2022 is Coming Out Swinging!

We are 9 days into the new year and 2022 is not playing. Prince Andrew under investigation, Sir Sidney Poitier passing away, the Omicron variant shutting down 46+ schools in the Philadelphia area, my Instagram account was hacked by a group of folks out of Lagos, Nigeria and Covid mandates are threatening employment everywhere.

I feel like I am living through the live-action version of Animal Farm by Orsen Welles. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. It’s available on audible.com. Our society is moving into very dangerous territory and most people don’t seem to notice.

These mandates smell the same as these outrageous abortion laws being passed in some states. How are these unyielding controls meant to benefit humanity? How are these laws meant to improve our lives, or are they just meant to exert control over our ability to decide for ourselves?

If you could decide on one thing that would improve society as a whole in 2022, what would you decide and why? What would you like to see improved?

Happy New Year 2022!

2021 refused to go away quietly. In a last ditch effort, the year snatched Betty White from us. I used to watch the Golden Girls with my mom as a child. As a curious 7 year old I couldn’t understand why Rose seemed so clueless. It angered me because I felt girls were always shoved in a box and told to stay there. “Don’t ask questions, don’t speak out, don’t point out wrongs, just go along with what you’re told.” As a young black girl in a world constantly telling me to shut up and sit down I wanted Rose to fight back. As I got older and saw Betty White in other acting roles, I understood. She has always fought back but in her own way. I am grateful for her being who she was.

For the past couple of days I debated whether or not to even write about the new year. I feel like I’m fighting the same internal battle I vowed to end several new years ago. But during part of 2020 and 2021 I did a short series of Facebook lives where I spoke my thoughts on current events and internal conflicts I had been working through. These lives were to release the conversations in my mind. I ended my lives with encouragement, more so for myself than for anyone else who may have watched. “Recognize you are dope. Share your dopeness. But be careful who you share your dopeness with because not everyone is equipped to handle it.” This is the encouragement my teenage self needed, so I share it for any who may find comfort in it.

Encouragement is more important now than ever before because the world has grown so desensitized to pain and suffering. Growth and progress requires quiet self-reflection and planning and that is not encouraged much in today’s world of chasing riches and fighting for survival. But during the holidays I came across a decorative piece that was simplistic and to the point: Progress Over Perfection. So instead of writing down an entire to-do list for 2022 I am choosing a theme for this year and progress over perfection is fitting.

May you maintain good health and a keen sense of what is right for you, and defend that firmly. Happy new year and may you create the life you’ve always wanted!

Happy Holidays!

I was neck-deep in knitting Christmas gifts these last three months and am finally able to take a break. All gifts were well received and appreciated for being hand-made by me. It was truly a labor of love. Commercialism has definitely slapped a huge price tag on the holidays and many go along with that, but for me I always strive for meaningful gifts. Something truly desired or needed. Or a combination if possible. That’s my love language.

Raglan Knit Sweater Pattern (my added pocket) by Ashley Lillis

That’s the underlying meaning of these holidays, honoring family and friends and expressing that. Understanding and accepting that we only have this moment, right now. Tomorrow is not promised, and yesterday is history. In this moment right now I choose to give and accept the love given to me. Simple right? Not always, but when you work on it one moment at a time you create a hand-made life that you love like your favorite cozy blanket.

O Holy Night, sang for my mother

No matter what holiday you celebrate, remember to show love to yourself and your loved ones while you can. Appreciation and love feels wonderful any day of the year.

Having fun with family

One Stitch At A Time

These last 18+ months have taken a mental toll on many of us. Far too often we are unable to take much needed rest because of life’s obligations. Jobs, children, aging parents, even pets have all still needed us performing at an optimal rate. But what is an optimal rate when burnout is looming around the bend? How do you protect your peace of mind and recharge yourself before spazzing out on an unsuspecting person? What can you do?

I don’t know about you but I have tried returning to my poetic place of solitude… nope. My inspiration tank was as dry as my mother’s first Thanksgiving turkey πŸ¦ƒ 🀣. Love you, ma. That in itself was concerning to me because poetry was always my go to place of relief and release mentally. Next I tried baking. Cookies, cakes, bread and pies. Delicious πŸ˜‹ things smelling up my kitchen and swelling up my waistline 😭. No good. I tried forcing myself to interact with others outside. I attended some vending events, showed support for some of my IG friends in real time but it just didn’t do it. I still felt blah.

Ok, I thought to myself. Music is always a sure fire mood lifter. I scrolled through Pandora. Nope. YouTube Music. Nope. I even dug out my box of old cds from the late 90s-early 2000s. Not a happy toe tap to be found.

I couldn’t kick the funk I was in and it was seriously affecting my interactions with everyone around me. I was always irritable and cranky (and no, it was not that time of the month) and was ready to snap on anyone at a moments notice. Work pressures didn’t help. At that point I did 2 things. I called a friend for a referral to a therapist and I picked up my knitting needles.

I am so glad I did. My therapist is down to earth and real. She listens. We meet weekly through video chat on Duo and I couldn’t be happier with my choice. And since I’ve picked my needles back up I have been knitting consistently for the last 2 months. Today I decided to bring my current wip (work in progress) to work with me, to work on during down time. My commute was crazier than normal this morning (3 road construction slow downs and 2 road closures with a clogged detour) so instead of sitting in traffic frustrated as normal, I picked up my project and started knitting at every stop light and slow down. πŸ€— I wish I had thought about doing this sooner. Now I look for the red lights so I can knit more stitches and my irritability is fading one stitch at a time.

Vanilla Sock Pattern by The Crazy Sock Lady

Knitting may not be for you, but then again it might. You won’t know until you try. My sure fire recommendation is to try something new to you. If you like it, go for it. If all else fails reach out to a professional for help. It’s confidential and that may be just what you need to release what’s on your mind. At the end of the day be good to you because today is yesterday’s tomorrow…

Quiet Inflection

It has been several months since I last posted. I am still learning about me. It’s a scary journey looking into the dark corners of myself, but necessary for my growth. Usually when I go into retrospective mode my pen comes alive and the words flow like a beautiful river but not this time. My river bank of poetry was dry. I started to panic. And then I grabbed my crochet hook…

Amongus Mini Crewmate pattern by Why Yet

Years ago I taught myself to crochet and to knit using kits I’d found at my local Wal-Mart. Learning these skills was a challenge as the patterns were written in a language I didn’t understand and I knew no one who could teach me. I understood the basic crochet and knit stitches and mastered how to make knit scarves and crocheted hats. Patterns for baby outfits and clothing terrified me because my understanding of both languages was limited. So I allowed my fear to stop my progress.

Here I am, almost 20 years later, reading patterns, following patterns and crocheting and knitting garments freehanded with less fear (the fear hasn’t gone away completely). What I learned is that my perception of my ability to learn and understand the language of knitting and crocheting blocked my growth. Making mistakes is how we learn. Mistakes, when acknowledged and learned from, is how we grow.

Chunky-Knit Cardigan pattern by Ashley Lillis

I have been inspired these last couple of months to grow through needlecrafts instead of poetry. At first, I was nervous but with each project I’ve completed and shared, I have gained confidence in my understanding of the language. I have realized that other areas of my life are no different, complete one project at a time and learn from any/every mistake made to grow in confidence. I plan to challenge my fears one at a time and hope this helps someone remember that we are not expected to know it all. Enjoy the process. Today is yesterday’s tomorrow, be great today.

Chunky-Knit Sweater Dress pattern by Why Yet

Is It Justice?

Many are excited because the verdict is in… GUILTY! I would like to believe justice has been served but my experience as a black woman in America has taught me different. When I saw the images of Derek Chauvin’s face during the reading of the verdict, I burst out laughing. Not because of his demise (albeit self-inflicted) but because of the pure shock on his face that he is being held accountable for his decision to murder a man in cold blood.

His expression is purely American Arrogance. Sounds like a cologne sold at Macy’s with the snobby perfume lady who scoffs at anyone who approaches her area with brown toned skin. That expression says, “What? How dare you correct ME?! I’m white! I DO the correcting, not the other way around.”

The memes will be in full swing by tomorrow morning but the scary truth is, even with the murder filmed on tape, had it not been for the major upheaval of protests, riots, and boycotts over the last year (and numerous other cops and civilians murdering black people) Derek Chauvin would have gotten off like soo many other cops. Rodney King anyone? I was in middle school when the gang of L.A. cops snatched him off of his motorcycle and beat him within an inch of his life. I’ll never forget following that story for social studies homework. Every one of those cops walked away scott free.

I find it funny how the police system (which was sown and harvested with the soil of hatred, violence, abuse, and murder) was started by a group of people who committed savagery across the planet from country to country.

But then, in that context, their fear makes sense. If I kidnapped, beat, raped, enslaved, and murdered massive amounts of people while teaching others to behave as hateful and violently as myself, I would be deathly afraid of retribution. Continuous oppression to stave off the idea of retribution would be my only recourse because to apologize and correct the issue would mean I would have to openly admit to being wrong AND I would have to make reparations for the long-term damages I caused.

So, instead of dismantaling the imbalanced and unjust justice system I’ve created and rigged to benefit those who only look like me, I’ll throw a little snippet of something that can pass for humanity… this time.

America, you have the potential to be soo much better. I am done dating potential. As my late grandmother used to say, “Shit or get off the pot.” America your time is up. Healing can only begin when you stop the damage being done and correct the cancerous mistakes from your past.

Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway!

When the pandemic shut the world down last year I felt angry and relieved at the same time. I was angry because I was drafting a plan to cross a few travel plans off of my bucket list. I was relieved because I was challenged to interact more on social media via video. I felt (at the time) that since the world was shutting down, everyone’s forced to stay inside, so nope, can’t do it.

That was my fear speaking loud and clear. Fear had my full attention. The world (as we knew it) was ending, people were stockpiling bleach, toilet paper, soap, spaghetti noodles (but no sauce) and microwavable dinners from the freezer section of the market. 🀦🏾 But fear had me gripped, worrying about whether or not the world was heading into Book of Eli/Mad Max territory. So, streaming live on social media was the least of my concerns… or so I thought.

Chatting on line with a friend about the current state we were in, they casually said “How about you go live and read some of your poetry?” *insert record scratch* What now? In the middle of a pandemic? Read my poetry, on camera? I was shaking in my pajamas at the thought of it. I immediately started to panic. I hadn’t performed any of my poetry live since 2018 and that was at a church’s open mic night event in my neighborhood.

I started to say as much but instead replied with “that scares me.” I hought that would be enough to back them up until I received these words that stuck in my mind like Gorilla Glue, “Face the fear and do it anyway.” A few days after that, I took a deep breath (I was considered an essential worker and still had to report in) and started live streaming during my morning commute. I did this for about 16 weeks before I stopped as I was receiving static from work. Smh.

But as I think back, I had fun. It was scary but I did it anyway. In this digital age I know I will have to return to it, but until then, should there be anyone considering jumping into the live streaming pool (no matter what social platform), give this article a read Learn To Live Stream , you’ll be glad you did. And if this helps, drop a comment below!

Stimmy Memes Are Comedic Gold

To some, yesterday was Happy Stimmy Day. To others, it was just another Wednesday on this blue spinning rock in space. Either way, I am grateful to be here experiencing it all. It took a few days for me to adjust my senses from the daylight savings adjustment (here in the States every spring, we turn our clocks up one hour – it makes no rational sense to me but when in Rome…).

With President Biden signing the Relief Act last Thursday, it was reported that people could begin receiving their stimulus checks as soon as this past weekend. And social media exploded with comedy! The most hilarious one (to me at least) was on Twitter.

Bennie Daryl Jr. Stimmy Tweet

Needless to say, after reading that, I tripped and fell down the stimmy meme rabbit hole and emerged a couple of hours and a stomach cramp later 🀣. With everything that has happened over the last 5 years in this country (I’m just addressing the most recent years of crazy in America), it is good to stop and laugh once in a while. Yes, life sucks sometimes, but if you survive it look back and I’m sure you’ll find a meme or two that will brighten your mood a little. And remember, if you’re reading this, you’re one of the lucky ones. Don’t squander today. Grab your favorite drink. Make the best of it – or make a meme of it to brighten someone else’s day. Laughter is good medicine.

Mr. Wish – Philadelphia

Compassion is Free, Retribution is Not…

Prayers for safety go out to everyone holding on in Texas, my heart is with you. It is appalling that government officials would allow citizens to freeze in an unexpected snow storm – that businesses are allowed to control public utilities and decide, DECIDE to shut power off in the midst of a nasty winter storm. There are too many instances where profit is put before people. Those businesses who jeopardized thousands of lives need to be shut down and the remaining power companies ought to be strictly regulated to prevent gross negligence like this from happening again. Compassion costs $0 but retribution is costly.

A sad day when humanity has become a line item on a balance sheet. An expense on a profit and loss statement. A topic to debate the worth of… Oh wait – this IS AMERICA. The country built on genocide, kidnap, rape, murder, enslavement and extortion. Humanity has been on the auction block for centuries but when the bodies are brown there’s silent acceptance. Again, compassion costs $0 but retribution is costly.

The Golden Rule is older than the King James version of the bible, but I can’t see it here in the “land of the free”. What are we “free” to do? The bulk of citizens are grossly overtaxed to make the uber-wealthy comfortable barely paying tax. Too many families working full-time jobs and still can’t afford to pay for living expenses AND food. Greed and self-service has been on the menu forever but those not at the table are told to work harder, pay their share… Those hard working Texans trying to figure out how to make it in the dark with no heat in the worst winter storm in God-knows how long, are they not working hard enough?

Compassion costs $0 while retribution is costly…

Another Solar Return

Today, I am grateful. Blessed to see another solar return and on the heels of a powerful full moon no less. A celebration of my birth, thank you mom for delivering me into the world πŸ’œ. For many years my birthday was a time of excitement, anxiety and depression all mixed together because I yearned for acknowledgement from my father that I would never receive. Friends, family and loved ones wished me well, but my attention (even when I desperately tried not to) was focused on my father’s lack of attention.

Acknowledging that feeling I harbored used to encourage anger, sadness and shame. It took many years of deep reflection (meaning I was still running from myself, lol) to recognize why I still held onto the pain. As much as I hated to admit it, it was easier to hold onto the hurt, anger and pain than it was to let it go.

That thought was my *aha!* moment. It was easier to hold on and stay stuck, than to let go and be free. I still love my father, and always will. But my father has chosen not to get to know me as a person. Not like I’d hoped. It is an opportunity lost to him – not me. I do not say this out of malice. I have finally moved beyond that. I no longer hold onto the entrapment of my perception that without his acknowledgement I cannot grow or be loved or be deemed valuable. I have already proven myself wrong on that – and gladly so!

My solar return is a celebration of my growth and my acceptance of me – as I am as well as a challenge for me to achieve who I strive to become. I am ready to conquer my next round of growth. Happy birthday to me! πŸ‘‘πŸ’–

β™’Aquarianβ™’