Go Where Your Heart Is: On Stepping Back From My Annual Showcase

 

showcase collage
photography by @jazzthenoise

I will look back on 2016 and remember that this was the year I made peace with quiet. With open space. With blank canvases and untouched paint brushes. I will remember this as the year I stopped hearing the sound of the treadmill beneath my feet and listened to that of my beating heart instead.

I knew it when I climbed into a hotel bed in Crystal City back in March. Clad in my “See. Speak. Feel.” t-shirt that night after the show, I let my bare legs kiss the sheets and I told myself that something would have to give. I didn’t know what and I wasn’t sure when, but I absolutely knew that something would have to give. As spring melted into summer, I never felt quite right searching for new showcase venues. I let follow up emails from event coordinators grow stale in my inbox as I shied away from scheduling site visits or sharing any details about the budget.

Sometimes your heart offers up answers long before your right mind is willing to accept them.

My heart knew that I needed to take a step back ever since that night at the hotel in Crystal City. My heart knew that after three years of cultivating a cornerstone of my brand, I needed to catch my breath for more than just a season. My heart knew that I could not breathe life into something if doing so another time around would only leave me begging for air.

Choosing not to host “See. Speak. Feel.” in 2017 is both a simple and complicated choice, one that births questions I often times do not have answers for. When I have shared the news with those close to me, the first reaction has always been, “Well, what will you do instead?”

The answer is always, “I don’t know. The Universe will send something my way.”

I’ve learned to believe in the Universe’s timing. I’ve learned to listen to my heart. I’ve learned to make creative decisions unapologetically. I’ve learned that if something ceases to inspire me at any given moment, I am free to step away and savor the silence that remains. I’ve learned that if something is truly mine, it will always come back to me, often times better than how I left it.

“See. Speak. Feel.” will come back to me, more than likely in 2018. I know that this step back will give way to clarity, elevation, renewed energy, and a vision I could not have conjured up by simply remaining on the treadmill. This show sits in the most precious and sacred groove of my spirit, and I want to see it grow leaps and bounds. I trust that this break is only the prelude to that growth.

The biting cold of this upcoming winter will nip at my ankles more than it has in the past three years. I know that one day, sometime in the dead of January, a few sprinkles of sadness will shower me when I think about the call for artists I would have been working on or the opening act I would have been fighting to lock down. But I also know that in place of that work, something else will materialize. A project. A trip. A complete overhaul of my apartment. Whatever. That is how evolution works–it happens when you leave just a few lines on the page blank. It happens when you make the powerful and complex decision to go exactly where your heart is.

Xoxo,
Tyece

 

Jump, Dance, and Bask In Your Purpose: Showcase Recap

The 2016 SSF cast Photo by @JazzTheNoise
The 2016 SSF cast
Photo by @JazzTheNoise

Author’s Note: Today is my last post until the week of March 21. It has been an unbelievably amazing start to 2016 with the showcase, a trip to Charleston to speak, the launch of TyeceWilkins.com, and everything else God has been gracious enough to send my way. But a lot of hard work has accompanied these incredible moments. So, it’s time for a break to rest, regroup, and get ready for whatever the Universe will bring next.

I wanted to write it all down. Wanted to get it on paper before the memories start spilling through the cracks in between my fingers. I wanted to relive it. Replay it. Remember it. I wanted to let those memories pick me up and twirl me around before life got in the way. Before bills got in the way. Before the pendulum swing between the present and my unending pursuit of purpose got in the way.

Except there isn’t any way to write it all down. I can’t capture that night in photos or videos or hashtags or even this blog post. I can’t sum it up in the few sentences I spit out when my coworkers asked me how it went. I can try. I will try. I have tried. But so far I can’t find a direct translation for how much my heart fluttered on Saturday night when my life’s purpose played out. Live. Direct. 100%.

I’ve written about “See. Speak. Feel.” before. The history. The failures. The doubt. The success. But, this year was the first year that the show and the people in it reflected the very reason I have been put on this Earth. If all of that sounds lofty and ridiculous and too nebulous to handle, that is because finding your purpose in life is often times lofty. Ridiculous. And too nebulous to handle.

I told my sister during the early weeks of planning that I wanted a dynamic show. Less reading. More performance. People giving it all they had. But soon enough the stress of managing the event outweighed that vision. I was herding cats. Fighting fires. Just trying to push my boulder of a baby uphill and across the finish line. I stopped thinking about what I told my sister all those weeks ago and gave in to my inevitable “this has to get done” modus operandi.

I dropped exactly three f-bombs in rapid succession five minutes before showtime. Murphy’s law stepped in and started playing with my spirit. My nerves stood on edge. The more anyone tried to calm me down, the more my blood boiled. We had to change something at the last minute. And then the plan shifted and we didn’t have to change that something anymore. By the time I sat near the booth to direct the show, I wasn’t even thinking about what to expect. I wasn’t thinking about this moment I created. I wasn’t thinking about purpose and I wasn’t thinking about that vision. I was thinking about sucking down a drink laced with alcohol once it all was finally over.

But, like every year, soon enough I settled into the show. Last year it didn’t happen until intermission. This year it happened during the second performance. I absorbed it. Watched it. Hollered when I liked a line. Waved my hands. Clapped. Laughed. Thanked God and his angels that the mics worked. Smiled when our stage manager knew exactly what to do without being prompted. Enjoyed myself. Relinquished the stress. Assumed full ownership of the vision.

When I say my purpose is to spark people to connect to the best, bravest, and boldest parts of themselves, that statement unnerves me. It feels like a giant pair of shoes to fill. It scares me that at the ripe age of 26, God has made that purpose so crystal clear and already allowed it to manifest in so many ways. Sometimes it makes me scratch my head and wonder what’s next? It makes me feel undeserving when there are people who spend entire lifetimes searching for the reason why their feet have been planted on this planet. I know why I’m here. Now. Tomorrow. Forever. So, when I say my purpose is to spark people to connect to the best, bravest, and boldest parts of themselves, as scary as it is, I know it’s right. It’s real. It’s rooted in everything I have come to learn about this life, the space I inhabit, and the energy I create.

I saw that purpose take on new life last Saturday. I saw it in my sister and the Adele notes she belted out, even after I told her “That’s a hard song. Adele messed it up at the Grammy’s.” I saw it in Roconia and Sharonia, whose unbreakable sisterhood radiated during their performance. I saw it in Jamé who went from managing the registration table at last year’s show to blowing the audience away with a poem (that she wrote that same morning!). I saw it in Yetti who rose to the challenge of reciting spoken word about the very palpable and universal concept of heartbreak. I saw it in Tassika when she smiled at the audience in between reading lines that left you swaying and humming “Yassss.” I saw it in Kalani who has not sang publicly in decades, but gave me shivers with an a capella version of Share My World. I saw it in Teresa who won our impromptu dance contest last year and went on to wow people as the only dancer this time around.

I saw my purpose in each of these women and everyone else who touched this year’s show. I witnessed people connect to the best parts of themselves. The brave parts. The bold parts. I watched them embrace the visions they had of themselves. Elevate the bar. Raise the standard. Rise to the occasion. These flickers of magic were inside each of them all along, dancing around in different ways. Peeking out. Creeping out. Waiting for a chance to burst and see the light of day. I’m grateful the stage was set to become that spark.

I don’t know if I can write it all down. I can’t translate entirely what that night meant for me or what it affirmed. But I can tell you there is not a better feeling in this lifetime than to dance, jump, and bask in your purpose. I can tell you that I want every single day to feel like the first Saturday in March.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Making Peace With The Uninspired Place

part of being creative

I keep waiting for the spark to strike. For the first time since I started producing “See. Speak. Feel.” two years ago, my energy for the show has flatlined. I’m going through the motions. Proofing content for the program. Emailing people with reminders and details. Thanking sponsors. But, it’s as though the fire has faded. I keep squinting my eyes and peering intently to find my “why” in all of this.

These words do not just feel like facts or statements; they feel like a confession. They feel like this thing I should only say in hushed tones or to close friends. Because “See. Speak. Feel.” is my offspring. It’s this very public thing that I’m tied to. And, I’m not simply responsible for pulling it off. I’m supposed to light the fire for everyone else in the show to feel. True to my purpose, I am supposed to embody the spark. It seems foolish, selfish, and short-sighted to confess that right now I just can’t find my flame. But, for the first time, I’ve wondered what the future of this show will look like. How will I truly grow it and elevate the vision? What am I doing that is so different from the next woman with only a few dollars and way too many dreams?

See, that’s what happens. The stakes get higher. The standards raise. And, the pat on the back you once gave yourself for simply pushing something over the goal line is no longer enough. Sweet as it is, success is also maddening and insatiable.

So, yes, I keep waiting for the spark to strike. I know it’s there. I know that my “why” is buried somewhere underneath the calories I’ve burned pushing this boulder uphill. I also know that it’s counterproductive to lug around ten bricks of guilt simply because I do not feel inspired or charged or awakened yet by this show. And I am learning that part of being creative means making peace with the uninspired place. Part of being creative means giving yourself license and freedom sometimes not to create. Not to inspire. Not to ignite. Part of being creative means freeing up enough mental and emotional space for the inspiration to reach you. Inspiration struggles to strike a cluttered mind or a chaotic heart.

These are the things we do not always tell you. And, by we, I mean this anonymous glob of writers and entrepreneurs and artists. As much as we craft narratives from our mistakes and humanity, we shy away from bringing you into our doubtful and dim places live and direct. We tell stories in past tense and own up to our blunders in retrospect. And, there is something special to be said for those stories. But, we aren’t supposed to tell you about the mental mud and mess behind the things you see us building in real-time. Someone somewhere would tell me that’s bad branding.

However, here I am. Mud and mess. Less than a month to the biggest and most important event I produce every year without my spark and waiting pretty impatiently for it to show up. But, I am  going to make peace with this uninspired place. I am dropping off my ten bricks of guilt on the side of the road. Because if the spark doesn’t appear, I know where to find sticks and where to buy matches. I know that the most important part of being creative is learning how to start your own fire.

Xoxo,
Tyece

 

The Ladies of “See. Speak. Feel.” Recap Their Experiences

Photo credit and source: Erica Nichole (www.everythingEnJ.com)
Photo credit and source: Erica Nichole (www.everythingEnJ.com)

It was all good just a week ago…

Life got in the way this week of me continuing to ride the high from last weekend’s “See. Speak. Feel.” showcase. But, I am grateful to some of the women from the show who recapped their experiences on their own blogs this week. Reading these posts makes it all come back again, and I can put the bullshit aside and remember a beautiful night that meant something different to each one of us. Check out the recaps from these warriors as well as a special feature on On The Come Up, written by our event assistant Roxene Edwards.

And, the full photo slideshow is coming before the end of the month!

Erica, Everything EnJ: Rewind + Recap: See. Speak. Feel. 2015

“Being in the presence of creatives does something to me. It stirs up something in my soul, revitalizes my spirit and reminds me of the significance and power of releasing thoughts and emotions. I dig warm spoken word spots and complex art pieces that can be deciphered into more than one meaning, and this year’s See. Speak. Feel. was an accumulation of all three.”

Yetti, Yetti Says: See. Speak. Feel.

“I chose to read ‘I Don’t Believe In Fairytales, But I Believe In Love’, because in order to read this piece, I would need the same kind of courage it took for me to write and post it in the first place. I was assured that this showcase had a loving audience, and that the aura was accepting and encouraging. And it was exactly that, because when I took the stage and read behind my phone, stumbled and lost my place as nerves consumed me, that black box theatre, filled with only four people I knew personally, fed me an energy that forced me to get through that reading.”

Roconia, EverSoRoco: See. Speak. Feel: Everything & More

Destiny has been relaying this reoccurring theme with me: you don’t know until you try. You don’t know you have the gumption to sign up for a showcase until you try. You don’t know you can write and present poetry until you try. You don’t know how amazing people and experiences can be until you try.

OnTheComeup.com: Feels Like Home–DC Showcase Recap

There aren’t many places you’ll go and feel like everyone you encounter is a part of your family. Anyone who has lived in a major city can attest to this, but that wasn’t the case at Twenties Unscripted Presents The Second Annual “See. Speak. Feel.” Night of Performance and Art held Saturday, March 7 at the Anacostia Arts Center. In a sold-out room of eager patrons, everyone seemed like family.