*Disclaimer, this post has some strong language. If you are easily offended, please stop reading now. These are my rawest thoughts and I make no apologies for them.*
My mom passed away. 4:00 AM on Friday, April 28th.
My entire world has shattered. This is nothing like I had ever felt before. I thought that I had experienced the deepest loss possible when my grandmother passed. But this, this has shaken me to my core. Everything comfortable, everything I thought was true, right, the very foundation from which my entire life has been built…gone.
So, I have spent the past 162 days asking myself “what in the entire f*ck? How am I supposed to continue? F*ck you mean, it will get easier?”
Mama and I shared a bond that was both intense and indifferent. We both are Cancers and we love hard, we are nurturing and caring, but please stay on our good side. God help you if you don’t.
I am my mother’s eldest child. The one that snapped her into adulthood. Her first miracle, you see, my mother was told she wouldn’t be able to have children, yet here I was the “little red rat” (thanks, Granddaddy). In some ways, mama and I grew up together. She was young and in the military, so my Grandmother had a huge hand in helping raise me.
As I grew older and eventually had my son, our relationship began to evolve from mother/daughter to friends. We would hang out, we acted up, she fussed as I rolled my eyes, I tried to be the boss and she brushed me off. Life was good.
Then she started feeling bad, the random symptoms started. Then the diagnosis. F*cking cancer. Again.
Mama took it like a “G”. She was like “Oh, I beat it once, I’m good. They caught it early.” And to be honest, I was nervous but she was so positive, and from all accounts, she was good, so I was like “cool, we got this. It’s going to be a journey, but it’s nothing we can’t handle.”
That was December 27, 2017. 3 days after my fiance proposed. 3 days after she saw some of her prayers come to fruition. She longed for Langston to have the stability of both of his parents, for him to have the proper family that he deserved. She and Brian had planned the engagement for months, lots of texts and phone calls, right down to her buying me a new dress and shoes for the party.
She fought up until her last breath. She went through her treatments, the appointments, the hospital stays, all with a smile on her face. She made sure the nursing staff was comfortable, she wrote kudos notes, gave out Christian books, told jokes, all while going through her own battle. She took care of my sister and I from the hospital bed, giving words of encouragement, threatening to ‘come up to that job’ because ‘they don’t mess with her baby’ (my sister). She let everyone know that would listen that we were her girls and she was proud of us.
So when it was time for her to go, my sister and I were okay. She’d shown us faith and strength beyond anything we had ever seen and we wanted her to rest. She had given us all that she could and now it was time for us take all the love and knowledge she instilled in us and live our best lives.
As much as we are comforted knowing that she’s with Grandma and her twin sister we are wrecked with the aftermath of her love leaving us. That is the thing about losing someone so close to you to illness, you are so happy that they aren’t sick and suffering anymore, but you selfishly wish they were still here.
So, 168 days later, I am still processing, still putting myself back together. There are days that I feel renewed and look at things with fresh eyes, thinking about all the ways I can honor my mother’s life while I am still here. Then there are days when the grief is so overwhelming that it is a struggle to go about a “normal” day.
Thankfully, the good days are starting to outweigh the bad, and I can finally, honestly, say that I believe the best is yet to come. And I will spend the rest of my time here on earth, honoring my mother through LIVING.
Girl. This is not a drill. It’s not a secret Pinterest board. I’m getting married.
On December 23rd, I thought we were having a small Christmas party, just a few friends, and family. To my surprise, Brian had been plotting (with the help of my mom, sister, and a few friends) to give me the biggest surprise of the year.
While we were planning the party, I had some suspicions, but my friends reassured me since they “didn’t know” about it, then I couldn’t possibly be right. Or that he wanted all of this extra stuff because “you know he’s a little fancy.” So I let the suspicions fade and continued on prepping and planning.
During the party, everyone did a good job keeping me distracted with food and champagne, so when the party guests began encircling me, I still didn’t know what was going on.
Oh! But when Brian started talking I knew something was up. You see, Brian is not a talker. He’s definitely not a “make a random speech” type of guy.
His speech was beautiful. Now, I would be lying if I said that I remember it word for word, (hello, champagne!), but I remember how everyone responded. My mom was crying, my sister was cheesing like a Chester cat, and my Aunt Betty hit us with a few of her signature “my, my, my!” exclamations. He told the story of how we first met when he was a freshman and I was a sophomore in the Russell House Grand Market Place at the University of South Carolina. He spoke of how he and his friends gleefully reported to each other every time one of them saw me on campus. How he and I finally connected at a mutual friend’s birthday party. Then finally, he recalled the moment he realized I would be his wife.
I was on cloud 9! He had finally asked! After all the ups and downs, all the laughter and tears, all the explanations of “No, my son’s last name is Hayes, mine is Davis”, we were getting married! I was literally walking on the air.
What Goes Up Must Come Down
My engagement high lasted for about 4 days. I had a goofy smile, I stared at my ring, and I practiced the word fiance in the mirror. I was floating. But just as it normally does, life quickly brought me back down to earth.
Langston, our son, didn’t understand what happened. You see, he was not interested in his mommy loving anyone else, he didn’t care that someone else was his father. And to top it off, his daddy had the nerve to give me a ring?!?That was something Langston has been saying he wanted to give me for a while. Langston was experiencing what some call “Oedipus complex” and unfortunately for all of us, his dad didn’t understand it and wasn’t having it. Thank goodness that it only last a few days and now he’s excited that his mom and dad are “getting marriage” and that his GiGi has promised to get him a ring as well. *insert eye roll*
But aside from playing referee with my guys, my mother got sick and was hospitalized for 3 weeks. So there was no time to worry about wedding venues and guest counts, my mother needed me. I am a firm believer that everything happens in perfect divine order, so, for all of these things, I am grateful.
Mama is getting better and stronger every day and things are starting to level back out. That means we are now back to focusing on the engagement and wedding planning.
Y’all! Why didn’t any of you warn me? There are SO many decisions to make! So many well-intentioned people asking SO many questions. Do you want a big wedding or a small wedding? Plated meals or heavy hors d’oeuvres? Stateside or destination? Do you even WANT a wedding? Dis tew merch.
Girl. The first few times Brian and I would start talking about it, we would immediately regret that decision and change the subject quickly.
Brian is the logical, thoughtful, traditional type and I am the dreamer, fly by the cuff, non-traditional type. So we were debating *side eye* about hypotheticals but getting real-life mad.
We really had to take a minute. We (read: I) had to realize that this was a journey. It is OUR journey, so there are no wrongs or rights, just what is best for us. Now, I can’t say that we have it completely ironed out, but we are more clear about what WE want and are fine with taking it one step at a time.
With all of that being said, let the planning begin! Because one thing I’ve already started to realize is that we aren’t just planning a wedding, but we are laying the framework for our little family and I can’t wait to share this journey with you.
Shanetra D. <-Soon to be H?
P.s. My sister and I went to my first bridal show (possibly only), bridal show. My sister was fun, but she was more concerned with candied bacon samples than table linens!
p.p.s. Since you and I are friends, feel FREE to share your tips, tricks, and advice for the wedding day and beyond!
At the beginning of this year, I told myself that I would make a conscious effort to shop locally, and specifically support black owned businesses. So for this holiday season, I have curated a gift guide from black-owned businesses that I’ve previously supported or plan on supporting.
Christmas is going to be lit year!
Gifts When You Want To ‘Treat Yo Self’
From Lia – “I want every woman who orders from From Lia to see the value in herself and how important she is. I want to encourage you to always be there for yourself. Everyday. The products I make are to encourage you to relax. Burn the candle, use the soaps and look forward to a soak in the tub to gather your thoughts and find the strength to keep pushing toward your goals.”
Addictive Apothecary – “Addictive Apothecary is a family based business. That was created because of my daughter. My daughter wanted to have more mommy daughter time. She asked me if we could make candles together since I was always buying them and often unhappy with them. We offer all natural products from our candles to our bath and body line. If it’s not safe for my family to use, it’s not safe for you and your family. Every single product that we offer is hand crafted to ensure the highest quality possible.”
Bask & Bloom – “Bask & Bloom Essentials was founded by Candera Thompson. Candera was born and raised on the island of Abaco, Bahamas where she grew up in a household of many handmade items. Watching her mother and other family members encouraged Candera to start experimenting with her own ingredients for hair, bath and skin care.”
The Nspiyahd Life – “We’re just an everyday family who decided to live an extraordinary life. We work to share the concepts of healing, wholeness and holistic living through all of our works.We aim to present our works in an authentic and beautiful way. From beautifully handcrafted goodness to courses and coaching to help you live better. We make all our products with one aim, to help you live a more Nspiyahd Life.”
Pear Nova – “Pear Nova LLC is a Chicago based, luxury nail polish brand that boasts timeless collections of 5 free, vegan-friendly, PETA certified shades.”
For the Fly Youngn’s – Kids Gift Ideas
KaAn’s designs – “A brand developed by a Mrs.(Ashley), with some help from her Mr.(Kenny), and inspired by the daily adventures of their two little boys Aiden and Noah. In addition to creating pieces that offer functionality and style, it is our goal to create tees that make a statement, and those that have sort of a nostalgic feel. You know for the 90’s kid, turned millennial parent?!”
Ozzie Olive – “Home and Originator of the MYMOMMYISDOPE & MYDADDYISDOPE Tee | CAMOCARGOS & TheToddlerTote”
Brown Toy Box – “Our mission…To affirm the beauty and build confidence and self-esteem in Black children.We know that when children have dolls and toys that look like them it changes the way they perceive themselves and those that look like them. Our goal is simple, we want every little brown child to look in the mirror and know that the reflection looking back at them is a person that is beautiful, worthy and wonderful.”
For the Queens and Mini Queens that like to add a little Flair
Because of Zoe designs – “I created Because of Zoe Designs when my daughter, Zoe, was just one year old. Inspired by her spunky personality and my love of prints, I set out to create hair accessories that reflected the beauty and playfulness of childhood. Because of Zoe offers the everyday mom hair accessories that are just as hip, happy and high-spirited as the girls who wear them.”
Gabby Bows – “The Double-Face Double-Snap Barrette”
Branded by Motif -“We are on a mission to help others go get life and feel beautiful while doing so. THINGS branded by motif allows us to create art that people can wear, that looks good and has meaning.”
The Wrap Life – “The Wrap Life was created by Nnenna Stella in Brooklyn, New York. We’ve shipped thousands of handmade goods to beauties around the world. TWL is about cultivating a life abundant with color, texture, and handmade goods. Most of our products are hand printed or handmade and the proceeds enrich the lives of those who create them.”
For the Woman Who Likes a Little Sass with her Fashion
Avah’s Closet – “Looking to be stylish with a hint of Culture has never been this easy. Our Collection Features handcrafted bags (handbags, clutches, messenger bags, and weekenders), accessories and clothing using authentic African fabrics. Our pieces are all about making bold statements and you are guaranteed to turn heads when you wear Avah’s Closet. “
Tees in the Trap– “Apparel and home goods inspired by pop culture, hip hop and everyday life. We love good music, reality tv, ratchet quotes, funny memes and celebrity tea.”
Melanin Apparel -“Black Pride T-Shirts, African American T-shirts, Natural Hair T-shirts, African American Apparel, and Afrocentric Clothing shirts, hoodies, tanks and more!”
Dope Christian Tees– “The intersection of faith and fashion! We have the dope apparel that represent the kingdom of God!”
Izzy and Liv-“Izzy & Liv is self-affirming, inspirational, fun, sassy, filled with pop culture references and a bit retro. We design pieces that reflect some of our shared experiences; celebrates the icons we love; reinforces the beauty we possess, and immortalizes the things we can’t get enough of. When you shop at Izzy & Liv, you’re bound to find something that you can relate to!”
For the Your Homegirl that Can Burn in the Kitchen
The Kitchenista – “Comfort food is my passion and my life revolves around the kitchen! I’m a self-taught home cook, food blogger, recipe developer, food photographer and mom of two residing in Virginia. The Kitchenista Diaries has been my home since 2012, where I’ve shared my personal journey from accountant to culinary entrepreneur. I’m all about taking home cooked meals to the next level.”
Who Doesn’t Need a #SelfCare Day?
Divine Oasis Salon and Spa-“Divine Oasis is a full-service beauty salon and luxury spa dedicated to providing a holistic approach to enhancing the natural beauty of our diverse clientele. We offer a relaxing and inviting salon experience where guests can receive professional consultations, natural hair care, permanent waves and relaxers, precision hair cuts, and hair coloring.”
Anointed Hands – “Getting SomeBody Right! Anointed Hands is your one-stop pamper shop where you can get a relaxing massage, your hair done, and get products to help stay in shape.”
Now, I KNOW this list is geared towards the ladies, but you all are my tribe, so naturally, I had to take care of you. Most of the brands listed above offer men’s apparel, but here are a few ideas specifically for the men in your lives:
Bevel – “Bevel, by Walker & Company, provides premium grooming products & services, designed to help reduce razor bumps & skin irritation.”
Super Fresh -“Superfresh each month releases one to two new shirts or hoods in extremely limited quantities, 36 to be exact. Once a shirt is released on the site a two-week countdown clock immediately starts. Once that clock hits zero the item is considered “spoiled” and get retired to “the freezer” where it will no longer be available to the public. EVER.”
So there you have it! Hopefully, when you are shopping this holiday season, you will check out some of these brands or other black owned business.
Do you know of any other brands I should check out? Leave a link in the comments below!
Also, I feel like I should note, this is NOT a sponsored post. No one paid me (yet!) to endorse their business. I truly think these brands are dope and plan on using them for my Christmas shopping this year.
*Click the Image or the Brand’s name to check out their website!*
This past Saturday, I invited to attend Avah’s Closet 3rd Annual Runway Show. Now, if you aren’t familiar with Avah’s Closet, then get your life, then allow me to briefly introduce you.
Avah’s Closet is the fashion brand by designer, Adai Quaye. Adai was born and raised in Ghana and draws her inspiration from her vibrant culture. Her bold pieces are created using Ankara fabric, commonly known as “African Prints”, and are guaranteed to turn heads when you wear them.
This year’s Runway Show theme was Tulle and Couture – From Culture to Couture 2016 and was held at Edventure Children’s Museum..Guests were greeted by beautiful melanin rich ladies, welcoming them and handing out “Avah and More” swag bags. This swag bag is not your usual, “small sample and postcards” type of bag. It was filled with products for your hair by Miss Jessie’s, Elasta QP, Eden BodyWorks, JessiCurl and African Pride. Body butter from ButterUp A Shea Butter Co and Roll on Eye Serum from Natural Roots. And because Adai has such a keen eye for detail and truly embodies her brand, there was black soap and other small gifts from Ghana that truly tied in the culture.
The show was hosted by the always entertaining Kojo Danquah-Duah of Kojo Kreations, and highlighted his designed as well as those by featured guest designer Charise Rodriguez-Davis. Adai did not skimp on any details of the show, the hair, and makeup of the models mirrored the clothes that they were wearing and the fashion ranged from everyday and professional wear to children and men’s wear to the ultra feminine day-to-night attire.
Overall, Tulle and Couture Runway Show demonstrated the genius of Adai Quaye, not only as a brilliant designer but as a philanthropist and true community builder. She used her platform not only to entertain her crowd with gorgeous fashion, but she invited other designers, hair stylists, makeup artists, photographers and bloggers (me!) to share in the beauty of this night.
For the grande finale walk, Adai gleefully danced down the runway behind her models and thanked the audience for all of their love and support. And with true grace, she closed the show not by boasting in her good deeds, but by honoring the life the child of one of her friends who was killed recently by gun violence. Adai is truly a beautiful spirit and I was so honored to be invited to experience this night with her.
I personally can not wait until next year’s show, to see what she comes up with because the best is yet to come!
Check out some of my favorite looks below:
For more photos check out the Tulle and Couture Facebook Page. Make sure you head over to Avah’s Closet to purchase something today! The Holiday Season is upon us and she has something for everyone in your life, ahem, *cough, cough*, like me!
Major key alert! – Meet one of the many friends in my head – Tracy G!
I first discovered Tracy G on the Bevy Says podcast, “Who You Calling a Slut, Loving Your Body & Owning Your Sexuality”, where they discussed body image, sexuality and feminism in pop culture. The show itself was extremely enlightening and motivational, I mean, these women were having this wonderful conversation about navigating your body image and sexuality without the constraints of someone else’s opinions and they allowed you to listen in. It was funny and educational and gave you so many nuggets for your personal repertoire.
Now, this show is not for the faint of heart, these are grown ladies using very colorful language, but you can check it out here.
Real quick, let’s take a moment of silence to pray that Bevy releases another episode soon. I LOVE her!
Wait, I thought this was about Tracy, who is she?
Tracy G dubs herself as “Self-talk Strategist. Edutainer. Trillass Individual.” She’s on the SirusXM show, Sway in the Morning and she is the creator of the brand “She’s Beauty and the Beast”.
She’s Beauty and the Beast is a “compilation of audio musings, lifestyle + personal development + social commentary and overall caffeine for the spirit, She’s Beauty And The Beast is a new, millennial wellness brand for those who could rock with an extra partner in progression.”
It. Is. Dope.
It is definitely a part of my morning (and sometimes afternoon) routines and I honestly can tell a difference in my psyche once I repeat the affirmations.
And since you are my girlfriend, I am going to share my favorite affirmations with you. *Full disclosure, she isn’t for everyone. She uses some words that I wouldn’t repeat in front of my mama, but I like her.*
And because I’m currently obsessed with all things Tracy, check out HER podcast here!