Goodbye

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The bottle had been unexpectedly opened and it was right there, the pill she had prescribed to herself.

Doubt quickly consumed her.

Unable to turn back, she learned the pill was harder to swallow than originally expected.

A playlist of emotions linked to memories was the soundtrack that instantly flooded her thoughts.

Anxiety struck as her chest tightened. Sadness loomed as the tears stung and welled up in her eyes.

Too pained to push the tears out, she blinked them free as they dampened her numb cheeks.

Expiration was imminent as the stabbing sensation in her lungs interrupted her breathing. She gasped through the tears and the pain deeply regretting her decision.

But the playlist of emotions linked to memories came to an end on a broken and weak goodbye.

Open Your World to Imagination

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Open the door for Imagination.

Prop it open with a heavy rock.

Welcome Imagination into your world!

Take notice as the tables and the wheels turn.

WATCH the colors change with the time on the clock.

LISTEN to unfamiliar sounds mix and mingle with sounds of familiarity.

INHALE the intoxicating scents you never knew existed.

Enjoy the TASTE of an exotic fruit that is unique to a veiled tropical island.

FEEL. Feel the bitter cold of winter and the warmth of bold summer sun.

You are no longer bound to the limits of reality.

Imagination is here to free you.

So, open the door for Imagination.

Prop it open with a heavy rock.

And welcome Imagination into your world!

 

I Just Took A DNA Test. Turns Out I’m 100%…Confused

Image result for you are not the father maury

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As you can tell from the title, obviously I took a DNA test.  You might be asking yourself the question “Why?”.  There are a few reasons why I did, but let’s just clear one thing up first.  I did not take a Maury “You are not the father!” type of DNA test. I took a genealogy DNA test from Ancestry.com.  FYI, this is not a sponsored blog post.

The Why

I have always been interested in everyone and everything that has made me the person that I am today.  Some of those things and people I have never met or encountered.  For that reason, a sample of my saliva had to provide me with that information.  I have always been interested in my ancestors who were here before me.  What were they like?  Who were they? Am I anything like them? Do I look like them?  I have so many questions and not enough answers.

Another reason was that like most families, the stories that are told don’t always add up.  Some of the details of my family made sense while other details had me questioning everything I know about myself.  Is my great grandfather really a German man?  Do I really have a Shoshone Indian as a great great grandmother? Being an African American woman in America it is really no surprise to have DNA from other parts of the world, but the information I was receiving from family and questionable internet leads was overwhelming.  What do I do with all this information? How do I get more information?  How do I confirm the information that was already given to me?

Then there are the numerous encounters with skeptical people who question my race.  I am constantly being asked, “What are you?” “What are you mixed with?” and other like questions.  I tell them I am black, and I am met with responses like, “No…where are you REALLY from?” or “There’s no way you’re black.  You HAVE to be mixed with something.” These questions paired with the family history I was given had me completely lost and questioning who I really was.

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Problem Solved

So, I did what any sane person in 2019 would do.  I took my issues to the Internet in hopes that it would provide me with the answers I had been longing for.  After countless hours of both productive (and not so productive) searches, I ended up on YouTube watching video after video of people who were racially ambiguous learning more and more about who they were.  These people, some who looked like me, were discovering the regions where their DNA was traced back to.  Men and women from different parts of the world were spitting into tubes and mailing them off to various companies seeking to know more about who they were. Fast forward a couple of minutes into the videos and there were the results (in real life it took about 5 weeks for the results to come in).  I have never seen so many stunned people in my life.

I too wanted to be one of those stunned people; one day the opportunity presented itself to me in the form of a wait for it…the form of a Facebook ad. Oddly, I was not surprised. Thank you, government agent! I genuinely appreciate you. Anyway, the ad was for a reduced price on the DNA kit.  I do not think I could have hit the order button quick enough.

A couple of days later the kit arrives in the mail. My excitement level is through the roof! I read the instructions carefully; as I do not want anything interfering with my results.  I gather enough saliva for the sample.  I collect it in the tube that was provided, seal it and put it in the envelope.  Then placed it in the box to send it off to be analyzed. I treated that sample like a newborn baby.  I carefully placed the box in the front passenger seat of my vehicle, and carefully drove to the post office.  Me being the paranoid person I am, I decided to bring the sample inside and place it in one of the mailboxes there.  I could not risk the brutal south Louisiana heat corrupting my DNA sample. The sample is now safe with my local post office.  I can now move on to the “stalking” phase of at-home genetic DNA testing.

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Let the Stalking Begin

The first notification of many arrives on my phone.  My kit has been received! Now I can rest at night knowing that my sample is not hanging out in some unknown location with some strange people, plotting some strange activities with my DNA.  A week or so passes, and I receive another notification! This time they are processing my sample. Let’s go DNA!! Just following this process was more than enough excitement for me.  While I thought it could not get any more exciting, “DNA extracted” notification hits my phone about a week later. Now it is beginning to feel real.  This process took way longer than I wanted it to. In fact, it was about two weeks between the extracting of my DNA and the analysis of it. The “DNA analyzed” notification finally comes, and the excitement returns. I would be lying if I said I did not think about the results every day.  In fact, I would check the website, my e-mail, and the app daily to make sure I had not missed the notifications. Early one morning, I wake up to an e-mail notification letting me know that my results were ready!! I was overwhelmed with emotions.  I was nervous, excited, curious, ecstatic and just overall relieved that the stalking phase could finally be over.

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The Results Are In…

The e-mail is open, the link is begging to be clicked. So, I oblige. I click the link and watch as the website appears in the address bar. I am greeted with the log-in page. Umm, NO! I do not remember my log-in information! Panic has been added to the concoction of emotions already running through me. Great! However, I was prepared for this! After watching so many YouTube videos of people doing this exact thing (trying to log in to their accounts after 4-5 weeks).  I decided to make a note of my login and password as soon as I created the account. I can hardly remember my login information for things I use daily.  I knew if I tried to remember after 4-5 weeks, it was going to be next to impossible. The information has been located and entered into the appropriate places on the login screen.

I honestly believe I stopped breathing in that short amount of time it took for the page to load. The first page was an explanation page. No! We are not doing this!  Take me to my results…NOW! I click through tutorial box after tutorial box. Finally! I am face to face with myself. It’s me in per cents, a colorful pie chart and an equally colorful map! Wow! The number of slices in my pie chart and the number of highlighted regions on the map took me by surprise. I had no idea these places and cultures were a part of my history, that they were a part of who I am.

The website also provided me with information about DNA matches.  There they were, names, photos, possible relations to me and the amount of shared DNA I had with these people.  I am amazed by the information in front of me! I was happy to see one of my uncles on my dad’s side of the family had also completed a DNA test, but that was where the familiarity ended.  Possible second, third and even fourth cousins were on the screen.  These people were complete strangers to me. I reached out to some of my matches in hopes of some answers, only to find out no one knew how we were related. I was slightly disappointed.  However, I was still excited about the amount of information I had just evaluated. Below are screenshots of my actual results.

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Now What?

The results are in and have been reviewed.  In fact, they have been updated with more accurate information from Ancestry.com since I originally view my results.  But now what? Now it is time to make connections with my DNA matches.  It is time to talk to my family and gather as much information as I can, so I am able to connect some of these dots. This is also time to get to know relatives I never knew I had.  It is time for some road trips and some flights to visit some of my newfound relatives.  It is also a good time to learn about the cultures and people from the regions that have combined to make me the person I am today. It is time to let the research begin!

Alone With Others

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One of my favorite things to do is go to a public place where a number of people are gathered and watch them. “Watch for what?” might be your question. I am watching how they behave.  I am observing the solo interactions, as well as the interactions of those with and around them. Bookstores and coffee shops are my favorite places to people watch. These two top the list, simply because everyone is in their own world. As I sit comfortably in a cushy chair, with enough pillows to ease the stresses of a rough day, I grab one of the books I selected. As I begin to read, the footsteps of a bookstore employee hurrying to another area of the two-story store peak my interest. I glance in her direction as I see her trotting down the moving escalator, still in a hurry. My thoughts quickly shift from my book to “What’s her story?” Before I can begin to put ideas together, my thoughts are interrupted by a young couple (late teens early twenties) who plop down in the other two plushy pillow chairs. The guy sat on the navy blue, while the girl plopped down on the deep rouge chair. Sitting in my olive green chair, I smile when they look in my direction and return to the book in hand. The couple quickly forgets about the lady in the slacks, pumps, and button-down shirt, and engage in personal conversation as if I somehow literally disappeared behind the book. The two were sophomores at the local university and had been dating for some time in high school. They reminisced on school dances, classmates, teachers, school activities, and above all the ease of life they had left a few years back. Jumping to the present day, they discussed the stresses of professors, exams, dorms, and other areas of campus life. This eventually led to talks of marriage, careers, and futures. I (not that much older than they were at the time) hoped they would live out all of their dreams, as I was a single mother, working full-time, and a student at the community college. My thoughts are interrupted again; this time by a group of elementary/middle school-aged kids apparently on a field trip. As I watch the group pile on the escalator behind me, I know this would be interesting. They made it up to the second floor in groups of about eight to ten, each with an adult chaperone. The entire group gathers a distance away near the music area. Vaguely, I hear something about a scavenger hunt and the faint chatter of a few kids.  The big group breaks apart into little groups and they disperse in every direction. My observations of the styles, attitudes, and language the kids used were interrupted by the vibration of my LG flip phone. I check the outer display to see “2:30PM”, and an alarm clock just beneath bouncing around as if to intensify the urgency that I should head for the parking lot. I leave the books in the olive green cushy pillow chair, the chattering kids, the young couple, and the bookstore employee as I make my way down the escalator, and out the door. Another day…another thought.

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Go Take a Walk Outside: Outside Looking In

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Photo Source: pinterest.com

We often find ourselves in a place where we cannot seem to figure out what to do in a certain situation. We consult with friends, family, co-workers, teachers, therapists, and sometimes complete strangers! All of this is done to gain insight to make a decision that we simply cannot make on our own. When our backs are against the wall everything moves quickly. The room spins.  We see what is in front of us and what is in our peripherals. This is why we are unable to calm down, think, and come up with a solution.

Are you tired of saying, Why didn’t I think of that? Well that makes sense! Oh,  I see!, along with any number of Ah ha!  phrases everytime a member of your support team solves all of your problems?  If you are, then read on.  This just might help you out the next time your back is against the wall.

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Photo Source: wroteabookaboutit.com

The difference between you and your support team during a difficult situation is location. Your placement during tough times is right there in the trenches. While others are viewing your situation from the outside. It is a lot easier to solve a problem when you are able to see every aspect of the situation. We can all tell the lady in the scary movies to avoid going up the stairs. We can all tell our friends to avoid a certain resturant because of poor service. We can all warn our co-workers of the traffic on the way to work.  Why is this possible? Simple. Because we have already been there. Also, because we are now on the outside looking in. 

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Photo Source: earthporm.com

It is now time for you to take a walk outside. Take a walk outside and see what everyone else sees.  Meaning, remove yourself from the situation and look at what is really going on around you. You have to get a better view, a better idea of what is really happening in your life.  If you are constantly coping with the stresses of life, and never stop to take inventory of your life. You will never be able to figure out what is really going on.

Let’s just say you are having financial problems.  I’m sure anyone who is on the outside will be able to solve your money woes quickly! Why?  Because they are not tied to your lifestyle. They don’t need that pricey car. They don’t need all of the channels the cable provider is willing to shove down your throat. Those on the outside recognize reality over “necessity”. It’s also easier to recognize error when one has made and corrected those same behaviors.

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Photo Source: cnn.com

It’s time to let go of your stress and go take a walk outside! It is time to view your life the way other’s may view it. It is time to slow down and observe from the outside and realize what is really unfolding in your life!

Life Outside the Box

It truly amazes me how people differ so greatly. You have people (who why I don’t understand for the life of me) who are energized by being surrounded by people, extroverts.  Then, you have people who are drained from too much social interacting (that would be me), introverts.  Two sets of people who roam the same planet and manage to thrive together. How do we do it? 

I don’t know how we do it,  but simply trying to grasp the concept of the group one doesn’t fit in, is a challenge in itself. I don’t know why anyone would want to be surrounded by strangers at a party. People are just randomly striking up conversations with people who they just met in that moment. Didn’t our parents teach us not to talk to strangers?!?!
That whole strangers at a party scenario is something that puts an intense amount of anxiety in me.

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Photo Credit: youtube.com

Extroverts love being around others. They appreciate social interactions. It is so easy for them to strike up a conversation with a stranger and turn that stranger into a BFF.  They can not fathom the idea of not going to a party. Or,  not speaking to people they don’t know. On the other hand introverts like myself, would prefer to hang out with close friends. Honestly, I would prefer the company of an animal. They are so much easier to be around!

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Photo Credit: tjoonz.com

Introvert or extrovert, in the end it’s ok to be either. We might not understand each other, but oddly enough we roam the same planet and manage to thrive together.

K. A. Smith

To Understand the Internal

If I had one wish, what would it be? I would probably wish for more wishes. There is never enough time. There is never enough money. There is always too much weight. There is always too much stress. Is there a balance in this life? I am certainly trying to find it.  Never being good enough. Never succeeding. What is the goal? What is the purpose? Better days have to come. Changes have to be made. Happiness is not the goal. Contentment is where it is.  Accepting would also suffice.

Neat and beautiful little packages that are wrapped with bows are surrounding this unattractive package. This unattractive package that is out of shape and unappealing to the eyes just wants to be an attractive beautiful little package. No one gets it.  No one understands. No one sees a difference in the group of packages. But for that package everything is different, and everything is wrong.

K. A. Smith

Invisibly Ill

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Photo Credit: blog.pennlive.com

As you walk into the Emergency Room, you notice a man coughing. He is coughing so hard you just know he will hack up his lungs any minute now.

To your left are some kids. One has a bag of ice wrapped in a towel over her right eye. The older boy, who appers to be her older brother has a golf ball sized knot over his left eye. 

Amongst the sea of ER waiting room people, there is no denying why they are present. But you walk in and check yourself in.  You have a seat and immediately you feel out of place.

There are dozens of people who have been waiting for hours before you even set foot into the building. However, you are the next name called into the triage room. The waiting area erupts with anger and profanity.

Why is SHE going before ME?! 
WTF?!, I’ve been here for HOURS!!
I  simply don’t understand.

The chatter continues as you close the triage room door and sit in the cold hard blue chair against the wall. You confirm your name and date of birth. The nurse asks for the reason of your visit to the Emergency Room, and you respond…

“I just want the pain to end.  I am tired of being depressed. I have a full bottle of pain pills in my purse and I debated with myself for the past two hours if I should take them all or go to the ER.  Well,  here I am.”

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Photo Credit: blogoftheboss.com

There are plenty of people who are depressed all across the world. The pain they feel may never be known to others, but it is real. Some depressed people look and act as if nothing is wrong when mixing and mingling amongst society, but behind closed doors the tears stream down their faces. Their homes may be neglected. They may over eat or not eat at all.  There may be sleepless nights or binge sleeping every weekend.

It’s not socially acceptable to fall apart in front of your peers, co workers, or strangers. You are supposed to “keep it together” and “not let your personal life blend in with your work/school life.” This has brought a great deal of people to a place of having to cope alone.

Many people with a depressive illness never seek treatment. But the majority, even those with the most severe depression, can get better with treatment. Medications, psychotherapies, and other methods can effectively treat people with depression.

Source: National Institute of Mental Health

No one should have to remain “invisibly ill.” Take the necessary measures to help someone who you know is depressed.  If anyone ever asks you if you have a second, they just want to talk…DROP EVERYTHING AND LISTEN!! If that’s not possible get a general idea of what’s going on and maybe you could schedule some time to listen later.

Most of the time people just need someone to listen to their story. That is the best way to help, and get the ball rolling to recovery. If you do not feel you can help, let them know you are there for them and you will help them get through the depression.  You can help them search for counselors, therapists, psychiatrists, and support groups. If they need you for support and to accompany them to appointments, do so. That would help greatly.

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Photo Credit: climate.gov

It might be  a long road…but having someone concerned about your mental health can make the journey better.

Here are some tips from the National Institute of Mental (NIMH) and a link to the NIMH website…

To help your friend or relative

•Offer emotional support, understanding, patience, and encouragement.

•Talk to him or her, and listen carefully.

•Never dismiss feelings, but point out realities and offer hope.

•Never ignore comments about suicide, and report them to your loved one’s therapist or doctor.

•Invite your loved one out for walks, outings and other activities. Keep trying if he or she declines, but don’t push him or her to take on too much too soon.

•Provide assistance in getting to the doctor’s appointments.

•Remind your loved one that with time and treatment, the depression will lift.

National Institute of Mental Health Website

**Disclaimer: I am not doctor or any other healthcare professional. I am simply a blogger who is greatly concerned for the mental health of others. If you or someone you know is depressed follow the links to the National Institute of Mental Health for more information on depression.**

K. A. Smith

K. A. Smith

Go F— Yourself! Yes, Go Find Yourself!

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Picture Source:  instacomedy.com

I know certain fashion, makeup, hair, and other trends are sweeping the nation. That’s a good thing and a bad thing.  It’s good, because that means people are forgetting about some other disturbing trend that once was “the in thing.” It’s bad because it just means more carbon copies. I am not against the latest and greatest, but what does annoy me is seeing you and your stunt doubles throughout my day.  Usually seeing you once is more than enough. Believe me, your floor length hair, Snuffleupagus eyelashes, Sharpie drawn eyebrows, color by number make up, and outfits with overkill matching accessories were enough the first time. I don’t need to see it again on ANYONE else EVER!! This is why I say go f— yourself!  Yes, go FIND yourself!  Minds out the gutter people. I know fashion may be something you love and can’t live without, but please try making it your own look. You do not have to look like the end result of any given Youtube makeup or hair tutorial. How can you stand out, how can you compete, how can you expect to be treated as an individual when you look like the majority of your competition?  It’s time to figure out who you really want to be, and not who you think everyone wants to be.

This is just my opinion. If you don’t like it…go f— yourself!  Find, find find!!

K. A. Smith

And The Oscar Goes To…YOU!

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Most people have a general idea of who they are. We know if we will fit in with the crowd, or if we will be a wallflower. We know if we are leaders, or if we should be led. We even know if we eat certain foods or not. Each of these characteristics of self are excellent identifiers of who we are, and how we will go about our day to day lives.

This would be great information, if it didn’t pertain to people and life!  Both are extremely unpredictable, and there are always exceptions. Especially when “life” happens to people. You shouldn’t be surprised by any outcome of that combination. This is when we deviate from the well known path we are so familiar and comfortable with. We act out of character, our actions are questioned, our thoughts and ideas challenged, who are we?!  I’ll tell you exactly who we are…we are actors.

Each of us have broken character on several occasions during our lives. Have you ever been asked, “What’s wrong with you? You are not yourself today.” Or one of my personal faves, “What are you smoking?” The latter is usually when a person says something that baffles another, simply because they expect you to remain the same day in and day out. Well, NEWSFLASH people, we are all actors!  Including you, yeah you, the one who is reading this. Who is saying, “I don’t ever change!”

Here are just a few examples of why each of us deserve an Oscar:

You had a girl’s night last night, and you aren’t in the least way presentably (or capable) to go to work today. You cannot call your boss, and explain the hungover, oblivious state you are currently in. So, you call your boss and explain how you are too sick to come in to work. You cough, you sniffle, you even get in your best,  I think I am about to whither away and die voice, and you put on the performance you hope will win you the chance to be employed another day!

Or maybe, you run arcoss an unusually attractive girl while you are studying at the library early one morning.  You’ve never seen her there before, and it may be your last time seeing her. You decide to go over to her table and see if your charm and wit will give you a chance with the mysterious and captivating patron. As you get closer, you see she has books spread across the table. One of those books titled, Health & Fitness. You know good and well you don’t work out, however you still proceed. Through breif conversation you learn she is an avid gym goer, and lives a strictly healthy and active life. Knowing you are as lazy as a fat cat, and will eat more candy than a kid on Halloween, you tell this health fanatic you too are into living a healthy lifestyle. You win the chance to take her out. Now, you make up stories based on movies you saw long ago (while you snacked of course). You eat little to nothing on dates. You even end each day soaking your pain away from the excessive hours you put in at the gym. You have officially won a chance to get to know more about the mysterious, captivating patron.

These are just  a couple of instances of how quickly we can change what we thought were defining characteristics of ourselves.  We do this often, and usually nothing is wrong with it. I just find it funny that we are all great actors if the occasion were to arise.  Keep being who you are, change a little, and keep your acceptance speeches short!

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K. A. Smith

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