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!
It's been a minute and that's okay. Sometimes life doesn't go as planned. We set all of these "resolutions" and expectations then life throws us 2020. We had to learn last year that our goals are only attainable when we are focused or maybe you learned some other lessons. I don't know what your goal was/is. I don't know what you have brewing for this year, but I do know that it important to know that success takes time. We are constantly works in progress. This isn't to discourage you, but to encourage you. I'm right here with you.
I am in process of sculpting my body and mind into the thing of my dreams. My soul and spirit have done the groundwork now I just have to get in alignment. Now this work isn't just physical. This is an entire overhaul.
I want to share this journey with ya'll. I don't do any of the amazing things I do alone. There's usually people who I springboard my ideas, dreams, and plans off of. My YouTube holds me accountable to my creativity even now when I don't necessarily FEEL creative. I did 20 goals for 2020. I'm not sure I need that many for 2021, but I'll share some here.
My Goals of 2021
-SAVE (manage my money wisely)
-Focus on fitness
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?
Here we go ya’ll. The smell of sage and prayers hang on the brick of my loft while my laundry swirls kind of loudly in my washing machine. Today I felt as if I woke from a dream. I was able to see the wheels turn again. The fog has been clearing ever so slightly in these months.
I’m not a nothing girl. I don’t want to have the capability to do nothing. I want to do something. The guy in Office Space was crazy. I love working. Really love it. It brings a weird balance to my life that I didn’t realize I crave. Do you feel the same? I guess that’s what happens when you love the things you do.
This time has allowed me to take out the time to spend time sitting in the quiet, get rest, and slightly think about what I want to do with other aspects of my life. It has really shown me that my relationships are extremely important to me. I get to water them with their own special watering can and watch the leaves change position throughout the weeks. I can also see what is wilting and what needs to be pruned. Taking out the time to garden in the landscapes of my relationships makes me feel a sense of relief.
There is this beauty in the home I am building. Also the steps I am taking to make my home stronger. Investing in things like my financial security is extremely important to me. Spiritually I've seen growth that is difficult to explain. But here we go...
Stay tuned. Love ya'll! Laters!
Apparently turning 29 marks the last of my twenties. It signifies the beginning of a new era without the perks, yet. And I apologize. Really from my birthday on I've been stumbling into the New Year. I blame the Mexican heat. Let me say this before I seem like I'm complaining. I loved my trip to Mexico. It was relaxing and peace filled. I loved the resorts, I got to ride in a boat, snorkel, kayak, swim, sleep in a cabana, eat well, see cute men, talk to great people, spend it with my bestie, saw some monkeys, and overall had a blast. Then... I got travelers uhmmm *whispers* diarrhea. So horrible! I drank the water and ate some seafood. *palms face* So I got sick, sick. It was not pretty. It was actually the worst experience ever. I was sick for the remainder of my trip AND for a week when I returned. I was pretty much team I'mnevergoingbacktoMexicoEVER. Then I was able to calm down.
Two Rules of Mexico Travel:
1) Buy Nothing from the Airport or a Time share: I repeat don't buy a timeshare.
2) Don't drink the water OR eat seafood at a Mexican joint: Only do so at a resort, unless you have a stomach of steel. I thought I did, but no. I don't.
Periodically I ghost. I ghost people, social media, and my craft at times. This time is a tad different. I ghosted for my craft. Sometimes we just need to refresh our ideas, thoughts, and goals without the prying eyes or pressure (granted the pressure is self-made). Though from the intro you can tell I spend entirely too much time on Twitter. *cough, cough* @sistasols on Twitter
Change is in the air.
If you are new, welcome. If you are back, what's up! As you know the end of the year (AKA my birthday in December) is when I celebrate the New Year. It'll come with a new word for the year and also usher in a bunch of new content. This space will go through yet another revamp.
My new book is coming, my new book is coming. So keep your eyes peeled.
I went to Vegas ya'll and it was... amazing! Not because of Vegas, but because the St. Louis Youth Slam team won Brave New Voices!!!!
What's Brave New Voices? So glad you asked... I didn't. Well here's the answer anyway. Brave New Voices is a International (yes, international) slam competition where youth poets compete for the title. They also make lasting connections, network, have fun with other writers, etc.
Now the reason this is so amazing is because they are the first team in STL to win a competition. (We been fighting ya'll). I discovered Brave New Voices right before I went to college and was so distraught that I couldn't go. I found CUPSI (the collegiate slam) too late in the game to find two other people to join our group of three. And adult slam has been a challenge all of it's own making.
The babies (teenagers) had a blast and worked hard for their win. I am honestly proud to have been their co-coach. Below is a video about the trip and me packing for it. If you've seen my insta you've seen the outfits they were serving. It was a blessing to travel with them and to co-coach with the phenomenal Paula. Paula is a amazing writer and poet in their own right, but also just a humble fierce kind human.
My favorite moments were the prayer circles where we all held hands and prayed in different languages, to different Gods, and were of different faiths. It was a holy experience that is truly what love is all about.
PS; I have a shadow beard this video. Come through off lighting.
Jump Rope Sis
Fitness. Life. Art. Travel.