Wednesday, November 5, 2014


I haven’t blogged all year.  I’ve started a few topics but got interrupted by life before finishing them or posting them.  But, of late, I’ve been smacked in the face by an egregious (oh yeah, I’m using this word) set of circumstances that is making the Freedom Fighter in my soul - wale!  I’ve been working to calm myself but I saw an article on 10/28/14 that made it flood all back to me ( 

 If you live in Topeka, KS you know about the new Walmart that is directly across the street from Highland Park High School on 25th St.  This is and has been for all the years I can think of a low income housing area (2 complexes).  This neighborhood also hosts a half-way facility for those re-entering the community from the penal system.  This neighborhood has been faithfully served by Food 4 Less (long gone), Dillons, Dollar General, and Family Dollar, a host of fast food establishments, a few banks and Walgreens. 

 I know that these stores have had problems because I’ve been out and about and noted Topeka’s Finest picking up a few grab-happy customers from these stores. My son was at work at the Burger King when it was robbed at gun point!  I too know that a Topeka police officer was shot and killed in the neighborhood scarcely a month prior to the grand opening of the new Walmart.  But, the Dillons on Huntoon had police officers shot/killed in their parking lot ( - but (aside from the armed officer at the bank inside of Dillons) I’ve never seen them have armed guards.  That is until I went to the new Walmart in the neighborhood. 

Yep, being who I am, I stopped and asked the off duty officer if there was a problem in the building or if his being present was a regular gig.  He indicated he was in the building to serve the customers (help out to the car etc…).  I really had a hard time taking a tour of the new store after that.  I was offended.  ARE YOU SERIOUS? 

I determined that I needed to go back to the Walmart to see if I was wrong about the armed security and was excited upon entering on my second visit because I didn’t see armed security.  However, before I left I saw two armed officers.  Again, I asked about whether or not something was going on in the building and the cashier told me, with pride I might add, that the store always has two armed officers.    

Toi, what are you trying to say?  Okay, this is it in a nutshell….

It seems highly offensive to me that the new Walmart in South East Topeka has armed officers as a normal part of business when none of the other Walmart stores in the city have this feature.

Yep, I did question the guard on the first night and the cashier on my second visit.  I’ve been assured that they feel this is a good thing and if things “work out” this will be implemented in all of the Topeka Walmart stores.  I wanted to know from the armed officer and the cashier (their checks not withstanding) just how it feels to be men of color working in a store that was purposely built in a low socioeconomic area – then to have that store (their employer) ever so boldly place armed security in the building as if they fully expected to be robbed blind. 

They didn’t have much to say but COM’ON YA’LL - we all know that Walmart is not building new stores to take a loss despite indicating their plans to move more towards e-commerce in the coming years (yes, they will be closing super centers).  But, make no mistake about it – they will continue building during the next fiscal year (   Despite reporting a decrease in profits, Walmart made billions in the last fiscal year.  In fact, four the Walton’s are in the top 10 billionaires’ club (!   

Honestly, some years ago, I decided to stop shopping at Walmart because of their labor relations issues and the fact that it seems they move in and run the small businesses out then raise their prices.  This was going well for me until I found myself raising young children.  The truth is they have the better prices and I had to return in order to meet all of my obligations. 

Also, don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy for those that have been able to gain employment at the new Walmart.  Although I have my doubts (, I do so hope they will be able to make enough money there to meet their obligations. 

But this turn of events almost left me speechless.  You will be glad to know that my words returned to me.

See, although this move on the store’s part appears to be a move of securing their products…. I submit this to you - in 2011, Walmart on 37th St. had $250,000 taken out of the office – and it’s yet to be solved (   

I didn’t see armed security in the building after that – did you?

Something has to change ya’ll.  We have to change!  We can’t keep supporting entities that don’t really support us or treat us well.  I mean - WTHIRGO?   
So I’m back to weaning myself from Walmart even with the holiday season looming ever so near (so don’t be expecting any gifts – smile).  No, it won’t make a bit of difference to their bottom line profits but I will gain peace of mind in knowing I’m not paying them to disrespect me and my community.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

TAMU (Means "Sweet" in Swahili)

I recently wrote an entry on my Facebook page about the glorious joys, pure sweetness and giggles God grants me daily.  Usually, these highs come through all the little folks that are in my life.  It seems just when I’m totally overwhelmed and ready to quit – they hit me with something so dag-nab-it sweet – my breath is restored. 

I don’t know if you know this or not but I was very spoiled as a child (perhaps some of you think this is still the case – and I will tell you that I am spoiled and
I- L-I-K-E I-T L-I-K-E T-H-A-T).  I had many toys and dolls (although I remember my mother breaking the “we’re poor” news to me).  The dolls were okay, but in my mind, my Tamu® doll was way more than some ole toy.  She was my friend. 

Tamu® had a cute little afro, was a pretty chocolate brown and had a pull string.  Her voice box allowed her to say, “Let’s play house, I love you, &Tamu means sweet.”  She said some other stuff but those are the phrases that have stuck with me over the years. 

One year, shortly after beginning school, my cousins moved back from California and my grandmother asked me if it would be okay for my cousin to have a doll because they’d left their toys.  I was horrified that a child would be without toys and gave her Tamu®.  Between you and me, it took me a while to get over not having Tamu® but what can I say, I have a generous heart. 

Later that year, I received another Tamu® due to my kindness (but as this story unfolds perhaps my grandmother heard me crying that night).  Tamu® #2 and I grew up and somewhat apart (I still had her in the house but didn’t turn to her as much as before) and at some point my mother annexed her to the hope chest (after explaining that Tamu® had suffered some injuries at the hands of my cousins – but she’d repaired her as much as possible and kept her for me). 

Some years ago, my mother turned loose all of the dolls she’d annexed to the hope chest. Tamu® was returned to me a little worn.  One of the injuries she’d endured was the loss of some fingers.  I guess my cousins wanted me to have that middle finger message for life!  My mother was able to repair her hind parts and even put a cute little gown on her and combed her hair. She still looked sweet as ever to me! 

She resided in my room and as life would have it– she got pushed to the side again.  Then one day I woke up – tired of the clutter and got a couple of tubs and put some stuff in it.  Unfortunately, at the time, it seemed right to place Tamu® in one of the tubs.  The tubs eventually ended up outside. 

One year later, I woke early on a Saturday with the sole clear question of, “where is Tamu®?”  I looked high and I looked low.  I looked in, under and around.  Something led me to the tubs and of course I found Tamu®, cold, wet and icky in a tub that somehow had gotten water in it. 

My dear friend was submerged in the water.  And because I’m so smart and very well educated…. I put her in the washer.  Com’on what could go wrong – her voice box didn’t work anymore anyway?  You guessed it!  She was in a million pieces.  The only thing I could recognize was her head and hands (yes even the hand with the offending gesture).  WTHIRGO?  I’m a nut! 

Needless to say, I was in crisis.  I had a heart bo-bo so I called my mom (who else would I call to fix my bo-bo).  I swear I heard a little giggle escape her and I had to really make a pitch to get her to come and see what I’d done so she could “fix it.”  Yes, I really had to hit her with the, “Samuel said you can fix anything and he knows peoples power so come over here.”  She told me that Sam and I are both crazy but she came over. 

Upon arrival, we both looked into the washer (and again, I heard a little giggle escape her – but her face was serious so I let it go).  I put the remains of my dear friend (minus the head) into a mesh bag and placed it all in the dryer.  I endured the inquisition about what I was thinking when I put my doll that was made in 1969 (44 years old) in the washer and the snide comments from my nieces (even Allie who had a chuckle when she noticed a hand in the bag). 

That evening, I told my “invitation to love” my sad, sad story.  He listened (with what looked like a smirk on his face to me but by that time I was over sensitive to my loss) and he graciously expressed sorrow for my loss.  Then that man got online and found me another Tamu®!  Oh all right, I confess that I first declined the offer from this lovely man because well…. 
He wouldn’t have even asked me about it but he felt he should be sure he had the right doll as he didn’t want to add insult to injury by getting me the wrong doll.  And by the end of the week, Tamu® #3 and I were united. 

I combed her hair, bought her a new outfit and placed her on the sofa in my room.  I’ve pledged to her to not allow her to get pushed to the side in my life again because when I knew she no longer existed – I was truly very upset (almost moved to tears). 

But more than anything – look at all the folks who came to my aide over the loss of my dear doll friend (my mom, my nieces, my children and my honey).  Now, if that isn’t SWEET – I don’t know much else that is.  


Friday, September 27, 2013


I was sitting at home, minding my own business (REALLY NOW), when I received a call from my sweet baby girl (she’s a woman with her own family and professional calling but she will always be my baby).  Her voice was laced with a hint of distress and amazement (okay hysteria).  She wanted to know WTHIRGO - that family members kept showing up at their door seeking support and guidance.  We visited briefly about always doing the best you can for as long and as far as you can go and the fact that although they (my kiddo and her family) may not feel fully stable –  in all their wobbliness they seem very stable to those who seek their help and support (protection and safety) – which is saying something. 

The truth is we all come from different walks of life and are doing (hopefully) the absolute best we can with what we have to work with.  You know that in our families of origin some legacies have been born that should NEVER be passed along but tragically are.  What am I referring to? 

I’m talking about the drug and alcohol abuse legacies that plague so many.  I’m talking about physical abuse and neglect that hinders so many.  I’m talking about sexual abuse that has literally destroyed so many females and males.  I’m talking about that messy seed of anger that can over shadow a person in such a way they never get off the ground and about domestic violence.  And, what about the physical illness legacies that can’t be stopped genetically but could have been curbed with good healthy life choices?  I could (and probably should) mention mental wellness that can be lost via the afore mentioned legacies being fed into our future generations and also whether or not a connection to and with God was fostered and nurtured (but I feel these two topics are stand alone blogs so I will get back with you on these)! 

Now, I can remember during the years of growing with and raising my sweet baby girl and the days and nights of wondering just what I was teaching her and her brother about different aspects of life (deliberately and well just by the very way I lived in front of them).   Sometimes I felt very confident (do good and not evil) and other times not very confident at all (how much freedom is too much & nakedness and human sexuality; now to this day friends and family alike want to know if I’m appropriately dressed before entering MY room – but I digress). 

I shared with my little one (yep, the grown little one with her own family and life) the fact that I could understand her frustration and awe on a very personal level as I once told the Lord that my home would be a sanctuary for those He sent that needed it.  Now, I thought that meant a couple of days for grown folks.  I had no idea it would come in the form of a 20 year project of three little folks when I was well past my child rearing mental wellness phase of life!  (SEE - YOU JUST GOT TO BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU TELL THE LORD YOU WILL DO – CAUSE HE JUST MAY ASK IT OF YOU!) 

 As I continued pondering my kiddo’s circumstances, fully understanding their (mine/our) need to protect and nurture children I was reminded of a certain part of  “The Dash” poem by Linda Ellis (;topic=15449.0).  The part my mind focused in on is when the author asks ‘would you be proud of the things they say about how you spend your dash?’  As I thought this lovely poem and all the different things I’ve heard about it, my line of thinking took yet another turn from how I spend my dash to to what legacy am I building for “my children” (please note I have lots of children some birthed to me, some chosen by me and some that have chosen me and some grandbabies too - so I’m not leaving any of you out – okay) in my dash?

After I began this writing, a friend moved over to glory.  I don’t know if you knew her but Laverne Grant-Smith is/was (for she remains alive to me in my memories) a lovely, beautiful person and a blessing.  I attended her home going, and had confirmed for me that her legacy is one of love and encouragement.  This very courageous woman stood witness to the internal, deep and agonizing pain of others.  At my behest, she stood in a place I could not enter with one of my friends while my friend went     t-h-r-o-u-g-h and had a very life altering impact in my friend’s life.  And, as I often feel when someone of influence (and power) moves to glory, I do believe the world is a little less safe without Laverne Grant-Smith.  However, the legacy she grew and built will continue to shine bright generation after generation.   

It is my understanding that after two generations one is forgotten.  So I had more to consider regarding my own legacy.  And you can imagine my surprise when I came to the understanding that the legacy that was bequeathed to me from my mother and the legacy that was bequeathed to her from her mother and from her mother’s mother is one of caring for others. 

Yes, we tell the little ones about my grandmother but they don’t really “know” her.  I think I will reshape how I explain her to them.  I think I will go with her joyous laughter, her special gift of making everyone feel and believe they were the most special one to her (but ya’ll know I am her favorite) and her care of and kindness towards others. 

I can honestly say that had it not been from her influence in my life as a child, I wouldn’t be a social worker.  We went on “missions” all the time and I thought everyone lived like we did.  She taught me from an early age to see what was needed in the way she treated others and how she treated me.  Later in life, I would watch my mother and grandmother undertake “missions” and just never knew another way to view and/or be in the world.  My mother (my muse) often tells me that I am a born social worker (not the bleeding heart version in television shows but the advocacy) but I believe it’s the environment they raised me in that crafted this passion within me. 

Okay, I’m sure the memory my folks will pass on to the generations beyond me is my ability to wage war (com’on I can be honest about myself – let me think there’s an injustice and see if I’m not on the case), my desire to find the strength or solution in every challenge, and my undying allegiance towards the elderly and children (I do realize my hell raising abilities may also be mentioned but yet again, I digress).  I already see caring and watching out for those that are most vulnerable growing and being executed within my circle - which amazes and humbles me. 

I don’t know ya’ll… in a world that makes very little sense… that can be mean, unfeeling and unkind…that can be uncaring, self-centered and greedy…I’m not sure caring for others isn’t just the right magnificent gift to leave as my legacy. 



Thursday, August 8, 2013


I have been trying to determine the best way to start this conversation without giving up too much of my personal business.  I know right?  I can hear you saying that I’ve told you a great number of things (that you probably never wanted to know about me and mine to begin with) so what could I now be feeling shy about sharing? 

I’ve recently been offered and accepted an invitation to LOVE.  That sounds very simple but the truth is… I almost didn’t accept.  Then I heard a still small voice say,

“J-A-C-K-A-S-S  P-A-H-L-E-A-Z!”
I’ve waited many years for this type of invitation and had lost hope of anyone ever extending such a gift to me.  But, once I came to my right mind and determined the only way to approach this was to go all in…. I found that I still had to confront some old ghosts of the past. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve worked very hard over the years on bits and pieces of myself for a few reasons; 1) who really wants to live a bitter life?  2) the world isn’t just black or white – there is lots of gray – and every disappointment really wasn’t so much about me as it was about the one who did the betraying or what felt like betrayal at the time!  3)  although I had lost hope – I hadn’t really given up hope and wanted to be an asset (not a hindrance) should the opportunity ever present itself.    

LOVE ain’t a joke to plant, nurture and grow!

So, as I moved to become more comfortable with the concept of there being an “us” versus a “just me;” I found some stumbling stones of my own making (WTHIRGO – like this stuff isn’t hard enough without me creating more barriers).  See, I’ve been alone a long time and found the swift swings in my thoughts to be too much for the type of internal peace with no drama person I am. 

I also hesitate to mention the “goofies” I get when sitting with this man but… if I’m going to tell it I might as well get it all off my chest.  Before I know it or can stop it – I often hear myself telling him, “You are so cute; I like your hair; you have such a lovely color; I like your pretty eyes; you have a beautiful smile; blah, blah, blah (and to his credit – he takes all of that very well which I know is a big change in how he has previously known me).  But, I digress….

I somehow flipped my page from being open and waiting to receive (yup, I was running around stirring up pots and checking and rechecking my image in the mirror – almost combing my hair daily - smile) to asking myself if I really am worthy of this invitation and all it promises.  I was thinking, “Let’s face it chick– it really isn’t like your picking history is stellar by any means!”  The next line of negative self talk was in the form of “will I fit in and can I really offer all this man needs; what if I fail?”

Oh, I really worked myself up to a bona-fide tizzy!  So, if you know me you know the type of personality I have – right?  Sometimes, I have to be “dealt with and handled.” So, the brother, knowing me and being a very trusted friend– called me out on my own stuff!  (PHEW…. I’M TELLING YA’LL THE TRUTH…THIS IS CRAZY MAKING STUFF FOR TOI!) 

I thought about fighting and I thought about quitting/running but instead, I blabbered & blubbered all my concerns and fears to him (because I can and do trust this man). 

And without hesitation do you know what he said to me?  “You didn’t pick me; I’ve chosen you...  just let me love you.” 

(AWWW…. NOW…. D-A-Y-U-M-M-M!!!  Who gets this type of gift - right?)

Yes, I could stay in my previous failures and/or be paralyzed & stunted by my current mistakes or I can press forward with this man who has invited me to walk with him.  I now hear positive self talk reminding me that I’ve been redeemed.

And, if God Himself has forgiven me and this man chooses to love me – why cane myself?  I will fight my self-esteem dips and dives because…

I choose love…

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Of late, I’ve felt bogged down by stress and tension NOT of my own making.  Being who I am, I’ve been searching for the origin of this phenomenon to see if there are some things I can cut out to lighten my load.  And, guess what?  I stumbled across a secret event I affectionately call “the committee of complication,” here forth to be called the CCC.     

I’m not sure how one gets elected or appointed to this committee but I’m here to tell you it really exists!  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that some of the members have no idea they’ve become a major part of the problem.  I feel confident they believe they’re acting in good faith and are really applying the skills of due diligence.  Also, please know, I don’t just reveal this phenomenon to cover up any frustration for not getting my own way (you’d be surprised at just how peace loving I’ve become in my older age).  

R-E-A-L-L-Y N-O-W!  These folks just out messing up stuff!  Then I’m inconvenienced in trying to figure out how to set it right again!  

Listen, I know you think I’m just on one of my soap box topics but I’m here to tell you that the total mission of the committee is to derail the real work that needs to be done - especially if it’s getting done.  I mean the committee invokes it’s power in such a way that it increases the weight of the work by 25-35% and during really high stress times – can even double or triple the workload! 

So I was sitting with myself and thinking to myself, “self – we got to figure this out and get out of this raggedy dance!”  So, I did what I do and started trying to figure out the best way to bow out of the “C-R-A-Z-Y.”

I determined that I needed to research the problem and began skimming lots of free F-I-R-E books on the topic of leadership and working with difficult people.  I, typically, maintain good boundaries.  As the books recommended, I shored up my boundaries, tried to keep my feedback clear and concise and followed lots of things up in writing. 

I attempted to remain transparent with my peers and worked hard to provide them some cover from some of the top down flow of what I affectionately refer to as C-R-A-P-O-L-A.  And for a while – it worked….until it didn’t.   

So, I tightened my boundaries and reviewed my stress management skill set.  I started clearing my mind and starring off into space; humming and singing little songs to ease my mind and calm my spirit coupled with cleansing breaths with arm motions to stretch and clear all stress from my system, and smoking imaginary cigarettes – it worked…

What I’m about to share with you will utterly amaze and impress you and maybe even help you with your stress situations.  Now, I’m in the room with C-R-A-Z-Y, feeling trapped and held hostage.  It still remains clear in my mind the very moment when I suddenly remembered all of my FANTASTIC stress management skills and decided to activate them while being whipped around by the tail of storm C-R-A-Z-Y.    

It was precisely at the 47 minute mark of what was supposed to be a 30 minute meeting – when I suddenly dropped into my cleared mind – space starring pose.  I only came back to myself after having my name called several times.   

The torture continued and it was precisely at the 120 minute mark of the - what was supposed to be that same 30 minute meeting – when I suddenly erupted in song!  Of course I could only remember two or three words of some obscure song…. but it worked for me… until it didn’t

It was at the 180 minute mark of the - what was supposed to be that same 30 minute meeting – when I suddenly noticed that my coping skills weren’t working and I actually began to hear the words that were being said and got angry.  I just couldn’t go along to get along anymore and contributed my 3 cents worth and began smoking a imaginary cigarette to calm my nerves. 

Of course, as the CCC was in full swing; my input was quickly ejected and I began to see my life pass before my eyes in the never ending meeting!  But I was successful in not blowing my stack and quickly reverted back to the last skill I had in my tool bag.

Between you and me, I’ve never tried yoga but at this point in my nightmare – I was willing to try anything so….  I did some cleansing breaths along with stretching my arms above my head and then out to my sides.  I repeated this four times.  I looked around and nothing in the room had changed. 

Let’s face, I was in the room trying to mitigate the impact of C-R-A-Z-Y and was the only one in the room looking like a monkey-ass fool!  WTHIRGO????

At the 2 hour and fifty (50) minute mark of that same meeting that was supposed to only be 30 minutes; I inwardly admitted defeat, gathered my things and said, “I must press on with my day” and left.  NOW THAT WORKED FOR ME!

My infamous cleared mind blank stare look!  

My infamous song bird look!  

My infamous angry look!  

My infamous imaginary smoke blowing look!  

My infamous cleansing yoga look!