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Relics of My Imagination

Returning to a former hometown has been revelatory in a profoundly impactful way. We remember people as we were last with them. Memory is faulty. It leans towards rosy hues and comfort connections. If prior interactions were positive, or what we may have considered to be warm, friendly, or loving at the time, memory will serve rosy images of comfort. If prior interactions had been overwhelmingly negative or emotionally damaging, memory will bar any images of comfort attaching to lingering thoughts. If the relationship was a mixed bag of all life has to offer, the love, admiration and esteem you held for the person will overshadow everything. Until it can no longer stand up to the truth of character and time.

shown me more of. Releasing my thoughts release their hold on me.

Since the turn of the century 😊 (the last twenty years or so), I have been trying to understand myself in tandem with my core relationships. I have chiseled away the elements I didn’t want to be a part of the woman I am becoming. Likewise, I began holding my relationships up to the same harsh light. I saw they all needed infusions of Spirit, Love and Truth. Only then was I able to see people as are, rather than as my imagination remembered them.

Even as my relationships collapsed and wasted away one by one, there were a few I genuinely believed would survive close scrutiny. The friendships I thought were based in truth and mutuality of intent. The friendships I built on shared belief in the Word and compatible spirits. The family members I loved more than myself and would have laid down my life for… until my life became an expected forfeit for their ease. I thought some relationships would survive the fire God was purging my life with. For many years, I held on to some stubbornly. Refused to let go. Kept doors open. Maintained lines of communication. Fanned the flames of hope. All the way up to my return to Milwaukee last year.

Returning to a point of beginning has shown me like nothing else, how much I’ve grown – how much I’ve BECOME. In many ways, all the people I’ve been holding on to are in the same places emotionally, mentally, physically and/or spiritually as they were when I left. Effective sharing has been impossible because I’m not able to be fully who I am now in conversation. My current troubles, concerns, hopes, goals, views, ideas are nothing close to what they were twenty years ago. And yet they speak to me as if twenty years have not passed, even though we’ve been communicating throughout this time.

Twenty years ago, I subjugated myself in every arena of life. Everyone I encountered and interacted with were treated with great esteem. So much so, that it may have appeared that I esteemed myself less than I esteemed them. This is true to the point that I chose to leave home – family and friends – for a faraway place (New York City) to explore who I am without everyone else’s demands and influence on my personhood, time, and resources. That was the beginning of me chiseling my identity out of the narrative I was born, and repeatedly placed, into.

I’ve been gone from Milwaukee for as long as I’ve ever lived there, yet it remains the place I’ve lived the longest. As such, it has a deep impact on my early worldview and life expectations. These ingrained perceptions transformed into re-writable code during my fifteen years in New York City. A whole life recalibration in the Southern Arizona desert followed my time in New York. Living in quiet solitude allowed me to gently revisit core family and friend relationships. The tranquility of my environment provided space for honest evaluation and the ability to listen with an uncluttered heart.

During that time, I learned I wasn’t important to any of the mother and sister figures in my life. I was useful, but not valued as a whole person. What I could do for them kept them in contact with me. When I let their words and actions reveal their hearts, I was able to see how they viewed me as only a fraction of who I once was. They kept me in a mental space of need, lack, silliness, and inferiority. Easier to exploit if they thought they were doing me a favor with their attention and demands.

Painful revelations to be sure, but from the distance of a few years, I now appreciate not misunderstanding my place in people’s lives. They held a special place in my heart, but now what I thought we were has become fond memories. I’m no longer burdened with a desire to be present, to perform or to even communicate. When I stopped buying into the performative nature of our interactions, they began giving up the performance as well. This unmasking has been a great process for repositioning relationships more appropriately according to their nature rather than what I imagined they were.

Returning to Milwaukee has cleared away fog, doubt and shaken the stranglers completely loose. I’ve been looking at this period of my life as the end of an autumn season. There’s been vibrant change, amazing color, and opportunities for joy, but the whole season has been about transition. From changing leaves to winds of change. The shaking loose of the dying leaves from trees can be traumatic with its suddenness. Sometimes, all it takes is one good storm to leave you shaken, naked and barren. Ferocious gusts of wind to take away the glory of your foliage. An overcast darkness to usher you into a season of dormancy.

As we transition deeper into winter, we lose light and heat. We become grateful for the few leaves that weren’t shaken loose when one storm became many. We cling to those resilient leaves for as long as we can. Until the light becomes brighter and the heat starts to warm our roots again. Transitioning from winter to spring reminds us that adorning ourselves with dead things hinders growth. That storm we hated for shaking our beauty and comfort loose was necessary to prepare us for new life, new possibilities, for our next season of blossoming. The storms also deepen our understanding and sharpen our sight.

I still don’t know the full purpose of this extended return in Milwaukee, but I recognize the need for purging, clarity, and rejuvenation.

There will always be questions. What if my past hadn’t been what it was? How different would my life be? What if I had made different choices? What if I had stayed and not sought to chisel my identity from the harshness of the world? All those what ifs would still be what ifs with the addition of “who am I” – the question that sent me out into the world – if not for the path my life has taken.

One thing my solitary existence has taught me is the firmness of my identity. I’m not fluid. I’m not unsure. I’m not scared to ask hard questions. I know I’m created in glory as a Child of the Most High. I know my will and moral compass bends towards the Word of God. I know I will achieve all the purposes I’ve been created, prepared, and positioned to achieve. I need not chase or worry. I need not torment myself about who is with me or for me. It is only me and My God as it has always been – even when I wasn’t aware. I am confident in proclaiming my name, and my determination to fully develop into My Creator’s purpose for me.

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Excerpt: Journal, August 9, 2019 (Desert of Solitude)

Since publishing Desert of Solitude: Refreshed by Grace in 2018, I’ve been revisiting the manuscript to edit and clarify the text. This year, I’ve spent quite a bit of time actually rewriting and reorganizing it. The below excerpt is part of the epilogue and seems like a timely share for the holiday and the space I’m in.

  • Harvest Photo Brochure

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    Below are some steps I’ve taken to get to the cover for I AM Woman: Expressions of Black Womanhood. Now accepting pre-orders for a limited number of copies. Place your order at Harvest-Life.org/shop.

  • AMC Special Shareholder’s Meeting 3/14/23

    We hope you will vote as soon as possible. You may vote by submitting a proxy over the internet or by telephone, or by mailing the enclosed proxy or voting instruction card pursuant to the instructions provided in the accompanying proxy statement (as applicable), or by attending the Special Meeting in person.

Journal: August 9, 2019

New York, New York

My mind is all aflutter with clamoring thoughts… but first I give thanks.

Father God, thank you for all You are! Thank you for keeping me, for providing for me. Thank You for looking out for me when I’m ready to give up all semblance of hope.

My closing is scheduled for next week and now I can think. I can breathe. I wish I had planned this time because it’s a good point for a fast. The last two sermons brought up a lot in me. A lot of thoughts about rejection and how different my life would be with people in it.

I’m recognizing trauma for what it is and what it has done to me.

My sister avoiding me for over a decade has been the most deep-seated, hard-to-face rejection of my life.

One of my best friends from high school treating me as a second rate, after-thought option to fill in for her white best friends from middle school and college has changed my commitment to female friendships.

Three older women I’ve long thought of as “second mothers” each telling me in their own way I had no real place in their lives crippled me emotionally.

Remembering how I traveled across the country to visit my paternal grandmother in the hospital shortly before she died, how I sat patiently at her bedside for four hours, hoping to have one last conversation as she kept her eyes closed and faked sleep, is still painful nearly a decade later. Watching her stir herself and engage with her children when they arrived felt like a betrayal to the special relationship I thought we had. She had no words for me even when she knew she was dying. Her son, Peewee had also refused to acknowledge me when he laid dying two years prior.

Then there was the time my youngest aunt had security escort me out of the hospital my maternal grandfather was dying in simply because she could.

And the time I was the only relative at my uncle’s wedding and he acted like he wished I wasn’t there.

Basically, I was flooded with thoughts of all the disrespect, emotional, psychological and spiritual harm inflicted on me in all my important relationships.

The footnotes of harm can go on and on. Though the rejection has stung each time, the disregard and dismissal have always been unexpected from each of these people.

These instances and more have each happened in their own space and time. Separate and unknown from each of the actors. After each incident I dealt with what I could and buried the rest or thought about what I couldn’t ignore, then filed it away as another great emotional injustice in my life.

This week I realized the anger – deep seated and ferocious – stemmed mostly from the trauma accumulated over the years from these relationship abuses. I’ve endured habitual emotional violence in all my major relationships throughout my whole life.

What a revelation!

Suffering from accumulated pain while thinking my anger stemmed only from the state of the world. Dealing with the little I could handle left a whole bunch of stuff to fester under the surface in years of layering. That’s how I keep getting pulled in fast and deep. My darkness is a quagmire.

Sadly, I asked to be able to love people. From prior experience I should’ve been ready for the worst. Reflecting from a longview, I can understand how many fall to the wayside. How giving up can be perceived as a road to comfort. Yet and still, there is no doubt there is literally nothing and no one waiting for me on the other side of You, Father God. You’re all I have. So despite my trauma and uncertainty, I keep plodding ahead as I’m able. After all, if I’m in You and You’re in me, then I’m already all in, right?

My sense of worthiness was wrapped up in all the hurt, anger and rejection. Reasoning that if the people who know me best don’t love me or care about my well-being, then how can some newbie care about me?

What man would love a woman whose own dad didn’t love or protect her? What kind of wife can a woman be when she’s never had an enjoyable voluntary sexual encounter? What kind of friend can a woman be when her own sister disowns her? I am the common denominator in all my relationships therefore there must be something inherently wrong with me.

My reasoning concluded it’s my fault no one loves me. What is it about me that’s so utterly unlovable? What a sad irony that an unloved person prayed to be a lover of people. No one can give what they don’t have. All these debilitating, shame-filled thoughts loop ceaselessly in the background of my life.

Perhaps kernels of pride rise from rejection. An understanding of being created in greatness and being rejected for Who I AM. Knowing my higher self is rejected more often than my personhood, doesn’t lessen the sting. What is it about the person I am that makes me so disposable?

Despite airing these rhetorical questions, I will continue on the path I’m on – searching and seeking You in my fullness and emptiness. Should my life remain one of solitude, then so be it.

By Your Grace, I am able to remind myself I am blessed and highly favored. My life is good. I offered only the best of myself to all these people. The best of my understanding and intentions. I am not lost without them. My existence is not lacking. I know all this.

Having identified the deeply rooted anger and trauma has lightened me immeasurably and made space for a more vigorous pursuit of healing.  

Thank You for giving me this week to gather myself – my thoughts, my frustrations, my pain and trauma. Thank You for the time and space to explore, examine and itemize the roots. Thank You for making me sit and rest. Thank You for giving me the time to be creative and work on my art forms. It’s so hard for me to stop moving, but when You cause me to pause, it’s a full stop that’s never regretted or resented.  

Thank You for caring for me, Abba. Thank You for keeping me and guiding me on Your path of life to a greater life in You. Thank You for the gifts and talents You have blessed me with. I am nothing without You, but without others I remain one of Your masterpieces. Thank You for Your Grace, Mercy, Love, Character, Nature, Joy, Understanding, Provision, Faithfulness and Guidance. I appreciate You, Father God. I honor You. I bless You. I surrender fully to You. I am Yours. I receive and embrace You as mine. Thank You, Creator, for making me the way You have. Designed to be who I am – salt, light, flesh, spirit – a blessing in this world.

I breathe in and out knowing Your Breath and Spirit flow through me. Thank You, Abba for sharing Your breath with me. For counting me worthy to bear and represent Your likeness in the Earth. Thank You Abba for the mind, heart and spirit that pants after you daily; that aches when I get off track. Thank You for continually reeling me back in, turning me in the direction I should go. Lighting my fire to motivate and encourage action. Thank You, Abba, for all You do and all You are. In the name of Jesus – Your Son, my Savior –  and by Your Most Gracious and overwhelming Holy Spirit, my Guide, Amen. Amen Amen.

Desert of Solitude: Refreshed by Grace (2018)

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Sermon: Favor Over Fear by Steven Furtick

This sermon is a gift.

For me, it encompasses two big projects I’m working on: a re-edit of my book, Desert of Solitude: Refreshed by Grace and the Marriage & Relationship: Modern Concepts vs. Biblical Principles Virtual Bible Study Series.

I’ve added so much to Desert of Solitude since it was published in 2018, that it’s more of a re-write at this point. One of the strongest themes in my book is the cycle of endings and beginnings aka life and death. This sermon has touched on a vein and exposed perspectives I hadn’t considered. It is also a great addition to the Marriage & Relationship discussion series. Pastor Steven Furtick gives an excellent perspective and understanding of Jacob, Rachel and Leah (covered in Part 1 of my study) and Mary (covered in Part 5).

“The relationship between fear and favor cannot be overstated. Choose favor over fear.” ~ Pastor Steven Furtick

Reference verses:

Related posts:

Related books:

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IG Live Reading @UrbanExpo

I did my first virtual reading during g today’s event with the Phoenix Urban League’s Urban Expo. Yay! I’ve been telling myself to do virtual readings for years. All it took was a pandemic and virtual vending opportunity. 🙃

The poems read were selected from Clichés: A Life in Verse, Desert of Solitude: Refreshed by Grace, and I AM Woman: Experiences of Black Womanhood. All the books are available for order in my store and on Amazon.com (quicker with discounts).

Here’s a list of the selected readings.

3035 N Prospect Ave the fight onward through struggle I Am From Trauma of the Unseen Love, A Postmortem Books purchases will soon be available via #igshop

View the reading here: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CHlXeUXHmTF/?igshid=zpnb395iwa43

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Update: Desert of Solitude Re-edit

In 2018, I published my fifth book,, Desert of Solitude: Refreshed by Grace. I had been working on it for four years but I couldn’t seem to finish it. During the time I was working on the book, my blogging decreased substantially. Initially, I slowed down to focus on the larger project. It was also an attempt to curb my sharing overall. I also thought I could redirect my writing to other topics. That didn’t happen. 👩🏾‍💻

Content creation began a year before I turned 40, with me video recording solo conversations for transcription. Those early vlogs were super raw. Since then, I been posting videos on #Instagram, my primary social media hub (find me @harvestlifer). Now I’m working on uploading those IG videos to #YouTube and sharing them as blog posts. The raw video content for Desert of Solitude is also on YouTube. If you want to get a head start on upcoming posts, my YouTube channels are…https://www.youtube.com/user/ldjonsey and https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTuSCZva_PG851blMc7t5bA

 

Until then, enjoy this video update about my last publication, Desert of Solitude: Refreshed by Grace.

 

More about Desert of Solitude

Buy your copy at https://www.amazon.com/Desert-Solitude-Refreshed-Grace-Journey/dp/0977617947

Reader Review by Kayla: Desert of Solitude

Trailer: Desert of Solitude: Refreshed by Grace

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Morning Stretch and Praise Break

Physical activity has been absent from my life. This morning, I decided to change that beginning with a walk, and a stretch and praise break.

Covid-19 isn’t to blame.

Over the last seven months I’ve rarely left the house and when I do, it is in a car.

When I lived in New York City, leaving home meant walking at least a mile a day, which would have been to/from subway stations, underground, up/down stairs, etc. Most work days meant five miles minimum by the end of the day. Some days I would grab a #Citibike for my eight mile commute – which took about as long as the subway did. If I was feeling really ambitious I would ride my own bike which meant 16 miles for the day if I didn’t detour for a ride in Central Park or around the City for more miles. All this to say, living in NYC meant physical activity was built into my day so I didn’t feel bad about not getting to the gym. There isn’t much I miss in life because I’m all about experiencing what I can when it’s in front of me, but I do miss the constant movement NYC requires of you.

Nature nature is different from Central Park nature

Now I live in a mountain suburb. Early on I was really excited about living close to nature. Once I got here, however, I realized I’m not comfortable riding my bike on curving one-lane mountain roads. Nor am I comfortable with the possibility of encountering wild animals. I’ve seen herds of javalinas, coyotes and cows. Granted the cows aren’t so scary, but I don’t know them! Snakes and scorpions are also abundant and they blend in with the dirt! Oh, boy!

Just over a year ago, I moved to Marana, Arizona full time. Being mostly inactive, i.e. not even a mile a day, has taken a toll on my body and health. Today I went for the third or fourth walk in my neighborhood and I plan on making this a daily habit. Goodness, I really do miss walking! In this video I share the stretches I did to relieve lower back pain. It became a bit of a praise break as well.

What changes are you determined to make in your life? Please share!

Some posts in memory of my former active life:

I used to be an athlete.

Bike the Boros: Staten Island

October in Westchester County

Last ride of the season.

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Vlog: Reflecting while moving forward

For several years now, I’ve been creating video logs while traveling and for new projects. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten around to editing and posting them. For my I AM WOMAN Portrait & Essay Project, I occasionally video the women’s introduction. The desire to get these short clips about womanhood posted has led me to figure out the basics of editing video on my mobile devices.

This video message is about the movement and transition of life and the importance of reflecting on where you come from but not getting stuck in the past.

Be blessed,

LaShawnda

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Harvest Update: Summer 2018

July 5, 2018, Volume 3, Issue 2

I AM WOMAN: Photo & Essay Project

Through SH-Images, I am developing a photo and essay book with the goal of sharing a collective story of womanhood. The first phrase of this project spotlights the Black Woman’s experience of womanhood in America. There is an open call for written submissions via Submittable.com. Submitters can live any where in the United States. You must complete a profile on Submittable in order to submit your work for consideration. There is no charge for the profile. The submission fee is $25.

Even though Phrase 1 is about Black Womanhood in America, we are embracing women of all ethnicities who want to participate in this project. Our goal is to develop multiple sister projects based on the themes that emerge from the our conversations with participants.

Women of all ethnicities are welcome to participate in the FREE mini portrait sessions that will be held in Chicago, Milwaukee, New York City, Phoenix and Tucson through August 2018. Though the sessions are open to the public, women are encouraged to register for a time slot on Eventbrite. Each open portrait sessions is scheduled for 2-3 hours. All photographs for this project will be taken by LaShawnda Jones.

For more details, please visit the announcement page.

Free Mini Portrait Sessions

Women of all ethnicities and faiths are welcome to participate in the free photo shoots. However, the first phase of the project is dedicated to capturing, cataloguing and presenting a collective story of experiencing womanhood as a black Woman in America. The portrait session schedule is below. Click a date to reserve your spot on Eventbrite.

NEW YORK CITY

Sunday, July 8, 2018 1:00-4:00pm

Battery Park @ Bowling Green

Theme: Liberty & Water

Sunday, July 22, 2018 1:00-4:00pm

Central Park @ Columbus Circle

Theme: Nature & City Images

Thursday, July 26, 2018  7:00-9:30pm

59th Street @ Columbus Circle

Theme: Night & Subway Images

MILWAUKEE

Thursday, July 12, 2018  7:00-9:30pm

Location: Burke Brise Soleil

Theme: Sunset & Twilight

CHICAGO

Saturday, July 14, 2018  12:00-3:00pm

Location: Cloud Gate (Bean) at Millennium Park

Theme: Old School Glam/A Day in the Park

TUCSON

Saturday, August 18, 2018  8:00-11:00am

Location: TBD

Theme: Desert Refreshment/Renewal

PHOENIX

Saturday, August 25, 2018  8:00-11:00am

Location: TBD

Theme: Grace in the Valley

Please subscribe to https://SH-Images.com for updates.


Desert of Solitude: Refreshed by Grace Trailer


BOOK REVIEWS NEEDED

If you have read, or plan on reading, Desert of Solitude: Refreshed by Grace, please share your thoughts in a review on: Amazon.com, BN.com and Goodreads.com. Reviews are a form of “street cred” in the industry and are EXTREMELY important for indie authors. Additionally they are helpful with future endeavors. Many thanks in advance.

Excerpts from Desert of Solitude

Preface: A Note About Desert of Solitude

Introduction: Wonder-Filled Living

Verdant Valley/Faith Challenges

Love Anyway: Things I Learned During My Harvest

Set Fire to the Rain…

Supporting Multimedia Links

Contents & Themes

Soundtrack & Sermons

Referenced Bible Verses

Video Messages


 

SOULFUL CHICAGO BOOK FAIR

Sunday, July 15, 2018

10:00-8:00pm

Vendor and Presenter

image-9

HARLEM BOOK FAIR

10:00-6:00pm

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Vendor and Presenter


 

FOR SALE: EAST HARLEM CO-OP

(Please share!)

If you, or someone you know, is in the market for a one bedroom, one bath apartment with an attached terrace, please let me know.

My apartment is on the first floor of a twelve story building on 111th Street between Park and Madison Avenues. It faces the back of the building (south) and looks out onto the building’s community terrace, which is enclosed on all sides and has no street access. The terrace attached to the apartment is fenced within a larger community terrace. There are oversized windows in the living/dining area and the bedroom which allows for amazing light throughout the day all year round. These two rooms also have high ceilings (nearly 10 feet) which make the space feel extremely spacious. Wide plank, honey oak floors throughout, except for the tiled kitchen and bathroom.

There is an income limit on the unit, 130% AMI, however there is no asset limit. Board approval is not required, but financial elements will be verified by the management company.  The maintenance fee is low, and should remain affordable (with modest increases) for the next ten years due to special status of the building.

Stats:

Apartment: 750 sq ft, 1 bedroom, 1 bath, wheelchair accessible
Terrace: 150 sq ft (pictured)
Amenities: Laundry, Gym, Bike Storage and Community Room on the same floor.
Trains: 2, 3, 6
Buses: M1, M2, M3, M4


Indie Author, Publisher, Photographer

About LaShawnda Jones

LaShawnda Jones eagerly embraces the process of her personal evolution and the results of her choices. She is the independent author and publisher of Spirit Harvest Publishing Company. She maintains several blogs which focus on spiritual growth, social justice, women and photography. She speaks nationally on self-image, self-esteem, identity in Christ and living the life you envision for yourself. Prior publications are Love & ForgivenessMy God and MeClichés: A Life in Verse and Go, Tell Michelle (State University of New York Press). She holds degrees in Marketing Management and Political Science as well as a MA in International Affairs.

Thanks for reading! All my best,

LaShawnda

Shawnda@Spirit-Harvest.com

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Love Anyway: Things I Learned During My Harvest

Desert of Solitude: Refreshed by Grace is available in print, Kindle and Nook formats. Purchase your copy at BN.com or Amazon.com today.