Where there is no struggle, there is no strength

The original plan was to start the year fresh. January 1 2013 would be the launch date for The Happy Black Girl.  We spent much of the summer of 2012 behind the scenes plottin and plannin. We met with mentors, spoke with designers, bloggers, friends and people we love both near and far. We bought binders, inserts, colorful post it notes and our favorite purple gel pens from Target. I’m sure I’m leaving some stuff out, but I know you get my meaning.

By then Starr and I no longer lived in the same city ( much to my hearts dismay ) so we’d call each other up and share what kinda loot we each found over the phone. We sent packages back and forth and even racked up some frequent flyer miles traveling between San Diego and Fresno.

Devoya Mayo & Starr Lopez on the Patio
during Soulful Sundays

We sat in Cafe”s, outside in the sun, wherever the spirit moved us to be, is where we landed.  Place and space did not matter. We were two women on a mission and each time we discussed the project the more excited and determined we became.

BUT…I can’t sit up here and lie to y’all. There was this small part of me that didn’t fully trust the good feeling. I’ll go so far as to say I often have problems trusting it. I tried to fight it, but I had one eye open almost waiting for the idea not to happen.

Then, the morning of Thanksgiving I got a call from my brother Keith asking where I was. When I answered that I was in San Diego I could hear the anxiety in his voice. When he asked why, I told him the same thing I’d told everyone else from home who asked this question of me. I wanted to be with a family that held hands, prayed together and laughed on Thanksgiving.  I said the same thing to The Ladybug ( my grandmother) just days earlier when she’d posed the question to me. I still remember her response was a slight laugh and a shrug.

Anyway, Keith went on to tell me that The Ladybug didn’t seem well and that I should come home soon. Next thing I know I’m standing in her bedroom doorway asking her to please let me take her to see a Doctor. She never liked Doctors. Always felt like they used elderly folks as guinea pigs. Lots of older black folks I know are quick to agree. So the task wasn’t easy. By the time I called my Aunt Lydia ( her youngest daughter) she’d pretty much resigned herself to going though. So we did.

It took less than a week, but before the diagnosis even came down I knew that warm feeling I’ve always seemed to have in my chest would never feel the same again. I was right too. It flickered and then blew out when my Ladybug, the source for any good thing you maybe know about me, passed over on the morning of  Dec 19th  2012 (which also happened to be Keith’s Birthday).

Lady Bug 1
Savanah Pearson ( The Ladybug). April 15 1992
Photo taken at The Kingdom Hall in Fresno Ca

Planning a new way of living based around the words The Happy Black Girl is easy. Mostly because that’s what I do, I plan. But to live a life based on them, well that’s damn near impossible sometimes. When I called Starr trying to explain that I could no more co-sign on the concept than I could get up off the floor and wash my face she did not press. She did not prod. She said “Whatever you need Devoya.” By then we’d enlisted the design skills of mutual friend Valerie Scott to the team and she too understood (without my having to explain it) that I just couldn’t be concerned about anything other than the original source for the happy ( mine anyway) no longer being of this place.

Those two beautiful beings allowed me the space and time I needed to get some distance from the pain. I will never forget that.

Weeks later, I would be cleaning my grandmothers home. As I picked up bibles, cookbooks and old magazines from her bookshelf, list after list began to fall from between the pages. Strange that I hadn’t realized my list making habit must have come from her until that moment.  I put most of them aside in an envelope but one in particular made it’s way into my soul. It read “Where there is no struggle, there is no strength” That’s when I knew it was time. No way would the woman who taught me to love, want me not sharing or receiving love in return.

Note found in the ladybugs bible.

That’s how it all started (again). I sent Starr and Valerie a text asking if we could just roll out The Happy Black Girl on my born day (Sunday April 14). They said it was a good idea. So it’s what we did.  We eased in all nice and easy. No bells and whistles. Just a post or two about things we all enjoy and want to share with others. It was my birthday present to myself. A rebirth if you will. Because I really was broken. This entire process has been that struggle she spoke of. But it’s also saving me, so there’s that. Today is our 1 Month Anniversary. We thank you for being here, and we hope you come back to visit us often.~ devoya


5 thoughts on “Where there is no struggle, there is no strength

  1. joy graves says:


  2. joy graves says:

    as im reading your story im remembering how important grandmothers are in the black family…
    there the glue that binds us together when we feel like we cant go own….at least for me thatswhat mygrandmother was for me… i know how much you love the ladybug and her you and i hear her giving me advice when she was in the hospital…. a very beautiful lady u have a lot of her in you… she smiling at you from heaven window….saying, miss mayo
    job well done…

  3. Cheryl says:

    A beautiful quote from a beautiful woman, re-quoted by another beautiful woman. Congrats on the one-month!

  4. Read Admire says:

    dig it. keep the vibe coming.

  5. Geanie Silva says:

    Your blogs made me smile, feel your pain and miss my own grandmother as I write this with misty eyes. You’ve got moxie and strength friend. Love ya!

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