Seven Reasons I’m Thankful in 2020…My Pandemic Praise!!!

 

Hello World,

With Thanksgiving coming up this week, this post is inspired by a post I saw on Facebook some weeks ago when the person who posted wrote that despite all that has unfolded in this devastating year, there are still some things to be thankful for in 2020. And the person encouraged everyone to comment on how they’ve still been blessed despite it all. I was among those who posted. I only shared one thing on that post, but I have seven to share with you, my dear readers.

1. Although I still wear contacts during the day and glasses at night, as of this year, I have been restored to 20/20 vision! In fact, I wrote a post about it earlier this year. Below is an excerpt of Seven Scriptures to Provide Insight to the Coronavirus Crisis (ODE to 20/20 Vision)

By now you must know that any vision board someone created for 2020 has been totally wrecked. I haven’t had 20/20 vision since before I was in the third grade when I started wearing glasses, but I was among those who decreed and declared that 2020 would be my Year of Perfect Vision. When this Coronavirus Crisis started a month ago or so, I thought my resolution to have 20/20 vision was misguided. But a month later, I see the Good Shepherd is faithful and guiding me (and all y’all)  into perfect vision after all — even if it wasn’t what I thought I saw at the dawn of this New Year. As my hubby shared with me, I do believe individually we will have personal insights, and that there are some collective insights that all of us will share. Read the rest HERE. 

2. Precious family members have been spared of the worst of COVID-19!!! Although I’ve had family members who have suffered from COVID-19 with one even being hospitalized for several days, no family members that I’m aware of, even my elders, have been casualties of coronavirus. This is a sickness you don’t want to experience even if death is not the end result, but I thank God He has seen fit to spare the lives of my family as of now.

3. My hubby and I have continued to work. Many people have lost their jobs due to COVID-19, but thankfully, my husband and I still have the financial resources to take care of our two-person household. My husband works in healthcare so you would automatically think that designation translates into job security, but many people in healthcare have seen their income adversely affected. For example, I only recently saw the dentist a few weeks ago after having rescheduled an earlier appointment. From what I’ve read, many are still putting off seeing doctors for appointments unrelated to coronavirus for fear they will be exposed while at the doctor’s office.

4. Although I have lost a vital-in-more-way-than-one income opportunity, I have pivoted. Y’all Jamaicans have more than job and I’m no exception. I’ve been teaching group fitness classes twice a week at L.A. Fitness for more than a decade. It was one of my side hustles. But that ended in March. Although I can go back if I like, I don’t feel comfortable at a gym right now. I don’t know about you, but I’m huffing and puffing at the gym as a rule. There is no way that I see avoiding an airborne illness at the gym. That being said, although I miss my class, I’ve been able to keep up my workouts at home and in a nearby park. It’s not the same, but it will do. Most of all, I thank God for the continued health and strength that I enjoy that enables me to workout!

5. I’ve been able to continue to promote the release of my debut novel  Destination Wedding I was just getting into the groove of promoting Destination Wedding when the world shut down. (Have you bought your copy?) Thankfully, as my novel was released in December 2019, I was able to have a book release party at Auburn Avenue Research Library, host a book signing at a local bookstore (Nubian Bookstore) and attend a book club meeting where Destination Wedding was featured before the pandemic was announced. But with the pandemic announcement, many of the events that I was planning had to be reworked or cancelled altogether so I was worried about how I would promote Destination Wedding going forward. Although I still believe that the pandemic had a negative impact on some of my promotion efforts, one benefit of the pandemic was that I was able to meet with several book clubs via Zoom. I’m not sure if I would have been able to do so otherwise. Additionally, I was able to participate in other online events that I may have not have had access to otherwise.

6. I sold my first home during a pandemic! Y’all, when I was 28 years old and a brand new reporter for a small newspaper, God blessed me to buy a townhome although I was making practically $10 a paycheck! I experienced many single girl shenanigans and grew up as a grown woman there. But as I haven’t lived there in a few years now as a married woman, I was grateful to God to be able to pay the mortgage month after month while no longer wanting that debt. At the beginning of the year, I met a realtor Dionne Sanford,  of EXP Realty, who also renovates properties. She told me that if I spent money on renovation, I would get that money back and more in sales. I didn’t want to spend the money and when the pandemic hit, I wondered how I would recoup it since real estate agents including my agent weren’t showing properties in person. But God did as He always does: Showed Up and Showed Out. I sold the property to a young lady who reminded me of myself when I first received the keys to my first adult home. See my pictures from that day above!

7. The Jehovah’s Witnesses have stopped coming by. I apologize to anyone who may be offended, but hubby and I will never be Jehovah’s Witnesses. And even though we have told them this in so many words and have not answered the door sometimes, they have continued to come by our house for some reason. But since this pandemic hit, we haven’t seen them at all…LOL…But I have received two letters from them I must say. I will give them this: they are persistent…

And I have other reasons to be thankful in 2020, but I will stop now to ask you:

What are you thankful for in 2020? Leave a comment and let me know!!!

Any thoughts?

 

Mother & Daughter Survivors Treated for Breast Cancer One Year Apart, Inspired By Deceased Relative’s Fight…FIVE-YEAR UPDATE!!!

Keisha Pooler, her mother Mary Marshall and Keisha’s daughter

Hello World,

As this is the last week of October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I wanted to  tell you that five years later after I originally wrote this post Keisha Pooler and her mother Mary Marshall are still surviving and thriving!!! What follows is my original post in 2015…

I lost two of my Delta line sisters to this hideous disease so this is a cause that is very dear to me. When another one of my sorors Keisha Pooler shared on Facebook that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and began posting pictures of herself at her chemotherapy treatments, I was inspired by her openness and bravery so I thought I would tell her story here. I hope her openness and bravery inspires you as they did me.

Jacquelyn Pullins aka Aunt Jackie

Jacquelyn Pullins aka Aunt Jackie

As an invincible and healthy college freshman at Morris Brown College in 1992 with nothing but time ahead of her, the last thing on then Keisha Pullins’ mind was breast cancer. But an arbitrary search for a pen in the lingerie drawer of her Aunt Jackie Pullins, who the Dublin, Georgia native lived with while enrolled in the Atlanta school, put her in the path of the deadly disease in a way that forever changed her trajectory. “I was digging in her drawer, trying to find a pen, and I ran across her prosthetic. It was shaped in foam and had a nipple on it.  I asked her, ‘Jackie, What is this?’ She said, ‘It’s a fake titty. What do you think it is?'” Her aunt’s clear-eyed, straightforward answer was representative of the sister relationship that Keisha had with her mother’s baby sister, who was in early 40s, who Keisha saw as mostly a sister but a sometime surrogate mother. Her Aunt Jackie also told her niece to not tell anyone as she did not want anyone to worry about her. However, Keisha was worried. “Her diagnosis changed my life. It was representative of something that could transfer into death in my home, in my family.” From then on, at the recommendation of her Aunt Jackie, who found the lump in her breast, Keisha began doing self-exams and has ever since. While Keisha kept her Aunt Jackie’s secret, her secret revealed itself when her aunt came home to Dublin several months later by the end of Keisha’s freshman year to go the the funeral of Keisha’s stepfather. “At the funeral, she became very ill so she started chemotherapy in Dublin. She never made it back to Atlanta.”

While Keisha continued at Morris Brown College, she returned to Dublin periodically to check on her Aunt Jackie and go with her to her chemotherapy treatments when she could. “She was not married, and she had no children so my sister and I were her kids.” After her treatment, her aunt went into remission for roughly four to five years but the cancer came back in 1997 or 1998. She was told she had months to live, but she didn’t want to go through chemotherapy again. Despite her prognosis, she didn’t pass away until 2001. During that time, however, she continued to live and deliver her deadpan humor. When Keisha asked her Aunt Jackie why she was adamant on getting a loan at one point, her Aunt Jackie replied, “Keisha, I’ll be dead before they get the money back.” “I remember thinking that in that moment, she was laughing and dying simultaneously.” However, there were serious moments too. Her aunt made her the beneficiary of her life insurance policies and showed her where to find all of her important documents. Although Keisha’s mother was her Aunt Jackie’s official caretaker, she felt like the then 25-year-old Keisha would be more responsible. “My Aunt Jackie was adamant about my mom getting a mammogram, but she never did. She always said she was scared to find out.”

Keisha and her husband at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk on Saturday, October 24.

Keisha and her husband at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk on Saturday, October 24. Their daughter is in the background.

In fact, Keisha’s mother, Mary Marshall, would not have a mammogram until she was 68 years old, in May 2013. It was recommended that she get a mammogram as part of a full-body exam after she got sick with shingles. Keisha was concerned when her mother called her after her mammogram and told her that a biopsy was the next step. She called the medical center and asked about her mother’s results. “I said, ‘I know you’re limited in what information you can give, but do I need to make a trip to Dublin to see my mother?”’ She was told that she should come to Dublin so Keisha and her sister made the trip. The same doctor, Dr. Samson, who took care of her Aunt Jackie during her breast cancer treatment was the same doctor that told Keisha’s mother Mary Marshall in front of her daughters that she, too, had breast cancer. “My sister had to leave the room. I took out my pen and started taking notes and asking questions. My mom took a deep breath and said, ‘Okay, what do we do next?’ There were no tears. She was stoic.” She was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer in June 2013, and six months of chemotherapy followed by four to six months of radiation was recommended for treatment. Mary Marshall says she cannot pinpoint exactly why she waited so long to have her first mammogram except to say that she saw what her sister went through and did not want that for herself. “I just put it out of my mind.” However, her sister’s example came back to her when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. “In my mind, I said, ‘I’m going to be strong like Jackie. ‘”

In fact, her sister’s strength inspired Mary Marshall so much that she urged her daughter to have a follow up exam after Keisha’s first mammogram at 40 years old revealed that she had some cysts that needed to be further evaluated. Keisha delayed making and keeping the appointment for roughly eight to nine months. While she spent spring break with her daughter in Atlanta earlier this year, she told her that she would not leave until Keisha made the appointment. “I had that feeling that she might follow in my footsteps so I said, ‘Keisha, have you gone?'” So Keisha made and kept her follow up

"The beautiful thing about breast cancer is that puts you in a sorority you never asked to be in."

“The beautiful thing about breast cancer is that it puts you in a sorority you never asked to be in.”

appointment. An ultrasound was done, and a more in-depth evaluation was recommended. She was told she get the results in a week. “I went about my life, but I felt like I was in a cloud like when you see a character in a Spike Lee film and their feet aren’t moving. It felt like I was floating,” says Keisha, who is an instructional coach at Maynard Jackson High School in Atlanta. When she got the call, she was at the school. The news wasn’t what she hoped for. “I stopped breathing for a second. I went outside and sat on one of the benches and took my legs up under me. I asked the doctor, ‘Am I going to die?’ He said, ‘I’m not telling you that is going to happen. Let’s take one thing at a time.” Keisha was reassured when her doctor told her he would be meeting with a team of medical professionals to immediately work on a treatment plan for her stage 1 breast cancer. She was also encouraged when he told her that not all breast cancers are the same as Keisha has borderline triple-negative breast cancer. She had a lumpectomy in June and started chemotherapy in July. Now, she is undergoing radiation. She did not hesitate to share her story on Facebook with her community of friends and has shared photographs throughout her treatment. “I’ve been given the gift of speaking and writing. I think I got it from my mother’s father who was a preacher. He was so influential in the community, and he was always being vocal. It something sits inside of me, it sickens me. And I feel like I am soldier on the front lines, and if I kept it to myself, I’m not only doing an injustice to myself but to Jehovah Jireh.”

After she was told about her diagnosis, she told the news to Marcus, her husband of 16 years. “He said, ‘We’re gonna kick cancer’s @$$! You’ve seen your mama. You’ve seen your aunt.'” The couple then told their 10-year-old daughter. Although her eyes were filled with tears, she said, “‘Okay, mama we got this!'” She gave me a high five, and she gave her daddy a high five.” Providentially it seems, after Keisha’s diagnosis, her husband broke his hand in a car accident and as result, he has had to recover at home with Keisha.  “I feel like I am a seed that was planted, but I was not meant to be buried, I am planted to bloom.”

If you haven’t supported breast cancer awareness through organizations such as The Lola Brown Foundation (the organization named after my deceased Delta line sister) and breast cancer cure research through organizations such as the American Cancer Society, please consider doing so…

Any thoughts?

 

Check Out a FREE Valentine’s Day Excerpt of “Destination Wedding!” (GIVEAWAY)

Hello World,

Here’s a Valentine’s Day FREE Excerpt of Destination Wedding just for you! NOTE: Some of my characters curse although cursing is not my m.o….

     Mimi, Senalda, and Jarena met at Jackson’s for lunch for their second meeting, on Valentine’s Day Eve. They each had reserved Valentine’s Day in the last-minute hope that a real date would come through. None of them really believed that would happen this late in the game, but they wanted to give their new project the far-fetched optimism it deserved. Plus, Valentine’s Day Eve was also convenient for their married-with-kids friend to meet them at the East Atlanta upscale soul food restaurant.

As Jarena entered the small restaurant, Senalda waved her hand, beckoning her toward their table.

“Hey, Bossy.”

She spotted a bottle of champagne on the table next to a nearly full flute. Senalda’s chintz lipstick was around the brim.

“Celebrating already, are we?” Jarena deduced.

“Yes dahling,” Senalda confirmed with a laugh. “Just because we’re ‘manless’ doesn’t mean we have to be gloomy!”

“Is ‘manless’ even a word?” Jarena said, her Afro shaking as if to punctuate the incredulity.

Whitney, wearing oversized black shades with black leggings and a large, baggy pewter sweater exposing one shoulder, her hair twisted in a messy yet stylish chignon, approached, directed by the hostess.

“Hey, Whitney!” Jarena said. “Girl, how have you been? It’s been so long since we’ve seen you.”

“I know, I know,” Whitney replied in a breath, carefully settling herself into a chair. “And I’ve missed y’all too. Alright, Senalda, pour a glass for me. I’ve got about two hours before I have to get back to the twins. Richie is alone with them, and I don’t want him to drop them or anything. Gwenaëlle is off today.”

“Drop them?” Senalda said, filling a flute.

“Yes, Bossy,” Whitney said. “One baby is an adjustment but two, I mean, are a balancing act.”

“Richie will be alright for two hours,” Senalda stated, handing her the flute.

Whitney sipped for a minute, quietly.

“Dang lady, you alright?” Jarena said with a laugh. “You’re guzzling over there. And can you even drink if you’re breastfeeding?”

“I’m not,” Whitney said in between sips. She drank again until the champagne was gone. “I tried, but they won’t drink my milk. But enough about babies. Bring me back into the adult world. What’s going on with y’all?”

“Have you heard of La Leche?” Jarena offered. “One of my sorority sisters had the same issue, and she said the group helped her to find a solution.”

Whitney took off her shades, laying them on the table before replying.

“Is there nothing that you don’t know something about?” Whitney asked. “Sweetie, I was trying to change the subject, but I guess that went over your sweet head. For your information, the time frame for breastfeeding has already lapsed. So let’s try this again. What are y’all doing for Valentine’s Day?”

Totally unfazed, Jarena quickly replied. “Absolutely nothing. This makes three years in a row that I haven’t had a date for Valentine’s Day.”

“You work around all of those artists and you haven’t met some hot and rich music executive yet? He doesn’t even have to be hot if he’s rich!” Whitney said, loose tendrils of hair moving about her face.

“I don’t want to date anyone in the business.”

“See, you need to get out of your own way!” Whitney said. “Lesson #1: If you meet a man who is rich and is hot, what else do you need? Why wouldn’t you date the men that you work with? I mean, how are you going to meet men outside of the music business if you are always working anyway?”

“I tried dating a man in the business ten years ago, and as they say, you don’t need to defecate where you eat,” Jarena said.

“Really? I think the phrase is ‘Don’t shit where you eat,’” Senalda chimed in. “Damn, you were already a know-it-all. Don’t tell me you’re a no-drinking and no-cursing know-it-all now? If that’s the case, you’re in the wrong business.”

“One man! Honey chile, please! You may think you want a man, but you’re not acting like it. Senalda, what’s going on with you, honey bun? Tell me more about this Destination Wedding project.”

Before Senalda was able to respond, they spotted Mimi. Tall and slender with ebony locs nearly to her waist, Mimi was always noticed in any room. And today, she was wearing a black scarf that covered the roots of her locs, black leather pants, and a cutoff black turtleneck sweater that exposed the sliver of her white-chocolate skin between the top of her abdominal muscles and the start of her breasts.

“Have you committed a black-on-black crime?” Whitney quipped with a laugh. “Who are you hiding from?”

“Hey bitches to y’all too,” Mimi said. She moved her locs to one shoulder and sat down.

They all cackled with the resplendent joy of being in the company of all of your best friends at once: a precious rarity as an adult. Mimi and Jarena were friends since their Banneker High School days, Senalda and Whitney since Spelman College, and the four since their early twenties. They’d clicked on their first meeting and hung together as a foursome ever since.

“Well, this is our second Destination Wedding meeting but the first with the old married lady here,” Senalda said to Jarena and Mimi. “I’m just kidding. You know you can crash our meetings whenever you want to, Whitney.”

“Old married lady?” Whitney repeated. “I’m a certified MILF. Y’all want to get where I am. Married with twins and sneaking out to drink with my girls! Seriously though, what’s going on with you, Senalda?”

“Well, I did run into Dexter Bailey a couple of weeks ago,” Senalda

revealed. “Dexter Bailey from Morehouse, the Alpha?” Whitney said. “What’s going on with him? I haven’t seen him since we graduated with his cute self.”

“He was living in Miami, but his company transferred him to Atlanta last month. He’s a VP with UPS.”

“All of those initials I like! So is he married? Divorced? Does he have any kids?” Whitney said, in a flurry as she picked up a menu. “And let’s order too.”

“He almost got married a couple of years or so ago, but he’s very single now with no kids as far as I know,” Senalda said, “so we exchanged numbers. I called him, and he texted me the next day, but he hasn’t called me back yet.”

“And he probably won’t call you back now until after Valentine’s Day,” Whitney concluded with a laugh. “You know how men are. Valentine’s Day is too serious of a day for a first date. He will probably call you in a week or so.”

“I hope so,” Senalda said. “He looked good too. Just like I like a man. His suit was still crisp although it was after work. His hairline was still intact AND I noticed that he got into a BMW as everyone was leaving.”

Senalda and Whitney clapped their hands together in a resolute high five over the table.

“Y’all are too much,” Jarena said with a laugh. “I’m not gon lie. I don’t want a broke man, but he doesn’t have to be rich to get my attention.”

A pan crashed on the floor in the kitchen behind them and they all whipped around. The door was ajar, revealing two chefs bickering. Another chef jumped between them.

“What’s going on there?” Jarena called to their waiter who rushed over to them.

“I apologize for the commotion,” he said.

“Are those guys about to fight?” Senalda said.

“They argue all of the time,” he said in sigh. “They’re brothers and very temperamental. If you like, we can move you to another table so you won’t be nearby the kitchen.”

“No, that’s okay,” Senalda said to the waiter before turning back to her friends. “They must be good at what they do because their asses would have been fired a long time ago if they worked for me.”

The waiter walked back toward the kitchen as the chef who had separated the feuding chefs came over to them.

“Scuse me ladies, my name is Chef Wendell Robinson,” the rounded burly man said. “I want to apologize for what y’all just witnessed. I would be happy to provide free desserts for y’all to make up for interrupting you purrrty ladies. After y’all eat your meal, of course.”

“Awww, that’s so sweet,” Whitney said with a smile. “Do y’all have bread pudding? That’s my favorite dessert!”

“Unfortunately, we don’t ma’am, but there are many other delicious desserts to choose from.” He handed a dessert menu to each of them. “My favorite is our fried fruit pie. Just tell the waiter what you want when you’re ready, and I will make sure he doesn’t charge you. I wish you were on the menu, purrrty,” he said, ogling Senalda without apology. “How can I get some of you?”

The three women raised their eyebrows and smiled at Senalda without uttering a word.

“Well, aren’t you the aggressive one?” Senalda said with unflappable poise.

“I didn’t mean to make you squirm,” Wendell said.

“You didn’t.”

“I just wanted to tell you that you are the purrrtiest lady here, and I hope you have someone in your life that knows that.”

“Thank you—Chef Wendell, isn’t it?” Senalda said. “I appreciate the compliment, but I would like to get back to lunch with my friends.”

“Got it purrrty,” he said, with a smile and a salute. “Have a good lunch, ladies. My apologies again for the ruckus.”

“I don even like big ole men, but dude got me squirming over here, gurl,” Mimi said to Senalda. “Bossy, you betta get his number!”

“Hold up, Mimi,” Jarena said, raising her hand in the hair. “He’s a chef. He doesn’t meet her criteria.”

“No, he doesn’t,” Senalda said firmly, signaling that she was done discussing the flirtatious chef.

“Okay, there is something I’ve been wanting to tell y’all, but I wanted to wait until I had a good buzz going first,” Whitney said, as she polished off her second flute.

“Are you pregnant again?” Senalda said. “Is that even possible so soon after giving birth?”

“Uh no,” Whitney said. “I mean… we are done having children.” She hesitated before continuing. “Well, there is no way to really say it without just saying it.”

She filled in her girls on what she had observed in her basement. When she finished, the table was silent.

“Is that all?” Senalda finally said. “What man doesn’t watch porn from time to time?”

“He has watched pornography every night this week. And we haven’t made love in two months.”

“I stand corrected,” Senalda said. “I haven’t had a steady man in years, but I have to admit this sounds like a problem. What are you going to do?”

“I don’t know,” Whitney said. “We’ve been married for six years, and I don’t think he has ever cheated on me, but I wonder if that is next. Or what if he already has?”

Jarena opened her mouth to say something, anything that could reassure her friend, but Senalda quickly shook her head and mouthed, “No.”

Although the restaurant din had disturbed the women just a few minutes earlier, they now were grateful for the noise. None of them knew what to say next.

To win a free copy of “Destination Wedding” today on Valentine’s Day, answer this “Sex and the City” trivia question. What city did Carrie think might be her great love after Aidan and Big? The first person to answer this question wins!

Any thoughts?