One cool part of aging for me is being able to reflect on over sixty revolutions around the sun. Most of my childhood travel comprised of five hour drives to Washington DC, visiting our many relatives that had left southern Virginia and North Carolina for better jobs.
My Dad was always the driver and my Mom would be super frustrated that every single time we drove there we would get lost. My Dad’s reply was always the same. “We’re not lost, we’re sightseeing”. On the look back I realize that my love for travel begin with those family drives as a child.
Fast forward to nineteen year old Regenna whose boyfriend had quit school two years earlier, joined the marines and was stationed in Hawaii. I was READY TO TAKE OFF!
We can only live one day at a time. When those twenty four hours are done, it’s done. If you agree that time is our most precious resource, then it’s a good time to FOCUS on how you want to experience life.
Anything and happen in a day. That’s what makes life so exciting. Take a look at a life of a day in my world.
Sankofa The word Sankofa is from the Asante Twi language of the Akan people of Western Africa. The word itself means, “to return and get it”.
The concept of Sankofa “depicts a mythical bird flying forward with its head turned backward. The egg in its mouth represents the ‘gems’ or knowledge of the past upon which wisdom isbased; it also signifies the generation to come that would benefit from that wisdom.”
I was born in America. I am a descendant of a people who were kidnapped, transported to a new land, and sold into enslavement.
I am American, but I can’t shake this feeling of being out of place, this feeling of not belonging, and the constant disappointment of this country’s unwilling to face up to it’s ugly past and ugly present.
Searching, Finding, Honoring
Over the last ten years I have been seaching for my ancestors, and grasping to make sense of the unimaginable circumstances my people endured, that I AM HERE. It is in the spirit of SANKOFA that I am able to share pieces of my journey to find my ancestors names, and stories and to continue moving forward KNOWING who I AM and that I AM.
Born in 2020, this baby is is held in the arms of her Great Grandmother, my Mother, whose own Great Grandmother was born enslaved and who held her in her arms.
I didn’t always want a simple life. In fact, I thought that country living was the simple life. I wanted the city life.
I longed to live above restaurants, and call for taxi’s like “Mary Tyler Moore”. Funny thing is that although I moved from the country at nineteen years of age, I never once really lived in a proper “city”.
A Simple Life I grew up in the time that success meant “three kids and a dog, a house with a white picket fence and owning a business.” I spent many many years chasing that dream. I didn’t get the three kids, but I did have a big ass house, and a business that didn’t make enough money to pay for that big ass house without a job.
One of the best things that happened for me was to come to a place in my adult life where I questioned everything. And after thirty years of living in suburbs outside of big cities, I’m living in the country again. But I KNOW now that where you live has nothing to do with living a simple life.
Check out my video below and consider a simpler life.
Young Old – Middle Old – Old Old – I just turned sixty-one, and I will retire in one year. Young old starts at 65, which makes me pre-young old. I had planned to work until 65 to get more social security, but after looking at my aging Mom, Aunts, Uncles and Cousins who are in their mid seventies and eighties (middle old), I realized that it’s only a matter of time before my body starts to slow down.
It’s more urgent to me to have enjoyable meaningful experiences to reflect on when I’m ninety (old old), than to get a couple more dollars to pay for geriatric care (if Black Jesus spares my life).
How Can I Not Get Old? My Mom tells me not to get old, and she says that a lot. She’s frustrated that her 84 year old body(old-old) does not perform the same tasks she’s done for years with the same ease. Hurting knees, high blood pressure, and diabetes are daily companions, but she still rakes the yard, gets on the riding mower, and walks up and down stairs 100 times a day. Mom refuses to get internet so we can monitor her with cameras, she won’t carry a cell phone, and she has told me that she is not afraid to die.
I don’t know how to not get old, except to stop being alive. But I do know how to enjoy being alive because I know what makes me happy.
I know I can affect my physical body by exercising and eating decent. I know I can affect my mental body by learning new things and ways of doing stuff. I know I can affect my emotional body by paying attention to my feelings, and doing more of what makes me feel good, like listening to music, and less of what’s makes me feel stressed, like watching the news. I know I can affect my spiritual body by closing my eyes, placing my hand on my heart and knowing that I AM.
Born Fi’ Dead The end game is the same of every single human. No one gets out alive. The World Health Organization reports that the worlds population over the age of 60 years will nearly double from 12% to 22% by 2050. But No One Knows How Much Time They Get On The Planet. My vegetarian, working out sister died at fifty-seven from cancer. We thought we would be old ladies sitting on the porch, looking after our parents. I take solace in the fact that she did retire early, even though I didn’t think it was a good idea, and that she traveled and enjoyed her life on this side. Maybe instead of waiting until we reach some magic age, weight, status or income, we should live each day as if it were one of our last five days on earth.
It’s Not for Sissies I don’t feel old but younger people have been Yes ma’aming me and calling me Miss Regenna for some time. I go to bed really early. I don’t understand why I should pay the cost of a washer and dryer for an iPhone. My friends and I talk about aging a lot. My knees get stiff when I take a six hour drive to Mom’s. It’s harder than ever to lose 10 pounds. It takes longer to heal injuries. The language of young folks makes my head hurt at times, and I feel like I’m in a different world, (because of course I am).
In spite of aging, I’m determined to not become an old grouchy bored boring senior citizen. I’m still working on gender-neutral pronouns, and to understand why “bonnets” are such a hot topic. I believe our young folks learn more about life at an earlier age than we did, and with this knowledge, they will enjoy more of life. Although lots of mainstream music irritates my vagus nerve, I’ve discovered music by Jhené Aiko, HER and Snoh Aalegra, all artist that my 16 year old great niece and I enjoy, that allows us to connect and that makes me feel “younger”.
There’s Ash on the mountain top but the fire is still burning. I remember turning 60 and feeling that 62 would be forever getting here, but now it’s only eleven months away and I know that time will fly by. This realization forces me to FOCUS on how I DESIRE to spend my days after retirement, and what I should do NOW to get THERE from HERE.
I tell you I’m excited. I believe the Universe will deliver my innermost desires. I can’t wait to see how life turns out.
History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.
Martin Luther King Jr.
So Many Questions
I wish I had known to ask my Grandparents questions about their parents and grandparents before they left the planet.
We get the big parts, slavery, jim crow, separate and unequal but there’s so much more.
How did they meet and fall in love? How did they live during the great depression? When did they get their first automobile? How did it feel to write their name for the first time?
Who IS Hampsin? I recently met Hampsin, a man who lived in the late 1700’s, while researching my own family genealogy. I’ve been on this journey for about eight to ten years now and it’s a lot of time and repetition of names, but my ancestors won’t let me stop.
Anyway, I came across the story of Hampsin. And even though I had intended on doing a piece abouthow it felt to see my Great Grandmother Nancy’s mark –her X – as a signature on a document, Hampsininsisted I tellHIS STORYinstead.
And so this is for Hampsin, and all the souls whose stories are waiting to be told.
To view the full letter from the Virginia Gazette about Hampsin click here.
“The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.”
I once found a message in a bottle in the ocean while out on a jet ski. I returned the note and bottle to the sea. That’s the magic of Barbados. Who finds a bottle with a mesage in it?
The world is as big or small as you choose. Seeing sunsets, endless beaches, and school children playing outside in uniforms, brings me joy. I will forever wander the world because I never get tired of tasting new adventures and Barbados has a lot to offer a soul like me.
Barbados is small but it’s if full of friendly people, beautiful beaches, lovely greenery and the bluest seas. From sunrise to sunset, you experience the joy of being in paradise. Of course, the rum helps.
In elementary school, if something came up missing, all the black kids from class would be sent to the principals office. Ms Martin the white principal would turn off the lights and say “I know one of ya’ll took xyz. Put in on the floor and you will not be punished.” I once got paddled because the teacher confused me for the other light skin black girl that sat behind me. Ms Chicken Leg Hardy announced to the history class while telling us how good slaves were treated on plantations, that since my last name was her maiden name that my family came off her families plantation. She called African Americans “nigarass”. She told my friend she was fat and lazy and would never amount to anything. That statement initiated my first act of rebellion.
I told her should couldn’t talk to any black person in our class. She had to come to me first. I WAS SENT TO THE PRINCIPALS OFFICE. My Mom had to bring me back to school. I thought I would get a whupping but I didn’t. They told my Mom I had a chip on my shoulder.
In 1988 School integration reached its all-time high; almost 45% of black students in the United States were attending majority-white schools. After this peak schools in many cities become more segregated.
Integration may have given us better books and facilities, but it exposed us to racism that many of us were shielded from in our homes, and segregated black schools.
You can live life better in this moment just by taking a few deep breathes. Do it – Inhale, filling up those lungs, hold it in, count to four, then slowly release the breath. Lungs love this, it’s what they’re born to do.
It’s Not Complicated There’s tons of simple actions you can take today to live life better. You can pick up a pen and write your thoughts for ten minutes. Light a candle, make up your bed, eat a delicious meal, straighten up that pile of mail. The smallest action can make life better, so the ball in your court. It’s always been in your court. One of ways I tune up my life is to surround myself with things that make my heart feel happy. Take a look and maybe it’ll make your life better in this moment. I hope so! Enjoy the show.