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This Productivity Planner made me more Efficient and less likely to Procrastinate

November 14, 2017

The Productivity Planner created by Intelligent Change has helped my days become more efficient and made me less likely to forget important tasks.  For 18 months now, I have worked as a creative (you can read about the journey of our blog HERE).

The daily focus and stillness writing requires is sometimes extremely hard for me particularly when I have other obligations pulling at every arm and leg.  I also suffer from a lifelong battle with procrastination.  Yep.  You guessed it. As a young girl in a midwestern high school, I started studying for the big test just a few days before.  In undergrad at Spelman College, I pulled more all nighters than I can count.  I’m not sure I ever learned the proper way to study for end of semester exams at Georgetown Law School (graduated #ThankYouLawdy).

They say you can teach an old girl new tricks (do they?) so my workflow completely changed when I found the Productivity Planner this past summer strolling through a favorite New York City haunt. Click HERE to purchase the Productivity Planner.

This easy to use weekly planning system helps me clearly identify the most important task of the day and then secondary tasks. Getting the most important task done first everyday (typically the one I procrastinate the most about) clears my mind space and allows me to zip through the rest of the list with somewhat ease.

The other big tip that I have learned using this planner is “the Pomodoro Productivity” technique which has you determine a specific task that will take at least 25 minutes to do (like writing this blog post).  Start a timer for 25 minutes and then start working on a task.  I use my IPhone timer and then set the phone to “airplane mode” to resist the urge to check social media and to avoid incoming calls.  All emergencies can wait at least 25 minutes.

Once I set the timer, I am in the “Pomodoro”  meaning I do not work on anything else other than the identified task during that time.  The Planner says “if you get distracted, gently bring yourself back to work.”  However, “if you get totally distracted and pulled away from the task completely then you must cancel the Pomodoro and reset the timer to zero.”  Once you complete a 25 minute work session, you get 5 minutes of break where you can freely check social media, emails or just stretch.   When the 5 minutes are up, you jump back into another Pomodoro session.  They say, and I agree, that this “technique conditions you to focus exclusively on one task.”  This focus has definitely increased my productivity 10 fold.

In addition to the daily task writing and Pomodoro Method, I also appreciate that the Productivity Planner provides daily inspirational quotes, a place to write notes at the end of each day, a sheet for weekly thoughts and a weekly review where you assess your weekly wins, tasks that did not get completed and anything learned.  For example, today’s quote is from Aristotle:

We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Jackie’s Tip:  I would like to point out that I have only written the first draft of this blog post at this point which means just getting my thoughts on paper.  I have not edited for grammar, added pictures or come up with a SEO worthy headline.   I have about 5 mins left at this point in this Pomodoro.  It usually takes between 2 – 4 Pomodoros to write a blog post.  Beauty posts take longer becuase of the details and links to products.

I have also found that I work best when I clear my workspace.  Clutter distracts me and makes me nervous.   To write this post, I settled into a clean desk with a beautiful bouquet of flowers as inspiration and sipped on my favorite herbal caffeine-free Vanilla Nut coffee drink by Teeccino.

As always, thank you for stopping by Jackie Unfiltered.  We hope The Productivity Planner helps you grab more time in your day.  Man, don’t we all just need a touch more time?


Little Black Dress |


Disclaimer: A woman working this hard for the people has to eat so I will be paid a small percentage if you purchase products listed here. Can I live please?

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Screw New Year’s Resolutions! Can we accomplish 8 goals before 2018?

November 2, 2017

Chauntel McKenzie, my high-school friend and founder of the PowHer Network, has challenged people to list 8 goals they are trying to accomplish before 2018. I have accepted this challenge and list them here for accountability. I encourage you to join me in accepting Chaun’s challenge to crush the last 1/6 (one sixth) of 2017. One of my favorite fitness quotes is

On the last mile, when your legs are tired and your lungs are burning, GET ANGRY. Get pissed off about being tired and then run faster.

I can think of no better way to celebrate Chaun’s launch of her first book, PowHER Playbook: 7 Power Plays to Design Your Most Ideal Life, than saying, “I’m ready to run seriously fast with you into 2018.”  Get in on Chaun’s mission to empowHER women all over the world by ordering “The Power Playbook” today.  Order book  HERE.

The following are my 8 Goals I intend to accomplish before 2018:

  1. Write at least 2 blog post per week (16 before end of year)
  2. RE-Organize any drawers, cabinets, spaces at home that are cluttered.
  3. Write and publish at least one full meal plan for a week which includes grocery list, prep time and recipes.
  4. Create a preliminary 2018 budget for Jackie Unfiltered.
  5.  Film at least one cooking video for Jackie Unfiltered YouTube Channel.
  6. Create at least one Jackie Unfiltered Pinterest Graphic according to the suggestions Pinterest laid out in its last webinar
  7.  Workout at least 40 times for at least 30 mins/day which is 5x per week.
  8. Email at least 2 Jackie Unfiltered newsletters using Mail Chimp to my network.

Join Chaun’s challenge and commit to accomplishing 8 manageable goals before 2018?  Let’s be accountable for each others’ success!  As always, thank you for stopping by Jackie Unfiltered.  Cheers to Thursday, better known as #FridayJr, and leaping into 2018 wih both feet solidly planted!


Beauty, Hair & Make-Up, Etcetera, Fashion, Uncategorized

Halloween Guidelines for Adults

October 31, 2017

Dear Fellow Adults:

My well traveled, always perfectly coiffed and intellectually advanced Spelman College roommate Heather Joy Thompson of (check out her website HERE for the gorge images alone!) created this hysterically funny Facebook video where she provided some rules on how adults should behave as we hand out treats to children tonight and celebrate the joy of dressing up for an evening.

Heather Joy and I lived together in Atlanta, GA from January 1998 until we graduated Spelman College in May 1999. Don’t even think of asking her where the bodies are buried!

I grabbed Heather Joy’s suggestions, added a few of my own and created what I would like to call:
Halloween Guidelines for Adults:”

  1. Give good candy like Snickers, Skittles, Caramel, Candy Bars or Chocolate. Keep your apples, water, protein bars and dehydrated fruit locked up in the pantry tonight.
  2. No child wants your pennies or nickels. If you must give out money, make it the paper kind of currency.
  3. No one has ever in the past or will in the future like that nasty candy corn so throw that away and don’t think about giving it to the children tonight.
  4. Give new candy, not last year’s stash from the back of the closet.
  5. Don’t question how old a kid is for #trickortreating. Youth is fleeting. Let them be kids as long as possible.
  6. Give the candy whether the kid has on a costume or not. You never know this child’s situation or what happened today.
  7. Bring your best energy when you open the door. Compliment their costume, outfit or just say #HappyHalloween with sincere enthusiasm.

Signed Warmly,
Jackie a/k/a A Caring Adult who has always loved the magic of Halloween Night

As always, thank you for stopping by Jackie Unfiltered.  We hope you have a safe and ghostly gobbley filled Halloween Night!



Boobies, Breast Cancer & Mammograms

October 26, 2017

Have you had your annual mammogram?  If you are 40 years old and/or have a family history of breast cancer, I really hope the answer is YES!  It’s breast cancer awareness month and we here at Jackie Unfiltered plan to encourage as many women as possible to get their boobies checked by the end of 2017.   We heard through the grapevine that some of yall are slacking on self-care and missing appointments.  There will be none of that on my watch.  Early detection is the biggest weapon we have to fight breast cancer.  

In that spirit, I just left my first annual mammogram and breast sonogram appointment a few hours ago at Lenox Hill  Radiology on the Upper East Side of New York City.

Jackie right after the boobie check appointment. It was uncomfortable but I survived. There is nothing to be scared of here!

I found the experience not much different than my other routine appointments such as my annual physical, gynecology or ENT appointment.  The nurses, technicians and doctors were pleasant.  The appointment was fast.  I checked in, completed some paperwork, waited a few minutes, donned a cotton robe and they completed both the mammogram/sonogram in about 30 mins.  Honestly, the most uncomfortable part of the experience was holding my right arm above my head as I have an “impinged” rotator cup/shoulder issue (basically, it hurts to lift my right arm above my head).

The best part of the appointment was that these critical tests were FREE.  Yep, you heard it correctly.  No co-pay.  Most insurance companies in the United States encourage annual mammograms.  Now y’all know our health insurance companies can be a little funny acting here in the US of A so there must be something to this whole mammogram sitch if they wave the co-pay!

This mammogram machine provides 3-D images with lower radiation and advanced detector technology

One of our favorite charities is Kicked It in Heels (KIH) which was founded by my dear friend, Dr. Janna Andrews, M.D.  Dr. Janna is a leading oncologist and surgeon here in the New York area.

KIH focusss on breast cancer survivors, specifically young women and women of color.  They provide basic information on screening and highlighting survivors’ experiences as they work to reclaim their normal lives. We especially love KIH because they encourage lifestyle adjustments and dialogue by offering workshops focused on fitness, beauty and wellness.

Click HERE to make a donation to Kicked It In Heels.  Every single dollar counts and helps their mission. No donation is too small (or too big)!

At KIH’s annual fundraiser in October 2017,  I learned that many women are missing appointments because they have the wrong information about mammograms, breast cancer in general and how it can and does disproportionately affect women of color.  After the fundraiser, I spoke with Dr. Janna and she helped unravel some of the mysteries surrounding breast cancer screenings.  Basically, she broke it all the way down in a way we can understand.  No fancy doctor talk.  Just sharing information girlfriend to girlfriend.

Dr. Janna; Keisha Sutton-James, breast cancer survivor/KIH Honoree; Jackie at KIH 2017 Fundraiser


Myth #1: Women don’t need routine mammograms until they reach the age of 45 years old.

Dr. Janna says that women are rightfully confused here because doctors and organizations vary on opinion regarding the right age to begin annual mammograms.  For example, the American Cancer Society has changed the recommendation to starting at 45 with the option of starting at 40 while the US Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends starting at 50 with the option of starting at 40.  Then there is the American College of radiology which still recommends starting at 40.  Seriously people, can we all just agree and get along?  I then asked Dr. Janna who sees patients everyday fighting different stages of breast cancer, “What do you, as a practicing oncologist, suggest is the right age?”  She responded definitively with “40 years old or EVEN YOUNGER if you have a high-risk of developing breast-cancer.”

MYTH #2: Women of color get breast cancer at the same rate as white women.

Historically, white women have always had a slightly higher incidence but today it’s now the same.   However, black women are often diagnosed at a younger age than white women.  Dr. Janna also wants black women to know that the research now shows that in addition to getting breast cancer younger than white women, black women have a “higher rate of triple negative breast cancer meaning that the cancer is more aggressive because there are no receptors to target.”  Triple negative breast cancer is treated with chemotherapy verses hormonal therapy.

MYTH #3: Women are scared to get mammograms.  

Dr. Janna says that, unfortunately, this is kind of true that many women don’t get screened because of either fear, denial or just misinformation.  Women don’t schedule the mammogram because “they don’t ‘feel sick’ or they don’t think breast cancer can happen to them.”

So now what?  Jackie has set your mind right, corrected the record and showed you her “boobie check” picture (#Hubbs is gonna kill me but it’s all #ForTheCulture).   Well now, I have a call to action for all of you:

  1. If you are 40 and up OR are at high risk of getting breast cancer, you need to CALL up your Gynocologist and get a referral for a mammogram/sonogram.   You need to do that immediately.  Like right now.  Do not pass go.  Do not collect $200.  Make your appointment and keep the appointment.  It is better for them to find whatever is happening in your breast sooner rather than later.
  2. Send a text, email, DM or bat signal through facebook or twitter (however you communicate with your people) to your crew asking the following: “I’m doing a boobie check with all the women I LOVE!  We take care of the world but leave ourselves last.  I want to hear from you.  Is your mammogram up to date?  If your boobies have not been checked in the last 12 months, be honest and tell me you are calling this week to make the appointment.

As always, thank you for stopping by Jackie Unfiltered.   We want to extend a huge thank you to Dr. Janna for providing this information and helping us protect our boobies.  Just in case you missed it, here is the LINK again to donate to Kicked It In Heels.   I hope this article and our social media help jumpstart a conversation with you and your personal ecosystem about health, breast cancer and proper screenings.

xoxo and in good health,


Medical Disclaimer:  

All content found on the Jackie Unfiltered Website, including: text, images, audio, or other formats were created for informational purposes only.  The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor, go to the emergency department, or call 911 immediately. Jackie Unfiltered does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on Reliance on any information provided by and its employees, contracted writers, or medical professionals presenting content for publication to Jackie Unfiltered is solely at your own risk.

The Site may contain health- or medical-related materials or discussions regarding sexually explicit disease states. If you find these materials offensive, you may notwant to use our Site. The Site and its Content are provided on an “as is” basis.

Links to educational content not created by Jackie Unfiltered are taken at your own risk. Jackie Unfiltered is not responsible for the claims of external websites and education companies.


How we gave birth to “Jackie Unfiltered?”

October 12, 2017

I was raised in Chicago where, until President Obama came along, almost every black family had three pictures on their wall:  Black Jesus, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Oprah Winfrey (obviously “BO” joined the flock after ‘08).   So it does not suprise me that one of Auntie Oprah’s quotes summarizes the short life of our beloved www.Jackie

“Have the dream and then surrender to that which is greater than yourself and allow the flow of your life to move in the direction of your greatest dream.”

You may have noticed that earlier this week, this website (my “dream”) got a little refresh, tune-up and face lift.  We changed our logo moving from a reddish pink to a poppy chartreuse.  We updated the design by adding a left swiping slider bar at the top of the page under the logo.  We cleaned up the general look by removing unnecessary features such as unused social icons and updating the right sidebar by adding a “Subscribe” option (you should subscribe by the way).  We also added some fresh content with crisp, beautiful images.  Understanding that our opinion is “slightly” jaded, we think Jackie Unfiltered 2.0 looks better than ever and is just what the doctor ordered!

Original Jackie Unfiltered Web Design Lauched May 2016

Jackie Unfiltered 2.0 web design released October 2017

All these changes prompted Sikia, our Chief Technology Officer (the “CTO”), and I to meander down memory lane and think about how Jackie Unfiltered got started.  Well, you are going to be shocked but it actually began with a casual conversation where I gave voice to a “dream” that had only previously lived in my head.  In January 2016, on a girls trip to Mexico to celebrate Kim’s 4oth birthday, I casually told the ladies while sitting around the pool that I wanted to launch a blog where I would share how I discovered my passion for food, fashion and fitness.  I also wanted a place where I could write about how I grieved the loss of my mother hoping that it might help another person going through a major life change.

The pool in Mexico where Jackie first “surrendered the dream” of

A few months later in March 2016, Sikia the CTO and I had the following conversation via text:

Sikia the “CTO:” Are you “blogging” about the #Sweatyin30 fitness challenge you started on Instagram?
Jackie: No, I can’t figure out how to start the damn blog.  I reserved the name “Jackie Unfiltered” on GoDaddy, licensed a WordPress theme from ThemeForest, have Ryan working on creating a logo for me and now I’m stuck.  I have asked a few people, called tech support and even bought a book, WordPress for Dummies.   It’s so complicated that I don’t even know where to begin.
Sikia the “CTO:” You know I work in technology right?  Let me ask some of my coworkers if they know anything about blogging and “wordpress.”
Jackie: That would be awesome!  Thanks so much.

A few hours later…

Sikia the “CTO:” What do you want the website/blog to look like? Write it on a piece of paper, take a picture and text it to me.
Jackie:  [I responded with the following drawings.]

Jackie’s roughly drawn schematic of what she envisioned as

2 months later…

In May 2016, together, Sikia the CTO and I launched Jackie Unfiltered 1.0.  I did the writing and managed the creative process while Sikia figured out all the technical crap.  The day we presented Jackie Unfiltered 1.0 to the universe or “threw my ball in the race” as Maya Angelou says, Sikia and I FaceTimed from Ohio to New York.  We jumped around, hugged through the phone and literally screamed for joy as we were so proud of ourselves and in disbelief that we had created something from that piece of paper.  A damn piece of paper.  Wow!  We have learned so much since then from the how to take better images to knowing that the banner needs to be smaller so we can have more above the fold space to finally having a subscribe button for our mailing list.  I have no doubt that by the time we release Jackie Unfiltered 3.0, we will have discovered the cure for the common cold!

What is the moral of the story here other than being a very fricking cool #ThrowBackThursday Post?  The lesson here is that if you have a passion, something you want to do then speak it into the universe.  Tell someone!  Not your dog.  Not your goldfish.  Not your journal.  Tell a living, breathing human being.  You never know who can help you realize your dream or whether someone might know how to connect the dots for you.  “Surrender the dream” from the confines of your soul and “allow the flow of your life to move you in the direction” of the dream.  Auntie Oprah be knowing y’all cause the proof is in the pudding right here!

As always, thank you for stopping by Jackie Unfiltered.  We hope you enjoy our little facelift as much as we do.  Remember, “surrender the dream.”

Jackie & Sikia “the CTO”

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Coping with Grief 20 years later. How? Choose to to live out loud vs. just exist.

March 25, 2017
Coping with Loss & Grief |

As I race toward 40 on April 5th and the 20 year anniversary of my mom’s passing in June, I can’t help but go inside, reflect and rejoice.

In that spirit, I woke up this week with the message below on my heart.  I shared it on my FaceBook page because I am keenly aware that each of us are either going through something, have gotten through something or about to go through something. In a world where many of us only share the beautiful and touched up parts of our lives on social media, I want to always share my my most authentic truth. My mother’s sudden passing is what I call a life “war wound.” It has scabbed over and healed mostly but just when you get going good, it makes you stumble and reminds you from whence you came. We all have them. Perfection is not for sale here. I feel like its my responsibility to share the pain if I am going to share the good with you every darn day.

Based on the 100s of Facebook comments (thank you again for your kind messages), it’s good to know that all the “noise” I create “living out loud” with you is not getting on your nerves and making your ears’ ache.


Coping with Loss |


Dear Mom:

40 years old is just a few weeks away. It seems like my 20th birthday in Atlanta, the last we spent together, is but a distant dream. The memories fade a bit more each year but my tearful prayer remains the same: “I do hope I have grown into a woman you can stand and be proud of with the other mother angels in heaven.”

I believe you would like my adult self, be madly in love with the solid man I chose to marry and the amazing girlfriends who walk with me. It’s an understatement to say that your sudden death at 49 years old left me in intense grief. No words exist to describe the pain. For years, it felt like I was stranded on a deserted isle in the middle of the ocean with no life jacket and no provisions. Despite the pain, I survived, or rather I thrive. It is your story that gives me strength and purpose to live out loud with reckless abandon.

When I get the chance to speak to women about my story, young and old, the single lesson I want them to walk away with after hearing me is this: “One cannot know the freedom of light without experiencing total darkness. Whether the phone call that changes your life comes at 5 or 65, the choice is still the same. The crossroad. This is your moment of humanity. The moment where you decide whether you will fight to live or passively exist.” Mom, I continue to fight. Everyday.

With love always,


As always, thank you for stopping by Jackie Unfiltered.  Always remember, “If you are going through something, just keep running. Put one foot in front of the other. Crawl on some days if you must. But keep moving and don’t give up.”


Coping with Loss |

Outfit Details
(Click Highlighted Text for Product Information)

My hot pink coat is no longer available for sale but this Hooded Double Breasted Coat comes in a variety of hues, is great for transitional Spring weather and is on sale for less than 60 buckaroos!!!  Choose a fun, poppy color like the pink, yellow or red. | Jackie’s Favorite MONROW V Neck Tee, Granite |
Similar jeans here: Levi’s Women’s New Boyfriend Jean |  Converse Chuck Taylor |
Tote (we are still looking for a good one!) |
Similar Hat (maybe even better!) here: Deep Blue Western Fedora with a Wide Brim


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Find the Light in 2017. Happy New Year!

January 1, 2017

I went to sleep the first night of 2017 with a heavy heart.  I found myself excited about the year ahead but also anxious in my gut because who knows whether I am taking the wrong or right steps in this new universe of social media, websites, photography and content creation.  I am making up the rules each day.  Looking.  Learning.  Trying to do better and be better.  I am fighting against the natural urge to be liked and loved (particularly on social media) with my strong desire to contribute to our world meaningfully beyond what I wear, how I look or the places I visit.    I went on Pinterest this morning and read quote after quote about overcoming fear, letting go of being scared about mistakes and staying the course.  In patent honesty, because that is what I want Jackie Unfiltered to be at the end of the day, honest, I tell you that I walk into 2017 with a rapid heartbeat, slightly fearful, a little hopeful anew ready to do the work.    A long sufferer of anxiety, I woke up early on this first morning of 2017 and did what I often do when my heart races with uncertainty, I wrote:

Dear first dawn of 2017:

Facing your light. Standing on the table, STRONG, with conviction, vulnerable, open hearted, very much AFRAID of failing but looking forward towards the WORK knowing I may fall closer to my PASSION and PURPOSE. As the race begins, thanking my near 40-year TRIBE for treating me like blood, wiping tears of sweat, passing cups of #encouragement, cheering OUTLOUD at the finish line whether we finish first in VICTORY or alone at night after the crowds go home. We set foot into day 1 with CONVICTION, ready to FIGHT, dig deep into our SOULS to live and love and share and change and grow and ACT, always facing the light.


As always, thank you for stopping by Jackie Unfiltered.  I wish you boundless amounts of #everything in 2017.  Just run the race and always find the light.



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Coping with Grief through Transparency and Honesty

December 19, 2016

In 1997, when I was 20 years old, my mother went on to glory.  She choked on some stray food lodged in her throat while vacationing with my dad in the Bahamas.  You can read the full story here.  Over the last 20 years, I have learned transparency is key when managing any type of loss such as death, the ending of a relationship, fighting an illness or even losing a job.  A therapist once explained the following to me during a session:  “Emotions are meant to be emoted.  You can either deal with these emotions in a healthy manner or they can explode during a breakdown.  You choose how emotions manifest.”


My father took this photograph of my mother and I with his Nikon over 35 years ago during a summer vacation to New York City. Can’t you imagine the awe that little girl from Chicago saw in the busy New York streets? The irony is that I now live a few blocks from the Hudson River. Lady Liberty is indeed watching over me.


So many people experience heartbreak, sadness and depression during the holiday season.  Hell, I know I do!  I don’t journal anymore (although journaling is a great idea!) but I do write letters to my younger self as a way of letting the emotions out.  Today was one of those days where I was yearning for my mother’s love.  I would give anything to hear her whisper in my ear one last time: “Job well done.  I am so very proud of you.”


Dear Younger Self:

Live a life filled with Grace, not perfection.  Treat others with compassion, not disdain.  Appreciate Style, not consumption.  Seek true love, not lust.  Yearn for passion, not wealth.  Walk in dignity, not shame.  Still trust despite disappointment.  Move slow enough but with deliberate speed so you don’t miss the sunset.  These are my dreams for you little one.  For a life well-lived.



Please talk or write about your feelings this holiday season.   Don’t keep feelings bottled up inside.  It’s dangerous.  If you are considering hurting yourself, immediately call 1-800-273-8255, a free and confidential support lifeline for people in distress.  Never feel embarrassed or ashamed to ask for help.  To be vulnerable is to be strong. 

As always, thank you for stopping by Jackie Unfiltered.

With love,

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The Apollo Theater Continues the Legacy Supporting Arts Education

April 15, 2016

Since 2007, I have worked closely with the world famous Apollo Theater to help identify donors, plan events and raise awareness about the Apollo’s education programs.  I have gained far more than I have given working with Jonelle Procope and her team over the last 9 years.   The steady growth of the theater during Jonelle’s tenure is a stunning example of excellence.  Observing her talent at bringing together people who equally understand and believe that everyone should have the opportunity to experience art, I have learned so much about what it means to be a citizen who pays it forward.

Continue Reading…

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Coping with Loss

April 15, 2016

Dear Mom:

As if it happened yesterday, I remember the exact moment I learned you died. In June 1997, on a late Sunday afternoon around 7:00 pm in the evening, the phone rang at our apartment in Los Angeles.  I shared a small two-bedroom apartment with four other interns also in the Xerox summer program.   I answered: “Hello?”   On the other end, I heard my brother Timothy’s voice: “Can I speak to Karli?”   Karli, a fellow classmate at Spelman College, and I shared a room in the Los Angeles Apartment.    I remember laughing, wondering why he was calling and asking for Karli.   “Tim, its Jacqueline. Are you playing some joke?”   I had barely spoken to my recently married brother all summer and now he was calling to speak with my roommate.  For a second, it made no sense.   Almost immediately, Timothy started sobbing uncontrollably. Through his emotions, I could only understand the word “dead.”   I still feel guilty because I immediately thought he was talking about Daddy.  Our father has diabetes, high blood pressure and a history of other health problem and I thought something had happened to him. I choked out, “Daddy died?”  He paused.  Some pauses last a moment and some can flash an entire lifetime.  He said: “No, mom.”  In shock, with tears streaming down my face, I dropped the phone and started screaming. How could this be? You were a gentle giant: tough as nails, strong as an ox but quick to cry and quick to love. You were full of life, the center of the party but absolutely a no-nonsense type of woman. Timothy didn’t provide the details during the short conversation.  And the true significance of the moment would take hours to really hit.  But my body ran into a brick wall at a 100 mph, and I shattered into a million pieces.

Continue Reading…