"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare" Audre Lorde.
Today is #blackloveday!
I had the honor of meeting the creator, Ayo Handy Kendi, a couple of years ago while celebrating a born day in DC. It was amazing to hear her talk about why this day was so important.
#blackloveDay or BLD is the 3rd nationally, commemorated African American holiday wholyday.
It is an observance of atonement, reconciliation, celebration and 24 hour demonstration of Black love, showing 5 Tenets (specific acts). They are love towards the Creator, for Self, for the Family, within the Black Community and for the Black Race.
Today, for me, is ALL about self love. I don't think I began to fully understand what Self- Love was until about 1year ago. I have always been a outspoken individual who did what I wanted- but that doesn't mean that behind closed doors I struggled.
I exisited in a head space that centered my self-care on the needs of others... particularly men.
Until i decided to (fearfully) stand in front of the mirror and approach myself.
#myjourneyto30 I now understand that I am the only person worthy of approval. If anything disrupts my peace - I chuck you the Peace sign.
I had to learn to love myself, without conditions.
I had to learn to love myself even with my crooked smile, the acne scars, my short fingers, my large lips, the stretch marks...
I had to learn to carve time for me and to be unapologetic about it. Even if that mean getting a baby sitter. I learned that one can pour from an empty vessel.
It took for me to become a mama, before I started taking the act of self care seriously... mind body and soul.
It was hard work facing that mirror, but oh so worth it.
The work is not over, how I approach the selfceare work has changed for the better.
" I am deliberate and afraid of nothing." Andre Lorde.
"He who forgives, wins the argument." African Proverb.
Asé. (And so it will be).
My son made his presence known to me while in the womb at 19weeks. Prior to that, he existed inside my body undetected. When I found out i was pregnant at 19weeks I realized that I had about 3 months to plan my LIFE for another child... as a single mama.
3 and a newborn was about to be my new life.
I was shook. and embarrassed.
I had made a personal vow to myself to not have anymore children until i was in a healthy relationship with someone who loved and respected me and my daughter.
But King was coming, whether I liked it or not.
After Marli I was mean, angry, sometimes violent, depressed, and felt like I was stuffed into a corner. I hated the very being that helped me earn one of the most important titles I'll ever have, mama.
I loved him. I hated him. I loved him. I hated him. That emotional rollercoaster was one i rode for years until one day I stopped.
King gave me hope. I felt magical with him, blessed to be the woman he choose to restore my faith back in men. Of course God would give me a son. I was at the peak of hating all men... my daddy included. I felt betrayed. I was pregnant with my son, my piece of peace. Charged with the task of raising a young king to grow up and be something different.
And so it will be.
I stopped the argument. I choose to forgive.
We went about a year with out really communicating. I backed up, released expectations and allowed him to be a dad on his terms...not mine. THAT, was huge.
I was intentional about my healing.
I'm posting this photo as a testament of our journey as co/parents. We have come a long way. in 2018 we can now sit in the same room and laugh at jokes, we can converse about the "special" person in our lives -(Im single, now) and really just be present in the moment for our children. Im grateful for that.
If i've learned nothing else, I've learned that "If you wish to move mountains tomorrow,you must start by lifting stones today" African Proverb.
"The way you speak to yourself matters."
For years I used my words to fight my battles. I was never a fighter so my spitfire word game was perfected. My ability to take a shortcoming and use it to make someone feel low was perfected. My new life as a (career working) single mama made me very angry and depressed. My dreams and expectations of a fairy tale life women are forced into believing is "the way" was off to horrible start. See, I had graduated college, met a guy whom i thought was amazing ( but wasn't cause I had on my "he's got potential frames"), got pregnant and thought next was the wedding and happily ever after. Blah blah blah, cause geese I was wrong.
Because my expectations were not met, I slumped into a 3 or so year pit of depression. I was a wreck. I could not understand why anyone could pass all this up.. and by this i mean the dopeness that is me!
Anyway, my life changed- and I resented my children's father ( and every other man). My body changed, which resulted in a constant love hate relationship, AND I was now responsible for a little human whose whole existence relied on my ability to care for them.
I was angry.
But Black Women saved my life.
It took me to be intentional about my healing before i started to see and feel change. There were(are) high days and for sure low ones.
Fast forward some 4.5 years Im a different woman. I look at my reflection and see beauty, strength, love and a few stretch marks that serve as reminders of my journey. I don't look at myself and speak negativity. nope. I know that those words have power. I instead look at my reflection and speak life.
Im the original #dopechic ( well 3rd generation cause Big Ma and My mama are super dope).
My journey wasn't meant for everyone. I am everything i am because of it. Im dope because I SAID I AM. I no l longer care about the opinions of others. If it (meaning men, events, friends, family, jobs, etc) doesn't protect my peace.... ha, I'm chucking you the peace sign!!! lbvs.
I am beautiful.
I am confident.
I am enough.
Speak life to yourself.
Puma, The MelanatedMama
I will not be another flower, picked for my beauty and left to die. I will be wild, difficult to find, and impossible to forget." Erin van Vuren
"Deep breaths are like little love notes to your self. "
Saturday. Probably my favorite self care day of the week especially when it involves a grown up girl's night!!! Every other day is filled with pre-filled work, community service, art and mama duties. The one day where i don't need an alarm clock is SATURDAY.
As I prepare for 30, Im especially excited about TODAY!
I vowed that this would be the year that I conquer my own fears, no matter how big or small. I made a list of 30 things/experiences that i avoided because of fear.
Today, is Speed Dating. ( insert dramatic music).
Let my homegirls tell it... I have a a "type" of man I gravitate to.
Im trying broaden my horizons, so putting myself out there for a Speed dating event is my way of conquering this fear of getting back into the dating scene.
Im beyond nervous but excited to putting myself back out there, again.
my turn up is natural, no wine or other bubbly drank needed.
Any moment, without my children, where I get to dress up is WIN for me. So if you see me in these streets just know - Im happy AF- don't kill my vibe.
So, tonight I'm preparing to do my hair, mositurize my skin (#teamnoashyin2018), hook up my make-up, marvel at my fully put together outfit in the full body mirror and sashay out the door.
Watch me work.
Do you see these legs?!
"I told myself that i was going to live the rest of my life as if it were Saturday" Chip Gaines.
"Children have never been good at listening to their elders. But they have never failed to imitate them."
Today was tough in mamahood. My daughter made some poor choices at school that i took personally.
Listen, taking care of little humans did not come with a personalized handbook. There are some days when I absolutely feel like I'm failing as a parent, and others when I feel like the single mama superwoman who undoubtedly "got this!"
Early in my journey of mamahood I believed that my daughter was my remix, I had a long list of things I wanted her to do, I had an idea of what I wanted her personality to be like, her style.. her vibe etc. But as we grew to learn about one another I realized, she's her own little person. That was a hard pill to swallow.
Everyday is a lesson. Everyday I'm faced with a new task to overcome. Every day she reminds me that I aint always got this!- the a ha moment is to remember that its ok!
I beat myself up often because I feel like i suck as a mama. But I have to remember Im doing the best i can. There are days when my daughter doesn't listen, she ignores me and completely behaves in a way that goes against all i've tried to instill in her. There are some days I literally want to scream, pull my hair out and hide in the closet away from my children.
But my daughter is watching. My son is watching. No matter how tired, defeated, frustrated, worn out, happy, joyful (insert any other emotion here) I can't forget... I have 2 sets of eyes watching.
The journey ain't easy. And I'm reminded by my mama that I'm getting all that I gave her. ha!
Mama's, its ok to say you are drained. Or that you are tired of mama-ing - yes i made up that word! Our children need to see that we are taking care of ourselves.
Take a moment to deep breath, self care and come back. Guide them, love them. It will all work it self out in the end.
"What you help a child love can be more important than what you help her to learn." African Proverb.
Puma, The MelanatedMama.
Road to 30.....
"When you educate a man you educate an individual. When you educate a woman you educate a generation" African Proverb.
I remember growing up in a house where reading was expectated and highly encourages. Books were every where in my house, Saturdays were filled with trips to Central Library or Half Price Books. Summers I was always a super reader, i even wrote a few of my own ( as a child). I vividly remember grabbing a new book every morning during breakfast. I LOVED to read. Babysitters club, Books on Marcus Garvey, Egypt, Art etc. Sadly, however, somewhere down the line with college, life and mamahood reading became lower and lower on my priority list. So much so that that i went years without actually reading a book cover to cover.
My personal collection of books is crazy. I simply LOVE books, fiction, non fiction, art, history, self help, graphic novels.. i love them all. I LOVE the way they smell, the cover art, the physical space they occupy...
Currently I'm reading 2 books.
1. Shifting: The Double Lives of Black Women in America, By: Charisse Jones and Kumea Shorter-Gooden
2. Whole Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson
I also have a running list once I'm finished with those. This year Im going to read 30 books.
Can you name a book that transformed you and your life?
For me it was Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters (Elementary School) & Marcus Garvey Life and Lessons (high school)
"True teaching is not aaccumulation of knowledge. it is an awakening of consciousness" African Proverb.
30 is coming.
I'm welcoming this transition into what I call Pumahood! The land of confronting all fears, living in the moment and protecting my peace.
Life has taken me for ride, and for a long time i resisted. But now, Im intentional about loving the journey.
Join me at Melanated Mama everyday at noon to chronicle my life to 30!
Share and like the page.
- There is something liberating about being your self... your authentic self. When one gets away from trying to live up to someone else's standard of who they should be the freedom and gift that comes from that includes creating space for your child to get in tough with their own spirit- which is a critical objective for parenthood.
- "An awakened parent is one who is aware of the traditional paradigms of parenting, where the parent is seen as greater than the child, are obsolete in the modern world, producing dysfunction and disconnection in families." page 2
- An awakened parent will begin to realize that every relationship within the family is designed to help one another grow.
- "Children are seen as mirrors through which they are able to see how they themselves need to mature and develop." page 2
WHAT ARE YOUR INTIAL THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK?
I have had a love hate relationship with LOVE. Perhaps I wasn't ready, expectations unrealistic, warped view of what love looked like. Im don't know. However after a few years of taking a step back i realized the love I so long desired, was the love I desperately needed to be giving myself.
I have been in a shell... and after about 4 years Ive finally risen. My homegirl and work bae found out i had a camera... a camera that had been sitting idle in my house since its purchase. She challenged me to take her engagement photos. While honored, I first hesitated and began to offer her the contact information for other photographers I knew and trusted in the city. She insisted. She insisted that I be the one to capture their love... this moment in their lives.
So i did it. Nervous and scared I took a chance on myself and my skills and took their photos.
F0r a bout 2 hours i followed this couple around. I saw they way he held her hand, lead her, made her laugh, comforted her... it was dope to watch. All i kept thinking was that these two are really in love. They deserve each other. To be around that type of love changed my perception. Love is work. Love is compromise. Love is patient and kind.
My first photoshoot ever. Im a rookie. I acknowledge that. However my only goal was to capture their love of film... or memory card cause I shot them with a digital camera. (lol)
Take a look at a few of the photos!
A COLLECTION OF THOUGHTS
I don’t celebrate holidays. My family only gets together maybe twice a year around Thanksgiving or Christmas…..and even those gatherings are cancelled on a regular. Whatever the reason, be it dysfunction or lack of financials, gift giving and merry times weren’t a frequent thing for me. Ever. Flash forward to adulthood, to motherhood, to wifehood and nothing has changed in that sense. My husband comes from a small family, the majority of his people live in Philly and his closest relatives live in Atlanta, so he doesn’t have much reason to indulge either. And you know what? I’m okay with that. We consider love and our definitions of the term to be more action based.
Love to me is making sure I am taking care of my mental, physical, spiritual and metaphysical being. That means making sure I am eating right, physically active and investing in my family in every way I can. Love to me is making sure I cook wholesome meals at least twice a day, homeschooling my son John-creating a curriculum based on his skill level and creating a creative space where he can be himself. I instill in my children the notion that they should create their own businesses instead of working a 9-5 that is geared towards making someone else filthy rich, my son John and daughter Queen will be creating their own cookie creation company pretty soon. Love to me is treating my son and daughter in law no different than my biological boys, because I have watched them grow up and have been blessed with the opportunity to love on them as I do my own. Love is choosing to breastfeed my youngest son Jrue and prepare his baby food using organic fruits and veggies. My youngest is 7 months old now, and I have been breast feeding him for 7 months. I wish I didn’t give up on breast feeding John when I did, but I am older and wiser. J Love to me is making sure my Husband’s needs and wants are met, being his best friend and supporting him in all of his endeavors.
Love is being able to grow with him, through thick and thin, good and bad, and being able to forgive him and myself for the mistakes we have made along our journey. Loving my husband is making sure his needs are met, physically, emotionally, mentally and every other way you can think of. We are by no means romantic. We have realized the small things mean more to us both than buying Teddy bears, and roses. We do surprise each other with gifts every now and again, but we don’t treat it as a priority. I’m more likely to bust it wide open coming home to a clean house than a diamond bracelet lowkey. A perfect date to me is having the kids go to a sitter, and he and I just chill at home, snuggled up on the couch watching movies or something.
Love is forgiveness, and it took me year to understand what that word actually meant. Forgiveness has allowed me to move forward in life. I forgive certain family members for the mental and physical abuse and neglect I endured as a child, I forgive certain so called friends who left me out to dry when I gave them my last so they could eat and feed their family, I forgive any and everyone who has ever done something bad to me, double crossed me or treated me in way that made me feel unwanted, hurt or less than a person. I use the word forgive in a present tense because it’s an ongoing process of evolution for me. For years I would hold onto ill feeling about folks just because of something they did. I would disassociate myself with family because I was harboring resentment in feeling that they should have treated me better, or done right by me. I had to let those negative energies go so I could move forward and live and be free. I no longer take other people’s actions personally. I let life pan out, and I accept people for who they are. It’s the best feeling in the world. Not only do I forgive other people, learning how to forgive myself is probably the hardest lesson I had to learn. I used to be so hard on myself about everything, the way I look, the way I spoke, the way I act, the way I think. I was teased and bullied all the way up through high school and I hated myself for it. I was never pretty enough to me, I was jealous of all the pretty girls, I wished I was as pretty as they were. Totally blind to personality traits, I thought looks were everything. I didn’t love myself at all. Me being so insecure caused rifts in all my relationships with other people, including my marriage. I tried to pray my insecurities away all of the time.
Thank God for growth. I learned how to love myself through the love shown to me by my children and husband. They never gave up on me, even when I was at the lowest point in my adult life. Self-love is an ongoing evolution for me, but I appreciate the journey. I realize my worth, the value I add to my family and to myself- personally and interpersonally. I am dope, I am amazing, I am strong, I am dynamic, I am eclectic. I am Jasmine and Jasmine is the shit! I can now say that at age 31, I am currently the happiest I have been thus far in my entire life. Love is deep…..ya feel me??
Im the mama of Marli Amor and Kingston Ase.