Category Archives: CNN

Purpose in a sea of discomfort 

The annual Pennsylvania women’s convention  was held recently in Philadelphia and 9 thousand women from all walks of life converged on the PA Convention center like hungry butterflies seeking connections, validation, love and confirmation among other things.

This is my  5th year attending and aside from the awesome keynotes which are always huge draws for the attendees, I was on a personal mission of my own as I was standing on a precipice of achievement, getting ready to leap and sought confirmation in either word or deed that I wasn’t crazy.

And I got it in spades.

After making my way through the throngs of women in search of my DISter friends (a group of ladies I will write about very soon,)  I found the first workshop on “Personal Branding” that had none other than Luvvie Ajaay as one of four panelists. If you don’t know awesomely Luvvie, I need you to get your life and google her because it’s worth the cackles for your entire soul.

As I listened to these women discuss how they took their fears in hand and followed their dreams to fruition,  I felt my soul lift and my body tingled  at the possibilities! I have long said to people that being your authentic self, is way more rewarding than a facade no one can identify with. The nuggets that came from That workshop ranged from using your social media spaces properly, finding your niche that others identify with and not allowing the imposter of self doubt to keep you from moving towards your goals.

I was front and center in the room and was able to get the first selfie with Luvvie before the sisters converged on her and that book of hers sold out!


I left that session feeling pumped and hauled my assets across the convention center to find the next one which featured motivational speaker and author, Lisa Nichols. If you don’t know WHO she is, I again suggest you google her then beg for forgiveness from the ancestors for such egregiousness that would allow the folly in you for missing out on this phenom!

She stepped in the stage, opened her mouth and I was immediately transported to the possibilities in front of me. Her speech? She was there to DISRUPT to norm in our lives, push us off the ledge of comfort so we can be uncomfortable in the challenges that would elevate us to our true paths in life.

Yes YES!!! I vacillated between being on the edge of my seat and taking copious notes that confirmed Much of what I had been hearing in recent days.. seated with me in this session, were 3 women who turned to me and said ” you better be ready because we are taking over your life and this is how we are going to help you get where we see you going.”

We left that session a few minutes early to get in line and meet these two women who would sign our books. As I stood there playing around with a few things, I bought new domain names online and just as I pressed “purchased” Lisa Nichols stretched out her hands to sign my book. I told her what I just did and she grabbed my hands in glee and screeched!! This is her below on stage and after signing my book.

I was so pumped after all of that, I barely touched my lunch or spent the usual time with my friends because I was on a mission. I went back to the exhibit hall, found a space to sit and began investing in myself  after learning about some tools I would need.

Amazon became my friend because I searched and bought as I was instructed to.  Talk about psyched!!

My last stop in the convention? Walking around to meet a few of the vendors as supporting women means the world to me. I floated until I saw something that grabbed my attention- a young mom who was so concerned about new mommys losing their identity after childbirth, she created a line of inspirational and hot looking Tshirts that would boost their spirits. I was so intrigued, I bought 4 and as I was signing for my purchases, I noticed she had years in her eyes as she thanked me. When she disclosed this was her LAUNCH day and that I bought the most amount of merchandise thus far and

It encouraged her that she was truly on to something, I hugged and wished her success beyond her wildest dreams!! Meet Ashley, the owner and creator of “Haute Moms..” did I say 10% of her proceeds go to support surgery for babies with cleft palates? I love her vision!!


Chile…. what was a diva left to do but bottle up ALL that inspiration and take it home in an Uber??

My hope is that your reading this will inspire YOU to leap off the ledge of comfort and face the challenges on your road to your purpose in life. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it!
Dueces and mad love,

Diva

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The “June Bug” and “Snarky” debate

Lord ha mercy. This here election season has been fraught with disbelief, anger, weariness, and yes, hilarity.

Up until 18 months ago, I was floating in the breeze of ” no politics on any of my social media pages,” and then one fateful morning, I saw what looked like June Bug from the ‘hood- you know him right? The dude that ran things with threats, and had no trouble breaking legs etc, to get his way because he owned the streets  with no mercy or a conscience. That June Bug.  The thing about June Bug is that he has a loyal following who swears he is the second coming of the ghetto and everything must be approved by his royal wretchedness.

This June Bug though, is running for President.

Of these here United States.


IMAGE CREDIT: Craig’s List Ad of the day

When he first hit the stage with his announcement to run, folks snickered and said he would never be taken seriously because he didn’t have a Clue and America was smart enough to see through his facade. A whole football team of men and one woman all lined up to trounce what they called June Bug the clueless thug, only to realize, much to their dismay, good old JB had a massive following that began emerging from the shadows like thirsty , over looked mummies whose leader had finally arisen. These followers became emboldened by the over-the-top JB who finally opened the gates of no-respectability and allowed the spewing of free speech like never before.
Meanwhile- strange fruit began hanging from the poplar trees across the country. Farmers began screeching that their farms matter and they were being marginalized so they can become extinct. They took to the streets in protest to fight for their rights.


IMAGE CREDT: “From the hanging tree to strange fruit”-Susanne Collins
Then there was Snarky. You know that person right? The one who feels it’s their turn to be in charge of the free world and feels they are too super qualified to be overlooked by the masses yet again. After all, snarky had put in her time and played the game and made  her deals like a savvy politician should. And not to be out done, snarky is also trying to create history. The kind that would make you First Snarky, Senator Snarky , Secrteary of State Snarky and now President. So Snarky began lining up delegates that would persuaade people into being with her and touted all her wonderful accomplishments to date.


IMAGE CREDIT: publicdomainpictures 

Slight problem. A good majority of folks found Snarky to be untrustworthy because of her ties to certain corporate structures, her less than stellar attitude when questioned about, well, questionable things and she has been caught in a net of lies.

Snarky had a competitor too but she wore him out with her super delegate counts despite what many among the masses asked for.  What snarky wanted, snarky got and  she now walks around with a perpetual smirk while  working harder to connect with the commoners in her wake.

What is a beleaguered  nation to do?

So here we are, less than 60 days away from choosing a new Commander In Chief, and we settle down for the first debate.

A mess.

A whole stale pot of collard greens kind of  mess.

June bug threatened to start wars for simple things, does random counting because his estimated wealth is so “bigly” he’s always being audited and he was smart to not pay income taxes on millions earned, while he lamented about the horrible infrastructure that NEEDS our tax dollars to work well.
He’s sniffling constantly, didn’t answer a single question appropriately and we are left to wonder What DOES he know and even  better- who CARED, that had already decided he was their man to make Anerica Great again.
Snarky meanwhile, is asking JB to release his taxes as he hollers back when she releases the thousands of emails she erased, reminded her she was a bigot too for the laws passed by her husband that has led to many strange fruits in prison rotting away, and her desensitized behaviors to the farmers lives matter movement all around her until she was told, she was gonna need the strange fruit votes too.. 


If this hasn’t begun to sound like utter madness to you yet, the I don’t know what will.  All this talk about foreign threats when the folks stateside are crying for tax relief, good health insurance, jobs, a decent way to live.
Watching that debacle of a debate only served to remind us that we are all in for a rude awakening- no matter who wins.


And then. This happened. As my friend Mr. Mann Frisby would say, “why sway?” Clearly, Snarky had no real clue who she was or just wasn’t fully moved by the what amounted to the “strange fruit spiritual” in mixed company.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/mary-j-blige-hillary-clinton-933029

Lawd, Lawdy, Lort.

Start storing those rainy day nuts now- I get the feeling between these two,it might be raining for a long time to come.
Deuces and mad love,

Diva



Dangerous meanness.. 

Allow me to preface this piece by stating the obvious- I don’t know everything, cannot solve everything and am still learning, sometimes moment by moment.

What I do instinctively know? When you spend your very existence choosing to do major shifts that ultimately becomes all about yourself, the price for that is incalculable.
Let me stop speaking in a parables and tell you what’s brewing on my mind.

There is a phenomenal person who  took it upon themself to bring a solid vision they had to life and has had some successes with said vision. Almost immediately though, despite being supported by large swaths of people and organizations so this vision could continue to grow and bear fruit, this person alienated many by dismissing their efforts and making it all about themselves and that they did all the work etcetera.
Just mean, cold and nasty in a way that left a distaste for said person and folks began walking away.

What is even scarier though, are the “yes” foot soldiers who sees all of this happening but say nothing and continues to support the mission despite the abuse because it’s one that supports and empowers impressionable minds.

The problem with that? When you leave that kind of behavior unchecked, it becomes a monster and now even the impressionable young minds are complaining about being marginalized and emotionally abused at the hands of said person, and parents are questioning the meaning of it all.

So, I am speaking now not just to self serving leaders but those who follow them even to their own peril- woe unto YOU because nothing you put into the universe comes back to you void. You will find no peace until you make right, the behaviors that continues to destroy from the inside what looks glorious on the outside.

Find your center-do your work with intention and speak up followers when you see your leadership going down a path that isn’t healing. Your silence is not golden and you should never fear anyone to the point where you cower and continue to allow the dismantling of fragile children to keep the peace.

Because at the end of the day? The stifling of what is right to be likable or not rocking the boat because you don’t want that level of meaness  aimed your way, means you too will be held accountable for those lives. One way or another.

So what’s it gonna be?  The price is to pay is too steep and there will come a day when you will have to balance that account.
Mad love and peace

Diva.

Fashionable or Frightening FAIL?

In spring of 2014, I began a very public journey to learn how to find and apply makeup correctly. You see, up until recently, I wore very little to no make up beyond a gloss and mascara. So I was determined to not only learn the fundamentals, I needed some
everyday wear

I chose three different makeup artists and got down to the business of figuring out my face.
What I found was beyond interesting. The process was anywhere between 25 minutes to hours and I could not believe all the attention to detail!
I also learned that makeup can be expensive depending on the brand and that all brands are not created equal. It is no wonder the make up industry is a billion dollar business!!

My first stop was Sephora, with a friend Jennifer and she had my face assessed. It was noted that my skin was almost flawless but I was given foundation, primer and concealer. Then it was on to the palette of eyeshadow, blush and lipstick. They ended with a bronzer for the skin and a finisher.
I have to tell you, my face didn’t feel like my own but I liked the transformation somewhat.
My next stop was with a professional artist and here are my results from her-

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It was incredibly flawless but felt too heavy on my skin and I had an allergic reaction to the eyelash glue!! It Took over a week for the redness in my eyes to subside, so that was my first and last time wearing those things.

My next stop was another friend from Mary Kay but this time, I sent a picture of what kind of look I desired. I believe she came pretty close and the foundation was lighter and a better fit for my skin tone-

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From those three informative sessions, I learned how to apply and wear makeup just the way I desired. What I found over time, was that it was too time consuming for me and I went back to mascara and gloss with one addition- a concealer for under my eyes. I’m much happier for it.

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What generated this blog however, was a picture I recently saw on the Internet. You take a look and judge for yourself- but after I stared hard at it, I realized many people have taken makeup artistry to a new level and what may be too much for me, seems to not be enough for others

I have found myself wondering too, if men truly like all of what we go through to be beautiful or is this just about us? Makeup ages you depending on how often and how much it is used but seeing the imagery below from what seems to be an African wedding personally frightened me. Is this a part of a culture or have we gone frighteningly too far?
You decide.
Enough said-

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Who are YOU calling a B&?!@???

Today told me for certain that I have indeed found my calling in life..

I was asked to speak to a group of young people at a local high school
(That will remain nameless for now) who were suspended and a part of their plan for getting reinstated was to sit and listen to people who looked like them about what it took to be successful in life.

Oh yeah, their parents had to accompany them.

I knew I was in Oz when I got to the school and as the young people were leaving, all I heard were words not worthy of printing. I cringed inwardly with sadness but kept going and eventually found the room I was to be in.

The folks started coming in and the attitude was downright hostile. Parents arguing they don’t have time for this and some of the girls were saying things like

we in here to listen to this Bitch? My momma going to cuss her out and we will get to leave.”

Clearly, they were in for a treat.

I waited until they settled down, pulled up a chair in the center of them, opened my mouth and laid them all out so flat, not only could you hear a pin drop, the parents were asking to be mentored along with the kids.

The Principal walked in an hour later thinking he was going to have to keep order and his mouth fell to the floor.

He said one of the toughest judges in the city walked into that school and gave up and walked out. He was shocked at what he found.

I’m going back there. Every Tuesday that I’m in town for the entire school year. Those young people needed support and they needed to know I was not the Sista to run game on..

We have got to expect more of ourselves no matter how low we may feel in life.. Everyone left respectful and said thank you after the girls asked for these sessions to keep going…

Say what now? 😜

That was by FAR, the toughest experience I ever had with young people and parents but what I know for sure is this, no matter how crazy a situation seems, if you command the respect with your presence, miracles can and will indeed happen.

I bet you not one of them will call me a bitch anymore AND they will think twice before they use it carelessly among themselves too..

Enough said.

The debt you cannot ever repay your children

I attended a funeral service recently and what I witnessed, was a strong reminder that we only get a few years to raise and spend quality time with our children. Once we let those years slip by, we may, depending on the adult child, spend the rest of our lives and even into death, paying for it.

About nine years ago, I met this wonderful elderly lady who walked over and told me that I had something within that would turn the world on it’s ear. She did some digging and learned that I had two boys and was told, that they were good children who were loved.
This sweet lady, told me that the world would be ready when they finally discovered my gifts but she had one request; that I finished raising my sons first before allowing the world
To sweep me away into a vortex.

I stared at her strangely because back then, I was a mommy working hard to raise decent children and had no aspirations of any kind other than to teach English at the secondary level.
I told her as much and she smiled, nodded her head and said with a twinkle in her eye ” your presence is powerful in a way that I have yet to see in too many people but because I know you will be sought after sooner rather than later, heed my words about your children.”

She went on to describe how she and her husband dined with President Jimmy Carter, were heavily involved In Politics at the local, county, state and Federal levels, got invited to many functions and she carved out a strong political name for her family while he ran the family business. By all accounts, they were extremely successful and by the time they both realized the children they loved were on the back burner, it was too late.

The resentment was incredibly high and one child who is now in her fifties, despised them to the bitter end. My friend says in retrospect, she believed buying very nice things, living in a very nice house with a nanny and traveling to wonderful places, made up for the lack of time and attention.

The sadness in my friend’s eyes, made me vow to never put career and wants above my children. The results have been nothing short of wonderful and before my dear friend slipped fully into dementia, she could hug me with tears to say ” well
Done mommy.”

Fast forward to the funeral; one of her children got up and said she despised her parent even as he laid in repose. She felt he was hard and uncompromising and loved their mother more than he loved them. She shed not a single tear and seemed almost gleeful. Even in death, she defied his last wishes.

Broke my heart.

Parents please; listen to your children. Spend quality time with them while you can. You don’t get a second chance in those formative years between birth and sixteen. Your money means nothing when they feel alone with no adult support.

You can always be famous, successful etcetera but don’t find yourself spending your golden years trying to buy the love of children that you had free of charge.

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The “Ghost” of Civil Rights revisited

It was one hell of a week so filled with pain, shock, disbelief and yes rage, as the entire country reeled in the aftermath of the shocking details about a young man, Mike Brown, who was for all intents and purposes, murdered in cold blood by a police officer in Ferguson Missouri.

Like many others, I began this mental journey filled with rage and place a picture of my sons on social media asking when did it become okay for us as parents to raise them only to have them a moving target for rogue police officers?

My anger was so searing hot, it scared me. It was then, I became clear this was not going to be another incident that people eventually forgot, because the town of Ferguson literally became the ghost of civil rights past resplendent with dogs, tear gas, armor and people so angry, they were tearing up anything in their pathway. The country responded and folks began to choose sides but I’m heartened by the volume of white allies who are right here beside us as a people because that murder finally shocked them
Into consciousness about the daily realities of black and brown people in America.

I learned a few lessons and became much clearer on other things;

The news media, depending on who they were, reported in ways that were so biased, I hardly watched any of them.

Twitter has become the mainstream of “live” reporting and gave a much more accurate description as events unfolded.

Voting in our local and State elections were always important but never more than in this present moment. It is a right we must begin to fully exercise because each voting finger adds up to change in a powerful way.

Black men and boys are still seen as 3/5 of a human being by way too many and it doesn’t matter how educated and well raised they are. Black people have always been clear that we needed to be stellar in word and deed and we have been much clearer, that means nothing to a rogue cop who will ” tell a story” too many are willing to believe even it’s 100% false.

What is happening right now in America feels like 1963 revisited because we as a people have become complacent and forgot to remind our children of our history so this could not happen to us anymore.

Strong new black leadership has begun to emerge with our millennials who understands the power of social media and are not afraid to use it to create change.

Anger, when channeled, is a powerful force and if we really desire to make lasting change, we must start in our local
Communities and work our way out in our quest for changes in policy and practices at police departments, schools, courthouses and prisons to name a few.

White allies are stepping out of the shadows in ways that is heartwarming and are a reminder that not everyone in America is filled with judgement and hate.

The ripple effect of these unchallenged murders of so many black men have begun and will be felt for a long time to come.

Because America’s ugly scab has been scraped off for the world to see and you better believe they ( world) are watching.

The revolution is televised and many are now willing to die so that we can live in peace..

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Fly diva fly!! My day with USAF Thunderbirds

I have often said, that what we put into the universe, will manifest itself and that we are to be therefore careful what we think and say- I gotta tell you, this has been a summer for the record books and an excellent reminder of what is possible.

I am an educator so when June rolls around, all I can think of is doing something mindless, daring and free! I started with a trip to Puerto Rico where I climbed two waterfalls and as if that wasn’t daring enough, I got back home and promptly cut off all my hair. For a black woman, that is worse than giving birth to triplets. Another story for another time but the best part of this summer, was something that even I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams!
In early July, I received a call
From a gentlemen claiming to be from the United States Air Force and the purpose of his call was to inform me, that someone nominated me as a hometown hero for transforming lives and because they were aware of something insane on my bucket list, they thought I would be an excellent candidate to fly with the US Air Force Thunderbirds!

It took me a minute to find my voice and pick my jaw up from
The floor but once I got myself together, I realized this was indeed very real and I was about to embark on a journey I would not soon forget.

After several weeks of filling out appropriate forms, signing away my right to sue the government if I died and having a physical from
A doctor who would clear me medically, I was ready to go.

On August 12, 2014, bright and early in the morning, my family and I drove to the 177th fighter wing of the NJ AirNational Guard in Egg Harbor and reported to Sergeant Andrew Mosley.

I was then introduced to three crew members of the Thunderbirds and could barely contain myself when I was taken outside to see the F-16 Fighter jet I would be flying in with my pilot Major Michael Fisher who I would meet later.

The intensive crash course began. I had to be fitted into a flight suit, put on a G-suit over that and taught in a couple of hours everything I needed to know about ejection & what all the apparatus was for. The next person I saw was the Team doctor who was hilarious and scary at once because he had to tell me all that could go wrong in the air and taught me how to take G-sips once the plane went into G-force.

It was the closest I came
To saying nevermind. But I was resolved to do this.

The last person I spoke with was Major Fisher, who alleviated all my fears, gave me instructions about the cockpit and showed me some of the maneuvers we would be doing if I felt up to it. My excitement began to build over the nerves because I realized I was really going to do this!

I had to hydrate by drinking more liquids than usual
So after one last potty break, I was told to meet the pilot out on the Tarmac.

Imagine walking out and seeing cameras everywhere and some of the most handsome men I have ever seen in my life who shook my hands and said their job was to make sure the plane was secure for our safety.

They did just that. I strapped my vest on and anchored it to my body, then climbed into the cockpit and had my mask and helmet secured while my oxygen was hooked in and tested.

When the cockpit closed and the engine fired up, I knew this was it and I would experience something I would never do again, so I resolved to enjoy it while patting my barf bags just in case I needed them.

We took off and went vertically 17 thousand feet in under 5 seconds!! I could NOT believe what I was experiencing and utilized all the things I learned so that I could breathe once we went into G-force which felt like my entire insides flew up to my brain.

Major Fisher flew to restricted airspace and performed some of the stunts you would see in an air show. He talked me through each one and didn’t do them until I was ready. It felt like I was in heaven!!

We made it through most of the stunts but that last one, a 360 degree roll twice was more than enough for my tummy and I got sick. I was able to drop my mask and do it neatly without making a mess too. Bravo to me. My entire flight was recorded in the cockpit.

After an hour of experiencing the thrill of my lifetime, we flew back.
Once we landed and I got out of that cockpit, I was incredibly happy to have been chosen as one of a few civilians who will ever be able to say this was something they experienced!!

I was given some pretty neat memorabilia signed by the entire crew, my name was put on the cockpit and I was interviewed by NBC.

The pride and awe on my sons faces was priceless and they learned from my bravery that nothing is off limits and if you can dream it, you can achieve it!

Thank you so much to the Crew of the US Air Force Thunderbirds for the thrill of a lifetime and thank you Allison Mine-Phillips for nominating me as a hometown hero!

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silent shame- the emotionally devastating burden no child wants to carry

I must warn you that this piece is going to be tough for more than a few people. I thought long and hard about writing it. Put fingers to keyboard and deleted. Had many conversations in my head about how to best say this and decided there was no easy way, so here we go….buckle up for the ride…

In a recent conversation with a young adult, she blurted something that I knew had to be an emotional back breaking burden because of how it all rushed out her mouth- relief co-mingled with fear by what she was about to say;

” how do I protect myself as I make a name, and brand who I am, from my mothers criminal past? I love her but she insists on following me everywhere and making public displays of my work with pride but all it takes is one person digging beneath the surface, to see her entire past pop up. It will devastate my work, the people who depend upon me and I don’t know what to do.”

Wow.

Just like that, Pandora’s box opened and every fear, every emotion, every insecurity came rushing forth like she was burdened for so long and finally found a place to let it out without being judged.

This person was further hurt and confused because her mother was gone for years in federal prison and came back home as if all was well and NEVER had a serious discussion with her children about what happened. Not a solitary word.

Her children who are grown, are constantly having conversations with each other on how to best broach the topic but every day that goes by in silence and forced normalcy, has put such strain on her children, they have begun to feel and behave differently towards her with each passing day.

Befuddlement became sadness, which turned to forced acceptance which has now begun to breed silent resentment.

To be fair to this young person, a few clarifying questions were asked, which led to my asking what would be helpful for her long term. The surprising response?

She asked that I write this piece to give some parents much needed insight on just what their children were dealing with and that silence is definitely not the answer. Far too many children and parents are dealing with this issue and the consequences are life altering without doing the work that will lead to healing.

As a result, here are some helpful hints for parents who find themselves in this predicament with their children who are old enough to understand what is happening;

1). The absolute worst thing you can do, is act ” normal” and try to pick up where you left off without a word. Start the conversation gently but your children die a tiny bit with each passing day you remain silent.

2). Tell your children you are sorry you had to leave them for years. Ask and then listen, to what they had to deal with in your absence. It is often not a pretty scenario for children who may have lost the only stability they knew. They need a safe place with you to have the conversation.

3). Understand they may be mad at what you did but will always love you. No matter what. What kills their full support, is your stubborn silence.

4). Be prepared to deal with having to hear you cannot be in the limelight of their accomplishments depending on the nature of your crime. For example- if you are a registered sex offender in the system and the core of your child’s career is working with children, that can be devastating to their progress. The hope is that you will understand the need to take a less public role in their efforts, for obvious reasons.

5). Seek professional help. Your adult children should not bear the brunt of your refusal to re-engage in life and carry the burdens silently of that which you will not deal with. Above all else, try to forgive yourself. Whether you believe it or not, the strain and stress of silence takes a toll on you emotionally and physically.

6). Allow them ( children)to share their fears; the stigma that can follow adult children after a parent has committed a serious crime can be devastating on many levels. If you feel you cannot have the conversation alone with them, get a neutral facilitator in the room to get the dialogue going. That could be a therapist, Pastor or just a good trusted family friend.

Nothing was more heartbreaking to me as a mother myself, when this adult stated she felt more removed from her mother with each passing day that she remained silent and cannot have open dialogue around every day life incidences and choices. It is painful for her to sit with mom, knowing she wants to have a much needed conversation while struggling to find the opening to get it started.

She wants to discuss all the things she missed, all the things she never knew, all the things she continues to struggle with daily but cannot move beyond a crawl because of the extra emotional and physical adult she carries around in silence on her back, every day.

To the parents who have made mistakes that led to serious punishment, let me say this to you- the best thing you can do for your children is acknowledge your mistakes, ask for forgiveness ( that you already have from them) and be willing to hear what the adverse effects have been on your children. Try to love first yourself, then your offspring to a place of healing.

Love your children enough to get out of your own way and unintentionally impede their progress with your mistakes. It is the very least you can do to minimize the pain they already carry.

I do not claim to have all the answers but hope like hell, this blog touches those it needs to reach so we can begin to repair broken families.

Enough said.
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What’s a mother to do?

It was a frigid 17 degrees outside the courthouse at 1801 Vine Street in Philadelphia but inside, the temperature was steadily rising as many made their way to Courtroom A.
You see, we were all awaiting the arrival Of Darrin Manning, the 16 year old honor student who had his testicles squeezed until they ruptured on January 7th by a female police officer.
That was the day,when the City had temperatures below zero and the Principal of the school, gave her basketball team scarves to wrap around their faces on their way to practice. What happened when those boys got off the subway at Broad and Girard, has yet to be fully flushed out but what we do know is this; while Darrin was in handcuffs, his testicles were squeezed. Hard. Twice.
He had to have emergency surgery and is now being watched to see if he will ever be able to father children.

So we are in the courtroom waiting area filled with common citizenry and the press but as I watched the flurry of activity for the young man, I honed in on one person; his mother.
I could feel every bit of her anguish because I lived similar circumstances with my then 15 year old who has since been exonerated and is graduating from College in 4 months.

I waited until an opportunity presented itself, walked over to her and as I shared why we were connected, the tears rolled quietly down her face.. She was relieved that there is hope, that here was another mother who understood every bit of what she was feeling.
I told her she was going to hear some untruths about her son, that she would be hurt by it all but she must try and understand that this is all a part of the process.
I also told her Darrin was the “Rosa Parks”of modern day, that the Universe chose him to bring light to a system that is terribly flawed. When I said that my sole reason for being in the room was to support HER, the tears came freely and we hugged hard, forever connected by a travesty done to our children.
I have chosen to be her voice until
She is strong enough to fully find hers. We will speak up about this until Justice is served.

One more thing; as the impromptu conference was taking place, I separated myself from the crowd and stood among the officers in plain clothes.. Some of the comments made were disgusting but two males said this: ” they have to do something about “her” in the dept. It’s not the first, second or third time she has done this and she has now gone too far.”

I walked away before they realized I was not one of them but I was at least heartened to know, amidst to storm that is brewing over Philadelphia, a few understood this; what happened to that young man was not right.

Enough said.

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