2 Decades

20 years ago today, I stood in front of family and friends and eulogized my beloved grandmother, Lillie Ann DeBerry. I will never forget the anxiety that overtook me as I clutched the already written devotion and the feeling of relief when I decided to freestyle it and just speak from my heart. The look on my grandfather’s face, the smiles, but also the emptiness that I felt- the feeling of being gut punched as I braved my way through those moments. Unforgettable.

My mind has a hard time believing that 20 years has passed but another part of self is settled in it. I am such a different person then than I am now. I have been twice divorced, engaged twice, had 5 more children, left organized religion, cut off all my hair, regrew it, grew locs, moved, and yet I still miss my grandma Lillie with the same intensity.

I will tell you that I find great solace and peace in my spiritual practices of ancestral recognition, veneration, and honor. I know that she is ever with me, speaking, guiding, protecting, even chastising at times. Her spirit remains a strong presence in my life and the lives of my children.

Her death was tragic but it was her living that I am more concerned with. Once my mother transitioned last year, they both have shown up in multiple dreams. I giggle at the shenanigans that have occurred in the dream realm with those two. I have often felt a burning anger at how my grandmother lost her life, all of the pain she endured throughout the years. But, just as quickly I recall the joy that she expressed so freely, the tears with each laugh, the warmth of her hugs, and the love in each pot of food that she prepared. And I feel ease. ]

May my life be a testament to the power, strength, tenacity, and pure love of that woman. May my ancestral mothers be honored evermore.

I miss you Grandma Lillie. I love you. Until we meet again,

-Your Girl

The Legacy of Coffee

The other day I was thinking how much my mornings look like my mom’s when she was in her twenties. She always had fresh coffee, made her breakfast, read the newspaper, and prepared herself for the day–savoring the few hours early before anyone else was awake. I am much the same. I am up early on purpose. I love having time to rise slowly, be with myself, and pamper me for a bit before I have to face the world.

I began to reminisce about how all of my family- especially the women who raised me enjoyed coffee. My mother, my grandmother, my great-grandmother all shared laughs, memories, debates, and so much more over a hot cup of coffee. It was a necessary staple in all of their households and I continue the legacy.

I remember Grandma Lillie putting on the percolator, brewing coffee early in the morning. I loved the smell ( I still do ) and I would beg for a little bit. My great-grandmother would say “You can’t have any coffee, it’ll make you black” and I would say “Well, I’m already black so give me mine!”. The women would swat me away but, I would hang around listening, being careful not to be too much of a nuisance so that they would allow me to hang.

I still vividly remember how they took their coffee too- Momma had 2 teaspoons of sugar and a little cream, Grandma liked her coffee black, and Great-grandma liked her with just a little cream. Coffee. I also realize that even in having just a cup of coffee, my foremothers were giving themselves of some well-deserved pleasure. Even in its simplicity, just the mere act of them sitting , drinking, and enjoying it brings me so much joy.

How hard they all had worked over the years, how much they had toiled. They deserved every ounce they savored. And so, as I sit early in the mornings, sipping on my coffee, I am honoring their memory by keeping the legacy alive.

Supreme gratitude of coffee.

Peace,

Ashaki

Peace 2020

I cannot lie and say that this year went by quickly for me, because it certainly didn’t . It actually feels like more than a year has gone by since my end of year blog for 2019. But, I also realize that this year has given me much in relation to the person that is currently sitting at her workstation putting her thoughts onto virtual paper.

I want to share 5 important lessons that I learned this year. This list is definitely not an all-inclusive list for all I have learned in 2020, but they certainly are high on the totem pole.

  1. Goodbyes come quickly- So many people lost so many loved ones this year. I lost my mother, sister, and 3 other family members. Spend time talking to your folks, let them know that you love them, and cherish your time together because time is a commodity that cannot be replaced.
  2. Allow space for your feelings- I was confronted by a reoccurrence of PTSD in 2020. I was functioning but, not living. I was working myself ragged and thinking that I was ok until I was pulled on the side of a road, thoughts racing, unable to move. I had to allow myself to feel, acknowledge my feelings, and deal with them. I knew it was real when I broke down in her office.
  3. Stop doing things you don’t want to do and actually pursue your passions. I had to decide for myself to choose what I wanted to do and stop saying yes to everything I know I had no passion for. I found myself immersed in painting, divination, yoga, and meditation. Although I love Afrikan art and accessories, I stopped selling and promoting those products. I stopped joining Zoom calls and groups with promises of profit just because it was working for others. That ain’t my ministry and I am good with it.
  4. Set boundaries and keep them there! If I learned anything from my last relationship, it was for me to set healthy boundaries and maintain them. I can no longer allow myself to be caught up in unhealthy relationships, push myself to the limits, and not advocate for myself. I set the bar high because I know I deserve better than I have accepted. And I have gladly said goodbye to a few folks who refused to honor my boundaries.
  5. I am worthy of the best- For so many years, I have denied myself certain luxuries because I truly did not see how valuable I am. Well, I learned my value and although it is a continual process to keep myself from going back into accepting less than, I know that the best of life is my destiny and I want it! So, I have set a standard of only accepting that which is truly pleasing to me and nothing less. And subsequently I have been attracting better by doing so. So, I shall continue.

I hope that this new year brings you all more bliss, continued good health, abundance, joy, love, and peace. I will see you on the other side.

Peace,

Ashaki

Discovering Joy

Peace fam! It has been a bit since my last post but, true to form, your girl has been busy. As you all know, I have had my share of losses this year, changes trials but, I have also been blessed with growth, abundance in ways that I never could have perceived before, and with opportunity for more , including expansion.

I am seeing more of how alignment plays a huge part in how much joy one can experience and how abundance is so much more than what we typically see.

Since returning home from my sister’s funeral, I have chosen to work harder towards my goals . One of my goals is to grow my business so that I can quit working part time. I realize that I haven’t taken the time to relish the fact that I have been able to maintain my lifestyle while only working part time. In my 20 year career, I NEVER worked less than 40 hours a week–I often worked much more! If my current life is not a shining example of unrecognized abundance, I don’t know what is.

I have been able to express my talents and actually be paid for it. This is absolutely amazing. I had to have a sit down with my damn self. It went like this “Girl you are making huge strides!” “You are making money from your business, making connections, celebrate your small wins”.

We often push ourselves to the point of exhaustion and never take time to reflect on how far we have come in our journey. And it is shameful! You and I are worthy of praise. If you are still pursuing your dreams, I believe you will achieve them. Never give up, never give in! And stop once in a while to smell the roses, watch the birds, admire a flower…

See You All Soon,

Ashaki

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

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

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

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