Archive for May, 2014

Find me in my garden

Friday, May 30th, 2014

I inherited a love of gardening from my grandmother, who passed it down to her daughter, my Aunt Sue, and to me and so wherever I have lived, I’ve planted a garden. It is also a response to my mother who dreamed about planting a garden but often was overwhelmed by the task.

The last two days have given us a fair amount of rain that was badly needed in New Orleans. It’s been unusually dry and cooler than expected for this time of year. And the rain has coaxed out the morning glories that I planted from seeds along the fence, and has made the hydrangea bloom a deeper pink. The tomatoes ripen every day, but I stop to pick then eat them standing there that few make it into the kitchen for salads.

When the world is too much with me, you’ll find me in the garden.









Graduation Day

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

From Pre-K to Kindergarten.
From Waldorf School to Morris Jeff.
From toddler to little boy.
The metamorphosis continues …








All this and Maya Angelou too

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Today, my big boy graduated from Pre-K and spent his last day at Waldorf. Oh Lordy – I couldn’t even talk to Ms. Heidi, his teacher, who I thought he would be with for two more years of kindergarten. I just got in the truck and balled my eyes out. So many emotions – one that my precious child was entrusted with these people for three years of his life and now we’re leaving them. And another that the school in the end touched me equally and helped me grow. Oh my, Waldorf, I will miss you.

And then I learned Maya Angelou died today and I cried so many tears that I had to stop reading Facebook posts because each one reminded me of how great a spirit she was and how much she graced my life – all of our lives. I know why the caged bird sings – oh my. Incredible. As I said there – she was a vessel filled with a king’s ransom and she enriched all of our lives – the very definition of a spiritual being having a human experience.

So now I’m crying because my son has crossed a threshold today then I’m crying because a great human being has transitioned and then I went to see Belle, and I cried and cried some more about all of it and me.

It has rained all day, and I have cried all day.

This afternoon, I also figured out why all these married men keep a coming at me – they want what I have – they want to hold it in their hand, they want to gain access, they want to claim, have, know, grab hold of. And quite simply, it has nothing to do with me. This misrepresentation on their part causes no tears on my part – it does not – I am not sad, mad, or glad – I am me and I am love. And I do suspect they want that too.

Last night, the tarot cards told me that I shy away from risking my heart and I need to be brave. Today I read countless posts of Maya Angelou glorifying the name of love. I love. But on this, I am certain, I deserve more than another woman’s man.


The MotherLoad

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

A friend of mine just changed her job status to seasonal at Whole Foods so that she can be home with her daughter during the summer. She said her coworkers kept offering her other options instead of just out and out not working, but she said, “They don’t understand, I’m a wife and a mother first.”

I understand perfectly. See, I have a five-year-old child who is growing up fast, and who needs a mother. Hence, I spent the weekend doing mother things. This last weekend, I took him to Tot Shabbat at the synagogue where we sang, “There’s a dinosaur knocking at my door and he wants to spend Shabbat with me.” We watched two episodes of Mr. Rogers where even I had to marvel at how magical the make believe world is. We had a playdate where friends brought their daughters and all the kids jumped on the trampoline and had dinner here. The next morning on Sunday, we woke and went to the zoo with a friend, and then in the afternoon, we went to a birthday party for twins in the French Quarter.

See, that is how I spend my weekends. I’m the mother of a five year old.

When I contemplate my life and what I’m missing, I don’t see a deficit. This is where I am in life. I have a young child who needs a mother. And I’m that person. I don’t think, wow, I want to be flying all over the world working at some glorious job. Or, oooohhhhh, I want to be out all night partying my butt off. I think, I need sleep because tomorrow is a whole lot of mother-tasking and I need to be at my best.

I’m in a period of transition that began at the end of 2001 – I’m trying to get my footing in work to keep my family financial afloat – I’m learning to maintain my strength in the face of Hashimoto’s – and I’m always aware of the Mother-Load.




The Motherland

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

I am part of a group of girls who meet to watch episodes of An African City – a sort of Sex and the City set in Ghana. Our next event is coming soon and I’m already trying to figure out what to wear since everyone else came with such glorious outfits last time.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Africa, about visiting with Tin, about Senegal where his ancestors might have come from since every Senegalese we meet says so.

For our evening, we make African dishes and wear African dress complete with head wraps and jewelry. I’m wondering if Nicole Amarteifio, the Creator of ‘An African City’ will in any way touch on politics, like the kidnapping of the Nigerian girls and the global public outcry?



Cry Me a River

Saturday, May 24th, 2014

So while Tatjana is out of town, I’m using her car. I actually started using her car a couple of months ago to pick up Tin when I couldn’t afford the gas to go back and forth across town to his school. So I was happy to have the car and my gas bill reduced to a quarter of what I normally spend for this week.

Only Thursday, I took Tin to a playdate in the Quarter and we were able to squeeze into one of those miniature spots that my truck would never get into, and lo and behold, I walked outside afterwards to find my car had been towed. $200.

Then yesterday, I stopped to get something on the way to pick up Tin from school, and I couldn’t get the car to start again. So Tin had to go to aftercare and I had to call AAA. The guy came and said I needed a new battery and he had just sold the one that fit my car earlier that day. So he jumped the car and said to keep it running until I could get it to the shop. So I called the school and had them bring Tin out to me and as we were making our way home, the car died while we were driving. So we had to call AAA again. $107.

We were stalled right in the middle of Memorial Day weekend going home on Friday traffic and nobody was happy about it – except me. I was sort of chuckling about the whole thing.

See this past winter, I was told that after spending $400 I would need to pay $1200 to have the heater really fixed the way it should have been installed. And I opted not to. And so then Entergy decided that they had read my meter incorrectly and in March, when I thought we were out of the cold woods, they billed me for $1200. I thought at first it was a joke, but it wasn’t.

Or perhaps it was.

See the elephant is my spirit animal and that is why I have always been drawn to Ganesha. Ganesha is the Hindu deity who is the remover of obstacles. Only the rub with Ganesha is that he actually places the obstacles too. And that is why this fat elephant is always laughing and smiling. It’s a great cosmic joke.

So for over one year I’ve been studying Ganesha and his humor. Because when I moved into the three-room apartment on Grand Route St. John after selling the LaLa, my client cancelled on me, reducing my income to less than one half of what I anticipated it would be. See, I thought I could take a breath and relax but that was not in the cards. Instead of falling apart, the financial blow pushed me into my Transracial Parenting with a more concerted effort.

Since this week started with Wednesday’s notice that my other client had cancelled which then segued into my “cheap” car woes, I got a glimpse into what I’ve learned over this year and a half – none of this stuff matters.

There are things that do matter and I’m working on those. And when you begin to do your soul work you attract those people who are on the same path. Which is why, yesterday I had lunch with the founder of SistaWorks who asked me to be on the Board. Another spoke for my race and parenting wheelhouse.

I also received notice that I will be working with the Central City Welcome Table group, which is about race reconciliation. Our first meeting is Wednesday. I’ve thrown my name into the ring as a facilitator.

I do believe – sincerely – that God laughs while you make plans – and right now I’m laughing too. The Universe does not want me to get fat and happy – it wants me to be lean and clean – ready to tackle important missions.

When you are about to give birth or die is when the greatest fear surrounds you – recognizing the fear that comes in the midst of creative energy is a step towards enlightenment.

On my soul path are many beautiful people full of light and love – one posted an illustration on her blog of a tear shed for all we have done to Mother Earth – it is an apology of sorts – it is symbol of healing. I am grateful for my friend and for the wisdom that has come through the obstacles that are placed in front of me.


Falling Down and Getting Up

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

I started taking aikido classes a month ago. I’ve worked out a trade with the sensei there and I’m writing his newsletter and able to practice there. I took about four classes and found out there was a seminar coming up and a fellow classmate convinced me to sign up for it. So I did.

The sensei who was doing the seminar is from Finland – a 57-year-old woman who has done Aikido for 40 years. It was an experience. All last weekend, instead of being at Bayou Boogaloo or elsewhere, I was instead immersed in learning how to get up after falling down.

What a metaphor for my life, huh?

Or, for life in general. Aikido is the martial art of peace. But it is not just about peaceful resistance, it’s about feeling your opponent’s energy, drawing your attacker in close, and then changing the focus, redirecting the negative to the positive.

Watching this woman stand so rooted into the ground, a smile on her face, while she flipped and pinned her opponents with natural ease was intoxicating, exhilarating. It was a study in life.

In the grand scheme of things

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Last year, in February, after we had moved out of the LaLa, and moved into the three-room apartment that I thought would be home for a while, a few things happened to shake up life. The first was that it was the beginning of shared custody with Tin and he caught the flu and so he ended up staying with me since he had gotten sick there. As he slept noisily in his bed, and I organized my bedroom/office, I received an email that one of my two clients had cancelled his contract with me – no warning, no fuss – just done, dead, gone. He was leaving his firm that he helped start after almost three decades.


I had just gotten off my knees thanking everyone – ancestors, God, the Universe – for getting me out of my situation and in a life I could handle. And now, it changed, yet again.

I decided to use it as an opportunity, and I listened to what the world was telling me – it said, follow your soul’s work, go where you are needed, do what you have to do, and the rest will figure itself out.

That was a year and a half ago, and since then the working world has been interesting. I’ve done two major workshops on Transracial Parenting. I’ve worked on my book on parenting and racism, I’ve written my blog, I’ve done social media on transracial parenting.

At the same time that we had settled into our quaint apartment – me sleeping on the couch in my home office, and Tin in his room between us and the front door – a stove and a fridge and a postage stamp backyard -a place to call home – the ugliness began.

My neighbor, a single woman, who worked from home, turned out to be a nightmare – a woman with such bad energy that her anger was leaching through the walls. I should have known when the guy painting my apartment before I moved in warned me she was psycho. I should have known when the landlady said a few comments about her that were disconcerting. But nothing would prepare me for her yelling at me because of my son, or complaining to the landlady that we were making too much noise for her to live there (because Tin played between 5pm and 7:30pm), or her telling the landlords that I owned a dog who I was secretly hiding. The coup de gras with her was when I put a note in her mailbox saying I planned to pull the spent winter vegetables to make way for spring ones in my garden, on my side. She balled up the note and threw it through my window. Perhaps I knew what sort of person I was dealing with when on moving in, I was toting a very large rolled up rug on my shoulder and juggling the front door to get in, while her paramour sat on her stoop watching me. Birds of a feather.

But I came around to being grateful even for her. Because she had made our life there so unbearable that we soon left. I cashed out my retirement and bought the Spirit House, and never looked back.

So today, while a friend was taking me to lunch, and I was telling him that he should expect surprises and miracles and all sorts of things that he had not planned for, the Bitch on Wheels walked in and was seated one table over – my friend and I both felt her negative energy surge and yet, we continued on with our conversation. Then she got up and asked for another table, taking her anger to the other side of the restaurant.

And it was when I returned home, feeling positive, feeling as if everything had worked out the way it should, that I got an email that my other client, the one that had sustained me since last year, had cancelled his contract. He left the firm he has been at for the past decade.

And so begins my new adventure. Some doors are closed. Others are cracked. And I’m standing here in faith that what awaits me is grand, wonderful beyond measure, exciting, adventurous, and worthy.

I still have the paperweight that Steve gave me so many years ago that says “Every wall is a door.”

In the grand scheme of things, I have no doubt this is true.


The life you save, may be your own

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

I hit the ground running on so many different fronts lately that I found myself moving at psycho nano speed and wasn’t sure how to bring it all back down to earth again. The first problem, was my meditation – a ritual that I had performed daily – got interrupted by a puppy. Sorry, but Stella wakes me at 4am and 5am and then 6am and at first I was just staying up and staggering through my day, and then I was going back to sleep and having wild dreams. And now I’m just trying to cope by eliminating expectations of normalcy.

So yesterday, I went to bed at 8PM and slept till the first wake up 4am and then back to sleep and slept till the next wake up at 5am but didn’t get up and pushed it to 6am when I had to. I dreamed that Arnold Schwarzenegger was trying to kill a friend of mine who kept jumping on my back to find safety.

On Mother’s Day, Tin and I drove across the lake to change the flowers on my mother’s grave and see my family for lunch. However, the leisurely day I had envisioned shifted when Monday of last week, I began helping a friend organize a Mother’s Day rally in Congo Square for the kidnapped Nigerian girls. So my day on Mother’s Day started at 5am with me instead on WDSU talking about the rally that was to happen in the afternoon.

And my trip across the lake started earlier and ended with a rushed visit to my mom’s gravesite and lunch with family that was also cut too short. But I figure my mom is used to it – I used to do drive by visits when she was alive and she always knew me to be “busy.” And busy I am. As I drove back across Lake Ponchartrain a blinding thunderstorm let loose from the black sky and caused me to drive white-knuckled across the Causeway for all 26 miles.

Meanwhile, Tin snored in his car seat. I remembered when on returning from my mom’s burial in 2009, the sun had burst forth from the black skies and created a moment of revelation. That was not happening.

But we arrived at the rally as the rain cleared, and people of all stripes came out to chant and sing and pray with us. The next day, the video was released of the girls, so there was a feeling that something had shifted in the world from our collective energy.

After the rally, a motley crew rallied at the Spirit House while I made Asian coleslaw and rice noodles with shrimp in peanut sauce. A friend asked me if I ever regret or resent cooking and having people over like I do. Is it too much?

No, I don’t ever regret or resent it. I thrive on it. I would do it more, if I had the stamina. But as it is, I wore myself out last week.

Between multiple projects, parenting a young boy, organizing a rally at the eleventh hour, and showing up for a radio interview, a television interview, and behind the scenes coordination, I feel this way about it all: I wish I could have done more.

And yet, I can’t. So what was missing from the whole puzzle was taking care of me. And so that is how I came to be in bed at 8PM last night. I got my eight hours but I had to give my night to get them.

Some photo memories of the day:




[Photo by Malik Yassir]


[Photo by Malik Yassir]

[Photo by Malik Yassir]

[Photo by Malik Yassir]

Before I knew anything else, I knew how it felt to be loved

Saturday, May 10th, 2014

My mother used to say she never wanted to be a burden to her children, and yet the burden of her dying quasi young continues to weigh on me. She would have been 74 years old in 2009 had she made it to her birthday, but she died at the end of November instead of making it to December 28th.

She was the oldest daughter to her mother – a woman and grandmother who I celebrate every day of my life when I garden, when I cook for loved ones, when I think about comfort and love.

And now I’m a mother. Both of these women told me that their children were the happiness in their lives.

My mother on her dying bed told me, “I thank God for you every day.”

No one prepares you for what it is like to parent a child – no one can – they will tell you it is the hardest and most gratifying role you will play, but they don’t (as a friend so poignantly told me the other day) prepare you for the love you feel. Even how you love others who love your child. It’s this endless pool of love.

My mother was a daughter first, then a stepmother, then a mother – all of these parts she fulfilled with love as her guiding principle.

My mother was flawed. Liquor and nicotine where her vices. She was also beautiful – unequivocally so. Her soul was ethereal and her free-spiritedness is still my guiding force.

She was, most of all, my mother.

Before I knew anything else, I knew how it felt to be loved.

For that I am on my knees in gratitude, Mom.

Happy Mother’s Day.