I have been on a minimizing tear this year. I got rid of a couch, sold almost one hundred books, donated several bags of clothes and kitchenware, threw away kitchen items and today, we cleaned and went through every inch of the bathroom, literally from floor to ceiling, cabinets and all.
I am actually writing this from the car after a quick run to the store for new bathroom accessories and groceries with a jumbo bag of recycling in the trunk. Something hit me earlier while scrubbing the floor and Hubby was dust busting our steps. He said something about teamwork making the dream work which always makes us feel a little lighter when doing tedious work.
He was right but I couldn’t help but think it’s only true when it’s the right team.
My husband and I switched off with scrubbing, dusting, bleaching when the other’s back was aching and when we played the “should this stay or go game”, our habits and needs were considered. We watch out for each other when it comes to being mindful of what we want to eat and who could stand to take a night off cooking or do it together.
I envision many things for my marriage and other relationships, most of it coming down to respect and who’s really there for me.
When I look back on all of it, I believe I will know I picked the right team, those who chose to love, listen and grow with me.
Sometimes I tell my husband I am letting go of the idea I need to be in control, he takes a big step back and says he is getting out of the way (because he doesn’t want lightning to strike him).
I try but clearly I am not as successful as I think I am. But there is one thing I am working on letting go of:
The story I told myself about who I am. I have been letting go of it for the past 3 years.
I was telling myself (and others) that I liked to write but I wasn’t a writer.
That I was more of a simple person who wasn’t into changing her hair.
I wasn’t a teacher.
I was completely burnt out by Human Services and couldn’t see myself returning to it in any meaningful way.
But here I am: Looking slightly different, helping men and women start over at a dynamic nonprofit, blogging, publishing articles, writing an E-book journal, speaking, attending inspirational conferences and writing classes and will soon be learning how to fuse my passion for writing and healing others together.
A part of me needed to tell those old stories to lie about how much control I had over everything. But holding on that tight to an old, over told story doesn’t leave room for one thing.
What story have you been telling about yourself in order to stay in control?
Last night I had my first belly dancing class in many years.
After introductions were made and class rules explained, we got down to learning a few basic foundational steps. I definitely started getting excited when she talked about learning to shimmy which has always been a favorite of mine. I was already moving my knees as she began to explain what to do. Within a few seconds, the instructor advised me to slow down. She said she wants all of us to slow down to get the moves right.
Now, I know good and well I will not look like my belly dancing idols, Veena and Neena, but for some reason, a part of me is in a rush to get there.
So now it’s hit me in two places in under a week.
With my writing and my workout.
I am in a hurry to get to a place which requires slowing down or I will NEVER get there. At least not where I really want to be. I won’t develop strong technique in dance nor will I describe scenes well enough to not leave my readers with lingering questions.
I will do with belly dance the same thing I am doing with writing: Appreciate and even enjoy the time it will take to get exactly where I need to go especially when it gets challenging.
It’s not a novel concept but it’s one I need to cling to because to tell the truth, I have never pushed myself to master anything. Learn, absolutely yes. Master, no.
There are a plethora of reasons why but now is the time for some reflection but more action.
I am already looking forward to next week’s class. Our teacher has already talked about femininity, trying and failing and best of all, developing our confidence. I can’t say now I will ever perform publicly. But I can say I look forward to reading this post months from now and recognize a change.
I know to become a better writer, I must read. I used to swallow books whole the moment I got them, as if I was almost racing myself to see how fast I could finish before devouring the next. Over the last couple of years, I noticed I have slowed down considerably, reading more about books I should read rather than actually reading them. I have written more than I ever have but have also read the least.
This morning, I was reading the last of “Becoming” by Michelle Obama. It dawned on me how much I missed quiet time where I flew through chapters, uninterrupted. It conjured memories of paydays when I lived alone. I would pick up a decadent meal and at least two books from a nearby bookstore and enjoy a night to myself, indulging in flavorful treats and becoming addicted to new characters.
As part of my self-care, I pledge to revisit that part of myself more often. The woman who takes an afternoon to get lost in another writer’s creation, another writer’s world.
I owe it to myself right now and the writer I will grow to be.
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.
One of my writing goals for 2018 was to pitch an idea once a week to a publication. This week, I decided to really look at how often I was really pitching. I think I have only pitched once or twice. Instead of hanging my head low, I’ve decided to evaluate that goal. Does once a week work for me? Have I organized myself to meet this goal?
When I even take a cursory glance at it, the answer is No.
When I go deeper, I had to ask myself why I have not met the goal. I have been able to keep up with my blogging schedule, publish my first E-book journal, “What I Love About You: A Guided Journal to Writing Your Proposal and Vows” and take writing classes. In addition to the rigor of everyday life, I am aggressively attacking my health goals.
But none of those realities are excuses. I now have more time in my schedule to see how I can start making the time to pursue freelancing opportunities. It’s been a wonderful side effect of writing in my journal every morning. In addition to writing my prayers and gratitude, I’ve also included a to-do list. Writing it down has gifted me with tremendous clarity on the parts of my life I neglect.
Part of this clarity can be attributed to belief. Before establishing a morning routine, I didn’t believe I had time to write and pray just for me. I didn’t “believe” I was a morning person or and I believed I was a night owl. My transition is not miraculous but it is a result of sticking to the habit which created my new beliefs.
I believe I am the type of person who goes to bed early and wakes up early, too.
I believe I am the type of person who makes time for exercise.
I believe I am the type of person who schedules time to pitch editors and other blogs.
I believe I am the type of person who more often than not, finishes what she starts.
I believe I am a child of God who loves and works hard who intentionally makes the time to achieve her goals, has fun and gives herself a break when she needs it.
I have pretty much been in work mode all day and next level tired the whole time. Hubby is still sick but he has his moments when he is walking around so I remain grateful–a bit frustrated but grateful nonetheless. Part of me wishes I went to writing class tonight instead of giving into the weariness and the work.
So where does that leave me besides committed to the work? It leaves me proud that my weariness comes from work and challenges me to push through finalizing my project and keeping to my schedule posting here.
It also reminds me that if I could go back to even 2 years ago and ask if I would rather be living that life, the answer is an emphatic “No.” Being too scared or lazy or a combination of both to take classes, seek coaching, blog, attend conferences and write even when my lids and heart are heavy is nothing I want to run back to. Don’t misunderstand me. I harbor no ill will against who I used to be.
It’s our third day in Carlsbad, CA. A part of me would rather just sun myself at the pool or the beach but another part of me is glad to be sitting here writing. I know it’s because I am proving that no matter where I am, I am making posting here a priority. When you are on vacation, staring lazily at water and palm trees, the last thing you may feel like doing is whipping out a computer. But I know how committed I am to this process. I want to write through anything anywhere. I want to live up to my own expectations.
I am not sure if there is any other time in my life that I would have been able to truthfully write this but the time is now. Maybe this is what it is like to fall in love with what you’re pursuing. In my marriage, we would do anything to keep growing together. That’s part of the allure of travel. There’s a shared experience, a treasure of memory that no one can take from us.
With writing, there is a similarity. I am invested in my growth. I want to keep my schedule. Keep my word. I look forward to witnessing the fruits of my labor. There is a willingness to keep trying new things like adding Meatless Mondays or taking classes.
I don’t want to get out. I want to work through it all. Fail forward. Leave excuses behind.
So no matter how gracefully the fronds of the tree sway or the heat threatens to wilt my will to keep my commitment going this week. I won’t give in.
I spent this past (snowy) weekend at the 2017 Pop-Up Conference hosted by talk radio host, social media coach and web designer extraordinaire Sharvette Mitchell. The two-day conference featured a keynote speech by Kim Coles (from Living Single) and Channel 6’s Antoinette Essa. It was geared toward female entrepreneurs and the theme was “Monetize Your Platform.”
I know there are many writers who may not see themselves as businesswomen (or men). However, that could not be further from the truth. Even if we are lucky enough to be plucked up by a major publishing house, we have to depend on ourselves to market our work effectively. The artistic side of me tends to slink away from the word “sales” picturing a stereotypical, pushy car salesman. However, how are people supposed to know about or purchase your labor of love unless you learn to present it to the world? I know no one has ever knocked on my door asking to read my work.
I figured even if no part of the presentations catered to a writer, I would undoubtedly learn something I could apply. Right from the beginning, any doubts that I may have harbored about whether this was right for me were immediately squashed. Sharvette’s “Hey Girl Hey” ambassadors, Stacy Rodriguez and Toni Winston, were friendly and engaged me immediately. Her team was so organized I was tempted to sing “Formation” as things started to gear up. Registration was seamless and I was invited to sit at a table by a panel member, Yolanda Gray, a warm and welcoming life coach who made me feel right at home with her message of female empowerment.
After a rousing presentation by Confidence Coach, Speaker and Author Shirley T. whose emphasis on relationship building and connection made me walk right to her at the end of the evening and hug her, we were welcomed by Sharvette herself. I think she figured we were warmed up by the hors d’oeurves, conversation and Shirley T. so she threw us right into the fire. She broke us up into groups of 4 and we had to come up with a 60-second skit for one of our businesses. It wouldn’t have been so intimidating if Ms. Kim Coles herself hadn’t made a surprise appearance and watched all of our skits!
Our schedule with swag bag.
Confidence Coach and Author Shirley T. gifting us with her sage advice about relationship building.
I will still hyped after Day 1 in the conference. I had just trudged home in the snow but excited!
Needless to say, we made it through and it was a lot of fun! It was fascinating to see all of the joy and creativity pour out of all these women. It was the passion they had for their businesses that shone through more than anything. There were also plenty of other writers there so any fears I may have had about that were allayed on the first night.
The second day of the conference ran from 8:15-5 and there was so much useful content that I ran out of room in the notes section of the binder provided and moved on to filling up my journal. There were many highlights. They were panels on branding, going from ideation to execution, building media relationships with Antoinette Essa, a session about sales conversations led by skin care business owner Ellice Darien, and the keynote speech “Broadcast Your Brilliance” by Kim Coles.
One of the notable standouts was “Unlocking The Giant Within-Identify, Train and Unleash your Giant–I’ts Screaming to Come Out. It was led by Chief Apostle Olive C. Brown, a local author and Faith Coach. Her content was incredibly uplifting and I fell in love with the idea of “the female Giant.” It’s rare to see us presented that way, even when that’s exactly who we are and must be in this world.
Sharvette’s presentation about monetizing your platform provided the most useful, actionable content for me. She broke down specific tools and strategies to earn income online, even according to your gifts. She was insightful enough to realize some of us are better writers than speakers and vice versa and gave us options for both when creating and selling our products (ex. email courses vs. video courses). Her delivery made me feel like I needed to go home right now and get to work!
Kim Coles signing books
This woman can tell a story! She not only made us laugh but she captured our hearts.
Me and my friend and writing buddy Sonia with Sharvette Mitchell.
Our lovely host listening intently on Day 2.
After the day was done, I was smiling. I hope I not only made connections but possible budding friendships. There was a lot of strength and grit in that room but there was an air of gratitude, service and connection fostered in that room, too.
Without a doubt, I will be popping back up for 2018.
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.