Be Careful What You Wish For.

The idea is notto live forever,but to createsomethingthat will.-2

Second grade. Ms. Donaldson’s class. I waved my hand ferociously for her to call on me so I could answer the question. I wanted nothing more than for Ms. Donaldson to call on me so that I could share the answer with the rest of my seven-year-old compatriots. She called on me. I proudly, boldly, and unabashedly said the wrong answer. Joseph Lee laughed at me. I didn’t raise my hand for awhile after that.

See, sometimes it feels like I’m still waving my hand ferociously for the Universe to call on me, and many days I reply with the wrong answer. Some days, I get called on and then I suddenly don’t have an answer. I draw a blank. I fall silent. But, even by raising my hand, I make it easier for others. In a classroom of people waiting to hear the answer, some days I am still audacious enough to offer one–even if it’s completely and utterly wrong. Most days, I am comfortable blazing that trail. Some days, however, I wish someone would unroll the blueprint for me.

Recently, My sister told me she doesn’t read my blog that much anymore. I told her, “Yeah, most people I know (like close friends and family) don’t read my blog anymore.” She said that’s sad. I replied that it’s not; it’s exactly what I wanted. The minute I saw and felt my words reaching women I’d never met, I knew that was the path I wanted to hike. And, while accolades and attention from my closest tribe always mean something special, it’s more important to me to reach the right people in the right places.

This is what I wanted.

But, with that comes great responsibility. Great scrutiny. A bevy of people who stay on my jock.

Yet, this is what I wanted. It’s not a question. Not a second thought. I don’t stumble over those words. Yes, this is what I wanted.

However, if there’s any lesson to extract from growth, it’s that you do not get a bed of roses without a few prickly thorns. Sacrifice is the price of admission for success. That is a ticket that you can’t bootleg or knock off, as much as some people will try. Pay it or move away from the gate so someone else gets a chance to step up. If you want greatness or influence or simply for someone else to give a damn about what you say, you will reap both the benefits and the consequences. The benefits are usually apparent upfront; those are the things you fervently pray for. The consequences are typically the lessons that don’t come until much later, when you are already knee deep in the blessing and 20 miles down the path.  We don’t usually know or realize the full scope of what we ask God for. How could we? This life is best experienced in the moment, but only ever understood in hindsight.

I’m knee deep in the blessing. I’m at least 10 miles down the path. God has already called on me, so I can’t put my hand down now.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Dimensions of Black Womanhood: The Dreamer and The Thinker

“Whatever we believe about ourselves and our ability comes true for us.” – Susan L. Taylor

“Never be afraid to sit awhile and think.” -Lorraine Hansberry

Sheryl: The Dreamer

Photo credit: @jazzthenoise
Photo credit: @jazzthenoise

I have been in love no less than 15 times. They were all passionate relationships with red-hot touches that both thrilled and terrified, summertime walks around DC’s monuments as the sky draped itself in purple at sunset, and winter dinners by fire, the crackle of orange flames filling in the pauses of our conversations. My feet have roamed narrow cobblestone streets and dusty village roads in more than half of the countries in this world. I have laid a blue, cotton blanket across lush green quadrangles on the campuses of 10 universities, legs crossed and laptop open as I pounded out short stories for my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.

But that was all in my head, a kaleidoscope of dreams to match my heart’s desires.

Read more from Sheryl here.


T.S.: The Thinker

Photo credit: @jazzthenoise
Photo credit: @jazzthenoise

What could possibly be wrong with me?

Why don’t they want me?

Is it my personality? Is it my hair? Is it just me?

My thoughts have consumed me as of late in my recent job search. As we ALL know, being in the job market is daunting. The numerous phone and in-person interviews, the rounds of emails, and reference checks can be exhilarating but also intimidating. My job search has netted me three rejections in the final round sending my mind into a whirlwind.

Read more from T.S. here.

Dimensions of Black Womanhood: The Dreamer

Photo credit: @jazzthenoise
Photo credit: @jazzthenoise

By: Sheryl Leigh Robertson

I have been in love no less than 15 times. They were all passionate relationships with red-hot touches that both thrilled and terrified, summertime walks around DC’s monuments as the sky draped itself in purple at sunset, and winter dinners by fire, the crackle of orange flames filling in the pauses of our conversations. My feet have roamed narrow cobblestone streets and dusty village roads in more than half of the countries in this world. I have laid a blue, cotton blanket across lush green quadrangles on the campuses of 10 universities, legs crossed and laptop open as I pounded out short stories for my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.

But that was all in my head, a kaleidoscope of dreams to match my heart’s desires.

In real life, I have only been in love twice and infatuated more times than I can count. The relationships were passionate, but they were also inconvenient with messy gray areas that made me apprehensive about love. We had some romantic moments in picturesque locations, but mostly unforgettable memories in regular settings. In real life, I can count the number of countries I have been to on two hands and the state of my bank account may suggests it will stay that way for a while. In real life, I received rejection letters from each of the 10 MFA programs I applied to five years ago and have not have written a single piece of fiction since.

After a string of dashed dreams, my first instinct was to abandon dreaming altogether. I vowed to deal only in reality, to stop fantasizing about a nonexistent world. No imagining my future, no more getting my hopes up.

However, I came to realize that I cannot abandon dreaming any more than I can peel off my black skin, step out of my womanhood, or walk away from God. Dreaming is a part of who I am. My brain prefers writing love stories with me as the star, picturing me next to world landmarks, and creating stories to tell. My mind is hardwired to dream and I would be denying a part of myself if I tried to override the system.

Once I was able to accept my dreaming nature, I knew that I had to find the courage to dream again. However, I also knew that in order to protect my heart and sanity, I had to take a different approach. I decided to dream in black and white, and live in color.

Photo credit: @jazzthenoise
Photo credit: @jazzthenoise

We are often told to dream in color so that our dreams will become real to us. If dreams are alive in our heads, we will believe it only a matter of time before they come to pass.

I agree that dreaming in color makes our dreams real – so real that I have sometimes attempted to live life in my head. I became so focused on the dream before me that I failed to live the life unfolding here and now. I was living in black and white, going through life on auto-pilot: driving without viewing the landscape, holding babies without inhaling their scent, eating without savoring the flavors, singing lyrics without hearing the music, greeting people without seeing them. As I learn to dream in black and white, I walk freely among the clouds, but the color of life pulls me down to reality when I am on the verge of being carried away. If the dreamer within me is going to be fulfilled, and the living, breathing person I am is going to be sane, I have to learn to walk the line between the real world and my imagined one.

There is another reason for dreaming in black and white and living in color: life’s inability to live up to my dreams. Because I had painted with painstaking detail the moments or people that would comprise my life, I expected real life to look exactly like the one I dreamed. Yet I have learned that since people and things outside of me help to create the world around me, real life will not unfold exactly as I pictured. My dream man might be 5’10” in real life rather than the 6’3” I imagined, my travel might be primarily domestic for now, and my first book might be a collection of poetry and personal essays rather than the novel I planned. The only way I can embrace my dreams when they appear in real time is if they are originally drawn in black and white, allowing situations and circumstances to color them in as God sees fit.

Tempting as it may be to live life in the clouds, they cannot hold the weight of my reality. When my dreams drop me – and life has taught me that they will drop me, I need a colorful life on which to fall. I need to have made a home among the trees covered in orange and gold leaves, among sun-kissed faces and bright smiles that venture off the script I’ve written. I need a life of color to remind me that in order to dream I must also be. I need to have prioritized life in such a way that everything I have and everything I need is right here, right now, in living color.

Sheryl Leigh Robertson is an author, blogger, and spoken word artist in the Washington, DC area. Her first book, Promises & Epiphanies: Life Revelations Through Poetry and Prose, was released in June 2014. She is the pen behind Sheryl‘s Pearls, a blog offering pearls of wisdom on life, love, and faith, and she is among the voices of the Christian poetry and spoken word movement True Voices DC. Her writing is available at sheryleigh.com.

 

Clear The Runway, I’ve Only Just Begun.

clear the runway

I have this thing about dates.

July 24, 2011. August 18, 2011. October 21, 2014. April 27, 2015.

Those are all dates I can’t forget. See, some days are bad days, and some days are rock bottom days. Those were all rock bottom days, for reasons ranging from minor to mammoth. They were days when I took voyages to the most doubtful, dim and demonic places in my head and camped out for way too long. They were days I pitched tents on every insecurity and uncertainty I ever had. They were days when I told myself I would never make anything out of my dreams and I would never make it out alive. Those were days I could not walk away from unscathed.

There are other dates I can’t forget.

March 12, 2013. March 1, 2014. April 8, 2015. July 16, 2015.

Those are dates that catapulted me to new places. Dates that wrapped duct tap across the mouths of everyone who ever uttered one phrase of doubt about my capacity and calling. Dates that put a full tank of gas in the machine that is Twenties Unscripted. Dates that reflect conviction, sacrifice and resilience after the rock bottom days.

There will be more days like March 12, 2013 and April 8, 2015. I do not hope, and I do not wish, but I know. And I know because there will also be other days like October 21, 2014 and April 28, 2015. They will all balance one another out. They’re all fuel for the engine. Life is very cyclical that way–it’s all about riding the high when you’re up and banking on the comeback when you’re down.

So, I’ve learned to say a quiet prayer of gratitude. I know that it all stitches together the fabric of my journey. I know I am on a journey worth taking. I’m on a path worth trekking. I am in a deep sea worth treading.

That knowledge about my purpose is scary for some people. Unnerving. Off-putting. Planting my feet firmly in the very reason God put me here is not something everyone can handle. I’ve learned that. People love you when you’re up-and-coming. When your words are free. When you can be their protégé and don’t establish yourself as the prototype. When that thing you do on the side is simply a “hobby.” When you still blanket your words with self-deprecation. When you hope and don’t know. When you wish and don’t do. When you wait and don’t act. When you will still play in mud. When you focus on the drama. When you waste your days tweeting away.

People love you then.

People love it when you’re up-and-coming, but they don’t quite love it once you’ve come up.

They are worried you are going to arrive and leave them somewhere in the dust. You’ll surpass them. You’ll take their dream deferred and turn it into a dream done. You’ll manifest the very thing they have sat on for years.

What they don’t realize is that you may leave them in the dust, but, you will never arrive. You should never arrive. If you arrive at one destination, there is always another one to turn toward.

I don’t want to arrive. I want to keep pushing, keep driving, keep thinking, keep inventing and keep expanding.

Publishing the book anchored Twenties Unscripted. That’s how I saw it–an accomplishment, sure, but also an anchor. I’m proud of it. But, nothing for me is ever one and done. Tomorrow ends a month that has been a behemoth in the lifespan of my work. But, I’ve only just begun. Everything is strategic. Everything feeds the next thing. Everything is just one more anchor. You want to know my secret? There it is.

If you see something drop, I’m planning something else. If you see something launch, I’m on to the next thing. You should always be wondering what’s next. There is always a next. Everything clears the runway for me to keep going and see just what the end is going to be.

Thank you for everything this month–congratulatory notes, book purchases, shop purchases, showing up to the book party, texting me, tweeting me, saving me from myself and having my back. It could not have been a colossal month without your love and loyalty. I mean that from top to bottom, beginning to end. Thank you. And thank you again. One more time–happy third anniversary to Twenties Unscripted.

Xoxo,
Tyece

book blog tour promo

 

August is all about a Womanhood, Writing, and Relativity blog takeover! Join me and 14 other bloggers as we dive into everything about the book–everything from the writing process to finding an authentic tribe to root for me. Head over to the blog tour page to learn more, follow along and buy the book if you haven’t done so already!

Guest Writers Week | Closer Than We Realize

biggie quote
By Christopher Wallace

I graduated from the University of Maryland and thought I had made it. I figured that the world would be handed to me on a silver platter, and that the end of a journey I never thought I could finish was done. Soon after, I realized that the journey was only just beginning.

At that moment, I started going off into this really weird depression and surrounding myself with the wrong people. I never thought I was going to be able to do anything worthwhile. I could barely get a job or get any of my personal projects going. I let the sadness get the best of me, but I knew I needed to hustle in order to make my situation better. After working some connections, I was able to find work, and then I was able to use that to help fund my projects. I cannot say that I am exactly where I want to be, but I know I am closer than I was then. I gained a lot more positivity and happiness through that part of my journey.

I measure journeys by relativity–where you are, what you are around, who you surround yourself with, what things you do, etc. All of those are factors in how far along you are in the journey, and how close you are to the goal.

There are things in life that even have markers of relativity. If you are reading a book, you can look at the table of contents to see how much you have read and see how much more reading you have to do. Some video games have percentage values that track the progress you have made. In school, you know what grade or what year you are in, and you know how much work you have to do to get to the end.

Life, however, is not that simple. We all have wants and needs, goals and desires, but we have no idea how close we are to getting them. We can set plans and work diligently, but we have no way of realizing when they will come to fruition. And maybe, that’s a good thing.

Consider the possibility that we did have some system of checkpoints or markers that let us know how far along we were in our respective journeys. Could it make us lazy? Could it make us complacent? Would we take breaks? And with that, is it possible that we could lose out on the end through them?

It would provide some level of comfort maybe, but it is important that without these metrics we continue to push on and go after our goals. But there is a metric that we can use on our journey, and it is called happiness.

It’s no secret that realizing our dreams is something that can make us happy. Whatever work you do, always make sure that turns into some happiness for yourself. I try to take one little victory with everything that I do. Write a song, make a new beat, whatever. it may not be the end-all-be-all. It may not put me on a private jet. But I am better off and further along on the journey than I would be if I didn’t do any of those things. And that is what truly makes me happy.

Honestly, our goals are probably closer than we realize. That moment we may feel like giving up or quitting can be the moment we are about to break through. And no matter what, never compare yourself to others. Remember, it’s all relative. Be who YOU are. Stick to YOUR goals. And make yourself happy. The journey then handles itself.

Christopher Wallace is a budding rapper, producer, writer, and filmmaker out of Hempstead, New York. Connect with him online @csbigsby.