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A Letter to my Daughter, When the World Seems so Scary

Jan 6, 2021

Yesterday, we watched all day long as what was supposed to be a very.boring government business day turned into something of a nightmare. I couldn’t look away and neither could the world, as rioters from a pro-Trump protest pushed police out of the way and overran Capitol Hill and let themselves in to the inner sanctum of where debate and discourse often happens.

The unknown was so high that it reminded me of being glued to the tv all day at school, the day of 9/11. Watching places that you had previously thought secure and sacred be tainted by hate.

Yesterday, the US was compared to many other toppled democracies around the world and the images couldn’t be denied.

All because they were upset and hurt and at a loss for what had happened. So instead of learning from their conflict, pulling apart the layers of their discontent and trying to communicate in a way that made sense- they chose intimidation, desecration and violence, the first go-to of emotionally stunted people.

I spent the day explaining to Baba and NaiNai how this could happen, the constitutional freedoms that allowed for the protest and the bone-deep hate and disregard that led to people to mistake madness for victory. No one won yesterday, in fact many lost.

I felt deep embarrassment and shame to have to explain this to our Chinese-born and raised family, how freedoms can sometimes mean chaos and disrespect for others. How the meaning of normalcy has changed a lot from when I was a child growing up in the US.

It’s not enough to be a good person, to wish your neighbour well but for some, it seems disavowing your neighbor because they have different opinions, different beliefs and different understanding of the meaning of common truths. We no longer have the same basis of understanding. I keep saying the sky reflects the sea but someone says the sea and sky are working to conspire against us while you lay content on your bed made of earth.

That is where we find ourselves, the misinformation that leads to chaos. The violence that occurs from a place of anger and privilege. The chasm of division between family and neighbors all claiming to belong to the same righteousness.

Seeing the events yesterday made me worry do you. For your safety, even these hundreds of miles away because ideas travel faster than we have breathe. And I cannot protect you from them all.

It’s as if, the plot to every American anarchy film was inspired by this moment in life, as art is won’t to do but this felt paralyzing. While watching the Purge, I know that we are not as ridiculous to assume one day of debauchery and violence will quell the storm inside of us and yet, I wonder if this is the beginning of something more. We can’t put the demons back into Pandora’s Box because they have already been let out and dispersed into our hearts.

Topsy-turvy surrealism vs real life- is this real life?

People are grateful it didn’t become a worse situation but how could it be worse? Loss of life? Yes, that happened. Loss of a sense of security and safety? Yes, that happened. But even worse, the seeds of distrust have already been planted.

I work to make the world better for you, trying to build systems of change in inclusion and belonging.

I believe change happens when we use conflict as an opportunity for growth. When we try to make our piece of the world better for ourselves and our children but I don’t believe in scorching the earth and each other to do so.

The world has so much beauty but it’s also full of discontent. Look for the beauty. Look for the opportunity to do better than my parents and your parents, but the burden shall not be on you alone. I will do my best to pave the way so your journey will be easier and your heights higher.

I hope you forgive us for not being braver earlier.

I love you,

Your mother.

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How Can I Explain 2020 to You?

Letters to my Daughter .3

The Love That Transcends This Home is Greater Than The Hate Outside of It.

Your Mother

I didn’t know my purpose

I had no idea what I was searching for in life. I was afraid of taking action because I was afraid of the judgement and the pushback for being myself. For wanting the things I wanted.

I didn’t know that when I cried those tears they were fear leaving my body. I thought I was crying because my life, as I had known it was over, but it simply changing.

You will be two soon, and while last year we had the most beautiful blessed family reunion (catered by your grandmother, of course) I have no idea what this year will be like.

Lovingly decorated and created by Grandma, Baby J 2019

I don’t even know where to begin. 2020 will go down in history like a ton of bricks. Our lives upended, our wills tested and our morality at stake.

I had no idea that fear could drive humanity to its breaking point, but is it even there yet?

The world is confusing, battered with hatred and fear-mongering and for some reason, I chose to bring you into the world. Hope may have been reason, but while I was selfish in my motivations and “let life happen” to me; I cannot allow the same to happen to you.

I want to be the kind of role model I wish I had growing up. I want to be the kind of mother I never knew I could be. I want to provide the best way I know how, by living my life truthfully.

I have never been more afraid of what your future will entail because I cannot foresee what kind of future any of us might have. We are living in unprecedented times, where neighbors and allies are not enough. Where being kind is not enough.

I never want you to grow up with fear of persecution or feelings of inadequacy based on what you look like. You share the beautiful history of so many, written into your DNA! All of the world, literally!

I am imbued with the history of Western Europe, Western Africa, North and South America; all written into my skin. Your father as we know, has 5,000 years of history just under the surface (although I’d love to know what else is written in those features). But I want you to never feel ashamed for where you come from, who your ancestors were, what place in society we now have.

You are the product of LOVE!

As unlikely as the two of us seem to be, as different as night and day, we somehow fell in love. You are the product of that love- You are our gift to the world.

But I don’t know how to protect you from it.

From questions like What are you?

When I look at my own internal scars, my pain points, I don’t want them to infect you, but I don’t know how to not let you feel the hurt and pain of the world without exposing you to it. In order to learn we must listen, in order to grow we must fear ourselves head on.

This video from Cut, made me cry so hard. Not because it is our story, but because I can finally name the fear I have for you.

Courtesy of Youtube.com/cut

To be judged for who you are based on what you look like

This year there was a virus that enveloped the world, that originated in China, your father’s place of birth. Because of this, some people used their fear as motivation to attack those that look like your father. He started wearing sunglasses in public, he told me the bright Spring sun hurt his eyes, but I heard the stories of the racist attacks. He was trying to be brave even though he could not control others’ fears and anxieties over something he wasn’t afflicted with.

When I was growing up, I was told I was many things, not all of them nice. So I changed parts of myself so that others would judge me less, the way I spoke, my hair, my Spanish. I don’t want my fears for you to plague the way I raise you, but my story will not be your story.

When I was a child, no one seemed to know where Dominican Republic was, so they called me ‘Mexican’, or in the summer when I darkened and my hair was curly from all the pool shenanigans, they asked if I was mixed. I always thought, Mixed with what? Children will always say things without consequences because of their curiosity and often because they do not have the words of eloquence or euphemism yet, but that doesn’t mean those words don’t hurt as one child to another. But I never told my parents these things. I don’t remember a single incident that I ever told them, would they have understood when even my Latina roots were always called into question.

The first time I shared this, a high school classmate commented on the fact that she’d never seen someone’s DNA story cover so much area, I guess she wasn’t aware of colonization.  But I did this for us so we would both know where we come from.

I look the way that I look because of colonization, the slave trade, the pursuit of discovery, adventure, probably pirates and greed, but it’s my story and I have no shame in it. I cannot control the way the past happened, I can only control how I feel about it. No one will ever be made happy because of how other’s treat them but if you know you are, truly, no one can ever take that away from you.

And since your father is the first of his family to leave the country, or so I gather, I can’t wait to do his DNA and find out any hidden truths. But guess what baby girl, you are the world. I’ve got at least 3 continents of history in me and your dad has at least one, 4 out 7 ain’t bad.

In our home, we speak Spanish, Mandarin, and English that’s like 90% of the languages in the world. Outside in Montreal they speak French, which we will both learn eventually. So while the world is hurting right now, contesting things that are pure evil and have been for a while, know this- the love in this home transcends the hate outside of it.

“I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character”.

Martin Luther King, Jr., I have a Dream

That is the only thing that any parent wants and hopes for their child, but it is white parents that are often needed to be reminded of it. Because we, parents of color, are the ones that have to be reminded by others often that we are judged.

Your father has asked me why I didn’t take his name, my tradition not his, and I told him because my name dies with me. I have no brothers to my pass the family name traditionally, and I love my name. But there’s also a part of me that knew if I changed my name to your father’s, I would always have to explain.

Yan, but you don’t look Asian? But how many Filipinos we know with the last name Reyes or Cruz, why? Colonization, people! Get over it! Stop assuming things, stop letting your limited perspective of the world define it, instead acknowledge you don’t know everything and embrace it!

But now Mami is tired, her soul is wringed out like the laundry. Her story spent.

There is so much more I want and need to tell you, but it will have to wait just a little while longer.

With all my love,

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Here We Go…

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

It’s a journey that we take when we choose a life partner, a choice we make when we choose to have a family. It’s not often an easy choice or one that one should take lightly but we have been fortunate to be able to have come together and created something that we all love.

Sometimes when we look at the world around us; the division, the worldwide political upheaval, or even the impending doom that our reckless ways have created in climate change, we can often forget to hold our loved ones close. Sometimes it’s difficult, raising a child in today’s climate and it can sometimes feel overwhelming. I mean why is everyone allergic to peanuts now? For real, what happened? 

S​o we do our best as parents, as people, trying to raise a generation that will do better than ours. Live consciously, be respectful of cultures, ours and everyone else’s and be themselves. It’s a lot of pressure, but we can only live one day at a time and hope for the best. 

From Us To You

We’re an international family, both with strong cultural ties (Dominicans aren’t a sleeping giant, but we do ok and Chinese are much more of a diaspora that we were lead to believe), raising a toddler in Montreal, Quebec where I forgot they speak french (joke, but not really). 

W​e speak 3 languages at home (4 if we include toddler-babble) and my bumbling french gets me by, but we also live in a pretty Anglo neighborhood so life is not that difficult. I love being greeted by “Bonjour/Hello” and being given the choice of language. I sometimes get away with an interaction in french and it makes my day (ah- small pleasures). 

T​here are things we’re looking forward to in 2020, including my phase of “vegetarianism” (it’s a little late, but now better than never), family goals, date nights, fitness endeavors, family trips and finding out if my husband can play ball, as he claims (in six years, I’ve never seen him play basketball). 

S​o 2020 has a lot of plans, both big and small, but it’ll hopefully be our best year yet. 

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Now Introducing…

When I was 25, I made the rash decision to go to China for work. I had graduated university during the worst recession of my lifetime, with little prospects professionally I got what job I could.

I​t was by far the least amount of time I had spent deciding to uproot my life, but not the first time. From job offer, to quitting my job, and moving to China I spent about a month. I know, impulsive to say the least, but it would be change the trajectory of my life forever. 

I​ met myself, my boyfriend- then husband, and confirmed my love of learning and teaching. 

Masaaki Komoro- Unsplash

W​e started on this journey of sharing each other’s cultures and each other’s lives six years ago, and we continue to learn every day. We came from different parts of the world, met and fell in love and now live in another country. Life is not always easy, sometimes it can be hard but through love I believe all is possible. 

Why do this?

  • T​he world has become such a divisive place where neighbors, friends, and family can be in the same room let alone hold conversations of kindness.
  • I​n our family we represent different cultures, different beliefs, and different ways of living life, yet we have found a way to come together and love. 
  • M​y husband is Chinese and speaks Mandarin (the most spoken language in the world), I am Dominican-American and my native language is Spanish (the second most spoken language in the world) and we both speak English. Our daughter has the blessing to have two strong cultural backgrounds from which to speak to the whole world with.
  • I​ want our daughter to know how much love there can be in the world and how despite our differences hope exists in the world. 

Photo by Flora Westbrook on Pexels.com

Relationship

They make us or break us, and they are the best parts of us. If you find one you can love being in, hold on to that…

Photo by Natasha Fernandez on Pexels.com

Self-knowledge

“To thyne own self be true”, we’ve been trying for a really long time to figure it out, yet have we?

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Parenting

“The best things in life are free”, I hope whoever said that was a parent and can they please help!

  • All those searching for inter-marriage couples, questions and guidance…please help!

We live in a world where we are constantly told what to do, with whom, and for what? So that we can become unoriginal copies of others? Maybe, but I also think it’s important to really know thyself and as best as you can be true to whomever that may be.

I hope that this helps us through this year. We’ve struggled, we’ve fought and we’ve been unkind but there is no one that I would rather go through life with than those I love.

© 2020 Jessy Santana All Rights Reserved

Letter to my Daughter: You are a Light in the World.

You are a Light in the World

I love that you wake up singing.

That even before you knew the words, you knew the song in your heart and you wanted to hear the joy.

You wanted to share the joy that lived in you.

You are a light, my child.

A beacon in the cloud-stricken fog that is life.

I envy your unabashed joy.

That joy that lives in childhood, and the world slowly pulls at its edges-unraveling its existence.

That audacity to live in that joy, worrying not for thes before or living for the after.

But just now and nothing else.

You share your song for all who listen, unafraid of judgement or fear but living in the joy- sharing of it to the world.

Let no one take your light, not even those that love you.

Your beauty is all it’s own.

Sing that song.

Sing with all your might.

Let those who hear, listen and also feel joy.

You remind me of my light before it was bruised and hidden from sight.

You remind me it never goes away- it’s always there just beneath the surface of the skin I’ve learned to wear to hide it.

But not you. You carry that light above the skin for all to see.

That unabashed joy in the way you giggle, find amusement in all things, marvel at the light through the window that’s splashed a rainbow against the wall- it’s beauty illuminated in you.

You have yet to learn the boundaries of can and cannot. Don’t.

Never learn to hide.

Never learn to stifle that which deserves its joy in the sun.

That which makes you- you.

Sing with joy, untainted joy, unabashed joy.

Do not hide it.

Your mother,

Even when they ask you to.

Your mother,

Jessy Santana

A Letter to my Daughter, on this Most Historic Day: Kamala Harris, a Woman of Color is Madam Vice President!

Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

Today, was the Inauguration of the 46th president of the United States. While that’s significant, it’s not usually earth-shattering in my world.

But this time it’s different. This time there’s hope on the horizon. 

“We see the first woman in American history elected to the national office, Vice President Kamala Harris. Don’t tell me things can’t change.”

– President Joe Biden

For one, we are stepping out of the fog that was the 45th President, full of divisive language and rhetoric that created dangerous factions of unrest.

It was a constant test of just doing the next right thing- just like Anna says. 

It wasn’t always easy. In fact, it sometimes took a source of strength I don’t think most are capable of exerting, so we fell into the norm of combative discourse.

The constant arguing and fighting was incessant. Maybe that word is too big but it was just constant. 

But do you know what today means?

Today means that darkness has not won, it has not stayed. We proved we are capable of falling and getting back up. 

It’s possible.

But do you know what else happened? A woman, a woman of color, Kamala Harris became the first Madam Vice President in American history! That’s right! It’s possible.

My mother had a saying: Kamala, you may be the first to do many things, but make sure you’re not the last.

Madam Vice President Kamala Harris

She’s not the first to run but she’s the first to make it! That means there’s possibility for change. And that is beautiful.

This means that forevermore women, girls and everyone in between will recognize that it is possible to reach the second highest office and soon, maybe even surpass it. 

I don’t know what your future holds, Kamala Harris, but I thank you for your example. 

Because guess what my love? 

Representation matters and when you, my beautiful China Latina can see another woman, a woman of color in an office where we weren’t welcome before, it gives us hope that we can get there again.

Madam Vice President Kamala Harris




(NOAH BERGER/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

She’s opening the window so we can walk through the door. 

Your Baba says that every major change in humanity is built upon the ashes of those that came before (he’s a bit of a philosopher that one) but I hope it’s a bit faster than that. Change is never easy and most of us resist it, but when we get to the other side- oh the possibilities!

These words by Amanda Gorman

Love your mother, 

Jessy Santana

3 life lessons from Disney’s SOUL to take into 2021

 

We can all admit 2020 was a special kind of year, one some wish we could have passed over, written off or or slept through.  With rampant pandemic cases, record-breaking unemployment and economic troubles all around but what if there was another option? 

On December 25, Soul, a new movie by Disney and Pixar, premiered. It is a beautiful story that according to its production documentary was a labor of love centered around the story of Joe, a music teacher who dreams of being a jazz musician.  

Spoiler alert! New souls are so cute!

Soul is such a beautiful movie that talks about life and death in such a way that totally makes the Great Beyond and the Great Before easy for everyone to understand. It’s sweet. 

And I love Jerry! 

Jerry:I am the coming together of all quantized fields of the universe. Appearing in a form your feeble human brain can comprehend.

Joe: What?

Counselor Jerry A: You can call me Jerry.

Played by many Jerrys 😍 because as a construct of energy there is no gender and all genders at the same time. (It just makes sense, for my feeble human brain anyway.)

And the only way Joe can think of going back to Earth is by helping mentor a new soul,22, that’s refusing to be born because  Earth just doesn’t seem enticing. 

As their adventure continues, they learn about what Joe’s life really looked like, what 22’s potential spark might be, and what happens when people are in the zone. 

What I really loved about this movie was the really complicated and yet beautiful ways that they illustrated these moments that happen in life that make us question so much. 

‘You can’t crush a soul here. That’s what life on Earth is for.’ – 22 (Soul) 

So what are the most important takeaways from this incredible film? 

Find Your Spark

That which makes you- You. 

The beauty of this is that according to Soul, personalities, quirks and your spark are all things that are brought into the world with us. So what makes this spark the thing that makes life living? Sometimes we forget and need to find it again. 

Your spark isn’t your purpose. That last box fills in when you’re ready to come live. And the thing is you’re really great at jazzing. -Joe

That’s what 22 learns after inhabiting Joe’s body for a time, that being on Earth is a learning process from birth to death. We learn how to use our bodies, how to appreciate the world around us, and it’s not until 22 see it for herself that she understands what might be the appeal to living.

 Don’t miss out on the joys of life.-Joe

What Happens When You Confuse Passion with Purpose?

If you’re like Joe, he thinks he’s meant to be a jazz musician so his life as a part time music teacher is a disappointment. He imagines life should be different and he’s not leading the life he was meant to. 

While Joe thinks music teacher isn’t his ideal and Dorothea Williams seems to agree with him. His mother, his former student Curly and his current student Connie think being a teacher is the role that Joe was meant to be thriving in. 

Music is all I think about from the moment I wake up in the morning to the moment I fall asleep at night. -Joe

You can’t eat dreams for breakfast, Joey. -Mom

Then I don’t want to eat. -Joe

What’s a lost soul? 

The most pivotal moment that occurs in realizing that learning how to live in the world is just as important as following your passions is the really beautiful scene in the barbershop. 22, as Joe, goes in to get a shape-up and his barber, Dez, explains how life changed for him when his dream of being a veterinarian changed when life’s commitments changed. Joe assumed Dez was born to cut hair and because he’d never shown interest in speaking to Dez about anything except music Joe lost out on making an actual connection.

As someone once told me,

Everyone has a life, no one knows about.

So find purpose in not only that which you are passionate about but find purpose in anything that life throws your way. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in focusing on this one thing that we don’t see anything else. Don’t see all of the potential around us.

Don’t Become a Lost Soul

In Soul, a lost soul is someone who’s passion has turned into obsession. Which is just what happens to 22 after she comes back from Earth. There’s nothing worse than finding your spark only to have others’ expectations and stories replay in your mind, make that which is worth living-not. Like all of the failed mentors that 22 has had to over the centuries, from Mother Teresa to Copernicus and Muhammad Ali, they all told her she was the worst and didn’t deserve to live.

I’ve had thousands of mentors who failed and now hate me. – 22

I have compassion for every soul. Except you. I don’t like you. – Mother Teresa

Nobody can help you! Nobody! -Marie Antoinette

So once she had a taste of life, Joe also took it away and like everyone else. Told her she wouldn’t amount to anything. So all of those mentors words, created a lost soul.

Sometimes when others, especially those that are meant to help, fail us. And when I say fail, fail is such a way because they are human and have a certain expectation of life, for themselves, that they have now placed on you, it can make us question ourselves. Question our purpose, our spark, our self-worth.

Life is full of possibilities. You just need to know where to look. -Joe Gardner

Live Life

Maybe because it’s Disney or because it makes for a sweet ending, Joe is giving another chance at life because Jerry was so inspired by him. And this is the part that makes the story open-ended.

How are you going to spend your life? -Jerry

I’m not sure, but I do know I’m gonna live every minute of it.

We don’t know if he returns to teaching or becomes a professional musician, but we do know he has an opportunity to have a new outlook on life.

Sometimes we find ourselves living a regretful life, hating that which lies in front of us because we wish it was different and instead of doing something about it- we just complain. We never take that trip we dream of, never find that job that we love, never have the kind of relationship we deserve. All because we were too afraid to live and go get it.

Life is messy and complicated. It’s not fair and it can be really hard- full of disappointment and failed attempts, but a life not truly lived is the most disappointing of all.

Find joy, learn gratitude, practice empathy and love.

We may not be living the life of our dreams but it’s better to live life than not have a life worth living.

There’s always an opportunity to learn, a chance to reflect, a behavior to change for the better. It’s not too late and hopefully 2021 will be the start of all us learning how to live life to its full potential.

Yours in kind,

Jessy Santana

The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t 2020 edition

This holiday like everyone else’s was a little different than normal. I’ve done a FaceTime Christmas before when I was living in China, where I watched as family and friends enjoyed Dominican faire and music. It was pre-covid but I guess I was a little prepared to watch others’ festivities like I was watching a hallmark movie.

This year, however was the first since my daughter was born that we weren’t able to go back to my parents for Christmas. And what a disappointment that was. My mother is a Christmas super fan and she wants the world to know. From the tree trimmings to the deer decorating the lawn, my mother displays the seasonal joy from the inside to the outside. She even had Christmas masks this year! She’s legit!

I’m not that enthused- generally although I enjoy the decorations and the ongoings. It’s a lot to fit so much cheer into one month, especially when the other 11 months haven’t gone so great.

This is how I felt realizing I had to do Christmas this year.

But while I missed my mother’s exuberance I also wanted to do something for my family. Half of which had never celebrated Christmas on their own and had only celebrated it once before with my family in 2019. So the expectations were pretty low.

For me, I knew Christmas with my family couldn’t be touched but there were still some things I wanted to share.

To me, Christmas starts the day after Thanksgiving. When the holiday movies start, the tree goes up and the radio blasts carols 24/7. While this year all of those things happened- the timeline seemed a bit off with holiday celebrations beginning much earlier.

Lucky for us, our tree was not bought in advance and so it didn’t arrive until the first week of December. Crisis averted. Although in my head, glitter ornaments seemed like a good idea- I strongly advise against it, especially with a handsy toddler. Let’s say those sparkly ornaments had to be rearranged towards the top of the tree. As well as the candy canes because once she learned they were candy, they were done for.

There were some traditions that I almost forewent until the mom guilt parade strolled in and I made a quick stop to the store to get some stocking stuffers. Presents weren’t really a thing this year, not because they weren’t bought but remember my other half had never celebrated Christmas on his own and as soon as presents were delivered he decided to open them so our daughter could play with them. And what kind of grinch would I be to take that joy away from them?

Case in point stroller and ride-a-long known as early Christmas presents

But stockings were definitely more than enough. I mean we’re three adults including grandma because of Covid and there was nothing we really needed. It was more for the simple act of opening something on Christmas Eve, when my family traditionally opens presents.

I also maintained some of the food traditions with a Sancocho, Dominican stew, and pastelitos, Dominican empanadas, all made by me! I have never felt more in touch with my mother than after spending the whole day in the kitchen while everyone else seemed to be enjoying themselves. I understand the pain now Mami, of putting on a holiday feast. Luckily we weren’t many.

My Sancocho with lotus root and pastelitos and plantain chips, tostones

It may not have been pretty but I did it and that’s what matters!

While I missed my mother’s extravaganza of a holiday party, I didn’t miss the crowds of people. Instead, we spent the evening truly enjoying our time together (after a heated discussion on the meaning of Christmas), partaking in small kindnesses with those we love.

It may have seemed different but I don’t think it really was all that different, not in what really matters. Family, love, and a small gift or two.

From our family to yours,

Happy Holidays

Yours in kind,

Do You Miss Your Imagination?

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I don’t know about you but I sometimes sit and marvel at my daughter while she plays. She sings and plays pretend, tells herself stories and walks around the bedroom with a blanket wrapped like a cape. 

When was the last time you delved into such imagination? 

I don’t even remember the last time I woke up without checking my phone. Simply awoke and enjoyed the morning. 

While 2020 has been incredibly difficult, it also provided an opportunity, and I am all about the silver lining. I was able to be there while my daughter grew from a quiet child that didn’t really know how to play to one that finds joy in the smallest of moments. 

Playing with my hair, a rolled up sock, even just looking in the mirror as if she has also learned that she’s not alone. 

When you realize just how much of the world is new and will continue to be, at least for a while- I finally understand why so many of us want to record and have reminders of all of these firsts but I still prefer to live them, rather than capture them from behind a smartphone. 

For instance, the cold weather has me drying my hair with a blow dryer, normally I’m an air dry kind of curly-haired woman but it’s just too cold. My daughter doesn’t remember me doing it before so she was curious. When I blew the cool air on her face, much less so. And she laughed as she ran to her father. 

She had never had her hair blow dried. Her first hair cut ended in a crying and screaming match because it was during the pandemic and she did not enjoy it. So what started as cute bangs ended up as an uneven mullet of sorts 🤷🏽‍♀️

I’m still marveled when I see my daughter playing alone, she can for hours in the early morning quietly playing until the sun comes out indicating it’s time to get loud! 

So enjoy these moments while they last, who knows what next year will bring.

Yours in kind,

Jingle Jangle: Where have you been all my life?

I know I’m late to the Jingle parade but I grew up with a mother obsessed with Christmas but we didn’t start until the day after thanksgiving. This year I did my best to keep at least one tradition alive. Watch holidays’ movies when their holiday comes up.

I waited until the back-to-school died down then it was off to Halloween, one of my faves. Then the family feels with Thanksgiving and now to the biggest one of all, Christmas!

It’s our first year getting our own tree. We normally fly to my mom’s because again she’s obsessed. Last year, she had her own Christmas pre-party outdoor wonderland before you walked into the real party wonderland. That’s how serious Christmas is for her. And I’ll miss that this year- being covid quarantined and all.

So I guess I’ll have to start making our own traditions. And what a great way to start then by starting the Holiday family movie genre in style!

So many reasons to love this movie!

Black-centered with an all-star cast, like Forest Whitaker, Keegan-Michael Key, and the super cute and talented Madelen Mills, holiday movie ✅

Whimsical magic and singing ✅

Heart-warming family drama that brings it back full circle ✅

And did we mention the corny jokes? And Ricky Martin?! ✅

This movie was so good, so timeless, and so needed. It reminded me of the movies I grew up with but with people of color! It also reminded me a bit of Brandy’s Cinderella with all the music and outfits, one of my favorite renditions.

This is the kind of film I wish I had when I was a child but I’m glad my daughter can now see it for herself. And she enjoyed it almost as much as I did.

She’s enthralled!

This is the beginning of a lovely family tradition. I hope you can also find the joy of the holidays, however we may have to get a little creative.

Happy holidays-From our family to yours!

Yours in kind,

Timeless Words for Them

If you didn’t see these beautiful letters roaming on Veteran’s Day, I’m sending you there now.

A World War II Veteran’s Timeless Words for his Son

There is something that happens when you have a child and the world is crumbling around you.

As a single person, your world is your own. You take leaps and bounds because your actions affect only you, in the end. There is no one to ask permission of, no one else to think of, and the world doesn’t need to think of you no matter what your choices are. There is so much freedom in that (sometimes if I’m honest, I miss it).

When you’re married, there’s a bit more compromise. Choosing this person as your partner, is a choice. Sometimes one you make every day, because you chose to be together, under law in all things. Less a romantic notion and while most people who walk into a marriage do so with love in their eyes, the realities of marriage sometimes takes years to be fully understood. In the end, however, by choice or by law- you are partners in all things. They need to be taken into consideration just as much as your own thoughts, opinions and actions.

But they come into partnership with you, with their own thoughts, opinions and actions too.

You learn through communication, arguments, love, and everything in between to face the world on a united front- whatever that looks like for you.

When you have a child, the world falls away with another kind of love. You became more scared, more risk-averse, more accepting, more lost and confused, and braver than you’ve ever been.

Because you are no longer living life for yourself, you are living it for someone whose love you can never truly understand in its unconditionality because there is very little you would not do for them.

My cousin, a therapist and pastor in Cleveland, Ohio, told me during a conversation where I went to her seeking counsel on marriage and parenting. She’s a mother of 3 and married far longer than I.

Parents who worry about being good parents, only do so because they are good parents. Those that aren’t, don’t.

Sage advice from a Prima (cousin)

I am trying to make the world a better place, for my daughter, for myself and for my family.

Just like this war veteran, was trying to for his son. Sometimes parents just need a reminder.

So from one parent to another, if you worry- you’re probably a good parent.

“We are on opposite sides of the world, “ he wrote, “but . . . I feel very close to you. . . . I gave you something of my life when you came into being, but, at the same time, you gave me something intangible that has a value in life which cannot be measured, the pride and joy of re-creation, the completion of one’s cycle of life, for this I am indebted to you.”

Letter from a Father to his Son, March 11 1945

If you have adjusted your life for your child, do not let resentment or regret fill your hate. Instead, work on the things that bring you joy, however you can.

For me, that includes writing, sometimes early in the morning or late at night.

During COVID, my life has adjusted into being more homemaker than entrepreneur or academic and I was upset for a long time. Then I realized that this pandemic will one day be over, but the time that I have been lucky enough to have spent with my husband and family will live with me forever.

Life is hard, complicated with its ups and downs, but for the first in my lifetime- the world is suffering together and working on a united front. Those are the legacies I want my daughter to learn about and learn from.

Won’t you join me in creating that better world?

Yours in kind,

This US Election Season Created Conversations I wasn’t Ready for but I am Grateful Still.

“This is the first presidential election I have ever been interested in,” my husband said to me this morning.

You know what that means, I had to explain the complicated electoral college and popular vote, and all of the details of the voting process to a man who was born and raised in a country, where voting for representation is not a thing.

Let’s just say it was a lot of recalling American government class from high school, and a little googling because let’s face it- it doesn’t always make sense unless you’re a political analyst but even then the jargon doesn’t necessarily cross the language barrier.

One thing I did enjoy about this election season and the civics lesson, was that my husband and I were able to dissect a lot of major issues ranging from Black Lives Matter and social unrest, the economy, the way Covid-19 response differs from US and Canada, and why everyone around the world was looking at this election.

There’s a Latin phrase I love Per Ardua Ad Astra, Through Adversity to the Stars, and I believe it to be true. Resilience is the biggest opportunity we have right now. Through uncertain times, it is sometimes the only thing that can fortify us.

In this moment where we stand at a precipice, where the hope of Kamala Harris’s position made the little girl in me cry and the adult women sob- hard.

As a woman and the mother of a daughter it speaks to something inside of us. As a woman of color, it speaks volumes as to where the country finds itself. In 1964, Dr. MLK gave an acceptance speech for his Nobel Prize that is reminiscent of this moment.

Another indication that progress is being made was found in the recent presidential election in the United States. The American people revealed great maturity by overwhelmingly rejecting a presidential candidate who had become identified with extremism, racism, and retrogression8. The voters of our nation rendered a telling blow to the radical right9. They defeated those elements in our society which seek to pit white against Negro and lead the nation down a dangerous Fascist path.

Let me not leave you with a false impression. The problem is far from solved. We still have a long, long way to go before the dream of freedom is a reality…”

Dr MLK, Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance speech 1964

That was 1964! Maybe we haven’t made that much progress and since Trump lost by a hair in the popular vote- means there’s so much work to do. But there is still hope the work can be done. And that’s what we can’t lose again.

Yours in Kind,

Jessy, mother of a daughter. An immigrant, wife of an immigrant. Current Rogue Mom, futurepreneur

Letters to my daughter

An attempt at Spoken Word, as I lie in wait pondering this world and all its complications.

September Lullaby

Whomever you are. Be you.

The world is heartless. Unkind.

Guard your heart, never let them take your glory.

You are strong, vulnerable, courageous.

They don’t know your full story.

We could not be blind,

To the ups and downs of having a torrential kind of mind.

You scream and you slash,

Say words no one understands.

That’s ok let it out,

It’s like a walk through the badlands.

No one will judge the need

The need to scream

We’ve all been there.

Sat in our chairs

Explosive thoughts in our prayers

And wondering if it’s just us or are there others like us.

Be true to you, spout what you believe

Don’t let the world change you or who you wish to truly be.

Like they did me.

*For those with children, how do you deal with the constant worry the world will be a harder place than you ever imagined it could be? Or is it just me?