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

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