Why Creative Artists Matter – A Cinematic Reflection

By Guest Blogger Norma L. Jarrett

By now you may have seen the movie The Photograph, written and directed by Stella Meghie, starring Issa Rae, LaKeith Stanfield, Chante Adams and Y’lan Noel. My favorite character is Christina, played by Adams. Why?

Because she is the creative, ambitious woman of color and Black mother that many of us need to see. Everything about Christina is authentic, especially her beauty, talent, aspirations and passion for her craft. Her backstory is a southern blend of curiosity, flirtatious innocence and romance. She had me mesmerized from the start.

We don’t get to know everything about her, for example, how she became famous or details concerning her marriage. But the moviegoer in me didn’t really miss it (at least that much).  Especially when Christina informed Issac (Y’lan), her first love, that she needed something else to look forward to besides making his dinner. When those words dripped from her mouth I sat up.  There it was. The thing we are not supposed to say.

At that moment, I understood the reason Christina was born.  She’d come to set us all free: the creative, unconventional, artistic women of color who need to create like they need air. Her bold declaration was Affirmation. Because many of us creatives suffocate unless we have space large enough to dream. When we witness Christina flee Louisiana and all that is attached, we’re riding shotgun; secretly rooting for her.  Because we know that feeling.  A feeling of obligation or a place competing with or feeling too small for our future.

The sheepish grin that crept across her face as the bus rolled on informed us that her regrets were left at the curb.  Although we felt her man, we found solace that sis was going to be just fine. She’d chosen “bigger” although she hadn’t known what or where bigger was. She was running to and not away from her life. And a creative life is still a life.  Phew!  Pass the collection plate please.

As a woman, a woman of color, a wife, a published celebrated author who started writing decades ago, I felt that. Why?  An unconventional path is not any easy one. For many decades there was no model, Google map or instructions for us.  All women seemingly were put in the same box marked conventional.   Therein lies the struggle.

For I, too, chose the unconventional path during my final year of law school.  I wrote and published my first novel that year and landed a book deal shortly after. At the time, many of my friends were getting married and having kids.  I was having a different type of “adventure.”  It wasn’t wrong, just different.  My aunts and other women in my family were proud.  They encouraged me to fly, joining me as willing passengers on my journey. Christina was symbolic of women who dare to dream big, even if it cost.  

The grief that Christina displays at one point in the film seemed to be derived from a need to force herself into the only box she knew.  She didn’t give up her dream, but partially clipped her wings.

I truly believe that God honors our gifts and wants us to maximize our creative call, regardless of marital status, geographic location or other factors.  However, freedom comes from choices and living an authentic life. He gives instructions to answer our creative call. And yes, sometimes we need Christina’s courage and wings!  

The character of Christina wasn’t just about art. She desired and embraced other love, but struggled. She raised her daughter the best way she knew how. And married. However, her love of photography was clearly effortless and brought her the most joy.

A great character resonates long after the movie credits end, and the last page is read.  I believe there is a little Christina in every woman. Christina reminds us we should not explain, grieve or limit our dreams. But make room for them. And sometimes that means finding the courage to “buy the ticket,” board the bus and ride to our creative destination as often as needed.

Norma L. Jarrett is a writer with traditionally published and indie titles. Her work has been featured in Essence, Ebony, USA Today, Southern Living and other media. She is married and resides in Houston, Texas with her husband and two dogs, Mylo and Lexi. Her titles are available on Amazon.com.  Her next novel, Ivy’s Soul, is a multi-generational romance that will be released in 2020.

IG: @authornormajarrett

FB: @http://www.facebook.com/normajarrettwrites

Books: Norma Jarrett Author Amazon Page

Got Clutter? How to Shed All Kinds

Get still and listen … to your heart, your intuition, your health, your hopes and dreams, and even your future self.
Then, seek wisdom from trusted loved ones – those who tell you the truths you need to hear versus what you want to hear, and those who consistently want to see you win.
And finally, stand tall in what your soul reveals. Take note of the tangible and emotional clutter that may be keeping you stuck. Summon the courage to evolve, elevate and fully enjoy this journey called life.
Clutter is inevitable in this busy and noisy world. Choosing to recognize and clear it is a vote for yourself.

Sing (and Dance) Anyway

I came across this senior year of college pic of myself recently and I’ve kept it on my nightstand for an occasional chuckle. ss

Yes, my pants are too big ( I was really petite back then and did my best! 😂) and yes, I remember where I was – in a friend’s dorm room, enjoying a surprise party thrown for me.

I look like I’m singing cause I was. But can I really sing? Sadly not.
I had fun trying, though, with whatever that song was and with a little Salt n Pepa, too.)

I look like I was acting silly cause I was. And guess what?
Beneath my sometimes reserved, often inspirational and occasionally feisty demeanor lies a girl who is still fun at heart and able to laugh at myself and with others.

I was 21 in this pic and considered grown. (Ha!)
What I’d tell that young girl from my now full-fledged adult state is actually what I exemplify in this photo: to always find joy in the small moments and sing (and dance) through the rest.

That girl didn’t always get it right and neither do I; but both versions of me have been, and remain, grateful for love, laughter, grace, life lessons and the journey itself – gifts that never age or go out of style.

I challenge you to dig up a few of your own funny pics from the past and reflect on your treasured (or silly) moments from yesterday. May you be inspired to embrace new dreams, cut yourself and others some slack, and create more meaningful memories.

Stacy Hawkins Adams 

In 2020, Be Inspired No Matter What

Happy New Year and welcome to a new decade!

As you settle into this season of new beginnings and fresh promise, I challenge you to not only focus on outward possibilities for growth, but also the inner ones, too.

Take some time in the first few days of 2020 to sit with yourself and ask this important question: What aspects of my life need to be nurtured – right now and in the year ahead?

Whatever your response, I encourage you to embrace it and honor it. And wherever you find yourself during the coming weeks and months, remind yourself of the hope that this dawn of a new year has delivered and “rinse and repeat” the following opportunities to lean into life:

Appreciate each moment.

Nurture yourself.
Celebrate those you love and
Pour new life into your dreams.
Acknowledge life’s realities –
both good and not so good,
Then remember who you are and
Whose you are,
In the midst of it all.
Stand in that truth.
Honor that truth.
Be that truth.
On the days you don’t feel like going on,
Find a way to push through…
To hope,
To love,
To the purpose only you can birth.
Find the courage to
Be Still and
Listen to your heart, and
To words and voices that empower you,
Regardless of what may be shaking the world around you.
Breathe and Be, and
Allow others to do the same.
Trust that good will prevail,
Especially when you offer up your own goodness.
It matters.
Forgive yourself and
Forgive others, too.
Be patient with heartache,
Grant grief some time, and
Trust that wholeness is within your reach.
Seek the Light, and
Be the Light.
This, My Friend, is the Greatest Gift
You can give to yourself,
Which ultimately becomes
Your Greatest Gift to others –
At the beginning of a New Year
And every day in between.
© Stacy Hawkins Adams
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Are You Ready for Next-Level Living?

Hey you, it’s Dec. 5.
For the final 26 days of 2019 …challenge yourself to stretch beyond your usual boundaries and plant seeds for a next-level version of you to blossom in the year to come.
Do something that scares you.
Explore an unknown path with an open mind.
Seek to understand rather than be understood.
Be kind, even when it’s hard.
Say no to a few “good” things so you’ll be available to say yes to your “great” and purpose-driven opportunities.
Give without expecting anything in return.
Say “thank you” for all of the lessons you’re learning along the way.
This is the pathway to a life that will open your heart, elevate your humanity and multiply your joy.
Come on…it’s awaiting you.
Stacy Hawkins Adams 

Holiday Gifts That Matter Most

Remember in this season of giving (and getting) that it’s the seemingly little things that matter most:
– Calling friends or loved ones simply because they cross your mind
– Offering words of encouragement when someone needs them most
– Giving random hugs to remind those you care about that they’re valued
– Listening fully
– Praying fervently
– Laughing with, not at, someone
– Crying with, rather than for, someone
–  Making time, even when you’re busy
– Telling the truth with sincerity and love (often it’s not what you say, but how you say it that makes all the difference)
– Walking in integrity, and in doing so, showing others the way
– Granting yourself grace, so that others learn that skill, too
– Loving yourself best so that you can truly love others better. For when your heart is full and you’re confident about who you are, what you stand for and how you’re called to serve in this world, you can easily open doors, hold hands and make room for others to flourish, too.
I’m sure there’s more. What intangible, yet powerfully valuable treasures will you add to your gift-giving list this year?
Stacy Hawkins Adams 
Stacy Hawkins Adams blog

Her Story: She Discovered She Was Capable and Soared

By Guest Blogger Angelia White 

From a very young age, I knew that life is filled with hardships. I spent so many years in pain and abuse, though, that for the longest, I never understand it was possible for things to change—that it was possible for me to find complete freedom and learn to survive and soar.

After many years and many tears, I finally realized that I was capable of standing and thriving on my own. I wrapped my mind around the idea of changing for the better, and I let my heart start to embrace this possibility.

One morning, I looked in the mirror, and I didn’t even recognize the woman I saw. Who was she? Where was the courage she desired to have? Where was the strength I knew she had deep down inside? In that moment, I looked back at her (me) and said, “Ang, the time is now. It’s time to be the brave woman you know you were always meant to be.”

Right then and there, I knew that everything was about to change—which meant that my life was about to get uncomfortable. It’s scary to walk away from what we’ve always known, even when what we’re walking away from includes situations that bring us down and aren’t good for us. Sometimes we become so comfortable with the toxic areas of our lives that the thought of leaving for new and better opportunities seems impossible.

But girl, there is so much more for you out there.

You are capable of being stronger than you ever imagined. You are capable of stepping out of your comfort zone and learning to grow and fearlessly diving into the unknown. You are capable of trusting yourself and believing in yourself. You are capable of so much more, my friend.

We don’t always understand why we must deal with challenges and struggles in life, but they often end up being the reasons we become who we were always meant to be. They’re the reasons we learn to be strong. They’re the reasons we learn to take those leaps of faith. They’re the reasons we finally let fear take the backseat as we step into the changes that we know need to happen.

Don’t be afraid to take a chance on yourself. You’re worth every risk—and you’re worth realizing that you’ve always been strong enough to walk into the light of the unknown.

The more I’ve embraced this truth, the more I’ve learned about myself and come to love myself. You can do the same.

 

42978751_10211797502162337_1735984798465261568_n (1)Angelia White (Stone) is a mother of three and the publisher, president, and CEO of
Hope for Women and Hope By The Book magazines. Motivated by her desire to encourage women and share their inspiring stories, she transformed a simple idea into an empowering endeavor when she started the lifestyle magazine in 2005. Hope for Women magazine is headquartered in Muncie, Indiana and is now read by more than 100,000 women monthly.  Connect with Angelia on social media here:  Twitter and Instagram @angelialwhite or @hopemag and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/hope4women.