A Word

A Word

I listened to Patrice Washington’s podcast “Redefining Wealth” today. It was entitled “Give God Something to Bless.”

I knew right away her message would speak to me. Hubby and I frequently talk about God blessing our efforts whether it pertains to our careers, our health, our finances or finding a church community we can trust again.  She said something that had a strong impact on me. I had to hear it twice.

“Can God see what I’m waiting on based on what I’m working on?”

When I listen to podcasts, I often feel inspired, as if I am getting a free education and depending on the nature of it, I have found myself in tears (listen to the School of Greatness interview with John Gray).

But today, I got “a word.”

I was convicted. I know the things I need to consistently work on and when I don’t, I do kind of have an entitled idea that I should be blessed in that area anyway.

After all, I’m a good person. Right?

But what I know and what Patrice’s words seared into me, was that being “good” doesn’t mean you are doing your best. “Good” doesn’t mean you are rising to your challenges and it definitely doesn’t mean you have honored the talent that was gifted to you since you first drew breath.

So I am going to take this word and give Him something to bless. No need to talk about it.

I prefer to be about it.

A Weekend of Writing

A Weekend of Writing

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.

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.

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The writers pictured L to R: Jack E. White, Stacy Hawkins Adams, Robin Farmer and Michael Paul Williams

 

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.

Job well-done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She’s Still Here

She’s Still Here

On Saturday, I was back at Afro-Caribbean dance class. It had been a few weeks because of holiday, cancellations, illness, etc. I was ecstatic to join the group of smiling faces for the last class of 2017. Towards the end of every class, our instructor has us gather in a circle. Some people get out in the middle of the circle and dance while the rest of us clap and cheer them on.

One of the fabulous dancers settled next to me at one point during this time. We were both smiling and clapping at this gorgeous little girl who couldn’t stop herself from throwing herself in the middle and jumping around with her parents. Nothing but pure joy. The woman next to me leaned in and said “We all have a little girl inside of us just like her.”

And that’s when it hit me. I have learned not sit on the sidelines with my writing in 2017 but the woman who used to embrace the center of the dance floor has not made an appearance in a long time. Anyone who really knows me remembers that I may not have always been the first person on the dance floor but I was certainly never the last. If I was feeling the music, that was it. All she wrote. I don’t know if it’s my island roots (Ayiti!) or the fact that my family was never shy about burning up the dance floor when I was younger. Til this day, watching dancers makes me tear up. The type of dance has never mattered to me-belly, ballet, modern, African, jazz, hip-hop. The fluidity, the sharp and precise movements and the grace of the dancer has always spoken to me.

Anyway, after she leaned back and the music continued to pulsate throughout the circle, I found myself drawn, not all the way to the center but away from the sidelines and let the beat find me.

And even if only for a few moments, the little girl inside of me made an appearance.

What’s in Store for 2018.

What’s in Store for 2018.

After tonight, the next time I post here will be on January 1, 2018. So this is the perfect time to share my writing goals for 2018 (some of which are already in full swing).

Here we go:

-Submit work to publications at least once a week

-Complete my E-Book. I have an outline. It’s time to execute.

-Complete my novel. This was on my list last year. I know achieving this goal will be a result of my effort and consistency. No excuses.

-Go to more events as part of James River Writers, our local organization for writers. I went to a Writing Show, their annual conference, a book reading and a salon but I can make time for more.

-Connect with and be of service to other writers

-Strengthen my accountability resources (Be more active in my online groups and with my current writing partners)

-Embrace opportunities to speak about my journey (whether that be as part of a panel, as a speaker or as a podcast guest)

-Read more (2 books a month). Some months I read more, some less. I would like to be more consistent.

-Continue to go to book signings (especially for local authors!)

-Continue blogging 3 times a week.

-Do #bloglikecrazy challenge with See Jane Write again in November! (That challenge stretched me and gave me the idea to incorporate Meatless Monday posts).

-Seek more opportunities to guest post (at least once a month).

-Continue to take writing classes, even if it’s just a one-day workshop.

-Write down my goals daily in my journal!

-Remember to keep having fun! This level of commitment to writing is still technically in its infancy so there is no need to compare my walk with anyone else’s. I love that last year at this time I didn’t have a blog, had never taken a writing class, had only been published on one site, never thought to apply for a fellowship, and did not have a writing group. All of that has changed in the space of one year. I feel like my eyes have sprung open. I am already excited about what goals I will get to post in December 2018.

Happy New Year to all of my readers! I wish and pray for the absolute best for all of you!

Your turn: What are some of your goals for 2018?

 

Not Waiting Until…

Not Waiting Until…

Today, we came back from visiting family. After breakfast and gift opening yesterday morning, my parents set off for Texas. Neither of them have ever spent any real time there so they decided to try something new. Hubby and I are the same way. I realize I get that quality from them. Since they have been empty-nesters, I’ve observed them enjoying their life together by taking trips, running races and going to festivals and conferences.

Partly because of their example, it will always sadden me when I hear someone say.. “I’m too old for this.. or I should have done (fill in the blank) when I was younger and now it’s too late.” As long as you have breath in your body, it’s not over. I’m not saying anyone I know lives up to this perfectly but I have been inspired to live this way, even when I have moments when I am full of doubt and fear.

And when those moments come, these questions must be considered: What if the experience presented to you was just for you right at this time? What if you never have the opportunity again?

As we are all aware, tomorrow is promised to no one. So why not now? Book that trip, start that business or blog, write that book or try that new restaurant. Sometimes (and I have been guilty of this as well), it feels like we are just waiting until the next time we choose to put it off. It’s as if we are waiting just to kick the can down the road again so to speak.

I am excited for 2018. Not because I can’t wait to see what happens but I want to see how I make it happen. And that starts now–no waiting for an arbitrary date, no cans to kick down the road.

All or Nothing

All or Nothing

You ever get to the end of the day and feel like you made a lot of good decisions? Decisions that were just right for you?

Today was that day for me. I talked more openly about my writing with people. I spent an hour outside, just walking and talking. Even though there was a chill in the air, I cherished every moment I had outside and not cooped up indoors.

Now I am here, writing this post and preparing to work more on the first draft of my book and another writing project. I am thanking God I asked one of my writing group members to check on me this Saturday to see where I am with my pages.

Which is leading me to another thought: Please don’t underestimate the power of accountability. I sorely need it! One of my goals during #bloglikecrazy in November was to finish my first draft. I know why I set two lofty goals but I also know they were not completely grounded in reality. When I set unrealistic goals, I set a trap for myself. And I fall for it every. single. time.

The “All or Nothing” mentality has never served me well and it only guarantees that something on the list will not get done. In November, it was my first draft. I looked at it but that was about as far as it got. I did not anticipate the everyday stressors, activities, work, and of course I couldn’t have known to factor in hubby’s short hospital stay. However, there is something about me that wants to keep reaching. I think there is a little devil on my shoulder that whispers “This time it will be different. This time you can push yourself to do it all.”

I can at least promise not listen to the lies and do what I know I can do and if sometimes I surprise myself with more, then I will welcome it. For right now, I am happy to dedicate the rest of 2017 to staying consistent with my blogging schedule, working out a few times a week and continuing to work on my first draft with the support of my accountability partners.

I can’t think of a better way to start to say good-bye to 2017 and hello to 2018.

Meatless Mondays: Roasted Carrot, Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup

Meatless Mondays: Roasted Carrot, Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup

This week, especially after a couple of days of snow, I decided to make a soup as part of our dinner tonight. Hubby found this recipe from choosingchia.com:

Ingredients
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 2 cups carrots
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 liter vegetable broth
  • pinch of cayenne
  • salt & pepper to taste
""
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a pan with parchment paper.
  2. Chop your sweet potatoes and carrots into medium sized cubes and place spread out of your pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until tender.
  3. Heat vegetable oil in a large pot on medium heat. Chop your onion and garlic and and add to the pot, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes. Add grated ginger, sweet potato, carrots and a pinch of cayenne and stir together.
  4. Next add your vegetable broth and bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Transfer soup to a blender (or use a hand blender) and blend soup until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
It turned out  to be amazing. Because of the onions and garlic clove, I barely had to salt and pepper to taste. I also did not have veggie broth so I mixed water with Goya salad and vegetable seasoning and added that to the onions, garlic, ginger and cayenne. I also used 1 tablespoon of ginger instead of 2–it’s all we had left. Hubby told me we already had everything we needed to make this soup so the improvisation was clearly not planned. But that’s ok. Sometimes, that’s how it is and it did not disappoint.
Already excited for next Monday!

Blank Pages

Blank Pages

At writing group tonight, we discussed the doubts that we all face as writers, how sometimes cuddly kittens can masquerade as roaring lions.

This reminded me of one of the books I am reading right now, “You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life” by Jen Sincero. She writes about waking up from “The Big Snooze” when you are ready to take control of your life and relentlessly pursue your goals. She says when we start to attack our goals, there will often be unexpected trials that start to crop up. She even used the example of a woman she was coaching who finally fulfilled her dream of opening up a music studio. Soon after, the studio burned down. This woman was obviously at a crossroads. She could have chosen to wallow in her misfortune or focus on fundraising and rebuilding. She chose the latter and has been an incredible success ever since.

This was one of many examples used to inspire her readers to persist even when roadblocks seem to magically appear. Our roadblocks may never be as dramatic as a burned down building. However, the doubts can set our mindset up to destroy anything in its path and leave us with nothing but blank pages.

 

I DID IT!

I DID IT!

It’s here! It’s here! It’s here! Day 30 of #bloglikecrazy is here! November flew by. I can admit there were a couple of times during the challenge that I thought about quitting. However, I knew I wouldn’t get the lessons I was bound to learn if I didn’t complete it. And therefore, wouldn’t be able to share it with all of you.

So here it goes:

1. I’ve learned my 21-Day Water-Workout-Write Challenge was not a fluke.

2. If challenged (by myself or in this case, by See Jane Write founder Javacia Harris Bowser), I will rise to the occasion.

3. I love trying new recipes regularly. I have never been a woman who loves to whip out the cookbook and dive in. I was more of a go with what you know type of cook and try a new recipe once in a blue moon. Meatless Monday posts stretched me and now I want to incorporate recipes more regularly. What I eat is a significant part of my wellness journey and deserves a place here.

4. I am capable of surprising myself. This is something I suspected while taking Life in 10 Minutes with Valley Haggard and Pens Up, Fears Down with Sadeqa Johnson. Even when I thought the well dried up, the words would find a way to appear. However, this challenge asked me to do it every day and more days than not, I opened my computer and stared at a blinking cursor and typed nonsense until I found my way or my way found me.

5. Inspiration is everywhere. It is in the photos you take, nature, the TV or movies you watch, past travels, a conversation at work, books or even as I discovered this month, in a hospital room. Life is going on around you, inside you, and has a past, present and God willing, a future. It is always ready to be found.

If you’ve ever wondered if a challenge like this would be beneficial to you, wonder no more! Give it a try! I am already excited for #bloglikecrazy 2018!

It’s Everywhere.

It’s Everywhere.

Everyday during this challenge, I find myself looking for inspiration. Sometimes it comes from a picture, a message heard, a memory, a book, a meal, a quote or is birthed from just typing words until I see the words forming into a message. Today, I was watching an episode of the new Spike Lee Joint, the updated “She’s Gotta Have It” on Netflix. Nola Darling and her date walked into The River Cafe in Brooklyn. The entrance was lit beautifully and the greenery was incredibly lush.

My mind wandered to a restaurant in Aruba we went to on our honeymoon. I don’t remember the food but I remember the trees and the lights. The air. A lonely dog strolling back and forth in front of the entrance.

A connection was made. Watching Ms. Darling saunter confidently in her black dress into a cafe extracted memories of lovely trees lighting up our dinner in Aruba. There is beauty in finding inspiration everywhere, from leafing through an old notebook to standing on a balcony to sitting in a church pew to the cinematography on a TV show.  I hope I never lose sight of that–even after the daily challenge of looking for it is over.