Hands down, these three women have influenced my 2016 life experience.

wendi and accra
Figure 3 Wendi and Accra. Mother’s Day, 2016

First, my daughter and daughter-in-law. Four years ago a child in need came into their lives. In part they received a son as a result of a change in the Pennsylvania state law governing foster children which concluded that it is far better to place a child in the home of those who are unrelated to the child, if they have the child’s best welfare in mind, as opposed to placing them in the foster care system. For circumstances beyond his control, their son came at 6 years old, unable to read, and having only attended school for 3 weeks out of the year. He had several health challenges, including asthma and eczema.  Five months into the school year, they discovered that he required glasses. Today he is an avid reader, wears glasses, has beautiful skin and is a Philadelphia Eagles fan!

Towards the end of August, 2016, their son’s biological brother, age 14, showed up at the door needing a place to live. They gave him the spare bedroom, bought clothes for the school year, and gave him his household assignments. He says that he wants to stay until he’s ready to graduate from high school, a testament to his new mother’s affection and acceptance.

nzinga asele
Figure 4 Nzinga Asele

She is affectionately known by the African American cultural community of Philadelphia as Mama Nzinga. I met her 37 years ago when we were both undergrads at California State University, Sacramento. We both had sons with the same name and at the same age. She was a poet and abstract photographer, and I was immediately attracted to her energy and creativity. When I went to the hospital to have my third child, Nzinga sat with my son and daughter at our downtown Sacramento apartment until Baba could get back home. I later moved from California, and headed to Chicago; she stayed and had two more sons.  She faced many challenges before leaving California to head back to her hometown of Philadelphia, where we would later reunite. She has been clean for over 25 years and has a wealth of experience and wisdom to pass on. When I hear an incoming message on my cell at 7:30 a.m., I know who it is, and that there are gems waiting for me, to guide me through the day:

From October 11: “When we affirm the presence of good, any sense of doubt, is but an echo of precious experiences. It is the judgment according to appearances which we must be careful to avoid. For unless we are dealing with transcendent and creative Power, how can we expect to demonstrate at all? We must never lose sight of this Power. Affirm Today, I proclaim my Divine Inheritance.” ~ E. Holmes

Nzinga reminds me of what I know and who I am, in times when I may have allowed circumstances to distort my vision. She is a Philadelphia Jazz Poet and super-souled goddess.