Sitting on a great oak tree roots, my NOLA roots

A New Orleans Oak Tree named “Lady Lola”

I love that I can come back to a piece of my life, a moment that some may not think is worth penning to paper, but there’s something so special reconnecting with this old twisted oak tree.

I was once a curious little girl who sat, climbed and jumped from this tree, with every footstep upon its limbs, I would wonder & sometimes ask the tree “How did you get all bent and twisted? Did someone plant your seed sideways??”

As you know the tree was always silent, but my Mama and Daddy would tell me life did it to the tree. I can feel my face squishing up as it is now and wonder why would life do that and how can it happen to such a big strong tree.???

I learned that I am just like this strong twisted, bent, deformed, warped, crooked old oak tree…Life came along, you know the not so good parts of life, the rainy days and sleepless nights had taken affect on my body as well. I would endure, shake it off, suffering, losing my mind and at times I was on the cliff of giving up, because not only did life affect my body, but it warped my heart.

So, there I stood like this twisted old oak tree, still standing, yes, bent crooked and scarred but I’m still surviving, still beautiful, still a place of comfort for those who come to see me.

Like this twisted old oak tree you will see that we both continue to grow, continue to love the soil we sink our roots in, we still extend our branches of love and support to all, even finding the courage to bend so low that it hurts our trunk, the pain we say is only temporary, because the fruit that we bear will feed who’s below and feeding a soul is a part of our purpose here.

Like this twisted old oak tree, I am still here, I left NOLA but she stayed securely planted, awaiting for my return. She stayed waiting to hear all that experience and she would share her story of survival as well.

We both survived the hurts of the storms, the 100 degree heat of rejection, the below zero cold that freezes and cracks the heart, she watched the flooding of our loved ones lives, the hurricanes that came to take families legacy away. She watched, stood planted only, because she knew I would return and others too.

Now I sit at the womb of this old oak tree, silently listening to her words of wisdom. She spilling the sweet tea straight from her soul. Shes prepping me on how to keep surviving the important tasks that lay ahead. She reminds me that people will look at me as they do her, thinking she can’t do anything, because of life’s outside deformity of her outer core, but she states she’s capable of doing it all, because it comes from within. “They can’t see beyond the crook in your back, but that’s your advantage and you market on it, sweetheart” she whispers to my soul.

This twisted old oak tree wants me to return with my seeds, so that they may try to trace where here crook in her trunk began and the only way I can do that is to survive and stop the gentrification of my people and my land.

So, like this twisted old oak tree I will keep my branches extended to the sky, praising my God for the life that He entrusted me with. I told her I will try not to complain when life settles in my bones and bends me once more….

I named this tree “Lady Lola” she can be found at City Park right by the playground, by the pavilion and Morning Call restaurant.

Lady Lola

A native of New Orleans, who left her beloved New Orleans to spend twenty years of living in the land of Minnesota Not So Nice. Minnesota was full of opportunities but would learn that the soul of the state and the people who made it was just as icy cold as the temperatures. After the years and my 40th birthday flew by, I decided it was time to pack up my youngest child and come back to my roots, my birthplace the city that not only birthed me but gave me life. I would not be who I am without my New Orleans beginnings. I am all things that would challenge the belief of growing up in New Orleans. I was a 16yr old teen mother of a premature baby born with a severe medical disability. And only With the help of my mother, was it possible for me to BE! I was able to endure and survive the obstacles laid before my child and me. In a city that was built by my family, but did not allow for us to reap the benefits I overcame. Charity Hospital was my second home — a building filled with miracle workers who made it possible for my daughter to have life. I have lived a life of rainy days with peeks of sunshine, that are my children, including those not of my womb. I'm the proud mother of three and a grandmother of three. My dream was to live the life of the nursery rhyme of ”The Old Lady Who lived in a shoe,” and for the most part, I did. I cared for several children over the years as a special needs foster parent. I would learn that my love was not enough for some children, but I loved them through their pain. I'm not sure if I ever had a case of true love or came close to what love looks like on television, but I had my share of men and the mirage of love. I survived two abusive marriages. Though I longed to return to New Orleans on a daily bases, I must admit my move was one of the best decisions made for me. I am a college graduate; I was a successful entrepreneur. I coowned a soul food restaurant and catering company in Minnesota for 12 years. I developed the talent of creating custom cakes after the murder of my beloved cousin Melvin Paul. He survived Katrina only to go to Minneapolis six months later to be murdered over a parking spot dispute. But with the challenge of creating a simple wedding cake, I was able to find healing. I created the House of Cakes in honor of him. Minnesota life had me pretty materialistic. I worked to the point I do not remember much, but work and handing my children love money. I thought by having the big house on the hill, a husband, having a family, the ultimate provider and being involved in all things that matter, plus having the funds to match would cure me of what I was told was a generational curse of lack of everything from money, love to even self-love. But for the most part, that life poisoned my heart and soul. I was blinded by visions fed to me by the media. I was told I wasn't anything unless I was better than the Jones's. I lived being ok with a broken, bleeding heart. Life like this did not exist in my family while living in New Orleans from what I viewed with my eyes and soul. We may not have had all the things I acquired over the years, but we were happy, we were together. Family outside of New Orleans wasn't family anymore. We lived separate lives and had awkward moments when we bumped into each other in public. I hated living in Minnesota even though life their helped me in so many ways. I felt deep down the only way to repair it was to get back to my roots, my soul, my home, myself, my New Orleans. I'm here, and I love it. Even being in the so-called Blighted Area of New Orleans and not having all the financial and material security, I'm happy. I am determined that She, yes, New Orleans is a woman is just like me; together, we will overcome and will rise from all that tried to kill our spirit. Nothing like starting from the bottom and making your way back up!. I just know in my heart that New Orleans will provide for me. There's a bank account with funds in it owed to me by way of back pay for my ancestors. And I will receive my inheritance, and I will continue the traditions and customs of the old to keep the heartbeat of New Orleans beating. I'm down in the boot, living the life that feels right to me awaiting my destiny...

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