Grad School & I
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.
Being a Artist Is Not Enough
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?
New York! New York!
I'm in New York!! Like actual New York. Truth be told I WAS in NY, but then I had to go home soooo here's a review of that trip. NY is my third home. My first is with God (a place isn't my home, it's the people awww), the second is London (one day boo), and the third is New York. Picture a cute New York picture...
Bada bing, bada boom. We spent our time in Brooklyn at the NY Moore Hostel booked through www.hostelworld.com/ It was a fantastic place to stayed filled with art by local artist or visiting artist. They even let us know that you could get a deal (if you're good) if you do some artwork for
them which I think is pretty genius. I will be doing a vlog of the hostel at some point. (Give me a moment,
that requires way more time then a simple type up.) While there, my bro and I realized that New York wasn't going to change us. It did however compliment our lifestyles. We could take our much needed nap and then wake up at midnight on a Sunday night and still be able to go out and get things done. It was beautiful.
Finally Figuring It Out
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.
Thick Girls Guide to Being Fit
The gym is bae. The day melts away and allows me to discover there are less limitations to my body than I think and it is all strictly in the mind. So I push harder and attempt to go further. If you have ever experienced a workout with me. There are lots of jokes. Probably many that include dying and leaving my lungs someplace other than my body. (tehee) I am also the same person who believes in pushing through and finishing instead of giving up.
So my guide is really simple:
80% diet... Is true. You are what you eat and how you choose to eat it. Becoming a vegetarian or a vegan won't instantly make you skinny. Starving yourself won't cut the pounds. It's a lifestyle change. Being conscious about what you are exactly putting in your body and how it helps/hinders you from reaching your goals. Some days I meal plan and other days I eat ice cream.
20% exercise... Of course being active is better than inactivity, but let's be honest. I am not burning all the calories I eat. I'm more than likely burning at least 80% of the calories I eat. Hahaha, get it? But for real though, I burn at least half if not more. Some days I'm in the gym for hours and others only for a quick 30 minutes.
Everything else... Then there's everything else. Not letting others influence me, but instead me influencing myself. That means working out for my spiritual, mental, and physical growth not for someone else's ideal. I'm not looking for the quick gratification, but a long term lifestyle change. Right now I care less about the scale and more about my pants fitting better and FEELING better. There was a time I was doing it the wrong way. Starving myself to see the quick results. I lost 20 pounds in a week. On the surface I looked okay, but to me I could see the poor choices that weren't sustainable. I was starting to look like the skeleton I was in front of.
All of the tips/guides in the world won't change you until you decide to change something. What's the point of having all the answers when you're still stuck on the couch? That's what I say to myself at least. I work hard at staying active and making mindful food choices.
The results are beginning to show. I'm looking and feeling healthier. I'm inches and pounds down from where I started and it feels amazing. This is only the beginning.
Starting From the Bottom Bottom
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.
I Nearly Threw My Heels Out
My mother told me a woman should have a shoe for every occasion and in high school I took this to heart. Everyday I would pick out a pair of heels to wear with my flared bottoms and uniform shirt. I did this basically everyday for four years. I wore heels all throughout my time in London during college. And then something happened. I stopped wearing heels. It turned into I would only wear heels for special occasions and then it became me only wearing heels for plays or shows. Now...
I can't stand them. Literally. I just don't feel like wearing oppression on my feet. Maybe It'll comeback like my affection for the color pink. (I seriously doubt it) I still like a good high heel boot or boot wedge. It's just interesting that I thought heels were what a woman SHOULD wear to be beautiful. Now don't get me wrong I LOVE heels. At least I love the way they look. But you will not catch me out here in pain for anybody if it's not comfortable I'm not doing it. You are not required to please others with what you wear. Wear what you want and rock it. As long as it meets up with your own standards, be bold. Be comfortable. Be you.
*If you follow my post every other Thursday this one is a lil late to post, but it's here.
Life Is Funny
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!!
Toxic No More
New year, who dis?
It's the purge of all those toxic people, places, and things that have been unwittingly plaguing your life. Now the new year for me officially starts on my birthday which was a couple of weeks ago, but it's always healthy to do a purge.
What I do when facing this daunting plague is picture the life I want a week, a month, and a year from this moment. Do the top 5 people I associate with it make it to this next phase? What about my top 10? Do my associates even deserve my time and energy? Life is a constant evaluation of what is necessary. Cause the truth is we all know there are people that are vampires for your time even if it is unknowingly on their part. You may need to purge from your job (one of them) or from a place you spend a lot of your time.
My last purge was in November I decided that it was time to cut ties with some distractions that were holding me back. It was in three different areas. I let go of a few relationships, a job, and a group that were all going in the opposite direction of where I wanted to be. I was tired of being in the same place all the time there was nothing and really no one I associated with that was pushing me to do better in my life. I got comfortable with a stable life that was just bobbing above surviving and called it living, but I wasn't. I was still drowning. I was still in the same place while walking forward.
How to Recognize It's NOT for you
Ain't nothing to cut that *hums* off. Isn't true. It's hard to let go of what's familiar and try something new. But it is necessary, It's not my goal in this blog to tell ya'll what to do. I just want to share my experiences so that maybe you won't feel so alone in this crazy world.
And you know what? Once I let go of those things that fit all of those bullet points. I found things that did help me to grow. That without I'd be off track. That my future most certainly includes. The new job, being single, and not going to my old favorite stomping ground are definitely teaching me as much as I'm impacting them.
Purge away and may a healthier lifestyle ever be in your favor.
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
Jump Rope Sis
Fitness. Life. Art. Travel.