I didn’t think I was looking for “greatness” when I was searching YouTube for podcasts to listen to one afternoon. I happened upon Eric Thomas being interviewed by Lewis Howes, host of The School of Greatness podcast. I listened intently. One thing I know about myself is when I am connecting with whatever I am reading, listening to or watching, I find myself nodding.
It is almost imperceptible, but it’s happening.
The next thing I know I am subscribing to the channel, receiving emails, listening to a live webinar, entranced during an amazing visualization exercise. As contrived as that might seem to some, it was transformational for me. A girl like me wears doubt and suspicion like a favorite pair of jeans. For some reason, my guard kept slipping down. Although I give much credit to Lewis and The School of Greatness team for their content and execution, there was something greater at work.
It was the thing that God planted in me, part of my Why for being here.
I always knew I was supposed to be a writer and as each year passed, I became more irritated that I hadn’t done anything about it but write unfinished work in the privacy of my own home. Something about setting goals, having a routine, finding mentors and group accountability made my soul want to rise to the occasion.
I had already signed up for the James River Writer’s Conference and a slot to pitch my work to an agent there. I knew there was something else that would propel me forward, help me speak and move in that space with the confidence I needed. I found it as a student in The School of Greatness Academy. In the midst of the class, I bought tickets to the first Summit of Greatness that took place in Columbus, Ohio this past September. Although I wasn’t sure I was going at first, one experience changed my mind.
I was at a book signing for Jennifer Weiner and I saw the only other Black woman in the room, just as engaged as I was. The academy’s lesson that week urged us to meet more people. As my friends and I stood in line, I noticed the woman was right behind us. She was wearing a beautiful skirt and better than that, a smile. I complimented her on her outfit and she encouraged me to go for my writing dreams, as she had overheard our conversation moments before. It turns out this woman is a successful author in her own right and I ended up going to her book signing just a couple of weeks later! (She is now my writing workshop teacher but that is a story for another time).
That was all the confirmation I needed to move forward with my trip to Ohio. I am not sure how to describe it without exhausting clichés but Lewis Howes said he wanted it to feel like Christmas morning. He nailed it. The speakers were amazing. I met Stacy London, someone whose nurturing, humor and confidence I had long admired while watching What Not to Wear. I even stood up, in the midst of hundreds to tell her so. I was proud to tell that I was pitching a novel and I was not going to let weight or psoriasis play any role except for background extra while attacking my dreams.
She had tears and I believe I blanked out a bit as I was sharing and spilling remnants of my heart for all to see.
There was so much more to the experience: dance workout, Top Chef Fabio Viviani, super athlete and motivational speaker Kyle Maynard and the speech and music provided by DJ Irie.
Mom and me after the DJ Irie closing party
A little blurry but all smiles with Stacy London
I was bowled over most of all by the love and the energy that being in a room full of people who were not in the business of excuse making could create. They were giving away hugs like candy and were as accepting as they were motivating.
So when I got home and came down from that high, one could have expected me just to go back to status quo but it was impossible for me. I went to the Writer’s Conference, pitched that agent, garnered interest and signed up for a writing class for the first time in my life. I am still at work on my novel, have taken two sessions of that first class and I am currently enrolled in a third where I am already growing from the feedback I have received on my novel. I have met a few writers in my local community whereas before the fall, I knew none.
I am most excited about the fact that this is just the beginning. The fears that eased its way in, wrapped its serpent-like body around my soul and settled in for the duration has found a new home. I know it still likes to swing by and see if there is still a vacancy but my light stays shut off, even when I am tired, frustrated or anxious. There is no rest for its weary head here.