A musical odyssey of sorts

Cute child of color playing the piano
Cute child of color playing the piano

It was love at first plink when I could stand on my tippy toes with my chin scrapping the edge of the keyboard of my grandparent’s piano. Fascinated by the sound I’d plunk, bang, thump — do whatever my tiny fingers could do to make the instrument talk back to me.

Music is in my DNA. My paternal grandmother was a classically trained pianist who played and sang with the Fisk Jubilee University choir in the early 1900s. The touring ensemble composed of African American students sang spirituals acapella to raise funds for college. My dad could play too.

My…


Love transcends time and space

Woman of color asleep in her bed of earth tones
Woman of color asleep in her bed of earth tones

As sure as the sun rises each morning, I know with certainty she will come. She’ll glide over mountain tops — skim the ocean blue. Test her wings with doves in flight to land within my view.

Anyone close to my heart who passes over will find a portal back to me in my dreams. I never know the day or time of their return. Family and friends drawn to the light can see the door stays ajar — enough for them to squeeze through.

They come to share eternal bliss found in freedom from mortal pain. To assure me…


Love has everything to do with anything

A Black woman, eyes closed with a short afro, with pink rhinestones on her face, white hearts pressed on her cheeks and sparkly pink lipstick. Yummy.
A Black woman, eyes closed with a short afro, with pink rhinestones on her face, white hearts pressed on her cheeks and sparkly pink lipstick. Yummy.

LOVE can seldom be returned in the exact manner of which it is given.

LOVE is the singular reason for all joy and pain.

LOVE is all encompassing in that it can heal a wound or prolong the suffering.

LOVE is never enough in and of itself — it thrives on nutrients of compassion, empathy, sensitivity and understanding.

LOVE is not a concept, commodity or control mechanism — it’s a vehicle of freedom from constriction and ALL that binds.

LOVE is the ultimate sacrifice of oneself — a generosity of spirit where vanity…


A brother’s dying wish is the gift that keeps giving

A white heart shaped cloud in a baby blue sky
A white heart shaped cloud in a baby blue sky

Some stories breathe to take shape through other people — to deliver an extraordinary message of the human spirit that can motivate us all. This story was told to me twice. Could have been the original storyteller forgot he told me the first time, or the universe needed me to hear it again until the proverbial penny dropped.

There are no coincidences. Everything happens for a reason. I don’t believe in chance encounters either — we meet people for a reason, even when it’s brief. …


Christmas past and the bittersweet memory of a lost recipe

A flocked and decorated Christmas tree with bright red and gold ornaments
A flocked and decorated Christmas tree with bright red and gold ornaments

A thin sliver of creamy lemon goodness sat waiting, smudged in a frosty, glass pie dish. The last piece hidden behind a large container in the back of the refrigerator and her last pie. Every holiday, my mother-in-law would bake the entire family’s favorite dessert using lemons from her own tree in the front garden. They were always plentiful — in full golden bloom, as if she had a personal relationship with the lemon gods.

This Christmas would be different. It wouldn’t be at my husband’s parents’ home. They were aging and no longer able to host such a large…


A deed is just a piece of paper

A Black Woman sitting in a window sill reading, “101 Essays that will change the way you think.”
A Black Woman sitting in a window sill reading, “101 Essays that will change the way you think.”

Every time I receive an offer to sell my land at a pittance I cringe.

Throughout childhood, I overheard conversations between my grandmother and her siblings about the land in South Carolina. The land I would inherit from my maternal great grandfather. His will stipulated 99 ½ acres divided amongst his eight children — passed down three generations to his children’s, children’s, children before anyone in the family could sell.

Born in 1869 on a plantation, my great grandfather signed his will with an X. I guess he couldn’t read or write enough to be considered a learned man but…


Dear Black mothers of the world

A Black child under five in the bed laughing. It looks like his mother is tickling him.
A Black child under five in the bed laughing. It looks like his mother is tickling him.

Dear Black Mothers,

We feel your pain from all terrain: the shores of Africa across mighty oceans, canals, rivers, desserts, forests, lakes, mountains, levies, and waterfalls. To you — mostly brick walls. We see your tears in sheets of iridescent rain — hear your cries through a live video of passersby.

You are beautiful wearing all your scars. In your glorious hues and landings from all parts of the world.

Let your spirit not be darkened by hate. He or she may be gone, but not forgotten. Their tiny footprint imbedded in the depths of your heart is proof of…


How to make a mountain out of a molehill

Woman picking fruit from a tree
Woman picking fruit from a tree

I ran across a quote that resonated with me so much — I framed it and put it on top of my desk at work. After all, work is often the perfect place to test a theory or challenge a notion. Simple in its complexity it’s one of those sayings that challenges everyone’s sensibility.

Think higher, feel deeper. ~ Elie Wiesel

I like to remind myself wherever I am, although I play such a minor role in the universe — I still have a tremendous level of humanness to uphold — a responsibility to connect with others based on love…


Passing for a weak geek

Black and White Clip art of a frustrated computer geek.
Black and White Clip art of a frustrated computer geek.

I have a love-hate relationship with technology.

I love it when it works and hate it when it doesn’t. Some might say it’s always an operator’s error if something goes awry. Maybe. The other day I was trying to add a drive to my computer — it started acting all brand new.

It refused to cooperate with my commands. The nerve! Then, it rendered me speechless, which is hard to do when I’m on a roll — ask my husband. When I sheepishly gave up — reverted to what I was doing before the brilliant idea to add a shared drive, it played a mean trick —…

Toya Qualls-Barnette

Living, loving and observing the absurdities of life/Writing about the impact of relationships and the human experience

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