Hands Up Don’t Shoot

(This is a picture of my children and my fight is for them)

Another black, unarmed, young black man killed. This time in his own backyard. His name is Stephon Clark. “I thought it was a toolbar” they said, “I thought it was a gun”, they said. It was neither, but he didn’t have a Hands Up Don’t Shoot moment! Twenty rounds fired into the body of this young king while his family sat in the house. After approaching his lifeless body an officer requests CPR stuff while another yells MUTE. The last two minutes of the video are silent. Why?

Another teaching session with my four black children about what to do if they’re encountered by the police. Comply comply comply, but is that truly enough? Why do I have to tell them that their black is beautiful but in the same breath that it’s also threat to those who are to protect and serve?

I have three black sons and one black daughter and I fear for their safety. As a parent, I have the typical concerns that most parents have. Choosing the right friends. Staying drug free. Respecting their bodies. Getting good grades. Protecting them from bullies, but I didn’t think that one of the bullies I’d have to protect them from would be the police.

I breathe a sigh of relief every time my children come home safe after being out with friends.

When my daughter turned 18 I didn’t know how to feel. I never imagined the day she would become “grown” and I’d have to adjust my parenting to fit the new circumstances. New curfew and more understanding. Trusting that what I’ve taught her over the last 18 years would be enough to keep her safe. Praying that she isn’t pulled over by a scared cop and never returns home.

Would the repeated lessons of what to do if you’re ever stopped or apprehended by the police be enough for my four children?

When will enough be enough? When will the color of our skin not make us targets? When will the fear of my children becoming the next Stephon Clark not be a possible reality? I’m angry and I’m sad and I don’t have all the answers but I will keep teaching, marching, and fighting until I see change.

“There is no noise as powerful as the sound of the marching feet of a determined people” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Until next time…❤️

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I Remember When

I remember the days of Saturday morning cartoons and childhood shows like The Smurfs, Popeye, Out of this World, and Small Wonder.

I remember swinging while laying back and inhaling the summer air as the sun kissed my face. The sound of an overhead plane and the music from an ice cream truck playing in the distance. Choco taco, Ice Tickle, WWF ice cream, strawberry shortcake, all for $1.

I remember when eggplant was just a food and social media didn’t exist. I remember when gossip was spread through three-way calls and intricately folded letters.

I remember when home phone answering machines began with your favorite song. I remember when making mix tapes consisted of maxwell brand tapes, your favorite radio station, and boss ass pause button moves.

I remember the $1 movie and when Mervyns was where everybody went school clothes shopping. I remember saving $5 to buy the big catalog from JC Penny to Circle everything you wanted but couldn’t afford.

I remember bike rides all over the city. Jumping Double Dutch with heavy ropes trying not to get hit. I remember playing outside until dark and coming in smelling like outside.

I remember pressing combs and neck burns treated with butter. Rollers wrapped in toilet paper, bangs, bonnets, and stocking caps. I remember Sunday School, morning worship, B.T.U, 3:00 service, and 7:00 service. I remember being a choir member, announcement clerk, usher, and culinary committee all in one Sunday.

I remember being a kid and the strong desire to grow up not knowing how good I had it! I will always remember to never forget the beauty and innocence of being a child.

Let’s have some fun. Share your “I Remember When” in the comments!

#borninthe70’sraisedinthe80’s

Until next time…❤️

F*&% You Diabetes

It’s a daily struggle trying to make sure your blood sugars are regulated and you stay alive. Yes people, it’s that dramatic for me. Wake up, poke. Eat lunch, poke. Dinner, poke. Only to wake up and do it all over again. When I was diagnosed in 2012, I was devastated and angry. I had gestational diabetes all four of my pregnancies, but it went away after the delivery of each child. One day I woke up and felt weird.  We were driving in the car and I remember having to pee. Like the “I can’t hold it” kind of pee. There was nowhere to pull over so I ended up peeing in a Starbuck’s cup left in the car (TMI – I know). It was the first sign of what was to come.

A few weeks later I woke up with severely blurred vision and because of my close-knit relationship to hypochondriac-ism (new word, LOL) I just knew I was going blind. I could see clearly through the prescription glasses of those around me, so I thought my vision was going bad. Made an appointment with the Optometrist. The assistant came in and went through the lenses asking, “this one, or that one?”. The doctor came in and asked what was going on and in Jazmine like fashion I responded, “Doc, I think I’m going blind.”

He asked me one question that I had never thought of, “Are you a diabetic?” I responded no, because at that time I was not. He sent me to the lab for blood work. The results came back later that evening and my fasting blood sugar was over 300. I received a call from the doctor asking me to come in to discuss my results. It was that day that I was told that I had Type 2 diabetes. Can we take a moment of silence…………………………………….This was not what I wanted to hear. I was never a fan of sweets but as soon as he said diabetes, all I could think about was peach cobbler, pound cake, rice crispy treats, sweet potato pie, and twix.

I had to change my entire life.

I’ve never been a big person but when I was diagnosed, I was about 145 lbs at 5’2.5”. I was told I was overweight.  THE NERVE!  I liked to think of myself as slim thick LOL. I was now checking my blood sugar several times a day and eating much different. Due to my lack of knowledge about the disease I was afraid to eat. I was reading labels and didn’t know what I was looking for. Three words, everything in moderation. I met with a registered dietician.  She wasn’t helpful at all. How did I learn what to do and what not to do? Doing research. Avoiding foods high in sodium such as processed foods. Fresh is best. Staying away from saturated and trans fats. Eating healthy fats like avocados, nuts, and chia seeds. Have you ever checked the sugar content in the foods you eat? Probably not. I never really paid attention until I had to pay attention. There is sugar in everything! I stopped what I like to call “eating blindly”.

I began exercising, nothing extreme, but enough to lose 10lbs. It may not sound like a lot, but it did wonders for my A1C (Average blood glucose over a couple of months). Last result was 6.0. It’s a daily balancing act. What to eat, what not to eat. A constant struggle to resist the work of Satan a.k.a Cinnabon. Can someone tell me why they waft the smell through the vents of every mall across the country? Okay I’m back. Overall I’m making it work. Some days are better than others, but what I do know is that, I am NOT the disease.

Until next time…❤️

All Money Ain’t Good Money

We often associate the saying “all money ain’t good money” with wonderful game of dominoes, but this go round, I’m associating it with a salary.

I can remember the year being 2005, the year I filed for divorce. One of the scariest and most life changing years of my life. I was a then stay-at-home mom of 4 small children, minimal work experience, and no college education, and I now had to navigate through the work world.

I signed up with every temp agency I could. I had little work experience but I was smart. The first job I landed was as an Executive Assistant with a construction company. I can remember this job offering $30K a year. I can remember asking why the salary so low, and the recruiter told me to talk to the guy responsible for hiring me. When I met with him, he told me that’s what he thought I was worth, now you’re probably wondering why I didn’t walk out. A couple of reasons, 1. I didn’t value myself so I was attracting was I was wearing 2. I had to feed my kids, and it was more than minimum wage.

Can we talk minimum wage for a minute, what a joke! Minimum wage doesn’t match the cost of living, at least not here in California. I digress. I worked at that job until something else came through, this time paying more money. I was again an Executive Assistant, this time for a big pharmaceutical company. I remember the interview like it was yesterday because it went well. I received the call offering the job. My first day, I was being shown around by the girl who interviewed me. She told me how happy she was to have me, followed by a, “we hired you because you speak so well. The other ones were ghetto.” Insert blank stare. From the time that I was a young girl, I was always told that I spoke well or that I sounded white. I was always and will always be baffled by that statement! How does one speak a color? Back to the story.

I worked there until I interviewed for my current company. Again, more money, bigger salary. Pay close attention. Four years into the position I was offered another job, paying more money. When I was making 30, I wanted 40, and when I reached 40 I wanted 50, but remember that when I began working, it was a means to provide, not my passion so this left me chasing money instead of pursuing my passion.

How many can relate? Working in a job you hate, dreading the sound of that 5 AM alarm, doing something that feels like a chore, while dreaming about what you really want to do. Maybe it’s just me. So many of US are prisoners to our salaries. A high salary means nothing if you aren’t happy! During a meeting I asked an ice breaker question. The question was, what is your dream job? Not one person said it was the job they were currently in. I found this intriguing and sad.

Are the years of unhappiness and regret worth the salary? I now live by, do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do. Today I’m chasing my passion while earning a paycheck, big difference, but only until my passion provides the paycheck.

Until next time…❤️

Being Y-O-U Always Wins

I’ve never seen so many people wanting to be someone other than themselves. In a society full of botched bodies, trend followers, and copycats, I’ve never seen a better opportunity than now to be Y-O-U.

I recently asked two of my children a very simplistically complex question, “who are you?”. This simple yet complex question holds a lot of weight. Their answers surprised and shocked me. I thought, at 16 and 12 how would they know, they haven’t lived yet. Honestly speaking, some people live a lifetime, die, and never truly know who they are.

Who am I? It took me a very long time to answer this question, and I mean a long time because when asked this question what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Your name and what you do. My answer to that question is, I am woke. I know it sounds more like a what, but is my who and my what. For so long I was Jazmine, a divorced mother of four, now lesbian, broken, job hating, depressed, and codependent individual. It took me a very long time to understand that I was not the sum total of my birth given name or my circumstances.

I lived my life based on how others wanted me to. Everyone from my mother to my ex-husband. Conformity and submission were learned behaviors. This included the clothes I wore, the way I styled my hair, my job, and my religious choices. It took years of this which turned into suppressed anger that led to self discovery.

My discovery into who I was came from discovering who I wasn’t. I was the walking dead. I slowly began to walk into who I was in my 30’s, reality check, I’m still in my 30’s. I didn’t understand that my life was a choice. I realized that my greatest power was being me. No one else could do that. Think about that for a moment. No one on this earth has the ability to be you, other than you.

Here is what happened when I fully embraced my ME. I no longer felt the need to say yes to everything and everyone, win #1. I discovered the power of no, win #2. I need everyone to understand that NO is a complete sentence and requires no explanation. I no longer needed validation from those outside of myself, win #3. I discovered everything that made me happy and unhappy and began doing more of what made me happy and less of what didn’t. I went natural, no more straight hair, win #4. Seems small, but it was huge. I even made an appointment to loc my hair 5/4/18, as a gift to myself.

Ask yourself the question, who are you?

Until next time…❤️

Cheating is NEVER okay

When did society become so comfortable with cheating? I will never understand this logic. I was raised by a generation of woman who stayed with their men through everything. This included cheating.

I don’t watch the likes of reality shows like the Housewives, Love & Hip Hop, or the many others. Quite honestly, as a black woman raising black children, it’s disheartening and embarrassing. I’ve never understood how an individual could ever be comfortable with the person they’ve committed to or married, being with someone other than them while they are together. I’ve always heard the saying that all men cheat. Wrong, all men don’t cheat the same way all women don’t.

Cheating isn’t always sexual. Growing up Christian I always heard the justification of “for better or worse, or “what God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” Umm I don’t think that meant infidelity. Well let me make it personal, not in my eyes. I believe that when a person is comfortable and so forgiving of a cheating partner, somewhere deep down inside there is a lack of self-worth and self respect. I also believe there is a fear of embarrassment and a tarnished image. Also fear of becoming the poster child of of a failed relationship/marriage. And one of the biggest, making children the victims of divorced parents. That one is huge!

I don’t care what anyone says, after a person cheats, things will never be the same. You can go to years of therapy, cry on a million altars, and pray for the gift of forgetfulness, but the memory and the scars will remain. You will never look at that person the same.

All of that was true for me. I was a victim of cheating, and the person my partner cheated with, was my friend, or so I thought. I can remember the confrontation like it was yesterday. I can also remember feeling like it was my fault. How many can relate? When a person cheats you immediately ask yourself the questions, what did I do wrong? Am I not enough? But there was an issue with my self-worth. I didn’t know that I deserved more. Cheating is always a choice. In my mind, there has never been and will never be an excuse for cheating when there is always an option to leave.

Facts, you don’t have to stay in a broken relationship/marriage. You and your children will be okay. Know that you are and will always be enough.

Until next time…❤️

Slow Down, Breathe, & See the Beauty

When was the last time you took a moment to recognize your ability to breathe? Became still, quiet, and just listened to your breathing? The God given breath that keeps us alive. When was the last time you recognized your heart? The way it beats when you’re calm. The way it beats when you’re in love, or the way it beats when you’re anxious. The beauty with every beat that keeps you alive.

We live in a hurry hurry and distracted society. Living in the bay area and working in Corporate America I see it daily. Everyone is driving over the speed limit, in a hurry to get everywhere and nowhere fast. People running to catch the 6:23 AM train, getting through the doors just before they close on their backpacks. Heads down, cell phones in hand. Laptops on, conference calls, meeting after meeting after meeting. I don’t believe the corporate zombies know how to breathe. They often walk around with the I smell shit face. I get it, it’s sometimes necessary, the hurrying, but there has to be balance.

When was the last time you looked in the mirror and admired your own beauty? The color of your eyes, the shape of your lips, and began to think about their function.

When was the last time you took a walk around your neighborhood or stepped outside and took a deep breath of fresh air? When was the last time you felt nature? Grass under your feet or hugged a tree. Stood in the rain and allowed it to cleanse you? Today while waiting on the elevator I noticed a beautiful flower so I snapped a picture.

We’re surrounded by beauty. If we take a moment to slow down and breathe, then and only then will we see it. Today, take a moment and get still, disconnect for a moment and just breathe.

Until next time…❤️

Yesterday I Cried

Yesterday was a rough day for me. There was so much going on. My brother was ill, my truck was the victim of a hit and run, we buried a loved one, and work is an interesting place right now.

I felt the weight of all of those things weighing heavy and while sitting at my desk I could feel my eyes welling up and a big knot in my throat. I got up and walked out to get myself together.

As I allowed myself to feel those emotions I began to think about all of the things I’m grateful for because staying in that place isn’t healthy. This has become a practice since dealing with depression and anxiety instead of the prescribed Klonopin.

After receiving the call telling me that my brother was unresponsive, I began to give thanks that he didn’t die. After thinking about burying a loved one I began to give thanks for the amazing memories we made. When thinking about those idiots who hit my truck, picked up their license plate and kept going causing over $11k in damage on my truck, I began to thank God that me nor my children were in it at the time of the accident. When thinking about the turmoil on my job I began to give thanks for employment knowing that there is something greater on the other side of this situation.

What do you do when you feel sad? What do you do when you feel overwhelmed with life’s circumstances? Allow yourself to feel, but don’t remain there. Music is a great mood booster. Turn on what feeds your soul and dance. Every morning on my way to work I listen to good music, after I talk to God. Some days it’s Chaka Khan and some days it’s YG 😂. Exercise, an outlet to expend that negative energy. Move until you sweat. Write, Lord knows writing by way of this blog has been my refuge! Writing has allowed me to deposit these thoughts and feelings instead of drugs, alcohol, and suicidal thoughts.

Today, choose gratitude. Know that, it ain’t what it looks like. If no one told you today, I love you! 💕

Until next time…❤️

Death

Why do we hate to talk about dying? It’s the one thing in this life you can’t avoid. I’ll be the first to admit, it’s one of my biggest fears! I actually hesitated writing this out of fear of talking about it, making it real. Death used to be associated with old age, but in this day and age, preparation needs to begin at the start of life and not the end. How many can honestly say that they have a plan? A life insurance policy? A burial policy? An advance directive? A place for your children to go in the event something happens to you? We take extra measures when preparing for the arrival of a new life but none for death.

When a child is born, we prepare for their birth. We make sure we set up medical insurance, dental, and even bank accounts.

We live as if we’ll never die. The cost of an average funeral and burial is $8,000-$10,000. If you or a loved one died today could you cover that? If we can spend money on designer shoes and bags, lavish vacations and pampering, we can spend money on life insurance and burial policies.

Can someone tell me why don’t we get a living trust? First, what is a living trust? A living trust is a legal document created by you during your lifetime that allows an easy transfer of assets without the expensive fees associated with a probate. These aren’t for a specific economic class. Now I’m no expert, but I’ve seen the result of sudden death and no plans.

The family is always left to figure it out. Searching through the home for paperwork that may or may not exist. The family you thought were close soon become enemies over a few dollars, jewelry, and some property.

Start the conversations today. Don’t allow fear to prevent you from making preparations. Your family will thank you.

“Death is not the opposite of life, but apart of it” ~ Unknown

Until next time…❤️