I write love stories for women who desire their very own happily ever after. What better memoir to review than one by an actual prince. Spare, is a touching recounting of a life of privilege… More
Are You Afraid of Your Dreams?
What happens to a dream deferred? – Langston Hughes
I was listening to Les Brown this morning on my way to church. In his famous speech, “It’s Not Over Until You Win,” Brown states that most people are not following their dreams because of fear. Some are afraid to fail while others are afraid to succeed.
My dream since age 12 has been to be a successful writer. Meaning, I want to generate income being creative — as an author, blogger, speaker, etc. The First Lady of my church asked me to contribute to our annual women’s conference in a creative way. She really left the format up to me. Talk about a God-wink. I decided on spoken word.
Twenty plus years ago, I was a freshman at the University of Illinois. There was an African American cultural center affectionately called , “The Black House”. There was an open mic night weekly. This was the 90s when neo-soul and poetry slams were the latest rage. Each week I attended, I would sit in my seat trying to muster the courage to read my material. What if they don’t get it, if they don’t snap their fingers, or if I trip and fall on my way to the stage? Fear always won.
For the past month, I have written, re-written, and rehearsed the performance of my poetry piece. I was okay until this final week. I have been travelling for work all week without much time to rehearse. Old man fear showed up taunting me again. What if you forget the words, if your nervousness causes your voice to tremble, or if your trip and fall on your way to the stage?
Today, I made it to that stage without falling. I spoke the words passionately although my hands trembled in the beginning. I remembered every single word. The audience stood and applauded.
Reimagining the Dream
The theme of today’s event was – Relate, Refresh, and Reimagine. I imagined myself getting on that stage in college and reciting my poetry to a receptive audience with their arms raised and fingers poised to snap and the right inflection of words. That moment never happened. Since then, I have worked on my confidence, presentation skills. I am a skilled software trainer. I travelled to a work conference this week and taught a session in a large ballroom. Life has a way of preparing you for your heart’s desire.
I am 44 years old. Today, I conquered a fear that had haunted me since age 18. I went back to my seat completely overwhelmed by the significance of the moment. I fought back tears as women came by to hug me and express their appreciation of my performance.
You are never too old to conquer a fear or to live out your dreams.
Called to Create
“In the beginning, God created . . .” is the starting line of Genesis, the first book of the bible.
Something from Nothing –
According to Google (Oxford Languages) dictionary, to create is to bring (something) into existence.
Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876 when he was 29 years old. Samuel Morse, the inventor of Morse code, created the telephone’s predecessor, the telegraph. However, the idea preceded him by nearly 100 years!
Every great innovation starts with a novel thought. The seed of thought yields our reality. Contemplating while awake or even daydreaming serves a function in the creative process.
“Living his distant and impossible ideas.” Daydreaming is pleasurable and beautiful. You cannot live with your eyes closed. You need to put action to dreams to bring them into reality.
Order from Chaos
Humans can have greater than 6,000 thoughts per day. I can start thinking about what I will eat for dinner and end up researching the origins of bananas. The answer is Southeast Asia in case you were wondering, lol. Writing gives order to my chaotic thoughts. Journaling is a technique used in therapy to help a person sort through complicated thoughts, memories, and traumatic events.
When I decided to Netflix, I end up spending an hour searching for something to watch only to end up watching reruns of Girlfriends. If I dare to watch something the app has suggested, I end up critiquing instead of enjoying ‘new’ shows or movies. I spot plot holes and lack of character development. My creative juices flow after I turn the television off.
My first novel, Ruth’s Awakening: A Love Story, began as an idea I had to tell a love story written from a church girl’s perspective. The idea was born in 2007 and published in 2014. It took concerted effort to weave my idea of a love story into a published work.
Writing is my joy, my life’s purpose, and my calling. In the image of my creator, I create – characters, stories, worlds – from the infinite flow of the imagination.
Creatives are throughout the Bible. . David built the temple. The Proverbs 32 woman made tapestries and clothes of fine linen. David was a poet and a songwriter. The song of Solomon is a love story. Even Jesus was a carpenter!
Are you called to create?
Out of Control
Janet Jackson’s top charting album Control debuted in 1986. I was 7 years old. I had no control over anything. I went to church, to school, and to bed when I was told. I ate what was put in front of me. However, my siblings and I did jointly revolt against stewed rutabagas. I shared my room and my toys. I could hardly wait to become an adult because that meant having a say in what happens to me and controlling the stuff around me.
Poor delusional 7-year-old me. Much of life is out of our control – my control. The ones we love will behave in ways we wish they would not. An employer may move the company to another state. Your neighbors will put in noisy windchimes that sound like the intro soundtrack of a horror movie every time the wind blows. #argh. It is all out of our control.
What you can control is you. And that’s a big task. When I wake up in the morning, it is a decision for me to give thanks. Most days it is natural. Other days, when I have slept in the wrong position and wake up with a crook in my neck, or have to do some arduous task; my first thought is not always gratitude. So, I make it a practice, part of my morning routine. “Lord, I am grateful for life.” That is my repositioning mechanism. It reroutes my train of thought from all of the unpleasantries to the beautiful serendipity of this life.
You actually have a lot of control. You control if and when you eat, workout, listen to gossip, watch TV or read a book. You choose whether to curse the sun or bask in its heated glory. Choosing wisely affects your growth – mentally, physically, and spiritually.
Like Janet, you are in control.
. . . And A Funeral
Last Saturday, I celebrated two people embarking on a new life together – a wedding. This past Saturday, I celebrated the life of my aunt – a funeral.
Life is impermanent
In 2019, we were on the warm sands of Jamaica celebrating her grandson’s wedding. The wedding was a beautiful moment where family got together to celebrate a happy occasion. In retrospect, I am grateful to have spent that time with my aunt. Who knew that eight months later the pandemic would arrive? Travel and weddings were halted in the face of a global crisis. The wedding last Saturday, was the first I have attended since my little cousin’s wedding in Jamaica.
Every time someone passes, the universe shifts. Much like the pandemic, there is the world that existed before and the new world order that exists after the event. I think about my godmother whose passing caused seismic changes in my world.
Life is cyclical
My aunt and my godmother were both old school saints. Having grown up COGIC (#IYKYK), the old school saints represented tradition and faithfulness. My godmother was someone whose advice and judgment I trusted. The old saints could ‘get a prayer through’. With the passing of the old guard, an uncomfortable truth is birthed. We are the new elders.
What will our legacy be? What will my legacy be? It is tough thinking of myself as an ‘elder’ when I still feel the preteen angst of not quite knowing how I fit in the world. I am still learning and growing.
Bearing the Load
Funerals are horrible for empathic souls like myself. I cry when I see another’s tears. My heart aches when a head is bowed in sorrow. Words cannot erase the sting of death. Being present in loving support is all we can do. If pain is transferable, then so must be hope and love.
My nephew was one of the pallbearers. A loaded casket can weigh at least 300 pounds. Yet the weight is distributed amongst six or more men, making the load less heavy. We attend funerals to celebrate the life of the person who has graduated to heaven. We also go to provide emotional support to the immediate family so that an unbearable loss can be borne.
Marriage Is On the Horizon
At age 30, I was 10 months into my new city of Dallas, Texas. I would be starting grad school in a few months. I spent my Saturday mornings floating in my community pool chasing clouds. Everything around me felt like spring – fresh and new. Being single was an asset providing the freedom of movement and self-determination I needed to move away from family and start fresh halfway across the country. I did not have to consider the opinion of another person (other than my mom who was all for it) when deciding my life’s goals. I was aware of my singleness. However, that awareness was a soft rimshot in the background of my mind. Life’s music loudly drowned out the noise.
The 2009 census data revealed 70% of black women remained unmarried. This data point became the topic of many talk shows and evening news specials with talking heads sounding alarms about women like me – educated, female, and black – doomed to be forever single. The rimshot became a foreboding boom. The warning was not just from distant media figures that could be tuned into and turn off of my own volition. Every married person I encountered had a a stick in hand adding to the cacophony. When an invitation to dinner by a married couple turned out to be a kamikaze blind date, I felt the impact of that stick right across my forehead. It was if my singleness made other people uncomfortable. They felt urged to fix it with or without my permission.
I attended a beautiful wedding this weekend alone, still single. The bride, 50 years old, married later in life. Turns out that 2009 census data had been misinterpreted.
A look at recent census data will tell you that the 70 percent we keep hearing about has been misconstrued. According to 2009 data from the Census Bureau, 70.5 percent of black women in the United States had never been married — but those were women between the ages of 25 and 29. Black women marry later, but they do marry. By age 55 and above, those numbers showed, only 13 percent of black women had never been married. In fact, people who have never married in their lifetimes are in the clear minority, regardless of race.Angela Stanley, New York Times
Early in life, I learned that the natural trajectory of a woman’s life went something like – daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, fiancé, wife, and mother. Who are you if you do not belong to anyone? I wanted to learn who I was before having to be everything to someone else. I am brave, witty, funny even. I care way to deeply about everything. I love big and wide. I am dependable. I trust against the residue of doubt that bad experiences have left behind. I am adventurous in measured doses. And I learned all of this about myself while being single.
This is not a “Say it loud. I’m singe and I’m proud,” post. It is an acknowledgment that my singleness has served a purpose. Marriage is still a goal, not just THE goal.
Dallas Black Bloggers Meetup at Native Coffee
I forget names as soon as they pass from my auditory nerve in my inner ear to the auditory cortex in my brain. It’s my superpower.
A group of women met today to discuss blog content and life at Native Coffee. It’s a coffeehouse in a church or church in a coffeehouse. Not sure which.
God has a way of winking at you. I have my biweekly book club meeting today at 2:00 PM. We are smack dab in the middle of reading, The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. In it, Mark tells of God giving him the idea to start a coffee house in what use to be a crack house. So, apparently, Mark started the wave of church adjacent coffeehouses.
Speaking of water, learning to swim is a counterintuitive exercise of the mind. In order to float, you have to let go of control of your limbs. Every muscle fiber wants to fight to keep your head above water which only pulls you furthr beneath the surface.
Being in the presence of other creatives is freeing. I shared my frustration with being in a season of uninspiration. Is that a word? It is definitely accurate. I got support and advice. No one told me I was being extra. It was comforting.
Like floating faceup in a blue pool with the Jamaican sun in your face. Freedom.
I even felt inspired enough to crank out this post. Community matters.
There is a story in the bible known as the Parable of the Talents. In this parable, a man leaves on a far journey. He entrusts three servants with varying amounts of talents. To one he gave five; to another two; and to the third, one talent. Upon the man’s return, he called the three servants to account for what had been given them. The first two doubled their amount of talents through investments and hard work. The third hid the one talent in the ground and returned the single talent to the man. The prosperous servants were granted many things due to their profitability to the man in his absence. The third unprofitable servant was punished.
As I write this post, I am listening in on a Zoom with a woman who is leading worship via piano – singing and playing worship songs. She is a former music teacher who can no longer teach due to health issues. Although she is no longer able to use this gift in her former career any longer, she is still putting the gift to use sowing into the spiritual lives of myself and everyone else on this call.
What is your ‘talent’?
In the Bible the talent in the parable is a monetary unit. It is a tool that can be invested or loaned out to increase its value over time. The initial amount provided to the three servants was money that belonged to their master. It is because they multiplied the value of that investment, they were rewarded by being made ‘rulers’ of many. A hint to discovering your talent is to realize it is a gift entrusted to you from the Father. It is valuable in its original state. Your management of it is the key to your increase. Are you frustrated with a lack of success in your career, finances, relationships? Could it be you have hidden, undiscovered talents in you?
Writing is my talent. It is the activity that brings me the most joy. Today I am inspired to keep sowing my talent via this blog and my books.
This scripture popped in my head today in the early morning hours:
“I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places,
so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” Isaiah 45:3 NIV
In the biblical context, God is speaking to a pagan king. He promises to give King Cyrus “hidden treasures” because he allowed the Jewish people to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple.
I pondered upon the meaning of the text. God will bless those who bless his people. Who are God’s people? Those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ. Then I asked, who can I bless?
Someone needs what you can provide; be it your time, money, attention, or service. Those who need it the most may not ask for your help. You need to seek out opportunities to assist. Prayerfully ask God to reveal who needs you. You do not have to be perfect to be a vessel for God’s glory. Look at King Cyrus. You only need to be willing.
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Mathew 7:11 KJV
Christmas 2021 is over and done. You could not control the gifts you received. Trust me, I know. I got a tin box filled with 3 stuffed Minion characters for the Secret Santa exchange. The good news is that you can control the gifts you give. God is the best gift giver. Like, who can top eternal life? Even in this present world, you can receive “hidden treasures”. Not that you give to receive, but a promise is a promise.
Ask yourself today, “Who can I bless?”
What are your thoughts on today’s topic?
Starting Over Should Be Easier
But it’s not. When the end of something approaches, there is this primitive fear of what is next. Is there a landing just beyond the ledge or a cliff. Why does faith demand that we jump either way?
It is frightening. To date, to find a new job, to move to a new city, to buy a house, to enforce a boundary, all are difficult feats. I am continuously suppressing the urge to delete every new contact become a hermit and buy a cat. It would be the safest, riskless thing to do.
It still seems unfair. To have invested so much time, hope, and energy into a venture and have little to no return. I wonder why am I not content to just be? I have this innate desire to explore, to reach for more.
I am still going to move forward. There is no alternative. Life ceases where there is no growth. Unless you become some dormant being. Who can live in dormancy?
Your Art Will Not Be Perfect
Art is subjective. It is the truest representation of beauty being in the eye of the beholder. One man’s art is another man’s trash. I can go on and on with the cliches. The use or misuse of cliches can also be seen as art. Art does not have to be perfect to be present. We all strive to put our best foot forward; however, if you wait until every “i” has been dotted, you could be waiting forever.
When I published my first novel, Ruth’s Awakening: A Love Story, I agonized over the roll-out not being perfect. There were mistakes made. Ironically, the mistakes taught me how to become a better writer, editor, and publisher. I have met many contacts in the literary world and garnered incredible opportunities. These opportunities never would have materialized if I had not published my book waiting on perfection.
Any form of waiting to act can easily morph into procrastination. Fear of failure can halt the creative process. Throw caution to the wind (cliche) and write, act, go to school, workout, learn a language – just freaking do it. The failures that come are a blessing if you learn the lesson.
Do not wait to become perfect. Act and then perfect the process.