Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Writing Challenge, Day 8: The Leather Couch & Me

“How do you see yourself? “

The first words that came to mind were the words I always use to describe myself: 6’0’’ without the heels; an enigma wrapped in a mystery; big hair, big boobs, big personality… the words that get a laugh when I’m conversing with strangers. 
But his unwavering eye contact told me that my sarcasm wasn’t going to cut it today. I had to go deeper, to that place beyond my defense mechanisms and my projection. I had to reach down into the murky waters of my past and uncover the hurts, rejections and insecurities that were strangling my future. I had to keep it real.

“I’m a failure.”

A few months ago, I started experiencing what I call the 3:30 wake-up call. No matter how hard I exercised the night before or how many pages I wrote in my journal, my eyes would fly open and thoughts of rage, embarrassment and pessimism would flood my mind:

Rage: What did I do to deserve this?!?!?
Embarrassment: I know everyone is talking about me right now.
Pessimism: I’m just not good enough and this is never going to get any better.

The Trauma DJ would take me on a vivid journey through all of my failures in the past three years, interspersing those memories with comparisons to others and reminders of every single one of my insecurities. My body would be covered in sweat and tears would sting my eyes as I sat up on the side of the bed, crying out to God in the way that you can only cry out to God in the early morning hours. And still, I struggled.

One day, I was sitting in my office (downing another cup of strong coffee) when I felt the urge to find a psychiatrist. I nixed the idea initially, telling myself that therapy should be reserved for people who are really in crisis mode: grieving, suicidal ideation, stuff like that.

And then I saw my reflection in my cell phone. The bags under my eyes and the smile that didn’t quite go all the way up were a dead giveaway: for me, this was a crisis. I started making phone calls immediately.

Therapy has almost always gotten a bad rap, especially in the African-American community. We are guilty of saying we don’t need help or REAL Christians don’t get depressed.  However, I think the biggest issue is simply fear of the unknown. People don’t know exactly what to expect when they meet with a mental health professional.

Let me remove the stigma for you.

1. It’s always a brown leather couch.
I have visited psychiatrists and psychologists several times in my life, usually in the aftermath of great personal tragedy. They have been in different parts of the city; all races and both genders. But one thing remains the same: they all have a brown leather couch. I’m pretty sure they receive their couches when they graduate, sort of like when nurses receive their caps.
There are usually other places to sit, but why break tradition? The couch is usually the most comfortable anyway.

2. It’s not expensive.
My payment is the same price I pay for a regular doctor’s visit. Most mental health professionals will either accept your insurance (thankfully, mine does), or have a sliding scale based on your financial situation. Most offices will work with you on the payment—if they won’t, thank them for their time and keep calling other offices until you find someone who will.

I suppose some would argue that $60/month is too expensive. But you know what’s more expensive than that? Living a half-assed life full of fear.

3. It’s (sort of) like talking to a friend.
I know that sounds really cliché, but that is the best way for me to describe what a typical session feels like.

When I walk in, he asks me about my week—what was good, what was bad, etc.  We discuss the things we talked about in the last session and whether or not they are still pressing matters. If they are, we revisit them and explore what can be done to change my thought process. If not, we celebrate the victory and move on to something else. We also talk about everything from The Bachelor to the NCAA tournament….and he laughs at my jokes. That might just be because I pay him, but whatever.

He listens. I’m not afraid that what I tell him will (accidentally or intentionally) slip out in future conversations with others; I don’t have to worry that my issue is somehow overshadowing something that he is dealing with in his life. I know that for one hour, this is about me. Sometimes, that’s difficult because…

3a. He does not give me advice.
My favorite question to ask my best friends is: “if you were me, what would you do?” I can’t ask that of my psychologist. Well, I suppose I could, but he won’t answer. Instead, he will ask me how I choose to respond. I’m forced to say out loud the words I’ve been so afraid of saying for years, because I thought people would judge me.

It’s infuriating.

I love it.

4. You will probably cry.
That’s why there’s a box of tissues on the leather couch.

See? There’s another reason why you should sit there!

5. You’ll feel better.
Make no mistake about it: this isn’t Punky Brewster. Life is just so daily and there will always be things that make you angry/sad/stressed. But therapy has taught me how to better cope with all of my emotions, both good and bad.

--I can be upset that someone cut me off on I-35, but that doesn’t mean today is going to be the WORST DAY EVER.

--I can be sad that a relationship didn’t work out without assuming it was solely based on my attraction/weight/personality.

--I can say no and mean it. (Chile….this right here was worth every penny I have spent thus far!)

--Fear looks way bigger on the horizon than it actually is.

--My life isn’t over. In so many ways, it’s just beginning.

By the way, if you call me at 3:30 tomorrow morning, I won’t be answering.
I’ll be sleeping like a baby.



Monday, March 30, 2015

Writing Challenge, Day 7: Running For My Life

Ah, poetry.

Looking back, every poem I have ever written sounds like a Toni Braxton ballad or an India Arie anthem. My parents always did say I was the dramatic one!

I’m trying for a different tone today—more indicative of where I am in my life right now. Let’s see how this goes.

Left, right
Left, right
She passed me
I need a faster song
He passed me too
It's too hot
My nose is running
My stomach is cramping
I’m not going to make it
This is the worst I’ve done
There’s the photographer
My thighs are probably jiggling
I bet I look a mess
Is that--
the finish line
They’re cheering for me
That clock can’t be right
I made it
Thank you, God 

Best race ever.


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Writing Challenge, Day 6: The BEST Turkey Burger in OKC

About eight years ago, I stopped eating beef and pork. I mourned the loss of some of my favorite foods (like country ribs, ham, pork chops, roast beef....*sigh*....give me a minute), but I have enjoyed the journey of finding new, exciting things to eat. There is so much more to life than baked chicken.

And there is nothing better than a good turkey burger.

Turkey products have become readily accessible in today's health-conscious world. A turkey burger has less fat, calories and sodium than an all-beef patty. However, good turkey burgers--like a man who smells nice, loves the Lord and wants a relationship--are hard to find. A turkey burger will almost always taste different than a hamburger, but there should be some taste to it, even aside from the toppings. It should also have some juices sealed inside because...who wants to eat a hockey puck?

But alas, I have done all the research for you. If you want to know where to find the best turkey burger in Oklahoma City, I'd be glad to tell you.

It's a tie!

First, let's talk about the turkey burger at VZD's (4200 N. Western).
I found VZD's one day when I still worked in the Classen District and I wanted to try something different. I had heard rave reviews about the food, but I was skeptical. Okay, I judged them. There are much flashier, opulent looking restaurants on Western and I did not think VZD's was going to give me anything more than a stomachache.

I ordered the turkey burger and I was pleased with the price ($6.95). My food was also made to order, which is extremely important with turkey burgers--the longer they sit, the more they dry out. The moment I bit into my burger, I think I heard the heavens rejoicing with me.

That burger was GOOD.

It was juicy; it had the right amount of seasoning without being overpowering; there was a great meat-to-bun ratio (I like a little overlap) and the grilled onions and peppers added just the right note to the end of beautiful burger song. VZD's condiment of choice is their seasoned mayonnaise, but it taste just as phenomenal with nothing added. I was so impressed, I ate there every Friday for about a month.

I'm a creature of habit.

I know most of you will remember the big hoopla about VZD's closing, but they are back and better than ever. If you are ever looking for a casual place to grab a great burger, this is the place I recommend. It's worth navigating the construction.

If you're looking for something a bit more upscale, you cannot go wrong with the turkey burger at Charleston's (various metro locations). I have always loved the atmosphere at Charleston's--it's nice without being too pretentious. I was surprised to see they even had turkey burgers on the menu, but I decided it was worth a try.

Hold on to your seats as I make this bold claim: Charleston's turkey burger is just as good as their regular burger.

When I was still eating beef, I adored the burgers at Charleston's. I am a big fan of that charbroiled taste and they have it down to a science. The turkey burger offers that same smoky flavor. The patty itself is HUGE and absolutely covered with melted jack cheese, which excites me. Even though I am severely lactose intolerant, melted cheese is my guilty pleasure. The burger is topped with field greens (not just iceberg lettuce), thick tomato slices, red onions and honey mustard. Though a little pricier than VZD's at $10, it is worth every penny.

Charleston's would be a great choice for a date night, but probably not the first date. It's hard to engage in witty repartee when you're wolfing down an amazing burger.

Remember: you will never know how much you can truly enjoy something unless you try.

....Except turkey bacon. Save yourself the trouble and just eat a box of packing peanuts.

Be Encouraged,


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Writing Challenge, Day 5:Dear Homeskillet

A few years ago, I did a letter-writing challenge for this blog. The impact was phenomenal, but it left me with a lot of FEELINGS that could not be compartmentalized. Plus, I find writing letters to be kind of passive-aggressive. If I have something to say, I would much rather say it in person. 

But this letter is different--and I'm actually grateful that the challenge included writing a letter to someone. Point blank: when I'm around this person, I never get to say what I want to say. So this time, I'll take the easy way out and post my words here. One day soon, I hope that changes. 

Dear DP,

When I met you, I had so much respect for you. You were so accomplished; so confident; so down to earth. I wanted to read every page of your life story. 

Since then, I've read excerpts and whole chapters and my assessment still hasn't changed: I think you have the potential to set the whole world on fire. 

I don't want anything from you. I am satisfied with memories of laughter, phone conversations and one slightly awkward lunch at Primo's. Thank you for, in a roundabout way, teaching me not to settle for less than what I truly deserve.

Sometimes, I do feel concern in my heart for you. I worry about the effect of people's words on your spirit. Even the strongest among us sometimes find ourselves wounded by the verbal assaults of those claiming to "keep it real." I pray daily that God would protect you from the snares and keep you moving forward toward your destiny. 

Shake it off, friend. You are not who "they" say you are.

If you ever need encouragement, I'm here.
If you ever need someone to listen, I'm here.
If you ever just want to laugh, I'm here.

....Didn't that sound like a Jackson 5 song? I felt like yelling "just look over your shoulder, honey!" LOL

I will always have your back. 

Be Encouraged, 


P.S. I know I didn't reveal much--that was intentional. But if you really want me to answer that question, here it is: yep.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Writing Challenge, Day 4: The PK Rant

 I am a very laidback person (shutup, Shayla and Alonzo), so it was hard for me to come up with a rant topic. 

I debated whether or not to post this. Even though these are my feelings and I stand behind them 100%, I never want to do anything to cause issues for God's people. But there are people out there who are struggling with these exact issues right now. Though I've been set free, I know there are people out there who are still trying to get free. This one is for them. 
1.I am not a child.
I’m going to let you all in on a little secret: I was born in 1982. I’ve been out of high school since 2000; I graduated from college eleven years ago and I have voted in the last three presidential elections.

Have any other “kids” done that?

I am a woman with my own thoughts and opinions. If you disagree with me, then disagree with me. Saying “I’m telling your dad” won’t make me stay in line.  I’ll just know that you have no respect for me and deal with every interaction moving forward in an appropriate manner.

2. I am not perfect.
“Church folks” (not Christians, there is a difference) love to throw Scripture grenades. If you aren’t doing what they think you should be doing, they will launch a Romans or Acts at you in a New York minute. Make no mistake about it: I am not above reproach. If my actions are causing my brother or sister to stumble, I can admit my mess and move forward. 

Still, I ask any of  you to show me one biblical passage that explicitly states that a child of a pastor can never do wrong, make mistakes or be anything but perfect.

…Nothing? Okay then.

I wholeheartedly believe in transparency and I acknowledge that I am just a sinner saved by grace. There are times when I just don’t want to come to choir rehearsal. There are times when I have just had a REALLY BAD DAY and I don’t feel like smiling. There are times when I have to say no to that dinner/musical/meeting because I just need some time to myself. There are times when I am bombarded with what feels like a million prayer requests—and I pray for everyone—but I have to stop and ask myself: “Who is praying for me?”

I didn’t choose this life. God chose my father, and since I am his FAVORITE DAUGHTER (just kidding...sort of), I have always supported his ministry. But please don’t look to me to be the example of perfection. That is way above my pay grade.

3. Church hurt hurts me too.
In elementary school, we played the dozens—joking around about each other’s mamas (which were really just jokes we had heard the previous night on In Living Color, but I digress). It was all fun and games until someone went too far; a classmate got too specific or said something that wasn’t funny, just mean. And the fight was on because we all abided by this one simple rule: I don’t play about my mama (or daddy).

Times have changed. We grew up.

And the words got even worse.

People have stood in my face and called my dad everything but a child of God. People have stood in my face and called me everything but a child of God.  I’m well aware that my first reaction should be to “turn the other cheek.”  I’d like to say I have been able to do that every single time someone cussed me out, dragged my family’s name through the mud or spread the most vicious, unbelievable lies I have ever heard.

I wish I could say that. But we all know it would be a lie.

I spent years trying to understand how people could be so mean. I’ve prayed about it, cried about it, spent many sleepless nights turning over this concept in my mind. How can you love God and hurt His people?

I still don’t know the answer, but God gave me something even better: spiritual maturity. You know how you’ll know when you’re there? When the same people who have hurt you are hurting…and instead of saying “that’s what they get,” you say “God, heal them.”

To be able to say that is worth every tear I’ve shed over church hurt in my life. They may not be changed, but I am.

3a.I have absolutely, positively nothing to do with the how, when or why of my dad getting married.
The only thing I have ever wanted is to see my dad happy. If that means marriage, I’m sure he can find someone. After all, he did a darn good job of it in 1974. If that doesn’t mean marriage, then I’m fine with that too. Trying to befriend me in an effort to get to him? That doesn’t work.

However, if you make a good Italian Cream Cake, I’d be more than happy to put in a good word for you!

Be Encouraged,


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Writing Challenge, Day 3: My Feelings For "Him"

Day 3 is actually supposed to be a review of something, but I decided to get this one out of the way.

Writing about my feelings for someone is even worse than sending a risky text. Did he read it? What does he think? What if he responds? What if he doesn’t?!?!?!

Hi, I’m Kayla and I have Analysis Paralysis.

I hope everyone hears my heart on this, not just the intended recipient. Sometimes, the most courageous thing you can do is keep it real.
Dear Russell Westbrook, 

The way you have been playing this season has rocked my world. Your blocks; your rebounds; your shots! It’s classic basketball and I am loving every minute of it.

Thank you for rising to the occasion in a season that initially looked bleak. Whether the world agrees or not, you are a true champion in my eyes.

I’m sorry I laughed when the Internet said you looked like a Ninja Turtle.

Thunder Up,


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Writing Challenge, Day 2: Fan Fiction

I have struggled with today’s challenge. I actually had to Wiki the term “fan fiction” because all I’ve ever heard about it is the whole Fifty Shades phenomenon. I get the concept, but this is way out of my comfort zone as a writer. Still, I’ll honor my favorite college professor by never apologizing for my work!

I chose to do a short excerpt based on one of my FAVORITE books: Never Say Never by Victoria Christopher Murray. If you haven’t read this book, I encourage you to go pick it up today. This story has everything: love, loss, revenge, violence, the affair to end all affairs (IMHO)…and forgiveness.
I’ve always wondered what happened in the aftermath of lives that were so shattered. Here’s my take on it!
“Time to wake up, sweetness.”

I rolled over and sighed, lazily stretching my hands above my head with a big grin on my face. Even after all this time, this man’s baritone voice still made my core shiver and quake.

“Just three more minutes, babe.”

His lips brushed across my neck and my collarbone, causing the temperature in the room to rise even higher than the Arizona summers I had come to dread. But here, in this moment, I craved the heat.

“I just said you had to wake up,” he murmured as his lips continued to trace a path towards her own personal ecstasy, “I didn’t say you had to get up.” He shared a conspiratorial grin with Miriam as he eased down the straps of her nightgown.

Miriam looked down at him with a mixture of admiration and an all-consuming desire.

“Jamal Taylor, I’ve always loved you and I always will.”

Jamal made eye contact, staring so deep into Miriam’s eyes, it felt as though her soul was on a pedestal. “And I—“

Miriam’s eyelids fluttered as she became aware of the dream she had had—and the reality of her present life.

Miriam pulled the covers up to her chin to cover, rolled her eyes and reached over to the nightstand and pressed the intercom button. “CJ, use the intercom so you don’t wake up your brothers!”

Her 6’5’’ son appeared at her bedroom door, nonchalantly chewing the apple he had grabbed from the kitchen table. “Sorry, ma. I meant to fill up the truck last night, but we went for pizza after the game. And can I get like twenty bucks more for some snacks?”

Miriam opened her mouth to fuss at him for spending too much money; but when she looked in his eyes, it felt as though she were staring into the eyes of her deceased husband.

He looks just like his daddy. Chauncey would be so proud.

Miriam willed the tears at the corner of her eyes to stay in their place as she grabbed her purse and handed her oldest son a one-hundred dollar bill. “CJ, I expect you to bring my change back this time. I still have to get an oil change on my car and—“

“Yeah, I got you. See you tonight.”

When Miriam heard the alarm beep, she allowed herself to lose control and let go of the sob she had been holding in for the last ten minutes. As the tears flowed, the dam within her broke. Miriam placed her head in her hands and wept as the drama of the last three years played out in her mind.

She recalled the day she sat in the hospital room with her two best friends, Michellelee and Emily, waiting to hear if her husband was okay.

She remembered the yellow dress she wore on the day she said goodbye to the love of her life, Chauncey Williams.

Suddenly, her mind transported to that moment in her her living room. Jamal. His arms. His kiss. The way his body felt pressed up against hers for hours at a time. Miriam shuddered once more, remembering how his touch seemed to love away every bit of grief in her heart.

In their trysts, Miriam felt healed. Jamal Taylor saved her life.

And then Michellelee found out.

Then Emily. She was in the car. She heard every word.

Miriam groaned as she tried to take back that exact moment when she decided to sleep with her best friend’s husband. But even in her mental rewind, her body betrayed her as she thought of how it felt to be in bed—in ecstasy—with Jamal.

It felt right.

Miriam thought about the long drive through the desert, all the way to Arizona and Mama Cee, Chauncey’s sweet, spirited mother. Miriam thought she was doing the right thing, putting as much distance between her wants and her needs as possible.

Her heart throbbed as she called to mind the day she walked into Mama Cee’s bedroom and found her dead. Miriam felt as though the foundation she had tried so hard to restore in the aftermath of Chauncey’s death had once again crumbled.

Guilt once again coursed through her veins as she remembered standing in the vestibule of the chapel on the day of Mama Cee’s funeral. She stood with her sons—Stevie, Mikey and Chauncey Junior—playing the part of the grieving daughter-in-law. She nodded as unfamiliar faces patted her hand and offered words of condolences. Every time the heavy wooden doors swung open, she held her breath and prayed it would be him. 

They sent a bouquet of lilies.


We are so sorry to hear about Mama Cee’s passing. We loved her as our own. Please know that you and the boys are in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

With Love,
Jamal & Emily

“We,” Miriam said aloud as she fumbled for a hair tie in the dark. She brushed her thick, curly auburn hair out of her face and into a high ponytail. “We.” She crossed her arms and looked out the window, waiting for the sun to begin its ascent.

“God, give me the strength to let go of Jamal.”

Miriam kicked off the covers and made her way downstairs, hoping the Lord would answer her before she did something else she would regret.

Chauncey Jr.
I know my mom slept with Uncle Jamal.

****THE END****

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Writing Challenge, Day 1: The First Date Autobiography

I know this will come as a shock to some of you, but I don't enjoy writing about myself. Talking about myself though...I can do that all day long! LOL

Since today's challenge was to write a short autobiography, I decided to frame it as though I'm answering questions on a first date. These are absolutely, 100% true replies that I have given on actual dates. In fact, I may just forward these responses to the next guy who asks me out so we can skip right past that first date awkwardness. 

Anyway, enjoy! 
My name is Kayla, but most people call me K. Marie.
Nicknames: Taterbug; Deuce or P2 (what my dad calls me). Anything but Kay-Kay.
Yes, I’m a PK.
No, I’m not ***insert PK stereotypes here***
Unity Baptist Church!
…On the East Side, of course. 
My dad is about 6’3’’, my mom was about 5’8’’.
Yes, I wear heels.
Yes, I have dated shorter men.
It’s not an issue for me—I’ve found it’s usually the men who are most affected by a height difference.
I’m not shy or quiet—it just takes me a minute to get used to new people. Then, you’ll probably wish I would shut up.
I have three sisters—two older, one younger by two minutes.
….Yes, we’re twins.
Shayla/no/yes/our personalities are different/Dude...did you really just ask me that on a first date?
I graduated from Del City and SWOSU.
Teaching is in my blood, but I don’t see myself going back to the classroom anytime soon. ***insert brief rant on education issues***
Yes, but one day soon, I’d like to establish my own nonprofit organization.
I have been a Detroit Pistons fan since the 3rd grade and they WILL have a comeback in the next five years. Meanwhile, I totally support the Thunder.
Yes, I played basketball.
Yes, I was good. I'm STILL good. 
I’ve been single for about a year and a half now.
….I don’t know and I don’t really choose to dwell on it. When I’m meant to be in a relationship, it will happen.
A man who smells nice (!!!!) and dresses well in an age-appropriate manner; is passionate about something other than sports, has a relationship with God and no unnecessary drama in his life. 
And you gotta make me laugh. 
Turkey Burgers!
Blazing Saddles or Don’t Be A Menace…
I am fluent in sarcasm.
People who use the word “conversate” or the phrase “a women,” people who state opinions as facts; arrogance (not to be confused with self-confidence);chronic lateness.
I am absolutely laid back. What's the point of being angry all the time?
Thank you.
Thank you. 
Thank you. 
Stop, you're making me blush! *LOL*

I had a great time tonight--thank you for the invitation. 
Well, that was....interesting. 

If you want to know more,you'll have to ask me on a second date. 

Be Encouraged,