in.

There is magic there.

When Does June End

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I have been silently watching and waiting for the month of June to end.  Be over. I had no idea how I would feel once it was over.  Would I feel victorious or would I feel like I have failed. Would I be disappointed or would the only disappointment be that I shared too much of my intentions on social media for this month and ended up not achieving them. It would be one of my busiest months ever.  I would test my resolve, my stamina and my health in every way.

Now that it is July.  And June is history. I feel a little numb.  Probably because I slept for two days. Straight.

First was the Cancer | STD Hackathon. I ‘ve never participated in a Hackathon.  But I always wanted to.  I knew I wanted to build something that might over time make a difference in some way. “A hackathon is a design sprint-like event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development, including graphic designers, interface designers, project managers, and others, often including subject matter experts, collaborate intensively on software projects.” Wikipedia.   

The goal of a hackathon is to create usable software, website or app. We entered. We worked around the clock from Friday to Sunday with a few hours sleep in between and came in second place with the “My Breast Cancer Story” website. Check. 

The following week I participated in my second Breathwork workshop with Dr. Ma’at Lewis.  Spirit Centered Transpersonal Breathwork.  It is a practice under skilled facilitation that combines breathing and rhythmic music to inspire expanded states of consciousness that promote the development of self-knowledge, natural inner healing, and integration of spiritual consciousness.   Participants receive introduction to breath practices from African-centered and transpersonal perspectives and engage in experiential breath meditation to support their spiritual transformation. The first time I participated it was revealed to me during this process what my next steps would have to be if I intended to be healed.  My dance with fear also came up during this process and I was able to actually pinpoint where and how fear enters my body.  This second session was not as intense in its revelation but it allowed me to clearly see how breathwork works and why it was necessary for my healing.

At the end of the month (with a whole lot of client work in between..daily in fact) was the commitment I made to run my first 5K.  Not sure what was on my mind when I told my trainer friend I would do it but yes seemed like the right answer when she asked me.  My only job in preparation was to jog at least 30 minutes per day.  And if my RA was acting up then walk.  I failed hugely in this regard and began to get some anxiety before the run. Why did I commit to this.  How in the hell was me with my RA going to run a 5K.  IMG_0042

Well now THAT is history. I did it. I ran the entire time.  Wasn’t quite sure if I would do the walk/run thing.  And then I slept for 2 days.  And I planning and preparing for my next 5K coming up soon.

While all this life was happening I also found out that my cancer marker numbers have increased.  This is after months of watching it come down from the high hundred to the low hundreds.  Was a little devastated for a minute.  But I am back on my routine.  Focused on staying a live.  You can read more about all of this in my most recent chapter of Through The Stages.  You can get it here: www.throughthestages.com.

Next.

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For Him That Moves Me In More Ways Than I Have Words For

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His words.

Sometimes music.

Sometimes therapy.

Sometime both.

Sometimes healing.

Sometimes hurting.

Sometimes both.

Sometimes flawed. Sometimes not.

Sometimes living.

Sometimes dying.

Sometimes both.

——-Thank you Kiese.