My Christmas Morning Smelled Like Hope

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Hanging On|Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

My Christmas Morning Smelled Like Hope

A break from the everyday grind lent me peace

I woke up Christmas morning to a blustery icy wind and the invitation from the corners of my home to get up and get out with Jernee in tow. Just before 07:00 a.m., I released myself from the grips of a warm bed, prayed, layered up in clothing, and gathered my four-legged love so we could tour our neighborhood before everyone got active. We walked around the complex, toward the wind, our faces kissed by nature’s undeniable presence, and attempted to make our walk as productive but short as possible.

The air smelled like buttered biscuits and honey — so sweet; a come-hither-ish enjoyment that no one could deny. I was content. I felt loved. I knew the days after this special holiday would also be tests, but I had the feeling they would not be hard to pass. I can only hold fast to the idea this will be so. Jernee bounced about as if a new spring was in her steps — she sashayed ecstatically, happy to be out in the early morning air doing what she loved to do most.

I released myself from the grips of a warm bed, prayed, layered up in clothing, and gathered my four-legged love so we could tour our neighborhood before everyone got active.

I braced myself for each brush of the wind, tightening up my jacket every few moments — checking my gloves, fiddling with my pockets. We did not linger on for the usual mile; we didn’t even do a half-mile. Christmas morning’s walk was truly about business — handling it and getting back inside as quickly as we could. The cold had been enough to lay anyone out for a week, and I refused to be a contender in that game of life. I aimed to keep my health intact, and I foresee success in that area.

I opted to spend the holiday alone. I even began celebrating it Wednesday night by turning off my cell phone, but not before alerting my most loved humans of this change. I had it in mind to enjoy every single minute of my mini-vacation, and this included as few distractions as possible. There are holidays I revel in spending alone, and there are holidays when the pain of spending them alone hits me like a freight train.

But with COVID-19 looming its ugly head around every corner and hitting us harder than anything we’ve ever seen — it felt safer to remain at home. It felt safer to do what I wanted, when I wanted, and be in a heated space while doing so. According to a British study, they found — one in four adults feel as though they would spend Christmas alone this year. And while this is in the UK, the US is facing the same restrictions in various states because of a virus we cannot (and some do not want to) control.

When we found satisfaction from our walk, we came back inside. I fed Jernee and began prepping for my breakfast; sausage patties, buttermilk biscuits, grits, and a glass of eggnog. I savored every bite, thankful for the blessings of shelter, food, and the ability to adapt whenever necessary.

Christmas can be about more than survival. It can be an opportunity to learn to thrive in your aloneness. — Stephanie Foo, The New York Times, December 2020.

For those of you who have had to experience this holiday alone for the first time because of so many drastic changes this year, I can imagine your sadness. I understand your discontentment. I have been there — done that. Before COVID-19, I had learned how to properly love myself and be with myself without feeling as though I needed physical accompaniment from another. Having someone around to take in the wonders of Christmas is a beautiful thing, but this year — I needed the alone time. I wanted it more than I ever have.

The cold had been enough to lay anyone out for a week, and I refused to be a contender in that game of life.

Christmas dinner|Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

After breakfast, I began making my crockpot chili, which I paired with garlic-cheese cornbread. As the sauce blended with the seasonings, the smell wafted throughout my home and I only felt happiness. I could only feel happiness. My Christmas morning smelled a lot like hope. It smelled a lot like new beginnings and purposeful opportunities. I delighted in watching Christmas-themed animated movies and a few other movies too. I finally sat down and engaged in Hulu’s Happiest Season, which was shortly followed by On-Demanding Ip Man: Kung Fu Master. I read, wrote, watched more animated cartoons, ate heartily, and enjoyed snuggle time with Jernee.

I experienced life in small doses and drank in the glorifying goodness of it all without feeling pressed to do more. This was the perfect holiday — I needed the rest. I earned the rest. My mom and I planned to see each other the following day instead, and Saturdays every other month are usually our meeting days. This should be no different. I look forward to our time together and I know she is looking forward to seeing both me and Jernee too.

The best thing about this Christmas for me is the non-rush of it all. I did not tackle any crowds. I kept it light on any shopping, doing it all online, and sent the parents of the babies and little ones in my life, money via CashApp so they could bear the weight of getting gifts for their children. Many will probably venture to say their holiday spent alone makes it a lonely one, but I will testify — this year, I welcomed the alone time. It provided me with seconds, minutes, and hours I should have found earlier on to do what I should have been doing, which is — truly enjoy myself in the comfort of my home.

Instead of remaining home out of fear and disinterest in the uncivilized, I remained home because it called to me. And I answered.

I experienced life in small doses and drank in the glorifying goodness of it all without feeling pressed to do more.

I woke up on Christmas morning and the air was different — it was fresher and crisper. There had been a newness to every cloud and a hint of love in every gust of wind. There had also been hope as the silver lining on what we could consider a gloomy experience for others and a sprinkle of selflessness lurking in the bushes. Peace wrapped itself around me and reminded me of what it looks like sitting with oneself and admiring what I see.

Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

I spent Christmas alone and doing so opened my eyes to what they had been closed to for a long time — we are, in fact, gifts to ourselves.


Originally published on Medium.

Sometimes, I Feel Like I’m Losing My Voice

A Writer’s Lament

Photo by Arantxa Treva via Pexels

And I know it’s the overwhelming year that’s nearly behind me and feverishly thinking about the one ahead of me but as a writer, I cannot lose my voice. I am not talking about the physical sound from the use of my vocal cords but my writer’s voice — the authenticity that is me.

There’s pressure all around us. As creatives, we strive to pursue a place in the artistic world where we can be heard, but in a sea of sames, how can our differences stand out? The one thing I do not want to lose as it pertains to my craft is my uniqueness.

I do not want to lose myself in the sea of sames. I have worked hard to carve out space in this world for myself and my way of giving people the ideas that come to me as I toss and turn at night.

This — this writing thing is my freedom song. I write about my life. I write about what I wish my life was. I write about the beauty of the lives of others. And I write about the untruths and could-bes and would-bes of this world. There is a space of peace that shows itself when I am writing.

There’s pressure all around us. As creatives, we strive to pursue a place in the artistic world where we can be heard, but in a sea of sames, how can our differences stand out?

I lose myself in the words.

Of late, I have felt as if I am pulling words from the pit of my stomach, stretching them out to their true length, and delivering them to a wholesale warehouse for direct manufacturing. What I’m trying to say is, it’s been hard.

If you’re reading this and nodding your head in agreement, I wish I had the answer. What I have told myself to do is, “Practice more. Stress about things less. Just write, Tre.” It’s working. Little pep talks have become my friends.

Every so often, I have to remind myself that no matter how many clones there are touting the same advice, using the same template, and running around after each other to see who can push out the most articles per week, I must remain who I am.

Of late, I have felt as if I am pulling words from the pit of my stomach, stretching them out to their true length, and delivering them to a wholesale warehouse for direct manufacturing.

And who I am is my voice.

I have lasted five, almost six years on Medium and fourteen on WordPress, growing each year and giving a little bit more of myself at the same time too. I refuse to follow a cookie-cutter pattern or waddle behind a crowd chasing too-good-to-be-true outcomes.

I want to stand in line by myself, but I also want to share that line with others who will not strip the beauty of themselves away to put on the skin of those who lose themselves just to get ahead. I am here. I work hard to keep my presence pure. I don’t want to be like anyone else.

But sometimes I feel like I’m losing my voice. And should it seem like I have dear reader, I urge you to tap me on the shoulder and bring me back to earth.

Please.


Originally published in CRY Magazine via Medium.

The Beauty of “Different” and What I Learned From It

Growing up, I was encouraged to have friends of various races and ethnicities

Community art in Greensboro, North Carolina. Photo courtesy of Tremaine L. Loadholt

I was fortunate to have grown up in a household with a mother who welcomed all my friends. No matter their race, creed, ethnicity, or culture, the people who drew me near to them found a home in our home because of my mom. And since my father and later, my stepfather, agreed with her stance, by default, they welcomed them, too.

I had Black, Mexican American, White, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, and Puerto Rican friends. Boys and girls alike ran up and down our stairs. My mom, on her happiest and most sober days, cooked for us. She would serve our favorite fatty foods around dinnertime, and if a few of my friends wanted to spend the night (weekends only), she’d reach out to their parents and seal the deal.

I was aware of our differences, but they held no weight when it came to love. I had a responsibility in my pre-teen and teenage years, and that was to love everyone. If I showed even an inkling of hatred or a small amount of disdain toward anyone, I had my mother to answer to. Trust me, I wanted no parts of her when she was angry. So, I walked the straight and narrow. I appreciated being able to befriend anyone and learn to love them, too.

No matter their race, creed, ethnicity, or culture, the people that drew me near to them found a home in our home because of my mom.


Me and Susan, so many years ago. Savannah, Georgia. Photo courtesy of Tremaine L. Loadholt

I have held some of these friendships for fifteen years or more. I’ve watched these beautiful people get married, have children of their own, and move through life with the gusto and persistence needed to tackle anything coming their way. I am so grateful for constant reminders of embracing “all God’s children” and carrying this info into my adult years.

Me and Theresa (I love to hear her oldest daughter say her name: “Te-Ress-ah.” It’s beautiful.). Atlanta, Georgia, 2016. Photo courtesy of Tremaine L. Loadholt

Even if we haven’t seen each other or been around each other physically, we remain in contact with one another. The beauty of technology these days is an intriguing thing. I can swipe a few words into the text message screen of my cell phone, click send, and communicate with all of them in moments. This beats our older ways of communication, which included the cord or cordless phone, letters, and a hop, skip, and a jump over to each other’s place.

Me and Vic being our silly selves. Atlanta, Georgia, 2016. Photo courtesy of Tremaine L. Loadholt

I see my friendships as stepping stones into a blissful life. These beautiful people have seen me at my worst and love me just the same. We’ve had our debates, arguments, and extreme disagreements, but we’ve pulled through and came out unscathed. If I can appreciate the word different and what it entails, I am sure every human being in America can learn to do this. I don’t think we’re meant to be each other’s enemies.

I don’t believe we’re meant to stand for purposeful things alone. It is my understanding and unmoving stance to stand together and rise together, too.

I am so grateful for constant reminders of embracing “all God’s children” and carrying this info into my adult years.

What we must do is shake whatever harmful actions and thoughts buried deep within us and move forward to a positive outcome. I would love to embrace everyone, no questions asked — no research performed, but during these incredibly divided times, that would not be wise.

I have to be smart in knowing who I can turn to and why. I also have to be as equally smart in those I seek to make allies. They must be equipped with the knowledge of striving for equality by any means necessary. Solidarity should be as close to them as the color of their skin.

If a girl raised in the deep South, brought up by a woman with a fierce love for all people, can love the differences in anyone she meets, surely you can, too.

Start today. It’s never too late.


Originally published in Our Human Family as a response to the Finding Gratitude Prompt via Medium.

10 Reasons Why I’m Not Giving Up on Myself

#4. I am a dreamer but I believe in miracles


Musical Selection: Alicia Keys & Khalid|So Done


These past few months, I have been dealing with my share of emotions springing forth unannounced and on most days, I am left feeling as though my tank is empty. I have to keep it full — fueled to its maximum capacity, so to speak, but it is hard.

This isn’t to say that I am not trying, I am. There are days harder than most and I find myself pulling strength and perseverance from the depths of my soul just to stay afloat. I am swimming. The pace at which I’m stroking in these tumultuous seas is a rapid one, but I refuse to drown.

Recently, I’ve lacked confidence, been incredibly hard on myself about little things, snapped at those I love, lost a few loved ones to a deadly virus, beaten myself up about my looks, weight, & overall personality, and cut ties with a few loved ones.

Let’s just say I haven’t been “living my best life,” and I am almost positive many of you reading this very article are probably feeling the same.

On my bad days, I feel hollow, as if I’m waiting to be carved and put on display for judging eyes and willful lips. I have to remind myself that I am a force and although my current demeanor isn’t one of which I’m familiar, I’m still in this skin struggling to break free.

Here are a few reasons why I’m not giving up on myself.


  1. I have a badass group of supportive people in my life. They keep me grounded, make me laugh, remind me of my best qualities, and share in my pain. They lift me up when I’m feeling down and aren’t afraid to pull me out of the dumps when I’ve dived in head-first. These are solid relationships — all have stood the tests of time. I can count on these people and for this, I’m grateful.

  2. There’s beauty all around me. I don’t have to go far to see the wonders of this world. A purple hue behind the clouds greets me in the morning. The sky is a set of open arms begging me to capture it. Trees speak in tongues and their leaves are the mothers of nature’s church. Birds sing glorious songs and the sun rises in a timely manner. I can look out my window and be reminded of all that’s beautiful in this world in an instant — that’s enough.

  3. I make people smile. My days aren’t all bad at work. I have so many patients who I make smile and bring joy to. They shower me with gifts and no matter how many times I attempt to reject them, they find a way to push through and give a little bit of their hearts to me. It’s breathtaking. Stop and smell the roses given to you while you still can.

  4. I am a dreamer but I believe in miracles. If allowed, I’d live in my dreams. You’d find me there doing what I love most at all times, away from anything that causes pain. But I can’t stay there. I know the importance of being in the now and trusting my faith. I believe. Wholeheartedly, I believe.

  5. I am keeping my close friends closer. They know me. They love me. They aren’t trying to change me. I can depend on them for listening ears and moments of their time. I don’t have to purchase or lease it. They’re readily available. They don’t make excuses and I don’t overwhelm them. They want to love me and they do.

  6. I don’t want anyone in my life who doesn’t wish to be here. I have toyed with the idea of making new friends, but people are WORK and currently, I don’t have the patience to deal with the extracurricular activity of bobbing and weaving through the hoops of people who want to be in my life one day, gone the next, then reappear as if nothing occurred. I am worth more than blinks and twitches. I know this. I embrace this. I want nothing less.

  7. I am a ball of energy who gets weak sometimes. But that doesn’t mean I am not strong. I can stand my ground and if necessary, I do. If I fall, I lift myself up and try again. A few scraped knees won’t stop me. I’ve had things break before and I’ve healed. I always heal.

  8. I am writing my way through the pain. The worst thing someone has said to me about my way of loving was, “I don’t need the way you love. I don’t want it.” And as much as they hurt or cut me deeply with that comment, I had to hear that. It enabled me to assess who I am in intimate relationships. I had been applying the same method of loving to everyone and people are different. It also made me realize that some people are just assholes too. I know which is which and now, I plan accordingly.

  9. When all else fails, enjoy the sunshine. Really, this has helped me more than I can express. There’s living in the rays of the sun. I try to get “outside time” daily.

  10. Every day, I am growing. I am not perfect and neither are you. I love who I am. I love who I am becoming. The work in changing is hard, but it is beneficial. I have value and I add value to the lives of those I love. I remind myself to remember this.

I look forward to the day when I can sit back and point out this moment in time where my struggles propelled me to change — where they caused me to do deeply-rooted work within me, and when I finally allowed myself to feel and believe I am not alone in growing and batting down the negative pangs of life.

If you feel the walls closing in on you as you endure these hectic times we are all trying to move through, I’d recommend changing your view of you. What motivates you? What keeps you happy? What do you like most about yourself? What do others love most about you? Take some time to remember you are a human being and life can be a bitch-slap out of nowhere. Be good to yourself. Be gentle to yourself. Be kind to yourself. There’s only one you.

I’ve made it to the point in my life where I stand firm on the following: I am not giving up on myself. I am worth the work, damn it!

And from me to you, you are too.


Originally published in P. S. I Love You via Medium.

Hello, Happiness. Hello, Sadness. Which of You Will I Feel Today?

On: moving through these two emotions as best as I can.

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Photo by DEVN via Unsplash

I am seated at my kitchen table in my breakfast nook — laptop propped up, my therapist’s voice in the background . . . We are meeting, but virtually. This has become — dare I say it, Our New Normal. I have adjusted my life in such a way that allows me an evening once per month with my therapist so I may stay on track in managing my emotions, dealing with personal breakdowns, and understanding the many changes happening in my life that have affected me more than I thought they would. For now, this plan is proving to be helpful and as soon as I transition to my new position, we will find a better time of day to conduct our sessions.

For those of you unaware, I will switch jobs soon. On November 06, 2020, I will say goodbye to the facility where I work and transfer to another department within our organization for a remote position. This will be good for me — it will keep me out of some intense situations with people who have proven to be more selfish than selfless. Screening for COVID-19 symptoms during what is now “Flu Season” is taxing. It was already a strenuous task hard on my body, but the level of exhaustion has increased in recent weeks.

I am open and honest when I say I would rather be at home during a global pandemic and I am overjoyed about this change, however, happiness is not the only emotion I feel as I count down to my last day.

I am leaving people I love

Although I will still work for the same organization, I will be in a different department — handling mostly different tasks. This moves me from a group of people I love — cherish as a family. My team is outstanding and walking away from them will leave me gutted in a way I had not prepared for.

I can already feel sadness settling in intermittently. It overwhelms me. It stifles me and drains my energy. It keeps me from being my best self at work.

When you learn and grow with an amazing group of people who go above and beyond in doing their jobs and have a mindset of providing remarkable care to patients, this is hard to forget or dismiss.

My team will be one person short until there is a replacement. I think about how that will impact them — how they will have to work doubly hard to keep up with our facility’s pace, and what that might do to them both mentally and physically. Ours is a fast-paced facility servicing a demographic that isn’t always responsive or respectful, so trying times come more often than not.

I can already feel sadness settling in intermittently. It overwhelms me. It stifles me and drains my energy. It keeps me from being my best self at work.

Making this decision to step down and away from my current position was hard because I am not leaving a place I hate . . . I am leaving a place I love — one filled with people who care, are concerned, and want to help others.

It was time I “chose” me first

I decided to do this for me — to put me first, and I will not back down from it. When I look at how what I do warps my emotions, pulls me away from others, and makes me want to retreat more than invite or welcome anyone in (be it virtually or while social-distancing), a work-from-home position could be the peace and safety I need to regain some semblance of my former self.

We are all quarantining or distancing ourselves from those we love — we’re all feeling the brunt of this global pandemic. My question to myself was, “How can you change one thing to make what you do better?” Given what I do, there is no way to change it to make it better. It’s a hands-on job with involvement and physical interaction with people who are seeing us for the care they wish to get. So, I then said to myself, “You can still be in the medical field, but be hands-off.” And therefore, I applied to remote positions within our organization.

I know where my heart is, and it’s in helping others — it always has been there. I feel strongly about this purpose. Moving towards this position to schedule invasive procedures and imaging scans for our patients while still being able to communicate with them (over-the-phone or via our chat/email options) relieves me. I will still do what I love doing.

What day will this be? A happy or sad one?

As I work down the last two weeks of my resignation, I am moving through two emotions rather wildly. My sense of self feels off-kilter and unbalanced. One day, I’m happy to count down to my last day. The next, I am sad. I am moved to tears. The hurt cuts deeply. I know what I am doing. I know why I am leaving. I want to feel as though it validates my reasons for doing so without the added baggage of enhanced emotions.

I am open and honest when I say I would rather be at home during a global pandemic and I am overjoyed about this change, however, happiness is not the only emotion I feel as I count down to my last day.

My therapist to me during our last session: “You will move through those emotions as they come, Tre. What did we discuss during our last session about feeling all of them?”

“Feel them, then move on from them.”

Moving on is the hard part. I feel them just fine. They welcome themselves into my daily routine unannounced, and I have to reassure myself that what I am feeling is sound — it is normal. I have a right to be both happy and sad about choosing to leave my job and the people I love, but why can’t I understand this?

Quietly, I belittle myself for moving from one emotion to the next as the days pass. I have to learn to be kinder — to acknowledge that this is monumental for me and to give myself a little more love. It took me months to crack down on a job hunt and a few more weeks after that, to pursue the jobs for which I had applied. This was a process — a well thought out process. I did not make the decision in haste.

It all boils down to my reluctance to adapt to change — this, I know. I am aware of this. It crushes me to shift a routine, to uproot my habitual status, to move with the wind . . . I am happier planted — a tree should be my spirit object. I made a mental note of this to discuss with my therapist during our next session. Perhaps this is another reason both happiness and sadness have become my bedfellows.

The time is nearing and my team members and some patients who are knowledgeable are telling me how much they will miss me and sending me my roses while I am still alive. I appreciate them. I look forward to them. I am blessed to be a person so loved and accepted. I am happy they are allowing me to smell them before I leave — to embrace their compassion before I say “Goodbye.”

It crushes me to shift a routine, to uproot my habitual status, to move with the wind . . . I am happier planted — a tree should be my spirit object.

And as the days continue to dwindle down to the final one, I will continue to acknowledge what I am feeling and why.

Regardless of when happiness or sadness greets me, I will be ready to stare each down fearlessly.


Originally published on Medium.