Me & Mine

In the summer of 2016, I was preparing to go on a shopping trip at BJ’s with a coworker for our Fourth of July BBQ.

Let’s call her L.

As we exited the company vehicle in the parking lot, she shared with me that she was sensing a female presence from the afterlife. It wasn’t until this moment that I knew my coworker was a Medium.

I’m skeptical of all things mystical. I believe that too often fraudulent people claim false abilities and prey on others who are in vulnerable or emotional positions.

But I didn’t ask for this contact. It was being presented to me.

We began discussing some of her other experiences in communicating with those who have passed on. She told me countless stories of their interactions while she was in museums, or near grave sites, where the dead often linger. We discussed high profile unsolved cases of which she was sure she knew the answers due to her abilities. L told me of how she never charges anyone to enlist her help. This put my mind at ease a bit and helped me to trust her more.

After telling L of those nearest to me who have died, she assumed the woman who was joining our shopping trip was either my mother or my grandmother. I clung to the idea of my mother trying to communicate with me and I needed to know more. I hadn’t after all, seen her since I was 8 when breast cancer put an end to her life.

BJ’s was too loud, L said. We should reconnect another time and do this in a setting where she could concentrate better and work at her full capacity. L was also moving across the country the following month. The clock was working against us.

The day before moving, in between her last minute errands, my fiance and I met with L in a park in the Bronx. We sat down at a bench amidst all the sounds of passing trains and traffic and the normal distractions of the boogie down. The setting was still not ideal but it would have to do.

We sat and I was asked to lead….. What questions did I have?

Shit. I wasn’t prepared.

I didn’t have any questions to ask, so L took over sharing with me things that my mother was sharing with her: Paint Jayda’s room pink and keep her into music- Jayda hates pink but loves to sing and plays the violin. My father was the love of her life- good to know. Name my next child Josephine- we’re hoping for a boy, but OK.Put her photograph back up on the wall- I had recently painted the walls in the room where my mother’s photo was hanging and hadn’t put her picture back up yet. This particular detail of our meeting intrigued me the most.

Before we parted ways, L told me that, my mother was hugging me and to expect a dream with her soon. I felt nothing and I so desperately want to feel my mother’s embrace. I was somewhat disappointed and confused by what was revealed to me as some of it had significance but not all of it.

When I returned home that evening, while looking through old pictures I saw and then remembered that the living room I grew up in with my mother, was pink. Was L really on to something here?

That day, I didn’t have any questions, but since that day I have many. Meeting with L prompted a drive in me to learn more about mother. Whether or not the encounter was truly authentic, I’ll never know but the consequent events have changed my life and that’s for sure. I decided to begin a research project by interviewing people who knew and loved my mother.

I first interviewed my mother’s childhood friend who is also my God Mother. Then I interviewed my dad, who was my mother’s ex-husband. Thirdly, I interviewed a close friend from my mother’s adulthood. I’m learning so much that I never knew I never knew!

I’m no longer afraid to confront my emotions while hearing the stories of a woman I barely got to know.  I’m excited to continue this project and I still have several more interviews to conduct. I don’t know what all will come of this. Blog posts? A book? We’ll see what I’m inspired to do once the research phase ends.

My mother lived in Italy for many years, pursuing her passion for acting and this August I will be visiting Italy for the first time so as you may imagine this trip holds great significance for me.

When my mother passed away, many including myself thought that I handled it well because I didn’t speak about it much but there are simply no words to match the pain in a little girl who loses her mother. This pain is now transforming into intrigue and appreciation…. stay tuned.

Happy Mother’s Day to all mommies and mother-figures, here and beyond

And I would like to wish a very Happy Mother’s Day to my own…

Yvonne Southerland

Yvonne Holder

Baci

Vonny

Mommy

(Baci is an Italian word which means Kisses and is pronounced “Bah-chee”)

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God Talk

The most arrogant thought I’ve ever had is that there is no God. See, I’m a cynic by nature and at times painfully sarcastic. I used to get kicks out of telling my elderly, Mississippi born and raised, God-fearing grandmother, that there is no God. Not only was there no God, I would show up to her house for the weekend without any clothes for church, a fact I would conveniently not reveal until Sunday morning. Boy, did her blood boil. Between that and my other comments about never wanting to learn how to cook because my future husband will cook for me, she disapproved of my ideology, to say the least.

When I was 8 years old, my mother died of breast cancer. After her passing, I moved in with my father and step-mother. We loved each other, but somehow the love got lost in translation. Strict rules for a defiant pre-teen, mixed with hurtful words such as “You’re not my mother!”, led to pain for all. I was already a quiet girl, and the loss of my mom led me to talk even less. I was taken to therapy but I just didn’t want to discuss the elephant in the room. I buried feelings of sadness for years and years to come.

I became pregnant with my daughter at the age of 21, which lead to more turbulence on the home front. I was politely asked to go reside where the baby was conceived. The relationship with my daughter’s father, as well as with subsequent men, was nothing short of something very appropriate for a young girl, stumbling around, without having learned how to handle her trauma, and thus causing more.

In my mid-20s I dated a guy and I could have guessed that he wasn’t “The One” if I was being honest with myself, but I wasn’t too invested in authenticity those days. At first, things were different, which meant that things were great. Wow, I thought, I can talk to this guy for hours! We laughed and taught and learned from one another. He was the first man I dated, who I also considered a friend.

The relationship, albeit refreshingly unique compared to those before it, was still riddled with deceit and disappointment. We first met and connected at work but after he started a new job, we began to only see each other monthly, despite living less than an hour away from one another. He would flake on plans, not call back, and not show up. A few years into our relationship, it became clear to him that I was taking things more seriously than he was and it became clear to me that his disruptive behavior was a reflection of his own dissatisfaction in life and that it had very little to do with me. As I began to Google “How to be Happy”, “Tricks for Happiness”, “Helping Loved Ones Through Depression”, he began to end things with me. I was learning these secrets for happiness in order to teach him, not even knowing that I was really teaching myself nor how valuable these lessons would soon be.

The break up was tough. The collapse of ideas I had so longed for, brought me into the darkest days I’ll ever know. Suicide ideation, prescription drug abuse and self-neglect took over for far too long.

Until July 16th, 2014, when I saw the snail. Walking past a Brooklyn bush, there slugged a snail. Small and almost unnoticeable, yet it caught my eye. I snapped a pic and posted it on Instagram with a caption that came to me as my fingers swiped along, “A snail! I declare this a sign of excellent health, prosperity and good fortune because that’s the typa stuff one declares when choosing happiness! Happy Wednesday y’all” I didn’t know I had chosen happiness until the decision was made. And as sneakily as depression cloaked my life, it had been lifted up by this arbitrary symbol of everything I needed. A symbol sent from God, fortified by all I had learned while trying to help my ex.

I do not believe in coincidences. Each person in my life is here for a reason, even when I can’t see what that reason is. Every heartache has taught me as much as I was willing to learn. Meeting a man, who I loved and thought I could save from depression, in turn, saved me from my own hidden depression. I began practicing the things I was intending to teach him. I wrote my Happy Lists. I asked myself what did I enjoy about my day, every day and then I made sure to do those things more often. I complained less and showed gratitude for every. little. thing. Forcefully at first, but then it came as a new way of being.

Afterward, I began proudly calling God by name because I was truly beginning to feel his grace and it was hard to keep in. When I say “Praise God!”, please believe that I am on my knees giving thanks. When I say “Look at God!”, I am truly marveling at his miracles. With God’s help, I can now see blessings that have always been there. With God’s help, I can now see beauty in things and in people where I once saw none. With God’s help, I see that there is God in me, and that I have a purpose and a calling and gifts to share with the world. With God’s help, my eyes, ears and heart stay open to the testimonies of all God’s children, because you never know who will share a word that will change your life.

I will not say that God has completely taken depression from my life. Some days are easier to see light than on others, but through God I don’t miss a single lesson, which gives my pain a purpose. I’m grateful for the storms I’ve endured because they make the sunlight that much more divine and through the grace of God, I am walking on sunshine.

(First posted @ www.link2usmag.com)

Manifesting Mindfulness With Children

My niece and nephew came to visit my daughter and me for the weekend. When I have the three kids together, I can sometimes feel overwhelmed by the sudden increase in energy, demands, and complaints. I love them to pieces but their visits are a complete divergence from our usually quiet and low key lives. It feels good to see Jayda growing up so closely with her cousins especially because I didn’t have that same experience with my own cousins, due to our age differences.

I know from experience that the more bored the kids are the more they engage in negative behavior and the last thing I want to do on the weekend is play the mean mommy/auntie role as I hand out lectures and punishments.

Day 1 of the weekend was a disaster. I was mentally unprepared and still exhausted from my week of employment, passions, and responsibilities. The kids couldn’t quite figure out sharing, they had bottomless stomachs for snacks and they were restless.

Day 2 took a different turn, and here is how…

1. I was well rested– Usually, after the kids go to sleep I like to take advantage of a quiet house, so I stay awake for hours occupying myself with snacks, rated R movies and other vices. This time, I slept and the next day I was ready to tackle and engage! I also woke up before them which does not usually happen. It gave me time to get breakfast ready and prepare the room for our activities.

2. I made a plan– If you want to keep kids engaged all day, you will need a plan! I brainstormed the theme of the day and planned accordingly. Our theme was “Mindfulness and Gratitude” and our activities were guided meditation, yoga, vision boards and reading. We were flexible in our approaches but steadfast in our curriculum of the day.

3. I gave the kids expectations– The script went a little something like this “Good morning children! Today we will talk about and practice mindfulness and gratitude! We are going to have a great day with each other and we are going to be fair, considerate and kind!”

4. I considered their senses

Sound- Our ears were blessed by the peaceful sounds of October’s Child, who just released a new project entitled As You Go. The calming vocals and light instrumental elements brought exactly the feels I was longing for. Check them out with this link.

Sight- In my attempt to avoid overstimulation, I kept the blinds mostly drawn letting in just enough sunlight.

Smell- Throughout the duration of the morning and afternoon, I boiled dried lavender buds which filled the air with sweet and subtle scents. 

 

(I purchased mine from Amazon, link above)

Taste/Nutrition- Kids have energy and these kids have ENERGY! There was no added sugar in our diets today. Breakfast was eggs, toast, and hash browns. Knowing that they tend to skimp on meals so they can indulge in snacks later, today they were warned that there would be no snacks and they were advised to eat all of their breakfasts. To drink, they had tea with honey.  Lunch was pasta in a sauce made from pureed kidney bean, coconut milk and tomatoes. 


It was nice seeing the children explore their spiritualities and sense of gratitude. It was warm and refreshing to hear them talk about all of the parts of their lives that bring them joy. The best part was seeing the spirit of my mother live on through her grandchildren whom she never got to meet.

The day was a great success and just as I stopped running out of ideas for engagement, my brother arrived to pick my niece and nephew up. I would love to do this every time they come to visit, but to be honest it took time and energy that I don’t always have and sometimes, I like doing absolutely nothing, but I am grateful that I had the capacity to facilitate this today and hopefully there are long-lasting results that remain after the day is over.

 

Om Namah Shivaya

Namaste

Amen

Our Story

My love and I met in in 2002. I was already attending The Beacon School since freshman year and Richardo transferred in 11th grade. Beacon is a school with a rigorous admissions process and Richardo was hoping to attend Beacon since freshman year. His application was finally accepted as a transfer student. While in high school, our circle of friends intertwined a bit we didn’t spend that much time together. We were friendly acquaintances. We graduated high school and continued our separate lives at different colleges.

After completing just one semester of college at Temple University in Philadelphia, I transferred to Hunter College in NYC to be back home and closer to my then boyfriend, and future father of my daughter, Jayda. Unbeknownst to me, Richardo was also attending Hunter College. We ran into each other in the library from time to time, however, most of our interactions were through social media. We remained friendly, wishing each other happy holidays and other pleasantries.

One day in July 2014, I received a DM from Richardo through Instagram, asking to take me out. It totally caught me off guard. Over the years I never thought he looked at me as anything other than a friend. The timing could not have been more perfect. I had finally gotten over a terrible break up the month prior and after beginning some steps of healing I decided to approach life from a place of “Yes!”. The old me would have rationalized not taking him up on his offer. “It’s too soon.”, “I’m not ready”, “We know too many of the same people”, but the new me was ready to see what life and Richardo had to offer. We agreed to spend an afternoon together in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

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The night prior, I slept at a girlfriend’s house. I was rushing to leave her house, get to my own, shower,  change and get ready for this date. Needless to say, I was running late and kept him waiting a little while. I was already filled with anxiety and being late only added to my nerves. I was relieved that when I finally arrived at our meeting point, he was just as gracious and warm as a complete gentleman would be.

He planned a very nice first date. We started off with lunch at Sweet Chick. He had the Chicken and Waffles, I had the Kale Salad and he fed me from across the table! That is something that up until that point I had only ever seen in movies… how romantic! From there we went to his favorite coffee shop. I don’t typically drink coffee so instead, I tried their coffee soda. It didn’t taste anything like the name would suggest, thank goodness; it was surprisingly very good! With our beverages in hand, he then took me to this bizarre little hole in the wall bookshop, which was nothing like your ordinary bookshop. Here, people had drawn and written in notebooks and left them behind in this weird library of original pieces by New Yorkers. It was one of the most unique attractions I had ever visited and I couldn’t believe I was seeing so much of the city that I hadn’t seen before. All these magical things had been right under my nose, including Richardo.

After spending some time looking through the notebooks, we continued to walk around until we found a park overlooking the river just in time for the sunset; just in time for me to be getting cold and needing to borrow his jacket. Romance on top of romance. All the while, we were catching up, cracking jokes and enjoying each other.

His car was in the shop at the time so we had to rely on the old iron horse. At the end of the date, we boarded the train together and I was pleased to learn that he was going to take me all the way to my building. When we arrived in my lobby, he began to say goodnight and I made the bold move of inviting him upstairs, which he did not turn down. This was just our first date but I figured I’ve known him for years, so why not? We went upstairs where we continued to get to know each other and had a great night.

From then we began dating. Richardo took me to different museums and events around the city. We talked and laughed endlessly. The best part about our budding relationship was that it was based on mutual understandings and impeccable communication. Neither of us was forcing the other to change their mind about the expectations of where we were headed and we both just wanted to have a good time. This was especially helpful because as a single mother, I felt no urge to introduce him to my daughter and he wasn’t ready to meet her either.

On a whim, Rick invited me to LA where he was going to visit one of his closest friends who happened to be roommates with my cousin, who Rick also knew because we all attended the same high school. It was short notice, but being one to now say yes, I said yes! We had different travel dates but met in LA where we had a fantastic experience bonding under the California sun.

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Everything was going well as we continued dating for the next 6 months.

Then I turned 29.

Then I realized 30 was next.

Did I want to be married? Did I want more children? Was society a constant reminder of my ever-ticking biological clock?

Well, yes.

Yes, yes, yes! I wanted all of those things. I hadn’t wanted them before and I knew for sure that Richardo did not want them. So I broke things off with him. It wasn’t an easy thing to do but it was the right thing to do. I learned from prior experiences that you cannot make people do what they’ve specifically said they do not want to do. Even if they oblige for the moment, people eventually do what they want, or they lash out in other usually painful ways. I respected him and his wishes, so I said goodbye.

For the next 4 months, I went hard in the dating world. I was determined to find my future husband, and it got really old, really quick. After going out on about 10 dates with about 5 guys, I decided it was more my speed to go back to the way things were when I was dating Richardo. Fun, free, easy and zero expectations. I put goals of continuing a family to the side in exchange for appreciating the life I already had.

I reached out to Rick one evening while I was out celebrating a friend’s birthday. He picked me up from the Queens strip club where I was and that’s when we picked up like we never left off. We began dating again, non-monogamously just as before. As only the universe would have it, we both had unprotected sex with other partners.

I was late.

She was late.

We were terrified.

The thought of either of us being pregnant with someone else’s child was frightening. Up until that point, things we pretty carefree between us but these pregnancy scares put a lot into perspective about where we saw our futures going. My period came, as did hers, but the scare was not in vain.

Rick went on a trip to Finland for work which is when we confessed our love for one another in a long distance phone call- even though the energy between us felt as though we were right next to each other. Our relationship progressed from that moment. We introduced each other to our families and what I thought I had planned for the future had been altered, yet again.

We began talking about getting married. He started becoming more present and intentional in my daughter’s life. He asked my father for permission to marry me and he told me to pick out my ring. Later, we went to the jewelry store where I had found the perfect ring and he purchased it. Good luck surprising me with this, I thought.

A month and some change later, I went back to LA to visit our friend and my cousin. I left Rick back home because due to the timing of the trip and his new schedule as a middle-school teacher, he was unable to join me. Our friends had a jam-packed schedule planned for me during my stay, complete with an itinerary. On February 10th, 2017, after a trip to The Broad Museum, a massage and dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, I was taken to Urban Lights, an installment of 202 restored cast iron antique street lamps, being told it would be a great photo op destination. When we arrived, my cousin asked me to record him singing. He’s in the music industry but he’s no singer. I held my phone as I awkwardly recorded him sing his rendition of “Here’s your Queen” from Coming to America, (he changed the lyrics to “Here’s Your King” a detail I didn’t put together until later). At the end of the song, he moves to the side and I see Richardo walking down the row of lights.

That was the ultimate mind fuck. All I could think was…

What’s happening?

Where am I?

What is he doing here?

He’s saying things to me but I can’t hear him.

Oh my God, he’s getting down on one knee.

Is this really happening?

Oh my God, this is really happening! He flew across the country to surprise me!

While trying to catching my breath and looking over his shoulder, I saw that one of my best friends, Patria, also from New York had flown in to witness this moment. Another friend of ours, GG had also flown in from Colorado to photograph and document it all.

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Click Here For The Proposal Video

This was an incredible proposal that only the most incredible man could have pulled off. I am so excited to see what is in store for us. Richardo is my number 1 fan and is just as much as gentleman today as he was on our first date.

We’re getting married on October 6th and we couldn’t be more excited to share our lives and our love, together, forever.