Finding Voice, Discovering Power

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I have been away. Not writing as consistently as I should be, not practicing my creativity. With the draft of every new post, staring at the blank Notes of my iPhone and the ineligible markings in my notebook – I found myself muttering.

“Who cares about this? This is not important. It does not matter”

In the dark corners of my mind, I was convinced that my words were insignificant. That my voice was unnecessary. There in the floor, shattered into hundreds of jagged little pieces. My voice – broken and silenced. There were many things that I allowed to silence my voice.

At moments, there was noise. I was lip synching to the words of others. Imitating sounds in voice that was not my own. I sacrificed myself in my reticence. Not realizing how connected my voice was to my desires, my destiny, my power. I had become a threat to my complete self with the muzzle I had tied so tightly around my own mouth.

I recalled small pieces of my life through story. My writing, unbeknownst to me, was fragmented and a reflection of my voice. A scary exercise in exploration. It was small, whispering. I desired a roar, a full throat. Words attempted to leap from my lips, they escaped in the form of a stutter inaudible and almost soundless. What was guiding my voice? What prevented my full voice?

I decided that woman who finds her voice, finds her power – and through that discovery she is on a path to defining and creating exactly who it is she wants to be. Everyday the voice became clearer, louder, more convicted. It trembled and cracked. I felt it shake, but each breath became deeper. The layers of my tongue began to unfold and the soft, safe words became biting and heavy. There I was, similar to a new born who had just discovered their tongue, poking it around in the remote crevices of my mouth. Even in the beginnings of finding our voice – we are was discouraged to use it. As women, who are we to take up space, speak loudly, talk forcefully, demand our words be heard?

And that was it. It was not just about words and sounds. It was about validating my experience. It was about amplifying my desires. It was about birthing a destiny, deepening a purpose and expanding a vision. This was about the creation of personal power.

My voice was my vehicle to survival. Do you believe in the power of your voice? I was a woman who had found her voice, and in turn discovered her power. Your voice matters. It could change a life, touch a heart, revolutionize a nation. Most importantly, you get free.

Waiting For Permission

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Head low, I was scattered. I had no idea what it was I wanted to do, how I wanted to show up in the world. The questions swirled in mind like water down a drain.

‘Who am I?’

‘What is my purpose?’

‘How do I want others to see me?’

My head went blank. My feet turned cold. I was convinced that I would be on this ride forever. The roller coaster of ambiguity and ambivalence. I could not help but feel like I hit a ceiling. I sat frightened by the illusion of not knowing who it was I was born to be. Have those thoughts ever materialized and festered in your mind, consumed your being?

Often we find ourselves kneeling at the altars of the unnecessary. Over and over, we recite a familiar chant, worshipping that which will surely bring death to our dreams. Our attention, becomes a prayer. Our thoughts, evolve into an invocation. We assist in the creation and preservation of a diety we frequently travel and bow to. It reigns always as one of hesitation and distrust. It was there my fear appeared dressed in procrastination, adorned in indecision, draped in blame, covered in victimhood and trimmed with judgement. How do we construct gods in which we are not true believers?

I found myself living in the dreams of what others had for me; existing in the expectations and destinies written by external forces. I was grateful for those who facilitated in the process of me pulling back layers of myself, but sunk into waiting on those around me to make a decision about who I was, on standby for their permission to live my dream. Asking questions of others and not once seeking the counsel of myself. I sat, clipping at my wings, paralyzed at how high I would soar. And at the same time, seeking the validation of others while the confirmation sat in my chest. We become addicted to approval, and fail in trying to withdraw from the need of those around us – valuing their beliefs over our own. Their needs over our own. Their love over our own. Until hit with the realization that we are on the opposite end, paintbrush in hand, pen between fingers – the creators of our reality..

In that moment, I realized how important it was to claim peace in my life after I spent so much time declaring war. I was desperate to discover to me. I wanted to begin the walk of courage required between potential and greatness. It meant becoming the sculptor, feeling the clay between my palms, and molding the life I hoped for.

It was the rejection of the woman I thought I was and the woman everyone wanted me to be.

Indulge in a moment to take yourself in your own arms, to hold your own hand and give yourself a kiss on the collarbone. The way you understand yourself and who you really are, is coming to fruition.

7. The Number of Perfection and Completion.

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“Mom, I just remembered I didn’t give you a hug today.”

These are often the words, followed by the warmest hug, I hear from my son on almost a daily basis. Today he is 7. The number of perfection and completion.

7 years ago did not feel like perfection. It was incomplete, broken. I was young, black, single and pregnant – a cocktail, a blend often bitter on the tongue of the world. I was uncertain, I was afraid. I felt like a failure. At 19, the world deemed the life that was forming in my belly a death sentence. It had been decided that I was incapable and unworthy of a title such as ‘Mother’.

As he grew I began to question if he had made the right decision in choosing me to be his Mother. I had been laid off from my job, a year and a half out of high school and had no idea of what was next. As his father and I left the hospital, we made a promise to cultivate his greatness, give him a life we could not imagine and no matter what transpired between the two of us, he would remain at the core of every word, action and decision.

7 years later, I have learned as much as I have been able to teach. My son has shown me the transformative force that is love; a force of truth, of strength. There are days when I get this Mommy thing completely wrong, days where I feel I have failed him completely. My son still chooses me over and over and over again.

His insane attention to detail and ability to put together over 500 piece Lego sets. His quick-wittedness when he fires back at his older cousins. I stand in awe of his perseverance
his power
his brilliance
his joy
his laughter
his love
his light.

And even a moment such as this in the world, where we are bombarded and heavy with the death of brown bodies, I am taught that black motherhood is about resilience. While some consider bringing black life in to this world pre-meditated murder, it is not the narrative I can share with my son. I am reminded and cautioned that the blood of dead black bodies can not fill our mouth and drip down onto the foreheads of the ones who chose us. This is not a moment where we can afford to fill our bellies with cement and declare our wombs a land only fit for tombstones. This journey of mommy hood has required waking up every day and speaking life into the beating hearts and bright eyes of our children.

I am still riddle with questions. What do you give to the person who changed your very existence? The one who saved your soul? How do you repay the person who was the reason you found purpose and a life of meaning? The person who made you softer, kinder, and more compassionate towards the world?

I’m grateful for this part of my journey and to be chosen by such a beam of light. I have watched him crawl, walk and now. I am anxious to see him fly.


She sat in the middle of the bed, gazing up into the eyes of the man who loved her. The long fingers on her right hand cupped his left cheek, while her left rested gently on his chest.  With a soft kiss to the forehead and a ‘I love you’, he went about his day.

One foot touched the plush, beige carpet followed by the other. Tip toeing to the corner of the room, she stood in front of a door. A shaky hand went for the rusting knob, as the creaking of the wood became silent over the booming of her beating heart. Walking into the darkness, she kneeled to the floor.

She dragged the skeletons of dead men into the homes of her new lovers. Keeping them tucked away in the corners of dark closets, there she would hide, obsessed. Reliving their deaths over and over again. She still loved the men with empty insides, whose fingers turned to dust when they touched the small of her back. Her delicate hands caressed the dusty mandibles. She peered into the hollow holes that once held their dead eyes as tears rolled out of her own, whispering faintly into the space that once held their ears, ‘Why didn’t you love me?

Her voice echoed in the hollow skull. She held the chalky finger bones in her own palm, desperately wanting to dance with the emptied cage. She could not differentiate between lover and skeleton, between death and life.

Sitting in the corner of the closet, arms full of dry bones; wondering what it was that she held on to.  Their dying kept her alive. Eyes full of hot water she lamented, not over what she had lost, but what she had never had.

She sat in the floor, sorting through the pieces of her broken self, hoping to find what it was she thought was missing – or perhaps undiscovered. She could just not let go.

The company of the quiet carcasses who never loved her was preferred over the beating heart that did. She asked them if they remembered. No answer.

“Do you remember? ANSWER ME!”

She heard a noise, only to realize the frame had slid down the wall of closet. The bones fell to the floor into a heap. Silence. Even though they were gone, she had never allowed them to leave.

As the door closed, her sooty fingers rubbed down her thighs, staining the front of her favorite cream skirt. She felt like them – lifeless, departed and too cold to care.

Dark handprints appeared on the comforter as she crawled back to the middle of the bed. He returned to greet her again with a kiss on the forehead. Hand to his chest, she felt his heartbeat. Left hand to his cheek, she felt the warmth of his brown skin.

She couldn’t help but wonder if the cages in the closet were answering her.

The Flowers In Her Hair

 I stood over the sink, scissors in one hand. On the other, my fingertips massaged the roots of the coarse locks that felt like my favorite wool blanket.  I closed my eyes and asked the question “what are you holding on to?’ I had no reply, no answer that satisfied. Pieces of the dark, kinky hair began to fall into the marble sink, floating onto the floor, some strands finding themselves in the trash can. There was a deep exhale each time I heard the sound of the metal slice through the wiry strands.

Bare faced and hairless only minutes later, I did not know the eyes I looked into.

Outside the shadows of hair, the mask that was my mane there lived a sea of imperfections. The keloid that grew and protruded on the top of my left earlobe. The cluster of blemishes from acne scars on my right cheek. The gap in my teeth, scraggly eyebrows, a slightly protruding chin – all of it, visible.

Everything looked flawed.

I stood there and reflected on how much time and energy I spent trying to convince the world I was beautiful, when I didn’t believe it personally.

BaldieThere was a dazzling, breathtaking clarity. That crown did not determine my core.

…it was the first time I had really seen myself.

The stains and scars only I could notice from the bloody, invisible war that was my life.

I was a woman beautifully flawed, so perfectly wounded.

Underneath her skin there was a profound shifting, an intense transformation that birthed a radical new identity. Her iron surface, she discovered,  was lined with lace and silk. She had the soul of a kaleidoscope, lips lined with diamonds and her gap … it was the thing that let all of the light into her mouth. A throat full of poetry and an unveiling that gave her permission to cough up every word. A woman who had grown new wings for new skies. I was in awe at her beautiful, tattered edges. In that moment of revelation and rebellion she had resurrected her mere existence, and unearthed she was a revolution.

I recognized myself, but more importantly, did not care what it was others could see.

I swept the strands that had lost their way into the trash can. I smiled and realized there was no need to stick flowers in my hair, they were already there.