Cipher: A Life of Shadows

At our very first heartbeat, I believe that each of us has a predestined journey and purpose.  We don’t get to choose the parents or family that we are born into to help us grow and learn on our journey of a lifetime.  Through the miracle of birth, we are pushed through by the human vessel; although we all would like to be born into a family of perfection, that is not the way life works for many.

I grew up in a poor single-family home.  My maternal grandmother raised me.   Molested by her mother’s boyfriend and only finishing primary school; she bore five kids and my mother was the fourth born to a man she would never grow to know.  When my mother was fifteen she became pregnant with me.  I am the product of my maternal great-grand mother and grandmother’s shadows.

HURT PEOPLE, HURT PEOPLE – Just because someone hurt you, does not give you the right to hurt others.

I didn’t realize what generational karma was until my paternal grandmother told me the reason she stopped letting my paternal grandfather watch me as a young child…. I immediately connected this to a feeling that had hunted me, the reason I connected sex with love, and why promiscuity found me at a young age.  My aunts had also been sexually abused… I had no idea until she revealed her truths.  I questioned the woman that my grandmother had always been to me; STRONG.  How could she have stayed with a man who had hurt so many others; who she had never married for love?  Ironically, she had also been a victim of molestation.  Oddly, my soul felt relieved but as a young mother, I immediately became over protective; if my own loved-one could do this to me, I had to protect my daughter, I had to break the cycle.

I was 26 that day that I called my paternal grandmother just in our daily routine and she had the most honest conversation with me that she and I had ever had and probably ever will.  She had lived a life that she wasn’t proud of and had married a man she had never loved, and she put up with some horrible things and had done some terrible things.  I didn’t need an apology, she taught me the greatest lesson in that one conversation.

I thought long and hard about the pillars in my family and who I could speak to about the emotions and concerns that I had.  I spoke to my oldest uncle who told me that he had known but I could not live in the fear of shadows, learning to discern without smothering my child was best.  He and my grandmother told me stories of lessons that I needed to bare for our family, and the generations to come.  If peace and blessings were to manifest than secrets that hunted my grandmothers and our ancestors…needed to be embraced.

The shadows that hunt us are:

  • Abuse
  • Addiction
  • Violence
  • Poverty
  • Illness
  • Abandonment
  • Betrayal

These shadows create cords that can entangle us and are often repeated and practiced for generations within our families.  In a discussion with some colleagues, we talked about the infamous Amber Rose and her “slut walk”, and why some women choose to perpetuate feminism/female empowerment with “naked-ness”.   She brought up the point that many of these women have been sexually abused and find promiscuity as an outlet and have not emotionally processed their issues. I began to think of all the people who walk around with secrets and traumas from dysfunctional families.  Are we internalizing our issues/shadows each generation and they manifest into our everyday interactions and communication?

According to the United Nations (UN) Study on Violence [World Health Organization (WHO), 2006], 150 million girls and 73 million boys under the age of 18 experienced CSA worldwide in 2002. The Childhood Maltreatment Summary 2005 (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2007) estimates that 91,000 children were sexually abused in the United States in 2003.

The way we choose to handle or neglect our mental health and emotional ties today; affect our families tomorrow.  From the beginning of the destruction of the negro-family; up to this very moment, we must learn how to identify our roles, our shadows, and our truths just as often as we identify our accomplishments.

These binding ties are formed at birth and are practiced.  Generational karma/curses are real. Speak your truth, walk in faith, break cycles, embrace your shadows, and hold on to the morning LIGHT.


…Now You’re Talking My Language

Looking back, I remember the days of dating and courting each other, lunches just because, dates regularly.  Bonding was such an important aspect of the reason we became so close so soon.  Immediately, we felt as if the loads of our day could be unloaded unto each other.  Two daughters later, our courtship is mostly conversation about administrating our marriage and the kids.  As much as I need “me time” away from the girls, I also need “adult time” with my spouse.  No phones, no children, just direct conversation about things that do not pertain to our responsibilities.  Finding new ways to provide the support for a strong foundation by rediscovering my love for my partner everyday.


The goal of having meaningful conversation is to talk about things that keep you current and deepen your understanding of who your spouse is.  What are his or her likes, dislikes, preferences, feelings, stressors, friends and life dreams?

Drop your phones for 10 minutes and:

-put the kids to bed early

-remember to listen like it was your first date and never stop dating one another

-play adult games

-cook together

-laugh more


-Turn off the TV during dinner time

-Take a walk together and try conversation starters (link below)

Wifey Wednesday: 50 Conversation Starters For Couples



High Risk Faith

Expecting a baby causes a stream of emotions; especially when you already have a 7 month old.  The moment I thought that I was pregnant; I panicked. Having another baby would put a strain on my marriage, finances, Masters continuation, and my career.

In panic, I made an irrational choice; what I thought was best, I decided to terminate my pregnancy.  My husband didn’t say much, but felt that it was my body and that another baby would probably be too much. I was losing the person I was for 8 years and I didn’t know if I could recover; if we could recover.

In February, at about 7 weeks and five days… I decided to have a medical abortion.  I felt guilt, shame…a part of me wished that the procedure would fail but part of me wanted to selfishly be free.  My husband was not emotionally supportive during our first pregnancy; I felt he was unattracted to me, and the strain of our jobs, and me not having leave-with-pay caused tension.  A lack of communication and appreciation made me feel as if I was losing my wits….

After the medical abortion I was suppose to go back for a check up but I could never make it due to the distance of the center, work, and the girls having the flu simultaneously.

…..In April I found out I was pregnant…but not with a new baby…. the same baby.

My heart dropped and as I saw the ultrasound…. I couldn’t believe that this baby, was strong….that this baby had continued to grow and was kicking and active. I smiled as the tech mumbled in disbelief. Everyone in the doctor’s office began to whisper and soon a woman of the clinic came in and sat me down, she strongly urged me to terminate the baby. “There is a 50% chance of major birth defects”….. teardrops formed in my eyes.  How could I have been so selfish!  This baby was apart of me and I couldn’t see past my fears… I doubted my marriage… I had doubted my faith.

“God has not given us the spirit of fear but of a sound mind, power, and love”

I walked out of that abortion clinic that day…. distraught. I blamed myself.  How could I have gone through with something like this.  I called my husband… he as usual was silent as I cried telling him the news.  I had no idea of what to do!  I knew that this was not by chance… I couldn’t live with myself trying to terminate a baby that was obviously meant to be.

I was in one of the darkest places I had been in a long time.  I had to make a choice that day in my car, either I would live in fear and regret or live by faith and hope.

At almost 20 weeks in April, I immediately sought medical care, my regular OB refused to service me.  I found a new OB/GYN, explained the situation and  they scheduled an appointment.  The doctor immediately found a high risk doctor for me. I began my appointments and continued my research on the effects that medical abortions have on fetuses…I saw deformities in the genitalia, lip, limbs…I also saw a report of birthing a normal baby.

Why was there no research? There wasn’t much research at all of cases in America…I had no idea of what was to come. I knew that I felt that I had to keep walking in my truth, no matter how hard it would be.  Could I live with knowing that I caused harm to my child?  Could I be ok with looking at a child as she struggled in life with certain defects…would I be able to explain to her why I didn’t want her in the beginning?
July: 33 weeks into the pregnancy, a small abdominal and a genital cyst was found…. I was crushed. I had been doing well with the pregnancy but nothing can prepare you for bad news.  I began to beat myself up…

Today I had a moment. I came home, took a hot bath and I hadn’t felt as heavy and loathsome as that in years. I was tired, in aching pain, pregnant, congested, uncomfortable, overwhelmed… I couldn’t bridge my emotions. A barrage of tears streamed from my eyes…I sobbed like a child. I’m able to put all the pieces together and hold tight: I know where everything is, “did everybody eat today?”, doctor appointments scheduled, kids clean, bathrooms cleaned, clothes folded, dishes washed, floors swept; today I didn’t want to be that person… I’m ok but I’m not ok… is that ok? 

At the pinnacle of the pregnancy I was emotionally…physically… void….

The doctors had found placental lakes, genitalia abnormalities, and my stomach growth was not increasing.

I continued for months trusting that the genitalia abnormality would disappear.  After all, my stomach began to show growth, my pregnancy was going well, I didn’t get much movement from her during NST but she moved enough for me to know she was still there.  She was swallowing. She was practicing breathing.

I was content.

39 weeks and my stomach growth began to drop.  My specialist decided it was time to have the baby soon, he explained that the baby was not getting enough nutrients from the placenta. The next day I had a doctors appointment at NST, nothing seemed out of the ordinary as I sat trying to scoff down ice for fetal movement. Abruptly, the doctor came up to me and said “her heartbeats and movements are irregular, you ready to have this baby!?”

It was time.

“The Lord is God”

September 8: At 5 lbs 11 oz, Corrine made her entrance into this world.  I cried as the doctor laid her on my chest.  She was perfect…

Corrine Aalijah was her name. Forever an emblem of a testament of my life.  She serves as a mark of courage, of hope, of faith that passes all understanding. I couldn’t base my life on my fears or shrink due to unforeseen situations, I had to stand; unwavering in my faith but limbering enough to roll with each tide.

…But at what cost?

“You’re going back to work after having a baby. Do you feel guilty, elated, uncertain? The polar opposite of how you thought you would feel? Take a deep breath and remember that more than half of all new moms go back to work when their babies are younger than 1 year old—many with conflicted emotions.”

I have been tossing and turning with guilt and anxiety every night…being 8 months pregnant doesn’t help, but I am literally on edge about having a newborn and a one year old.  Recently, my husband and I decided that it would be best to find a nanny that could take care of the girls while we commute 30 minutes to work twice each day.  If any of you mothers are like me, you hate change…not to mention the inner intentions of outsiders with your children.  My job is to protect my children at all cost, at all times, no matter the circumstance but the option to stay at home with them is not a financial cut we can afford to make with a new home and car.  Honestly, I have never wanted to be a stay-at-home mom,  I have always worked and wanted to feel/be independent.

These new feelings and life changes cause me to worry that I may be putting my needs before my children by selfishly choosing to be the woman who desires to “have it all”.

Usually, I am anxious to go back to work but since the birth of my 11 month old, I have learned just how much of a difference my summer vacation makes.  I got to enjoy teaching her words and learning more about her character.  I did realize the amount of time my career took away from my children.  I don’t remember having these feelings of guilt and apprehension with my 7 year old, I got to enjoy watching her grow and learn because I worked at the same daycare she attended.

As I carry my third child in an expanding tummy; waking my girls up at 4:30am to get dressed and commute to work is a disheartening feeling.  

Tired and thoughtful; I have to remind myself that, “A better me, makes a better us”.



Building Emotionally Intelligent Children 

As I look back over my adolescence, I realized that I had no outlet for my feelings.   I didn’t know how to identify my sadnesses or communicate my frustrations.  So, I began to dig into the issues of my young adulthood and saw that many of the choices I made were based on the lack of self-awareness, productivity, and validity.  

Many parents don’t know how to begin a conversation with a child about their feelings and express empathy.  I remember noticing that once my 7 year old reached a certain age, I encouraged her to be “tough” and avoided her emotional outburst.

In 2013, Forbes magazine stated “When you teach kids emotional intelligence, how to recognize their feelings, understand where they come from and learn how to deal with them, you teach them the most essential skills for their success in life. Research has shown that emotional intelligence or EQ “predicts over 54% of the variation in success (relationships, effectiveness, health, quality of life).” Additional data concludes that “young people with high EQ earn higher grades, stay in school, and make healthier choices.”

I began to search my heart.  I wanted to create children who could effectively communicate, who could talk to me about the truth; no matter how bad the truth was.  Was I cultivating that type of relationship with my daughter; was I allowing her to be herself no matter how I thought she “should” be? Was I cutting her off when she was trying to express her feelings?

My first step: Practice Responding, Rather than Reacting.

There’s a subtle but important difference between responding and reacting.  I would become triggered by my own past or frustrations and lash out and never explain why I was so furious.

I realized I needed to talk more with my daughter about all of my emotions and feelings.  Children understand a lot more than we think.  In order for her to understand how to communicate and handle her emotions; she needed to be showed by me leading in example.  Not only was I suppose to explain my frustration and anger but my happiness too.  I needed to explain problem solving so she’d know how to positively deal with every emotion.  I wanted her to see me overcome so that she felt she could call me or tell me and wouldn’t feel like I would judge her, cut her off, or downplay what was important to her.

I have to own my mistakes, acknowledge my feelings, and then communicate my feelings proactively.

I need my children to know that there are often moments where they will be alone but NEVER lonely; they are whole; holy.   “Mommy is human too” and I make many mistakes but mistakes can be fixed, they are never the FINAL destination but the anchor for self reflection. 

From the map of their palms, compass of their heart, to the temple of their head…they have purpose of their own.

Here’s s to raising children that are self-aware and secure in their beings.

“A House Divided Within Itself, Cannot Stand” – A. Lincoln 

They chanted ‘we will not be replaced.’ 

Replaced as … what? I’ll tell you. Replaced as the only voice in public discussions. Replaced as the law makers, replaced as the only bodies in the public and political arenas. Replaced as the only lives that matter or counted as humans.

“Make America great again!”

….well, what part of America’s history did Trump have in mind?

My only concern is that those same men and women (and don’t get it twisted, we know that they have partners who packed their lunch for this rally, so YES [WOMEN] ) get to go back to their jobs as police officers, teachers, bank officers, loan specialists , lawyers, judges, administrators, senators, CEO’s, executives, and presidents.  

Let’s be honest, there is no negative without positive, but being silent about the issue at Virginia University, whether of color or white, is allowing this type of negative thinking to thrive. 

There is no “Make America Great Again”. America was built on the backs of others; stollen and bartered as “The New World”. America is a corporation.  We don’t want to replace you, we want what is rightfully OURS! Life, equality, and the pursuit of happiness.

We repeat part of a National Anthem, that in it’s entirety, was never meant for us.

 “Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.  No refuge could save the hireling and slave from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave…”

We send our sons and daughters to a national athletic league that exploits their talent. “The untypical exhibitionism of these athletes also violates the basic standards of good manners and sportsmanship, which are so highly valued in the United States.” …they proclaimed in 1968 as we only raised our fist.

From David Duke’s statement to Trump’s utterance of tasteless ignorance; white supremacy is wrong and needs to be proclaimed as so.  Our nation will always be diverse and we must learn to celebrate each other.  How dare we pretend bigotry does not exist on our own land but fight a war with nations over their own country for economic gains.  

“Don’t tell me about progress the black man has made. You don’t stick a knife 10 inches in my back, pull it out three or four, then tell me I’m making progress.’ ” – Jackie Robinson

America is that burning building Martin Luther King spoke of.  We try to shove our dark history under a rug and throw rocks just to hide our hands. No longer will we be able to pretend that racism is not real or that our country has the best interests of its people.

Many of us believe wholeheartedly in the undeniable truth that people of all races and ethnic backgrounds are, and deserve to be treated as, equal. Let’s continue to teach love and equality to children.  Let’s encourage our children to be leaders that promote the growth and diversity of all.  

Over 300 years of servitude and we are still demanding equality!    

Stony the road we trod.  Bitter the chast’ning rod, felt in the days when hope unborn had died; yet with a steady beat / Have not our weary feet, come to the place for which our fathers sighed?

….Will we ever get to the promised land as “ONE”?

Daggum Lasagna 

My household is divided when it comes to eating. My husband is a picky eater and me and the girls eat every thing and vegetable, you name it! Being so busy takes the fun out of cooking but often I try to prepare a dish that he will actually eat. Today he asked for lasagna…. I decided to make love by making it from scratch.  It’s the little things that I do for my partner that bring me joy. 

Here’s my recipe!

In a skillet, combine 2 pounds ground beef,  garlic salt (or 2 cloves minced garlic), and pepper .

Cook until brown and drain.  Leave a little juice (just a smudge won’t hurt lol)

Return the meat back to the skillet and add a can of whole Italian tomatoes (dice them smaller if you don’t like big tomatoes)

2 tablespoons of dried parsley flakes, 2 tablespoons dried basil…

Simmer for about 20 minutes.

Line up your first set of oven baked noodles into your baking dish (you can use the ones you have to cook as well)

While the meat is cooking, mix 3 cups lowfat cottage cheese in a bowl with 2 beaten eggs. Add a 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese into the mix.

2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes and a teaspoon of garlic salt.  Mix together well.

Now, go ahead and build your assembly line: meat mixture, shredded mozzarella cheese, cottage cheese mixture, and  lasagna noodles.

Cottage cheese mixture spread over noodles evenly, next shredded mozzarella spread evenly; last layer, spread meat mixture evenly.


Top with Italian shredded cheese, pepperoni slices, black olives, spinach, and more Italian shredded cheese.

Let back for 30 to 35 minutes on 375-400 degrees.