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I am not as organized as you might think. Sometimes I write things that I think sound awesome as fuck. I save them. At least I think I saved them. Then on another day or week I go to find that awesomeness and I can’t find it anywhere. Like WTF happened to that good shit. So then I say to myself “it couldn’t have been that awesome because you (meaning me) can’t even find it.” “If it was that awesome then it would want to be found so I can share it with you.”

A little piece of the story of my life and this writing process. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve made it a little tougher than it needs to be.

I might have erased it by accident. All that goodness in words. At least that’s what happened tonight. And the other night. And the other night too. I have to do better. I seem to take care of everybody else’s stuff much better and much more professional than my own. This will change.

In this chapter I was wanting to dig deeper into the relationship I have with my mother and in so doing take an even deeper dive into the relationship that I have with myself. In the book “It Didn’t Start with You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle” by Mark Wolynn the author recalls a mysterious sickness that took over his body. The doctors didn’t know wtf. His ailment was not in their medical book. After traditional medicine failed him he eventually sought out the best gurus the world had to offer. And spared no expense in getting an audience with these world reknown healers. After waiting in line with his all whites to hear the wisdom of the ages and what he needed to do to heal (on two different occasions, in two different countries) both gurus told him the same thing “go home to your mother.” He wanted to cuss them out. He spent major ducats to sit face to face and hear the reason why he was sick. And the response was “go home.” He would not be healed of all his trauma and physical ailment until he sat at his mother’s feet and began the process of repairing the relationship.

I see how this can be true. We originate from mother. If that relationship is broken, tarnished, filled with untruths, how can anything else be completely whole? Tell me.

Of late I have been feeling like I haven’t been very good to myself, to my body, to my soul. I am often lethargic and will grasp on to any fleeting excuse to deviate from my diet and workout regime.  Borderline depression. I was wanting to (through my words) be honest and not cover up my feelings of abandonment and shame. I am past the stage where I was (not too long ago) taking the lead on the blame game. Now. I just want to talk about it in all its uncomfortableness. I was wanting to in a loving way address the many lies that existed between us. I wanted to tell my mother how I felt in the most loving way and with the most loving words that I could find how she has helped and hurt me. But I also wanted to hear from her how I may of hurt her over the years. How just being a Black woman in corporate America may have caused her pain. And me too.  We never swapped war stories. Ever.

I would do this in a letter that would also be a chapter and use that chapter to open up the conversation. At least that was what I thought.

The reality is I spent most of my life being afraid of my mother. Spare the rod and spoil the child was her motto. The leather belt was her tool. Beating times she became someone else. Someone who I didn’t know.

She worked hard to raise two children as a “single” parent and I grew up reminding her everyday of my someone she would rather forget. My father. I was his spitting image. I imagined even as a child that every time she saw me, she saw him and it was a site that she would rather not see.

So I was planning on finding an easy way to have some very difficult dialog with Mama. I was gonna start with my pen.

I started some of this process about a month ago when I found out that I was born under trauma. My Mama and Daddy had been fighting. She told him to leave. But he came back raging, trying to break the door down. It was then that her water broke. I never knew this story. I never knew my father either. Not really. Thought he was dead most of my life.  That’s what I was told. Until I met him in the flesh some years later after he rose again.

So this story of my birth got me thinking about how that trauma may have shaped my relationship with men and with my mother and with myself and maybe even lead to some breakthrough in my life.

But that didn’t happen because I received the latest results of my labs and the results took me for an unexpected turn. Every month I see an Oconlogist and I get blood work done. My blood work is my roadmap. It tells me what’s working and what isn’t. It guides me through my red and white blood cells, hints at the condition of my liver other vital organs.

One of these test is generally known as the Cancer Marker 27 – 29. Google describes it as “This test measures how much CA 27-29 is in your blood. Breast cancer is the cancer most likely to release CA 27-29. The FDA has approved the CA 27-29 blood test as a way for healthcare providers to monitor people with breast cancerAntigens like CA 27-29 that give information about cancer are called tumor markers.”

But for me the numbers meant everything and for the past few months my markers have been coming down going from the high hundreds down the low hundreds. However, my  labs last week showed an increase. This news devastated me for a second or two. I had been doing so well. WTF. I reached out to one of my friends who said “you been here before you can reverse this”. He was right. I have been at my worst and came back. These simple words brought me back to myself. I was out there on a plank. Momentary devastation. I have found that it is the men in my life that have been able to get me off the cliff or pull me away from the edge but it is the women in my life that keep me off (metaphorically speaking).

My lab results were an unwanted reminder that I had to review everything. What I was eating, thinking, doing and to take another look at my list of supplements and all I was ingesting.

So instead of working through my Mama issues I am sharing what my regiment has consisted of. I will also be reviewing to see where I may have slacked. Cause obviously I slacked somewhere. I will be going over this list over the next few days.  Need to get this right and back on track.

I trust this list will help you or someone you know out here. It has kept me alive. And I plan on staying alive so that I can have some honest conversations with my Mother. Those conversations will be laced with healing.

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Karen

Karen’s Supplements and Their Benefits

SERRAPEPTASE HIGH POTENCY

Dose: 120,000 SPU

Use: Digestive Benefits

Proteolytic (Protein destroyer) enzyme from bacteria native to the digestive system of silkworms. It is the enzyme responsible for dissolving a silkworm’s cocoon. Traditionally, serrapeptase has been used for its anti-inflammatory properties. Today, it is marked as a joint health supplement. Other benefits because this proteolytic enzyme breaks down proteins and tissues, there is great interest in using it for dissolving fibroids.

CHARCOAL HERBAL

Use: Digestive Benefits

One of the finest natural absorbent agents. Each particle contains many small chambers and cavities that capture or bind-up unwanted materials and gas which are safely carried out of the digestive system.

FULL SPECTRUM DIGESTIVE SUPPORT

Use: Digestive Supplement

Betaine, Pepsin, and Pancreatin. Normalizes the stomachs acidity and relieves indigestion, bloating, and gas. Supporter of healthy digestion.

MILK THISTLE

Use: Liver Supplement

Supports healthy liver function. Reduces the growth of cancer cells in breast, lung, colon, prostate, cervical, and renal cancers. Another benefit is improvement of blood glucose levels.

COMPLETE MULTI LIVER DETOX SUPPORT

Use: Detoxes the Liver

This supplement supports the immune system, discourages liver stones, weight loss, supports whole body detox, boosts energy, and increases vitality. The goal in cleansing your liver, is to rid your liver of toxins and leave it healthy and fully functional.

BLOODROOT CAPSULES with GRAVIOLA, CHAPARRAL, and GALANGAL

Use: Attacks Tumors in the Digestive tract.

Native American Indians used the main ingredient for tumors, for digestive tract disease, mouth and gum problems, respiratory issues and treatment for skin problems. Other benefits, anti-viral, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory benefits.

ASTRAGALUS ROOT

Use: Supplement

This supplement is a prevention of heart diseases. It acts as an antioxidant and helps in getting rid of the free radicals. It is used to treat hypertension, improve cardiac function and prevent congestive heart failure. It is believed to help in quick recovery after chemo therapy used to increase the white blood cell count and treat anemia. Although not proven, the root of this herb is believed to aid in prevention of kidney diseases and cancer to some extent.

BURDOCK (ORGANIC GOBO ROOT)

Use: Blood Purifier

Burdock is believed to clear the bloodstream of toxins, lymphatic system strengthener, natural diuretic, skin healer, defend against diabetes, combat cancer tumors. Many herbalists today say Burdock Root can stop cancer cells from metastasizing making it a potential natural cancer treatment.

CHLOROXYGEN CHLOROPHYL CONCENTRATE

Use: Builds Red Blood Cells

Building red blood cells, increasing oxygen. It supports the production of RBC’s and tis blood-oxygen carrying capacity. Other benefits, are to boost energy levels.

AROMAT 8-PN

Use: Supplement

Aromat 8-PN delivers a unique, proprietary blend of 8-Prenylnaringenin from hops and plant-lignan extract at clinically relevant levels. Research suggests Lignans and 8-PN can support the body’s natural process of healthy aromatase activity and exert phytoestrogen and antioxidant activity.

CURCUMASORB (PURE ENCAPSULATIONS)

Use: Supplement

Curcumin-Phosphatioylcholine is used for enhanced absorption and bioavailability. The remarkable breadth of applications of curcumin stem from its multifocal mechanisms involving diverse intracellular signaling pathways and the regulation of hundreds of genes involved in cytokine balance, detoxification and cellular health. C-reactive protein levels provided significant benefit in joint comfort, mobility, and quality of life.

PERFECT AMINO

Use: Supplement

The benefits of Amino is that it regulates almost all of the metabolic processes in the human body, and they are essential for a healthy body. Basic building blocks of the body. They are also sources of energy, like fats and carbohydrates.

MAITAKE D FRACTION

Use: Anti-cancer, Anti-tumor supplement

The supplement is highly promoted as a potent anti-cancer and anti-tumor remedy. They are also known to help relieve the effects of chemotherapy. Reversal or prevention of tumor growth are other benefits to be gained by consuming the mushroom.

Category Blood Type Diets Supplements

Live Cell (Blood Type O)

Sprouted food supplement optimized for Blood Type O.

Benefits: Sprouted foods health benefits include high levels of dietary fiber, B complex vitamins and protein.

Phytocal Multi-Mineral (Blood Type O)

Benefits: This unique ingredient in phytocal O is maerl-based sea calcium which is the only natural source of calcium with a broad enough buffering range to work effectively with the different digestive capabilities of each blood type. The rare seaweed contains trace amounts of essential nutrients such as magnesium, boron and zinc.

Food Supplements:

 APRICOT POWER B17 AMYGDALIN

Use: Primarily used to help support a healthy immune system.

Apricot is a naturally occurring molecule found in over 1,200 different foods including fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, and seeds.

BITTER APRICOT SEED

Use/ Benefits:

The apricot pits (seed) is sold as a therapeutic food. Some proponents of alternative medicine state that the apricot kernels can be used as a preventive or even a cure for cancer.

OCEANS ALIVE 2.0 MARINE PHYTOPLANKTON

Benefits:

Marine Phytoplankton is known for their health and detoxification benefits. Marine phytoplankton is the most important plant in the world, providing almost all of the earths oxygen and serving as a vital food supply for marine life and humans.

Supplemental Drinks

Brand: KATE FARMS

  1. Komplete: contains 290 calories

No soy, dairy, gluten, and is allergen free.

  1. Core essentials with peptides: Contains 500 calories

A ready to use enzymatically hydrolyzed, peptide- based formula for complete nutritional needs.

SORREL TEA:

Sorrel is a fascinating perennial herb that is used all around the world and is cultivated for a wide variety of uses. Although it is primarily grown for use in food, due to its sharp, tangy taste, it also has a vast array of health benefits.

Benefits:

Prevents cancer, aids in digestion, regulates blood pressure, improves eyesight, aids in circulation and energy.

GINGER TEA:

Ginger contains Gingerol, a substance with powerful medicinal properties. There are several benefits to drinking ginger tea.

Benefits:

Ginger can treat many forms of nausea, especially morning sickness. Loss of appetite, motion sickness, and pain. The root or underground stem (rhizome) of the ginger plant can be consumed fresh, powdered, dried as a spice, in oil form, or as a juice.

SOURSOP TEA:

Soursop tea boats an impressive list of health benefits including its ability to prevent the development and spreading of cancer, lower blood pressure, boost the immune system, protect the skin, aid in weight loss, improve digestion, and soothe inflammation.

Soursop is a Vitamin C super fruit that may help fight Cancer. These vitamins and minerals are why soursop benefits include potentially helping reduce eye disease, and treat infections.

DANDELION ROOT TEA:

Benefits:

Dandelion root tea may aid and soothe digestive ailments. Dandelion tea can have many positive effects on your digestive system, although much of the evidence is anecdotal. It has historically been used to improve appetite, sooth minor digestive ailments, and possibly relieve constipation. Dandelion tea has been known to ease the congestion of the liver, help purify the bladder and kidney, and reduces the risk of urinary tract infections.

 Swiss Kriss:

Use: Colon Relief

Swiss Kriss is a natural herbal laxative which gently allows relief of constipation.

 Life Extension Supplements:

OPTIMIZED QUERCETIN:

A flavonoid (Plant Pigment) commonly found in fruits and vegetables. Quercetin possess potent antioxidants, which fight against free radicals. Chemically reactive compounds that damage cell membranes and DNA and also cause cell death.

DOPA-MIND:

Helps promote healthy dopamine levels to help support and maintain youthful cognitive health supports concentration and brain function may be of benefit in those wishing to stop smoking.

COGNITEX:

Enhances cognitive function the gastrodin acts as a “brain shield” calming brain cells and helping to protect against oxidant, inflammatory, and excitatory damage. Gastrodin’s multiple modes of action work together to improve circulation and shield the brain from age-related insults. The brain of free radicals from normal metabolism. Cognitex contains and number of phytonutrient based antioxidants that work best in lipid fat rich environment like the brain.

CALCIUM CITRATE WITH VITAMIN D:

Health benefits; mineral calcium is well known for its key role in bone health, heart rhythm, muscle functions and more.

SUPER SELENIUM COMPLEX:

Selenium is a mineral added to a healthy diet to prevent or treat low selenium levels. Selenium protects cells from oxidative stress and helping the thyroid produce hormones. Selenium works as a powerful antioxidant in the body.

Studies have observed a trend in which lower concentrations of Selenium correlated with an increased risk of certain types of Cancer.

PQQ CAPS

Pyrroloquinoline quinone benefits overall improvement in energy levels, improve cognitive function and memory.

Photo: Hannah Bijoux, Stylist Photographer: Terrell Clark.

I Am Not My Hair

I

“I’ve watched my daughter go from precocious child to confident teenager. I’ve watched her take near perfect direction and instruction, and give the same to others. I’ve watched her listen keenly to my advice and adhere to it. And now, she gives me advice. Good advice. Our relationship has blossomed from mother-daughter, to best friends, back to mother-daughter, and along each step, we’ve always been each other’s protector. She’s listened carefully to my thoughts about the boys in her life, and I shake my head and laugh when she warns the men I date that I’m her mother and you better bring her home at a reasonable time. Last night’s date responded with an, “Oh, she’ll come to like me. I laughed to myself. Wrong. None of them know my daughter Kenya. She has never liked any of my choices in men (friends or otherwise) and I’ve never agreed with hers either. For sure, at any time, our roles reverse. Completely.

And yet I often forget that she will turn 20 in July. My little baby has blossomed into a beautiful flower come into her own. And now she makes her own choices regarding what to wear, what to eat, where to go and, most difficult for me, how to wear her hair.

Kenya has worn her hair natural from birth. Or should I say, I have kept her hair natural from birth. At first, I kept it covered with turbans and the like. At that time, I adhered to the more strict interpretation of Rastafari: modest dress, head covered, etc. Then later, I platted it, chiney bumped it, pony tailed it, and my favorite, let her wear it in two afro puffs. Though I have worn locks on and off for the last 20 years and would have loved for her to do the same, I didn’t force it on her. She decided on her own to grow her natty, and grow they did.

Even when I no longer had locks, Kenya Jordana’s hair flourished. I was proud. She took care of her locks and had it conditioned regularly. So imagine my dismay when she hesitantly asked me one holiday she spent home from school if she could trim them. Lord have mercy, I screamed on the inside. But out loud, what could I say? She was 19 years old. They were her locks. Not mine. So I choked out, If that’s what u want to do

I thought it would end there. But no. From there she went on to perm it, and now she’s got extensions. Each time she changed it up, I acted as if she were changing up my hair. I showed great dismay and spoke with even more disappointment. I complained without end about the perm not agreeing with her. And I made disparaging remarks whenever I could squeeze them in under the false guise of advice.

So immature. Who’s the mother here anyway?

And yet, being the mother that she is to me, she would hide her disappointment and keep on plodding. She would try not to freeze-frame my negativity and hold strong to the decisions she’d made for herself. Just today she told me, “Mama, I’ve been natural all my life. Let me see what else is out there. I’m not you. Let me be me.” She added: You are more attached to my hair than I am.

You know, she was right. She and I both know that a perm may not have been the best thing for her hair. But she accepts her decisions and stands firm. No hiding. Head erect. Damn. That’s my girl.

I love her independence. I love the way she meets her challenges head on. She doesn’t run from adversity but embraces it and turns it into increased confidence and a greater sense of self. She has manifested everything I hoped for her to be.

So what the hell am I upset about? It’s not my hair. In fact, I’ve worn my hair just as nappy and unkept (though clean) as a sista could the very antithesis of how Kenya likes her hair. And she’s never asked me to change it, cover it over, or even uttered, I don’t like it like all things I’ve said to her. She let me be me.

It is this I keep in mind as I learn to let up a little you know, release from my spirit the things I can’t control (like my daughter’s hair) and allow my baby’s spirit to grow, just as I’ve allowed mine to. After all, as India.Arie says, “I am not my hair.”

Relax, Karen Mason. Breathe and give thanks for the flower that continues to bloom before your very eyes.”

Cancer Saved My Life

C

I don’t remember what age I was when I lost my virginity. When it was taken. Without permission. I know it was during the time that my mind stayed on double dutch, skelly and hop skotch. We would play Red light, green light one two three in our carless driveway on East 54th in the heart of East Flatbush. There was dodge ball in the park at PS 268 and spin the bottle wherever we could find a place where the grown ups were not. I was about 9 or 10. Could have been younger but it is taking me forever just to write this so trying to figure out the exact age that he took something that belonged to me might drag these few words out even more. And all I want to do right now is get them out. The words that is. Words that I have never spoken or even told anyone. Ever. Cancer provided an opening. I had to lose the weight that I created. I had to shed the layers of who I was and was not. Cancer saved my life.

Everything seemed normal. Mom worked everyday and sometimes on Saturday. My brother and I were provided for. Mom bought her first piece of real estate in East Flatbush 3 bedroom/2 bath brick house with small front and large backyard. Aunties all lived in a close radius and monthly parties at Aunt Babs or Aunt Daisy’s house where rocksteady and reggae ruled the turntable and curry goat, manish water, cow foot was our norm. I found my own version of happiness in the little world I created. Recently my Mom told me that as a immigrant she had heard stories of things that happen to children in America and that authorities would take children from homes if they found them alone…so her friends who happen to be male would help out and keep an eye on my brother and I. But they mostly had their eyes on me. I was 4 or 5 when it started. It became as regular as going to school everyday. It was a part of my life growing up. One that I never talked about.

I imagined that all little girls had “Uncles” who liked to sit them on their laps, play touchy feely games with them and put their lips on and in places that had not yet matured. Then said uncle would give you/me some change and a few dollars so I could go out and play with my friends and buy candy. I imagined that all my friends had money and change because they got them the same way I did. Only we never spoke about it. It would be our little secret but I imagined that all little girls were going through this and were told not to tell anyone else the secret . That’s why none of us ever talked about it. Cause it wouldn’t be a secret anymore.

Touch Yourself

“So for a good little while I stopped touching my breast. My bredren would come over 3 to 4 times a week (faithfully) and massage them but I wouldn’t touch the one with the tumor. I avoided it as much as I could. It was hard as a rock.I felt like I was carrying a bowling ball on my chest. It hurt in multiple ways.

A burden. I considered it (my breast) NOT part of me but something that was attached to me. I did not want to interact with it. It scared me. Reminded me how sick I was everyday.

I didn’t realize that THIS was one of the greatest forms of NOT LOVING YOURSELF.”

In Da Club

 “So I’m on the way to the club with my daughter. Well kinda. She is suppose to meet her friends there but they’re not coming until later so she asks me to come and make sure she gets in okay and then (presumably) leave. (She is home from college for the holidays and her friends were raving about the “Broke and Boujee” parties at the Five Spot).I mean what daughter wants their mother in the club with them. Right? So there’s is a long line at the door. The doorman says “I’m checking IDs only, 18 to get in and 21 to drink”. “Okay” I say,awkwardly looking for my ID and glancing around to see if anyone notices my grown ass self bout to go into this teenage club with a bunch of 18 to 21 year olds. LOL. Of course I can’t find my ID for a second. I’m holding up the line and feeling a little paro. I’m thinking to myself…”I bet they all wondering who holding up the line”. I imagine one of the many teenagers who are in line saying to themselves, “somebody’s mama” and laughing to themselves like they the only ones that know what they saying.

So now we are literally one step from being in the club. And my daughter, after spotting a number of good looking eye candy says to me “oh u don’t need to come inside”. I laugh to myself and just imagine for as brief a moment as possible how horrified I would be if my Mama came up in the club with me. But at this point I am too damn curious. We right at the door and it looks like it’s on and popping up inside. I look at her with eyes that communicate, “too late baby…I ain’t going no where but inside this club.”

So we get inside. I am thinking its 10 dollars. And the girl at the door says 1 dolla. I say “what” titling closer to her ears making it oh so obvious that I don’t know the routine and she yells “one dollar”. Okay. So I must be really out of the loop. 1 dollar. OMG.

So I walk in. Feeling good that my daughter hasn’t abandoned me (at least not yet). You know how we would do back in the day…and act like….”Oh I’m not with them”. You know… standing a comfortable distance from Mama. Well maybe that was just me. But not my daughter Kenya. She trooping by my side. Got me feeling good that my baby girl, on the threshold of twenty is still trooping with Mama.

So we walk through the club headed for the right spot to claim as our own. And me desperate to make some contact with a few heads my age. I see a few. “Whew” I lament to myself. I knew it was some OGs up in this place. LOL We grab a seat near the stage. With full view of everything. The placed is packed with wall to wall of our future. I’m still a little paranoid. I see heads nodding at me; waving periodically; smiling. Got me wondering if they thinking…”that’s somebody mama, I better say hi.” I imagine it’s like seeing your teacher at the club. Maybe I’m just paranoid. Wondering why. Afterall, I am somebody’s Mama. Proud of it too!

As a marketer. I’m thinking. Damn. Who is promoting this event tonight. The club is packed wall to wall with the prime trendsetters and tastemakers of this generation. The latest clothes, baseball caps galore, fly sneakers all on display. Basically crunk. I’m thinking about these two new female rockers that I signed to my management company. What a perfect audience for them.

When we first came in the music was basically that retro sounding stuff that is suddenly popular. Go figure. Common, MJB, Kanye all at more beats per minute than I am use to.

Anyway, talk about young Black and Fabulous. Fly brothers and sisters galore. When I tell u the place is crunk. I’m feeling good. Flying beneath the radar. Then “Uh oh.” Here comes the roving photographer. I’m not sure if I’m more concerned about him taking a photo of me and someone seeing it and thinking that I hang out with teenagers at the club on weekends or if I was worried that he would pass me by embarrassed about taking a photo of someone who looked like his 11th grade language arts teacher. He stopped right in front of me. “Damn”, i utter underneath my breath. I quickly ask my daughter Kenya to come in the photo with me. At least folks will say, “she was there with her daughter.”

Then the music changes from retro pop to atlanta crunk.Most of the songs playing, I’ve worked on the videos in my other incarnation as one of top location scouts in Atlanta. Everyone from Dem Franchize Boyz, To Luda to Young Jeezy, to Lil Wayne (I know he not from Atlanta) to T.I.

It all kinda sounds the same… with a nice beat.

Just when I am thinking the worst of the artistic offering of this generation in the south specifically I remember a lecture the great historian Dr. Asa Hilliard did where he referred to a dissertation by a young writer and PHD candidate in which she compared crunk to spirituals both musically (the syncopation, the call and response) and spiritually (the chants, the praises, the letting go) So I sit up and take better notice; watching the crowd, listening more attentively, feeling the spirit. Its damn near holy ghost temperature in here. Wall to wall. A spiritual movement. One that us adults will completely miss with our judgemental- non-listening- pre occupied with life selves.

I’m getting lost in the service.

So my daughter is standing on the chair next to me. Observing. Bobbing her head, dancing. I’m feeling good that she feeling good and ain’t shy about completely expressing herself amongst her peers while I’m at the club WITH her. I’m spending my time typing these thoughts on the blackberry hoping to go unnoticed as someones mama trying to get crunk with the teenagers. So I decide to stand on the chair next to my daughter Kenya. I start bobbing and busting a little move and I am immediately stopped by her. “Mama” she says sounding and looking visibly annoyed, “U can’t do that”. “ Huh” I say. I mean we done made it this far. I’m in the club. She dancing and cutting up doing the booty dance right next to me. We dun crossed all the barriers. “So what is it now” my eyes respond minus the words. “you can stand on the chair but you can’t dance mama.”…”Please” she adds at the end of a momentary pause. I’m okay with that. Again all I gotta do to put things in perspective is to imagine how horrified I would be if my mom were in the club with me MUCH LESS shaking her groove thing to the music that moved my generation. OMG. Just the thought. So I respect her wishes, conserve my bounce and just bob ever so slightly hoping that that will be okay.

Ok. So I’m on the chair. Typing away. The spirit is moving the crowd and that same spirit is moving my fingers to type this blog note to you’all. I type a few words and the next thing I know I look around and my daughter is gone. Poof. Like magic gone. So I’m like damn. “That must of been her plan all along”, “to get ghost”, “ Lose her mama in the club”. That’s my rich paranoia at play again. My head is practically doing a 360 looking for her. But all I can see is the heads of literally hundreds of teens. Damn. Rather than go looking like a mad woman. I stand there on the chair trying to adjust my eyes to survey headtops for any that might match my little Kenya’s. When I turn to look around again I sight her on stage getting the digits of one of the promoters. She probably thinking about throwing a party like this in DC at Howard University where she is a sophmore. And here I was thinking she ducking me. Our eyes meet and she looks at me with a knowing stare that says, “I’m taking care of some business mama…waving her I PHONE for further confirmation.

Imagine me being worried that she was trying to dip. I feel a little silly. Afterall she ain’t me at that age. I forget that some times.

When she returns she says “Mama, I’m going outside for a minute its hot in here.” “I’ll come with you” I say without skipping one beat. “That’s okay Mama, I’ll be right back” I hear her utter faintly as I look at the back of her head. I wonder to myself how I’ve managed since she been off at college…With my paro self.

 A few minutes later she returns. What a relief. I know she tired of me asking her. “Who’s that playing.” “what song is this”, “what song was that”. I just feel the need to know who these artists are that are making this wall to wall crowd of energy move uncontrollably in complete cooperation and obedience to the spirit. I know she getting tired of me asking. Before she went to college. I prided myself in at least being familiar with everything she listened to. I didn’t let anything slip by. I needed to know what she was thinking, what she listened to, what moved her and why. I must admit since she went off the school. I kinda fell off little bit in terms of keeping up with all the music. 

My “My President is Black” comes on. The whole room is one high school chorus. Couple fists in the air.

I continue to obey the rules. No dancing. I get away with slight head bobbing. I can’t help it. DJ in touch with the crowd and visa versa. They feeling each other. I’m feeling the whole experience…in da club.

 

That Night…Almost

T

written by @Shantiom

I remember that night … that day well. I was on my way back from Mobile, AL, about an hour and thirty minutes from Atlanta when I got the call. It was Karen. When I asked her how she was doing, although she responded with her characteristic chuckle, I could hear in her voice all was not well. She exclaimed that she was in pain, and from the sound of her voice it was the panic inducing kind. She was afraid to go to the E.R. because of her breast. The worry was that the medical personnel would take one look at her breast, and her medical history and begin an interrogation. I told her that I could help, if she could just hold on.

I’d never intervened in a healing crisis that was quite so extreme but I gathered my wit and my tool bag and headed her way as soon as I touched home. When I arrived, she was doing her best to keep it together, but was wrestling with the kind of pain (all of it localized in her right breast) that makes a person alternate deliriously between pacing, rocking and any position that will provide comfort in between. In this moment, I struggle to remember all that I had grabbed in a hurry to take with me … my blood pressure cuff definitely … some frankincense oil … olive oil … magnesium oil … some other stuff again I don’t remember. She had a couple of different pain killers around that she was afraid to take but I knew they were necessary. Somehow I knew that this kind of pain crisis could take somebody out. We had to be strategic though. I took her blood pressure to make sure that it was stable before she took anything. She had one pain med that was prescribed routinely, and another as needed. We started off with the routine dose, and used the “as needed” medication for the breakthrough pain. I had her lie back in her recliner, and tried to make her as comfortable as possible. We put on some meditative music and I began to do foot reflexology on her, using the magnesium oil to relax her, frankincense for the pain and to address the cancer, coupled with olive oil as the carrier. That terrifying moment in time gave visual meaning to the verse “weeping may endure for a night … “.

While what she was going through reminded me of labor, it was worse than anything that I had ever seen at any birth that I had attended. All I could think of was getting her through the night. There were a few moments when fear tried to take hold of me. What if it was too much for me to handle? What if we ended up having to go to the emergency room anyway? I was watching a woman who I had never seen in any other way than dignified and with her shit together, writhe and cry in crippling agony. We continued with the medication regimen and the Reflexology throughout the night. Karen drifted between moans, in and out of consciousness, until she finally became still enough for me to release her feet without her noticing. I actually hovered over her for a minute to make sure she was breathing, and when convinced that she was, backed away slowly sinking into the lounge across from her.

I was tired but I dared not indulge in any rest other than a deep relaxation. There would be no sleep for me until this night was over. Karen awoke with the sunrise, grateful but extremely bewildered. She kept asking with tears in her eyes, “what happened to me?”; distraught from being unable to remember the details of the treacherous night before. I tried my best to explain what I had witnessed but what mattered most was that we had crossed over. We both wrestled with death that night, and lived to tell about it.”

Dickie

I learned what a dickie was from him. It looked like a turtle neck but when he took off his jacket it was just the neck part and what looked like a baby bib. I found it odd. No sleeves. No nothing. Like something you would put on your Barbie or Ken doll. Not something a man would actually wear. But he did. He was well dressed and always smelled like how I imagined the men in suits on soap operas would smell. Or maybe the Old Spice commercial. But it was always strong. Real strong. I wanted to hold my nose sometimes when he got close. But I didn’t.

I sat in the same chair the only chair in the room. My mother’s room. The only other place to sit was the bed. It is from this chair that he would undress me. Slowly. First he took off my blouse. I lifted my hands like most children do when someone is assisting them with their blouse or dress. Then he unbuttomed and unzipped my pants. I didn’t stand up though. He knelt on the floor and slowly took off my pants with what seemed like care. He wiggled and slid them off. Such precision. He never checked the time. He knew what time Mama would be home. He was her boyfriend though I never remember him being introduced to me by that title. (And we never called him “Uncle” like the others. Just Andy. ) And he had already send my brother out to play so time was ll he seemed to have. Except that one time my brother came back earlier than expected. That’s for another story.

In the meantime my mind was elsewhere. I wanted to play hop skotch with my friends up the block,jump double dutch with the extra clothes line that my friend had. (we used clothes line for rope). I stayed in my world of happiness and hop skotch as I sat there and waited for this now regular ritual to be over so I could go play. I found a comfortable space in my mind to wonder in. He would always let me go out and play afterwards.

Last was my panties. I sat there totally naked. He then sat me on the bed. Sometimes he would carry me or just gently lead me to the middle of the bed where I sat. He moved slow and well paced. Never rushing. Clearly he had a well designed plan in his mind. He would such the tiny little nipples I had. Then he would part my legs. I would automatically resist. He would softly Ask me to open up and say he would never hurt me. He would rub his middle finger around my vagina after dipping it Vaseline. Sometimes he would kneel and peak in as he rubbed. He seemed satisfied. He would begin the ritual of removing his clothes. First his leather belt then his creased pin stripe pants. He would lay them delicately on the ironing board. He wore bikini type underwear. Then he would remove his button up shirt. That’s when I saw the dickie. It seemed weird. He removed the dickie and folded up the way I see the Chinese people fold their clothes at the chinese laundry.”

Cambodia

New Installment – Through The Stages

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Sometimes you just need a reminder. A reminder of where you were and where you are. A reminder of what you have been through to remind you of how far you have actually come. Reminders often tell truths that we have long since forgotten. Sometimes we (me, I) just need a little reminder.

I’ve been looking and in need of reminders of late. Memories without judgement. Just needing to remember. My last two monthly labs (blood tests) have showed an increase in my cancer markers. My subsequent PET Scan reflected same. So yeah. I need some reminders. I looked back in my writing notes to find the thoughts that I most needed to be reminded of. Like you, I have a lot on my plate and I got tired of waiting to be cured before I embark on any new chapter.

Nope. Not doing that. Doing all I can now. I got all kinds of reminders of what I came through and what I can do. I share some of them here. This first peace was not written by me but my friend Shanti Moore. She saved my life one night just a few months ago. I asked her to write it because I couldn’t remember what exactly happened that night. I needed to remember.

 

Aswan, Abu Simble, Cairo, Egypt

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I ended up in Egypt because my Course in Miracles Study group has study and initiation/ascension journeys to Egypt up to 3X/year. I said yes way before I knew if I could really go because I know that saying yes to anything begins the process of making it a reality.

 

I have gained so much in a few short days but let me say that all my travels, all my healing journeys, all my prayers, all the work of my ancestors have led me to this place today on the eve of the full moon with the full realization that I have everything I need within to move through this lifetime full, complete and healthy.

I believe that with every fiber of my body.

 

All week while in Egypt “Man In The Mirror” has been ringing in my head and I finally came to the realization that I have been looking outside of myself for what has been inside of me all of the time. I could not get here however unless and until I had gone through the previous journeys. There are no skipping steps in this journey of life. None. You can’t truly know health unless you have truly known sickness. You can’t truly be well unless you know what an unhealthy lifestyle and body looks and feels like. And now that I am clear on that I am even more confident than ever in the work that I will do on and for myself.

 

I am not saying that I won’t ever go to the doctor or that I won’t go to my pet scan next month. What I AM saying is that this journey is full and completely my own and I am in charge. I make all the decision. These decisions will no longer be made out of fear, scarcity or the horrible feeling that death is at my door.

 

Truth be told I was actually a little fearful to come to Egypt. I told very few people I was coming. Something kept whispering lightly and gently that you “may not come back”. “You may get sick over there.”…you know the read. And so I got a reading from my God Mother who practices Ifa, arrested those fears and made an initiation trek to Africa with no daily itinerary, no hotel information. Basically nothing. Just faith. I was not disappointed.

 

I am no longer going to be writing about cancer. That is not my story. This will be the last chapter where cancer is the focus. I promised 7 chapters and have delivered them but I will continue to write monthly as the thoughts and ideas come to me.

 

I am not longer afraid. What I am I created. If I want to change it. I change it. The lump in my breast is just that…a lump in my breast. I will not give it any more power over my life.

 

I am winning.

It’s a well known fact (I think) that what we talk and think about expands. I will talk less and less about cancer as I grow, engage with and immerse myself in the things I really want to talk about and do because what we think about we manifest. The life we are living now is a manifestation of our thoughts over time. This is a fact. Have you ever found that when you think of someone all of a sudden they call or something happens to remind you that their spirit is near. Or for instance you may be thinking about getting a new car and the next day you see this car everywhere. While these may not be the best examples you get my drift.

I am not interested in my life being framed and surrounded by discussions around cancer. Yes I must deal with the reality of things but I am no longer approaching this welcomed challenge from a vantage point of fear and lack and hopelessness and death. Done with that. And yes I did use the word welcomed. Finding out recently that the tumor is growing secured my renewed way of thinking and approach to this dis-ease. Woke me TF up as I was and still AM in a space of getting better and healing no matter what the “reports” say.

I am not living in a fantasy world here but what I am doing is learning to believe in myself, my intuition and my power. Yes we all possess this intuition and this power. The question is do we use it? Do we tap into to it or do we give it away simply by not making use of it.

What happens to this power and if don’t use it. Does it dissipate. Does it morph into powerlessness? Does it make us weak in the sight of others who possess and use their power? Do we begin to blow in the wind grabbing on to any branch or leaf that gives us some semblance of security? Fake security.

I know I went off the deep end a little trying to make a point that I am not even sure has been made.

The bottom line is I certainly feel better. So there is that. And I’m still scared. Lonely in this journey and unsure where it will lead but I am also confident in my power. We can have both.

Now back to the thing that I don’t want to talk about here is an overview. I was initially diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer in 2014 at Grady hospital. I remember that day clearly. It was the culmination of week after week of mammograms, biopsies, appointments, etc. I had gotten to know the oncology nurses pretty well. I had become a regular in the Grady oncology waiting room that was always packed (wall to wall packed) with patients mostly women, mostly black mostly 30 – 50 years old.

On the day I was scheduled to get my results the nurse took by vitals and then I was left in the room for what seemed like 2 hours. It was actually about 1.5 hours. WTH right. The doctor came in and barely looked at me. I already knew anyway. Somehow we know.

She sat at the computer in the room and inputed some info and turned halfway towards me and said that I had breast cancer. The world stopped a little.

In my subsequent appointments with the Oncology department I found out that my specific kind of breast cancer was triple positive which meant that it was estrogen receptor positive. I had several meetings with the oncologist who advised that I begin chemo immediately to reduce the size of the tumor, then schedule a mastectomy. I declined. I debated quietly and alone for a couple months. I told a handful of people but I knew but this decision would be mine and mine alone.

After contemplation and inner resistance I scheduled a mastectomy for January 2018. I went to Jamaica for my annual pilgrimage for Christmas and when I returned I completed my pre –opt, layed out my pre opt materials next to my bed and on the morning of my scheduled mastectomy…something told me NOT to go. I questioned this and had long conversational thoughts in my head and the end of the conversation resulted in the same premonition: don’t go. I listened. I didn’t go. I never showed up for my mastectomy. What happened after that is still a little unbelievable but also a confirmation that I made the right decision. No one from Grady, not a nurse, doctor, social worker…anybody from then until now ever called me to find out why I did not show up for my mastectomy. No one.

At the time I didn’t know what to think but now I know that I made the best decision. The other piece of information I received that helped to cement my decision not to show was a clear message from spirit “that I would surely die”. I listened.

I didn’t know what to do next. Spirit led me to begin researching, joined online groups, bought books and began to tackle this little problem on my own. I found out about B17 and bloodroot tonic and strains and dosages of THC and CBD and began creating my own approach and protocol.What I didn’t realize is that the cancer was spreading and even with my best efforts I eventually arrived at Stage IV in the fall of 2018. I was in Jamaica for the Jamaica Music Conference. While I had learned to tolerate high levels of pain over the months since January…the pain was getting increasingly worse. And nearly unbearable. So I cut my trip short in Jamaica and immediately went to Emory where I was admitted to Palliative Care. Everything I had known and heard about palliative care up until this time was that was the section that dealth with death and dying. For instance hospice is under palliative care. I could see by the look on the doctors and nurse’s face that things were dire.

To my benefit the head of palliative care a soft spoken, gentle Black doctor counseled me on my options. I had not been to the doctor since January and chemo and radiation was not longer an option. That was my decision. She took one look at my breast did some preliminary test and advised that my daughter come home immediately. She did everything to make sure I was comfortable. I guess this is what they do when they think you are out of here. I appreciate her for this.

She also helped me to get any and all services that I needed immediately including pain killers, all kinds of meds, etc. Her goal was to get me out of pain and provide comfort.

It was from her that I also found out that in their observation there is no cure for Stage IV breast cancer. The goal is make you comfortable as you transition. I guess.

It was at this time that I was assigned a new oncologist who having read my records knew that I was opposed to chemo and radiation. She assigned me a nutritionist, monitored by labs, liver, blood cells etc and proposed hormone therapy pills which would reduce the estrogen in my body as this particular kind of cancer feeds on estrogen.

I increased my use of natural supplements (I discuss them in an earlier installment) sometimes changing and increasing or decreasing based on my intuition. I also worked hard on my faith which was enriched and fortified by the community who surrounded me. I was at my worst walking around with a tumor the size of a grapefruit, pains all over my body, inability to keep down food, house a mess, life a mess, taking Oxycodone and other hard drugs…but I never gave up on myself.

A major turning point in my health journey came on March 16th. Fahamu Pecou a longtime friend and client along with award winning poet Jon Goode surprised me with Flowers, a community outpouring of love and healing. I thought I was going to have dinner with Fahamu and instead walked into the venue with a procession of people lined up facing each other each with a flower and as I walked down the aisle I was able to receive a flower and feel and give the love at the same time. THIS was a changing point in my health journey. It gave me enough feet to stand on. It fueled my insides, renewed my spirit and filled me and the room wth love as artists, poets, speakers shared the love that night.

Not long thereafter coupled with some ritual work from my God Mother in Ifa my tumor began to shrink. I think I took some things for granted and was not as strict with my diet, exercise, supplemental regime, etc.

In June the tumor began to grow again.

Rather than get depressed I saw this an opportunity to become even more disciplined, do some introspection and insure that I was doing only thing things that I loved. No matter what. It was also a reminder to use the power of IFA in my day to day.

Ho Chi Ming City, Vietnam

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Next came Vietnam where my daughter lived at the time. I had heard about all kinds of medicine from scorpion juice to snake venom. I went with an open mind but I was not going to try any kind of miracle cure. I found a naturopathic doctor who was actually Chinese but living in Vietnam. She introduced me Apricot Seeds and B17. You can reach more (here) about this banned substance and Big Pharma’s mission to destroy its usage because it works. It has been a staple ever since in my cancer treatment. She also created about six months of an herbal treatment for me to use when I returned to the States. Unlike Vietnam I was expected to pay up front. The magic here was the information the gathering of it and becoming less fearful of my circumstances.

 

While there I visited the temples almost daily. I made incense offerings wherever I went and somewhere in my travels I heard about the cupping lady. Having already experienced cupping in Madagascar I was determined to find her wherever she was in Vietnam. Below is my facebook post about that experience. I was determined to find her. No one knew her name or exactly where she was located. Much like my mission in South Africa but not nearly as intense I went searching. I ended up finding her in an alleyway behind a market on the other side of town from where my daughter lived.


I heard about her. She is legend. She is a cupping master…passed down for generations. She sits like this all day. Found her in an alleyway in Saigon, Vietnam. Couldn’t get an address so I wandered around until I found her. Heaven.

Costs 1 US dollar. Gave her everything I had. This too is love. 

Madagascar

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I spent my first couple days in Madagascar alone. My daughter had to take a last minute trip to Kenya so she made arrangements for one of her Madagasy friends to take me to see a couple local healers. The first was a little petite lady whose appearance was elderly but her body moved with the precision of her younger days. Her house was one room: bedroom, kitchen, living room, den and the doctors office. The waiting area was outside and reminded me of an old time awning covered school house with long benches and not much else. She had about 10 people of assorted conditions in this area, most seem to have broken bones. I watch one man walk in and five minutes later I hear a loud scream that shook me inside. A few minutes later he walks out — no limp. I saw patient after patient come in one way and leave another. I walk in with my daughters friend to translate. Inside there is no medicine. No gauze. No special anything. Just a bottle of oil and apparently very strong hands to break the bones in order to knit them back together the correct way. I am a little scared and want it to be made clear to her that I have no broken bones. At this moment tho my ankles ache from R.A. and my breast lump is causing discomfort but I am grateful that I haven’t broken anything.

She applied her oil, massaged my legs and ankles and sent me on my way. While my ankle felt better I didn’t see any groundbreaking results but that was simply for one reason. My mind and my belief and my ego wouldn’t let me. But this was still a necessary stop on my journey.

My next stop was an herbalist about 30 minutes outside of town. This man was known to treat cancer and many other serious diseases. I heard testimonies from patients as I awaited for his return on the veranda of a cozy little country side home office. He was one of the first to introduce me to healing magnets and the science of cupping of which I would continue with in the dark alleyways of Vietnam. He spoke a little English but did some work on me using magnets and also fire cupping. He then gathered about 6 months worth of herbs and a special created he created to rub on my breast and ankles.

He served me for at least two hours. I became curious as to what my bill would be especially with the herbs and cream. He seemed puzzled. His response was “you pay me when you are healed.” Through the translator he said “why would you pay a doctor if you are not healed from the ailment you went to him for.”

I will just leave this right here. I do plan on making good on my promise

South Africa

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I stopped in South Africa on my way to Madagascar to meet my daughter who was working as a diplomat in training. I told a few friends about the trip and one in particular suggested that I see Zulu Songoma Credo Mutwa. I had no idea who he was or where he was or where I could find him. All I was told by my trusted friend was that it would be good for me to sit with him.. South Africa is pretty big. I wanted to find him not simply to sit at his feet but also because the possibility of sitting at his feet was near impossible. These are the type of challenges that I live for.

The more I researched him the more it became evident that I should do everything to be in his company. Here is what one prominent South African leader had to say about him:

His name is Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa, loosely translated meaning, “Awaken you, Truth of the Little Bushman”.  

Baba Credo is a traditional healer. No! He was the highest level of traditional healer. He is a Sanusi. Recognised by his peers across Africa as a Prophet. He is a Doctor. Medicine man. Diviner. Scientist. Storyteller. Psychologist. Clairvoyant. Artist. Sculptor. He is a Baobab. 

Credo Mutwa is a national treasure. He should be celebrated. He is Shakespearean in his command of the language and African mythology. He is a philosopher and a prophesier. He carries the secret knowledge of our continent. His cosmology is a lodestar to us regaining our balance and harmony in Africa and as the human race. Would his knowledge and wisdom be studied in schools and universities, we would have doctors of Life. People who know what it means to be human. And be kind. Humankind needs to study “baobabism”. It’s a way of life, not a religion.

The first few lines of Wikipedia describe him in this way:

Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa /ˈkreɪdoʊ ˈmʊtwə/ (born 21 July 1921) is a Zulu sangoma (traditional healer) from South Africa. He is known as an author of books on stories mixing traditional Zulu folkloreextraterrestrial encounters and his own personal encounters. His most recent work is a graphic novel called the Tree of Life Trilogy based on his writings of his most famous book, Indaba my Children[

Credo calls himself a sanusi (common spelling isanuse) which is a type of Zulu diviner or sangoma. The term stems from a more historic time and is not widely used today, even in a traditional setting.[2][3]

Credo currently lives with his wife, Virginia, in Kuruman where they run a hospice clinic.

I felt like I was in one of those movies where the hero is given an impossible task and sent on their way. So I got to South Africa. Johannesburg specifically. Phase 1 accomplished. I was a little disoriented because it was winter and I wasn’t ready. For winter in Africa that is. There was also a bitterness in the air not necessarily related to the weather.

I began asking a few key folks in America (via text) and in Johannesburg about where I might be able to find this mystery man. Dr. Charles Finch (was on my call list) former head of Morehouse School of Medicine who confirmed that Credo would be a good person for me to sit with in order to get my mind right had lost track of Credo over the years but offered information that made my future meeting with Credo an absolute necessity on my journey. I was determined.

Locally I was greeted with an array of emotions when I mentioned Credo’s name. First there was astonishment. How did I know his name people wanted to know. I got the impression he was a folk hero that South Africans would rather keep to themselves. Folks immediately wanted to know who I was to be asking about HIM. Others had only read or heard about him on the news. Most said that he had been out of the public eye for years and they weren’t sure if he was even alive. If he was it was probably near impossible that I would be in his company.

I did more research online and found tons of videos but nothing recent. It seemed as if the man had fallen off the face of the earth. Some said he was very sick. Others believed he had died a few years ago. But (for real) nobody really new where he was.

Again my determination increased. One call led to another which led to another and before I knew it I was on the phone speaking to his wife Virginia. I checked flights first because I had no means of ground transportation. Credo lived over 7 hours outside of Johannesburg. There was nothing available. So the only other option would be to hire a driver. One was recommended by a friend. I also asked a friend of a friend to accompany me on the trod and there I was with two perfect strangers on a 7 hour trek of the country side to sit at the feet of Credo Muthwa.

The drive was both beautiful and disturbing. I am loving the scenery but I’m feeling away about the fact that Germany though not there is there. Every town, street sign, and even most business names were in German. It felt like such an offense. Where is black Africa and why wasn’t this negotiated in the post apartheid arrangements? The great historian Dr. John Henrik Clarke would always say that the beginning of freedom is calling things by their proper names and here we were driving through towns whose name that nobody I knew could even pronounce.

We think that we are lost many times over as the drive was long and often barren and night had fallen so we stop and ask along the way and the people are only too gracious to offer advice which is usually something like “you are going the right way,” with a finger point. That’s it. I’m feeling the weight of this drive and the experience in general because this man holds so much history and mystery. My legs are also cramped and my body is also feeling it. As I feel us getting closer I could feel a certain peace and quiet come over me. We are sure and yet not so sure where we are going but it feels right so we keep trodding. I could feel a certain patience and quietness come over me.

I begin to rehearse in my mind what I will say to him. As a Sangoma I will want him to reach into his crystal ball and help make me right. My driver and friend that accompanied me understood what this journey meant to me however they could not contain their excitement as we approached the town where Credo calls home. I decide that I will ask them to come in with me to meet him and then ask them to give me some time alone with him. Well that didn’t go as planned.

So I’m thinking that I’ll have some quiet time with Credo but that’s not how it’s goes down. As soon as we park everyone gets out the car I knew at that point that private time was l looking distant and scarcer. This was a historic moment and a nobody had time to be sitting in the car so we all get out and were greeted by his wife who sits and talks to us for a while. A long while. Meanwhile I’m hearing movement in the back of the house. I’m hearing what sounds like chains clanging. I’m feeling a little bit of a way about not being able to speak with him directly about my health challenges present company but I’m so grateful to have arrived at this very moment and I don’t want to miss it with my ignorance and ego.

I had no idea what to expect but here comes this man in traditional Zulu attire with big ceremonial chains that look like they weigh way more than he can carry. He walks in and sits with us for hours.

I’m never quite sure where he’s looking because his eyes are a little crossed so I try to move periodically to make sure I’m in his eye view. I mean I need some healing. That’s why I am here. And I don’t want to miss my healing because he can’t see me. We talk for hours about the world we talk about politics we talk about life. We never talk about cancer. We talk about the collective and I’m feeling real real good for our journey back home. Healing comes in many forms.

I was still (low key) looking for the magic touch and words like” you are healed”. I eventually realized that this was not that kind of journey. This was the beginning of a journey to self healing. It was the beginning of a journey to self realization. It was in the beginning of a journey to find and locate my higher self.

My next stop was Madagascar

FORWARD

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Karen Marie Mason came into my life because of what she recognized in others that was actually a part of her own self.  I came into her life because of what I recognized in others that was actually apart of myself. We did not know this then, but this is how spirit works, always showing up in ways that remind us that everything we need is in our community.  Even when we do not know what we really need and who we really are; Spirit knows. So that as long as we are asking ‘why’ along the way….it will guide us to our truth.

Her tenacity, her wit, her beauty and courage has been passed down through her ancestors.  This book is the public declaration of this fact and this book bears witness to the power of truth. There is a theologian named Crossan who once wrote that disease is an imbalance, a dis-order that occurs in one’s body. If we accept this definition, then we can understand how returning to a balance state eliminates the disease/dis-order.  So, we are taught by wholistic health practitioners on how to return our bodies to a balanced state. I believe in this because I believe in a power in the universe that created us with the ability to bring balance back to our organs. This same writer goes on to share that illness is a communal thing. Illness is the result of the community’s response to that disease, that imbalance, that dis-order. In essence, this theologian posits that the silencing, isolation, stigma and disdain that a community shows towards the “dis-ease” interrupts the body’s ability to return to a state of balance.  Not a state of more or a state of less; not a state of lack or absence but a state of sufficiency and a state of presence-this is balance, this is order. The community’s response can make us ill. You know how that goes, you have headache or a cough and everyone begins to treat you differently and from a distance. Now, you are ill. And, when oppressive materialistic social systems feed on your illness and validates a community’s response of isolation by creating policies and institutions that further ostracize and, in some instances, condemn those with the dis-ease…we have sickness. Some of us then live in our sickness because there is no community response of faith in our getting well.

 

Without studying theology…Karen knew this.  She knew that the community’s response to whatever form of imbalance Black people possessed was an important factor to us getting well, being whole again.  So, she took to the most powerful venue at her disposal to give us an alternative response to our “dis-ease”. She used her gifting with the media and made it her life’s work.  Her radio shows, raising her daughter, her work with other artists, and the community events she organized continue to give us a different way to respond to the dis-ease of internalized self-hate, the lack of opportunity and voice, and our mis-trust of one another. She created ways to shift our collective response to the dis-ease we experienced as people of African descent.  She told us that we had indeed some severe dis-orders. Yes, her commentaries still check us, her life experiences required her to check us! Yet, she also understands that there are systemic forces designed to reinforce our notion of being a “sick” people. She brings people, music and the arts into our lives to shift our community response to the dis-order. Her plentiful wells of love and strength give us the will to resist being sick, to resist being labelled as ill. When we think about those who shoulders we stand upon and believe in; isn’t this exactly what they did? Jesus told the women with the issue, “by your faith you are healed’, Garvey to us “up you mighty race”; Baba Asa told us “to be Afrikan and live” and Sobonfu told us “not to hide ourselves from one another”.

 

So, in my heart and in my mind, this book is her authentic story of living through stages for us to bear witness to and glean from one person’s journey and more.  It is for me the journey, the authentic story of benefit to an entire people—my people. Karen and I have been truly blessed to know one another on this journey. My spiritual daughter is one of those spoken about in Armah’s book “The Healers”. This gift of healing we are reading about now in her book has always been hers. It was her decision to use it to inspire rather than to manipulate, and for this decision her ancestors and our ancestors who have journeyed with her, are pleased and I, I am in awe of who she is becoming!

 

Mama & Dr. Itihari Toure

unarm someone

by

telling the truth you could not face

when you

struck instead of tended.

 

— put the fire out (unburn) Nayyirah Waheed

 

.1

 

I went bra-less today.  I never go bra-less. Maybe not never but damn close to never.. It’s new to me. It’s not something I am accustomed to. You talking to a girl who wouldn’t wear sleeveless anything no matter the temperature. So letting it all hang out was major. But I liked it. At least I like it so far. I feel a sense of freedom…coming ‘cause I am not all that free with it yet.  It’s coming. It’s new. I also feel a little awkward. You know that trying something new for the first time kinda awkward. You know like you sure but you not 100. But there I was outside of my house. Hanging. Out and about with my boobs treating them like a new relationship that you testing out. .I may have gotten some stares. I’m not sure. I didn’t look to see.  Too busy being fascinated, concerned and observant of my new behavior. You see, I’m not that confident yet. But soon. It’s part of my healing. Through The Stages. Chapter .1

Up until recently I would rarely go without the support that I felt my breasts required to hold me up. I know now that it was really not about the support at all.  I lived and slept with a bra on as a way to create distance and further separation from myself. I never had much of a relationship with them to begin with. Before I was old enough to understand their nurturing purpose and power (and according to Dr. Jewel Pookrum 5 major energy points terminate in the breast) they had already become accustomed to grown men’s lips whose sensations I grew to like. In my pre adolescent mind that must be what they are for.  No one told me differently.

They had already begun sagging before I began breastfeeding my daughter. Years before. They often felt heavy to me.  Weighty. Gravity was pulling them down. I often slept in my bra. I wanted them firm and pointy like I assumed my friends and the folks on TV had.  So I didn’t touch them much. Outside of washing them they got very attention except from men. I actually preferred it to intercourse. I now know that my whole body warrants special attention.  But back then when I was growing up I didn’t like them. I didn’t like me. I didn’t like my feet either. Both areas of my body (breast and feet) would be the source of great pain and dis-ease in my later years. Like right now.

But today,  Karen Marie Mason left her house, got in her car and went to the Asian market and to Aldi  without a bra. Today was the first day. I have never been bra-less outside of my house. Ever. The right tit firm as a (literal) rock and the left one is on a race to see how soon it can reach my navel.  So many physical and mental conflicts going on in my life. My breast are just one of them. I had a cute dress on tho. And so I went.

.1 a.

I saw my Mom last week at my nephews graduation from Colgate.  It was one of the first times in YEARS that me, my brother, mother, and his children were together. The isolation i put on myself was real. But I also felt I had good reason to be isolated. At least that was the story that I told. Myself.

After we all reached our respective homes she called to tell me “what happens in the house stays in the house.  I don’t understand you children always talking your business”. She was referring to my brother and her belief that he shared certain family information with his wife.  In defense of my brother but at the same time riding on that middle fence with my 85 year old mother I told her that he can tell his wife whatever he wants.

But in the back of my head I was thinking about this book, the photo I revealed of my breast (which thank GOD she has not seen) and the story I was about to tell.  I don’t want to embarrass my family. I now believe in honoring thy mother and father. As a child not so much. If I were younger she would whip me from one corner of her bedroom to the other if she found out we were discussing anything that happens in the house with anyone outside of the house.    That information stays in the house. Plus if f I told someone, anyone then there would be another beating.

It was my brother’s belts that were used.  He was the only man in the house. I always wondered why when my mother said “Clarke bring me that belt” that he showed up in record timing like he was Usain or something. What the hell was the hurry.  Conversely, If Mommy asked me to get the belt for him which was rare cause he didnt’ get beatings like me, I would take my sweet time and mumble something about “I’m trying to find it Mommy.” I was the reluctant belt getter.

So we learned very young to keep our pain to ourselves.  I learned to keep my pain to myself. Even if it might one day kill me. Our house was filled with pride and pain. The kind of pride that would have you lying about all kinds of stuff but mostly the kind of pride that would have you lying to yourself.

.1 b.

So I left my house bra-less.  One breast defying gravity in one direction and the other moving rapidly downwards.  And me in between the two learning, re-discovering and working on not giving a —–. This is probably not a big deal for most but for someone who has been hiding behind every kind of mask that she could find for most of her life THIS was a big deal.  I made life so heavy for myself.

And now that I have decided that I will finally unburden myself I am immediately concerned and have created a bit of anxiety about what my mother will think if she knew I was writing these things.  My truth goes against everything that she stands for. My mother’s generation (first generation immigrants to America from Jamaica) have lived and many of them died (literally taking untold stories and illnesses to the grave with them) never revealing any information that may help us understand who we are and why we are the way that we are.

I get it. Well actually no I don’t get it.  But my desire to understand and work through this no matter how uncomfortable it is for me and for others is driving this desire to know. Because simply knowing is a game changer that will help me to be whole, to be honest and to find the me in me.

I know my Mama loves me. I know she does. Every parent loves their child right? I mean even if they show it in a funny kind of way. I know it’s there. It’s got to be there. I mean no woman grows up hating that part of him or her that was made from him or her right?  So this is the case with Mama and me. I know she loves me. Mamas love their children. All of them. I don’t know if they love all of them the same. Mostly cause I only have one. So I have nothing to compare it to.

For the longest time I thought my Mommy didn’t love me. The story I created was that I reminded her of my father in look, mannerisms and attitude and this reminder made her not want to love me.  So I got the beatings, I got the punishments, I was deprived of the love of my mother.

The stories we create as children become real.  At least mine did. Over the years my life started to unravel and an auto-immune disease and cancer became part of my daily vocabulary and life.

What I didn’t account for was the truth.  Much of it was kept from me. Parents will do that to protect themselves and their children and themselves.  I get it better now than I did as a rebellious teen, an ambitious young adult, wanting to be the perfect mother and even now as someone living with cancer.

But I need to get it all the way.  Epigenetics is a real thing and I don’t want to pass on any trauma, any unresolved issues to my daughter.  This needs to stop here.

I’ve been hard on myself, hard on my daughter and extremely hard on my mother.  She may not have always known this. But I was hard in silence. I was distant and absent. I internalized everything to keep the mask in place and made myself sick.  Nearly died.

My Mom was single, worked everyday and was climbing the corporate ladder to provide for her children. I don’t know of the daily troubles and drama she faced. She never talked about it.  I still don’t know. I don’t know how race and #metoo played a part in her day to day. I know now that they existed. She sought the help of Uncle Cleve and Andy (not sure why he never got the label Uncle) to help us and to help herself. On the surface they were nice men. One a teacher and the other I am not so sure what he did but I use to love when he would take my brother and I fishing. And most importantly they were a tremendous help to my mother.  One would fix things around the house and help with household errands. She needed the help. She had 2 children, worked full-time was terrified of what she heard about social services in America and them taking children away. So I get it. She needed help. And our Daddy wasn’t around. I actually thought he was dead. So they provided the necessary strength that she needed and a little a loving too.

But they also preyed on me.  For years.

Just last month Mama and I  talked about it for the first time.  She asked me what happened. I gave her specific and graphic details.  She fell silent and then said “ I don’t how or why they would have done that to you knowing that they could be put in jail…it just doesn’t seem….”  I interpreted this as denial. She still didn’t believe me.

And even though I am decades removed from the physical molestation her response still hurt. Today. And yet I have learned to give her the space to feel just how she feels. And love her still.

But I also give space to all the little girls who were touched by hardened hands; caressed before they knew what it was suppose to feel like, sucked on like the lollipops he would give them; entered by those who were not invited. May your healing be complete.

.2

I can still smell the odd sent of broken skin.  This is not how I imagined that this would happen.  I didn’t even imagine. At least not about that. I was 12 . Or 11.  I don’t really know. I have selective memory.

 

….soon come.  June-ish.