Embracing Me is an opportunity for us to connect with ourselves...learning to embrace the God within. The post that I share with you are very real. The experiences of my life (whether good, bad or indifferent) sought to develop me into a Woman who honors the God that dwells inside of me.

For over 10 years I fought against sharing my life's experiences with the world but I also neglected to fully share my gifts. You may ask why I denied myself to live and the answer is fear! After relinquishing the fear of my own thoughts as well as the thoughts of others I have decided to do and be all that God has ordained. He chose me to share my testimonies through songs, poetry, short stories and encouraging words.

I invite you to travel with me as I journey into yet another fearful place, seeking to please the Father while providing healing, restoration and inspiration as chosen. It is my hope that these words will improve your daily living.

My charge to you: Think Well. Do Well. Speak Well. Be Well. Live Well.

"For as the rain and snow come down from the heavens, and return not there again, but water the earth and make it bring forth and sprout, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it." - Isaiah 55:10-11

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Leaving Baltimore

From childhood until last year, I dreamed of exploring the world. From Morocco to Madagascar, Italy to Turkey, France to Australia, Russia to Ireland, Ethiopia to South Africa; I yearned to see the world in all its beauty. I set a goal to start by visiting every state in my own country before age fifty and then onward to as many countries as I am able to before leaving this life behind. Thus far I managed to visit more than half of the state's in America. 

For almost a year I held onto the secret that I was finally ready and had begun researching other places to plant new roots. I looked at Nevada, Michigan, Florida, Boston, North Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, Virginia, West Virginia, Chicago, but Georgia captured my attention and grabbed my heart.

June 15th I began a new journey. I left the only place I've lived for thirty-nine years and now I have a new place to call home, Georgia.

When I finally told people I was leaving Baltimore so many were shocked, others tried to discourage me but there were the few, including my siblings, who encouraged me to step out into new territory.

I love my city, always have, always will! I appreciate all that it taught me. I am grateful for every experience, all the wonderful people I met, as well as the backbone I developed. Thank you Baltimore for helping me find meaning in life.

Storms Don't Last Forever

After years of struggle, be it finances, depression, death, sickness (the list goes on), my children and I realize storms don't last forever. This video serves as encouragement for those feeling overwhelmed by life. We desire for you to look up and RISE!

May you find peace during the storms of life

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Recycling Dirt

After sharing the first ten chapters of my twenty chapter memoir, "Hell & Heaven at 8", I decided to take a brief intermission in order to share a few things pressing in my spirit before presenting the last twenty chapters. 

Today I would like to share my thoughts about recycling dirt.

She mistreats him because she was mistreated by a different him and that him mistreated her because he was abused by an older him AND a her. The older him and her abused him because they were neglected and therefore left vulnerable for the ravaging wolves to take advantage of them. The wolves took advantage of vulnerable him and her because of how he was raised, seeing everyone else as "beneath himself".

Society continues to suffer from generations of recycled dirt. Psychological hiccups, so to speak. We, as a nation, as a world, as humans, need healing from years of abuse. We need repair from damaged thinking. We need cultural understanding. Most importantly, we need to acknowledge the recycled dirt in order to begin the tough process of acceptance of the filth that has perpetuated this horrid cycle.

Due to the layers upon layers of crap created, cleansing will take time. For a moment, it may appear that our world as we know it has collapsed. Rebuilding from a clean place may sound impossible, but it's necessary. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

What A Woman Wants

My senses heighten because he touches me deeply. A soul pierced with his sharp dagger. Warm embrace - sensational vibrations. Impregnated with all he is made of and I am not afraid to give birth to the seed he planted at the core of me.

It's as if he's kissing my neck softly, while gripping one hip and gently caressing the small of my back. His whisper sends chills riveting through my spine, leaving me drunk as if intoxicated with the finest of wines. Penetration beyond a touch, it's his words, that's why I love him so much. 

An intellectual with the superhuman ability to touch me without ever having touched me - I'm in awe of his skills, no groupie just proud to know a man of his intense nature. 

That's What a Woman Wants!!!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Hell & Heaven at 8: Chapter 10

Chapter 10
Uncle Dad

Mommy stood at the kitchen stove making hot chocolate as we sat in the living room on the floor, wrapped in blankets, watching television. It was the dead of winter and we were snowed in. An unusual knock came at the door. We all looked at one another and then back to the door hearing once again a mid-range knock almost in code – tap-ti-ti-tap-tap-TAP-TAP. My mother yelled asking for the name of the person on the other side. I heard a man’s voice respond with John and my mother said Stacie, open that door. I went over to the door, removed the chain and unlocked both the dead bolt and the door knob. As I opened the door I saw a face that was vaguely familiar to me. This man John stood on the opposite side of the heavy steal screen door in a hat, gloves and red and black plaid coat.

The snow was piled high everywhere and although the man wore a smile on his face I was excited by the view behind him. I could barely see our porch. I unlocked the screen door and let him in. By this time my mother was walking towards the door. One at a time John knocked his boots against the ground loosening the snow from his boots and then he stepped completely into the house. He asked me how I was doing and I replied with the word okay. He smiled again and asked me if I knew who he was and I shrugged my shoulders saying no. By now my oldest brother had grown curious and was up standing not far from me. John announced that he was our father’s brother, our uncle. He tapped me on the head asking if he could get a hug. At first I stared at him, searching for my father and then I found Edward living inside of John. There was something in his eyes that reminded me of my dad and again I noticed that he was a little taller, broader and most certainly had more hair than my daddy did but it was good enough for me so I leaned in to give him a hug. I was so short compared to him. I think he thought the same thing so he reached down and picked me up, giving me another, tighter hug while swaying gently from left to right. I could feel John’s chest rise and fall rapidly as he chuckled. When he put me down he hugged my oldest brother Man and when he smiled, I almost immediately remembered John was the man from my day on the porch. After hugging me and my brother John followed my mother into the kitchen. They sat at the table smoking cigarettes and talking for what seemed to be eons.

Man and I went back to the living room floor to watch the television as Renee and Brian lay on the sofa sleep. Before long my eyes grew heavy and it wasn’t long before the television was watching me. I woke to the sound of John’s deep voice saying goodnight to my mother. The tv was off and the only light was that from the lamp posts outside the house. John hugged my mother telling her he would see her soon and to call if she needed anything. Just then John looked up and his eyes met mine. Just like that day on the steps, he told me to be a good girl and smiled as he walked out the door.

After that night, John’s visits came more frequently. I remember one time he came during the week of Valentine’s Day. When his knock came at the door Man and I competed in opening it. We figured whoever opened the door first would get to choose the best prize first, as John’s visits were times of excitement because he always came baring gifts for me and my siblings – shiny silver dollars or fifty cent pieces. It’s like the man was made of coins. He always had pockets full of change and we enjoyed his tricks of pulling coins from behind our ears. Sometimes he came with fudge which we grew to love. This particular visit John had chocolate valentines candies which naturally my siblings and I were excited to see because we thought they belonged to us but this was not so. These candies went to our mom. Rightfully and deservingly so but that did not stop us from being disappointed.

I guess John saw the disappointment in my face so he leaned down to pick me up and told me that when he put me on his shoulders that I could grab a piece of candy from the top of the china cabinet. My mother must have known what he was up to because she shook her head side to side and said they are about to eat. Please don’t fill them with candy. John just smiled with a boyish grin and an expression as if he were confused about what she was saying. Moms’ voice didn’t stop me from grabbing candy...one piece for me and one for each of my siblings. Out of all the days John visited, this day was the most memorable. It retained the sweetness to a new found relationship and we were all clueless that something so sweet even possessed the slightest possibility of bitterness.

After John’s many visits, including overnight and extended week-long stays, mom and John sat us down to both inform us that they were getting married and to ask us how we felt about it. I must admit, even at seven years of age, it was awkward to consider my father’s brother marrying my mother but Man and I agreed, putting our on happy faces. Something in it didn’t seem right but then again we saw that mom was happy, we were being taking care of and well, it was cool having John around...it was almost like having daddy – not quite, but almost. Man and I sat in his room silently and then finally Man cut the thickness in the air by saying that he heard John say to mommy that our father Edward and him and made a pact when they were younger that if anything ever happened to either of them they would take care of one another’s families. Man told me that John said it was biblical custom for the brother who was next in line to step in and take care of the family of his deceased brother.

John must have been standing outside of the door because he came in and asked if we had any questions about the marriage. We were startled, as we did not hear him come up the steps. Shaking our heads, we said no. John called us over to him, sat us on either side of his lap and shared a story that my siblings and I have never forgotten. He said that family was extremely important to him. He assured me and Man that he knew how it felt to be without our father because he had grown up away from both of his parents as well as his brother, our father Edward and his baby sister Karen.

Only John and his sister Joanne were allowed to stay together when our paternal grandmother died because they both had the same last name Jones. Ironically, John and Joanne ended up with foster parents possessing the same last name as them, the Jones’. My father Edward Whitaker was placed in the care of his foster parents, the Johnson’s. The youngest sister Karen Hodge shifted between several families including two that were blood related. John said that being separated not only from his parents but from his siblings after his mother died was traumatizing for all of his siblings and that is why he and our father vowed to never allow our family to be split up again. He went on letting us know that as difficult as it was for him to step in to fill his big brothers shoes; he was determined to keep us together and for us to grow up as a strong, tight-knit family that was inseparable. For a moment I thought I saw tears in John’s eyes but he just drew me and Man closer to him hugging us. It seemed we were more his comfort at the time than he was ours.

After hearing this story Man and I had a different perspective and maybe even a little fear. We were glad John stepped in so we could not be taken away from our mom for her lack of being able to properly care for us. Equally, we were always on guard, waiting for someone to come, disqualifying our mother of her God given right to raise us, even if it were from love only and not tangible resources. We were never hungry and mommy always kept us clothed. For us that was enough.

It was not long before our house began to fill with family and friends as mom and John planned the wedding. Seemed everything went by so quickly. My Aunt Pat from North Carolina designed and made all of the wedding dresses. She was not just a seamstress but she was a fashion designer with out-the-box creative thinking. I was excited because I was the flower girl. Man got to hold mommy’s train and Brian was the ring bearer. Renee was in the audience, crying as usual. She did not like huge crowds of people.

My mother looked absolutely stunning in her gown. With her deep chocolate skin, naturally dark berry colored lips, high cheek bones, with the prettiest most perfect smile in all the world. She was radiant! I remember watching her with all her maids of honor surrounding her doting over her, giggling and laughing. It was an honor to watch my mother at this moment. In my eyes she was a beauty pageant winner without opposition.

John and his groomsmen were handsome but not nearly as wonderful to watch as Aunt Icey, Aunt Cat, Ms. Cathy our cousin Robin with other beautiful ladies nearby my mom. For me watching them was seeing God’s gorgeous rainbow of women stand like true Goddesses. I will admit, I was searching my mother trying to see myself but could not see me. I only saw that I was shorter, lighter, thinner, not possessing any of my mother’s features. That sort of made me envious and I determined in my mind at that time that I would have a dark chocolate husband so I could make babies that looked like my mother. She was the epitome of beauty in my eyes and as she walked down the aisles, she did so with such grace and poise. Although I had been modeling for my Aunt Pat since I was about age two, I still had not developed that sort of self-confidence, yet I was unwavering that I would be like my mommy. She was my role model.

After the wedding we all went outside to take pictures and it was the first time I felt distant from my mom. She was captivated with having just spoken the sacred vows of I do and I stood by her side tugging at her dress wanting to simply kiss her and tell her I was happy for her also but I could not be heard. I felt invisible but I tried not to let it show on my face. I smiled big for the camera as my cousin Joseph snapped picture after picture. Later we went to my great-grandmothers’ house for the reception to continue celebrating this new union. I tried hanging with my mom but every time I turned around here came another adult whisking me away to “a place for the children”. That was crazy! At my house there was no such designated place. We were always with my mommy but again, I didn’t want to take away from my mom’s happiness with my teary eyes or pouting so I followed along, doing what was instructed of me by these other grown-ups.

Eventually the crowd thinned out and everyone went in separate directions. I went searching for my new Uncle Dad and my mommy but somehow with all the coming and going of guest they had snuck off, without even a good bye. My great-grandma must have sensed what and who I was looking for because she came over to me and said you can go sit in my room for a while and then she gave me a gentle hug with that huge smile on her face. I couldn’t resist her smile. It always made me feel better and going into “the sacred room” – wow, I was super excited. I was going to look at all her magazines, books, jewelry, dolls…EVERYTHING because grandma had given me permission. So, off I went, forgetting that I was missing my mom and new Uncle Dad.


Dear Woman of Substance,

I, here and now,
Having been of sound mind,
Do release you from being ensnared within my indecisions
And, I do bequeath wholeness return to you
Return to you in less time than it took for that lustful self to finesse the wholeness from the guarded heart inside of you

I do heart fully apologize for feeding that insatiable appetite
The appetite of this Womanizing Monster that lay beneath my skin
Because its hunger for your physical-sexuality
Turned into an intoxicating greed that devoured the sweet emotions you tried hiding deep within
I realize that my attempts at reparations could not begin to change what other wretched beasts exercising their maleness have done to you and your Beautiful kind before

However the Beast has been slain where it stood
And where it stood now stands a strong, patient, and unselfish MAN,
A Man that’s gently standing here, with arms wide open, to escort YOU, if you’d have him, Through Happiness’ Door!

We are not all created equal, and we are all not slaves to our drives as for some males
There are a few that are more than merely the Sum of our parts
We are Men, men who yearn for the opportunity to be the caretakers of all which is sacred and fragile inside your hearts

Live for a chance to Love
Love that chance as you live
It is only a real man that can handle a woman’s heart

When its Love that she chooses to give!

With Love,

One Abstract One

Monday, April 6, 2015

Hell & Heaven at 8: Chapter 9

Chapter 9
He Wants Me

Attending Westport school #225 was enjoyable during my Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten years. Both consisted of half day lessons filled with singing, dancing, painting and my favorite, snacks. I will never forget walking into my classroom on the first day. I was holding my mom’s hand really tight. There was a brownish-gray carpet on the floor. It looked like one big ugly rug. The air smelled stale. The room looked dim and gloomy although they tried desperately to brighten up the room by painting the walls a light pale blue color. Actually, the color was so faint that it looked as if it was supposed to be white but someone decided at the last minute to add blue to it and ran out while mixing the two. No matter the colors of the walls, the smell in the air or the ugly carpet, I remember being greeted with a warm smile and a hug from my teacher. She took my left hand and asked my name. I turned to my mother to receive the nod of approval to engage in conversation with a stranger. My mother nodded with a slight smile and saying, “its okay baby”.

My teacher, Mrs. Rosenfeld was a petite short white woman. She guided me around the huge room showing me all the toys, my cubby that would hold my belongings, the sandbox and the painting station. I smiled at her and from that moment on she and I had a strong connection. She had become a mother to me while I was in school. I never even realized my mother had drifted out of the room as Mrs. Rosenfeld took me into the attached room to introduce me and my fellow classmates. Initially I was extremely afraid. My thoughts were often consumed with whether my classmates and teachers would like me. My mind stayed constant, contemplating whether I was too short, to light, not light enough, to thin – if my nose was too big or my hair to wooly because I was in school with people from communities that did not look like mine. I found myself comparing and contrasting myself, my mother and my environment with the other students but especially the white ones.

Eventually, after settling down in class and learning my friend’s names, I grew confident and comfortable with them and this new transition in my life. Although my friendship pool expanded I was still pretty shy. There was this one particular little boy in my class that was from the neighborhood claiming to know me but I had never seen him before, though he swore he knew me – really, it was my brother he knew. Since the second day of school he would sit by me and smile at me. I sort of smiled back but not really because he made me feel awfully uncomfortable.

One day while we sat on the gray carpet ready to recite through song our newly learned alphabet, this same little boy crawled over to sit by me. We were seated alphabetically but even that did not stop him from pursuing my responses or from invading my space. As we were all engrossed in song, going from alphabet to numbers to colors and onto days of the week, he began tapping me on the shoulder. He wanted to show me his new toy car but I was not interested. I looked at him as if to say stop bothering me and kept singing with everyone else. As I remained focused on the lesson he tried everything within his power to get my attention. From creating fart sounds with his mouth to sitting directly in my path blocking my view, until finally he yanked my pony tail, snatching my barrette off and almost pulling me completely backwards. I thought my neck was about to snap from the force of the jerk.

My teacher quickly ran over and grabbed him up by his arm. Mrs. Rosenfeld informed him of the trouble he was in. She escorted him to the next classroom where the teacher’s aid was working with a student as I sat on the carpet shocked and in tears. I was embarrassed as the other children sat watching me cry. When my teacher came back into the room she came over to me with tissue in hand asking if I were okay. She then turned to the other students and told them bullying would not be tolerated in her classroom. The students were sent back to their seats as Mrs. Rosenfeld and I filled out an incident slip. Afterwards, she asked me if I wanted to get a drink of water and I said yes. With a soft loving voice she encouraged me to wipe my eyes and to smile. She assured me that the boy would not be bothering me again.

From that day forward Mrs. Rosenfeld made sure to keep the boy at a distance from me. The moment she saw him out of his seat without permission he was reprimanded. Each day we were sent to do special activities at different times. Though the teacher worked diligently to keep the boy far from me it did not stop him from licking his tongue at me nor did it keep him from following me after school. When he could not get close to me in school he decided after school was the perfect time to raid my personal space. He would walk behind me with his buddy calling me names but I just kept walking. I had been a latch key-kid since Pre-K so I always walked home alone. Never having confronted issues like these before, at least not outside the occasional agitation from my brothers and sisters, I just decided to keep my cool and make it home. Inside my head I kept repeating, “sticks and stones may break my bones but names and words can’t hurt me”.

After weeks of jockeying for my attention, following me home and name calling, he finally upgraded to pushing, shoving and even groping. He began telling his buddy that he was my boyfriend. I was confused as to why he thought I wanted to be his girlfriend especially since he had been so mean to me – plus he was a dingy little boy who often smelled. Once the pushing began I would go home crying.

One day I walked in the house with dirt all over my clothes and tears streaking my cheeks. My Aunt Pat from North Carolina and her two daughters Rahon and Wanda were living with us so sometimes she was home when I got in. She asked what was wrong and I told her about the boy chasing me. I explained with a scraggly voice that this particular day the boy decided to not only call me names and push me around but that he pinned me to the big oak true across from the school. He also tried to kiss me on my lips and he kept saying over and over that he wanted me to give him some. I didn’t know what some was but then he pressed his pelvis against mine and began humping me. I told her that once he was done he pushed me in the grass and tried lifting my skirt to touch my vagina. I escaped because a guy from the neighborhood snatched him off of me, grabbing both boys by the arms telling me to run home while he held them. My Aunt was furious. That night after my Aunt and mother discussed the day’s events my fighting lesson began.

The next day, I was all geared up. I had a surprise for my little Kindergarten stalker. When the school day was over I did not rush as I had been doing since the annoying boy started following me home. Actually, he and his friend ended up in front of me because they too were accustomed to me sprinting out the door so they tried to keep up with me. Only this time, they had not realized I was behind them – well at least not at first. Upon recognizing my position they immediately stopped and as they did, I moved towards the street.

Suddenly I had butterflies in my stomach and I was not feeling up to demonstrating my fighting skills so my intent was to run. He must have sensed it so he gestured to his friend and swiftly I found myself closed in near the same oak tree across from the school. The boy asked me where I thought I was going without him. He had taken it upon himself to upgrade his status from my boyfriend to my husband, boasting about how I was his for sure now that I gave him some. Sickness again flooded my stomach and I felt something coming up but it was not vomit. For the first time, the quiet little girl began yelling at the boy. I told him he was a dirty little thing that made me sick and that he better leave me alone or he would be sorry. Both of the boys laughed but I did not think anything was funny. I was afraid but I was also fed up with the constant harassment.

He pushed me and I reached into book bag and pulled out my weapon. It was the hard spongy thing that sits on top of crutches. He and his friend were truly amused by me because they laughed until his friend fell on the ground. Then “my little Kindergarten pimp of a husband” asked me through a smile what I intended to do with my weapon. In my mind I was thinking this is not going anything like my Aunt told me it should. I think I moved to slow or something because according to how she demonstrated it by now I should have whacked him and his friend quite a few times and be on my way running home. He moved towards me and I back away saying in a shaky voice that he better stop before I hit him. He told me to go ahead so I swung and to my surprise it landed right in his hand. He snatched the crutch top out of my hand and began beating me on my head, legs, arms and even my butt – with my own weapon.

This scene lasted for what seemed to be hours. To this day I don’t know what stopped him. Maybe it was a combination of my tears and screams of pain or maybe his arm grew tired but whatever it was I was grateful that he quit. I went home once again, defeated but this time with my pride bruised a little more than my arms and legs. Not being able to defend myself made me afraid and anxious. The entire way home as tears fell I thought about having to live with this boy for the rest of the school year. I made up my mind that if he wanted me that bad I would either have to give in or quit school. Of course when I got home my mom and Aunt where seated at the infamous kitchen table smoking cigarettes. When they saw me they both, almost harmonically screamed, “What the hell”.

The next day, they went to the school blazing, ready to set fire to someone or tear the roof off the school. My afterschool rendezvous’ with the boy were exposed to my teacher and the principal and included his abrupt, abusive, abrasive and obscene behaviors towards me. Never knew what happened to this little boy, all I remember is I never saw or heard from him again after my mom and aunt visited the school. I still wonder what they said or did to make him disappear and why he wanted me so bad. I was only a little girl just as he was a little boy. What did he know about wanting somebody or gettn’ sum? Well, – that was the end of that.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Hell & Heaven at 8: Chapter 8

Chapter 8
Daddy's Little Girl

Nothing like the bright sunshine and the great outdoors, except having friends to enjoy it with. I however had no friends because mommy rarely allowed me to go outside. But today she had a visitor; it was the strange man that had been staring at us during the time my father passed away, so she allowed me to sit out front.

I was sitting on the porch steps watching my brother play catch with his friends. Our neighborhood was full of little boys but all the girls were so much older than me, plus, I didn’t feel much like doing what the girls did anyway. I was used to being with my daddy and today, I missed him a lot. Seems it was always my oldest brother with my Aunt Pattie-pooh because she had four daughters but always wanted a son so she looked at my brother like so. My mother always had my baby sister Renee because she was the youngest and looked most like her. My oldest brother Man always had my baby brother Brian, of course because he was a boy.

Crying was not an option as I sat on the steps but I could at least think of my dad in hopes that my day dreaming would help me feel close to him today. My dad used to take me everywhere with him because I was daddy’s little girl. He took me on long walks from one neighborhood to the next and we would stop at the parks in these areas. Daddy would push me so high on the swings that I thought I was going to touch the sky. I would throw my head back, close my eyes and smile. I trusted him. I knew he would keep me safe.

The thing I recall most was when my dad took me to this house that seemed to be in a whole different world. The house was nothing like ours. Yes, it was made of brick outside like ours and attached to other houses but the inside was huge, the steps were made of wood and there was carpet on the floors. Our house was concrete and steel inside but at least my mom kept it clean. This house was junky every time dad and I went to visit. It had a huge kitchen and a separate dining area whereas we had a two-in-one, kitchen and dining room combo.

Each time we visited, we would climb the steep stairs but before we reached the door a petite lady with short hair and small frame would emerge from the other side greeting him with a smile, hug and then a kiss. Somehow, even as young as I was, I knew this was his “other woman”…his girlfriend but I never asked any questions. I was just happy to be with my daddy.

The woman had a daughter who appeared to be about my age. It was actually pretty scary because when I looked at her it was like looking in a mirror. We were about the same complexion, smiled just the same; both wore the same pony tails and had the same love in our eyes for my daddy. Ironically, I believe her name was Tracey. I was slightly taller than her and though we never discussed ages or birthdays for some reason I always thought that she was a little older than me, not much but maybe a few months.

Tracey and I were given a 40 ounce can of beer, told to share it and prompted to sit on the stairs being sure not to move until our parents came back for us. Sometimes we sat just holding the can, looking at one another with questions in our eyes but neither of us bold enough to ask with our lips. Those days of drinking beer with Tracey gave me a strong distaste for it and made me hate seeing women drink beer. In fact, I made a vow with myself at that early age to avoid beer altogether when I grew up.

Eventually our parents would come back and get us, take us into the kitchen and feed us sandwiches. Afterwards my daddy and I would leave. Most times it was pitch black outside so we would walk a ways, then mount a bus or grab a cab to head home. When we arrived at home, LATE, dad reeked of beer, mom would be there waiting with fire in her eyes. I remember one time she asked him where the hell he had been and I blurted out the answer, saying we had just come from daddy’s girlfriend’s house. It didn’t come from a place of mischief, I really don’t know what made me answer but I said it with a smile like I was happy. That couldn’t possibly have made my mother feel like a woman or feel loved. As my dad turned to look at me I felt like a traitor. Actually, I felt like a two-fold traitor, one for being with my dad’s girlfriend AND being happy about it which I knew was wrong for my dad to do and two, for telling on my dad knowing it landed him in hot water. I was sent upstairs and the screaming match ensued.

The next day when I saw dad preparing for our daily outdoor adventure I quickly ran and grabbed my shoes and jacket, rushing back to my father’s side. As I stood beside him with all my normal excursion gear he looked down at me and informed me that I was not able to go with him. I asked him why and then I heard a voice behind me say because I said so. It was mommy. Dad just looked up at her as she glared back almost daring him to say something. I tugged dad’s pants leg and begged him to take me with him. He said he couldn’t this time but promised he would do something special with me when he came back.

As he walked out the door I burst into tears and at this very moment, I was shaken from my daydream with the strange man asking me if I was okay. I had not realized the tears from my daydream actually fell in my reality also. Embarrassed, I quickly wiped my eyes and shook my head, nodding that I was okay. The man patted the top of my head, turned and yelled to my brother, “BALL”. My brother threw it to him and the man told him to go long and then threw the ball back to my brother and his friends. He turned back to me saying be a good girl with a partial smile on his face. I watched him as he walked away and then turned to go inside. My mother was standing in the doorway watching the man walk away also. She opened the door for me and then called for my brother to come in telling both of us to go upstairs and wash up because it was time for dinner.

As I walked up the stairs guilt consumed me. I began feeling like I was the reason my father left and that if I had only kept quiet he would still be with us, I would still be traveling the city with him and he would be alive. I stayed in the bathroom for a while after we washed our hands and splashed water on my face to cover my tears. I held those tears for as long as I could but was no longer able to hold them inside. I didn’t want to upset my mother or have my brother make fun of me. No one cried since the funeral and even then mom was not the one I saw shedding tears and certainly no one discussed my dad’s passing. I needed this moment, I needed my dad. 


To My Daughter:

Before you were brought forth, you were loved. As the prayers flowed and the tears fell, you were loved. On the day of your birth and you showed up, you were loved. As the doctors were working to pull you into this world, you were loved.

Once you were placed in my hands, I realized that I was LOVED! As I saw you had your toes & hands and I knew I was loved. As you started to walk and talk, I knew I was loved. As you began to speak your own thoughts and make your own decisions, I knew I was loved. When you learned to play chess, help with your brother and hugged me with your loving touch, I knew I was loved.

When you started school and it was clear that you had a special gift, I knew you were loved. When you listened and understood all the times I told you that you are # 1 because of the LOVE of God, I knew we were both Loved. As you learned & lived the Love of God, I knew we were Loved.

Life has come full circle and I KNOW THAT GOD LOVED BOTH OF US ALL ALONG. Thank you for being a wonderful daughter. Thank you for loving me, and I certainly thank God I was and am still able to love you. Nothing, not even death can keep me from loving you!

Love You Baby Girl,


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Hell & Heaven at 8: Chapter 7

Chapter 7
An Open Heart

One day I was walking down the street with my mom and saw an old man wrapped in dirty blankets. His hair was long and he spelled of a horrible odor as we walked by. For some reason my dad entered my mind. Somehow this man reminded me of my father. It wasn’t that he resembled my dad but the smell was an all too familiar one – that of alcohol. The man reached out and touched my moms arm asking if she had any spare change for him to get some food. Mom pulled her arm away from him and grabbed me with her free hand pulling me along as she hurriedly walked away telling him that she unfortunately could not help.

As I looked back at the man I was filled with grief – sort of made me miss my dad. It made me wonder if my dad had ever stood on the corners like this when he reeked of alcohol. I asked my mom why he was outside laying on the street and she replied that he was homeless. Homeless, I repeated in confusion. She said yes and went on to tell me how he lived on the streets, didn’t have access to food on a regular basis, had no place to wash his body, air or clothing and probably had no family to care for him.

Of course I knew my dad had these things when he was alive but sadness still overwhelmed me at the thought of my dad being homeless and alone. Quite frequently I fantasized about him coming home but at this moment, something beyond grief began to fill me. I was filled with disappointment, anger and frustration. Since I was about age three I remember watching the late night feed the hungry children in Africa commercials but I never fathomed we, America, had a problem feeding and housing our own people. From my three year old perspective, all problems were solvable. With all the resources Americans had, we certainly should all be able to live under one roof without problems, right?

Now actually witnessing homeless people eat out of trash cans, sleep on street benches or cuddled under bridges to protect themselves from the earths sometimes harsh elements of cold, wind and even the sun or hearing of homeless persons dying in the streets brought anguish and discomfort to me. I wondered where their families were and how such things could happen. My body physically throbbed with pain when I thought of the emotional, mental and physical discomforts the homeless encountered daily.

Not a day went by after the encounter with the homeless man that I didn’t consider ways to resolve these problems. One day, not long after seeing the homeless man on the streets, I decided I had the answer to end homelessness and world hunger. Rushing into the kitchen where my mother was seated at the dinner table, I said to her almost out of breath, “Mommy, we should let all the homeless people live with us…AND, we can feed them too.” My mom looked at me with warm eyes, as if she knew my pain, but her mouth uttered, “Stacie, we can’t just bring strangers into our house. Some of them are sick, dirty and we can’t trust anyone. I’m not willing to jeopardize your safety or the safety of your brothers and sisters.”

I stood firmly planted on my legs and looked at my mother with an indescribable disappointment. Her words cut deep into the core of my soul and although I was hurt by her response I continued to plead my case for the hungry and homeless. “Ma, I’m not afraid. They won’t hurt us if we take care of them. They will be grateful just like you tell us to be when you feed us, clean us and give us new clothes. I know we only have a little bit of money and our house is not that big but they can sleep in my bed. I will lie on the floor and I will watch them to be sure they don’t steal. We can find their families and then take them home. Plus, you always make big pots of soup and it’s always left overs for three days. We can share our soup!”

My mom turned away and began to fiddle with the items on the table. In a low grumble my mother said, “Stac, we can’t do that.” Just as I began to respond in a whiny voice, “but ma-meeeee”, my mother turned to me and said, “NO! N-O- and that’s it. Don’t say anything else about it.” I was crushed! I walked away with my head down, tears filling and flowing like rivers from my eyes.

I was disappointed, hurt, angry and just plain sad that people had the means to help others but were just too selfish and afraid to do so. Furthermore, I couldn’t believe my mom was one of the selfish ones. I promised myself that when I grew up I would always keep my doors open without fear or selfishness. All I considered is that it could easily be me without a place to lay my head. I could not begin to imagine the discomforts of being on the streets when temperatures dropped below freezing. Equally, I could not imagine being in Africa with desert like conditions, without water to quench my thirst. Nor could I think of not having food to eat to soothe my grumbling belly. I figured, when I grew up, I would change the world. Of course looking back I see that my mom was clearly trying to protect us but my views remain.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Hell & Heaven at 8: Chapter 6

Chapter 6
The Day the Phone Rang

I don’t quite remember how many days went by but I do remember it was early this particular morning. My oldest brother and I were dressed, sitting downstairs in the living room. We had just finished having breakfast. I believe the babies had been up early and were now sleeping. My mom was still in her house clothes, floor length light blue cotton nightgown with a floral robe on top. She was pacing the floor anxiously. My oldest brother and I could read the confusion on one another’s faces. We were actually a little nervous. Mom was typically calm so her behavior had us on pins and needles. We broke our awkward silence, turned to look at each other and I whispered to my brother asking him if he knew what was wrong with mommy. He said she missed dad and was having a hard time taking care of us by herself. That was at least his best guess as the oldest.

As mom walked towards the door, she took long drags on her cigarette, slowly exhaling until the cigarette almost disappeared between her fingers. It was like watching a scary haunted movie where we all knew something bad was about to happen but didn’t know what. Suddenly, the phone rang. We all jumped and then Man and I watched mom wisp towards the kitchen to answer the phone. For some reason we knew the call had something to do with our father. Mom slowly walked towards the living room sofa with the phone in her hand as she listened intently and waved us to get up and go upstairs all in the same motion. As we moved towards the stairs, seemingly in slow motion, Man and I grabbed hands and looked at one another knowing that the news wouldn’t be good.

We reached the top of the stairs, stopped and sat, waiting, hoping to hear something that would give us a clue as to mom’s anxiety. Almost simultaneously my brother and I said daddy died. It was this gut feeling that led us to verbalize what we were thinking. We sat on the steps hugging, almost at the point of tears but never letting a drop fall.

Felt like an eternity before mom called us back downstairs. We eagerly rushed down the stairs and then over to where she sat on the sofa. She looked at us almost blankly; maybe more shock than anything, no true expression written on her face, just distance in her eyes. Even though we knew our guts hadn’t led us astray, anxiety had traded places and we now stood where our mom stood earlier, as we waited for her to say something to break the silence and clue us in. Finally she told us that our daddy died and wouldn’t be coming back home again. We hugged our mom tightly and lay in her arms allowing rivers of silent tears to flow.

The entire week was spent with family, friends and plenty of unfamiliar faces of people professing their love for our father. My siblings and I were shifted from arm to arm and house to house as everyone pitched in to assist my mom while funeral arrangements were being made. A man showed up who looked a lot like my dad except he was taller, thicker and wore a mustache. Along with his mustache a somber look was painted on his face as if he had lost his dog. Seemed to me, every time I looked up he was watching me and my brother. It was weird but I never asked any questions just smiled, kept an eye on my mom and tried not to get in the adults way.

Finally it was time to say our last goodbyes to my dad. We entered the church to find it filled with people, again, most of whom I couldn’t recall seeing before. As we walked down the aisle to the front of the church I remember an older man with glasses. He wore a white robe trimmed in red and held a book in his left hand as his arms dangled by his side. I remember this specifically because he was standing behind a box that held my father. Felt like we were walking forever before we finally reached the front of the church. I don’t remember much more except me and my brother Man sat by my mom in the front pew just watching my dad’s still body. It looked like he was sleeping to me. I kept waiting for him to get up, to scream surprise or something, I mean, he was known for playing cruel and unusual jokes.

As I sat there in the pew beside my mother, my mind drifted back to how my grandmother recently died and we were here in this same church with a different set of folks screaming and crying. These people included my father who as I recall was extremely sad when Grandma Mayme passed away. I thought about how when it was time for her funeral my father sat outside on the car smoking a cigarette looking dazed but when he noticed I was standing there he plucked his cigarette away, blew the smoke in the opposite direction and reached down to pick me up. I was in a frilly laced dress. He told me I looked pretty, pinched my nose and then kissed my cheek. I grabbed both of his cheeks with my tiny little hands and asked him if he was sad. Instead of answering me he asked me if I was sad. With teary eyes I told him I missed grandma and then asked where dead people go. He said to heaven after we bury them. I was confused but didn’t want to keep asking questions, as I could see that talking about this made him upset.

I snapped out of my day dream and was snatched back to reality as the preacher concluded his prayer with Amen, and asked everyone to stand to their feet. The funeral directors came forth to provide instructions and as the man closed the casket another harsh reality almost choked the life from me as I watch my father’s face fade away. My mom stood, tearless.


To My Daughter:

Before you were brought forth, you were loved. As the prayers flowed and the tears fell, you were loved. On the day of your birth, you showed up while your mother was grimacing through the pains of birthing you, still, you were loved. As the doctors were working to pull you into this world, you were loved.

Once you were placed in my arms, I realized that I was LOVED! As I saw you had your toes & hands, I knew I was loved. As you started to walk and talk, I knew I was loved. As you began to speak your own thoughts and make your own decisions, I knew I was loved. When you learned to play chess, help with your brother and hugged me with your loving touch, I knew I was loved.

When you started school and it was clear that you had a special gift, I knew you were loved. When I told you that “you are # 1” only because of the LOVE of God, I knew we were Both Loved. As you learn, live and I watch your tender heart come to life, I know the world is loved and better because you are in it.

Thank you for being a wonderful daughter. Thank you for loving me and I thank God I was able to love you. Nothing, not even death can keep me from loving you!

Love You Baby Girl,


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Hell & Heaven at 8: Chapter 5

Chapter 5 
She Never Cried

Late one night during the winter I heard my mom and dad having another argument about him being the man of “HIS” house and how she better start listening to him or else he was leaving. My mom said something to the effect of him not threatening to leave but that if he wanted to leave the door was open. She went on to say that if he tried coming back this time she would not let him in – then came the tussling. I heard dad sort of growl through his teeth saying owwwww, you bit me. My mom said that’s right and imma bite you again if you don’t let me go.

She went on screaming she was sick of his crap, the lying, the cheating – the fights. She said she deserved better. Then I heard mommy whimper saying my dad was hurting her and then there was a thud to the floor and in that moment the whimpering reversed. It sounded as if dad was crying when he asked her why she had to do that. I lay there trying to use my little imagination to figure out what my mother could have possibly done to break free from my dad, knock him to the floor and make him cry. The loud argument faded but the discussion continued as I drifted off to sleep.

When I woke the next morning the house was ironically quiet as we usually wake to chaos. Mom was downstairs, Luther Van Dross was playing softly on the stereo and she was seated at the kitchen table in her floral printed bathrobe and her rugged slippers, coffee in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Somehow I already knew the answer to the question before I asked but I felt compelled to ask anyway. I walked slowly towards my mother’s seat asking her where my dad was and if he was coming back. She looked up at me with tear stained cheeks and simply answered that she didn’t know. I wasn’t sure if the answer was for question one or question two but what I did know is that I most certainly was not the only person in anguish, although, I didn’t quite understand why my mom was sad. I figured she should be happy she didn’t have to fuss and fight with him anymore.

After that day in the kitchen, she was fairly quiet; I never saw her cry again. My aunts stopped by periodically to check on my mother. My aunts tried to get her to leave the house, to go out and have fun but she made many excuses every time. One day, while my aunt was visiting I overheard her say that she received a call from my father and that he was in California. Hearing that excited something in me so I jumped up and moved quickly towards the kitchen. I knew they would tell me it was grown up conversation and to go back into the living room. So in that moment I figured I would simply ask for water so it would not seem as though I were spying. I mean it had been quite a while since I saw or heard from my father – I missed my daddy – not being able to see him or talk to him was killing me.

Just as I entered the kitchen doorway, mom pulled a letter from her pocket and showed it to my aunt. It was from my dad. They went on to discuss the details of the letter never noticing I was standing there. Apparently my father found another woman, was living with her in California and wanted to marry her which meant he would have to divorce my mother. My aunt and mother sat quietly at the kitchen table for hours before my aunt took her leave.


Dear Daughter,

For many years now, I have walked around carrying a heavy load on my shoulders. I have asked myself many times would you, could you have lived a much better life, had I been sober of mind, heart and body. Instead I was addicted to alcohol and could not see the forest for the trees.

Yes, my child I was a drunk! No! I did not drink every day, however, when I did; my goal was to get drunk, escaping my daily realities. Baby girl, every time I did. I saw you watch in confusion.

If you can remember, I believed that I knew it all, but in reality I was turning myself into a living veggie, most of all I was not smart enough to see, or know the pain that I was bringing to your life. What a jerk I was, the people I loved the most were the very same people I brought pain and shame.

The yelling, the fussing and God knows whatever unnecessary behavior I had shown. Many times I should have been home with you and the rest of the family but would find myself drunk with some woman and I could not tell you who they were now. If I could only turn back the hands of time, I would do many things differently. I would be a better man, a better father. There are many things I could write about; however, this is not easy. I wish there were other words I could say, other expressions I could use; but there is no other way to say I am sorry for any pain, shame or scarring I caused you!

With Deep Regret and Heartfelt Apology,


Monday, March 2, 2015

Hell & Heaven at 8: Chapter 4

Chapter 4
Time to Run Again

Seems we just settled into our home in Newport News, Virginia, as my father was in the service, when my mother packed me, my two brothers and my baby sister up, returning us to Baltimore. My aunt and grandparents opened their homes to us and after a while, my father encountered issues pertaining to his job and he too moved back home. Not long after living with my grandparent’s did we move into the projects of Westport near Cherry Hill in Baltimore.

Dad had become increasingly hostile. Seems he was angry all the time. When he went into his flailing, yelling and screaming fits, typically my mother escaped quickly, gathering me and my siblings and scuffling us to the nearest family members house. I remember my aunts and uncles would get angry that mom had us out so late at night. They were mostly livid with my dad and would saddle up like lone-rangers to pursue and punish him in the family way.

This particular night, rain beat hard against the window as my siblings and I sat in the living room. We were supposed to be waiting for mom to give us a snack and prepare us for bed but just as she was about to go into the kitchen my father stormed into the house and immediately began slinging all manner of curse words at her. She asked him if he had been drinking and all he could say was it didn't matter. Mom told him to go upstairs and get his self together so she could finish with us and then she would talk to him about whatever had him so angry. He insisted that she stop what she was doing and come upstairs with him at that very moment.

Mom refused so dad came over, grabbed her by her arm and began pushing her towards the stairs. Mommy was screaming telling dad to let her arm go because he was hurting her but he ignored her declaring that she would learn to respect him one way or the other. Mom called for my oldest brother telling him to come to her. I didn't realize then but she was using him as a shield, figuring if dad could only see the look in his sons’ eyes he would cease with his intentions to “teach her a lesson.” Man, my oldest brother, ran over to mom and began pleading with my dad to stop and let her go but dad insisted that he stay in a child’s place and go back to his seat.

I then ran over and grabbed my dad around his leg crying, yelling and asking him to please stop. I’ll never forget that night because it was the night my dad turned to me, grabbed me by my two ponytails, picked me up by them and partially slung me off of his leg. At that moment I was a broken little girl. As far as I could remember in my almost five years of life my dad had never even spanked me but now in a moment he crushed me, not physically but my spirit was far removed. I was daddy’s girl and was unaccustomed to this behavior towards me.

As I sat on the floor crying I remember hearing my baby brother and sister wailing out of fear, Man was yelling at dad demanding he let mommy go as dad pushed her up the stairs. Finally, they were out of sight but we most certainly could hear the cursing and thumping. After a while my mom came downstairs telling me and my brother to grab our rain coats and to hurry before dad came downstairs.

She never really let us get them all the way on as she marched us out the front door urging us to walk faster. When we finally reached the nearest family members home, mom was surprised to see my aunts and uncles were all there playing cards. Aunt Pattie-pooh asked my mother bluntly what was going on, of course using a few choice words. She could clearly tell that mom had been crying and asked if Eddie, my father came home acting a fool again. Mom answered yes and before she could tell them anything further my uncle said he came home violent and drunk didn't he? My mom seemed reluctant to answer but before long the adults remembered that we, the children were standing in the room, dripping from the rain.

Some of the older cousins were called down to tend to the babies and to get us ready for bed. As we headed upstairs the adult voices began to fade, eventually dissipating altogether and I knew they were all headed to my house to whip on my dad. At the time, I didn't realize he was physically abusing my mother because all he ever allowed us to witness was him yelling at her and grabbing her. And I certainly had not considered that even if he was not physically abusive he sure was wearing her out with mental abuse with all the names he called her and all the ways he humiliated her in front of us and often in front of company. I cried myself to sleep with each of these episodes and woke the next morning to him carrying me back to my house with mom by his side pushing the babies in a stroller and Man trailing behind. Every time I would think that was the end of the fighting things grew worse.

One time my father came home so drunk that he must have forgotten my aunts and uncles didn't tolerate his drunken ignorance. My mom, aunts and uncles were in the kitchen when my father came home, smoking weed, loud, and obnoxious, reeking of alcohol, and barking instructions to all in HIS house. He was sure to remind everyone that he was the king of the castle.

The adults were listening to records and pretty much ignoring his ranting. My dad walked over to the stereo and changed the record to something he wanted to hear. My mother told him to stop smoking the weed in the house around us and then she told him to leave the music alone informing him that they were there first. My father began yelling obscenities; again echoing he was the king in his house and if they didn’t like what he was doing, they could all get out.

As my dad went to the sofa, continuing to smoke his marijuana my mom went to the record player and put on Michael Jackson, a record they listened to hours ago but what they all wanted to hear at the moment. My dad jumped up and pushed my mom into the wall. Just as he raised his fist to hit her, my uncle ran into the living room and stood in between my mom and my dad. My uncle told my father to go upstairs and sleep off his drunken high but my father refused. He told my uncle to stay out of his business and then accused my mother of sleeping with my uncle. Uncle Mike retorted that my dad was an A-hole and warned him that if he did not stop with his outlandish behavior he would put him in his place.

Again, my father must have forgotten that my aunts and uncles were not afraid of him and believed in teaching HIM lessons. Dad jumped in my uncles’ face, called him a few names and told him he wasn’t going to do nothing to him. As my dad tried to reach around my uncle to change the record my uncle caught his arm giving him his final warning to calm down. My dad swung at my uncle and missed. My uncle came back with a blow to his nose. I will never forget watching the blood drip from my dad’s face and although I knew my dad was wrong I was really hurt because he was hurt. This highly dramatic man, screamed out that his nose was broken and went staggering up the stairs to clean up the blood muffling something like he’d be back to take care of my uncle.

Just as a daddy’s girl, I climbed the stairs to check on my daddy. He was in his room with the door closed. I knocked lightly. When he didn't answer I opened the door and found him sitting on the roof just outside of his window. He looked back at me, one nostril clogged with blood and the other with a white powdery residue. He had cough syrup in one hand and the remainder of the joint in the other hand. Looking back, my father was either suicidal or trying desperately to escape deep rooted pains. He told me that he didn't want me to see him like that. He even apologized. That was the first and last time I ever heard him apologize for his conduct. I told him I loved him, reached up to hug him as he reached into the window to receive the hug and a soft peck on the cheek from me. He told me he loved me too and that I should go back down stairs with mommy before she came looking for me. I slowly walked towards the door and I remember thinking, is my daddy going to die. I looked back, told him to be careful and to come down soon. He said okay as I walked out the door, closing it behind me. His slight smile is still etched into the fabric of my memory.


Dear Baby Girl,

I want to at this very moment, wrap my arms around your abandoned heart. I want to squeeze you and embrace you and cover you with my pleading love for you. My heart cries for not being the father you need to protect and provide for you. There are no excuses for my failure of not being a father to you, and I cannot retract what I did, nor can I take back what I did not do but if I could, I most certainly would.

I have carried you in my spirit since the day you were conceived. You are the greatest gift I have contributed to the world. I often felt I wasn’t good enough to be that strong figure in your life to teach you and show you the way a man is supposed to be. I was both present and absent from your life but it had nothing to do with your worth. You were and will always be the gem in my heart. God knew I wasn’t the best fit for a father at the time you were born, but he knew you were supposed to be here and he knew you were a beautiful soul, with the strength of a lion. He knew you would have the strength to pull through your circumstances and become who you were created to be in this world, without me.

I know you yearn for me and will always yearn for me to be there throughout your life, but the truth is that God wouldn’t have put this on you if he didn’t already see that you would overcome this. You have carried this burden long enough and it is time for you to release all the pain I have caused you in not being there. I love you more than words could ever express. You are my heart and forever my baby girl.

I pray that God gives you the strength to forgive me, for my failure as a man, so that you can let the anger and the pain diminish for the sake of freeing yourself. My prayer is and always will be that you know you are worth more than all the riches this world could ever offer. You are priceless, my little girl, the love of my life; my heart will continue to love you throughout eternity.

Always Loving You,


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Hell & Heaven at 8: Chapter 3

Chapter 3 - Close Call:
Stealing an Angel's Life That Won't Die

With squinted teary eyes, I looked at my parents and when they spoke to me I responded yet again with cooing, giggles and even laughter. Life seemed normal for my parents, all appeared as if it were well. As far as my mother and father were concerned they shared in the experience of giving birth to a perfectly healthy baby girl. I had all ten fingers and all ten toes. My lungs worked and my heart beat was normal. Little did my parents know, chronic illness, sickness, disease and even predators lay waiting and lurking for an opportunity to steal their baby girl’s life.

My parents were ecstatic to take their beautiful baby girl home but my big brother, well, let’s just say he was not a happy camper when I came home from the hospital. Time passed rapidly but somehow moved slowly at the same time, for I no longer wore infant apparel but instead I grew quickly, barely fitting 6-9 month baby clothing.

One day while my dad was at work, my mom laid me and my brother down for a nap. According to my mother, he was just about two years old and was still having issues coping with me sharing his space so he climbed into my crib with me. Mom says when she came into the room and didn’t see him in his bed her heart began to race. Immediately she ran over to check on me in the crib and found my brother in there with me. His pillow was completely covering my face and he was laying on it. My brother looked up innocently with his big brown eyes as mom reached in to pull him off of me. When she took the pillow off of my face, there I lay with a huge smile, never realizing my brother almost killed me. To this day, I say he was just trying to take a nap with me. He figured if he could share his space, I could share mine – However, auntie and mom noted otherwise.

After a few years I was mobile. My big brother learned to love me and to protect me. He also taught me how to get into plenty of trouble. One day when I was about two, mom went to the front door to talk with a neighbor. She left me and my brother sitting nicely in front of the television. In a brief moment I was up exploring the house, specifically, the kitchen. Somehow I decided that cooking would be a great idea and turned on the eye of the stove. I don’t remember all the details but what I do remember is burning up the stove, almost killing me and my brother with smoke
inhalation, a spankin’ and well, I never did receive any food.

By age four, my mother had seen more hospital visits for me than she cared to or even thought she would. Tonsillitis and strep throat were the culprits. With body temperatures exceeding 102.8 degrees and persistent nightly cries due to pain, my mother dragged herself from her bed heading to the nearest emergency room with me toddling beside or straggling behind her. Each occurrence was followed by isolation from my siblings and other family members, crushed Tylenol, cups of jello, scoops of ice-cream and loads of Kool-aid in its assorted flavors. The doctors suggested surgery to remove my tonsils many times but my mother declined after reading the possible repercussions; cutting vocal chords, bleeding to death as well as the possibility of needing a blood transfusion.

If tonsillitis and strep weren’t enough to contend with one night my mom had the wonderful pleasure of finding me at my grandfather’s house laying on the back porch with the dogs, Trip and Misty and what I thought was our new cat. She found me delusional with a fever of almost 104 degrees petting our new house rat. I was immediately rushed to the emergency room. Thinking back, I can easily see how my brother was frustrated about having this new sister around but now he had two other new additions he was forced to share his space with.

Upon arriving at the hospital, I was completely lethargic and was rushed to the back having intravenous tubes inserted, blood drawn, given antibiotics, Tylenol and placed in ice water to bring my fever down. Later my mom learned that I had developed several childhood diseases all at the same time. I had mumps, measles and chicken pox’s. The doctors told my mother that it was a close call, they could have lost me.

Somehow, I lived, but my mother had no clue what other experiences sought to pick this peculiar flower from life, leaving only thorny bushes with pricked, bruised hearts.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Hell & Heaven at 8: Chapter 2

Chapter 2 - An Angel is Born

From the day I was born, eventful and often chaotic moments sought to overshadow the gifted jewel I am and would eventually become.

It was a cool Monday morning with brisk breezes and crisp air. Leaves blew along the streets and the aroma of bacon frying upon stove tops flowed into the nostrils urging saliva glands to prepare for intake. The women chattered in the kitchen while cousins watched cartoon after cartoon. Suddenly without notice, a sharp pain reverberated through Barbara’s pelvis. She grumbled something like a growl and a yelp between her teeth, gripping the side of the stove. Pat jumped to her feet and asked if it was time.

My mom went into labor while participating in three of her favorite things; cooking for the family, spending time with my Aunt Pattie-pooh (that’s my pet name for one of the favored women in my life) and eating, however, she did not get to enjoy what she prepared.

As told by mom and Pattie-pooh, they were on their way to the hospital in a cab when it began spinning out of control. Yes, you heard correctly, mom was in labor on her way to the hospital and the cab she was riding in got into an accident. When the car finally stopped spinning it landed in front of a fire station.

The firemen rushed over and found my frightened aunt and my very pregnant mom in the car. They immediately rushed my mother to Johns Hopkins hospital. Moments later a frantic man stormed into the emergency room asking for Barbara Whitaker. You guessed it, that man was my dad Edward. The nurse escorted my dad to my mother’s bedside. When he saw her he immediately began apologizing for a fight they had the night before. Aunt Pat walked over to dad and told him to leave her alone with all that mess until after she recovered from giving birth.

Since dad respected his big sister he immediately turned his focus to the well-being of my mother by asking the nurses and doctors a thousand and one questions: Is the baby alright? Have you checked to see if there is any damage from the accident? How long before its time to push? And so the questions went on and on until finally one of the nurses informed my dad that everything was fine. As they moved my mom to her room, the nurse went on urging him to try and make my mother as comfortable as possible.
The nurse advised him to pat her head with the cool towel, to hold her hand and to massage her lower back.

After several hours of hard labor the doctor came in to see how many centimeters mom had dilated and found that it was time to push. Although mom had done this before she was scared. She wasn’t sure if I had incurred injuries from the accident. Mom also did not believe she had enough energy to birth me through the vaginal canal.

PUSH the doctor yelled. Come on Barbara, you can do it! Dad rubbed moms head and kissed her gently, encouraging her to push. Mom pushed one last time and with that, I slid into the world almost falling out of the doctors’ hands. The doctor introduced them to their beautifully healthy baby girl. I opened my eyes and that is when my singing career began. I belted out a loud cry and when my parents heard my cries they too were filled with tears of joy.

Dear Mom and Dad,

Angels aren’t always dressed in white gowns with rosy red cheeks, smiles upon their faces, twinkles in their eyes and wings glistening upon their backs. In fact, Angels come in different shapes and sizes. They sometimes touch you with their tears. They change lives because of their pain. They purify with their innocence. With gentle hands they warm hearts. With kisses they heal. Their laughter chases things that restrain bringing joy to all they encounter.

Messy and dingy with dirt upon their faces yet warmly they embrace you!

These are our earthly Angels living amongst us as examples of success and failure, victory and defeat, triumphs and downfalls but it’s up to each of us to capture the lessons, take our eyes off the Mythical Angels to see the ones we have surrounding us, giving guidance with every step made.

Be well My Angels...

With Tenderness and Love,
Your Angel,


Monday, February 9, 2015

Hell & Heaven at 8 - Chapter 1

Chapter 1 - Reflection

Sitting here by the water enjoying the lush green scenery, watching the children run and play, listening to the ducks splash, hearing the birds chirp, catching a whiff of the fall air as the wind blows across the ponds water sends my mind rippling back to my early childhood days. I close my eyes and breathe deeply allowing my nostrils to fill with the combined scents in the air. My ears equally absorb all the noises as they harmoniously synchronize and again, I find myself remembering conversations my mom and I had years earlier. Memories of stories told and the things I remember seeing and hearing all come rushing in. Some moments I find myself happy, smiling as I reminisce and other times I find myself almost at the point of tears as I consider how all of these activities have brought me to the place where I sit today, in this moment, at this time.


Precious Little Girl

By Stacie J. Whitaker-Harris

I bat my big pretty brown eyes with my lashes quickly opening and shutting

I coo, giggle, laugh and smile reaching out for your ear, your nose and for your eyes

Gently I graze your cheeks with the warmth and the softness of my finger tips

I can see in your eyes that you are proud parents but still, you are afraid

As you cradle me, your baby girl in your arms, I look at you and fear nothing

You smile, realizing that someday soon I’ll grow up,

Learning to crawl, stand, walk and sometimes stumble

But then you see me stand with little bow legs as I learn to run to you

I remember your warming, gentle touch and I see that spark in your eyes

No matter how much I grow you still call me "baby girl"

And that same look resonates in your eyes from when I was a baby

There is no love to replace what I receive from you

No matter the length of my days,

I will never quite explain what I’ve gained from having you in my life

Even if only for a moment

No matter how many years go by, I will always be your precious little girl


Hell & Heaven at 8 - Introduction

It is presumptuous of any man to assume the mantle of speaking for all men, or any segment of men. However, most men are able to speak concerning issues endured by women as a result of male figures; manhood. From sexual abuse and molestation, to physical abuse and drug addiction, to neglect and abandonment, men are more often than not the precipitating factors which placed women in these very damaging situations; I’m sorry for this, and ask for your forgiveness on my manhood participation.

There are always "whys" and "reasons" that such actions are perpetrated upon women, the nurturers of humanity; however, they are never justifiable. Mental illness, sexual addiction, pornography addiction, esteem issues, relationship dysfunction, being abused, neglected, abandoned, mistreated by women, or just being raised with a zero sense of morality - all inexcusable reasons for men to mistreat the sustainers and nurturers of humanity, women.

All of that being said, the reality of such abuse cannot be denied. While no man can apologize for another man, or for all men, all men can apologize for the insensitivity of manhood. No matter how "in tune" we feel or believe we are to the pain, and trauma of women, our insensitivity is evident in our daily interaction with women. From our unwillingness to give up our seat on the train or bus to a woman, to our insistence that women "know their place," to how we treat (or do not treat) our wife or lady, or mother, or sisters, or daughters, our duplicity is glaring.

All abuse is abuse to the abused. Abuse of neglect, abuse of personal space invasion, and mental abuse, is all abuse to the one being subjected to the abuse.

Yes, apologies are in order! At the same time, acceptance of apologies is also a needed conduit if the abused is really going to find healing. Women must never allow themselves to place their life on hold because a perpetrator has not offered up an apology. Seek independent assistance to do the reaffirming work needed, and then move forward with your awesomely wonderful and beautiful self!

I’m confident that with all of the women each man comes in contact with throughout the course of his life there is any number of women who has felt some level – along the wide spectrum of abuse labels – of abuse as a result of some action on his part. So, all men owe womanhood and some specific woman as well, an apology. Again, I offer my sincere apology to any, and all women wounded as some result of my action or non-action.

Women, when the apology comes, either accept it or reject it, but then move forward. Don’t allow yourself to be stuck in bitterness, hatred, or vengeance. You deserve better than to give a man power over your happiness simply because he was too: vicious, sick, careless, hateful, mean, or any number of the other maladies that can be named, to apologize.

I am sincerely sorry for any and all hurt and pain caused to any woman as a result of any action of mine; real, imagined or over-stated. I hurt at the thought that I have hurt any woman and have not offered my sincere apology for it. Me hurting you was never an intentional act, but had to have been an act of ignorance.

From my: long deceased mother, to my wife, sisters, daughters, mother-in-law, god-daughter, and female friends, I am confident that I have wounded each in some manner. I have always been quick to say "I’m sorry." I take this moment to repeat that refrain; I am sorry!

Please be overwhelmingly aware of my love and respect for yours, and all womanhood. Women, you are the best that God has made. No issue and no situation can change the beauty that is uniquely you. You are strong, loving, and nurturing; you are woman!

In her book series, "Embracing Me," Stacie Harris not only shares her own poignant, painful, and victorious story, she also attempts to use her story, and the letters of apology dispersed throughout the series from men, to inspire, encourage, motivate, and direct other women to, themselves, embrace healing.

Through the letters penned here, and in her other books in this series, it is hoped that this project ushers in a cathartic era for many, if not all, women who find themselves stuck in their pain as a result of never hearing "sorry" from the person they believe caused their pain.

Take this journey! Travel through the pages of this book! Read the letters! Read Stacie’s personal story of her "Hell & Heaven" from book one, and about her "Tears" in book two. Mourn her "Death at 24" in book three, and then share her "Awakening" in book four. I’m confident that not only will Stacie’s personal memoir touch your heart, and prod your instincts, but you will also find one, or many, letters in the series that will strike a powerful chord within your spirit that will provoke your emotions to react. Don’t be afraid of reacting, and of acting; it’s the non-action that has kept you stuck.

Be healed! Be set free from the issues of your past that has held you in bondage. You are not the product of abuse. You are not the offspring of destruction. You are not the memory of a mistake. You are the chosen of God. You are called to do wonderful exploits in His name. You are strong, beautiful, nurturing, and amazing; I am sorry for anything I have done to make you feel otherwise. I am sorry for anything manhood has done to hinder your growth, or blind your view.

Forgive me! Forgive manhood! Embrace your womanhood! Make the declaration today by screaming with your loudest inner voice, "Today, I am "Embracing Me!"

Go Master The Day,

Dr. Allen C. Barham, Sr.
(Dr. B)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Memoir Sharing - Dedication / Statement of Intent

In the coming weeks, I intend to share the pages of the first book in The Embracing Me Memoir Series, "Hell & Heaven at 8". Today  I start by sharing the Dedication and Statement of Intent. 
Additionally, I will provide a platform for questions and open discussion from the 20 chapters. "Hell & Heaven at 8" was published December 2011 and has traveled around the globe impacting lives of people near and far.

This book is dedicated to every young girl, woman and any male who experienced the discomforts and humiliation of watching family members, especially fathers and mothers, waste away, being consumed by drugs and alcohol.  Equally, the book is dedicated to the neglected, abandoned, and anyone who has ever suffered from sexual, physical, mental or verbal abuse: thus lacking self-love, self-esteem, self-worth and/or self-respect.  To those whose minds were or still are consumed with suicidal thoughts in hopes to rid yourself of the nightmares in reliving moments of pain over and over again.  To those who still cry yourself to sleep at night wishing to turn back the hands of time.  To the victorious ones who exceeded the expectations of the disasters you lived through and are living a life complete from guild and shame.
And certainly, this book is dedicated to those who struggle with your identity, unable to embrace the true you. 
For almost twenty-five years I have held onto this story for fear of hurting those whom I love, respect, and honor.  That however, is not my intention.  This series is not to cast blame, point fingers or to cry out as a victim: nor is it an opportunity to "air the families dirty laundry".  Neither is disgrace the objective.
"Hell & Heaven at 8" is one of four books in The Embracing Me Memoir Series which tells of my life's journey from girlhood to my current womanhood, having gone through abuse, disappointment, rape, molestation and many other experiences.  The story is told in eight year increments, discussing the pivotal points in my life that have allowed me to heal, grow, and embrace myself for the woman I was created to be.
The fact of the matter is my story is a common one, often held inside without the gory details of each bitter experience that has left and leaves young women wounded for generations.  Although the book discloses true accounts of my life, again, it is not to bash or tear down, but rather; to build.
My hope is that in sharing and exposing the deepest parts of me, other women and girls will have an opportunity to embrace every experience that makes them valuable, uniquely created, intricate members of society while going through their own process of healing.  This series opens the doorway for each reader to reconcile with past hurts, abuses in any form, abandonment, neglect, disappointment, grief, divorce, rape, abortion, sexual assault, miscarriage and the list goes on.
It is my hope that you gain an understanding of your own significance to begin embracing who you are and without defining yourself according to failures, successes, generational curses or the like.  Essentially, healing broken women leads to healing and restoration of broken boys, men and prayerfully, families.
Life is a journey with many roads.  It's like a tree with many roots that lead to many branches.  Each root with its own purpose and each branch having its purpose, yet, they are connected by the middle.  They sustain one another and give purpose one to the other.  This story and the story yet unwritten, embracing my life, holds just as much significance as the root to the tree.  The tree which grows lives and will continue long after I am gone.  I embrace the past, present, future, the known and the unknown.  With time I have learned to accept each part of my life, each branch, every root and all the ties in this daily pursuit of Embracing Me.
"In order to know who you really are, In order to know the power which you possess, In order to grow, In order to live and be free, You must first be willing to embrace every moment...The days before your existence, The days when you came to be and the legacy that you will leave behind...Know thyself, Embrace who you are."
~ Stacie J. Whitaker-Harris 

Thank you for going on this journey of embracing through self-discovery