For the past few days, Hubby and I were in Florida to celebrate our anniversary and to visit family. Our schedule was jam-packed but we did make time to stay spend a morning at Ft. Lauderdale beach and go to South Beach. I fell in love with the water, as in kicked off my sandals, hiked up my dress and waded straight into the warm clear blue. After a long walk, we made it to be to Tap Tap, a famous (and delicious) Haitian restaurant in South Beach Miami. We indulged in Diri Kole, plantains and legim (vegetables). I forgot to ask if there was a meat-based broth they cooked anything in but it was wonderful. I especially loved the decor. There were murals everywhere, a lovely and vibrant tribute to the people, music, rituals and food of Haiti.
I also found out that I have the opportunity to go to two events over the same weekend in different parts of the country the night we left. One event is a known. I know (and am excited about) the type of people attending and the speakers. My second choice is full of unknowns and whether or not I deem the experience a success, I have no doubt I will be pushed to grow as a creator and a writer.
I have been told and have told others if you have the choice between two choices like that, you go with the unknown.
I understand part of life is about stretching yourself in order to know who you are and what your limits are.
I hope what I choose allows me to find out more about who I am and what those limits are for me.
This past weekend I went to a couple of events for Richmond’s Lit Crawl. I participated last year and was excited to support fellow writers sharing their work from a multitude of genres. I also had the treat of attending a special interview featuring writer, director and producer Iris Bolling at the Black History Museum as part of their Inside Out Series.
My first event was the Friday evening Lit Crawl event at Valley Haggard’s Life in 10 Minutes. Since I read as part of Life in 10 Minutes last year, I was anticipating supporting the writers this year. The variety of styles and perspective was nothing short of spectacular. I love walking away from a reading, ruminating about a somber moment in a piece or chatting about the humor and animation of a writer’s delivery. They should all feel incredibly proud of the work they produced.
Welcoming us to Lit Crawl
The fabulously talented writers from L to R: Valley Haggard, Elizabeth Ferris, Cindy Cunningham, Sadeqa Johnson and Paige Fulton
Saturday morning started right with the Iris Bolling event. Inspiring is an understatement. Hearing her speak about how she started writing (being frustrated with the state of government), turning her books into movies and doing it all without established connections in the film and publishing industry was astounding. I was telling Hubby that I can think of no one in our local area with that kind of resume and gumption. One of the quotes that made me smile upon hearing was: “You never know what people are willing to do until you ask.” It resonated with me because while trying to grow my writing career, it’s something that hasn’t always been easy for me but I found it’s a necessity. Essentially, submitting is asking and asking a group or a friend to read your work leaves you vulnerable to “No” but it is an ask to make you better.
“You don’t have to wait for someone to green light your dreams. Green light yourself into dreams.”
She also stated that she loves opening doors for people. Ms. Bolling even holds Green Light sessions at the local libraries to help budding authors and filmmakers. The spirit of giving is alive and well in her but she emphasized that she wants the information and experiences she gifts to be tools for self- empowerment. “You don’t have to wait for someone to green light your dreams. Green light yourself into dreams.” I walked away from that session feeling a little more in control of my writing destiny.
After a quick stop at Richmond Wellness Center, Hubby and I made our way to another Lit Crawl reading the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The subject was social justice.
In the midst of times such as these, I was ready to hear every bit of what they had to say. Even though they read a variety of work from Op-Ed pieces to excerpts from their fiction work, I noted that a lot of their pieces and commentary weaved in Christianity’s role in civil rights, too. Since there was time left after the readings, there were several questions that kept the conversation lively about Richmond’s outdated and offensive monuments (and the timing of their erection) and how children are educated about slavery and civil rights. As they read, I found myself feeling a bit angry about some of the things that simply haven’t changed but grateful for the conversation it spurned.
Events like Lit Crawl and the Inside Out series at the Black History Museum are supposed to inform, inspire and bring awareness about the vibrant literary community here in Richmond.
I have found the more I move towards what I’m supposed to be doing–writing and focusing on achieving my wellness goals through plant-based eating, the more help I receive. I know there are some who advise to keep your dreams a secret but reaching out to others has been life-saving for me. I would never say not to be careful about naysayers or people who claim to “support” in word but never in action.
Although I have definitely run across people like that in my life, I have seen that it has been more worthwhile to keep opening myself up to people. In general, I think it makes people feel good to support you by buying your books, coming to your events and sharing ideas contributing to your growth. For the people who don’t, I think it’s best to wish them well and let those people fall away in their own time.
I keep finding with those who truly supported me, it revealed their character to me. It seems when you reach milestones in life, people either rise up and support you or find a way to fade into the background. I have experienced some sadness but overall, when I started blogging and then wrote my E-book journal, I experienced so much growth that it was worth a small amount of pain.
So I vow to remain open. Open to people. Open to help. Open to contributing to others’ successes.
When it comes to this, I believe there is no such thing as going it alone.
I knocked one goal out since last week. I submitted a piece to another publication this past week! I haven’t worked out consistently, hit my water goal or completed two essays. I definitely need to find the balance of working, going to thrilling events like the dance production “Claves Unidos” I attended on Sunday, visiting family and keeping up with my exercise and writing goals.
Claves Unidos led by Kevin Lamarr Jones. Excellent dance production. I will always make time for events like this!
But I do need to be consistent with my exercise schedule as well.
I wrote half of one essay that I actually really loved starting to write. All I can say right now is that while I wrote it, a lot of specific memories came up that shocked me. My goal is to finish it tomorrow. I can’t wait to publish it as part of my book.
In addition to all of these goals which I did not quite hit this past week, I realized during my See Jane Write Collective virtual coaching meeting this evening that I was not doing everything I can (or anything) to promote how much I love helping people write vows and speeches. Why bother hiding all that I love to do? I answered a message from somebody recently telling them how much I love writing words that were meant to be spoken whether it is a speech, vows, creative non-fiction pieces or poetry.
Even though I did not hit all of my goals, it is already a new week. I can work out for the rest of this week, drink my water, finish my essay, write a new one and publish a new post on Thursday. These are all clearly outlined actionable goals.