An inspiring thought that will help your day go cleaner, swifter, and with a higher degree of positivity:

AN EXAMPLE FROM MY LIFE: I could not discern why I kept being thrown from residence to residence; why no home I seemed invited into let me stay. A friend, initially welcoming, became jealous of a small amount of financial good fortune. Another friend with a jealous wife did not understand my strategy for coping with severe back and knee pain and a persistent throat infection; both decided that I was not working hard enough at finding housing and thus insisted that I be out of their home every morning by 8 a.m. A third friend, the one person I have always been able to count upon in Philadelphia, the only person I have always been able to call at 2 or 3 a.m . no matter what, heard about this dynamic and came to pick me up, giving the second family what for about the daily early morning evictions.

It took weeks for me to understand that my homelessness, all along, had been about helping this particular friend.

He is a truly selfless man. Church and seminary come before everything and everyone else in his life, including himself.

He has been caring--mostly alone--for his 98-year-old mother when he is a 76-year-old asthmatic with allergies. They were tensely sharing a 2-bedroom apartment, but he invited me into their home as though welcoming me into a mansion. Initially, I was relieved, and then I noticed the cracks beneath the surface.

His kitchen had not been cleaned since the last century. There were items growing in his refrigerator and on his countertops that Louis Pasteur would have been proud of. The bathroom was not as bad, but was full of disorganized junk, overused toothbrushes, practically empty tubes of this and that.

At first I was furious, angry and appalled. How could a man of God live this way? How could he ignore the basics of daily living for so long and tell no one?

And then, as I talked to God about my anger, as I asked God to remove my anger, as I vented my anger to the Only Source that could absorb it, the light of understanding revealed itself to me.

This was a man who could not share his deepest pain with others. This was a man to whom others came with their problems; no one ever expected HIM to need help. He always had a handy list of resources for whoever might need them; no one thought to inquire about HIS situation and what needs he might have.

I, however, had been forced into his home to see his needs and to see to them. I realized that in exchange for the rent-free loving kindness he was extending I could clean his kitchen and his bathroom; I could buy a few towels and washcloths and sheets for his bed at WalMart. I could work to bring light and love and caring attention into a home he had had no time or will to make beautiful once the pressures of taking care of his mother beseiged him.

It took me an entire day to clean his kitchen, but the first night after cleaning it was the soundest sleep I had in months. It was worth seeing his jaw drop in shock upon surveying the once-again-white countertop. "It wasn't that clean when I moved in!" he exclaimed.

My soul has never been so rested as I have lived with him and tried to bring little niceties into his home. The occasional bout of groceries when I can afford it. The new set of pots--$29 and very nice thank you--at Walmart. I continue to have no love for Walmart's treatment of its employees, but right now Walmart is all I can afford, and my friend's needs are immediate.

All of the truisms about helping another to remedy your own pain--yes, yes absolutely. Once I stepped back, talked honestly to my Maker, listened with a full heart, I understood that sometimes we are manipulated by Him into a situation to help another one of His children who will see the light no other way.

May the sun be always at your back and the light of Your God, whatever manifestation or form He may take, be forever in your soul.

Love and blessings,

Dr. Ni


Author's Bio: 

Niama Leslie Williams (, a June 2006 Leeway Foundation Art and Social Change Grant recipient, and a 2006 (July) participant in a Sable Literary Magazine/Arvon Foundation residential course in Shropshire, UK, possesses a doctorate in African American literature from Temple University, a bachelor’s in comparative literature from Occidental College, and a master’s in professional writing from the University of Southern California. Dr. Williams’ master’s thesis at USC earned her an honorable mention in the University’s 1991 Phi Kappa Phi competition. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, she currently resides in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Williams has participated in several writers’ conferences, including the Squaw Valley Community of Writers (2000), Hurston/Wright Writers Week (1996), and Flight of the Mind (1993). Her work has appeared in Poets & Writers Magazine; Dark Eros: Black Erotic Writings; Spirit & Flame: An Anthology of African American Poetry; Catch the Fire: A Cross-Generational Anthology of Contemporary African-American Poetry; Beyond the Frontier: African American Poetry for the 21st Century; Mischief, Caprice, and Other Poetic Strategies (Red Hen Press); A Deeper Shade of Sex: The Best in Black Erotica, and Check the Rhyme: An Anthology of Female Poets & Emcees. Check the Rhyme was nominated for an NAACP Image Award (2007).

Her prose publications include essays and short stories in MindFire Renewed, P.A.W. (Philadelphia Artists Writers) Prints, Midnight Mind Magazine, Amateur Computerist, Tattoo Highway #6, Obsidian II: Black Literature in Review, and Sojourner: The Women’s Forum. She has 7 titles available for sale on (, an online print-on-demand publisher based in the U.K.

Dr. Williams hosts “Poetry & Prose & Anything Goes with Dr. Ni” Friday afternoons from 2-3 p.m. EST on BlogTalkRadio ( The show originally aired from February to April of 2007 on Passionate Internet Voices Talk Radio, but was forced into hiatus by fees. Dr. Williams’ short story “The Embrace” was selected for the 2006-2007 Writing Aloud series at the InterAct Theatre Company in Philadelphia, PA.

Of her purpose for writing Dr. Williams says: "I frequently do not err on the side of caution in my writing, but I believe in the purpose of it: to speak to the things others do not want to speak of, with the hopes of reaching that one woman, or her lover, or her friend, who refuses to deal with her pain, who hides from it, who doesn't think she'll survive it. That's the audience I hope to reach."