What a whirlwind year! What a crazy decade. Man, where do I start?!
On January 2nd, I'll be traveling to Louisiana to attend the funeral of Leslie "Chuck" Dawson who joined the ancestors on Christmas Eve. He was the first boss I had when I began working with the football team at Grambling State University, my alma mater, for work study. As a Student Equipment Manager, I washed dirty uniforms, fixed broken cleats and chin straps, set up the locker room for game day, and packed bags and traveled with the team to away games among many other things.
After working with Chuck for two seasons, I switched departments and managed will call and box office operations for home and away games, assisted with preparing travel arrangements and lodging accommodations, menus, and other administrative needs for a staff of 12 including the coaches and team under the supervision of Patricia Simmons. It is because of the knowledge and experience I obtained while working at Grambling, which provided the necessary skills to forge a career in the sports and entertainment industry in New York, that I'm going to his funeral to pay my respects and homage to Chuck Baby (as he was affectionately known), and to my goals, to the end of a decade full of hustle, strength, tenacity, and believing in myself and my dreams. In SOOO many ways, the end of this year and this decade has been "The Year of Return."
Life is the sum of all your choices. - Albert Camus
This has definitely been my BEST YEAR YET, but I wouldn't have experienced any of this had the decision I made almost 10 years ago (actually since 2007) been different. August 29, 2010 was a do or die day. Fight or flight. Faith or fear. I chose do, fight, and faith and that motivation and determination led me to where I am today. I CAN NOT say this enough, but leaving Little Rock and moving to New York was the SINGLE best decision I ever made!
Prayers come to fruition in divine time.
Do you ever think to yourself... If I had listened to "them" I would've never been able to experience this had I believed what they thought I couldn't do? If I had given into fear and allowed their insecurities and projections to affect my decisions, what would my life look like now? If I hadn't taken this path, or if I wasn't in this place at this appointed time, would this even be happening right now? I mentally go through the shoulda coulda wouldas, and it's because of God's mercy and grace that the vision I set for myself aligned with His plan for my life. Won't He do it?! YASSSS, HE WILL! GLORY TO GOD!
To grow and to evolve, you must move with purpose and do nothing without intention.
I set out the intention last year while writing 2018 Year in Review - Living My Best Life that this year would be evolutionary. A huge part of it was going to Accra, Ghana for "The Year of Return." It was truly a life changing, spiritually awakening trip of a lifetime, and when I purchased my flight in February to visit Africa for the first time, it essentially set the tone for the entire year. For me, "The Year of Return" took on so many meanings - return to your roots, return to self, return to the gradual development that led you to purchase the ticket.
In 2015, I learned my ethnicity estimate via Ancestry.com. Last year, I learned the ethnic lineage of my maternal and paternal ancestry through African Ancestry, and since then I've been on a deep dive quest of self-discovery. Sometimes, you have to go within to look back to be able to see ahead and fully appreciate how far you've come! I'm so grateful for all of the experiences I've had over the last ten years - the self-fulfilling ups and the depression level downs, to the times when I was dead broke and the times when I didn't even think about the price of things and bought what I wanted because I had the means, to the closed doors of rejection and the redirection to open doors of my dreams becoming reality, and to the hard lessons I learned, and the ways I move differently now because when you know better, you do better. Can I get a amen? AMEN!
And I'm better for it ALL! A-L-L you hear me?!
So yeah, the end of this year, this decade is cyclical, and my life has come full circle in ways I could have never imagined. And that's the beauty of life, life truly is the sum of all your choices...
2019 doesn't owe me a THANG!
My family, friends, and *haters* (yes, y'all too!), my career, the things God has allowed me to do, the events I've worked on and attended, the people I've met along the way... everyone and everything has been such a blessing! To recap just how dope living in NYC is, a list of the events I went to is below, but the highlight of this year was turning 35 and going to Accra!
Not only was I able to add to my African artwork collection, I stayed at the luxurious Labadi Beach Hotel that I HIGHLY recommend, went to the Marcus Mosiah Garvey Foundation Homecoming Dinner and Dance Gala and The Miss Heritage Global beauty pageant at Accra International Conference Centre and The Dome, respectively, visited Cape Coast and Elmina Castle (I prefer to call them dungeons), toured Accra (including Black Star Square) and the historic Jamestown fishing community, Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park, Kakum National Rain Forest (I survived!), Aburi Botanical Gardens (which is utterly majestic), went quad biking through a jungle to Boti Falls (I got my ENTIRE life that day), saw the hustle and bustle of Makola Market, hiked up the rugged beauty of Shai Hills Mountain, sailed (and actually drove the boat for 5 minutes *pause to take a shot, ok actually a couple - and queue up Megan Thee Stallion's Hot Girl Summer*) on the Volta River at The Royal Senchi, attended The Golden Movie Awards (think Accra's version of The Academy Awards... it was EVERYTHING) and met Ghanian actor James Gardiner, and saw the amazing artwork and met a couple artists at Chale Wote.
Most importantly, I reconnected with my resilient ancestors and lived for 11 days in the space of being African as the default. Completely surrounded by Blackness - any and all billboards, advertisements and marketing was all Black people - something you obviously don't see in the states. It lit a fire in me to continue to use my voice, take up space, and level up in living my BEST LIFE authentically and unapologetically! In the past, I've found myself dimming my light - being afraid to shine because it was too much for others to handle or accept... but the sun doesn't give a fuck if it burns or blinds you. Why should I?! BLOOP!!!
And that's the essence of what I'm taking into 2020 and beyond. I won't apologize for being too bright or too much, for speaking my truth, and living MY life MY way. That's the only way I can be, and I hope and pray that if one person reads this and is inspired to live the same way, then maybe they will inspire others, too! Again, that's the beauty of life, life REALLY AND TRULY is the sum of all your choices! CHOOSE TO LIVE, PEOPLE! CHOOSE TO FUCKING LIVEEEEEE! BE FREE AF!
Speaking of living, here are the events I spoke about above that gave me LIFE this year! Some of these events fed my soul and spirit with wisdom and much needed laughs, some were childhood dreams, some were work hard/play harder nights, and others were just DOPE AF and felt perfectly aligned with everything I experienced this year!
Knicks vs. Raptors
Tongues Untied - 30th Anniversary Screening
Frida Khalo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving
Luvvie Ajayi & Yvonne Orji
In Living Color (one of my FAVE... y'all KNOW I love The Wayans family!)
Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of The Temptations
Kaleta & Super Yamba Band
Mother's Day Good Music Festival - Raheem Devaughn, Avant, Jaheim, Joe, Ashanti, Monica, and Jaheim
Tyler Perry's Madea's Farewell Play Tour (I saw THE CICELY TYSON... yo, I STILL can't believe that!)
Elaine Welteroth with special guest Lupita N'yongo
Ladies Night Out Comedy Tour - NeNe Leakes, Kym Whitley, Sherri Shepherd, Loni Love, and Adele Givens
Amanda Seales Presents: Smart, Funny & Black - Charles Blow and Joan Morgan
Nas and Mary J. Blige: The Royalty Tour
Common: Let Love Tour
Damon Wayans Jr.
Donell Jones and Ginwine
Jidenna: 85 to Africa Tour
The Tina Turner Musical
A Soldier's Play
I don't know what 2020 or the next decade will bring, but what I DO know is that I will keep God first, and everything I desire will be added unto me. *Pause for this glorious song, "All Good Things Will Be Added Unto You," by Clair Huxtable (Phylicia Rashad) and the Hillman Choir.* Yes, I can go from ratchet to religious with the quickness!
What I also know is that if 2020 is anything like last year, then Lord willing I'm in for one helluva fun-filled, fabulous, glo up ride! MANY MANYYY thanks for rocking with me and my blog these past two years! Peace and blessings to all of you! Have a safe, happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year! Love ya! xoxo