Archive for May, 2012

It Is Finished.

Thank You Very Sweet for Reading


Phenomenal Woman

by Dr. Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies. I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size But when I start to tell them, They think I’m telling lies.

 I say, It’s in the reach of my arms The span of my hips, The stride of my step, The curl of my lips.

I’m a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That’s me.

I walk into a room Just as cool as you please, And to a man, The fellows stand or Fall down on their knees. Then they swarm around me, A hive of honey bees.

I say, It’s the fire in my eyes, And the flash of my teeth, The swing in my waist, And the joy in my feet.

I’m a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered What they see in me. They try so much But they can’t touch My inner mystery. When I try to show them They say they still can’t see.

I say, It’s in the arch of my back, The sun of my smile, The ride of my breasts, The grace of my style.

I’m a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That’s me.

Now you understand Just why my head’s not bowed. I don’t shout or jump about Or have to talk real loud. When you see me passing It ought to make you proud.

I say, It’s in the click of my heels, The bend of my hair, the palm of my hand, The need of my care,

 ‘Cause I’m a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That’s me.


It’ll all make sense if you start at chapter one….

Read Full Post »

Read Full Post »

When I was preparing to leave Wall Street and head to Seminary, a woman from my church named Samantha Pitre gave me a book called the Dream Giver.

The book opens with a parable about a little boy named Ordinary who lives in Familiar Town.  Everyone in Familiar Town does the same thing every day: they go to work, come home, watch the box, and go to bed.

One day Ordinary is visited by the Dream Giver and the Dream Giver leaves him with a dream of something different, the symbol of which is a feather.  Feeling that he must do something with this feather, Ordinary decides to leave Familiar town to pursue his dream.

Ordinary does not get to his dream right away, however.  Pursuit of the dream becomes a hot and lonely road for Ordinary, as it seems he is cast out into the desert for a while.  He runs out of food and he runs out of water, and he gets frustrated.  But whenever he is hungry, food miraculously appears.  And whenever he is thirsty, water appears.

But Ordinary begins to doubt, and he gets really really mad.

He is almost ready to turn around, when he meets a woman named Faith.

Faith leads Ordinary the rest of the way.  Faith leads him through the remainder of the desert and into a new and fertile place.

A beautiful and lush place, except there are giants in this new place that Ordinary has to navigate around.  Faith helps him navigate those Giants;  and eventually Faith leads Ordinary to his dream, which is far more brilliant than his initial vision.

I am Ordinary and I left Familiar Town when I left Wall Street and went to Princeton Theological Seminary in 2005.

Finding my way…

The Dream Giver gave me a vision of something different: a life of purpose and meaning.  So I left the world that I knew.

God often sends us two-by-two: With Talithea at the Brooklyn Promenade, looking out over “Lady Liberty” with skepticsim. Are we free?

But I did not arrive at my dream right away. I walked (sometimes crawled) through a desert.  I made so many financial sacrifices in order to be in ministry, there were times that I didnt know how I would live.  But as I look back, I realize that I have never gone without.  Whenever I was hungry, there was food.  Whenever I was thirsty, there was water.

But just like Ordinary, I reached that burning hot place in my journey; that place where I didn’t want to do another thing.  All I  wanted to do was turn around.  This was June 2010 when The Women Center closed and the I found Kesner dead.  “Why Cant this Just be easy?!” I hollered and cried.  I was ready to throw in the towel and abandon this “road less-traveled”  for a path that felt more ordinary…

But then I met Faith

Winston Churchill said : “when you are going through hell, keep going…”   Dont stop there.

I realized that if I didn’t have faith, faith that one day things would get better, then I had nothing.  I realized that at 30, I was too young for the rest of my life to be hot, miserable and ordinary.  Change would have to come. So I followed faith through the remainder of my desert.  I worked hard, and I did the best that I could with my circumstance – and the hot moment has passed.

Today I am on that plush, fertile ground – and Faith is  there helping me navigate my giants.

I have just completed my second year of course work at Rutgers and funding is no longer an issue for me, as I am now a Ralph Bunche Fellow, A Pre Doctoral Leadership Institute Fellow, an Eagleton Institute of Politics Fellow and the recipient of the 2011 Dean’s Award.I have experienced miracle after miracle, but as my friend Amanda says: “life is a series of a thousand tiny miracles..”

Amanda and Me on Christmas Day

I recognize the miracles now.

I have also been involved in really interesting projects:  I participated in an evaluation of New Jersey’s Fugitive Safe Surrender Program, I am involved in a national study of probation officer’s use of opportunity focused reentry strategies, and I am involved in a state-wide prison based higher education initiative.  I will be co-piloting a prison-based intro to criminal justice course in the fall.  This class will be taught in the confines of a prison using the Inside Out model: half of the students will come from Rutgers and the other half will be incarcerated students.  I’m so excited.

As my good friend Andrea often says: “my universe is on fire.”

Me and Andrea at Jessie’s Bachelorette Party

Rutgers is truly fertile ground for me.

But I still have giants ahead of me.  Giants like navigating the social politics of the academy. And giants like adapting to social science research – I have a liberal arts background.  I have Giants ahead of me like my dissertation…

But faith will guide me through.

I am also in a fertile place in my personal life.  I am loving life and having a good time again!

Doing the Dougie with Doug E. Fresh at The Apollo Spring Gala last year – I’m having a good time again..

Yet I navigate around giants in my personal life as well.  Giants like evolving friendships, occasional personal attacks, personal growth and self acceptance.  And giants like patiently (sometimes desperately) waiting for “The One” to enter my life.

Faith is leading me through that also.  And I cant wait to see what is on the other side.

Can I share with you some things that I am envisioning?

1) In my lifetime, I will produce groundbreaking research that impacts social policy and I will be an award-winning ethnographer engaged in urban sociology. I will be a policy scholar.  I will be top in my field.

2) I will be a professor, the type that engages students.  Every student that I meet is a potential change agent, I will take those interactions very seriously. I will work to bring a message of justice, critical thought, communication and empowerment to young adults.

3) I will never stray too far from incarcerated people.  I will teach in prisons as often as I can and I will be a public advocate for penal justice reform.

4) Politics may be in my future.  And it would also be interesting to be an HBCU president one day…

5) I am also going to preach The Gospel.  I will use my words in the direction of truth and love.  I will preach the Gospel in many forms.  I will speak.  I will write.  I am a writer and I will be writing for the rest of my life.

6) The Women Center will resurrect in Trenton, NJ in some form. There will be like services available for women living at and below the poverty level once again. Trenton will experience a renewal.

I will share some personal romantic goals shortly….

7) As for Thank You Very Sweet – I see a movie.  And a book. And a play.  This is a beginning. 

And I also see a school.  The William Cook School in Trenton New Jersey is a school in Kesner’s old ward that has been abandoned for more than ten years.  Kesner felt very passionately about this school because of the message that it sent to children in the community about the value of education.

One day this school will be The Kesner Dufresne Academy for Boys.

The Kesner Dufresne Academy for Boys

This will be a top school with a highly ranked athletic program.  All students will matriculate to college.  Our target students will be low income boys of color.


I have a beautiful and vibrant life ahead, a spectacular dream.  I wear feathers a lot now, to symbolize this dream that the Dream Giver has given to me.

So at this time, I would like to say thank you,  To God:

Dear God,

Thank you for the Journey.  I doubted you.  I was angry.  I questioned you.  And you forgave me. I finally read the book of Job from start to finish and I was convicted.  Who am I to question your works?  You have showered me with grace. Your perfect LOVE has carried me through. I understand more now and I have become more wise because of this experience – how dare I question your plan? Years ago, I asked you for wisdom.  You are granting it. 

I become more wise every day.

I’m sorry..  I love you.. Forgive me..  is all that I can say.  Words don’t come easily..   But thankfully when the words don’t come, you simply say: Baby can I hold you tonight?  

And you do. 

I love you God.  And I thank you.  Thank you for Kesner, Thank you for my friends and family, Thank you for this blog, and Thank you for every person that stops here to read it. 

And Thank you for my vision. I am so excited about it!!!

To you, God; aka The Universe; aka Jehovah; aka The Dream Giver; aka LOVE; aka The Present; aka Higher Power; aka whatever name suits you:

To you I say, Thank You Very Sweet!!!!!!!!

our song

© Copyright Thank You Very Sweet, 2012

Read Full Post »

Dear Kesner,

If we walked this way, if we changed our pace, would love remain the same forever?” – Anthony Hamilton

Our song, Beautiful Wonderful, is what you are and always will be to me.  Kesner Dufresne I have grown from knowing  you, and I am sustained by the strength of your love which I still feel in this moment.  Baby thank you for every time that you told me I was beautiful.  Thank you for every date.  Thank you for slow dances in the park at midnight, for the 6 mile canoe ride, and for the way that you held me so tightly whenever we embraced.  And for the  mature love that you shared with me when my love for you was not always so mature.  I am different now, but you know that.  I know you see me.  I know you’re with me.

I will always love you Kesner.  And I know that even though your footprints have been erased on this earth, I can always meet you by the old fence for the day –  if I need to.

But it’s time now for me to open myself  up to romantic love.  My husband.  My great love ahead.

My Angel, I know you have been screening him, the love of my future.  you know who he is.  And becasue of the way you loved me, and because of God’s LOVE, I know who I am.  I am ready.

When Courtney and I laid in the grass at Horshoe Lake just after you died and I asked her if her dad ever came to visit her from Heaven, she said yes but  she feels bad when she calls his name.  She said she knows that when she calls on him, it is taking him away from the Glorious Band of Angels.

Have I kept you from the angels, Kes? I imagine so…   You were there with me whenever I cried out for you and sometimes I feel you when the wind blows, and the birds soar.  But I dont want to keep you from the Angels.  Go and play with them, Handsome; dance and sing and laugh with them. I see you dancing in Heaven, happy.   Dont worry about me, I’m ok now.  Im whole.  I’m better.

And I have so much gratitude in my heart for our LOVE story. I will always love you and I will always honor and cherish your memory.

Kesner Dufresne, Jr. – Thank You Very Sweet!!!

Goodbye, My Sweet Man..

May you rest in peace.

© Copyright Thank You Very Sweet, 2012

Read Full Post »


Oprah says that everybody’s life can be used to teach.  This requires us to take down our fig leaves though.  When Adam and Eve realized they were naked in the Garden of Good and Evil, they put on fig leaves and hid from God and each other.

Many of us still wear fig leaves today.  We hide big parts of ourselves because we fear humiliation, rejection and pain.

But can I tell you that I have never felt more free than I have as I have shared my truth with you?  It has been two years since Kesner died and sharing this story has been central to  my healing. When I began writing, I was in so much pain that I didn’t care about keeping up heirs and hiding my feelings.  And as I wrote, I got to know myself differently.  I bridged the siloed parts of my story together and came to love and cherish a whole me.

Can I share with you some of what I learned?

1)  I learned that I can’t control anything. Kesner’s death knocked my knees out from under me.  It was unexpected.  But so many of us live in fear of the unexpected.  We allow the unexpextected to dictate our moves in the present.  And at the end of the day, the unexpected might not be all that bad.  Yes Kesner’s death knocked the wind out beneath me, but without it I would not see the LOVE that’s working in my life. God didn’t put more on me then I could bear; even when it was really hard, I was never alone.  So I learned to trust God more. I learned to trust the flow of life. I learned to surrender.

2) I learned to own my feelings. When you are faced with a canyon in life, sometimes the only way to get across it is to climb down into its depths.  For me, walking through the depths of my canyon required owning my whirlwind of feelings and not ever suppressing them.  I am proud of my tears, they remind me that I am alive.  And the beauty of climbing through a canyon is that you are stronger when you climb up the other side.  I am stronger for having embraced the freedom to feel.

3) I have learned about the power of relationships. Human connectedness is at the center of all that is good.  LOVE does not exist in a vacuum, it is there where two or more are gathered.   I learned that relationships require accountability and acceptance; they require work to be sustained.  And I learned that I have some great ones, relationships that are worth the work of sustaining them.

Monet and Me in Princeton

And celebrating them.

Klay and Me on New Year’s Eve…

And honoring them.  I have beautiful people in my life. And I learned about the depths of my love for them as I articulated each one of our stories.  I am blessed.

Celebrating Kristen’s Engagement

4) I learned that I am beautiful just as I am. And that Natural IS Nice. I am loving me, just as God made me. I am enjoying embracing healthy beauty. I am loving my body differently.  I am training to become a yoga teacher; I have eliminated meat from my diet.  I am embracing health for me, and for my future family, my unborn kids and my husband, so that I can be physically and emotionally strong and ready to do all that God is calling me to. I am learning to love me from the inside out.

5) I learned that life is a journey, not a destination.  The goal is to know where you are.  I am clear about where I am and I accept and love me here, and I have some ideas about where I am going. I am a minister, a teacher, a writer, a sociologist, a friend, an activist.  I am a Woman.  And I vision that I will be a wife, a mother, a partner, a leader, a follower, a teacher, a lover, a friend, a minister, an activist, a scholar, A Queen…

I am proud of all of my moving parts.  Life is a journey, and I look forward to sharing this journey with another…

6) I have also learned that I didn’t just love Kesner for who he was, but for who I was with him. With Kesner, I felt safe.  I will feel that safe again.


Everybody has a story, and when we open up and share our stories we learn and grow and somehow become more whole in the process.  Can we become a more honest society?  Can we be more open?  Can we love more and fear less?  Can we retire protective masks for the sake of authenticity, growth and LOVE?  I hope so…

© Copyright Thank You Very Sweet, 2012

Read Full Post »

Birth – Day!

The days following my epiphany about Kesner and his high blood pressure medication were a series of emotional highs and lows.  I had lots to celebrate,  my path was being lined by a series of miracles: First my tution balance was mysteriously reduced to zero; then I received a small grant from my department, then a research job working on an evaluation for the Attorney General’s Office.

There were some administrative delays in processing my school funding, however;  so in the beginning of the semester my friends and family helped me fill in the gaps with dinners and gas cards and a few extra dollars here and there.

Another reason to celebrate was that  I was becoming re-engaged in the battle for social justice.  In my classes I was learning about many of the horror stories of mass incarceration, and about the ways that young girls navigate danger in poor communities, and about the theories about crime and disorder that shape our crime policies.  Day by day, as I delved deeper into my work, my passion for change began to return to me.

But I still missed Kesner desperately and that awful counselor that I was going to  in New Jersey wasn’t helping at all. 

As Kesner’s brithday apporached, September 23rd, I knew that I needed to do something to ritualize the occassion.  This was his first birthday since his death in June and ,assuming the worst, I decided to arrange to take the day off from school.   On that morning, however, I was surprisingly happy so I went to school anyway  – I wore the blouse that I wore on our Good Friday date and I spent the day reminiscing about how wonderful our sweet romance was.

The next day was awful, however.  A complete crap storm. I was bombarded by emotion and unable to leave the couch – go figure.

Grief is like a wave

And by the third day of Kesner’s birthday, Saturday, I decided to finally go out and do some ritualizing.  I went to Lambertville where we had our ten-hour date and I sat and had an ice cream cone on our rock.  Then I went to the cemetary and I looked for Kesner’s grave.  I walked around for 2 hours but I couldnt find it.  I figured that meant something, but I had no idea what.

Then I got an email from Talithea:  “TJ and I are going to come pick you up and take you to a county fair.” 

Talithea and TJ

Talithea and her seven year old son, TJ, picked me up and took me to the Italian Festival.   We ate, rode rides, played games and laughed.  It occurred to me that the reason that I couldn’t find Kesner in the cemetary is because he wanted me to know that his spirit was at the fair ground.  Kesner was there amongst the living, not the dead.  Talithea’s son TJ was wearing a white T-shirt and fatigue shorts that day, the same outfit that Kesner was wearing on the last day that I saw him alive.

The following day I sat at home and watched a Law and Order sinful clergy marathon on TV.   I was feeling fine and reflective until  a commercial for the movie Ghost came on.  They flashed the scene at the end of the film where Patrick Swayze has done his work on earth and he is being swept up into the sky with the angels, to leave Demi Moore forever…

I lost it!  Was there an expiration date to having your ghost around???!!   I had just gotten used to the idea of Kesner’s ghost being with me and the thought of me possibly having to say goodbye to his ghost one day sent me through the roof!!!!

I began a rant with God.  About everything!!  I was sad, broke and angry!!  Why cant this just be easy!? I was living in a mansion for free, and I did have a verbal commitment for PhD funding, but in that moment my cell phone service had just been cut off, I was hurting, and I was screaming (aka speaking in a reasonably toned angry voice):


God led me to my car and I went for a drive.  My Tracy Chapman CD was in the player (her first album), and suddenly the song “Baby Can I hold Tonight” came on.

I had two epiphanies: 1 – this was me and God’s song.  At first I was singing it to God, and then God sang it right back to me.  The second epiphany was that I needed to start writing about this experience.  And I was going to share it.

In that moment I heard a voice so clear telling me:   KIM, IT’S TIME TO WRITE..  

I had asked the Universe weeks earlier and, in the depth of my valley, the Universe was finally responding:  the time was now and the venue was the internet…

The very next day I signed on to Facebook and I wrote the first chapter of Thank You Very Sweet:  “Grief Sucks.”

© Copyright Thank You Very Sweet, 2012

Read Full Post »

On Friday May 28th 2010 I went on a silent retreat to a Monastery with my Soul Friend Jessie. We were ritualizing a transition in our friendship, she was preparing to move to upstate New York and I was very sad about her going.

My Soul Friend and Me then…


…and now

There were about 8 people on this retreat, including her spiritual director, Deanna.

At lunch time I remember sitting silently with others and looking at a pink rose floating in a small bowl of water on the center of the table.

I was trying to figure out if the rose was real or not, but I wasn’t allowed to talk.  I just looked at it, and I noticed small droplets of water resting on it’s petals. It looked like the rose was crying.  I decided that the tears were what made it real..  

That afternoon, Jessie’s spiritual director sat with me privately and we talked. I told her about all of my uncertainty and she told me: “I hear God telling you to ask: how will LOVE carry you through?”…

The following week I found Kesner Dead.


How has LOVE carried me through? LOVE comforted me, carried me, cried with me and made me chicken salad. When all was lost and nothing mattered, LOVE remained patient and present with me.

LOVE sent for me and sent me flowers. LOVE worked out with me, counseled me, and gave me encouragement. LOVE tolerated my mood swings and took me to lunch. LOVE paid for my dinner, reunited broken friendships, and sat with me at horseshoe lake. LOVE sang with me on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and sang to me on the grounds of the Country House.  LOVE was big enough to handle my anger, and pain, and moments of disbelief.  LOVE was strong and gentle enough to carry me through.

And as if that isnt enough, LOVE gave me a new song to sing, a story to tell, a testimony to write  –  LOVE gave me THIS VENUE, this blog to share.  And LOVE brought you here to read it.

This is what Deanna meant when she squeezed her cross and closed her eyes and heard LOVE say “ASK HER HOW I WILL CARRY HER THROUGH.”  This was the profound way:

God is LOVE and LOVE can do anything but fail – and LOVE will never put more on you than you can bear…

LOVE has manifested LOVE’s self in countless ways during this journey and now I am almost finished with my story – there is just a little bit more to tell.

But I’m  good. I’m So very very good…    because LOVE has carried me through!

© Copyright Thank You Very Sweet, 2012

Read Full Post »