A Journey Home

Peace fam,

I am working on this as I prepare to return to Charlotte from Palm Beach after attending my sister’s funeral. Life is so hard sometimes. I have felt extremely tested and not very enthused lately. It is hard when you are dealing with compounded grief; you cannot come to terms with one loss before you are hit with another.

This year has been one of extreme tests, ups and downs, trials, and so many losses.  I have truly been tested and I know I am not alone in this. I strive to apply what I have done in the past to current situations to keep myself balanced, but that doesn’t seem to be as effective.

I am having to sit with my shit, like literally sit and feel all the feels, and it is not at all easy. Some days, I work too much because I do not want to deal with my pain. Some things hurt so badly that I feel like I cannot breathe. I have to talk myself through most days- “get up Ashaki” , “it is okay to feel the way that you feel”, “today is a new day”.

I utilize each and every toolkit I have in my box in order to maintain my sanity. Yoga, meditation, journaling, eating healthily, painting, praying, giving offerings and talking to my ancestors, all have a place in my kit. I am having to access every single source that I have to keep going. Most people see me as “strong” not knowing how much I have to do each day in order to function.

During this time of grief, I have been driven deeper into myself, made to confront my shadow, and truly work on me. I have cried so many tears, felt loss, and seemingly am experiencing an entire dismantling of my entire life. Some days I wonder why I chose a life such as this- other days I am so determined that I can hardly believe how strong I am . I am not sharing this for pity– I know there is a greater purpose.

I have lost 5 family members this year- including my mother and sister. I have had to deal with being so triggered in a job that I began to have panic attacks. I had a major health scare with one of my children and then turned around and contracted Coronavirus myself. A lot of days, I feel extremely overwhelmed but, there exists within me something greater than my physical reality.

It overwhelms and disrupts my despair, lifts me when I am weak, and helps me to continue to not only bring smiles to others, but to smile myself. It helps me to create and to bend but, not break.

I am tired, and yet strangely inspired. Life is tough, but there is so much to be grateful for, so much beauty to behold. I find myself seeking out beauty in nature and in life. Who knew that a child’s laughter could hold such magickal, soothing powers? Who knew that plants could soothe the soul? I had no idea the true depth of their energy until this year.

IAnd make no mistake- I still have hope for the future. I still am encouraged by what is possible. I am still striving for better tomorrows.

Today, as I prepared to return home this weekend after my sister’s funeral, I heard Spirit call me to the ocean. So, my sister and I went down to the water. I had a few hours left before I needed to get to the airport. I had already packed. But, she was calling. So, I put on my whites and purchased an offering.

My mother, Yemoja beckoned to me. The water was beautiful and warm. As I placed an offering of  flowers into her, I felt the force of Mother chastising me, reminding me that the nurturing and extreme strength that I desire, I also encompass. I felt the lift of burden be removed with each crash of the waves. After we returned from the water, I felt tired. I left something at the waterfront. I released something heavy.

I am grateful for healing. I am grateful for new beginnings. I am grateful for life. I shall live.

Life is unfolding. I am here for it all.

Until we meet again,

-A

I Am

Peace everyone! I hope this post finds you well. I am having lunch at my j.o.b. and felt inclined to write a bit today. I am kinda random that way. Anyway, these days it seems that I am more inclined to write or paint my thoughts than sharing via video. Emotions can be a lot.

I had to say goodbye to yet another family member this past weekend. One thing that death has done for me is to help me clear the clutter from my eyes and get to the meat of my why.

Why do I do the things that I do or have done? What mark do I want to leave once I transition from the physical? Who am I? Coincidentally (or not), the theme of one of my favorite shows “LoveCraft Country” showcased a theme similar to my query this past Sunday.

The character, Hippolyta, was confronted with her action of shrinking and forced to name herself and essentially define herself. How many of us are walking around being shadows of who we could be if we only allowed ourselves space to do so? How many of us have shrank ourselves for the comfort of others? And why did we allow ourselves to step into the background of everyone else’s foreground?

I have had several realizations over the past week about my own journey. I have been playing small potatoes, choosing to play the underdog knowing full well I am the lead. I have chosen the supporting character when I should be in a leading role.

Who am I?

Life is calling out to me- to do more, to allow myself to be more, to be seen and celebrated. I do question how I can do these things and what I am seeing is that I must just allow as the universe introduces the opportunity.

I have often leaned on the “I will”. But, now I know I AM.

See you all soon!

-A

My Social Media Hiatus

Peace everyone! I hope this message finds you well. I have been away from my main social media outlets (FB & IG) for the past 21 days. It has been enlightening and extremely peaceful. I wanted to share a few lessons and observances that I learned/experienced over this hiatus with you guys.

  1. I Didn’t Miss It- Before you say anything, hear me out. I engage with people, I have friends from different countries on there, I have things that I thoroughly enjoy about social media. I have learned things, interacted with people, been introduced to new schools of thought, etc. But, my peace had been disturbed. I was feeling interrupted in pursuit of my most authentic life. I found myself comparing my journey to others (though I did not want to admit it). I found myself feeling bitter because of my assumed stagnation. And let’ s not even talk about the constant barrage of negative news that is shared. I was not in a good space emotionally.. Each day I went deeper into true introspection and felt so much ease. I did not have the urge to log in, be seen, or interact online in those spaces.
  2. I Have Not Been Fair to Myself- I made a few realizations during my time with myself. I judge myself harshly at times. I hold myself to such high standards and I NEVER celebrate my victories. WHY? Am I not worthy of being treated well? Am I not talented, intelligent, sweet, sensitive, HUMAN? I realized that I had not been providing myself the same level of grace that I so easily provide to others. The madness of it all.
  3. I Have Been Seeking Validation. Shocking right? No matter how much I tried to deny it, I saw how much those reactions to my posts, comments, and honestly, lack thereof had been affecting me, my actions, my overall mood. I was seeking to be a part of something that I was not even in agreement with most of the time. Did the like button make my painting more dope? Did the love on my post mean I am actually gifted? Did the lack of reaction invalidate the work I had done?
  4. True Shadow Work is tough but so necessary.- I had a few epiphanies about actions and attitudes I had held over the years. I saw myself in a different light–and it was not pretty. I cried like a damn baby honestly as the visions replayed like a movie on the big screen. How could I have been so insensitive and scornful? I have made some hurtful statements, done some screwed up things, but I forgave myself. I love myself for diving deep into the abyss of my ish.
  5. Naps, good food, chilling is a whole ass vibe!- I cannot believe that I neglected myself in the way that I had by denying myself the luxury of taking a nap, relaxing (and I do mean kicking back), and consuming delicious foods consistently for so many years. Hello? I want to know why no one told me that these things are so damn blissful! I feel cheated lol….

This is not an exhaustive list of all of the things that I experienced or observed but, hopefully you get the picture. Journaling, painting, creating, BE-ING has been so therapeutic and these are actions that I will continue. I have also been seeing 3 doctors regularly- Sun, Fresh Air, and Water- absolutely life-altering!

As the world has changed, so have we all. We can choose to be better in these times, more of who we came to be. It is a continual process. But, I am learning to smile, acknowledge, and enjoy the journey.

See You On the Flipside,

-Ashaki

Thinking of Mother Caroline

Today would have been my great-grandmother Caroline DeBerry’s 109th bEarthday. She is one of my most prominent ancestors, always quiet but strongly assisting me along.
I was thinking of her today as I went about my day. She was such a sweet person, always gently nudging me to be my best self and to push myself to higher heights. She also encouraged me to stand in my femininity, to embrace my womanhood.

I have discovered some new things about her over this past year. She lived until I was 18 years old. I never knew how much she gave, how wholeheartedly she loved, how generous she was with her love. This woman raised 2 generations of children who were not biologically hers, and helped to raise me as well. Discovering how she came into my grandmother’s life has truly deepened the love and reinforced the respect I already had for her.

I miss a few things about Momma- her giggle, her sitting in her rocking chair, being at her house, her stories, and really just being in her presence. I hope that she is pleased with me and the work that I have done. I still am a work in progress but thanks to her guidance, I am still a masterpiece.

I love you Momma!

Ashaki

Day 2 Revelations

Today is my 2nd day of a 21 reset challenge that I initiated for myself. Although I am still watching Youtube videos, I am not posting, engaging, or spending time of Facebook or Instagram.

I have already noticed how much time I spent on social media and how much of my life has been framed by it. For example, yesterday I painted a new piece. My first instinct once it neared completion (it still isn’t quite done yet), was to post it on social media. But, for what? I love how it is coming along but who’s approval am I seeking and for what reason? Have I become one of those people who constantly seeks outside validation for what I am doing?

Short answer- yes. I have become somewhat addicted to the likes, the responses, to the engagement, even if it is shallow. I am proud to be able to even acknowledge this at this point in my life. I am nearing 40 and still have so many dreams for my life.

This morning, my two youngest children shared with me that Chadwick Boseman had transitioned. He was 43….43. I remember seeing him a few months ago, looking very frail and thin and thinking that he did not look well. It didn’t take long before people on social media began to speak negatively about him. People can be so unkind.

His transition is yet another reminder to me for me to stop participating in things that are not serving any purpose and are not bringing me joy. I had been exploring the principle of living intentionally for the past few weeks and now I am seeing that the actions that I am taking right now are just that- determining to live each day pursuing my purpose, doing the things that bring me joy, challenging myself to truly live on my own terms. I am choosing new dreams as well. And I am so excited about it.

May we all choose to actually live and stop existing.

Peace,

Ashaki

Taking a Break

Today I made a decision. I am taking a break from social media and from my side business. I feel that my life has taken on a life of its own, one that I don’t even recognize. I feel as though I am constantly trying to keep up with my peers, attain some level, master some information.

I don’t even know when this began. I have made some beautiful connections over the past few years but, I honestly feel overlooked–a lot. So, I made the decision to step off. I need to regroup, restore what has been lost in the shuffle, and so I am reclaiming my time (thanks Auntie Maxine Waters for coining that phrase!).

I have even lost sight of what I truly want at my core. I know I want to be financially free, own some land and a home, at some point be in a loving and fulfilling relationship, travel, and be able to create as I see fit. Somewhere along the way, I lost my way. And I know that I should allow myself some grace. 2020 has been hell on nearly everyone. But, I want more than I currently have, I want to be better.

So, I posted my closed sign on my social media, I closed my calendar for my business, and I am crafting a new calendar for my daily activities and goals. I have things to do, but most of all, I need to nurture myself, decide what is next, and move forward stronger, more joyful, and more peaceful.

I honestly feel a bit guilty (which indicates how detached I am from taking care of myself). I preach self-care and yet, I struggle with truly taking care of myself. I have been sick for the last few weeks, not sleeping the best, eating sporadically. This ends today. I declare that I will do my best by me from this day forward.

I realize that the reason some of my dreams are not coming to fruition is because I am not keeping my word to myself. I deserve better than I have been giving myself. No more betraying myself, punishing myself, not doing what I know is best for me. I am unplugging and doing a hard reset!

Cheers to what is to come!

Ashaki

Self-Care- A Family Tradition

As I was preparing my breakfast this morning, I was reminded of a family tradition that I had looked over for years- the tradition of rest on Sunday. For nearly 3 years, I have dedicated teaching, promoting, and encouraging self-care and self-love. My business, Divine Soul, though spiritual in nature, focuses on holistic health over all things.

I neglected to remember that I was raised with self-care Sunday. I remember vividly being made to chill on Sunday. There was no sweeping, no mopping, no heavy labor, not even work for my family on Sundays. The dinner meal was prepared on Saturday night. The dishes would be the only “chore” to be done that day. My family didn’t even iron!

I remember being told that Sundays are the “Lord’s day” and are meant to be a “day of rest”. As years passed, I got into the habit of the neverending work wheel- grinding away, moving away from rest for fear of failure because I had not done enough. I have carried the mantle of being workhorse for many years and began to see my overall well-being suffer as a result of it.

There is a principle in West Afrika called “Sankofa”. Sankofa may be loosely translated to means “to go back and get it”. We use this principle to describe us reaching back to traditions of our ancestors and utilize the wisdom that has been left behind. I realize that my charge on this earth to assist others in recapturing that which has been left behind.

Our ancestors have left us so many things that will assist us in living an abundant, healthy, and nurturing lifestyle–if we would only remember.

See you all soon,

Ashaki

I Finally Made It Back

Peace everyone! It has been quite some time since my last post. So much has happened!

My mother transitioned on May 24th. It has been extremely hard because of our estrangement. However, I did the best that I could by her to make sure that her final arrangements were carried out. Reconciling my emotions has been one of the hardest things in my life. She and I had not spoken in nearly 3 years. The week of her death I became ill, experiencing sharp abdominal pains that I could not understand. The day of her death hit me hard. Our estrangement does not lessen our connection.

I am still my mother’s daughter and I feel that her transition is just another chapter in our developing story. She is an ancestor and I will venerate her as such.

I have also been without a laptop—again! What is it about children and technology? Disaster always seems to strike, well in my household anyway. I was unable to have my beautiful laptop repaired so I had to settle for a less powerful model for the time being. It will get the job done.

I have been training to become a yoga instructor and honing my artistic craft. All of this has been keeping me extremely busy. I am bound and determined to free myself from the proverbial rat race! And right now work is a helpful escape.

It is my hope that I am not gone for so long again. I have several projects that I am working on. I must admit writing feels so damn good to me right now! Stay tuned loves. I will see you soon.

-Ashaki

Dealing With My Mother Wound

For the past few days,  I have been processing a lot of my emotions about my mother–the deep pain I feel about our broken relationship, the memories, the tears. I do not feel the urge to reach out to her but the lingering question of why always haunts me. Why does she feel the way that she does about me? Why did she never attempt to love me unconditionally and only seem to tolerate me?

The topic of mothers always brings me heaviness. I see people sharing loving memories of their mothers, the sweetness of it, the lessons, the joy. I learned lessons from my own mother hard-there was so sweetness or softness in my experience. And I used to cling to the rarye moments in which it seemed that she was being nice–the time she taught me to ride a bike, the time when she played dolls with me for a little while, or when she told me she was proud of me when I graduated high school.

She is a joy to almost everyone except me. There are countless people that blame me for not having a relationship with her and typically do not believe me when I tell them she has nothing to do with me.

It seems ridiculous that I can only think of a few occasions in which my mother seemed to be a mother to me. And over the years, my disdain and resentment only grew. I was never pretty enough, never calm enough, never enough like “everybody else”. I remember wishing I had been born to a different family, my “real” family, because the one I was in did not seem to fully accept me. My grandparents were the only ones who encouraged my intense curiosity and odd pursuits.

As the years have passed by, I have pondered the what ifs as well. What if I hadn’t been a teenager mother, would she love me then? What if I didn’t look like my father, would she love me then? What if this, what if that. I have come to the conclusion that none of that matters. There exists a legacy of separation between mothers and daughters in my maternal line.

For the past 10 years, I have researched and compiled family history-from maternal and paternal lineages. One major discovery is a theme of separation between mothers and daughters through death and more. Here is the breakdown–my mother and I have no relationship (I was pretty much disowned); my mother was not raised by my grandmother. My grandmother went to work and live in NYC and she was raised by her grandparents. My mother never called her mother momma/mom, she called her Lillie because her grandmother had been her mother until she was 16. My grandma Lillie was not raised by her mother. Her mother, Gracie, abandoned her and her older sister Betty when they were 3 and 5. My grandma had been raised by her step-mother, Caroline. Mother Gracie was not raised by her mother. Her mother, Bettie Alford, hemorrhaged and died after childbirth. So, as you can see, there is a theme.

I have 2 daughters, Ayanna and Aaliyah. I cannot imagine them not being in my life. I cannot imagine not being their mother. I cannot imagine not seeing or speaking to them. They are my legacy. I have sons but, those girls–those girls will continue carrying the legacy of womanhood after I am gone. The theme of separation stops with me.

My ancestral mothers have meant so much to me as I deal with all the hurts of the past. They have been showing up in my dreams, encouraging me, chastising me, guiding me. I have been given many mothers over the years, in one form or the other and I am grateful for them as well.

Maybe she did the best she could with what she had. Maybe she didn’t know how damaging she was to me. We did have a long conversation in 2016 when she pretty much laid out how much my being born had ruined her life and that she wish she hadn’t had me. That conversation almost sent me over the edge mentally. I have never recovered.

There is not much I can do about the situation between Queen and I . She used to say that we get along better when we are not around each other. I guess she got her wish. And maybe she was right. I wish no harm upon her and I do not seek anyone’s sympathy for my predicament. I chose this life. And I will flourish in spite  of being a motherless child.

 

Peace,

Ashaki

Emotional Maturity & Other Discoveries

I woke up this morning with so much on my mind after having a good conversation with  a dear sister-friend last night. I have come to the decision that I will remain single and will not entertain the idea of a relationship until I am good and ready.

During this time at home alone with my thoughts and memories, I have had a few epiphanies. I have uncovered the reason why I have attracted emotionally unavailable people, why my love language includes affirmations/attention, why I have felt so abandoned–it all ties to my childhood.

Although I had some family members who were super loving, I also had an emotionally unavailable mother and an absent father (not by his doing). I always worked myself into a frenzy to be perfect, hoping that one day she would be proud of me, think I was worthy, and finally show love and nurturing to me. I always felt like I was a burden and because I was an “outside” child, I felt the harsh reality that I didn’t fit and that my living somehow ruined their picture perfect family.

I am super sensitive. Some folks think I am super tough but, what they don’t know is that I cultivated a toughness over the years to protect myself from being hurt by those that I love. My younger brother had health problems growing up and I was healthy as a horse for the most part. My health and the fact that I was not my step-father’s child, caused a noticeable rift- while everyone else in the house was a Johnson, I was a DeBerry. I vividly remember people asking why my last name was different. Those microaggressions, the lack of love, and the feelings of neglect scarred me deeply, led me into unhealthy relationships because of my desire to be loved.

This time of digging has led me to the resolution that I need to be alone, unattached, and focused on me at this time of my life. Why would I continue to do what I have done in the past and have the same results? I somehow have felt inadequate when I wasn’t with anyone, more often that not, folks never believe me when I say that I am single.  I now know what I want and am finally beginning to be unapologetic about expressing it to whomever chooses to pursue me.

I am rediscovering things about myself that I had long forgotten as I continue on this journey of singlehood. I also realize that I too had been led to believe that being single at this age was some type of scarlet letter, a blemish on me. I am perfect just the way that I am and I am great without a relationship.

I have been unattached (officially) for nearly 2 years. I have had some of the  best times, gone on dates, been to concerts, traveled, allowed myself to be–well sometimes. There have been times that I mulled over the fact that I was becoming comfortable being unattached and surely by now, I should have a new man. But, why? Why do we feel that we are not great if we don’t have a relationship?

I am heavily involved in the study of all things metaphysical. Some of the men I have dated, I truly liked-some more than others. So, I would do the knowledge- cosmic alignment charts, natal chart, and more; trying to see if he and I could become “we”. And each time, I found that there was little to nothing there and for good reason. Why would I want to be with anyone who could not even text me back, keep their word, or show a little consistency?

Societal trends and social programming from childhood will have you messed up! I had dreams of being married, raising my family, enjoying nights cuddling with my person by this age. I was married, I am still raising my family, and often I cuddle a pillow. I won’t lie and say that I don’t get lonely- sure I do. The last relationship that I was in ended badly and left me so hurt. But, I still want to love again. However, I know what I want.

So, I am choosing to forge a new path. I will never be anyone but, myself. I will never not be magickal, a little crazy, a nerd, super sexual, fun-loving, sometimes spicy….And maybe somewhere along the way of me reimagining my life, choosing to do what brings me joy, raising the Tribe, and allowing Ashaki to be her full and total self–a person will come along and fit right in and we will add to each other’s lives.

Until then, I feel like a dread-headed, yoga-loving, tea-drinking, artsy bad ass version of Carrie Bradshaw. Mr. Big I am waiting for you-but, there is no rush!

 

Peace,

Ashaki