Changes

I composed my very first post on this blog on January 24, 2015. The post was entitled, “…What Shall We Name It?” and it was meant to be the anchor for the content that would follow it. Unfortunately, since that date, my blog has taken many dips and curves in quality content. I found myself focused primarily on myself and my wants and desires, detailing things I wanted to do with little to no action of actually doing them, and succumbing to my emotional fits as I saw best- in lengthy unedited blog posts with more than its share of grammatical errors.I will admit when I first created this blog, I was ambitious. I had high hopes and aspirations, many of which fell flat the moment I took conversation of this blog and made it a reality. 

I’m not sure when I lost all sense of direction, but the assumption is it came from trying to run from my responsibilities and wanting to justify the running away from them. I mean, most of the content of this blog has focused on my struggles with parenting my daughter effectively, my ineffective communication in my relationship, and my overtly lax attitude in accomplishing my goals. 

Just thinking about some of my earlier posts has me cringing in my seat and wondering if I should just delete them. But I won’t. 

The issue I’ve been unconsciously dealing with has been acceptance of my younger and naïve self; the girl who was so ambitious that she would throw money at the wind thinking that it would manifest into millions. I used to be a firm believer that the more I complained, degraded, and beat myself up that somehow things would turn around in my favor. I honestly believed that in doing those things I was being modest about my talents and abilities.

But that’s the beauty of blogging, it’s meant to be this physical copy of your thoughts as you had them on this journey that we call life. So no matter how much I cringe at my novice posts, I know that I have since grown and that I am no longer that same naïve little girl. I have grown up. I have matured and I am much more composed than she was. I’m accepting of her character flaws (or at least trying to learn to be) and know that a flaw is only a flaw if you let it be. 

With all of that being said, I’m announcing some major changes that will be taking place over the course of this month. For starters, I’m in the works of obtaining my own domain (yay!) and twitter account (double yay!). It has been a long journey of doing research and trying not to overwhelm myself, but this process has also been very rewarding.

So what does this mean to you, my faithful readers and those who are simply stumbling across this blog for the first time? It means that you can expect much better quality posts in these upcoming days and months. That instead of a confusing maze of topics, things will be much easier to sort through and decipher. 

When I first created this blog, I intended for it to be the launching ground of the business I wanted to start and be the element that I can use to convince an admissions board to accept me into their doctorate program. That sentiment hasn’t changed, but what has changed is how I plan to execute all of that. So be on the lookout for updates. I’m finally stepping my game up. 

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Writing Challenge 2016

When the Barnes and Nobles, next to my job, was still open, I had ventured inside for the sake of indulging in the smell and feel of a bookstore. It had been years since I had entered a bookstore and perused the shelves without much purpose. Usually, I was in there in search of a book for my mother or sister, or a study guide for myself. But this day, in particular, I had no purpose to be in there. I wondered into the store because it would be closing soon. I scanned the shelves for a good read because I couldn’t remember the last time I picked up a book and actually read it. I had become so consumed with motherhood and work, that leisurely reading wasn’t a thing anymore. Even writing, my favorite pastime was no longer a thing. 

I picked out the book “Love” by Toni Morrison, out of principle (I’m determined to read all of her work), and then found myself in the study guide section, looking at the titles of books meant to help you become a better writer. I plucked a few off the shelf and rushed to the checkout line to avoid spending more money than I should on books that I would probably never get around to reading.

One of the books I purchased, “How to Be a Writer with a Day Job” hung out in my purse for months, as if through osmosis I would have read all the information inside of it. Finally, after my bag started getting too heavy, I removed it.

One of the parts I read in the book was about how a man had written an entire novel using nothing more than his lunch break over the course of several months. After reading it, I spent the next month, skipping out on a meal at lunch and sitting in the park with my Kindle and the Word app opened up on it. I remembered using my entire lunch hour typing something and then deleting it and repeating, until after a month, I had nothing more than a potential title and concept for what I wanted to write.

I quickly realized that I wasn’t one of those writers that could write in a timed environment. That scheduling my creativity just didn’t work. When it was time to write, it was time to write. It didn’t matter if I had just spent the past hour twiddling my thumbs and staring at a blank Word document. It didn’t matter if I was in the middle of a phone call. When my hands were finally ready to compose the creative thoughts that were looming inside of my head, I had to let them.

The result was my work notes being mixed with creative ones. That on the same page I had written the opening scene to a piece was my scribbled handwriting denoting a work related task that needed to be completed, or a shorthand note from an earlier telephone conversation. 

It was obvious that working a 9-5 and trying to be a writer had serious time conflicts. And I had no idea how to work past them. 

Honestly, I still don’t, but the hope is that sooner rather than later, I will no longer be subjected to such work constraints thus inhibiting my writing. But in the meantime, my goal is to challenge myself to get on a semi-regular schedule of writing that will train me to be prepared to write around a set time every day. And hopefully, it will encourage regular writing.

So my challenge for myself over the course of the next month (last day being June 11) is to write every day starting at 9pm. 

Yes, there will be incidents. Yes, I will forget some days. Yes, I will stare at a blank page. But the goal is to get myself into the habit. Unfortunately, I’m not blessed like other writers who have the ability and flexibility to hibernate as they write a piece. I’m a mother and I have a full-time job. I have to pick a time and just go for it and that’s what I plan on doing. 

For the next month, I plan to chronicle my journey, but don’t worry, I won’t bombard you with posts every day providing you with updates. I will make one post on Mondays (with the exception of today since I’m just starting the challenge) and update it throughout the week. 

I’m actually very excited about this challenge and getting started, but I will tame my need to write and reserve it for the 9pm hour. 

Wish me luck!

Let’s call it what it is- a fear of flying.

Earlier in the year, I had read this article about a single mom on the edge of poverty, who had turned it around and becoming a self-made millionaire. I remember clamoring to the article, trying to draw similarities between me and this woman, when I read about how she had begun to sabotage herself as she approached her first million. I remember feeling flabbergasted at how she could do such a thing. A woman, a single mother, who was so close to having the ultimate Cinderella story, just admitted that at one point, she was trying to avoid it.
As I continued to read the article, it explained why she had been so willing to sabotage her growing business, albeit not fully comprehending why. To put it simply, she just didn’t believe that she was deserving of acquiring that much wealth. She became consumed with the thoughts of why she didn’t need to continue to grow her business, despite the obvious need for it. 

It wasn’t until today, as I drudged out of bed, got ready for work, and unhappily rode the subway, that I got it. 

Just like the single mother in the article, who ultimately overcame her thoughts of not deserving the wealth she was acquiring, I am sabotaging myself.

For an hour after clocking into work, I sat at my desk wondering why it is that I haven’t finished that story yet or written my first novel. Why that business plan of mine hasn’t even begun to come into fruition or why I’m still only thinking of what I will do in regards to this blog instead of actually doing it. I realized, that my fears of actually turn any of these things into reality outweighs my ambition to do them, thus leaving me in this unsatisfied limbo.

Truth be told, as much as I’ve reasoned that nothing would make me happier than to be an entrepreneur and doing all the preliminary research to see just how to start my business, the thought of succeeding at it scares me. There is this overwhelming fear that not only will I successfully start my business, but that it just might take off. That people will actually clamor to what it is I’m doing and want to invest in what I’m offering. 

For so long I’ve daydreamed about having multiple businesses and not worrying about money, that the mere thought of it being a reality, has sent me running for cover in seeking employment as a run of the mill middle class citizen and plan for a small home and school that offers a latchkey program. The thought that I would be able to drop my daughter off at school and pick her up in the afternoons, be involved in her school’s parent committee and after-school activities scares me. And I can’t quite explain why.

All I know is that my fears are growing at the same speed, if not more, than that of my dreams and ambitions. As a result, it is preventing me from making much of anything a reality. And when I finally do make something a reality, I do it half-heartedly, telling myself that at least I did it.

But how do I overcome this fear and take that leap of faith? Honestly, I’m not sure. The woman in the article finally realized that it was more important to continue to provide a service to different communities with her business than assert that perhaps she needed to slow her pace down. She recognized that a change in pay grade didn’t mean she was no longer allowed to be the person she was prior to her first million. She had to come to terms with the fact that her ambitions didn’t undermine her as person.

So I’m guessing I have to come to the same realizations as well. 

Save the Drama

The classic formula for any story is that there is a hero and there is a villain. There is some sort of fight or adversity that must be conquered to lead to a happy ending. You will rarely find yourself reading anything that strays from that very equation. 
Life isn’t easy, but the challenge is to simply not make it harder for yourself than it needs to be.
At the start of the year, I had this vigor that I wouldn’t let this year be anything short of great. This would be the year that I got into graduate school, wrote a novel, developed my author platform, and officially started my business. It would also be the year that I was hoping I’d be closing the distance with my boyfriend and we’d moving in together. I had big plans, but as the year unfolded, I found myself essentially dealing with blow after blow each month until I ended up here. Angry, bitter, impatient, and upset that none of the things I had said I had wanted to achieve back in January are any closer to being achieved.
Today, as I sat at my desk starting my day, I shared my anguish (cause I was being melodramatic) with my boyfriend about how I couldn’t create the Mother’s Day gifts I had wanted to create for his mother and my mom, and that I would have to succumb to ordering something via Amazon Prime for each of them. He told me not to worry about it because he would be doing the same. It was at that point that I decided I should pray and thank God that while money has been tight since January, I haven’t necessarily felt just how tight it really is. 
In the course of praying, I found myself praying for the people that I had sworn I would never include in my prayers because they were the main culprits of what I defined as my misfortune and roadblocks in life. Yet, there I was praying for them and praying for forgiveness for making enemies out them and feeling relieved once it was all over.
In the time span of maybe five minutes, I realized that I have been trying to recreate that storybook formula in my own life and in every aspect of it. I’ve been creating enemies out of people I’m not particularly fond of and treating them as if they are the roadblocks in my life keeping me from obtaining greatness and happiness. In actuality, they are merely bystanders going about their day, often times completing unfazed by my presence the way I am with theirs.
It was hard to swallow, but it was the truth. I couldn’t say that any of those individuals were intentionally going out of their way, every day, to make me miserable. Most days, I didn’t see or even have contact with them, but I let the fact that I had declared them enemies to rattle me day in and day out. The mere sight of their faces made me square my shoulders and plan ways in which I could make the fact that I was ignoring them obvious. If they noticed or not, is a completely different story. 
But it made me think about all the “enemies” I’ve had growing up and how many of them were actually “enemies” and ones I fabricated for the sake of having an interesting life story. A few people come to mind as I ponder on this, people, who to this day, I have distrust and dislike for. The exception is that now I’ve realized that a lot of the conflicts and cattiness that I reserved for them was unwarranted. They had done no greater injustice to me than what I had done to myself. For the most part, they are living life completely unfazed about the fact that I have labelled them “enemy” in every re-telling of the past events of my life. I’m also almost sure that they aren’t even giving my name nearly as much credit for their lives turning out the way it did.
I’ve just been so caught up in creating drama, so I could say I overcame, that I’ve been forgetting to just live life and overcome the actual obstacles that are in the way. So with that said, I’m no longer going to concentrate my efforts on defining who is or isn’t my enemy, but instead focus on my goals and achieving them.

Consider Your Happiness

Last night, I realized that I follow a lot of self-made motivational speakers, most of which are women of color. For the most part, they constantly asserting where they came from and where they are now, raking in money that would have taken them half of a year to earn at their previous employment prior to deciding to step out on their own. With each of their posts, they build this courage in me to step out on my own, to build an empire the way they are building an empire. Yet, each time I lift my foot to step out, I quickly put it back down and avert my eyes to something more tangible than taking a leap of faith.
In the midst of conversation, I brought this up to my boyfriend. I made mention of the numerous accounts I didn’t even realize I was following that belonged to these amazing self-starters, offering their wisdom and tips about the journey to success via online classes and books. My boyfriend shook his head, just as impressed as I had been when I first started following their accounts, and noted that maybe the cynic in us was preventing me from actually going out and purchasing one of their books in the hopes of seeing what knowledge I can acquire from their experiences. But then, after discussing it some more, we realized that regardless of the reason I wasn’t ordering any of their items, had more to do with the wealth of knowledge I had already gained from them, just from their social media blurbs that they posted.
And then my boyfriend posed or rather stated something to me, that has resonated with me since he said it last night. In essence, he informed me that while I admire and want their lives, I don’t want their lives, and I should focus on what I want. Like I said earlier, I have acquired a wealth of information from these women, most of which urges me to stop sitting down waiting for opportunity to present itself and instead create opportunity. As my boyfriend so eloquently put it, no one can teach you to be confident, it has to come from within.
It’s no secret that I haven’t been happy for a while now or that I’ve been trying to make the most of out of a considerably unsatisfying situation. With a rejection letter in hand for the doctorate program and this lackluster desire to not do anything outside of clocking in and out of work, I’ve been feeling less than myself. Why? Because I’m essentially viewing the world with rose-colored glasses thinking that everything is going so much better for everyone, everywhere, except for me. I’m walking around feeling jilted.
The only silver lining has been in the illusion of creating a home and career of my choosing and essentially semi-preparing for it, to make it real, by planning and writing everything out. And somehow, even with that silver lining, I have continuously found disappointment because I haven’t been considering my happiness. Instead, I have been scouring high and low for affordable apartments that offer the things I would like, but not necessarily love. I have been viewing and reviewing listings for positions that I think I’m capable of doing, rather than ones that I would want to spend the rest of my life doing. I’m discounting my happiness in hopes of removing myself from the worse possible situation to something only mildly horrible in comparison. And I need to stop.
I am selling myself short. I am selling my ambitions short. I am selling my future short.
However, it has gotten me to wonder about how many other people are in the same boat as me? Dreaming of a million dollar bank account, but settling on the reality of a job that barely pays the bills. I’ll admit, I love paying for things in full and want nothing more than to put all my bills on automatic payment. My current income doesn’t allow for it though. So instead, I have found myself navigating the murky waters of splitting up bill payments with each of my paychecks to ensure that they are completely taken care of by the end of the month and before the new bill arrives. It’s an unnecessary headache that I have made a necessity, because I have continually chosen to settle, cause any job is better than no job.
Yet, the email I received yesterday, from one of those loving ladies that I told you about earlier, stated that working a career/job you don’t love is more stressful than being unemployed. And there were no lies about that quote.
The one thing my boyfriend had stated he wanted to come into my life and ensure he discouraged me from, was settling, and yet, here I am doing just that. But it’s hard when it feels like so much is at stake if you don’t. But happiness matters. It should be at the forefront of important decision making.
I haven’t taken my happiness into consideration for a lot of things and I intend on changing on that. But first, I’m going to focus on figuring out the things that would make me the happiest and take it from there.

Karma

For as long as I can remember, karma has always been this force that others have wished on each other mercilessly, with a satisfying grin. The notion that for each wrong deed you do, it will turn around and happen to you, should be enough to scare you into walking the straight and narrow, but realistically, most people wave the notion of karma off, yet wish it profusely on their enemies, as if it’s a sin-free way of acquiring revenge. But let’s face it, who hasn’t wished that karma would come quickly and knock a few people off their high horse. I’m just as guilty of wishing karma on others as anyone else may be.
This morning I was posed the question of whether I believed what had happened to me was a result of karma, irony, or coincidence. Almost immediately, I grew angry. How could anyone pose that question and expect tempers not to flare or that a person will shrug their shoulders casually and pick one? I was offended.
I haven’t always made the best decisions in life, but I have always stood by the decisions I have made. Not because of the naivety of not knowing better, but because at one point in my life, that was the best decision I could have made. It doesn’t mean that I am without regret, but it also doesn’t mean that I’m idiotic enough to believe that they were sound choices either. What I can admit is that I’ve learned from my mistakes and poor judgement. That instead of reveling in the things I did wrong, I used them as the necessary tools to help me learn better. So of course, I took offense to that question. What does karma have to do with anything if I learned my lesson? Shouldn’t karma be reserved for those that haven’t?
The reality is, you can tell someone you’ve changed until you are blue in the face, but it won’t make them believe you. The whole idea behind karma, in the way it is currently used, is that regardless of if a lesson is learned, you must still suffer. Your sins can’t be removed so easily. You are still guilty as charged, even if you have had made amends already. It’s the petty man’s only source of joy and fulfillment, knowing that misery begets misery and that in due time, karma will ensure that the person who walked away seemingly unscathed will suffer like everyone else did.
But how fair is that? How fair is it to ask and want forgiveness and to essentially learn from your mistakes, but still have to suffer because of your poor choices? I guess, it can be argued that life isn’t fair, so tough cookie. But if that’s the case, at what point does good begin to beget good? Does all of that go out the window because of one poor choice?
Realistically, I guess the answer is yes. I think we all know of one too many stories of one poor decision, leading to a life that spirals out of control. Or rather, the inability of others to forgive that one mistake because it was that grand.
Maybe I just have too much hope in humanity, that I’m willing to turn the other cheek in the name of the person who slapped me turning their life around and learning from their mistakes. But I can’t help it.
I’m no more innocent as anyone else, so wishing that karma move swiftly upon my enemies is essentially just wishing karma to come back around and bite me in the butt. And trust me, I think there have been plenty of times and situations in which karma may have done that.
My point is, a person can’t always be defined by their bad choices in the way they should be defined by the lessons they learned from them. So maybe it’s time we stop seeking out karma and asking her to do her worst and instead start looking at how those situations we want to call karma over because of, have changed the person in question.  

The First Draft

One of the reasons that I haven’t completed a piece, to date, has been because I do this thing where I try to write my final draft as my first draft. The backspace button has become one of my favorites, along with the key command of Control + A. I can’t even begin to count the amount of times I have sat down to write and found myself composing something, only to stop midway and erase all of it in favor of a different approach. 
The importance of the first draft is getting it all down on paper. It isn’t about perfecting dialogue or sentence structure or even spelling and grammar. It is about creating something tangible that you can work on. The second draft is about fleshing out what is written. It is adding the details that the piece needs and providing the necessary structure it requires. The third draft is when you start the editing process, but through a critical lens. It is where you start to look at the piece as a whole and see what fits and doesn’t fit and what makes sense and doesn’t make sense. And then you have your final draft, which is essentially where you polish everything off, checking solely for the grammatical and spelling errors and correcting them.
Since I’ve started writing, I have cheated myself out of the first, second, third, or how many ever drafts that a writer should compose before having the finished product. A lot of it has to do with the fact that I’m an impatient writer. I want my first draft to be my final draft. 
For years, in both academic and creative writing, I have maintained a one and done policy. I would compose the text in one sitting if possible, quickly read over it for obvious errors, fix them, and then hand the piece in. I have never spent more than maybe 30 minutes editing any one of my pieces, which is an issue. A big issue. Yet it is a habit that I didn’t even know I had, until last night.
Last night, I found the much needed motivation to get started on my book. In the process of writing out what would be the fulfilling content of it, I found myself hitting the backspace button, deleting all the text, and essentially starting over, trying to find the right way to begin. That’s when it dawned on me that I’m not publishing this book tomorrow; therefore there is no rush to get it done right the first time I write it. What is important is that I write. 
I found myself swallowing a difficult pill as I put unnecessary breaks in dialogue and felt like I was hopping around and just putting everything in my head onto paper to be rearranged and edited later. I’m actually cringing as I write this in anticipation of rereading what I had written last night. But last night taught me the importance of drafts.
I have a folder on my desktop that is filled with nothing more than bits and pieces of works that I have started and stopped throughout the years. Most of them are nothing more than two pages long in length, the result of a perfectionist wanting to get it done right the first go around and not have to be subjected to looking at it again. I mean, who wouldn’t love to be the writer that can write a piece in one sitting or only needs to write one draft to have a quality piece ready for publication. The truth is, I’m not that writer. As a result I’ve been doing myself a serious writing injustice. I’ve been scrapping precious work for the sake of perfection, not knowing whether or not if that scrapped material would have been vital to the piece.
Among other things, I began to realize what separates a writer that can crank out novel after novel versus the individual who keeps talking about writing a book. The first draft.
There is even a plethora of information that focuses on taking the individual just talking about writing a book to the writer that can crank out novel after novel at their choosing. Almost all of that advice revolves around the creation of a first draft and writing with careless abandonment the first time you put pen to paper or your fingers to a keyboard. And as much as I spend my days on Pinterest, pinning these assortments of tips and tricks, I have still actively chosen to ignore the importance of the first draft in preference for the final one.
But that stopped last night. At least, I hope it stopped last night. Now, my only goal is to create the first draft.