Authenticity

Authenticity

I went to lunch with two friends earlier last week. We discussed our goals, stepping out on faith and what to do when we don’t believe. A suggestion was made that I take the time to write what I am not believing God for. For example: God, I don’t believe I will be able to financially support our family in a real way with my writing. Show me what to do with these feelings. Show me how to increase my faith. Help me to align myself, my habits and my words so that I can believe this for myself.

Even though what I just wrote was clearly an example, a conflict arose for me. There is a school of thought that a lot of self-help people and people of faith (and both) subscribe to that says you are to claim your dreams and your victories as if they are already here.

As if you’ve already won.

While that school of thought feels empowering and I am sure has produced mind-blowing results, something inside says that it ignores the very real struggle of getting to that place. The place of full-on, no questioning, all-mighty certainty.

Is there a place for me? Someone who’s in the middle? Someone who believes winning is completely possible but also sometimes feels like they’ve already lost?

I am going to take my friend’s suggestion and journal and pray from a very honest, sometimes lost in the wilderness place and also from a hopeful, medals already swinging from my neck place.

Even though there are no guarantees as to where these honest prayers will take me, I find solace in its authenticity.

So much more…

So much more…

While I was at Whole Foods today, I ran into an old co-worker. There were the regular pleasantries but then the inevitable question came: “Where are you now?”

And I had to think about it. I knew what he meant and I mumbled something about trying to freelance and we soon parted ways. Not that I had to pour the whole and complete truth out with all the details but after I left, I realize I am probably not sharing enough with my closest friends and family about the doubt I do feel along this journey.

I don’t doubt whether I want to write or that if I continue to write, at some point in time successes will come. I have moments where I let the frustration take over or the uncertainty of the “when” consume me. I know better but in those moments when I am asked what I am up to now, I want to be able to say so much more.

After I think that, I realize it’s up to me to make “so much more” happen. It’s up to me to approach vendors for partnerships with my E-book, pitch more publications and devote more time consistently to the completion of my novel. None of this is news. Just because more effort doesn’t guarantee more success immediately doesn’t mean I should stop being as aggressive with my other goals outside of blogging.

I believe our psyches crave instant gratification especially in our social media age. Patience is a discipline I struggle with the most. I have to remember to revel in the journey and look forward to the time when I can look back and ask “Remember when?…”

Maybe I should take comfort that I am in the same boat with millions of other creatives.

We are all working and waiting for our moment in the sun.

Sometimes we are impatient, insecure petulant children and at others, we are hardworking, giving people who are humbly anticipating the chance to let our art be seen, for the message we are communicating to the world to be heard.

Until then, I will write and wait.

Write and Wait.

FACE

FACE

Who are you without your “face?”

I never thought about it until psoriasis came for a visit and never left.

I barely ever wore any kind of powder or foundation and rarely got pimples.

I basically had the luxury of rarely thinking about it.

But then psoriasis came to visit and never left.

Even though it came slowly and didn’t seem threatening at all, it did eventually ravage my body. And no steroid could fix it and I am not fond of exposing my body to biologics. In fact, I have spent most of my life scared of all medications outside of OTC and antibiotics.

So after fielding multiple questions such as “What happened to your face?” I started to delve back into plant-based healing and learning about the devastation inflammation brings (for me, psoriasis and PCOS). So even while I waited for the flares to become less frequent, I had to figure out how to cover the pink and red flaky patches on my face. Of course, it was makeup and if for some reason, I didn’t have my makeup brush and Dermablend with me, my spirits would sink. I remember on one particular day not wanting to get out of the car when I parked at church. I drove away and found somewhere to cry.

I felt like a monster without my “face.”

The pain of an itchy scalp, raw thighs and a scarred face sometimes felt like too much of a strain on my mind, let alone my body. I often smiled through a lot of it but I felt like I was wilting on the inside.

As we all know, we can’t escape our own mind or body.

It took a long time to start to see some improvement and I don’t have flares as often as I used to but damage was done.

People who meet me now will never know what I used to look like and it seems like a small thing but it was a real adjustment. I believe my smiles are more genuine now. It’s funny that I am actively pursuing a profession that puts me front and center when I can remember feeling like that’s the last place I really want to be or should be.

I think it took blogging and writing classes and prayer and fruits and vegetables and talking it out over and over again with my husband, family and friends for healing to start taking place. I know I have a long road ahead of me but I think I found a formula that works.

I think I know who I am without my “face.”

 

 

 

 

 

Meatless Mondays: Vegan Potluck Cookout

Meatless Mondays: Vegan Potluck Cookout

This past weekend, Hubby and I went to another vegan potluck at a friend’s home. This time, it was a cookout complete with barbecued seitan ribs, corn on the cob, garden burgers, potato salad, pesto pasta salad, fresh cantaloupe slices and ice cream. Hubby even baked his chocolate chip cookies again.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-28,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-28,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

Since it was basically the same group, we had an amazing time yet again. I was pretty wiped out from attending 3 events and cooking before we even got there but we looked forward to seeing everyone and of course, it was all worth it. I also realized I had never been to an all-vegan cookout, either. We were all outside, talking, laughing, eating at picnic tables and watching the children run and swing. There’s really not much of a difference.

There’ s comfort in going to a place where you don’t have to explain why you eat what you do but by far, the comfort is always because of the people.

And the connections.

As I’ve written here many times before, it never stops being about the people and the connections.

 

Open

Open

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.

 

 

My First E-Book!

My First E-Book!

Tonight, I had the distinct pleasure of being interviewed by Sharvette Mitchell on her radio talk show (www.sharvette.com) to discuss my writing and blogging journey AND…..to talk about the release of my new E-Book Journal!: What I Love About You: A Guided Journal to Writing Your Proposal and Vows.

FB_IMG_1517938050206.jpg

To say I am excited is an understatement. I have waited to make sure everything came together before announcing the release. The whole subject of vow writing, writing words that are meant to be spoken and helping others have been swirling around in my head for years now. It wasn’t until I was in a coaching session with Sharvette herself did I realize that I was writing a journal all along. My notes were full of questions and prompts and once the connection was made, I was determined to see it come to fruition.

I am incredibly grateful for my husband who ultimately planted the seed, my family for encouraging me and for my God who steadied me when I wasn’t sure if I was doing the right thing. My faith keeps me lifted. It allows me to see things through and to realize the support I was seeking was there along. I just had to see it through.

So please join me in celebrating the release of my first E-book baby to the world! It is available for purchase on my website only. It is for so many people-men or women writing vows, those planning to propose or those wanting to rekindle romance by taking that all too familiar and hopefully joyous stroll down memory lane in a love letter for Valentine’s Day or anniversary anytime of the year.

 

James River Writers January Writing Show

James River Writers January Writing Show

You know when something goes wrong right before a big event and you start to believe it may be an omen?

That was me last night. I noticed a thread trying to run away from my sweater so I grabbed a pair of scissors to gently cut it off. I soon realized I had a dull pair of scissors and was doing a little too much to get it off. In a matter of seconds, I not only taken the thread but cut a hole right in my sweater. Seconds before I was about to dash off to the Firehouse Theater to sit on a panel for James River Writers Writing Show: A 2018 Creative Plan for Scheduling, Motivating  & Organizing Your Writing Life.

I found another sweater, crossed fingers and toes, said a prayer and went to the panel.

I am relieved and proud to proclaim that my worry was a waste of time. The evening could not have gone better. My fellow panelists, Michelle Mercurio and Evans Hopkins were not only knowledgeable but there was a sense of ease in how we interacted with one another. The positive energy from the audience was palpable and relaxed me right away.

Karen Chase and Kris Spisak organized the evening to a T. Although Kris was unable to join us as a moderator last night, Karen took the reins and the panel went smoothly. We discussed topics like dividing our time, motivation and even our writing spaces. I particular loved Michelle’s powerful advice she gives to her clients to plan how they want their 2018 to end. Evans’ vulnerability was unforgettable as well. He realized how retreating from the world also leads to an absence of material to write about.

The panel discussion flew by and before we knew it, it was time for a quick intermission and the Q&A session. Even though I spent a limited amount of time with the audience members, there was an undeniable warmth present in their questions  and our interactions. Even through the blinding lights during the Q&A, it felt like we were all in it together, asking and fielding questions, sharing our stories and frustrations and wisdom gained from our experiences.

11455.jpeg
From left: Evans Hopkins, me, Michelle Mercurio and our moderator, Karen Chase.

What cannot be overlooked or undervalued is the colossal amount of support I received from my friends and husband. I love that I have People. People that can be counted on. People that will show up without barely having to be asked. My husband is part of my People. I am keenly aware that is not everyone’s situation.

11476.jpeg
With some of my People (my friends Morgan and April along with Hubby) who came out to support me! I wish I had gotten pictures with everyone!

There is gratitude. Gratitude for being asked, to being able to participate, for an audience of writers and non-writers alike who seemed to pick up what we were putting down, for James River Writers and for the smile that never left my face.

 

Revisiting The Hollywood Commandments

Revisiting The Hollywood Commandments

I have been rereading passages from “The Hollywood Commandments: A Spiritual Guide to Secular Success.” Even though the book is largely directed towards those seeking advice for success in their careers, there are definitely gems that can apply to other areas of your life.

Following DeVon online, I’ve heard him read The Frustration Prayer several times. I know I read it while preparing to help promote his book as part of his online launch team. Since I’ve been at the hospital watching my husband recover (such a blessing!), I’ve had time to revisit passages and appreciate how circumstances change the meaning or the depth of impact of his words.

Here is the part of the prayer that brought tears to my eyes:

“Please, my God, help me. I’m crying out to You from the depths of my soul! I need peace to sustain me during the times when my frustration is so intense I start to lose my faith. I come against the frustration that seeks to derail my very existence! No weapon formed against me will prosper! I claim every good and perfect gift You’ve already planned for my life and I submit my career to You!”

As I was reading, my mind was swapping out “career” for “his/our health” and those words belonged to me. During any trial, it comes as no surprise how quickly frustration can gain a foothold in your spirit. I have often begged for peace of mind. Seeking support from my family, even though they are hours away and knowing there are a couple of friends close by that would be here if I asked them to be, have been vital. However, in the quiet moments, lying on this cot, watching my husband rest and gaining strength back, I have found solace in The Frustration Prayer.

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:

19985182_287461098395440_7180888347693285376

What Support Looks Like

What Support Looks Like

Last night, I was going through some files and found a book synopsis I wrote earlier this year. It was 8 pages long and a joy to read. I had such a clear vision of where I wanted my book to go. It provided a short burst of inspiration to keep going and finish this first draft. Next week, I have the entire time off to put in serious hours towards completing it.  Even though there will be hours when I want to throw my laptop across the room or crawl under the covers to avoid it, it doesn’t matter. What matters is being the writer, more importantly the woman, I thought I’d be. The woman who doesn’t waste time talking about it, she does it (she writes about it, too).

I just got back from writing group where I am always reminded of the support I have to become the woman I want to be. I would encourage anyone to look around and take an account of all of the support that is already present in your life. I would bet there is more than you realize, even if it’s just one person praying for you daily living 5 states away or a reader who sends positive vibes your way directly after reading one of your posts.

Or it could be more obvious like the love of your life baking you a vegan apple pie while you were away at your writing group.