Comforting Words: 02/2007

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


“You will never make it,” she declared to me.

It was as if she threw down a gauntlet and I was no chicken. Too much had already happened in my life by age 18 for me to be otherwise.

This was just one more challenge to prove that I was not worthless, not going to be a whore or destined to live a life riddled with abuse of all nature and types.

There were too many positive women influence in my experience by then. The now Prime Minister of Jamaica, Mrs. Portia Simpson-Miller, had spent many hours in my mother’s house strategizing for elections in a constituency where my mother was extremely active.

I had heard too many speeches by and heard too many accounts from my mother about her interactions as a community leader with the former first lady of Jamaica, Beverley Anderson-Manley.

In her own way, misguided and confused about her identity as she was, my own mother is possibly the most positive influential woman in my life -- in a very twisted way. This is something I can only recognize now – today February 27, 2007 after spending the last two days witnessing the effects of evil intentions. But that is for another post.

It was my high schoolmate back in 1983 who told me that I could not make it after hearing my glad tidings that I had been awarded a scholarship to pursue a Masters Degree in the former Soviet Union.

Looking back, this was probably the first time 'that something' , i.e., my heart, started communicating with me, trying to tell me, “Enough of people telling you what or who you are!!”

That something returned this afternoon (February 27) after spending a sleepless night worried for someone (and her important friend both of whose life, ironically, I was instrumental in saving) who clearly is not concerned about me. I knew this as I called after the nightmare and had the phone hung up on me when I asked after the injured.

I was also feeling like a hole was pierced through my heart by the misfortune of a woman-friend - who despite my pleadings - made the wrong choice.

That something was talking to me as I drove to work this morning listening to Lance instructing me on my cell phone (yes, he instructed me in no uncertain terms) to declare as dead to me (mentally, emotionally and spiritually) the women who have had the opposite effect to Mrs. Simpson-Miller and Mrs. Anderson Manley.

That something jumped off the page of the book “One Day at a Time in Al-Anon [Alcoholics Anonymous]” that my Spiritual Director handed to me. She gave it to me as she felt it was relevant. The reading for today had this quote from Thomas Merton’s book “No Man is an Island.”

“Although all men have a common destiny, each individual also has to work out
his personal salvation for himself …We can help one another find out the meaning
of life … But in the last analysis, each is responsible for ‘finding himself’.”

That something came to me in its totality as I cried on the phone, relating to my woman-friend in the Bahamas what took place since last week Wednesday, culminating in a poor choice and decision to murder by someone driven literally to insanity; a literal hijacking and threatening of me; a wounding and one now sitting in jail, awaiting trial.

My life has never been unexciting. The excitment started from the day I was six weeks old and my mother ‘fled’ the home she and her partner built until now. However, ‘excitement’ is not adequate to describe what took place since last Wednesday (incidentally – it was Ash Wednesday).

Drama of no mean order is what best describes these last few days, filled with television soap opera type manipulation, outright deceit and lies, deepening betrayal of everything sacred that had the hoped for effect (and I would dare say expected as I have experienced, first-hand, a similar attempt back in October 2006) of pushing another over the edge. In fact, I am still experiencing it as I write this -- with my phone ringing and getting another piece of evidence from a reliable source that bears witness of renewed attempts to push me towards the edge.

I knew that my woman-friend in the Bahamas was worried about me; worried that my fate may be the same as a dear friend of us all, who committed suicide some years ago in the midst of the gay community back in Jamaica.

That something spoke in my voice, reassuring her that I will never give the one who so much wants me to disappear – and will do anything to do anything to help me along as was demonstrated back in October in words and deed - that pleasure. In fact, to this minute she continues. Her wry smiles and baleful looks does not deceive me. I now fully understand the pattern as she has done this before. Neither am I blinded by lust, fear of emotions or material pursuits, nor am I a coward or a plodder.

“P," I said, "I will be the brightest light in Edmonton and/or in Canada! I will not fail, instead I will shine beyond all imagination – speaking truth always and defending what is sacred – in honour of myself, my history, my child and now my woman-friend who a terrible wrong has been done to!”

“They will one day have to pay to hear me speak – either in a large hall or through their television service. I am not going away! That light that I am will either blind them or help them to see what they have done, be able to speak truth the first time and come to understand the real meaning of life!”

That is my Responsible and Conscious Choice. I have asked myself the questions Gary Zukav posed and which were outlined in my last post. My answers are:

  • My choice will produce and demonstrate honesty, justice for the oppressed; feed the hungry, give spiritual sight to the spiritually blind and shine the light of truth in dark corners (minds).
  • Yes, I really want to help create in people the realization that life is more than material stuff and physical and temporary pleasure (sex, alcohol, drugs). My choice will demonstrate the real meaning of loyalty, caring, compassion, and again speaking the truth the first time.
  • Yes, I am ready to accept the consequences of this choice – as I will be able to continue looking in the mirror with no shame, no regrets, guiltless and with no remorse, as I would know that I did the right thing by the Divine – I would have walked the talk of true love.

Legal issues prevent me from going into any detail except to say that the last two days have been life-changing. Over the last four months, I watched as, pleaded with and even had to walk away at times from a decent, intelligent and talented human being desperately trying to hang on to her sanity. She lost the fight as she was daily, smilingly and wily, pushed to the edge.

Clearly as Merton wrote - I could not save her. That human being made a choice that I would never have made but could have made. We were both in a similar place of despair and anguish and she lost the battle to one who continues to deceive - smiles, baleful looks and all.

The 'war', however, is not over. It will continue for me as it has since October 8, 2006 – on the spiritual front, with this piece of Scripture as my shield: “No weapon formed against you shall prosper and every tongue that rises against you in judgment [shall be] condemned.” (Isaiah 54:17)

Her final choice was wrong and I would never and did not condone it to the extent that my own life and my personal freedom were at serious risk. My choice to ‘disobey’ her command and do the right thing was not an option.

Again, Zukav writes about having a reverence for life in his book “Seat of the Soul,” and to me that means, even the life of those who wish; actually do or cause me harm – whether physical, financial, professional, personal and/or psychological.

When the time comes, I will continue to speak the truth – that’s not an option. But it will be the whole truth as uncomfortable as that is for some. I have learned that lesson well that despite feeling fear, one should never hide from the truth – either hearing it or expressing. The price to pay otherwise is too high.

Your 'money’ is better spent on creating and maintaining relationships that promotes growth in all respects not just in one area – on a physical level only - but where it truly matters (in the heart) spiritually. And please do not confuse spirituality with religiosity.

I end with a reminder – that what goes around must come around – it is the LAW.

Be careful what you wish for, be careful of the choices you make – you might surely get it and more than you expected!



P.S. The picture above was taken last year July as I delivered a speech in Toronto. I thought it relevant to use with this post, as this was the time that this drama of betrayal really started to come together - -I know that now. It is also relevant because it depicts how this drama will inspire and shape my life – bearing a bright light in all places of darkness, using what the Divine has blessed me with – the gift of a big mouth (as can be seen in the picture!)

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Storm is Over

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I was in Walmart recently and as I waited for my prescription to be filled, I moseyed over to the electronic section and browsed the compact discs.

My intention was just to look as I don’t have a stereo system to make the most of the music available. My woman-friend Anni had loaned me an old ‘boom box’ (with not much of a boom) that belonged to her late mother. She brought it over one day in my darkest of despair after I told her that my Spiritual Director had given me some relaxation tapes to listen that she thought would help me to sleep; but I had nothing to play them on.

Further, my music collection is now very limited – having packed up most of what we did have and delivered them to my ex; because they meant more to her than me and two I could not bear listening to any love songs or any song that reminded me of an illusionary past.

My collection is now limited to a few gospel and spiritual compact discs and tapes; and yes, I must admit some tapes of programmes my ex did back in the days when she was a journalist and I was her unofficial producer.

Getting to the point of this story – as I reached the “Christian Music” section of the display in Walmart, I stopped and searched through and lo and behold I came across the last of Kirk Franklin’s cd – “For the Storm – Volume 1.” And it was on sale!

Since purchasing that disc a few weeks ago, I play it over and over again as I drive to work each morning. I bring it in and play it before going off to sleep. There are some songs that I would listen to more than others and then there was one in particular, after listening to it the first time, I never played it again until yesterday (Saturday, February 17) as I returned to Edmonton.

For those of you who are not avid readers of this blog (you don’t know the real life drama that you have been missing!) A few weeks ago, I decided to go on a solitary/silent retreat. The purpose was not very clear to me at the time, except that my spirit needed to get away from this apartment and the memories (although I have tried hard to sterilize the place) of what I now call an illusionary relationship and friendship.

On Thursday, February 15, 2007 – the day I turned 42, after being surprised not only by colleagues at work with the “Happy Birthday” song and gift but by the women I work with (Oh! How I love and adore them!) I set off to the retreat facility not too far outside of Edmonton.

I was the only guest there that first night and so I roamed the halls, sat in the chapels and the meditation rooms for hours, after checking into my “Garden Suite.” The poignancy of them putting me in that particular suite did not escape me – as I did feel like a seed that has been submerged in darkness since my first attempt on my life back in October 2006.

The plan was that I would stay there until Sunday (October 18). I had packed enough fruits and juices to last for the time. Oh, that was another part of the process for me – that was to be my diet for the time in retreat – fruits and juices, as I wanted to purge physically as well as spiritually any and everything that was blocking my forward and upward movement. I guess you could also say downward and outward movement too (ha-ha)!

All went as envisioned Thursday and Friday. My Spiritual Director had given me a package including books and most important – a reflection sheet to work through. I was particularly grateful for the reflection sheet as it guided my thoughts and kept me focus on my raison d’etre for the retreat. On Friday, I worked through most of the sheet but came to a standstill with the last question and exercise.

Basically, what she was asking me to do was to reflect on the places and situation where I find God. I rose at 4:30 on Friday morning and after having a breakfast of fruits only, I got to work. By early afternoon, my retreat journal was filled with responses to the question “Where We Find God in:

  • Ourselves
  • In Other People
  • In Nature
  • Everywhere
  • Scripture
  • Pain, weakness and poverty.

What stumped me was the last one as the reading that went with it included this quote from a book by Jessica Powers, titled “God is a Strange Lover:”

God is the strangest of all lovers; His ways are past explaining.
He sets His heart on a soul; He says to Himself, “Here will I rest my love.”
His jealousy is an infinite thing. He stalks the soul with sorrows;
He robs and breaks and destroys --- there is nothing at the last but her own shame, her own afflictions, and then he comes and there is nothing in the vast world but Him and her love of Him.

I read this over and over and the more I read it the more uneasy I felt yet some part of me – my soul - understood the truth inherent in the quote.

Then the instruction was to reflect on whether I would call this God – the one who “stalks the soul with sorrows” or let the beloved know shame and sorrow – a lover?

My head was screaming no way! And I threw the reflection sheet aside and like a ghost haunted the corridors of the retreat centre, upstairs and down. Finally I came to a window looking over the valley below and to the corner of what in spring should be a glorious garden I saw this message wrought in iron – “You are my beloved child.”

Stunned and in tears, I returned to my room and cried for hours and then the song, the song from the Kirk Franklin cd started to play in my head and I knew it was time to go home. I knew that through the sorrow, the shame, the feelings of rejection and abandonment, the betrayal, the lies - though I walk alone, I am not on my own. With that thought in mind, I went to sleep.

In the suite there were two journals on the writing table. Many guests who stayed in that suite had written about their stay, the gratitude and the peace that filled them, etc. After packing my bags and emptying the garbage at about 5:30 Saturday morning (February 17), I sat at the table and wrote:

“I came here seeking clarity on how to start my life anew after having it abruptly and coldly turned up side down.

I leave here with courage – knowing that it’s time to let my flower bloom.”

There was no need for me to be there another night. The storm was over.

I placed a call at 6:30 a.m. to an ‘estranged’ friend – one who was upset with me for going into seclusion without warning – and invited her to meet me for breakfast at a Denny’s Restaurant downtown.

After breakfast and catching up on what has been going on in her life for the few weeks we have not spoken, I had this urge to check my email and so I did. Among the many messages, there was one that the subject line immediately caught my attention.

Remember my post about being in the closet and my ex refusing to come help me and being ‘rescued’ by this lady? Well the message was that that lady was in the hospital. I immediately called the hospital to confirm she was still there, then my woman-friend and I went and bought flowers (I bought her orchids as I know she absolutely loves them) and went to see her.

When we got there she was sitting in a chair in her room, all dressed and waiting. After hugging and a few tears, I asked why was she dressed and who is she waiting on – she responded, “You.” She was being discharged and needed a ride home and I was it – synchronicity in action.

After taking this dear woman home and seeing her settled, I called my daughter and we went shopping for the rest of the afternoon. I have lost over thirty pounds since October, 2006 and only have one pair of pants that I have had to be literally girding to keep from falling off me. I had had enough of looking like a scarecrow!

Later that evening, “my boys,” a group of gay men who are such an important part of my circle of friends came and got me to go celebrate Chinese New Year’s Eve in the northern part of the city. We had a meal of dumplings, fish, rice and muesli – this was the most and the best I have eaten in four months!

The point of all this is to say, as the words of that song from the Kirk Franklin's cd states:

It’s over now, it’s over now
I feel like I can make it
The storm is over now!

I also knew that I could now answer that last question on the reflection sheet – God does not stalk our souls with sorrow – we unconsciously choose sorrow and shame when we walk out of Divine Light.

Where Light does not shine – there is the impression of sorrow and shame. Choose differently and you experience differently. That is what free will is all about. You and I make choices everyday – consciously and unconsciously – and those choices will determine what we experience. Gary Zukaz says it best:

“In order to make a responsible [conscious] choice you must ask yourself, “What will this produce? Do I really want to create that? Am I ready to accept all the consequences of this choice?”

Yes, there are still many rivers to cross. Yes, there are still outstanding financial and even legal matters to deal with. I am still diagnosed and being treated for clinical depression. There are many more choices that I have to make. But the storm, the emotional and spiritual upheaval, is over. And like with ever storm – at the end of it you see the wreckage and you see what stood the test of time.

My daughter, in her 19 years of wisdom, said to me yesterday, “Mummy, isn’t it funny how after 16 years there were no postcards for Christmas much less gifts; not even an e-card for your birthday from any of them? I guess we never really mattered; we got those obligatory cards and gifts as long as Aunty J was in our lives!”

My response to her, “Baby girl, blood is thicker than water and we – you and I - have got each other, that’s all that’s important now!”

The storm is over.



P.S. By the way, for those who have asked, the picture in the last post was taken in December by and at a gathering with “My boys.” I am resting on the shoulder of one them. The picture in this post was taken later in December, as the weight kept falling off, in my re-decorated apartment by my woman-friend, M, who came from Toronto to take care of me over the Christmas (there are a few M’s in my life and I am grateful for all of them).

Monday, February 12, 2007

Your Light Shall Rise

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A couple days after posting the last article on the joys of eating herbs and leaving the fatted calves for those who prefer to remain in ‘darkness’, a few things happened to me.

Some people might call these occurrences coincidences but I much rather the word coined by the late Carl Jung – synchronicity.

In that post, I mentioned all the ways that this February – the month of my birth and Black History month – would be different for me. In fact, I thought life in general would never be the same for me again. I felt and still feel that in many ways I will never be able to recoup all the losses that I have experienced through the cruel, yes, cruel way in which my partner left.

Yes, I was lamenting (and I am not afraid nor ashamed to admit it) that I would not be with the congregation that I have grown to love and respect, celebrating Black History Month – albeit this is a ninety-eight percent Caucasian congregation.

Then as if to test my seriousness that I will not be in church for Black History Month, two days after writing this article, I received an email inviting me to participate in a church service for Black History Month! My response was “thank you but that's the last thing I would want to do at this time – sorry, I simply cannot do it, it would be too painful for me at this time.”

It was even more painful for me to say no but I had to – as I am learning to take care of myself – a concept that is new to me.

Black History Month has so much meaning to me, particularly since living in North America and seeing the realities of race relations here – despite what they would have you believe if you are silly enough. However, this year, my personal struggles, one that in many ways have much to do with these same realities, prevent me from participating.

As for my birthday (February 15), ever since I was a year old, my mother would celebrate my birth with a party of some sort. It became a tradition for me to mark my birthday in some way, one that continued throughout the 16 years of my last relationship. Needless to say, at the time of writing the last post I was both sadden that this year would be different and somewhat angry at what know feels like a farce that took place last year.

With both these feelings in my heart – sadness and some amount of anger – I continued to ask for Guidance. I knew I did not want to leave my solitude and be in any group setting where I might be expected to put on a brave face when brave was the last emotion that I was feeling.

I didn’t want to be anywhere, with anyone asking me politely how was I feeling as they dashed through the door – not really having the time for me to ‘draw long bench’ and give the full bill and receipt about the depths of my pain or the love that I still have for my ex.

I also knew that life goes on. After all I tried to end mine twice without success, so it must mean that the Divine still has a purpose for me here.

With this in mind, I lit my candles as I continue doing every morning since the 40 day Wilderness Journal, smudged (that’s an Native American ritual that I have come to love and feel blessed doing) and opened my Bible for a passage for the day. As I was doing all of this, my prayer was “Dear God, what am I supposed to do now?”

The answer came in three strokes. First it was the Scripture that opened – Isaiah 58 and it was verses 6 – 14 that caught my attention. The verses that really got to me read:

“If you remove the yoke from among you,
The pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
If you offer your food to the hungry
And satisfy the needs of the afflicted
Then your light shall rise in the darkness
And your gloom be like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your needs in parched places.”

Some of you might know that for a long time now I have made “my reason for living,” my cause – to seek justice for the poor, the voiceless, women, children, LGBTQ persons, the sick and the imprisoned. So when I read this passage it was my first kick in the butt from the Divine.

The next swift kick I got came from my daughter.

She had read my post in which I stated that I was no longer laying claim to the ‘title’ strong woman and she sent me a power point presentation “She’s not dead.” As I watched this presentation, I wept. (Please, click on the link and view this presentation).

I wept for myself and for every black woman who has been wronged, abused, rejected and abandoned by a partner, the system and society. I wept for every black woman (and man) who felt she/he was not enough or too much and therefore denied her/his truth to fit in.

Then I called my daughter and we wept together because I understand fully why she sent it to me and the recent memories that it evoked in her. After hanging up from her, I knew I had to get my power back - but how?

My new Spiritual Director, a lovely Catholic Nun, unknowingly pointed out a book to me some months ago and it has become a key element in my prayer life. After viewing that power point, I said this prayer from that book with greater urgency. It was written by Virginia Moise Rosefield.

I do not pray for riches. But should riches come to me, I pray for generosity so that I would be willing to share with others.

I do not pray for beauty. But should I be fair of face and form, I pray for modesty lest I flaunt my loveliness.

I do not pray for power. But should it be my lot to lead and influence others, I pray for wisdom, lest arrogance take over my nature.

I do not pray for honor. But should honor come to me, I pray for understanding, lest esteem cause me to forget those who need a helping hand.

I do not pray for talent. But should I be gifted, I pray for humility, knowing full well that all talent comes from You.

I do not pray for trouble. But should trouble come to me, I pray for courage to begin anew and neither whine nor blame.

I do not pray for sorrow. But when grief enters my life, I pray for fortitude to bear my trials with patience and to be a comfort to those around me.

For generosity; for modesty; for wisdom; for understanding; for humility; for courage; for fortitude.

But most of all I pray for faith – faith in Your perfection; faith in the perfection of Your judgments and Your laws.

Each morning since February 2, I end my morning devotion with this prayer. The Divine must have heard me again and decided to see if I was truly ready for what I was saying. So came the third stroke.

Wednesday (February 7) I got an email reminding me that I am one of the planners of and a panelist at a national conference of Black People in the United Church of Canada and have work to do and therefore must travel to Montreal in March. I had not forgotten but was seriously considering withdrawing as I did not feel I was up to the task. Further, my ex was to have gone on this trip with me and it was during the midst of making final plans for it she made her grand announcement.

Friday (February 9) I got another email, this time inviting me to be a speaker and panelist at a Women’s Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia in June. I read and re-read this invitation and closed the email without responding.

Then this morning (February 12) I opened my email account at Comfort Foundation, one that I have not opened in months, and found among the many messages waiting for me an invitation sent in January. This one was inviting me to be key note speaker at a conference in Winnipeg, Saskatchewan in July.

I printed all three invitations and reminder and just as I was about to place a phone call to my ‘guru’ M in Toronto – as I was very torn about what to do – I notice an email from a Lance.
“Who the hell is Lance?” I thought and just as I was about to hit the delete button, that voice said to me “No, read it!”

Lance is an alma mater that I have not seen nor heard from in over twelve years. We went to university together back in Kiev (in the 1980's) and for awhile after we returned to Jamaica we kept in touch, even visiting each other occasionally. He met my now ex and knew my daughter since she was born. In fact, Lance was one of the angels who watched over us while I was going through another trying and abusive time with my daughter’s father.

Apparently, he had made a New Year’s resolution to contact three people who he has not been in touch with for over five years – and I was one. In his message he said it was not hard to find me – he used Google and there I was – with seven links.

Lance was instrumental in my final decisions about these three conferences and my placing a telephone call to the church that I told no about doing the Black History Month service. Here are excerpts of what he wrote:

I digested your entire blog. I could beat you for wanting to cross yourself over. You are such a strong woman. Where is the Claudette that I know?
We did not go through all that in the Ukraine to wimp out. You know you are extremely strong and very powerful, and God did not place you on this earth for just this one experience. I am sorry you are going through all of this, but I know you are going to be much stronger because you are not going to just melt away. The strongest steel goes through the hottest fire and I know you are a very strong and determine woman….Don't let anyone see that you are breaking to pieces, no matter how much you love this person.
To hell with …. I notice that you were losing yourself in her, but that is all part of love sometimes. You just need to pull yourself together and know that you have a lot of friends out there for you. After reading your blog, I realized that you may be away from home and thus the weakness, but you are and will always be a strong and powerful woman.
On February 7, I had this dream and when I interpreted it the next morning it meant: “You need strong, male support in order to overcome your crisis. You are either very afraid or warning about a danger you need to avoid.”

Once again my dream was right! Here was my knight in shining armor – Lance. A man who I have not heard from in over twelve years but whose email came just when I needed masculine strength – something that is in all of us but for the past four months was not very evident in my experience.

And so, thirty-seven pounds lighter (yes, that’s how much weight I have lost since October 8 the doctor confirmed on Friday), with an elevated blood pressure and still on anti-depressants and tranquilizers – Claudette the woman of strength and the strong woman is back! She is not dead!

I placed the call – still saying “no” to speaking or participating in the Black History month celebrations at my local church – it still too close to home and the pain. But I also placed three other calls and said “Yes!”

So maybe I will see you in Montreal, maybe we will meet in Vancouver or maybe we will meet in Winnipeg. Wherever we meet, know that battered, scarred and bruised this Black Woman is not dead!

I thank you all for your prayers, your support, your advice, your swift kicks but most of all for your love and compassion. It’s still a long journey – one that I will and must continue to walk alone, at least for now, if I am to come into Truth and Trust. But it will not be forever!

God bless.


Friday, February 02, 2007

Dinner of Herbs

What a difference twelve months can make!

It’s February again and twelve months ago, what a different life I was living. As the saying goes, the only thing that stays constant is change and I can testify to that.

Last year February, as we embarked on the “celebration of Black History Month,” I wrote several pieces:

  1. The situation of people of African Heritage in the Diaspora with an article titled “Black History Month: Some Thoughts”

  2. On mental slavery with an article titled “Emancipate Yourself First!”

  3. I shared my personal story (at least part of it) in “Black, Woman and Gay”

  4. I celebrated my 41st birthday with an article titled “Happy Birthday To Me”

  5. I told you about a little Asian boy and how he caused me to think about multiculturalism in “Universal Language: Pain and Hope”

  6. I spoke of my understanding of the word “surrender,” in an article titled “Bittersweet”

Throughout all these articles, I made mentioned things that have been important pieces of my life: open friendships, food and service to others.

As I look back on these articles, I feel a deep sense of sorrow wading over me. However, as my spiritual guide and director have been teaching me – I am “staying awake,” to this feeling, allowing it to sweep over me and letting the tears fall as they will.

“To resist is to persist” is another teaching and since I have no desire to remain in pain forever, I am not resisting any of the feelings that have become my more recent companions.

And so it is Black History month again. This year, however, it will not find me beside women-friends (or so I thought) making a Afro-Caribbean lunch for the congregation of my church. Neither will this year find me preaching at my Church or in any other place – as I did last year.

This Black History Month will not find me celebrating my 42nd birthday on this Earth plane in the company of women-friends (again so I thought in the case of at least one) and with a partner who I loves me as no one else ever could (what a joke that has turned out to be).

Black History Month this year has arrived and found me in solitude – by desire. I have become somewhat of a recluse, leaving my house only for the necessities, such as going to my part-time job to pay what I can and to the grocery for maintenance food.

Black History Month has arrived and it has found me in deep reflection – this time not on world or community issues but on ME – this Black Woman of Strength. No, I would no longer lay claim to the title of “Strong Woman,” as that I have not been for going on four months now and you know what – I thank God!

As I reflect on ME and the past year, particularly Black History Month, this passage from Proverbs 7 (v 15) comes to mind (and I prefer the King James Version):

“Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted calf with hatred.”

When I read this on February 1, 2007 it bowled me over and I thought to myself, how many times in the past twelve months have I sat at tables with fatted calves (or fish, jambalaya, pork, etc.) only to have it now revealed that the table was made of hatred, resentment, deceit and manipulation? Who knows, maybe for sixteen years I have sat at many such tables in Jamaica, the USA and now Canada?

This will be a fairly short post as my concentration level is not what it was twelve months ago. The Claudette who was able to churn out articles and be philosophical is away for a while.

However, I wanted to share this passage and thought with you as a reminder and maybe a warning to check the table you sit at – particularly as a person or a woman of colour. A man that I grew to respect, in spite of his shortcomings, used to say "don't look a gift horse in the mouth," and then he wouldlaugh heartily. I believe that laugh meant you really should!

Make sure your host or hostess – whoever that may be (it could be your partner or dear ‘friend’) – has prepared a dinner of herbs, otherwise you might need a referral to my medical team next Black History Month. What a difference twelve months can make!!

Better yet, you take the lead and say you only eat herbs!