Friday, January 27, 2012


1. It's time to start asking the hard questions.

2. Hold the mayo ... and don't forget the onions!

3. I'm trying to wait it all out.

4. In response to my comment about going out on a limb, a friend asks, "Legs open or legs closed", that was the last funny comment I received.

5. Please send me lots of energy and motivation.

6. You'd better ask somebody, cause I'm in it for the long haul.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to coming together with the ladies of my Motherless Daughter's Support Group, tomorrow my plans include having the house all to myself and Sunday, I want to get all dolled up for a nice evening out!

What's your Friday and weekend looking like? Click here to participate!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I Declare This a Year of Celebration!

I'm broker than I wanna be, my car still hasn't made it to the shop yet, and I'm gonna have to take another math class before the year is over, but you know what, it's all ok, because I plan to celebrate along the way.

The last real get-away that I went on happened to be the very first real get-away that I'd ever been on. My baby was not yet a toddler, and I almost decided not to go, because, 3 days was just too long for me to be away from her. In the end I was happy to have had the experience with a group of good friends. Fast forward 8 years later, and I'm way overdue for a vacation. And not just a formal one, but also overdue for celebrating the little and most present of things in my life. I want to make some changes this year by putting myself back into the mix. Like I said in an earlier post, I'm always moving myself down to the bottom of the list, and also allowing others to bump me down a few spaces. It has to stop. All a part of my quest to add more self care into my days.

I've been busy this week thinking and planning my mother's celebration. I've been able to chat with my aunts and grandmother to pinpoint the things that she would most enjoy, the things that were most important to her, and also getting a good idea of how to include everyone in the event. I feel like I'm off to a really good start, and feeling a lot better about the process today.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Liquid Lunch

Blender: Easily the BEST housewarming gift ever!

I'll admit, when my friend gave me this blender, the first drink that popped into my mind was not a smoothie. I was thinking more along the lines of entertaining, but my love for Jamba Juice has made this one of the most used appliances in my kitchen. Emma and I just can not get enough fruit blends into this thing. We love mixing different berries and fruits with different juices and liquids. We have yet to create a combination that we didn't like.

I never have to worry about whether she's getting enough fruits because I can easily get various into one glass. And she enjoys being apart of the process. Smoothies come in handy for myself as well, specially on those days when I'm so busy that I nearly forget to eat. I'm always fulfilled after a glass or two and there is no guilt because its all healthy ingredients.

Do you have any favorite go-to drinks or snacks that you and/or your kids love?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bedtime Reading: The Period Book


It's here. Well, not quite. I could possibly have another year and a half before my baby makes the complete transformation. She's very mature, but still so young. I was young too. 10 years old. I had not taken sex education in school yet, and no one had ever talked to me about puberty, the female body, sex. I only knew where babies came from after having a conversation with my neighbor, who was pregnant with her fourth. My first lesson in menstruation was via a PBS special, and I'm thankful. Unlike other girls, I didn't think I was dying. I knew exactly what was happening when it happened, and I was able to inform my great-grandmother that "womanhood had come on me".

I clearly want something much, much different for Emma. Early bloomers often have early bloomers. After asking my grandmother about her experience, my mother's and my aunts', paired with Emma's developing breasts, I'd say that it's the truth. So, now I'm grooming her for a positive experience. We're reading, we're talking and we'll soon be practicing. I don't want her to view getting her period as some kind of curse. I don't want her to be afraid. I don't want her to feel insecure about her body's changes. I want her to see it all for what it really is - a rite of passage, a complexity of coming of age, and an induction further into a vast circle of sisters.

Although Emma will always be my baby, it's undeniable that she's growing up. I'm determined to try to make every step of the way as enjoyable as possible. In true fem fashion, when she transitions, we'll call on our closest women and celebrate with a Period Party!

Monday, January 23, 2012

"Don't Get Pregnant"

Last month, I was in my doctor's office for my annual exam. Just a routine physical and some catching up on my chart, since she'd been on leave for quite a while. She jumped back into the swing of things as if she'd never been gone. I was actually happy to have her back, since I had been seeing various practitioners in her absence. All was going well until that fateful conversation that we always seem to have during our visits. The one where she tries to pressure me into returning to a birth control method, other than condom use. Over the years, we'd come to an understanding that she'll ask, I'll say thanks but no thanks, and we'll leave it at that. Because, as an educated adult woman, and mother of one, I have the right to choose whether or not I'd like to be on birth control, and more importantly, I have the right to choose whether or not I'd like to be pregnant. In a nutshell, I'm well versed on how to control my ability to reproduce.

During this visit, my doctor seemed to be attempting to lightly "lay it on thick" by not dropping the birth control issue. I decline, and she gives me a mini lecture about the failure rate of condoms. I decline once more, and she suggests that we discuss the issue again at our next visit in a few months, and then IUD falls from her lips. And just to be 100% sure that I got the message, her last words to me on my way out the door were, "don't get pregnant."

Ummmm... excuse me??? I was completely shocked that she'd said those words to me. I would have rather her made a comment about my vagina than make an oppressive statement such as that. It hit me with such force that I went to my car and cried. Cried because it genuinely hurt me. Cried because I felt like I was being judged for being a single mother, with less money than I'd like to have, and a mental illness. Cried because I'd like nothing more than to complete my family with the addition of another little one. Cried because I'm tired of being robbed of the joy of my own desires by comments and thinking like her's.

I'm not naive enough to not understand where she was coming from, but I'm intelligent enough to know when I'm being placed in a box and omitted from certain paths and avenues based solely on my socioeconomic and mental health standing. Bottom line - she was out of line. Now that I've had time to fully process what took place, I will be able to better assert my rights and be present enough in the moment to make it aware to her that I, and I alone, at damn near 30 years of age, have complete agency when it comes to my body.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Little Hair Time

We got some hair time in tonight. It would have made much more sense to tackle shampooing, conditioning, detangling and styling more than two hours before bedtime, but hey, you know me, I always have to be difficult different. To my surprise, we actually finished 30 minutes before bedtime, granted, we didn't do a lot of detangling. The middle of this length is still a jungle. We'll devote more time on Wednesday with some planned two-strand twists (I've banded to stretch).

And speaking of length.

I love to do these length checks from time to time, just to be able to remind Emma of how long her hair really is. She has her moments of wanting her hair to be straight, particularly for length, so its always nice to be able to show her that she has the length already, and that she can sport her length without having to straighten her hair.

Its been quite a while since I've blown her hair out. Now that my hair has grown a bit, I really want to get some mother-daughter photos taken with some blown out hair. I think they would be some amazing keepsakes. One more great thing to look forward to this year.

Collard Greens & Cornbread, Yeah

Collard greens from last weekend's Farmer's Market

I asked for Winter weather, and this weekend here in the Bay Area, we got it. Chilly, chilly wind and rain. I appreciated the serenity it brought during the night, but when I got caught up today with a broken umbrella and 30 minutes between bus transfers, I suddenly started giving the passing cars the super stink eye.

Back at home, a mug of hot peppermint mocha coffee, and a pot of collard greens brought me back to my happy place.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Love, Peace & Creativity

The beginnings of my vision board

Just a lazy Friday night. While Emma managed to take over just about every inch of my queen sized bed with pillows, snacks and Netflix, I moved my stack of Essence magazines to my desk and continued to let the pouring rain pacify me. Samantha, of Rich Single Momma, recently shared a picture of her vision board with us on Facebook and it got me to doing some envisioning of my own. I've never created a vision board before, although one has been on my mind for the past year! It's the reason I bought the above corkboard in the first place. To mount, display and inspire. It quickly filled up with photos of Emma and cards from Emma and test scores of Emma's. Can you see where I'm going with this? What was originally intended for me, I succeeded in devoting entirely to my kid! Again, I moved myself to the bottom of the list, with something as simple as an array.

I put myself back on the list last night. I sat with my huge stack and just browsed. I had no idea what I was looking for, but I somehow knew it when I saw it, and so I cut it out. By the end, I was able to decipher three distinctive areas through all the images.

Love. Peace. Creativity

In a nutshell, those are the three most important areas of life for me. Having a balance in these areas equals an immediate happiness. I also realized that I tend to focus solely on the subsets of these areas - finances, mental health, family, travel, etc. When I think about these things individually it keeps me stressed out. It's as if each subset has its own never ending to-do list, which as you can imagine can be very overwhelming, especially when the expectation is to simultaneously work within these areas to get them to the finish line. When I was able to post these various images up on my corkboard, I was able to clearly see the interconnectedness of my desires and that the balance of it all is wellness. That's the starting point. It's reassuring to know that I'm already on the right track.

Do you have any experience with vision boards? Have they helped you stay on track? Did they teach you anything new about yourself?

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Lifetime Ago

He said I'm gonna put my guns into the ground,
I can't shoot them anymore,
That long black cloud is comin' down
And I feel like I'm knockin' on Heaven's door.

My grandmother once told me that my mother was fond of this song.

She also told me that there was a time when my mother desired death.

That I was a gift, and she was to be the sacrifice.

I would be her greatest accomplishment.

At 27 years old, and 20 years after my mother's death, it's occurred to me that I've never once asked even the minimalist questions about her. I think I thought I knew her. I don't remember what she smelled like, but I know what she looked like. I don't remember what she sounded like, but I know what her smile looked like. I don't know what her passions and goals were, and nobody ever told me.

I don't know the true essence of the woman she was, but I do know that I've spent, at least, the last 19 years attempting not to become her, while subconsciously reliving many of her horrid life experiences. I knew, and ran from, and learn more about, her pain, but I've never been introduced to her happiness and joy. Without that simple knowledge, life has been at a standstill. Just when I had begun believing that I was no longer grieving, I learned that the grief of a loss of this kind of magnitude is endured in waves, and I'd just been lying in a valley.

Now is the time to reshape and reclaim. I am reshaping and reclaiming my relation to, and relationship with, my mother by rustling the family tree and the family's collective memory. I'm in the process of drafting every question that I've ever wanted to know about my mother, to be shared, and hopefully answered as honestly as possible. This will lead me to the ultimate climax the middle of this year - to bring the family together in celebration of my mother's life, to breathe new life into the memories that I have of her, and to further help me in my healing process.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


I'm feeling very, very full right now. Full of thought. Not singular, but a tangled web. Every important detail of every important area colliding, listing themselves, and then re-scrambling again. That means its time for a LOT of organization over here.

Let the listing begin...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Rebirth

Sitting next to my great-grandmother, feeding a sleepy Emma on her 1st birthday

I had a dream last night about a baby. A baby girl. A baby girl that I'd had at home. A baby girl that I had named and was planning to announce to the world. We were in bed with energies that felt like Emma and my grandmother. I was happy with this beautiful, chocolate, bouncing baby girl. And then I started to fret because it had been hours, and she had not cried to be changed or to be fed. I thought surely an infant would have to want to eat by now. And so I put her to my breast, and upon tasting my milk she started screaming. I thought that maybe she was frustrated and wasn't latched on properly, so I tried again and got the same results. So, I switched her to the other breast, and again, upon tasting my milk she started screaming.

I didn't know why she was rejecting me, but it was familiar so I didn't force her. I thought of formula and bottles and formula appeared. I went into a room with a crib and searched through a mess of Emma's baby treasures. All I could find were sippy cups. I needed a bottle to feed this baby, and all I could find were sippy cups. I finally found a bottle, picked up the baby, and then...

I woke up.

It was one of the sweetest and weirdest real-life dreams that I've had in a while. I wanted to ignore my alarm and get back to sleep so that I could get back to this baby girl. The baby who had rejected me, the baby who I had named - whose name I fought hard to remember. After talking it over with my grandmother this morning, I realized that this baby girl really was my baby. It was Emma who had originally rejected breastfeeding, and it is Emma who will be going through a rebirth.

Last week, Emma's dad agreed to the legal name change without any resistance. The only compromise made was that the name "Jalia" remain, which I was completely ok with. At the end of this process, although she will have a lot of names to print, each that she will choose to answer to will have been given to her with the deepest amount of love imaginable.

Monday, January 16, 2012

More Thoughts on Sisterhood

Facebook friend and amazing photographer Saddi Khali says,

"As a teen, it often felt 2 me that my mama was hard on my sister as her mama was hard on her. In high school I watched so many girls jump girls, it coulda been a course 4 credits. I would later watch women in niteclubs as a younger man & wonder why they were sooo mean 2 each other, each fashion misstep seemed an offense punishable by death. Then I got a lil older & wonder why so many of the women I dated would say they didn't get along w/women, & later still, I started photographing folks & how many women felt about their own appearances & the "flaws" they'd point out in themselves always seemed tied 2 the way they judged the appearances of other women. Hmmmmm... men kill each other over women, money, drugs & power... but, women let each other live & just destroy each others joy... I dunno if this is true but it should be considered. I wonder how much we've been conditioned 2 respond in the ways do & don't even realize it."

Brother Saddi, I feel you. Today, in certain settings, I can hold eye contact with a sista and get a "what the fuck are you looking at" glance in return. For these particular women, admiration is a foreign concept. I've never been able to really figure out the reasoning behind these kinds of reactions and relations between some of us. My initial thoughts have always centered around competition. Perhaps for some of us, the number one goal is to be number one.

Saddi's thoughts brought me back to my adolescence, where my female peers were my first and most harsh critics. A close friend, whom I considered a sister, once doubled over in laughter at the site of my hairy legs, out for all to see, on a hot summer day. And then there was the classmate in junior high who made it her mission to "teach" me how to shave my legs after spotting them in the locker room, because, her man would "never go for that", even though my boyfriend at the time didn't have a problem with it at all. It was as if my hairy legs were a crime against humanity and had to be eradicated at once or hidden forever.

Although I've come to love and accept my body for all of its beauty and uniqueness, because of the ways in which body hair is still viewed in our society, I remain hot when others are cool to avoid being subjected to harsh criticism from other women. I personally don't see the point of devoting countless hours to altering myself just to make others more comfortable. And I don't see the point of having to be held prisoner within my clothing because of the fact that I have distinctive features. But, it is so.

I think Saddi is right when he says that its all a part of conditioning. We are instructed against A & B, and therefore we make it a point to instruct others against them too or we may instruct them toward A & B just to make our lives easier and/or to weed out the competition. Its all very interesting.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Granny Stripe

I'm having a lot of fun trying different patterns that bloggers are so generously sharing. I'm still more of a hands on learner, but I've come a LONG way in reading and following patterns. Anybody who crochets will tell you that it has its own language! My hat goes off to all the folks who create patterns! Anyhoo, I was checking out the i-Crochet showcase a while back and landed at a blog that is becoming a favorite. There are so many cute creations at Attic24! I was very happy to find the pattern for the Granny Stripe. I've seen the Granny Rectangle, but I'm really loving the Granny Stripe. Now that the living room is coming together, I thought this pattern would be perfect for a cute and comfy throw for all the Netflix watching that we do.

For this throw, I couldn't resist being all matchy-matchy so I went with our brown/blue/cream color scheme.

I'm loving it so far and can't wait to curl up under it once its finished!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Who Says You Can't Get Fresh Produce In the Inner City?

$19 of healthy, fresh produce + nuts!

Each time I pass by the huge banner advertising the Phat Beets Farmer's Market, I always promise myself that I am going to drop by to check it out. And without fail, Saturday after Saturday after Saturday rolls by and I always forget. I nearly forgot today! Thankfully I was able to dust off my cloth bag and hop the bus to explore this awesome asset to the community. The vendors/farms were few, but the market was full of fruits and veggies that Emma and I love to eat. I was able to shop with each farm, picking something that we love.

At the end of my trip around the lot, I had a bag full of celery, cauliflower, carrots, big beautiful collards, walnuts, apples, oranges, and lemons. All for just $19. And the best part? I was able to pay for my fruits, veggies and nuts with my EBT benefits, better known as Food Stamps! It was an effortless experience. So, you see, there really are healthy options available to those of us living in urban areas. And for an even more effortless approach to getting fresh produce into the homes of families in the community, Phat Beets Produce offers a CSA that they call a Beet Box, which can also be paid for with EBT benefits. Next week I will be signing up to receive my very first! I'm looking forward to the variety.

How often do you visit your local farmer's market?

Friday, January 13, 2012


1. When I looked out the window this morning stillness was clear through the haze.

2. The fact that one of my favorite soap operas, One Life to Live, will be having its final episode today, despite the fact that fans are very vocal about wanting the show to continue, totally doesn't make sense to me.

3. Remind me over and over and over again that life really is grand.

4. Journaling is something I love to do!

5. TP is essential.

6. I cleaned the refrigerator recently and I found a lonely wedge of red onion.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to complete relaxation, tomorrow my plans include connecting with family or friends and Sunday, I want to effortlessly prepare for the week ahead!

How's your Friday going? Click here to play along.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

It's the Little Things

I spent my Tuesday morning of this week putting together my new living room furniture. Everything now has its place. And I now have a space where I can truly kick back and relax, watch tv, play a few rounds on the Wii with Emma, and crochet freely and in comfort. It took me quite a while to fill this space, but I wanted to be sure that I would be doing so with pieces that I was satisfied with. Mission accomplished.

Concise and to the point. My next goal is to accessorize with a couple of plants, a few statement pieces, a pet goldfish for our empty bowl, and some artwork.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

And Then There Were Two!

I got Emma's fingerless gloves finished, with only having to lengthen them just a little bit so that they hit her fingers in the right place. She was very excited to get them on and she complimented me on a job well done :) And then we realized that they match her helmet. Gotta love those extra little details.

I got the pattern for these gloves from Lion Brand's website under their free patterns, but like I said, there are a bunch available around the net, in all kinds of patterns. Its always fun to get a little something new.

Crochet Mama's Cowl/Infinity Scarf in Action!

Shelby Wooton

As soon as I spotted the too-cute Chihuahua Cowl Infinity Scarf over on Crochet Mama's Blog, I immediately thought about a friend's new furbaby. I couldn't think of a better gift to pop in the mail! This cowl was super easy to make and I think its such a functional little peace for a little pooch.

Three Ladies

We got a shot of this little lady in the school garden. She was soaking up the sunshine and comfort of this soft fuzzy plant. Emma likes to spend a lot of time in the garden, and she loves to walk me through, showing me all of her favorite edibles. She's known for making "weedos" - Sour Soil wrapped inside of a big yummy Dinosaur Kale leaf. I've often found her with green teeth after school from having access to all the weedos she desires.

I think my favorite plant in the garden has to be the producer of the deliciously sweet Ground Cherry.


These little surprises are addicting. Makes me wish I had the outdoor space to grow them. In the school garden, you are lucky to find any hiding beneath the foliage because they are always caressed by little fingers. As we approach Spring, and I get even more comfortable in my space, I am being pulled even more toward container gardening. I've seen some awesome gardens around the neighborhood, so I'm pretty sure that it wouldn't be too difficult to solicit a few friendly green thumbs.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Fingerless Gloves

Emma has been asking me to "learn" how to make fingerless gloves for what feels like forever. I always admire the gloves and wrist warmers that others make when I look at their blogs or Etsy shops. Since its pretty nippy outside during our morning walks to school, I thought now would be a good time to give them a try. I have to say, I'm liking it, and I think that Emma will too. She has a new scooter coming soon, and these will help her keep warm while still having the full use of her hands.

Since this is my first attempt, I've made one for her to try on. If all is well, I'll get the other whipped up and she'll be all set. I'm pretty sure that she will want a matching hat for these babies, and I'm fixated on legwarmers. She loves tights, so I think legwarmers could become a nice addition for her during this time of year. I think they'd also look very cute with her skinny jeans. I'm getting excited!

Have you been creating lately? Do share :)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Fun with Yarn Scraps

I couldn't really sleep last night, so I threw on some Law & Order: SVU and took a look in my trunk of yarn. I wanted to crochet. I didn't know what I wanted to crochet, just that I really really wanted to. I have a bunch of bright random colors from small projects and nothing was really catching my eye since we're still in Winter. Then I noticed a new small ball of cotton yarn in Gold, and decided that I could put it to good use.

I decided to make a dish cloth for my grandmother. I've never made any dish or wash cloths before, but I've wanted to. There are a bunch of different dish cloth patterns out there, but since I was just in the heat of the moment, I decided to go with something simple. Double crochet and back post stitching got the job done. I'm pretty happy with the results and I'm looking forward to adding some cloths and possibly some drying towels to my own kitchen soon.

The simplest things can always make the perfect gifts!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Mosaic

I had to play along with Creative Ramblings! You should to. Here's what you do:

Make a photo mosaic using flickr and big huge labs.

a. Type your answer to each of the questions into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into big huge labs mosaic maker.

The Questions:
1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One Word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name

Friday, January 6, 2012


1. Discussions about pet therapy, no-pet policies and disability rights are taking place in my head right now.

2. To avoid the phrase, "I'm tired", homework dragging until bedtime has gone goodbye.

3. I think it's time for me to start reaping the benefits.

4. Emma's good Samaritan nature always puts a smile on my face.

5. Maybe sometime in the future, I'll look back on everything and laugh.

6. The selflessness that surrounds me gives me strength.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to staying up late, tomorrow my plans include a little self care and Sunday, I want to make plans to reconnect with friends!

How's your Friday? Let everyone know by participating in Friday Fill-Ins!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Next Week, Emma Rocks!

Now that Emma's getting older, I think its about time for her to branch out into some extra curricular activities. Its not that I've been dreading the "soccer mom" stage of parenting, its just that she has so many interests, it can be hard to narrow it down to just one or two passions.

Emma and I were out and about a few weeks ago, and passed by a guitarist who was rocking a kick ass solo. Emma's face lit up with excitement, and she asked me if she could share the "ice cream" money with him that she'd been clutching during our walk. I gave her the ok, and she skipped right over and dropped it into his hat. In that moment I was extremely proud of her for multiple reasons, and in that moment of hearing this man play, she felt a connection to him and needed to show her appreciation of his skill. That in and of itself rocks.

She's developed quite the love for the guitar. I think it speaks to her. If there is ever a guitar in sight she gravitates toward it, and has been known to proceed to strum, its physical invitation being the only permission she needs. As much as I would love to make one available to her here at home, there isn't a music fund growing around here. Thank goodness for organizations like Girls Rock, which provide the opportunity for girls to come together and learn from and play with female musicians.

For a season, girls get to learn an instrument with their peers, form a band, write an original song, and perform! How cool is that! Emma will be participating in their after school program once a week, but they also have a summer camp! If this sounds like something your elementary or high school girl might love, its worth doing a search for Girls Rock Camp, they have various organizations in different cities/states.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Back to Life, Back to Reality

Its been a while since I've mentioned how great natural hair is, so let me just say, natural hair is awesome! We haven't been doing much exploration or styling lately, but we are definitely growing strong. I can't believe that its been a year and a half since my second big chop! I did a little length check on Emma recently and we discovered that her hair is now "butt length" when stretched. Even when it seems like our routine isn't solid enough or really helpful, we still make nice progress. I'm feeling Kiki's hair resolutions for this new year. A little bit more structure ain't never hurt nobody. I NEED HAIR STRUCTURE! The locs forming at the end of my loose hair is my reminder that I have too much length to skip detangling on a regular basis. I'm a real 'wet it and forget it' kind of girl, but with more length comes more opportunity, and I'm ready to jump in and get some styling.

Emma went back to school yesterday, and the night before, I was trying to figure out what we could do with hair that had a fair amount of lint balls, with only an hour before bedtime. I decided to not make it harder than it needed to be. I took her four big plaits and put them into ponytails and then created a semi-veil style with the front ponytails by banding them to the back ponytails. I didn't use any product on her hair, just spritzed with water and brushed. No need to bring further attention to pesky lint balls with a bunch of product slapped on top of them. We were pretty happy with this neat concoction that is capable of holding for a couple of days until we are ready to shampoo.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Redefining 'The List'

I don't know about you, but my life revolves around lists. I make them for EVERYTHING. Grocery shopping, things that I need to get done, random thoughts swimming around in my head, bills that need to be paid, whatever you can think of, I've probably made a list for it or of it. It just helps me to be able to see things more clearly, kinda like being able to see the bigger picture of a day/week/month/experience. And still, a couple of days ago I had a 'list' aha moment.

I was reading Lisa Nichols' article, Go From Stressed to Blessed, in this month's issue of Essence Magazine. Out of her list of ten ways to achieve transformation in the new year, it was the 2nd suggestion that really struck a cord with me.

START WITH YOUR "ALREADY DONE" LIST. What did you accomplish in 2011? When were you at your strongest, and what lessons did you take from those experiences? ... Focusing on what you did well will give you the momentum to create the life you most want to have in the new year.

This really sounds like a no-brainer, but out of all the lists that I've made, I don't think I've ever created one to showcase the things that have gotten done. When something on a To-Do list is completed, it just gets checked off or crossed out, which made me realize that by doing so, those achievements are just forgotten - replaced by the next thing to-do. There really isn't any effort to let a 'job well done' marinate. Well, I've heard you Ms. Nichols and that practice stops now.

Grab yourself some post-its and create your own list of accomplishments!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Moments of Bliss

Living Room: Still a work in progress...

A year ago, I was laying in a full sized bed, with an arm cuddling my baby while a hand cradled my Galaxy S. Two sets of eyes peering into the beauty of Avatar as the clock struck midnight. We were in the family wing of a homeless shelter. Five family units with revolving doors. Four families went off to forever homes, while three more settled into the temporary serenity of three meals a day + bed and bath that didn't have to be shared. The Hotel, as Emma liked to call it. The most memorable fragment of our shelter stay was my transformation into double agent - gaining a status as participant and observer, with a focused view on what a homeless family really looked like.

I was not the only single mother, nor were the families comprised of only single mothers. Among us was a husband and wife with a troop of four, and a girlfriend and boyfriend with a set of brand new babies, and the thought process changer: the single dad with the toddler son, and the two little girls who clung to us women with hugs and requests for sleep overs because they were missing their mother so much. Yes, we all had our stories, and for a brief period in our lives we became a collective, sharing child care advice, academic support, and guidance on the right and wrong ways to comb and care for little natural curls. And when it was time to move on, we congratulated each other and waited for our own happy endings.

As 2011 became 2012, it was evident how much things have changed for us. At midnight, I was in the comfort of my own home, smiling into my computer screen as I shared a New Year's toast with my grandparents via Google Video Chat, and a loving glance at my sleeping baby cuddled up next to me on the couch. A shiny moment of pure bliss.

And as the sun rose and prepared to set on the very first day of this brand new year, a grand feast of Hoppin' John and fixins helped my bliss hang around just a little bit longer.

I hope that all of you had an exhilarating start to 2012. May the prosperity be in abundance for us all.