The Other Dimensions

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I couldn’t write this one in second person. Couldn’t hide behind poignant paragraphs or punchy sentences. Because sometimes truth is not poignant or punchy. Sometimes truth is simply necessary.

I’ve been away. Blogging less. Tweeting less. Event planning less. Strategizing less. Checking my numbers less. Thinking about Twenties Unscripted less. At a time when there’s unprecedented pressure to hustle and “build your brand” I have deliberately taken a step away from mine. c Only a few days after I announced several things on the horizon for Twenties Unscripted this autumn, I canceled most of them and turned my focus toward other parts of life starving for my attention.

My fingertips are bloody from clawing my way to a balanced life.

After two years of making Twenties Unscripted the alpha and the omega, I have finally accepted responsibility to nurture other dimensions of my life. So, that’s what I’ve been doing. I talked a good game about trying to find balance last year, but I didn’t do it. I still catapulted myself into a flurry of projects. I still let my identity as Tyece of Twenties Unscripted rule, reign and influence me the most.

But, I am not a one-trick pony. There’s a blessing and curse in that. Some days I think it would be easier if there were just one thing I were good at, one thing I could chase with my whole heart. But, there are other parts of me that deserve to rule, reign and influence. It doesn’t mean those identities are at war. It doesn’t mean silencing one aspect of myself so other aspects can shine. But it does mean that to whom much is given, much is required. It does not mean listening to the other parts of myself when they whisper that they need my attention so I can give them the love they deserve.

I don’t write much about my full-time career in communications, but it is incredibly important to me and is one area where I’ve recently made a change. After four years of kickstarting that career in one place, I acknowledged it was time to evolve. Move on. Grow. Do something different. Take on a new challenge. So I did just that.

I’ve also thrown more energy at my spoken word. Spoken word has always been something I just sort of dabbled in, but the poet in me has recently been rattling the cage. She’s ready to get out. So I’m prepping for my first ever feature performance next week.

I can’t say it feels good to step away from the machine. But, I can say it feels right and it feels necessary. I always knew this time would come, and I cowered from it for awhile.

Twenties Unscripted will always be the pulse of the entire operation. And nothing I’ve written here implies I am abandoning my beautiful little corner of the Internet. But, at least in the foreseeable feature, I will be writing less–probably once a week. I won’t host any more events until “See. Speak. Feel.” in March 2016. I have a project on deck for the end of the year that will highlight the voices of nine other incredible women and the work of my amazing friend and photographer, Jazz Williams. Even when I step away, preserving and growing this space still tugs at my heartstrings.

It’s easy to get lost in building a brand. It’s easy to dissolve in the deluge of tweets telling you ten ways to grow your following. It’s easy to throw every bit of yourself into this thing you’ve built and love with every fiber of your being. But, it’s much harder to trust that the very thing you built can stand on its own two feet. It’s harder to look at the other parts of life where maybe you’ve grown complacent and make a concerted effort to evolve. It’s harder to step away in favor of nourishing the other dimensions of yourself.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Writer First, Blogger Second Pt. 2

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It starts somewhere at the base of your belly. Spills out in half-written sentences and metaphors without context just yet. Thoughts shrieking behind cages and begging to get out. Writing begins as a glorious mess, but it always comes from that shrine at the base of your belly.

My writing process is living and breathing. Existing in the same fractured world we’re all in and itching to vent about it. My process is throwing up the words violently, even when they come to me at an inconvenient time like right now as I sit in the Wegman’s parking lot, the minutes from my lunch break dwindling. I have to unload the words, otherwise they escape my memory as quickly as they appear.

My inspiration is every ugly thing. Every beautiful thing. Every gritty thing. Every monotonous thing. Every day that pushed me to the edge and every experience that took me to the cliff. Every young man who stained my heart with skepticism. Every love story I ache to have. Every observation I make about the person in the car next to me at a stoplight. Every verse and every refrain. Every tear and every cackle. Every night with a glass of wine. Every moment I catch his eyes for a second too long. My inspiration is a mosaic of what life offers most people. Except I grip the moments that others let slip from their fingers. If you’re a writer, you’re also an emotional hoarder.

My soul does not operate with any rhyme or reason. My mind thinks things through, but my soul just pours things out. It never sleeps. People ask me when did I know I was a writer. I want to tell them that there is never a distinct moment of revelation for an identity that has been brewing in your blood since you were born.

I understand why people take the word “writer” seriously. I understand why everyone is not quick to snag the title. Because once you say you are a writer, you can’t ever say you aren’t. You can’t ever back down and you can’t ever go back to seeing the world in pure black and white. When you call yourself a writer, you sign your name in ink and surrender your story to the masses. You become a sacrificial lamb, someone who will confess and express if it means  leading another human being to lay her burdens down.

When you call yourself a writer, that title demands your honesty–with the readers and with yourself. You can’t produce something if it’s not there. You can’t feign writer’s block because you’re lazy. You can’t write piece-of-shit listicles, at least not without feeling a white hot streak of guilt pass through you. You can’t publish anything if it didn’t rise from the depth of your soul and that base of your belly. But, every time you write, you have to carry yourself to the hot hell of your spirit. You have to be willing to go there. All the way. Not just when it feels good. Not just when it’s convenient. Not just when the words flow freely. Not just when it hits you. No, all of the time.

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There are entire courses dedicated to tell you how to become a full-time entrepreneur or how to run a webinar or how to build your email list. You can teach those sciences. But, it’s not so easy to teach this art. You can’t always teach someone how to pen the story shouting from their spirit. Some people spend entire lifetimes deaf to the tone of their own souls. Sometimes you have to learn on your own how to push the pen until it reaches that sacred place. You have to learn on your own how to fall at the altar of your own vulnerability. You have to learn on your own how to seize confidence from corners of yourself that were once cloaked and decrepit.

When I say writer first, blogger second, it is a disclaimer: don’t come here expecting pretty pictures or “10 Ways to Get Your Lipstick to Last During Your Night on the Town.” I made a promise not to barter my soul for hits or clicks or the draw of potential clients. Maybe that doesn’t make me marketable, but it damn sure makes me, me.

When I say writer first, blogger second, it means strap on your boots and be ready to trek through the mud with me.

When I say writer first, blogger second, I am telling you that once you come here, I have already peeled back my layers. I am letting you peer at my core. I’m reminding you that my core only reflects some of the stories inside of you that you have yet to tell.

When I say writer first, blogger second, it is so I can express my strongest, loudest and most prominent identity, the one that keeps me up at night and stirs me awake in the morning.

When I say writer first, blogger second, it is to declare that I have had a love affair with the way words work since I learned how to sharpen a pencil. So, by the time these words have reached you, they have saturated my spirit and spilled through my fingertips. I didn’t pull them out of my ass. I took my time with them.

Because when I say writer first, blogger second, I am telling you that this is some strangely spiritual experience for me. A calling from some being high in the sky. A compass that leads me out of the tunnel. Writing is how I rise from the ruins.

So, I take it seriously. I take you seriously. I take the extinct art of human connection seriously.

The blog is only the medium. But, the words are the message. When I say writer first, blogger second, it means I will always honor the message over the medium.

When I say writer first, blogger second, it is never to diminish the role and work of a blogger. I have a hell of a lot of respect for (most) bloggers. Bloggers are the connective tissue of the Internet. And, I am one of them. So, I say all of this to draw the distinction. Because writers are artists. And artists are the connective tissue of the world.

Xoxo,
Tyece

July | Celebrate 3 Years of Twenties Unscripted With Me!

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On July 5, 2012, I registered the Twenties Unscripted domain. And it has been a non-stop, life-changing and wild ride ever since. So every July, I like to reflect and celebrate. I hope you’ll join me. Here’s what lined up for the month and how you can get involved:


 

July 5-11: Tyece’s Favorite Things Giveaway Week

Subscribe to the Sunday Kind of Love newsletter here to enter!
Each day, I’ll draw from the list of Sunday Kind of Love subscribers and email the winner. Giveaways are:

Sunday, July 5 | A copy of Twenties Unscripted: A Journey of Womanhood, Writing, and Relativity
Monday, July 6 | $10 Starbucks gift card
Tuesday, July 7 | A copy of GG Renee Hill’s Wallflower: Essays for Quiet Women Who Want to Be Heard
Wednesday, July 8 | $10 Panera gift card
Thursday, July 9 | copy of Alida Nugent’s Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse: One Twenty-Something’s Mostly Failed Attempts at Adulthood
Friday, July 10 | $10 Barnes and Noble gift card
Saturday, July 11 |  “A Little Bit of Wine Helps” tote bag from the new Twenties Unscripted merchandise


Saturday, July 11: Be Bold in Body, Style and Grace presented by the Bold, Brown and Beautiful Series

If you’re in D.C., be sure to join me alongside these beautiful ladies for an afternoon of encouragement and authentic discussion. Grab your tickets for the event here.BBB Series Final


Thursday, July 16: Book Launch Party!
7-9 p.m. Culture Coffee, Washington, D.C.

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This event is the highlight of the month! If you’re in D.C., join me for the launch of Twenties Unscripted: A Journey of Womanhood, Writing, and Relativity. I’ll be selling, signing, spitting spoken word and cheers-ing to the end of a crazy book curation process and the beginning of an incredible new chapter. Tickets are available here.


July 19-25: Twenties Unscripted Guest Writers Week
Submissions due Monday, July 13 11:59 p.m. EDT

Share your voice and story as part of this year’s Guest Writers Week! Submission guidelines and the form to send your piece are available here


Tuesday, July 28: Launch of New Twenties Unscripted Merchandise

T-shirts. Tote bags. Notebooks. Prints.

Time to rock the blog on your back.

The new Twenties Unscripted merchandise will launch on July 28! Look out for the “Shop” tab on the blog.

July promises to be a beautiful, fun, exciting and life-changing month. Thank you for rocking with me, and I hope you will stay along for the ride.

Xoxo,
Tyece

They Can’t Nurture Your Core.

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“If you give people the power to feed you, you also give them the power to starve you.”

That’s the quote I saw somewhere. I don’t remember where. I just remember the quote and how it came to me at a time where I had given people too much power to feed me. Then they starved me. And then I just fell off the face of the Earth.

People have been asking for me. They’ve been texting me. They’ve been emailing me. They’ve been tweeting me. They’ve been sending me emoji eyes.

I’ve responded to all of them because I try not to be a total and utter jackass. But I have deliberately, purposely and intentionally been away. I’ve been hibernating. I’ve been working. I’ve been positioning myself for a new season of growth. Balance. Change. Success. I have been basking in the privilege of not living out loud for once. I have been embracing the security of being able to work on a project, arguably my most important one to date, without everyone breathing down my neck.

Living out loud is exhausting. And I have been living out loud for three long years now. Those three years have been beautiful and life-changing, but they have also been draining and imbalanced. Sometimes I see my fellow bloggers tweeting about their next event or workshop or project or blog post, and I think, “Don’t you ever just get tired?”

Shit, I do.

I get tired of asking people to come to events. I get tired of promoting new blog posts. I get tired of showing up to other people’s stuff because it’s what I’m supposed to do. I get tired of interviewing people for my site. I get tired of putting on a happy face when all I really want is for everyone to leave me alone.

Passion is one thing; brand-building is another. One fuels you, and the other wears your ass out.

Bloggers aren’t supposed to say that. Entrepreneurs aren’t supposed to say that. We’re supposed to inundate you with inspiration and tell you how much we’re grinding. We’re supposed to keep you afloat. We’re supposed to keep ourselves relevant. We are not supposed to say fuck it, and go off the grid for weeks.

But, fuck it. I went off the grid for weeks.

And you know what? It was phenomenal.

I canceled everything. I canceled dinners and interviews and showing up to events. I probably let people down. I probably came across as a full blown flake. I probably burned some bridges.

But, I also spent an afternoon with my mom and dad and sisters and nieces. I finally made it to the doctor’s appointment that I have been putting off for months, and I finally got some migraine meds that work. I finally fell into a pattern of cooking dinner for myself instead of relying on fast food. I finally finished a long-term project that has been brewing for years. I finally got laid again. I finally felt like I am not so inherently tied to whatever comes next for Twenties Unscripted, because I finally felt what it was like to just take care of myself. I finally feel ready for the unpredictable, gorgeous and wild road ahead.

No one else get to starve or feed me. Not now and not ever. No one else gets to make me feel like I’m tied to hits or numbers or page views or tickets sold. No one else gets to fool me into believing I’m forever bound to their opinions or criticisms or assumptions or judgments of my success or failures. No one else gets to say anything that breaks my core. No one else. Not now. Not ever.

That’s what going off the grid taught me. They will love you, and they will hate you. They will remember you, and they will forget you. But if you learn how to take care of yourself, they will never, ever have the ability to starve you or feed you. Only you get to decide how you nurture your core.

Not them. Not now. Not ever.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Recap + Revelations: Blogger Week 2015 Conference (Plus Our Free Workshop Printable!)

(L to R) Roconia, myself, Erica, GG and Shefon Photo credit: Erica of Everything EnJ
(L to R) Roconia, myself, Erica, GG and Shefon
Photo credit: Erica of Everything EnJ

My time at last Saturday’s Blogger Week 2015 conference was the last stretch on what had been an exciting, stressful, nerve-wrecking and rewarding spring event season. Earlier this year, the magical GG Renee Hill invited me to join a panel she would be pitching for the conference. Then Erica and I also decided to pitch our “Three Es of Personal Blogging” workshop–a concept we had defined and then refined for awhile.

But, spring event season–a two-month time span that included my annual showcase, a panel I spoke on, a brunch event and finally the Blogger Week conference–wore my narrow ass out. It’s kind of funny when you get the things you’ve wanted for so long. You realize there is insurmountable responsibility that comes along when you’re entrusted with your dreams. There is more work than you expected, more unpredictability than you could imagine and more growing pains than you thought you could endure.

So, by the time Blogger Week rolled around, I had to jerk myself back into “game on” mode. Events and panels aren’t like writing. They are not solitary experiences. They require you to put on your best face, best self and best shoe so that you can reflect the online brand you’ve worked tirelessly to create. But, I am so glad I had the opportunity to do so. Here are some recollections, recaps and revelations from my time at the Blogger Week 2015 conference:

Sometimes you have to sell yourself. It’s OK.
Danielle Belton, associate editor at The Root and founder of The Black Snob, opened the conference with a keynote about the elements of building a brand. She said a few things that stuck out for me, one of which was “Becoming a brand means being a product. On some level, you have to sell yourself.” I know words like “brand” and phrases like “sell yourself” can be hard for creative types to digest. We like to think they’re dirty words, but hey, I use a lot of dirty words and I’ve been OK so far. What Danielle said reflected exactly what I referenced earlier in terms of pulling it together and representing your online brand offline. A brand should be a consistent experience for the recipient, meaning sometimes you have to get from behind the computer, go shake hands and kiss babies. If you do it in a spirit that’s genuine and engaging, then I ain’t mad at you.

This whole writing a book thing…
Anytime there is a “Blog to Book” session at a blogging conference, I am a moth to a motherfucking flame. It’s weird. It’s like I don’t even see any of the other breakout sessions listed. Because there is something very comforting and affirming about being around people who have gone from blog to book. In my mind, writing THE BOOK has always felt like this enormous, unbeatable and overwhelming task. But, anytime I meet someone who has done it, it feels a little less enormous. A little less unbeatable. A little less overwhelming.

During the session, I got to hear from several experts including Yalanda Lattimore, founding editor of DryerBuzz.com and author of “27 Answers to Create Buzz.” Yalanda dropped my favorite line of the conference which was “Likes are good; dollars are better.” SAY. IT. AGAIN.

At the end of the blog to book session, I also met Zena Thomas, author of “The Savvy Girl’s Guide to Getting the Job.” (Feature coming soon on Twenties Unscripted!) Then while washing my hands in the bathroom, I met T.S. Wallace, author of the newly released book “The Wayward Wife.” Each of these women and their stories of pushing through to publication fueled me in a much-needed way.

That’s all I am going to say (for now) about the whole book thing.

Don’t play it small when you introduce yourself
When GG, Erica, Shefon and I kicked off our “How to Build a Loyal and Connected Following” panel, Erica’s intro caught my attention and resonated with me. With ease and grace, she introduced herself, spoke about her recent accomplishments and stood firm in the powerhouse that is Everything EnJ. It made me all too aware of how much I still downplay myself when I speak publicly about Twenties Unscripted. It’s like in my head and heart, I know the efficacy of my work. But, then I try and dance around it. No more of that. No more playing it small.

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Speaking during the “How to Build a Loyal and Connected Following” panel curated by GG Renee Hill

 

Real life connections will always, always, always trump online ones
It’s always a beautiful and surreal experience to meet people you’ve spent weeks, months and sometimes even years forging online connections with. I finally had a chance to meet Candice of Brown Girl Bloggers, Briana Ford of Brianaford.com, Rachael of Life, Laugh and Luv, Nia of The Glam Savvy Life, Ashley of Don’t Die Afraid and my good Twitter buddy Warin. I take my online interactions seriously, and it means a lot when people choose to spend whatever available time in their day to support the work I do. It means even more when I get a chance to connect with those people in real life.

Personal blogging is a slow, but organic, build
After lunch, Erica and I had a chance to share our blog elevator pitch workshop entitled “The Three E’s of Personal Blogging: Explore, Exploit, Evolve.” And even though Erica had created a wonderful Prezi and we also worked on a handout, our session just turned into a feel-good, honest, girl talk session. But, I think that’s the beauty of personal blogging and being around other personal bloggers. Maybe us personal bloggers don’t garner 1,000 likes on an Instagram picture of pretty flowers. Maybe we don’t earn 100 new followers every day. But, the work we do is about heart. It’s about connecting. It’s about creating spaces for people to see themselves and know that the raw roller coaster of emotions they’re experiencing are a common thread we all share. We are all so much more similar than we think. It’s the responsibility of personal bloggers to remind us of that when it feels like we’re drowning, floundering and unable to see our way through.

And, speaking of our workshop…

For those who couldn’t make it, we wanted to share our worksheet. The Three E’s of Personal Blogging: Explore, Exploit, Evolve can be summed up as such: every blog has a purpose. Every bloger has a story. But, how aggravating and nerve-inducing is it when someone asks you as a personal blogger what your blog is about? The Three E’s is about answering easy questions to get to the heart of your blog elevator pitch. You’ll never stutter, stumble or mumble your way through that question again.

Here you go. Enjoy.

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And thank you to all of the wonderful, amazing and incredible people who made my Blogger Week 2015 an experience I’ll never forget.

Xoxo,
Tyece