Pivot

When I was in high school, I was a member of the marching band. More specifically, I was a member of the color guard. You’ve seen us! We’re the ladies usually clad in something very tight, very shiny, and very glittery, strategically placed around the field with flags, rifles, and sabers in hand to give the field show a little more pizzazz. My high school band, The Pickerington Marching Tigers, was pretty amazing. We performed at all the half-time shows, marched and performed in parades in my community and around the country, and won many competitions during my four years in high school.

Not only was I in my high school band, I grew up in Columbus, Ohio, home of Ohio State and TBDBITL (The Best Damn Band In The Land; see above!), and I attended Howard University. Anyone who knows anything about Black College bands understands that no more needs to be said! So I’ve had my share of marching band indoctrination. I understand the process of creating shapes on the field. Without going into too much detail, there are lots of charts involved, each with a new formation and instructions on how to get from one shape to another. Each band member has a specific path that they must follow to contribute to the final goal. When it’s all said and done, and if everything has gone according to the charted plans, there has been a spectacular show and all the pictures have been achieved flawlessly, culminating in one final picture. In order to get to the final picture, each band member has to follow the charted plans and perform their designated turns, flanks, rotations, roll-steps, and pivots.

Pivots.

A pivot is defined as the central point, pin, or shaft on which a mechanism turns or oscillates (noun) or the actual act of rotation or turning (verb). All these marching band memories emphasize the importance of a pivot on the field. As I pondered more, I was forced to consider pivots in life.

At various points in our lives, we are faced with pivots. You may hear someone use the phrase “pivotal moment” in reference to a point in their life when a defining decision had to be made; a decision that altered the perceived course of their life. Sometimes pivotal moments are chosen. We have several options and we get to make the final decision, thereby deciding the new course or direction for ourselves. But sometimes, pivotal moments are forced. In our own understanding, they’ve come out of nowhere. They weren’t included in our 1, 5, or 10-year life plan. We didn’t put them on our vision board or include them on our prayer list. We never considered them, meaning we never prepared ourselves for them. But nonetheless, they came, forcing us to make an immediate turn, knocking us off the course we were on and moving us in a direction that was unplanned and uncharted…at least by us.

In my opinion, these pivotal moments, the ones that give us no warning and offer no option to choose differently, are the most important. These are the moments chosen by God to keep us on the path and purpose that He has chosen for our lives. These are the moments that could have us moving closer to the Promised Land, or keep us wandering through the wilderness for 40 years à la the Israelites. Because these pivots are not of our choosing, when they happen we find ourselves on a path where the final destination is unknown. The path may be rocky and cloudy, making it difficult to find our footing and scary to navigate. We’ve been forced into this change. Every answer to every question is “I don’t know”. These are the moments where our faith, trust, and obedience are tested and strengthened.

Recently, I found myself experiencing these kinds of pivotal moments. I’ve had many doors close in my face and many promising opportunities seemingly disintegrate into thin air. I’ve questioned whether I made a wrong turn somewhere. I’ve found myself looking back, retracing my steps, dwelling on the past to figure out just where I went wrong. The frustrating thing is that I cannot find where I went wrong. I’ve gone through my own checklist:

  • Was I obedient?
    • Check
  • Did I follow peace?
    • Check
  • Have I wronged anyone?
    • Nope. And if I did, I handled it accordingly.

So…uhhh…what’s going on?! Where did I go wrong?

Ok. So maybe that’s a bit dramatic. But anyone who’s been through this kind of change knows that THIS IS how it feels. You’re walking steadily along the path that you believe you’re supposed to be on, then you’re forced to make a quick turn and go in a direction that seems to take you further from your goal! In my questioning, praying, and chats with trusted friends, the answer I’ve received is “You haven’t gone wrong. Maybe this is just a pivot”.

Well, ok. I guess I don’t really have a choice. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. You DO have a choice. You can exercise your faith and obedience and move along this new path, unknown and scary as it may seem. Or you can be defiant, dig your heels in, and prolong your own destiny.

Well when I think of it like that, the choice is clear!
What has been amazing is that in the midst of doors closing, other doors have opened. I’ve been challenged and encouraged to shift my thinking, be more creative, develop new ideas, and work on my own visions. But most importantly, I’ve re-learned and been reminded that God has an epic plan for my life and that He has never let me fall or fail. Indeed, in the difficult moments, “my clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on my feet”.* I’ve been reminded of the dreams I’ve had and prayed for since I was a child. And I’ve realized that those dreams are big. Big dreams require big shifts. Big visions mean that you can’t walk through any ol’ door. So when certain doors close I can rest easy, knowing that the opportunity behind that door is not meant for me, my vision, or overall good. It’s definitely not easy, especially when the new path is cloudy and seems neverending. But the strengthening that I’m experiencing in the process will only serve me in the end.

So…
The lesson?
Learn to embrace your pivots. Don’t be so stubborn for your plan that you miss achieving the ultimate plan. Sometimes you get to choose your pivotal moments. Sometimes they’re chosen for you. In those moments, learn and embrace obedience. Just like the final picture that the marching band creates, the pivots that you must make will ensure that your journey is purposed, and your final destination, ordained.

*Deut. 29: 5

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Book Signing & Wine Tasting Event!

Hello All!
On November 4, 2107 I’ll be co-hosting the official book launch for The Heart Works. I’ll be partnering with WaiterCanIHave to bring you a literary and wine tasting event. Attendees will have the opportunity to mingle, enjoy a reading of excerpts from my book, and taste 5 wines perfect for the cool fall weather. There will also be a raffle for a few surprise gifts and each attendee will leave with a signed copy of The Heart Works.

Tickets are available now. Get your tickets and share with a friend.
I’m so excited for this next step of the journey and I hope to see you there!

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Don’t Sacrifice Form

If you’ve ever spent quality time with a trainer or participated in any physical training program, you’ve heard this phrase. “Don’t sacrifice form.” When you hear this in a gym or physical fitness environment, it’s usually because someone has neglected proper form in their workout for the sake of just finishing the exercise or completing a higher number of repetitions. Perhaps the amount of weight they’re handling is a bit much, or they’ve become tired from the activity. Usually, a trainer will advise that the person use a lighter weight or slow the exercise down in order to maintain proper form and avoid injury. Making gains in the gym isn’t always about the amount of weight or the number of reps. More benefit will come when an exercise is executed properly.

The other day I was doing an online workout at home and I heard the trainer repeat this a few times.
“Don’t sacrifice form. Rest, use a lighter weight, or do fewer reps. But make sure your form is correct.”
I’ve heard this phrase many times before, but this time it struck me in a different way. I got to thinking about my life and my career.

I’m an artist. I love to write (obviously…). I’ve found that it’s a wonderful way to get my thoughts out, purge, and share what has been placed on my heart. The wonderful thing about writing is that I can choose my own words and use them to say what I want and need to say. I get to tell my own story the way I want to tell it.

But I’m also an actor.

As an actor, I’m called upon to tell stories that are not necessarily my own. It’s my job to bring life to a story and character that I may have a lot, very little, or nothing at all in common with. I believe in that charge. I believe that every individual should have the right and opportunity to tell their own story, regardless of my opinion about their experience. But I also believe that not every story is for me to tell. Yes, I’m an actor. But not every character is for me to embody.

In the midst of my work as a storyteller, whether the story is my own or someone else’s, it’s important for me to remember not to “lose form”. It’s important to constantly check in with myself, ask myself what I’m willing to do and how far I’m willing to go to get the desired result. Do the means always justify the ends? Am I willing to say “no” to something that may offer career advancement if it requires me to break form?

Many years ago I was watching an interview with an actor that is very successful and looked up to by many young actors. I don’t recall the question, but this actor made a statement that has stuck with me through the years. He said, “Decide very early in your career what you’re willing to do, and stick with it”. That is a piece of advice I still carry with me. It is something solid that I can look to when opportunities and setbacks come. It is a guideline that ensures I am being true to myself and the standards that I’ve set for myself. Yes, it is possible that what you say “no” to today, you may feel ok to say “yes” to tomorrow. But at the core, some standards just stand.

Whatever your walk in life, it’s valuable to check in with yourself from time to time to assess whether you’re in line with the values you want to maintain and the principles you’ve decided upon and accepted for yourself. Have you sacrificed your form and allowed yourself to waver, just a bit, because the perceived outcome is what you desire, or are you still in line with the guidelines that you’ve set for yourself? The outcome may seem desirable, but things are not always what they seem. “There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”* Count the cost. Check your form. Be sure that the cost is a bit too much, even when the end is desirable.

Don’t sacrifice form…

*Proverbs 14:12 & Proverbs 16:25

 

 

 

FREE BOOK INSIDE!!

Hello All!
My book has been out for about a week now and I’m still riding high off the release and the love from everyone. Many of you have already purchased the paperback copy and I’m so thankful. I hope you’re enjoying what you’ve read so far.
To make the book a little more accessible, I am running a short promotion for the e-version of the book. Starting today, August 25, the Kindle version will be available for free download!
Yep!
Free!
Who gives anything away for free these days?
All you have to do is download the book straight onto your Kindle device.

Don’t have a Kindle? No worries.
The Kindle App can be downloaded onto your Apple or Android device, or your computer.
The Kindle App is also FREE!
Two free things for the price of one. 🙂

Follow the links below to download the Kindle App and my book, The Heart Works.
This promotion will only run for a short time, August 25-27, so don’t hesitate.
Thanks again for all your support and thanks for reading!

DOWNLOAD THE FREE KINDLE APP
DOWNLOAD THE HEART WORKS, KINDLE EDITION

 

HAPPY READING!!!

 

 

Official Release!


Well, the book has been out for two full days! WOOHOO!!
I must say, I’m feeling a bit of withdrawal. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t need to sit at my computer and do some sort of edit or reread or troubleshoot. I feel a bit like I’ve given birth! 😀
I received my first copy in the mail two days ago and I must say, it’s quite thrilling to open a package and pull out a book that you created.
I’m so thankful for the love I’ve received so far by friends on all my social media platforms. I’m hoping that you’ll all read, share, and spread the word about the book. But most of all, I really pray that there’s some part of it that blesses you or provides a bit of healing, clarity, or a revelation of some sort. As I mentioned in a previous post, whenever I reread a portion of it, I’m reminded of the situation that brought about a certain lesson or revelation and I’m so grateful for those reminders.

A friend of mine commented that I did this undercover, very quietly. And it’s true. I did. I first started this writing process in 2014, not knowing that a full book would come out of it, just knowing that writing always helped me get things out. Once I started reading what I’d written, I realized that there was more there than just a journal for me. I explored many different ideas of what I thought it might be; a daily gratitude journal for women, a devotional, or just writing prompts. I have to be honest and say that reading through everything and deciding what to share was not an easy process. I had so many reservations. Did I really wanted to be so vulnerable about emotions that I was feeling? Would people who know me read parts of it and draw their own conclusions about what I shared? These and other questions swirled through my head. Don’t get me wrong. This is not a memoir or tell-all. But it is vulnerable. As we all know, true vulnerability is not an easy thing to navigate. So I did have some reservations. I also wondered if parts of it came across as preachy. But I concluded that these are the experiences and stories and lessons and words that God gave me to share. And I have a right, just as everyone does, to share them the way they were given to me. And now that it’s out, I feel absolutely no fear! I truly believe that when you’re bold enough to be vulnerable and own and share your own story, you’ve empowered yourself and no one can hold anything over you. That’s true freedom!

That being said, the procrastination has been REAL. I moved back to New York in early 2016 after having been on tour for close to six years. My original goal was to finish the book while I was taking some time to rest and get back in the groove of the city. Well, it didn’t happen. It sat on my desktop and I’d open it, do a little edit, close it again, and not re-open it for months. I knew that I wanted and needed to get it done and I mentioned the project to a few people, but I just wasn’t doing what was necessary to make it happen. There was definitely some fear involved in all that procrastination. Reading through made me relive certain moments and feel emotions all over again and I didn’t like the way it felt. But I knew that there was a healing element to what I’d written. There was also the question of how to get it published. Between the fear and the questions, I was completely bogged down with things that kept holding me back from actually finishing. Even though I was putting it off, I knew it would get done…because it HAD to get done.

I got to the end of 2016, not having kept my promise to myself to complete the book, and so it was on my list of goals for completion this year. A friend of mine, Claytine Nisbett, self-published her first novel earlier this year on Amazon (read it!). After seeing that, I was so encouraged to finally get mine done. I reached out to her with tons of questions about the process and she was so gracious to encourage me to get it done and walk me through the process of self-publishing on the Amazon platform. From that moment, it was up to me to just do it.

The writing and editing proved to be the easy part. The tedium came once I got into the formatting process. Whew! There’s not time enough to go into that! Let’s just say that I learned a lot about formatting a book; editing for trim size, proper margins which had to be correct down to 1/100 of an inch, cover and spine measurements, converting photos into different file types, and more! The Kindle version was finished first. The paperback version took longer and made me a bit crazy due to the specificity of measurements for the cover. I’d decided to create my own cover, not knowing anything about how to format a book cover. I taught myself how to use Photoshop (kind of) and two days before I was set to release, I was still being driven crazy because the file just wasn’t the right size. No matter how many times I started from scratch, reformatted and resized every little component, things still weren’t lining up with the provided template the way they needed to. By this point I was feeling pretty impressed with the fact that I’d figured out so many things on my own, but I decided to abandon my “do-it-all-by-myself” resolve, bite the bullet, and pay a graphic designer to do what I couldn’t seem to figure out. Since I belong to so many social media groups full of artists of all disciplines, I didn’t have to look far for someone with experience designing book covers. A gentleman by the name of Will Focus stepped in and gave me three quick edits of my book cover two days before the day I was planning to launch! Perfect!!

So that’s the Reader’s Digest version of the whole process. And now, time to promote the book. Prepare to see lots of social media posts! I’m hoping to be able to do book readings and signings, talks and presentations, and everything that comes with being a self-published, first-time author. And if you live in NYC, there will definitely be some sort of launch event. I’m so ready for the ride!

As I’ve said before, I’m so thankful for all the support I’ve received thus far. I hope you all find some piece of the book that resonates with you and I hope you’ll share with others. Please feel free to send me feedback or leave it on Amazon. I’d love to hear it! Also, be on the look out for other projects. Now that this one is finished I’ve got more sparks of creation, more stories and ideas that need to be created. I’m committed to getting out all the visions that have been placed inside of me!

 

Pre-order NOW!!

I’m so excited to share that I have an official launch date.
AUGUST 16, 2017!!
That’s the date that my book will be available as an ebook and physical copy.

The Kindle version is now available for pre-order. Simply click the link below to order directly from Amazon and you will automatically receive the book, downloaded to your Kindle or Kindle app on August 16th.

That’s just a week away!

I am so thrilled, I’m beyond words. As I said in a previous post, I’ve been reading and re-reading and reading again, editing, formatting, reformatting, etc, etc, etc. I’m so ready to share this work with you all!
Click the button below to get your order in.
And thanks for the continued love and support!

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What a blessing…

I am currently re-reading and editing the book for the 100th time. I must say, you know something you’ve written is from God when you re-read it and needed to be reminded of the lesson that you wrote.
Throughout this process I’ve asked myself “is this from God, or is this just me trying to do something great?” I’ve really wrestled with that question.
Well folks, I know it’s from God. Even if it’s just for me to read over and over again through the years. Yes, I’m blessed reading the words God gave me and I pray that at least one more person will be just as blessed.
I can’t wait to share!
Stay tuned…