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 the Bishop T.D. Jakes interview conducted 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.”

As a creative writer who’s about to tackle her first rather lofty project, I found the topic timely and relevant. So I immediately subscribed to Pastor Furtick’s YouTube station for near-future viewing, which really meant I filed it with the other videos and podcasts on my ever-growing to-watch-and-listen list. Now if only I can find the video that reveals how everyone else is able to watch TED talks and listen to podcasts daily because I can’t manage without sacrificing project productivity.

Anyhoo, barely a week later, the moderator of a coaching group that I’m a member of posted a link to the same interview, telling us it was so good and full of valuable gems.

So that evening, I settled onto the couch half-expecting to only absorb a slew of scriptures that often come across as more cliché than inspiring, which I now realize is simply a function of the beliefs and ultimate selections of the passages a person chooses to recite to me; they’re not always applicable but that’s a whole other blog post.

Instead I was rather surprised to hear words of self-esteem, strength, abundance and worth, contrary to a more familiar message of "the struggle is mandatory." 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:

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’m 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 is 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 is numb by my heavy head. My heart races. I attribute it to the fact that I’ve 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 was so reflexive that it took a minute for me to even 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 some attention in my Twitter mentions with invitations to host an NYC natural hair event and appear on a HuffPost Live segment.

I wanted to maintain the momentum.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Driving while black: as a black woman with a black man

As a black woman, it’s often unsafe for me to drive alone. I realized this during my first year in very populated Northern Virginia as I drove back to my new apartment from the nearby mall. I went to Potomac Mills after work for whatever unmemorable reason, so time quickly shifted from late evening to dark night while I picked up purchases and dinner.

I approached the first stoplight leaving the shopping center, braking and stopping as the overhead circle of yellow flashed to red. A horn simultaneously sounded from my right. I turned my head to glance at a driver, a male silhouette whom I didn’t recognize, so I automatically assumed his attention-getting tactic was meant for someone else. Yet when I pressed the gas pedal at the green light, I noticed that he trailed me.

He honked a little longer at the next light. This time I took off at a higher speed, but the faster I went, the faster he went, too. We raced towards Dale Blvd – which led to my apartment – breezing past slower-moving drivers who obeyed posted signs and probably chastised my recklessness because they were oblivious to my situation and impending dilemma.

Story time: an outside view of a random traffic stop

“I’ll be back,” my cousin says to me one early Saturday evening.

He rarely left the apartment that he shared with his girlfriend except to go to work or dinner in Washington, DC, which were both only a few miles from their place, or the nearby gym to occasionally shoot hoops. The remainder of his free time was spent cooking Sunday dinners, sitting on the balcony sipping smooth Ciroc and diet cranberry juice, or watching football, “Stebie” J on Love and Hip Hop, and Swamp People on the History channel. He was more of a homebody that an out-in-the-street sort of man, so I expected him back rather soon.

The phone rings barely 15 minutes later. He’s only a few blocks away from home – Arlington. Crystal City, to be exact, which is a majority white suburban neighborhood that houses the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and a slew of restaurants and government contractors. A police officer has just pulled him over, and it sounds slightly more than a routine stop since he needs my help.

“Can you look in the nightstand and get my title?” he asks. “And can you bring it to [redacted]?”