Six Months in Quarantine and Life

September makes 6 months since we have been quarantined; 6 whole months and after all of this time I am grateful for life. With learning that over 200,000 Americans passed away from COVID-19, how can you not value life? Life is so precious. We get to wake up every morning, sometimes with the sun shining on our face exuding its luxurious energy on us. We have choices with what we do and how we live our lives. The choice to live, the choice to love, the choice to create, the choice to reflect, the choice to give back, the choice to withhold, choices. Even constrained within my apartment, I choose to live, to write, to think, to take up space, to pray, to read, to love…I choose.

This month work became a priority. I was preparing for a major event that my company hosts which further pushes Inclusion for our employees. For those that don’t know I am a Diversity and Inclusion Manager. I’ve been doing this work for 4-years and I love every second of it. While this project has stretched me in many areas and kept me up all hours of the night, I have really grown professionally from this experience. Something that I am really proud of was being able to produce an event with the creator of the 1619 Project, Nikole Hannah-Jones and contributor, Linda Villarosa. Being able to amplify their voices, when so many are trying to tear them down was beyond powerful. One of the best parts of the production was a slideshow that we worked on illustrating some of the contributions of Blacks in America over the Black Parade track by Beyoncé.

In preparation for this major undertaking at work, I had to read some books chileeee. This month, I read:

  • Before the Mayflower by Lerone Bennett Jr.
  • White Fragility by Dr. Robin DiAngelo
  • Clap Before You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

I did go crazy and bought some new books too. I have issues. Here’s the amazing stack of books I plan to get through at some point. I say I have issues because I have all of these books and still somehow find an excuse to buy more, how is that possible?

Since I’ve been studying, researching, and reading, I honestly have not had time to do a deep dive into my TV world but what I will say about my TV journey this month is that it’s quality over quantity. I started watching I May Destroy You and I am left speechless. I have one more episode left and I will not watch it because I don’t want the series to end. I feel triggered. It makes me cry. It makes me laugh, it makes me feel seen but I am triggered and that’s all I care to say about that. CONSENT is such a powerful thing and I am so happy that Michaela Coel exists. I also finished the series Younger. Younger follows the journey of white women in publishing with one character who lies about her age to break into the industry. I was a huge fan of the show in the beginning but I think the storyline has exhausted all possibilities. I also think there’s a huge erasure of race and people of color on this show, which became stark as the seasons went on. I found myself focusing on opportunities where they could’ve casted a BIPOC actor and somehow did not. I plan on doing a deep dive on this in the future.

Summer came and went. It was the first summer; I really didn’t spend much time basking in the sun or going to a beach or doing anything like that. I was actually hella stressed this month. Out of that stress came a lot of things. One, I cut my hair. I am not 100% sure if my hair falls out as a result of stress…maybe. But it has been damaged for almost a year now and I just didn’t think there was anything left to do to it besides cut it, so that’s what I did and I think it came out amazing. After a week of begging, my boyfriend helped me shave the back off. Now that I am on my new hair journey, I wish I could report to you that my skin journey is going well but it’s still a hot mess. My skin has not changed since quarantine. I still have acne and dark spots and may have to go to a dermatologist.  

My boyfriend noticed how stressed I was and took me on an amazing date day. We went to the Sunflower farm in Long Island but unfortunately all of the sunflowers were dead. After that, we went to Lift/Next Level Floats, where for one-hour we left our cares at the door and floated in tons of salt water.

In other news, Breonna Taylor’s murderers got off scot-free when the grand jury charged only one officer with endangering the neighbors and their wall. No one was charged with the death of Breonna Taylor. How much more can we take? It’s painful. Really painful and this is only the beginning. In my personal education and learnings of race, I know I shouldn’t be surprised that America places more value on a wall than a black woman and yet, I am because it sounds so ludicrous, that America places so little value on life and the life of a black woman. Shame on the systems that uphold racism and white supremacy. Shame on it all. I want to remind each and every one of you to VOTE! Vote like your life depended on it because it does. That first debate enraged my soul. It was so horrifying to reckon that this is who Americans have elected as their President. Racism is wild. Continue to educate yourself on the racial history of the United States. Read books. Read Articles. Listen to Podcasts. Do the work.  It’s so important to do so.

Finally, Trader Joes has an amazing salad kit that I am obsessed with Broccoli and Kale Salad, yum. Sometimes I add shrimp to it, but it’s perfectly fine without. This is the perfect refreshing treat to jumpstart your fall in a healthy way.

Until next month…

Books By Ky: “Queenie” By Candice Carty-Williams

QUEENIE by Candice Carty-Williams was one of the most enjoyable books I read this year. I love books that center on Black Womanhood. I love books where I see myself in the characters. I love representation and that’s that. Were there things that annoyed me about Queenie? Sure, but I focused on the things that I loved and there were too many to count. The topics this book addressed were so spot on! The character development was brilliant. This is totally a book club read so you can unpack it with others. I wanted to do this book review justice so much that I considered reshooting it but decided my first take is my realest feelings innit (British voice). Anyway, by now I’m sure most of you read Queenie so let’s talk! And if you haven’t go get it!

In the Land of Mara Brock Akil

Happy WCW (Women Crush Wednesday for those that don’t know)! Mara Brock Akil is my SHERO, my favorite showrunner,  my role model, you name it, she’s my inspiration. Recently, it was announced that she inked an overall deal with Netflix, to produce content WOOHOO! Two of her amazing shows, “The Game” and “Girlfriends” are now also on Netflix.  I am literally in heaven!

In June, for her 50th birthday, Mara announced that the only thing she wanted was for people to answer this question: How have I made an impact in your life? She asked for folks to send it in the form of a video, writing, or drawing, whatever device we use to creatively express ourselves. I’ve never met Mara but this is what I sent to her:

A Breath of Fresh Air: A Quarantined Summer

August was literally and figuratively a breath of fresh air. The heaviness that I felt from losing Charlie was lifted and I began to make peace with it (inhale/exhale). I also went outside more and smelled the fresh air (inhale/exhale). It feels good to get back to the things I would normally do in the summer. It also feels good that the world is gradually getting back to normal and we are not being rushed back into it.

So where do I begin? Let’s start on a high note. I went to my friend’s Taurie’s Surprise Party and was greeted as soon as I walked into her parents’ home by two of the cutest dogs. One was sweet and the other was spicy and barking. However, once she saw that the sweet dog liked me, she began to curl up under me too. It felt so good to be surrounded by dogs again. It made me think, maybe in the future I could be a dog owner again. Taurie’s birthday was phenomenal. Spending time with my friends, who I’ve known for almost 20 years was everything my heart needed. It was a pink and white themed backyard party in Bedstuy and we ended the night singing Biggie and Junior Mafia songs…oh so Brooklyn!

In the weeks that followed, our wish for a new dog was looking like it would come true. We were supposed to adopt Jack (who is the dog of my mother’s adopted daughter). Jack was in foster care and needed a permanent home, unbeknownst to us, Jack’s foster parents wanted to adopt him too, they fell in love. The adoption agency tried to get him from the foster parents, but that fell through. Even my mother booked a ticket to the DMV to get him, but that fell through as well. I guess Jack wasn’t our dog after all. I wish his foster parents would’ve been upfront about their desires to keep him and not get our hopes up…we are still fragile.

Another false hope situation this month was being denied for an apartment that I was on the waiting list for three years. I got so excited because I knew it was mine. I went furniture shopping and my friend who is an interior designer, designed every room in the apartment, only for it to fall through. The woman who interviewed me said she could’ve given me the keys that day;That was such an unnecessary comment knowing that you denied me lady. Lesson learned? Never count your eggs before they hatch. While it was a bummer, I am sure Jesus has something great around the corner for me. I just have to believe that.

My skin and hair journey is completely down the drain. I may have to make an appointment with a dermatologist. I cut off my natural hair this month as well, but it needs to be shaped by a professional. I started Boot Camp again, which feels good to get back on my fitness journey. I haven’t really had too much time to watch TV, documentaries, or movies. I am enjoying Lovecraft Country, which is good. I did watch Black is King and cried my eyes out, (so beautiful Beyoncé). As you can see below, my TV game has been weak this month:

As for books, I read:

  • Barracoon: The Story of the Last Black Cargo by Zora Neale Hurston
  • Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
  • What We Loose by Zinzi Clemmons

I re-read:

  • Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

I’ve been engulfed with work, so that’s where my focus has been. Please check out this article by Nikole Hannah-Jones on reparations. So good! I’ve been studying her recently and she amazes me.

To close out the month, I attended a few more functions. I went to my sisters birthday and channeled my inner Robin from Waiting to Exhale. Then I went to my friends Akilah and Rion Baby Shower, which was so beautiful. I also went to my friend Kalisha’s Birthday on a rooftop in Brooklyn. So yeah, your girl has been around.

Just to set the record straight, I will be going back into hibernation this fall, meaning DO NOT INVITE ME OUT!

The month came to the most amazing, stupendous, super-duper end, when Brandy and Monica did their Verzuz Battle on the last day in August. I have been on a high ever since. While I am #TeamBrandy first and foremost, I am also #TeamMonica. I still get chills listening to “Love All Over Me.”


P.S. Breonna Taylor’s murderers are still not arrested, can you believe this criminal justice system? Also, the cops have done it again, this time in Kenosha, shooting a man named Jacob Blake 7 times. He survived, thank God. When will America get it together? When? We are exhausted!

Also, our Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman is no longer with us due to cancer, which was extremely sad to hear.

Until next month…

Educate, Check-In, and Read During Quarantine

July was very eye-opening for me and it forced me to grow in a lot of ways. For the first time since the quarantine began, I had the desire to read again. I finished three books this month, and if you follow my bookstagram and Youtube, get ready for some content coming down the pipeline. My book drought was real and I am so happy it’s over. It was hard to focus on reading when I had so many things going on. But what I soon realized, is that I could escape in a really great fiction book and everything would feel okay.

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This month I also watched so many virtual conferences, summits, Linkedin Learning classes, and masterclasses. I think my mind is going to explode with all of the new things I am learning (and this is a good thing). I have been taking so many notes, I am almost on notebook #3. I am also finishing videos that I start and not letting my self-diagnosed ADD get in the way. Some of the powerful things I learned:

  1. Perfect work is that career or business that we know, that we know, that we know, we are meant to do. It’s that thing that lights us up. It’s the risk we are willing to take. It’s legacy. – Renessa Boley Lane
  2. Before the global pandemic hit, multicultural women were leaving – or planning to leave  corporate America in record numbers, citing bias, and lack of support as main culprits. – Multicultural Women’s Conference
  3. The slave plantations that were developed in the Mississippi Valley were huge and resembled much more closely modern multinational corporations than we often think. It was a complex hierarchy filled with Mid-level managers and workers who reported into other workers who reported into other workers. Data tracking techniques were developed so they knew how much labor and money went into producing each veil of cotton. – 1619 Project Podcast

There’s so much more to share and I encourage each of you reading this to use this time to learn something new and help it inform your present and your future. However, I can’t stress enough, the 1619 Project Podcast was phenomenal, mindblowing, and educational, and I encourage you to listen. I am probably going to do a video on it in the near future because WHOA.

My TV journey is still going strong. I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries. My favorite, I must say was John Lewis: Good Trouble and The Rachel Divide. John Lewis was a civil rights legend and he passed a week after I watched his documentary. It was so powerful. He was really a good person, that had a penchant for chickens and fighting for civil rights. During bloody Sunday, he received a concussion at the hands of white officers  and he did so much for blacks in America, especially when it came to voting rights.

The Rachel Divide was also sad but eye-opening. I spent so many years judging Rachel Dolezal because that’s what everyone else was doing, but I never took the time to learn and understand her story and for that, I am ashamed. She’s been through a lot and obviously struggles with her identity, but the treatment she’s received was very harsh. I wish more of us had grace for her, including myself. I wish more of us took the time to understand the plight of others before judging with haste. As far as TV goes, I was hooked to Blood and Water on Netflix. Very good series based in South Africa and I can’t wait for season 2.

The 52 List Project (13)A lot of people in my life celebrated big wins, so I was happy that I could support them in some way, whether it was attending their event or sending a gift. Giving feels amazing. A few people checked in on me too which was so cool. I was able to connect with folks I haven’t talked to in ages over zoom. I also asked people that I’ve never met to zoom chats to get to know more about who they are and what they do. I joined a Chat & Chew event, that my friend Kadia has been asking me to join for over a year now, and it was really amazing. I also went to my first career coaching session. Other updates? My skin journey is not going great. My hair journey is going okay. I also launched my closet on Poshmark. If you’re interested in supporting, check it out here.
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Finally, I started therapy. I had to confront the fact that I was functional and depressed, which I talk about here. I embarked on a journey to finding a black woman Christian therapist, that would serve as a preemptive measure for me during this time. Creating a list of black therapist that was in-network for me was a project in itself. I did so much research to land on the therapist that I have now. So far, so good. Therapy is helping me get back to myself and also to speak up and set boundaries.

Well, until next month.

 

The Wilderness: June/July Depression

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The month of June triggered a depression in me that I have been trying to shake since the death of my dog, Charlie. I had all of the classic symptoms, not eating, not sleeping, not being as productive as I could, always crying, yet I was still functional. It wasn’t healthy and to be honest if it wasn’t for my praying mother, I probably would still be in that space.

Charlie was family. He showed unconditional love towards me. Out of everyone in the family, I think I was his favorite. We had kindred spirits and I miss him every single day. He rarely got mad at me, unless I tried to bother him while eating and after he snapped at me that one time, I never did it again (he also eventually apologized for snapping by licking my leg). I was the only person he let brush his teeth and I miss his sweet kisses and expressions of love. What I yearn for most, is hearing his knock on my door. When he was at my door and it was closed, he would stand up, scratch it, I would open the door and he would come in and give me a hug before being a brat and wanting to come on my bed (or maybe I wanted him on my bed). If I wasn’t there or took too long to open my door, he would sometimes wait for me at the door. The loss of Charlie, man oh man, it has been so hard.

But what I also realized, is Charlie’s death wasn’t the only thing that spiraled me into a depression. I had been hoarding a lot of feelings internally and not processing all of the things that were happening to me and changing in my life. I was just moving. Going fast, being busy, and not taking the time to be still.

Be still. It’s such an important lesson that God tries to teach us. I love in the bible when people end up in the wilderness. The wilderness sounds like such a scary place, filled with loneliness, solitude, and even darkness, but it’s not. It’s a powerful place that’s preparing you for the time when you come out of the wilderness and the powerhouse that you will be. It’s a time when even though it seems like you’re all alone, GOD is right there with you, talking to you, whispering in your ear and he’s the most important voice you need to hear. That’s how I am viewing this very moment in my life. The wilderness.

While in this wilderness, I am going to take time to practice radical self-care and focus on me. I am going to set boundaries. I am going to process the things I have not been dealing with. I am going to learn how to pray more. I am going to learn how to pray for others (it’s not all about me). I am going to therapy. I am going to disrupt to rebuild. I am going to say no a lot. I may also say yes. I am going to do whatever gets me back to a strong foundation.

As I mentioned earlier, if it wasn’t for a praying mama, I would still be in my funk and not have this much clarity. Some of the other things I watched were sermons. One sermon, gave me permission to have the same feelings towards God as Habakkuk did in the bible. Another sermon, emboldened me for the change that’s coming around the corner. Sharing all of the sermons that moved me below:

Sometimes God Makes Me Really Angry – Pastor Tim Dilena

http://sermons.tsc.nyc/sometimes-god-makes-me-really-really-angry/

Bible Project Overview: Habakkuk – Bible Project Makes the bible digestible

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPMaRqGJPUU

How To Get Your Fight Back – Bishop T.D. Jakes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=haaqkRW1MCQ

Desperate for Jesus Conference Day 2

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nho8w9XSMCc

While this is an insane, uncertain time for everyone, I encourage you to find the silver lining. I will do the same.

By Ky Book Recommendation “She Came to Slay”

Harriet Tubman was one of the baddest, boldest, strongest women ever. She single-handedly disrupted the institution of slavery by freeing herself and going back to free others. Then she served as a spy and nurse in the Union Army. After that, she fought for Women’s Right to Vote. She’s my hero and I learned so much about her life reading this book. Be sure to check out my book review. You can purchase this book recommendation here:https://kit.co/Lifestylebyky/books-by-ky Click SUBSCRIBE to support and FOLLOW @Booksbyky on Instagram.

By Ky Book Recommendation”Forbidden Fruit: Love Stories from the Underground Railroad”

Forbidden Fruit: Love Stories from the Underground Railroad by Betty Deramus truly illustrates that love conquerors all. Even is a despicable system such as Slavery, black people were able to find hope in love, marriage, and freedom.

You can purchase this book recommendation here: https://kit.co/Lifestylebyky/books-by-ky 

Click SUBSCRIBE to support and FOLLOW @Booksbyky on Instagram.

Staying Afloat During Quarantine

Quarantine during the month of June proved that what I thought was bad could get worst. The month began with a desire that I could not shake, to bake…so I did. I baked red velvet cupcakes with buttercream icing. I remember baking in the midst of listening to the escalation of protests across the country on CNN. Baking was meant to calm my nerves and even distract me. I couldn’t answer another text from non-black friends, asking for resources. I could not stand to see people label the protestors as thugs. I could not fathom that Breonna Taylor’s murderers were still free and I could not process the death of Elijah McClain in Aurora, CO. The fact that he had to defend his humanity while being murdered by police for “walking while black” is heart-wrenching, proving that the current state of affairs is in dire need of disruption. I was angry, hurt, and exhausted, so baking was my escape. The cupcakes came out delicious.

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I work in Diversity and Inclusion, so this month has been extra intense. Sending major prayers to all of the D&I professionals out there. The spotlight and pressure is on us and it can be very overwhelming but keep pushing, you got this! It’s bigger than us and this is the time we’ve been preparing for; being a change agent comes with a lot of responsibility but it’s so worth it at the end of the day.

Things went from bad to worst on June 7, 2020. My dog, Charlie, the love of my life, passed away suddenly on that day and I have been battling with grief and depression ever since. I am taking this really hard and I am struggling. The void of him no longer being here is so big, nothing seems to be able to fill it. He was so loved. And he showed us, unconditional love. There were so many plans we had for him and now, he’s gone. Pray for me and my family because we are not okay.

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On a brighter note, about half-way through the month, I was able to post some new content on my YouTube channel and get creative with my writing. I am still on my hair and skin journey, which are both a work in progress but I have faith. Also, my TV journey is going strong.

Happy Pride Month!!!!!!!I discovered POSE, which is my new favorite show. It allowed me to go down a rabbit hole of ballroom culture culminating with the Paris is Burning documentary. So much of pop-culture is appropriated from the LGBTQ community. I also watched an amazing documentary on Netflix called Disclosure about the portrayal of the transgender community in media. There are black trans lives that are being murdered at alarming rates. I am proud of our movement for making space for All Black Lives because they matter.  Check out the other shows I watched this month:

Tv Shows June

7 PM is one of the few things during this quarantine that gives me joy. I appreciate that every day at that time, my neighborhood gathers together to ring bells, clap, bang, and make a loud noise in celebration for our essential workers. It’s actually something I look forward to and a reminder that we are all in this together.

Thank you essential workers!

Thank you protestors!

Yall are the real MVPs.

Dear Charlie

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The only thing that gives me comfort in your sudden passing is that I know you knew how much I loved you and I knew how much you loved me. You showed me unconditional love. You showed me reciprocal love. You mended broken relationships in our family. People who didn’t talk, talked because of you. I loved you more than you would ever know. I loved your kisses. I loved how smart you were. I loved how much affection you showed. I loved how protective you were. I loved your discernment. I loved how much you trusted me.  You were the most beautiful dog. Your fur, when grown out, made you resemble simba. Your ears were like butterfly wings. You were special. We were not dog people at all but you changed us instantly. You were bougie, your walk was confident. You were even a little shady and who doesn’t love a shady dog? I loved catching you stare lovingly at me. I loved when you turned on your back for a tummy rub. I loved your puppy dog eyes when you wanted some of my food and the way you held your foot up in anticipation of it. I loved that we had a secret bond/connection that no one could break. I was protective over you. I sometimes spoiled you. Whatever you wanted, I was giving it to you. You spoiled me too. All I would say is “gimmie kisses” and you would give me all the sweet kisses in the world. In the Bible 7 is the year of completion and on June 7 at just 7 years old you went on to be with the lord. I pray to be reunited with you again, one day. My dream last week told me it would happen but I didn’t want to believe it. Although I would kill for 7 more years with you, I am comforted that you are at peace. Your coughing was progressively getting worst and pained my heart because there was nothing I could do for your heart. The meds were not working. This pain, of losing a dog, I wish on no one. I’ve screamed and cried out to you in hopes you would return back to life when I saw you in the hospital. I’ve cried so much I’ve made myself sick but you wouldn’t want that. I love you and am obsessed with you as I always told you. Charlie you were a blessing! Thank you for the purpose your life have served.