I hadn’t intended to stay away from this blog for so long, but here we are, in mid-March, with many of us preparing to spring our clocks forward in honor of the U.S.’s Daylight Savings Time mandate and to welcome the looming change in seasons accompanied by longer days, warmer winds and sunnier skies.
I’m here with a smile in my heart, after giving myself some space and time to grieve the death of my brother during the Christmas holiday season; to appreciate a return to better health after a challenging year, and to sit with my thoughts and in prayer to determine which projects from my Dreams & Goals List to focus on in 2023.
My novel-in-progress has remained atop that list, and I’m earnestly revising my completed first draft. I’ve also been supporting an author friend by championing his amazing body of work, which continues to resonate with readers of all ages – from children to seasoned citizens. Thank you, Kwame Alexander, for taking me on the journey with you. I’m learning at your feet as you do the work of changing the world, one word at a time.
I’ve continued to mentor a small band of writers who are members of my online Focused Writers Community. Last month, we celebrated the first anniversary of the anthology On Womanhood that we jointly published in 2022. This book is still resonating with readers of all ages and stages, and for that we are grateful.
If you’ll invest your time to watch (solo or with a group of friends!) I hope you will savor all that is expressed and end the experience changed for the better. May the truths and aha moments offered during the program help your heart open, your courage rise, your empathy grow and your understanding (of self and others) multiply. For you are a pearl in progress and your story is worthy celebrating, too. Onward!
Someone I care about entered hospice a few days ago, beginning a process that is both dignity-rendering, yet leaking with sadness.
Only our Creator knows the exact time left, but this person would want no pity, and if possible, would be cracking jokes and setting you straight on your attitude and actions at every turn, with declarations that life is to be enjoyed and celebrated.
With that in mind, I issue this Wednesday Wisdom to:
Love on yourself more, just because.
Tell others what they mean to you while you can (I have and I regularly do).
Cry when you feel like it.
Laugh every chance you get.
Forget about yesterday’s grudges.
Love those who love you back.
Be kind to those whose rudeness often means they need more kindness.
Challenge yourself to leave everyone better than you found them – with what you say and what you don’t; by how you share and where you set boundaries; and by giving with no expectation of receiving.
Let your heart break. The only way through grief is through.
Say Thank You for everything – because every breath, every day, and every person who crosses your path is in some way a gift.
When Bern Nadette Stanis – aka Thelma from Good Times (and more recently, Nee from The Family Business) – visited Richmond, Virginia in the fall, I couldn’t let her get away without learning more about her journey before, during and after becoming the first Black teenager on American television.
She shared some gems about her professional life and about her experience of serving as a caregiver for her beloved mother who lived with Alzheimer’s.
Her sweet spirit shone through during our chat, along with her message to always be yourself and to always lead with love.
We’re 6 days away from what I’m believing will be another God-kissed “Still We Rise: Celebrating the Power of Women’s Stories” inspirational brunch, and
while many of you can’t join me in person, perhaps you can spend a few minutes with your family or a circle of friends replicating this brief storytelling exercise that my friend Maya Smart guided guests through during my 2014 brunch.
If you participate, be sure to answer with “who” you are, not what you do.
Fast forward to today and you’ll discover with a quick Google search that Maya is a brand new yet already renowned author.
I salute her on this countdown to brunch number 2 by describing her with this one word: Amazing.
It’s wonderful when life comes full circle, and my visit to Albuquerque, New Mexico last month to attend a Women’s Fiction Writers retreat was one of those occasions.
Thirty years ago, in the summer of 1992, I spent six weeks in ABQ interning for the city’s now-defunct morning newspaper, The Albuquerque Tribune. I lived near Old Towne with two sisterfriends who shared a house – Cathryn McGill, a renowned singer, songwriter and actress turned black leadership entrepreneur, and Pamela K. Johnson, a then-reporter at the Tribune turned author and filmmaker.
Pamela has since moved back to her native California where she continues to write for numerous national publications (Hey, Pam!) while Cathy remains in ABQ and continues to contribute to the community and the arts in a myriad of ways. She and I met for breakfast while I was in town and traded updates about life and goals as if time had never passed.
Stories abound! And as one of my mentors always says, Just keep living and life will keep giving.
Thank you to the Richmond-based NBC 12 news station for interviewing me earlier this week about the power in sharing stories (and for serving as the media sponsor for my October 22 inspirational brunch for women).
Good news, Friends!
If you’re interested in securing a ticket to my sold-out event (Still We Rise: Celebrating the Power of Women’s Stories), you can visit NBC12.com and enter to win 2 tickets that were reserved for this giveaway. The opportunity to win is open now through Oct. 12, 2022. Search for “brunch giveaway” when you visit the website.
In the meantime, enjoy my interview about the ways we all can celebrate the power of stories, day in and day out. (Click on the image below to view or visit the link in the photo caption).
In about three weeks, a group of amazing women (and one gentleman) will join me in gracing the stage at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden to pour from our hearts and inspire everyone present to embrace their journeys and value others’ stories, too.
My co-organizers and I met for two hours this morn to discuss the final details (and to settle my nerves!), and I left that Zoom session all the more excited about what we’re birthing.
So although my October 22 inspirational brunch is sold out, as often as I can throughout this month, I’ll share some timeless inspiration from my 2014 brunch that can still offer encouragement and hope.
Today’s offering is the keynote message I shared in 2014 with brunch attendees, and I share it again, because it’s all still true:
Words hold power.
Fiction and nonfiction can tranform lives.
I am honored to be a vessel.
I continue to write forward – not necessarily at my pace, but at the one that is ordained for me.
Two weeks into offering tickets for sale, my inspirational brunch sold out. I promised those who weren’t able to secure tickets that in addition to starting a waiting list (see details here on my website), I would share some content to inspire you in real time in the weeks leading up to Still We Rise: Celebrating the Power of Women’s Stories.
My conversation with college student Caliyah Bennett will do just that, and it’s one you may want to share with your youth group, any struggling teens you know, and the adults who care for them.
Thank you to Caliyah and her mom for allowing me to share their journey!
A dear reader friend shared the quote meme below on her page earlier this week, and then I ran across this sister-love pic of Madame Sheryl Lee Ralph and Quinta Brunson, and it struck me that each is a reflection of the other, because in our own unique ways aren’t we all trying to do all of these things?
Love the people around you, flaws and all, and yourself. Celebrate others and yourself, and trust that you’ll receive reciprocated patience, openness and grace along your way.