Friday, November 17, 2017

Bishop TD Jakes wants us to SOAR: It's not okay to sit on the runway when we belong in the air

One of my cousins sent me a link to watch the recent Bishop T.D. Jakes interview led by Pastor Steven Furtick. It was part of the Bishop’s SOAR! series – How to Build Your Vision from the Ground Up – about having “big dreams” with “little resources.” I immediately subscribed to Pastor Furtick’s YouTube station for near-future viewing but kinda forgot about it along with the other videos and podcasts on my ever-growing to-watch-and-listen list. Barely a week later, the moderator of a coaching group that I’m a member of posted a link to same interview, telling us it was so good and full of valuable gems.

That evening, I settled onto the couch expecting to only absorb a slew of scriptures that often come across as more cliché than inspiring as an attempt to kick-start my drive, which has an awful habit of starting, sputtering and stopping. Instead I was rather surprised to hear familiar, real-life situations from a different perspective such as how we essentially hand over our worth to an employer who assigns us an arbitrary value and we accept it: We’ve turned our income over to someone who has no vision of our needs, Bishop Jakes tells us. He adds: But an employer can only pay us what he thinks a job is worth; he can’t pay us what we’re worth.

Or sage advice on how relationships are our greatest resource and sometimes our help will come from unlikely sources. The ravens didn’t go to church but they fed Elijah, Bishop Jakes says.)

Within a matter of minutes into the interview, I had to pause the video so I could grab my pen and paper to jot down notable quotables in between an occasional yet inappropriate “Oh shit!” Now this is some motivation! Here’s what I wrote:

Monday, October 9, 2017

[xoNecole] Here's one empowering thing 45 has done for black women

Just a few years ago, I was mute when it came to my feelings of my president in a public setting.

When a colleague made a comment at lunch that she didn’t understand the big deal of having the first black president, my first thought was, The hell you mean, bih? But it was a total Issa Rae in Insecure moment where I’d reserve my true response for my bathroom mirror and offer something a little less telling in reality like continuing to chew my beef noodle dish while someone else answered.

When then-President Barack Obama ran and ultimately won for a second term, I set up a separate, personal Twitter account to show my support because I didn’t want to offend potential readers on the account I used to build my writing career. I also saved strong commentary for my friends, who likewise kept their political opinions private because they worked in conservative fields like public education and corporate America.

Part of our restraint was due to the fact that we’re all black women.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

[Curly Nikki] #SayHerName: Why Kenneka Jenkins deserves the same attention as Natalee Holloway

Last week, I stumbled upon an episode of The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway. It was part of a brand-new, six-part documentary that follows David Holloway as he searches for new developments in the disappearance and ultimate murder of his daughter, who took a trip to Aruba upon her high school graduation.   

It’s also a 12-year-old case with a vested community that equally seeks answers and justice for Holloway’s demise.

“Watched an update on the Natalee Holloway murder investigation,” writes Facebook commenter Susan Willis Updegraff. “The lengths [sic] to which her father has gone to find her remains is extraordinary and so tragic. The officials in Aruba covered up the murder and kept the investigation from being brought to a conclusion. Natalee's family has spent 12 years attempting to get some kind of closure and justice with Aruba authorities blocking their progress. October 6 they will get forensic DNA results from a lab in Washington. My heart broke for her father. All we can do is never go to Aruba for any reason. They don't deserve any benefits from U.S. tourists. What if this happened to someone you you [sic] love.”

Likewise Carole Ann Pigman wonders if these “poor parents” were ever able to find Natalee’s remains, whom Pigman describes as a “beautiful” young lady with such a “promising life.”

There are pleas to dismiss our usual pastime of Sunday afternoon football – because our players have the boldness to stand up to racism and police brutality –and instead pray for the family of the smart, young woman who only traveled to the island to celebrate the beginning of a premed education and career.

But Crystal Constance Bey makes another point on social media: “They can investigate a missing person in another country but won't investigate all the missing [black] and brown women here in America,” she posts.

It makes me wonder if Kenneka Jenkins – the 19-year-old woman who attended a party at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare just a few weeks ago and whose lifeless body was later found in the hotel’s walk-in freezer the next day – and her family would receive the same level of attention and support.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Story time: 5:08 p.m.

(A variation of this post was originally published in 2013 as part of a 21-day meditation challenge. Like most daily challenges, I didn’t complete it.)

5:08 p.m.

I was finally trying to meditate. Unlike my former yoga peers who occasionally drifted into light slumber during final relaxation, I’ve yet to master meditation. My mind becomes disobedient because it refuses to silence and my body involuntarily moves because I subconsciously feel a random mosquito grazing on my left elbow, which indirectly causes my nape to itch and my right calf to spasm. Three years later I’ll watch an episode of The Haunting and listen to a woman recount how she went so deeply within that she resurfaced with something dark and dangerous.

I wasn’t trying to end up tormented and traumatized. However as I journey along this intersectional path of purpose and passion, I understand that meditation and prayer are maps to confirmation and clarity.

But fortunately for that particular day’s challenge, my task was to only reflect on my inner dialogue. Deepak Chopra stated that he meditates for two hours but obviously realizing he was talking to mind-control virgins, he quickly added that 15-20 minutes should suffice.

I lay down on my side, my left arm crooked at my not-itchy-in-real-life elbow, my left hand numbed by my heavy head. My heart raced. I attributed it to the fact that I had just carried an overfilled laundry basket of clean clothes.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Why I choose to bypass plan B

I have a friend who once told me I should’ve had a plan B, C, D…Y, and Z.

Generally speaking, I understand backup plans to be nothing more than roads to some specific destination. They’re supposed to be next-in-line alternatives just in case the shortest and toll-free routes don’t get you to that desired point. Operative words being “supposed to be” because oftentimes they have led me somewhere I really didn’t intend to go.

In a recent Facebook post, personal development coach and founder and CEO of The Happy Black Woman, Rosetta Thurman, also perfectly sums up how plan B actually deters and distracts us from plan A. She writes:

You have a plan A, but you're so afraid that it won’t happen that you spend most of your time on plan B. What’s plan A? Plan A is what you really want your life to look like. It’s all your deepest goals, dreams and desires. Plan B is the ‘secure route.’ It’s that job you hate. It’s the city you’ve been ready to leave. It’s all the relationships you’ve grown out of. The problem with plan B? If you spend too much time on it, your plan A will never happen.

The crazy part is sometimes the detour to plan B is so reflexive that it took a minute for me to realize I was lost.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Monday musing: The evolution of Pencil and Chalk

  1. I can’t believe I launched this blog a little over five years ago. 
  2. I’m glad I bought this domain because didn’t introduce me as a boss bish. I’m also glad I didn’t leave it as The Skinny DC Writer because somewhere along the way, I outgrew DC and longed to live in a new city. 
  3. I’m mad that I didn’t actively defend this space, consequently reinforcing outside opinions that my blog is a mere hobby. I never fully articulated that these words construct my writing portfolio, and this writing portfolio is the lifeline to some semblance of a livelihood. 
  4. I’ve accepted that a majority of my fans will be strangers, at least in the formative years, and that many who know me could never fathom that this “little blog” will ever become a serious space or at least one to rival a larger platform. But I’m learning to not internalize it as rejection or discouragement or see it as a reflection of my true talent because in reality, I’m the shit.
    That time Aunt Dee from Moesha retweeted my essay.
  5. I’m disappointed that I wasn’t in a position to remain consistent. But I stretched myself too thin, opened myself up too wide to even more outside opinions of what else I could do rather than fully immersing myself into what I want to do.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

It happened to me: I fell victim to the predator-editor

I want to be proud of my words.

This isn’t a sudden revelation, like an Oprah a ha! moment, but it’s the first time I’ve actually verbalized this sentiment and taken a real stance. I officially started my writing career over 4 years ago after listening to a free webinar hosted by Britni Danielle, former English teacher-turned-journalist-author-speaker, who was testing the market for her paid course, “The Write Pitch.” During the teleclass, she explained how she landed her first byline with no published clips. She assured us that being previously-published wasn’t a requirement. Having a lit pitch was.

A month later I had a paid piece on xoJane talking about how folks love to point out how “skinny” I am as if I don’t already know I’m not a full-figured woman. This piece was republished on Clutch magazine, which prompted me to immediately pitch a piece to the latter about my coarse hair and its addiction to the creamy crack.

Both pieces alone elevated my status from emerging writer to “established” writer, even though my bio was a mere month old. But I garnered attention from Twitter mentions to invitations to host an NYC natural hair event and appear on a HuffPost Live segment.

I wanted to maintain the momentum.