Earlier this week, we had the great pleasure of witnessing the world through the lens of women from around the country during our call to participate in our Self Care exhibit. The photographs and stories captured by our top 10 finalists brought endless smiles and warmth. We are excited to highlight the winner of our submission contest, Kiana Fleming. Her photo and interview of Aintee, her Great-Aunt won the hearts of many. Learn more about Kiana’s experience in her own words.
I interviewed my Great-Aunt, my Grandmother’s sister, who is the Matriarch of the family at age 85. We recently had a family reunion where her daughter surprised her by bringing her by. She was overwhelmed with happiness. I believe she feels most alive when she is talking to God. She takes care of herself through her unwavering faith and prayer. She has faith and her faith keeps her going, and that in itself grounds her and her life.
“When I was young like you, Mama kept us in the church. Out of all the family, I’m the only one that went strong in it. I get up talking to him. When I go through stuff in life when I was young, I [learned not to go] to the elders, or my neighbor, or friend because it doesn’t work. People ain’t gonna understand. People got a different life to live. When you get pressured down or life [ain’t] going the way you want it to go, go somewhere quiet, maybe the bathroom, close the door and talk to God. Say, ‘I’m giving you my life, you got me here.’ I gave God my life. I talk to him. I tell God my issues. I don’t tell nobody but him. He is efficient. I let him take full control of my life. It’s in my mind and my heart. I’ve been to the mountain top. He helped me. He knows my heart. You just live and take care of your family. He will take care of it. I’m so happy to be here, that my daughter found it in her heart to bring me here. I wanted to shout when I saw [the family], but God kept me still. I love you Na, and now I’ma pray for you.”
Aintee has always told me I was special. I’m one of the only ones who have been able to leave St. Louis and go to college. She always tells me to “take care of myself, listen to my parents, and if I don’t feel right in the inside to go.” I’m not very religious, but I always want her to pray for me. Not sure why. It makes me feel good and helps me. I probably will start to go to church soon. I feel like what she said is right on point for what I am going through. I am glad I was able to speak with her and see her. Some words are always right on time.
I have always loved photography. My mother says I always had an eye for it. Photography and writing heals me. It the best way I know how to self-express and cope. It gives me joy. It’s my art, my creative. This was my expression of self-care.