Saturday, June 30, 2012

Boom. Pop.

There was a thunderstorm last night in Lancaster, PA. I didn't even know it was thunder until I saw the lightening and heard the extra crackle. I thought the neighbors were getting an early jump on the 4th of July. Shoot, in my neighborhood they have been poppin' off fireworks for the past few months. That's how they roll.

Friday, June 29, 2012

To my mother on her birthday

(I wrote this poem about eight years ago. I don't know why I never posted it on this blog but here it is now. Love you Mom.)

It comes most in the dark of morning
The remembering of stories you never had to tell
Truths about Daddy I would find out soon enough anyway
Or not
Luxuries you could not afford
Because he gambled the check away sometimes
He chased women sometimes

What you had to swallow
Hearing us cheer as he came through the door each night
Each night that he came

Daddy's home!
Daddy's home!

But where were your cheers
I don't remember your cheers
The ones for you
For you!
Not even in my remembering
I don't remember your cheers

For what it says now
I'm sorry

I remember once he tore up your shoes
Right there at the kitchen tabe
That did not match its chairs
Amidst our screams
Daddy stop!
Daddy please stop!

Your brown wooden heeled woven shoes
So that you would have to buy yourself a new pair
Not a brand new black baby Tabitha
That would tell me she loved me
As long as I pulled the string
As long as I didn't pull too hard

Not a toy whatever for Roshann
Who had to have something
Because I got something
And it's not my birthday either
And that's not fair right?

I was mad at him with you for that
Today I remember it his highest act of love for you
The other good that came
From Schlitz malt liquor and Mary Jane

Our lives are so parallel
Yours and mine
Like you
I didn't know that I was beautiful
He told me I was pretty
And sometimes I believed him
The random hims
The ones that came and went

From you I knew that I was smart
A smart girl
You made me believe that I could write
That someone would hear my stories
You gave me that

You learned to fry chicken
So that you could teach me
Because black girls should fry chicken, right?
We stood there on 70's style green stove
On brown and white linoleum diamonds
You, really wanting to finish building the bookcase in the den
Me wanting to practice my cursive

I do not like chicken
You taught me lessons bigger than frying
Bigger than black girl chores
I watched you and I became woman
I sat in the hallway on brown and beige shag carpet
Leaned against red leather Britannica encyclopedia set

I watched you in the bathroom
That I helped you paint baby blue
Only in my remembering
I do not recall ever holding the brush
I stared at the tight curls that formed your high afro
Watched you put on black eye liner
And soft Maybellene red lipstick
You were so beautiful
I wanted to look like you when I grew up

I wanted that nose
That was round and sharp at the same time
That could always smell a lie
Those lips...that smile that forgave
Always forgave
Perfect lips
My remembering says
I did not want mine quite so perfect
I do remember that very clearly

And your shoulders
I did get your shoulders
Those shoulders that seem to carry the world
Why do we do that
Carry the world
Nobody asked us to
But we do

I never told you that you were beautiful
We were not mushy women
We were smart girls

I do not remember your kisses
Rather I do
I remember your kisses
Nervous each one like a first date
They came on birthdays and mother's day
And Thanksgiving after prayer

I understood then that you were not huggy and kissy
Neither was your mother towards you

We are shoelaces
You and me
Coming in and out of holes
Twisting, knotting up
Wrapping into pretty bows
Holding on tight
Coming apart
Wrapping up nicely again

You made it look easy
The tying and untying
I know that it wasn't
It couldn't have been
You must have extended your prayers each night
After you got up from your knees with me
Long after I was sleep
As I do now with my own child

A boy
One boy seven years now
Not two girls
Just four years apart
Children should not know our prayers
When they are children
They deserve at least that

You braided my hair
Before you learned to braid
I was nine and honored with your handy work
Only I didn't know it then
But in the files of my memory
I am honored

Proud you ket me little girl
The phone was off sometimes
The lights were off sometimes
Not often
But sometimes
There was always however enough money for
Cheerleading uniforms, hot dogs at night games, piano lessons
And press n curls that cost too much
Even for then

Did you think that I did not know
A smart girl like me
Who could not fry chicken
This poem was intended to be haiku
A birthday wish to slip between the gift and card
But a daughter cannot write a haiku
About her mother
Especially a daughter
Who is a writer
The remembering takes over
It has a mind of its own
There is always a line that must be added
Just as I go into Albertson's to get only Kings Hawaiian bread and chicken
My son likes chicken
And leave twelve bags full

I wish you kisses on this birthday
We are mushy women
And strong at the same time

And we get to be weak
When we are tired
And always always
We are beautiful
Like fish who keep moving through endless ocean
And fire
And built and burned bridges
And the healing and accepting
The loving of our remembering

By the way

The roughdraft of my manuscript on my life is coming along very well. I'm the only one looking at it right now. I started off sending pieces of it to a friend I whose writing I respect but I decided that I was not saying too much. I didn't want him or anyone to know this or that. So I tried something new and just called it journaling. I started writing it as if no one would ever read it. Like it was just for me. That helped. It helped because after I would read it I would just say well, no one is ever going to read this anyway or I would read it and whatever I was so afraid people would know wasn't really that bad. So for now I'm still calling it journaling. That helps.

Women's day

Our fingers
coiled, cracked
ashy, broken
twisted, knotted
wrinkled and taut
squeeze stains out white dresses
stains out yesterdays
massage healing into developing tomorrows
blessed oil on foreheads
fry chicken and fold into prayers

home birthed babies and men
hum praise like poetry like breathing like air
change the world with universal meditations
on bended and cracked knees
high heads and raised spread fingers
holding in our every aha and amen
empathy capacity and ruminations
personal, compassionate and wise

O women
we ae prepared uniquely for this journey
this is a predicament we understand
we are geared for this path
we are war ending women
in our homes, schools, communities
in our churches and in our heads

We sit crossed legged, pretty and ready
under hat
behind lipstick and folded fan
our stiff legs never stop
sore backs don't break
presses, perms, fros and wigs
sweat out long before we give in

Sisters of many hue
of every age
together lift our fingers
wrinkled and straight
stand on ankles swollen and thin
give thanks and steady ourselves
for tomorrow

"ObamaCare" -- It's Not About the Mandate by TeeWillis

On June 28, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of the provision in the Affordable Care Act (popularly known as ObamaCare) that requires every American who doesn’t otherwise have health insurance to purchase an individual health insurance policy or be subject to a penalty. This provision is popularly called “the individual mandate.”

The hearing by the Supreme Court on this one provision in the Affordable Care Act was the latest attempt by the opponents of the Act to invalidate it. These opponents began their vicious, relentless, and totally deceptive attacks on this act from the moment President Obama introduced it to the legislative branch for enactment almost a year later on March 23, 2010. The attacks have continued non-stop since then.

Although the Act has over 40 separate provisions in it, its opponents have concentrated their attacks entirely on the “individual mandate” provision. Why? One reason is that all of the other provisions are provisions that fall into one of the following four areas:

1. Improvements in the quality of health care and lowering of costs
2. Increases in access to affordable care
3. New protections for consumers of health care
4. Holding health insurance accountable for their services and costs

The main reason for concentrating their attacks on the individual mandate provision is that the opponents quickly figured out how to frame their attack in such a way that it would support their overall utter disdain for the person of President Obama. Thus the messaging campaign of the past three years that the individual mandate is government overreach. It’s socialism. “Keep your government hands off my Medicare” signs. Staged Tea Party rallies decrying that evil, Kenyan, bone-in-the-nose Black, African “who-does-he-think-he-is, uppity illegitimate President. Remember, the very origin of the Tea Party was in the summer of 2009 as the powerful opponents of the person of President Obama financed and organized them against the Affordable Care Act…specifically against the individual mandate provision.

Because the financially-powerful opponents couldn’t organize critical masses of working and retired people against any of the 40-plus provisions that are in fact beneficial to those working and retired people, the only provision left that would serve the opponents’ larger agenda of discrediting the person of President Obama was the individual mandate.

But it was never about the individual mandate. Not really.

So, when the opponents of the person of President Obama succeeded in getting the Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of the federal government mandating that individual Americans purchase health insurance policies, they were convinced that their five cronies on the Court would rule in their favor, thus discrediting President Obama’s signature legislative achievement and all but guaranteeing his defeat in 2012.

And to doubly insure their success, they simultaneously launched an attack on President Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder. This attack was planned to culminate on the same day as the Supreme Court ruling was to be announced—June 28. On that day, the African-American President was to be handed his head by the Supreme Court and his African-American Attorney General was to be handed his head by being the first Cabinet member in U.S. history to be formally charged with contempt of Congress, criminally and civilly.

But two things happened that precluded the opponents’ all-out victory on June 28. First, in the days just before June 28, a Fortune Magazine investigative reporter published a detailed accounting of the underlying scandal (“Fast and Furious” ATF guns to Mexican cartels) that exposed the ruse of the attack against AG Holder. Even though he was cited with the contempt charges, the spuriousness of the whole charade was nationally evident. Second, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Constitutionality of the individual mandate. The deciding vote was cast by the Chief Justice, John Roberts. It was conjectured that he couldn’t see himself going down in history as the Chief Justice who destroyed the American health system.

It was never about the individual mandate. It was about the person of the first Black President of the United States. It will be about that for as long as he is the President.

Note: An excellent slide presentation of the 40-plus provisions in the Affordable Care Act is available at

June 28. 2012

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The goodnight free write

I had a good day today. Productive. Kinda. If I call editing my blog and getting ready for my next performance (kinda) good. And I do. And now I am sleepy thank God and am ready for bed. I am shooing the worries floating around me away. The worry over money over sleep because I'm tired of waking up at 3am over weight over poetry and what's next over my son because I'm a mother and it doesn't seem to stop. Breathe Jaha. Breathe.

But enough. Goodnight y'all. I love you. I do

Emergency Shelter

About eight years ago I worked in an emergency shelter for women and children fleeing domestic violence. During the time I worked there I constantly had a cold or whatever. Doctor said it was nothing. Me, I know it's because the stories kept buiding inside of me. Calling me to let them out. These notes are about some of the clients and cases. The names have been changed to protect the...


October 2004
part one

Keisha was a three year old grown up black girl who was from Lake Charles, Louisiana. Chocolate skin, three ponytails, barrettes (all the time too many barrettes), smart mouth and magazine pretty. One day she was in the play area over by the steps playing house.

Me: Keisha, what are you doing over there?

Keisha: Cookin' greens. I got all this to do before Tonya nim come over tonight.

Keisha, in disgust threw down the pretend spoon and stormed over to Michael, a two year old white boy from Arkansas who barely spoke. Michael was playing basketball.

Keisha: (all up in his face) Look, I been in the house cookin' all day n workin' hard n carryin' on and you out here shootin' baskets like it's the business! Whatchu think this is huh? Whatchu gon do?

Michael: Teacher!??!!??

part two

Keisha was sitting at the arts and crats table with Michael and Tony, a Mexican three year old boy from Tijuana. Keisha dealt the playing cards. Michael and Tony were "counting" them and throwing them across the table. Keisha, on the other hand, had her cards fanned out as if she was a professional card player.

Keisha: I got two books, whatchu got?

part three

Keisha and Michael were racing the toy cars. Michael had the red one and Keisha had the blue one that kept coming in a distant second. Michael went to the restroom and when he returned his car was gone.

Me: Keisha, do you have Michael's car?

Keisha: No, his car got towed.


Randy and Theresa are brother and sister at the time aged three and four respectively. They came to the shelter with their mother Becca mid October 2004 from Texas. They showed up in the middle of the night with stories from Dallas to Los Angeles all over their worn faces.

It takes a special kind of person to work in a domestic violence shelter I found. I also found that I am not one of them. I spent almost the whole time I was there trying to save everybody. Donating my clothes to the women, children's clothes I could find to the children, working more overtime than was healthy for me. Those women and children became part of my family. Lines were crossed. Just as quickly as they would come, they would leave. It hurt every time. No goodbye, just gone. Becca, Randy and Theresa left like that.

Randy: Theresa, you git your fuckin' ass in this damn house you fuckin' bitch!

Theresa: What do you want you fuckin' asshole?!

Randy: What do you think I want you bitch? My fuckin' food on the table you fuckin' whore!

At that point Randy locked Theresa out of the house and pretended to throw all of her clothes out.

Me: Theresa, come here, sweetheart.

Theresa: What do you want you black fuckin' nigger bitch?!

November 8, 2004

journal entry

I came into work this morning not knowing what to expect. Karmen called me last night and told me that two clients had left and two more had come in. Both new ones had babies under two years old. I was sad to hear that the two families who left were my favorites. Monica, Mexican, fifty-four, with four children, Hector sixteen, Annalisa thirteen, Lucia twelve and Junior nine. All very bright and had witnessed way too much for their young lives. Especialy Annalisa who had too many hats to wear. Mother to her siblings and often even to her mother, daughter, friend, cook, disiplinarian, teacher, translator, and up until about two weeks ago, wife to her father. I knew that it was only a matter of time before the house would be too much for all of them.

The women in the house tend to gang up on the new families, especially the ones that don't speak English. Bullying them into kitchen duties, taking their money and other belongings, picking on their children. Some fight back, some don't. Many leaving deciding that it was easier being on the streets. Sometimes it is.

November 10, 2004

journal entry

Today the team had its weekly meeting. We discussed some of the clients in the house. I was a little nervous about this particular meeting because we discussed one of the clients I had grown pretty attached to, Monica. She has five chidren, Martin seventeen, Lupe and Lola fifteen and Mike and Ricardo three. She is a kind woman with bright chidren but she is "low functioning" according to her files and makes very poor judgments.

We had to decide whether or not we were going to let her into the transitional homes. Transitional homes are apartments where the clients with children get their own apartments. The single mothers share apartments. It's a good deal because the women get up to two years to get their lives together and get a place of their own. They can even, are are encouraged to work. The monthy rent they pay is based on their income. And at the end of two years when they are ready for their own apartments, they get the money back. Many dont make it, but some do.

Anyway Monoica. She was a forty-five year old woman who dresses and tries to look like a sisteen year old girl. She has never had her own place with her children. They have lived in shelter after shelter with peverted uncle after shelter. She was never very compliant with the case plans in the different departments we had. I wanted to vote that we accept her but I didn't want her to get into the apartment and then continue being noncompliant with the rules and get herself and her children kicked out.

She reverts to this baby baby girl when she was uncomfortable. Which was today at the meeting with the team. She came in wearing a soft pink terry cloth jogging suit and had her bleached blonde hair up in two ponytails and pink and butterfly pins. She had on pink lipstick and blue eye shadow. She was even sucking on a lillipop. And then there were the blue contacts.

"I'll do whatever you want me to do. I promise I wont be noncompliant again. I prooooomise." I was just waiting for the extended pleeeeeeeeeeease. "I'm really sorry. I'm trying to get my life together. I'm trying to get a job and take care of my kids and everything." This is a woman who hasn't worked since the eighties.

Staff: What do you plan to do as far as work?

Monica: I want a good job, you know? A real good one. I don't wanna be working at no McDonald's or Wal-Mart or nothin' like that.

Not what they wanted to hear.


Toward the middle of November one of the clients came to the house after curfew drunk. It just so happened that Karmen, an off duty staff member was there. If she had not been there, Mary a very petite, older staff memeber would have been on duty alone for two hours. Cathy was very surprised when she found out that Karmen was there. We noticed that the clients would take advantage of Mary because they felt that they could intimidate her. And they did. Karmen wouldn't let Cathy in the house that night and Cathy got really loud. And we were already having problems with the neighbors not wanting us there. Cathy, drunk or not, knew what she was doing. Karmen let her in and escorted her up to her room to get her things and told her that she was going to have to leave the house that night. Whatever your state of sobriety, you're not punking Karmen. Five feet ten inches, thick, social worker, black woman who knew all the tricks of shelter living.

While Karmen was distracted, another client unlocked the back door while another one went to the kitchen and got a knife and pulled it on Mary. Mary had been taunted a few weeks before that time and that incident seemed to be in the works. The police were called and Mary wasn't hurt. Just scared. I had hoped that there would be an easy resolution to this. Easy meaning, one I wouldn't cry about for weeks.

Some of the women had been approved for transitional homes. Monica and her children were one of the families. This would be the first time they had ever lived in an apartment by thenselves. Ever. The house directors had a meeting and decided, three days before Thanksgiving, that they would clear the whole house. Yes, everyone had to go. The families who were just approved for transitional homes too. All of them had to find other shelters to go to, family members who would take them in, go back on the street, whatever, just had to go. All of this would happen the next day. I knew this and tossed and turned the whole night. I had grown attached to the children and some of the mothers.

In the children's department the next morning, instead of adding glitter to the Thanksgiving Day cards, we packed up their belongings. I cried the whole way through. I was holding onto babies as mothers one by one snatched them out of my arms screaming at me as if I had everything to do with what was happening. "Gimmie my muthafuckin' baby! Bitch!" I was "Bitch" several times that day. How do I turn over a child to a mother screaming for her "muthafuckin' baby" and had no place to go? But I had to. When the children left I sat in my chair and cried and prayed. Then Lupe, Monica's fifteen year old daughter came into my office. Just sat there. No tears. You thought a crying teenager was something to see, try one who had cried out all of her tears. She looked at me. I told her I had nothing to do with it and how sorry I was. As if that helped. Lupe was such an incredible writer and had a story that would inspire anyone.

Before they moved to that shelter they, the five of them were living in a car downtown Los Angeles. She woud do her homework in the middle of the night while her famiy was sleeping. She said that she got her stories from staying up late and watching the crack addicts out of her "bedroom" window. Then she would go to school and get picked on by the students and some of the teachers. I didn't know what else to say to her. I asked her to promise me that she would not stop writing. Again she looked at me. Then slowly she told me that two days before that was one of the happiest days in her life. She went to Target with her famiy and they bought a broom, a mop and two pots for their apartment they they would be moving into just three days away. Their firt apartment. No more perverted uncles, no more living in cars, no more shelters, their place. And then this. "So, no" she said, " I can't promise you that I will keep writing. But Ii do promise you, and cross my heart, that I will never be homelss again. Even if it means I have to go to jail."

She hugged me, wiped my tears and left.

I say

It is in the space of uncertaninty where we have best opportunity to co-create, with God, our lives. To be powerfully present. Letting go of what we already know. Creating an existence, a reality from nothing. From only the blessed space that God gives. The glorious abyss of infinite possibilities. In that space, there are only our dreams. We choose them small or big.

Giving thanks

I am thankful for this day. For waking and prayer. For the flowers, grass and trees outside the window. I am thankful for this time and this space. For my life as a mother, an artist, a storyteller. I am thankful.

I had a conversation last night with a good friend and we talked about why we focus sometimes on the ones who are not focusing on us and ignore the ones who want to be with us. Those who want to sit and laugh and sing. Those who want to share food and thoughts and tears and joy. Today I am thankful for my friends. For those who love me and care, those who honor my feelings and share their own.

Right now I am sitting next to the window looking outside. There is a light blue sky with a few white clouds. Trees and dirt, flowers and grass. There are rocks and bees and shadows and brick. I am thankful to see beauty in nature. I am thankful to see beauty in myself.

I am hard and mean to myself sometimes. I allow doubt and fear and worry to enter my thoughts sometimes. Letting those thoughts go is daily work for me. Some days it takes very little effort and other days the thoughts of lack and self doubt hang around like the smell of burnt popcorn.

Today I give thanks to those who have held me up when I was down. Those who whispered and shouted their love for me right when I needed to hear it. I am thankful for those who allow me to love them. I am thankful.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Quiet time free write

It's quiet here in the house. I'm still in Lancaster, PA and the trees are staring at me even the butterfly keeps knocking on the window. This entry is about nothing really. Just the sound of my fingers on the keyboard. I had to get a new sd card for my camera today and now it works and I am not happy when my camera is not working. I miss my son. A lot. I'm couting down the days now. I'm glad I have my medication because I think I would be much more anxious if I didn't have it.

This time has helped quiet my mind. I don't even realize all of the running I do back home. I've been taking baths almost every night. Soaking, thinking of new poems. New essays. I don't do that at home. I wash and rush to the next thing to do for the day. Here I soak. It's not a vacation but my mind is slowing down. I needed that. A lot.

Draft 2 for "No shame day"

My name is Jaha Zainabu and I have no shame. In March of this year I was diagnosed as bipolar 2. For many years I had been dealing with mental bouncies from ups and downs to an extreme I knew wasn't "normal". I would go from high to uncontrollable HIGHS where I would be laughing beyond the joke, prancing around not easily able to be still and overall in an extremely good mood for reasons I couldn't understand and certainly not explain. Shortly after the high I would get very depressed again for reasons I could never understand. I went to see an herbologist once who looked through a tube and into my eyes, made some grunt and um hum noises then told me I had a "chemical imbalance." When I asked him what that was all he told me was, "Well, you know what chemicals are right?" Um, yeah. "And you know what an imbalance is right?" Okaaaa? "So that's what you have." After that I didn't bother checking it out.

I live mostly as an artist but usually have some kind of job on the side. My jobs are rarely jobs I have to go to every day and do the same routine. That helps. When I had jobs I had to go to every day and do the same thing at the same time, I felt incredibly trapped and the routine after a whie would trigger a depression episode. When I started having severe depression episodes and uncontrollable ups too often I knew that I needed to seek professional help. On the day I saw my therapist I sat on the couch in her zen like office and was so off. It was her first time meeting me and even she could see it.

I told her details of my depressive thoughts and she called a friend of mine who worked nearby to take me to the hospital that day. I am forever thankful to her for that. I was later checked into the hospital and treated for a week. I have tried different methods of treatment and have found medication along with prayer, journaling, blogging, walking and art to work best for me right now.

I speak publicly about the disease because I want others who may be experiencing it to know that they are not alone. It makes me sad and angry when I hear messages from the pulpit, from parents and others in postitions of influence and authority putting down getting mental help. For some reason, if I break my leg or need help regulating my blood pressure then it's encouraged that I go see a doctor, but if I need help dealing with a mental issue then I should only pray it away or not claim it. Anything but see a mental health professional about it.

Well, I do believe in the power of prayer and that's what gave me the strength to go and get help. Too many of us are living with post-traumatic stress and other disorders and need help but are afraid to reach out. I speak publicly for myself and for them. Once I asked my godmother why I go through so much. Why artists go through so much. She quickly responded, "because you will tell it."

My name is Jaha Zainabu and I have no shame.

Monday, June 25, 2012

How I criticize my writing

Writing is rewriting. I go through many drafts of a project before I call it done. I rarely actually call something done. Sometimes I come back to a poem or story or some writing years later and change it. Update it. Paint it another fresher color. Here are some questions I ask myself while reading my work:

1. What can the reader smell, see, hear, taste, feel?
2. In one sentence, what is this about?
3. Who am I talking to?
4. Is the reader invited into my personal space?
5. Am I apologizing for my work?
6. Do I know what I'm talking about?

Yes yes y'all!

Very rough draft of my submission for "No shame day"

My name is Jaha Zainabu and I have no shame. In March of this year I was diagnosed with bipolar 2. For years I had been dealing with mental ups and downs in an extreme that I knew wasn't "normal". It wasn't until I started having severe depression episodes and uncontrollable ups that I knew I needed to seek professional help. On the day I saw my therapist I sat on her couch and I was so off. It was her first time meeting me and even she could see it.

I told her details of my depressive thoughts and she called a friend of mine who worked nearby to take me to the hospital that day. I am so thankful to her for that. I was later checked into the hospital and treated for a week. I have tried different methods of treatment but I have found medication to work best for me right now.

I spek publicly about the disease because I want others who may be experiencing it to know that they aren't alone. Of course I'm not a doctor but I do know my experiences. It saddens me to hear messages from the pulpit, from parents and others with positions of influence and authority putting down getting mental help. Somehow if I break my leg or need help with my blood pressure then it's encouraged that I go see a doctor, but if I need help dealing with a mental issue then I should only pray it away or not claim it. Anything but see a doctor about it.

Well, I do believe in the power of prayer and that's what gave me the strength to go and get help. So many of us are living with bipolar and bipolar 2 disorders, post tramatic stress disorder and other mental illnesses and need help but are afraid to reach out. I speak publicly for myself and for them.

My name is Jaha Zainabu and I have no shame.

Facebook status by Toby D. Sanders

Parenting is largely, even primarily about failure. All parents fail in some very important way or ways. The successful parent fails (repeatedly) in a way that brings into bold relief the gifts and talents of their children and themselves. It is like the process by which humans learn to walk..."a falling forward." What I am saying here is true and important and comes from a painful place of realization. Children, human beings are not things, they cannot be perfectly shaped like a piece of wood or stone or programmed like a computer. In fact the dynamism of the human personality and psyche (soul) is so oppositional that we learn largely and mostly by error and failing, by making mistakes and that even our successes if they are real successes are "failed repetitions", works of art in a sense in our own voices and unique, different from whatever model that inspired them. We need to think about this as we experience the way our children, in spite of our warnings and cajoling and best efforts often repeat our mistakes and pains and failings. But, when we "succeed" as parents they fail in new ways, in ways that create their own personalities and the opportunities that arise from their courage and creativity.

This realization is important because it helps us help our children thrive in very difficult (real life) circumstances. It shields us from defensiveness with others, like teachers and other parental partners. This realization helps us separate and differentiate our failings from our children's failings in a way that gives our children their own lives. It helps them survive the weight and terror of some of our shadows (that is, our corrupted expectations for them which are really forms of our own frustrations with our own lives. No I am not saying we are too hard on our children. I am not saying this at ALL! In fact I think it is easy to parrot "high expectations" and other slogans about "putting the kids first" and, "the children are our future", "our reason for living and being," blah, blah, blah ad nauseum. These type of false psychic burdensome platitudes actually work to make us hate our children to deeply resent them and criticize the very selfishness in them that this crap inculcates.

We can only grow by failing creatively and courageously, not fearlessly but in the face of fear. Hate is driven by fear of failure and fear of not measuring up to an impossibly perfect standard. If we recognize the vital importance of "failure" in parenting we would be better off in so many deep and abiding ways. We would love our children in the way that God over us, that is, love us enough to free us totally. For love is a choice, virtue is a choice, art is a choice, hope is a choice...becoming is a choice and love animates every aspect of life. Love endures all things. We can only grow by failing creatively and courageously, not fearlessly but in the face of fear. Hate is driven by fear of failure and fear of not measuring up to an impossibly perfect standard...

Talking myself out of hiding

Bassey Ikpi created a foundation called The Siwe Project dedicated to a fifteen year old friend of hers who "lost her battle with depression." I wish there was a better way of saying that. I wish it never happened to anyone. I wish people were more sensitive to it. I wish I wish I wish. Check out the project at

Anyway, Bassey is calling July 2, 2012 The Siwe Project's "No Shame Day" and is calling for stories from people with mental illnesses. The format is easy enough, just include these things: 1. Begin and end the story with my name is ..... and I have no shame. 2. Who you are. 3. What mental illness you or a loved one have/has. 4. How you were diagnosed. 5. What prompted you to seek treatment. 6. What prompted you to speak publicly. 7. How you are being treated.

These are issues I have talked about many many times on this blog but for some reason I am hesitant to submit my story. I don't know why because being vocal about it is something I am very passionate about. It is incredibly important to me to encourage people to get the help they need. Especially with all the side eyeing folks give when people mention they need mental help.

I was in a writing workshop this past weekend and Mahogany Browne told me that I submitted my stories in my own blog because it was safe for me and that I needed to come out of my comfort zone. She is close enough to me to speak to me that way and have me listen. I was confronted by her statement probably because it is true. I do feel safe here, especially with sensitive issues. So, I've told this story a million times here and will share it there on July 2 for the projects first annual No Shame Day. I am not working outside of the house today and it will not take much time to just do it. Write the story, Jaha.

I have to push myself into things quite often and this is one of those easy soft pushes. I'll submit it here and let you read it. As if you don't already know.

Love yall. I do.

People say I say too much

When I was a little girl and would have scary dreams, the next morning my mother would tell me that if I talked out loud about the dream then it wouldn't come true. A part of me still believes that. Not just about dreams but everything. Only now I don't talk out loud so much as I blog or write in my journal about things I need to let out. Blogging mostly.

People say I say too much about myself in my poetry and on the blog. Trust me, there is so much I don't say. I let out what I do let out for a few reasons. For so many years I have dealt with the mental bouncies from high to low to HIGH to LOW low low low and now that I have a diagnosis for it called bipolar 2 I feel compelled to talk it out to get through it. Also it may help someone else who may be dealing with it or have a loved one dealing with it. So there.

Of course that's not the only thing in my life I have going on and it's not all I share on this blog. As you may have noticed by all of the kagillion pictures I post I'm also a photographer. I'm a mother to the best son in the world. Deal with it. I'm a poet, a fiction writer and a thinker. Judge yourself. I wear a lot of hats. My latest one is menopause going througher (yes that's a word. Stay judging yoself). And this one is a tough one because I don't know other women my age (42 almost 43) going through it. When I mention it to women my age sometimes they respond like I did something wrong. Like I walked through door number three too early on purpose. I get this especially from women who don't have children yet and want them. I feel judged. Like they have to tell me that it's my diet, it's the meds I'm taking it's the freaking air I'm breathing or the water I'm drinking. Somehow it's my fault that my body is going through these changes now instead of ten years from now. Really I think I remind them that the whole ticking clock is real and it does stop ticking.

So I talk. So I let it out. Mostly in the morning and then again maybe at night. Some people dance and pray (I pray too), some folks sing and stretch to get going in the morning, I blog. That's my beat.

Good morning beautiful people. That's my entry for the day, for now. Enjoy your day. I will. I will.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

I'm just sayin'

This early menopause shit is kicking my ass (a little bit). The fucking hot flashes are a mutha and the memory loss spells aint no joke either. Good riddens (sp?) to my period. And if that's too much information for you, you should visit another blog.


When I'm bored it means I'm not doing something I should be doing.


I'm never easy on myself. Or hard enough.

A new day

Good morning beautiful people. It's almost 6:00am here in PA and I'm up feeling well. Glad to be out of the cloud, the funk, the stuck I was in for part of yesterday. Gonna head out to St. Paul's. Been looking forward to being there since I left CA. Anyway, y'all have a good day today. I'm determined to.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Ok, soooooo

Nothing like a quick drive around beautiful downtown Lancaster, PA, roasted pine nut hummus with Tostitos, and work on an upcoming workshop to snap me back into myself. As usual I waited til the last minute to send in the details for the workshop but now I'm working on it while watching Friends. So what. Judge yourself.

The cycle free write

Today took work to say above sea level. Emotionally of couse that is. It took prayer and talking to myself and art and an NCIS marathon and texting and loving myself on purpose. Feeling better now but it's still work. It's the process I think. Blogging helps. Free writing in my own ridiculous blog helps even more. I'm safe here. I can record here. The ups and downs. I'm still learning you know. This whole thing called Bipolar 2 and how it is affecting me. This entry will be one long or not so long probably poorly spelled and punctuated and even worse(ly?) paragraphed emotional vomit. As if that's new. But that's good for me. To get it out. I know I'm more vocal about the down days on this blog than I am the up days but I understand that even if you (whoever you are) don't. I'm out living my life on the up days.

*Note to self: I have to talk to my therapist and psychaiatrist (sp?) about being so cautious about the ups.

In the past, the cycle has been I would get crazy up. Laughing and gleeful (I've never used that word before) and filled with all kinds of awesome energy, then the next day or a few days later I would crash and get so low. Like I was in a tunnel I could hardly get myself out of. So because that's been the cycle in the past I tip toe into the too happy. Though I love it so much. I'm a laugher. A joker.

I had a dream last night that my car kept crashing. Over and over. When I woke up this morning I knew the crashing wasn't about my car. I knew it was me. The dream was a warning. Work out whatever I need to work out before I crash. I've been in the house for two days straight. No shower, didn't even change clothes. Today though, I got up and showered and dressed in a black dress I feel cute in ('cause that's important) then picked up the art piece I put down last night and worked on it a bit.

I've been in Lancaster, PA but will get up early in the morning to hop on the train to go to St. Paul's Church in Philadelphia. I'm looking forward to that. I'll let you know how it goes.

Feeling much better now.

Later gators.