I’m still alive y’all! Lol!!
But as you can see nothing much has gone on in this space for over a year. I’m slowly rising out of that stuck-can’t-find-the-words-or-time-to-write-ashes and finding grace and space to yes-once again-begin again. Cause that’s what writers, dreamers, and creatives do. We are the essence of the “turning over of new pages”.
So you might ask, what have I been up to?!!
In the last year, I started a new job as an Equity Consultant and Coach at the Center For Equity And InclusionAfter 17 years of living in Vancouver Washington relocated our family back over the bridge to our hometown city of Portland, Oregon (that is a post all by itself and I will be sharing it soon). We’ve also been preparing to welcome our “newest edition” to our Brown Sugar Inc. tribe. A GRANDbaby Girl. Royal Irie will be making her debut entry this coming February! For now, I am going by G-Momma-that’s cute huh? And planning my “Not Your Average Granny” PAARRRTEEEYYYY!! LOL!
I’ve been kinda busy-HUH?! Yep! I think so too. And it is for all of these reasons I had to give myself a little grace and space to turn over new soil. Cause”life kept happening” and I didn’t want to miss the most important things that were needing my attention trying to chase down “becoming or trying to look important, deep or seen.”
Truth is-I’m just “V” and writing saved my life and healed my mind. Writing has and will always be my anchor and life-line. Pen to paper-key to screen, words are the way God wired me to piece and hold together my one broken yet beautiful life. I write because I have to and when I’m not here, I’m scratching out my thoughts or peeling back my heart in a journal, scrap piece of paper or digital device. It is my goal but I may never get published or paid to write-but I always will.
On the real- this little website is on a shoe-string budget, outdated and imperfect through and through. This space is way past due for a making over-and that is also what I’ve been up to!
I am working on a brand new website!! I can’t wait to share with you my newest projects, adventures, and discoveries. In the meantime, bear with me while I keep this little humble beginning up a little while longer. Now I’m not dissing what I’ve been able to accomplish here. It is the space where I cut my teeth on this blogging thing and this is also the place where I had the honor and privilege to connect with you.
Thank you so so much!
In the meantime, you can follow me on My Instagram where for the month of October I’ll be linking up with Write 31 Days and introducing Roots and Remnants my newest project, I received as a Regional Arts and Culture Council, grantee recipient in collaboration my dear friend Laura Forti (check her out too). My first personal grant ever!!! WOOT WOOT!! And it just doesn’t stop there too!! My life-long Bestie, Shalanda Sims (she’s thebomb.com) and I just received a major grant to actualize a life-time dream collaborative of our Black Portland heart, history and community coming up in 2018-stay posted-more to come real soon!!!
Sometimes God asks us to lay our dreams, our words, our desires aside-so He can create, something different-something new. I’m learning to trust Him with it all -the unknown, the unfinished, the undiscovered while still remaining faithful to what He’s asked me to remain faithful to. “Learning” is the key word here….
Feels so good to have finally pushed through and returned to this space again. I just want to encourage you if you are in that stuck-feeling-defeated-discouraged-place-it’s ok to pick it all up and yes-start again. If I can give myself forgiveness and receive His abundant grace to move on and move forward-I know you can too!!!
Connect with you again real-real soon!
The challenge has been most of this getting in the dirt, digging up rocks, preparing soul for living- has been for others-not for me. I do not say this for you to pity me. I say this in knowing the truth about myself.
I love people. I love to give and share my life with others. In these spaces of family and community I have done some of my most deepest and hardest work. I love the possibility we each hold as we hold each other capable and able to be our best selves.
I am particularly interested in the story of those who didn’t get the fair start or the silver spoon. My eyes and heart search quickly for the heart that has the most holes-the most fractions-the most brokenness-because vulnerability is beautiful to me. It is also because in the struggle of others, I have found pieces of me. Pieces of me still worth fighting for. Pieces of resilience, overcoming and victory. And there are also pieces of bitterness, loss and insecurity. Pieces that need to be glued back together and others that seriously -should have been gone a long time ago.
A few years back, my Big Sis Meg came to my home and planted bulbs in the Fall. I thought her gesture was kind but gently tried to pursued her that it wasn’t worth her time and effort. The ground she was preparing to toil had already seen it’s better days. She smiled back with a confidence and certainty that only spiritual big sisters tend to have and kept to the task before her.
You see this was a time in my life when my spirit reflected the season. My mind was full of the gray and the cloudy. Chilled winds of loss and depression had stripped away my confidence and joy. The life I had imagined for myself and my very young family had not yet been realized. The weight of too many bills and too much month had depleted me. The dream of becoming the speaker and author I thought God had called me to be- seemed like a cruel prank-a mean joke.
Watching her passionately hit the hard, flat soil-struck something I thought I had lost deep down inside-it was hope. Witnessing the unearthing of “a thing “you thought was already cemented-already done-be turned over into something still new, still living is the picture of “redemption”.
The new dark soil looked so tender and vulnerable next to the still hardened pieces-yet progress had been made. This is my life. This is our country. The callous and the tender-the dead and the living-the failure and the hope.
It’s been months since I’ve last written. If I were to be honest- two years since I have had a steady rhythm in this space. Yet so much “re”planting, “re”shaping and “re”doing has happened because of and underneath this blog. My place of humble beginnings-my safe place to wrestle and wonder.
This is the story of seasons-this is the story of life. There are big starts and long stops. There are successes and there are failures. There are summers of drought and winters with no snow-yet there is still the turning. There are people who stay and people who go.
For the past 10 years I had my garden mapped out. I set plots to harvest certain things in a certain way. Some dreams have expanded and bloomed others dried up and have faded away.
Disappointments tangled with blessings-crashing stops and indescribable new beginnings-life keeps turning.
Obama to Trump-reconciliation to rejection-hope to rage-Lord keep it all turning. Until the hardened places are made soft again, until the root becomes the flower, until the dream becomes reality. May He keep it turning for you-may he keep it turning for me.
What if you were the only one left to tell their story?
Present and younger generations depending on you to help ground their tender roots of promise, hope and identity.
Elders weary and worn tell you, “it’s now time for you to lead the way.”
What if the place you knew as “home” was instantly blown away?
Every personal item used to clothe your dignity, every sacred treasure stolen and sold by white men in long beards- carrying $5.00 mochas in papered cups.
How would you begin putting back the pieces?
Gentrification is tearing a part limbs and legacies. It’s not pretty and I can no longer stay silent.
Stop by and hear how a Brotha from CNN, my Daddy and our community are trying to make our way through the rubble-trying to keep alive the remnant of our people.
(Click the link below to hear the full the video behind me)
One word, large enough
To be inked in Gold Letters
Bond Tightly Together
His timeless Love Letter.
Drips off Angels Lips
Like morning dew
Purified, uncontaminated praise
Collected in chorus being raised
24 Hours-365 days
That’s what it be
When Heavenly Hosts
Bow heads and lift wings
To the King of Kings.
You say we can be
So if this is true
Can I have a word with you
Cause I got a lot on my heart
I need to get right-Right now.
Help me some how
Keep my gaze on You.
Before I speak,
purge me hyssop deep
wash me-Clorox Bleach
whatever you need
to make my inside pure enough
to stand before you.
Heavenly Father it’s me
Your Black Daughter
Trying to make sense of the mess
that got left down here
It seems as though just a few of us are trying to clean it up.
Is looking more like hell on Earth
Rather than the Garden of Eden
Broken limbs, On Blooded lawns
Dark Jail Cells and Local Street Corners
Are soaking up death instead of reproducing life-abundantly.
You must be angry
That those who call themselves “the Light”
Are glowing in the darkness of hate-PURE EVIL
The “One’s you created, are taken up the right to call themselves “Creator”
Positioning themselves to be the “givers” and “takers” of life
Your Wrath must burn
From YouTube clippings resembling
Yesterday’s- 400-years of oppression
That breed strange orchards of human fruit
I thought we chopped-down
Those sick trees of slavery-a long time ago
Instead I realize that it’s just been a mockery
And the seedlings of bigotry
Managed to survive-even thrive
Under Sins Petri Dish of
Indifference and Privilege
Mocking the Legacy
Of a people who gave liberty and justice-their all…
“Jesus”….. I call….
“Jesus”…. I call…..?
Can you absorb some of this hits-these lashes
Me trust in you?
What are we suppose to do
who turned black and blue -like You
But didn’t rise on the third day.
Generations still swimming upstream
In hopes of a new dream
But I’ve been awaken to the situation
Right now all I see
Is the majority
Carrying silence-instead of the Cross
I’m tired of lives being lost.
Where are the Holy One’s?
Is it that your Kingdom Sons-And-Kingdom Daughters
Have exchanged calling for comfort
Desiring to stay Master’s instead of servants?
Invisible chains of privilege they chose to hold onto
As they say they don’t know what to do?
Where are the Holy Ones?
God this must displease you
That we aren’t doing the work you charged us to do.
Down here tearing apart the Body
The one you laid down your life and died for.
And maybe your just more …
patient than me
Sometimes I just can’t remember to see
That every wicked deed and blow you took
And placed upon your Son
From death to rise again.
to be one day redeemed
Embodied through the HOLY ONE.
(Performed:Imago Dei Church-Good Friday Service, March 25 2016)
Just haven’t …been here…
I’ve been chasing down my summer-(is it really over) and winking at Fall. Changing seasons has always been hard for me. I know it’s October, but I’m still flip-flopping through my memories of summer-trying to contain them all like grains of sand in my hand.
There have been at least 100 million things I’ve been wanting to write about, connect the dots to and celebrate with you-but I couldn’t.
Got stuck trying to choose the “most important lessons”, “deeply moving thoughts”, “life changing quotes” to share-that I didn’t share at all.
I do that a lot.
Fearful of getting it wrong- I freeze. Ready to win at the finish line I take for granted the breathe I just exhaled. It took awhile for me to realize-slowly it pieced together, that instead of blogging this summer-I needed to “be”.
Instead of building my own tribe, I needed to love on my village.
Instead of sharing my opinions, I needed to listen to my heart.
Maybe you too get stuck. Maybe you need a reason to start again. Before you pull up your sleeves and dig a little deeper-maybe you first need to give yourself permission to just “be”.
Bye Bye Summer, You left here fast
Didn’t get a chance to reach and grasp
Full ripe peaches and unscheduled days
Instead I found myself lost in a daze
Of dried out worries and sun-scorched dreams
Until I took in that moment, to embrace your warm breeze
That whispered the secret to this world’s ever striving quest
Wisdom of grace
Wisdom of rest
It’s not what you do, it’s not who you see
It’s learning to trust-it’s learning to be
Right here first-beside Me.
Tonight is our final performance of Vanport, the Musical, written and directed by (my best friend and soul-sistah) Shalanda Sims. And I am feeling some kinda way because I still have problems with “good-byes”.
For the past three decades we the descendants of Vanport have had to say our good-bye’s. We have had to say “good-bye” to Ma and Pop restaurants, school buildings and parks. We have had to say “farewell” to Grandmother’s house, beauty salons and the unspoken hangouts like Walnut Park Fred Meyers and corner stops like 15th in Alberta. We have said “see you on the other side” of church buildings and funeral homes. We have grieved and recovered, grieved and recovered until our tear ducts have dried and there is nothing left to hold on to.
So I return weekly to Woodlawn Bakery the place that use to be Sis. Ransons dry-cleaners. I slowly drive down Prescott and I beg my mind to recall every memory of Granny’s house, Mt. Sinai Baptist Church and Marantha musicals. I sit in front of 3207 NE 11th and count every family member in place on the porch. I can see my neighborhood still in tact and all of my family members vivid in my head-however these cherished visions are not the reality of what is staring back. And I feel lost all over again. Forgive the cliche-but I am -“we are -Vanport descendants and we are lost (again)-without a home”.
But for three little months-we felt found.
My family and I have had the privilege to dive deep into the sights, sounds and spirit of a “once upon a time” place created by The Sims. Our special place, free of princesses and castles has a foundation built on cultural traditions, oral histories, everyday legends, hard work and beauty of soul and art. It is a place Shalanda wrote about to honor not only her family journey but so many other’s-including my own.
As gentrification jungles continued to swing and expand on Williams,Vancouver and Martin Luther Kings Blvd we built our set, our spirits and our community-alive again. Long meetings, late practices and lingering meals centered around representing our people strong, stabilizing our voices and re-connecting our youth to their history and who they really are- left us satisfied and recommitted to “the struggle”. The struggle being the very hard work of preserving the remnant of a people who have been flooded, pushed out and gentrified with not only one wave of loss, but three in the last three decades.
But we are still here. Deeply grieved we are no longer in a centralized neighborhood but we are centered strong in no longer keeping quiet, watering down or allowing others to speak for us about our story.
My parents and Aunt Jean, now a vibrant 70+ years of age (who was only six years when the flood hit Vanport) gave big hugs and proud knods of approval and praise for the hard work our cast took in preserving the integrity of Vanport last night.
“You made us so proud. You all keep telling our stories.” Aunt Jean beamed with pride.
With those words, I was instantly transmitted to the living room carpeted floor of my Granddaddy’s house. I was nine years old again and I was smiling back with pride in hearing the accounts of my grandparents life in Vanport. My whole life I wanted to know what it felt like to live deep in community with people who treat you like family and will be there for you in times of trouble-the way Granddaddy had. And we had done just that!
So as the curtain falls tonight and my three children and I take our bows and hang our costumes for the last time-I will take the “spirit of Vanport” with me. My prayer is my children-our children have caught what was taught through the lives and the legacy of those who trailblazed before us. Here are a few survivor lessons that have weathered time, space and loss:
1. No matter what is taken from you- you can always rebuild.
2. You are only as strong as the respect you give to your elders-honor them always.
3. Long prayers, a song in your heart and good fried chicken can ALWAYS make everything instantly alright.
4. Love and longing is the only way to survive “the storms of life”.
5. A consistent hard work ethic will always set you high above the rest.
6. Always remember where and who you come from.
7. Live today as if tomorrow was never promised.
These are the ways we will once again piece ourselves back together.
These are the ways we will find peace and move on.
These are the ways we will honor those who blazed the trail for us to follow.
These are the ways we will keep telling our stories strong.
Bye bye Vanport…