Hi, yeah, this is going to be a ride. This is your disclaimer.
I grew up in Daytona Beach, FL with my parents (divorced when I was 4ish?), my paternal grandparents, aunt and little cousin all within close proximity. Later, my great-aunt and a host of cousins would also move down here. We’re talking a 10 minute drive at best. Sidenote: I say I grew up in Daytona because I did. My mom moved us to Palm Coast when I was in the 5th grade but my family, friends, churches, and activities were in Daytona from the time I was born until high school. Naturally, I was really close with my grandmother, we don’t do babysitters in my family. I’m the oldest grandchild, which means I had a solid 5 years of either being with my mother or my grandmother for most of my awake time. She would protect me from my father’s discipline (that makes it sound like abuse, I was just as sassy and sarcastic like I am now just significantly smaller in size). She would slip me money just to spite my father (seriously, what is a 9-year-old going to do with $20 other than purchase snacks after school that cost $1 each??), she taught me how to cook, iron, stand up for myself and was the only person other than my granddaddy to support me going to art school, at first. She was my superhero, even after her strokes, surgeries, and fracturing her hip. She was a fierce protector of children. I watched her fuss at parents for spending their money on weave and clothes when their baby didn’t have diapers. I watched her threaten to send someone to ‘take care of’ abusive boyfriends and fathers. I watched her, her house and her daycare become an environment everyone felt safe in.
During my freshman year in college, she got sick. It was in October 2012. I was in limbo but had decided to switch majors by that point. Her favorite time of year was nearly every holiday between Thanksgiving and Easter, including Black History Month. She was in the hospital for over a month. Nobody could figure out what was wrong, even with a team of specialists and doctors. She had some hospital stays before from her strokes but never that long and they usually knew what was wrong. My dad made me go visit her, I didn’t want to because I couldn’t handle seeing her not like her normal vibrant self. I remember the day she died like it just happened a few hours ago. I was walking into the theatre, about to shadow the tech majors (this was before I switched majors the next summer) when I got a call from my dad. He knew this was a general class time so he usually called me later. He asked what I was doing. I told him. He said I needed to go home now. I asked him why. He said “she passed a few minutes ago, I need you to go to your apartment, your aunt is on her way there.” I hadn’t seen this aunt in a few years, she is one of my stepmother’s best friends and had moved away to North Florida. Luckily, I lived across the street and it wasn’t a long walk. I get there and is sat crying for a few minutes, stopped and then made some ramen. About an hour later, my aunt showed up and I lost it. By this time, my dad had already called my mom to let her know to come get me from school and bring me home. I was only an hour away from her and 1.5 hours away from Daytona. My mom gets to my apartment and they played “Pass the Lynona” between black women. Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I get back home to Palm Coast, calm down a bit and them email all my professors to explain why I disappeared and I wouldn’t be back for a few days. A dope thing about going to a tiny art school, all of them were okay with it because, ya know, grieving.
Fast forward to the viewing and funeral weekend. It didn’t feel real. I wouldn’t have gone if my grandfather said I didn’t have to go. Side note about him: he doesn’t yell, curse or argue. We calmly discussed it, he brought up his points, I accepted the wisdom and acted accordingly. That is the type of relationship I have with him. It felt like she was on a church trip and would be back in a few days eve though she hadn’t been on one in years. It didn’t hit me until the wake that she’s never coming back in this body. Also, that body was bloated and I’m still low-key upset about it. I remember how cold her hands were. Even when she was chilly, her hands never felt that cold and stiff. Thankfully, most of my cousins were there. We didn’t feel like sitting around crying, we concluded that she would be fussing at us if all we did was cry anyway. So we did what McKinzie’s, Wilson’s and a Williams’ do best… told stories and cracked jokes. There was a moment when my Great-Aunt Jean walked outside. I saw her face go from grief to “what is wrong with these kids?” to “this is how they’re processing together” in a few seconds. The funeral… Okay look, yes we are all sad and upset and mad at God for taking away our matriarch, BUT IF YOU DON’T STOP HOLLERING AND CARRYING ON LIKE YOU ARE STUPID I’M GOING TO SLAP YOU! I’ve been holding that in for almost 6 years. She probably won’t ever read this blog and even if she does, I’m not wrong. We all wore blue because it was her favorite color. Specifically, Royal Blue combined with silver. Yes, it matters. I don’t have answers for why she was so specific.
I’m going through all of this because this was the first time in my life I lost something that could never be replaced. There is no conversion factor, no equal, no substitute. Elizabeth Wilson McKinzie. There will never be another one like her. After years of pondering, this is the moment that destroyed my Christian faith. But I’ll discuss that on a different day.
I went back to school, took my finals, completed my projects, exhausted myself and finished my first semester at college. She motivated me the most, even in death, because she was the first person to look at my portfolio and say “I’m so proud of you” while my father spent a year telling me that I was going to stave as an artist and I was wasting my time. I was scared to show her my work because she’s old school. You didn’t have a career to support yourself unless you were a doctor, a lawyer, or an engineer. Everything else was not going to make enough money to live on. I heard these lectures my whole life. For her to see my painting and drawings and be genuinely proud of me gave me the juice to ignore my father’s criticism that eventually turned into praise. And she had no hesitation telling him to stop it either. While I understand and respect my parents, I know when to ignore them because they are simply operating from their basis of knowledge and experience. She was my guide, my protector, my shield, my example, my superhero, my motivator and my disciplinary. Don’t get me wrong, my granddad, great-aunt, Aunt Amanda and my mom were all proud and excited too, but they didn’t see the vision that even I didn’t have yet. I was just a kid who stumbled into an art class and liked it. My art wasn’t that good, most of it has been tossed due to it looking like trash, but my grandma saw the potential before I did. And that means more than the universe to me. She never got to see my first show or my final projects from that semester. She never saw my set design for All in the Timing or set pieces for Fiddler on the Roof. She never saw my wood projects from Hello Dolly at Riverside Theatre or my squid I painted in Maine. She never got to see the pieces I’m most proud of but she knew I could do anything I set my mind to and that’s something I still struggle with. She spoke life into things I didn’t even know existed. She showed me that love wasn’t always hugs and rainbows. Sometimes it was getting a Pepsi thrown at you or being yelled at for having bad grades. Other times it was her telling every single person she saw how proud she was of her granddaughter, niece, nephew, son, or daughter. And if you ask anyone else in my nuclear family, sometimes her love and support was being “volunTOLD” for something. She was quick to say “Oh yes, Norris/Fitz/Amanda/Alette/Lynona can definitely do that for you” and then telling us later about it. I could never express how much of me is her and how much she taught me.
Fast forward through 3 years of college, a year worth of internships, a bad case of imposter syndrome, some cultural isolation, a bit of homesickness, being consistently stressed out by a few air signs, a couple regular jobs… and we reach today. Today is the day I got reiki and (for a lack of a better term) a chakra assessment. Now, one could say that I’ve been obsessed with them lately. I’ve watched a few in-depth YouTube videos, a master class from Soulful Vibes Co., various articles, took a few pages of notes and bought some crystals over the past year or so. All of this, and more, brought us to Dr. Jane Grant (AND YOU BETTER NOT FORGET THE “DR.” EITHER [she didn’t tell me to say that, y’all just need to give Black women their earned titles]). I’ve been following her on Instagram for a while and she recently launched her beautiful and easy to navigate website. The Blooming Herbalist Apothecary. Sidenote: I follow a bunch of dope Black women entrepreneurs on Instagram. I happen to stumble across their page and then a few months (or a year) later it makes sense why my intuition led me to click that Follow button. My intuition spends her time waiting for my consciousness to catch up, it usually takes a few weeks but we end up reuniting eventually. I should also mention that Dii is the human I can point to and say “that one showed me all this cool stuff” so shout out to him for being the dope chakra-less being he is and for not letting me be mediocre. We all need friends like that. I received reiki and a tarot reading from Jessica last week (Jessica’s Website) that caused absolute energetic havoc. It ‘opened the floodgates’ if you will. I’m still struggling but it’s not nearly as bad as it was this time last week. This week I decided to get reiki from Dr. Grant. I can read people pretty well and the only time I have problems is when I ignore my gut feelings. This was a no brainer decision, especially since the word “sale” was involved. And if you don’t know by now, turning down a sale is not one of my strengths. It was a quick 15 minute session, so I didn’t expect much to come of it. OBVIOUSLY I still don’t know how powerful and transcendent reiki is because somehow this woman from states away had access to thoughts and feelings I had never spoken aloud and only resided in Tumblr drafts and iPhone notes. Now, lemme explain how my brain works right quick. I need repetition. I need to see things multiple times to notice them and take them into consideration in every part of my life. The universe knows this and has been dropping hints in unconnected places so I could get the memo. Throughout my various conversations prompted by the Instagram Stories of various Black women who be knowin’, there have been recurring themes and common phrasing. I know this is the universe because I doubt there is a secret society of Black women who want to brainwash me. It’s unrealistic and these people live in different parts of the country, have different skills and all have their own businesses or are working on degrees.
The concept of chakras really resonates with me because it breaks down the concept of energy into digestible chunks that make sense. You will hear me talk about them from now on and when I gain some more knowledge, I’ll pass on the info in basic terms. But for now, here is a brief rundown. Generally people talk about them from bottom to top. Think of a house, you wouldn’t build the roof before the foundation and walls, would you? Same concept.
- Chakras are wheels or disks of energy. Visualize a ball of energy rotating at a speed just right, it doesn’t feel rushed and it don’t feel like it’s lagging. You have these all throughout your body. Too fast means it’s over active, too slow means it’s under active.
- You have 7 major chakras and tons of minor ones.
- Minor chakras are in your hands, knees, feet, liver, shoulder, etc.
- Major chakras: root, sacral, solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye, crown
- Root chakra – Survival and security. Are you basic needs being met? So you feel safe?
- Sacral chakra – Creativity, feelings, and sensuality. Are you able to creatively express yourself? Do you feelings overwhelm you or do you feel numb?
- Solar plexus chakra – Will power and motivation. Are you able to get things done? Do you trust your gut?
- Heart chakra – Love, empathy, and compassion. Do you freely give and receive things like love and forgiveness?
- Throat chakra – Self-expression. Are you able to freely express your thoughts and your truth?
- Third eye chakra – Intuition and wisdom. Can you zoom out and see the bigger picture or your role in the larger picture? Can you access wisdom regularly?
- Crown chakra – Your most direct connection to the Divine. Do you have that connection? Is is lost? Is it a struggle?
- Chakras are interconnected. If you can’t express your creativity (sacral) you might struggle verbally expressing anything (throat). If you don’t feel grounded (root), you could hallucinate and constantly be in the clouds (third eye and crown). If you can’t seem to access your feelings (sacral) it may feel strange or even painful when someone tries to love you (heart). If you have been struggling to have the motivation (solar plexus) to create ideas that are already difficult to flow (sacral), it could affect more chakras than you would realize (possibly heart and throat) and could be caused by something else (root).
Chakras can become incredibly complex very quickly, they are fascinating to read about. From my research about them, I figured my root chakra needed a lot of work, trauma tends to be stored in the sacral chakra, and my motivation has been nearly nonexistent. I’ve known this for a few months.
Jump to today . . . during Dr. Grant’s notes, she mentioned a very strong female presence. I was just talking to someone the other day about calling on our ancestors and to a different person about not shying away from the holidays and to go even harder in her honor. Remember, its October, we are about to go into the holiday season. For some reason the month before my birthday all the way through April has been a struggle since my grandmother passed. She made sure something was done for all of our birthdays, every year, even if it was just us and a cake. Every year I bury myself in ‘work,’ whatever that may mean for the year. Every single year since. I dread it because there are constant reminders everywhere that I won’t be able to call that number to hear a cheery “hello,” reply with a “Hi, Grandma,” then a “Oh, hi dear! How are you?” to let her know when I’ll be there for which holiday. I had been taught that she would be in heaven, no longer on Earth with us. Lemme just say that didn’t help my grieving process. So… I chose to believe that energy is never created or destroyed, only transformed. So her spirit is still around here chillin on some plane of existence. But she’s my grandmother, she loves me, she wouldn’t make herself inaccessible when she knows good and well that we still need her and forever will. She knows that I’ll need her help, support, encouragement and faith in me and my tenacity. She knows I’m jumping into territory no one else in my family has been in before. She knows I can dream much further than she or my granddad ever could.
I don’t really talk about her in-depth. This is the most I’ve discussed her and I still talk about her like she’s on this plane of existence. It confuses people. So if she happens to read this blog, which I kinda hope she does, that would be dope.