So, I’m going to preface this piece, though I never do this, because I have to make some very important facts clear, before hand. The first and perhaps, most important thing is, that I am not at all concerned about who reads this and perhaps, pray and hope more people than not, take time to appreciate my words, here.

Moreover, as I have written before, I have often made a very distinct purpose of being cautious about what and who in my family I write about. That ends today! I love my fam and respect you all, for being the amazing people you are. Nonetheless, as Shelly Lewis once said, “you no longer have a secret. You have a story.”

This piece will be a very reflective and introspective look into not only the last month of my life, but in many ways, the last 25 years of my, 25-year-old life. In such, my voice will be heard, if nowhere else, but on this here platform, that I have created for myself, called EverythingShaquana.

With that being said, prepare yourself for another one of those 5,000+ word pieces that take you all day, week or even month to finish, where I pour my whole heart out to the world’s eyes, as I feel strongly, that’s what’s going to happen today. A’se!

“You no longer have a secret. You have a story.” – Shelly Lewis

My Truth:

As you all might know by now, my family and I said goodbye to my Aunt Edith’s physical form, last month. Tomorrow, in fact, marks one month since she went home to God. If you’ve read any of my posts or follow me on any social media platforms, you’ve seen that I have struggled, more than quite a bit, with saying goodbye. It took me this entire past month, to figure out the answers to the questions I always like to ask in any tough situations; which is, “why this? why now?”

Why did Aunt Edith have to pass on, right now? She’d been sick for a long time and fought to live, for even longer. So, I needed to understand what made her give up her fight in the physical world, to go home to God and fight harder in the spiritual world? What did God tell her, to make her finally make peace with this life on earth, so that she could move on to the real work she had in store for her, in His kingdom?

Now, if you’re not spiritual, no matter how religious you might be, what I am writing will make no sense to you. But if you are spiritual, as my Aunt Edith was, you understand and acknowledge the power of Spirit in the physical world, versus the power of Spirit in the spiritual world. Though, both are very powerful in their own right, they have very different abilities and purposes, for the most part. Thus, understanding and making peace with passed on spirits, relies heavily on differentiating these purposes. So, yet again, I’m faced with those questions, “why this? why now?”

A lot of my answers came to me… in fact, all of my answers came to me, in my attendance of her home going services. The people I am now struggling to decide whether to call “family” or blood relatives, really taught me a lot about what spiritual sacrifice really suffices to, when it’s worthwhile. Aunt Edith gave her entire physical life, in sacrifice to hold this family together. When that wasn’t enough, as it unfortunately has proven to be, she went home to God, to give her spiritual life. She is truly the ultimate sacrificial spirit, if I’ve ever seen one in my life.  

“Your job is not to judge. Your job is not to figure out if someone deserves something. Your job is to lift the fallen, to restore the broken, and to heal the hurting.” – Author Unknown

Most of the people I am related to, that I typically call “family,” but am hesitant to bless with such a title right now, are some of the most ungrateful, selfish, self-serving, high and mighty, self-righteous people I’ve ever met. And that’s a lot to say, as I’ve met some of the most ‘head so far up your ass, you can’t tell the rain from the sunshine’ people, in my short physical lifetime. Nonetheless, many these folks take the damn cake.

There! I SAID IT! SUE ME! Now, I must also say, that my family, is composed of some of the most beautiful spirited, giving, kindhearted, thoughtful, kindred, relatable, inspiring, strong, determined, capable and simply amazing people, I’ve ever been blessed to know. The best people I’ve met in my life, have always come from my family. Hence, the life of duality. The life of humanness. Being the most awesome, and sometimes the most jacked of people, all at the same damn time.

If you notice, as I write today, that I may seem like I have a chip or two on my shoulder, you’d be wholly accurate in that observation. I encourage you to read this entire piece, to make some sense of why. I’ve written previously, that I haven’t had contact with damn near anyone I am biologically related to, in some 3 years.

I had a lot of conflict in my heart about that. On the whole, I knew in my heart of hearts, that I wouldn’t sever contact with anyone, unless it was truly for a spiritually holistic reason. At the same time, I was forced to grapple with the question of, was there more that I could do, to build better relationships with these folks, before I let go of what I considered to once be, meaningful relationships?

“I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate; it is my daily mood, that creates the weather.” – Goethe

Aunt Edith’s passing, on the whole, really brought a lot of the answers I was seeking, to light. The last month of my life, has been my most wholehearted attempt at deciphering through facts and answers, I’ve ever made. Might I say, while we’re on the topic, I am sooooo proud of myself! This was the hardest month of my pregnancy, and whilst I was super isolated and not as social as I probably could or should have been, I did an amazing job of checking my emotions.

I worked diligently to not allow negative things to stick to me for too long, and to not just bury stuff under the rug, either. I made a point of responding, and not reacting to people and situations around me. And it worked! Thus far, there are a few people, who I have yet to truly respond to, but that’s the best part. I have the power to wait until I am ready, to speak what’s on my heart, in truth and love, in response to things and people who hurt, bother or agitate me. No matter how long it takes me.

I finally embraced and lived in the very real fact that, I am the decisive element of all things around me. That I have the power to make a situation better, or worse. To make a person human, or inhumane. To make an opportunity grand, or squandered. It’s all up to me! That’s a huge thing to digest, for any human being. Being the decisive factor. Probably, explaining why most people don’t actually live their lives that way.

Being pregnant, emotional and empathic, just makes all of that seem so less plausible, let alone likely. Yet, I still conquered. When I had little good to say to people, I kept my mouth closed. When my mood was foul and not fit to be sharing with others, I stayed to myself. And when I had the opportunity to lift someone who was broken, sad or fallen, despite all my own stuff, I did so. I wanted to give myself big props for that! So, there it is.

Now, all of that comes into play with this whole “family” vs. blood relatives thing, for a couple of reasons. The main reason is, I had to make sense of this whole concept of being a better me, at the same time as I was making sense of my aunt’s passing, my impeding delivery (that I am in no way, shape or form prepared for) and struggling living conditions.

Somehow though, despite me not being able to see it at first, I now understand how all of that ties perfectly into each other. I understand ‘why this and why now.’ Because God’s plan is always righteous and on time, no matter how much us humans, like to think otherwise.

“Don’t forget you’re human. It’s okay to have a meltdown. Just don’t unpack and live there. Cry it out and then refocus on where you are headed.” – Author Unknown

So, here’s the scenario. Before the home going services, I hadn’t seen or spoke to most people in my family in anywhere from 1 to 3 years. Almost all of those moments in which I last spoke to them, I was left feeling some major type of way. Here’s why: My last year of college at Syracuse University, my school did me dirty. They gave me less than $20,000 to pay for a $56,000 school year. Mind you, my “expected family contribution” (which is the amount your family is projected to be able to pay, based on income) was $0!! To top everything off, I figured this out, two months before school was to start. It was treacherous!

By God’s grace, I was strong, resilient and determined enough to make up another plan. I decided I would stay in NYC, go to a community college, get my needed credits for graduation (at a way cheaper cost) and transfer them over to SU, so I could graduate in the Spring as I had planned. I found out a week before classes started, that I wouldn’t have any financial aid for the semester because of an entirely more complicated financial issue, than you’re probably interested in knowing about. Immediately, it became clear that the obstacles in front of me were crazier than I had ever expected.

So, I had to drop the 4 classes I’d signed up for. Being that I was working though, I knew I could at least pay for 1 class. Unfortunately, the day my tuition payment was due, happened to be 4 days before I got paid and I was living paycheck to paycheck. You see my dilemma? I got grounded, prayed real hard and asked God for an answer. He told me to ask for help. Ahh, that good ol’ “help” thing! The issue with me asking for help, aside from being raised to go without whatever my mother couldn’t provide for, was that I’d tried that before and it didn’t go too well.

I took 6 years to graduate college. Spent 4 years matriculated, on campus at Syracuse University. Took a year off. And spent the last year taking classes at a community college, where I transferred credits from. In the 4 years at SU, I pretty much got no “help” from anyone. Especially not from my “family.” Now, if you’ve ever been to college, whether away or commuting, you know that help comes in all forms, including money but most importantly, through support and love.

“I faced it all and I stood tall and did it MY WAY.” – Author Unknown

The people who, send care packages or come to visit you when you’re away, help you with love and support, more than they may ever know. Those who, call and send cards or letters, if you’re away, show love and support. Those who, encourage you to keep going, when you’ve gotten your first, third or even tenth, bad grade, show love and support.

Those who, stay up all night with you, whether in person or on the phone, to make sure you don’t fall asleep during midterms or finals week, show love and support. Those who, whenever they see you, remind you how proud they are of you and more importantly, that if you ever need “help” they’d be there for you, show love and support.

For the most part, I got none of that. At least, not from my “family.” I got a lot of ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ when I went to school. Mostly because my mother has less than a high school education, my father is a deadbeat, I grew up in a rat and roach filled project apartment, knew no one closely related to me who’d ever gone to a university, and somehow still made it to SU (one of the top universities in the country and world, depending on your major).

Not few enough people, made effort to hide their mare shock, that I was capable of such willpower, so to speak. Apparently, quite a few people in my “family” didn’t know and/ or think I was that smart, determined and/ or ambitious enough, to do such things. Or, at least that’s how it came off to me.

“When it comes to making a big change in your life, you have to want it more than you fear it.” – Author Unknown

In any regard, over night, I went from being the kid that everyone always forgot about (literally), to be a spectacle of phenomena. People that never took the time to know my favorite color or subject in school before, suddenly wanted to “talk to me about my future goals.” Now in all honesty, most of these “talks” were infamous for being pretentious, condescending, and patronizing.

They almost never included me responding, and almost always ensured a list what and how I should be doing things, that these folks never did in their life. I know I’m not the only one who’s had this experience, so plenty of folks reading right now, know who and what kind of people I’m talking about.

Now this is when things get interesting. Remember, as ambitious as I was, and still am, I’ve always been the poor kid. No matter what school I went to, job I held, friend group I had, boyfriend or girlfriend I loved, place I lived or accomplishment I gained, I was and still am always, the poor kid. That’s a story, in of itself.

Nonetheless, for the purposes of this piece/ rant, keep this ‘poor kid’ thing in mind, in conjunction with the goals I tend to set forth for myself. Universities, predominantly White or historically Black alike, are not made for poor people. Another story, I’ll get into another day. The key here is, I am a poor Black kid from the projects, at a $56,000/ yr university, that’s 253 miles away from home, with a “broke, uneducated” mother and an ‘ain’t shit’ daddy.

Do you see the problem here? Things weren’t and never did add up. No financial aid, no work-study job, no scholarship, nor any prayer to God, ever made this equation add up. I just had to grind and thug it out anyway, pretty much.

“On particularly rough days, when I’m sure I can’t possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100%, and that’s pretty good.” – Author Unknown

The thing is, I had to do that on my own! Because the people in my “family” that would help, never could, and the people who could help, never did! Every single year except for my senior year at SU, I struggled with getting up to school. I always had the money and never had the transportation.

While kids all around me, whether from the ‘hood or mansions, had whole families driving up to see them for Homecoming, and picking them up and dropping them off for school breaks, for free, I couldn’t pay someone in my family to drive me to school. You know, at the time, having the self-worth and self-love issues I had, I felt like I was in fact, asking for too much. That perhaps, I was the problem and that’s why no one helped.

Now that I am a grown ass woman, I know better. That shit ain’t right. It makes no damn sense that you have a niece, cousin or whatever in your “family,” that you are in fact “proud of” for going to college, and you have a car, a license and TIME, and you’re unwilling to drive them to school.

No, 253 miles is not a short distance, especially twice in a day! I know, because I’ve done it! But it’s worth it, my dude! I deserved that! I did! I was a kid! With no help, making a way out of nothing. And all I needed was a ride, that I, in fact, busted my ass all summer to pay for! But nothing… every single year. Smh! So, yea that’s just one of the several stories of lacking “help” I got while at SU.

“Success is not easy, and is certainly, not for the lazy.” – Samantha Berngard

Bringing it back to 2012, while I was working on my sixth and last year at school. God is telling me that the only way to get this goal accomplished, was to go and ask for that “help” thing again. Boy, was I mad?! But, I humbled myself and I did it. Long story short, I chose Facebook as my method for asking (as I had already learned the sting of calling people and leaving messages, that would inevitably go ignored, was harder than I could bear).

In the end, out of perhaps 15- 20 people in my “family,” only about 5 to 6 responded. I won’t get into the replies I did get, but to say the least everyone said no, except one person. My uncle. By marriage! Lol. The irony. Nonetheless, I got a yes. The one yes I needed. He helped me pay the down payment. And I busted my ass, going to school and working two jobs, to pay off the rest of that semester.

That was the most expensive gift I ever got myself, till this day. And the rest is history. I did my thing, graduated and yea, I’m awesome. Now, the plot thickens. When I graduated, I didn’t invite too many people to my graduation, as it was super last-minute, and was located at the same location, 250+ miles away that no one ever wanted to trek to before. The two people, outside of my mom and siblings, I did invite, basically said no thanks, without saying it, lol.

Now here’s the crazy part. My cousin, who felt she earned a right to be invited, felt gravely wronged by me not inviting her. Moreover, she was “hurt” (her words, not mine) that I didn’t even tell her that I was graduating. So, she decided the best thing to do was to call any and everyone in my “family,” and tell them how messed up of a person I was for not inviting her. So, the entire graduation weekend, whenever one of my siblings posted a picture to Facebook, they got mad shade, and even snark replies about this one cousin not being invited to my graduation! But, because this is my family, the juice only gets juicier.

“Never apologize for being sensitive or emotional. It’s a sign that you have a big heart, and that you aren’t afraid to let others see it. Showing your emotions is a sign of strength.” – Brigitte Nicole

After graduation weekend, my aunt, who ain’t never even called me to give me a happy damn birthday (though, I’m born one day after her), had the nerve to call my mother and not only complain about me not inviting this cousin; but implore herself to tell my mother how much of a horrible mother she is, for not having money to “give her kids a better life.” That shit cray!

At no point, did she ever tell me personally, congratulations. Nor did just about, 99% of my “family.” They were simply too appalled by my selfish behavior, in not inviting my dear, dear older cousin to my graduation. Now, of course, like any story, there’s far more context to this. But who cares?! Because I don’t! Very few, and I do mean few, people know the context of my struggle and story. Family or not.

Very few people know that, two months before my graduation, I suffered my first miscarriage. Very few people know, that I was going to give up, on everything in life, including graduating, when this happened. Very few people know, how rude, nasty and unsupportive too many SU staff and professors were to me, upon me telling them I was graduating.

Very few people know, how hard I’d worked, to make so many people proud, for them to turn around and be mad that I didn’t prove their assumptions about me never walking across that stage, correct. Very few people, indeed. So, I’m choicefully not providing context for why other people, felt how they felt. As I’ve said before, and I’ll say again, those are your feelings.

I’m incredibly concerned and focused on my own feelings these days. And quite unapologetically, if I might add. Moreover, I had literally poured my blood, sweat and every inch of tears, into getting across that damn stage! And all I got from my “family,” was hate, smears and gossip. From grown ass adults, might I add. Grown ass adults, that never even sent me a card, my dude!

“Some people will only love you as long as you fit in their box. Don’t be afraid to disappoint.” – Author Unknown

This comes full circle, when I move to LA, starve for 3 ½ months, and get ridiculed, slammed and even taunted for daring to be “better” than what my mother was, by these same “family” members. Enough was enough! It’s one thing not to help me. It’s one thing to not believe, support or push me.

It’s a whole entirely other thing, to knock a beautiful Black sister, just tryna be better than her parents were, simply because she’s trying! Or rather, doing. And that’s all it was! Everyone was mad, because I broke their ceilings for my abilities. They’d put me in a box. A box for the poor side of the family. A box for the uneducated side of the family. And most especially, a box for the WOMEN of the family.

How dear I, think I’m good enough to go to a university, where everyone before me had went to a college? To go away for school, when everyone had been a commuter student? To defy odds, when so few before me, had ever considered such a thing? And most of all, to not be locked into the box of ‘slaving for a dollar?’ How dare I, think that I am good enough to be a writer? And a good one at that? How dare I even consider being an entrepreneur? How dare I?!

Of course, my “family” was in a chorus of an entire world, that said poor, Black girls and women that come from nothing, were inherently supposed to stay from nothing. Perhaps we could get job and struggle paycheck to paycheck. Maybe get married, and be defined by a man and his worth. But, I was doing way too much! And my “family” said it.

They told my mom, more so than me, in but so many words, that I didn’t come from “family,” meaning my mother and father (conveniently excluding those extended folks), who had money or education. That I was working too hard to reach and even break ceilings, that weren’t designed for me to break. So, when I struggled, it wasn’t because of a lack of support and “help.” It was because I was foolish and doing too much. Way, way too much.

“I was born with an enormous need for affection. And a terrible need to give it.” – Audrey Hepburn

After a while, you might assume that the guilt would start to kick in. Because, I had asked for “help” so many times, and got so many doors shut in my face. And every time, I took it in stride. Because, whether anyone helps me or not, ALL things are possible through Him who strengthens me! So, I didn’t and still don’t need anyone. That doesn’t mean I couldn’t use an extra push, every now and then, though.

The issue became, as I’ve learned in the last month, that certain people in my family, in one way or another, are salty about me defeating the odds. And those people, want everyone to be salty with them. Because, more than anything else, it proves that I was worth the investment they never made.

That all of those trips to dinner and drinks, vacations, shopping sprees and other privileged amenities, might have perhaps gone further for their conscience, if it had gone toward helping me. Toward that little broke girl, that just needed an extra hand. Moreover, all of those relationships and time spent with things and people who could not last, might have gone further for that little broke girl, that could have used a phone call or card, as a formal and tangible form of support.

Here’s the deal now. I’m not angry anymore. I’m not even frustrated or disappointed. I am simply hurt. Any and all aggression that you read through the lines of this page, are from a place of deep and dark hurt. For simply no other reason than this; they’re still mad. They’re still shady. Last year, when I was attacked and seized by the NYPD, damn near my entire family went on a spree of calling me “crazy” and “out of my mind.” No one called to find out what happened. At least, not me.

Those I did speak to, called to be nosey, so as to gain ammo, to give to the rest of the “family” that I didn’t talk to. When I starved in LA, these folks said, “that’s what she gets.” What kind of person says that about ANYONE? Let alone, your “family.” Those who didn’t join in the chorus of naysayers, doubters and straight up evil spirited people, bore witness and said nothing, or completely tuned out my existence.

“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” – Buddha

Through all of that, I had to find peace, though. I had to make peace and amends with the people who’d hurt me, damn near my entire life. Aunt Edith’s passing, highlighted for me, the intense need to do that. People will hurt you. They will let you down. They’ll even sometimes be mean and evil spirited. That’s being human. We’re not perfect. And that has to be understood. If for no other reason than the fact that, we want others to understand and remember, that we too, are human and imperfect.

I have done and said some things, that I look back and wish I could take back, or at least go and tell the person how sorry I am for doing. I’ve been thoughtless and careless, too many times over. Perhaps, not so much with my “family,” but definitely with other people in the world. So, I get it. The blessed thing is, as long as we’re still breathing and living, there’s always room to do better. To be better. I don’t want to die, being angry, hurt and misunderstood. That’s not life!

I overcame every obstacle this world threw my way, most often with little to no help. So what?! Was it whack at times? Of course! But, I’m not the only one! This is no victim story, by far. There are many other people, including in my own family, who got much of what they’ve accomplished, all on the their own. And how I got to the finish line, doesn’t ever have the true power to take away from that very simple fact that, I got to the finish line.

The thing is, because I am so loving, forgiving and patient, people take my kindness for weakness. My meekness for scariness. That’s when the lion comes out. Just because I forgave you, don’t mean I forgot. So what would make these people, think they could say whatever the hell they wanted to me?

“I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness, and the willingness to remain vulnerable.” – Joseph Addison

I’ll save the details of what certain family members said to me, about my pregnancy and my child-to-be, at my aunt’s home going services, for another post. In the least, it was some of the most disrespectful shit, I’ve ever heard in my life! And that’s a big statement! That’s what this post is all about. That’s what caused me to write what is now 4,000+ words (a potentially mini book)! The people I am struggling to call “family,” still don’t respect my shit! And that’s the bottom line.

Somewhere, between people putting me in a box of what I was capable of and made to be, and them not ever outgrowing the box, that the world put them into so many years ago, I became the enemy. The more I became me, the less I seemed, like them. And yet, I come from them. And them, from me.

In any regard, My go-to response for feeling outcasted, unliked and wholly disrespected, has always been to cut people off. I don’t need you, you clearly don’t need me, so what are we forcing it for? If you don’t like me, let me make your life easier by erasing myself from it. That was my thing.

I am older now. Growing. More mature and wiser. So, I understand all of the depths of the unhealthiness of just cutting people off. It doesn’t help me, that person or the situation, to simply cut people off. Communication, is what needs to be had. Yea, it takes far more work, that I tend to not be in the mood for. But hey, such is life.

More importantly, I realized just how much work I’ve put into gaining milestones through education and career accomplishments. With that, I’ve realized that if I put even half of that work, into the relationships I’ve watched squander throughout my life (from romantic, to friends, to family), I’d probably have more dope people in my life right now, lol. Real talk, though.

“Persecuted, but not forsaken. Cast down, but not destroyed.” – 2 Corinthians 4:9 

The thing is, not every relationship is worth the work and energy. Blood related or not. Some people, just aren’t meant to graduate to that next level of life with you. And that’s okay. That’s life. That’s growth. That’s being better and wiser. There’s levels to this and that’s just one of the levels.

The question I have been pondering this past month is, who is worth the work? Especially when it comes to “family.” Because, we’re socialized to believe that just because someone is blood related to you, that you’re accountable to them. That you owe some extra level of effort, time and respect than what they’re often, worth. And that’s just not true.

I don’t owe these people anything. And they don’t owe me anything. I don’t feel any type of way, that they didn’t help or support me. I feel some type of way that too many people in my family attempted to stand in my way, and even point and laugh whilst they thought I was down, instead of picking me up or just getting the hell out-of-the-way. I feel some type of way, that people who didn’t join the chorus, watched and bore witness to my persecution (and yes, it was persecution) and said nothing to interrupt it, if not even, defend my character.

I feel some type of way that, folks clearly want a relationship with me and feel salty that they got cut off, but refuse to put in the other half of the work, needed to make it healthy. I feel some type of way that, no one really wants to change, but everyone wants change. It just doesn’t work like that. You get, what you give.

“Surround yourself with people who reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel, energies are contagious.” – Author Unknown

I personally realized that, I wasn’t giving enough to people and relationships in my life, so I want to give more. And the only people I want in my life, are people who feel the same. I don’t want or need people who pretend to want to help me, only to get whatever it is that they feel they can get from me, and then leave me hanging.

I want my brother and my sister’s keepers! If you’re not willing to ride for me, die for me and put in work for me, then as far as I’m concerned, you’re not family. You’re just another person I care about, I suppose. You’re maybe lucky enough to call me a blood relative, but that’s all.

My definition of family, includes people who you could call on, no matter what. It includes people who show unconditional love. That means, showing love, under any and every condition. That means being a support for someone, no matter what they’ve done to you, or who they’ve become or been in the past. It means love, with no conditions.

That’s not love without boundaries. That’s not love, without healthy limits. That’s love, that you know and feel firmly, that you have the ability to freely give. However, you can. If you give love, from your heart, and a person doesn’t accept or appreciate it, so be it. That’s on them.

Take note. Perhaps tell them how you feel, and make room for a better kinship. If it doesn’t work, create firmer boundaries, and let bygones be bygones. Maybe you did something funny style or messed up, last time I saw you, but if you are hungry and I have to food share with you, does that really matter?

Perhaps, you feel like I don’t call you enough, for me to feel obliged to ask you for help? But does that even make sense? Please tell me, who has a marker on their calendar for the amount of calls people have made to them daily, proportioned to how much “help” they’ve earned in exchange? Is there some kind of system that exchanges calls and attention for help, that I haven’t heard of?

“Dear Past, thank you for all the lessons. Dear Future, I am ready.” – Author Unknown

I’ve learned and fortified one thing for sure, through all of this. If you want to help someone, no matter how you are able to, or whether that person deserves it, you will in fact, help them. No matter what. If you feel taken advantage of, dismissed or used, then the issue is not about whether to help or not to help, it’s about boundaries. It’s about communication. It is your job to create boundaries for your own self and life, and communicate them to other people. Simple.

There is nothing righteous about being taken advantage of. As, there is nothing righteous about not helping or giving, when God has put it in your heart and ability, to give. Those two things are not exclusive, by the way. More importantly, they’re not opposites. They’re not, an either or combination. No matter how much the wicked one and this world, lies that into your head. There’s no such thing as, ‘the only way you don’t get taken advantage of, is if you don’t help people.’ All that gets you is, no help for you.

You reap what you sow. No matter how much, you like to believe otherwise. Life is all about karma. And if you’re on hard times, whether physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially, or mentally, it’s because you’ve brought that energy into your life. The only way to rectify it, is to rectify you! In that rectification, lies communication. It goes a long way.

If you feel some type of way, say something. In an assertive way. Which means, attentively, with respect and with loving truth. Aggression and passiveness get you nowhere, in the world of communication. That’s why so many people end of misunderstood, angry, bitter and uncomfortable with people, life and reality. If you don’t know how to communicate, the best thing to do, is the easiest thing to do; fix it.

“Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.” – Mandy Hale

 It’s way easier to fix yourself, and they way you communicate who you are to the world, than to remain quiet, bitter and hurt from being misunderstood. It’s your job and God-given duty, to advocate for you. No one else will and no one else can. Because not only is the rest of world, left to worry about themselves as well, but they’re not you. They don’t know what’s truly in your heart, mind and soul. Nor do they walk the foot of every path you walk, day in and day out. Only you and God do that.

So, it’s up to you fix your voice. To fix your thoughts. And to fix your life. Only you! You of course, don’t have to. But the results of your life, will inherently then, reflect that. Nonetheless, projecting yourself and your problems onto the world, is not only more of a problem than a solution, but it’s so not cool! I got my own issues. I don’t need yours! And judging how you’re not itching to carry a bulk of my load, you should fall back, with asking me to carry yours! And yes, helping a person and carrying their load, are two different things, by the way.

All that being said, I still have no idea where that very fine line between family and blood relatives truly lies. I feel like, it has a lot to do with help and support, though. I feel like people may believe they care about others, but actions speak louder than words. You have to be the person, you say you are. Otherwise, you’re the person you show yourself to be. Not the person, you say yourself to be. No matter how good you are with words, so I’ve learned. And at that end of the day, you’re all you have.

When you come into this world, and when you leave it, you do it alone. No one has to live with your demons. With your mistakes. Nor with your glories or praises. Only you. So, it’s up to you, to make it count. That most definitely includes, the people you keep around you. I intend to build village for my child. One that is only enclosed by people, who are defined by such standards. Nothing less will do. And no, that doesn’t make me better than any one person in this world. Nor, does it mean “I think I am better than anyone.” It simply means, I am the Queen that God ordained me to be. And I know that, live that and love that!

“Humble enough to know I’m not better than anyone and wise enough to know that I’m different from the rest.” – Author Unknown

Thus, I only choose to be around Kings and Queens, who live, breathe and exemplify that same lifestyle! That’s what family is to me. Kings and Queens, on a throne, being each other’s keeper, whilst fighting the evil of the world and fortifying the good. My team might be small right now, but it’s mean! And as it grows, it’ll only get meaner (‘mean’ equates, ‘exquisitely better,’ in NY ‘hood terms’).

In all, this leaves me in a better place, internally, most of all. But also, feeling more confident about the effort and work, I plan to put forth into building and solidifying healthier relationships, in my life. I realized that we are taught to be who we become. From our parents or lack thereof, from our family, communities, cities, schools, jobs, media sources, and this world as a whole.

If who we’ve become, isn’t working for us and/ or the world, we must re-teach ourselves, how to be a better person. Sometimes the hardest part of that, is admitting that somewhere along the way, we didn’t get taught the best or most healthy things, in the first place. That doesn’t mean anyone or thing around us, that taught us unhealthy things, is bad. It means it’s life and we’re human. My mother is not bad, for not always having the most healthy ways to teach me, she’s human. And so am I. So, just as I learned unhealthy at first, I can be re-taught to learn healthy. And then, I can teach healthy to my child.

I suppose, I say so much deep stuff. So much truth and realness, that I come off as a know it all. I know that my swift vernacular, confident swag and matter of fact tone, add to that impression. Unfortunately, I’ve learned, there’s nothing I can do to change how people perceive me. All I can do, is make effort to be proud of the that person I show myself to be, and make room to change and grow, so that other people may love and accept me, as I do myself. I don’t know it all. I just know what I know, and don’t know, what I don’t know. I’m learning.

“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny…” – C.S. Lewis

If you read my blog, you’ll read all about my imperfections and mistakes. You’ll hear me doubting myself and questioning my abilities. You’ll see that I am human and flawed, and very well aware of that. You’ll also see though, that I am super introspective, intuitive and highly self-aware. In such, I tend to follow my calling, to share what I know and have learned, with whomever willing to listen to and learn.

I didn’t have as much guidance and support as I might have wanted or needed, growing up. Thus, much of my life purpose, is to in fact be for others, what I didn’t have for myself. I don’t make much effort to offer opinions, and instead, when prompted by a person or Spirit, I offer truth and wisdom. Things that can be reflected on, internalized, and applied to oneself, in one’s own timing. Things that are righteous, and make people feel better about their life and circumstances. I’m a lot to handle. So, I won’t please everyone. But, I’m bound to lift up and save, at least a few.

“The strongest actions for a woman is to love herself, be herself and shine amongst those who never believed she could.” – Author Unknown

I should add that, most of all, I know that my family loves me to pieces. And I too, love them to pieces. Every single one of them. I know that, most of them at least, truly appreciate who I am and have grown into. Moreover, I understand that when people change, or rather, just become more of who they are, it can be scary. I went from being what they considered, quite Quana, who everyone forgot, to this rambunctious, outspoken, loud mouth phenomena.

The thing is though, I was always that Quana, as well. I just cut myself up into pieces, to fit what people have told me to be, and inherently, grown comfortable with me being. I decided, when I was in LA, that I would no longer be that Quana. Broken into many pieces. Always trying to find where I fit in the world and amongst the people in it.

That’s what the EverythingShaquana movement is all about. It’s about me combining all parts of myself, into one person. It’s about me embracing what makes me, me; all at once. It’s about being the quiet Quana, the rambunctious Quana, the thoughtful Quana, the imperfect and flawed Quana, all at one time. It’s about me saying and making clear, that I too, am human! That means, I have layers.

That means, it’s not fair to pick me apart, until you get to the parts of me that comfort you, and throw the rest of me away. That means, loving and respecting me for me, no matter what. The biggest thing is, if you truly get to know me, you’ll see at my core, I’ll always do the same for you. You can be any and all of who you truly are, with me. Always. And I’ll love, respect and honor every piece of it. I simply demand, the same in return.

“When fear creeps up your spine, start writing. Shake it off, word by word, looking at the splinters of fear on the floor, shining like broken glass.” – Author Unknown

Okay, I’m done with my manifesto on family, right now. Haha. Boy, can I write, chile! I should also add, that I often write so much, though this is a blog and not a book, simply for the sake of being understood better.

For the sake of saying “everything on my tongue, and never stop until you understand me” (that’s a quote from one of my poems, btw). I always consider, whenever I open my mouth or put pen to paper/ finger to keyboard, whether what I am saying, needs to be said. There’s literally, trillions of things that can be said, in any one moment. So, why say this instead of that?

If I died as soon as I posted this, would I feel like everything I needed to be said, in that moment, was said and expressed. Did I do my best, to tell my story?! The funny thing is, if you didn’t notice, I have so much more to say. About family. About love. About communication and growth. About helping and understanding. About forgiveness and truth. About EVERYTHING!! EverythingShaquana, that is. I just need more time, folks. Haha! I just need more time…