Guest Writers Week | My Saving Grace

marquita quote

By Marquita Johnson

As an introvert, writing has been my saving grace. I started writing over two decades ago. My writings started out as poetry and love was my inspiration. I started writing as a teenage girl in love. At that time, I had yet to realize the bouts I was going to have with the infamous emotion of love. I would fall in love, fall out of love… I loved love, I hated love, just all of the above. Writing became my saving grace because at that time it was my only outlet to release the emotions I couldn’t speak about.

Writing poems was my therapy. Whatever thoughts were on my mind in regards to love, I would just put pen to paper and think no more about it. I had released. Purpose served. Once those emotions escaped my mind and were placed on paper, I wouldn’t read them until weeks or sometimes even months later and just be in awe. Still, I never saw my writing as anything more than just a way to release pent up emotions. It was the safest stress reliever for an introvert with a temper. I had no idea that writing would end up being my passion and that I would even consider pursuing it as a career.

Not many people were aware that I was a writer. I wasn’t good at sharing my thoughts or opinions verbally. When I wrote out my thoughts, opinions and rants, I didn’t share them with others. “I’m sensitive bout my sh**” as stated by Ms. Erykah Badu. And I was very sensitive about my work (actually, I still am). I would always think, what if they don’t get it? What if they think I am just crazy or delusional? So, for years I only shared my work with very few people. I received positive feedback from some and negative feedback from others. Still, it took me years before I started sharing my work publicly.

For years I wondered what my purpose and passion were. Needless to say, it was under my nose the entire time. No one I know has a career as a writer. Writing wasn’t considered a “job” where I grew up. I have had several unfulfilling jobs since I was 16 years old. One dead-end job after another. Regardless of the amount of money I was making on those jobs, they were still dead end jobs to me. I finally let go of all fear and doubt and decided, to hell with it, and started a blog. Over the past two decades I have kept all of the poems and articles I have written. I have a storage tub filled with papers and tablets that had never been shared until I started my blog. I am also in the process of publishing my first book.

Writing has been my life saver, my best friend, my companion, and truly my saving grace. I never thought I would have a blog. Although I am still working out some kinks and researching how to improve my blog, I enjoy blogging. I enjoy allowing complete strangers to read my thoughts and opinions and not care about any judgments. Being a poet and being a writer are more than just venting to me now. It allows me to share my story which I pray helps other women. If my writing is a saving grace for me, I pray that it’s a saving grace for others as well.

Marquita Y. Johnson grew up in the small town of Sparta, GA. She started writing poetry at the age of 14 years old. Her passion is encouraging young women who think they are alone in the trials they face in regards to love and life. Connect with her online @Marquita_56.

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.

My Safe Haven, My Healing Ground, My Manna

my safe haven

“Remember your why.”

That’s the advice Erica gave last Saturday at the end of our workshop. I hummed in agreement. Her words affirmed every bit of what I had written only three days before the conference in the notes section of my iPhone. It was a message I jotted down to soothe my own spirit in the middle of another unexpected blogging break. This is that message.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget why you started. It’s really easy, so easy in fact that you don’t usually remember until God taps you on the shoulder. Or, in this case, shakes you. You don’t usually remember until the Universe sends a signal you have been conveniently ignoring.

Someone told me that success is a very intoxicating thing. I’m kind of a fiend. I get some and I haven’t even taken the full hit before I’m looking for my next fix. It’s an exhausting way to live. Sometimes the highs don’t leave you floating; they leave you reeling. I’m ready to go to rehab.

I’ve done a lot over the past three years. I have found success, or rather, it has found me. I have made mistakes. I have royally fucked shit up. I have met amazing people. I have done things I never thought I would get a chance to do. I have overcome a lot of doubt and slain a lot of my demons. But, there are times when I have gotten so caught up in the relentlessness of building a brand that I forgot about the beauty of just living a life.  And, when I looked at my Twenties Unscripted logo not too long ago and felt a pang of resentment shoot through my body, I knew I had completely forgotten just why I started.

Sometimes I want to strip away everything and go back to just me, my couch and some words I rattled off to the 20 people who would read them. Sometimes I want to disconnect from the responsibility of a platform, the self-inflicted pressure of success and the vacillation between extreme highs and heartbreaking lows. Sometimes I just want to fucking write.

Because that is why I started. I started because I had just endured the hardest and ugliest year of my life and I needed something that was mine.  Just mine. So much had been yanked away from me and I craved something that was all mine.

Twenties Unscripted is all mine.

So today, I’m remembering why I started. This blog is, as my friend so accurately put it, my heart outside of my body. It is my safe haven, my healing ground and my manna. If it ever stops being that, I don’t want it. And if it never became anything more than that, I do not care. I created this place as my pathway out of hell. It’s a personal hell I’m still climbing out of every day.

I still need this. I still crave this. I still want this. I still believe in this.

I can’t forget why I started.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Feature: Austin Weatherington of IntellectuCOOL

Austin Weatherington
Austin Weatherington

Editor’s note: Tucked off Kennedy Street in DC is one of my favorite places in the city–Culture Coffee. It’s a tiny gem, easy to miss if you aren’t looking for it. It isn’t one of those pretentious and overcrowded coffee shops. Instead it’s a space that serves as a coffee shop, art gallery and performance venue. Yes, yes and yes.

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to link up with Austin Weatherington, co-founder and curator of IntellectuCOOL, at my favorite spot. Finding other people just doing dope things in DC is sometimes a difficult task. It’s not like NYC where the city is buzzing with different events that are well-known and easy to find. So, I appreciated when Austin reached out after seeing “See. Speak. Feel.” posted on Eventbrite. We had the chance to talk about all things writing, creative and even what it meant to reach (or get ready to reach) some milestone birthdays. In this Q&A, Austin discusses his own creative journey, how IntellectuCOOL got started and who his biggest influence is (among other things). Meet Austin.

Name: Austin Jamal- Depree Weatherington

Age: 29

Location: Washington, DC

Tell us more about your creative journey. 

My creative journey, ehh? I assume what I now understand as my creative journey started sometime back in 06’. I was a hooper in college and around that time I knew that dribbling a basketball wasn’t in my post-graduate plans. It’s funny because at that time the creative landscape was much different than it is now. The word “creative” had far less cache attached to it.  Back then, when I thought of art or being a “creative” I thought of neutral color mock-neck sweaters with a matching slouchy beret. I was very naive, perhaps even adversarial to creative labels. I knew I enjoyed words, and at that time I was really getting into Facebook and spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to impress my 123 friends with quasi-clever social observations and mildly humorous “notes” (remember those on Facebook?). So I coupled my  love for the written word, with my lifelong addiction to talking, and majored in communications. In many ways I’m still trying to figure out what to do with that degree. I walked across the stage and into this trap we call an economy, and truthfully I’ve been journeying ever since… writing, procrastinating, writing, blogging, self-preserving, in-and-out of relationships. I think this past year more than any other time I began “creating”- and really bringing concepts to life.

How did IntellectuCOOL get started? How does the brand reflect your creative roots?
So IntellectuCOOL began under the umbrella of The Smugger, which I am still very much a part of. The Smugger is an online minority men’s lifestyle platform, and collective of people. It was 2013 and The Smugger was thinking of ways to galvanize our base and bring to life some of the topics and things that were taking place on the site. I was tired of the going out options here in DC and thought we could present a cool alternative for others who felt the same. I wanted an experience where people could get together, share good energy and good music, yet still have an intellectual appeal. I had the concept half-way down but didn’t have the name. One night while eating yogurt the name came to me, and I sent the email the same night, and the rest has been history. IntellectuCOOL no longer exists under The Smugger umbrella; it stands alone as it’s own business. Moral of the story: eat more yogurt.

In terms of the creative roots question, I believe that IntellectuCOOL is the perfect platform to serve my creativity. I’d like to think that most of my creativity has purpose attached to it, so the brand is versatile enough to engage people with meaningful topics, yet pliable enough to accommodate the spontaneity that stems from artistic expression. In many ways my mind doesn’t always associate serious topics and questions with traditional solutions. In a past life, I was that cool liberal history teacher that never used the book, yet fully engaged and educated his students, changing the way they looked at history forever. My name would be Mr. Radcliffe, don’t ask me why.

IntellectuCOOL is a platform that fosters conversation through creativity. What does that mean and how is it reflected in the work you do?
So we like to think of IntellectuCOOL as more of an experience that folks can benefit from versus a product looking for a market. Our aim is to make conversation cool. It’s a platform where creatives/artists, intellectuals and the ideas that inspire them can be better understood. We focus a lot on concepts, understanding that based off experience and perspective people are going to draw their own conclusions about many of our topics and scenarios. However, the diverse mix of people and perspectives, coupled with the overall great energy and communal vibe, serve as the perfect atmosphere to explore your experiences and views on certain topic.

IntellectuCOOL is a partnership between you and co-founder Vic. How do you all work together? What is it like to advance a vision alongside someone else?
Vic and I work really well together. We both have our strong points but have done a great job of trusting one another to this point and that’s cool. We don’t step on each others toes, yet we get things accomplished. I think a lot of that has to do with both of us having vision. We both see great things for the brand and that fuels our work. We’re at a place where our brand is only going to go as far as our vision can take us. I’m really open to exploring his ideas, as is he of mine.

So this is where it gets a little weird; Vic when you read this, please forgive me. I don’t have any children so IntellectuCOOL is the one thing at this level of maturity I can say I’ve birthed and am now watching develop. I see Vic and I as “Partents” (partners-parents). Needless to say we’re very protective,  and are just now entertaining the idea of playdates. Although we understand it takes a village to raise a child, we are seeing great progress with us being the sole source of guidance. That said, our child is growing, and continues to amaze us daily. I can say that Vic has been an amazing partent who has more than carried his weight. Too much?

IntellectuCOOL recently teamed up with the Mousai House to host The Grey Area, an event exploring life’s undefined spaces through poetry, art, dance and discussion. Looking back on the event, what was your favorite part and what is one thing you would have changed?
Yes. shout out to the cool people over there at Mousai. They were great throughout the process and serve as an awesome space and resource for local artists. Looking back I think the turnout, the energy, and performances were all amazing. The one thing I would’ve changed was the way we set-up the space.

What can we expect from the next IntellectuCOOL event?
Being more interactive. We will have an atmosphere where participants can engage and interact with each other more.

What’s your artistic mantra?
See the end at the beginning. That way you’ll know what to do in the middle.

Who are some of your greatest influences?
Only one–my mother.

What are you currently reading?
A play actually, The Piano Lesson, by August Wilson.

Austin Weatherington is a writer and multi-media communications professional with a true passion for content creation and story development. He’s always, always, always looking to collaborate with people on things. Whenever, whatever, however; as long as its positive. 

IntellectuCOOL on social media | IG and Twitter: @intellectuCOOL | Facebook: IntellectuCOOL

Connect with Austin on IG and Twitter: @A4aus

The Thing About Women Like You

women like you

This post is an excerpt from Twenties Unscripted: A Journey of Womanhood, Writing, and Relativity. The full essay is available in the book, which is currently available for pre-sale here.

 

The thing about women like you is that they’ll flex their hearts in the right ways, share their sheets with great bodies and exchange ideas with extraordinary minds. And even after all of that, they will have to claw their way to something true and lasting, maybe even after the world thinks they have gone past their romance expiration date. Because women like you don’t settle. Women like you don’t have timelines or deadlines or choke holds on the limitlessness of your future. They don’t want good. They don’t want half. They don’t want OK. No, they want amazing and they want all of it. They want their hearts racing and their knees buckling and all of their vitals on another level. Their love is not an Arial size 12. No, their love is some ridiculous Impact font, all caps, size 72. That’s how they love. 0 or 100. Anything in between strikes them as a waste of time.

Women like you don’t see 40 and single as a death sentence; they see 30 and settling for mediocre as the guillotine.