DECADE OF RUNITBACK

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The dirty secret about all that I do, what I do, is there are people that think that what I do has been easy, sort of nebulous, and that ‘anyone’ should be able to do. Yet, the great thing about all that I am doing is that no one that I know is doing it on such a scale. My brother’s nickname for me is Shonda Rimes.

Great compliment. Fantastic comparison.

And with quiet reflection, I examined the last decade of my life, with a professional lens. With full candor. With disclosure. With the desire and happiness for the future. It is with the complete childlike happiness that I anticipate what is to come–and what is already in the works.

At the beginning of the last decade, I was a 28-year-old single mom, whose ex-husband was aloof at best and narcissistic at worst. At the end of the decade, I am a locally known indie author; blogger; started a podcast; creating a working professional network which consists of  college professors and 1 mentor,  Dr. Kimberly Welch.

Come walk down memory lane with me:

 

2010-first marriage left me destitute with 2 children under 3.

2011-Went back to school; divorce final

2012-not writing, trying to be a nurse

2013-lost my grandmother, a 3-year relationship; left school because I couldn’t pay for it

2014-Murder of Michael Brown, Jr; activism galvanized. Writing begins as a career. 3 books published.

2015-more writing; forgoing nursing as career; met Marissa Southards (now the founder of The Awakenings Project-STL) via Twitter.

2016-The Ideal Firestarter created more writing; sat for The Awakenings Project; met Winnie Elizabeth as a blogging mentor

2017- first novel done; writing is now a career; started editing professionally  through JBHarris Writing Services ;writing mentorship starts; first company started.

2018-RUBY published; professional network grows; writing workshops begin; book count stands at 10; started I Breathe Fire, met Amanda Wells, founder of FLOW STL.

2019-The Writers’ Block podcast begins; The Ideal Firestarter staff is at 4; 2 companies started; graduated college. Three professional mentors, with plans for grad school. Writing Mentorship starts 1.15.2020.

I am not playing with this next decade.

For My Daughters-Lesson 4: Mama Doesn’t Always Get It Right

The best thing that God let’s us do is to grow up and see our parents as human.

 

My daughters-

You all are proof that there is still love in the world, and I must have more love to give to it. I want you to know that I, your mother, me, Jennifer, I am not perfect. But I try to make your world as clean, clear, and perfect as possible. And sometimes? I mess up. I don’t always say the right thing, I sometimes am late to what you want me to show up at. Sometimes, I don’t get it right. 

You two are the dearest things to me, and I would give you all of I have for you to not experience any of the heartbreak I have. I would give anything for you not to cry over a boy, fall off a bike, have your heartbroken…but I can’t. I send you out in the world armed with all that I will teach you and all that you are. But this doesn’t mean I don’t (or won’t) mess up.

Sometimes I am too short with you. Sometimes my tone is off! Sometimes I scream when I should listen. Sometimes I overrule what you want, over what I think you need.

Some days you may hate me.

Some days you may call me a name when the door is closed.

Some days you may hid things from me because you’re not sure how I can handle any ungood news you have.

But I want you to know I love you, with all I have. And a lot of parenting, especially of daughters is sans any instruction manual. It is a mix of what you know to be right, and what you wish someone had done for you. What I wanted someone to do for me was–listen.

This is why I talk to you all so much. This is why I give you the power of your own thoughts! This is why I tell you that you can come to me with anything. Any. Thing. But I want you to remember Mama is not perfect, and neither am I trying to be.

Everyday, I try to be a better Mama for you.

You are the best parts of me, and you deserve the best of me–everyday.

With that in mind, give your Mama a break–and extra hugs. The world is hard for mamas too.

Love,

Mommy

 

 

For My Daughters-Lesson 3: Ambition & Dreaming

 

 Dearest Darlings:

I want you to remember one thing, if nothing else:

If you believe you can, it will be so.

Most innovation and change in the world has come from someone dreaming. It is that energy, to build what only you may see which fuels ambition!

They go hand in hand, loves.

I want you to be bold about what you want from this life! If you do not see it, build it! I want you to take every gift, talent and skill and master them. Push them. Explore them!

Do not be persuaded or dissuaded by the opinions of stagnant, dreamless, vapid people. Do not fear the outcome of something before it begins! Don’t fear failing or falling! It is okay to be anxious, dear ones. It is even okay to be scared. Life is sometimes scary–especially, when you are embarking on something the surrounding world thinks you shouldn’t be doing; or succeeding in a field women, Black women, shouldn’t be in!

I am raising you to Torches!

This means your power is in three parts:

Light. Heat. Strength.

From your light you can, do and will inspire. You will lead a groups, movements and a generation! You will be all God has asked.

From the heat of your Torch, you will be able expose injustice, as well as provide compassion! You will be able to be strong when it is easier to quit. You will be able to care for those who can’t, and speak when others may not be able.

Torches provide strength, even when they stand still. They are a beacon–a place of hope. This is the flame of ambition. This is the power of dreaming! Strength is power put to use! You can do, will do, so much! And even being able to light the way for someone else is just as crucial.

Go forth and do good, dearest ones! I am already proud of you.

Birthday Chapters: #38.

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“I will come in, and leave, as power.” -JBHarris

Can you believe it? The kid is not a whole grown up and almost 40. I’ve been saying I was 38 for the last four months though. Which is hilarious on some end. But the thing that i have learned, going into this next chapter of life are these three things.

 

 

Value of your whole self. I’m learning to celebrate everything that is me. I am becoming happy with me and all that I am accomplishing. I am learning to celebrating  the wins. I’m celebrating the fact that I am not dead. I get the losses, and I accept the time that I have lost. I have a greater value of time, my time. I am a woman. Women value their time, their wins, and their talents. They make, take and hold space. I have finally learned to value me. 

 

Strength is not determined by pain suffered. I don’t think that pain should determine strength or love. I have decided that the pain I have endured doesn’t make me the quintessential ‘strong, Black woman.’ I am a strong woman because I know what it is like to suffer, but also have the strength to rejoice. I know what it is like to be broken, and remain that way–thinking that is week. Believing being broken is a condition to favor. I know what it is like to need help–by admitting that you do. I have learned that being a woman, a Black woman, is to be able to breathe, to express, and even when to rest. I have learned I deserve love, because God is love. I deserve love because it holds up the world. I deserve it not because I had to be proven or emotionally battered to get it. I deserve it, because God gives it to me freely. I acknowledge my wounds, I won’t worship them.

 

Life is glorious. A friend of mine told me that I was always too excited about having birthdays. Never! I almost died as an infant. As a child. And at the hands of someone that said he loved me. I am excited about this gift called life. I am excited for what it holds. What is all set and planned for me. I am still excited about the process of getting there. This life is amazing. I have 37 chapters done. By virtue of blessing and tenacity, I no longer fear what talents I have. I no longer fear the ambition. I plan on making 40 look amazing!

Happy Birthday to me and all my Birthday Twins!

Daddy Lessons #1-Being Unstoppable

“If they won’t let you in the front door, go around to the back. If they won’t let you in the back, buss a window and jump in!”

-Richard L. Bush (1948-1998)

 

My Dad was one of the most driven men I have ever known. Perhaps in the nature of the Almighty, this was the best thing God could have given me:  a driven father. In that drive, I learned to make space; not to believe that “No” is permanent; and there is a way to do anything you want to do.

With this year marking twenty years without him, I have now had the wisdom which comes through life experience to allow me to value all he left me. That stubborn streak, that ability to be both present and visionary, I can say I got from him.

This quote is one I use and relay most often to people in my inner circle as encouragement. This quote has always been a source of comfort for me since his passing. It reminds me not to let situations, circumstances, -isms, or criteria set by other people to stop me. My father, even within the seventeen years I had him, made sure I knew the value of being resourceful. He made sure I knew how to treat people, and especially how to treat the people you employ.

Perhaps, even living in a time where the trappings of womanhood are seen as hindrances, my father reminded me that my sex is never going to change–but there was a power to it that was undeniable. He wanted me (and my sister) to be pretty and intelligent:  this way, no door could be shut to us. The most powerful thing this quote embodies is the willingness to work for what you want.  As a young girl, as a young Black girl, that reminder that I would have to work for what I want–but, that I could have what I wanted? That is powerful.

For my father, to tell me, that I can do anything and let no one stop me? That endowed me with a  superpower.

I think it is most amusing that for a man whom thought I shouldn’t be a writer as a consistent, stable profession, words are his biggest legacy to me. From those words, his words, the world  got that much bigger.

Thanks, Daddy.

 

 

In Memoriam: This Is It

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Next month marks  decade in this artistic-music era where there is no Michael Joseph Jackson. That didn’t resonate with me until the documentary/movie This Is It  came through my Netflix home screen. You see, I remember Michael Jackson as this entity that could do anything–include defy gravity!

I remember watching Thriller every time it was on. My mother’s youngest sister, whom is 11 years older than me, had that album cover on the wall of her room! She played his music constantly, which means that the younger nieces and nephews that she watched listed to him and the Jackson 5 all the time.

I remember…I remember where I was when he died. My boyfriend at the time, living and working in California, called to let me know. I didn’t believe him. And this morning, I am still in a dream state. While this documentary played, I became that 8-year-old girl watching MOONWALKER over my cousin’s house after school. There was this aura that surrounded him. Perhaps as an artistic child, slightly out of step with the world, I noticed the otherworldly nature that was Michael Jackson.

I am old enough to remember singing to every song in his songbook when it came on the radio*. I remember for a month and some after he died that the hardest dudes I know were bumping Billie Jean, Thriller and Bad from their cars. I remember.

I’m also old enough to remember the first scandal. And the trials. And the settlement money. And the craziness that is the Jackson family. I am under no illusion of the cloud that hovers over his legacy. And in the age of #MeToo, we need to believe the victims. Conversely in the age of #MeToo, we know that people lie and are devious. But let’s move on.

I fought tears watching this. I grieved him. Just like I grieve Prince. Just like I grieve Aretha Franklin. There is something divine in being about to create, to walk in that God space of pulling something  that wasn’t there, was unseen, to where it can be seen. I know that Mike died from an overdose of prophophol–a powerful anesthesia. However, I know what it’s like to be that consumed with an idea, or a vision, that it robs you of sleep. Where you have to make yourself shut down–to stop, and even that sometimes doesn’t help.

I get it.

I was never graced to see Michael Jackson perform in concert. But everytime he was on television, I watched. I remember the raucous that was over the Black or White video when it premiered on Fox! I also remember how when that aired in 1991 (when was 10!), Mrs. Grant’s fifth grade class talked about it! Everything he did seemed so damn special. This Is It is no exception. I am happy someone had the presence of mind to record all this.

Y’all will excuse me while I get my Michael Jackson playlist rolling through Apple Music.

 

*-Top 10 favorite Michael Jackson/Jackson 5 songs (no particular order):

1.) Liberian Girl

2.) I Just Can’t Stop Loving You

3.) Jam

4.) Can You Feel It?

5.) Speed Demon

6.) Thriller

7.) Ghosts

8.) Bad

9.) Dangerous

10.) PYT (Note:  THE JABBAWOCKEEZ MADE ME LOVE THIS ALL OVER AGAIN!)