A Conversation with Mommy…

Special guest star! Mommyyyyyy

Last week we talked about leaving a lasting legacy, and so this week, I have a special surprise for all of you, and a special guest! My mom. The amazing right + left brain queen herself. So we are going to have a conversation and I hope that it will leave you feeling inspired, uplifted, and warm inside. You can watch the video here: https://youtu.be/yoLIfdoWUh4

For those of you who may not have a good relationship with your mom, or who have lost your mom in some way, we are both sending you an extra burst of love.

I will ask mommy some questions, and I hope that you all feel the wisdom from her words.

1)     Celestial Goodness: So who are you? LOL! Beside mother, how would you describe yourself?

Mommy:  That is a great question. I do see myself as a spiritual being having a fantastic human experience here and I think I borrowed that phrase from someone else, but I do love that. I also believe that not only am I a mother, but I am a protector. I am a historian—I have a certain historical perspective to my entire life, and I do see myself as a bridge from the previous generation to the future. 

2)     Celestial Goodness: What is something important that you feel like you learned from your parents?

Mommy:  I have learned how to be loving and caring. I have learned forgiveness—how to forgive others. I have learned to be a lover of education and knowledge, and I have learned to respect the land. 

Celestial Goodness: And in turn, I have learned those things from her. 

3) Celestial Goodness: What was the experience like for you leaving your life in Jamaica to come to the United States—especially with me, a young kid in tow?

Mommy: It was definitely a culture shock. Imagine leaving in the middle of summer and stepping right into the middle of winter. That was my initial experience. I have had to learn the culture very very fast, so that I could impart knowledge and give you a fair amount of direction.

Celestial Goodness: That’s a very Virgoan answer, and I am here for it!

4)     Celestial Goodness: What are some of the things that you are most proud of in your life?

Mommy: I am most proud of my children. I think they have been my greatest asset. They have given me strength over the years and courage, and that is the thing that I am most proud of. I think it will be my lasting legacy:

Celestial Goodness: We are proud of you too mommy!

5)     What advice do you want to share with us, your children? 

Mommy: Mainly, I would like to say, “stick together,” look out for one another, and they are to love each other regardless of what happens between them—all of you. I would prefer that you forgive and love each other. It is in love that we have the key to moving forward.

Celestial Goodness: I am glad that we get along, so that is easy advice for us to follow.

2 of Mom’s 4 ❤

6)     I know that as your kid, I always use to just see you as “mommy” and not someone going through their own life issues. What has helped you the most in surmounting life’s obstacles? Do you feel that your outlook and thinking about life and all that comes with it has evolved over the years?

Mommy: Definitely, my outlook on life has evolved over the years. I have always had a deep desire to do my best so that my offspring, that’s you guys can e better than I am. I do see myself as a foundation for better, and that has given me the drive and the strength to go on. I also love to travel and read, and these things have changed my outlook on life.  I like to question things. I do believe that sometimes I am very curious, and I have imparted some of this curiosity in my children as well. I think I have taught you guys to question things, to be inquisitive, to go out and explore. 

Celestial Goodness: I have seen that evolution in you over the years.  I feel like I have grown up with you.

Mommy: Absolutely, you have grown up with me.

7)     What advice would you give your younger self?

Mommy: I will tell you this, several years ago, I wrote a letter to my future self, in which I told my future self that everything would be fine. Getting back to your question, some things I would tell my younger self is to make the most of every experience that you have, because at the end of the day, the experiences that you have are what you will remember most. Remember that experiences matter. The decisions that you make will have an impact on you, but live your life to the fullest, and enjoy every moment!

Mommy in her younger days!

8)     What about me, most reminds you of yourself?

Mommy: Number one, you love to laugh. I think I love to laugh. I am usually a happy person. I am not as happy a person as you are, lol, but you’ve gotten some of that and then expanded it into making it your own which is great. I also believe that my love of travel. I have passed that onto you.  You have taken it to a higher level and I am proud of that. It is a great thing. Then, the love of knowledge and books. You have even taken that much further than I thought and that too is great!

Celestial Goodness:  I want everyone to know that when I was little mommy was a teacher. When she was going to work, she left me assignments to copy passages by hand from the Encyclopedia. So, your real life Encyclopedia Brown right here. 

Mommy: I also believe that I have tried to give you guys roots and wings, and I am firm believer that if you give your kids firm roots, they will come back because they know their roots. They will also remain grounded. 

9)     When and how do you think we became close?

Mommy: Well, I would say that I never thought we were never close. There were times when my role was more of a protector and director to your life and the things that you wanted to do. Sometimes those things don’t go well together. I have given you enough roots. I have to respect that you are a separate individual from me. As long as I have taught you all the things you need to be taught, you can go on your own path. I have always respected that everyone has their own path which is perfect for that person. When you grew up, we became closer and that is a good thing. But there was never a time when we weren’t close and that’s a good thing. 

10)  You have become quite the avid and brave traveler. Mommy has been to Egypt, Greece, the UK, Scotland, various Caribbean Islands, Mexico and more. What is your favorite place that you have gone to visit? Where would you like to visit when we can?

Mommy: I really love Egypt! I think it is full of history, and there is something magical about Egypt. I love the sunrises and sunsets. They are remarkable. I love Scotland—in the summer time. The summer is far different than the winter time—the lush vegetation. There is so much different type of greenery—green grass, the hills, the vales, the rocks.

Celestial Goodness: mommy and I actually took a road trip through Scotland, and we had quite the adventure.

Mommy: Most of all, I love love Jamaica. The water, the lush vegetation. 

Celestial Goodness: That’ home. Where would you like to visit when you are free to travel again?

Mommy: When I am free to travel again, I would love to visit Ireland. I would also like to go on Safari in Africa. 

11)  Is there anything that you regret not doing?

Mommy: No.

Celestial Goodness: Does mommy not have regrets?

Mommy: I don’t regret because some things that I have not done, or missed opportunities, there was always a reason for it. At the time, I didn’t know why, but later on, I realize the reason these things happen. The things that have happened in my life have created the unique person that I am today.

Celestial Goodness: Here is where I get my philosophy on regret. I don’t think we should dwell in the what-ifs but in the reality of right now. 

12)  What are some things that you are grateful for?

Mommy: If I start telling you of all the things, there would be ten session of this episode. I am grateful for my children, life, health, laughter, my family, friends, walking, the ability to breathe the air. I am also grateful for what people would call negative occurrences in life because I learned from them and became stronger.

13)  What are some of the biggest lessons that you learned in life?

Mommy: Some things that you hope and wish for that don’t work out…when they did not work out, that it is ok! Be happy about it and thankful. I have also learned to forgive because it is in forgiveness that you heal. When you forgive others you are in a better place. I believe in sister Karma, and I believe that when you forgive someone, a higher power takes care of them and you are not destroyed in the process. Love, and forgive and enjoy every moment of your life. 

14)  What is your hope for your children? What is your hope for the world? The world has changed so much this year; I think most of us are hoping that as humans we choose a better way. We talked about legacy, so what is your wish for your children and for the world?

Mommy: My greatest wish for my children has always been that my children would be outstanding citizens. I wish for them to be happy, I always say it is better that they are happy than something else. Happiness is important and it is not something that you can put a monetary value on. I believe my children have an innate strength that they came into the world with and abilities, and my wish is that they fulfill that and live out their truest potential. For the world, I wish for a just society that respects each individual, and allows each person to be the person that they came into the world to be. I wish we would respect the land, care for it, and love it. It is our home.

Thank you!

Thank you to everyone for joining mommy and I as we have this conversation. I hope that you may also feel inspired to talk to your loved ones about their life. May the stars shine brightly over your week, and may it be an amazing one. If you are enjoying these videos, please do like, subscribe, share, and comment. Thank you as always!

Leaving a Lasting Legacy

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about legacies, and the legacy that I will one day leave behind. Some of this is because I have become so intimate with the concept of death in recent years, and this year in particular it has been such a constant. When we think of those who passed away, we naturally remember something about them—what they were known for, how they made us feel, what they inspired within us, and so much more. See this week’s video here: https://youtu.be/Oj5zmvS54W0

There are people who have passed away in my own life, ages ago, that still influence how I live my life. I often think of my paternal grandparents, and my maternal grandfather. I am fortunate enough to still have my maternal grandmother, alive and in my life. Whether they are here in the physical or on the other side, they have impacted my life in profound ways.

My maternal grandmother is full of wisdom and teaches me endless lessons about life. She reminds me to see the blessings in situations, and to think deeply and intentionally about the life that I am living and want to live. If I start worrying about something, she will always encourage me to look at things in a different light. I did not fully appreciate this when I was younger, but as I am getting older, I see what a gift it is to be able to choose our perspective.

My paternal grandmother was a fiery advocate and big supporter of her community. People came from all over to see her, and I just remember that her presence often felt larger than life. Sometimes when I feel nervous, I think of her courage.

My paternal grandfather was a friend to all and had a great sense of humor. He told great stories, and I remember when I was little sometimes he would cook us lunch because the school was nearby. It was whatever it was, but always made with love.

My maternal grandfather was an entrepreneur, a community builder, and left a legacy of kindness. My mom and aunt tells me the story of how he found someone stealing from his land. Instead of punishment, he asked the man for some details about what was going on. He found out about his struggles and gave him a job working on the land.

Both of my grandfathers were farmers, they loved the land, they loved their community, and they loved Jamaica. While I feel that they were rooted, my grandmothers had and have wings. My grandmothers utilized their vision to create paths of future progress for their descendants.

This notion of legacy also came up because my mom has been sewing an amazing quilt. She has drawn pictures on fabric that mean something for some aspect of her life, or from some major life event for her. She embroiders the pictures with bold and beautiful color threads. Now please understand, my mom is what I call a right and left-brain person.

She is logical, analytical, but also super creative and talented with artistic endeavors. One of her amazing talents is at sewing. I hope that nothing major ever depends on me sewing because I can barely sew a good hemline. LOL!!! Back to the quilt—the quilt is amazing, and one day while we were talking, I think she said, she hoped that one of us—her four children—would want it. I volunteered myself immediately… I will take it! I just feel that it is being made with so much love, and it is a beautiful way of remembering major moments in her life. I think this quilt made me think about some important moments in my own life, and what it is that I want to leave as my own personal legacy. How would I want to be remembered? William James said, “The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.”

I also thought about my dad because I know that one of the things that I definitely got from him was my sense of humor, my cooking skills, and he has a kind heart. Both of my parents do. My dad also seems to know everybody in his community. We can’t go anywhere without someone saying hi. He will give people a ride to insert location here at the drop of a hat, help with things, and try to connect people to necessary information. I have been told that I am similar in that way.

I carry the lessons that I have learned from not only my parents and grandparents, but from everyone who has left a mark on me with me every day. This also includes my aunt, who in my eyes exemplifies vision, hard work, and creating a lasting foundation.

She reminds me of something that I read once about the Iroquois Native American tribe of people. Under the principle of the Great Law of Peace, is also the Seventh Generation Principle. It is based on the ancient Haudenosaunee philosophy that the decisions we make today should result in a sustainable world seven generations into the future. My aunt thinks about the future a lot, about what will be left for future generations, and what foundations are we creating right now to ensure that they have something to build from? This is what leaving a legacy is about; it is simply asking the question, “What will I be remembered for?” What will you pass on to the next generations? This is not just financial or physical resources, but also maybe your values, or your character.

Joan Moran said, “The idea of leaving a legacy is the need or the desire to be remembered for what you have contributed to the world. In some cases, that contribution can be so special that the universe is unalterably changed. However, for most mere mortals walking this earth, most will leave a more modest legacy that doesn’t necessarily change the world but does leave a lasting footprint that will be remembered by those whose lives you touched. You hope your life matters in some way.” If you are watching this video, I want you to know that your life does matter. It does matter what you do here, the kind of energy you put out, and the way that you treat others and yourself. 

Former president Barack Obama said, “I saw myself as a relay runner. I would take the baton and I would run my leg of the race. And then I’d pass the baton to someone else. . . Each generation tries to make progress knowing that what we do is not going to be perfect. . . But, hopefully, we’ve run our leg of the race effectively – and the world’s gotten a little bit better.”

Shannon L. Alder said, “Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” And of course, Maya Angelou one of my favorites said two things that I love. “If you’re going to live, leave a legacy. Make a mark on the world that can’t be erased.” She also said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” There is a video clip out in the ethers of Maya Angelou called, “God Put A Rainbow in the Clouds.” She said, “When it looks like the sun wasn’t going to shine anymore, God put a rainbow in the clouds. Imagine! I’ve had so many rainbows in my clouds. I had a lot of clouds, but I had so many rainbows.” She actually equated rainbows to all of the people who have ever helped her along her life journey. She said that she carried them everywhere with her, and that we should always be willing and ready to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud. “The thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud. Somebody who may not look like you. May not call God the same name you call God — if they call God at all. I may not dance your dances or speak your language. But be a blessing to somebody. That’s what I think.”

Recognizing that as we go through life, you are going to interact with other people, and have an abundance of life experiences, you are constantly building on your personal legacy. You might not always believe it or feel it, but you are having an impact on someone, and on this place and this time. You matter, and so I think it is important to be intentional about what kind of legacy you want to leave here. Whether it is big or small, it matters. 

Stephen Covey, the author of “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” also has an exercise that he calls the “Obituary Exercise.” Essentially, you are picturing your own funeral. It sounds morbid, but just follow where I am going with this. He says, “In your mind’s eye, see yourself going to the funeral parlor, parking the car, and getting out. As you walk inside the building, you notice the flowers, the soft organ music. You see faces of friends and family you pass along the way. You feel the shared sorrow of losing, the joy of having known, that radiates from the hearts of the people there. As you walk down to the front of the room and look inside the casket, you suddenly come face to face with yourself. This is your funeral; all of these people have come to honor you, to express feelings of love and appreciation for your life.

As you take a seat and wait for the services to begin, you look at the program in your hand.  There are to be four speakers.  The first one is from your family…who have come from all over the country to attend.  The second speaker is one of your friends, someone who can give a sense of what you were as a person.  The third speaker is from your work or profession.  And the fourth is from a community organization where you’ve been involved in service. Now think deeply. What would you like each of these speakers to say about you and your life?  What kind of husband, wife, father, or mother would you like their words to reflect?  What kind of son or daughter or cousin?  What kind of friend?  What kind of working associate?  What character would you like them to have seen in you?  What contributions?  What achievements?” I really want you to sit with these questions, and allow them to help you create the sort of values and legacy that you would like to be remembered for…except that you can live them now, each and every day.

So here are a few tips this week from Celestial Goodness for creating a lasting legacy. 

1)     Don’t be afraid to share your story. Leave a paper trail. Yes, leave pictures, journals, words, or something so that those who come after you can have a sense of who you are. 

2)     Offer yourself in service to the world. Whether that is time or other resources, and whether that is big or small, even the tiniest actions can having a lasting impact. This includes supporting causes and people that mean a lot to you! It also means standing for something, and being a rainbow in someone else’s cloud. 

3)     Give the gift of your time to your loved ones. Spend some quality time with your loved ones. Don’t get so caught up with life that you miss the magic in the moments that you spend with your loved ones.  Sweet conversations, creating memories, and just enjoying the presence of other people. 

4)     Be honest and authentic in everything that you do.

5)     Live your values daily, pass them along, and be an example of that to others.

6)     Be generous and kind. Share your blessings. 

7)     Enjoy your life to the fullest, whatever that means for you.

8) Love, and love some more.

It can be weird for some people to have to think so far ahead, but it is so important! Thinking ahead, thinking about some of the questions that I asked here are important in helping to define who you are, and what you want your own legacy to be so that you can live it now, and that you can live a full and amazing life. I believe in that for you. Let me know if you had any epiphanies! May the stars shine brightly over your week, and may it be a good one!

Celestial Goodness: Decompress and Disconnect (Unplug) a bit…

This is a very special week for me because this is my 26th week of Celestial Goodness. This moment marks half a year since I launched my blog and channel. Thank you for tuning in/for reading and for being on this journey with me. I appreciate you! Click here for this week’s video: https://youtu.be/Nv7DwmYntp4

Admittedly, this past week was not an easy one for me. After my elation last Saturday, Sunday and Monday brought with it news of multiple deaths of people that I knew—including the unexpected death of a dear soul, amazing person, and my friend. I think that as humans there is a part of us that always thinks that we will have time… time to say a proper goodbye, time to do the things that we want to do, and time to live more fully. Yet life is always saying to us—do it now, do it before you do not get the chance to. I desire and work towards living my life in a way that the people in my world know just how much I love them. I also feel daily, an abundance of love, so there is no question for me of am I giving love, or am I receiving love?. Does it matter if we know that or not? I think it does. And I hope that wherever you are watching this, that you feel love—from your own self, and from the people in your world. A few years ago, I actually had to do a purge of people from my real life because I realized that they were not good people for me to have in my life. That is, however, a topic for another time.

Because of the unexpected news this weekend, I felt myself slipping off into grief. I wanted to believe that the death of my friend was not real, that I could pick up my phone and send a message, and that they would respond, but that reality is different. Therefore, I was left rereading old messages, and remembering those good times. If you have never thought about your own grief process, it is important to know for yourself when you feel it coming on. In my case, I felt unable to smile, and I felt the need to be alone with my emotions. My friends Z and Natalie have a great podcast “Nat and Z sippin’ tea,” and one episode is about dealing with Grief and Loss. https://anchor.fm/sippint-nat–z/episodes/The-Gravity-of-Grief-eijlmt/a-a31d0o4

Of course because I still have responsibilities, it was a situation where I had to make time for my emotions, and then forge ahead with the other things that I needed to do.

When I grieve, I often turn to the words of Elisabeth Kubler Ross, Swiss-American psychiatrist, who is famous for her work on death and dying, and the proponent of the five stages of grief. She said, “The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not “get over” the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again, but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to.” I don’t think that we are ever the same after meeting and knowing certain people. Their legacy will forever be etched into our hearts. In Kubler-Ross’s five stages of grief, we go through a series of five emotions: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Depending on the situation, it can take any amount of time to go through these stages.

Because I am aware when I am entering into the stages of grieve, I had to do some decompression and disconnecting this week. I got up each day, and did my work, but I also had to spend some time off social media, and I had to spend some time out in nature. Most of all, I spent some time with my love. He was very supportive, and not only gave me the space to grieve, but also lots of hugs when I needed them.

One day while I was out for my evening walk, I put away my phone, and just listened to the sounds of nature. Close to where I have been walking is a small river, and I like to look over the side of the bridge and hear the river. Some days it comes rushing down with its full force—those are the days after it has rained. Some days, it looks like it will dry up if it doesn’t rain soon. This week I felt that the river was a perfect parallel to how I felt. Emotions can rush down so quickly—and we should not push them aside, but let them come. Let them inform us of how we are really feeling.

Anyway, as I was walking, I noticed that nearly everyone who ran or walked past me was on their phone or device. Maybe they were listening to music, talking, or they stopped in the middle of the road or sideway to text.

I also noticed an older couple, holding hands, and observing everything. Often times one of them would stop and point to a beautiful bird, or flower, or to the amazing colors of the trees right now. Maybe because I was being low-key creepy and observing everything (appropriately social distanced of course), I too also noticed so much more. The colors were magnificent, the way the sunlight streamed through the trees, and the way I noticed how in one place there are two trees that seem to be hugging each other. I noticed things that I had not noticed having taken this same walk hundreds of times.

And it felt in that moment as if nature said, “Just keep going.” We have been around for an eternity, and even when you are gone, these trees will probably still be here, this river will be here, the sky and the birds, will be here… and for at least one moment, a lot of things made sense. We are here for this moment in time, and while we are here, we are everything, and yet we are also just a small blip in the grand scheme of things. This moment of decompressing, and of disconnecting from technology was so comforting, that I forgot for a moment about everything else going on in the world. In that moment, it really was just me, a child of the universe, nature, wild and free, and a reminder that life is both fleeting and beautiful.

There is a poem that was written in 1927 by Max Ehrmann that I love. It is a poem that always brings me peace; and I felt that I understood it so well in this moment. That poem is Desiderata.


GO PLACIDLY amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

So, this week, I am encouraging everyone to take a moment to decompress in some way from everything going on. I also encourage taking a few moments to disconnect from technology. I took some time away from social media, and I dropped the ball about replying to messages—my apologies if you tried to get ahold of me. However, in that time, I was grieving, healing, and remembering some of life’s most beautiful lessons. I did a google search, “How much time do people spend on their phones?” and the top result said that Americans spend an average of 5 hours per day on their phones. I suspect that when you include computer time, television, and other devices, that we are spending a majority of our day getting an overload of information. What is the time that you spend in the day where you let your own mind create? Think freely? Rest? Do you have that time?

So here are just a few tips this week to decompress and disconnect from technology for a bit. (After you read my blog/watch my video lol).

1) Make some time: Whether it is 15 minutes or an hours—having some downtime to decompress from technology can help your mind get some of the rest that it needs from the daily overload of information. This “information overload” can cause anxiety, stress, and depression. Write it on your calendar if you need to!

2) Start your day off with something other than technology. Most people reach immediately for their phones to see what they missed while they were sleeping. Sometimes the best thing that you can do for your day is to start with prayer, meditation, and a cup of tea. Allow yourself to set an intention for a good day because the news of the world bombards your life. I actually love the wee hours of the morning right before the sun comes up. I like to stand with my tea, warm in my hand, and see the first light of the day coming in… that is my sacred time.

3)     Realize that “free time” and down time are sacred. Sometimes we feel bad when we are not doing anything. We feel the need to be constantly productive…but playtime is also valuable. Throughout history there are people, I have mentioned Albert Einstein before, who found great solutions to the problems of the world when they were daydreaming. Some of these people were intentional about their free time and their down time. The world considers Einstein a genius… I am just saying!

4) Set technological boundaries. Let the people in your life know that there are times when you will be “offline.” That time is valuable to you, and you are asking them to respect that. I would also include here, that if you are using social media, it is ok to unfollow pages and people that just don’t vibe with your values. Would you be friends with these people in real life? Would you allow them into your home in real life? If not, why are you allowing that through technology? This also helps cure doom scrolling. LOL

5)     Find a hobby. There are many amazing things to do in this world and this life that do not involve technology. I know that sometimes after working an entire day looking at the screen, I want to do something that does not involve looking at another screen. It has been a bit hard to read the last few weeks, but sometimes I write, color, or literally just sit for a bit and let my mind wander. I also complain about cooking sometimes lol, but really, that is also therapeutic in some sense. 

6)     Initiate a no phone policy at dinner time. Make your meal times sacred. No scrolling, just enjoying your meal. If you live with someone, this is a good time to have a real conversation with them, where you are both focused on what the other person is saying. I hear this helps with digestion.

7) Spend some time out in nature. Whether you are the glamping type, or the hard core I am going to get out there and hike ten thousand miles today type, I think that even a few minutes in nature is helpful to overall well-being. Turn your phone on silent, observe how the light hits the leaves of the trees, or how the river, sea, ocean, creek sounds…. Or just how amazing it is the way that things keep the cycle going—things grow, they live, they die, they go back to the earth, and they grow again….amazing.

These are just a few ways to spend some time decompressing and disconnecting for a bit from technology. I enjoy using my social media, but I also enjoy living and participating in my real life. The spectrum of experiences in life are so varied…we will experience loss, but we will also experience love and everything in between. What kind of life are you trying to live? That is my question to you….and if you aren’t living it, then why? Why not live it? Why not you? Why not today?

Kubler-Ross also said, “It is only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth—and we have no way of knowing when our time is up—that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.” Please live your life to the fullest…and that does include making some of your time sacred. It means carving out space for you—to process, decompress, daydream, and allow yourself to be here now—present and fully aware that life is yet a beautiful, mysterious, amazing unfolding…May the stars shine brightly over your week, and may it be a beautiful one indeed filled with moments of serenity.

A Return to Kindness

A small disclaimer that this message is meant to inspire, but to get to that place, we have to address the elephant in the room, within this country—the United States of America. See this week’s video here: https://youtu.be/ETfMTtzNEuI

As I was writing these words, Joe Biden won the United States presidency, and Kamala Harris became the first woman, the first black and Asian vice president of the United States. I had to take a moment because there was a lot of happy crying on my part. I personally felt just a sigh of relief and the release of something heavy that I did not realize that I had been holding onto.

However, there was something very revealing about the country in that this race was so close. After everything that people saw and witnessed over the last four years, children in cages, a refusal to acknowledge that racism does exist, the curtailing of basic human rights, and a lack of care and utter disregard for the environment, I was personally shocked that so many people voted for the incumbent. Obviously if you are reading this blog, then you know that I am a black woman, and that alone can probably give you a sense of where my vote fell.

I didn’t make my vote simply for me, but for so many reasons—for a return to basic decency, for my friends and family who are part of the LGBTQ community, for immigrants, for myself as a black person in this country, for science—climate change and its impact, and that list is long. Initially, I felt a tad bit of hopelessness, and the energy was heavy and intense. I reminded myself that because we just ended a Mercury Retrograde period on Election Day that getting the votes counted would be a slow process. I also had to really take care of myself, and my peace of mind. That involved taking a day off work, taking a long walk in nature, disconnecting from technology, and reminding myself of somethings that I know to be true. I have literally been reminding myself of the things that I talk about all the time. Hold on to hope, fight for what I believe in, do what I can within my span of control, and love—keep loving and having faith even when it feels hard. 

One of the things that I remembered is that throughout the history of the world, no matter what is going on, there are always people out there who are being kind, compassionate, and expressing love. Mr. Rogers had a quote that he used to say, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” Some people have issue with this quote because they think it has been overused in tragedies, and that it was a quote intended for children. When I hear this quote, what I actually think is more that it is a reminder that “good” is always happening. When we train our eye to see it, we will see the good things that are happening. We will always find people that are helping and doing good. 

Furthermore, I also think that it is a call for us to do good as well. We cannot sit passively by the wayside; we must be proactive about going after the future that we want. We have often heard the Mahatma Gandhi quote, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” And I know, Gandhi was also not without controversy, but I think that the message is an important one. I read somewhere that this quote is actually part of a larger message from Gandhi that said, “We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.” And for me the key line here is, “we do not need to wait to see what others do.” We can do good right at this moment, where we are.

If this election tells me anything, it tells me that there is work yet to be done. It tells me that at any moment, any of us could be called to stand on the right side of history. It tells me that when I have read history, and wondered, how could people do x, y, and z, I need not wonder anymore because I am seeing it all unfold before my very eyes. The beauty of democracy is that everyone can have an opinion and cast their own vote, and feel how they want to feel about something, and yet everyone can for the most part, still get along. But there was something different in how this week felt. I am reminded of the words of the great writer, James Baldwin. “We can disagree and still love each other, unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.” It has been hard to feel that sense of unity when everything about the other side feels rooted in my oppression and as a rebuke of my very existence.

So this week, I want to remind you that good things are still happening, and that at any moment, you can indeed be the change or the goodness that you wish to see in the world. Desmond Tutu said, “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” So cheers to the beauty and love that yet remains in this world. Here are a few examples of the human spirit shining through in history!

1) During the Great Depression, the famous jazz musician Louis Armstrong set up a pile of coal in Baltimore and let underprivileged families come and take as much as they needed. When he was growing up in New Orleans, he sold coal and realized the value to these families especially during wintertime. It would allow families to warm their homes during such a rough economic time.

2) In 1859, Henry Dunant had traveled from Switzerland to Solferino, Italy for business. While there, he witnessed a deadly battle that was part of the Second War of Italian Independence. He wrote his memories and observations in his book, Memory of Solferino. In the book he talked about how so many were left for dead and how little was done to care for the sick or those close to death. The book and his idea for a neutral organization that treated wounded soldiers became very popular. This organization became the Red Cross. His ideas also helped inspire other humanitarian organizations, and helped to establish the Geneva Conventions. Dunant was awarded the very first Nobel Peace Prize.

3) Some people may have heard of Nicholas Winton. Born to a Jewish family in the UK, he was horrified by what he saw happening to the Jews under Nazi regime. He worked with the British government to save over 669 Jewish children. He brought them to Britain and found homes for them. In 1988 his wife found the notes of his amazing deeds and informed a Holocaust researcher. The BBC did a story on it! There is some footage of a program on BBC where he was reunited with over two dozen of the children that he helped. Look up the video, but be prepared to shed a few tears.

4) The chef Jose Andres has done some amazing and kind deeds. His World Central Kitchen has provided over 1 million meals to people impacted by natural disasters. He always shows up for the communities around him.

5) I can mention Oprah Winfrey—most people know about some of the amazing things that she had done for lots of different people. It is reported that she supports over 23 charities and foundations including her own. She had often emphasized that donating time is just as valuable as donating money.

6) Harriet Tubman. Harriet Tubman was a superhero. She saved hundreds of people during slavery, she fought with the Union army—actually becoming the first woman to ever lead an armed raid in the American Civil War, and she advocated for a better country for everyone. She was brave, and gosh, if you do not know about her, please do some research on this incredible woman.

7) During this year as the world as experienced a global pandemic, I have also seen small acts of kindness from friends, family, and even strangers. These small acts make a big difference and they give me hope for the future. Each day there are many people that you may never hear about who are shining their love light. You don’t have to tell everyone all of the good things that you do or blast it on social media, but know that the energy that you put out is helpful to everyone. I always get a visual in my mind of love as a golden light just being sprinkled all across this world. This is the world that I see and want for the future, and it is one that I will work towards helping to create. Every single day!

I am emotional today, and that is because I do feel more hopeful than ever that the things that make us human, the things that make this world great and beautiful will prevail. That is in short, our ability to transcend obstacles, to love each other, and ourselves and to love this planet. Tom Hiddleston said, “Doing good in this world, and being kind and being honest and noble is really underrated. And I think you have… I think everyday people have enormous power, and they have enormous power for good, and if you’re good to people, the world is a better place.”

May the stars shine brightly over your week, and may it be one filled with hope, healing, and love.

What we learn in the darkness…

There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes of writing my blog, and working on my YouTube videos, but I have learned a lot, and I have found creating this content to be very rewarding. Sometimes I get a bit of anxiety, but once I sit down and begin the process, that eases significantly. I say this because maybe someone out there who has something in mind—maybe there is something that you want to create. I say that you can and you should do it. Create an action plan for your dream, and then do it. Do it with your hands shaking, do it with your heart beating fast, but just do it. You must remember that when you get a vision, that it is yours and yours alone. You have that particular gift within you, a treasure if you may, and you simply do not know how it could change the world—your world, or the greater world, or help make your life one that feels more purpose filled. Plus, it is fun! See this week’s YouTube video here: https://youtu.be/OrvVPZkuJbw

 And maybe that’s not your jam, maybe life is as good as it could be for you… but maybe you enjoy partaking in what others have created. Well, that is necessary and appreciated as well. And if you have started something, write the words “consistency” down somewhere so that you can see it frequently. I have attended lots of talks with “authors/writers” and other content creators, and they always get the question. How do you do x thing? The response is usually the same. They just sat down and did it, even when it was hard, even when they did not feel inspired, especially when they did not feel inspired, and even when they had a bunch of other things to do. My own commitment to this channel is to do it, even on the hard days. 

So what we are actually talking about this week, is I guess two fold. This is Halloween weekend, All Hallows Eve. Jessica Flammang, phrased it perfectly when she said, “Around this time of year, legend has it that the veil between the earthly plane and the spiritual world is thin, meaning the two realms collide, and it is easier for spirits to cross over and walk among the living, and vice versa — souls ready to move on are prepped for an exit.” This time of year coincides perfectly in this hemisphere with the transition between fall and winter. The days are darker, colder, and it is easier to sense that maybe there is something present in the unseen.

In some parts of the world like Mexico, there are cultural celebrations (with their own complex history). The ancient Gaelic festival, Samhain, marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the darker half of the year. Samhain (pronounced more like, “Sow-win”) is also considered the Celtic festival of the dead. There is some debate that it is also a time of new beginnings, and the ancient Celtic new year. So happy new year! 

In Mexico, it is the weekend for Dia de los Muertos—or Day of the Dead. The multi-day holiday involves family and friends gathering to pray for and to remember friends and family members who have died. It is commonly portrayed as a day of celebration rather than mourning. A lot of these cultural practices were Christianized and rebranded as “All Souls Day. All Soul’s Day is also known as the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed. To Christians who celebrate this day, it is one of prayer and remembrance for the souls of those who have died. 

In my opinion, Dia de los Muertos is one of the most beautiful celebrations in the world. The celebrations are planned during the year, and on the holiday, people go to cemeteries to be with the souls of the departed. Families and friends build private altars containing the favorite foods and beverages, as well as photos and memorabilia, of the departed. The intent is to encourage visits by the souls, so the souls will hear the prayers and the comments of the living directed to them. Celebrations can take a humorous tone, as celebrants remember funny events and anecdotes about the departed. There are so many cultures throughout the world that honor their deceased, and that honor their ancestors. You may be part of a culture, religion, or spiritual practice that sees this weekend, and this time as sacred. This year because of the global pandemic among other things, many people have lost their lives. Some have lost their way of live, and that too can feel like death. Just taking a quick moment of silence now for the people who we love who have lost their lives this year. What is remembered lives on…

I also want to add this quote from Cynthia Vidaurri, a folklorist at the Smithsonian. She said, “Culture is a set of tools created and used by humans to meet life’s challenges. A fundamental truth about culture is that it is complicated. In order for culture to serve its purpose, it must be able to adapt to the needs of the user. Individual elements of a tradition can be discarded and new elements can be incorporated. New materials can be added if they meet the aesthetic and practical needs of the expression. Rituals from other communities are accepted if they are meaningful for community. Some aspects of culture can take many years to evolve and yet others can change very quickly. When a cultural expression no longer serves a function, it can simply cease to exist.” 

I include that quote here because so many different cultural practices have had to adapt to continue to exist. We have also had to be adaptable to the changing nature of life. If you feel called to a particular tradition or practice, it may be worth doing research to see if it is something that you can work with (properly), and without improper appropriation. On this weekend, I will take a few moments to remember my own ancestors. I will remember the lessons that I learned from them not only when they were alive, but also what I know from learning about their lives. They were people too, going through the daily struggles and joys that we balance constantly. 

In this next week, the United States will have a major election. I have personally felt the emotions and anxieties of others running high, and my own emotions are also present, and fluctuating on the table. I encourage everyone to do what you need to do to take care of your mental health, and your overall wellbeing no matter the outcome of this election. The reason, I bring up ancestors, is that when we can remember what our own ancestors have gone through—and I don’t mean just blood relatives, but maybe people who cared and nurtured you—when you can remember that they lived and went through their own struggles, and survived, and thrived, then hopefully you will feel an infusion of strength to go through your own struggles. Why? Because you know that they survived, and you know that you can too.

I went to a retreat once, and one of the speakers, a brilliant mythologist among other things, made us do an exercise. In it, we closed our eyes and imagined ourselves stepping back four generations. I stepped back into imagining my mother at my age, what was she dealing with? What was the world like? What was the economy and the society like? What were some of the struggles that she had to overcome? What would be her hope for me? I also had to do this with my grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great-grandmother. Even if I didn’t know them well, you can still imagine some of what they went through? You can imagine that you are their dreams manifest. The things that you have been alive to experience and see? And maybe one day someone will do this and you will be the person they step back to. 

Our ancestors have gone through difficulties, through wars, through pandemics, through economic decline. My ancestors dealt with classism, racism, and so much more, and yet through it all, they also cultivated spaces for love, for joy, for hope, and for the belief that after the darkest night, dawn would come again. I am trusting that no matter what happens on the path before me, that as long as I am alive, that there will be a dawn. I am trusting in the dawn. Florence Scovel Shinn said, “It is dark before the dawn, but the dawn never fails. Trust in the dawn.”

Despite looking ahead to the dawn, I am also feeling gratitude for what we learn in the darker half of the year. I am also in reverence of what we learn in the darkness. This is the other part of this week’s discussion. We have become a society obsessed with the light. I am guilty of this too, and I should write here that optimism and a positive nature, should not be mistaken for an inability to revel in the wide spectrum of experiences and emotions that we go through as humans. The “darkness” gets a bad rap. Part of that is what we have been trained to associate with the word itself. We have been conditioned to believe that the word “dark” is bad and associated with scary and less valuable things. In a world, where bleaching creams are a thing, and people who have dark skin, have been forced to hear that their complexion is not the standard of beauty to which people should aspire to, and forced to see opportunities diminish because of their skin color, we must retrain ourselves on word usage. And yet, dark skin is so amazingly beautiful. Have you ever seen melanin under the bright light of the sun? Breathtaking. 

Taking away some of the improper uses of the word “darkness,” I want you to imagine for a moment. You are awake in the night, maybe you are standing outside, everything is still, quiet, and eternally peaceful. You look up, and see the most amazing stars. It is the Milky Way, and you are blown away by the sheer radiance of the beauty swirling above your head. In this moment, you can think clearly, and you feel present in the stillness of the night. Our world needs the “darkness.” There are animals, like turtles for example who need that darkness to navigate to where they lay their eggs. Our bodies use the cues of the light of the day to help structure our circadian cycle. In the darkness we learn how to use all of our senses. We might not be able to see as well, but we can hear, touch, and feel. Seeds planted in the ground, need the cool and dark place so that they can begin the process of transformation from seed to plant. When the world starts to get colder and darker, it is also a cue for us to turn inward, to rest more, to care for ourselves, to heal, and to have a certain level of downtime that we do not get in the daytime or in spring and summer. I also believe that in the darkest of times, we also realize how powerful the light is. The light needs the dark to reflect. So what does all of this mean for these times, and for the week ahead?

I am asking you in the week ahead to do several things if you are so inclined. First, take a few quiet moments to reflect on your own ancestry. What were the strengths that those who came before you exhibited? What did they survive? A simple way to honor your ancestors at this time, is to put a picture on a small table or atop a dresser. Maybe put a flower or something that they liked next to it. Think of your favorite memory with them, and offer gratitude that their strength runs through you, whether physically or spiritually. 

As the week progresses, I also want you to focus on your own self-care. I don’t mean just bubble baths, and lighting sweet smelling candles. I mean, I really want you to prioritize your care. Stop “doom scrolling.” Don’t get caught up in the fear, or with things that you can’t control. If there is something you can do, then do it, but if not, then do not allow worry about that thing to consume you. Rest when you can. Talk to people who lift your spirits. Spend some time in nature. Practice gratitude for the things that are still going well. And if you feel overwhelmed and overcome by some sadness or strong emotion, feel it, and remember that we can only see the stars in the darkness, but we know the dawn is coming.

When the dawn does arrive, you will be stronger and wiser than before. You will realize that in your life, many things will happen—the good, the bad, and the downright ugly—and most of what transpires will be out of your control. You will experience the entire gambit of emotions—everything from love to anger, and all that is in between. The darkness will teach you that no matter what happens, change comes, and you have the ability to react in the positive or the negative to anything that you face. Whatever happens, never give up! Look to the sky and remember that the dawn is coming, and with it, more joy. May the stars shine brightly over your week, and may it be a good one, May you take good care of yourself, and remember that no matter what happens, you have the strength to survive it.