January 2014


By |January 13th, 2014

DREAMFORWARD Inspiration #2Be open to whatever comes next… #DREAMFORWARD

Image Source: Dina Wakley

Tao of Luckie, The Four Agreements & Walking In Wisdom! 2014 Is My Year!:)

By |January 9th, 2014

The Four Agreements - Miguel RuizOn most days the folks I interact with have no idea I’m a longtime practicing Buddhist. I’m not robed. I don’t walk around chanting the Lotus Sutra or quoting The Buddha. And though I’ve determined to excommunicate my potty-mouth in 2014, possess the ability to cuss like a sailor!:)

I see me as a spiritual hybrid, equally comfortable with chanting and meditation, as I am with honoring my Yoruba Orisha and Ancestors. I take comfort in the Gospel Music handed-down from a steadfast Christian family and can quote scripture often — a propensity that tickles my older sister Gina to no end!:)

But when I weigh my spiritual hybrid self against Dawn’s of Answering The Ancestors Call analysis of DNA and Ancestral Affinities: Is it in the Genes?, it does make COMPLETE sense!

EVERY BIT of who I am spiritually, has also been identified in who I am geneticallyDNA CENTRAL: 23andMe ~ I See My True Colors Shining Through!:)

Though I realized this several years ago, I never really was The Accidental Buddhist! I haven’t been discovering, I’ve been remembering!

I have a fused set of [Buddhist, Christian, Yoruba, Zen, […]

Thanks To You AAGSAR’s #BLOGFEST2014 Was EPIC!:)

By |January 8th, 2014

Dora KOONCE & son, James HARDY(EN) KOONCEI’d searched ALL DAY for the word to sum up my feelings regarding our first New Year’s #BLOGFEST – We Call Your Name event. Then after the tweets died down and we were all descending from our Ancestors clouds, Bernita (still a NEW KID herself) of Voices Inside My Head nailed it, “BLOGFEST was epic!”.

It was indeed. I’ve never in all my years of researching genealogy, felt more connected to a body of work, than I do today. I never planned on it, have frequently complained about it, and sometimes get up the nerve to question the Ancestors why they have me doing it. But I know this work is Divine, and I’m so thankful to be a part of bringing not just my, but MANY Ancestors out of the dark. They are SHINING. BREATHING. REJOICING!

I’m hard on you NEW KIDS because I need you to embrace fully the responsibility that rests on your shoulders. And should the day come I take hiatus, I want you equipped with EVERYTHING you need to push your Ancestors, and our collective Community FORWARD.

NEW KIDS your work will bloom and spread. Many will follow your lead. If you call them, Ancestors and newly connected Cousins will come (in my best James Earl Jones, Field of Dreams voice). You’ve shifted the landscape and narrative of our genealogy research FOREVER.

I thank you

We Call Your Name

By |January 4th, 2014

We Call Your Name

When I was a young girl living at home, sometimes, just before I dropped off to sleep, I would see the air of my room filled with Spirits. They didn’t say anything to me. They didn’t frighten me. They were just there, indistinct, swirling.

On Saturdays my mother would drive us over to my grandparent’s house on Detroit’s East Side. My mother and Aunt sat in the front. We four cousins squeezed into the back seat. In the winter it was dark. If I was lucky enough to get a window, I’d look into the lit windows of the houses we passed and wonder about the people and the stories they were living.

Each of our blogs is like those lighted windows. In them we tell our Ancestor’s stories, stories to be read by our families and by the rest of the community. Stories that are so much more varied and moving and true than any stereotyped version of our history could ever be.

Today, as we launch over 25 new African American Genealogy blogs during the AAGSAR Blogfest 2014, I can feel the Ancestor’s Spirits swirling around us as they see their stories being told, their pictures shared and their names being called.

To Our Ancestors,

… we stand before you now, your living legacy, the flesh and blood of our collective dreaming, and we realize with a knowing deeper than the flow of human blood in human veins that we are part of something better, truer, deeper.

We speak your names.
We speak your names.

                                    “We Speak Your Names” Pearl Cleage, pg. 15

River Rise: Our Ancestors Are Calling…

By |January 3rd, 2014

AncestorsOn many levels I’ve always had a close connection to India.Arie. Our Atlanta roots. Our Oshun nature. My love and respect for her family – Mother, Simpson and Big Bro J’on. Though I didn’t have opportunity to fulfill my promise, in 2009 I was offered a gift to design her brand, Soul Bird. And Lord, the music…

India’s music ALWAYS seems to flow in parallel with my life journey. I often find sanctuary in her melodies.

This morning I take refuge in River Rise from her Testimony: Vol 2, Love & Politics album. By far one of my favorite tracks, River Rise is a beautiful, sincere petition to the Ancestors for guidance. A call to return to all things familiar and soul-fortifying.

As we make final preparations for our first AAGSAR BLOGFEST2014 on Sunday, Jan 5th and set our feet for a New Year overflowing with Ancestor discoveries, this is my wish for myself and all those seeking to connect with their lost lineage.

Not to fly blind. Be my eyes. I surrender. Show me the way…

There was always a power I could feel
It was guidance to tell me the way to go
But nowadays I feel like I can’t hear that voice
I’ve been flying blind
I need You to come and be my eyes

River rise, carry me back home
I cannot remember the way
River rise, carry me back home
I […]

KWANZAA ~ Principle 7: IMANI = Faith

By |January 1st, 2014

IMANI (Faith): To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

In some capacity I’ve worked to uplift my community for the greater part of 30 years. I’ve been volunteer, counselor, advocate, analyst, champion, cheerleader and organizer. I’ve worked on all sides — government, local, non-profit and private sector. I’ve supported politicians, civic leaders, civil rights heroes and everyone in between.

I do have Imani (faith) in the rightness of our efforts and victory over our struggles is attainable — to some degree. I do believe but my faith doesn’t rest in people, flawed just like me, anymore. My faith has changed with every year, victory and disappointment.

I believe I have to change the world from where I’m standing and not relegate “deliverance” from struggle to someone other than ME.

I believe in the power of truth when spoken with honorable intentions. I believe in doing what’s just and honorable, even when it’s damn hard to do! I believe bad karma can be turned by being RELENTLESS in applying good.

I believe each day we all have an opportunity to get it (life) right. Or at least make it better. I believe in my responsibility to my community.

I dig Toni Cade BAMBARA’s take on truth, responsibility and community…

“My responsibility to myself, my neighbors, my family and the human family is to try to tell the truth. That ain’t easy. There are so few truth-speaking traditions in this society in which the myth of “Western civilization” has claimed the allegiance of so many. We have rarely been encouraged and equipped to appreciate the […]

A Simple Promise to Sandra – Happy New Year!:)

By |January 1st, 2014

I was in my car on February 15, 2013 when I learned via a Genea-Traveler email from Felicia of Echoes of My Nola Past, Sandra TALIAFERRO had passed. It took my breath away. San and I hadn’t spoken in a long time. Too long really. I didn’t even realize Sandra had been ill.

Though the heaviness of her passing followed me for days, I couldn’t help feeling San was finally free. I could see her interviewing the TALIAFERRO and MIDDLEBROOKS Ancestors she’d spent countless hours searching for. I could see her getting to know her daddy, John Lawrence TALIAFERRO and reuniting with her Mama, Lillian MIDDLEBROOKS who passed on September 27, 2009 — San’s birthday.

I could see her walking and exploring and if she felt like it — probably running!:)

Many don’t know Sandra spent almost 45 years in a wheelchair. In route to student orientation on her first day of college at Clark Atlanta University, Sandra and friends were in a terrible car accident that nearly took her life. In spite of her physical constraints, Sandra rose — in every possible way.

Sandra TALIAFERRO was as stubborn as a mule, but she was truly amazing too! I hope she knows that now. So in October when San came and sat on my shoulders to say something had to be done to prevent her research from being lost, I knew better than to ignore her!:)

The timing stunk! I’d just loss Mama 8/5 and started AAGSAR 8/15. Small gestures of attempting to pay for her I Never Knew My Father domain or rescue research […]

December 2013

KWANZAA ~ Principle 6: KUUMBA = Creativity

By |December 31st, 2013

DREAMFORWARD-Inspiration-#13KUUMBA (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

One day from the start of a New Year and five days from BLOGFEST 2014, what a perfect quote for a challenging but blessed time!:)

Keep your head up. Keep your heart strong.

In my 15 years of researching my family lineage, I’ve experienced more unbelievable *events* than I can even begin to count. Just when I think the biggest, most significant find has been found, something comes along to trump it!:)

I’ve always had a special connection to the Ancestors, even as a child. I laugh now remembering the only person in my family this gift didn’t spook was my Great Aunt Minnie! She always knew me and always made it okay to just be me.

I could be fooling myself but I think the Ancestors and me have grown into an “understanding”. They direct me. I hear and follow their direction. They move me forward!

This isn’t to say the walks forward are without hills, valleys and potholes. No, the ask is usually challenging but at the end, I’m always the better for it.

Only time will tell, but this work feels like the most important journey they’ve set my feet to yet. Opening my door to everybody’s Ancestors and their oft times difficult descendants sometimes feels too much; too heavy. And the adversaries? Whew!

I sometimes wonder if […]

KWANZAA ~ Principle 5: NIA = Purpose

By |December 30th, 2013

NIA (Purpose) Day 5 KwanzaaNIA (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

This year has been very special. I knew I’d lose Mom in 2013. Not even to have her on this planet, could I live with her suffering.

If I’m being honest, I had no idea how I would survive what came after losing her. I was afraid I wouldn’t make it.

But look at this, I survived. Somehow I landed in communities that understand community — both online (AAGSAR) and real world (Charlotte). I miss my Mama, but I smile and laugh with thoughts of her far more than I cry.

I reclaimed me this year. I’m working, dreaming and living boldly.  So busy today, meeting my Ancestor purpose preparing for AAGSAR’s Jan 5th BlogFest, I almost missed posting my Day 5 Kwanzaa Principle Nia!:)

Maybe that’s it. When you’re really focused on living your purpose, you’re too busy to spend time just talking about it?!

2014 the way is #FORWARD.



KWANZAA ~ Principle 4: UJAMAA = Cooperative Economics

By |December 29th, 2013

The Road To TaosUJAMAA (Cooperative Economics): To build our own businesses, control the economics of our own community and share in all its work and wealth.

Though I enjoy technology and appreciate the benefits its afforded me, my life purpose expands beyond software releases and project team wrangling.

I’m planning for 2014 to be THE year I finally see the fruition of my personal dreams, and they all lead back to a brief moment of divine instruction given me some 23 years ago.

So many things in my life have changed since then, but the message and direction remain steadfast. I’m clear. I know my life’s work.

And all roads lead to Taos where I’ll build locally. Live locally. Buy locally. UJAMAA.

Here’s to the new road and journey ahead my friends!:)