Sisterly Advice

Sisterly Advice

Yesterday, I received two kinds of news. We’ll start with the “negative.” I submitted two pieces to a literary magazine. Both were rejected. However, my reaction was a sigh and guess what? I’ll have something else to add to my collection.

Let me explain. Last year, I got my first official rejection from an agent I sent requested pages to after the James River Writers’ Conference 2016. The email was kind and encouraging but she just didn’t connect with the work.  I called my sister (younger but so wise and confident–I believe she was secretly reading HR Manuals and Personal Development books while the rest of us were struggling with our ABCs).

After telling her what happened, she practically congratulated me! “You got your first rejection. You should print it out and hang it on your wall!” I was a little puzzled but it quickly became clear: It means I tried! It means I put myself out there! It means I actually had pages to send the agent! It means that this is the first of many so I better keep going!

I never forgot that conversation. I have saved every rejection and kept every pitch I sent out no matter the result. They are my treasures, too. I look forward to perusing them when I’ve “made it.”

On to the second kind of news. I have been asked to be a guest on a podcast! I will follow-up soon with more details. Also, the post I wrote about the 2017 Pop-Up Conference with Sharvette Mitchell was featured on her website: www.mitchell-productions.com.  For me, the point I want to drive home is to keep going. Look forward to the failures. It means you put yourself in the arena and choose not to sit on the sidelines.

This is all I can ask of myself.

Your turn: How do you deal with rejection? Has your perspective changed as you have gotten older?

 

Social Media Machine

Social Media Machine

As some of you may know, I only joined Facebook last September to engage in the private Facebook group for the School of Greatness Academy 8.0 class.  I also had no Instagram or Twitter at the time. I only had a long abandoned LinkedIn page.

I prided myself on not being part of a social media machine. I was satisfied to read, write, watch TV, go outside to experience the world without documenting it and catch up with friends and family via phone calls, text messages and emails.

I heard dramatic stories of social media drama and addiction. It seemed as if people were moving through the world with their heads cast downwards or upwards in a flattering angle.

I was never one for constantly wanting to be included in pictures. I took my fair share in the days before smartphones but it felt different–somehow more natural. Years ago, I was at a dinner with some friends and it seemed like we could barely enjoy the meal without constant picture taking. I respected everyone’s right to live and document their lives as they pleased so I was never overtly vocal about my discomfort. It was evident that I didn’t love it but I never wanted to ruin anyone’s fun. As I was driving home while they continued their impromptu photo shoot after dinner, I felt a sense of disconnect. Why was I so different?  Why did I even care?

The feelings passed as did the years. When I came to a crossroads last fall trying to decide if I was going to continue my graduate school education or get serious about my dedication to writing, I joined School of Greatness to learn more about goal-setting and pulled myself into a new world. It was apparent that I had been doing a little hiding, weirdly harboring a fear of judgment. I found, like with a lot of other things, you can strike a healthy balance. I slipped into the habit of  catching up with family and friends via scrolling, liking and commenting. It brought both a new sense of connection and disconnection. I experienced great joy seeing how members of both sides of my family and old friends had grown but it gave me a false sense of belief that I’ve really caught up. Unless I’ve had a conversation or seen you in the flesh, you may still seem two-dimensional to me. I have to take responsibility for my part in moving from the two into the three.

Although the realization of false connection rings true sometimes, I welcomed the wealth of opportunity and education that came with sharing my work, travel and the awe-inspiring events I’ve been able to attend. Before I started sharing myself and my work online, one of my greatest concerns was privacy. It still is because I have drawn a line about how much I want to share with the public, particularly with my marriage. I am a firm believer that some aspects of my life should be just for me (and my husband).

I have always been sensitive to the types of people I allow in my life. If someone is known for things like flirting with other people’s partners, lying, speaking to others in a patronizing manner or constantly talking about others for silly things like the kind of clothes they wear, I shut down immediately. Call it instinct, survival of the fittest, The Holy Spirit, intuition. It has served me well. I know they are people (just like me) who are carrying pain and insecurity within them and this is how they choose to relate to the world to avoid the healing work they have to do (Yes, I have watched more than my fair share of Iyanla: Fix My Life). I wish them well but from afar. I do not need to possibly sacrifice my mental health, my relationship and time to keep someone in my life for “their good moments.” I have learned that lesson.

On a positive note, opening myself up to all of those mediums of social media confirmed we are not alone more than ever for me. I see the struggle, the beauty, the triumph, the failures, the uplifting, the laughter, the teaching, the open gushing wounds of the hearts of millions of people. There is hiding and deception but the option not to do so is clear. There are connections and movements.  Even though I have wasted some time in the last year or so, there have been so many gains.. Maybe it’s because I knew the world before it, knew the world with it while I chose not to jump in or maybe it’s because I brought the wisdom of a grown woman to it.

There are no regrets. I have moved past fear to build this site and apply for a fellowship, share my work on these platforms and cheerlead for others on this journey along with me–the writers, the bloggers, the vegans, the wellness seekers, the psoriasis and PCOS warriors, small business owners, my fellow Greats who stepped out on faith to go after scary goals and other Black women who are often misrepresented as a monolith.

I will continue to embrace the mess of the world and carve out my own corner in it with all that is available to me. I will close with a haiku I wrote and posted a few months ago:

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What are you built for?

What are you built for?

I submitted a piece this afternoon about seeing buffalo in Colorado. I knew I would write about it when I saw a field of helicopters right before we touched down in Richmond on our return flight from Denver. It seemed incongruent. The beauty of nature I never have the opportunity to see here in Virginia and machine constructed by man to do something we cannot do naturally. If only we could­ will our bodies to take flight. But that’s not how we are built.

There are so many things we are built for: walking, dancing, inventing, running, praying, solving equations, sex, connection, writing, healing, love…etc.

And I have to wonder, especially after this trip…what else am I built for? I know I am trying to bust out of the box I created by writing, publishing and moving myself more often but what else?  Many of our mothers and fathers told us we could be anything we wanted as long as we what? Put our minds to it!

But how do we even know what we want unless we are in a near constant state of curiosity and active exploration? I know who I am now but I can confidently say I don’t want to know exactly who I will be next year.

I want to fundamentally shake this whole notion of Kristina.

Last year, she wasn’t the woman who would take an impromptu trip to Colorado and run a blog. I am glad I didn’t know that in 2016. Neither of those things may mean much to others but it’s more than enough for me. I didn’t have to abandon my community, my faith or fall out of love with my husband to become those things. I just had to be willing to see more of what I was built for.

Over the next couple of months, I will work harder on the health front. I have always dreamed of seeing the Pacific Ocean and running along a beach in California. I will be there mid-January. I may not be able to do it for long right now but that has the possibility to change. I know I am built for the experience.

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Ready to do more to tackle my health challenges in the next three months. California, here we come!

I am curious: What do you believe you are built for and what steps are you taking to make it become a reality?

Hope

Hope

Tonight, during my writing group, my friend and talented poet Hope, brought a green pen. She explained that the legendary poet Pablo Neruda only wrote with green pens because green is the universal color for hope. She went on to talk about how he was deemed the people’s poet and how he wept when his fans recited his poetry back to him.

It could have been a combination of her delivery of the story and my excitement of being with my writing tribe, but my synapses were firing. What must that be like? To write so passionately that you inspire nations, millions? To value hope so much that you cling to its symbolic color?

I may never have the impact of a Neruda but I can have the passion and the love of the written word of a Kristina. I cannot control impact. I cannot control who chooses to support or love me in my quest to fully devote myself to a life as a writer.

But I can control what I choose to acknowledge. I acknowledge the moments I had tonight with a group of women listening intently, brewing up ideas of collaboration with one another, expressing support and validation of our ideas.

This is what I have to offer this evening. All of my other goals talk can wait for next Tuesday. I know I have workouts to do, water to drink, essays to write and a submission to send off.

 

Day 7

Definitely better than Day 6 but once I heard the rain against the window, I knew walking was out for this morning. After work, I was exhausted but I ate, drank water, relaxed by watching a movie and as it came to a close, I was determined to get right up and do a video. And that’s just what I did. I had a slight panic about getting a second workout in before my meeting with my writing group but I am knocking down excuses. I decided to leave early for the library where we were meeting. The grounds have a path and a small lake with water fountains. And then suddenly I didn’t care that it was raining. That’s why people make jackets and umbrellas. Besides it was not storming and a few raindrops never hurt anybody, did they?

I walked around, still a little sore from the video but excited to make my way into our writing group meeting. Meeting with these ladies (and one gentleman at times) rejuvenates me. It reminds me why I love the written word-whether I’m writing it or reading it. It also reminds me that I have so much to learn about the craft of writing. As I am writing this, I am hit with the memories of where I was last year-no blog, no writing group, no writing classes taken and no community of writers to count as friends. It almost makes me sad for the woman who stood in her own way. All I had to do was reach out despite the fear and the hesitation and be confident that someone would reach back.

But it wasn’t time because I didn’t make it time. I know now is the time for writing, connecting and committing to my craft, my community and my health. It is a time for being truly well.

Day 5

Day 5

This has been the hardest by far. If I had a word for today, it would be resistance. I am not sure it is worth trying to figure out why. My husband and I went to a late movie last night and didn’t wind down until almost 2:00am. I had a great time and I don’t regret it. However, I am sure in the deep recesses of my mind, I am sure I told myself the lie that I would get up before church and walk. I slept until the very last minute and then some.

My husband and I stopped by a juice bar which was refreshing but I knew I needed to drink some water. I got home and still didn’t do it. I ate and ended up passing out on the couch without a drop to drink. When I woke up, I was determined to make up for my laziness earlier. I felt achy and tired and my mind was screaming for this to be the day that I blog about the one day I failed and I would just wake up tomorrow and try again. But that is something I am used to telling myself.

I went out and walked twice as long and have finished about half of my water intake. And I will workout with my 5lb weights in a couple of hours. I just don’t want to slip up unless there is an absolute real emergency. And as I write this, I am reminded of how much I have been given. I have breath, arms and legs, presence of mind and I am safe.

There are so many others who cannot say the same. I am thinking of those trying to escape flooding in Texas, those who struggle with debilitating physical and mental health issues, those children who live in food insecurity and so much more. I am taking all that I have and making it into something good. Something worthwhile. I owe it to myself. I cannot even give more of myself, to my husband, family, writing and the community in which I live until I do that, live up to all that has been given to me.

I am releasing this spirit of resistance. It certainly does not serve me well.

Stay tuned for Day 6!

Comment below on how you combat resistant thoughts.