Family First…Good Vibes, High Times

I cannot believe that it has been almost a month since my last blog post. I attempted several times to put pen to paper but, the vibe was just not there. But, here I am on a gloomy , yet peaceful Saturday morning, sitting with my laptop, pouring out of myself.

Last night was so dope. Some of my younger cousins came into my city to see me and my children and it honestly was the best thing that could have happened this week. We ended up cooking a huge meal, sharing laughs, drinks, and listening to music. The energy of the night was intoxicating to say the least. We all fell asleep all over my apartment- from beds, to couches, and to floors.

I couldn’t help but to reflect upon our grandmother and her ideas about family.  Family was the most important thing to her and she always reminded us that although we may not always get along, it is so important to nourish your family relationships. But, in our family there has been a rift between some of us. There is a legacy of grudges; some so deep that they can last for years.

In the past, I have shared the fact that some of my family and I do not have a relationship. It is what it is. I make no apologies for taking certain measures to ensure that I remain happy and healthy. However, when it comes to my younger cousins and myself, we move a bit differently. We have chosen to respect each other, love each other, and give each other space to be exactly who we want to be.

One of my cousins is in the military and will be deploying soon.  The time we share is precious and we know that. I am so grateful that he came to visit before his departure. I know understand even more why Grandma Lillie was so adamant that family love on one another. The fiber that holds us together is laced throughout our DNA and what affects one of us , truly affects all of us.

So, I have chosen to take last night’s energy and lock it up deep in my heart- another memory to keep my company on days when no one knocks on my door. I felt Grandma Lillie with us last night, guiding us as we cooked, smiling at her legacy, feeling proud that we are following the path.

 

Peace,

Ashaki

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The Hardest Job Ever

Greetings fam! I hope this message finds you well. I am currently sitting in the local Barnes & Nobles trying to process the happenings with my children. So, let’s start with the fact that I have 6 children. And before you ask, yes I birthed them all. Their ages range from 21-7, 4 boys and 2 girls.

So, let’s start with the 21 year old. He was an only child for the first 7 years of his life. I gave birth to him at age 16. It was not easy and my mother was an integral part of his life for years. He was with me during a lot of tragedy but, he doesn’t even really remember because he was with her a lot and I sheltered him from knowing the entirety of a lot. He and I have not been close since he was 17 years old, ran away from home, did some other things and I had to send him to other family members.

Now, on to today’s hot topic– my 13 year old daughter. She is a sweet girl but, also very passive aggressive and will tell an untruth in order to save her own skin- even at other’s expense.  Anyway she got into trouble yesterday and was punished and today she decides to chop off all of her locs! Another one of my children came to me and said they saw her hair in the trashcan and sure enough she has all of 3 inches of hair left on her head. I still cannot process what would possess her to do such a thing. But, this is my life.

My children are my inspiration but also my greatest challenge. And having the number of children that I have, dealing with all of those personalities at once, trying to guide and cultivate productive people, provide for them all emotionally, financially, spiritually, and otherwise, is downright exhausting and heart-wrenching at times.

I broke down today. I just broke. I couldn’t help it. I find myself feeling like a failure. What am I doing for them? Am I doing a good job? Am I properly preparing them for this world? Am I setting a good example? All of these questions haunt me.

Typically, our days are filled with school/work, homework, dinner, baths, catch up…Wash rinse, repeat. I try to interject some fun into their lives on my free weekends too. But, is that enough? I ask them how they are feeling, what’s going on at school, do they feel well, and so on and so forth but, is that truly enough?

I have spoken before about my dysfunctional childhood. The woman who birthed me and I have little in common, especially when it comes to parenting. I am ever present, stern but loving, concerned, fun. She was cold, distant, and eventually neglectful and verbally abusive. But, I focus on the good days that I remember and accept that maybe she did the best that she could. I try to give them all that I longed for with the exception of the material things, though my children are not hurting for much.

I could possibly go on and on and on about how inadequate I feel in this moment, how helpless, how ill-equipped but, that would only serve to add to an already stressful day. When I rise in the morning, my intention is always to do my very best by myself, my children, and all that people that I interact with.

My eyes burn with tears that I am refusing to let go at this table in B & N. I am having a chai tea and a piece of chocolate cheesecake that I know I don’t need–it is serving as a placeholder for a hug that I so desperately need right now. Parenting is the most difficult job I have ever held.

I can only assume that the most high, my ancestors, my guides, and all the benevolent spirits attached to me knew what they were doing orchestrating a life filled with children that I am supposed to rear. These children chose me to be their mother. Maybe they saw potential in me that I am unaware of. I just pray that whatever lesson I am meant to learn by being the mother of so many children become crystal clear. Because days like this are hard….so very hard. Tomorrow is another day. I just pray that it is better…….

 

Peace,

Ashaki

Divine Mothering

Greetings, greetings, greetings! I hope you are doing well this Tuesday. I am in full recovery mode after suffering all weekend with sinus inflammation, drainage, and headaches. Today, I am about 75% healed and actually feel well enough to get some things done lol.

Anywho, I wanted to share how the universe will deliver what we need when we need. I am a nurse by profession. I have spent my entire career caring for elderly patients in various settings but mostly long-term care and rehabilitation. I have no idea how many lives I have touched in my nearly 19 years but, I know it definitely is in the thousands.

Well, there have been times in which I have been affected by patients and families as well. Some of these people just grow on you and you end up connecting with them on a deeper level than just healthcare. Recently I had an Ethiopian man as  a patient. He only spoke about 3 words in English. His wife was there daily, staying by his side as he recovered after surgery. His children visited daily as did other family members.

His wife is one of the sweetest spirits I have ever met and she truly gave me something that I have been missing for so many years. She mothered me. Every single exchange between she and I was one filled with concern, compassion, and genuine love. She fed me fruits, traditional Ethiopian foods, breads, and more. Each time I entered the room, she called me to her, holding food and feeding me as her own child.

In the settings in which I work, sometimes lunch does not happen- medications have to be passed, doctors are calling you to inquire about patient’s conditions, supervisors need you, etc. She observed me going without and out of concern, she fed me. But, it was so much more than just giving me food.

When she fed me, hugged me, and thanked me, she gave me the nurturing that I have been missing. She had the same feel as my grandma Lillie- warmth, love, joy, and divine feminine energy on high. She was graceful in all ways and her inner light shown bright. I am the one always giving so to be nurtured in that way was salve to a sometimes weary soul.

I am sure that she doesn’t even realize how impactful her simple kindness was to me in my life. On the day of discharge, I spent time in the room with my patient and his family, ensuring they had everything that they needed. The husband embraced me and kissed both my cheeks before leaving. I felt tears well in my eyes because they naturally embraced me as their own-even if it was only for a short period of time. May we all incline to treat one another as our own. Because the world certainly can use more love.

 

Peace,

Ashaki

Racing Ahead

Greetings fam! I hope all is well. Today, my youngest daughter and I created a beautiful memory together. We ran a 5K together! Now to bring this into perspective, my daughter is 10 years old and I have not run an entire 5K in 5 years. But nevertheless, we did it and I am filled to the brim with joy. As I sit here tonight, I have a few thoughts that I want to share (of course!)

  1. Mind over matter really works (sometimes)- My daughter has trained for 2 months for this 5K. I kept telling myself that I would train. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am pretty active. I do go to the gym as often as possible and I am a yogi. I also eat pretty healthily. However, I never trained. I knew that I would push myself to be in place for my daughter and that is just what the hell I did!
  2. Our children are truly watching, and they do want our support and approval. My daughter is very headstrong and opinionated (not unlike her mother). I never have considered that she was modeling my behaviors until today. I have always loved to run and be active. Watching her run by my side, in step, and with a look of sheer determination was heartwarming. Once we crossed the finish line, I felt how much she needed my encouragement and how much she appreciated my presence.
  3. Lastly, I got to see #blackgirlmagick in action. The young queens represented themselves so well. They were all so positive, so lovely, so determined. It was inspiring to be a part of the conglomerate. I have a desire to begin to work more with our girls. Today, the fire was stoked!

 

 

Peace,

Ashaki

Seeking the Past & Looking Towards the Future

Greetings fam! Willing all is well with you all today on this beautiful Sunday. I spent my Saturday with my children. I took The Tribe (my affectionate nickname for my children) first to the Charlotte Museum of History. They were having a free event in which we able to tour the property of the first magistrate of Mecklenburg County. He was also a slave owner and the descendant of the household cook, spoke on her journey of discovering her ancestor.

As we made our way up to the house, I instantly felt the heaviness of the spirits on the grounds. The house was made of stone and we learned that the house was built by the slaves and that the actual stone had to be blasted from the ground and pieces laid to build the house. When we entered the house, the dank smell overtook us and I could “see” how this magistrate and his family lived. He owned many acres of land and the slave quarters have not yet been discovered, yet we know they existed. I could feel the remnants of times past, the extreme weight of oppression, and how many of us continue to carry those burdens from their ancestors.

I strive to show proof to my children of our illustrious past but also the ugliness of all that has been done to us. I need for them to know their history, the roots in which they sprang from, the journey we continue to travel.  Knowing the type of people that you come from is so important because how can you know where you going if you don’t know where you came from.

I began many years ago, researching, digging, and seeking my ancestors. I have found many different characters, discovered some hard truths, and found peace in my discoveries. Some of the history was painful, some triumphant, but all of it helped to create the person that I am today. I stand on the shoulders of those who passed before me. I weep for their struggle and I smile at their tenacity. May peace be upon their spirits.

Visiting historical sites has always been important to me. I enjoy digging into the past and seeing how far we have come but also realizing how much further we must go. May you seek the past with determination as well and find more of yourself.

 

Peace, Love, & Abundant Light,

Ashaki

 

Photo cred: Literary Hub

Rest Well Grandma…

Peace, love, and light everyone. Yesterday marked the 17th anniversary of the day my grandmother was tragically killed. That day is still as vivid as it was then, though the emotions are not as raw. I miss her so very much. I think of her every single day and am so grateful to have had her as a grandmother.

I almost did not write today but I decided just a few minutes ago to share one of my favorite memories of her. When I was about three years old, she took me to a store with her. I saw a doll that I wanted but then I decided that I wanted ice cream. Grandma Lillie told me that I could only have one or the other , not both. “Be sure of what you really want, “ she said.

I chose the ice cream but after the cone was empty and I had devoured the tasty treat, I wanted the doll. I began to cry and stomp my little feet. My grandma was having none of it. She warmed up my posterior right in the middle of the street! I was so mad or so I remember. She took me home and I went to bed fuming.

Later that night, Grandma came to see me but I was asleep. When I woke up, the doll was in the bed next to me. That was classic Grandma Lillie. She would chastise you and then show you how unconditional her love truly was. There was nothing she wouldn’t do for you if she loved you. When my grandmother sang “My Girl” to me, she meant it. Her love has carried me through a lot of pain, despair, and hard times.

The kindness that she showed me and to so many others was a true testament to the beauty that humanity can be. I have spent most of my life trying to understand how a woman who had so little could continually give so much. I will forgive sing praises about the woman who held me when I had night terrors, fed me nourishing food when I was hungry, and encouraged me when I was struggling with life.

Rest well Grandma Lillie. I will never let your memory die.

 

Ashaki

Happy bEarthday Daddy!

Peace and blessings fam! I do hope all is well with everyone. Today is my father’s bEarthday, as well as the great Marcus Mosiah Garvey. I wanted to share a few fond memories as well as lessons that I learned growing up. My father was killed on a worksite at age 47. He left behind a large family and many friends but his legacy continues.

My father, Rev. Alexander Jackson Jr. was a very strong man—strong in his body and his mind as well. I love books, reading, research, and so did he. He believed that reading was essential to life—as essential as air is to breathing. I remember catching him watching me read one summer evening. I asked him what he was looking at and he just smiled and told me to keep reading.

I learned how men should treat their children and wife. He was very loving and affectionate. He made sure that his house was taken care of, that his woman was well cared for and worry free, and that his children’s needs have been met. The love he had for his family was apparent in his eyes and his interactions.

My father’s charitable spirit is what I think about very often, as I strive to give back to my own community. I can remember vividly him repairing poor people’s houses for free. It takes a huge heart to give so freely and I am so proud to have been born to a man who saw people in need and took it upon himself to give of himself.

I could go on and on about my daddy. I could tell you how his eyes change colors when he was angry or how he teased about being a member of the Mandinka tribe. I could reminisce about holidays gone by and how he always told me how I looked just like his mother. But, I won’t. I will end my reminiscings with this…

I love and miss you daddy. You are still the best!

 

Ashaki Ma’at Mirembe Ali

AKA “Baby Girl”

20 Years As a Mother…..

Peace, love, and light fam! I hope all is well with you all on this Friday. Today is a very special day—this is my eldest Sun’s 20th bEarthday. I can hardly believe he is 20! He is happy, healthy, doing well, and progressing in his life. There is a time when I was unsure of how my life would be at this time in my life. I gave birth to him when I was 16. My sweet sixteen was a very sad day, filled with eye rolling, teeth sucking, and resentment sent towards me.

My sun’s biological father was not involved at all during my pregnancy or after. My mother constantly threatened me with foster homes, group homes, taunting that she would “turn me over to the state”.  I was told by a guy at school that I should “get rid of it”. I was told by a few friends that their parents told them they couldn’t be my friend anymore because I was pregnant. I felt like a complete and utter failure; a pariah. But, my spirit is strong and resilient, so I resolved to be a great mother and make things work for my baby and I—no matter what.

I gave birth on July 21st, 1997 at 2:51 a.m to a 7 pound, 2.9 ounce beautiful, big-eyed boy that I named Shamar Malik DeBerry. He was perfect in my eyes. Being a teenage mom had its challenges, but I persevered.  And there were many bruises and bumps along the way. He almost died from an illness when he was 7 months, I was in an abusive relationship, which put us both in danger at times. I have been homeless and had to send him to live with family for 6 months once. I worked too much and wasn’t present as much as I had liked to have been.. We have literally lost everything and rebuilt many times over the years.

But, I never lost the determination I had that told me every morning “things will get better”. And over the years, they have. I had to grow up before I gave birth to him. My life has been filled with dysfunction, pain, death, and disorder. But, my life has also been filled with love, joy, triumph, life, light, and abundance. This sun is now a man and I am very proud of what he is doing right now. Has it been easy? Absolutely not. But is being a mother to him and my other 5 children worth it? Absolutely yes. I know I am a better individual because of them. They are the light in my life. They are my motivation. And if I could turn back the hands of time, I would still be the mother of the Tribe.

 

Have an awesome weekend!

 

Peace, Love, and Abundant Light,

Ashaki Ma’at Mirembe Ali

The Results Are In!

Peace fam. To say that I am overwhelmingly excited would be an understatement this morning. A few months ago, I submitted my DNA to be tested for my ancestral lineage. I have always wanted to know what countries my bloodlines led to but had never taken the time or resources to do so. As you may or may not know, I am legally changing my name from my birth name. I love my family, no doubt, but my attachment to a name that is not reflective of my lineage, heritage, or lifestyle (among other things) led me to want to choose a name more in line with the life I am building and the legacy I am leaving behind. Thus, you have Ashaki, a West Afrikan name that means beautiful.

Well, let me get to it. Drumroll please lol! I received my results last night. My DNA is a combination of Cameroon/Congo, Nigeria, Benin/Toga, and Senegal. I only have 8% European (and a message from Ancestry saying that it is a “low confidence region). Anyway, I am highly honored to be one of the few Afrikans living in Amerikka that actually knows their origins. I am also very happy to have found some family that share DNA with me. I also reviewed the birth records of my paternal grandfather online which showed where he was born in Jamaica, as well as the birth date of my maternal great-great grandfather, who was born in 1886. How amazing this journey of self discovery is!! I was moved to tears looking at the military records of my great grandfather, the census of my maternal great grandfather, as well as other documents.

I am piecing together history for my descendants. They will know where they come from. We are resilient, we are strong, we are Afrikan!! I have been under reconstruction now for months, learning who I am as a woman, finding my weaknesses, my strengths, my shortcomings, my quirks. I have been taking care of self. Now, I am finding out parts of myself that I did not know existed. Thousands of years ago, my ancestors in Cameroon, Nigeria, Benin, Senegal were living, loving, working, and dreaming. I am my ancestors wildest dreams. I am my ancestors. I am back.

 

Hetepu,

Ashaki Ma’at Mirembe Ali

Celebrating Junior

Peace & blessings fam! Seems like it has been eons since I have written but I write everyday, I just do not always blog it, post it, or even put pen to paper. Anyway, my life has changed so much over the last few months—from losing a brother, deciding to bring some things to a close, turning age (36!!), and beginning a new business. I am learning more and more about myself and it is not always easy to look at yourself and love yourself inside and out. Anyway, tomorrow is a very special day. It is the day my baby brother would have turned 33 years old.

It is hard to believe that my brother transitioned from this life 23 years ago, exactly 6 days before his 11th bEarthday. I sometimes can see glimpses of him in my two youngest sons- from the smirk on my baby’s face that he has worn from almost birth to the need to be outdoors as much as humanly possible that my 7-year-old exhibits. My brother is ever present. Memories of him have not faded and some are more distinct than others.

One of my favorite memories of my brother was from a few weeks before his transition. My mother used to work the late shift so he and I would be home alone a lot even during his sickness. Anyway, he and I would watch movies until bedtime. He began to tell me how he knew he was dying and that he knew we were trying to hide the truth from him. I felt tears well up in my eyes and I thought he couldn’t feel my pain because I was dying inside myself. I had just had to bury my father after he was killed in a work related accident and my brother was nearing his time. There was no joy to be felt during that time. I felt very hopeless. And then, my brother helped ease my heart. He told me that I should not be sad because he was not afraid and he was ready to die. He said that each time he closed his eyes angels were there telling him that he was going to be just fine. He told me that he knew that this was just another beginning and that he would not know pain in his new life. I did not understand then, but I fully understand now and my understanding took years.

So, on March 23rd, 1995, my youngest brother, Donald Lovette Johnson Jr. , left his cancer striken 10 year old body and transcended into his new life. He left all the illness, pain, and heartache here on Earth. His spirit lives on no doubt. My brother loved “18 wheelers” (as he called them), riding his red Huffy bicycle, playing outside, and playing NBA Jams. My brother survived having a stroke at 2, brain surgeries, and multiple seizures to live to the ripe age of 10. My brother once kicked my ass for not letting him watch Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. My brother, who would try to follow me on his bike as I rode mine to my friends’ house and get mad and yell “I’m telling Mama!!” when I wouldn’t let him come. My brother, who knows my secrets, knows life behind the doors of our home, and who I kept safe from knowing more than I felt he could handle. My brother, who we called Junior, left an indelible mark upon my life. I am braver, stronger, more loving, more forgiving, and more grateful for life because of him. So, happy happy bEarthday Junior. Your sister loves you eternally……. March 29th will forever be your day so get ready for cake, a nice plate of food, and other offerings….most of all my love.

 

Hetepu,

Ashaki Ma’at Mirembe Ali

“Andre’a”