Sunday, October 20, 2013

Paint Her Pretty

**I was reminded of this blog this week by a co-worker and have taken some time to look back and remember where I was in my head in and in my heart 2+ years ago and I found this unpublished draft written on 10/19/09 -- exactly 4 years ago -- and thought the coincidence alone made it worth publishing! More, what I know now that I wasn't sure of 4 years ago, is that brokenness is beautiful.**

My life, for the past several years, has been a constant striving.  A struggle to be more of this and less of that. A battle against feeling that I am both not enough and too much.

I vividly remember the moment I was told a few years ago by someone who, in the grand scheme of things proves insignificant, that I wasn't easy to love.  Or, that's what I heard, which is as real to me as the actual words that were spoken. 

It was in a Sears parking lot, I was standing against my car a foot away from a person I admired, respected and wanted to be just like. Her words were simple and quick, her face expressionless. And i remember the way that moment sucked the life out of me, the way I assumed at first that she was joking, until silence settled the truth, my hands covering the pain I couldn't hide on my face. It was quick, with lasting impact. And I drove the five minutes home, blinded by my tears.

The stinging power of those words (or the perception that overshadowed them) forced me, the truest me, to retreat. I began painting a picture of myself that I thought less complicated, more acceptable. 

 One day last week, I was made aware that I am seen; that this picture I've created of myself, though I was unaware, is transparent. 

While that moment was startling, it granted a freedom: To just be. 

What this means in this delicate season of my life, is that the "letting go" that I wrote of before, and struggled to define, is that simple. Just be, knowing that I am at times both, not enough and too much. 

I'm choosing to trust though, that the same beauty and honesty that I see in brokenness, will be seen in me. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

On The Power Of Intention

It was nearly two years ago when I sat in a D.C. hotel lobby with a handful of my dearest childhood friends. We sat chatting, laughing and reminiscing. But one among us, my cousin Damon, was future focused.

In the next couple of years, I’m ready to find my “good thing”[1], he told us, more seriously than normal. I rolled my eyes thinking to myself: “It’s not that easy.”

Within the past two years, he’s done exactly what he said he would. Yesterday, in the company of those same friends, he married his “good thing”, and my beautiful new cousin, Kristin, as we witnessed a sweet, outdoor ceremony in Marion, Indiana.

I was reminded of that moment a few weeks ago as the excitement for their upcoming nuptials bubbled over onto their Facebook pages.

 For me, there was a lesson to be learned here.

I am quite intrigued by the power of intention. I find it similar to prayer; a public expression of hope and faith. And this is why so many of us shy away, keeping our intentions and hopes to ourselves. Because what if it doesn’t work? What if we fail? Then we’re left to face the embarrassment of public failure.

But, what if it does? What if we dare to tell the world that we’re reaching with all our might toward something we may never grab hold of?

I’ve just started reading Eat. Pray. Love. I’m late, I know. I tend to rebel a bit against overly popular things as such, but after falling in love with the movie, I decided to pick up the book at last.

I don’t want to spoil the story for those of you who haven’t read it, because you should. But in the midst of a nasty divorce, Liz decides to petition God to see its end. She writes out a prayer, or statement of intent, if you will, explaining  to God just why her divorce should end quickly. She signs it, and begins to call out the names of her friends and family that she believes would sign it on her behalf. After an hour of calling out names from her parents to Ghandi, she falls asleep. She awakens to her ringing cell phone, on the other end is her lawyer telling her that her husband has just signed the divorce papers that he’d refused for the past several months.

Was it coincidence, or is it that easy? I guess that is something that can only by tested by your own statements of intent.

This passage pierced right through me because Liz’s petition to God, though she was unaware, is scripturally sound[2] and something I was taught to do in my early and eager years as a young Christian.

It seems, though, that Liz and my cousin Damon, may have tapped into a universal law and moved beyond the silencing fear of the many “what if’s” and entertained just one. 

What if it works?

So wherever and whenever this blog post finds you, may you raise your glasses, for the newlyweds and for you my friends: To the power of intention.

[1] “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.”  Proverbs 18:22, NIV
[2] Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Phillipians 4:6, NIV 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Act Of Creating

I’m surrounded by creators.

That’s been true for several years now, but only recently, after a few years of writing in public have I found the confidence to count myself among them.

I had a moment of clarity just a few weeks ago after an evening spent with my cousin Damon and dear friend Shayna. It was well past midnight as we sat in Damon’s home studio, sipping coffee and eating cookies while listening to a sneak peek of Damon’s new mixtape.

We bobbed our heads to the beat, threw ideas around and talked about our inspirations.

Once the coffee was gone, we’d eaten too many cookies and heard several of the new tracks, it was time to go. But I didn’t want it to end. I was inspired, uplifted and excited.

Their creative energy feeds my own. I need to write like Damon needs to make music and Shayna needs to get lost in a character.

“All of my closest friends are creators,” I said to Shayna as we drove off into the night. “And so are you,” she answered. “Like souls attract like souls.”

And yet, for the past few months, I’ve been stuck. I’ve found myself consuming more than I’m creating and feeling overwhelmed by the pressure to write something better than my Invictus piece, in order to prove that I’ve grown as a writer.  I finished my last story knowing that I need to write, but not quite knowing how. To avoid the sting of failure, I’ve written a little here and there but spent the majority of my free time looking at my options and carefully planning my next steps.

What story will I tell next? Should I venture into fiction? Playwriting? Do I need a MFA degree to further my writing skills? Where will I find new inspiration? How can I build a life around writing?

That night, as I sat around with my friends and fellow creators, a calm washed over me. The answers to my questions were suddenly less important.

The act of creating is what’s important.

Next month marks my 1-year anniversary at the PR agency gig. It would be safe to say that the real world has swallowed me up. With frequent early morning events, long days, night meetings and weekends spent trying to get ahead; I’ve struggled to find the time and energy to write.

It was a choice that made sense in my head, but betrayed my heart, my passion: To take the business route just in case the writing wouldn’t carry me. And I’ve found myself empty and frustrated, filled with the what-ifs and regrets that I’m still young enough to rectify.

I’ve been putting my energy into the wrong places. It took being around my friends, who are busy creating, to realize that.

When I write, opportunities come. When I don’t, I find myself trying to force open closed doors and fretting over logistics.

The truth that hit me in the wee hours of the morning was simple: When I’m in the right space, surrounded by the right people, focused on creating, the answers to the questions will come.

The gift will make a way for itself. 

P.S. Soon, I'll be revamping and making that the new home for my musings, so go ahead and drop that link into your Google Reader :) 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Letter #4: Letter To Your Siblings

Dear Riana & Langston,

I’ve tried and tried to think back to our most memorable times together. There are but two that I can remember tangibly. They don’t include the awfulness of the fire or the divorce.  

The first predates those markers in our history.

It was our ritual in the old house to have our own little party when Mom and Dad went out with friends on a weekend night. Already in our pj’s, we’d say our goodbyes and wait just until the garage door had closed behind them to assume our respective positions in the den.

Riana, you were always the DJ, the only one allowed to touch Dad’s stereo and the stacks and stacks of albums we had in the house. Each of us manned with our own makeshift microphone, we’d sing and dance for hours with breaks only for Pizza Rolls and Hawaiian Punch.

You guys died laughing when I made my own dance, “The Boo-Boo Dance”, as you call it. It was the only one I did in our line up for years. Untill you guys taught me the butterfly, that is. Together we marveled at the brilliance of Michael & Janet, tried to pull of the Boyz II Men harmonies, and screamed at the top of our lungs to Whitney Houston classics.

We spent every minute of the two or three hours that Mom and Dad were gone in that den together. Singing, dancing and laughing our heads off. Those songs hold our memories, I’ll never forget how good those times were.

The second came after the fire, the divorce, my beautiful neice and nephew and all of our moves to and back from Florida.

Lang, I loved that you chose your sisters to be your guest at Jay-Z’s Blueprint III concert in Indy this past summer. It had been so long since we all spent time together, which is probably why we spent a ridiculous amount of time posing for pre-concert pics, (one of which is still my Facebook profile picture).

I’ll never forget how you grabbed our hands and pulled us through the overly-crowded downtown streets, sure that we’d all make it together. And then there was the look on your face when Jay-Z, who I’d listened to you imitate for years, took the stage. “That’s Jay-Z,” you said with childlike wonder.

Together, we danced and sang along for hours, just like the good ole’ days.

We dubbed ourselves “The Bratpack” that night, and I can’t wait for our next adventure.

Let’s do it big.

Love you both,


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Day #3: Letter To Your Parents

If I'm honest, there is only a small window of time in my childhood where I saw you two as a unit. I learned too early that you were two separate people, with two separate lives.

For as long as I  can remember, I have loved you in different languages.


I remember all too vividly my first few weeks at my new high school in Florida. I shrank in your absence. It was then that I realized just how much influence you had in shaping my self-esteem and building my confidence. I had always been your little girl. Mom still tells the story of how you wouldn’t let anyone hold me as a baby. There were no special exceptions for family or close friends. “You can look at her from right there,” is what she says you’d say.

As I grew, I became your buddy. You took me everywhere. Believe or not, I was so proud to be known as Mr. Holbert’s daughter.

But here, all of this was null and void. I wasn’t anyone’s little girl. Here, I was on my own.

I missed you more than words, matter of fact I only spoke when spoken to. I’d never known so much uncertainty and instability. Our new relationship consisted of Sunday evening phone calls and summer visits.

My first summer back home you arranged for me to have my wisdom teeth taken out. You took such good care of me. I didn’t even know you knew how. Mom was always the one I cried for when I was sick. I guess we both learned something new that day.

I love the carefree spirit that returned to me as soon as I was back home. All I had to worry about was what my friends and I were doing later that night. I had no doubt that you’d take care of everything else.

Six years later, after enduring the biggest heartbreak of my young adult life, I came back home indefinitely. To be taken care of. To heal. While you were unaware of  the circumstances that brought me home, you made me smile and laugh, just like you always had.

You would leave a box of my favorite candy with a smiley face drawn on the front. We spent weekends going on bike rides, watching too many movies and eating chili dogs from Gene’s.

Thank you for loving me and letting me be a kid. I know that letting go isn’t easy.




We never bonded more than the years of just you and I living in the sunshine together. I couldn’t fathom up and leaving you when it was time for me to go to college. Thankfully, USF was right down the street.

We took care of each other. Every night after classes and coaching, you’d find me sleeping on the couch with unfinished homework on my lap. You nagged me to sleep and save my homework for the morning. I nagged you to eat something other than just a bowl of cereal before bed.

We enjoyed the beach on the weekends and extravagant lunches after church on Sundays. After all, it was just the two of us.

But, we’ve had a rocky relationship as mothers and daughters often do. You got the brunt of my anger and pain once it finally surfaced--because you were there. I can only thank you for enduring that, and forgiving me once I finally came to my senses.

When I decided to leave the nest, I broke your heart. I’m sorry. I’ve become all to familiar with the loneliness you must have felt with too many hours to fill each day and no one to share your time.

But you came through it. I’m incredibly proud of your strength and resilience as a woman. If you came through it, I will too. I am my mother’s daughter.

I’ve found myself needing you now more than ever. I call just to be comforted by your voice, to ask why my coffee is never as perfect as yours, or what color Maalox to buy when I’ve got an upset stomach.

Your visits are too few and far between. I never want you to leave. I’m looking forward to my visit in June. You’ll spoil me like you always do, and I’ll let you because I miss you like crazy.


Your baby

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Letter #2: Letter To Your Crush

Dear Jackson,

The first time I saw you I was just waking from a nap that lasted a little too long. My eyes fell upon your face, that beautiful face, and I couldn't help but stare. You were gone after a few short minutes, leaving me wondering who you were and when I'd have the chance to see you again.

I never napped again on a Thursday night, instead I restlessly hoped for your return. Much to my delight, you stood before me once again. I grew to anticipate seeing your face on Thursday nights along with the others. It became my ritual to watch you quietly, hanging on your every word.

I've always had a thing for guys like you. I just can't shake it, and trust me I've tried. You're hard working, kind-hearted, charming and oh-so-gorgeous. What's not to love?

I'm pretty sure I'm not your type, I'd peg you as a tall, skinny blonde-loving kind of guy. I am certainly not that girl, but I'm also pretty sure you'd love me.

What do you say, let's see more of each other?



Thursday, January 13, 2011

Letter #1: A Letter to Your Best Friend

Dear Shayna,  

I’ve only carried only a few true friends with me into adulthood, but you were the first and for that you hold a special place in my heart. 

I remember the first day I saw you. You were sandwiched between your parents on the pulpit at Sherman Street. Before the end of their set, you picked up the microphone and sang “I Am”. I wanted to dislike you because I was 13 and insecure and you were effortlessly beautiful, charming and talented. While I can’t remember our first conversation, I also can’t remember a day after that one that we weren’t the best of friends. Where there was one, there was always the other.

You came into my life at an interesting time. My world was falling apart and I was holding a smile, hoping it would be enough to make it all go away. It wasn’t. But thankfully you were there. Day after day, phone call after phone call. You made the smile real, often times turning it to pee your pants laughter. 

A little over a year after we met, my parent’s finalized their ugly divorce and I was on a plane to Florida. The hardest part about leaving home was leaving you. From 1,000 miles away, I used a borrowed, pre-paid cell phone to sneak chats with you from my closet at the end of the each day.

The next time I came home for the summer, you were already in Maryland after being accepted into a top-notch performing arts high school. Already chasing down your dreams. Before long, we were living our own separate lives again. Our relationship consisted of yearly visits at the NIYC convention and random phone calls. 

Nevertheless, we remained close enough to hold a conversation for hours, sharing our secrets. You have always been safe. Around you, I open my mouth without hesitation. 

On a whim, I decided to take you up on an offer to visit you in New York City while we were both enjoying (or enduring) our last year of college, you at The Juilliard School and me at good ole’ Ball State University. 

The hour bus ride back to the city was the most awkward we’d ever shared. We literally spent the time trying to figure how many years it had been since we’d last seen each other. I can’t remember the answer to that, only that it was too many. After some Spanish food and a few of Harry’s margaritas things got back to normal. Although some re-acquainting was in order.  Your voice had a more serious tone; you were living on your own in the City, doing laundry and cooking. You were a grown up. 

The memories I have of that week are among my fondest. I still laugh out loud when I think of ripping my pants in Central Park, the disappointment I felt when you told me you didn’t eat hot dogs as we passed Gray’s Papaya, the happy hours spent in serious (albeit tipsy) conversation at Harry’s and the night before I went home, when I sat down on the floor and let you cut my hair. All of it. 

I returned home the next morning, overjoyed to be reunited with my best friend. I’m proud to know you, blessed to love you and grateful to call you friend. 
Now, if we could just fix this long distance thing...

I love you forever,