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.
It’s been a couple of days since the release of my new (and first) E-Book: What I Love About You: A Guided Journal to Writing Your Proposal and Vows. I am having a range of emotions. The excitement of it being in the world is here, the wondering of what to do next besides talk about it and keep writing and hope–that people buy it, use it and love it. I am processing the entire range of emotions.
I know I am proud of myself and hope that those who use it, whether it be for themselves or for those whom they wish to gift it to, find it helpful and become inspired while answering the questions and reading the prompts and quotes.
It’s interesting what you picture while writing something. I was imagining men and women of all ages reading and writing at desks, on kitchen tables, in break rooms or during quick stolen moments at work or lying in bed, recapturing memories of the relationship thus far. While I was writing, I even started thinking about my own “origin story” with hubby. I believe allowing myself to remember the details of how we met, the qualities about him that still make me swoon and how it was to meet his family for the first time strengthened my resolve to continue writing this journal and better yet, captured our “why.” By “why”, I mean why we fell in love and chose to stay there.
Because loving is action. Loving is an active decision.
Your turn: What have you done lately that has stretched or excited you? If you haven’t, why do you think that is?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tonight is our last night in California. Our conversations with the last two Lyft drivers provided some food for thought. Every time hubby and I travel to a new city, we ask the same question: Could we live here? As grateful as we were for the views, the food, the beauty and our time with my cousin, we both said “No” to the question about the Carlsbad/Encinitas area. We arrived at the Gas Lamp Quarter in San Diego yesterday morning and I immediately felt in sync with my environment. However, we are preparing to leave tomorrow morning and both of us wish we had more time here. We could use 2 or 3 more days right here so we could answer our question with confidence. We had lunch at Cafe Gratitude and walked down to the the Harbor waterfront area. Hubby proclaimed he could see living in the apartments down the street from the restaurant. We watched locals stroll along the water, their laminated IDs swinging from their necks and belt loops, lucky enough to work nearby the harbor and bathe in the sun during their breaks.
But back to the Lyft drivers. The one who took us to Balboa Park to go to the Zoo and museums told us he had been living here for seven months. He and his girlfriend visited from Philadelphia last January, looked at one another and made a decision to move here. Within a matter of months, they were in San Diego and found jobs days later. Our second driver moved here from Brazil fifteen years later and has not looked back. I know we are playing tourist but everyone we spoke to seemed so sure of the risk they took. Of course, it is unlikely people would pour out their deepest fears and insecurities to a complete stranger.
However, I choose to believe them. As someone who decided not to continue down a career path that would have been “just fine” and “safe”, I understand what it means to take a risk to become who you want to be. Sometimes, it means moving across the country, forging a new career path or choosing to end a relationship.
My future risk may not include an adventurous move across the country but I know I am open to the exploration of what comes next.
Your turn: What risks have you taken lately? Or what risk do you want to take?
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.
When I was single, I heard many women talk about writing a list of the things they wanted in a husband. Two or three times on New Years Day, I wrote my own list. I saw it as writing down a prayer for what I wanted and clearly defining who I thought I needed him to be.
I did not spend much time on physical characteristics. I was attracted to many kinds of men in the past so I just wanted to feel an attraction to him. Even though the physical part of his description wasn’t outlandish, other characteristics probably could have used an injection of reality.
For example, I knew my ultimate partner would be Haitian-American like me, well-traveled and well-read with a love for books that I would strive to match. He would also care about lifting up the community and volunteer as often as he could, probably with his church. He would also be an amazing dancer and get along famously with both his and my family. He would love multiple genres of music and be able to express his feelings without me having to prod too much. He didn’t have to command attention as soon as he walked in the room but he should be able to if the situation called for it. He also had to have an appreciation for the arts.
So what kind of person did I end up marrying? In many ways, I could easily check off the wishes from my list like healthy familial relationships, kindness, faith, varied taste in music and when I asked for patience, the cup overflows. I am in awe of his patience. It showed me where I needed to grow. However, he has a quiet nature, his family is American and from Virginia, he can’t dance, and doesn’t love to read as much as I do. He also hasn’t traveled the world yet. If my memory serves me correctly, I forgot to write down one of the best qualities a partner can have: willingness.
One of the things that continually surprises me and keeps me happy is his willingness to try new foods, go to more cultural events, travel and support me while I was determining I wanted to commit to writing for the rest of my life.
I didn’t anticipate the joy that came with exploring it all together, at the same time. Sometimes, we are meant to learn and experience an event, trip or restaurant for the first time with our partners. In my single days, I had an expectation of my partner taking on the role of teacher. It isn’t that I didn’t expect us to teach one another but I subconsciously set up an expectation for a potential partner he did not ask to live up to.
But then there are times he stepped up to the plate that I never saw coming. At the height of my psoriasis which came over 2 years into our marriage, it had covered almost every part of my body and it was torture to wear clothes. I often wanted to tear them off and scratch. Many nights before settling into bed, he would lovingly paint my body with steroid cream and tell me he wished he could take the pain and scars from me.
I often think back to those nights and say to myself: I may not have gotten every little thing I wanted on the list but I got everything I didn’t even know I needed.
Yesterday, on See Jane Write’s Facebook page, I saw a prompt asking us to describe our idea of a perfect Girls Night Out. Ideas floated around for a few minutes and reminded me of what I’ve been thinking lately: I haven’t had a real Girls Night Out in years.
Yes, I said it. Years.
Before anyone points fingers or starts pearl-clutching, I have been to plenty of lunches, dinners and events with friends but it’s usually been with one or two of them at a time. It hasn’t been on purpose. Weeks turn into months and months turn into years and before I knew it, I am sitting in a movie theater watching Girls Trip with my husband, laughing but also asking myself like the R&B group 702 in the 90’s: Where My Girls At?
As many of us know, wellness should be whole–physical, emotional and spiritual. Part of the journey should be a commitment to getting together and even better, getting away with your friends. Phone calls, text messages, email and the random lunch/dinner should not be enough. Time away to unwind, laugh and let it all out builds us up and strengthens our relationships. I guess it’s time for me to start planning!