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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

Grateful

Grateful

I woke up today.

I have a husband I wake up next to everyday who is my partner and the love of my life. When a couple of people told me not to get married, tried to get me to doubt if I could feel alive and married at the same time, I ignored it and know now they were dead wrong. Not that marriage is always easy but we work hard to grow together. We invest in each other’s interests, hobbies and dreams.

I am grateful for my family. We don’t always see eye to eye but we love each other. We hug, kiss and say I love you. My parents raised me to have a world view, to read, to have an appreciation for classic movies, museums, to value travel, education and to have pride in my racial and cultural identities (Black, Haitian-American) without being plagued with insecurities because of my brown skin. My mother gifted me with the introduction to my Christian faith. We laugh and tease, check in on one another and speak our minds, in anger, joy, frustration or love. There is no perfection but it is genuine. They never made me feel like I couldn’t make it out in the world on my own and when I think of all the grown men and women I have known in the past that were terrified or not motivated to forge a future outside of their parents’ home, I say a thousand silent thank yous.

I love my friends, past and present. I am grateful for the people who were in my life. They provided me with life lessons. They taught me what it is to outgrow people and that no matter how much time and effort you may invest in them, they may never do the same for you (and that it doesn’t matter anymore). I also learned you teach people how to treat you through these friendships and my past romantic relationships. They also gave me refuge, laughter, hugs, silly adventures, conversations I never wanted to end and a sense of brother and sisterhood I needed in some of my most uncertain moments. I don’t take those moments for granted and they hold a special place in my memory.  I experienced a growth with the past that has allowed me to treasure the people I hold dear to me now.

I am also grateful for the ability to pen and type words. It is my source of creativity and this past year has taught me it is a well I can draw from that has always been here, even when I chose not to acknowledge it or cultivate it.

I am grateful for self-awareness. It helps me to see who I really am and how I can grow to be better as a wife, friend, sister, daughter, granddaughter, cousin, Auntie, group member and a servant to God and others. There is room for improvement in all of these roles and I am glad not to be living this life blissfully unaware that there is work to be done.

There is much more but I will close with I am grateful for this challenge. It’s Day 5 and it’s forcing me to write even when I didn’t feel like it today, even when I am saddened and fatigued the news of the loss of life yet again.

What are you feeling grateful for today?

 

Full Circle

Full Circle

I had a full circle moment this morning.

I sat in my car after Afro-Caribbean dance class and recorded a quick video about how I felt. I was tired, flushed and revealing a bit too much nostril but that was alright. More than alright. It was real. I was grateful to be engaged in an activity that was just for me. It has nothing to do with furthering my career, no one was making me do it and I hadn’t enlisted any of my friends to come with me.

It’s not that I wouldn’t welcome company because I would. Sometimes, I think we all need to give ourselves permission to try new things without any expectations or opinions from others.

Go it alone.

And that’s what I’ve been doing. This is a need I’ve had for some time. I wrote a piece about it a few months ago. If you would like to read more about it, here is the link: Epiphany

When I had this epiphany a few months ago, I started crying. That’s how much I missed taking dance classes, moving this brown mass of a body rhythmically around a room, in a line, smiling, sweaty, even shy and nervous with others. Collapsing in the car this morning, I recognized I had made it happen. I made the choice to put away my silly fears about being too big, fretting about the psoriasis scars up and down my arms and moved from stillness into action.

Like I said, I had come full circle.

And I’m not going back.

Sowing Into Our Future

Sowing Into Our Future

I forgot it was Halloween when I woke up today. It’s not a holiday I celebrate so it slips by except for the cute kids costumes I see online. My husband and I were cutting up pineapple and bananas last night, preparing to make green smoothies this morning for a sale going on at his job. I was grateful to be up and busy early in the morning with the loud, whirring noises of the blenders.

And busy is a good thing especially when it is not empty. Lately, when I have started to feel some anxiety about where things are going, I remind myself of the reason. It’s because I am actively pointing myself on a path and walking it. I am sowing into my future and as a wife, I am sowing into our future.

I visited an awesome church this weekend and had one of those moments where the pastor says something and you could almost swear it was directed at you. He was talking about sowing into people, places and products with roots and they would bear fruit. And it occurred to me that everything I was investing in had roots–my husband, my faith, my writing, my writing tribe, my friends, my family and my health.

As we were blending, pouring and scurrying around the kitchen this morning, I knew there would be fruit.

I am writing this after hearing the news of the attack in Manhattan today. It was another  tragic reminder to treasure your time, sow into the people and the gifts that you have been blessed with and to stay grateful.

Celebration

Celebration

Are we wired to stay the same?

I met up with an old friend yesterday afternoon that had me pondering the question today. We had not seen each other in at least 10 years but had known each since we were 12, both of us a little young for the 8th grade. It was nothing but love and laughter. When I saw her face, I kissed her cheeks and left lipstick stains like an old Haitian grandmother. I felt a sense of sadness that we had not worked harder to keep in better touch.

It probably didn’t help that I shunned the idea of social media up until last September when I joined the School of Greatness Academy which forced me to join their private Facebook group. It opened  a new world to me I thought I wanted no part of but ended up with no real regrets about entering.

But back to my question. Are we wired to stay the same? And if we are, is it always such a bad thing? In some obvious instances, change is life-affirming like having a child, getting married, opening your own business or taking control of your health.

As my friend and I stood outside after getting our nails done, laughing, sharing pictures and the details of our realities we had carved out for ourselves as grown women, I felt our 12-year old selves not far behind..giggling in Reading class..taking long walks in the summer heat not having a single idea in the world how our lives would turn out. The core of ourselves remained unchanged. We are two women who love our families fiercely, value our independence and are on the precipice of establishing new fulfilling careers who just happened to be connected for life.

I feel blessed to be wired this way. I am ok with being unchanged if I can still yearn for and foster connection. I am ok with being unchanged if I am not too “cool” to remember what it was like to be silly and young and reminisce about old goofy pictures we took posed at a Wal-Mart.

Although a lot of what I write here is about the journey to change in regards to my wellness and writing, it is also about bringing forth and committing to what is already inside of me. As I write this, I am thinking I have to learn to celebrate that woman, too.

I didn’t think I was going to mention this here but my day did not go so well..minor setbacks that I believe is just God’s way of telling me to work harder on my writing. A message telling me not to slow down because I will be writing full-time soon. I listened and I actually submitted two pieces to a literary magazine this afternoon. I have fears around putting myself out there when it comes to aggressively pursuing my business of helping others with their vows and speeches. But how is that celebrating the woman that I am? Even though I won’t fulfill all the fantasies I had as a young girl (I won’t be soon dancing back-up for Janet Jackson), writing has always felt real, tangible and within reach.

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The young girl in me and the woman I am can celebrate that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections on SOG 2017

Reflections on SOG 2017

It’s been one week since I completed the Water-Workout-Write 21-Day Challenge. I made new commitments, too: working out 5 days a week, drinking 100 oz. of water each day, writing two essays and sending one pitch to a publication weekly and blogging two days a week. For now, I picked Tuesdays and Thursdays. My intention was to start on Monday. I knew I would be back from attending The Summit of Greatness in Columbus, Ohio and well-rested. I did workout yesterday but my old habit of not drinking enough water reared its ugly head. I am back on it today and will most likely finish my intake in a couple of hours. I may work out later but if I don’t, I will complete my other four Wednesday-Saturday.

Today was unexpected. My brother called and asked me to lunch before he headed back out of town. Seeing as I didn’t know he arrived yesterday, it was a pleasant surprise. And not the first. I was so happy to see him. Not just because he’s my brother but because he is a friend and a good sounding board. After last week at Summit, there was much to reflect on and discuss.

One of which was the decision to go this year. I went last year and the experience was life-changing. There were hundreds of us, cheerleading each other, not knowing what was to come and having these instantaneous deep conversations with people who just happened to be standing next to you in line. The connections forged made me want to come back. I was excited but there were goals I knew I had set for myself that I did not reach, like finishing the book I was working on at the time. But of course, that is no reason not to recognize the strides I did make like taking Life in 10 Minutes with Valley Haggard, Pens Up Fears Down with Sadeqa Johnson, pitching my book at the James River Writer’s Conference, applying for my first fellowship, starting this site, expanding my social media presence, gaining a wonderful group of friends who also write (my tribe!) and finally getting around to printing up my business cards.

 

So, there was no real reason not to go. And I am so grateful that I did. This time my husband came with me. And that was one of the best gifts. Getting to see it through his eyes. Even though the magic of experiencing it for the first time was no longer there for me, watching him crane his neck around at the Southern Theater and hesitantly open up to a fellow attendee about his business goals made me realize how much time away from your “everyday” is needed. The Summit of Greatness is a jolt to the system, a soul-stirring reminder of what we could be if we are only willing to let go of what we thought we are or supposed to be.

We started off by registering last Wednesday the 13th and then attending a dinner which was mostly a casual reunion of last year’s attendees and enjoying the treat of meeting some new faces. And that is when I knew we were off to a good start. My heart was so warm and full at the sight of these people who I hadn’t even seen in nearly a year, except for online of course. It’s weird seeing people leap off of a screen and into your arms for a big old bear hug but it’s a good weird!

The next day was official Day 1. A highlight for me was poet Najwa Zebian and her loving embrace of her sensitivity and vulnerability. She exuded a quiet power. Tears were rolling down my cheeks during the Q&A portion of her time. Esther Perel was whip smart and funny! Her observations of the evolution of relationships like how we are looking to one person to fulfill all our needs compared to the past when it was a whole village was a major Aha moment for me.

Chris Lee’s emphasis on the power of giving moved me. When you’re depressed, give! When you’re happy, give! When you are lonely, give! His visualization exercise asking us what and where we want to be in 10 years was particularly memorable for me because he asked us to start it by saying that age out loud which was jarring for me. Then the tears came again.

Day 2 was quite a finale. My parents also came to Summit and the four of us sat on the first floor as compared to the balcony on Day 1 and the impact was powerful. The close proximity of the thumping drums and the cries of excitement made me want to jump to my feet immediately. As for speakers, Chris Guillebeau made another case about the power of the introvert. His energy was quieter but not boring in any way. He was promoting his new book “Side Hustle” and showed tangible evidence of people who started a side hustle, not a part-time job and grew it into a real business. He was practical and his approach made me want to listen deeply. I cannot wait to read his book! Mel Robbins came and brought the house down with her quick wit and insights and presented her 5-Second Rule. She delved into the science behind counting down…5, 4, 3, 2, 1..Go! When you wait too long to take action, we tend to stay still. She showed us how 5 seconds can change everything. Another read on my mile-high list from this weekend.

Tim Storey simply took us to church. There was a lot of call and response which made him entertaining but there was a message in his rhyme and swagger. He spoke about impartation, incubation and maturation phases in your life and shared about his work with people in addiction recovery. Brendon Burchard, the number one online marketer, was the closing keynote speaker. His emphasis was on the habits of high performers. I loved how he talked about bringing the joy every day. He took a moment to ask us all to think of three words that exemplify who we want to be, set and name an alarm with those three words for 10:00 am. We even had a dance break moment and I found myself admiring the interactive nature of his speech.

To cap off the conference, there was a dance party at Express Live with DJ Irie. The crowd was live and the music had us dancing for hours on end. Lewis, his Mom, Tim Storey, and even DJ Irie himself crowd surfed. The dancers that were teaching as a part of morning workouts last year came back and danced their collective faces off on stage.

As if this hasn’t been long enough, there is so much I am missing including the performers that danced and sang so beautifully for us, Lewis giving away his book as a surprise, Nick Onken’s art piece connecting all of us from all over this country and 20 others and hugs at every turn.

I am thankful. I am grateful.