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.
I kiss the top of my cats head, let the sun play over our bodies, and then walk into my naturally lit living room. I lay down the worries of another ASAP grant application and my concerns that my income from my job isn't enough and breathe in. Inhale. Exhale.
When COVID-19 forced the world to go into quarantine I was astonished at how things moved so quickly to shut down. It was like watching a wave come as you are paddling out into the ocean and being knocked off of your board before you can dive under the wave to miss the hit. A lot of people assume that if you have a job that that means you're good. But many Americans (if not other cultures as well) have multiple streams of income. One of my categories of employment is artist. As an artist I teach, perform, and create. And while I was hit like many other artist, the assumption is that I couldn't possible be failing under the wave. I could and am.
The biggest difference is that I also have a job, that I am extremely grateful to have. But I realized that my income is effected by my artistry in a BIG way. It brought me to the conclusion that being an artist is NOT enough. I can't depend on income from my artistry in any real way. I have one product. I have art that I don't sell. But I am not financially benefiting from anything other than mainly live performances/live teachings. I didn't cross over to the digital realm because I felt like other self employed artist had more of a right. But I am also an artist and I also had a hit to my finances in an unexpected way. I am not excluded.
Once I wrapped my head around this reality I knew I had to make some changes. Though art is my passion and expression, it can also be my business. I don't like to see my art as business because it feels like I am losing integrity by doing so, but really it is putting value on my art. The same as I look at my library career as a value added to my time this is putting value on my art. I am, in lack of a better word, an entrepreneur. I cringed at the term because I didn't think we existed in the same plane. I kept feeding myself the same lines. "I'm not a business person." "I'm not a marketing expert." "I'm not an entrepreneur." It's simply not true.
I am a career woman, an artist, AND an entrepreneur. All at the same time. Being an artist is not enough for me. I value what I create. I refuse to apologize for having multiple streams of income or demanding what I am due for my services/products. There are some people who can function for free. I can not. I can not afford to be shortchanged or looked over. This does mean that I have to also educate myself accordingly. I have to learn business and marketing. I have to learn financial strategies. Though I can't do it on my own I at least have to learn the language.
Before this I questioned if I was making enough to justify the input of my funds. I felt I was making little in return. Though it was little it had big impact that I overlooked. My budget included my little not just my other income. I know that the economic climate is shifting in a big way so we must shift with it. That is what I am doing. My word for the year is invest. So that means stocks, savings, Roth IRA, and also in my business. Do you have areas in your life that you feel have to change?
Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts. Was your money impacted by COVID-19? What strategies are you using to put you in a better financial standing?
Finally figuring what out exactly? I guess you can say I finally know who I am. This may seem like a silly thing to discover at 27, but it’s true. Before now I’ve kind of just been influenced by circumstance not by what I actually wanted and desired from life. I would constantly bend to the will of others. Not because I thought they were better people. I felt I didn’t have the resources, time, or thought capacity to actually create/demand my own will. FEEL. That’s a word that can sometimes be synonymous with EXCUSE. But after a tirade of living with other people who were mostly younger than I was definitely made me learn A LOT of what I didn’t want in my life. Or just things I wanted to be a part of my life.
Storytime: I was 23 and moving into my first place (we’ve heard this one). Okay so I was moving out on my own. I was sitting in my very empty, huge apartment and I realized I had no clue what I liked. Odd right?
Fast forward and now at 27 I don’t really have that issue. It’s more so figuring out things like routines that I like. If certain music makes me feel empowered, emotional, or like praising and how that can be used to positively or negatively affect my day. It’s not leaning on every suggestion as fact in my life. My body could reject a Keto diet (mostly because I wouldn’t do a Keto diet), but it may respond to a juice cleanse. (Also not doing, but you get the point right)
This time in my life is one big AHA... I’m all the way here for it juxtaposed to the way I was living before. I would give some profound tip here like: Don’t bend to the will of others. BUT I’m not. Do whatever you want. We live in a world where everyone is trying to influence us to do one thing or another and the honest truth is we have free will. You can simultaneously be influenced by a influencer yet make your own choices or you could not.
It’s funny I came up with this title awhile ago and nearly deleted it, but I knew it would be important. If you haven’t figured anything out and you’re still searching. That’s okay too. I failed A LOT to get to this point, but even that word FAILED doesn’t make sense. I FELT like I failed, but honestly all the mess ups have given me the perspective I have today so I would call that WINNING. Not knowing is winning. Seeking the answer is winning. Messing up is winning. Wanting to be better is winning. There are so many wins in everything as long as you are working on it. In a few years I may turn to this and laugh “Wow I thought that was figuring it out? Cute.”
For today this is enough. Tomorrow who knows, something magical could happen. That’s grace. That’s finding the fruit that been sitting inside this WHOLE time. WHOLE. We are whole. Holy. Alright, alright now I’m just playing with words. They have so much power. The words I speak now are mostly the light kind. I just watched A Wrinkle In Time, a truly lovely piece of work.
There was this iconic moment when I when I was 25. I had my rent money stolen, my airbed mattress was popped, and my job was barely helping me scrape by. I hit my low. I sat on the curb downtown on 4th St and wailed to God. To my bestie. I had just got my first payday loan and I was single. Why Lord hath thou forsaken me!? This is part of what happened when the effects of poverty hit me. HARD.
So I Got a Payday Loan
It's like the minorities white savior conveniently located on each block to save you from whatever financial hole you have found yourself in. There will always be a high interest rate and in reality this loan cost more than it's worth. Thank God for my auntie not auntie who helped me out of this one. Cause there was no way I would've paid it off. I was instructed to NEVER do that again. Dutifully noted.
Mail is Important
I've talked about my experience of ignoring bills and letting them turn pretty colors. I know it's silly now, but back then I hoped to open mail and the bill magically disappeared or was somehow paid off. Knowing what you owe is liberating. Especially when deciding if you need that new shirt or if you can put it aside. (Note: I always go for the new shirt. God is working on me.
Evicted by Matthew Desmond
This book right here spoke to most of my life. It was actually uncomfortable to read because I felt they had written my life on the pages. There was a whole part on how most people who live check to check typically spend all of their check on random items like steak, new shoes, or something just to help them feel not poor. I highly recommend this book.
Credit Cards Are Good
When used wisely. Instead of buying a round trip ticket out of country and back. (Mostly because I couldn't my credit limit was super restricted and I had to pay initially) My credit score was so low... Seriously. I had to secure walk my way to better credit. Credit cards can be your friend. I usually just pay it and then use the money for bills that I would've spent the money on anyway. It's a nice cycle. And it helps that I don't let my money just sit in the account. My credit score has gone up a whole 200 almost 300 points.
Overall, I've had to crawl my way from that low moment where I felt the weight of my poverty. Where the kindness of others is the only way I survived. There have been a great many that aren't even related to me by blood that have extended a hand, given encouraging words, or were just there to check in on me. The stability I feel today is because those people have been in my life. Thank you. I am a stronger woman because of it.
Today I got a raise/ and a 10 day eviction notice in the same day/ I pull the cry out from my throat/ hold this pulsing thing/ Know that prison can look like rented rooms/ And sentences are denied apartment applications/ That records are credit scores that never report the facts/ Degrees rags that don’t soak up your moms incarceration/ Or times ya’ll spent in the projects/ Or the one room ya’ll lived in eating pork n beans/ Me being the first one to graduate from high school and college/ Don’t mean nothing to the nice rental office cause your past is numbers/ That don’t add up/ My mother’s sacrifices can’t only be worth denials/ There are times when the hood and educated revolt in my blood/ Are two forces that don't like to exist in the same body/ Discord that chokes/ Reminds me that I know what being locked in feels like/ How the doors clang shut on your hopes/ Success feels like forgetting where you come from/ Like burying my mother instead of honoring her memory/ But when the time comes and the hood is just a part of town you pass through cause it cost more to stay than leave/ It stays in the vessel of you/ Will be found in the lessons you teach your future children/ In the way you run your household/ In the stories you pass to strangers that become family/ God will use the educated hood of you to light the world/ Raising you to new heights/ Evicting you from that old way of life/ Accepting all the parts of your being/ From sacrifice to freedom/ Causing hands to raise/ And voice to praise/ Ain't it glorious to not be prisoner to money
I have been floored by God. If you had told me back in October that I would be where I am right now I probably would've chuckled and said, "Yeah right." I'm sitting here trying to figure out what I want to tell ya'll first? *jeopardy music* How personal do I want to get?
Last year around this time I believe I was starting to seriously talk with (not quite date) this amazing believer who completely transformed how I view relationships. He was my boyfriend for all of two minutes (more like two weeks officially or something) and it was really great. Then I got nervous. I could see myself being in a serious relationship with him and I was not living in a way where I could be my best self. I kept feeling split. Who I truly was and how I was living on the other side. He wasn't attempting to change me at all, but I felt my flaws amplified and without really talking about it. I ran (broke up with him). Because I was a mess. Because most people want to rush into relationships without a strong foundation. Because the next relationship I'm in will be intentional and headed towards marriage. Period.
First, I had some things to take care of. I was constantly broke, couldn't communicate well though I'm a writer (poet AND playwright), had no stability, drank way too much, cursed heavy, and surrounded myself with people that were living lifestyles I didn't want to live. I was a believer, but I definitely put my faith on a backseat. I didn't want to pray over anything except what I wanted and he was praying. I was tired, but comfortable with fabricated stability.
Now look, the freedom to just do whatever was good but I knew greater. I knew that the stress and worry I was feeling all the time was a direct result of me not doing what I should be doing. That's managing money better, communicating better, taking care of my body (no alcohol belly), watching what I say in general, and surround myself with people I want to be around. Doing it was hard. I thought the way I wanted to live wasn't possible.
This relationship made me consider something I think about a lot actually. Who do I want to be and do I like who I am? I wasn't interested at the time to answer these questions. Then I started doing what I wanted and things appeared to be better. Until suddenly I found myself once more about to be without a home. I was really tired. That I'ma just do something different tired. I made my plans to say goodbye to all my peeps in St. Louis and even had a final show (ironic only my friends came out anyway). I booked the U-haul to move back home to TN defeated. Last minute I applied to one last job. One I actually wanted with salary pay in St. Louis though I had interviews in TN too and I could even apply to grad school. Then I got the job in St. Louis!
I stopped and prayed. I've been here before. At a crossroad with no clue what to choose. I needed to hear from dad (God). It actually took a minute for him to answer. But when he did it was amazing!
From there I did a 360. I was going to put my best foot forward. And I have. I have *sings* money in the bank (not a lot but hey it's a start), a new job, my dream apartment for now, I workout regularly, I use intentional language, and am doing the things I want with the people I want to be around. Oh yea and about the guy. We're friends. (I know not what you expected hahaha) I started the story there because my next post will be about this book I'm reading called, "The Wait" and all it is about is healthy relationships. This relationship is the only one I've ever had that was semi intentional. Every other guy has just wanted casual relationships. (No title, no dates, no commitment) *New York accent* Get outta ere'! I didn't either until... Anyway, it's a struggle that I'm just starting to get a handle on. As I discover who I am in God, I realize even more what I desire in a husband as he pursues me. So stay tuned ya'll. Laters!!
The excitement puffs like breath from glossed lips on a winter morning, warm and full of anticipation. It's the holiday season and tomorrow I'm headed home. Let's talk about home. No one wants to be that failure going home with their tail in between their legs, staying in the place they grew up in. For me, it's a little more complicated than just that. I've been away from the places. I call home so long that I sometimes forget I'm from there.
"I put on for my city" is lost to me because which city is that? I can CHOOSE whichever I like, but if you're like me and you have more addresses than you could ever possibly remember then it's hard. I'm super proud of the travels I've accomplished, but lately I've been yearning to go home. See what's changed and what is the same with adult eyes. To visit the streets, the schools of my youth. I want to smell the familiar that I long for sometimes in the pit of my belly when things get hard. Not to stay, but to visit. I want to be around people who've known me long before I could talk or began finding myself.
Home. That's a word that can mean a multitude of things, but for me its definition has definitely transformed over the years. The places I spent my childhood in have become important to me because each place has memories and people I love in them. Each city I've been in more than 6 month to a year is officially apart of my "home". Four and counting. Is it weird that I want a solid base, family, and all that but still desire to live in other places for a big chunk of time? Just me? My wandering heart isn't quenched, yet my soul thirst and gulps from home (wherever that may be).
It's funny that people are getting into travel. I feel like traveling has been my whole life. Not to glamorous countries, but in the states I've been to a remarkable amount of places at a young age. I am so grateful for that (Note to self: Do post on this). Some of us black kids grow on the same block and never leave. My hood has been in different states. They all look the same though they speak with different accents.
This go round I'm headed to Knoxville, TN. Home of the Volunteers. Solo Road trip! (To me this is the quickest drive, but hey it's the open road and I'm making a couple stops on the way. Merry Christmas to me.) I'm renting a car for the first time and they're already called to remind me and give me instructions on what to bring.
Travel tips: If renting a car prepare to put down a deposit when using a debit card. In bustling holiday seasons prepare for long waits.
I'll update ya'll on my trip next time. Happy Holidays! May you find yourself with the ones you love this season.
Downtown Knoxville, TN
Goodbye 26… My birthday isn't until tomorrow, buuut I promised to post every Thursday so here is my birthday reflection.
26 has by far been the least dramatic year of my life. It wasn’t even glamorous, but it was peaceful. I’m used to the onslaught of events to pile themselves on me with no breathing room. This past year though has been pleasantly uneventful. Short recap. I had a kicking birthday, an awesome apartment, a reciprocal relationship that ended as quickly as it started, went to WOWPS (Woman of the World Poetry Slam), placed 19th out of 96 women, got to work on my communication, went on a team slam tour, and have been working an awesome job at the Fabulous Fox Theatre. My version of a humdrum life.
For 27 I’m walking in with a new job, new apt, and new attitude. I have my very first full-time job at the St. Louis Public Library. Yea I work for the gov-ment basically, well the city at least. The days of me working 4-5 jobs are over. What about my art you ask? Well that's my other full-time job. Now is the time for me to spread my wings and work hard at becoming financially stable instead of just making it check to check. I want to thrive. PLUS I get paid vacation days so I’m planning on taking a few trips this year. I'm really excited to have this chance to have a flexible schedule and income. It's hard being an artist without expendable income that goes toward your artistic goals.
You can manifest whatever you desire and when it's in your purpose it just seems to amplify. A few months ago I thought I had to live my life a certain way. I was compromising for lifestyles I didn't want to live. Now, I'm doing things my way. This isn't about just doing what you want, but creating the life you want. I love my careers, I love writing, I love painting, and I love traveling. I'm working towards doing all of these in a inclusive way while having a home base. This doesn't work for everyone. Some people WANT to live out of a suitcase, but that is not my passion. Eventually my art will be sustainable enough where I won't feel the need to have another stream of income, but right now *sings* I'm making money moves.
Seven things I've learned in my 20's as Titles
20. How to live after a parent dies
21. Seeing places you've only dreamed of is living a dream #Faith
22. Seasons are hard to end, there are no guidelines on what to do with your life
23. Follow your urges: A story of first
24. Do NOT follow your urges: A story of consequences
25. Hold on life is going to be a bumpy ride, wait... I don't care what people think
26. Breathe. Sit still with yourself. Figure out what you want and do that.
I always consider my birthday the new year. So for this new year I have written out a vision of what I want out of 2018 and what I envision for 2023 (5 years from now). The theme for my birthday this year was classy, sexy, and saved.
I'm excited to see what 27 brings to the table. Check back every other Thursday for more of this SOLS life. Laters!
So it is Thursday as promised here is the blog.
“You want to make God laugh, tell him your plans” -Everybody and their momma, aunty too
You think you know what your plans are, give it a year then you’ll see. As a twenty something I’m learning that plans can drastically change. I’m seriously praying that this is a young thing and that when I’m in my thirties (which aren’t too far off) I get some serious chill to my life. Since I am 26 now, going on 27 soon… *shudders* I have a few things I’ve figured out to be true.
Even the most calculated, well thought out, all I’s dotted plan could be thrown for a loop without any warning AND that’s okay. Sure, I can fill out a goal list. I can even go as far as blot out trips and events in my calendar, but inevitably things could go awry. If you are like me single, no kids, and no real ties it may be awhile before you have any solid plans. When I’ve been somewhere for a year I pat myself on the back. Now granted this could vary depending on where you are in life. You may have a solid career with a house and all the right fixings, but as a young twenty something I haven’t figured it all yet.
Reality Is You Can’t Do It All, Yet
I know you want to do it all. You’re having your quarter life crisis and want to travel to 30 countries before you’re 30 without a trust fund, with a part-time (possibly full-time job), and no business plan. How sway? When did you even start? When you were 25? I have been queen of wanting to do it all, but no said plan of HOW I was going to do it. I’m not saying you should have every t crossed, but I mean have some idea of what you want out of life. Looking at others will sometimes just cloud your own reality. The people you THINK have it all figured out have learned from their mistakes, but best believe they have some sort of plan. If you wanna travel like that plan to be a travel blogger, to work in home stays, or even get a job abroad. There are options, but regardless there is WORK. We can’t avoid it, yet. One day you’ll have a way where you can live this fantastic life without working just remember ya girl mkay?
You Deserve Applause
No awards are handed out for adulting well. Unfortunate, but extremely true. I want you to know that you deserve some freaking applause. For whatever you’ve managed to do. You paid your bills (at least one) this month. You went to work. You turned down that credit card. You bought gas instead of concert tickets. You took yourself out. You bought a new shirt. You got that game you’ve been wanting. Whatever it is I’m going to take the time to applaud you for it. *stands and claps* Pat yourself on the back. We should learn to celebrate in the little things. You got out of bed this morning. You fed yourself today. You did something. That’s awesome!
These are the three truths I’ve learned this past year. What inspired me to write this is me going back through my blog and looking at last year’s vision. A LOT has changed since then. I’m not in the Peace Corps. I haven’t left the country. I got the fellowship though, well one of them. I did have an apartment for a year. I worked on having healthier relationships with those around me. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. And for me this year isn’t over yet. I have some pretty serious goals these next three months. (I probably wrote this waaay before it reached your eyes) If I accomplish these short term goals I’m going to write a “I did it! Finally…” post.
Yep this is my Quarter Life Crisis
I'm three months from my 26th birthday (yikes). There's a mix of thank God that I, a black girl from the country/hood, has made it to see 25 so far and f*** I'm tired. Yea, this year has been all about ups and down. Actually let's just say my past three years have been a roller coaster in HD.
Wait, what is a quarter life crisis you ask? Oh well it's where life as you know it becomes a balance beam of adulting. Do you quit the job, grab a one-way ticket to anywhere in the world, and forget it all? Or do you hunker down and settle into a life regime that is suiting for an adult? I chose something between the two.
At 24 I "quit" my well paying cubicle job and went rouge. Which led to me getting evicted from my first apartment, breaking off a toxic/abusive relationship, and being homeless. Getting fired is the best thing I've ever done, not smart, but great. (Aside from the other great things) While couch surfing for a bit, sleeping on the streets of St. Louis, and going to homeless shelters I found a fulfilling job that I could do even though my degree said I was over qualified. Shoot at that point I would've just taken a paycheck short of working in a cubicle or stripping (not knocking it, it's just not my thing). What job did I find? Teacher's Aide/Assistant. Yep that meant lesson planning and having fun with kids all day, that beats a cubicle or pole any day. I also found that instead of having one boring, unfulfilling job you can have multiple fun jobs that all pay you for that set of skills. PLUS that passion that's lingering in your bag, that you never had time to work on, can now be fine tuned and put to good use.
Which leads me to 25. 25 is the age I was determined to turn it all around. I started off great. I had my first one-night stand. (okay so not so great) I self-published a collection of plays & poetry. (Better.) I started this website. (Much better.) I got into a great activist CO-OP (complete strangers living together what could go wrong?) I got my first official boyfriend. (He was great and short lived. 2 months) I kept my one woman show alive and started a tour. How to start a tour or not start one should be a blog. (Note to self ) I rotate jobs like a old rotary phone. It's been brilliant and stressful and brilliant again. So then I get this idea to just stop everything to travel and write. Not new for those in a quarter life crisis.
That brings me back to how my life is right now. I'm prepping to travel to Iowa with my One woman show: The Family Cookbook to my alma mater, Buena Vista University. I'll be going to a gender studies class to talk, performing my show, doing a talk back, and having a great time. Not to mention I get to see my college best friend and her new hubby (he's also my college best friend ha!) I married her first, more on that in it's own blog post. Anywho. I'm excited. A new job came up. A new apartment that will be my own space is in talks. Boss is giving me a laptop. God is funny. I literally thought three weeks ago I was going to have to move back to TN with my tail between my legs, but now I can wait out for the Peace Corps here in STL or this fellowship. If the Peace Corps doesn't happen in 2017-2018 A LOT of traveling will. If this is my quarter life crisis, I'm sooo not mad about it. Life is all about taking risk and going for it. "Just do it." is the best advice I can give you if you're in a quarter life crisis or anywhere feeling stuck in life. And if you don't know what to do. Don't panic. Get in a quiet space with yourself. It might not make sense for awhile, but that's okay. I'm right here with you. My problems just look different, but they do exist.
My story is just beginning. And dare I say this blog is getting better?
Jump Rope Sis
Fitness. Life. Art. Travel.