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life

In the storm

It can be easy to accept the storms you are prepared for. The storms that surprise you, generally take your breath away.

I live in Texas. Born and raised here. I have lived in another state, but came home to Texas and bought my house. My home state is all over the National News. Not for something amazing… for another botched response to a natural disaster.

There are somethings that one comes to expect in certain regions. Arctic storms in the south don’t match. It’s not even off like a hyperbole… more like acid and hot sauce. It doesn’t match up. Even though like a Hurricane, we had at least four or five days of warning, we were ill prepared for our power grid failures. Thus, I was one without power for too long.

I literally had fingers and toes go numb. It was scary. I prayed and tried to stay encouraged… but imagine how cold it has to be to blow smoke outside…I blew smoke in my bed, under layers of clothes and blankets, holding my 10 pound dog. THAT DAY I cried out. That day a Soror rescued me. That day, a neighbor I didn’t know helped me release my frozen garage door. That day, I had been sitting in my car warming and charging. I realize how close I came to CO2 harm. Making sacrifices the only way I knew how. Venting my house through two open doors. I know I had CO2 in my house because I had trouble lighting a flame to light my candle. I had to stand by the open door. This prompted me to leave the door open a while. Was it already freezing. Yes. But the way my second favorite subject is set up in my brain… I listened to the unction.

I was fortunate where some were not.

That doesn’t change the reality of this trauma. I have lived through hurricanes and floods. EACH brings it’s own layer of trigger. 2020 is a shinning example of what trauma can do and how it can largely affect and effect. We are 49 days into this year, and much like the last one, I have not given up hope. However comma I have been severely tested. The body’s natural response to danger is to draw blood from certain places to help protect vital organs… GREAT… but do you know how scary it is for an artist to have to process danger in her fingers?!? To see them turn colors. To know it’s because someone with a lot of money thought “oh that will never happen” until it did?!?

And that was just up until mid-Tuesday. Wednesday brought electricity after 75 hours and a burst pipe. More almost frozen fingers. But MORE answered prayers by way of neighbors who called the cops when something didn’t seem right. The cops contacted my family who contacted me. One of these neighbors also helped me shut off the water, move the fallen sheetrock and manually lower my garage door. God sent me people. Literally people who came to aid. Again, my Soror Angel helped me navigate and have safe shelter. I am soooo grateful for commUNITY.

Yes, this week has been a nightmare. Yes, I have already alerted my therapist that I will need an appointment to process all of this. Yes I prayed daily for myself and others. Yes I still trust God. Yes I still see a reason, and a strong one at that, for faith. Yes, hope is real. Hope kept me warm under blankets while it was LITERALLY freezing out&inside. Love undergirds the good. Add commas where you need them…

Thank you for reading. I pray you NEVER encounter storms that can literally chase after your life. However comma… storms in concept will come. No one on earth is immune. Look for the blessing on the other side. Hope for it. Have faith that it will come & that your prayers don’t fall on deaf ears. In the storm… HOLD ON TO HOPE. With every ounce of you that you have. It will be the lifeline you need. We aren’t out of the storm… but the sun has come out. Light reminds us that darkness hasn’t won. Look to the light.

Ivy out.

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life

Who feels worthy anyway?

Ahem… it’s 2021… can we de al with this myth of “feeling qualified”? Maybe this isn’t your testimony or story, but CHILE… it is mine!

I have done a few things in my life (spoken at some conferences, created and hosted some, preached, taught, published a book *no longer in print, sang a few places, facilitated a workshop I created while in another country, been on international radio stations, been a part of a Sorority almost two decades, some sisterhoods, a tribe, and this little blog of mine is about nine years old (had to go back and count)) but I have never felt qualified for any of it. I have been teaching for twelve years and I often don’t feel qualified to do that. Somehow, over 1,000 students have passed Miss Maiben’s doors. What does any of this have to do with this blog’s title? You need to stop depending on “feelings” when it comes to qualifications. I will just go out on a holy limb here and say the very fact that you DON’T feel qualified prepares the foundation for FAITH to show it’s fullll self mighty in your life. God shows up when we let Him lead. When you get these God sized opportunities, you end up with a God sized responsibilities. There is no place inside of a God sized opportunity for our human feelings.  You know why? Feelings are not a constant. They shift constantly. If you are waiting to feel worthy to do what you are assigned…you’ll never do it.

Now what I do want us to realize is, when we move in God’s will to do what God assigns that is outside of our capacity…GOD GETS THE GLORY. If we could do it without God…we would attempt claim the credit for the thing. Come on through God… get all of the glory for these assignments gifted to me. My prayer is for the wisdom to operate in excellence, the peace to survive and thrive in the process, the grace to learn and not fail, the mercy to grow even when I miss the mark, and the faith to be obedient.

I don’t feel qualified, but I do feel called. I don’t feel worthy, but I know it’s assigned. With an humble and shaky heart…I keep moving in what I am called to do.

Ivy Out!

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life

Toddler Taught

When I was a toddler, steps look like Everest. I would use my little limbs, all fours, to climb to the top. I felt so accomplished when I got to there. No flag to mark my victory, I probably smiled. Now I live in a two-story house. The only time my stairs posed a threat was after knee surgery. It’s funny how we take things for granted that as babies we saw with great hope and determination.

I am really starting to take a new perspective to “childlike faith” – Matthew 18:3-4. Loose connection but stay with me. If you watch a toddler learn to walk you can learn something. The adult is super hopeful. We will the little one to victory even after they succumb to crawling again. Children teach us that no matter how hard, fast, or strong we want them to walk…they are going to do it when they are READY. I was always taught that children, in their innocence, are closer to God. I imagine them having convos with angels and their prayers being literal convos with Abba in languages we don’t understand. They talk to Abba Father about when they are ready to move on and that determines their pace. We, the adults watch with calculated anticipation for the day when the baby finally decides to walk. All of this built up energy seems to feel like nothing as we move on swiftly to the next milestone.

Insert adult dreams and hopes. How quickly we forget to talk to Abba about RIGHT timing. How quickly we turn on our dreams and hopes when their timeframe seems to elude us like hide and go seek. How  quickly do we allow the energy of expectation to wane into disappointment, nevers, and past tense if “it” doesn’t show up on the day we inked into our planners. Children don’t give up that easily. Have you ever told a child not to touch something because it was hot?

When we humble ourselves to “not knowing”, to “Dear God…”, to “Hi God it’s me Andonnia – insert your name here… and wait for Him to guide us. Humble ourselves to letting failure teach like lessons and not cancellations. Humble ourselves to praying until paths are revealed – even it its just one step. Then the kingdom of heaven won’t seem so far away. Have we ever consider this life, that is for our good and God’s glory, is a series of attempts to walk. Walk more like him. Walk more than crawl. Walk in the shadow of the Almighty, in the steps of our savior, in the will of the Father, in the unknowing of the path but Knowing that God has us?

Let this day be greeted with unknowing. That is when we let faith lead us to the top of the stairs.

IVY OUT.

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life

January 20, 2021

I just witnessed America’s FIRST Black, Asian, and Woman Vice President be sworn in. I cried. I didn’t expect to cry. However, when I think of my own family lineage…it makes sense. My grandmother and her sisters and brothers participated in the Civil Rights Movement in our hometown. One of my great uncles actually played a vital role in protecting the charter of our local NAACP chapter. I won’t mention the group that searched his home just think of the time period. My grandmother passed away in December of 2008. She was alive but not very responsive when the actual election results were announced in November, but she was still here. She was born in 1916. As I take that in and I think about the history of this country, what Black people have endured, what Black women have endured I cry again. My grandmother had many jobs…one was to care for a Caucasian family. When The Help came out years ago… I CRIED THEN TOO. Although I was told the family was kind to my grandmother, the concept bothered my soul. I MET them… I was conflicted. Not because I couldn’t believe that a family could be kind to her, but to know that at one point…in the “land of the free and home of the brave” that an occupation for Black women was to cook, clean, and care for other people’s families. My God how far we have come. We have farther to travel, but today… I saw something never witnessed before. I saw another FIRST. A Black, South Asian, Woman of ALPHA KAPPA ALPHA SORORITY INCORPORATED was sworn in as the Vice President of The United States of America. My tears accompany prayers for this country as we still urgently need to heal. May God protect us all. In my pink, pearls, and chucks…

 IVY OUT

Categories
life

Saying goodbye to this year…

I say goodbye to this year with a stoic reverence. Minding my perspective, much like the rain washing through Houston today, 2020 exposed a lot that needed care. Racial wounds in this country have been festering since it’s birth. America was once home to Indigenous people who both respected the land and humanity and two groups of Europeans. Those were sent here for punishment and those who sought refuge from persecution. Those groups quickly turned into the problem for both Indigenous people and Black people. Why BLACK and not an ethnic identifier? We were stripped of it and our humanity was also attempted – but both Indigenous and Black people are resilient. Cameras and social media have exposed much about antebellum lovers. Covid-19 made the entire globe stand still. A deadly germ, unseen to the naked eye, put a stop to the business and busyness of life as we know it. Toilet Paper and Cleaning Wipes became a thing if want and desire as cleaning became a focus again. Opportunists drove up prices and people finally began to appreciate those on the front lines of SERVICE. Yes, medical professionals, transportation personnel, grocers, farmers, ranchers, warehouse workers, and finally teachers. Teachers, who never got to stop working, became a wonder. Parents, a child’s first teachers became more active on education and technology became the conduit whereby lessons were pipped into home like water through screens. The myths about “the perfect child” were bashed against the rock of toggling of children under one roof with distractions. Employers that would have previously never allowed their operations to shift to “work-from-home” status QUICKLY shifted so that things could continue even in the presence of a pandemic. The term “new normal” surfaced and even I have dripped these words from my mouth slowly like molasses from buttered pancakes, and even now I shudder deep within my being. Nothing about this life has ever been normal. I am allergic to status quo. I was never invited to that table. I was allowed to build it, yes, but no one drew out a seat for me there. 2020 has broken what was referred to as normal. I should like to thank her for that. Because we will never be what we were before. We still aren’t out of the manacles of this germ’s clutches. And with that, I will end this is a reverent moment of silence for all of those who are no longer with us on this side. For those who have entered heaven’s gate I send peace and condolences to the families.

::🙏🏽::

Ivy Out

Categories
life

Weird.

Just BE what you ARE.

That would seem simple at first glance. However comma it is not. We live in a world that seeks to smother the uniqueness out of you, as if they are a cluster of T-cells. THEY try to strangle the you out of you – calling it things like weird, as if that is a bad thing. If you wear your clothes, hair, or any visual differently than the masses you are automatically singled out. By some miracle, a sliver of these grouped individuals is seen in a positive light.  They are deemed social celebrities worthy of snaps, tweets, toks and shares. We can’t forget the shares. The rest of us are weird. Oddities plastered with opinions like wood paneling and recycled wallpaper.

Here is your PSA for the rest of existence: CALLING ME WEIRD IS A COMPLEMENT.

I was NEVER made to be LIKE YOU. I was made to be the best ME ever. My life is a continuum of better, correction, growth, and celebration  and it was never doomed to carbon copy the masses. HOW DARE… any of you/them/they/sub appropriate pronoun for society here… Just HOW DARE?

CELEBRATE the weird, the artistic, the avant garde. Those willing to carve their own style/path/trend/journey within this shared experience we call life. Kudos to those with courage to unapologetically be. WE laurel originality and difference. A failed attempt at a relationship taught me something about four years ago. Difference makes us beautiful. If the world were void of colors, think of how awful it would be. If every human being on earth was some robotic stepford version of the next person, this would be a nightmare – even more than the current hellish climate.

So raise high your short cropped cuts, your dressed and jeans, your style, your creativity. Mix your prints, sing your songs, have your opinions, love hard. But LOVE. Don’t let societies hate and fear cause you to harden and scar. Love because it’s more powerful than hate. Love.  Be.

IVY OUT.

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life

Self-Care is a radical form of REBELLION

“To be young, gifted, and black…” -Nina Simone

(This is meant to make you think. If you choose not to explore and reflect, this may “fall on deaf ears” so to speak…)

How strange, we have to L E A R N how to care for ourselves because entire generations have been unable to (care for themselves) as a practice.

How engrained in our DNA, as a result of slave culture in America, is the very concept of being able to take care of you as a person seen as a threat.

Self-Care is a radical act of rebellion. It’s not self-ish to be able to live instead of exist. It’s ok to put on your oxygen mask first in the airport, but not at home?

I will honor the temple that God gave me by making sure it does more than exist in the land of plenty. I will shine because He shines through me.

Self-Care isn’t a diet, it’s a way of life.

Ivy Out

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life

The Shortest Brief Ever

I don’t like the “perfect” box.

I have spoken about this before, but reflecting on some things in my past made this come RIGHT BACK UP. I was also listening to India Arie Simpson (One of my FAVORITE artists ever) speak about today’s subject (AUTHENTICITY) on her IG live on 7/3/20.

I don’t like when people live in highlight reels or show this front like everything is always ok. IT’S NOT. One of the greatest gifts, as a teacher, that I gave my students what modeling authenticity. Showing them that you can endure even when you aren’t alright. They got to see my smile return. That teaches that you can endure and come out too. You don’t have to “put on aires” or filter your face because you are in ANY position.

Now, I know that certain positions have to sort what needs to be shared as a part of the role & duties of the position. I get that. But if it ain’t authentic… I WANT NO PART. Not. One. Part. There is no amount of money worth authenticity or PEACE.

I know when my spirit is off. If I need a moment, grace, or an ear and you don’t have the capacity – say that. However, do not ever (again) expect me to wear a costume over my moment. Not enough makeup to make over this truth. Henceforth and forever…

AUTHENTICALLY ANDONNIA.

IVY OUT

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life

Pandemic Implosion

“If it were easy, it would be done already.” – Me to Me.

I haven’t published a blog since April 2020. I didn’t follow the schedule that I gave myself… two blogs a month. I had good reason. It started during my spring break. I had plans… to clean, rest, and read. At the end of said Spring Break… COVID shut down America. Initially, I thought… surely… this will get fixed. With all of the genius scientists and medical professionals – who have my utmost respect – we will be out for a bit (like the floods) and then we will regain our footing. THAT DID NOT HAPPEN. Despite current outside activity, we are STILL dealing with said pandemic. The current reported number of positive cases in the county in which I reside is 19, 739, per The Weather Chanel Application. I still remember when the number was only showing around 1,000. I don’t want to get into the meddling thoughts about the validity of the reporting, because I know people who have personally endure this illness. The point is… it’s not gone.

I am a school teacher. Life was very different at the end of the semester. I am not only a teacher, I teach students who need a reading champion. This posed EXTRA trauma. I knew my babies. I knew them well. I knew who could push through and look for the light behind the clouds, knew which ones would use this to not read… because they simply don’t like to (read) anyway, and I knew the ones who wanted to be anywhere safe. I need you to read that as “home wasn’t the most stable place for them”. Not to mention… school is the social foundation for many students. All of that got snatched up in the name of safety. I don’t regret it, I am just speaking to the truth of the moment. Then.. there is the entire reality that parents were dealing with adulting, facilitating lessons, navigating jobs in and outside of the home (and the loss of said jobs), finding toilet paper, not running out of food, making sure the internet fueled devices, and not getting infected while juggling fire. In this environment, the parents became my primary contact and lifeline to my students. Oh yea, I still have other leadership duties to quickly adjust to, an internship that all but came to a screeching halt, and my only real social life line was electronic.

Two weeks into the nightmare that is COVID, I freaked out. About a month and a half into said nightmare the first of May loomed. This is where I know the Lord is real. I should have been a spinning top by then. While I had my moments, I didn’t crumble completely. In the middle of all of this, an unexpected blessing walked into my life.

Literally.

I’ll get to that in another blog… much later. Just know this, when you aren’t use to blessings and they show up… you meet them with shock and disbelief. Like God, “is that You? I mean… cause… if not… I mean, did you hear THAT prayer??”.

On the back end I interviewed for a job. Second interview in a few months. I didn’t get the job. My Peace – I want what God has for me. If it wasn’t for me, no need in getting all huffed up about it. I can’t quote Jeremiah 29:11 all the time and then not trust Him with there is a plot twist.

Then, enter a plethora of racially motivated police killings. This is not up for debate. It happened. #JusticeforBreyonnaTaylor and #JusticeforGeorgeFloyd . The video from Mr. Floyd’s execution went viral fast. It ignited fires – literally. The country, in the middle of a pandemic, was on fire. The embers had been lit for A LONG TIME. Marches, riots, confusion, anger, strong emotions, and a sudden swell took to the streets.

This is why it’s taken so long to write this. I was mad. I was tired. EXHAUSTED. I am weary of BLACK people still being viewed as disposable. Still being seen as less than human. Still dying instead of being worthy of deescalation. Instead of going before judges, BLACK people are dying in the streets, in their own homes, and jogging in their neighborhood. The image of blackness has long held a stigma to people who aren’t black.

The reality of White Privilege also resurfaced. Just for clarity, White Privilege doesn’t mean you are racist. It means that in your life the negative things you encountered weren’t attributed to your skin color or ethnicity. It permeates many industries. Have you ever had to question whether or not your child’s name will block their resume or job application for consideration? Have you ever been followed in a store – just because of your presence? Was your ancestral connection stripped from your culture by a dominant society? Were your hairstyles considered un-professional based on comparison to the dominant society? Was your dress code scrutinized because of your body type, but the same type of outfit allowed by another ethnic group or race? Has your body been sexualized even as a young child, based on other’s opinions and desires? Do you have to teach your children at a young age how to tolerate and survive people who don’t look like them?

If you want to see what privilege looks like on a visual scale google the marches and resistance to COVID. There were people, strapped with guns, on GOVERNMENT property. There were not mishandled by police. They weren’t maced or teargassed. Contrast that with peaceful Black Lives Matter marches. Now do you see? No? Ok.

These are a few things that categorize the situations that BLACK people – read anyone with a connection to Africa somewhere in their lineage- have had to face. I can’t think of a time that I wasn’t aware of my blackness. I have ALWAYS loved being black. However, I have always been aware that being black was criminalized in America. Not only here, but here is where I live.

So when the movement picked up speed again, I went inside. I didn’t choose to march. I chose to get trained to assist with voting drives and initiatives. I chose to have hard conversations with anyone who wanted to have them respectfully. I prayed, a lot. I cried. I started to filter what I could tolerate on social media.

We have a pandemic, summer, systematic racism, social distancing, people arguing about being told to put on a mask, some pulling rank on how to interpret people’s rights, and we are only SIX months into 2020.

I know we spoke clear vision and all of these awesome mantras in December 2019, but can we get a do-over on July-December 2020?

That’s a shot in the dark.

This is what I have for now. This is where we are. My grandmother died at 92 and dealt with the Civil Rights Movement personally. That stirs me. My multi-racial great grandfather was born in 1873. There are a lot of contributing factors to the way I react, my faith, and my peace. Aware. Protecting my peace – as fragile as it is sometimes… I am holding on for dear life.

Dear Summer…

Ivy Out

Categories
life

When sleep won’t find me…

I think a lot. I can overthink a lot too. Because of this, I PRAY A LOT.

There is something that brings me peace, especially when NOTHING is in my control:

“YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS TO MAKE IT…”

Insert comical socially cool audible- “Periodt”. T for emphasis.

I have many questions. Honestly, I question truth – because it always stands, it can handle it. I question people – this doesn’t always turn out in reality like it does in my head. And yes, ladies and gentlemen, I QUESTION MYSELF.

When I find myself running on six cylinders, but only four are working well, my default is to stop all six. Over time, I have learned how much of a bad decision that is. I shouldn’t sacrifice the two because of the four. What I have shifted to, is making sure that I am one of the two first.

I have to keep my homeostasis if I am to correct, adjust, and adapt the malfunctioning “four”. I have to stop, pray and breathe. This isn’t always popular. It’s not for applause, it’s for maintenance. On a recent broadcast a few weeks ago… either Anthony Evans or Priscilla Shirer said you have to completely stop a thing to do maintenance. While that was a paraphrase, I think you get my point. Imagine trying change a flat without stopping the car. Go ahead, I’ll wait….

.

.

.

Not even possible.

So then why do we try to plow through, our maintenance? (By no means do I mean end life. Only that you stop long enough to hear through the noise. Stop and smell the roses.)

Once I have found my footing, stilled my heart and mind, and prayed, I can forgive myself. I can accept my decisions and indecisions, and correct forward.

It’s in times like these when the unknown can shake the little you thought you knew. Stop for maintenance. Listen to the Master Architect. He doesn’t need a manual, he created the blueprint. Once you’ve made the adjustments, the path will become a bit more clear. Even if its just the current view of your feet.

IVY OUT…