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

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

The Inherent Value of Life

This morning I learned of the passing of an old friend. It struck me hard in the center of my chest. He was young and yet succumbed to cancer- pancreatic to be exact. All I keep replaying is the last exchange that we had when he asked for me to send him some Reiki, and all of the subsequent messages I sent him after I hadn’t heard from him in a while.

I distinctly remember sending the last message and feeling anxious when he hadn’t responded. He always responded when we messaged each other. As I sit here today, reviewing the last few years of correspondence between him and I, I feel numb. The collection of conversation, seemed somewhat insignificant at the time, but now it has changed.

Why do we as humans not always see the inherent value in our exchanges with others? I realize that he gave me things over the years- an honest opinion, laughter, a different perspective. He is a part of my evolution and he always, always told me how proud he was to know me. But, make no mistake, he would call me on my bullshit, he would challenge my decisions, he would push me to face myself. I will forever be grateful for him.

It is a pity that most of us do not truly see how important our connections are, how much people really mean to us until they have gone on to another chapter. He mattered to me and to so many other people. I will never forget how much our conversations added to my life, how he always checked on me and my family, how he never forgot my birthday. Ase’ and love to his spirit and my sincerest condolences to his family, especially his beautiful young daughter.

May we all cherish our friendships more, express our gratitude more, love harder, live more fully. Life is fleeting, hard, at times unfair but, in my words from my memoir, life is still good.

 

Until the next time, take care,

Ashaki

I Remember Love

I remember Love. It happened quickly…beginning with harmless online flirtation then proceeding to hours long conversations. Love was a tad bit younger but the fire that existed between the two of us was undeniable. His intelligence was attractive and he was handsome but that is not what captured me.

It was the way that Love spoke my name. It was the way he said “babe”. And the first time he told me that he loved me, I knew it was real. He was rugged to everyone it seemed but, he was tender towards me. He handled me gently, always was interested in how I was doing, super supportive, and just open. It was a vibe between us. He just got me it seemed. I needed to see him in person to see if the vibe would intensify.

So, one night, I drove 5 hours just on a whim. In retrospect, I know it may sound crazy but, I had to know for myself and I am that way. I am sometimes a person that “flies by the seat of their pants”. I will take risks, I will try anything once. And I am famously curious (blame it on my Gemini rising or my Mercury in Aquarius). I needed to look Love in the face.

The closer I got to my destination, the more fearful I became. What if he was a creep? What if he saw me in person and didn’t feel the same? But, I had gone to far to go turn back. I pulled up to where he told me to meet him and once he walked up to my vehicle and spoke, I felt my insides melt. The voice. That voice still rings in my ears–just sweet to my senses.

When we finally got where we could stop (it was dark and I was exhausted), we embraced and I felt him trembling. I think he was afraid as I was. We kissed and I felt my heart flip. I was in love and it was not a lustful thing, it was like an innocent, puppy dog love.  And it felt natural, nothing was forced. It just flowed.

Months went by and our bond seemed to grow stronger but, my life was complicated. I had an ex who still lingered around and would not leave me alone. And I was weak for him still. In all honesty, I was still very codependent and could not see my way away from still depending on him with helping with my children day to day. Love lived so far away and could not be there to help me in that way. We would argue about nothing. And it got to be too much. So, I went back to the ex and left Love alone.

But, I never forgot him. Ever. In November of 2015, a dear friend, an elder passed away unexpectedly. Love had introduced us and we were instant friends. I also became friends with her husband and I wanted to offer my condolences. So, I reached out to Love. I knew he had their contact information. He was livid with me and for good reason. But, he gave me the information. We began to chat again and I let him know that I still loved him so very much. So, we agreed to meet up.

I went to him and poured my heart and soul out to him. He captured every tear that fell that night. We made sweet love that winter weekend but made no promises that we would try again. But deep down, we both knew that we wanted to be together. I left him feeling relieved but unsure of what was to come.

We tried to stay away from each other but we just couldn’t help it. That February of 2016, we decided we would be together again. I was so happy. We wanted to get married. He met my children. I was with him every chance that I got.

But, this time, I was in danger. My ex threatened harm to me if I didn’t leave Love alone. Between complicated situations with the ex and my mother, Love and I fell apart. By April, it was all over again- and I knew this time it was for good.

I lost so much in 2016. I lost one of the greatest loves I have ever known. I lost a best friend. I lost family members I learned the true definition of family and relatives. I almost lost me.

I gathered up what was left of my spirit and began to rebuild my life in Charlotte in June of 2017.  I lost almost everything that I had toiled for so many years in that one year-including Love. So,  I placed Love in a folder in the recesses of my mind. I tried to forget him and the times that we shared, but it impossible to do when it is real.

I think of Love from time to time, hoping he is safe, happy, well. I reached out to him once. He never responded to me. I hurt him and I know I did. I ruined that entire relationship. I cried and cried about it from time to time; tried to figure out why I did what I did. It still honestly doesn’t make sense to me.

Recently, Love has been on my mind more. They say that if you are thinking of someone a lot, they are also thinking of you. I do hope that his thoughts of me are not all bad. Sometimes I wish I could speak to him just one more time, allow him to see how much I have matured, hear how he is, just reconnect.

My life is so different now. I am free to be who I want to be, see who I want to see, love who I want to love. I sometimes wonder how different my life would be if he and I would have married, especially with the current state of the world. I also am no fool. If it were meant to be, it would have happened. And who knows, maybe Love will show himself to me again. Only time will tell.

 

One last thing, if Love ever reads this- please know that I truly never intended to hurt you. I truly did love you and probably always will. I was wrong and have suffered because of it. During the time when things fell apart, my whole world fell apart as well and I didn’t feel that you understood what was happening at all. I should have communicated that but, I did not know how. I hope you are doing well. I hope that you have the love that you deserve. I wish nothing but the best for you always.

 

Peace,

Ashaki

Hello 39– Finally Reclaiming My Life

It has been so long since I have written but tonight I felt compelled to. Today , is my 39th birthday. It seems so crazy that I am on staring 40 down the throat to be honest. But, doing the math–I definitely am this age.

As I sit here on my bed, smelling the sandalwood incense that burns , I feel an immense feeling of gratitude, so much so that tears have come to my eyes a few times. I feel silly crying over a birthday but, it is not so much the birthday as it is how cognizant I am to the fact that I have changed so much, how life is again shifting me, how aware that more of required of my life.

I am at ease in my singleness. I am bold enough to walk away from assumed “job security”. I am finally my full self- a compilation of rugged tomboy, hip-hop/soul/jazz, spiritual sistagirl, mother of many. I am embracing my quirks, my oddness, my uniqueness. I am ok standing on my own. I am leaning in to self- and it is a beautiful thing to behold.

In the past, I admittedly tried to make others comfortable, refused to speak up for fear of repercussions, made supremely poor attempts to “fit in”. I am in a space now where that old program has completely malfunctioned and I simply cannot. And honestly, I don’t want to.

The taste of freedom has totally captivated my soul and I crave much more. More experiences, more laughs, more adventure, more love. I see life as a canvas, as a place where my creativity and magick has a place. I am currently conjuring the most magnificent masterpiece ever.

When you grow up with a poverty mindset, you fear lack so much that you accept abuses. I am at the point in my life where I loathe the feeling of being imprisoned by societal constraints much more than anything else. Who says that anyone has to accept “how things are” any longer?

I am no longer buying into the narrative that I have to live up to anyone expectations other than my own. I am fully aware of my responsibilities but, I will not operate my life based on those responsibilities. Everything is “figureoutable”!

I have cried more in these past 3 months than I have in years. But, these tears will not be in vain. I deserve more. And more I shall have. I have reclaimed this life of mine. And I will live it on my terms for the duration.

 

Peace,

Ashaki

Lessons from a Decade of Living

Peace all! I hope this post finds you well. I was sitting here this morning scrolling through Facebook looking at all of the 10 year reflective posts. I even posted my own- a picture from late 2009 when I was pregnant with my son Bryson and a picture of me taken recently.

On the surface, you can see how much I have changed in my appearance. I look younger now than I did then. But, on a deeper level, I am vastly different than I was then. In 2009, I was in a loveless marriage. I constantly felt that I had to prove something, be perfect (whatever the hell perfect means), and fit into some image that I felt would help my life improve.

I was in undergraduate school working on obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration. I was working full time as a nurse in a nursing home. I was a wife and mother of 4.5 children. And I was miserable. I wanted so much more of life and more for myself.

I wanted to not water myself down for folks- to be my amazingly intelligent, wild, magickal self but, I was in denial. I allowed church to dictate my manners, my marriage to isolate me from enjoying things, my children to be an excuse as to why I couldn’t be free.

I thought nothing would change until one day 3 years later when my now ex -husband was taken away to federal prison. Then, it was just my children and I . I made a decision to leave familiar and dive head first into something new. I began to run every day and my figure slimmed. No coincidence that my hair journey began shortly before December 24th, 2010 when I cut all the chemicals out revealing curls and expanding my energy.

It was like a domino effect really. I chopped the hair, got pregnant again 2010, gave birth in 2011, husband gone and marriage over in 2012, started taking control of my life and taking risks in 2012, moved away in 2013….and now in 2019….I am me!

I began to do what I wanted and how I wanted. There were times when I would revert back– my crazy ass wound up in a terrible relationship with a narcissist after my marriage ended. However, even through that, I continued to pursue myself. I allowed myself to breathe, to enjoy myself, travel, eat , cry, move my body, make new friends, let some go, connect to spirit, heal, and most of all-BE!

May 2020 bring more of me to me- more joy, more experiences, more love, more passion, more authenticity, more connection, just more. I am so, so ready!

 

Peace,

Ashaki A.

 

 

Going Back to Move Forward

This past weekend I felt inclined to visit my family’s old neighborhood and old farm. As I drove down old Skillet Road, it was as if I was being guided to go back, to understand who they were, to stand on the earth they had farmed, to reconnect with the past.

Initially, I visited my great-grandmother’s old house that also stands right beside the house I grew up in. A dilapidated shack now, but still the remnants of the house that once held so much joy very much visible. I remember sitting on the porch in the summer, shelling peas with my great-grandmother and Grandma Lillie, listening to them talk, feeling the heat of the Southern heat. I remember sitting on her porch, my barefeet touching the stone steps, feeling the coolness of the concrete on my skin in the evenings.

On the other side of our old lot , there used to stand another house that I literally grew up in. My godmother lived there with her daughter and her grandparents. How many days did I spend swinging on the swing, sipping “red” Kool-aid, imagining life far away?

I left Henry Street and drove down to the Skillet. I see so much has changed in town but, not much out in what we call the “country”. I drove and turned onto Skillet Road. I see the old burnt farmhouse is still there but, now there is land for sale. I parked and stood on the land, listened for the elders to tell me what I already know and felt. This land belonged to us and we must reclaim it.

I stood in reverence for once. My people farmed this land, raised livestock, lived a life. Children were born and reared here, traditions were created here, our ways were cultivated here. I left the Skillet and still seemed to hunger for more. These past months as I have continued to research of our family, I have discovered that we moved quite a bit- from Minturn, Clio, other parts of Marlboro County and Dillon county as well, so I drove. And I felt myself churn inside because of my neglect of my own rich history.

I would not exist without these farmers, seamstresses, maids, ex slaves, and such. Would I be as driven, as resilient, as proud, as intelligent, as kind – without these folks? This journey of self-discovery continually drives me back to the ancestors- the ones that I have not properly paid homage to. I will do better. I promise.

 

Ashaki

Creating Our Own Traditions

My children and I have gotten into the practice of creating and cultivating our own traditions over the years. We have our annual fall feast, our summer trips, our weekly movie nights, and the sometimes dreaded family meetings.

One new tradition that I am happy to be able to share with my daughters is being adorned with waistbeads. In my family, being adorned with Afrikan waistbeads is not for fashion- it is highly spiritual and sacred. In ancient times, young women of a certain age were adorned as she matured into pubescence and beyond. My family and I follow a similar tradition.

I had the honor of creating and adorning my oldest daughter today. Each bead color was carefully selected and threaded- white for purity, blue for protection, pink and rose quartz for love. She was so happy to receive her first strand today.

As I tied them on her tiny waist, I felt I had somehow done this before- as if every action I  had taken was a repeat of those from long past. I do sincerely believe that we are our ancestors- that we follow similar ways of being once we have tuned into the frequency of those who came and lived before.

As I gave offerings of food at my ancestor altar this evening, I felt my inner self beam with pride because I know the ancestral mothers see me and all that I am doing to keep my Tribe connected to the old ways. It is so important that as we move forward in our lives, that we pay reverence to those who are responsible for us being here now.

Ase’ to the ancestors always!

 

Peace,

Ashaki

Revisiting The Past

Several weeks ago I went to SC to attend one of my younger cousin’s baby shower. It was a beautiful event but, I felt a strong urge to stop someplace on my way back to Charlotte. I had been through the area a million times, never quite sure of where I was truly going, definitely not feeling strong enough to go there. But, on this day, spirit was pulling on me to finally go back there.

I went back to the place that my grandmother lost her life. As we drove up to the abandoned facility, I immediately felt heavy- so heavy and dark and sad. And even though I felt so heavy, I knew that spirit led me there and I had to go through it.

As I stood at the gate, I peered at the lonesome building , going back to the last time I visited my grandmother there. It was just as dark when residents lived there- a deeply saddening space that housed elderly people. They were not treated well- the workers were cold, giving patients medications without water, not properly treating their wounds, allowing patients to sit in their excrement and urine for hours. And this information I saw with my own 2 eyes. I remember wanting to get my grandmother out of there. I remember the pain in her eyes that last Christmas that I saw her; the apologies for past “transgressions”, the shifts in emotions from extreme joy to severe despair.

I stood at the gate for a few moments, recalling the words of the administrator “We have an open gate policy”. I shake my head at their attempt to blame shift at their negligence. I then got back into the car and drove down the street, “watching” my grandmother, in my mind’s eye, take her last walk that February 2001.

When I reached the railroad tracks, I felt the most intense sorrow that I have felt since the day after her death. I had not been back to this area since her death and standing on the track, walking the path I had walked 18 years ago brought back a flood of emotions and I could feel the remnants of her there. The fear, the pain, the sorrow, the intense sadness that was left at that place all flooded and permeated my being at that time.

I felt stuck, I felt the bondage, I felt a wailing deep within myself. And the tears just flowed from my heart and soul. I grasped a few of the rocks from the tracks- the same tracks that my grandmother had been dragged across those years before. I could not move. But, then I felt this cool breeze blow across my face and heard grandma say “Child you have to go”.

I came back to myself, called my spirit back to myself, and felt a renewed sense of purpose. There is a divine reason that I could not return until this time. I am rooted and grounded in the love and security of ancestral connection. I am ready to work. There is heaviness in that area. souls that need healing, love, and light. I have been chosen to do what is not done by anyone in that area- to bring my whole, Afrikan, spiritual self and cleanse and sing and chant and set them free. My grandmother and others are waiting for those songs, that smudging, that light. I am strong now. I am prepared. I am ready.

Wednesday, June 12th is my grandmother’s bEarthday. She would have been 81 years old. She was taken from us too soon. But, in her years on this earth , she gave so much, she gave all of herself for those who she loved. I am eternally grateful that I am of her lineage. She continues to walk with me every day. Ase’ to her spirit and to the spirits of all of my ancestors. May I continue to walk into my destiny and path that they have lighted for me.

 

Peace,

Ashaki

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