Tuesday, September 17, 2013


I'm excited to launch my first Tee-shirt design!  It's called "SOUL SISTAHS."

SOUL SISTAHS  Women Supporting Women Fundraiser - unisex shirt design - front SOUL SISTAHS  Women Supporting Women Fundraiser - unisex shirt design - back
I designed this Tee in the spirit of  sisterly love and support.  We currently live in a world of  House wives, basketball wives and desperate Wife Behaving Badly for Ratings, Bad Girls Clubs, Baby Mamas and Cat fights.  As women we tend to be our own worse enemies.
     When I think of Relief Society and how as women, not just LDS Women but women in general we could be a powerful Sorority for Positive Decent Change! How different would the world and our lives be if decided to bind ourselves in this Sorority of Sisterhood and offer to uplift, magnify and support each other in love?  Soul Sistahs are those women who show up before you recognize you even need them. They're your confidants. They tell you thinks you need ot hear when you need to hear it, and then hang around to support you through whatever you're going through.  Soul Sistahs are your best friends. Your Mother, Your Aunt, cousins, neices.  It's your sisters. Your Visiting teachers. The Ladies you spend girls night out with every night.  You can go to your Soul Sistah in any condition and know you will be safe, supported and loved.

My Design is to unit women together in solidarity in the Beauty Intelligent, Strength and Confidence of being connected SOUL 2 SOUL!  

My tee ships directly to you for the cost of  $25. YES! This includes the cost of shipping! And for a limited time.  Promotion ends October 11, 2013.  Don't wait til the last minute!

  Consider for your besties, your bridal showers and bachelorette Parties. Your Women's and Young women's organizations.  Relief Society and Primary Presidencies. family reunions.  This would make great Gifts for the women in your family for the holidays.  Show your support for your sistahs and do it in SOUL: Spirit Of Unlimited Love! Thank you Soul Sistahs!
 Be sure to spread the word and Unite!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

National Come Back To Church Day


I've talked a few times before about living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder aka PTSD. It comes from living through a trauma  and various things can contribute to triggering your body and mine to feel as if it's going through the trauma all over again. In the military is used to known as SHELL SHOCK, however it happens to many people outside of the military as well. To make a long story short, I'll just speak in generalities.
       My trauma  came to a head June 20 2008. The next day I had the breakdown in a leadership meeting at one of the local ward houses. About month later the bishop who took me in, got me the help I needed, checked up to make sure I had access to the people, resources and tools I needed, took his own life behind our home ward building.  This added another layer to the disorder.  Because I'm necrophobic. I have a hard time dealing or seeing  the body of a person after their spirit had departed. A couple of months after that one of the women I visit taught had a family member committed suicide. Needless to say I lost a huge block of life between June 2008 and now.  The things that trigger and relapse me back into PTSD:  Older White Males (ESPECIALLY in Suites or business attire) The Month Of June, and Church Buildings.  

Some of  the physical effects of PTSD:

Nausea, blurred or foggy vision, sweats, rapid breathing & heart beat, over anxiousness, nervousness, body aches, forgetfulness, unclear thinking.  I go through the first 5 of these when I go to church.  The symptoms don't last just a few hours. They last for days at a time. Even writing and talking about it brings on the physical and emotional repercussions of the issue.

 However, telling your story helps to heal you and it helps to heal other people..

Now On with the Show!

   Today, Sunday September 15,2013 is National Come Back To Church Day!

 I've been on Hiatus Off and on for 5 years (Since  6/23/2008.) Sometimes I've been every week for several months in a row and  sometimes I've not been in over a year. Sometimes I got to different wards other than my own. I've moved 3 times. The last time I moved I purchased a Condo cuz I got sick of moving. My Sister moved in with me and she is currently the Primary President in our ward.
 Today was my first time in our ward.  I've been psyching myself up for WEEKS to make sure I'm in the state of mind to make it to church today. I was actually going to go last week because it was stake conference and I would be a little less "zoomed in on" and could disappear into the crowd. Well, I mean as much as a black member in a predominantly  white congregation can "blend."  I would probably make more of an attempt in the passed to make into the building but being black and LDS we are those rare Pearls of Great Price

and being "Incognegro" in Utah is a chore.

 When I got up this morning the Nausea wasn't so bad.  I made sure to eat something just in case.
   About an hour before church I started getting dressed.  I was talking to my sister about our puppy Jake Dude-Action not getting to the dog park enough so I'm sure she thought I was getting ready to take him to the park.   Being Primary Prez she took off before I was dressed.
   I got dressed, threw on some make up. I looked at my reflection in the mirror and took a deep breath. The nausea set in so quickly so I ran and found a piece of peppermint gum. (The times I do go to church I take mints. Most of the time it keeps my stomach soothed enough to keep e from vomiting at church.)
   I went back to the mirror and gave myself  "THE TALK:"
You are safe.  You have the knowledge to take charge of any situation. You have the tools to cope with whatever comes your way. No matter the outcome of your experience take pride in knowing you made the steps to break down another wall.  NOW GO, YOU"RE LATE!"
Photo: I was trying to be sneaky. Does it look like I'm up to something?

I put a smile on my face, grabbed my purse and scriptures and out the door I went.
  The Relief Society Presidency can to visit with my sister abt 7 months ago when she left the singles ward and started going to our family ward.  I spoke with them about my situation and they were very understanding and compassionate to my situation. I wondered how they would handle the situation  A couple of weeks after their visit I got a call from a Visiting Teaching companion I didn't know that I had. It was actually a bit too much not having stepped foot in the ward building or knowing anyone from the ward. I felt a little bit like Katniss at the reaping in hunger games just expected to do what I was told or called to do. This didn't work for me and I silently protested by not accepting the calling.

    The goal was to attend 1 hours of church. The reason I'm going with 1 hour for now is because when I go for more than that, which I have before, I get SO sick that it's that sick feeling that I'm stuck with each week. It's not how I want to remember each Sunday. When I do 1 hour I leave just as I being to feel ill but it doesn't over power the great things about being there for 1 hour.  Thank goodness our first hour is Relief Society.  A sorority of Sisters, THANK GOODNESS!!!
 I accomplished my goal. And it felt good. It's 6 hours later and I'm still nauseated, but it's not so overwhelming that I'm fixated over it. It should subside about Wednesday, just in time to start pumping myself up for next Sunday.
    It sounds bad, having to pump myself up for church.  Those looking for ways to bash our church, any church or organized religion in general will jump all over that. Meh, find something better and worth while to do. Because for a while I had to make the same kind of baby step goals just to get out of bed in the morning. In the early weeks of the breakdown I couldn't even step out of the house to get the mail.  I had goals that were just to get out of bed and eat. Then get out of bed,  shower and get dressed and eat. I freaked out on the Greeter at a Walmart 2 weeks after the initial break down.  So I've come a long way, baby!
       I know I've build up a safe little community with walls a mile thick. 5 years later only certain people are allowed into that community.  People have taken it upon themselves to "help"  break down my walls. Perhaps in other situations help is needed and welcome and expected.  PTSD is so delicate. Many of us don't need the attention or the focus on us. This is one wall I need to being to break down myself and if others try to do it, it leaves me exposed.  We need to talk about it when we're ready to talk about it and step back out into the world when we're ready to.  For some it's easy for others it's a prison.

  Part of the issue with me going to church is having to explain the issue. Telling the details of the story and triggers is sometimes a trigger itself.  I felt my Relief Society President and my Bishopric needed to know. They need to know why a male home teachers would probably not get into my home. Or if the Bishopric just shows up why they aren't getting in my home.

Telling the story causes your mind and body to go back through the actual events of the trauma. Even though it's a healthy thing and needed thing, you have to go through all the coping skills for days sometimes weeks to feel safe and secure again.  The more you do it the easier it gets  So I know the more I make these goals the better it will.  One truly never is healed from PTSD  our coping skills just strengthen.   In my situation the very people and place most turn to happens to make me sick.
    I have to laugh at the situation sometimes because in reality CHURCH MAKES ME SICK!!

    One of the most priceless things about today was the look on my sister's face when she  happen to look out in the foyer and saw me standing there waiving at her and making funny faces. SURPRISE!!  She came out and greeted me and walked me too Relief Society. She didn't need to. I didn't particularly want her to but I got the feeling that she needed to do it more than i needed her to.

The Relief Society President was pleasantly surprised and she did come and speak with me after.  She address the Visiting Teaching situation and apologized for assuming I was willing and ready to be a visiting teaching with where I'm at. She was gracious and apologetic. Everything she should have been and that will help a great deal in my comfort level of being IN the building.  

 For the most part I'm feeling accomplished.
 I'm grateful for having access to all the learning materials and lessons online. The church is brilliant that way for those of us who can't or are unwilling to get to an actual building and deal with the members, because lets be honest, there are times when we love the church and hate the members in it and some days it's the opposite. One thing I've learned from this is you can never judge a person as to why they do or do not attend church meetings. If our goal is Zion, Zion has to be born internally in our hearts and minds before it can be achieved externally.  Be kind to those who come back to church. Don't be over bearing. A smile and a hand shake is just enough. Some people need to be zero'd in on and others just need space to get used to the atmosphere and marinate for a while to get comfortable.  Take ques from them and don't be afraid to offer what you think may be needed. Always offer. .What they do with that offering is up to them. Some will use it, some will not. If you offer be genuine and you better make time and effort to fulfill your offering.  Things I mostly don't like are when people are so quick with their mouths to offer time, talent and service and then 95% of the time have some excuse or crisis as to why they can't fulfill their own offer. If you don't mean it don't say it.  Don't let your mouth write checks that the rest of you aren't willing to cash.

I'm thankful for National Come back to Church day. It game me more of a goal and a kick start to something I wanted to do but wasn't quite sure of doing.   I hope that next year those who are looking for a way to go back to church, Whichever church that may be, that they take the opportunity to use National Come Back To Church as a guiding tool if you need to. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Not Just Remembering 9/11. Remembering Our Country As A Whole.

September 11, 2001, my daughter comes running into my bedroom, “MOM! The news said a plane hit one of the big sky scrapers in New York!”  I sort of just rolled over and said…”oh, that’s messed up.    I kind of just rolled over and went back into a slight Doze.    I’m not sure how long it was but she came back into my room “Mom another plain just crashed into the other sky scraper.  The news things it’s an attack on America!”  
 I jumped up and went to the T.V watching the towers burn. "Hmm…” 

 I didn’t really say too much after that.  What was there to say?
This should have been a frightening experience.  Was I in shock?  Was I numb?  Was I de sensitized? I don’t know what I was.  But I know what I wasn't.

wasn't too shocked. I was a little worried at how shocked and surprised I wasn't   I got dressed and went to work but there was very little work goin on.  I can remember with each phone call it was so little about business but more bout how we, as Americans need to pull together and unify.  That whole work week was more of a reassurance that hey, I may be across the country from you, but I’m here I share the same pain and sorrow and let’s love and respect our   country and support our countrymen.
For week, we as Americans, begin to see things differently. Tolerated violence less in hour homes, hour neighborhoods’ and even in our entertainment.  Do you remember there were certain scenes cut out of Movies and T.V shows because it was too close to the situation of  9/11?  I can remember saying to some of my friends… “I think it’s funny that we as Americans were ok with TV. And Movies that showed war and terrorism in other countries, but since it’s happened on this soil we’re suddenly cautious and sensitive to it?  
It’s the same Production but different stage. In reality it shouldn't be the stage that matters it should be the production itself.

One of the first things that came to my mind during 9/11 and the weeks after was… WHY IS EVERYONE SO SHOCKED AND SURPRISED?    As I watched the T.V as the events unfolded I remember a time years ago where my mother gathered me and my sister together each week and we read the book of Revelations. I’m not sure why she felt compelled to do it. I thought it was odd at the time. 
 Being the artistic child in the family when I read things they would play out in my mind very animated and full of color and drama! So for me, it was like a page out Revelations being scene on TV.   And then I thought… THE WORLD AIN'T SEEN NOTHING YET! This is going to be tame compared to what else is to come in our lifetime.  I don’t recall being fearful.  I grew up in Michigan. The state of Michigan has the highest concentration of Muslims out side of Muslim countries. Detroit has the country's largest concentration of Arabs (mostly Lebanese, Iraqis, Palestinians, and Yemenis), a legacy of the days when Henry Ford employed Lebanese laborers. They were my co-workers, school mates and friends.  I remember in the days after on the new they showed where 3 business men were asked to leave a flight because the other passengers weren't comfortable with them being on it.

  How sad it was to have such “justified” paranoia toward the stereotype.

  I experience PTSD Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Now those in the Military will recognize it and most people will recognize is as the term “SHELL SHOCK.”  
It comes from traumas that we encounter. When we don’t deal with the trauma properly, any situation that shows up in our lives resembling that trauma will cause the mind and body to think the trauma is happening all over again causing you to go into an irrational Fight or Flight mode. The tricky thing is that anything can trigger this reaction: A smell, a phrase, a song on the radio, a T.V Show or movie,  the way someone looks or acts, an article of clothing….   If you don’t know the proper steps to take when the triggers happen then your reactions can be more damaging to you and those around you. I haven't even mentioned the PHYSICAL effects it has, headache, nausea, blurred vision... 


I have come to determine that our Nation suffers from PTSD Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and we suffer on all levels: Religiously, Politically, Financially, Racially Civilly and Socially.
We Are A Wounded Nation.
We are a wounded nation and it effects us all on a personal level. How do you heal a nation? It begins on a personal level. It begins with our own issues. It begins with us recognizing our own truth and owning it.  It begins when we decide to live in our truth or change it because we don’t like it and then doing the work to create a better truth. We will never begin to truly live our lives as long as we expect others to do the work to repair it.
 My generation will either be the generation that makes it better or makes it worse and begins with something as simple as teaching our children and grandchildren within the home. We are a nation who doesn't mind lying down and doing what it takes to bring children into the world. But somewhere along the way we've stopped parenting and teaching them. 

We've put them in front of TVs, Computers and iPads and allowed for those things to take our place in their education.
 I can remember being in Kindergarten, knowing my ABC’s and how to count to 50 and knowing how to spell my name and yes…. Reading. Small simple books. I address my teachers and my parent’s friends as Mrs., Miss or Mister, not by their first name, because we were not contemporaries. We were taught to look people in the face when we spoke to them and speak loudly and clearly and with confidence. These were some of the things that would make us successful in life.

 The home is our first school of learning: table manners, common courtesies how to get along. If two or more of us wanted to watch different shows at the same time there was no 2nd or 3rd TV we had to learn how to compromise and negotiate with each other. Sometimes the negotiation was to digress and give in.  Other times it was to strike a deal and go after what was worth it to you. All skills you need to learn to have a successful life. We had to pick our battles. If I get mad and hit my brother, how will he retaliate, will I be strong enough to deal with it? Will whatever happens after be worth the shot I took?  We had to think things through and live with consequences and be accountable for our actions. If we stole something we were marched right back into the store and had to confess what we did to the people we did it to.   There’s very little accountability for choices these days.  Bad behavior and disrespect is excused because it’s funny or because it’s done in truth or because it’s none of our business.  As a child even if we were brutally honest as children are we were schooled on the appropriateness, attitude and disrespect we presented that truth.  We learned when truth should be brutally honest, when it should set you free, and when it came with gentle correction and strong love.  

 Lack of these things add to the PTSD of our Nation.
Failing to take advantage of our education and knowing the importance of it adds to the PTSD of Nation. For some of it, it was our only way out of breaking a cycle of poverty and negative environment. School is where we learned to be part of a team, cheering and encouraging other and being a part of a group (instead of a gang) that set goals and accomplished them.  Almost most every kid was in cub scouts, boy scouts, Brownies or Campfire girls.  Boy and girls clubs flourished with positive activities for community and person growth. Weekends were spent at the YMCA or the Rec Centers with friends and we played basket ball, Volleyball, Softball, Baseball, hockey and learned to swim. And when it was nice outside we rode bikes and skate boards, made jumps and forts and go-carts or played baseball in the vacant fields.  Our Asses were healthier and smaller because we moved them and didn't need them for a cushion all night and day.
Things were rarely just given to us frivolously. We had to earn money through cutting grass, raking leaves, shoveling snow, helping the neighbor do chores if we wanted a new bike, roller blades, skateboards, action figures, radios or walkie talkies. Feel free to replace that with Scooters, cars, clothes, cell phones, ipods/pad or xbox’s.
We weren't afraid to Say Grace or reference scriptures or any other book that might lay some kind of moral foundation. It was cool to hang out with parents and grandparents and they knew our friends and their family members for a couple of Generations.
 People weren't  offended when you corrected their children for doing the wrong thing. As a matter of fact they called you and thanked you for setting them straight and looking out for them in the absence of their parent. And the parents had the courage to be embarrassed by the actions of the offending child and reinforced that correction.   We lived in the village and tolerate the village fool and the village idiot because even they have a value, even if it was to be an example of what not to do and how to be better.  
It was ok for our sons to play with girls and our daughters to play with boys because they were appropriate, we taught them how to be.
 We didn’t separated them until the age of 16 and then expect them to automatically know how to deal with each other. We grew them up together, watched them fight as kids and learn how to settle it without parents getting too involved to the rescue. We sent them on activities together with our families and their families so if they could date at the right age they had a foundation of friendship and familiarity. They curiosity of each other didn’t get the best of them and carry them away to unknown and pent up curiosity.
We are in a day and age of exceptions. Everyone man woman and child I know and their situation is the exception to some kind of rule making us all JUST AS SPECIAL AND IMPORTANT as everyone else. The agenda of some is to push the exception to be the rule.  Putting the needs of the one above the needs of the most or not accepting that which is “just as good as” the rule.

We’ve turned into a nation of selfish untrusting control freaks. We want power and control over people and thing but aren’t willing to do the work to accomplish those things. We tell folks what we want and expect everyone else to do the work to accomplish it.  And become upset when they don’t do it right or how we want it done. Not recognizing it just may not be what they want.
We've come from a nation of loving Shirley Temple to Loving Honey Boo Boo.
 From loving the Mickey Mouse Club to Loving the Bad Girl’s Club and from watching the Honey Moon game to watching the Bachelor and Bachelorette.  In a diverse nation it takes all kinds to strengthen and weaken it.
 Our country is wounded, our pride is wounded and we are becoming weaker each year, not recognizing that the strength of the Nation is dependent on the strength of the home and family.  It thrives off the working man doing the manual labor to make things happen, more than the man up in the office on the phone. It thrives on the teachers who educate our kids, the police and firefighter who put the lives on the line each time they go into work, not the pro athlete, the actress or the rap artists making a million and using it for multiple cars, houses and jewelry.
 It thrives on the Mothers and Fathers who support each other and their children, not the playa’s and the baby mama’s  who can’t afford to live by themselves, let alone take care of someone they’ve brought into the world. In the Animal world, A baby penguin will die if both parents don't work together.

        We’ve jump to become offended first instead of allowing common sense, or even the Holy Spirit of God to discern if offense was intended.  We fight and disagree trying to see eye to eye instead of understanding that it’s more important to see heart to heart. 
 The state of the Nation is in some way no better or worse off then the state of our homes and family.  We’ve lost focus.  It is us who heals and strengthens the Nations. The Nation doesn’t heal and strengthen us.

   Let us take this opportunity to look back at 9/11 and remember and in that remembrance let us remember how we used to be as a country and Let us also take this opportunity to begin to heal our Nation on a more personal level. We can’t control our Government or our neighbors. But we can go back into our homes as parents and families and begin to heal within the safety of it’s walls, How knows maybe the generation behind us will become the generations that brings it all back together.  God Bless you. God Bless the USA.

Friday, September 6, 2013

When The Flowers Have Wilted and The Leaves Have Dried....

When you're in the midst of a tragedy do you ever feel betrayed that the world doesn't recognize? Even if it's just for 5 minutes. Do you sometimes wish you could flip a switch and stop the world with it's hustle an bustle so it can  surround you in your sorrow or heartbreak or whatever it may be?
  It's times like these as Christians we rally around each other because it's the CHRISTIAN thing to do. Our Christian Duty.  Hopefully we also do it because it's the HUMANE thing to do.

During those immediate times  we gather together for support and strength. Bringing meals, sending cards and donations and flowers.  We rally around for a week or two with "If there's anything I can do or if you need me call me."  as our theme. 
  After a week or two we get back to our own lives and allow them to try and get back into theirs. 
  Getting back to a routine helps to bring back the normality.   Getting dressed, going to work, socializing with co-workers keeps our minds and bodies busy as we slowly heal.  We find ways to fill our days so we can feel again. We appreciate and depend on those who surround us. 

What happens in the weeks and months to come.  Do you often feel yourself 2 or 3 months down the road into a relapse saying to yourself 
 "where is everyone? I still need your strength and support..." 
 Only to find that the world is now over it, and why aren't you?
You look around and find yourself alone, lonely and wondering if you'll ever stop hurting. And try and focus back on the time when you were surrounded by people and cards and Tupperware after Tupperware of Lasagna and chicken and rice casseroles.   You look on the shelf and notice the beautiful bright cheery flowers have wilted and the leaves have dried and fallen off the stem.
    You can see the beauty of them and their previous existence. The memory of what they used to be pales in comparison to the realty of what they have become. You could create something beautiful with it but the truth is your inventory of time, energy and creativity is in short supply and you can't find your reserves. 

When those we care about have an immediate need we often rush to their side and bombard them with support.  We make the time to care and comfort. 6 months later where are we in our caring? Do we visit often? Make a phone call or extend and invitation to get away from it all? Or as we wondering if we'll ever get that favorite piece of Tupperware back? Are we avoiding those calls that turn into 2 hour depressing conversation where you basically want to tell someone to "get over it and get on with life?" Because you have things to do and places to go and people to see?

 As we all go through this life together I think it would be fitting for us to not just remember those who are going through hard times but to reach out to them...after the flowers have wilted and the leaves have dried. How often to we think of others but never let them know? Only to find out they've been struggling and could have used some support. How often have you been on the other end of recognizing you could fulfill a need, hand you only taken the time to recognize there was a need to be filled.   Are their times when you've marketed the burden or pawned and pimped it off on someone else because you've been too busy or unwilling to help carry it? 
   I'm often reminded of a church meeting from long ago where a sister stood up and mentioned how she prays everyday for the homeless people in the park w/o food or shelter.  Sometimes all we can do is pray. 
 I recall saying, 
"Prayer is great. It's a beautiful thing. But there are times when it just may not be enough.  Sometimes we have to be the answer to the prayer we're offering up."   

  We need to be the blessing in the lives of others.   When I say be a blessing i don't mean that in arrogance. I mean there are things people in the community need and in some ways I can provide that need.  Because I have been given much, I too, must give.  I believe these days it's called "Paying it Forward."    Often times we use Prayer as a crutch or an alternative to service. Imagine how the World could be if , with each prayer, there was an intent to somehow act upon it? 

I hope we will often consider using these hands:


like these hands.

A good friend walks in when others walk out.   A good friends arrives when others have left and their need to feel important has gone with them. 

   I leave you with one of my favorite quotes
Marjorie Pay HinckleyI don't want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails.

I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp.
I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbors children.
I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone's garden.
I want to be there with children's sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder.
I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived.”

― Marjorie Pay Hinckley

Be the one to show up after the flowers have wilted and the leave have dried.

Big Brother, Little Sister Moments

Big Brother, Little Sister Moments
Hand in Hand


I earned some temporary wings!