Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year! May you find joy and prosperity in the coming days.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Joy

On Saturday, while I was walking to the mall (yes, I said walk; I’ve been slacking on my exercise and have to get it in where I can!) – anyway, during that walk I had a revelation & started shouting in the street about how good God is. Now, if you know me, you know that’s not something I normally do in the street but I was so filled up that I couldn’t help myself. Let me explain.

I was thinking about a meme I recently saw which stated:
“It’s funny how someone who was just a stranger last year, can mean so much to you now. It’s terrible that someone who meant so much to you last year, can be just a stranger now. It’s amazing what a year can do.”

That led me to reflect on the saying that has been going around for years about how people come into your life for a reason, season or a lifetime and how we need to accept this & learn to recognize the blessings of each type of relationship.

This led me to think about a few people who I had known for a long time, but became crucial during the last few years – sometimes offering daily support as I struggled with life changes – pushing me to re-discover aspects of my personality that lay dormant – encouraging me step out of my comfort zone – yet today, they are no longer a part of my life. These are some reason or season people. I was feeling a kind of way about that until I realized that they helped me usher in this current season of peace & healing. 

That’s when I accepted the fact that I am healed. I’ve had an inkling for the last few months because I just don’t feel stressed any more. It’s been a while since I’ve had a “moment” where my emotions overcame me. However, I wasn’t sure until that instant. It was also then that I noticed the song below was pumping through my ear buds from Pandora. I love confirmation!

Allow me to recap my last few years. I know everybody goes through stuff and mine is pretty regular in the scheme of things, but it really had me feeling troubled, sometimes downright depressed. While the last four years have included many great moments and memories, they have also been filled with loss. In 2009, I got divorced after 20 years of marriage. Some have likened the trauma of divorce, regardless of the circumstances, to that of death and I can see the truth in this – a death of dreams, hopes, expectations, etc.  In 2010, after a sudden illness followed by months of hospitalization, my mother passed away. During that time, I also had to find a new home to live in, which was my second un-expected move in two years. Last year brought the transition of another close family member. Then just before Christmas, I had a hysterectomy. Although I had no plans for bearing more children, I did mourn the loss of my womb – I mean, we had been together all my life, you know.

So, that’s where I was and, over time, I came to be where I am now. Healed. This season reminds us that God is with us. Always. And that is such a good news that I couldn’t help but shout about it. There will always be something going on. This world has seen so much destruction from man & nature; there is pain all around us. Sometimes it is difficult to bear. But we are not alone. We are never alone. Even in our darkest moments, we must hold on to the truth that it will pass. Our relationships are so integral to our wellbeing that we can’t take any of them for granted – the reasons, seasons & lifetimes all have a purpose. 

Today, I am grateful for the relationships I have been blessed to experience – past & present – those that ended, those that are hibernating, & those that are blossoming – I count it all joy. Today, I am filled with peace & I wish that to you and your loved ones. 

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wishing you a joyful day of peace & good heath. May you take time to reflect on what is important to you and spend time doing what brings you pleasure.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Unofficial Book Signing

Ever since Spirit Song: the lyrics of my heart was published last year, I've heard the question, "When is the book signing?"

Well ... the official has yet to be arranged, but the unofficial book signing is going down in Brooklyn on Monday, November 19, 2012 at GHMPA, 760 Dekalb Avenue, @ 7pm.

East Brooklyn Poets (of which I am a founding member) will be hosting its signature spoken word/poetry reading event with open mic. 

The theme of RESURRECTION is timely as our city regroups from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. If you are in the New York City area, I urge you to come experience the artistic spirit of East Brooklyn Poets ... if you haven't purchased my book yet, you can grab a copy or two, I'll be sure to sign them for you! This will be an evening you won't forget.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Seeing Myself Beautiful Again

All photos in this post are by Saddi Khali of

The Photo-Vangelist, Saddi Khali uses the tagline “let’s see ourselves beautiful again” and I decided to write something from out of that; my experience on the other side of his lens. I have had the pleasure of being immortalized on three occasions by Brother Saddi; the first shoot was alone, next was with my children and the third was during a work related event. I was on a journey prior to meeting him, but our relationship has helped me travel further along the path. 

To see myself beautiful again, insinuates that I originally saw myself in this manner but somehow the view became skewed. I will admit that as I aged, I internalized the outlook of a portion of our society regarding what constituted beauty. One of my biggest obstacles was coming to terms with my weight & size. I actually started gaining weight toward the end of high school, but I was never what one would consider overweight. After giving birth to my first child, I lost a significant amount of weight, so much that some people thought I was ill. Then as the years passed, I gained it back & more. I became, and still am, a plus sized woman.

A change of perspective was needed to become comfortable in/with my body. The turning point came when I began to phase out negative imagery and started to cling to the following scripture: 

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 
 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
-         ~ Psalms 139: 13-14 (NIV)

“Fearfully & wonderfully made” became my mantra. God doesn’t make mistakes. We are created with great diversity in thoughts, abilities, talents, appearance … including body size & type.  We are all wonderful – amazing, fabulous, stunning, marvelous – and, yes, beautiful.

I was transitioning, stepping out of my comfort zone in some areas and embracing who I was - intellectually, spiritually & physically. Following are excerpts from piece I wrote that embodied this transformation:

Evolution of a Woman
(learning to love myself)

 Loving my whole self comes in different stages
Sometimes I have to re-learn this love
as I develop into a different person.
Right now, I am so in love with my body.
Does that sound vain?
Is it a strange concept?

I am not a small woman,
I have been, in years past –
but I am not at the moment.
is what I have been deemed recently.
is a description that I once balked at,
but am now claiming.

I have stopped looking at myself through glasses
tainted with memories of size 8’s,
stopped wondering what happened
to my true reflection in the mirror,
stopped asking, who is this person staring back at me?

Do you understand how wonderfully
liberating it feels to put on clothes that fit,
not clothes that scream at you
that ask why you are
stretching them to their limits,
just because your mind’s eye tells you
they should grace your body?

Every morning I stare at my face
and think WOW, you are beautiful!
I know that’s the divinity in me, saluting itself.
I constantly drive my fingers through my locs,
even when they are frizzy/fuzzy and un-manicured.
I think WOW, I love my hair, now that I am not
burning it into submission.

Anointing my body with sweet,
sweet oils gives me pleasure –
I love the way my skin feels,
the way my body curves.
I can stay all day,
reveling in the sensations I experience.

So now that I was really feeling myself, I wanted to take some pictures. Not just any pictures, I wanted nudes that were tastefully done and real. I wanted to see myself in all of my glory & power.

Enter Saddi Khali. Somehow, I came across his pictures on FaceBook and then I visited his website. I was in awe of the depth of work I saw. This brother has a gift of making the mundane look special. His philosophy is to help our people heal from the negative imagery of ourselves that we are fed on a daily basis via mainstream media. Saddi focuses on details that I would ordinarily overlook. He shoots everything; men, women, couples, children, families, trees, skylines, subway signs, snow storms on Eastern Parkway … and with every frame I experienced the moment. I purchased a black & white photograph titled "1st Instrument" which moved me in a way that I have difficulty describing – just know that as I sit in my bed typing this, it is hanging on the wall directly in front of me, and it brings to mind fond thoughts of a loved one.

I had been looking for a photographer and now I found him. The next leg of my trek began when I submitted my deposit for the shoot. We corresponded prior to the appointed day so that Saddi could get a feel for me, who I am and why I wanted to do a session with him. I wondered about where we would meet and the whole process – did his subjects usually get “did” in preparation because I don’t do make-up, don’t even color my fingernails.  He explained how he shot using natural light so as long as I had a window, we would be good. He also mentioned that whatever my normal regimen was would be fine; he was capturing me, as I am. That was all cool until he actually came to my house – then shit got real. Was I really going to strip for this stranger? And allow him to take pictures of me?

Well, Saddi writes that he specializes in dealing with his clients’ nervousness and I can attest to this. The brother is just so freaking cool that he puts you at ease. Hooked up the laptop & started the banging playlist.  When he says that he operates under the perspective that you were made in the image of the CREATOR & the CREATOR doesn’t make mistakes, so you have to be beautiful – he’s not joking. That belief oozes from him. His excitement at bringing out your individual beauty is contagious. Nakedness is more than a physical state. I had to open myself to a new state of mind, one that was less inhibited and more able to face unkowns. After a while, I was comfortable and just had fun. As I’m a person who likes structure, I wanted clear directions with regards to posing, etc. while he preferred that I just do my thing – we worked it out in the end. 

Needless to say, I am extremely pleased with my photographs, which were downloaded to my computer before he left my home. No extra stuff, no re-touching … just my raw self. What is most astounding for me is that Saddi gets real up close & personal. In. My. Face. I didn’t realize I had issues with certain things until I saw how he exposed them – like the lines on my forehead, my uneven skin tone or the fleshiness under my chin. But you know what? This is who I am - I’m soft and round and I love it!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Going Purple in Recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month

This is a repost of an entry from last year.

The first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed in October 1987. During that same year, the first national domestic violence toll-free hotline was initiated. Although we need to be aware and fight against domestic violence all year long, I want to highlight a few things today.

Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Abuse presents itself in many forms such as physical, sexual, emotional, economic, and psychological. Domestic violence can occur with people of every gender, race, religion, socioeconomic status, age, sexual orientation, and education level.

If you are in an abusive relationship, know that there is help and you are not alone in your struggle. The National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE) provides advocates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to assist victims, or anyone calling on their behalf, with crisis intervention, safety planning and local referrals. The website,, offers a plethora of information for victims and anyone who suspects their loved one may be in an abusive relationship. Another great resource is the book by Lundy Bancroft titled Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men.

Below is the piece I wrote that was published in the 2010 Edition of The Purple Poetry Book in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. My hope is that you will all be safe.

silent no more

he tried to break me
when I thought I could take no more
he proved he wasn’t done
he wanted to crush me
but I’ma shine through it
I’ma soar above all the bullshit
transcend that tiny bag of tricks
assume responsibility for my life

I got wings, can’t you see?
I’m a survivor
I’m already free
my anger is real and justified
thankfully it’s led me to open my eyes
the secret has been revealed

I now comprehend that it’s all a game
he thought he was winning at hopscotch
him throwing rocks, me jumping in a box
as I open the chess board I realize none of this is personal
we are at war and it’s a shame
but I finally got the rules to this ole game
entitlement, control, manipulation are the moves
acquiescence, keeping the peace is how we lose

I am silent no more
I must speak for my sisters who can’t
because of the bullets in their heads or the knives in their chests
I must speak for my sisters
who are too afraid and have not yet understood
if they don’t walk out, they will be carried out
I must speak for my sisters
who only see the physical
and don’t yet understand the impact of slowly dying
mentally and spiritually
I must speak for my brothers
cause they are overlooked and disbelieved
I must speak for the children
who don’t know any other way
who think this is how life is supposed to be lived
I must speak to a system that perpetuates the torture
that holds us in contempt and does not keep us safe

they say a rose by any other name is still a rose
well abuse by any other name is still abuse
I am silent no more.

Shahmet Gordon © 2010

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Reflections on my Family

My Parents
circa 1964

In a previous blog post, I mentioned my current fascination with love. Consistent with that line of thinking, I have been contemplating various aspects of family. Some of the constructive words I ascribed to family in a recent speech included: listen, affirm, encourage, strengthen, responsibility, support, welcome, blessed, love, push & pull, grow, serve. 

The older I get, the more I appreciate the family I was born into. It is crazy to think that my sisters, cousins and I will soon be the elders, but that is the reality as many of our parents have already transitioned to the ancestors. My parents, aunts and uncles laid the foundation that we now stand upon.  As a child I was kind of introverted; as a young adult I was a bit isolated.  I didn’t cultivate close relationships with much of my extended family. However, in recent years, I have been working to turn this around.

At every point in my life, beginning with my biological sisters, I have had girls/women around to encourage me, support me, teach me, set me straight and reflect some aspect of myself (positive or negative) back to me.  I learned what it meant to love, even when we didn't see eye to eye. I now have a connection with a few other women who embody the word sister for me. It may seem trite, but I hold that designation above any other that may reflect on a person’s status or standing in the world. In our youth, sisters help us flesh out our identity and as we age, they continue to be sounding boards that aid in our continued growth.

Being one of three girls, I always wanted a brother.  Observing friends with their brothers gave me the feeling that I was missing out on a special relationship. Fortunately, my sisters chose husbands who accepted me as their baby sis, even prior to the exchange of vows. I have also been attached for several years to a couple of men who fill that role. Through these bonds, I am able to experience that protection, affirmation, and frankness that comes from brothers.  
I had the desire to adopt children when I was in my early twenties. This struck some people as strange when I mentioned it.  Since I already had a child, it was assumed that I didn’t have difficulty conceiving. Why else would anyone want to adopt? I simply had a yearning to share myself with children who were in need, for whatever reason. So imagine my joy now that on top of the two who entered the world through me, I have gathered a few more children. Along with their parents, I offer an alternate point of view, an open heart and, sometimes, a hot meal.

Finally, when I reflect on my family, that which I was born to and that which I helped create, I realize that I am additionally blessed to have ties that defy definitions. Closer than sister, brother, parent or child. Filled with transparency, intimacy and peace; these are the type of unions that the term “ride or die” was made for.

Just my not so random Monday night musings …I truly love my family ... as always, feel free to share your thoughts …