Saturday, April 23, 2016


This just can't be/ There's got to be some kind of answer
Cause everywhere I look/ he's not around
No / This just can't be
How come didn't anyone ever tell me now / I wake up one morning and I realize
No / This just can't be
And who could be foolin' me? / Come, come. come on
Come on and help me now / Please can't you hear me cry?
Lord / This can't be
-- Janis Joplin

My Top 5 favorite Prince songs:
1. anotherloverholeinyohead - Parade
2. Forever in My Life - Sign O' the Times
3. Starfish and Coffee - Sign O' the Times
4. Erotic City - The Hits/The B-Sides
5. Another Lonely Christmas - The Hits/The B-Sides

Favorite Album: Parade. 
Most Fascinating & Intriguing Album: Around the World in a Day

I was a fan from Day One. 

Prince was always too grown for anyone younger than twenty-five. In 1978 the first time I heard "Soft and Wet" I was six years old. Ya'll know I no idea what he was talking about. But I knew a hit when I heard one, even as a child. And that @$%! was the jam. 

I could say a lot. I am surprised at how hard I am taking Prince's passing. I'll leave it at four things:

1. Who knows what R&B would sound like without Prince. Not only that, we lost a whole genre of music in one person.

2. We all are blessed to be alive in the same time and space as him.

3. He was not from this Earth. I heard somewhere, and I paraphrase, "he had the masculinity of Teddy Pendergrass, the dancing of James Brown, and the showmanship of Michael Jackson." He mastered 27 instruments, wrote, produced, arranged, and composed music. He created groups who were simply an extension of his personality: The Time, Vanity Six, Maserati, The Family (who btw had one of the best albums EVER. I'd buy that on vinyl again even though I don't own a record player. "Nothing Compares 2U?" The Family sang it first as a duet though Sinead O'Connor made it a megahit.) He created 39 albums, changed the way music is distributed and how artists get paid, and his music career lasted 38 years. Anyone know another human being like that?

4. He was fearless. Dude played basketball in high heels. He wore puffy shirts, sequins, and wore mascara. I don't even wear mascara. During his Super Bowl Halftime show, he wore a doo-rag. A doo-rag people. Doo-rags on grown black men are reserved for brothers nicknamed "Pretty Ricky" or "Delicious." Yet, everybody accepted him. There's women. There's men. There's Prince. The lesson is to be a loving, fearless, limitless human being. Honor your gift.

Lawd, I just can't.

Good night, Sweet Prince.


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Annie Lee Lighting 1928-2016

"Haven’t you ever seen the sacred connection between grandparents and grandchildren? It is simple love, absent the stress of the parent-child connection." -- Steven Barnes

Grandma and me circa 1975

My favorite memory of me and my grandma together was when I was around six years old. Of course, it’s a food memory. Together, we cooked a breakfast of eggs scrambled in butter-flavored Crisco, bacon fried in the same Crisco, toast slathered in butter, and my favorite part, coffee. Her coffee was black. Mine was flavored with five teaspoons of sugar. (I was six…coffee straight, no chaser? Ick.) We sat down together at the dining room table, just the two of us. The two things I will never forget is the curious taste of butter flavored Crisco. Was it butter? No. It tasted like butter, but it wasn’t. Six-year-old me was like, “This is AWESOME!” The second thing I won’t forget is the silent pleasure of eating breakfast with my grandmother. I can’t remember a thing we said to each other. I only remember the feeling of love and joy.

To paraphrase Maya Angelou, “People may forget what you say, but they will always remember how you made them feel.”

My grandmother was Annie Lee Stewart Lighting. She always made me feel loved. 

My mother, grandfather, me, grandma 1976

I could always count on feeling safe, loved, and comforted whenever I was with her. It didn’t matter what we were doing together. She took me to run errands with her. She took me when she played her numbers (street numbers before Michigan had a state lottery.) She took me to church. I remember one year she made me memorize a poem for Easter. I fell in love with pastel blue dress with pleats that I had to wear. I wanted to sleep in that dress. I remember Grandma sitting in the front row mouthing the words to the poem so I wouldn’t forget it.

I remember parties at my grandparent’s house when family would show up. Beer, card playing, and loud black folks. My parents let me stay up late on those Saturday nights. I remember crawling into my grandparents’ bed when my grandfather would be at work late. She never put me back in my bed. I’d always wake up next to her. 

John Lighting Sr. and Annie Lighting 1947

I can’t remember how old I was, definitely younger than ten, when I came in her house with a pick in my hair. The older girls up the street were doing it, so I did it too. Soon as she saw me, Grandma snatched that pick out of my hair and said, “Girl, don’t you ever let me see you walking around with a pick in your hair. That’s what them fast girls up the street do. That is not you. You are not fast. You are smart. Act like it.”

She also had no problem threatening to beat my butt with one of her house shoes. Or even more classic black grandma, threatening to beat me with a tree switch. “Now if I whup you, you gon’ get the switch off the tree yourself.” (I don’t think I ever got whupped with a switch. The one house shoe whupping set me straight.)

Grandma and me circa 1996

No matter what was going on, I could guarantee that whenever I was with her and/or my grandfather, all was well in my world. The time I spent with them was easy like Sunday morning. All love, all the time.

That ease was always there. When my grandfather died, I was ten years old. My parents shielded me from the ravages of his cancer. I have a very clear memory of remaining in the lobby of a hospital while my parents, grandmother, and uncle were upstairs with my dying grandfather. That was as complicated as it got when it came to my grandparents until I was thirty-eight years old. 

Me, grandma, and ma Mother's Day 2001

It was in 2010 that I learned about the complicated relationship and history between my grandparents and their children. I learned things that I simply could not believe. It was also the same year that Alzheimer’s disease began to steal Grandma away from us. I watched a woman I deeply loved deteriorate into helplessness and the vast majority of her life’s memories erased. She suffered in such a deep and profound way. It’s hard to explain with words. If you’ve seen Alzheimer’s and dementia up close, then you know what it does to a person. 

Me and grandma June 2012

It is very difficult for me to write about either of these things. What I can say is this:

The relationship I had with my grandmother is the complete opposite of the relationship my mother had with her. Why? I never lived with my grandmother even though we spent an enormous amount of time together until I moved from Detroit to Atlanta when I was fourteen years old. Grandma was not responsible for raising me. Because of that distance, we could simply enjoy each other’s company, and have a blast doing it. A parent does not have that simple luxury. So the woman I knew only had to love me. All I had to do was love her. 

Right up to the end…I saw my grandma in January, a month before she died. My mom took me to the home grandma was living at. She had no idea who I was. We were sitting at a table together. Grandma was trying to feed herself a bowl of Cheerios and milk. Pointing to me, my mother said, “Ma, you know who this is?” Grandma looked at me. “No, but she seems like a real nice lady.” My mom said, “She is, Ma. She is.” “Mmmhmm,” Grandma said. “Real nice.” All I could do was rub her arm and give her a hug.

That was our last conversation. The love was still there. The bond between grandparent and grandchild is indeed a simple, sacred one. I am forever grateful for my maternal grandmother. 

Grandma at her favorite spot. May 2010

Rest in Peace, Power, and Freedom.
I will always cherish you, yet I am happy you are free from suffering.
I love you,
your granddaughter, Althea


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Shedding The Weight

I started a 21-day meditation with Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra on Monday called Shedding The Weight: Mind, Body, and Spirit. This is truly dynamite. I can't say enough good things about it. If you are struggling with weight loss, please go to: NOW, right now to sign up. It's free. Each day's meditation is 20 minutes long. This program focuses on the spiritual and emotional reasons why we carry heaviness, in all of it's forms. 

From the main page:
"Welcome to the 21-Day Meditation Experience, Shedding the Weight: Mind, Body and Spirit! We are honored you’re joining us as we seek our true nature and discover our path to health and happiness. You will discover your soul’s purpose and create a life in which all things are within reach. "

This week focuses on "lightness" or "lightening your load." Today is Day 4. Below is the description.

Day 4 - Fulfillment Holds the Key

“We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.” ― Hilaire Belloc
Everyone can feel the difference between emptiness and fullness, and it is this experience that allows us to feel our way to better lifestyle choices. Today we learn that there are many kinds of hunger, but only one state of fulfillment. When you give yourself what you really want and need, unhealthy habits, such as overeating, cease to be a problem. Instead of fighting against a habit that always fights back, ask yourself, “What am I hungry for right now?” then seek to satisfy that hunger directly.

If this information resonates with you, go sign up! It's free!!



Thursday, February 11, 2016

If you need help surviving Valentine's Day, part 2

If you need help surviving Valentine's Day, part 2 by Steven Barnes

start part 2:
EVERYONE HAS EXPERIENCED LOVE. If you think not, you are lying to yourself. Un-nurtured, human infants die. Period. No argument, no exceptions. You may have to “drill down” to a pre-verbal self to find these memories and emotions, but once you have, you can tap into them every day of your life. That core, once exposed, can burn away the negative emotions, but you have to do the work every day to tap into it. Once you have, it can power the actions that drive your healing/growing process. And there is nothing more attractive than a person who is “becoming”, who loves herself. Who respects herself enough to demand the best of herself...and the world. Such a person can give freely, because she is noticing who gives in return, and surrounds herself with a tribe with the same values: people who enjoy giving. And never lets anyone hurt her twice.

Find a hundred different ways to make yourself smile. Take yourself to the zoo. Write yourself a love letter. Have a mix CD of favorite songs. Take yourself shopping in the 99 cent store for toys...and then give them to the first children you pass. Go see a silly movie. KNOW HOW TO MAKE YOURSELF HAPPY.

Five times a day, once every three hours, stop and take sixty seconds of deep belly breathing. Connect with your “Ancient Child”--the child within, and the “Ancient” you will one day be. Haven’t you ever seen the sacred connection between grandparents and grandchildren? It is simple love, absent the stress of the parent-child connection. You can experience this for yourself in your morning meditation, and once achieved can trigger it five times a day to remind yourself you are loved, you are loving, you are joyous...that while you are no more than an ant, you are also no less than the stars. Feel that connection between the child just starting the journey, and the Elder nearing completion. Touch your heart, go deep.

Make a study of being happy, remembering that happiness is probably as close to a one-word “meaning of life” that can be spoken aloud. All one then needs do is align happiness with your conscious values: giving, growing, loving, contribution, whatever. Do them to be happy. Give without expectation of receiving. Take your attention off your emotions by giving Valentines at a homeless shelter or a retirement home. Adopt a pet. Remember the good times with a departed love. Embrace the totality of your emotions, even the sadness, with love.

Never, ever, ever forget that sadness and happiness flow in cycles. On Valentine’s Day, commit to at least five moments of joy, faith, and gratitude. Just five. For sixty seconds each. You will have planted seeds that will grow all year.

Make someone smile. And take joy from it. A stranger. A child. A cat’s purr, the wag of a dog’s tail. Find beauty in small things. Remember happy times.

Be kind to yourself. Remember that you have been, are, and will always be loved.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

If you need help surviving Valentine's Day, part 1

I didn't write this. Wish I did.

If you need help surviving Valentine's Day, part 1 by Steven Barnes.

It is true that not everyone wants or needs love, and connection, and a sensual sexual relationship. But that’s the way to bet, and those who are genuinely disinterested have no emotional reaction to a claim that this is a near-universal desire.

For those who have the craving, but have yet to find a relationship, or have lost one due to breakup, divorce, or death, holidays can be hell. And Valentine’s Day can be the absolute worst, triggering depression (“what’s wrong with me?”), cynicism (“it’s all about money!”), anger (“what’s wrong with THEM!”) and hopelessness (“things will never change.”)

The “Soulmate Process” addresses relationships by suggesting that they are mirrors of our inner life, and that they are valuable arenas for growth. But they are NOT to be pursued directly--a healthy relationship is a byproduct of being a healthy human being fully engaged with life, filled with light and “energy” and simply following your path. Along that path, you will meet others traveling in the same direction at the same speed with the same values. But the “a watched pot never boils” idea, the “money comes to those who don’t need it” notion, the “second attention” concept where an artist has to keep her eye on “the ball” of doing the work, without directly paying attention to the results 99% of the time, is critical here. The Zen archery concept to pay attention to form, and mind, and emotions, and clarity, and let the result come as it will.

This has to be applied to the heart as well. YOUR job, happily, is to be happy. Relationships are not an end, THEY ARE A MEANS. You want a relationship because you believe (and have experienced) that they bring joy.

If you have heard the Sufi philosophy that the beginning of evil is treating human beings as means rather than ends, on the other hand, you can see the problem. To have a healthy relationship, you can’t be “trying” to find one.To receive from human beings, you must treat them like ends rather than means. You must give to receive. In “Soulmate” terms, you must BE the mirror of the person you desire...but you cannot “try” to do this “in order to find someone”. That is watching the pot, trying to control the wind.

All you can do is be the best you you can be, be happy, healthy, and as dynamic and loving as you can be...and then nature takes its course. Some thoughts to this end.

Your first task is to be happy. To feel love. And that means that you have to do this whether anyone else agrees with you, anyone else is there to support the feeling or not. The sense that your happiness flows from others is poisonous in the extreme. Take care of yourself! Practice Heartbeat meditation to connect to love.

Use the Ancient Child to touch the most vulnerable and creative part of yourself, and commit to loving and protecting your essence. The critical thing about this is that once you have committed to taking care of yourself, and experience the vast ocean of love available to you, you will automatically begin to expand your realm. THE PROBLEM IS NOT SELFISHNESS. THE PROBLEM IS A LIMITED DEFINITION OF “SELF.” Manipulative people will try to shame you for putting yourself first--but grasp the dishonesty there: they have placed themselves first, and are trying to con you into doing otherwise. Don’t fall for it.

Be so busy “becoming” your best self that you don’t notice your results 99% of the time. Be like a submarine, just poking your periscope up to check your bearings a couple of times a day to make course corrections. Spend so much time in “flow” that you are aligned with your heart and head, just “being”.

Remember the “Secret Formula.” Your GOAL is to be happy. Relationships and accomplishments and money are just means to this. You must have FAITH that you can be happy, love yourself, and grow. If you genuinely love yourself, and are growing, and are engaging with the world, you will meet others doing the same. If you genuinely love yourself, you will find things to love in others who are at your level, moving at your speed. That's the way the world works, and misery comes from NOT loving yourself, and hoping others won’t notice the crap you dislike about your own life and being. Concentrate on healing this, not hoping others will settle for less than you’re willing to settle for. You must take daily ACTION to be happy, and that means engaging with the “who am I?” question, aligning your behaviors to take you closer to your heart, one step at a time, each and every day. And you must feel GRATITUDE for the love you already have within you, and what you have experienced in your life.

part 2 tomorrow.


Monday, February 8, 2016

Self Love Fest - Saturday Feb 13

To all my people in DC/MD/VA, I will be vending at the Self Love Fest this Saturday, February 13 from 11am-4pm. It is free to enter.

Signature Blue Events
337 Brightseat Road
Landover, MD 20785
event is in the banquet hall in the back

Get your tickets on Eventbrite:

I will be offering Reiki and selling cupcakes: chocolate, vanilla, carrot cake, and lemon. Cupcakes will be $2.00 each. Reiki will be offered in 10 minute ($10), 15 minute ($15) or 20 minute ($20) blocks. This is same way I price my readings whenever I do shows. I am always booked solid from beginning to end, so if you want to come, come early!

This will be the official launch of Mocha Angels ReiCakes. The design is still under construction. The Mocha Angel herself is ready for her debut:

She is my logo for my future website, books, T-shirts, etc. I am super excited!
See you Saturday!



Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Universe Turned My Day Around

(long, and one heck of a read...)

I went to Atlanta this weekend to see my parents, brothers, and grandma. (Atlanta Peeps, I didn't tell anyone I was coming. I will be back during Spring Break with the boys.) I had an awesome time with my family. I didn't get enough sleep, ate too much of my mama's food, played massive rounds of Scrabble, saw the movie Sisters (super raunchy, btw, like the female version of The Hangover), saw my grandmother (extraordinarily difficult) and went trap shooting with my dad.

And then I was stuck in Hartsfield-Jackson Airport from 1:30pm to 10:10pm on Sunday. Was greeted in Baltimore by a car frozen in ice at 12:30am. Made it home safely by a) rolling down the windows to allow twenty degree cold air to hit my face, and b) singing Eagles and Glenn Frey songs at the top of my lungs since every radio station except the R&B and Country ones were memorializing Glenn, who had passed way that morning. Got to bed at 2:15 am and was up at 5:07 am. That should be the end of the story, right?

Oh, no...this is Ms. Mocha Angel so read on for a magical mystery tour....

I flew standby. My mother worked for an airline so I can fly deeply discounted. Cheap? Yes. Is the flip side of cheap possibly not making it onto a flight? Yes.

I was bumped of the following flights:
-the 3:10pm - gate B12
-the 5:55pm - gate B4
-the 7:15pm - gate B19

By 7:15pm I was tired, grumpy, restless, and fairly bitchy. Like, don't nobody talk to me. I just want to get home. The one person I did talk to was Quincy, a brother who works customer service for the airline. When I walked up to him AGAIN around 7:20, he was like, "Really?" "Really..." I said. The last direct flight to Baltimore was 10:10pm. Because of the three hour wait until the next flight, Quincy told me the gate may change. All of the previous flights were on Concourse B. The gate listed for the 10:10 flight was A19. (This is important to the story.) So I dragged my grumpy, tired behind to Concourse A.

I walk to the escalator, step on, and not five seconds later, I look to my left and I see someone I recognize. Under my breath I said in sheer shock, "Mike Dooley?" I said it again, this time to get his attention, "MIKE DOOLEY??!!"

Me and Mike

He looked at me and I almost passed out. This man is on the escalator to my immediate left. Not my diagonal left. Not behind me to the left. My IMMEDIATE LEFT. I said, "Mr. Notes from the Universe is standing right next to me?" Still on the escalator I am having a total groupie moment. Goodness only knows how loud my voice went. I said, "Do you remember me? I met you at Kripalu in August. You signed my books. You looked at my Mocha Angels manuscript and we talked about publishing." He says, "Yes, I remember you. You looked familiar."

By this point, we are off the escalator. The next words out of my mouth were. "Do you know what a shitty day I have had?"


If you don't know why I was having a total "Holy Gratitude, Batman!" moment, allow me to explain. Mike Dooley is the founder of TUT (The Universe Speaks). He is the Beyonce of manifestation. He is the Barack Obama of co-creation. He is the Oprah of inspiration. He is the author of Infinite Possibilities, Manifesting Change, Top 10 Things Dead People Want to Tell You, Leveraging The Universe, and more. He is the guy behind the daily Notes from the Universe. He is the man, who, back in August, looked me straight in the eye, and said, "You are going to publish books. You going to do the exact same thing I do and be super successful at it." Five months later he is standing right next to me at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.

Do ya'll see why I was having a "standing at the microphone holding an Oscar, deer-in-the-headlights, I have to catch my breath before I speak so I sound fairly intelligent like I got some home training" moment?

Back to the story...

We walked to Concourse A together. I explained my day. He said he was headed home from Texas from a Train the Trainer conference that TUT offers. His flight was at gate A9. Mine was at A19. That picture above was taken at my gate. He was sooooooo nice. He even asked me the status of my manuscript. We talked about other personal stuff that was supremely helpful. I hope that my half of the conversation made sense because the whole thing was surreal. If we hadn't taken a photo, I might not have believed it actually happened. My other hope is that I was as helpful to him, in some way, as he was to me. We talked for about 15-20 minutes.

Once he left, I sat down at my gate in complete disbelief. I looked at the counter and saw that the flight listed is not to Baltimore, but to West Palm Beach at 10:31pm. I walked to the Departures board. My flight was now at gate B18. I nearly passed out again. If the gate for my 10:10pm flight had remained on Concourse B, I never would have ran into Mike Dooley.  I would not have had a reason to leave Concourse B. Remember: Mike's flight was at gate A9. Mine was at A19. Now it had changed. Quincy had told me it was likely my gate location would change. And it did.

I called my mother and my ex-husband to tell them what happened. I ran back to Concourse B, found Quincy, and said, "You are not going to believe what just happened!" I didn't know this brother from Adam, but he was the only person, outside of Mike, I had spoken to in the airport. Turns out Quincy himself had met Dick Gregory that same day. Then he said he was interested in yoga and meditation and is a vegan. I said, "You know I got this blog, right?...." We wind up talking until 8:45pm when he got off from work.

These were my takeaways/reminders from a stunningly remarkable day:
- I was reminded in stunning fashion that I am a Creator. Everything in my life, good, bad, and ugly, led me to that moment.
- Prayers are answered. They don't come in the way we expect. They do come in a way we can understand.
- Love (God) is everywhere. Love is in the worst of situations. There is nowhere Love cannot be because Love is what we are made from and made of.
- Keep your heart open. The older we get, the harder it is to do because of life's disappointments. Believe me, the past six months have been brutal and extremely challenging. I have fought to keep fear at bay and keep my heart chakra open to love, in all of its forms.
- Keeping your heart open allows you to walk in the magic and miracle of life.

The Universe manifested itself into physical form (Mike was wearing an Infinite Possibilities sweatshirt... I mean, come on!), talked to me, hugged me, took three selfies with me, and said, "Your life is going to be AWESOMER, BIGGER and GRANDER than you can imagine!"

The Universe didn't just change my day. It changed my life.

Althea ◦


Related Posts with Thumbnails