Difficult Decisions of a Mother

My most cherished position in life has always been motherhood. Once I became a mother, I prayed for wisdom, especially with regards to making the best decisions for my children. Never did I imagine soon after giving birth to my second daughter that I’d be faced with the toughest decision of my life thus far. My baby girl was only a few weeks old when I experienced one of the most tragic events of my life. I ran to my mother’s house for help and to my surprise, she slammed the door in my face. Alone and afraid to leave my apartment for days, I sank into a deep paralyzing depression. Unable to move from my couch, I sat watching my two year old desperately trying to care for her baby sister. Making bottles along with changing her diaper leaving trails of formula and poop, yet doing the very best she could. Then one night I looked over at them both as tears streamed down my face thinking this was not fair to either of them. I needed to do something.

One particular evening ended in tragedy when my neighbor, who was also the property manager of my complex was shot in the head just outside our doorway. I knew anytime I saw the bald man with the blood-shot eyes who was always drenched in sweat and wreaked of alcohol, there would be trouble. I ran to my neighbor’s aid, but instantly knew there was nothing I could do to save him. The bullet fom the .22 caliber handgun had caused extensive damage. I held his head with my right hand as he gasped for air, while holding his hand with my left. Looking towards his front door, witnessing fear in the eyes of his wife and children, I asked him to squeeze my hand if he could hear me. Although he was breathing uncontrollably, there was no response which I secretly suspected there wouldn’t be due to a large portion of his brain literally spilling into my hand as he took his final breath.

I knew exactly who this bald sweaty individual was. We’d had several encounter’s since I’d moved to the area. At every oppertunity he’d harass me in an attempt at trying to convince me to go out with him. I also knew what kind of gun he carried since he’d pulled it on me before so I didn’t hesitate when police asked for witness statements. Unfortunately it wasn’t long before notes of bomb threats were being left at my door. Attempts were made to run my daughter and I down with their cars while walking in the neighborhood. Threatening phone calls and then one day while outside on my lunch break, the brother of the suspect put a gun in my back warning me that I better not testify. Obviously there’s much more to this entire experience. Being alone and afraid, not knowing who to turn to or who I could trust spiraled me into a depression. Eventually the D.A. on the case made sure we were safe. The trial went on for seven years causing us to basically go into hiding, changing our lives dramatically. I didn’t realize I was experiencing depression. I simply thought I was being a bad mother and had done something wrong knowing that my infant daughter deserved the attention I was unable to force myself to give her, ultimately resulting in putting her up for adoption. A decision I truely felt was the best for her at that time.

My baby girl is twenty-nine now and after all these years I still question weather or not I made the right decision eventhough she has told me she understands. Never really having anyone to talk to about it, I simply kept everything inside and would keep a journal of my thoughts in hopes of one day giving it to her. There were times I was so angry and blamed my mother, asking myself why didn’t she ever once ask was I sure of my decision or even at least try to talk me out of it. I realize my choice wasn’t her fault, I only wanted some form of support. Then there were times in later years where my eldest daughter and I struggled. I’d question if I should’ve given her up as well so that she may have a better life. Their dad was away in the Navy and had no idea what I’d been through. Although we were never an actual couple, we were fairly close until he began struggling with his own depression. I often wondered what he would think or feel about a decision “I” had made without consulting him first. In 1997 I had a son. I only ever wanted a boy beacause I “thought” a boy would be easier to raise. As happy as I was to finally have my son, I was also overwhelmed with guilt. How dare I have another kid after giving one up. One thing I was sure about was not having anymore children so I took the necessary precautions to ensure I wouldn’t.

For quite some time when people would ask how many kids I have, my answer was two, until my first born grew older and asked why I never count her sister. It sounds silly now, but I didn’t believe I had the right to since legally she belonged to another family. There was also the issue of an explanation expected of where the third child was if/when I did count her. Besides, when people would ask, regardless of the circumstances that led to my decision, I soon began to feel there is no reason worthy of such a difficult decision as giving up my child. Young and ignorant, all I knew to do was pray for forgiveness. I had to forgive myself, I prayed that my two children with me would forgive me for seperating them from their sister. I also prayed that my baby girl would one day forgive me while knowing in her heart, I love her and did what I believe was best at the time. Eventually, I was able to finally forgive myself. There have been several accounts in my life where I had to let go and forgive, lifting such a heavy burden. My hope is that my baby girl will be able to forgive me, not for me but for her. I don’t want her to carry that extra weight on her heart. Mark 11:25 says, “if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you…”.

Note: (not sure why the option for caption didn’t appear this time) The above image is a an article from People Magazine (Pg.36 1/1/93) of my baby girl and my great aunt (sister of my mother’s mom who I never met due to her early death, also the reason my mother went to live with my great aunt as a child), as guest at Clinton’s inauguration. She was his nanny, the role of many black women in the south. Her influence on his up-bringing was apparently significant in his life because they stayed in contact. He’d visit on occassion for some of his favorite meals she cooked for him growing up, even attending her funeral from what I’ve been told. This article was sent to me anonymously although I have a good idea of who it was. When I finally got the courage to inquire about it, years later, I found out that my mother actually went to school with former President Bill Clinton and sometimes played together. For my mother, ignorance is bliss. When I asked why she never mentioned that she knew Clinton, she responded very non-chalant that it was no big deal, he was just another kid that was around, yet describing his personality and character vividly in such a positive light. One of many reasons I became motivated in learning my family history and tracing my ancestors, we simply never know what beautiful truths will be discovered.

Social Disintegration of Society (In the Present) Through the Eyes of Emile Durkheim

One of the founders of Sociology

According to “Ritzer’s” Introduction of Sociology, Durkheim believed that the educational system should provide individuals with training for life in a broader society. He taught sociology of morality in hopes of the moral system being passed on to young people. His perspective was that society is held together by mechanical solidarity (a social/moral consensus). The subject of morality was his main focus of study. “Each society is unique, with it’s own needs and norms”. People go about their daily lives probably without giving much thought to how or why human beings operate the way we do. Some may assume that society maintains order and stability because we have laws that govern our actions. Yet there are those who break the law even while being completely aware of the consequences. So what is the “glue” that holds society together? Durkheim calls it the “Core Value System”. There are indicators we experience through generations that aid in the breakdown of the CVS. Although this system does exist, society as a whole is disintegrating because our ties to the CVS gradually weaken as time passes. The following, (not in any particular order) in my opinion are some examples that contribute to the breakdown of society.

  1. Addiction: The forefront of social distruction. Because addiction comes in many forms, the aftermath is endless. Aside from the obvious drug and alcohol abuse which ultimately leads to crime as well as serious health issues, people are also addicted to food and gambling just to name a few behavoirs resulting in the dysfunction of society. A theif who feels they don’t need to pay for goods causes prices and taxes to increase for consumers who don’t steal so the corporation is going to take every opportunity to recover at least a portion if not all of the financial loss.
  2. Jealousy/Envy: People have a tendency to do unjust things when feeling jealous or envious of others. Often we go into a zone causing emotional rage which leads to making harmful decisions. Next comes our actions that can be harmful to ourselves and those around us, leading to a chain reaction of dysfunction ( I’ve experienced this on a few occasions with who I thought were “friends”).
  3. Family Foundations: There are those who unfortunately for various reasons don’t start their lives with a solid foundation. Those foundations begin with family. Many families are very dysfunctional. Some menbers experience neglect or abuse. The abuse can range from sexual, physical and sometimes verbal. If all a child hears is negativity or put downs, that child will most likely began to think negatively about themselves and behave in a similar fashion. Children mock what they see and hear; therefore the cycle continues over the generations. It’s unfortunate that many families don’t even sit down for dinner together to communicate and build, causing yet another breakdown beginning at an early age.
  4. Fear: Fear exists in many forms. To experience fear is not only being afraid of a “monster” (spouse, police, parent, etc.) but the circumstances and situations that cause inner fear. A form of anxiety perhaps, which can come from uncertainties such as when people are not quite sure what is expected of them by society. Sociologists refer to this as anomie, relating the concept to the main cause of suicide. The feeling of being adrift in society with out any clear or secure mooring. This form of fear is much more intense when it comes by way of family or peers. Feeling as though you don’t fit in or belong can be a fear that again causes one to make bad choices eventually contributing to a breakdown. Low self-esteem as a result of this can begin a chain reaction to a host of other issues making it difficult to contribute anything good to society.
  5. Greed: An indicator that is often not acknowledged. No one wants to be labeled or viewed as a greedy person. Secretly there are those who want everything all to themselves. The problem is, those individuals don’t want to put in the time and work to earn the prize. People who constantly take from society without offering anything in return usually don’t recognize how their actions affect society as a whole.
  6. Lack of Leadership Skills: There are those who are followers. For various reasons unable to choose not to make their own decisions. Instead they go along with the crowd (normally friends or the majority), ignoring their conscience telling them not to do what they’re thinking. Not having leadership skills shows that a person is not thinking or using their own mind. The mind is powerful and when we don’t exercise it in the right way it begins to not function properly.
  7. Pessimism: Attitude is everything, especially a negative one. It can make or break a business or home. Many people walk around mad at the world taking their problems and issues out on others instaed of owning up and taking accountability for their part in the destruction that occured. As human beings most people don’t want to be in the company of those who continue to think negatively or have sour attitudes. As the saying goes, “it only takes one bad apple to spoil the whole bunch”. As far as society goes, this form of negativity causes friction, breaking down society a little at a time.
  8. Racism/Prejudice: Which there are many forms. Not generally speaking “black and white”, the reality is that everyone has experienced this to some degree. For instance, skateborders don’t care for bikers. Nerds have their issues with jocks. While this behavoir does not directly contribute to the breakdown of society, it most certainly causes a gap in unity. Even with Democrats verses Republicans , many things in these times are indeed political: however, we still have to live on this earth together as a unit for survival. Unfortunately, segregation still exists in one way or another.

Would love to hear any brief ideas on this. My goal is to live in harmony and embrace one another!! Thanks for stopping by!!

Moment in Time

Crawfords Barn (Tiber Dr. /Folsom Blvd Sacramento, Ca.)
My brother & I in one of our Easter outfits!
Looking back over the years in refference to crime, it seemed as though criminal activity changed with the decade. At least according to what was choosen to be shared through news media, it appeared that way. Even though various crimes have always occured, the attention of a particular crime, as I recall, has always been highlighted or for some reason stood out more than others to me. There was a period of endless bank robberies at one moment in time, then the focus became child abduction/rape leading to serial killings becoming top stories. Which is one crime spree I recall all to well. As if Jeffrey Dahmer wasn't disturbing enough, there was a personal connection to Dorthea Puente. Let's not forgoet the lives lost during the terrorist attacks; yet through all this there was/is the "war on drugs" which also meant gang violence. Now, sadly we're experiencing the moment in time when police brutality and shooting people of color are constant top stories. With all the violence and distruction in the world somehow children back in my day still managed to have the luxery of roaming free in the neighborhood playing until dusk. Doors didn't have to be locked nor were outdoor camera's for our homes a necessity as they are now.

I miss that moment in time when kids could simply be kids without the concern of danger in the world. Although I wasn't allowed to get out as much as my younger brother, when I did, I enjoyed our adventures. On Halloween we would walk for hours to trick-or-treat. The best part was living in neighborhiiods that gave out dollar bills and full size candy bars. Being a tomboy, I often tried to follow my brother and his friends. He'd ride his bike across town. Regardless of momma's threats of taking a switch to him, he'd still return home after the street lights came on. To this day, I laugh while looking at the scar on my knee from the time he set me up. In an attempt to hop on my bike and follow him one day, he loosened all the boltsn on my huffy. Just as I hopped and began peddling, the entire bike fell apart causing me to crash resulting in scraping a nice chunk of skin from my knee. 

During my 5th grade year we lived downtown Sacramento near the State Capitol building. My mother had practically turned saling Avon products into a career. I would usually make deliveries for her and one of her regular customers was the notorious Dorthea Puente. Of course then as kids I assumed she was a harmless old lady. I was never comfortable around old people anyway, so I'd knock, practically tossing her the goods that were paid for in advance in an attempt to be on my way. I can never forget the foul odor that escaped the door when she would answer. Once I got a bit older and the media revealed her crimes, I couldn't help but think about all the times she had offered me cookies. Now thankful that I never ate one, also the main reason I rarely eat other people's food in general. Besides, as a kid I enjoyed eating from the blacberry vines, pomagranted and orange trees that used to grow in the neighborhood. She would also pay my brother to help her with what she called "yard work", which as it turns out was where she was burrying the bodies after dark. He didn't mind because it was candy money for him. One of my fondest memmories was Crawfords Barn. A beautiful park with a full playground and garden scenery tucked away in the neighborhood just a block from our house. Lots of trees, grass and hills to roll down with a huge barn that sits in the corner.

Crawfords Barn was a popular venue for weddings. As children there would be a ceremony about twice a month. Whenever my brother and I got wind of a wedding taking place, (usually by simply playing in the park watching them decorate the barn and the caterer's setting up) we'd run home, clean ourselves up a little and throw on our Easter clothes. Often sitting quietly in the back while witnessing the couple's exchange vows, anxiously awaiting the reception or what we called the "party" time of the wedding. We must have attended a dozen ceremonies. We danced with strangers, ate cake (the only reason my brother had fun) never saying much and not once did anyone EVER question why or what the only two little chocolate people were doing there. Kids today would not be able to fet away with that. We had such a great time at those weddings that when the time came for me to get married many moons later, I tried to reserve a date, but apparently it's still very popular because they were booked for afull year in advance. My how times have changed. I sure do miss the good 'ol days! 


Limitless Peaks

My soul cries out yearning for the better me, I know I'm capable of being what I was set on this earth to be.

A successful intelligent being overcoming all my misfortunes, at times I feel trapped inside a fire that's scorching.

Faced with adversity my mission is triumph, resilence is an attribute my ancestors passed on.

The true "bend but never break" motto, staying focused and moving forward as I reach for success! The goal is to achieve my ultimate best!

With my spiritual balance in tact, I approach each obstacle with optimism, although the journey's been rough I'm thankful for my religion.

Never forgetting all the lessons I've learned along the way, I use them to my advantage, the reason I'm strong today.

Appreciative to all who've been placed in my path, with positive insight and knowledge to grasp.

Life's experiences have taught me that choices bring about change, from a child to a grown woman I've rid myself of all blame.

In knowing that my decisions will ultimately determine my fate, I must always stay mindful of each move that I make.

So if success is what my objective is, then success I shall reach, for true prosperity comes to those with limitless peaks!

In The Presence Of An Angel

Photo by Tobias Bju00f8rkli on Pexels.com

As a single mother I often felt guilty wondering if I was neglecting my children by working so much. Looking back, I some how managed to always have the weekends off and fortunate enough to keep a schedule during their school hours which meant having dinner together every evening as a family. Once my oldest became a freshman in high school she was enthusiastic about being envolved with extra curricular activities, in addition to advanced prep classes keeping her extremely busy resulting in many days of making it home as the sun began to set.

We were living in a tiny suburb of Sacramento, California known as North Highlands. Our apartment was just off Watt Avenue, a main street that stretched over several areas of Sacramento. From our upstairs living room window there was a clear view across a neglected dry field of chest high weeds along with the bus stop where I could usually narrow the time within minutes to watch for my daughter on her way in. It had become a habit for residents to travel the short-cut through the field for quick access to the bus route as well as the small shopping center on the opposite side. One evening I noticed my daughter had been more than an hour late. She was in leadership and decided to run for class president, which kept her longer than usual. I paced to and from our window looking out and then towards the landline phone waiting for it to ring for some form of communication from her. As hard as I’d try not to, worry was inevitable.

Not everyday but on occasion, I noticed a gentleman tucked away in the far corner of the field as if he was hiding in the high brush. Being the protective mother I am, (and at times a bit nosey) I decided to go get a good look at him and see what he was doing back there. I pretended to search around as if I’d lost something previously all while attempting to get a glance at the stranger. To my surprise, he had also been watching me. He was attempting to cool himself and his dog with a bucket of water. He looked up and said hello, asking how my day was with a huge smile on his face. Caught off guard by his charming demeanor, I smiled back and responded that it had been a great day! Apologizing for not intending to interupt him, as I explained I was simply looking for something I may have lost. He chuckled (as if he knew I told a lie) then introduced himself and his dog. His name was Cecil ( never could recall the dog’s name). Cecil seemed nice, there wasn’t anything scary about him that stood out. His shirt was off and I noticed his skin was red and peeling from sunburn. It wasn’t quite summer yet, but it’s not unusual for random days in a row of tripple digit heat in Sacramento. Something about the look in his eyes prompted me to ask if he’d like to bring his dog so they could take a dip in the pool. He declined the offer for the poool, but eagerly accepted my offer of a home cooked meal.

My daughter won, becoming class president actually holding a leadership position all four years of high school. During her first term with the extra responsabilities, arriving home after dark became more frequent. Although I was now aware of what was keeping her and didn’t worry as much, I still paced, watching out the window for her to exit the bus. One particular evening I heard screaming coming from the direction of the field. I didn’t know yet that it wasn’t my daughter. I grabbed my bat and ran over only to find it was one of the two young men sceaming after harassing my daughter and attempting to rob her. Thankfully, they were unsucessful due to the heroics of Cecil and his dog fighting them off. Again, I was crying and wanted to kill, until I looked over at my daughter checking to make sure she was not harmed and noticed from the look in her eyes, it seemed as though she was not phased by what had occured. To show my thanks, I invited Cecil up for a meal and hoping to become more aquainted. I offered him the use of my shower, money, whatever I thought he may need. All of which he declined. I was confused, clearly he was homeless and needed help.

When I had my first encounter meeting Cecil, I told my children about him so they would be cautious and aware that he was there. What they didn’t tell me, was that they already knew. They had been sneaking him food and water randomly for months. I was curious as to why they suddenly began to volunteer to take the trash out. In turn, Cecil also knew they were my children. He had been watching us come and go. When I asked them why they never told me about him, it was because they were well aware of my distrust towards people. Which to them meant a lecture would follow warning them to stay away from him and that because he seemed nice, didn’t necessarily mean he was. They also thought they would get into trouble had I known they were sneaking him food. Now the chuckle he gave me when I initially introduced myself made sense and also why he eagerly accepted the food, he’d already sampled my cooking. Cecil was one reason my daughter was never afraid walking through the field at night. I’d only see Cecil on occasion mainly due to me rarely going out after dark. I later learned through conversation with him that during the day he’d move around getting his exercise and would return to his spot in the field evryday just before dusk. My children had developed a friendship with him and his dog. My daughter explained to me there was no reason for her to be fearful when she knew she was being looked after. She reminded me that not only is God always with her, but also knowing mom is starring out the window watching and listening and she knew Cecil was always there. Wow! All I could do was hug them both and shed joyful tears of relief.

Eventually we moved from that area. However, I never forgot about Cecil. I kept him in my prayers and every now and then I’d go back to that same block searching often fortunate in finding and visiting with him. This went on for a few years. He was looking healthier everytime we visited. Not wanting to intrude on his privacy again, but I was curious and had to ask how he ended up in this situation. I was in awe when I learned there was no “situation”. He’d choosen to be on the streets. He never took any money from me because he didn’t need it. Cecil owned a home in Elk Grove, a very lucrative suburb of Sacramento. His son had been living in it to keep an eye on things while Cecil took some time “away from the world” were his words. Between his business and family tragedies, he simply desperately wanted a break from reality. All he “needed”, he said was his dog. At some point I could no longer find Cecil, I thought the worst. Thankfully, one day while searching for him I came across another gentleman aware of our bond. He informed me that after Cecil’s dog died, he decided to return home and that he is doing well. I never thought to ask his last name so I have no way to locate him now. Never imagining that I’d experience homelessness, I’m thankful that I didn’t judge him. I believe we cross paths with people for a reason and my lesson in this is that it is wise to always be kind to others because you never know when you’re in the presence of an angel!

Funny fact: So, I love imagery which is why I desperately tried all week to get an actual image of the field. After finally locating the spot, finding the icon for an “aerial” view (which I know I’ve done before), I then had to figure out how to turn the image to get what I wanted. Finally I did it, but some how when i save it to my PC, it was only a red dot image. Not sur what the hell happened, so I’ll be practicing that this week, hahaha!

My Blogging Journey

I decided years ago to no longer allow myself to be overcome by fear. My eleven year old grandson has always encouraged me to not only embrace, but also utilize the world of technology which I’d intentionally made every effort to avoid (including cell phones). After seeing my progress since launching my blog on March 28th this year, I was overjoyed when I recieved a notification last week informing me that I’d reacched over five hundred all-time views. While pleased; the excitement isn’t due to views, likes, or followers, it’s because I was able to break down yet another barrier preventing me from moving forward with my goals. It wasn’t my writing that was a concern. Of course I pray and hope that readers will enjoy my work, gain insight by becoming encouraged as well as inspired. The concern was/is my constant struggle with the ability to not only focus but also lack of memory due to epileptic seizures. Learning new concepts that are seemingly basic for many, have proven to be a challenge for me.

I vowed that once I moved into my new apartment in March of 2020 that I would immediately start on my book, paying homage to my mother who I now know has suffered with mental health throughout her life but has never officially been diagnosed. That project came to a sudden halt while research led me to once again question whether or not she is my biological mother. Writing has been therapeutic for me since childhood but even with my daily journal entries, something was missing. As a motivational speaker, I’m always surprised after an event when I’m approached with tears of appreciation because someone was able to relate, shared a sililar experince or simply encouraged by my story. Due to the pandemic, speaking engagements were postponed. Something inside forced me to strongly consider another platform as a way of reaching out and sharing. I attempted blogging during my period of homelessness, but couldn’t afford the time nor effort required especially using a public library computer. So, I finally made the decision to purchase a PC which was a challenge in itself, order some “for dummies” books and get started.

Instantly I was overwhelmed by trying to figure out which was the right computer to purchase. Scrolling through my laptop, I had no clue what the difference was between an “all-in-one” as opposed to the desktops that came with a tower. The images shown were confusing because eventhough it said “all-in-one” there were no keyboards in the images leading me to believe I’d end up spending more money having to buy each individual piece (actually I’m not sure what I was thinking,lol). Thankfully the OfficeMax employee simplified the process and soon I had my computer. Along with that meant a desk and work chair I found for a little of nothing, assembling both by myself. Boom! Now I have a tiny yet sufficient office space, but it’s not time to get to work just yet.

I spent close to a month researching about the world of blogging. I’d heard about it, but didn’t know any details or specifics as to how it’s done. So I began reading. Blogging, Windows 10 and so on “for dummies”. I’ve always had trouble retaining the information I read and I learn best hands-on by simply jumping in and doing it. Once I found a hosting site I like,(after experimenting with a few) then came set up, design, etc. I’ll admit, I did reach a point where I was completely stuck and sought help but soon realized there was so much more I needed to do. My G-son, who was out of the state by now; reminded me as he had on numerous occasions, Youtube has tutorials to teach you practically anything. Still becoming refamilliar with basic functions of the computer like downloading, copy/paste, installing apps, etc I was a bit intimidated with using the computer until he informed me that I didn’t need to use my new PC because I have a “smart” T.V. How? Confused again, what the hell is a “smart” T.V.? That sounded a bit scary. He’d already set it up and programmed the features he knew I would utilize before he left the state. He even went as far as creating a playlist with my favorite songs knowing how I love music while cleaning. Wow, apparently I had everything I needed. Time to start blogging!

Although I have dozens of journals from over the years, filled with material to keep up my blog, for now I’m only posting once a week until I become more familiar with navigating through the site. I spend the week re-writing and structuring those journals in hopes of a smoother read for my audience. I stay mindful of not overwhelming myself posting too often then not being able to keep a set schedule resulting in disappointing those anxiously awaiting my next post. So I ask, please be patient with me, I’m working on it as I take pride in everything I do. Every week when I post, I notice and learn a new features of the site like the ability to translate work in other languages from various regions into english. I am excited by this discovery especially after meeting and hearing the poet Ziaeddin Torabi’s work translated in his native language of farsi. It was a beautiful experience, that initially sparked my interest in works from around the world.

I’m excited about this journey! Writing has always aided in my self care. It’s as if every word that reaches the paper allows me to take back the power that those who trespassed against me attempted to rob me of. Building community and sharing stories as well as experiences with others has been a true blessing. Regardless of where this journey leads me, I am proud of my growth in every aspect of my life. I CAN ONLY FAIL WHEN I DON’T TRY! My experiences are not only for me, but hopefully others as well. I am thankful and appreciate my new blogging family and all of you who have personally reached out to me.

Close to Loosing my Freedom

The year of 1996 I returned to California, excited for a fresh start. Almost immediately after moving into a beautiful new apartment in a quiet neighborhood, I began working. There were several relatives currently residing in the complex. One of which was my brother. Due to my qualifications, it wasn’t long before being offered an opportunity for advancement. Which also meant longer hours. My daughter was in second grade and I was carrying my third chid. For the most part, she’d been a latch-key kid. My job was close so she could come see me at any time and in case of an emergency my brother along with other relatives were close by. Soon, the majority of the complex, including management (a previous co-worker of mine), maintenance as well as surrounding neighbors became like family. We’d barbeque together, watch each other’s children in the pool, laugh and celebrate holidays. Life was great during this time. I was happy. I’m still friends with many of those folks now. It never fails that whenever we talk, the topic comes up regarding that dreadful day that I came close to loosing my freedom, yet again.

Once I began earning more money, I eventually upgraded to a larger apartment on the opposite side of the complex. We’d need the extra space with the baby on his way. Before that time though, Rebecca had lived about twenty feet away. She too was a single mother of a daughter the same age as my own. We didn’t see each other much or talk often, mainly due to my work schedule. She was a stay at home mom. Ocassionally though her daughter would come over to play. The girls would bake cookies and have slumber parties. Rebecca was a nice enough person, however a bit odd. My only issue was that I didn’t agree with the demeaning manner and angry tone in which she spoke to her daughter. Such constant negativity I suspect was the reason for her daughter’s constant tantrums and crying over every small issue. Therefore, also being the reason I’d invite her to hang out when I wasn’t working, in hopes of providing an oppertunity to experience a positive, joyful enviornment.

One day after returning home from work, my daughter and other neighbors (who by now were well aware of my temper when it comes to my children) were hesitant in explaining to me how Rebecca had yanked my daughter by her shirt collar earlier in the day, cussing at her and calling her out of her name. Instantly, I became infuriated yet somehow managed to stay calm, at least for the moment. I went over the next morning to ask Rebecca to please come over for coffee so we could discuss what happened. My thought was perhaps she may be struggling with something or simply overwhelmed as a single mother. She didn’t socialize much with everyone else. I rarely saw anyone coming to visit. It was a great time in my life and as I’d reflect on previous occasions where I wished I’d handled the situation better, I tried my best to be rational by offering my support. To my surprise, she accepted the invitation. I didn’t want to resort to the inner me. For once, I was trying a different approach. I began the conversation by asking if she was ok or if she needed anything before informing her that I’d heard about the incident with my daughter. She remained calm which was surprising since I wasn’t sure what to expect. I explained to her that if there’s ever a future issue involving my child, to please come to me. I assured her that if necessary, she’d be punished in a way that I saw fit. However, I would not allow her to put her hands on my child in any form nor talk to her in the way she does with her own child. I further explained that although I don’t agree with her parenting skills, it’s not my place to judge. Tears began to race down my cheeks as I begged her while also warning her of the consequences. Since the day back in high school when I decided I’d no longer be anyone’s victim, practicing restraint has always been a huge challenge for me, especially while still battling such intense instances of fear. From the look in Rebecca’s eyes, I was confident she received the message loud and clear.

Almost two weeks later, it was obvious she hadn’t. Apparently the girls had another altercation where they’d been bickering over “Monster Eye Straws’ sold at taco bell. Rebecca’s daughter saw my daughter drinking from one and swore it was hers. What’s ironic is I’d always take on seasonal or part-time work right before the holidays so that Christmas wouldn’t be such a strain. This time, that job happened to be at taco bell. That being said, my daughter already had the complete set of the damn straws before they started being sold. When my daughter explained to me how she’d been yanked around like a lifeless puppy by Rebecca grabbing hold of her coat and screaming at her, I snapped. Quickly making me way to Rebecca’s apartment, I nearly broke my toe in an attempt at kicking in her door. My daughter ran to find my brother or anyone who could stop whatever was about to transpire(My baby girl knew me better than I knew myself).

I was unsuccessful at gaining entry to her apartment. Now even more enraged, I found myself pacing by the entry-way when I saw Rebecca approaching from the otherside of the steel gate that seperated us. My daughter and others warned her not to open the gate, but when she did, I instantly grabbed hold of her hair throwing her to the ground with my hands finding their way around her neck as I began choking her. I don’t recall how long this went on. At some point I must’ve blacked out. The voices were muffled, all except my daughter who kept screaming “momma stop, she’s turning colors!” I finally snapped out of it, looking up at my baby girl with confusion, then back down at rebecca realizing she was no longer breathing. Thankfully due to my training in the medical field, I was able to perform CPR. Once she regained consciousness , I sat holding her expecting the police to arrive any second, but they never did. back then I was clueless to the “hood” or what’s known as the rules of the “streets”, which were to NEVER involve the police.

While that event was tragic in itself, it also effected me as well as my daughter. I was angry for allowing myself to once again become so enraged. I had warned Rebecca because I had learned years before when I was holding my daughter as an infant shielding her while being jumped by five guys, that I would do whatever was necessary to protect her. I don’t ever “want” to hurt anyone, but after all I’ve endured, I wasn’t going to let anyone hurt me ever again and especially not my children. It took some years for me to learn how not to respond with violence. One main reason leading to that choice is after years of watching “mom” in an angry rage, my children came to a point where they feared it would eventually cost me my freedom or worse so they stopped telling me when they had a problem. I didn’t want them to ever be afraid to share anything with me, so I worked hard at changing by fighting my fears of the “what if’s” and I’m thankful for yet another lesson from my children and how they’ve helped to save my life. I had an aunt who would always say “Tammy, you can’t keep running up in people houses to beat they ass.” For years I didn’t understand. My mindset was, if that’s where they’re at, I’m ’bout to go get ’em. I was ignorant to the legal aspect of my actions, nor realizing the elders were speaking from experience.

Message: This was not at all a proud moment, nor the person I want to be. I shared this because I still cry and dream about that day and how It could’ve changed not only me and my kids’ lives, but also Rebecca’s daughter. I’ve made many mistakes, but I continue to learn from them and not repeat them. I am proud of my growth and even at my age, I’m still, (as Michelle Obama says) Becoming!

My Back Against the Wall

My daughter, my cherub (top right w/ the huge smile)

My first explicated lesson on faith came twenty-seven years ago from my then four year old daughter. Although I grew up attending various churches, the concept of spirituality was never explained in ways I was able to comprehend. It sounds silly now, but as a child I thought only blacks could be baptist and only whites could be christian. As for Jehovah’s witnesses and the Kindom Hall, that was simply a mystery. Eventhough at that particular point in time I’d never taken my daughter to church, the look in her eyes along with the passionate tone of her voice sparked my curiosity which led me to focus in and listen. She told me that God has boxes in the sky with everyone’s name on them and in those boxes held evrything we “need” (not want) throughout our lives. All we had to do is talk to Him, letting him know what we “need” by praying. She then showed me how to pray. Needless to say, the next day we were blessed with food, a refrigerator and stove for our new home. (This experience with her was the motivation behind The Blind Beautiful Faith of a Child one of my short stories featured in the publication above).

Still uncertain of what transpired, that intimate moment with my child has always stayed with me. I learned of course that God doesn’t exactly answer our prayers in the way we may hope or invision. Nor at the moment we want him to as opposed to within His own time. As I watched my daughter grow into her teen years and now a woman, I’ve always admired the nature in which she would handle certain situations. Perhaps a schoolmate who wronged her, yet ultimately she’d reign supreme. Once there was an accident where the car she was in had literally been folded in half and she survived without injury. Whenever I’d get angry attempting to seek revenge on whoever would try to harm her, she’d say to me “it’s not necessary momma, my faith is strong and He’s always with me”. I would gaze back at her in confusion. Not that I ever denied the concept of faith, I simply didn’t understand. Over the years of observing how things seemingly always worked in her favor, I finally became a believer when I’d reached a point when I felt I had no other options. Having no true friends or family for support along with health issues amongst other unfortunate events, I felt like giving up. That however was definately NOT an option! The relationship between my children and I had become strained. With my back against the wall, all I had left was faith, for the sake of us all.

A short while after receiving a felony conviction, followed by an onset of sudden seizures without explination, I also found myself without a home of my own for the next four years. Bouncing from couch to floors in the homes of various individuals who were more so my children’s friends, I began to notice the strain on them. They were worried about my health, wanting to please me while at the same time trying to keep the peace within their friendships. I was afraid of venturing off on my own, but realized I had to distance myself in an effort to no longer be a burdon to them. Unsure of what was to come or how I’d survive, my only choice was to walk in faith. I’ve never been one to ask for help when it comes to personal matters. So, I decided to try again at utilizing resources available to me except this time I wasn’t taking “no” for an answer.

Progress was slow in the coming months, yet it was still progress which led me to realize my prayers are actually being answered. I’d pound the pavement daily applying for jobs and searching for permanent housing. In all my years, as I recall, I was offered most positions I applied for. The difference this time was they’d still hire me or want to, but the felony prevented that aside from the fact of being upfront regarding the circumstances around it. I couldn’t afford to become discouraged although it seemed as if my goal was impossable to reach. I kept telling myself, He is here, He is with me. I’m putting in all the work, it will pay off soon. I spent my evenings talking to God and praying. I remembered when a professor told me “Tammy, you are a creator”. I didn’t understand until he went on to explain how he had witnessed me creating opportunities and ways of accomplishing my mission. He told me that I have the ability to make things happen.

While staying in a boarding home paid for by my mental health provider, I joined a poetry play. That experience allowed me to connect and network with new people as well as reconnect with some of those already familiar with my skill set and integrity from my previous work in the community. Suddenly I was earning an income by doing readings of my work which ultimately opened doors for speaking engagements for a number of events. I was also able to complete my training with NAMI allowing me to advocate and speak about mental health. I was approved for a housing voucher, yet waiting for an apartment to become available. Then COVID hit. I could see that God was with me, still I couldn’t help but worry. Would this pandemic stop me from moving into a home? How will I furnish it, pay my portion of the rent and other expenses?

Foolishly, I would pray for a bag of money. When I’d be out, I was constantly looking in bushes thinking a bank robber had to stash his loot. Of course I knew I’d never find that bag of money and that was ok because my faith had grown strong. I knew that at the right moment I’d have everything I need. That’s when I realized, I had nothing to worry about. He has always been with me. Reflecting back to my past, I’d survived tougher situations. With the felony alone I was threatened with a seven year sentence for protecting my children and grandson when a neighbor tried to bardge his way into our home. My mistake, stabbing him outside the door instead of in the doorway. Watching the tears of my daughter in the courtroom when the judge annouced a guilty verdict broke my heart. God being on my side, I not only ended up being on ankle monitor for fourty-nine days, but they let me off early. I was even able to pay off the bailbondsman and other fees. Having faith feels great! While I’m not one to force my beliefs on others nor do I even like to talk about religion, I simply want people to experience what I have regarding my relationship with God. The assurance of knowing a higher power is with me. I wake up daily looking out the window ( of my own home) expressing my grattitude. Instead of being angry or seeking revenge like before, I pray for those who’ve wronged me, figuring they are suffering and havn’t learned yet. I know I went through these hardships because it was His way of showing me my purpose in life. By the way, in case you were wondering, it wasn’t in a bag, and however unfortunate as to how it came, the lump sum did in fact come.

A note: As a fromer K-3 science and art instructor I’d like to stress the importance of listening to children. It is important they know that their VOICE’S matter too. It is through my children that God Spoke to me. I believe because for so long I’d lived in fear and had been traumatized, that was his way of reaching me. I’d missed out on so much of what the world has to offer, being afraid and not actually living. Now it’s as though I’m finally able to breath and enjoy my life. They have saved me over and over again, I am thankful for a new beginning!

“The Crooked Room”

Being in a position of leadership for many companies where I was employed, led me to find this book very interesting. Although I was the “boss”, there seemed to always be some degree of uncomfortability and I didn’t understand why. Later, realizing I’d been fighting for an upright position in not only the work place, but in society as a whole. Hypothethically speaking, have you ever imagined being somewhere upside down? Perhaps on a roller coaster suspended in mid-air. Various aspects of the times we’re living in are political in some form or another. Institutions such as the CDCR that hold our father’s, brother’s and son’s captive, the NFL as well as “regognition” itself , in my opinion are all forms of politics. Standing up straight in the “crooked room” known as America can be a challenge. “When confronted with race and gender stereotypes, black women are standing in a crooked room, and have to figure out which way is up”; often resulting in a personal form of pain.

Perry’s concept of the “crooked room” states: “bombarded with warped images of their humanity, some black woman tilt and bend themselves to fit the distortion”. One factor as a result of this pain, is in fact recognition. It is vital because everyone wants to be acknowledged and feel as though they belong. The novel, turned movie Women of Brewster’s Place is about the journey’s of a few African American woman who found themselves eventually ending up living in a rundown apartment complex while struggling in the ghetto. Each of the women come fron different backgrounds. There is the lesbian couple who tried to hide their relationship for fear of the neighbors not accepting them and their lifestyle. Then there’s the single mom with too many kids to count, letting them run wild while sitting back collecting welfare. Finally, there’s the bitter elderly woman who’s always in everyone else’s business, stirring up gossip because she is stewing in her own misery. Eventually these woman came to realize that they all share a common bond. They are all fighting in some way, to stand in an upright position. The system has violated recognition for black woman in society. We struggle to be equals and to affirm our own identities; although we live under a system that doesn’t allow nor support us to do so. Citizenship goes hand-in-hand with recognition and as citizens in the land of equality, we should not have to be concerned with what other’s may think of us or how we’re viewed when entering the room, especially before having an opportunity to speak. Pre-judgement comes with the territory of the crooked room as well as the limitations that substantiallly hinder black women.

Consequently, due to recognition being so difficult to obtain we as black women tend to seek privacy with the exception of reality television programs like “Basketball Wives” or “Atlanta Housewives”. Socially, we tend to not be comfortable at times even with other African Americans. Sadly, one reason for this is that we our judged even by our own kind, often finding ourselves in situations where we adjust our attitudes and change the tone in our voices as well as our outward behaviors just to fit in. As black women we are forced to confront race as well as fight for political independence while our resilience allows us to manage an upright position eventhough the effects can take a toll on the psyche. The impact, for example, leads to low self-esteem which is an emotional struggle as we attempt to gain respect in the form of emulating other races by straightening our hair or switching up the way we articulate words. Afraid of staying true to who we are for fear of non-acceptance. Some of us remain hidden like a turtle in it’s shell, while others may give in to the hype. There are those who go as far as miscegenation, some for love certainly, but for other’s it’s safe to assume the reason to be for an upgrade in social status.

Within the “crooked room” are also crooked images from the stereotypes we’re often influenced by. To stand upright in the crooked room requires us to use our brains and not feed into the labels of being over sexed or that sex is our main interest. As if it is not enough, we must deal with the misogynist ways we’re portrayed through hip hop and other avenues. It’s not our fault that we are blessed with natural curves, hefty bosom’s and voluptuios backsides. Some sista’s give in to the stereotypes; nevertheless, I imagine they have their reasons. However, we must consider another important factor is the emotional damage it can cause for young girls as they grow up. There are some little black girls, who as they begin to fill into their bodies, don’t know that it’s ok and that the changes are not only normal, but necessary. Instead they have to be concerned with being teased for developing more rapidly than other girls, resulting in issues with self esteem. The other side to this is because we are stereotyped and depicted in a particular way for our curves, there are women of other races who desire to be like us. One can purchase buttocks pads from the “as seen on T.V.” commercials to give a voluptuious illusion. Some take injections for the illusion of a fuller lip, and then there are the breast implants. Yet they are not struggling with the same personal pain as we are nor are the stereotypes regarding other races dipicted in such a negative way as they have been for African American women.

While women of various backgrounds may have a different or temporary experience of the “crooked room” ; for instance Martha Stewart during her time of legal troubles and incarceration is a great example, but recognition more than likely did not play a role in this particular scenario. Ultimately, some women will learn to align themselves within the crooked room of society; however, unfortunately there are those who will remain at the very least, slightly tilted. As black women of future generations, it is our responsability to uplift and empower one another as well as encourage and motivate other’s to be the best they can be. Resilience along with tenacity are important atributes to aid African American woman in overcomming their struggles which means there is still hope that at some point our youth will will not have to endure the effects of the “crooked room”.

12 Hour Shift

Vector seamless pattern of black and white bras on a violet background.
She makes adjustments
Those that occupy me
May now stand at attention
Playing peek-a-boo
Often saluting on-lookers
Can't find a quality me at Wally World
Nor the swap meets
12 hour shifts
Don't mind the job so much
They depend on me for help
Carrying what feels like tons
Thank God for the cut backs in '96
Yet, I'm still an "F", envy of "A's" and "B's"
When it's all said and done
My shift ends when
I parachute across the room
In a high wind
The landing isn't important
For tomorrow, my shift starts again
Supporting the team