…And Just Like That, She Is Forty Minus One.

Happy Birthday to all my Birthday Twins! According to the Original Firestarter, My Mama, I was born Wednesday, June 24, 1981 at 10:37 am. If you desire to send all bday money, you send it to my CashApp: $JBHWrites. Thank you, dear ones!

39. I have made it to 39.

I am a mother, a daughter and a friend. This birthday feels different. It feels different, because it is different. I survived the onslaught of COVID-19, with my mental health and body intact! But this birthday is different.

I am getting extra tattoos. I am piercing my belly button again. I am embracing my sensual nature, and respecting (read: re-establishing) my boundaries. I am falling in love with me, and my own company all over again. Yet, I am doing it in a way I could only have done at this age. I am no longer keen on male company, and I am not dumbing down for it. I have found that I am a fan of a good wine, and Megan Thee Stallion.

I am writing more, and building a legacy for me and mine. I am appreciating my mother more, and her bed still has magic in it! And I do not know what I will do without her when the day comes I can no longer call her–or find her—on this side of the grass.

The previous 6 birthdays, I have been someone’s wife. I am no longer that. That wound is fresh, pulsing and I am still healing from that. It is a beautiful thing to be able to write in this time as well. If I couldn’t get all of this out of me, I would definitely be in a much sadder state.

In this birthday, the last of my 30’s, it feels different. I’m moving different. I’m looking at my life and raising my kids different. Everything is different! I went into 2020 with all these plans and expectations—and weights. I will not dwell on the demise of my second marriage, for 2 reasons.

1.) Ain’t no body got time for that. We are getting divorced. We are not friends. Nor do I purpose to be.

2.) Mr. Harris deserves to live his life without his ex-wife dragging him through the internet.

I’m much classier than this. I’m a lady (most days). Despite rumors to the contrary.

But the thing is this, I’m not terribly scared to turn 40. I’m not rushing it either! Trust me! I am thinking now about what I want the second half of my life to be. I am thinking about how I am going to be a better Mama. A better friend, and I am loving sleeping alone again! I am healing up, Oracles. I am enjoying time with my kids, and writing, and even have taken up gardening.

Yes, gardening.

I refuse to get a dog. And I hate cats, and the scary thing—in the next 5 years, I will have an 18-year-old child. And I have to get her ready for the world. I am absorbing all the time with her and her younger sister now.

What these first almost 7 months of this new decade have taught me is I am tougher than I ever thought. I deserve more than I ever put up with. I have learned when things are over, they are just over–and some men just can’t handle you; though they love the idea of you. What I have learned in this now 39 years of living is all wisdom is gotten at a cost: youth.

There is more I desire to do, that I must do–and I am excited. Besides, the adage is, “If she’s fine at 40, she’ll be fine forever!” And I plan on aging like Dihann Carroll!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

Notes On The ‘Flu Klux Klan’

All opinions are my own and based on science as well as experience as a health care worker. If people don’t listen, this is about to be bad. No, it’s already bad! It’ll be worse…-JBHarris.

And there you have it…

I admit it. When I first heard the phrase Flu Klux Klan, I screamed laughing. I was laughing right behind my N-95 rebreather mask. You know, the masks Orange Thanos believes US healthcare workers don’t need?

This situation is asinine.

I am convinced that America is the craziest place to live when shit is not actively on fire—but it is a dystopian novel when there is something actively on fire.

Octavia E. Butler tried to tell us! Did we listen?! Nooooo.

Only in the greatest nation in the world do people actively protest again their own self-interests, personal safety and health concerns. These folk are misinterpreting Bible verses, American history, and issues pertaining to women’s health and personhood.

If I wasn’t alive to see this, I would swear it was a book. It would have to be a book! We have an evil leader with sycophant supporters, a rebel base and are in the middle of multiple social crises! If we were burning books this would be Fahrenheit 451!

And legit? I’m scares something Orwellian like this will happen next!

There is always room in graves and morgues.

But you know what? They are absolutely right! They have the right to feel how they want—even if that means endangering their own lives.

Their own lives.

Now, since these folk clearly have the brainwashing buckets on their heads the aquatic life in the Spongebob Squarepants move did, let me offer this.

If they do test positive for COVID-19, send them home. That’s right! Send them home. They should not have access to healthcare for a virus they said does not exist! These people are carrying assault weapons into government buildings while Black folk are being put out of Wal-Mart for wearing masks. Make this make sense!

You want to know why they don’t want to be in the house? The government told them they weren’t special! This is White supremacy having a tantrum. No more, no less. How does one make sense of insanity? Hint: you don’t. This folk are used to the government policing the behavior of other (read: Black, Brown, other people of color or Indigenous People) not them (read: White people). The government is supposed to let them do what they want, and oppress other people! This isn’t about health or “give me liberty or give me COVID-19.”

Side note: That is the stupidest effing sign one could make.

This is about whether or not people can trust their government and believe what they say! If there was ever a time to trust the government—or God forbid, pay attention, it’s now!

You have the right to die, yes! But you do not have the right to kill the rest of us because you don’t want to listen and you voted for Blackbeard the Pirate! GOH! As for me and mine, we will believe God and Dr. Fauci. And watch the world burn from inside the house. Go outside if you want to! Be around a whole lot of folk if you want to! The Death Industry is recession proof. And open graves are just the wide screams of the disbelieving.

Wash your hands. Avoid large groups of people. Wear masks. Don’t let the Wile E. Coyote, Super Genius win. He ain’t won’t come to your funeral or even notice you’re dead. He looks at the sun because he can’t believe anything is lighter or whiter than him.

[images taken from author’s social media]

May 2020 Is For Lil Boosie!

There is no secret to anyone that knows me that I love hip-hop. I do! And my favorite song to be amped to (aside from Swagga Like Us off T.I.’s Paper Trail), Wipe Me Down, by Lil Boosie! I promise that it is! I don’t know what about it makes me so happy, and wishing for my 20’s again, but it does!

With that reflection is mind, I had an idea for my miniseries for the month of May:

The title ‘Thinking I’m Grown’ is what I was told when I was growing up, especially after I started to express myself through what I wore or how I wanted to wear my hair. I cannot tell you how many times I heard “Oh, you think you grown?” I had no idea what that mean–and truly, looking age 40 in the face, I still don’t necessarily know! But, I’m about to take a stab at it.

This series starts Saturday, May 3rd. Like the miniseries in the past, there will be one post every Saturday until the cessation of the series on Saturday, May 31. Here are the topics:

May 3: Think I’m Grown: Shoulders (How I Stand)

May 10: Think I’m Grown: Chest (My Body And How I Accept It)

May 17: Think I’m Grown: Pants (Fashion and Style)

May 24: Think I’m Grown: Shoes (How I Move In The World)

May 31: Think I’m Grown: Wipe Me Down (Self-Acceptance)

See what I did there? You’re a smart cookie, I know you did. Make sure you follow this space. There is more, so much more to come.

DECADE OF RUNITBACK

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The dirty secret about all that I do, what I do, is there are people that think that what I do has been easy, sort of nebulous, and that ‘anyone’ should be able to do. Yet, the great thing about all that I am doing is that no one that I know is doing it on such a scale. My brother’s nickname for me is Shonda Rimes.

Great compliment. Fantastic comparison.

And with quiet reflection, I examined the last decade of my life, with a professional lens. With full candor. With disclosure. With the desire and happiness for the future. It is with the complete childlike happiness that I anticipate what is to come–and what is already in the works.

At the beginning of the last decade, I was a 28-year-old single mom, whose ex-husband was aloof at best and narcissistic at worst. At the end of the decade, I am a locally known indie author; blogger; started a podcast; creating a working professional network which consists of  college professors and 1 mentor,  Dr. Kimberly Welch.

Come walk down memory lane with me:

 

2010-first marriage left me destitute with 2 children under 3.

2011-Went back to school; divorce final

2012-not writing, trying to be a nurse

2013-lost my grandmother, a 3-year relationship; left school because I couldn’t pay for it

2014-Murder of Michael Brown, Jr; activism galvanized. Writing begins as a career. 3 books published.

2015-more writing; forgoing nursing as career; met Marissa Southards (now the founder of The Awakenings Project-STL) via Twitter.

2016-The Ideal Firestarter created more writing; sat for The Awakenings Project; met Winnie Elizabeth as a blogging mentor

2017- first novel done; writing is now a career; started editing professionally  through JBHarris Writing Services ;writing mentorship starts; first company started.

2018-RUBY published; professional network grows; writing workshops begin; book count stands at 10; started I Breathe Fire, met Amanda Wells, founder of FLOW STL.

2019-The Writers’ Block podcast begins; The Ideal Firestarter staff is at 4; 2 companies started; graduated college. Three professional mentors, with plans for grad school. Writing Mentorship starts 1.15.2020.

I am not playing with this next decade.

For My Daughters-Lesson 4: Mama Doesn’t Always Get It Right

The best thing that God let’s us do is to grow up and see our parents as human.

 

My daughters-

You all are proof that there is still love in the world, and I must have more love to give to it. I want you to know that I, your mother, me, Jennifer, I am not perfect. But I try to make your world as clean, clear, and perfect as possible. And sometimes? I mess up. I don’t always say the right thing, I sometimes am late to what you want me to show up at. Sometimes, I don’t get it right. 

You two are the dearest things to me, and I would give you all of I have for you to not experience any of the heartbreak I have. I would give anything for you not to cry over a boy, fall off a bike, have your heartbroken…but I can’t. I send you out in the world armed with all that I will teach you and all that you are. But this doesn’t mean I don’t (or won’t) mess up.

Sometimes I am too short with you. Sometimes my tone is off! Sometimes I scream when I should listen. Sometimes I overrule what you want, over what I think you need.

Some days you may hate me.

Some days you may call me a name when the door is closed.

Some days you may hid things from me because you’re not sure how I can handle any ungood news you have.

But I want you to know I love you, with all I have. And a lot of parenting, especially of daughters is sans any instruction manual. It is a mix of what you know to be right, and what you wish someone had done for you. What I wanted someone to do for me was–listen.

This is why I talk to you all so much. This is why I give you the power of your own thoughts! This is why I tell you that you can come to me with anything. Any. Thing. But I want you to remember Mama is not perfect, and neither am I trying to be.

Everyday, I try to be a better Mama for you.

You are the best parts of me, and you deserve the best of me–everyday.

With that in mind, give your Mama a break–and extra hugs. The world is hard for mamas too.

Love,

Mommy

 

 

For My Daughters-Lesson 3: Ambition & Dreaming

 

 Dearest Darlings:

I want you to remember one thing, if nothing else:

If you believe you can, it will be so.

Most innovation and change in the world has come from someone dreaming. It is that energy, to build what only you may see which fuels ambition!

They go hand in hand, loves.

I want you to be bold about what you want from this life! If you do not see it, build it! I want you to take every gift, talent and skill and master them. Push them. Explore them!

Do not be persuaded or dissuaded by the opinions of stagnant, dreamless, vapid people. Do not fear the outcome of something before it begins! Don’t fear failing or falling! It is okay to be anxious, dear ones. It is even okay to be scared. Life is sometimes scary–especially, when you are embarking on something the surrounding world thinks you shouldn’t be doing; or succeeding in a field women, Black women, shouldn’t be in!

I am raising you to Torches!

This means your power is in three parts:

Light. Heat. Strength.

From your light you can, do and will inspire. You will lead a groups, movements and a generation! You will be all God has asked.

From the heat of your Torch, you will be able expose injustice, as well as provide compassion! You will be able to be strong when it is easier to quit. You will be able to care for those who can’t, and speak when others may not be able.

Torches provide strength, even when they stand still. They are a beacon–a place of hope. This is the flame of ambition. This is the power of dreaming! Strength is power put to use! You can do, will do, so much! And even being able to light the way for someone else is just as crucial.

Go forth and do good, dearest ones! I am already proud of you.

Birthday Chapters: #38.

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“I will come in, and leave, as power.” -JBHarris

Can you believe it? The kid is not a whole grown up and almost 40. I’ve been saying I was 38 for the last four months though. Which is hilarious on some end. But the thing that i have learned, going into this next chapter of life are these three things.

 

 

Value of your whole self. I’m learning to celebrate everything that is me. I am becoming happy with me and all that I am accomplishing. I am learning to celebrating  the wins. I’m celebrating the fact that I am not dead. I get the losses, and I accept the time that I have lost. I have a greater value of time, my time. I am a woman. Women value their time, their wins, and their talents. They make, take and hold space. I have finally learned to value me. 

 

Strength is not determined by pain suffered. I don’t think that pain should determine strength or love. I have decided that the pain I have endured doesn’t make me the quintessential ‘strong, Black woman.’ I am a strong woman because I know what it is like to suffer, but also have the strength to rejoice. I know what it is like to be broken, and remain that way–thinking that is week. Believing being broken is a condition to favor. I know what it is like to need help–by admitting that you do. I have learned that being a woman, a Black woman, is to be able to breathe, to express, and even when to rest. I have learned I deserve love, because God is love. I deserve love because it holds up the world. I deserve it not because I had to be proven or emotionally battered to get it. I deserve it, because God gives it to me freely. I acknowledge my wounds, I won’t worship them.

 

Life is glorious. A friend of mine told me that I was always too excited about having birthdays. Never! I almost died as an infant. As a child. And at the hands of someone that said he loved me. I am excited about this gift called life. I am excited for what it holds. What is all set and planned for me. I am still excited about the process of getting there. This life is amazing. I have 37 chapters done. By virtue of blessing and tenacity, I no longer fear what talents I have. I no longer fear the ambition. I plan on making 40 look amazing!

Happy Birthday to me and all my Birthday Twins!

Daddy Lessons #1-Being Unstoppable

“If they won’t let you in the front door, go around to the back. If they won’t let you in the back, buss a window and jump in!”

-Richard L. Bush (1948-1998)

 

My Dad was one of the most driven men I have ever known. Perhaps in the nature of the Almighty, this was the best thing God could have given me:  a driven father. In that drive, I learned to make space; not to believe that “No” is permanent; and there is a way to do anything you want to do.

With this year marking twenty years without him, I have now had the wisdom which comes through life experience to allow me to value all he left me. That stubborn streak, that ability to be both present and visionary, I can say I got from him.

This quote is one I use and relay most often to people in my inner circle as encouragement. This quote has always been a source of comfort for me since his passing. It reminds me not to let situations, circumstances, -isms, or criteria set by other people to stop me. My father, even within the seventeen years I had him, made sure I knew the value of being resourceful. He made sure I knew how to treat people, and especially how to treat the people you employ.

Perhaps, even living in a time where the trappings of womanhood are seen as hindrances, my father reminded me that my sex is never going to change–but there was a power to it that was undeniable. He wanted me (and my sister) to be pretty and intelligent:  this way, no door could be shut to us. The most powerful thing this quote embodies is the willingness to work for what you want.  As a young girl, as a young Black girl, that reminder that I would have to work for what I want–but, that I could have what I wanted? That is powerful.

For my father, to tell me, that I can do anything and let no one stop me? That endowed me with a  superpower.

I think it is most amusing that for a man whom thought I shouldn’t be a writer as a consistent, stable profession, words are his biggest legacy to me. From those words, his words, the world  got that much bigger.

Thanks, Daddy.

 

 

In Memoriam: This Is It

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Next month marks  decade in this artistic-music era where there is no Michael Joseph Jackson. That didn’t resonate with me until the documentary/movie This Is It  came through my Netflix home screen. You see, I remember Michael Jackson as this entity that could do anything–include defy gravity!

I remember watching Thriller every time it was on. My mother’s youngest sister, whom is 11 years older than me, had that album cover on the wall of her room! She played his music constantly, which means that the younger nieces and nephews that she watched listed to him and the Jackson 5 all the time.

I remember…I remember where I was when he died. My boyfriend at the time, living and working in California, called to let me know. I didn’t believe him. And this morning, I am still in a dream state. While this documentary played, I became that 8-year-old girl watching MOONWALKER over my cousin’s house after school. There was this aura that surrounded him. Perhaps as an artistic child, slightly out of step with the world, I noticed the otherworldly nature that was Michael Jackson.

I am old enough to remember singing to every song in his songbook when it came on the radio*. I remember for a month and some after he died that the hardest dudes I know were bumping Billie Jean, Thriller and Bad from their cars. I remember.

I’m also old enough to remember the first scandal. And the trials. And the settlement money. And the craziness that is the Jackson family. I am under no illusion of the cloud that hovers over his legacy. And in the age of #MeToo, we need to believe the victims. Conversely in the age of #MeToo, we know that people lie and are devious. But let’s move on.

I fought tears watching this. I grieved him. Just like I grieve Prince. Just like I grieve Aretha Franklin. There is something divine in being about to create, to walk in that God space of pulling something  that wasn’t there, was unseen, to where it can be seen. I know that Mike died from an overdose of prophophol–a powerful anesthesia. However, I know what it’s like to be that consumed with an idea, or a vision, that it robs you of sleep. Where you have to make yourself shut down–to stop, and even that sometimes doesn’t help.

I get it.

I was never graced to see Michael Jackson perform in concert. But everytime he was on television, I watched. I remember the raucous that was over the Black or White video when it premiered on Fox! I also remember how when that aired in 1991 (when was 10!), Mrs. Grant’s fifth grade class talked about it! Everything he did seemed so damn special. This Is It is no exception. I am happy someone had the presence of mind to record all this.

Y’all will excuse me while I get my Michael Jackson playlist rolling through Apple Music.

 

*-Top 10 favorite Michael Jackson/Jackson 5 songs (no particular order):

1.) Liberian Girl

2.) I Just Can’t Stop Loving You

3.) Jam

4.) Can You Feel It?

5.) Speed Demon

6.) Thriller

7.) Ghosts

8.) Bad

9.) Dangerous

10.) PYT (Note:  THE JABBAWOCKEEZ MADE ME LOVE THIS ALL OVER AGAIN!)