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Many of my post may be filled with typos, ignorant statements, untruths, bad English, & anything else that may make me appear to be uneducated. Please note: all of these things combined make my Blog the perfect one, because you know I have issues & I am not ashamed. With this said; enjoy, fuck mistakes & read between the lines!

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My Brother’s Keeper

Author: Tafari, Monday, April 16th, 2018 at 10:53 AM

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MISSING::: Langford Patton Jr. Ward of the State/Patient at the Water P. Ruether Psychiatric Hospital 30901 Palmer Road Westland, Michigan 48186 Phone: (734) 367-8400 Last seen in Westland, MI April 15, 2018 at 2pm headed south on Wayne Road running from the MJR movie theater. Wearing a light gray coat, navy blue skull cap, khaki pants, and navy-blue Nike gym shoes. It is likely that he may show up in the Dexter/Davison area, specifically on Sturtevant and or Cortland between Dexter & Linwood. If see, please call 911 immediately, do now engage with him at all. He may be a danger to himself or strangers and will continue to run. A missing persons report was filed in the city of Westland, MI & the Water P. Ruether Psychiatric Hospital has been alerted Please contact family representative, Tafari Stevenson-Howard, if you have tips or potentially helpful information at 734-678-0974. Thank you!

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Last Thursday, I got a call from my brother’s case manager, Stacy Wetters at the Water P. Ruether Psychiatric Hospital informing me that he was eligible for a day pass. I got excited when she asked me if I would be comfortable picking up for an 8-hour period. With no hesitation, I said yes, got the details then it was officially a plan. I got off the phone, called our momma and told her the good news and we were both so excited! Langford (Topot) got into some big trouble almost 2 years ago while living in an adult foster care home who allowed him to go unmedicated. When my brother slips off of his medications, all hell breaks loose and it did… He went into a local restaurant, waving a knife demanding food. He even went behind the counter with the knife further making demands. The workers were able to get him to leave the building but then he went to the dumpster looking and ultimately fell asleep in front of the restaurant with the knife and was arrested… Fast forward and he’s now facing a 4+ year felony charge, was transferred to the Wayne County Jail, put on trial, transferred to the Ruether Psychiatric Hospital, where he was put back on medication, had them adjusted, got cleaned up, I was able to visit with him. Later found incompetent to stand trial and the case was dropped. Although the case was dropped, he couldn’t return to the street until he was mentally stable and put into a home that could meet his high needs and that’s the challenge. I last met with his treating team over 6 weeks ago and no movement since then but he’s doing so good. I visit him often. We usually have snacks, talk about old times, play cards and he usually has some interested fantasy stories that he tells me. I always listen no matter how out there the stories are & they are usually out there… Back to now… So I pick him up yesterday for the 8-hour pass, he looked great! So bright, happy, and excited to be getting some fresh air. My plan was to take him to see "Black Panther," then some lunch and back to my house to chill. When we got in the car, he asked me to put on some jazz, so I did. We listened to the Brand New Heavies, one of his favorites. Then he asked if we could listen to more jazz when we got to my house. I had a surprise for him… I found a Paul Hardcastle album at the record store the day before and we both love Paul Hardcastle so it was a treat. We get to the movies, get snacks, get seats and it’s going great… He then has to use the rest room. Then minutes go by. Then more minutes and I’m like where is he. He sits back down next to me smelling like cigarettes. OMG! One of my instructions was no cigarettes, no liquor, no other drugs… All of this can interfere with his medications. As a matter of fact, any of this can make him have seizures. I asked about the cigarettes & he popped off at the mouth and then he had to use the restroom again… At this point, I sensed trouble and knew I had to cut the day short. I explained that I was taking him back. He got upset and as soon as we got outside headed to the car, he bolted. I was shocked but immediately started chasing him. He was running like a fucking gazelle bobbing and weaving through a very busy street with cars coming in both directions. It was like a scene in a movie then I stopped… Why am I chasing him. WHY??? Really putting myself at risk. He always told me he was a ninja and a green beret (whatever that is). yesterday, I believed him. The way he ran across Wayne road through those cars and disappeared trips me out. I mean... he took off running. Like he was Carl Lewis. I walk back to the car in the freezing rain… Thinking… What am I gonna say to the hospital. All my fault. The police. All my fault. He’s grown but he’s not. Called the police and Water P. Ruether Psychiatric Hospital. Reports were filed. Cars were out searching. I headed home. He knows my phone number and may call. He may run to our old neighborhood for refuge. I don’t know but I do know that I’m drained! DRAINED! Mental illness is such a heavy load! For those affected and for those family members who love & support. Last night, I felt like I was at the end of my rope. I went through a range of emotions. Through my family experience with my grandmother (paranoid schizophrenic) and brother (paranoid schizophrenic), I see how your family will give up on you because of mental illness. I don’t want to be how I saw my mother, aunts and uncles were with my grandmother. I don’t want to be like that to my brother. It’s so hard. A hard place. I want to be my brother’s keeper but damn…

So…It’s Been A Long Time Since

Author: Tafari, Tuesday, April 10th, 2018 at 9:20 PM
Not sure if this is a comeback but here I am. Who’s still here? Anyone? Anyone? Anyone??? It's been YEARS since I last posted here and I miss it. WAIT... It’s been 3 years… So many reasons why I stopped writing and all centered around depression, drama still circling from my divorce/child custody battle and a general unhappiness with life, which led to the erosion of my creative spirit. Today, I am well both mentally & emotionally. All the divorce and child custody drama is OVER! AND… There are so many new things in my life that give me joy, happiness, & satisfaction. THE SKINNY:
My Ex: She died 2 years ago.. I found out on Facebook through a friend that I hadn’t talked to in ages. Although she was dead to me years before she actually left her body in a very tragic death, my daughters Olivia and Amelia are still hurting over their loss but WE ARE HEALING together and that has been beautiful. After $75K spent fighting my ex... fighting to love and support my children... there are so many layers to this story and over the course of a few posts, I will be sharing my experience to hopefully help any man who is out there struggling through a divorce, child custody issues, and just needs a map to well-rounded mental and emotional help. My Kids: Although unfortunate for my children, the death of my ex was a turnaround moment for me and my kids as a barrier to love was removed. I HATE looking it like this but I know things would be much different if this life event would not have occurred. I take no joy in her death but I certainly LOVE where me and the kids are. Olivia 2017 Olivia is approaching 20 this year, in her 2nd year of college, just purchased her 1st car, ready for a successful summer of internships and music festivals. She’s doing so much and I love it! Amelai 2017 Amelia is approaching 13 and is such a little self-determined spitfire. She’s doing great in school, has a true sense of humor that can light up any room, and is a creative entrepreneurial thinker full of hustle. Also... Sade is ALMOST 21!!! OMG! Really? Yes! She’s attending the University of Alabama, working really hard & is super focused! She’s survived some crazy odds and situations and continues to be a fighter. She makes me proud. My Job-Job: Most people know, many don’t… but I usually have a day job. Actually, my last day job was with Michigan Medicine/University of Michigan Health System. I was employed there for the last 15 years and decided to call it quits back in December 2017. I had a few roles in my time there but the last role was that I shaped and shifted in for 12 years. Why did I leave??? Bad management. Stress. Hostile work environment. All things that I am not having in my life anymore. The decision came after I suffered a tremendous breakdown at work and was carted off in an ambulance. Days later, I found myself on the couch of a therapist. A woman that helped me pull my life back together over a period of several months; six months to be exact. She helped me search for happiness within myself, helped me with strategies to control my anxiety, coached me through my fight with depression. She essentially helped me to evolve & focus on the things in this world that truly matter and while employment matters, my Black life, mind, & body cannot be governed by a pay check, especially when faced with a dangerous manager/director/boss…. On December 18th, I was so damn happy to submit my resignation. Handing that woman my letter was so freeing… so sobering, it gave me life as they say. watch her read it with her quivering lips warmed my cold heart. “December 18, 2017 Dear Laurel Barnes, After just over fifteen years of employment with Michigan Medicine, with twelve of those years in Learning Management, I enthusiastically tender my resignation effective 12/29/2017. Over the past several months, I have had time to reflect, and determined that it is in my best interest to no longer work in this damaging environment. After submitting complaints to the compliance office and getting no follow up from human resources, specifically Sarah Diebold after multiple attempts, it is clear that Learning Management under your leadership is not a safe nor positive space. It appeared that your intent was to tear apart rather than team build based on several incidents: 1) You told me that I lacked analytical skills without even knowing what I did within the department specifically, 2) You accused me of instigating workplace turmoil between XXXX & XXXX , 3) You suggested that XXXX and I had deep seated issues that interfere with work. After sharing untruths in regards to my behavior with XXXX & XXXX , who were shocked and confused by your statements and accounting, your bullyish behavior was further exposed. Under your leadership, the office is a very dangerous toxic environment ran on fear, bullying, intimidation, & deceit. The emotional intelligence and technical aptitude to effectively manage a diverse team positively was clearly absent and I suffered tremendously as a result. I will not be taking your three offers of a reference letter as you can’t effectively speak to my work, skills, abilities, work ethic or anything related. Reclaiming my time, Tafari K. Stevenson-Howard” Since I reclaimed my life and time, my purpose is clear. My satisfaction with my actions is clear. My zest for life is renewed and sustainable… The crazy thing is, before I quit, one of my good friends quit. Just quit! No job, no nothing because the environment was so ridiculously bad. After I left, four more of my team members left for the same reasons. We all worked together for 12 years or so. The cool thing is, we are all in better places but unfortunately, I had to suffer a mental breakdown… Life continues! With that said, I am now in a new job-job situation and it’s great! A positive work space doing something that feels meaningful. Working with a team that’s agile, fun, and diverse. My Passion: My photography is still a thing & has been really fun, especially since I have a renewed energy pushing my creatively, which was missing for so long.

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So that I don’t bombard this post with too much, you can read about my latest work & project at these links below. City of Detroit: How a Detroit native's 'total fluke' couch purchase turned into a legendary photo series Michigan Chronicle: Couch: Beautiful – An Exploration of Beautiful Black Women To Debut Feb. 10th The Root: How Detroit Photographer Tafari Stevenson-Howard’s Couch Became a Work of Art Shondaland: Stunning Photo Series Showcases the Beauty of Detroit's Black Women
I’m committing to getting my thoughts out of my head. All the things that I have been wanting to release here in my journal are coming. This is part of my healing and I now feel ready. And damn, it’s time to refresh my blog look… I’m ready for the new new!

Welcome to the Humble Ranch

Author: Tafari, Wednesday, May 27th, 2015 at 10:39 PM

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Last week, I hosted my first official [housewarming] party of the year at my new home, the Humble Ranch. So many of my family & friends came out to celebrate this awesome life event with me.

It was a simple affair complete with excellent texture, color, design, drink, & food mixed with African flair.

Everybody knows that I'm all about a fun party flyer so for this occasion I decided to use a few vignettes from my home as a background to spread the word. With many of my friends not seeing my home before the party, the flyers offered a sneak peek into my life & design esthetic.

As you can see, the set was 4-8pm but things lasted much longer & it was all good. People love a good party, including me!

I'm so appreciative of the wonderful people that I have in my life, they really showed your boy some tremendous love!

I've been in my new home now for almost 4 months and it's honestly THE best home that I've ever lived as an adult for so many reasons.

As a matter of fact: The top image was taken with my Nikon DSLR, the last two were taken with my iPhone 6.

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When Momma Visits

Author: Tafari, Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 at 2:09 PM

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My momma came for a visit recently & I was so very happy to see her, smell her, touch her… Having her in my new home for the first time made the visit extra special. I needed her official stamp of approval that only a mother could give. After she got settled in & before the rest of my family showed up, I said, momma, get ready for your official photograph. She disappeared for a few moments then reemerged like a phoenix from the ashes. All I could saw was damn. Then the photo above happened. You can see a color version of the photo on my Flickr page here. I loved everything about what she was giving the camera. She owned it without any effort. What I really loved about it was that the photo of my momma reminded me of “Afro Goddess With Hand Between Legs, 2006” by Mickalene Thomas but much less provocative. It was a wonderful Sunday afternoon filled with love, food & laughter. A supreme family day in black & white, just because.

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Believe it or not, all of these photos were taken & edited on my iPhone 6.

Beautiful Baby Boy

Author: Tafari, Tuesday, March 17th, 2015 at 7:06 PM

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Several months ago, I posted about Cousin Dee & her husband, Mato readying themselves for their 1st baby.  Well… Mato Jr. is here & he’s awesome! The day he was born was such an emotional rush. Beautiful! We took these photos recently and I swear this is THE last baby that I will photograph. It took no less than 3 hours to get him calmed down & sleep.  I think I said this the last time I photographed a baby, so there’s that. I’m so very happy for Cousin Dee & Mato and I’m looking forward to baby Mato calling me Uncle Baba TT.

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Living In Peace

Author: Tafari, Monday, March 2nd, 2015 at 3:14 PM

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"Anger, can make you old, yes it can I said anger, can make you sick, children... oh Jesus Anger destroys your soul Rage, there's no room for rage in there There's no room for rage in here Line up some place to go to be mad It's a sin to treat your body bad" Marvin Gaye - Anger ~ 1979 I choose to live in peace because it takes little to no effort & it makes me happy. My heart is open & there is plenty of room for love. Anger will kill. Anger will destroy. Anger will eat you alive. Anger will block your growth. Let it go & free yourself. Easier said than done but it is doable. I'm living proof.

Happy at Home

Author: Tafari, Friday, February 20th, 2015 at 3:08 PM

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Three years ago, I made a plan to purchase a home. Last week, the plan materialized & I'm beyond happy. Staying committed to the plan was a little rough as I had to really resift my priorities to make things happen but it was worth all of the sacrifices. Waking up to a home drenched in sunlight, covered in love is where my happiness stems from! I've never been a morning person but I find myself waking up early to enjoy the quiet peace of my new home. Still kinda feels like a dream; a great dream in my dream home.

She’s Having A Baby: The Allen Family

Author: Tafari, Friday, November 7th, 2014 at 6:17 PM

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My cousin, best best best friend, Cousin Dee is having a baby!!! She broke the news several months ago and it was the best news ever. Of course, I had to photograph this wonderful moment in my family's history. The image above is my absolute favorite from our little session. We were joking and sing some T-Pain song and we both just burst out laughing. Not to put myself out there too much but I just recently discover T-Pain's music & that's because of a story on NPR. You have to see this video. I love it! Like for real…. Can't wait to meet my little cousin/nephew. I already have a nick name… Uncle Baba TT. I hate it. I hate it so much but it's pretty damn funny.

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Me & The Boys

Author: Tafari, Saturday, April 12th, 2014 at 5:24 PM

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My nephews came over for a visit recently and from the picture above, you can still see snow on the ground despite being early spring. I convinced them to take photos in the freezing cold. Luckily, I was quick and they take Girl Scout Cookies for bribes. Love these guys to death & they totally remind me of my brother Topot and I when we were young boys. One super silly & full of personality (Topot & Asar) the other reserved and mischievous (Tony & I).

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She’s Having A Baby

Author: Tafari, Monday, September 2nd, 2013 at 9:35 PM

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When my best friends, Brion & Chonda announced they were having a baby this year, I was so very excited for them!!! Then my excitement turned to maternity photography to help them document this special time in their lives. I'm looking forward to meeting their son OR daughter (they decided to be surprised)! Next, I have to convince them to do newborn photos.

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See a couple more outtakes here Make up by Sondra Lewis    

My Brother: My First Friend

Author: Tafari, Wednesday, August 28th, 2013 at 10:55 AM

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I wrote this story about my brother months ago but was afraid to post it but with many stories out about mentally ill citizens, I found the courage. --------------------------------------------------- My Brother, my first friend, has always been special to me. Growing up, it seemed like I was the only person who understood him. When he would talk, it was like no one knew what he was saying and would often asked me what he was saying or trying to say. I always understood him perfectly. Although he was my best friend and brother, I used to get mad when we were kids and I would attempt to leave the house to play with my friends and my momma would say, “Take your brother with you.” As we entered our teens, we went our separate ways socially. Topot became much more outgoing and popular. When he entered high school, all of the sudden I became his cousin. That’s what he told people. He was TOO cool to be my brother I guess. But in his first couple of years in high school even with his popularity, he became different and it came and went. I did not understand this change in him. Eventually he started talking in different voices, had severe mood shifts and his sleeping pattern changed. Later he was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. This was a familiar term to me because my grandmother, “Mommie,” suffered with the same illness for many, many years. It’s brutal…. With the help of medication, Topot got much better and was back to himself. We went back to being normal but only when he took his meds consistently. As he got older, he was not as keen on taking pills to make him “normal” and this started his journey that would take him away from our family. Fast forward to today…. When I see him, I recognize him but not as my little brother and my friend. He’s different, despondent, disconnected from reality, in his own shadow world of happiness fueled by nicotine, blank stares and self-soothing behaviors. He reminds me of the homeless guys you see downtown in any city, kinda minding his own business, sometimes in your face begging for money. It hurts to see him this way. We’ve tried every avenue available. There is usually success for a while but then it always slips back. On one of the last occasions I saw Topot, he looked into my eyes but all I saw was this blank stare. I felt his eyes should have connected with mine but the forces in his head created difficulty. Having a loved one who’s dealing with a severe mental health issues is daunting. Not a joke. Certainly heartbreaking!

I Love My Momma

Author: Tafari, Sunday, May 12th, 2013 at 2:38 PM

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My mother, Stella and I around 1986, maybe 1987. My cousin recently sent me this photo and it put such a smile on my face. I haven't seen it in YEARS! And looking at the photo, I see my youngest daughter, Amelia in my face, my little beautiful twin. My momma is my one true friend and I love everything about her, even when she’s driving me nuts. She's beautiful, smart, inspiring, a survivor, my biggest cheerleader, and probably one of the funniest people in my life. And... I'm not sure who talks more stuff, her or I. My momma, my boo!