The Launch of She Lives Here

The Launch of She Lives Here

This past Friday, my new book She Lives Here was celebrated virtually on Life in 10 Minutes’ FB page. I have been asked several times since then how I feel. I feel relieved, excitement, hopeful and more at peace. I didn’t even know how much anxious or nervous energy my body carried until Saturday night, where I slept for well over 9 hours. I was even full of adrenaline Friday night. I paced the room,. feeling like I should be going somewhere but where do you go to let loose in a pandemic?

The launch party itself was a lovely experience—the introduction, the reading and the Q&A. The L10 Press team and I logged on a few minutes early to get settled and prepare for showtime. I am glad we did because it gave me time to breathe deeply and mentally ready myself to read into the Zoom void. I chose 8 pieces to read and decided to end it with my last piece “She Lives Here” because I wanted to emphasize leaning into joy. I wanted to end feeling triumphant.

During the reading, the only visible audience I had was my publisher, Valley who fist pumped and pantomimed claps enough for 10 people. Her muted presence spurred me on. What was unexpected is the emotion that bubbled up when I read one of my more vulnerable pieces entitled “The Rules.” The first time I ever read it aloud to my husband, I teared up. I have read it to myself a handful of times since so when I found myself choking back tears, there was a sense of surprise but I pushed through. I knew the pieces that make me feel more inspired were coming and I would find refuge in reading them.

Launch party night!

After it was all over, I had time to respond to messages and watch the playback. One of the things I treasured most was reading the comments. There was so much love in that virtual room. I knew they could feel me. It was what I wanted more than anything. For my words on the page to be taken to another level, an understanding that cannot be matched in someone else’s voice.

I look forward to doing more readings, interviews and sharing more of my heart with readers. I hope more of you can join me as I continue to choose joy as She Lives Here makes its way out into the world.

If you would like to order your own copy, please go to https://www.lifein10minutes.com/unzipped-issues/unzipped-issue-2-she-lives-here or for a digital copy, it’s available on Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

She’s Here!

She’s Here!

I asked God to make me like water. It’s a sentence I have written down several times over the past few weeks as I have been preparing for the release of my new book of prose and poetry “She Lives Here” with L10 Press (Issue 2 of Unzipped, their new literary magazine subscription service).

I am proud of this book and am in love with the cover art created by Alexandra Antoine.

I have been writing about God making me like water because while I know overall this process is a joyful one, there will be moments of overwhelm and frustration. Since perfection doesn’t live here (or anywhere else), I will make a mistake while being interviewed, find a typo or someone I expect to support me decides not to. Even though my nature is to try to control these outcomes, the truth is that these things are inevitable. I want to ride this wave of gratitude for everything that has gone right.

When I was 11, I wrote about what kind of writer I wanted to be. I dreamed of being a novelist and writing for TV. Although the description doesn’t quite match the reality at this time, there is a part of me that wants to reach back 29 years and tell that little girl, “We did it!” A friend of mine asked me how it feels to know you wrote it down as a child and didn’t let the dream go. I didn’t have the words. It means I didn’t forget about her. I didn’t let alternate career choices, other people’s expectations, my own fear, anxiety, perceived ideas of “what should happen” stop me from trying.

I also want to let things flow like water, be water, is because I cannot control any reaction to my work either. As I wrote, I tried to embody the Nikki Giovanni quote: “You must be unintimidated by your own thoughts because if you write with someone looking over your shoulder, you’ll never write.” It took a couple drafts to get there but I trusted in the value of not holding back. I am thinking back to how I placed some of my more raw pieces in the middle of an earlier draft as if my publisher and editor wouldn’t be able to find it. I had to trust in the healing my relationships went through so I could open up about traumas and disappointments experienced in a real way. I know what has been worked through so I could write without deep fear of being disrespectful.

I ultimately wrote with freedom and love.

While writing, I gained clarity on why I made certain rules for myself, how, what and who I love, my capacity for forgiveness and the value of accountability. Writing “She Lives Here” has created space for me to be more of who I am—a Black woman who chooses to dream, live, and write with joy.

With joy, I would like to invite you to the virtual launch party of “She Lives Here” on Life in 10 Minutes’ Facebook page on March 19th at 5pm EST!

If you would like to pre-order before the official release on March 15th:

https://www.lifein10minutes.com/unzipped-issues/unzipped-issue-2-she-lives-here

I hope you all enjoy “She Lives Here” and find pieces that inspire or speak to you.

I am Becoming

I am Becoming

I am currently reading “Becoming” by Michelle Obama. There is a passage in the book where she says she hates when adults ask children what they want to be when they grow up because it implies we all have to grow up to be one thing.

When I was asked that question, I remembered being nudged to say doctor or lawyer and I might have succumbed a couple of times. I only ever really wanted to be a writer. I just spent many years believing it could never be a reality.

I also spent many years believing if I didn’t make all of my money as a writer that I couldn’t call myself a writer, either. I am so grateful I adopted a new mindset. Even though I wish I didn’t live all of those years calling myself other things, it is OK.

I had to go through it all in order to claim what I know myself to be right now. If I become anything else, I will be content with this journey.

Because I am living, breathing and becoming it, too.

Rationalizing

Rationalizing

Last weekend, my sister invited us to workout with her trainer. I am ashamed to admit it had been a good two months since I worked out strenuously. Her trainer didn’t beat us up (although walking was a challenge for 2 days afterwards) but it was obvious to me it was about time someone did or at least come close to it consistently.

Between travel, doctor’s visits and hospital stays, I hadn’t realized I gave up on working out. Days really do turn into weeks and weeks into months. I am determined not to finish that last sentence with “and months into years.”

I can rationalize reasons to let the sentence head in that direction but I heard something else from Patrice Washington’s podcast yesterday. She calls rationalizing “rationing out lies.”

I could lie and say there’s not enough time or I’m too tired but why tell those lies? They are not fooling anyone, including myself. As for all of the other reasons that took my focus away from my healing these last couple months, I forgive myself and will move on. I have a tendency to stress about “where I would have been if only I had done this” but that never gets me anywhere.

The point is to start over right where I am. No waiting for the New Year or even my birthday in a couple of weeks. I am hoping the adage “when you know better, you do better” applies to me this time around.

So for anyone else starting over especially in the midst of a trial, I wish you luck, pray for blessings and send every ounce of positivity I can your way.

Static

Static

The last few weeks I have been absent from my workouts. It started off because of intense pain in my ankles and I slowed down because I knew continuing to push would only make things worse down the road. I was limping around the house and that’s never good.

But I have been feeling better and there has been no visits to the gym, dance class, videos or walks outside.

I am not sure why after being active for so many months that it has come to a stop. I feel static. I can almost hear myself make an excuse as to why I won’t workout tomorrow.

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Tonight I was at writing group. We discussed if we fear what would happen if we make it in the literary world. I have to ask myself the same question in regards to my wellness journey.

Is there anything I fear about being on the other side of this struggle? Will writing about it now help me cross back over to where I was only 3 weeks ago?

I’m betting it will. If things are really going to be different this time, then I have to call myself out and pull myself out of the hole I sunk myself into that makes me feel stuck and scared.

I am hoping to look back on these past few weeks as a minor setback a year from now.

I can’t let it determine who I will be a year fron now.

3 Tips to Help You Write Your Vows

3 Tips to Help You Write Your Vows

Wedding season is officially here! As many of you know, I released my E-book journal “What I Love About You: A Guided Journal to Writing Your Proposal and Vows” to help people express themselves on the day they decide to propose, get married or even on an anniversary!

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I had so much fun pondering over the prompts, finding inspiring quotes, writing poetry and recalling my own fond memories of the proposal and writing my vows that I wanted to share 3 prompts from my E-book you may enjoy:

1. What did he/she introduce to you? (A new hobby, special vacation spot, favorite book or movie, spiritual practice or sport etc.)

I included this prompt (and accompanying questions) because what your partner introduced you to may have changed not only who you are but may have changed the course of your relationship. It may have brought you closer together and that can definitely be worth including in your vows.

2. What is the most impactful thing they have ever done for you?

I encourage the reader to go deeper, beyond the physical with this one. Your partner wants to know the effect you have had on their life. Never underestimate the power of acknowledgement.

3. What are you looking forward to experiencing as a married couple?

This can be as simple as trips you plan to take, as challenging as the fears you plan to conquer or as life-affirming as the family you plan to expand.

I hope you enjoyed reading these tips. There are more accompanying questions and 12 other prompts you can use in “What I Love About You: A Guided Journal to Writing Your Proposal and Vows” available right here or at https://www.etsy.com/shop/WhatILoveAboutYou?ref=pr_shop_more

 

Meatless Mondays: Legume Kitchen and Bar

Meatless Mondays: Legume Kitchen and Bar

After speaking to a group of young writers, hubby and I visited Legume Kitchen and Bar in Fredericksburg, VA. We had meant to visit on Valentine’s Day but I wasn’t feeling well. We always meant to make the trip and since the restaurant was only 15 minutes away from the library, it was a perfect time to visit!

Although Legume isn’t a vegan restaurant, they had plenty of plant-based options available. We started off our meal with vegan nachos. For my entree, I ordered the Meatless Ball Sandwich and a side salad. It was a hearty sandwich made with garbanzo bean fritters, marinara sauce and vegan mozzarella. My husband ordered the coconut-green curry rice noodles meal with shitake mushrooms, tofu and bok choy.  We ordered dessert, too: dark chocolate cake with rasberry torte and for him, a mango sorbet. Even though the chocolate cake wasn’t my favorite, I definitely indulged in a few bites. Everything was well-made and I am planning a trip back to Legume in the very near future.

Haitian Heritage Month Highlight: Michele Voltaire Marcelin

Haitian Heritage Month Highlight: Michele Voltaire Marcelin

The final spotlight for Haitian Heritage Month is on Michele Voltaire Marcelin.  She is a poet, painter and writer. Her work has been published in French, English, Spanish and Kreyol. She also writes in three languages. Her artwork has been exhibited at the Art Museum of the Americas of the Organization of American States in D.C., the Cork Gallery at Lincoln Center and at the National Museum in Haiti. I saved her for last because Hubby and I chose her poetry to be featured at our wedding reception in 2012.

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Here is one of our favorites:

Dreamscape 

 what magic names of places
shall i whisper in the dark
while you hold me
so we travel at least through the night

what sweet syllables of cities
ancient or new
what bird-laden trees
in what gardens
shall i offer you
so that at last i see the world with you

walk with me
through streets i have loved
in buenos aires, aix, lisbon, jacmel
keep your steps aligned with mine

walk with me
in venice
there is an alleyway called paradiso
i want you to kiss me there
in istanbul
a church of holy wisdom
where we will on the altar light candles

there is somewhere in port-au-prince
a crumbling wall fired with hibiscus
where blossoms wait to be chosen by you
to flower my hair
or shall we go off on a barge
floating on the seine
when the city darkens and the bridges spread
across the silent river
will we be drunk with each other
or will it be the boat dancing on the water

there is a stretch of sand i remember
in valparaiso
crusted with salt from the waves
we will leave our footprints there
drink pisco in a secluded bar in santiago
sit in pelhourino square in salvador
later i will giggle as you carry me
on the stairs to the capri grotto
somewhere there is a bed unmade
in a new york hotel
where we’ll return at dawn to make love
as sleepwalkers do
after seeing the ghosts of jazz musicians
at the blue note

somewhere someday we’ll go away
but tonight let’s recite as we would poems
names of places
that await our pleasure
hold my hands my beloved
look in my eyes
tonight let’s travel in our dreams
while we remain immobile in the dark

 

I hope featuring Haitian poets this month has opened you up to writers that you may have never had the pleasure of discovering on your own. I know choosing to celebrate my heritage this way has been a wonderful and educational experience for me.

Happy reading!

 

Rediscovering the Old and Enjoying the New

Rediscovering the Old and Enjoying the New

Thursday wellness update time! This past week I lost 1.2lbs which felt amazing to me. I worked hard even when I slipped up and ate too much on some days. There were many reasons why this week felt amazing to me. For one, I rediscovered some belly dance videos on YouTube I used to do several years ago featuring the Bellydance Twins Veena and Neena. I spent many hours doing their workouts and learning routines which led to classes I eventually took years later. I had a ball doing their intense Arms & Abs video. It reminded me how much is available for me to do even when we don’t make it to the gym.

Veena and Neena

Another reason is that I just attended a networking event for women at an awesome juice bar this evening. I spent the evening learning about how to brand yourself led by a photographer and business coach. Their presentation was dynamic and interactive. We even got a chance to learn about the origin story of Ginger Juice, the venue where the event was held. It was incredibly encouraging to listen to this woman recount how she left the corporate world to take the risk to found a business where she is contributing to the health of her community and spending more time with her children.

I am grateful for rediscovering old joys and having the chance to surround myself with new, enterprising women.

Your turn:

Have you revisited anything you used to love doing lately? Or had any new experiences lately? I would love to hear from you in the comments.