Thursday, April 16, 2015

#TellMeABlackPowerStory Everyday

Simple stories. Big stories. Mundane stories. 
Helped My Son With A Project Stories.
Cooked a Healthful Meal Stories. 
Planted Some Vegetables Stories.
Smiled At A Random Black Child At The Store Stories.
Won An Award Stories.
Gave Back To Community Stories.
Woke Up And Went To Work Even Though I Didn't Feel Like It Stories.

Found & Patronized a Black Business Story.
We need more Black Power Stories. Black Power Stories are Black Love Stories, Black Kindness Stories, Black Helping Stories, Black Honor Stories, Black Generosity Stories.

Brilliant Poet, Activist, & Educator Mistinguette Smith responded to the call and amplified it.  Below is an excerpt from her post which you can read here.
"The other side of anger is power. And I am one of many who needs to hear some stories of the power that’s awaiting all of us on the other side of this seemingly endless rage. Right now,  the act of staying awake has me longing for a black power story. The news is so bad that this moment actually requires  ten thousand black power stories, each one repeated a hundred times over.  So I have come here to ask you to help me put them out into the world."

We have Black Power stories around us everyday.

Responses are trickling in.
Amie: My nephew just received certificates for perfect attendance and the honor roll at his school.

+  +  +  

Ledean: Well as you know my father passed when I was fairly young. He had a son somewhat older than my self and siblings. He asked us one Christmas what we wanted and my baby sister told him she wanted a barbie doll. He looks at her and said what about a black doll? Well she being so young had no ideal that there was such a thing. Christmas came and my brother got my sister a doll. It was the first black doll baby she had ever seen! Dark skin, curly kinky afro and she talked! Her name was Tamu and it turned out to be my sister's favorite doll for years to come. It opened her eyes to the world that there was more out there than little thin white barbie dolls.

+  +  +  

Robin: My beautiful black girl who was 11, now 12 years old stood out from among the crowd and boldly audition for her high school marching band and was awarded an opportunity to be a contributor! She has excelled, exceeding the expectations of her band director and came to the attention and was honored by the Ohio State University for her efforts.

At her lowest point band camp was kicking her behind. But through perseverance and hard work, she woke up, put 1 foot in front of the other and worked through her fears and made the effort look flawless.

+  +  + 

Ebele: I thank my mother for wearing a pair of figure-hugging jeans and walking, no, sashaying down Nwabueze Road.

In those Nigerian days, it was an abomination for a woman to wear trousers. (You were an ashawo if you did.)

But my mum, she put on her shades and walked down that road.

And my father, my father walked beside her in his jeans and shades.

They dealt with it, together.

Plus they looked fucking cool too.

Let us fill each other up with Black Power Stories.  Black Love is Black Power! Leave a comment.  Tweet it to me @cmspringer. Tumblr it! Shout out loud, I live a Black & Powerful life.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tell Me A Black Power Story

Yesterday, For Harriet, posted an excellent piece, I read Is My Living In Vain?: On The Visibility Of Black Trauma In Social Media.   I was so grateful.  I had also seen the image of the 148 students killed in Garissa, Kenya.  I was unable to put into words what I was thinking.  But, part of me thought back to what bothered me so much about the #BlackLivesMatter die-ins.

This is what I saw. 
A shopping mall in America

A university in Kenya
Only one group is pretending.  

I talk to my Facebook friends a lot about #BlackLove is #BlackPower.  I do this because sometimes I feel people are confused about what Black Power is.  The first image I am sure that comes to mind is the image on the left.  The image that comes to mind for me, is the one on the right.

It made me think.  I want to hear Black Power Stories.  So, I'll start with just a silly moment from my life.
+    +   +
One morning, I took The Win breakfast in bed. He enjoyed that a great deal.
when I do something for someone, and they express deep appreciation for it, it inspires me to continue wanting to do that.

The next time, I did it, I said, "Your breakfast, My Little lordling."
He said, "Why thank you, My Lady Mother."

It's become a game now.  Some mornings when I want to get a few things done, I take him breakfast in bed and we have our gentile exchange. This morning was different.

Me: Your breakfast, my little lordling.
The Win: Why thank you, My Lady Mother.
Me: But, of course."
Windafire wearing
"Woodland King,"
a laser cut headband
he designed
The Win: (looks at me strangely) Uh, Mom, why do you do this?
Me: Because sometimes, you have to take actions which reflect the higher self you see in a person.
The Win: Hmmm. I don't understand.
Me: You are a prince among men.
The Win: what does that mean?
Me: You are a generous, thoughtful, wise person. you are everything that is positive about the word nobility. I am acting on a truth of you.  You are receiving a truth about you. Because everyday, you show me the truth about me.
The Win: How?
Me: By being you. By doing your work without being told. By helping me around the house. By doing what needs to be done without being told, you show me that you have accepted what I have taught you.
The Win: I love you, Mom.
Me: I love you, My Little Lordling.

I realized in that moment that some Black folks like to talk a lot about being Kings and Queens. And if we are Kings and Queens, our children must be princes and princesses.  But, we don't have any staff. So, we have to be of and in service with each other everyday.  Taking some small actions which speak to our own inner truths. We have to create an environment of respectful reciprocity.

+   +   +

I don't know how many people will do this.  I'm doing this for me.  I don't want to start a "big thing." I just want to see more Black Love out there.  I want to celebrate Black Power. I want to read about it.  I want to hear about it.

  • How to you live it? 
  • How do you nurture it? 
  • How do you uplift each other?  
  • What are the very tiny things upon which movements are built?
I hope you'll share with me. Just one moment of #BlackLove is #BlackPower. #TellMeABlackPowerStory @Cmpringer

Friday, April 10, 2015

What I Did Instead Of Falling Apart | The Coma Chronicles

For those of you who wept, thank you. That needed to be done. 
For those of you who prayed, thank you. That needed to be done. 
For those of you who had a good strong drink, thank you. 
Someone was going to do that and it wasn’t me. 

I notice many of my friends are navigating health crisis with loved ones lately. For this reason, I must share a few technical details which have made an impact on Imani’s journey.  Primarily, helping the health professionals know there is something at stake and people care.

1. Keep a detailed log. Write down the name, date and time of any person who has spoken with you about your loved one’s condition.  Write down what they said. Seriously, everything.

Example:  At 4:00 PM, on Day 1, they say, “no real change, withstood breathing trial for 30 minutes, undirected movement.” Write it down, because on Day 2 at 8:00 AM you may get a report from a different person, who says, “she’s doing so much better, the breathing trial lasted an hour, and she’s moving her hands and we think we are going to do ______ radical departure in treatment.  

You can ask, “Specifically, what changed in the seven hours between shift change which warrants ______ radical departure in treatment?”

2. Be the editor of everyone’s experience.  Every nurse, aide, doctor, social worker on you loved ones’ case has a bias.  Some are skilled at staying neutral; some are skilled at giving hope; some are skilled at conservative, cautious prognosis.  I viewed my job as my daughter’s advocate. That meant I needed to stay with the facts.  Stay with the science.  

3. Learn the routine.  What is the shift change protocol? When are assessments made? When are tests given? When is the patient turned? Then call to gather data in the “downtime” when the nurses aren’t busy caring for your loved one. 

Time table for when to call:
8:30 - one hour after shift change.
10:00 - immediately following assessments, tests, doctor evaluation.
1:00 - after lunch.
5:45 - 15 minutes before shift change as they are starting to gather their notes.
8:30  - one hour after shift change
10:00 - before bed.

4. Demand continuity of care. Doctors and nurses rotate. All they have are notes on a chart.  They don’t get the back story.  They don’t know your loved one. They have no ability to know your loved one.  The only constant in your loved one’s care is you.  You are the one who fills in the gaps in the chart. 

5. Make the doctors do their job.  If allowed, doctors will breeze through; make an exam; and decide treatment as if their word is law. Their word is not law.  You have a right to an informed decision. They have an obligation to provide you with information.  Repeat. You have the right to give informed consent.

Example: One doctor tried to use baby talk with me.  I informed him that I have the same level of education as he does. My specialty is simply different and that he would kindly speak to me like an intelligent, capable human being. 

Example: One doctor was obstinate about his aggressive treatment plan. His treatment plan differed drastically from the previous doctor’s. I pulled up my notes, told him verbatim what the other doctor said. Told him that I concur with the first treatment plan, and that I was now calling for a second opinion. If he was unable to collaborate with his colleague and provide continuity of care, I would do it for him.

6. Send cold, logical, detailed, factual feedback. Learn the chain of command and speak with the decision makers.  
Example:  There were two doctors.  One was very busy one afternoon speaking with someone at home about something on his kitchen counter.  Another doctor was simply too busy to talk to me and would not wait the five minutes I needed to get out of the car, into the house and get to my computer.  On both occasions, I wrote the Chief Of Staff an email about proper communication, listed the date and time, the incident and reminded him about the legal importance of informed consent. 

The outcome was that rather than me chasing down the doctors and pinning them to the wall, both doctors called me everyday as soon as they dealt with my daughter.  They took the time to discuss her treatment plan. They allowed me to review my notes to see whether they were in accord with what other doctors said. And gave me time to clarify every single step of the treatment plan. 

7. Do not let doctors exploit your trust.  We place a lot of trust in doctors. Their very training and the fraternity-like levels of hazing they undergo to get their medical license reinforces a notion of superiority.  Many think of themselves as smarter and more important than we are.  They are experts in a very specific skill set. Yes, you may give that to them.  

But, you, another family member, and the nurses are the ones who are actually doing all the observing of symptoms, changes and responses to treatment. You have as much data as they do. Make them work with all of you. The Lone Ranger was problematic for reasons more than race and colonialism. He wasn’t anything without Tonto. The nurses know what is up.  They are the people with whom you’ll be spending time. They see the hour by hour changes.  They are the most important data in your log.  

Example: One doctor talked about a cloud on the MRI. Another doctor said there was too much movement to determine anything.  A third doctor said nothing was there.  My question was: "On this date, Dr. 1 said ____ and on this same date Dr 2 said ______, and on this date Dr 3 _______.  I'm going to need a second opinion or you're going to have to give me a unified understanding of this result. Which will it be?" Well, we got a definitive answer. 

8. Know and plan for all potential outcome{s}. Today's American medical industry is exactly that ~ a profit driven industry. Ultimately, your loved one is a number on a bottom line.  As soon as they can insure that the patient will not be a liability (lawsuit,) they will hand them off to the next caregiver. They need to clear the bed to get paid.  This can happen in moments.

Make sure you know every detail of every potential outcome... even the worst.  Then ask for a long term picture. Make them take you through it step by step...pending each medical outcome.  If there is a short cut, the insurance companies will make them take it. Bet on it.

Example: The doctor said my daughter could experience a complete and full recovery.  When there was talk of an Assisted Nursing Living Facility, I asked "How does this fit in with the full and complete stated by Dr. X?"  Well, they had to change that didn't they?

Now, that she is in a Physical Rehabilitation Facility, "the insurance has authorized seven days of therapy."  But, they were counting her intake and discharge days.  I asked them to "read me back the language and tell me how this fits with Dr. X's recommendation to achieve a full and complete recovery?"  Asking them to read back the language got my daughter an extra day of therapy.  If the insurance is covering days of therapy, not days in the facility, the patient should not be denied that which they are entitled. 

This was no time to go pieces.  In these moments, I viewed myself as a knife, cold, impartial, logical, and clean. I am the piece maker. I could harm or I could heal.  I am still ready.   Imani Nia’s Recovery Fund helps me stay ready. 

Monday, April 06, 2015

The Problem With Miracles | The Coma Chronicles

Imani Nia
My 28 year old daughter was found in a coma on March 13, 2015. 
She woke up April 3, 2015. These are some of the thoughts between then and now.

What people forget is that miracles take a lot of hard work by mortals. When illness or tragedy surprises us, the first thing many people do is deny it by calling for some nebulous, ill defined miracle. In the miracle, the loved one reverts back to exactly the way they were before the illness or tragedy struck and lives happily ever after.

My mantra has always been the universe loves me and wants me to be happy.  In every fiber of my being, I believe this to be true. So, the thought of 300 people all praying for their version of a miracle filled me with foreboding. 

Thought is energy. Imagine yourself as a laser beam casting your intention onto a target. If 300 other people are all simultaneously casting their energy at the same place on the target, the target yields more easily. Our solitary energy, while powerful, is magnified by harmony with other energies. In solidarity, our singular energy gains strength and power. 

A massive welling of undirected energy disrupts the ability to obtain critical mass. Scattered energy has no other purpose but to create cosmic confusion.  Imagine 300 people in a confined area all shooting semi-automatic weapons into the air. 

In reality, miracles are sweaty arduous journeys through the unforgiving shapeless desert of dogged perseverance. You will pass through several mirages of hope where you sip nectar from a golden goblet only to wake up and discover that in your delirium all you’ve done was bite the head off of a lizard and suck out it’s blood and ichor. As disgusting as it sounds, in that awakening ~ in that slapping back to reality after being parched unto the brink of death ~  the lizard is, in reality, a nectar-filled golden goblet. It is what you have been given to survive. It isn’t pretty. It is what is. More often than not, miracles unfold in this way.

Me, Ricardo, & Imani Nia
I was in my early 20’s when I experienced the first death-by-illness of a close friend.  I remember Ricardo’s family had buttons made which read miracle in progress. I believed in the faith of this family. I knew that the disease would reverse itself. I prayed so hard for a full recovery.  I was devastated when he died. I was dismantled down the cells. It took me years to understand that the miracle we had been praying for was not the miracle he needed. He got his miracle. We received an invitation to grow and learn more about what miracles really are.  

The Universe really does love me and want me to be happy.  The more I have stayed on this mantra the truer it has become for me.  Unfortunately, there is a societal over ride which insists that it is “too good to be true.”  The more anchored I became in choosing a joy reality, the more I discovered human nature. 

our family
From the outside in, it’s very lovely life.  My family spends our days doing what we love to do and managing to have everything we need and most of what we want.  Still, we find ourselves feeling blue, restless, uneasy. In choosing a joy reality, we find ourselves having to stop; smile at each other; and remind ourselves that human beings thrive on challenges. Human beings become bored with utopia and seek drama.

Nothing demonstrates this as easily as Facebook. We flock to the tragedy, the argument, the train wreck of the week. Sometimes, this is a good thing. It spreads awareness. All too often, the aftermath of tragedy floats away. The tsunami hits; devastates; all the interesting bits are over and we move on to 200 Nigerian Girls, the next dead Black man; eventually orange is the new black; Scandal Kanye opens his mouth; Empire gay people marry climate change the homeless gentrification. There never is a happily ever after. There is only next.

There is never boring.  There is never mundane.  We post pictures of crackers or luscious restaurant meals.  But, if instead we spent paragraphs (or stanzas) describing the details of chewing that cracker, you would find it tedious and dry. The reality of the cracker is boring.  So it is with miracles and their aftermath.  

On my more sullen, angry and unaccepting days, I had some uncharitable thoughts.  Those were days when I had to channel my grandmother, Maida Springer Kemp who used to say, “I wake up every morning and give myself precisely five minutes to feel deeply and profoundly sorry for myself. Then, I get on with it.” 

Each morning during my five minutes, I allowed myself to imagine people in my Facebook feed pulling up with a great bowl of popcorn to observe the turmoil.  Some people didn’t even need Facebook. They made sure they got firsthand, blow by blow narrations of this dramatic coma. 

A daughter was basically dead on arrival at the hospital and revived.  Laying in a coma on life support, slipping away.  The great extubation plot twist where she woke up only to twist and slip away again, just within reach and so far gone. The story could go so many ways. It could have ended in a tragedy with the difficult decisions to make about quality of life in a persistent vegetative state. The plot could have become rife with conflict about her quality of life if she awoke cognitively or physically impaired. What would her choices be? What would our choices be? Duh, duh, duh, minor chord.

I acknowledged the anger, the resentment, and then I got on with my day. I stood up and claimed serenity as my right. From there, I was able to move myself into a place of acceptance and gratitude.  Human beings need challenges in order to feel a sense of purpose.  And this awful thing happening in my life was a growth opportunity for me and everyone touched by my life.  We don’t get to pick our miracles. They choose us. 

This is the nature of a miracle. It is ever expanding. This is how how miracles work. Recognizing with gratitude the importance of small things until suddenly every small thing gathers together and become a large blessing.

It is early morning.  I am having my five minutes. I am looking at all of the uneasy questions that are the aftermath of this miracle.  My daughter was in transition at the onset of this coma. She was unemployed and making big life changes. She was switching careers and having that late 20-something OMG I have to be a grown up moment.  

27 years ago, Imani Nia & me
Now, I have the responsibility of putting her life back together.  Like when she was an infant beginning to walk. Like when she was a child.  Firing up those neurons and exercising her brain back into shape. Like when she was a teenager helping her make decisions about moving on with the rest of her life. I get to be the primary facilitator for her life all over again. Only this time, she is a grown woman with her own opinions. 

It feels like a backyard fireworks show. You set up all the little cartons.  Then for 10 minutes you light them and shoot them all off. Everyone is laughing and clapping. The darkness is exploded by stars. We ooo and awww and exclaim this one is even better!  The last big shooting rocket is set off.  Everyone shrieks with joy.  Some friends go home thankful for the good time.  A few linger and dance in the yard with sparklers trying to recapture those big bursts of energy.  When everyone goes home, there you are sweeping up ash and fuses and charred cardboard. If you are lucky, one friend will stay behind and help clean up the party. If you are lucky. It was a good time. You might not choose to do it again, no matter how much your friends assure you that it is worth it.  Miracles work like this. 

Do not pray for yourself and the miracle that you want. It never ends with happily ever after. The miracle is what you get and all the tidying up afterwards.  The miracle really begins with the tidying up part and who sticks around after the show. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Radiate Your Righteousness | TSA Performance

Your serenity is in the hands of the next fool who makes you angry.
` Eric W. Springer, Esq.
Eric W. Springer, Esq.

My center of calm carries me along the eddies of my life.  I try to stay with remembering that what is mine remains mine until I give it away. It has been almost two weeks since I received an early morning phone call saying my daughter was in a coma about seven hours from where I live.  I drove down for the first few days. I stayed until I realized, there was not much more to do other than pray and wait.  Her Godmother too my place at her bedside. She woke up. Next thing I knew, I was flying back down to my daughter’s bedside. 

As a performance artist, I sometimes view life as an opportunity to perform conceptual pieces in front of unintentional artists.  Today’s airports are the largest theatrical venues on the planet. The TSA have brought conceptual abstract theatrical performance happenings to whole new level. Every time I fly, it comes with a sense of anticipation and excitement to participate in the longest nationwide run of a massively successful show entitled “Security Checkpoint.” 

My character is somewhat autobiographical and draws upon the best character traits of  my elders and ancestors. My grandmother’s imitable grace and strong softness.  My mother’s regal command and stance.  My father’s unflinching and persistent belief in the  rule of law and those promises made with the framing of America that have yet to be achieved.  

Because I often travel with my young son, I have not been fortunate enough to do my big solo performance during “Security Checkpoint.”  The solo I have been promised is a scene called “Opt Out” wherein my character refuses to enter the AIT machine, otherwise known as, The Irradiation Station, The Nudie Scanner or Backscatter.  I have had a chance to perform “Touch My Hair, Change Your Gloves”  and “Modest Clothing Is Suspicious.” However, thanks to Malaika Singleton, Novella Coleman, an attorney with the ACLU, the TSA has agreed to stop profiling Black women's hair.  Therefore, I am unlikely to act as a supporting role in this aspect of the production.

However, these have only been minor roles which only ever receive curious ~ often White Supremacy Fear Reinforcement glances ~ from our unintentional audiences.  
I view the opportunity to perform this scene as a perfect intersection of my career as a performer and arts educator. This section of the show is about the affirmation of our civil liberties and is intended to do community outreach, education and inspire nation building based upon our Constitution.

Opportunities present themselves when it is time.  Not at the time of our choosing.  But, this trip it was Oh Lucky Me. It seemed not one passenger was avoiding the Backscatter this trip. And since I was flying solo, the long anticipated showtime had arrived.

I shuffled docilely down the line.  One by one, I removed all dangerous and suspicious items from my person.  Shuffle. Take off jacket.  Shuffle.  Remove sweater. Shuffle. Remove shoes.  By the time I reached the scanner belt,  I placed all my items in their appropriate bins.  Removed my laptop. Placed it in its separate bin.  Then, I whipped off my glorious head wrap to let my long dreadlocks tumble down my back. 

Me: (calmly. imperiously. graciously. loudly.) It is against my deeply held religious beliefs to go through that machine. I will require alternative screening.
TSA agent looks at me strangely. 

Me: Alternative screening. I require it. Thank you. (lookity look to let her know I am thankful and that she is dismissed.)

TSA AGENT; OPT OUT! We have an Opt Out.

Me: (smiles and nods to the person behind me. loudly.) All that nasty unnecessary radiation is not for our greater good.  We’re Americans. We’re lucky. We have choices.

Passenger: Oh.  (fearful furtive eyes glance at the scanner.)

TSA Agent: Please come over here and stand on the mat. My mark is a rubber mat with to yellow footprints outlined. 

Me: (to Passenger) Have an awesome trip! Be safe. (to Agent) Yes, Ma’am.

Dance Sequence ~  I glide regally towards the mark. Smile. Pivot. Left foot back to left footprint. Right foot back to right footprint. Look Agent in the eye. Smile. Float arms gently to sides to confirm my placement. Tip of the chin in the minimal affirmative acknowledgement. Place arms behind my back. Smile, concerned, loving, victorious at passengers going through The Irradiation Station. 

A young, slender, beautiful, AsianTSA agent bustles over to me. 

Beautiful Agent: Ma’am, this way. 

Me: (raise eyebrows)

Beautiful Agent: This way, please.

Me: Oh! Yes!  Thank you. 

(More Gliding) We stop at the X Ray machine to collect my belongings.

Beautiful Agent: Which are yours?

Me: (leisurely, commanding gesture as if to a hotel porter) The laptop. The purse and jumpers. The rucksack. 

Beautiful Agent: Can I put the laptop in this bin? 

Me: (loudly, kindly, matronly) Well, as I understand the rules and regulations, the laptop is supposed to be in its own bin.

Beautiful Agent: (as if eager to please) Oh. Yes. It is. But, I have have to carry it over there. Can I put it in this bin?

Me: Whatever makes all of this easier for you dear.

Beautiful Agent: Okay. Then, I’ll put it in here.

Me: As you wish. 

Beautiful Agent: (gathers my things.) This way. 

Me: (smiling nodding at other passengers trying to scramble their things back together.  The Random Passengers look on with curiosity.  They glance at the Backscatter.  They furrow their brows.  I am not being treated like a criminal. It seems very confusing to them.)

Beautiful Agent: This way, please.

Me: Right.

(more gliding this time to another mat. )

Beautiful Agent: (places my things on a counter.) Would you like to do this in a private room?

Me: Well, of course not. (chuckle) There should be nothing private about this. 

Beautiful: Uh. Right. Using the backs of my hands, I’m going to pat you down.... in some sensitive areas .... 

Me: (chuckles) My only sensitive area anymore is my old leg.

Beautiful Agent: (shocked and surprised) Oh! Is there an area I should avoid? 

(Gently, I raise the hem of my skirt. and show her a long scar down my shin.)

Beautiful Agent: (flustery) Oh, okay. Using only the backs of my hands I pat you down. I’ll ask you to put one foot forward and then the other. 

(I nod and smile in the manner of one who loves children and the way they do go on and on sometimes. Precious.)

Me: Very well, then. (direct eye contact)

Beautiful Agent: Please raise your... Oh! Let me change my gloves.

Me: Excellent idea. Well done.

Startled, she changes her gloves.

Beautiful Agent: Oh. Thanks. Ummm.  Okay. Please, raise your arms out to the sides.  
(I give her ballet arms.) 
Oh, sorry. Palms up. 
(lovely slow rotation to a position which feels as if I am opening to receive the balm of the heavens. She begins patting me down.)
Place your right foot forward. (Gentle Pat, pat, pat.)

Me: Oh! This like Yoga-Massage! 

Her hands freeze. 

I smile and wink at passengers glancing at me. I can tell they are having a hard time understanding what they see. I am receiving attention criminals typically get, yet, the agent is the one who appears deferential and servile.

Gentle pat, pat, pat. I have a sudden realization that if I were still in my 20’s, this whole experience would have made me a little wet.  Quite suddenly, she stops. She doesn’t want to do this. It’s her job. 

Beautiful Agent: Okay. You’re all done. 

Me: You have an awesome day.

Beautiful Agent: Uh. Okay. You too. Where are you going?

Me: My daughter is in a coma. I am going to her. 

Beautiful Age: (stricken look) Oh! I’m so sorry.

Everything can change so quickly. Everything. 
Stay now. Stay serene. Stay right. It's all you can really do.

Even with my daughter laying in a coma hours away, I have to choose the promise that our Constitution makes to us. Nothing. Nothing should be so important as safeguarding that which is rightfully ours. 

When you radiate your righteousness, those who do wrong shame themselves. If they are good people, they may express remorse. If they are not, they will show you anger.  But, it is up to you to give them a choice about who they want to be in that moment of time.  Opting Out of the AIT is my right. I do not have to shout my rights from the rooftops with anger and fury.  I simply have to claim them as my own. 

And hopefully, the unintentional audience benefitted in some way from this performance.

this coping mechanism moment brought to you through the sponsorship of  NDN Jr. & the INS Miracle Circle.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Confounded Clergy | The Coma Chronicles

I received a phone call that my daughter had been found in a coma.   So, I went. The hospital was clearly designed by a student of Escher.   I had gone up, down and sideways trying to find my daughter. So, I stopped a White man and White woman wearing badges.  
Me: Could you direct me to the Intensive Care Unit?

They blinked at me. Mouths performing a variation on slack jawed befuddlement. The man snapped out of it.

Man: Oh. The ICU. It’s straight down the hall to the left.

Me: Thank you.

Halfway down the hall, the woman comes puffing up behind me. And I understand clearly why they were so clearly dumbfounded by me.

Woman: I didn’t answer you at first because it took me a minute to understand what you were talking about. The way you said it. In t e n siv e. Care U nit. (repeat) I’ve never heard anything like it before.

Me: (smile and continue walking) Well, I’m glad we figured it out.

Woman: What brings you to the ICU?

Me: My daughter found her way here.

Woman: Oh, so you are meeting her? Who are you visiting?

Me: (stops in my tracks and turns) I am visiting her. (continues walking.)

Woman: Oh. Oh! I’m so sorry. (scurries after me)

Me: Thank you.

Woman: Oh. Oh. I’m okay to talk to. I’m with the Chaplain’s office. 

(flashes her badge. as if. 
makes any difference. 
to me. 
right now.)

Woman: Oh, I just love the way you say things!  What brought her in?

Me: Most likely a car. And as I understand it, a man.

We reach the In t e n siv e. Care U nit.  She flashes her badge.  It opens the door.  

Woman: Well, God bless!  

Me: (smile and nod.)

I see my daughter. As I’m leaving, the Woman catches up to me picking my way up, down and sideways through the maze which is this hospital.

Woman: How is your daughter?

Me: She is in a coma.

Woman: Oh dear. You must be beside yourself! Oh, how awful! Do you know why she is in a coma?

Woman: Oh. Dear. How tragic. What kind of events? 

Woman: Do you think you’ll recover? If it’s all right with you, I’ll pray for her.

Me: Prayer is always a good thing. 

Woman: Are you Christian?

Woman: Oh. Okay, good. I have to ask. Because I wouldn’t want to offend anyone. I’m Christian. But, not everybody is Christian.

Me: That is the truth.

Woman: Oh, I feel so bad for you. You are such a powerful woman. I can feel the faith radiating off of you. Everything is going to be all right.

Woman: Oh. You are amazing. Okay, well, if it’s all right for you. I’ll pray for her.  I can go in her room and pray for her. I’ll just let them know that you said it was okay.

Me: It will be more than okay. If she ever needed a Come To Jesus Moment, it is right now. 

Me: (unspoken) Knowing her, all that Jesus up in her face is sure to scare the Devil right out of her. & I wondered. Will this Confounded Clergy Woman ever get any of this later?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

No Is As Much Of A Loving Answer As Yes Is

No Means No

In parenting forums, recently, I’ve noticed that "no means no" seems like such a tricky, confounding, almost impossible thing for {mostly} White mothers to say and teach their children. There have been some stunning displays of heteronormative, White male privilege - burning, stadium parking lot trashing, raping women, killing Black boys. Not to blame the mothers, but, no is one of the most important concepts to understand.  No does not involve a debate. No does not invite dialog. No is final. 

Thinking back to the first time my son really accepted that no means no. It was early in his life, perhaps when he was 3 or 4 years old.  I’m pretty consistent. But, there was a singular moment when it made absolute sense to him.  I think it was french fries. (We still called them chips back then.) We were driving home from somewhere. It was close to lunch. 

It went something like this.

The Win: Can we stop at the chip shop? 
Me: Hmmm. Let me think.
(a full block rolls by.)
The Win: Mama? Can we stop at the chip shop?
Me: I’m thinking about it.
(another block rolls by.)
The Win: We’re almost at the chip shop.
(I pull over the car.)
Me: You don’t need to remind me. I said I was thinking about it.
The Win: Oh. You didn’t answer.
Me: Because I was thinking about it.
The Win: What are you thinking?
Me: Well, sweetheart, that’s a good question. You know, every fiber of my being wants you to be happy. So, I always want to say yes to you. But, always saying yes to you only makes you happy right now. It might not make you happy in the future. Sometimes, making you happy right now, will make you really unhappy in the future. Like if I let you eat candy ever day for every meal. What would happen.
The Win: I would get very sick.
Me: Right. So, you’d be happy. But then you would be unhappy for a really long time because I let you be happy for a really short time. So, what do I have to do?
The Win: You have to say no to candy all the time.
Me: Right. But I don’t want to say no. Because I want to say yes and make you happy.
The Win: Oh. (thinking)
Me: (thinking)
The Win: That’s really hard.
Me: It is the very hardest part of being a good Mama. I don’t like saying no. It is not fun. Not at all. But, it’s my job. Sometimes, I have to let you feel disappointed or unhappy so that you can be healthy and happy. 
The Win: So what are you thinking?
Me: I’m thinking that you’ve been eating a lot of vegetables. I’m thinking that you did a lot of exercise. I’m thinking that we haven’t gone to the chip shop in awhile. It’s been kind of a long time since we’ve been to the chip shop. 
The Win: So, we can go to the chip shop?
Me: Your Granddad always says, “Everything in moderation.” You know, a little bit here and there is okay. As long as you don’t do it all the time. So, I don’t see why not.
The Win: I love you Mama.
Me: I love you.
The Win: I know.
 A few weeks later, he asked again to go to The Chip Shop. The conversation went like this:

Me: Hmmm. I not thinking it the best idea today. What do you think?
The Win:  I am not eating very many vegetables.
Me: Yeah. A good diet is important to your health. So is exercise.
The Win: Oh. I watched a lot of tv this week.
Me: (sigh) Yeah.
The Win: No. Not today. Today is not a good day to go to the chip shop.
Me: I think you made a great decision.

We still have variations on that conversation. I think what was important about that conversation is he understood that no is not said lightly and for arbitrary reasons.  He understood that tough choices are made. He understood that I sincerely desire his happiness. He understood that circumstances change. What is the right thing to do one day may not be the right thing to do another day.

This is feminist parenting. Teaching that no is as much of a loving answer as yes is. This is what boys  ~ especially ~ need to know. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

This Revolution Is Women’s Work - Take One

I am the mother of a Black boy.  I don't get Thanksgiving and Christmas off. How can I stop holding in my heart the images of anguished, tear streaked, grim lipped mothers? How can I forget that a mother’s son’s last words have been printed on t-shirts and hats, the profit from which she will not see one dime?  How can I forget that some woman’s husband’s last words have become a chanted hashtag.  (Which a White woman wants to trademark!?!)

Think about that. I mean meditate on that.  Imagine that you are Leslie McSpadden, Mike Brown’s mother. You leave your bed.  Start there. Just start with the getting out of bed after your son has been murdered. That’s the part where I usually start crying a little bit. The part where I imagine my feet touching the floor.  

But, keep going. The hard floor connects with your soft warm feet. Your mind is slowly creeping out of the misty dream. As your feet hit the floor, you remember that you need to remind your son that his library books are due or that his college needs him to send in the health form.  You have to tell him something about the future you have planned for him. And he is dead. 

And your feet are on the floor. You’re sitting on the side of the bed. The phone rings. You answer it. Some activist you don’t even know on the East Coast wants to talk to you and forgot about the time difference. Because your son is dead.  You politely ask them to call back later.  Because your son is dead.  Everybody needs something from you.  Still.  You just want to go back to sleep. 

But, you don’t. You stand up. You can’t imagine how this body can defy gravity. What makes these muscles, these joints, these bones, these heart blood filled arteries so special other than life?  You have a bladder. It is full. That means your feet. Those feet which hit the floor ~  like your son’s body hit the pavement ~ have to rise. Like your son never rose.  They have to rise again and again and again to carry you to the toilet. 

And the urine releases like the blood released from your son’s body. In the streets. For four hours. Just leaking out and out and out.  And the tears, the tears, the tears stream down. And the mucus, the mucus leaks out.  You place your face in your hands. Your body heaves then spasms. His body heaved and spasmed. But, you clean yourself and stand up. He didn’t stand up. 

People are standing up in the streets. They want something from you. People are talking on the television. And they want something from you.  Everybody wants something from you.  And you are a Black mother. You don’t get the weeks and months following you son's death off. There are dead Black boys in the streets.

I think about the profits Arizona Ice Tea and Skittles made.  Who are we as people to race into the streets crying justice all the while lining the pockets of the unjust?  I get the politics of class. I get wanting to have something after generations of having nothing. I get it. It hurts. Our poverty legacy cripples us. 

But, unless we want it to get better, the real retail therapy we need is abstinence.  And this is where my revolution begins.  I have a two pronged attack. 1) Educate my son fully, comprehensively and accurately.  2) Live simply so others may simple live.   I have long known that the most definitive vote I have is my dollar. I don’t have any answers.  

I’m making this up day after day.  Every 28 hours, I get a new idea about how to resist. I am doing my own version of#NotOneDime. I'm not spending any money on any non-essential items. 

Pumpkin bread - 1 for today, 2 for the freezer
At first, I looked at one small way to reduce dependence on corporations. No more take out coffee. No more Saturday brunches at our favorite waffle place. But we like these things. Which means, I've had to become very conscious or mindful of our behavior. I know I like coffee. So, I pack a thermos. I know we get thirsty, so I pack water or juice. Once I got that down, I picked another battle.

For example, I know we eat everyday. It's not a surprise.  When I was engaging with corporations, hunger sometimes felt very much like a surprise. Like, “Oh, sh*t, it's 6:30 and I'm hungry. What the heck can I make for dinner? Oh screw it, let's just order pizza.” 

Then I think of Sybrina Fulton, Leslie McSpadden, Esaw Garner, Samaria Rice, all of the women, mothers, wives, sisters who put their feet on the floor every morning.  These women who lift that foot up and put the other foot down.  These women who keep moving.  I know, I can not allow this to creep up on me. 

But, I also know we keep a pretty good pace around the house. And that sometimes I'm too tired to cook. Sometimes, there have been one too many racist micro-aggressions in my day.  Or that feeling of helplessness at the sorry state of the world we are giving to our children makes me just too damn aggravated.  So, I've started planning for my shortcomings and distractions. I have to face them and be mindful.  

I'm doing some batch cooking on the weekends so, I have some easy, nutritious meals to throw in the microwave or oven and/or making a lot of things from scratch.  I’ve reduced or eliminated breakfast cereals, bread, cookies, crackers, snack items etc.  For example, waffles. A double batch of waffles can go in the refrigerator or freezer and then turned into toaster waffles. I'll do three batches of cookies. Save the dough in the refrigerator and cook them on demand. I just commit to one thing. One day. One thing.

my toaster waffles are better
In the past two months, we have used over 20 pounds of flour, 3 tins of baking powder, more than several dozen eggs and a bottle of yeast. We have eliminated over 8 different corporations from our budget. And if there is something you can not "live without," chances are you can find a copy cat recipe on the internet.  Here's a head start. This link has copy cat recipes for 17 desserts that people crave from chain restaurants.

Because I realize all of these things which have traditionally been classified as “women’s work” ~ cooking, cleaning, shopping, child care ~ are the revolution. It is why they have been dismissed and undervalued.  If women walked out on everything that was expected of us, society could well, 

change. It would take a minimum of $113, 586 a year to replace me.  See for yourself the annual value of women's unpaid labor.

What you can do is pick a few battles with specific corporations.  I can’t tell you which one. Just try eliminating The Koch Brothers from your household budget. They are actually easy to replace with a Black owned company called Freedom Paper. Walmart is good to boycott. In addition to the fact that the Walton's combined wealth is bigger than the combined wealth of Americans, they have simply terrible labor relations.  Try Nestles. They believe water is not a human right.  Then don’t buy from just that one corporations until you are ready to eliminate another one. 

Do your best to shop locally. Do your best to support individual craftspeople. Do your best to reduce spending on non-essential items until #BlackLivesMatter. It’s making a difference.  The #notonedime campaign cause a 7 billion dip in Black Friday and Cyber Monday revenue.  But, more importantly, speak out. Often. Relentlessly. Until your friends join you. Just do one small thing loudly.

I am the mother of a Black boy.  I don't get Thanksgiving and Christmas off.  But, together, we can start trying to take them back. 

Before you go shop.  Finish the meditation at the beginning. Cook the breakfast. Go to the funeral home.  Look upon that child's bullet ridden body. Poke at the dinner. Don't turn on the tv. Follow that meditation all the way through to the part where you climb exhausted into the bed knowing tomorrow will be the same and the same for another mother and one after that.  Every 28 hours, a Black mother somewhere is putting her feet on the floor and standing up after her son has been killed.  Then think about how much you need that whatever it is which seemed so important five minutes ago.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Everyday I Have The Power To Change The Future: Black Mamas Of Sons, Diahann Caroll, & The Deer

From time to time, I will take in some television. I have rules about it. The show has to have Black characters. They can't be seriously jacked up stupid. (I don't watch a lot of tv.) There are more rules, but, that's something else.
Never have I ever had a Forewarned Is Forearmed television moment until tonight. The below monologue is what the mother of a very handsome (Black) surgeon said right after she meets his girlfriend.
"Of course, you'll choose a less time consuming specialty once you marry Character-Name-Sounds-Like Winston. I don't know a young woman who wouldn't want to marry my Character-Name-Sounds-Like Winston ~ given half the chance. He's handsome. And he's brilliant! He's the best thing I've ever done in my life. He's the most important thing in the world."

& in that moment, I knew I had the power to change the future.

The woman in my show was played by Diahann Carroll. Same vocal cadence I would have used. Same imperious bearing. For a moment I thought I was in a televised time travel moment.  

This story is all about how that Mother character could very likely be me one day and how I really need to not be like that in the future. 

That tv time traveling moment evoked strange thoughts. So much of the way in which I parent necessitates being in the moment.  I do my best to attend to what is happening right now, between us.  It is important for me to be present with my son. 

The news stories of Now makes that difficult.  It creates hyper-vigilance, a second guessing reflex; an over the shoulder neck cramp; a continuous urge to furtively glance around.    (That is the default coping mechanism for persons who have been repeatedly traumatized.  And every Black mother has been routinely and systematically traumatized since we set foot on the shores of this country.) Black mothers are always on guard.  And because of this, we love our sons into cliche. Beyond reason. Beyond logic. Beyond politics. Beyond life, Black mothers love our sons.

That’s why I laughed so hard when I watched Diahann Caroll give that monologue.  But, for the grace of God/dess, go I.  I could hear that coming out of my mouth. I could.  She made me look around at what I think I’m trying to do here as a parent.  And how easily the tricknology of Heteronormative Patriarchal White Supremacy can take us out of ourselves.  So, I find myself on notice to be observant.

We recently moved. Here on The Acre, the deer here just don’t care. They are bold. They will watch me come outside on  my patio. They will wait for me to take their picture. Sometimes, I even think they pose for me.  They have no fear.  Those deer are White mothers.

I think about the deer back home in Pennsylvania.  They bolt if they hear a twig crack. They flee when you open a door. They run. They never saunter. They eat with one eye watching. They eat quickly. They are scared.  Those deer are Black mothers.  But, we don't have to be.  No Black mother has to be.

Everyday, I have the power to change the future.

I like to think my new deer friends reflect the emotional space I’m trying to occupy as a Black mother.  This here grass is good. I’ll eat it.  This here shade feels nice. I’ll be in it.  There is another energy. I see you.  This here fence is big and I’m strong enough to jump it, if the energy shifts. But, the energy here. It is good. And the grass. It is tasty. So, I’m here. Eating grass.

I think the deer are reminding me to keep holding onto these right now moments.  I imagined the Diahann Carroll character to have been a very similar mother.  A mother for whom the survival of her son was never the goal, but, the side effect of a daily celebration.  A mother who has built an impregnable castle around her son made out of the tiniest simple victories.  One stone is tying shoes. Another is a successful project. The next is learning a new song. We just keep adding stones.  Only seeing the stones.  Until one day she is confronted with the surprise that it is done. It is magnificent. 

A living son doing the work he is called to do who navigates his world safely and successfully is rare and precious. That can do something to a woman.  It can turn her into Diahann Carroll’s character - unconcerned for anything or anyone but her son.  Ready to challenge anything.  Acting subconsciously on the fear that everyone is going to try to undo everything she has done.  That all of it, all of it, all of it has been a waste of time.  

She has history on her side when she worries.  Any (Black) mother - especially bright, talented Stay-At-Home and/or home educating mothers - are told that mothering their children is a waste of time. They could be out blazing new paths, having careers, doing anything. Anything except listening and loving. And when all too often our sons are violently transgressed upon, we wonder.

But, I’m thankful for better role modeling.  I used to be a little skeptical of the way my Grandmother doted on my father.  How she and my mother had a carefully nuanced Understanding. (I would say detente, but, that would not convey the warmth and mutual respect they shared.)  I think my Grandmother and the deer would understand each other.   This right now, right here is good.  This woman. This life.  His choice.

And I can only hope, that I have the privilege to see that letting go, being here moment with my own son.  To experience what must be the most heady, exhilarating, adrenaline charged moment of any woman’s life.  That moment when you simply have to let go and trust your child to have their own life.  

In the meantime, I’ll just keep building my castle, listening to the deer and asking the ancestors to keep me open to the always of right now.

Everyday, I have the power to change the future.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

How A Bee Taught My Son How To Survive

It has taken me a long time to write this. I could never figure out “the angle.” For one moment, I must let go Adrian Peterson and the legacy of corporeal punishment.  Let go the school to prison pipeline. Let go of Ferguson.  Leave Tamir Rice to rest.  Just tell this story.  How this moment happened.  

A perfect Autumn Day. We woke to rain in a drought stricken area. Plans for a picnic on the beach followed by pumpkin hunts and minotaurs in hay bale mazes. According to pictures on Facebook, all of these things happened. None of these things were important that day.

The real story is what happened for fifteen minutes that afternoon on the beach. The most powerful, frightening and beautifully intense minutes my son and I have shared.  It was the day I stopped fearing, as much, for my son's life.   No matter what he faces as a Black male, he already has within him everything he needs to survive.   

It goes like this. 

After a short, half mile hike, we stood on the cliffs above the beach.  Win read me a Tsunami Danger Zone sign.  

“Umm, I don’t think we should go down there.” he said, looking up at the cloudy sky.

“No, I’d know if there was a possibility of a tsunami.” 

“No. I don’t think it is safe.”

“If I had any idea it would be unsafe, would we be here?”

“No,” he said kicking the pebbles. 

Reluctantly, hesitantly, we walked down the 45 odd stairs to the beach. At the bottom of the stairs, he felt the pebbly sand and decided this might not be a very good beach.  

“The sand here.  It’s not good.”

“Oh. Hmmm.” I said. “I like it. It reminds me how ancient and powerful the ocean is.  How many millions of sea creatures it has held, nourished and transformed into these small pieces all making a beach together.”

“Oh.” He said looking down at the sand.  And we stood a moment.  

So, I asked him,  “Are you still thinking about tsunami’s?” 

“Yes. I am very worried. I’m not sure I can stay here,” he said.  

“Oh. Hmmm. I feel pretty confidant there won’t be a tsunami today. I didn’t see any warnings in the news.” I said.  “Should we go? Or do have it in you right now to trust me with your safety?” 

He stood for a moment. Thinking. 

I waited. This is the hardest part of parenting. Giving your child information.  And then allowing your child to make decisions.  This moment is always followed by the most excruciating part of parenting ~ allowing your child to experience the consequences of decision making. And sometimes supporting them through those consequences without being judgmental or self-congratulatory.

“I’ll try.”  

I nodded.  I was so relieved and delighted. Not because he trusted me.  But, because I really didn’t want to walk back up those 45 steps, carrying the picnic cooler, and my purse, and the blanket.  I really didn’t want to find another place to have have lunch. And furthermore, I had researched this and made a plan for the day and we were proceeding according to plan.  We were on schedule. And every other truly trivial reason.

But, there it is. That hard part of parenting.  If I want my son to be strong enough to leave a situation in which he doesn’t feel safe, I have to be prepared to honor those moments when he needs to practice what it feels like to say, “I don’t feel safe. I’m going.” No excuses needed.  So, I would have abandoned my picture perfect plan for a Autumn picnic on the beach if he couldn’t be right there, in that place, in that moment.  And thankfully, we didn’t have to practice that core life lesson. 

Not long after I laid out our lovely luncheon, a bee buzzed around scouting out our offerings.  I instructed Win, “Remain still. Be calm. Find your center.  Stay in your absolutely peace place. Send out go away energy to the bee.”  Together, we did that for a few minutes.  

The bee landed on my face.  I closed my eye.  It crawled over my eye.  I could feel him watching in absolute horror.  Then, the bee flew off.  We laughed and joked about how well we communicate with the bees. We continued eating talking about being in harmony with nature and oneness with the world. And of course, Halloween and candy. 

And then the bee came back. It came back with a friend. It buzzed around Win’s head.  Again, I reminded him, to go to his solid, immoveable center. Breathe slowly.  He closed his eyes.  I instructed him to stand up. 

He stood. Walked slowly away from the food. He took ten steps away from me.  The bee kept at him.  
“Keep walking” I said. 

He kept walking.  The bee stayed with him. He turns around very slowly and walks back. 

The bee would not leave him.  

“Come back,” I tell him.   His eyes slowly glanced over at me. I can not describe his eyes - simultaneously far away, alert, focused, terrified, calm. “You’re doing great! Stay in your place. Be in your quiet place.”

He slowly walks back to me. “Kneel down,” I say quietly. 

He kneels. The bee is on his face.  He closes his eyes.  I see his pulse racing in his neck.  

“Breathe with me.” I begin to breathe slow, deep breaths.  His breath matches mine.  “Stay with the breath,” I say as I blow gently at the bee. 

The bee stroll across his cheek. It saunters slowly across his lips. It pauses on his philtrum, antennae waving as if deciding whether to climb into his nose.  

“You’re doing great. Stay in your center place,” I encourage. 

I light a cigarette. (No comments please.)  I breathe smoke on the bee. The bee moves off. Climbs up his cheek.  Crawls over his right eye. The bee lingers above his tear duct. The bee crawls under his eyebrow. The bee pauses between his eyes. 

I blow more smoke on it.  The bee ambles down to his left eyelid.  I can see he’s starting to break under the strain. It has been a full 10 minutes. His eyelid starts twitching. 

“Okay. The bee doesn’t want to go. The bee can’t hear us.  That’s okay. We can help it.”

His jaw clenches and unclenches. “Okay listen now. “ His lips quiver. “I’m going to tell you to stand up. When you stand up. Walk slowly down to the ocean. You can hear her. Follow her voice.  When the waves touch your feet. Slowly reach down. Scoop up some water and splash your face.”

His eyelid twitch.  His lips tremble. 

“Okay. Stand up.”

He stands. Slowly, he walks toward the ocean. The tension in his gait, shows every ounce of willpower not to run.   I fold the napkins.  Pack up the cooler.  Fold the blanket.  Put my shoes on. Jam his shoes in my purse. 

As he reaches the edge of the surf. He bends down just as the water recedes. He walks closer. Another wave comes in.  He misses it.  I can see him fighting the panic. Just then, the surf swells and a big wave comes slamming in, wetting the bottom of his shorts. He reaches down and throws the water in his face.  Turns and runs back to me.  

The bee is gone.  I hug him.  He breathes out a deep, shuddering breath. “I am so very proud of you,” I say. “Let’s go.”

He races up the stairs.  Halfway up, he turns back. Sees me carrying everything. I see the debate in his eyes. And the resolve before he asks, “Do you want me to help?”  

“Oh, no! I’ve got this! I’ll meet you at the top.”  And my heart truly pounded for a moment. In spite of calmly managing to handle this awful threat, he was able to hold onto who he is as a human being.  He was able to remain the person I affirm daily that he is. And I was so grateful.

At the top, there were hugs and high fives.  We had a lot of life lessons that day.  How when we live in a place of fear, the universe has a way of giving us something to really be scared of.  How important it is to not give into unreasonable fear.  But, most importantly, how to handle reasonable fear with grace.  

On the ride home from Half Moon Bay, he said, “Prayer really works, Mama. When I was at the ocean, I said, help me.  Please help me ocean.  And then that really big wave came. Right when I couldn’t do it anymore. The ocean, she came to help me.”  

And I said, “Yes. Yes you are loved.”

We’ve discussed it frequently since then.  We keep coming back to it.  When he is unsure. When he needs courage.  The other day, I don’t know how it came up.  We slip into it so naturally.  We were playing that game we play called “Where you going boy.”  He said, “Yeah, but before I say “My lawyer answers questions. Am I free to go? I have to be in the place that the bee showed me.”

That's right son, "Always go to the place the bee showed you."