Monday, November 26, 2012

SHARE YOUR LOVE: Happy Couple Highlight IX

Partners: Aleah Long and Yaniyah Obatecumsela
Aleah Long and Yaniyah Obatecumsela are Afro-AmerIndian singer-songwriters, performers, ceremonialists, and teachers of spiritual development and the discovery of authentic sound. They have been together for 18 years and live in New York State.

What would you say is the key to the success of your relationship?
Yaniyah: We enjoy being together and we enjoy working together. We are astrologically polar opposites which makes us extremely compatible. And when we are not, we are so opposite that all we can do is agree to disagree. We not only love each other but we admire each other's gifts and appreciate how we walk in the world. We are both each other's student and teacher. We have a common purpose so our relationship serves others as well as each other.

I love how you say you appreciate how she “walks in the world”. Can you share more about “the walk”? Yaniyah:  I love her spirituality. Some people talk about spirituality, and there are some who are just it. Some people have the knowledge, but they don’t do the practice. Aleah is right there with both. I know that I am living with a phenomenal human being. What she knows, what she can articulate is extraordinary. She is a highly intelligent and –an evolved person, spiritually. Aleah is a transmitter. As a teacher she relies more on intention and intuition, rather than on mental processes.

 Aleah: She’s a remarkable person. Energetically, she is highly charged; she’s electrical. She captures energy in an extraordinary way, and she is able to instigate change. She is always conscious. I have watched her work with people who would be classified as “needing help” or “needing development”, and she can do incredible things with them. Her energy, excitement and her deep love/respect for people, help people “stand” in a short period of time. She has faith that what she is supposed to do, she can do. She is very inspiring.

How do you deal with and face challenges that might come up in your relationship?
Aleah: We are life partners, so no matter what happens we know we will see it through. We don't avoid conflict because we trust each other. We are willing to go through a period of discomfort to find our way to a resolution.

Yaniyah: We don't hold on to negativity. We don't hold grudges. In the past ten years since we have been working with similar spiritual practices, we have both grown a lot. And, these days we rarely argue and when we do, it’s very brief. In the midst of an argument we'll look at each other and just let it go. We don't allow intense negative energy to get a hold of us.

How has trusting each other provided a foundation to have productive conflict?
Aleah: First, there’s no conflict stronger than our love. Early own in our relationship, we set simple ground rules for our relationships 1) Be honest 2) Remember the basis of our union is love. It is the tie that binds us. We know that there are lines that we don’t cross with each other.

 Yaniyah: In conflict, there is definitely a line that you don’t cross. You can feel it when you are there. It feels like something- something fragile is about to tear or rip. If you feel it, you don’t go past that. If you feel like you are going to tear something in your partner or in the relationship, you stop. You let it go. For example, 3 years into our relationship, we decided it was time to live together. Aleah lived in the city and I did not want to move to the city. We were having a huge argument one day. We were at that place where it sounded like our lives were going in different directions. That could have made me re-thing the whole move. Instead I listened to that possibility. I was not in agreement with that so I turned to Aleah in the heat of this shouting match and I said, You know what I’m getting from this conversation? Aleah’s face tightened. “No, what? “ And I said “I’m moving to Brooklyn”. And that was that. When you are at a breaking point, someone has to let go. In this case it was me. Three weeks later, out of the blue, I got an invitation to be the director of a program in Brooklyn, 10 minutes from my new home.  I was exactly where I need to be.

 Aleah: Yaniyah is talking about listening to that authentic voice. You will know a lot when you have self-awareness. When you are self-aware, you will recognize where that inner space is; that’s where the love is. If you are aware of that, you will know where that boundary is and you will know that if you cross it, it will cause irrevocable damage.

Why do you feel that most couples are uncomfortable with discomfort?
Aleah: Knowledge of self is so important. As humans, we are uncomfortable with discomfort because we don’t trust what’s on the other side. We don’t trust that the other side of discomfort is comfort, and that it brings relief. If your goal is to release what you don’t need, it is easier to get to the other side of conflict.  The question is- what is your goal, what do you need to learn?
Yaniyah: Arguments happen in the best of relationships. But in the beginning we made an agreement to work on ourselves. We understand that we are not responsible for each other’s feelings. It is not a partner’s job, obligation etc. to make you happy. You can comfort them, but it’s not your responsibility to make them happy. I realize that when I get upset with Aleah it’s usually because she is making me deal with something about myself that I don’t want to deal with, something I don’t feel good about in myself. As soon as I admit that, I stop getting defensive and I work through what’s making me uncomfortable.

I never heard a couple say safety is the key to the relationship. Why safety?
Safety is key for us. Being a safe place for each other is trusting that your partner wants the best for you. It’s life- sustaining.

Aleah: I came into this relationship with a gem from another relationship. Pressure always creates gems. That gem was how to be a safe place for myself. Creating a safe place is about trusting yourself, it’s about nurturing yourself and it’s about feeling worthy of giving safety to yourself. It is about sitting in the center of whatever is going on and being comfortable with yourself knowing that you are safe.
Yaniyah: During our 2nd telephone call, Aleah said “you are safe with me”. Nobody had ever said that to me before. I took her at her word and I would share things with her that I had never shared with anybody else. I never felt judged. I realized that was exactly what I needed.

What role does spirituality play in your relationship?
Yaniyah: Spirituality is the center of our relationship. We are both dedicated to spirituality. We have built a strong community of people with whom we study, pray, and celebrate. These spiritual gatherings are an essential part of our lives. We believe our spiritual connection goes beyond this life time. The performances we do together have a spiritual intent.

What are your similar spiritual practices/beliefs?
Aleah: We are so many things. We are Afro-AmerIndians, which is a fusion and acknowledgement of the blending of African and Native American blood.  Encoded in our bloodlines are our spiritual DNA and our blood DNA. The blending of bloods created a hybrid….a people…. of unprecedented strength.

Yaniyah: Instead of 1+1=2, it created a 1+1 =3 kind of strength.
Aleah:  If you look at nature you can see that hybrids produce new strands, stronger strands.
Also, the bloodlines carry information that allows us to negotiate this realm and the blending promoted perseverance and strength.  

Is there an Afro-AmerIndian movement?
Aleah: No it’s not an organized movement; it is more organic and acknowledges the union of the bloodlines. It is our recognition that we are many things. This encourages us to look outside the box for how we define ourselves.

How has your spiritual practices or your spiritual identity strengthened your relationship?
Aleah:  In our bonding, there is a natural magnetism; it is natural pull, an energetic attraction. We share a perspective that is individual, blended and rooted in this Afro-AmerIndian bloodline.

Yaniyah: Our spiritual commonality allows us to make quantum leaps together. There was a time in our relationship when we got complacent. I suggested that we take an intuitive medicine class. This sparked a new and deeper conversation between us that has continued; and this has resulted in our creative projects, the spiritual performances and the teaching. We have been fortunate to bring our work to the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival in a week-long authentic voice and choir intensive. It is also what brought us to the We Are1 conference. Complacency can kill a relationship.  It can make people feel like their partner is stopping them from growing and so they look outside of the relationship for that growth or stimulation. We found a way to pursue new adventures together. Instead of separating us, our spiritual studies brought us closer together.

Aleah when Yaniyah suggested you take that class together, how did you respond? You weren’t resistant?
Aleah: No. Trying something new goes back to trust. I trust her.

When I see you perform together, it is obvious that there is a spiritual connection. What is happening for you when you are on the stage together?
Yaniyah:  When we perform, we are, first and foremost, supportive, not competitive. Like the Bette Mildler song, “You are the wind beneath my wings”. We call it “holding the form” – meaning we hold each other in complete light and perfection which allows us to take flight.

Aleah: When we are performing music, there is intangible information being shared with the audience .It is not just about the words and melody. We sing to the divine Spirit in the room. We believe that something can happen to you by receiving the song. I also do work around sound vibration. Sound carriers intention. When you know yourself, your intention, it aligns with a higher frequency of spirit and things can happen.

What has your relationship taught you most about yourself?
Aleah: It has made me more conscious and I have learned that I am “ever-becoming”. I am not stagnant and I am not done; I am always becoming.
Yaniyah: I have learned to strive to be more "full of care" and to be more generous. I used to have a “scarcity mind”, but Aleah has taught me to expect that we that we have what we need instead of focusing on what we don’t have. Now, I am better able to attract what I need and because of that, I am able to be generous.

What did you have to give up to be in a relationship with each other?
Yaniyah: I had to give up my nomadic spirit. I have lived in many cities and I have moved around a lot. I have lived here for eleven years and that’s the longest time I have ever lived in one place.
Aleah: I am introverted, and Yaniyah is very social. I had to give up a little of my need to be introverted. I am much more outward now.
When you look in her eyes, what do you see?
Aleah: I see love. I see myself in her eyes. I see her seeing me, and then I see us.
Yaniyah: I see an ancient presence. Something in her eyes feels eternal. I see a tender and
compassion being.
What is the vision for your relationship?
Aleah: We have a lot of creative energy. We create and play a lot together. My vision is making that bigger. I see a big retreat space where people could come to learn new skills to heal themselves; a place where they could learn more about themselves and understand the evolution of the spirit.

Yaniyah: We are working on two book projects, one emphasizing my work with young people and the other on Aleah’s work regarding the discovery of authentic voice. We see our work and Aleah’s music spreading across the globe as more people begin to see a new vision for a better world.  I see a long life together and when we grow old we do so with grace, able to take care of ourselves and each other surrounded by a strong and loving circle of kindred spirits.

What word/phrase captures how you feel about each other?
Aleah: Honored. I feel that Yaniyah is a gift presented to me in this lifetime. With her I have the opportunity for growth and to experience deeply many beautiful things.

Yaniyah: Honored. I get to watch Aleah perform, teach, have a profound impact on others, but I am the one who gets to drive home with her. I feel honored to share my life with such an amazing person. She’s brilliant. I learn from her and she learns from me. We are each other’s teachers and we are each other’s students. (Interview conducted by SharRon Jamison)

Thank you, Aleah and Yaniyah, for sharing your love with us. We appreciate your time, energy and generosity in helping us CREATE LOVE!

Be sure to nurture YOUR LOVE at the Create Love! Conference on February 16th...More info.

Much love to you,
Imani Evans, Creator/Co-Founder
SharRon Jamison Co-Founder

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

CREATE Love...Thanksgiving Edition

A Kenyan proverb says that a “woman counts what she is refused, not what she is given”.  I must admit that the proverb stopped me in my tracks because I have been guilty of counting, reliving and focusing on the times that I have not received my heart’s desires. I have wasted time concentrating and on some occasions, perseverating, about the times when my needs were not met. I have been sidetracked and at times, totally derailed with thoughts and regrets about relationships when I allowed disrespect and abuse. And, at times, I have been distracted by holding on to anger and hostility when I felt my love was taken for granted or trivialized. The truth is that I had spent so much time enumerating the bad, that I had overlooked the blessings that I received and the many blessings that I still have. I know that I am not the only one guilty of taking blessings for granted, so I thought that I would take this Thanksgiving Holiday to remind all of us about our blessings, so that we are able to bless each other and CREATE Love.

So what am I thankful for? I am thankful for:

·     Good Health – I am thankful for my health. I have to admit that in my twenties and thirties I took my health for granted. But after years of hospitalizations and many surgeries, I am now more than ever grateful for my health. I may not have the same degree of health as others, but every time I walk down the halls of hospitals, I am reminded that I am thankful to be a visitor and not a patient. I am reminded that I am ambulatory, breathing on my own, totally conscious and as the old folks used to say “clothed in my right mind”. I now appreciate my health, and I have CREATED love by loving my body enough to take care of it. I eat better, I rest well, I exercise and I talk about my troubles. I don’t let negativity, toxicity and anxiety take root in spirit. What about you? Are you loving your body enough by giving it good food, good rest and good thoughts so that it can perform at an optimal level? Are you making wise choices to ensure that your heath decisions today will reap big dividends in the future? Affirmation: I have good health and I am grateful.

·     Family – I am thankful for my wonderful son and my family. Most of my people that I consider my family are not biologically related to me, but yet we are spiritually connected in a way that is life-giving, life-sustaining and life-affirming. These are people who chose me and/or people I chose to navigate through this journey called life. They love me, they support me, they challenge me, they encourage me, and sometimes, they even confront me. They require that I be/do my best, they demand that I am authentic, they push me beyond my fears, they celebrate all of my achievements, they cover my weakness, and they affirm my strengths. My family and friends have CREATED love by loving me and by allowing me to love them. They honor me, and they cherish me and it feels so good. How about you? Do you have great people in your life who are sources of inspiration, motivation and great discovery? Do you have friends and family who are hopeful, helpful and healing? I hope you do because you deserve it. Affirmation: I have great friends and family and I am grateful.

·     Open Heart and Open Mind– I am thankful that I have an open heart and open mind. This is a new development for me. I had experienced so much trauma and drama in my life that I was bitter, cynical and guarded. I was afraid to open my heart and my mind to new people and to new ways of navigating in the world. Pain had left me reclusive, suspicious, disappointed and lonely. But I am realizing that with an open heart and open mind, I am attracting new and interesting people in my life. I am exposing myself to new perspectives, new experiences and diverse ideologies. I am learning and I am having fun! Most of all, I have learned that an open heart and an open mind usually results in an open hand. An open hand that is willing to hold on to yours in times of adversity and hardship. Is your heart and mind open to others? Is your mind and heart open to new possibilities, new concepts and new opportunities? You are a person of an unlimited promise and potential! You have the capacity and ability to be more successful that you can ever imagine. You have what it takes to CREATE love and I salute you. Affirmation:  I have an open heart and open mind, and I am grateful.

·     Tenacity – I am thankful for tenacity. When I look at my life and when you look at your life, I am sure you see signs of your persistence and resolve. When you look at your ability to withstand poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia and marginalization, you must be reminded of your determination. When you see your certificates and diplomas adorning the walls, you must be reminded of your strength to excel and achieve despite the odds and adverse circumstances. When you see pictures of your family, yourself and your partner, I hope you are reminded of your resilience to love yourself and to love others even in the face of societal and familial rejection. You are tenacious! You have CREATED love by loving yourself enough to not give up and to not give in to other people’s opinions about love and family. Affirmation: I am tenacious, and I am grateful.

      Forgiveness – I am thankful that I am able to forgive, and I am most grateful that I can forgive myself. I have made some wrong turns, dated some incompatible people, made some wrong investments, made some negative parental decisions, and took some bad advice. Sometimes I did not prepare well, do my research, honor my commitments or trust my intuition. Sometimes, I allowed fear to derail me and allowed procrastination to delay me. At times I simply did not do my best. But I realized that my ability to forgive myself is directly connected to my ability to forgive others. So I made a decision to show myself mercy and compassion when I don’t live up to my own expectations. I have learned to cut myself some slack. I don’t let myself off the hook for poor performance or for not honoring my commitments, but I hold myself responsible and accountable with kindness. My ability to show myself kindness, mercy and compassion helps me extend all three to others. I have CREATED love by appreciating that I am worthy of forgiveness, and I will continue to CREATE love by demonstrating that others are worthy of forgiveness too. Have you forgiven yourself? Have you forgiven others who did not know how to respect you, love you, honor you or love themselves? Affirmation:  I can forgive myself and others, and I am grateful.

·    Clarity – I am thankful for clarity. I am happy that I know my God-given purpose. I am excited that when I review my life, I see how every experience, both bad and good, was preparing me to do what I am doing now. I see how and why God allowed me to have certain experiences, successes and failures. I see! And even I don’t full see or my insecurity obscures my vision, I still see God’s direction and provision in my life. My clarity is CREATing love because I have less fear, and consequently, more faith. Do you see you? Do you see your vision, your purpose, your calling and your passion? Clarity is empowering, illuminating and liberating so settle your spirit and get clear. Affirmation: I am emotionally, spiritually and mentally clear, and I am grateful.

·     YOU – I am thankful for you, our readers. I am grateful that despite your busy schedules and jam-packed lives that you find time to read the CREATE LOVE for Women Blog. I am grateful that couples so lovingly open their lives so that we all can learn tips and techniques to become better partners, lovers and friends. I am thankful that you give Imani Evans and me feedback so that we can improve and provide the information that you need to support you and your life. I am grateful to Anita Haugabrook and Wendy Smith for taking a risk and being our first feature couple. Without you, the readers, and your support, there would be no blog. We recognize that YOU are the lifeline of CREATE Love For Women, and we are so grateful and humbled that you allow us to be part of your life. YOU have blessed us, and I am grateful. Please continue to let us know how we can bless you.  Affirmation: I am a blessing to others and I am grateful.

·     GOD – I can hear God, and I am thankful. Hearing God is not easy to do, and I must admit that I always don’t do it well. But I have learned to hear God’s voice over my own. I have finally learned the difference between mindless chatter and God’s communication. I don’t always hear what I want to hear and I don’t always do what I am told to do, but I can discern who is speaking. Believe me, that’s half the battle. I know that when I hear and follow God’s voice that I CREATE love because God is love. My prayer is that I continue to hear, and more importantly, that I start being more obedient. Can you hear your Higher Power’s voice? Do you know when the Spirits, Creator or God is speaking? It is not easy for me and I guess at times, it is not easy for you. But I know that we can all grow and I am thankful. Affirmation: I can hear God’s voice, and I am grateful.

CREATing Love does not only require you to be in a relationship with others, it requires you to be in a loving relationship with yourself. CREATing Love demands that you take stock of your blessings. CREATing Love demands self-refection. CREATing Love insists on forgiveness of yourself and others. CREATing love compels you to take risk. CREATing Love expects change and growth. CREATing Love involves loving yourself and others. CREATING Love requires a Higher Power. CREATing Love requires YOU.

A “woman counts what she is refused, not what she is given”. Be sure to count what you have been given because we both have been given much. And my faith tradition reminds me that “where much is given, much is required”. You may have a different faith tradition but I pray that the meaning still resonates with you and your spirit.

Imani Evans and I say THANK YOU for being part of CREATE LOVE. We appreciate you so much. Keep reading, keep sharing and keep talking to us. We are listening. We hope to see you at the CREATE LOVE Conference in February too. Early Registration ends in a few weeks so don’t forget to sign up. We hope and affirm that we will see you there!

From CREATE LOVE to YOU - Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday and thank you again for your support.

SharRon Jamison

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Single and Seeking...This One is for YOU!

Single and seeking love--35 and over!

The last thing a single lesbian wants to hear is her BFF (who is in a relationship) telling her how love comes when you stop looking---Blah, blah, blah, right? Well, I am going to apologize right up front because it is going to be a part of my suggestions, but only a small part.  I promise there will be so much more. 
I don’t know about you, but the older I get the more exhausting it is to be looking for the right one.  Even hanging out with Ms. Right Now loses its excitement at some point.  Maybe it is a sign of maturity or maybe it is a consequence of the low tolerance that comes with aging.  Mostly it is an effect of my changing morals, values and interests. What was fun to me at 34 is certainly not my idea of fun at 44.  For example, 10 years ago I would not leave the house for a party before midnight…Now, by 11:30 pm I find myself staring at my watch wondering what time I can duck out without looking like a complete nerd, before I fall asleep in my chair.  Furthermore, where are the single mature women anyway?  Older lesbians are serious nesters.  They seem to come out to snatch up a boo then go off to build a nest, never to be seen again until the wedding—or the break-up.  Since September 2011, I am now among the nesters and happy to be out of the dating game.  But I haven’t forgotten about my single ladies and gentlewomen, who are still looking for love.  This article is for you; much thanks to inspiration from CREATE LOVE member, Joni Craven.

There is nothing wrong with being single and wanting to stay that way.  Conversely, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be in a relationship.  As well, there is nothing neither sad nor desperate about desiring to be with someone.  You would not fault yin for seeking yang, right? No, it is just the natural order of things to want to share your life, ups and downs, with a special person.  Now, what would be a shame is to not take the opportunity of singlehood to enjoy your life and simultaneously prepare for the one.  So here are some tips to jumpstart the single and seeking journey:
  1. While you are waiting, do the WORK:  Being single is a great time to take a selfish approach to doing your personal work. It is imperative to do whatever work is relevant for your life; it may be the work of forgiveness, healing, or restoration.  Who do you need to forgive? Maybe it is the one who is long gone but still taking up space in your head and heart.  What did you learn from your previous relationships?  There is always a lesson and/or blessing in every encounter, if you look for it.  That is just the brilliant way the Divine Intelligence operates.  What are your relationship patterns and how can you make adjustments to break the pattern and find happiness? As easy as it might be to villainize your last girlfriend, it is an useless act of disempowerment.  It takes the focus off of your accountability in the success or demise of your relationship.  This is not to negate the obvious bad behavior your ex may have demonstrated.  I am not talking about responsibility, but rather accountability.  Certainly people behave in some really dysfunctional ways out of pain, ignorance, depression, anger and whatever else plagues the heart.  However, there is authentic power in discovering your role in all of it.  Did you attract that person out of desperation, loneliness, lack, or brokenness? You can be honest here as this is not a test…It is your life and no one is responsible for your truth and your happiness—except you!  So, do you a favor, take the time to explore, question and challenge yourself to a deeper intrapersonal understanding.  Then get out your journal and write about it.  Keeping track of your lessons helps to avoid repeating them—and who wants to keep repeating that, right?  I guarantee this time of reflection will pay off when new girlfriend arrives.
  2. Start dating someone fabulous—YOU! That’s right—it is time to eke out the dating template for the way you want to be treated.  In order to have a good sense of it, you have to be the first to do it.  Singlehood is not the time for a couch potato pity party…No way! It is the time to fall in love with you.  Plan, prepare and execute the perfect date for yourself.  It must be something you do with thought and intention.  What have you always wanted to do? What you liked 10 years ago may have changed.  Do something outside your box, with no holds barred.  On the other hand if your idea of a perfect date is a quiet night at home, with a home-cooked meal, candlelight and music then do it! Enjoy it. Then when a potential suitor emerges you will know exactly how you are supposed to be treated—and so will she.
  3. Create a clear vision for her and then make room for her with your words.  This is one on which I would love to write a full chapter in a book, but for this purpose I will condense my sentiments to this paragraph. You can only manifest what you can see. You must take this time to create a clear vision of who SHE is for you.  Who is your ideal mate? This is absolutely not a question of aesthetics, but rather feelings.  We manifest most accurately out of what we feel.  Rather than creating a list of “she must have”, instead close your eyes and feel her.  How does she make you feel when she walks in the room? What does it feel like to love her and be loved by her? Allow yourself to linger there frequently.  Then when you encounter her you will recognize her at the soul level. 
  4. Be sure to use the language that affirms her presence:  Stop proclaiming to everyone in a 5-mile radius that you “don’t need anybody”, IF you really do want to be with someone.  Deep down you don’t even believe that--and neither do we.  I mean most people want to feel like they are needed. Make sure your language is inviting love.  Let me be clear, I do not mean need in the “I can’t breathe without you” sense.  I mean it in the true romantic sense of balance and augmenting an already joyous life.  I mean it in the way that up needs down, yin needs yang, light needs dark, and so on.  After all, it is the supportive contrast inherent in a loving relationship that allows our essence to glow even brighter.  In other words, what makes the rise of the sun so glorious is its proceeding darkness. It is a beautiful balance and it is a healthy place to be.
  5. Stop looking!: Okay, here it is. This is the part that I promised would be brief, but it is essential nonetheless.  However, I may mean it differently than you have heard before.  Stop looking is about shifting the energy from looking to expectancy.  Yes, just like pregnancy.  When a woman is pregnant she is not conflicted over whether or not the baby is coming out.  Oh, it is coming—ready or not! And her role of expectancy leads her to prepare for the inevitable.  That is the same confidence and energy you must have about your new love.  Know she is coming because you are ready to receive her--BE EXPECTANT OF LOVE.
 I didn't spend any time talking about where to find love. Mostly because the point isn't where but what effort you are putting into the energy that will draw the right person.  If you are doing that then you can find Mrs. Right anywhere your heart goes.  However, I will say this...When I want a high quality dress from Nordstroms, I don't go shopping at Goodwill--I'm just saying--LOL

In the end, I hope and claim that your singlehood is filled with self-care, friendships, quality experiences and joy.  She is on the way.  What we focus on magnifies, so in the meantime celebrate the love of others by coming here and reading the great articles of couples making it work. 

I honor you for taking the steps toward this LOVE REVOLUTION…Nya Akoma!


Monday, November 12, 2012

SHARE YOUR LOVE: Happy Couple Highlight VIII


Beautiful Couple: Nikki Rashan and Brandy Jenkins

How long have you been together? We have been friends for 10 years, partners for 3 years and married for 4 months.

 Brandy: We met over the internet on the evening of July 14, 2002. My uncle had just died and I prayed and asked God to send me somebody who would love me unconditionally, be a true friend and partner... It was one of those heart felt type of prayers, and I only prayed that hard twice before in my life. It was destiny that Nikki and I came together. I had just hooked up my computer and put the AOL disc in the drive to load.  I felt a sense of calmness and felt guided. My screen name was Luvme911 because I needed someone to love me now.  I went into a chat room and saw her screen name, Love2loveher. Somehow I knew it was her. We chatted for a long time, exchanged numbers, talked the next day, soon becoming friends. God answered my prayer because he gifted me with whom I asked for. 

Nikki: The night we “met,” I was tired and had been out all day with my daughters. That evening we got home around 11:30 and even though I wanted nothing more than to go to bed, I felt drawn to the computer. “Something” kept telling me to get on the computer so I did. After that I sat there in front of the screen and “something” told me to go into a chat room. I had never been in a chat room before but I listened to voice that spoke to me. I created a new screen and sat inside a chat room for a while. Finally I started to talk to only one person: LuvMe911 It was Brandy. We ended up sending instant messages for half the night. We met in person about a month later. At times it's difficult to describe the intense energy that brought us together, but we both know that something greater than us led us to one another that night.
When did the transition from friendship to partnership occur? Nikki: In late summer 2008, I connected with Brandy a couple of times during a trip to Atlanta.  After that, we started talking more. I could always share anything with her without judgment. She was truly a great friend. I always felt valued and she made me happy. In 2009, Brandy sent me an email titled “My Heart” and revealed her feelings about me.

 Brandy: Nikki and I had a genuine connection and I could always speak my truth with her. I never felt judged. I felt comfortable with her. She encompasses everything a friend should be. I initially emailed her to express my feelings and in turn, she expressed her own but was not ready to be “more than friends”.  As hard as it was for me to accept her reasoning, I did respect it.  Over the following months we visited, hung out, and got even closer.  I had to allow our journey to continue on its path and not let my impatience get in the way. 
Nikki: After the “My Heart” email, we started visiting and somewhat testing the water to see if a relationship would build. I had such a wonderful friend in her, and I was extremely afraid because I didn’t want to mess up such a beautiful friendship. I went back and forth for months about us being together, and I knew it was making Brandy crazy. After my visit to Atlanta Labor Day weekend that year, we stepped back a bit from each other for almost two months, but I thought about her daily. In late October, I finally realized how much I really did love her. I sent her an email and told her I was ready to move forward. She kind of dodged me for a couple of weeks and played hard to get but by the time we connected in person again shortly after, we moved forward and never looked back.

Brandy: I always referred to her as “my Nikki”. I knew that she was promised to me so I had to remain because I knew that one day she would be mine. God’s promise spoken in 2002 was so very clear and I believed it with all of my heart.  We married in San Juan, Puerto Rico on July 14, 2012.
Discuss how you deal with and face challenges that might come up in your relationship? We’ve faced only a few challenges in our relationship. Early on, our greatest obstacle was distance. The first year and a half we lived in different cities and we would see each other on average about three to five days each month. That was often quite difficult. It was then that we learned to communicate best, openly and honestly, no holds barred. If one or both of us became frustrated by distance and felt saddened or even angered by it, we expressed our feelings freely. Whenever we face a challenge, we know that we are welcome and encouraged to state whatever is on our heart and mind. Free flowing communication strengthens our bond.

Long Distance relationships are demanding. How did you weather that storm?

Nikki: We did not do anything structured, but we made our time together count. Being apart forced us to really get to know each other.  We talked a lot on the phone and became emotionally intimate.
Brandy: When we talked, I always invited her into my world. I also felt invited into her world so we always knew what was going on with each other. I felt like I was there because I could always sense her energy.

How did you decide who was moving? And Why?

Brandy: It was another sign of God’s work. I had a trip planned to visit Nikki in April 2011. Just before my visit I received a call from a company that found my resume online.  I scheduled the interview while I was there and got the job on the spot. When I got back to Atlanta, I put everything on Craigslist and a few days after my daughter graduated, June 2011, we loaded up the car and moved. It was an easy transition.

Nikki: The timing of Brandy’s move couldn’t have happened at a better time. It was perfect. By then we both were fed up with the distance, but didn’t know when one of us would be able to move. I wasn’t able to relocate yet because my girls had one more year of high school to complete. When Brandy got the call for the interview and then hired immediately, we were so happy.

What would you say is the key to the success of your relationship? With non-judgment, trust, loyalty, and respect as our foundation, we’ve cultivated a love that is solid. Communication is key in our relationship.  A solid foundation has been formed which helps us communicate our individual needs, wants, and desires to each other. We never have to guess what the other is feeling.  Openly and honestly we communicate knowing our concerns will be met with love and understanding.
What role does spirituality play in your relationship? At this point in our relationship, spirituality plays a major role in our day-to-day lives. Initially it was a growing process. In the beginning we held onto our faith in a more personal and individual basis. Gradually and naturally, as we developed a deeper connection with one another, our spiritual connection deepened as well.  We believe in God, and trust that He brought us together and will guide us throughout our relationship.

How do you practice your faith together?

Nikki: We don’t attend church regularly, but we read spiritual books together and incorporate faith-based conversations in our daily life.

What role does sensuality and mutual attraction play in your relationship? We've always had a strong affection for one another. Even during the early months of our friendship, we'd lay next to each other on the couch while we talked and listened to music. This kind of interaction was not one we shared with anyone else who was "just a friend." Our natural affection intensified once we entered a romantic relationship and, of course, expanded.  We thrive from the attraction we feel for one another.

What are you most attracted to? Brandy: I love how she thinks. I am an “A+B” person, but Nikki helps me see the entire picture. She challenges my thinking. She opens me up to the whole picture and helps me consider different ways to think. Physically, Nikki has a nice derriere. It captures my attention every morning.
Nikki: I find Brandy to be just a wee bit cocky. She has a healthy streak of confidence and that’s a turn-on for me.  Physically, she is very shapely like a woman should be shaped.

What have you learned about each other during your relationship?

Brandy: I learned that Nikki is my validator. With her actions and words she confirms who I am to her; I love that. I have also learned that she is an amazing listener. Her opinion is objective and fair. Her truth is always gentle and honest.

Nikki: I learned that Brandy lives up to what she says. In the courting phase, she described how a relationship would be with her, and she has lived up to every word.

What has the relationship taught you about yourself?

Nikki: Brandy has helped me re-develop a relationship with God; a connection that I lost for several years. I am grateful to her for that.

Brandy: Nikki has taught me to slow down. Nikki takes her time with everything she does. She always enjoys the process and the journey and not just the end-result.

Nikki: It is a good balance. She nudges me and helps me speed up. And, I help her slow down.

You both are mothers.  How do your children feel about your relationship? Nikki: Our girls were happy that we found happiness in each other.  They all get along and support us. We’re so happy they were part of the wedding ceremony.

Brandy: My daughter adores Nikki. There are times when she and Nikki talk and text with one another comfortably.  She has expressed that “she’s so happy that I’m happy.”

What tips would you give to other lesbian couples? Our tips to other lesbian couples are:
1) Be loyal to one another. 
2) Always represent yourselves in a positive light.
3) Express your feelings honestly.
4) Support and encourage one another.

How do you daily celebrate or acknowledge your love to each other? Brandy: Gestures – She likes when I cook. I also iron her clothes to give her time to do her in the morning.
Nikki: She does everything so I can just get up and just go. I make sure that Brandy is ok emotionally. I always make sure that she is in a good space. I am always available to listen. I can tune into her emotions.

What one word describes your love: Brandy: Promised. Nikki: The word is destiny.
In one word, how does she make you feel? Brandy: Significant. Nikki: Cherished.
(Interview conducted by SharRon Jamison)

Feel free to learn more about Nikki and Brandy at
Thank you, Nikki and Brandy, for sharing your love with us. We appreciate your time, energy and generosity in helping us CREATE LOVE!

Be sure to nurture YOUR LOVE at the Create Love! Conference on February 16th...More info.

Much love to you,
SharRon Jamison Co-Founder