Friday, December 31, 2021

In the Stillness of a New Year Dawning

 I am an early riser.

It is quiet, it is serene, it is beautiful, it is hopeful to begin a new day while the rest of my house sleeps, most especially when everyone is on holiday and no one has to bustle anywhere. It is even sweeter when it is a weekday, when the calls of schedules and meetings, classes and assignments, bottom lines and budget projects, are not what takes up all the waking energy.

So I sit and absorb the stillness.

Contemplate and wonder about what will unfold.

Today, it is the Kwanzaa Principle of Kuumba, Creativity, that hopeful optimism of ones art being welcomed into the world just for the sake of its beauty, to celebrate a beautiful people who this year saw products beyond the IG and Etsy shops but in Target's Black Makerspace, in HBCU t-shirts being sold at mall department stores, at Black becoming mainstream. It is beautiful to behold, after the year,  years we've had with protest for our Black American humanity and the pandemic that hit Black and Brown communities the hardest, to see roses emerging from concrete.

I gazed out over the tapestry that was 2021 and wondered about it all. The Nap Ministry reminding me and others that just because we are good at something doesn't mean we need to grind it to death, to commodify our bodies, that just existing is beloved and worthy enough.  I followed crafters on IG who made me want to pull out color pens for my planners when in the end the writer in me just made lists for my day, not enhanced with my former scrapbooking days, but the possibility was there. I gazed back and smiled at all we overcame.

In these wanning hours of the last day of a year that began with so much and is ending in so much, I wanted to just pause, not so much with an agenda for this last day except trying to decide if we are doing my traditional Haitian Soup Joumou or African American black eyed peas and rise. I just want to be.

The morning gives me that quiet, to sip a latte made on my new espresso maker with the shot pulled just right, to sit amongst the company of writers whose books I eagerly purchased for my growing TBR pile, to listen to the movement of the house where I am sheltered, safe, and serene. 

Whatever unfolds in this day, in the beginnings of hope for a new year, I wish we will just be human.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Two More Weeks or So

 I think a lot in the early morning.

I woke up to the house still and a yearning to just muse.

I picked up my copy of The Strong Black Women: How a Myth Endangers the Physical and Mental Health of Black Women by Marita Golden and read the imagined thoughts of the late Fannie Lou Hamer. In it, she wrote about her body broken by the systems of hatred, racism, and sexism that sadly haven't gone away since her days organizing with SNCC.

Women have had a tough year.

Black women and women of the Global Majority have had a near impossible year.

So, I woke up thinking about them, us, me, this morning.

A bit of me is exhausted. Perhaps it is because I am an early riser and daylight savings time means nothing to me.

Maybe it is because my youngest son is bringing his girlfriend home for Christmas because Covid cancelled family plans back home for her, and my house is a wreck.

Ok, maybe wreck is too strong a word, but it is different when company comes.

Tired because I haven't wrapped a present yet or decorated or planned the menu or anything else that would probably have been in the works with the final days of Christmas a a week from today is Kwanzaa.

Two more weeks.

But what do I want to happen in two more weeks that will make a difference in my life and the lives of so many women at the cusp of a moment?

I want the mothers who lost children to gun violence to have presents to wrap and arms to hug, but that isn't so for so many.

I want young people in the last days before finals to not have to worry about a copycat nut threatening their school on Tik Tok.

I want to breathe.

For them to breathe.

To not be afraid of some sexistracisthomophobicguntotingmisognisticxenophobe to live out his fantasies and fears by imagining himself free like that pimplyfacedchubbymassmurdererwhogotawaywithit.

Or to not fall victim to the capitalist structure that considers human beings just cogs on the wheel and breakfast has changed for everyone.

To not have to get their magazine glorifying a Trillionaire - a word now in our possibilities - and a wannabe Trillionaire - who played with his phallyic symbolic dreams and shot up into space instead of paying people fairly or eradicating poverty or a deadly pandemic. 

I want promises to be kept to really Build it Back Better and not succumb to the whims of a OWM in a state that almost literally no one wants to go to.

I want Black women's dreams and Brown women's labor to not be appropriated and pit against each other.

I want to talk about books and reading and not have some man be afraid of words on paper.

Two more weeks, could that be possible in this time when lights twinkle and we see the endless movies promising joy and wonder, candy cane and hot cocoa, and all the world's problems solved in two hours.

We can hope.

We can dream.

Like so many of us who have shared it on IG or TikTok or subscribed to the need for our emotional, mental, spiritual, financial, and physical health as a priority. We have named what it is that is for the second holiday season. 

Perhaps that is the gift of this time of anticipation, if one follows the Advent season, this coming, this waiting, this hoping, this wondering, this looking to the stars for a sign.

Two more weeks.

Maybe the world really can change before the calendar turns.


Thursday, December 9, 2021

Slow Down

 I woke up this morning to snow.

Not the major snow my new state gave me last year, I'm still waiting for that sink-to-my-knees snow that blanketed the three acres around my house. 

What we have is just beautiful sun streaming down on just enough white fluffy stuff to make the trees glisten and the drive to my daughter's school this morning feel like a winter wonderland.

I wanted to just slow down, get out and take pictures.

She wanted to get to school.

So I made her roll down the window to capture some images, we were in a long car line, after all, what else was she going to do.

And I marveled.

It is a bright, crisp, clear day that is begging for us to notice her. To see her. Acknowledge her presence.

Mother Nature gives us moments like this.

The change of seasons looms ahead, it is still technically fall, and while the calendar has turned to December and upcoming thoughts of holiday gifts fill our to-do lists, it is still fall and a being.

Being present with how I am feeling, how you are feeling, for we are in this all together.

This thing called living in what looks like another holiday season marred by a pandemic that refuses to let us go until we learn the lesson they came to teach. So we must pause and notice the shifts and what they are doing to us.

It is what I did this morning when we were leaving for school. I paused. I noticed. I wanted to sit still

She told me on one of our drives the other day how she has noticed the change in her countenance when she did some slowing down. Her schedule is super hectic with senior year, college applications, cheer, cello, and just being a newly minted eighteen year old. She told me about the one thing she did to reclaim her space.

I listened attentively to how she moved one, for we have been in our new state for a year and her longing for what was once was preventing her from seeing what is in front of her. In acknowledging all that her previous life gave her, she gave it the honor it was due, the love it gave her and was able to close a door.

Flying back to her home state was not going to be something she would be doing this winter.

Laughing and enjoying her new place is in her future.

I thought of her when she said that and how we have these opportunities presented to us at every season, most noticeably during this holiday season.

Lifetime and Hallmark are giving us the non-stop sappy love conquers all hope of Christmas.

The towns around us are having lighting ceremonies and putting up decorations, choosing instead to appreciate what we are able to access and not what is missing.

Gifts of presence are being talked about more as shopping looks differently in malls. Communities like ones near me are hosting events featuring local artisans and shops, inviting us to slow down and notice what we may sometimes whip past on our rush through life.

This morning, we woke up to the first snow and we slowed down to look at her. She was giving us a glimpse of what it could be. And invited us to wonder.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Just Sit Down and Be Quiet

 In my mind's eye, I envision a table full of older Black women sipping coffee and talking about the socioculturalpolitical events of this near-year-end of 2021.

I envision them each pontificating about everything from the mask wearing,  vaccine denying, school protesting nimkumpoops who have swallowed up all our collective cultural air.

Would they hrumphf like I can imagine?

I think so.

They would remind us and regale us with stories of these same types of their younger days who are still around because they are still around.

"Chile, yt folks scared of their shadow," I can hear them saying in my mind's eye.

A fear brought about by the works of their own hands.

The ancient writing in the Holy Scriptures are coming back to me, you truly do reap what you sow.

And maybe that is what has them so petrified that the gun range down the street from me is popping off at all hours of the early morning. Their imagination is running wild and they can't catch it.

We need the elders in the room to step up and quiet down all this noise.

Can we snatch the broadcast rights of some cable news network that just had a Christmas tree light up outside their New York office?

Can someone put the poor scared sheltered boy back in his quiet bedroom so he can leave the rest of us alone, most especially the work of Black women journalists?

Can we just all tell them to collectively shut up and we ignore them so we can enjoy this holiday season?

That is what I can wish to happen.

Just like I wished back in 2007 and 2008 that people would pay attention to the coming tide of racial animus that I saw happening after a young Black man decided to run for office.

Or in 2013 when a Teenager was gunned down and the world erupted with the newly minted use of hashtags and social media.

Or in 2014 when another was gunned down and left to rot in the hot August sun.

All these years later and all this noises is still stoking fears of a boogeyman who has not made a run to to the suburbs to grab sallyanniesuejoan by anything.  

Their imagination running wild.

But there is a cost to being on the other side of this widespread hysteria.

And I just want to tell them to sit down and shut up.

I've taken to turning off the news and just reading excerpts or the highlights. I read major publications that give a balanced approach to what is happening. I've pretty much stopped my "pay attention" posts because no one really was thinking in the common good.

But what if we did?

Tune in? pay attention? ask why?

We know the underlying cause of power, greed, control.

But what if that kind does not have the final say?

In my readings of scripture, there is a passage written by the poet that calls on the Creator to avenge them, to see them, to hear their cry. The passage Carries the anguish of every frustrated emotion and wanting to do something.

Then, later in this same ancient library, there is a reminder that the one who holds up the universe is also the one who will repay. 

That reaping what you sow came back to me.

So as the holiday season has been with us since Turkey Day, I keep thinking of sowing smiles and air hugs, love in my masked presence, supporting small businesses, not crossing picket lines, and thinking of how I can sow love to a world that has forgotten what it was like to not be on hyper alert all the time.

I am not an elder elder yet.

But I have lived some years and have a little bit of wisdom.

My daddy told me to do good and good would follow me.So that is what I'm going to do.

And secretly in my older lady mind if I can project forward myself another twenty or thirty years when I really earn the title of elder and some young'ins or not so young'ins start spouting off with this divisive nonsense again, I can tell them to just go Sit down and be quiet, they need a time out. 

And maybe pick up a book and learn something. 

In the meantime, I'm just going to go on and drink my coffee and make out my holiday list.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Assignment Complete

 My last child turned 18 on December 1st.

The days leading up to her celebration threw me into moments of nostalgia and memory, memories that I theatrically regaled her with every afternoon that I picked her up.  Right up to the day before her big day and she stopped me when I was going to tell her, yet again, about the day of her birth.

"Mama, can you save that one for tomorrow?"

At first I was taken aback. 

It is my one and only time of year for all my children to tell the story of how they came to enter the world on the day they entered. 

But this one wanted me to save it.

As I drove to the store for an item for her weekend gathering of friends, I thought about what she was and was not saying.

Maybe she wanted me to cherish it more, to really ponder what happened over the past eighteen years.

Maybe she was tired of hearing about it, complete with tales of her almost exact-to-the-minute gender-unknown birthday twin born next door at the same hospital by the same doctor. 

Maybe it was time for me to recognize something.

It was her dawning on a new identity, that of newly minted adult (well, in Western America, but in this Afrodiasporan America, she is still in our home, on our dime, and therefore, an emerging adult until she hits twenty-one like her big sister, but I digress...) and she wanted me to put on a new identity as well, that as mom of all adult children.

She was telling me not only did I understand the assignment, but that I completed it.

I'm finished.

I've reached that time when I was a much younger mom in my twenties, long before social media and computers made things move much faster, when eighteen seemed forever. I thought I would never be finished with rising at 5am to get me and two sons ready for the 6am bus to the train to get them dropped off at daycare to turn around and take the train to my job that I had to be at by 8:30am, so thoroughly exhausted before I even plucked the keyboard. I thought the job of raising kids would never end.

My life took many twists and turns from the days of being a young, twenty-something divorced professional in a Midwestern big city without family and two souls I had to be responsible for.

When I look at my children now, I can't imagine them having to have all these grown up responsibilities and thee weight of the world on their shoulders before they were even twenty-eight.

So, in sitting in my car at the light, thinking about what my youngest, wise daughter was telling me, I smiled.

My assignment was complete.

I made it.

They made it.

My children are alive and well, thriving, I even have two grandsons.

I'm not old and not ancient and not even finished yet.

I'm just beginning.

This identity gets to shift, to nuance, to become something different.

Now, my last one is still a senior in high school, so I'm not washing my hands of her. She still needs our presence and guidance through the college acceptance process. We still pay her bills and unlike me at eighteen, she is still living at home, secure and protected. So, we are still parenting.

But parenting looks different now.

They are all equipped and she was letting me know that. Perhaps has been for a year now, every since she started driving herself to afternoon lessons and hanging out. She is not afraid of the winding Connecticut roads in this still-very-new state to us. She said she liked going to the store and running her own errands. 

She felt empowered.

And that is what I wanted for each of them.

To be confident and assured and secure and empowered.

I can never guarantee for any of them that they will not encounter obstacles, the oldest two, both in their early thirties, have attested to that. But I guaranteed them that I would center their lives while I was raising and teaching and guiding them, that I would give them my all so they could be all they were imagined to be.

My youngest was subtly letting me know that she needed me but didn't need me, that she understood all the teaches and watched her older siblings. She absorbed all that was happening around her. 

And she was ok.

I looked at this young woman and marveled at her.

I wanted to reach through time to hold her little hand and hear her bubbly laughter and watch that twinkle in her eye and freeze frame it so that I could hold it in my heart for a moment longer.

But she was telling me something a bit different.

She was telling me that she was ready. That I can dream a bit differently now. I can be a new me.

My youngest daughter turned eighteen on the first.

And I became the mom of adults.

Five adults are alive and thriving and well. 

So I sat at the next light as she looked over at me and smiled.

It was as if she was silently congratulating me.

I completed my assignment.

And now it is my time to dream differently for the next lifetime.