Hard Desire, Soft Calling

Me & God keep having this tug of war. And I don’t mean to keep fighting against Him but life, habits and comfort sometimes plague me. Yet no matter how much I fight, he taps me on the shoulder, laughs then nudge me forward!

Sigh… so I go…

I told Him I wanted to work with hardware to fix broken stuff and He let me for a while, then said “play time is over, go work these pivot tables and queries”.

I reluctantly learned how to do so with the hope in my heart that I’ll love it the way I love tinkering but I don’t. Yet I kept going. I kept looking for that “first feeling” of glee when something works! But God has broken me from that superficial desire. He told me “Your duty is no longer to fix the broken, but to help the functioning be the best version of itself”.

Just wow!

So now my work as an analyst weighs heavily on identifying “at risk” opportunities, creating a plan, design, test and implement then leave users with a training manual.

How much different is my life? I spent the better part of my life being hardcore, because that was the safety I learned to rely on. But the older I’ve gotten, the more God helps me pull back, follow his lead and tap into my femininity…. the softness…. the software within me.

Sometimes our calling graduates from what we want to do, to what we are called to do. Our previous work is not in vain, but we are called to do greater.

My conference call this morning ended with “if you can throw in some graphs and charts to display trend, that’ll be great”. Oh so now they want me to tap into the software AND make it look pretty! 🤦🏾‍♀️

Thanks God, for using such a practical thing to get me to hear your voice and to let me know that you laid with me last night as I prayed. 🙏🏾

Ima still use my pink tools. Just for smaller, recreational projects. Cause I still know how to do it. I just don’t HAVE to do it nomo!

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Survivors remorse

I struggle with survivors remorse.

When I started going to counseling,the truth came out. Through most of my complaints was the underlying “but look at all you’ve accomplished regardless of your hurdles.”

On one hand it’s a great motivator, it pushes me to stay on top and to continue to have a heart to help others. On the other hand it holds me back and delays further progress.

I’ll be sincerely doing good, walking in my current calling, then here come my triggers, affecting my decisions.

causing me to stay longer than I should…

hold harder than I should…

tolerate what I shouldn’t…

wait longer than I should…

pull myself back…

dumb myself down…

and carry more than I should…

Then I get tired.

But I had to learn to confront my reality. I have to acknowledge my triggers. I have to constantly fight.

I’m up for the challenge, but sometimes When I look in people’s eyes, I can read spirits so vividly and sometimes they are SO loud…

part of me want to block it out….

part of me want to show empathy….

I wish I could do more….

My calling requires a little of both so I have to learn to balance.

The battle is not about losing control. It’s not about the inability to be effective. It’s not a weakness. You cannot always “run from” your triggers. It’s not as simple as that. The things I’ve survived have no respect age nor gender nor race nor social status, therefore I can bump into them at any time, any place so I must continue to grow.

I don’t feel bad enough to ever go backwards. I can’t stop, won’t stop moving forward. I acknowledge that part of surviving means I have to respect my history and my limitations. That’s the only way I ensure that Guilt has no home.

This is one of my favorite selfies. It captures me perfectly. I call it “The Battle Within”.
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Dear Life

Every stage I go through, I always think, “I don’t have the strength to get through this.” And every time, I pass, with wisdom for generations. So I’m sure this too shall pass but when I say my soul is SO tired!!!
I notice I never sit back in a chair. I tend to sit on the edge, my body is never relaxed, legs bent with one poised for push-off, so I’m always “ready for whatever”.
I’m tired of feeling guilty for smiling because right around the corner will come tears.
I’m tired of finally breathing only to be blindsided by the next hurdle.
I’m tired of the drastic roller coaster of battles to overcome. Dear Lord, can I at least catch my breath?! Sometimes I just want to walk alongside the shore with my eyes closed, feeling the wind and sun, hearing the sound of the waves, the birds and clueless children’s laughter.
I’m tired of always making safe choices, not because it’s the right thing to do, but because of fear of lack of mercy from this perilous planet.
I’m tired of being the strongest person I know. I NEED SOMEONE TO LEAN ON TOO!
I’m tired of talking but not being heard.
I’m tired of keeping everything to myself because the world has bigger problems than my “issues”.
I’m tired of not being able to cry.
So every morning I pray for peace
For strength
For mercy
For a gentle word or a gentle touch to let me know i’m alive.
For wisdom
For guidance
For rest
And every day I wake up happy to see a new day because it’s a new challenge, and if I have survived the mounds piled behind me, surely this cape that I’ve been forced to wear contain the superpowers I need to run this race!
And I do so, with a pep in my step and a smile on my face, head held high, chest stretched wide. Because someone I cross paths may need positive energy from me.
“I can do this” I say. Then I press on to conquer a new day.
I learned a long time ago, this life is not my own. So whenever I’m disappointed or angry or sad, it does not last long. If you listen closely to the lyrics of any sad love song, you’ll grow to understand that the only reason it hurts so, is because I love you more than you’ll ever know.
~Dear Life
Sincerely, Martina

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Put me in the game coach?

I am going to share a story with you and I will not apologize for the language because I want you to feel a (fraction) of what those children felt….

My son made the decision to transfer back into public school his junior year in high school. Although he liked the private school he was attending, he wanted to be back “home”. We supported his decision with the caveat that he maintain an upstanding high school experience considering he was back among peers. And he did not disappoint.

Academically, he maintained. He ended up taking honors math classes and was even voted “best overall student” by administrative staff his senior year. The first year of him returning, the basketball team advanced to the state level. He got a chance to participate in that. The following year (his senior year), most of the seniors graduated so this was a challenging year of figuring out how to mesh the remaining as well as the new players. The team was decent but there were some obvious challenges which caused understandable frustration all the way around.

In one particular game, besides making mistakes, the team overall was not performing well. Although they were still ahead, the game was too close for comfort… The coach expressed his discontent in his usual colorful manor, then, In the middle of the game, his frustration reaches a high and he starts yelling at the players (voice protruding, veins popping, leg stomping yelling). Most of the players shrugged it off because this is unfortunately normally (accepted) as a part of the game and besides, that’s just how he is… On this day though, the coach dug deeper. “Yall play like some little BITCHES. Yall some punks and I don’t know why yall even here… The belligerent tone from the coach started on the court in front of hundreds of spectators then continued into the locker room, where the cheap shots started.

Some of the things thrown at the players from the frustrated coach had nothing to do with the court mistakes, nor with basketball. He chose instead to hit them remarks about their parents and other personal matters that they trusted him to know about what was going on with them at home and otherwise. One player even burst in tears, which caused the other players to shift. These boys are like family, and what is done to the least of them is done to them all. They felt one another pain. Many of the players threatened to quit. Some never returned to the court after halftime, a couple returned to gym without their jersey on and for the rest of the game, the overall spirit was defeated. It was just too much..

From coach:

“Your dad finally came to see you and you play like a little  bitch. You should be embarrassed that he drove all the way here to see this”

“You don’t contribute anything to this team, I don’t even know why you are here”

“I should call some of the players at (Local inner city high school, his alma mater) to come over here and pay them $20 each to come beat yall asses.”

One player he got in his face so close and started yelling so hard that the player could feel the spit on his face. The player turned away, the coach followed him. The player stretched our his arm to distance himself, the coach pushed away his arm then got closer in his face. The player then pushed him off him to which the coach threatened to take his jersey. The player took off his jersey and gave it to the coach then walked away. The game went on but the team was never the same.

Guess who witnessed all this? Hundreds of people, including small children and staff.

What did the assistant coacheS say? Nothing

What did the referees say? Nothing

What did the admin staff say? Nothing

What did the principal say? Nothing

Through the eyes of these players, here are members of their community watching this type antics and nobody says a word. Here you have children that was not in trouble, nor failing grades, nor being a nuisance, most of them took the abuse and never spoke back. They were merely under-performing in a basketball game which resulted in demeaning them publicly by an adult authoritative educator in front of hundreds of people.

If you are an educator, shouldn’t you be held accountable for having the ability to effectively express yourself in a respectful manner?

As a leader, shouldn’t you be held accountable for being able to display emotional control?

As an elder, shouldn’t you be held accountable for setting an example of conflict resolution?

As a coach, shouldn’t you be able to bring out the best in your players in an effective way?

After the game my phone rings for hours, call after call. It is spectators, other parents, other COACHES and even a couple refs. They saw the whole night unfold. It was my son that had the physical altercation with the coach and it was uncharacteristic.  They acknowledge the coach was wrong and was checking on my son in particular because they knew him well. They applauded how he handled himself and wanted to make sure emotionally he was okay.  I expressed my appreciation. I know that sports can be intense at times but these phone calls confirmed I was not overreacting in my offense ESPECIALLY the ones that came from other coaches who know the game. (One of the coaches was the varsity coach for the team we were paying against).

“He is fine, thanks for checking” I replied. Trying my hardest to not emotionally react.

To one coach, I opened up. “I just don’t know how to handle it. I don’t want to tell my son to kiss ass and subject himself to the continuation of this, but at the same time I don’t want him to quit. This is not an isolated occurrence, it is merely the ONE that the public got to finally witness. This year, I’ve seen the flame for his love of this game dissolve and it saddens me. He does not even play the same. I really do not know what to do but we will figure it out”. I valued his input because I know as a man and as a coach, he can give objective perspective for me to consider. He’s known my son since elementary school, my son played AAU ball for him for years, and was concerned.

So I, finally call the coach, to which he says “I knew you would be calling. I know that your son does not like people violating his personal space, but I did it anyway, and for that I apologize”.

I said I understand your frustration, and feel that my son handled himself well considering the circumstances, but besides that, but do you really think taking cheap shots at the boys, whom you KNOW are experiencing struggle and pain and using that against them is the best way to handle this situation? And getting in my son personal space like that, he is months away from being a grown man and double your size and you dare try to demean him in that way and expect him to just sit there and take it just because you are an authority? Not because he did something wrong, not because he was in trouble, but because he did not perform to your approval. Do you talk to grown men that way you encounter on the street?

His response “ If these boys are planning to play sports at the next level, they will encounter adversity. I am helping them out.”

He never did apologize to the boys. Instead, they saw each other at school the next day, spoke and head nod. After missing a few practices, my son returned to the court to finish the season but the team was never the same.

And to think, this happened unapologetically in the public. The boys don’t talk about all that they endure privately just so they can play ball…. “Put me in the game coach”?


Moral of the story:

While we are so quick to degrade “troubled children”, who is checking your peers? It’s not just educators but adults in general. Are we holding ourselves to the standards that we place upon our youth? Are we SHOWING them how to be? Are we teaching them how to be? It is a vicious cycle and many times, the children are returning the respect (or lack of) that they are receiving, yet we hold them at a higher performing, educational, moral and emotional standard than the adults that should know better. But we say the children are the problem.

Who else, should we accept this method of “Adversity training” for underperformance?

The police?

An employer?

A spouse?

A prejudice neighbor?

Hey coach, how did that “adversity training” work out for you sir? Did you get that trophy?

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One thing you will never catch me doing is talking about someone else. Through my struggles, it wasn’t the struggle itself that hurt as much as the reactions and treatment of others. That is coming from family and non, people you know and those you don’t.

I never want to be that person that feel like I “made it” high enough to sit on the throne judging others. YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DEALING WITH OR WHAT THEY FACE!

I have been that woman going to the store in a bonnet and you know what, fighting depression, it took every bit of energy for me to even GET OUT OF THE BED!!!!!!!!!!

I’ve been that wayward teenager who learned at 5 YEARS OLD that NOBODY HAS YOUR BACK BUT YOU. NOBODY… (Innocence lost) It took me decades to take down my own wall (that i didn’t even understand existed) to trust people. Can you imagine FIVE years old carrying that baggage? but all folks could do is label me and suck their teeth.

I’ve been that unkempt woman who didn’t have female guidance to teach me how to properly care for myself

I’ve been that person that learned how to survive so knew nothing about thriving.

I’ve smoked a lot

I’ve drank a lot

I lost virginity BEFORE adulthood without care or concern about tomorrow.

I had babies outta wedlock

I’ve raised children alone

I’ve felt the agony of losing not one but 2 children that I never held

I’ve had to figure out this parenting thing and made sacrifices and questionable choices along the way. Heck I’m STILL LEARNING!!

I’ve been that woman who stood by and supported a man who’s loyalty was outside our home.

I’ve had bad weave

I’ve left out the house without lotion

I’ve made bad financial decisions

I’ve had and been a bad friend

I’ve dealt with toxic family

I’ve been that person sitting in church pretending

I’ve been made fun of

I’ve been broken

I’ve been confused

I’ve felt invincible

I’ve stood in the middle of the room and cried because I did not know what direction to go

I’ve wanted to DIE

At times I didn’t know there was another way to be. Other times I didn’t know HOW to break free.

The list goes on and on but the bottom line is, unless you understand that people go through stages and not every one story is the same, you have NO IDEA what it is like to live in their world. Even with those making bad decisions, what are you doing besides talking about them, judging them and passing negative energy about them? But the way these opinions are flowing, you’d think God himself appointed you emotional gatekeeper over someone else story.

I’m SO GLAD God stepped directly in my life, because if I had to rely on yall for my deliverance, I’d still be right there giving yall something else to talk about! But shoot, yall talk anyway. Stay tuned! What you see now is just a stage. None of us is where we shall be until it’s the final call.


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I recently participated in Vision + Verse where I went to the local art museum and selected a piece that spoke to me, then write about it and present it to the group. I chose this piece called “Vignette- Wishing Well” by Kerry James Marshall

Oh and I made my own shirt just for tonight!

Title of my poem: seeds

In the midst of darkness, you may see lack, but I show my faith, for I’ve thrown seeds behind my back.

For what looks like a forest with desolate trees, looks like opportunity to me. To plant flowers that bloom where it is dark, watered by the faith that’s stored in my heart.

For out of the darkness shines a little light and while you see a shadow, that’s my cheerleader on the right. Someone silent and strong and willing to be. Supportive while I explore the dark areas in me.

Who is the man that’s down in the shadows, he’s whispering thoughts that only I know.

You see, He came from a battle of my past and serves as a memory that hard times won’t last.

Hey Tina, remember from whence you came, make your mark, plant your seed, make them remember your name.

What was meant to hold me down has tested my faith because good things come to those who wait.

There’s a lot of black in this space. It reminds me of the beauty of a Nubian face. While you attempt to describe black as a creepy night. I actually glow because I absorb the glorious light.

Coupled with pink makes me think of life in its many layers. I stand firm and throw hearts to all of the haters.

Moment captured is just a period of time. I praise God for the mountains I’ve had to climb.

Above the wishing well is a cliff, a reminder of Gods precious gift. Because just when I’m about to give up, my God is faithful to interrupt.

And just when I think I’m shouting alone, someone with a paintbrush comes along. He watches me!

Up and down, high or low,

There’s no place the love of God won’t go.

Rocks and wells, cliffs and trees, I’m surrounded by love that comes to find me.

I release and I receive whatever it is

for my life is not my own, it is His.

See the full performance in the YouTube link below!


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Who needs friends when you can have followers, pets, books, or solitude?
Well, we ALL do. Friends are the people we choose and who chose us, devoid the comfort of genetic connection. Yes, familial relationships are great, but isn’t it wonderful to form a meaningful relationship with someone who has the option to connect with you, and chooses to do so? Friends are the people that we purposely explore, the people we make conscious choices to interact with, the people we share experiences with, the people we are vulnerable with, the people we grow with.
So who’s a friend?
It’s easy to label others as friends.
Growing up, we called those that we played with, or the neighbor children, children we saw on a daily basis, or other children we just spent lots of time with friends. As we grow older, we tend to group off and choose friends we have things in common with or those we share activities with. Then once we reach adulthood, we are thrown into a world with people who come from different places, have had different experiences, live different lives form us, and think differently from us. This is when we begin to evaluate friendship differently. 
Whether we are starting anew or have been blessed with friends that have grown with us from childhood through all these stages, our relationships change as we grow and we learn to value one another on an ever-evolving level.
Get you a diverse group of friends.
We should always have more than one friend, and it is wise to have a diverse group. Diversity challenges individuality and gives you the opportunity to mature into who you were destined to be. How do you know who you really are if not challenged or exposed to a different way of thought? How can we grow if everyone is the same and always agree with us? How can we grow if we are surrounded only by those who have a genetically emotional connection?
While working in corporate America, I have blue collar friends- they keep me humble.
Married friends help me understand sacrifice in relationship.
Single friends remind me to enjoy myself.
Friends from the hood teach me ways to creatively manage my resources.
Friends of wealth teach me how to be financially aware.
Friends younger than me help me think outside the box.
Friends older than me are wise and help guide me through the current stage of my life. (They’ve been there, survived that).
Serious friends help me focus.
Silly friends help me laugh.
Friends who come from where I come from teaches me empathy.
Friends from the other side of the tracks teaches me humility; to know that there is a completely different way of life.
There’s the praying friend that teaches me faith.
The patient friend that holds my hand and teaches me to ease up on myself.
The supportive friend that always have my back.
You see, the world is wrong when we are told that you don’t need friends or that “followers” are the same as friends. Friends add to our journey and friendship requires work. You don’t always have to agree. You don’t have to like the same things or go the same places. You don’t even have to talk all the time!
A great friend is one that you can be raw with and accept from them the same. Someone you value for who they truly are. Someone you don’t try to change, but you change alongside one another.  After all, the older you get, you will realize it is absolutely impossible to stay the same. Neither will they.  No matter how hard you fight, you WILL eventually change.
And why not?
I don’t think, talk, move the same as when I was younger. The friends I had in my youth, my 20s or even in my 30s, if we remained the same, we’d lost decades of growth. I have some of the same friends grow with me and some new. I can now sit with my friends and laugh about things we used to do “back in the day” or things we’ve overcome and learned. 
No matter the quantity or “status” of friends, no matter the specifics, all of your friends should have one thing in common: unconditional love and growth.
Make Life be good to you!
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Literally practical

Sometimes, I think we take things so literally that we lose practical understanding.

Let’s take religious text, for example. If I quote words of wisdom, I’m likely to get several reactions. Two of those are one who will take the words verbatim, and another who automatically reject every word, merely because it came from a particular source. But have you ever taken out the time to understand?

Let’s explore a few stories:

The tree of good and evil. 

Whether an apple tree or some other fruit, whether Adam could have aided in prevention, have you considered this:

What if the tree is a metaphor for anything that may tempt you and either harm or stray you away from your purpose? What if the tree is a person, or drugs, a destination or even a tv show or song?

Before they ate from the tree, they were naked and knew no shame. Afterward, for the rest of their lives, they have to worry about nakedness. Even today, we obsess over clothing so much, that some of us will sacrifice things we need in order to obtain the specific clothing and some will even kill for certain brand names. And now, our perspective on nakedness has been so corrupted that we have a fetish with and laws against nudity.

Do you remember the days of your youth or the youth of your child, and as soon as the diaper comes off, they take off running happily until you catch and clothe them? That’s because they have not yet eaten of that fruit of knowledge of shame. They still have the innocence of happy nakedness. Now that our eyes have been opened, we train each generation that nakedness is shameful and should be covered. We, all being like Eve, feed them that fruit, and the children, like Adam, partake. What if God was just trying to protect our purity to enjoy the way we were created, but because we were exposed to and explored a different perspective, that innocence is gone and we now see things differently?

Think of the tree as cigarettes. You become addicted and now have a lifelong battle to fight. Same goes for drugs and alcohol and other consumables. What if the tree is a person? You wanted a relationship with this person so bad, and rather than listening to the warnings to stay away from them, you wanted to find out for yourself. You get involved with them and the relationship takes a negative turn. Now, you have a cynical outlook on relationships. What if the tree was a child exposed to a genre of explicit entertainment? Once their mind is open to a mature thought, you cannot close it again.

Then when Eve ate the fruit, she took some to Adam and he also ate, then both their eyes were opened. Think of your first addiction and who exposed you to it. Many of us are introduced to addictive things by someone we care about. Although both had to suffer consequences, neither will completely understand the extent of the suffering of the other.  So it’s not just the punishment of pain and work. Now, rather then the unison of pure thought, we suffer mental division. That, coupled with the fact that the innocence of natural thought is now tainted by doubt, was the beginning of overshadowing the voice of God.

Think also of the serpent as a cunning stranger. When thoughts are presented to us in a new way, and we accept, we are further divided. It’s interesting how the serpent did its job to sow discord then went about its way, leaving humankind to suffer. What if the serpent was merely representative of curiosity and temptation? His ONLY job is to distract you. What if God knew that the temptation would harm you because once you see, you can’t unsee, your innocence is no longer protected and you’ll forever fight the distractions and curiosity of “knowledge”?

Anything in our life can be that tree. Anyone can be that serpent. After all, not everyone is tempted by apples and not everyone is afraid of snakes…

In the belly of the whale

Was this a whale or just a large fish? How could he breathe? How is it that he wasn’t digested? How is it possible that he stayed alive?

What if the fish represents a place of wilderness and isolation? What if the story is that of a person that runs so far from their calling, living a life that’s not meant for you, endangering the innocents among you, taking dangerous risks, just to be thrown into isolation and given time to humble yourself and return unharmed, yet matured to fulfill your destiny?

Sometimes we have to be taken away from everyone and everything in order to hear clearly the voice of God and accept what he wants from us. And sometimes it takes an attention-getting experience in order for that to take place.

What if the story of creation is a message to us that we need to get everything in order before we start a family?

What if the story of the flood represented letting everything go and only taking with you what’s strategically chosen. The dove letting you know you’ve finally reached a place of peace where you can begin again.

And then there’s you. What if you are the interpretation of what the world has told you that you should be, eating from every tree that looks good, trying to blend in amongst people, running from your own life,  but God is pulling you into the wilderness to tell you to let you know that he has protected you and has made provisions for you and all you need to do is simply let all of the former things you knew go and walk with all power into the newness of your destiny.


Martina Alford

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Apology From my Mother

I keep seeing the meme that says some parents owe their children an apology and here’s my 💎

I held resentment against my mother for decades. I was upset at what she should have done, what she did decide to do, what she didn’t teach me, what I lacked, and a list of violations…. finally when I turned 40, we had “the conversation”. I told her how I felt and she responded with 2 phrases that completely changed my life.

1. “Tina, stop wallowing in the mud”. This one pissed me off at first cause I was like how’s that wallowing if I’m expressing my true feelings, trying to clear the air? But the truth is, after some time, you are merely complaining. There’s nothing that nobody on this planet can do to change what had happened. At some point you must choose to move on Regardless of the receipt or neglect of acknowledgement or apology.

2. “Tina, I’m a person too”. And I stood there at 40 years old talking to “my mama” neglecting to respect the fact that besides what I feel that she owe me, she is a human being with her own identity and her own struggles and have given up a good portion of her “good years” taking care of children the best way she knew how. Regardless of parental choices or mistakes she made, I’m fully grown now and no longer her responsibility. She has full right to reclaim her own life and live it as she please.

Those 2 things caused me to accept the apology that I may never get and understand that it’s deeper than that. What if they did their best? What if they didn’t know better? What if they had to make decisions they dare not share? What if their “bad choice” was actually the best choice? Will an apology “fix things”?

To my children I will say that I’ve done my very best with all that God has put within me, made great sacrifices and done things that only God knows in order to give y’all a top notch life. I’ve taught you. I’ve connected you. I’ve made provisions for you. I’ve encouraged you. Should you still find fault in my imperfection, then forgive me because I’m only human and have put my personal battles on hold fighting for you, the best way I knew how.

I decided that rather than expecting my mother to apologize for anything, I will just make the best decisions for myself, and my own children. And you know what. I guarantee, at least one of them will still find complaint…. 🤷🏾‍♀️🤦🏾‍♀️



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PTSD is not just something that is particular to those that have attended military/war. It applies to anyone who has been subjected to a traumatically stressful situation and are still alive to try and live after the dust clears.

We were a closely-knit family. I’m the second oldest, first daughter of 5 children. Growing up, our lives consisted of school, church, family and playing with neighborhood children. Most of the houses on our street were single family homes with yards, two parents with multiple children.  Dad made sure we were moderately dressed and in a “controlled” environment, always together, rarely apart. I don’t think we knew what an apartment was and we had no clue what blended family was. Suburban life is what we had. Even the things that we went without, we made it work, and even though things went on around us, we were shielded.

But at the age of 5, I was molested by family member. I never understood why he would want to touch little girls (I later found out that I wasn’t the only one). Just the mention of his name makes me remember his nasty voice and see his vulture face then deal with the reality that no legal action was ever taken against him. He even went on to marry multiple times and have multiple children. I don’t remember how my family found out, but I remember my parents being upset. I have no idea how they handled it, but he never touched us again. And I don’t remember being around him very much after that.

But he is still around. And I was hushed and told to not talk about it. I was just told to get over it and move on with my life. “Don’t wallow in the mud”. I’m encouraged to speak on happy things and treated with a watchful eye to see if Ima one day spill the beans. It’s funny how people are more worried about protecting a  predator’s “name” and making excuses for him than they are healing a (troublemaker) damaged child.

This man has gone on to do the same to countless others, all cases unpunished, leaving a trail of tears, while he praises the name of the lord. I received no therapy for this. So I tried to process it all the best way I knew how, by becoming secluded and protected. I stayed to myself a lot. I chose a way of life that I thought made me “disappear”. I wanted to be as unappealing as possible so that I am not a target to anything like that happening again. But how is that possible? How can you disappear from neck to feet pajamas and touches while you were asleep? But where there’s a fetish, there’s a way so he did it anyway. And there was nothing I could do to stop it.

“He ONLY touched you, it’s not like he ACTUALLY did anything else” is the sentiment. “He was a teenager and didn’t mean anything by it” was the excuse.  “That was a long time ago, get over it”, as if time makes the violation go away.

I became cynical and overprotective. I became a very light sleeper. I don’t like anyone to touch me unsolicited, especially if I don’t know you. I can’t sleep with my back to a door nor a window. I don’t like closed doors. I don’t like elevators nor tiny bathroom stalls, anything that makes me feel closed in or trapped. I don’t like entitlement syndrome like, just because you have a particular position or title gives you full access.

I’ve been a mother over 22 years and only a handful of people have ever watched my children for short periods of time. And I’m quick to fight for and stand up for my children. I wouldn’t allow many to change my children’s diapers and all my children were taught, as soon as they could walk, how to clean themselves, potty training and bathing so they wouldn’t have to rely on anyone else to do those things. I taught them defensive and safety skills early, and I did not speak to them with baby talk. I needed them to be able to communicate clearly, as soon as possible.

For years I struggled with the lack of consequence. He stole my innocence and changed my perspective. I thought I had pushed past them. I thought I had suppressed those feelings, but recently, I’ve struggled with those negative feelings resurfacing because here my dad, a good man, has passed, but you are still alive!? I know it’s unfair to wish death upon anyone but I don’t understand this. But then again, I’m not ready for him to die, cause these last few decades, he is the reason that I KNOW that Karma is true! I’ve watched Karma kick his ass, and karma is the reason I forgive you. Then I’ll move out of the way and let karma finish it’s job.

Unhealed trauma…


When I was in middle school, our parents separated, and although this is now common, in the 1980-90s where we came from, was unheard of. And we had no prior indication. We were children of the same two parents, rarely spent any day apart, went everywhere together, did everything together. We came home one day, and was literally split and taken to a new life. It was a complete shock! I still remember the day they separated and the emotional confusion I had. This caused me to become skeptical. How can everything be fine one day then the bottom fall out the next? We never went to counseling, no conversation was had about it, just move on with your life. So I tried to process it the best way I knew how. I went through life expecting a storm on a sunny day. Smiling at the good times yet peeking around the corner. Accepting blessings with a side eye. In my adulthood, I decided that I would be very verbal and call things as they were. I became unapologetically straightforward. My motto became “You can’t say you weren’t warned”.

Unhealed trauma…


As I got older, I realized that adults go through things that you can’t always explain, especially 5 children with 5 different levels of understanding. So I released the feeling that my parents turned “my” world upside down. I realized that they had a whole entire world they were trying to manage themselves from a perspective foreign to me. And even if they could explain, does that mean they have to? My parents did not owe it to anyone to explain their decisions. They only needed to make a decision then yes, it is up to us to adjust.  Right or wrong, good or bad, their life was their decision to make.

I don’t know what kind of counseling would have helped at that time. Counseling does not make your wishes come true. It couldn’t glue everything back together and make the separation not have even happened. And if it did, would that be “fixing” things? Would that have made things right? Do I get make the decision what’s right? Do I get to choose that what’s right for me = right for them?  I don’t even know what those “things” were, and as their child, that’s not my place. Their separation made me have a negative outlook on marriage. It made me say well, if people can be married one day then abruptly separate the next, what’s the point of marriage? So I began to treat relationships as temporary so I wouldn’t be hurt WHEN they ended. Yet I longed for that steady relationship which I did not even believe existed.

Counseling can give you a platform to process what’s going on inside of you in a healthy way.


I moved with my mother and got my first job at 15 through a summer program. My mother informed me that it was now my responsibility to buy my own clothes and shoes, etc. And I did. What I bought was mine and I no longer relied on either parent to clothe me, nor did I spend all I had and I didn’t expect anyone to supplement. But my mother and I did not get along. Looking back, maybe it was just a difference in personality (we still have those differences now), or maybe we were separately going through things and neither knew how to deal with the other, but you don’t think of those things at the time and even so, don’t know how to handle them, so guess I rebelled. I’m sure I had a smart mouth and an attitude and some defiance. All I knew was my frustration with her. I didn’t even think to consider hers with me.

I ended up moving in with my father, and although we are more kindred spirits, after finishing that year of school there, he allowed me to move in with his sister to be around more female influence. I learned a lot from her. From cooking to doing hair (relaxers, weaves, braids) to caring for the house, I was miss independent. I stayed with her for a short while then, an abortion later, ended up on my own and I was okay with that. I won’t elaborate on the abortion other than to say that you may be able to “get rid of the baby” but the spirit lives within you forever.


While in high school, I was emancipated. And I didn’t really understand what that meant. I just remember thinking, aha, y’all need your parent permission but I can sign for my OWN self!  At that point I was attending a school where I was 1 of 3 black people in my entire graduating class, the opposite of everything I had known until this point in life (talk about a culture shock!). And I lived over 100 miles away from the nearest parent. But I got up every day and went to class and social events.

By the age of 17, I signed my own lease in my own apartment. I thought I was real grown. Emancipated, own apartment and I was dating a man 12 years older than me! He was the reason I got into that apartment. His brother owned a complex and let me live in one of the units. To cover my rent, I cleaned the vacant places and did light touch up paint, etc. as needed. I was responsible for my own utilities so I washed dishes at a local diner. I didn’t stay there long, but that opened the door for me to start a rental history then eventually move into another place. The boyfriend would shower me with attention and gifts, bought me a nice car and gave me money whenever I wanted, so you couldn’t tell me nothing!


I graduated from high school with my CNA license while going to school full time and working TWO jobs, a car and apartment of my own. But something wasn’t right. I woke up one day and decided this is not the life for me. And this is not the relationship for me. Besides him being 12 years older than me, there are a list of reasons why we should have never been together in the first place. I had no plans and no particular dreams, but I knew that I couldn’t continue life this way.

I sold my car, shipped my belongings to my mother’s place (she had moved south by then) and bought me a one way train ticket to Atlanta. Then came the phone call. “ I see that everything you care about is gone, you’re not coming back are you”? “No”, I stated. “I figured”, he said, but he understood. Little did I know just 3 weeks later I would find out that I was pregnant. Ready for a change and almost 700 miles away, I called and told him I was pregnant and we decided that since I was going to keep the baby, he wasn’t going to move where I was and I wasn’t coming back, so I’d do this alone. At age 19 I gave birth to my first son.


I gave that baby the best life I knew how. I kept a journal from the first day I took the pregnancy to the dr visits to potential names to first kicks and you name it! That journal continued until well after he was born! I always kept a job, welfare never crossed my mind. He stayed safe and cared for, healthy and fly. I bought a new car and we would drive down the highway singing Outkast “So Fresh and so Clean”. He was my preppy baby. Always in polo style shirts and since I worked in a shoe store, he kept fresh kicks!

I was around family again. And although they helped me with him, if you saw me, you saw him. Whether pulling out in that car, which was eventually stolen, or carrying him down the street to the bus stop, there we were, Tina and Choo. I even would sometimes take him to work with me. One day, while working at a pawn shop, someone came in and stood there, gun pointed in my face and robbed us! As I looked at the spot behind the counter where I usually put my son up to play, and for once, was so glad he wasn’t with me. My first thought was to run. But instead, I carefully unlocked the register and all of the jewelry cases then got out of his way. When the robber left, I got up, locked the door, cried and chain smoked my last pack of menthol cigarettes, then the next day walked into the local college, ready to stop working and start a career.


Me: I would like to enroll in Auto mechanics (you see, hanging around the men in my family, I knew about cars and I loved them so what better career?)

DeVry: We don’t have that here

Me: Well what do you have?

DeVry: We have Electronics and Computer Technology

Me: Well sign me up!

College was great! I was older than most of the students. Most of them were fresh out of high school. There were also some career changing students so we had a nice blend of ages in our class. I had a great group of friends, we studied together, ate together, hung out, they helped me care for my son (I was the only one with a child). The professors let me take him into class with me. He would mostly sit in a desk and color quietly. Then, at the age of 25, with my college sweetheart, after a devastating miscarriage, I gave birth to my second son. I missed only one semester. I moved back in with my mother briefly. I stayed on the dean’s list. I GRADUATED from college that I Financed 100%, while working and caring for 2 children.


2 months after graduation, I was offered and accepted a job in a new state where I knew ZERO people. Then began the next phase of my life. I left my boys with my mother for the summer and moved to Tennessee, staying in a hotel until I saved enough money to get an apartment. Then, at the start of the school year, as my oldest was about to start 1st grade, I brought them to our new place. I began to establish a life for myself and sons, joined a church, met friends, and got involved in activities.

Then, at the age of 30, just 9 months after meeting a new friend, we got married. We blended our families, his 1, my 2 and we had a daughter together that year. We bought a house, was active in church and traded in my sedan for a SUV. But by the age of 35 that SUV was totaled. I got t-boned T-Boned by a police officer on his way to back up someone on a call. He ran through a red light at full speed and no sirens. Talk about trauma! I still cringe when I pass that intersection to this day!

I put my firstborn through PRIVATE SCHOOL costing more than my mortgage. I had very little support with that but I made the sacrifice. And you know what, he GRADUATED from that school! Then went off to college. Can you believe that? Single parent Tina from ESL IL gave birth to this child, withstood all those challenges and have the audacity to have a son that graduated from a world renowned school! Amazing! He was the first one in this family to do so! I was so proud! Private school isn’t easy! And especially a world renowned one that has kids from all over the planet boarding just to get into school here. What a blessing!

Not only did my son have the educational backing, he has such a likeable personality that he has made lifelong connections and earned his own name! Just wow! He did that! But I did that too! I’ve had to learn to give myself credit for my choices as his mother that paved the way for him to establish himself! I’ve supported his entrepreneurial endeavors, buying him a camera cause he wanted to be a photographer, a t-shirt press to support that dream, bought him an airbrush machine and drawing tools to enhance his creativity, and partnered with him in the fashion creation business.


By the age of 40 I filed for divorce. After almost 10 years of putting on public façade, I had enough. I was having anxiety attacks, going to a cardiologist, seeing a counselor and was battling depression. There is no way that I can live in a dysfunctional home and continue to fake a smile. NOW I understand what my parents could have possibly faced! I’m not saying that was their story, because neither of them talked much about the separation.  But it’s easy to make a marriage look good, when in reality, if it’s not working, it’s just not working, and you do more damage than good when you try to fake it. When I spoke to the kids about my divorce, one of them told me “I was wondering why it took so long”. I was heartbroken. Here I was thinking I was protecting them by hanging in there, doing my best, but the truth is, kids see the things we try to hide, and we damage them more by lying to them. Their only concern is “How will our life change”. ” I don’t know”. I told them but we will figure it all out together.

Yes, we did individual and couples counseling, yes we did classes, yes prayer, yes books, yes, yes. Bottom line, if 2 people are growing in opposite directions, there is no counselor alive that can make that work. And honestly, I had gotten to the point that I didn’t want to. Once the voices outside your home hold a stronger influence than those inside your home, your decision has already been made. I’m no longer going to fight against that. I was done. it was hard for me to tell my dad. “no, no, no, Tina” he said. I can still hear the disappointment in his voice. Daddy believed that God only gives you the one wife you are supposed to have period. I, like my parents talked to no one about what was going on in our home, except our clergy and counselors, but once the divorce was final, there was an unexplainable peace that filled our home. I kept the house, and we had so much inside that he was able to take a place full of furniture and we lacked nothing.


My youngest son completed 2 years at that same private school as my oldest then requested to be transferred to a school that’s a better fit for him. When he came to me about transferring, I was skeptical. I didn’t want him making a decision motivated to protect me. I needed to know why he was doing it and be assured that he wasn’t making assumptions about my coins or struggling with anything personal.  I made him write me an essay explaining his decision, and a paper outlining the pros and cons of being at both schools before I allow the transfer. He gave me a thoroughly written explanation within hours. He knew what he wanted and I supported that. When he transferred, they put him in honors classes. If he had the capacity to perform top notch at the private school, nothing less is expected now.

Later that year, after his transfer back into the public schooling system, I broke my leg in 2 places, needing a permanent rod and 5 screws followed by a hysterectomy ONE WEEK after that, leaving me off work with 6 weeks limited mobility. It turned out to be a blessing! Since he was now at a tuition free school, it gave us the financial availability to survive!

It was a challenging time for me mentally. Being limited in mobility, physically recovering, learning to maneuver again. Realigning my budget, running a household, trying to maintain some sense of normalcy, I opted not to take pain pills. I took one when I first got home and passed out from it and that was a deal breaker for me. As I mentioned in the beginning, I am a light sleeper and anything that interferes with that, I will not partake, so muscle relaxers it was! So I chose to tough out the pain of a broken leg and hysterectomy for 6 weeks with no medication. But  I did it.


Then my dad died. My dad, the first person I talk to each day. My kindred spirit. The person that knows all my darkness, yet looks at me with light. The person who will speak to me with both reality and encouragement. The one that taught me that life is not a fairy tale and you don’t get to sit and complain about it. You have to get up and work for it. He’s gone. Died right in my hands. Right before my eyes. Gone. Forever. And left us with his legacy to decipher and fulfill.

There is so much more that I haven’t even mentioned, cause like I said, I’m not new to this, I’m true to this! Every challenge, I’ve learned from. Every obstacle, I’ve overcome. Every fear, I’ve conquered. I have triumphed, I’ve developed, and even on my bad days, my foundation is so stable that I quickly recover.

In the midst of all that:

I lost 3 grandparents

Paying off TWO student loans

Paying off a car that I co-signed and got repossessed so the bank sued me

I’ve helped my youngest son get connected on catering events to support his dream of becoming a chef

I’ve helped my daughter start TWO businesses beginning at age 7

Survived bankruptcy

Let my goddaughter come stay with me

I started a mother daughter mentoring group

Converted my basement into a studio/workspace

Started renovations on the rest of my house


Created my own website

Celebrated 16 year anniversary at the SAME EMPLOYER, working in my FIFTH position

Spoken word artist

motivational speaker

Volunteer endeavors:

Team mom for ALL children sports

3-D Modeling Troop

TNAchieves mentor

And have made many relationships, whom stepped up at various times through all of these to help when we needed.



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