It is here. The holidays are upon us and I am grateful once more for the people in my life. This Thanksgiving there's no travel plan and there's no spending time with friends and family. I will be cooking one of my favorite sides (spicy greens) and celebrating Harvetfest in Sims land probably a few times. One thing I've come to appreciate and know to be true is that being by yourself is something we take for granted and it doesn't last forever. When I was younger I used to be afraid that a holiday alone meant that I was alone but I know that not to be true. This year it's a choice. I'd rather be home than stressing me or my finances out by trying to travel anywhere this year. I want to have several seats.
However, I know that this is also the time where seasonal depression likes to snake its way into existence. One way I've learned to combat that is have constant communication with loved ones and make sure I'm not isolating myself too much even if that means long phone calls or video chats but something that lets you spend time with people even if you're not physically with them. This is helpful for me especially since my friends and family are all over the world and I can't always visit everyone.
My God mom also gave me this tip several years ago and I carry it with me now. A lot of us have had loved one pass away and this time of year can bring the blues of I miss you. Whether it's your parent, close friend, friend of a friend, family friend, child, pet, or anyone who touched your life in any significant way that has died we can still remember and honor them. I'm not saying the blues won't still come but doing something that you did with them or something specifically to commemorate their memory is helpful. For me this looks like getting Chinese food, snacks, and watching a movie that my mom would've liked. And if Chinese food is not available I cook or buy a meal my mom would've enjoyed. It's been nice to do since my God mom mentioned it and has helped me not be stuck in a loop of seasonal depression.
Another way I kick seasonal depressions butt is by going somewhere sunny orrrr you can check out these sun lamps at the library to combat the grey of the world. The older I get the more I can't stand the grey of winter. I want winter but with sunshine and brightness. Which is why winter without snow is always super depressing. It makes things dark and dirty.
I am looking forward to a time where I am constantly spending the holidays how I want to but I am grateful that even when I can't I am showing up for myself. I hope you enjoy this holiday season.
Love & Peace
Sometimes you meet a new person and don't necessarily know the impact they will make on you. Recently, I discovered a new friend has an archive of their poetry. It was impressive. They also built the site themselves from Java and continue to add to it which is another amazing feat in itself. Color me impressed. As an information professional and artist, it has never occurred to me that my collection of memories, poetry books, letters, and sometimes objects is archiving. In fact, I'm sure many of us have collected things like coins, rocks/stones, or maybe even family heirlooms. Now you may be asking, "What is an archive?" I got your back babe. According to Oxford, an archive is a collection of historical documents or records providing information about a place, institution, or group of people. And according to the National Archives, a personal archive is "a collection of material that records important events from your family’s history." I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that as a librarian this hadn't ever occurred to me. Yet here we are. As a poet archiving your work digitally could also create a copyright for that work. So guess who's archiving some very youthful poetry and going to be working on personal archiving once this novel is done? That's right, me. Thanks, friend.
Copyright say what? Most poets who solely perform don't even think about copyrighting their work until they're sitting in the audience or a friend hits them up with a "this poem sounds oddly familiar" then there's beef and hurt feelings. Claims of stolen get tossed around and ownership becomes wonky as time goes on. Especially when credit isn't given to the original creator. Where's the proof? Well, guess what darling, if you copyright your work then when you do hear that poet swipe your work you can shout, "Swiper no swiping!" or, you know, sue them if you feel so moved. It only really comes in handy when that poem becomes food taken from your table. Poetry is funny anyway because concepts can be similar and words can have a familiar cadence but a copyright lasts for your life and an additional 70 years. "Depending on the country of its origin, most creative work is protected by common law and copyright is assumed by its original creator the moment it is created. When you publicly share work, you are publishing it, making it available to an audience, and the date you share it would become your proof of copyright." -Jay Sizemore
So how am I personally archiving my work? Happy you asked. I use this website in many ways as a personal archive of sorts. It keeps all of my artistic and professional thoughts, ideas, and history so other professionals and artists or anyone really can see what I've been up to. This blog is a bit more intimate than some of my more formal ideas because I want to share what is happening in my week to bi-weekly or whenever this goes up life. Allllll of that said, my old works will eventually find a home here. One day I'll separate my worlds bus for now here we are.
I have poetry that goes back all the way to my very first poem which I will share here. Funnily enough, I started an archival project of other materials and my first poem was one of the documents I ended up scanning for that project. In 2001 I wrote my very first poem and that was the catalyst for me becoming a poet. It ended up in a poetry magazine that I didn't even think to keep but luckily my family held on to my very first scrapbook/photo album that I created back then and it has finally made its way back to me. This is why personal archiving can be useful. We don't lose these memories. We don't lose these moments. And as a poet, we don't lose our work no matter how young we were when we created it.
The best part about personal archiving is that you get to revisit these memories. No matter how hard they may be. I can't wait to share all of my older work with you all. Though some of it is cringy, preachy, erotic, and sad there are happy poems and joyful moments as well. There's also a lot of looooooove from when I let my hopeless romantic side come out and play. I hope this inspires you to create a personal archive of your own and I hope it brings you joy.
Also, I threw in some of the links I got quotes and tings just because the librarian in me couldn't help it ;) Much love!
Romanticizing your life during this season is such a vibe especially in the South. So join me on this glorious fall day. Most mornings I wake to silence but today the birds were chirping in the tree next to my window as I hit my worship playlist and begin my morning routine. I saunter down the stairs to my car barefoot, letting my feet hit the chilled ground and inhaling the crisp mountain fresh air and make the quiet meditative drive to the gym on campus. After I park, I slip on my gym shoes and gather my day bag listening to the rhythmic beat of military shoes on pavement to finally start my morning with a workout. Being consistent again feels oh so good.
I truly love it here. It surprises me constantly at how much but the south and I seem to just fit together. I am definitely a southeast girlie and it shows. That said the inspiration has been plentiful. Being in nature, walking barefoot in the grass, and taking in the scenic views just brings an abundance of ideas. I love being so close to nature and having options of places to explore right in the "backyard". My novel writing has been flowing out of me and it feels phenomenal. To get lost in the story I want to tell and have it fill my thoughts throughout the day. National Novel Writing Month is coming and I plan on fully participating this year with the goal of having the first draft of my novel completed just a smidge ahead of schedule on the 27th with my "Write a Novel in a Year" Series with Mid-Continent Public Library. www.mymcpl.org/events/90270/write-novel-year-part-four-zoom
This might be your sign to write that novel you've been meaning to write. Honestly, I've been writing stories since I was a wee little tike but I never sat down to put them completely on the page. There are some strewn here and there on bits of paper, napkins long ago discarded, and scribbled in random notebooks. To see my story develop into a full project has been delightful. It has me falling in love with writing all over again.
Speaking of love, this year I've been able to open myself up to letting love in. The romantic kind, even though romance nowadays isn't romance and is really just, "Can I talk to you for a minute." To me love is like going onstage with memorized lines and staging. Once the lights go up you hope that your mind doesn't go blank and even if you miss a cue, improvise a line, or have to adjust for feedback you couldn't anticipate you are leaning into the moment, into the energy, riding the adrenaline. And when the curtains close on that scene. You catch your breath, reflect on the entire thing, and know more for the next act. It's the best feeling. I finally understand why falling in love is so great. That said it also falls away. I appreciate it just the same.
While all of it is great, it's also challenging. Some weeks I just haven't written anything and my word count is alarmingly low for where I need to be to complete my first draft. In that same vein, falling in love is beautiful. Navigating how people receive me has been a doozie. I can't control how people perceive or receive. It's frustrating because I feel myself repeating, "Let me love you!" and whispering, "love me too." I know how I want and need to be loved. For me, falling short in both of these areas puts me in a funk that's hard to get out of. However, this week is a great week. I've had some excellent conversations that have left me on a high and hopeful for what's next. I've made great writing progress and while romance is off the table I have some solid male friends in my life that have reminded me that there's something greater waiting for me. I love the men in my life.
Ultimately, whether it is my craft or a love. It's a great journey. Now maybe next time we'll have to chat about some of the nitty gritty of love in a city. That was just witty. Ending would be a pity. But alas....
Let's talk business. Now before we get into it let me be clear. This is not a "How to Start a Successful Business Guide". This is merely a reflection over my own business faux pas' and how I hope to do better in the future. Like many people during the pandemic, I started my business. There was just one issue. I didn't have a plan. I didn't even have revenue that could successfully run the business or money to really invest into it or a clue as to what I was doing. I knew enough to get started but it had no sustainability. Now that's bad business.
I've wanted my own business for years. I used to surprise people with my interest in starting a non-profit that uplift artist and to hopefully open it up to others who wanted to teach or do art therapy. It would be for the community. Does this at all sound familiar? UrbArts now Urbstetiks, Inc was the non-profit that I could get behind because it was so much like my own vision. Which is why I'll probably go hard for Urbstetiks until I am old.
I put the cart before the horse. I saw marginal success with my artist career, my fitness videos, and my contract work so why not just put it under the LLC. Let me just start by saying that I walked away for more than just a new career. Making money as a artist is complicated and I wanted to be legit. The more success you see the more you need to prepare for taxes. The bigger the show or venue means the more you need to pay a crew. The vision of not just paying yourself but other artist or workers means that you need to fund a payroll. One thing became clear as crystal to me. I could slack on my own dollar, but when it came to how I wanted to also see others succeed I needed to go back to the drawing board of how to truly fund what I could see.
Taking my time in coming back to it all has given me clarity. I could easily write a grant or fellowship application now knowing what I know to go where I need to. It just took time. I had to do my research. I'm still learning a lot but I know that when I go full force I'll be prepared. I'm developing the plan because I started a business and "failed". The truth is I was overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by how fast it all can happen. It's weird to think that in just 3 years I've learned so much. It doesn't make me want to do it all over, but it does make me want to use more wisdom in the present and in the future.
I look forward to sharing my business endeavors as they flesh themselves out and become fully formed. I have more of a business mind than I ever thought I would. The best thing about the world today is you can learn almost anything at any age.
When I was 13 I had this jean bound journal with rhinestones on it, I doodled on it like it was my own pair of "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" pants. I was convinced I could become the second youngest successfully published author of our time. Everyday I updated the "novel" I would pass it around while in class to give my updates to my readers in real-time. By lunch, I would know which direction to head. The thing about my story is I wanted it to feature kids like my classmates. Not some rich or middle class kids. Just regular smegular kids having a good time goofing off and falling in love. Of course there would be drama that we'd understand and twist and enemies turned frenemies. And any resemblance to real life people or classmates was just a coincidence. Six years ago I decided, once again, to write a novel. I am finally sitting down to do it and by the end of this year I will have a first draft.
Back then, I was nine chapters in when my mom let me make the decision to move to St. Louis. There are two things I didn't do that move that will haunt me for the rest of my years. I didn't save my first time ever electronic journal on a floppy disk (Yes, I am from that era) and I lost my jean studded journal with my world changing novel. I typically am not at a loss for words but I lost two crucial voices of mine at that era. I didn't know it then but my memory keeping was important not just because I'm a writer but because I know just how fast those memories can slip between your fingers like water. And it may not be super important to 32 year old me why I had a crush on that one boy who I couldn't stop thinking about. But it was important to 13 year old me and I want to remember what that was like forever.
According to several studies at this point, our brains (the hippocampus) transfer memories to long-term especially when they are traumatic. With my journals, I've wanted to capture the day to day stuff. I refuse to this day to call it a diary because diaries are something private. My journals I hope are riveting enough to become bestsellers when I'm gone. Always a writer. The loss of the novel is something I always think about. What could I have done with it once it was finished. Everyone loved it, I mean you try to get a bunch of 8th graders to read. The one specialty my book also had was its steamy moments. I mean again, 8th graders. The most scandalous thing was the deep kissing. But it was definitely better than the Iliad.
My Write A Novel in a Year workshop was born because so many people want to finish that novel they've been dreaming about they just don't know how to go about it. Where are those support groups? Where you all start at zero and end up with this thing you've been dreaming of? At the Story Center I noticed that Critique Groups were for short stories or poetry, maybe a chapter but no true support for a novelist. So I created it and the response was surprising. People showed up.
In my case it's been a desire since I was 13 though the story, content, and characters have all changed. In the spirit I still seek it to be a book for that 13 year old me. Something she could read and pass around to her classmates even though it felt a tad grown up. At that time, I got bored with the chapter books. We didn't have a young adult section so I made my way to the adult books and then the reallllly adult books. *wink, wink* I became known as the book slinger and the candy girl in my middle school hallways. Now, I constantly feel in a state of coming full circle.
My novel is going well. I have a little over three months to get it finished and honestly I want to shoot for the end of November. We've got this!
At least that’s the best way I can describe it. From the moment I stepped out of Saint Louis and into this new realm of “what the heck do I want to do with my life”. I stepped away from poetry, from art, from everything that had grown familiar to me and focused on grad school as well as my career. There were a lot of changes and I was taught if you don’t have anything nice to say… I’m kidding of course. There were some really amazing things and moments. However, there were some painful truths and discoveries.
One of these hard truths was my desire to leave youth services. The kids in St. Louis were the spark I needed to go into this career fully as a librarian/manager not just as a full-time employee. I could see the difference it made. The pandemic changed our space and made me focus on the harshness of the organizations. In a lot of ways it was painful to leave St. Louis but in other ways its probably the best decision I ever made. The other hard truth is that if I were to work with teens/young adults in a public library capacity it has to be a urban area. While I have been able to grow my skill set I also realized that I love working independently. I’m didn’t want to be a co-librarian supervising a space. Which led me to switch it up to be a Publication Manager. Which is a job I really loved. But the Midwest was pressing its boot on my neck and the call to go home was stronger that me loving a job.
No one gives you a roadmap when it comes to life, careers, and love. As a black woman I have chosen paths that are a incredible climb. Typically being the only in the room and if I’m not the only I am one of the most vocal. I am a woman of action. I don’t want to just talk about change I want to see it. This means that if a policy needs to be adjusted, rewritten, or re-thought then let’s do it. If a group of employees are feeling unheard then let’s hear them out. If spaces seem to be unsafe for staff then let’s create safety through training and support. Not just verbal support but let’s invite mental health professionals, train managers to offer support, and put our actions where our thoughts are. This means that I tend to be outspoken at meetings and unwavering in my challenge for those in charge.
Now I’m a library resident at Clemson University. Check out my blog for that journey here: http://www.saharasistasols.com/the-library-sis/my-library-resident-journey-begins
But what does this mean for artist me?
I’m working on a novel!! I’ll do my best to keep you all updated on this novel that I’m writing and I’ll go over what I’m doing artistically to stay in it. I’ve had a lot of shifts over the past few years and that means that I’ve been focusing on different things. This big season is called fitness & finance. I’m been whipping my mind, body, and wallet into shape and it’s not a simple year journey. This journey has been in the works since I had my revelation October 2017. I was hoping for “some chill” in my life and let me tell you… I’m chilling. I’m also creating differently. I can’t wait to share that with ya’ll.
Wait? Are we back to Thursday blogs!? I think we are. YAY!
I subconsciously nibble on my lip as I hit the send button on my resignation letter and my "I do not accept this promotion" emails. My heart is pounding so loud my fingers vibrate slightly. This is different, I remind myself. This is not a bad thing. We are simply leaving one job and going into a new one. When you've faced housing insecurity before, stepping out of a job or a city is nerve racking.
However, the truth is I've put in the hard work to make sure I'm okay when transitions happen. One day this will mean an emergency fund that covers me and any unforeseen expenses, but until then I just know I have it all handled. One of my favorite movies is "Homeless to Harvard". I used to dream of making my way to Harvard, being a lawyer, being a civic member, being president, and changing the world. Let's just say I did none of these things quite in this way. But one thing I really took from the movie was if I put my all into it and work extremely hard I can radically change my life. I don't have to be where I come from, I can instead be someone new. I can be me and not just circumstances.
I am first generation to get my undergrad degree & Masters. I was raised in the hood, in poverty, my mom was incarnated, I was brought up in a single parent home, and I spent time in a group home and foster care. I also have a amazing family in TN who became my hero's, a aunt who became a second mom, a love for education, a love for books, and a love for adventure. Where ever I have gone I have been able to find a village of people who love and support me.
I've been homeless thrice. It was not fun. I've also had to couch surf and be in some not so great places just for a nights rest. On top of that I've had five jobs at one time, no benefits, and debt debt. I'm not complaining by any means. I've learned a lot from these experiences. I am super excited to finally feel like I'm in a place where I can move out of St. Louis. More on that later.
Being overworked and underpaid is the song and dance of many people of color. Especially when we are just grateful to have a job. Negotiating salaries, getting paid what you are worth, and how to recognize a toxic work culture are not classes that we get in college that I think really should be there. College doesn't teach you how to adult. It teaches you theories and how to hold discussions and how to articulate your thoughts. Classes we are severely missing in college are fundamental life things. They usually put pamphlets in the student union or something similar where students are meant to get the real life information.
As you can see below I thought I would post the year I received my original promotion, but I've been workin', I've been workin'. So now this is really about me rejecting a promotion. Never in a million years did I think I would say that. But now that I'm here. I am so ready for this!
I don my flower crown and my pants suit, lace my converse and apply a bold lip. I have never felt more at home in this body than this year.
I don't talk much about identity, sexuality, and all that. For the most part it's because I was raised with a black lesbian mom who was raised in the deep south during the 50's and 60's. My mom would casually hint at things during my teen years to see the temperature of how I felt about women. I tested the waters in my later teen years to see how I felt about women. The answer was always more complicated than just I don't like girls. I actually like girls, I think they're pretty, boobs are nice, and my nurturing nature believes in protecting women. Sexually though, I'm not there. More on the sex bit later.
There's more to it though. I love people. All people. I've been attracted to a lot of different identifying people over the years and I wondered if it conflicted with my Christianity. The truth is, it doesn't. I'm just open. When I allow myself free agency to explore my heart I find that I'm not that uptight about who I could love or how I could love them. For the most part this isn't physical. I'm not a physical being LIKE THAT. When I say like that I just mean I don't hold physical intimacies close to my heart in any form or fashion. I think people jump there waaay too soon. I relish connection and conversation. My love language is quality time. This also mean that my attraction doesn't come from all the peacock things people do to attract people. Mine comes in subtle ways. This is probably why I could form a attraction to someone and they not even know it.
I don't hold sex to some high esteem, but I do know I used to be savage. I disconnected sexual acts from my heart. My own toxicity that I had to erase from my brain. Occasionally, I have to remind myself to not go back there, though it is tempting. When it comes to sexual attraction I have my preference and that is pretty on par with heterosexuality. I'm more focused on having a partner than I am bedroom activities if you know what I mean. *wink, wink*
Overall, I too am black, queer, and here. I kick down the norm. I've been told by countless men who struggled with their own masculinity that I "look" like a lesbian or am I sure I'm not into women. -_- Sir please take your insecurities to therapy not me. Now I know there are plenty of men who view my brand of woman just as I do. Sexy, confident, smart, cool, and goofy. Some days I sport a Stem persona more than a femme persona. On a really good day my stud comes out. If you read all of this and you're still trying to figure out what label of queer I am. I'm pansexual. Just take people and my attraction and flip than skillet with some olive oil. That's all, that's it.
I excitedly refresh my screen to see my grades for the semester in our dim office. A satisfied smile creeps onto my lips as the screen shows my transcript grades. Halleluiah! I am officially done with my first year of grad school and chile' let me tell you... I am so proud of myself! I know they say GPA doesn't matter, but ya girl got three A's this past semester. That is something undergrad me didn't do until senior year.
A big part of it is that I love my program. I love that I get to nerd out and learn some things that I never thought I'd want to know like UX and UI. A part of me sometimes questions if I've moved on from the artist phase in my life, but actually I've been able to be more in tune now with my creative side. Moving into my other loves of videography and photography. I also am enjoying the process of writing just for me. Since I'm not JUST in a library school, I attend a Information Science program that means that I can learn things other than library information. I can also tickle the foot of my coding digital side.
I decided that I want to take my time and do my full two years of Grad school. This means that this time next year I'll be a graduate! But before I celebrate. One step at a time. For now I am going to relish in this moment. I don't know if you still read this, whoever you are. But here's the update.
Everybody wants the appearance that they're hard at work. I mean our thoughts are. They constantly move throughout the day. "A new study has suggested that an average person has 6,200 thoughts per day." -2020 article. So imagine the artist brain. So many passing ideas with very few actually acted upon. I mean really I could fill a wall of books of ideas that I've had. Where is the follow through?
I could be our fear of failure right? Our apprehension that our ideas won't be as good as our plans laid it out as. How do we know that? On the other side there is the fear of success. I've had that one. An idea being so great and beautifully executed that you seem to eclipse yourself. Well that sucks.
How many drafts do I have of this blog that I've just never hit submit on? Why not? Is it my follow through? Do I just fall short of greatness because I won't hit the post button? Or is it a deeper, more crippling fear?
Just to let you know I don't have the answers to these questions for you. For me however I know the TRUTH. I like creating. I like sparking ideas that inspire others. I am slow to act. I want it to be perfect. To be the vision I laid out and inadvertently my brain gets swept up in the latest fad or post and then I feel my work or vision change. I am over stimulated. This is why I imagine artist go on retreats and fellowships to create. To distance themselves from the main stream, live like monks, and create. This is why I am still not done with my "retirement" or "sabbatical". My bills no longer need my commissions to survive off of my art so I've pushed the pause button.
In truth I am "working" but not in the way we do for the gram. I am exploring, refining, studying, reading, and learning. I keep thinking I'm going to restart soon. All I know is when this cocoon falls I will have completed what I wanted to see not what my bills demanded.
Approximately 8 months later since my "Being an Artist Is NOT Enough" and here we still are. Look I get it. We feel pressure to hustle, to be ON, to work work work work work, but honestly ya'll I'm not running towards any project right now. I cherish my peace. I cherish my workouts. I love grad school. I love my job. I abhor the reality that the world is "re-starting". The truth is I can't work even at a fraction of the same capacity I did before. I won't. I will not. Why not? Because being overworked is a capitalist idea, because why would I, because dammit I just don't want to. Whatever guilt I feel over it, I release.
I truly hope peace finds you reader of these ramblings. I'll see you on the other side of this cocoon with new wings. What are you releasing in 2021?
Love & Laters!
Fitness. Life. Art. Travel.