This year has been ABUNDANTLY AMAZING! Seems like just yesterday I was ringing in 2017. Time flies when you’re having fun!!! 2017 was definitely a transitional year for me – one that brought about a deeper awareness of self, setting goals, and spirituality.
From January through March, I worked at FOX as a contract consultant in the Event Marketing department. From the start, I knew the job would be a short stint so I made the most out of the experience. The highlight was working the 5th season premiere of the TV show “The Americans” on FX starring Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys at the Director’s Guild Theater. I’ve followed Keri’s career since she was on All-New Mickey Mouse Club so seeing her in person was nostalgic.
After the Show it’s the After Party
In true form, the entire cast, writers, producers, directors, crew, media, and the like partied at The Plaza Hotel afterwards. I’ve never been to THE Plaza Hotel so this was definitely a treat! The food and drinks were amazing, the décor was grand per usual, and everyone danced the night away to the perfect selections the live band played! Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed myself!
From April through the end of September, I took a sabbatical from the NYC rat race. Basically, I was unemployed. Thankfully, I had enough savings to tie me over and unemployment benefits provided a nice cushion. The last time I was unemployed was after I was "fired" from MetLife Stadium in October 2014. It was one of the hardest years of my life as I was unemployed for 13 months. Yes, 13 months – from October 2014 to November 2015. Y’all… GOD KEPT ME THAT ENTIRE TIME because I wouldn’t have made it without Him!!! #WontHeDoIt! #YesHeWill! During that time, I was working through some personal and professional issues. I filled voids by self-medicating on weed, alcohol, unhealthy foods, and staying in a relationship that I KNEW wasn’t going to work out. I also battled internally with my career goals, and what I had envisioned it would look like. I was no longer working at my dream job, and while no workplace is perfect, I questioned whether I should have stood up for myself, consequences be damned, or should I have handled things differently and possibly kept my job. I can't change what happened, and everything happens for a reason. I also can't live in the past. You live and you learn. Then I started thinking if I never worked in sports again, would Super Bowl XLVIII be enough? Would no longer coordinating facility operations for Jets and Giants games and experiencing the behind the scenes action for major sold out concerts professionally satisfy my career goals if I couldn't get another job in this business? Is God moving me in another direction? Could I completely submit to His will if the journey He is taking me on and what is next to come may not be what I had in mind? What that period taught me was that I had to purge my emotions and deal with MY STUFF in order to move forward. I often tell my family and friends that 2015 was the worst year of my life, but it was also the best year of my life because it really challenged me to take a good, hard ass look in the mirror and make some radical changes. It also made me FULLY rely on God, His timing, His direction, and His provision, which in turn, made me a stronger, better, and wiser woman. So when I found myself not having a 9 to 5 in April, I took the same things that I learned from 2015 and applied it to 2017.
Get in Touch with Self
April started off with a 7 day water fast. I wanted to completely turn inward and grow my relationship with God… and maybe lose a few pounds in the process. For those of you who have never tried a water fast, I definitely recommend it! I’ve done two water fasts before – one 3 day and one 10 day. I figured a 7 day water fast would be a happy medium. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, and I spent a lot of that time in prayer, sleeping, and reading the Bible, inspirational books and articles on the web. After my 7 day fast, I felt like a new woman with a greater sense of clarity, focus, understanding, and oneness with our Creator. My skin cleared up, my metabolism sped up, I lost 15lbs and decided to commit to go vegan (at least 97% of the time, baby steps people, baby steps lol), and I was ready to tackle whatever the universe was ready to throw at me. “God Got me. God Is with me. God always has Been and always will Be.” was/is my new life mantra. God Got, God Is, God Been and God Be in short. My goal was to use my “free time" extremely wisely.
Kanye’s Workout Plan
To capitalize on my newfound inner strength and slimmer frame, I started using my gym membership at Planet Fitness religiously. I worked out every day, sometimes twice a day, and even on those few days when I didn’t hit the gym, I walked from my apartment in Bed-Stuy to the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge and the Williamsburg Bridge taking different routes and exploring NYC. I walked all up and through Brooklyn to Manhattan and back! I didn’t have a weight loss goal number I wanted to achieve in particular, I just wanted to challenge myself daily, tone up, eat cleaner to be as healthy as possible, and feel good in my skin.
I also spent time at the beach with my favorite beach bum, Rick Easley. It was Rick who first introduced me to Jacob Riis Park Beach in Far Rockaway Queens last year. I instantly fell in love with the vibe there! It was so liberating, and it’s typical for women to walk around topless (Note – it’s legal for women to go topless in New York State according to Penal Law 245.01, under the grounds of gender equality so take advantage ladies especially on those unbearably hot summer days!). So you already know this lovely Leo got her tan on topless, too! My half naked body basked in the sun! I was oiled up! Melanin glowin’ and poppin’! My skin tone was soooo even! I had all the men gazing at me and a few women... shit, I'd look at me, too! I see y'all lookin' witcha lookin' asses! Rick and I got beautifully MESQUITE BROWN Summer ‘16, honey! No tan lines boo! So it was only natural that I often retreated to Riis this past summer with my special sunscreen concoction in tow consisting of organic hemp oil, coconut oil, carrot oil, and red raspberry seed oil, some organic fruits and veggies, chips and a plethora of dips, and ice cold water and a bottle of wine completely ready to enjoy the sights, sounds, soak up the sun, and take a dip in the Atlantic Ocean. And take a dip I did! This summer, I took it up a notch and skinny dipped each and every time I went. Y’all… I! Got! My! Entire! Life! Earnestly!!! I felt freer than free as fuck! One with the ocean... One with nature… One with God… One with self… It was life changing, and I can’t wait until Summer ’18!
Free Your Body, Free Your Mind, Free Your Spirit
There was something spiritual about wading in the ocean in my birthday suit. Something I had never felt before. It was on one of my final days at the beach during the waning summer season as I looked out along the expansive Atlantic Ocean coastline that I decided to stop fucking around and bite the passion bullet. I needed to channel my creative side - something I hadn’t pursued in a longggg time. I started writing again. As any writer would admit, picking up writing again after months or even years of intentionally not writing is an unnerving, challenging, downright daunting task. As I sat in front of my laptop in the beginning of August, I had one goal in mind. Be vulnerable, be honest, be open, and be yourself. Tell YOUR story. And that’s exactly what I did… "Fuck It, Let’s Go to New York" was my entry back into the writing game. It opened up a pathway for me to purge. It was my creative outlet. It was my therapy. I needed to release and completely let go of whatever residual emotions I felt was still simmering inside of me to reckon my past so that I could be completely present and intently focus on my future. It was immensely purifying. Things got really real when I purchased my domain name through Weebly on August 17th. There’s no turning back now! It took me 3 days to write that blog post, and I spent 2 more weeks editing it and my site so that it would be perfect when I finally launched my blog on September 1st, the 7 year anniversary of me moving to NYC with my younger sister, Jocelyn. It was a dream 2 years in the making, and I was scared shitless. I fought through my fear and broke through my own barrier, and those of others who thought I couldn't write anything meaningful again since releasing my first book of poetry over 10 years ago. Nevertheless, she persisted.
To give you some perspective, what really pushed me to write "FILGTNY" and be as transparent as I was, was for one, I had just turned 33, which is spiritual to me, in and of itself, because it was the beginning of my Jesus Year. Two, I bought a ticket to see Dave Chappelle and Solange at Radio City Music Hall on August 22nd as a birthday present to myself. Donnell Rawlings did an opening set which was a pleasant surprise, and he was funny as ever, Dave was absolutely hilarious, and I can’t wait to watch his two new stand-up specials being released via Netflix on New Year’s Eve, and Solange’s one hour set was utterly magical! I’ve seen Beyoncé in concert three times at MetLife Stadium (For free, might I humbly add. Honestly, the companies I worked for at the time paid me to see Beyoncé.), and I always wanted to see Solange perform. When she dropped A Seat at the Table, I instantly knew I had to see her in concert, too! That album is my forever jam! I've replayed "Cranes in the Sky" like I play Marvin Gaye's discography and y'all already know how much I LOVE me some Pentz! Let me tell you, she DID NOT disappoint! Not that I thought she would… it was just wayyyyy beyond what I was expecting! The stage setup, the glowing red lights, the song lineup, the backup singers, the band and them 20 or so horn players, the outfits, the choreography, the entire performance and the way it resonated throughout the building, her, it was EVERYTHING! It was Black Excellence and Black Girl Magic stylized in classic form. It was "Orion's Rise". I’ve been to quite a few concerts by artists across various genres, but this show… I was wholly in awe! It was like she channeled her all, every fiber of her being, into that performance which I'm sure she does at all of her shows. It was incredibly unique and aspiringly unapologetic (she took off these glamorous boots she was wearing mid-show, sang barefoot for a while, then changed into some sneakers), and I was every bit HERE for it! It completely transformed the way I approached writing for my blog! Solange, you may never read this or never know who I am, but thank you for being supremely YOU! Your art is transcendental and inspirational!!! Take all the time you need to take care of yourself, doll! We will be waiting for you with bated breath!
Autumn Changes Things
September quickly came and went. I got my apartment painted with some accent walls to renew, recreate, and redefine my humble abode. I was writing new blog entries and poems, still working out and still eating clean (for the most part), still applying to jobs, and still had not been on one single interview. That all changed when I received a LinkedIn message from an executive headhunter about an available position at Bank of America Merrill Lynch as an Event Manager. She contacted me on August 30th. Later, I would learn that the job was actually in the Global Event Marketing department as a Web Developer. Ironic, don’t you think? With no other prospects at hand, I continued with the month long interview process, secured the bag, and started on October 2nd. The weekend before I started, I cried my heart out and praised God! Ever grateful for His timely intervention as my 6 month unemployment benefits were coming to an end and this new direction He was leading me on, my spirit was uplifted to new heights! I must have applied to over 50 jobs, but He had this job offer waiting for me in the wings, and I didn’t even apply to it! I never even filled out an application for it. The opportunity came to me. Isn’t it simply amazing how God works things out?
I took a night flight back to my hometown, Little Rock, Arkansas, later that month on a 32 hour turnaround trip for a funeral and a much needed escape from the concrete jungle. The funeral was for my mom’s best friend’s, Irah Blackwell, mother who lived to see 105 years of age before God called her home. This wasn’t my first funeral, having been to a few before, but this was the first time I’d been to a funeral for a person who lived well into old age. She lived a very long life, and all of her family and friends were there. It was quite emotional and touching, to say the least, in many ways. I’ve always tried to live my best life, but now I felt it was time to level up in every way possible and take care of myself as much as possible! I was also able to catch up with some longtime BFFs, Chappell Mosby and Ta’Nessa Robinson (Hey Nikile Price! I didn’t forget you, boo! I was sooooo glad I got to see your crazy ass, too!), drive around Little Rock to see what’s new, and spend some much needed time with my mom. It was 32 hours well spent!
November Mood: Revisited
I won’t go into much detail about November, see my previous blog entry "November Mood" for details, but I will say it involved Chris Rock, Hannibal Buress, Jeff Ross (Thank you, Tiffany Jordan! You always have the most awesome hook ups. Love you forever sis/soror!), Hamilton, Janet Jackson, unexpectedly working remotely Thanksgiving week, binge-watching She’s Gotta Have It, Black Friday shopping, seeing my G-Men beat Southern 30-21 at the 44th Annual Bayou Classic (Go Grambling!), and to end the month properly, JAY-Z! Thanks again, sissy, for buying me the 4:44 ticket for my birthday, and all the awesomely fun outings we had this year! I’m so glad we patched things up and reconnected! You are forever my second brain and my 2-2-7! Love you to pieces, boo! Yes, November was LIT AS FUCK!
Other notable mentions for the year include meeting and taking a picture with Erika Alexander (Living Single, Get Out among many others) when I took an evening stroll in downtown Brooklyn...
- Pause for a Dance Break -
Ohhh, in a nineties kind of world
I'm glad I got my girls
Keep your head up, what?
Keep your head up, that's right
Whenever this life gets tough, you gotta fight
With my homegirls standing to my left and my right
True blue, it's tight like glue!
***I should note that this ICONIC TV show was one of the main influencers (outside my mom) that lead me to move to Brooklyn. Yes, I had just turned 9 years old when the show first aired in 1993, and I was instantly hooked! NYC here I come!!! It really should've been no surprise to anyone that I would make my home here! I'm just sayin'!***
- Let's Continue -
a surprise ticket from my former co-worker and great friend, Shirley Baker-Clyburn, to see my favorite football team, the NY Giants (go Big Blue!), play the Steelers (even though we lost) for my birthday weekend, my future baby daddy (in my head) Marlon Lamont Wayans retweeting me thrice (Yes, I know his middle name, and I even saw him briefly at the Dave Chappelle/Solange concert! Did you know I made a whole website dedicated to him when I was 13 years old via Yahoo! GeoCities? And let's not even discuss how I would rush home from school and record ALL of The Wayans Bros. episodes on VHS tapes or how I got this scar just below my right knee... just ask my sister! Judge me if you WANT TO! No fucks given! lol), and one of my tweets randomly being featured on “The Shade Room” about the Emmys leaving the legendary Dick Gregory out of the memoriam - rest in power, brother. Special shout out to my fellow #GramFam, Jamal Hoover for letting me know about the post! It’s crazy… I still don’t know how that happened!
A December to Remember
This month has been chill and refreshing; a much needed wind down for a year that’s been a whirlwind! I’m so grateful for the lessons, the blessings, the experiences, the goals I’ve achieved, the people I’ve helped and who have helped me, my relationships with my tight-knit group of friends and family, my evolving relationship with myself, and most importantly, my deeper relationship with God. I’ve reflected, recharged, and now I’m ready to see what 2018 has in store. If it is anything like 2017, I know I’m in for a delightfully incredible adventure Lord willing!
May the best of your today’s be the worst of your tomorrow’s! I wish everyone a healthy, happy, exciting, peaceful, and prosperous New Year! See you next year, peeps!