Monday Notes: “Umi said shine your light on the world”

img_9353“Shine your light for the world to see.” It’s a quote from a rap song that I’d heard decades ago (Mos Def). But I’m really feeling it after our D.C. book reading. Just like the previous two, this one was completely different as well. The Jacksonville book talk was more like a starter event. The authors had never publicly read their stories before, so the energy was a mixture of excitement and nervousness. Though each writer’s voice was clear, it was quiet.

img_0768Three months later, we’d moved 345 miles north to Atlanta. Three women had read in Jacksonville, so they were a bit more familiar with expectations. Their voices were grounded, louder. This time the audience had changed. The energy was palpable in varied ways. Questions were about the writing process, as well as the healing process. How had any of us done this? This included forgiving our fathers for heinous shenanigans. This included writing our mini-memoirs for someone other than ourselves.

img_1904-1Seven months after the Jacksonville event, we convened in Washington, D.C. and everything had changed. Two readers were pros. Kotrish Wright declined the use of a podium. Instead, she used the space around her to give more of a performance act. Her voice rose and fell, like an experienced reader. Inflection was important for specific parts. Ishna Hagan read her narrative with confidence and poise. She stood in her truth, which seemed to give her power.

Tikeetha was a novice to this experience. But I couldn’t tell. She read her story with the ease of a famous author. Though her story is sad and heart wrenching, she managed to make the audience nod and laugh at all the appropriate times.

And finally, there’s me.

img_1919This time I felt like I was shining my light for the world to see. An attendee who had cried her way through a question and almost the entire reading thanked me for putting this together. She’d intended to find a way for her mother to heal from trauma and mental illness. Another woman recounted her own father-daughter situation. It was enough to be another chapter in our edited collection. She, too, admitted she needed to find a way to counter her childhood dysfunction. A friend of mine provided me with a list she’d brainstormed to broaden my reach: come to Richmond, VA and call her OWN network contact.

After this third reading, I feel like we’ve each come into our own. We’ve done much more than pour our hearts on pages for catharsis. We’ve demonstrated what love, forgiveness, grace, and healing look like. We’ve exposed ourselves in ways that neither of us believed possible.

“Umi said shine your light on the world; shine your light for the world to see.” With this project, we’ve shone brightly and come into our own. And we plan to continue in our own way.

siSTARS with Tikeetha Thomas (Part I)

Do you follow Tikeetha Thomas? If not, then here are a few reasons why:

  1. She’s one of the co-authors of Daddy: Reflections of Father-Daughter Relationships.
  2. She’s an amazing lifestyle blogger who discusses everything from parenting to dating.
  3. She’s an all-around inspirational person who uses her own life to motivate each one of her followers.

In this first video, I ask Tikeetha to make connections between the relationship she has with her father and those she has in the dating realm. Check it out below:

Giving Back to the Community through Book Sales

1521808695783I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but 100% of the proceeds from the book, Daddy (from June 16, 2018-June 16, 2019) will go to a nonprofit organization near and dear to ten of the authors’ hearts. When you buy a book, you’re also giving back! A list and explanation follows:

A portion of the book’s proceeds will be contributed to an organization important to Toliver, Black Girls Code. The owner hopes to “provide young and pre-teen girls of color opportunities to learn in-demand skills in technology and computer programming at a time when they are naturally thinking about what they want to be when they grow up.”

A portion of the book’s proceeds will be contributed to an organization important to Price, the Marjaree Mason Center. The organization “provides emergency and longer-term safe housing, along with a wide variety of support services for victims of domestic violence in Fresno County.”

A portion of the book’s proceeds will be contributed to an organization important to Scott, Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. The Foundation’s mission is to “provide optimal care and services to individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease and related illnesses and to their families and caregivers.”

A portion of the book’s proceeds will be contributed to an organization important to Wright, North Florida Freedom Schools. Operated under the Children’s Defense Fund, “the goal of CDF’s integrated curriculum is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.”

A portion of the book’s proceeds will be contributed to an organization important to Hagan, The Rhode Island Center for Justice. This organization partners with community groups to protect legal rights and to ensure justice for vulnerable individuals, families, and communities. The Center provides free civil legal assistance to low-income Rhode Islanders, engages in key impact litigation affecting the rights and wellbeing of thousands across the State, and conducts legislative and policy advocacy on behalf of the communities. 

A portion of the book’s proceeds will be contributed to an organization important to Thomas, the March of Dimes. According to their mission statement, “Prematurity is the #1 killer of babies in the United States. We are working to change that and help more moms have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies.”

A portion of the book’s proceeds will be contributed to an organization important to Jefferson, Vista Maria. The organization’s mission is to “deliver innovative care, support, treatment and education to vulnerable youth so that they heal, believe in their worth, and build the skills needed to succeed.”

A portion of the book’s proceeds will be contributed to an organization important to Kollar, The Oasis Center for Women & Girls. Their mission is to “improve the lives of women and girls through celebration and support.”

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A portion of the book’s proceeds will be contributed to an organization important to Carlyle, Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund provides critically-needed medical facilities for treating United States military personnel suffering the effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and psychological health issues.

A portion of the book’s proceeds will be contributed to an organization important to Roxanne, Wounded Warrior Project. The Wounded Warrior Project supports veterans who’ve served on or after September 11, 2001. They help veterans transition to civilian life.

Be sure to order a copy for you or a woman you know who might benefit from understanding that she isn’t the only one with “daddy issues.”

Or, order a copy for a father who might need a nudge towards healing by reading about  other men’s imperfect father-daughter relationships.

 

DADDY CONTRIBUTOR: Anna Scott

Unlike The Unhappy Wife book, Daddy is not written by me. This anthology includes stories written by women, who felt it important to publicly re-tell narratives centered on their relationship with their father. Each woman’s purpose is similar, yet different. Every Friday, I invite you to read about their reason why.

Today, please meet Anna Scott, author of “The Thing About My Father.”

Why were you inspired to contribute to this book? When Kathy invited me to submit an essay about my relationship with my father for consideration in Daddy, I knew this was a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work through the myriad emotions I felt toward him in what I hoped was a healthy, constructive way. One of my greatest concerns while writing this piece was making sure that my intentions for doing so were clean. By that, I mean that I didn’t want to write out of anger or to be vindictive. I wanted to write to share my truth about our relationship, as I saw it, and in the process, try to heal and move on. Writing this was cathartic in the sense that, while I didn’t have any epiphanies or learn anything I didn’t already know deep down, I was able to release the expectations associated with our relationship. Somehow the process of putting pen to paper and being able to look at the relationship objectively, through an author’s eyes, transferred that energy out of me.

What is your father-daughter relationship like now? Nothing has changed on the surface. Our relationship is still superficial, kind of like that between a niece and an uncle she sees a few times a year. What has changed is that this no longer upsets me. Once I accepted that my father doesn’t get it and never will, I stopped taking his behavior personally. This has made a tremendous difference in my sense of self-worth and esteem. Also, I no longer feel an obligation to make effort with him.

If there is one thing you could tell women who struggle with “daddy issues” what would it be? I would tell them that they are worthy, lovable, and significant regardless of whether their father values them or not. I would tell them to be kind, loving, and forgiving to themselves. I would also tell them to be mindful of the men they invite into their lives so that they are not unconsciously trying to work out their “daddy issues” through unhealthy romantic relationships. It is better to be alone than with someone who doesn’t value you.

1521808695783What do you hope your story accomplishes? There are two things I hope to accomplish with my story. The first is that it might encourage women to stop feeling guilty and afraid to speak their truth to and about their fathers. This is tough, I know, because The Bible tells us to honor our father, and so it seems the burden of guilt falls on us, the daughters, no matter how deplorable our fathers might be. Family members may try to make us feel guilty for speaking out, even if they know full well our father has hurt us in some way. Society overall might judge and condemn us. Even so, it is our right to speak our truth, as we see it and feel it. A wise woman once shared something that I still refer to whenever I am questioning my feelings about someone or something: “I know what I know. I see what I see. I feel what I feel.” Don’t let anyone invalidate your feelings in the name of “honoring” your father if said father is an asshole. The second thing I hope to accomplish is that women will realize they should not take their father’s behavior toward them – whether it is rejection, cruelty, abandonment or something else – personally. Again, this is tough, because fathers are supposed to love and protect and adore their daughters, and when they don’t, it hurts. Try not to internalize the pain. It is his ignorance, selfishness, fear, self-loathing, etc. that causes him to behave the way he does. In the end, blowing the opportunity to have an authentic, loving, healthy relationship with his daughter is his responsibility and loss far more than anyone else’s.

What are you working on currently? Currently, I’m working on a historical romance novel set in 1930 Newport, RI. It’s about a young woman trying to hold her family together after her father loses his fortune and his mind in the 1929 stock market crash, who falls in love with the businessman sent to try and purchase their summer cottage for a steal. Recently, I submitted to Harlequin a 75,000-word historical romance. It is the first novel I have ever completed, and I didn’t show it to a soul before submitting it. This was a bucket list goal for me. Three months later, I received a rejection; however, it was accompanied by an extensive constructive critique by the editors that told me what they had enjoyed about it and what they felt needed improvement should I choose to submit again. I was so encouraged by the feedback that I am back to work on this new novel and plan to try again.

Anna Scott believes in the power of writing our stories to facilitate healing and personal growth. She lives in New England with her husband, two children, and the family cat. “The Thing About My Father” is her first published personal essay.

A portion of the book’s proceeds will be contributed to an organization important to Scott, Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. The Foundation’s mission is to “provide optimal care and services to individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease and related illnesses and to their families and caregivers.”

The eBook version of Daddy is available for pre-order now!

Paperback is available for order here.

 

DADDY CONTRIBUTOR: Varina Price

1521808695783Unlike The Unhappy Wife book, Daddy is not written by me. This anthology includes stories written by women, who felt it important to publicly re-tell narratives centered on their relationship with their father. Each woman’s purpose is similar, yet different. Every Friday, I invite you to read about their reason why.

Today, please meet Varina Price, author of “A Letter to My Father,” which includes the actual letter she wrote to her dad.

Why were you inspired to contribute to this book? I wrote a letter to my father one year in hopes to reconcile a neglected relationship. A year later, with no response, I still needed to vent, I needed someone to hear my agony, so I blogged about it. I wanted women and girls to know they were not alone, that the pain they suffered, the feeling of abandonment was not their fault.

What is your father-daughter relationship like now? Until this day I have no father-daughter relationship. I have chosen to not indulge any more time into something I cannot change. I cannot change the way he feels about me, and I cannot force a relationship from someone who cannot find the time to invest.

If there is one thing you could tell your father what would it be? It would be exactly what I wrote in the letter. At this time, I don’t think there would be much to say. Too much time has passed; too much pain has been experienced.

If there is one thing you could tell men with daughters what would it be?

Anyone who is a father or expecting a daughter, I would tell him to create a trusting bond with her. Make memories, take plenty of pictures, and illuminate a relationship, which she can build a foundation on that will demonstrate how men should treat her.

What are you working on currently? I’m focusing on school right now.

Varina Price was born in Fresno, California. She holds a degree in public health from National University and is currently completing nursing school. She is married to Nicholas Price and is mother to Aaron Peraza, Bryce Peraza, Noah Peraza, and Brayden Price.

A portion of the book’s proceeds will be contributed to an organization important to Price, the Marjaree Mason Center. The organization “provides emergency and longer-term safe housing, along with a wide variety of support services for victims of domestic violence in Fresno County.”

The eBook version of Daddy is available now for pre-order.

Paperback is available for order here.

DADDY CONTRIBUTOR: S.R. Toliver

Unlike The Unhappy Wife book, Daddy is not written by me. This anthology includes stories written by women, who felt it important to publicly re-tell narratives centered on their relationship with their father. Each woman’s purpose is similar, yet different. Every Friday, I invite you to read about their reason why.

Today, meet S.R. Toliver, author of “Trial by Father.”

Why were you inspired to contribute to this book? I have always had a strained relationship with my father, but I was never able to talk about it until a couple of years ago. Therapy helped. It was in therapy sessions that I realized what I felt was valid. It was in therapy that I learned that I’m not responsible for the way I was treated, and that it was okay for me to let go of my father because he was the cause of my anxiety. After being able to talk about it, I felt like the next step was to write about it. There might be a young girl who is dealing with some of the same issues that people don’t want to talk about, and maybe by my speaking about it, they’ll know that they aren’t alone.

What is your father-daughter relationship like now? I completely cut my father off about two years ago. I had a major anxiety attack the summer before I began my Ph.D. program, and I couldn’t figure out why. What I realized later, though, was that it was because my father had been in the same space, something that I’ve avoided (physically by not being around or mentally by drinking). There’s so much trauma that I experienced when he was around that it started to manifest physically. I just didn’t know that it was called an anxiety attack until then. I’ve been much happier now that I don’t speak to him or see him.

1521808695783If there is one thing you could tell women who struggle with “daddy issues” what would it be? It’s not your fault. You father’s issues don’t define who you are or who you have become. They don’t have to guide your life. If it’s hard for you to see that, like it was hard for me, then therapy can work wonders. Don’t be afraid to seek help from outside voices.

If there is one thing you could tell men with daughters what would it be? They are bombarded by images that constantly tell them they aren’t enough. They are consistently told that they aren’t deserving of love. They don’t need to hear the same messages from you.

What do you hope your story accomplishes? I hope that it opens up discussions about the ways fathers can place unnecessary burdens on their daughters. I want there to be conversations about how toxic masculinity can cause fathers to question and judge their daughters rather than questioning the society that oversexualizes them before they begin to acknowledge their own sexuality or sexual identity.

What are you working on currently? I always tell my friends that Storm (from the X-Men) saved my life. I say this because I always looked to her as a pillar of strength even when the whole world hated her just for existing. My Ph.D. work centralizes science fiction for this reason. Reality can be burdensome and harsh, and although it is necessary to acknowledge, sometimes Black girls need dreams to hold onto instead of reality.

srtoliverS.R. Toliver is pursuing a PhD in language and literacy education at the University of Georgia. Her current research is based in the critical tradition, analyzing young adult literature and literacy pedagogies in an effort to promote social justice and equity in education. She can be reached on Twitter: @SR_Toliver.

A portion of the book’s proceeds will be contributed to an organization important to Toliver, Black Girls Code. The owner hopes to “provide young and pre-teen girls of color opportunities to learn in-demand skills in technology and computer programming at a time when they are naturally thinking about what they want to be when they grow up.”

The eBook version of Daddy is available for pre-order right now

Paperback is available for order here.