Guest Writers Week | Closer Than We Realize

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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.

Guest Writers Week | Women In Waiting

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By De’Nita Moss

As women, we are always wanting. We are expected to want all things and to do all things well. Is our wanting really or ever our own?

I’ve wanted what I’ve seen others have because it seems right, common and attainable. I’ve made my own mistakes and I wonder if any other woman wants to hold them as her own. We want what we’ve been taught to have: higher education, home ownership, a man (marriage, ideally), money (investments), a family, a current car, great friends, etc. What happens, however, when we don’t have or won’t ever attain some of these things?

We become and are, women in waiting.

What do we do with the delays between aspiring and attaining a thing? We have several options. We can sit and cower in pity. We can internalize what can be interpreted as a lack of something. We can try harder to have what isn’t for us for the sake of just having something. We can find our way to ourselves as all other paths have led us astray. Opposing these, we can have our own desires and affirm them in our actions. We don’t have to accept what others want for themselves or for us. We can change the temptation to have what is common and attainable in order to trust in what’s true for us and our own desires. It’s okay to want what’s different and to journey toward whatever we’re after. What is true for you? What gives you satisfaction? If doing what has been done is satisfying for you, do that, but don’t feel less than if that isn’t what awakens you with excitement.

As I’ve struggled with understanding the significance of earning a degree, as it relates to honest satisfaction for me, I’ve fallen behind. I’ve had friends graduate twice over and parts of me quake in the desire for such an accomplishment to matter more to me than it truly does. My waiting extends beyond academia; I haven’t been employed for years. I’ve felt overwhelmed in lack. I’ve felt like my turn is never coming. I’ve felt that my waiting is a position I forced on myself, a place of fading. But our positions in waiting gives us the opportunity to watch others win. Bearing witness to those wins empowers us to keep going and not forfeit finding what fulfills us.

Once we identify what satisfies us, our seasons of waiting become necessary signs that we are making progress because we haven’t lost our place; timing is everything. We didn’t give up, even if we stopped believing in ourselves, somewhere along the way. Our waiting isn’t an eternal withholding. We are not waiting without work or worth. We will win what we are after when we are ready. We are all on such beautiful journeys to fulfillment. Women in waiting, we can combat withering and fading out of our distinctness by honoring what we know truly satisfies us.

Let us be reminded that all of what we endure, even our waiting, prepares us for having and helping others have what is fulfilling. We are all worthy of having, even after we’ve waited for a while. Be encouraged to survive the waiting out. Don’t give up even if waiting makes you weary. When we win, we will understand the necessity of our waiting.

De’Nita Moss is a woman who is still trying to figure herself out. Her undergraduate degree in Religion from Rutgers University is currently in progress. She occasionally pens a blog, www.trinityizreal.wordpress.com, that expresses her thoughts on scripture, relationships and love. She is an author of two books of poetry and enjoys photography, good food & good music. Connect with De’Nita on Twitter @trinityizreal.

Getting Back On Track With Your New Year’s Resolution

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Guest post by Tatum Temia

Editor’s Note: Even though 2015 is only a few weeks in, I’ve already changed my plans for the year and started to turn a blind eye to some of the things I said I would. Boundaries, creating them and setting them, are huge for me in 2015 and I haven’t focused as deliberately on them as I would have hoped. In today’s post, Tatum Temia of Dear Regina shares five ideas for staying on track with our new year’s resolutions.

How to get back on track with your New Year resolution:

Since it is February, I believe that it is safe to say that we now know how dedicated we really are to our new year’s resolution. It takes a lot of discipline to keep up with these resolutions because truthfully, it’s easier to say “f*ck it”. Whether you are walking the f*ck it line or have already given up, here are some tips to get you back on track:

1.       Remember why you started: The why is the most important aspect when trying to make any type of change. The why serves as the motivation and the reasoning behind you making the resolution in the first place. If your resolution was to lose weight to be healthier, you need to keep your health at the front of your brain. Whenever you want to skip the gym or eat that cupcake, remember that your health is at stake if you make the decision to fall off track. If you remember why you started, it will be easier to continue.

2.       Change your words: Any successful person will tell you that words have power. New year’s resolutions have gotten this reputation as things that people say they want to do differently in the New Year and never follow through on. Sadly, it’s kind of true. Instead of calling what you want to accomplish a resolution, call it a goal. Goal sounds so much better. It also doesn’t limit your progress to a year. Goals are more specific and clear about the outcome.

3.       Talk about it: This one is difficult for a lot of people. People are so negative these days. Especially on social media. You can’t post any type of goal on social media because it’ll be a meme and a viral joke in .5 seconds. This is why I say talk about it and not post about it. When you talk about your goals, people automatically will hold you accountable. If they don’t, you may need to evaluate your inner circle. I had a friend who told me that she wanted to stop drinking for a year. I told her that I would support her. Whenever we were together, I would never let her drink. Whenever she got weak, I would remind her that she said she would not drink and I want to support her in her goal. This will spark enough guilt for most people to resist the temptation. By talking to your inner circle about your goals, they will hold you accountable to what you said you would do.

4.       Write it down: Writing down goals is something that most people don’t do. They have it in their brains and never put it on paper. When you write down that goal, make sure it includes your why, how, and a time frame. It should be specific. Back to the losing weight example. If you want to lose weight, write down your goal so it looks something like this: I will lose 20 pounds in the next four months through healthy diet and exercise. My health depends on it. Notice that I put, “I will” and not “I want” or “My goal is to.” Words have power and by speaking this way, your actions will eventually align with your words. By writing this down, you are able to see what your goal is and hold yourself accountable.

5.       Post it somewhere you look everyday: After you write down your goal, hang it up. A good place for this is in the bathroom on the mirror and/or the screen saver on your phone. By posting your goals somewhere visible, you end up reading it over and over. When you read something over and over it gets stuck in your head and your actions, behavior, and mindset start to change. This keeps your goal on the front of your brain as you go about your day.

It isn’t easy to make a change and stick to it. However, doing so is something that will serve as a benefit, long after the novelty of a new year’s resolution has worn off.

-Tatum Temia

Tatum is a blogger, self-improvement writer, and marketing professional. She blogs about self-worth, relationships, and is dedicated to inspiring women to be the best version of themselves. To read more articles by Tatum, please visit: DearRegina.com or follow on social media (Twitter&Instagram) @DearReginaBlog 

 

The Beautiful Plans We Made

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I can’t be the only blogger struggling with what to say for my first post of the new year. I can’t be the only blogger contemplating sucking down a second glass of wine just to help some words flow, just so I can muster up something slightly insightful to pen. I can’t be the only blogger who feels crushed under the pressure of all the New Year’s hoopla, feeling forced to capitalize on the fact that everyone is still embodying the “New Year, New Me” mantra five days in.

This New Year’s season was the first time I thought, “It kind of sucks to have a blog during New Year’s.” There is the surmounting weight of your year-end post, a post that squeezes your brain and sucks the life out of you as you attempt to contain the waves of a year in 1000 or so words. Then there are all of the blog relaunches, launches, new projects and other things to keep track of from everyone else. It seems so logical to roll out new plans at the beginning of the year (something I have already done and will continue to do throughout this week–consider it Twenties Unscripted Premiere Week) until you realize it’s tough to cut through the noise of everyone else’s new plans. And, of course, there is the mass of your first post of the new year. So, here we are.

Many of my plans for 2015 are currently housed in my tiny beating heart, taking up space in my brain. I have socialized some of those plans with a few trusted people in my tribe, electing to do as I said in my year-end post and “protect the vision.” Some of those plans, however, are things I will gladly share with readers. For instance, I’m writing less this year to free up room for bigger projects. There were times last year when I was writing four original pieces a week and while I love y’all, I love my sanity much more. This blog will always be my first love, but I am also at a point where I’m grateful that this space has given me the runway to work on larger-scale projects. So the plan is to write two posts a week as well as publish a guest post or feature once a week.

Some of my plans are the kind of plans that scare the living shit out of me, which are really the only plans I pursue nowadays. If it’s not bigger than life, if it’s not scary as shit, if it doesn’t give you chills, then it’s not outside of your comfort zone. It’s not forcing you to grow. And you should leave it the fuck alone.

And, finally, there is the uncertainty of the year ahead. The uncertainty we all have to accept, no matter how many mantras we post on our whiteboards or how many inspirational words we cut out from magazines. There is the grand, immense and inevitable unpredictability of these days that now sit so dreamily in front of us. There are the forks in the road we never saw, the events that will send us in a different direction, the moments in life that will shift all of the beautiful plans we made. There are better plans that will manifest, better ideas that will pop into our heads, new thoughts that will guide the old plans we made. There are new friends who will become a part of our old plans and old friends who will become a part of our new plans. There are people who will stay and people who will go and people who may re-enter. There will be revelations, resolutions, evolution. There will be bullshit, pain and battles that weren’t ever worth fighting. There will be beauty, love and happiness that’s simply unspeakable. It won’t necessarily be a good year or a shitty year, but it will be a year. And any year is filled with loveliness and shit.

So what else is there to do but stand firm and dream still? Believe still. Plan still. Hope still. Know that some days you’ll cry and other days you’ll laugh and some days you will just let the world quiet down so you can remain still. Some days you’ll fight and some days you’ll write and some days you’ll curl up with a glass of wine and shut everything else down. Some days you’ll soar, some days you’ll dip and some days you will be happy just to walk on solid ground. So stand. Believe. Plan. Hope. Love. Do the work. Do it some more. Embrace the uncertainty, soak it up and believe in its magic. You can’t plan for the uncertainty and you sure as hell can’t resist it when it appears. So let the road wind and let the rain pour. Happy 2015.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Decide What People Will And Will Not Speak Into Your Life.

I’m going to tell you a few things you probably already know. In 2013, Beyoncé’s eponymous album sold 430,000 digital copies within 24 hours. On December 16, Apple announced that Beyoncé was the fastest selling album in the history of the iTunes store. As of a few weeks ago, Beyoncé has sold more than 2 million albums and been declared double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Now I’m going to tell you something you may not know. Because, I did not know this until a friend brought it to my attention a few weeks ago.

In 2003, former New York Times journalist Kelefa Sanneh reviewed Beyoncé’s debut album “Dangerously In Love” under the headline: “The Solo Beyoncé: She’s No Ashanti.”

Sanneh’s review said that, “If Beyoncé has a mirror-image rival, it’s Ashanti.” I dropped $130 dollars on a ticket to Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s “On The Run” tour this summer. The last I saw Ashanti, she was doing a quick show on Good Morning America, belting out a song that has not yet seen the light of an airwave’s day.

Mirror-image rival.

The most holy shit moment in the piece is when Sanneh writes:

“Maybe this album is merely a misstep, and maybe Beyoncé has yet to record the brilliant solo album that people expected. Or maybe it’s proof that she isn’t quite as versatile as she seemed. She’s a strong and independent singer, no doubt, but maybe she seems strongest and most independent when she’s got a posse behind her.”

In that assumption, the former is clearly more accurate than the later. In 2003, Beyoncé had not yet recorded the brilliant solo album people expected. But, by 2013, Beyoncé was recording brilliant solo albums that people could not even begin to expect. By 2013, Beyoncé was single-handedly changing the way albums were unveiled, demanding that album releases remain hallmarks in a music artist’s history. By 2013, no one was thinking about Beyoncé’s posse and whether or not she needed them behind her. Destiny’s Who?

This is not another Beyoncé think piece. But, when I poured through that 2003 NYT review a few Fridays ago while waiting for my sister at dinner, I just thought “What if Beyoncé read that review and stopped there? What if she took these words to heart and truly believed that she could not be as strong or independent without a posse behind her? What would that mean for her, for music, for entertainment?” I read that piece and immediately realized everyone in life has their version of a Kelefa Sanneh.

I don’t write any of this to discredit Kelefa Sanneh’s journalistic prowess. After all, reviews are reviews. We can only write the present, not the future. In 2003, Kelefa Sanneh wrote what he knew. But, I’m a writer, and, you know…metaphors. We like them. Even Kelefa Sanneh has some Kelefa Sannehs in his life.

The Kelefa Sanneh in your life is that person who tries to short-circuit your future. It’s the person who tries to speak something into existence without the full understanding of your vision. It’s the naysayer. The cynic. The non-believer. The person who just can’t see it. The person who knew you way back when and tries to use that knowledge of your former self against you. The person who scoffs that you’ve become “brand new”. The person who wants to pull you back down into the mud with them. The person who can’t stomach that your world is bursting and bright and full of promise.

Who is your Kelefa Sanneh?

Every day, people speak things into our existence. It’s our choice what stays and what goes. When people say, “One day when you hit it big…” I let that stay. When people tell me I’m a naive fuck, I let that go. When people say they’re proud of me, I let that stay. When people say I’ll never feasibly make a living from writing, I let that go. When people say, “I can’t wait to read your book,” I let that stay. When people smile patronizingly if I mention that I have a blog, I let that go. When people say my words pushed them to keep writing, I let that stay. When people say writing about feminism isn’t original, I let that go.

I’ve learned I have to deliberately decide what stays and goes. Because what goes is often what’s most memorable and what stays is often what I want to laugh off. What stays is often times what I want to retreat from, my knee-jerk response being a self-deprecating comment as I cower away from stepping into my own strength. I’ve learned that deciding what energy stays and goes often times means deciding who stays and who goes. Positive people and positive vibes are rarely independent of one another. It’s hard to keep assholes around hoping they will wish you well. I’ve learned that I can’t let the words of my Kelefa Sannehs drive or wreck my journey. Barns don’t get to determine how high skyscrapers can rise. And, I’m the Rockefeller Center in this bitch.

So, I’ll ask again: Who is your Kelefa Sanneh?

Xoxo,
Tyece