Cover Reveal: In Search of a Salve: Memoir of a Sex Addict

The time has come for me to reveal the cover for my debut full-length book, In Search of a Salve: Memoir of a Sex Addict.

I imagine several people looking at their screens and saying, “Memoir of a Wha?” I am here to assure you that you are reading the correct words.

Hi, my name is Katherin. I am a recovering sex addict, and as only a creative nonfiction writer would do…I’ve written a memoir about it.

I’ve been writing and revising this book since 2014. Subsequently, there have been several title changes. Initially, the book was going to be called Petulia, the name that my birth mother assigned to me, but the story morphed into being a narrative about more than adoption. The next title was Codependent; that was after I did a deep dive into Melody Beattie’s book. Still, something wasn’t quite right. The something was that I was trying to save my public reputation and avoid revealing the real issue—the integral (and awful) part that sex has played in my life.

So, I took a deep breath, made a decision, and revised the memoir once again. This time, the title would be Diary of a Sex Addict and written as an epistolary. But that didn’t work either. I hadn’t really kept a diary of my life, and trying to re-create one came off as inauthentic, something I don’t want to be.

My next title was Addicted. Years ago, Zane, a famous, Black erotica author had written a fictional novel called Addicted, and I thought it would be clever to play off the title as a sort of nonfiction response, like hey…this is what real sex addiction is like. It is not pretty or sexy. It is dangerous and scary.

But my publisher told me I couldn’t name it that for two reasons: Zane had already written a book with this title, and more importantly, the book is about much more than sex addiction.

She was right.

After careful thought, I renamed it In Search of a Salve, because it encompasses what I did much of my childhood, adolescence, and adult life—searched for something to heal the pain of unresolved trauma and the feelings of being thrice abandoned by each of my parents. Sex is how I did that; thus, Memoir of a Sex Addict is the subtitle.

The Cover

So, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I can tell you about the cover.

As an indie author, I typically work with people I know for each phase of book production; however, this time, I went with a boutique/independent publisher (more about that decision later). Working with a publisher meant trusting that person’s contacts and process, including their graphic designer. That was hard.

Before sending materials to the creative, I envisioned and made a mockup of the cover. I kept this rendition to myself, and then sent three photos and sample covers of bestselling books that I liked. What I created is on the left. The actual book cover is on the right.

Pretty amazing, huh?

I’m happy the graphic designer chose this photo. The picture accurately depicts how I felt during much of my life: deserted, sad, and bewildered. Overall, I was living life in a despondent kind of way. Even if I was donning the big, bright smile that many people know me for, I still felt like the little girl in this photo on the inside for much of my life.

I’ve spent the last nine years writing and revising this book, and now, with the help of my editor and NEW Reads Publications, it is nearly ready for public consumption.

I do hope you’ll consider buying a copy once pre-orders go on sale, which is June 27, 2023. I also hope you’ll endure hearing about it, every now and then, because, well, that’s how books are sold in the 21st century.


Monday Notes: Practicing What I Preach: Time Boundaries

My cousin called me a total of six times the day before my birthday and on the actual day, even though I texted that I would call him back later.

The same cousin typically speaks to his mother, once a day. But for five days, she was with me. This time, he was not only calling to see how she was faring on vacation, but also to inquire about me and why I wasn’t answering the phone, during dinner…in Aruba…every day. As a result, she tried to coax me to speak with him. One time, she said she would call and pass me the phone.

So, I told her, “I know how to use the cellphone, Auntie. I’ll call him later, like I already said.”

Another time, she tried to cajole me into answering by saying that “Someone very special, who you used to cut up with, wants to talk to you very badly,” while we were in process of hailing a cab to ride to downtown Aruba.

The same cousin asked his brother, who was with us on the island, if I was angry with him. I assured his brother I was not, that I was having an amazing time doing all of the things. Then, I dipped my blue tortilla chip into a ramekin of guacamole, enjoyed my appetizer, and cackled with my daughters and good friend.

My cousin called me again, and I ignored it.

After we sat down for my birthday dinner, at a beachside restaurant, where the sun lowered into oblivion, my aunt asked if I was going to call my cousin. That’s when I gave this speech:

“I am not angry. I am fine. I have chosen to pay attention to the 11 people who are in front of me today, to the people who spent lots of money to be with me. I think it’s important to do that. It took a lot of time and energy for everyone to be sitting here. I don’t think I should spend it talking on the cellphone to people who are not here. This is called a boundary, and I want to explain this to you before I have another drink when it won’t sound this nice.”

She laughed and said she understood.

The following day, I called my cousin. He was alive and well; his life did not implode because he couldn’t speak with me when he wanted to; neither did mine.


The example I’ve provided is called a time boundary. This year, I decided how I was going to spend my time on my birthday. Although I always appreciate the outpouring of well-wishes, I wasn’t going to be responding to texts and talking on the phone all day. I replied to most people late that night. Others, the next day. But here’s what this interaction reinforced:

  • Experts suggest you explain a boundary before enacting it. Maybe. A lot of examples I’ve seen require some lengthy speech with consequences. I don’t have the bandwidth for that right now. My cousin didn’t have to know what or why. His job was simple. Wait for me to call. However, my aunt was going to continue ignoring what I said, so I had to explain.
  • People don’t have to agree with your boundaries for you to create and enforce them. Obviously, my cousin had another agenda he thought I should follow. That’s fine. Other people’s agendas don’t negate what you choose for yourself.
  • People will try and manipulate you to do what they want. That’s their issue, not yours.
  • It is your responsibility to stick to the boundary. Had I answered the phone, I would have been sending a message to my cousin, his brother, and his mother that I was not serious about what I decided. Furthermore, it would have set the stage for future interactions.
  • You are obliged to enforce the boundary. That can look like re-stating what you already said or explaining (see bullet one).

Good luck boundary setting, good people! Please feel free to add more helpful suggestions about boundaries in the comments.


Monday Notes: 4 Lessons Learned from Rotator Cuff/Bicep Tendon Surgery*

Guess who was released from physical therapy? That’s right. Me!

I convalesced for six weeks in a sling. I maintained physical therapy for nine weeks. Now, two months ahead of schedule, I’m back in the business of being me. And so, I have a few lessons learned or reinforced from this experience:

It’s okay to have a range of emotions.

I was angry when I tore my rotator cuff and bicep tendon. I was anxious at the idea of having surgery. I was sad that I wouldn’t be able to use my dominant arm to do everyday activities; things like blogging, revising my memoir, or grading online work. I was bothered by the idea that I had to sit around and…heal. But I didn’t allow others to force me into a space of gratitude, joy, or happiness. I didn’t allow others to invalidate my feelings.

I knew any emotion that surfaced would be fleeting, that I wouldn’t feel angry, anxious, sad, or bored forever, and I was right. Eventually, my emotions shifted. I was joyful on some days, and once I was able to exercise, less moody. Just to reiterate…it is totally fine to have a range of emotions, even if others are uncomfortable with you having them.

It’s okay to ask for help.

For various reasons, I have hyper-independent tendencies. I can do it myself, I often say, even if doing it myself is more challenging. However, there is no room for hyper-independence when you are one-handed. Showering and dressing require assistance.

And I didn’t like it.

Days after surgery, my voice shrank smaller and smaller each time I had to ask Dwight for another glass of water. But these circumstances left me with no choice. Over time, I grew more used to asking for help and not seeing it as a weakness. I’m not saying this has totally resolved itself, but I have accepted that receiving help is not bad. Sometimes, it’s necessary.

Listen to your body.

Part of what got me into this situation was not listening to my body. And what’s gotten me back to 100% is…listening to my body. Once I was out of the sling, I noticed that my shoulder ached when I slept. I didn’t reach out to the doctor or physical therapist to ask for advice. Instead, I put a pillow under it for support. Later, Dawn confirmed this was the right thing to do for all kinds of medical reasons. First, I listened to my body, then I did what I thought was best…in a lot of situations, this is the way toward strengthening your intuition.

Ultimately, I didn’t need Dawn to confirm if I was doing better. I learned to monitor my own progress. If I could move my arm higher, then I was doing well.

Healing is not just physical.

My husband has been amazing. I could write 1200 more words about how he has embodied the phrase in sickness and in health. He has done everything you’d think he is supposed to do because I couldn’t fend for myself.

But others’ love and care has also been integral. For example, my oldest daughter put some braids in my hair; my youngest daughter cooked dinner a few times, took my braids out, and detangled my hair; my sister talked to me daily for two weeks and sent money for lunch. My father-in-law texted me every day, until my two-week appointment.

A friend bought me the cutest and most comfy house shoes ever because she intentionally wanted me to be comfortable, while I “rested or wrote!” One friend talked to me once a week on my walk. Another friend sent me chocolates that spelled out a recovery message. A different friend picked me up and took me to the movies and lunch to relieve my boredom.

And of course, the blogging community has been instrumental in allowing me to share a range of emotions and offering well wishes publicly and privately.

Relationships are important to me, and I’m sure my healing process would’ve gone differently had friends and family not actively shown love and compassion.

* I promise this is my last post about my rotator cuff and bicep tendon. I’m about to go prep for my birthday trip 🥳


Monday Notes: Friday in Phoenix

My husband decided that he wanted to plan a surprise pre-birthday trip for me. The “surprise” part ended up being revealed for various reasons, but ultimately, he had planned to take me to see my favorite DJ, Roger Sanchez, who would be in Phoenix on March 24th.

I have been listening to and following DJ Roger Sanchez’s music for at least five years. On any given day, his house music beats blare from my Jeep. Our previous neighbors used to bang on the wall when a mix reverberated too loudly. Sanchez has produced Grammy-award winning songs, to which I know all the lyrics, even the Spanish ones. I. love. Roger. Sanchez.

So, when Dwight said he was taking me to see this DJ in flipping person, I just about lost my mind.

Next, my husband said he was also buying me an outfit to attend this event. Dwight is the most well-dressed man you will ever meet. His clothing choices are carefully choreographed ensembles, with levels of detail most people ignore. He has bought me outfits before, but it’s been without me. This time, I was going to choose whatever I wanted, with no spending limit.

Dude.

For almost a decade, I’ve been explicitly fleshing out what it means to be authentic. I’ve learned that how one dresses is a part of self-expression, and self-expression is directly linked to being oneself. I scoured Sanchez’s social media to see how people dressed. T-shirt and jeans or shorts would’ve been fine. But not this time and not for me. I wanted to wear sequins, sequins shorts to be exact.

“I don’t think the whole outfit should be sequins,” my fashion-savvy husband said.

I value his advice, but this time, I had to ignore it. Every day, we have the choice to be our authentic selves, and this was my opportunity. Not only were the blouse and shorts sequins, but also the shoes and fanny pack!

A couple weeks prior to our flight, I contacted my cousin, who I haven’t seen in a few years to let him know we’d be in Phoenix. Then, I remembered that Krystle, a blogger I’ve been talking to via social media lives in the city, too, so we arranged to see one another.

Ya’ll. I was so excited that I started packing four days before our flight.


Have you ever had a day where everything was perfect—where the birds chirped a little louder, where the sun shone a little brighter? Well, that’s how last Friday was.

That morning, Krystle, my cousin, Dwight, and I ate at Breakfast Bitch, a place where rap and R&B play in surround sound, a place where waitstaff sing the “Happy Birthday” song with a microphone and a boombox. This place was as extra as my sequins outfit.

Meeting Krystle for the first time wasn’t weird. Our conversation flowed, just like it had over the years in the DM. I was immediately reminded of why we need to flow with life, instead of resisting reality. What I mean is this: I needed to focus on the people who were in front of me, not overanalyze why a few friends I’ve known for decades had neglected to ask how I was faring after surgery.

Later, I treated Dwight and my cousin to dinner at a tapas restaurant called Pa’La. My husband enjoys fine dining and I had scheduled this part of the trip as a show of gratitude for taking care of me while I had been convalescing. The food was amazing, fresh, and ethically sourced. We enjoyed ourselves.

Then, it was time to see DJ Roger Sanchez.

Man.

I am not easily impressed when it comes to experiences. I am not the one to fanout because I’m in the presence of a celebrity DJ. However, as soon as Sanchez showed up, I thought I was going to faint. But I didn’t. I composed myself and danced and sweated for nearly three hours. I sang along with hits typically heard in the confines of my car and home. That night, I was satisfied with life and love.

Typically, I have a well-thought-out inspirational lesson. Usually, I wait a couple weeks after an event, so I can consider what I want to convey.

But not this time.

I hope what I’m saying is clear and that you glean what you may from this latest slice of my life. I hope this story inspires you in ways that matter to you.


Turning 50: Life is a Social Construct

Life is a social construct—marriage, raising kids, traveling, gender roles, and more—all of it is made up. And guess what that means? Anything that is constructed, can be deconstructed: it can be torn apart and reconstructed.

In my observations, though, it seems that we are rarely taught this. Instead, we are born into a set of social rules, shamed if we think about them otherwise, and then pushed back into what are portrayed as cemented ways of being. But this isn’t reality. Reality is we can make up life anyway we desire. Re-constructing life requires choosing a social construct, thinking about what you actually value, unlearning the social construct, and then re-creating life based on your values, instead of those you were born into.

This is no easy feat, but it is possible. Here’s how:

CHOOSE A SOCIAL CONSTRUCT: Celebrating Christmas.

When I was growing up, my grandmother had one rule about holidays. She said her children and grandchild could spend any holiday wherever they wanted, but Christmas was for her. That was feasible enough when I was nearby. But what happened when my family and I moved a thousand miles south? Nothing. Nothing changed. Dwight and I packed up our children, bought winter clothes, packed gifts, and eventually our dog, and we drove every other year to have the Christmas my grandmother desired.

THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU VALUE: Family time.

We did this for 17 years, until I thought about why I was doing it. One reason was because that’s what you do for the holidays…spend it with family. That’s what Hallmark says. That’s what commercials and Christmas movies show, and that’s what my grandmother had decreed. Another reason I spent my holiday on the road was because when I asked my grandmother if she would come to Florida for Christmas, she said I was being inconsiderate. Everyone in Chicago couldn’t come to my house, so I shouldn’t expect such a ridiculous thought.

UNLEARN THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCT AND RE-CREATE LIFE BASED ON YOUR VALUES.

So, I never asked again, but that 17th year, I decided I wasn’t driving there for Christmas until I felt like it. I decided to re-construct what Christmas meant for me. It didn’t mean driving up-and-down the interstate to appease others, while I grew ragged and overwhelmed. It meant creating new traditions with my family in our space. It was not easy. For the first few years, everyone in my family asked when I was coming home. No one ever asked when they could visit my family and me for a holiday. But that’s how social constructs work. When you break them, those steeped in the construct will try and push you back into the norm. However, it didn’t work. My family and I have celebrated at our home for a while now, and I feel much better because we have developed our own traditions, and as our daughters age, they will, too.


So, there’s a family example, but what happens when it’s a place that provides us with income, like work? Trust me, you can also re-create in your career.

When I began my current job, I received several pieces of advice. One person told me I should make my social media account private.

“How am I going to be a public writer, with a private social media?” I asked.

She didn’t have an answer, so I ignored this advice.

Another person told me I shouldn’t speak out about injustices, until I was tenured and had the security with which to do so.

That sounded hella silly, too, especially because I live with a keen awareness that we can die at any moment. I ignored this and published two essays in well-known anthologies about the ill feelings I had about being an affirmative-action hire in academia.

I almost talked myself out of starting this blog, due to the content. I wasn’t sure if my job would be jeopardized because I chose to write about the impact that childhood and adolescent trauma had on my adult life.

I ignored my own fears and so far, I’m still employed.

There are other lesser-known things that I’ve done, such as not being bogged down with what the education field likes to call “service” or attending superfluous meetings, simply to talk about things that could’ve been an email or digital presentation. Part of the reason I’ve been able to function this way is because I have a terminal degree in my field, and I’ve been in education for nearly three decades. I know the manipulative forces that are at play, and I know how to navigate them.

But the fact remains that even how a job is performed is a social construct that can be deconstructed and reconstructed, if only we’d think about what we value and how we can align that with the institution or company. I care about being an effective educator, so does my job. Everything else is negotiable.

Let me reiterate this point: Everything social is made up! And if you have the desire to deconstruct what you’ve learned, in hopes of re-creating something you value, then it can be done. You just have to make up your mind to do it.


I’m turning 50 on May 23rd, and I’m processing and documenting it here. Being on the earth for half a century, interacting with people, has taught me a few things, and I’ll be sharing them with you through June. Here are the first two:

Turning 50: Advice I’m No Longer Taking

Turning 50: The Relationship You Have with Yourself Matters Most


Monday Notes: My Big Black Sling

“I hate to see you like this,” my friend said seemingly uncomfortable with the idea of seeing me in pain.

It had been a week since I’d had surgery on a torn rotator cuff and bicep tendon. I understood his concern. The sling is a lot. It’s big. It’s black. Its thick straps wrap around my waist and around my left shoulder to hold my healing appendage and bicep in place.

Arthritis cripples him. He, too, hurts. But he has to announce it. Invisibility obscures his pain behind pearly whites and a sunny disposition. Unlike his sore, veiled and out of sight, friends and family cannot avoid seeing my big black sling. Its sole job to hold one part of my body in place, close to my chest.


“Man, I hate to see my friend like this,” he said after dinner and after he noticed the side effects of narcotics snaking through my veins—my eyelids growing heavy, my head hanging lower.

I admired his fortitude to face his emotions out loud. That’s something a lot of people don’t know how to do. In the midst of well-wishes, I’ve received strange responses. Jokes shroud people’s intent. Comments about push-ups intermingle with words like worry and sleep at night.

Many of us don’t know what to do with visible pain or the thought of our loved one being hurt. The discomfort of another’s distress is…uncomfortable. And so, we ignore it—we sloppily shuffle around it. We hold our emotions close like my big black sling, hoping not to re-injure.

But even if I stand strategically against a wall, people wiggle and bump into me, while uttering unapologetic sorrys. They stare intrigued with the background story. This representation of pain is unavoidable. This sling is big.


“I just hate to see you like this,” he said once more. This time, we stood in the parking lot of a liquor store. He’d insisted on “buying me a bottle for my big birthday.”

I accepted. And I wondered if he spoke to me or himself. His pain is visible only through X-ray. He can smile and no one would be the wiser. If I smile, people can focus on the symbolism of the sling.

“Next time, maybe you can visit when I’m not hemmed up,” I said.

“For sho’,” he agreed, describing a return trip in a couple of months.

I reassured him my recovery would be speedy. “April will be here in no time. We can celebrate life for real then,” I say.

For real means sipping handcrafted drinks in short gold-rimmed glasses and copper tin mugs, shutting down restaurants, and complaining about the privilege we’ve designed for our young adult daughters. We did little of that on this night. That night, was reserved for facing pain: his and mine. His invisible, mine observable.


Post-script: I wrote this one week after my surgery on January 27, 2023. I’ve started physical therapy and feel fine 😉


Turning 50: The Relationship You Have with Yourself Matters Most

Do you like yourself? Do you love yourself? Do you accept yourself as is? I hope so, because just like any relationship, liking, loving, and accepting yourself are foundational for developing a relationship with yourself. If you’re having issues with either of these three, there are plenty of self-help books, gurus, and of course, therapists, who can lead the way. I suggest starting there, before reading about my version of developing a relationship with yourself:


Years ago, I wrote a book called The Unhappy Wife. In it, I’d interviewed 12 women, one being myself. As I listened to each woman’s story, it became clear to me that we didn’t love ourselves. It was also apparent that we were detached from our bodies and emotions, and subsequently…ourselves. Yet we had bent over backwards in immeasurable ways to figure out how to be in relationship with men. I remember wondering what it would look like to give yourself as much attention as you did another human being? What would it be like to pour into a relationship with yourself? I think this is important, because withstanding mental illness, no one can really care about you more than you care for yourself.

So, that’s what I did.

One year, I began a self-love campaign. I asked 30 women, who I knew personally, what it meant to love yourself. I’m not going to debate about if pedicures or therapy is the “real” self-love approach, because guess what? There is no argument. For some women, it will be imperative to go to the spa. For others, it will be important to schedule a breast exam. And some may just need to sit down somewhere and be quiet, without distraction. We have to stop being so binary about this. All it does is cloud and confuse the overarching issue, which is simple: Cultivate a relationship with yourself that matters to you.

Another year, I thought about what I’d do if I was dating someone. What would that look like? I would want to find out what that person liked and disliked to see if we vibe or not. I’m married, so on some level, the point was moot, but I decided to change “someone” to me. I began trying different activities. We may think we know what we like, but a lot of times it’s based on tradition and repetition. It’s easy to get into a rut and believe that you only like to watch Netflix on Sundays from 12p-12a; however, there are other things you may enjoy that you haven’t even entertained.

Here are a few other ways to develop a relationship with yourself:

  • Go somewhere by yourself! This isn’t just about “dating yourself,” which is a thing. This is more like thinking about if someone said they wanted to take you on a date, where would you tell them to take you? Now, do it for yourself. Try that new restaurant. Go on a day trip. Take yourself on a picnic. Whatever you can conjure up is what you should do, without any qualms or fears. One time, I took myself on a weekend trip to Panama City Beach. I had a blast…all…by…my…self.
  • Write a list of 10 things you’d do if you had time, space, or money. Now, choose one, and find the time, space, or money. To get to know who you are today, in this moment, you have to be intentional. You think you don’t have time, space, or money, but that’s probably not true. For example, I was invited to a two-hour networking event. When the day came, I felt as if I didn’t have the time. The reality was I didn’t want to make the time. That Saturday, instead of reading or writing blogs, I attended the event, and it was beneficial.
  • Check your city’s Groupon list. One way to learn what you may or may not like to do is to check Groupon. A couple Christmases ago, I saw an offer for viewing Christmas lights in St. Augustine, which is about 20 minutes from me. In that city, vacationers ride on a trolley, with strings of lights, while singing Christmas carols! That sounded really cool to me. Full disclosure…I didn’t do that activity, but my husband planned something similar for us on a small boat around the same city. Remember, learning what you like to do doesn’t always mean you have to do it alone, just that you honor the idea.

Finally, I know I’ve emphasized the importance of women doing this. That’s because I’m a woman, and I know sometimes, women end up acquiescing to other people’s whims, leaving us in a whirlwind of resentment of the consequences of our unconscious choices. However, no matter our gender, we should all learn to develop a relationship with ourselves, because it’s the most important relationship we’ll ever have.


I’m turning 50 on May 23rd, and in true kegarland form, I need to process and document it. Being on the earth for half a century, interacting with people, has taught me a few things, and I’ll be sharing them with you through June. Here is the first one:

Turning 50: Advice I’m no Longer Taking

Monday Notes: I Don’t Want your Child (or Dog)!

I vibe with dogs and kids. That’s the way I’ve always been. If you have a dog and 24 hours, then we’ll probably be besties. The same applies if you have a child under 12. He, she, or they will be my best friend by the time I leave your home. I’ve accepted this about myself; however, those outside of my immediate circle don’t know this information, and thus, problems arise. Sometimes, people think I want their kid and dog, or at least that’s how they act.

When I visited my in-laws, my youngest niece attached herself to me as soon as I arrived. We’d never met, yet she stuck by my side and offered me a snaggle-tooth grin every time I looked her way. She followed me around the house and said she wanted to come home with me. She sat beside me at church and whispered jokes.

“Does anyone want to give their life to Christ?” the pastor asked.

“She does,” she shouted, pointing at me and trying to raise my hand.

“Oh yeaaaah?” the pastor’s eyes brightened.

“No. No,” I assured him, and then to my niece, “you trying to get me in trouble…at church???” I teased, giving her a side-eye.

She returned a gapped-tooth smile.

She insisted on sitting next to me at dinner, her mother on the opposite side of the table. “You like your Aunt Kathy?” she asked, through a tight grin.

When we returned home, she began calling me “Mama,” instead of Aunt Kathy.

“You don’t even know her name,” her father said, clearly bothered by her instant affinity.

I remained quiet as insecurity filled the air. Children don’t have to know your name. All they have to feel is safe and seen. It’s a vibe. I don’t want your child I wanted to holler. She’s clearly starving for attention. Instead, I lay on the couch and pretended to be sleepy, in hopes that she’d leave me alone and perhaps spare her parents the sound of her eight-year-old voice calling me mama.

The next day, she cried and hid under the table because she didn’t want me to leave.


Fast forward years later, and I met a three-year-old cousin, who hadn’t seen me since she was born. At first, she was shy, as many tots are, but eventually, after I began asking her questions, in Spanish and English, and wiping her runny nose, she warmed up, so did her parents’ ten-year-old dog.

Her parents and I went to a store, where I asked, “Do you like toys?”

Her head bobbed up and down.

“Good. Let’s go look at some,” I suggested. “You wanna go look at toys?” I asked with my hand outstretched.

More head bobbing.

“We’re gonna go look at toys,” I announced to her mother, and then she put her tiny hand in mine and we traipsed away toward Barbie and them.

We picked over Pepa the Pig trinkets and a box of Marvel bowling pins. “You like those?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said quietly.

“What’s that?” she asked.

“A skate…”

“Issa skateboard,” her mother said. “You know how to use a skateboard?” she had found us and decided she’d show her child around the toy aisle. As her mother showed her how to kick and push, I slowly slipped away because it started to feel a lot like my niece and her mother years ago. It felt like insecurity, as if she didn’t really want her daughter to be with or like me, even though she was and did.

I thought I was tripping, projecting even, until we returned to the house where the mother’s dog greeted me at the door as if we were old friends. He barked for me to pick him up, and feed him the attention he, too, craved and lacked since his doggy parents had had a baby and become mommy and daddy to a human.

He sat on my lap and we played a game where my fingers came close enough to his mouth for him to snap at them, but not really catch them. He barked and snarled and wagged his tail with happiness. Like the toy aisle, where she skated her way back into her child’s view, the mother made cute clicking noises to distract her pet from my lap and from the fun, but it didn’t work. Instead, he settled down right next to my thigh, licked my hand, and then fell into a deep sleep with a slight snore.

My cousin, the mother’s husband, laughed at the sight, and said, “You gotta new Mama now, huh,” while his wife looked on fuming.

Again, I wanted to yell, I don’t want your child (or your dog). I just don’t mind offering a little attention.

But of course, I didn’t say this. Again, I shied away from the dog and the child and made as little eye contact with both.


I hope you hear the empathy in between these narratives: I’m a mother, and I wouldn’t want one of my daughters calling someone else mother. I’ve owned a dog, and I wouldn’t want my dog sidling up to someone else as if he didn’t have an owner. However, I also understand children and dogs. They both need constant attention, something that is oftentimes impossible in today’s busy world. And if I happen to be around for a couple days, I’m happy to offer it.

At the same time, I understand the careful balance of human beingness that has to be in place. I’ll only indulge if everyone is comfortable in the situation, but sometimes, ego makes that impossible.


Monday Notes: A Reflection on Last Year’s Goals

In 2022, I had three goals:

  1. I would no longer persuade people to see my point of view.
  2. I would no longer chase people for reciprocity.
  3. I would no longer ignore my gut, figuratively or literally.

Here’s how I did:

Not persuading people to see my point of view was hard. A healer friend of mine shared a post on Instagram that said you don’t have to always let people know how you feel before you release them. You can just stop talking, interacting, etc. I told him that I knew I needed to balance this behavior because “I be having all the words.”

“You want them to hurt like you? Or do you have a deep-seated need to be understood?” he asked.

I knew it was the latter. I hate for people to not understand what I’m saying, to not consider what I’m saying to be truth, and to ignore what I’ve shared without thinking about how an experience could have affected me. As a result, I usually end up saying a whole bunch of stuff, when I really should’ve just released them from my life. This year, I only felt as if I had to persuade one person to see my point of view, but a back-and-forth conversation lingered much of the year.

I didn’t do well with this goal, but after our chat, my healer friend sent me a homework assignment and a bible verse so that I could learn to heal what’s at the root of this need. I know I’ll be doing better in 2023.

I did really well with not chasing people for reciprocity, mainly because I’m tired of what my friend, Dr. D. calls one-way, transactional relationships. There were a few situations where I felt as if I was doing much more calling, texting, or planning. But once I slowed down or stopped altogether, people noticed. When those friends said something (I considered) passive, like oh, we haven’t talked in a while, then I brought the reason why to their attention, which was usually because if I don’t reach out, we don’t talk. Friends and family either accepted this and changed their behavior, or they didn’t. Either way, the result was I no longer had to chase anyone for reciprocity. This behavioral change worked.


Literally paying attention to my gut was easy. Two years ago, I accepted the idea that my parasympathetic system had been disrupted long ago when I experienced several subsequent traumatic events in childhood and adolescence. (That’s a mouthful). Anywho, as a result, I learned that I have to not only eat differently, but also keep my stress levels low; otherwise, there’s a physical and mental breakdown. In 2022, I focused quite a bit on these two things. For example, I knew when Dwight and I were out of the country and I didn’t feel right, I had to return to strategies that kept my anxiety at bay. My step-mother coming to visit was also a reminder of how important listening to my gut is, so this was successful.

Figuratively listening to my gut was also easier this year. To be clear, I mean following my intuition. One time, I could sense that my cousin’s wife seemed bothered for some reason. I could feel my belly swirling, and it almost seemed as if our spirits were fighting, even though we hadn’t engaged in an argument. I decided to leave her alone for the remainder of the day. The next day, without my prompting, my cousin revealed this was true. His wife was, indeed, angry because of something I said. In these situations, following my gut doesn’t mean confronting the person. I’ve learned that’s rarely necessary. What it does mean is paying attention to what I feel and then focusing on what I can do on my part to dissolve the situation.


This year, I’m focusing on the following:

  • Prioritize my artistry/writing.
  • Heal the part of me that wasn’t heard as a child.
  • Flow with the elements.

See what I did there? That second one is a re-frame of the first goal from last year. It’s not about not persuading others to see my point of view. It’s about why I feel the need to persuade others to see my point of view. Once I heal this, then the need will cease to exist 😉

How’d you do last year? Did you commit to doing something in order to strengthen your human beingness? Are you doing something this year to be a better person?