Take your posting to voting!

I am a proud graduate of an HBCU whose college’s history indicates the institution being part of the Mississippi Freedom Trail. Whose college motto is “Where History Meets the Future.” With all this historical, Civil Rights empowerment I was taught through those years, there was a time not too long after graduating when I was in my mid-twenties, I made a statement, “I’m not voting! They all liars! And why vote when neither one is worthy of the role!” 🤷🏾‍♀️

I can’t tell you what election it was but I remember feeling all righteous in my statement and prideful in my decision. My high school classmate that witnessed me saying this, looked at me and said, “Teshia, it doesn’t matter that you don’t like these candidates. It’s your duty to vote one way or the other.” Now, intellectually and even inwardly, I knew that. But I was completely fed up with politics at the time and not have viable options of representation. I was full of myself yet at the same time, the disappointment in my classmate’s voice towards me, let me know before that statement how much my classmate respected me and after that statement how that respect lessened. I was grieved and shame yet kept it to myself. 🤦🏾‍♀️

I can tell you there have been plenty of times during those years and in my early thirties, I belittled an election, not going to the polls because I didn’t take the election serious based on what it was or what position it was. Or I would wait and vote in the “big election.” Keeping quiet, never complaining. But, I voted every presidential, mayoral, governor, city council election yet I discounted the smaller elections. But going through my thirties I had to finally said to myself, “YOU STUPID!!” 🥴

Every election counts. Every election involves you personally. If you don’t think so then you can’t say you’re part of a community. What may not affect you directly may affect your neighbor, children, schools and that in turn affects you. We’re living life on earth together and we can’t afford to be selfish in our thinking especially when we want to live peaceably together.

So, I could no longer say I was a proud graduate of Tougaloo College where Fannie Lou Hamer, Founder of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and received her honorary doctoral degree from Tougaloo College; where Tougaloo’s chaplain, William Albert Bender unsuccessfully attempted to vote in 1946 with following a cross was burned on the campus, and not honor this legacy and path that had been laid out before me to keep walking on and making the voice of my rights be heard.

Why am I sharing this? Because I was ignorant during those young years that are considered “the millennial years” in today’s time. Frustrated at my selections and not taking into account the duty I had and the trail that was blazed for me with burning crosses and strange fruit hanging from trees along the way…for me. Millennials, this social media expression of political opinions means nothing but that you know how to use your words craftily and somehow you have an opinion and can share it and draw a crowd of followers. Well, tell ya crowd to follow you to the polls today, November 6, 2018. Don’t sit around and post about it. Vote about it. Don’t keep your opinions behind these electronic devices. Go to the voting device at the polls and make your opinion known there.

Choose even if you’re frustrated. Make a choice. If you hadn’t paid attention to the candidates, get online and do your research. One of these candidates will have more of what you stand for than the other. Choose. Even if you don’t feel like it, go to the polls today and make a choice. VOTE! We’re not ignorant of politics in today’s time because of the blatant disrespect of our HUMAN BEINGS is being displayed in the White House and it doesn’t matter what your color is.

Make it a priority in this mid-term election to go vote for these judges, senators, House of Representatives, governors, etc. because it affects you, your parents, your children, your bestie, your job, the livelihood of you and your neighbors. So today and every election following, vote your conscious not your pride.

GO VOTE 🗳!!!

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🗣SUPER TREEE! Transform into a…..

On the backroads of Mississippi, you find nature, untouched, unbothered. And I don’t know why but over the years, I became super fascinated with big trees like this you see in the photo. I love the way the branches and the leaves sprawl out creating an umbrella ☂ affect. Can you say shade on a sunny day in April as this one?!

Believe it or not, Mississippi had just experienced a longer winter than usual and on this day the sun was fighting for its position to warm the Mississippi atmosphere. I got off the bi-scenic route a little and passed by this tree and had to get a shot. But I noticed, it wasn’t giving me full, fluffy branches of leaves. And that’s where my fascination of trees I think come in….the intriguing process of trees seasonal transformation.

Year after year and season after season that I’ve traveled these roads, I’ve had the most satisfying opportunity to experience what nature looks like when seasons make their transition. And watching a great big tree 🌳 go through its process is most amazing. On this picture, the leaves were making a return to life on the branch. In a few short weeks, it would be full of green enjoying the summer sun. I love the beauty of a big tree standing proudly on its own with leaves blowing like a cape on a superhero protecting the ground from the evil burn villain…the sun! But I noticed something this year in August that was quite odd.

One of my favorite roads on he bi-scenic route of Mississippi is full of trees on either side of you. Their branches hang over the road creating a tunnel of shade and just enough light. And on this breezy, hot August morning as l drove down “my road,” it was as if a bride and groom were walking out of a church ceremony with celebratory rice showering them. That’s how the leaves greeted my truck and me. We were the bride and groom and crimson and orange leaves were coming off the trees in masses of love and celebration of our arrival outside. But 🗣HOLD UP! 🗣WAIT A MINUTE! This is beautiful and all…but isn’t this hot August in MS? Where these leaves going?

These big super trees aligning the road had given way and were releasing their leaves..to me…a wee bit early for Mississippi in the heart of the summer. As if I wasn’t already excited by being serenaded in such a way but all of a sudden I realized fall-like leaves 🍁 dropping from branches were indicating a possible early fall. 👏🏾👏🏾

Want to know the gossip of what’s happening in Mississippi weather? The trees got the tea 🍵 🐸. They can’t hold leaves. So in early September this year, all around my the bi-scenic route you see super trees like the one in the pic, “baring” its soul and core to the world because it’s stripped of its natural clothing. 🍂 And here we are less than 10 days from November in this transformation, and in some areas, you can see straight through the forest….rows and rows of trees that go miles and miles beyond the road…bare. I’m telling you this is not usual. In Mississippi, nature in the fall still looks like the summer all green and trees still full bloom.

It’s a beautiful journey to take with the super trees. If you don’t pay attention (which most of us don’t), you’ll miss this simplicity of nature. Nature is an indication of life. It’s a life other than your own that Mississippi presents so beautifully to enjoy. Taking time to slow down and partake in it is one of the joys of my life. Enjoy natural life wherever you are. Look up at the trees. If you pay attention, they’ll give you the exclusive on what’s happening next.

I’m A City Girl (I think)

I know everyone thinks of Mississippi as nothing but country living in every inch of the state. And the truth is there are only about 10 (if that) towns that are really “big city” living with tall buildings, malls, offices, highways. I’m from the capital, Jackson, MS and there’s no sign of country living here. I was born in 1973 and my uncle lived in the small town of Flora, MS and that’s how I got to experience most of the country lifestyle. Every now and then, I would travel with relatives to other relatives homes in the country. But as for me, I lived in a subdivision in the north part of Jackson. Even my grandmothers lived in homes close to downtown Jackson (although I knew they grew up in small country towns) where all the city life was booming back then.

So, as I grew up, I never had an interest in camping outdoors, living in the country because as a city girl, I didn’t grow up around wildlife and I was afraid of even domestic animals such as dogs and cats (trust…I still am). LOL! Of course, I went camping with the Girl Scouts where we stayed in clean cabins and with nice community showers in the mid 80s but I was always ready to get back to the luxury of my bedroom (especially since I was an only child and my room as all to myself..LOL)!

When we first moved to North Jackson, there weren’t many subdivisions. My mom would put me, her sister, my cousin and my maternal grandmother in the car and we would drive pass my neighborhood. BOY DID I THINK WE WERE GOING SOMEWHERE FAR! lol. And my maternal grandmother, Mama Nancy, would say we lived in the county because passed our neighborhood was nothing but woods. We’d traveled to Ridgeland, MS which is on the outskirts of Jackson and before one of the major malls of the the state was built there it was a woody area. I think that’s where my love for traveling roads all began. It started with those little rides through the backwoods (who knew major development was on the way of malls and more subdivisions in the late 80s/early 90s).

I noticed throughout my life, I longed to get on a road and drive. And my driving would just consist of me getting down a highway by myself and going as far as the end of MS and turn around! HA! The roads brought me peace. But when I discovered the connection of The Ross Barnett Resevoir to the backroads of Mississippi, I could feel my inquisitive only child juices bubbling. What’s back here? I’d crank up the car and go. I had a keen since of direction so I knew I would always know how to get back to where I started which would lead to home. And on those drives, I discovered back behind these major cities was the peace of country living, I’d said I would never want to experience.

Something about getting older makes everything within you want to slow down and be set apart with just you and your family until you decide to be amongst others. My travels took me by farms, ranches with cows roaming, goats hopping, ducks landing in ponds, frogs croaking. And in the winter, I had a special spot I would go just to sit and roll my window down and sniff in the crisp air if it was a cool day in Mississippi. In the country, it’s quite quiet and peaceful so what you’d hear were birds having a conversation and the cracking of limbs falling from high distances hitting the ground below. I felt so at home.

What?!?! Am I saying I like it out here? Can I live the rest of my middle age and latter years in the country. WAIT!! Get a hold of yourself, Teshia. You’re a city girl! But it was this day a few years ago I took this photo, in this little creek on a fall day in Mississippi I said, I could get used to this.

I took this photo with my iphone camera. I didn’t build this little stone pillar I found in the creek but it showed me that someone else had been here enjoying this type of living also. I stood there and with nothing else around me all I could hear was the running water of this creek. Here I stood a woman afraid of all wildlife, including snakes, lizards, frogs…..sensing peace fill my soul. The trees shielding the sun in all the right places of the creek in the center of the woods but the leaves allowing just enough sun to hit the ground in all the right places. And, all my childhood giddiness overtook me as I removed my shoes and walked the creek with my bare feet. I was enjoying life where I was standing and I asked God, how can I live like this everyday. What is my purpose in life that can have me right here where I can be free to get to this happy place in my soul anytime I needed to? I didn’t wait for the answer from Him but I’ll revisit the question soon.

Yeah…I am a city girl but somewhere in a not so deep place anymore inside of me, I want to be in the country sitting on my porch watching deer passing by with baby deer following close behind Mama Deer. Walking through trails already worn out from previous travelers. Starting a fire in the night and witnessing the night as it approaches the earth. And, I want all of this to happen with no snakes, lizards, dogs, cats, foxes, bugs, umm, umm, let me think, wild boar (maybe they’re not here in MS)…but this is my dream! LOLOL!!! I think if God can make this happen, I can be a country girl here pretty soon! At any rate, I love my state and that it’s teaching me more and more how to be in love with her…yeah…even the country side of her.

I Never Wanted This!!

I NEVER WANTED THIS!!! I didn’t want to be natural! I accidently grew my natural hair out!!

This……this is a story of a Mississippi girl and her hair. Mississippi weather…for all women….no matter her race…is the worst. But when you’re a Black woman trying to battle humidity, you’re likely to encounter the fluff of cotton candy on top of the noggin. It’s rather disturbing.  Thank goodness for chemical relaxers or otherwise known as perms. Now…perms for white women and black women are different. The chemicals in “perms” for Black women are meant to “relax” the roots of the hair and straighten the hair for a manageable, more silky look.

Yeah….a relaxer….the best thing to happen to me.  And to be honest, when I was growing up in the late 70s/early 80s, this was the only type of hair I saw on television that didn’t tangle and moved like rolling water flowing from a spring off the scenic Old Port Gibson Rd. And all the women in my community were sitting in a chair on a hot Saturday getting their hair straightened via hot comb or a relaxer. So, of course, I wanted my hair relaxed.

All I ever knew about my hair as a young girl was that when my mom washed it, it seemed hard to detangle and I was very tender headed. And I knew there was a difference in the texture of my hair and the texture of my maternal grandmother’s hair whose you could comb through with no struggle. But that wasn’t my hair. My hair needed detangling, straightening and assistance of curlers to curl my hair. So the day a relaxer touch my roots was a blessed event.

I went 36 years with the mentality that I needed my hair relaxed because my hair was nappy. However, in the past several years, Black women have been wearing their hair in its natural state. In the quest for healthier living, Black women have been removing the process of applying harsh chemicals to their hair and boldly displaying styles of their natural hair…curly, coily, wavy, coarse. Social media has been documenting it all and Black women have shared their experiences and I’ve watched with pride in my culture and swore…….”I’m never going natural. I love the ‘creamy crack’ (as coined it in the movie Beauty Shop).”

Well, I watched my daughter start her process of allowing her hair to grow the chemical relaxer out. It took about a year and her wavy natural hair came through. Meanwhile, I was having an AWFUL time with my hair during that same year. I had worn hair styles with hair extensions sewn in for about 3 years prior which meant my real hair stayed braided all the time. And believe me I kept the relaxer in while wearing the sew in styles. But, what I discovered about my hair after not doing sew ins any longer, my hair wouldn’t straighten like it used to when relaxed. What the heck was going on?! I needed my roots not to remain wavy but to straighten like it used to. So, during this same year my daughter was growing hers out, I cut my hair into a super short style out of frustration.

GREAT!! My hair is cut and my hair has always look sharp with a relaxed short hair cut. I’ve solved the issue with my hair….cut really short in the back. chemically relaxed and slicked down. YES!!!! So, why hours later upon receiving a relaxer, the back of my really short, relaxed, slicked hair was curling up? At my next hair appointment, I explained what was happening and I asked my hair stylist to please shave it down lower in the back. Let’s try this again. So, why was the back of my even shorter, slicked, relaxed hair curling up in the back? What’s really happening? The more this happened and the more the roots of my hair would not straighten and begin to puff in the top of my head and curl in the back of my head in a matter of days from being relaxed, I had to come up with a plan. AH-HA!!! Back to sew-ins!!!!

For six months, I wore what we call protective styles. Crocheting hair in and wearing sewn in hair. I really don’t know what my plan was for my hair while I wore the protective styles. I just knew I was frustrated with how my hair was reacting and I didn’t have a clue what was going on neither did my hairstylist have an explanation. While I wore the protective styles, the back of my hair grew out and amazingly, it was growing out CURLY underneath the long sewn in extensions!! What the what?! And, when I took my sew-in out, the rest of my hair had grown so much, there was only about 3 inches of chemical relaxer left. Uuuuhhh…sooooo….I CUT IT OFF!! Yes! I cut the rest of the relaxed hair off!

I NEVER WANTED THIS!!! I didn’t want to be natural! I accidently grew my natural hair out!! But, what was super surprising was after I shampooed and conditioned the natural state of my hair, this coily and curly hair texture was there. OH MY GOODNESS GRACIOUS! MY HAIR AIN’T NAPPY!! Who would’ve thunk it!! So with the awesome encouragement of a great daughter who went to cosmetology school and her classmate who’s a great cosmetologist in a salon, I’m finally going to embrace my natural hair with a curl definition to help my natural curl pattern along and a bold new cut and color.

What’s the moral to this long story? Never say what ya not gone do! LOL! Like all things in life, things change. My hair texture when I was a young girl could have NEVER withstood this Mississippi heat and humidity without the help of a chemical relaxer wearing the styles I wanted to wear. Not even in this year, 2018, did I want to be this girl with the natural beautiful curl pattern in this pic. But, now, she is my inspiration and my hair is different and in its natural state, I’m willing to see what bold new adventures my hair and me can get into as we go about traveling down these roads documenting Mississippi in its natural state.

It’s Fall in Mississippi where things definitely do change like the color on the leaves and looks like the color on my hair too. It’s time for the new, new! So, let’s do it!

 

Mississippi Falling

Ok..so really. You never know what type of weather experience you’re going to get in Mississippi (other southern states can totally relate). And seriously, you can look for the foliage to change and you may see some, but Fall in Mississippi, you can usually expect lots of green still dominating the trees and the bushes along with 90 degree temps, humidity 85% (gee whiz).

Every year I PLEAD WITH GOD to give Mississippi a “real” Fall (as if he doesn’t know what He’s doing in Mississippi when He keeps it hot). And on September 22nd each year, I look to see what the upcoming weather forecast is going to be. Will summer and Fall battle it out in the air? Or will summer collapse into Fall without a fight? (that never happens)

Saturday was the first day of Fall. September 22, 2018. I was so excited. Was it hot…of course. But the upcoming DAILY rains and DAILY temperature drop made me even more excited. It inspired me to get up out of bed, grab my camera and see what’s happening around Mississippi. My camera and I wanted to know were we the only ones in anticipation for Fall or were the trees responding with as much excitement as we?

Just look at this picture! Look at it! HELLO FALL! Look how the sun captured the beautiful color of yellow with an outline of fading orange on the leaves. I saw a quote today that said, “Mother Nature has the best box of crayons.” So, true! It’s only been a few years now that I’ve noticed I don’t have to travel north to see foliage change. In Mississippi. It happens. Right here. In my state! A colorful process happens before my eyes. So, where have I been all these years?

Of course, we’re all intelligent to know this has been happening all my 44 years (centuries before me) in Mississippi. But I think within the past 10 years, I’ve just now paid attention to what my state had to offer traveling down these roads less traveled by. It gave me an opportunity to slow down and really look what was happening.

No…the seasons may not change according to the calendar here in the Sip but that doesn’t mean it won’t. All things happen in its own time. And, you know…I think I’m now paying attention and appreciating timing other things and others without frustration and stress.

I can’t make Mississippi be what it’s not. It’s not fast-paced. It’s not medium-paced. We move how we want to move and that doesn’t make us the lesser state. Why do we always try to make Mississippi be like everyone us. Mississippi is falling the way it wants to fall….right in to place in its own time and it’s beautiful.

The season is changing and guess what….Mississippi is Falling!

Not even pictures are perfect.

When I got my camera, I was obsessed with making sure my pictures were perfect. I wanted people who saw them to know the picture was from THE REAL DEAL…A CANON EOS REBEL T6 (y’all I didn’t know the name of this camera off the top of my head….I just looked it up🤣) and not my iPhone. Sooo, when I’d go driving down my favorite Mississippi roads, I would search for the perfect spot. And in the “perfect spot”, it took me about 1 minute (long in photography time) to take one shot because I was looking for the right angle. The right time when the leaves 🍁 would fall. The right shot of the wind (WAIT…WHAT? 🤔 YOU CAN’T SEE WIND! GIRL STOP!) I wanted the vision in my head to be the vision through the lens and show up PERFECT! But the camera only catches what’s there.

I was so bombed because my photos were not giving me what I wanted or what I thought I wanted. All of this nature back here on the bi-scenic route not far from the Mississippi River and I couldn’t capture not one perfect photo. Isn’t it funny how we know that nothing in life is perfect yet we demand perfection even from inanimate objects like a piece of furniture or rock or a road…things full imperfections?

But, I received the best advice about picture taking from a friend. “You’re thinking too hard. Don’t think….just snap.” See, when someone gets in front of my cell phone camera, I would’ve snapped about 10 pictures before the person even knows it. And it’s usually in those shots the favorite comes out. Well, duh! I didn’t transfer that knowledge into me taking pictures with the 🗣CANON EOS REBEL T6. I mean cmon. It’s THE REAL DEAL. Why didn’t it know to do it on its own?! 😜

Well upon receiving this advice, my obsession with having the perfect photo slowly but surely began to fade away. And, as I traveled along the roads and if I saw an oak tree with limbs full of green, I didn’t try to search for my interpretation of whatever I felt was the perfect point-of-view of Mississippi. The lens was truly already telling a story all on its own and not concerned about its imperfections. So, I’d get out the car and just CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK as I move from one spot to the next (I’m real photographer now!). And allow myself to be free from myself and just enjoy myself. Yeah…I had joy.

As I reviewed my photos later, I noticed something about them. Where I was aiming a shot somewhere else proud I’ve got the perfect angle…in the distance or off to the side would be an abandoned home or car or rickety fence. My perfect photo with imperfect objects making an appearance. We hear the phrase that something or someone is “picture perfect.” But not even pictures are perfect. Just like our lives aren’t. There’s always something in the background or off to the side or right in our faces to show life isn’t what we want to portray for others to see.

When I took the shot of this bird flying (yes I was aiming at the bird not the clouds), I was once again trying to show I could capture a perfect shot of a bird soaring through the wind. Uh…maybe I didn’t see the dark cloud (although I was literally out of the car looking up in the sky) but the camera lens did. It caught all the imperfections in my shot and you can barely see the bird at all. I started to get upset but I remembered that my purpose is not to be perfect but to just keep clicking (yeah…I’m finna get deep…somewhat).

That’s what I’ve really think I’ve learned to do in life…just keep clicking. “My children are upset with me.” Just keep clicking. “I messed up at work.” Just keep clicking. “Am I ever going to find a job?” Just keep clicking. What does “just keep clicking” mean? Don’t just take one shot at something. Keep trying and stop trying to be perfect. We’re never going to reach perfection in life. But if we just keep clicking, one of those shots will turned out to be the best one in life and then we will experience real joy.

🗣I’m Moving North.🤷🏾‍♀️

Growing up in my preteen years reading magazines and watching movies, it seemed like all the fun and fabulous stuff happened in New York. All the snow was in New York. All the best rappers were from New York.🤣 Then I fell in love with a guy from a magazine and read an article about him (his name was Ray) and he was from Maryland. And I can’t forget this brochure that sat in our den about the finest hotel and its best cuisine prepared by an award-winning chef in Vermont. WHY WAS I BORN HERE IN MISSISSIPPI?! “I’m moving north when I graduate high school and I’m going to marry Ray,” I told my mom and my close girl friends.

Well, I really did fall in love with a guy but not from the magazine but right here in Mississippi. So, I forgot about the magazine guy. Who was he again…cuz I’m in love this this fella from Mississippi. So, we dated. We married. We had children. We divorced. I was heartbroken. Here. In Mississippi.🤦🏾‍♀️ Then, I remembered 🤔💭 I’m not supposed to be here. I’m moving north!! But, while I was grieving the loss of this relationship and raising children on my own, I realized I didn’t recognize or remember who I was. And in that time period, I was led to the best app ever….PINTEREST. I created boards of my likes, my dreams, my wants, my desires. I was creating boards where I was rediscovering myself from my purest, untouched by life years and remembered my obsession with roads.

I began to heal from divorce by taking long drives down roads in Mississippi. These roads are where I discovered the backroads of my state and my eyes 👀 saw something as a black girl from Mississippi I was never told (because the vision of Mississippi I was given was of hurt and pain and being last in the nation). But, Mississippi is beautiful! 🤩 So, I bought a camera 📷 thinking this would be my cheap way to save on senior portraits for my son. I’ll just take them. But, it turned out to be so much more. And I thought the best way to learn this camera is to take it with me and discover the history on those backroads.

The abandoned towns, churches, sheds. The rows and rows of fields of corn, soybeans, trees. The Mississippi Blues Trail markers. The wide Mississippi River. The burned down homes with nothing but stone pillars left to honor its existence. Churches still standing in perfect condition but no attendants. Graves unmarked. Headstones dated in the 1800s in small cemeteries behind churches. Fields of cotton. Abandoned juke joints. Abandoned post offices. Antebellum homes. Bridges. The open fields beneath Native American burial mounds (the real owners of this land). It was all so new to me but brought me much peace and pure joy. Mississippi backroads became my happy place, my place of comfort.

Some times I sat long hours reading a book in my special spots on my Mississippi backroads. As I’d rolled my window down and listen to the quiet of the open fields and woods, I began to imagine what’s happened here (some of it I know because this is the South and slavery was very real). Who was loved here? Who was hurt, killed here? Who moved here from another state to start a new life? Who dreamed here? Who played here? Who’s heart was broken here? Who sang here? Who danced here? Who walked these roads to freedom here?

Mississippi. It wasn’t so bad. As a matter of fact, through every click of my camera and each frame I reviewed, I began falling in love with Mississippi. I thought, how could I not love the place where God saw fit to birth me into this world. I’m a Mississippi girl. Born. Raised. Lived. Married. Mothered. Divorced. Laughed. Cried. Shared. LOVED all right here in Mississippi. Nah…I’m not moving North. It’s too much more of Mississippi my eyes and my camera has to discover. You know what? I’m staying right here…in Mississippi.