In pursuit of happyness / Sometimes I make things…part deux

It’s been four years since the last time I posted some of my visual art work on the blog. It’s been nearly that long since I created what I consider really good art. Art from the soul.

In February, I was laid off. This is the third time in four years that I’ve experienced un(der) employment. It’s been hard on me. It’s been hard on my soul.

A couple weeks ago, I decided to surrender my circumstances and let go. I never knew it could be so easy. Though, considering it took me two months to shake off the bonds of my depression, it wasn’t that easy.

I reached out with my spirit and I made a decision to be happy. I didn’t want to cry anymore. I no longer wanted to feel the crushing weight of despair on me. I was tired of the nagging whispers in my head that told me I was worthless and I should take my own life for not being able to take care of myself. I was in a bad way.

But no more.

I put my heart and soul in the Hands of the Heavens. I felt the spirits of my Ancestors move within me and I found my strength.

I’m still underemployed, but I’ve found a daily routine that includes healthy forms of self-care. I exercise. I breathe. I make time for prayer and spiritual work. All the parts of myself that I neglected to pursuit a capitalist paradise, I tended to. I started making art again. I cooked warming, nutritious food. I cleaned my living space and I could feel it’s sigh of relief. My home stopped being a prison and returned to being my sanctuary. For the first time in a long time, I feel my heart leaping with joy and my body tingles with energy. I dance and I sing on the daily. I still want to cry sometimes, but they’re happy tears. It seems more like a miracle than reality. I feel like I found a missing part of me. I’m grateful for it and pray I can maintain this inner balance when my path opens and I’m fully employed again.

The most popular post on my blog that never fails to get hits year after year is my post on being broken, but not shattered. I continue to struggle with self-love, self-care and battling my inner demons. But I also continue to be hopeful and inspired. I’m still here.

So, I wanted to share what I’ve been working on and hope that I can pass on some of the joy, beauty and grace that I’m enjoying now.

Peace be with you, dear readers.

Cosmos:World Tree.jpg

Cosmos / World Tree

 

 

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For Mama (Remember)

mommy corrected

Torri L. Shivers-Forbes
1959-2012

Remember when you rocked me
Singing soft and sweet
Love in your voice brought tears to my eyes

Remember when you prayed with us before bed
Winding music boxes–gifts from my grandmothers–
Dark became less fearful as you tucked me in

Remember when you listened to my stories
Encouraging me to write them down
I know you thought I was strange, but you never let on

Remember when we broke each others’ hearts
Drowning, both of us, in our own pain
Rough waters made it hard to see….
And so we lost each other for a time

You challenged me
I stood defiant
Engaged in risky business
Trying to kill the ‘you’ in ‘me’

You saw my bleeding wrist
And you never asked me why
I think it’s ’cause you knew
We were both the same

Ran from my future that was your present
Called it survival
But you never turned your back on me
Not once

Remember when you showed me faith
Crusading against each others’ Gods
Never noticing that my devotion was inherited

Remember when you called me for help with this thing or that
Realizing that you needed me I finally understood
You lent me your strength, but forgot to keep some for yourself

Remember when I took care of you while you were still trying to care for me
Exchanging the bitter for the sweet
Remember! Do you remember?
When you helped me to forgive

I remember
Every pain and every joy
Every tear and every laugh

I remember
That the worst and the best of me all came from you
I remember
You told me you were proud
Please remember
I’ll always love you

*My mother and I had a complex relationship. I sometimes wish that things could have been different between us, though I don’t know how that could have been. We didn’t communicate well and we often had trouble hearing and seeing each other. As I mention above, I really believe that was because we were so much alike. Sometimes, I think mom was afraid because of what she did see and neither of us were well equipped to confront it.

Despite how things improved with us by the end, it is difficult to think of the good times without juxtaposing them with the bad. We loved each other, but it was not without struggle. I think it had to be for us to reach a place of healing and understanding. In the end, we finally saw each other.

Her life and death give me strength. Her continued love carries me through. What is remembered, lives.

 

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End of Things

Head bowed before my shrine I pray
Peace be still
Peace I say

Heart so heavy
But the spirits say “fight!”
Candles flicker in the night

“Fear not!”, the angels sing
What comfort, what joy
Is found at the end of things?

Climb the ladder
Try not to fall
Capitalism makes fools of us all

The bitterest herbs fill my bowl
No milk nor honey
Just the struggle to nourish my soul

Mothers, hear my cry
Ancient and strong
My feet grow weary and the road is long

Ancestors below and Gods above
Let me hear your voice
Fill me whole with your undying love

Let me not falter
Pluck the grief from my heart
Grant me the courage to make a new start

With purpose I strive
And surrender my faith
Remember, who raised you to survive

Momma gave me the tools and taught me to pray
Peace be still
Peace I say

Candleburning.jpg

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Heartbreak of Day

Sometimes I wake up crying
Sweet dreams shattered by the early morning light
My tears reflected a thousand times
As I gather the broken pieces
Rearrange them in the empty space beside me
Pray the rose petal shaped offerings of my blood are enough to bring back the dead
Try to remember where we were before the dawn
Eyes closed listening to the syncopated drumming of our hearts
Dew drop kisses
Bodies entwined
Then you were gone

It’s always the same
I take a breath then chant your name
My words won’t conjure you from the land of dreams
Won’t make you flesh and blood and bone to hold
Won’t keep your promise
Always, you said
Sun burned away the lies
Ashes…ashes…we…all…fall…

Mother Moon rises
Once again your arms coil round my waist
Tell you that I missed you
Your stomach settles against the small of my back
Whispers in my hair
My secret name
That only you know
Igniting my soul
And I forget
The deceit of dancing shadows
And I forget
The sorrow that comes with the day
All I know is this
And it’s enough

Until the moisture on my face wakes me up
And I remember
You were never there

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Breadcrumbs OR A Status Update

DISLIKE

Follow me
Follow me

Hidden in the winks of my emojis
Quotes in my timeline
Subtext in my vaguebooks
Lies a deeper meaning

Click, click Like
Like, click click

Show me that you care
Leave a comment
Constant Contact
LOL, you tease

Don’t wine or dine me
Just DM me
IRL is a fantasy
tfw your phone gets off
Ding-ding! Ding-ding! Ding-ding!

[Playful with a touch of social commentary. Seriously, though, I love social media.]

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My (Accidental) Mother’s Day

chocolate yogurt cake

I don’t believe in accidents. Everything happens for a reason.

I had no intention to celebrate Mother’s Day this year. I’ve been in a depressive funk. I just wanted to pass the day, alone, and without tears. But my mother had other plans.

Warm days had finally arrived and I had been craving barbecue. I usually do my shopping on Sundays, but this weekend I had an inkling to do it on Saturday. I had a short list and on that list was pork ribs. I had to have them. So, I marched into the store with a purpose and in short order I gathered my few items and waited in the long line.

There were so many people on a Saturday afternoon. I wasn’t used to the crowds. I waited, marveling, wondering why everyone decided to do their shopping right then. I wondered at myself. I wasn’t planning to cook that night. Why was I there? I could’ve have waited until Sunday, like usual. At that moment, I noted the party balloons on display and remembered that Sunday was Mother’s Day. Everyone must be preparing for their feasts, I thought. By the time it was my turn to check out, I had already forgotten.

When I woke up this morning, I settled in for a day of doing nothing. I felt tired. I saw everyone’s Mother’s Day greetings on social media and I felt even more tired. I wanted to indulge in my funk. I considered not cooking for the week. After all, I had some cereal and Hot Pockets. Cooking seemed a bit much at the moment.

Before I knew what I was doing, however, I was in the kitchen, washing dishes and I wasn’t sure how I got there. I was going through the motions, smearing horseradish and mustard on the ribs when suddenly I realized what day it was. Of course, I knew what day it was, but in that moment, my hands on the meat, I knew. And I also knew why I was doing what I was doing at that particular moment. I realized then why I had craved barbecue, particularly pork ribs, and it’s not because it’s summer.

Mother’s Day, like Memorial Day and my mother’s birthday is a feast day. Ever since my mother died, I’ve given the day more importance. It’s yet another way I honor my Ancestors. Two years ago, I marked the day with a special tattoo that I dedicated to Them. My Ancestors are the reasons I live and breathe and yet I had put myself ahead of Them and, in that moment, They reminded me. My mother reminded me. This is my day.

My mom loved barbecue ribs. On her birthday, in February, I usually prepare a Southern/soul food-style dinner with ribs, some kind of sautéed greens, some type of bread and chocolate cake. Today, I had no such meal planned. Didn’t even occur to me. But it was like I said: the Dead had other plans.

As soon as I had the ribs in the oven, I knew I had to make some skillet cornbread. I couldn’t not have it. But I didn’t have any Jiffy mix. Would you believe that I have never made cornbread without Jiffy? My Grandma Marie (mom’s mom born and raised in New Orleans) must’ve been with me today. I pulled out the cornmeal and quickly whipped it up, subbing plain kefir for the lack of buttermilk.

Then the ribs were done and I let them rest on a plate. Suddenly, I had another urge. Chocolate cake. No, I thought. Too much. But the feeling was strong and by now I knew that my simple dinner had turned into a feast. There had to be cake.

So, I gave in. But did I have the ingredients for chocolate cake? I made do with a couple scoops of Nutella added to the creamed butter/sugar/egg mixture and a half cup of chocolate kefir instead of milk. To that I mixed one cup of flour with baking soda and powder. It didn’t look like much, but the cake rose quickly and it is the lightest, fluffiest cake I’ve ever made. I thought it would make a perfect pairing with a couple clementine oranges I was gifted by a co-worker on Friday. My mom loved those little oranges. (See what I mean by “everything happens for a reason”? Those oranges were not meant for me. One co-worker gave them to another who offered them to me. I almost said no, but decided to take them anyway.)

The (Stouffer’s) macaroni was finishing in the oven as I quickly sautéed some onions with leftover bok choy and some frozen brussels sprouts thrown in. I reheated the ribs and all was ready.

At the end of it, I didn’t feel so depressed and was definitely in the holiday spirit. I lay out the food, fresh water, lit a candle and thanked my mother, all my Mothers, for reminding me who I am and where I come from. Without them, I would not be. My life, my strength, my being…all from Them.

May They never be forgotten. What is remembered, lives.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother's Day Feast

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Late Night Love Letters

Tatry

Tatry

True love come find me
At the top of the mountain
In a place where time stands still
Where the sun and moon share the day
And no dark clouds overhead
In this place of perfect peace
I’ll wait for you always

I will bathe my feet in the fresh spring waters
Cleansing myself of all who came before
Until there’s nothing left but you and I
No more “was” or “then” or “used to”
Just “now” and “here” and “what will be”

True love come meet me
At our journey’s end
We’ll rest ourselves in each other’s arms
Find joy in every breath
You’ll ask me how to love me
And I’ll take your hand and say:
This is the way…
This is the way…
Love me this way…
And you will
This day and every day
Forever always until

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