Filed In: motivation
I can remember being an adolescent dreaming of this current phase of my life. You couldn’t tell me I wouldn’t be driving my dream car and living in my downtown penthouse at this time. I envisioned by 26 I would be living my dream (at the highest level), traveling all around the world, and not have a care in this world. I guess you can say adolescent me wasn’t enitrely wrong, my dream job is actually my career, and I do travel often, however I work in retail to make ends meet, there’s no penthouse…yet, and my dream car has drastically changed, and on top of that, life has thrown me several curveballs within this last year.
I started year 26 on a high note, I brought in my Birthday partying the night away with all the people near and dear to me sipping on cocktails and smoking hookah. Then, on my actual birthday, my parents treated me to a relaxing massage followed by a family dinner at one of my favorite New Orleans restaurants. I just knew 26 would be filled with nothing but fun and fabulosity.
A few days after my birthday, I was scheduled to embark on my first journey as a filmmaker. After months of planning every single detail of my short film project I felt ready to take on this task head on. Well filming began, and it did not go to plan, if anything the plan became obselte and shxt went left. It was the first of the many times I would have to adjust within this new year of life.
As I mentioned earlier I work in retail to make ends meet, early part of last year I took on a management position at a job I had been at for 3 years, it was more money still part time, perfect right? Wrong. Between the film, working my main retail job, working my second retail job, running DATC and still trying to maintain my life as an actress, life became extremely difficult to keep up with. I found myself drained and anxious all of the time, because being all great things to all situations is not an easy task. In fact it’s the opposite of easy.
It was pretty obvious life was telling me I needed to scale back on something but what? Certainly not being a creative, the goal is to turn that into my only career so it would be stupid to scale those endeavors down. The only other choice would be to step-down at my main retail job but that meant cutting some of my money flow as well. After alot of prayer, that’s the decision I made. I went from being a manager, with a nice pay rate and hours, to working 20 hours a week with both of my retail jobs combined. I knew it would be an adjustment but oh how it was an adjustment.
Ultimately, making the decision to cut my retail hours forced me to really hustle, and build the hell out of my brand. I had to put my creative endeavors to the forefront. I could no longer view my creative work as a part-time career because the livelihood of my life depended on it. I live a pretty cool life, and I’ve become accustomed to living it that way; I wasn’t going to slow it down because I was too scared to boss up and put in work.
26 forced me to become a real adult. I had to learn how to effectively cope with all of the ups and downs that come with adulthood (and there are a lot of downs that occur). The moment you realize you are a functioning, able-bodied adult that is expected to efficiently contribute to society, shxt gets real. The important thing is to remind yourself that you can do this, and you have been prepared to handle adulthood (well hopefully).
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t happy chapter 26 has come to a close. It taught me A LOT. I was constantly reminded that I am a resilient woman that can successfully handle anything thrown my way. I often speak on the type of person that I am, but 26 taught me I am everything I say I am, plus more.
Until Next Time,
*Be sure to follow DATC’s IG: @thedevandthecity
$2.75 was a luxury that I couldn’t afford. An emotional mixture of anxiety and embarrassment bolted through my veins. $2.75 was my ticket home and I had a Negative balance of -14.69.
I proceeded to try my card anyway hoping the universe would be kind. Insufficient funds popped on the screen as I felt my dignity evaporating through my pores. Suddenly, I remember the MetroCard tucked in between miscellaneous business cards in my wallet. Finally, I exhaled. I slipped my MetroCard into reader awaiting access to the subway. DENIED! With My lips caved into my mouth and my eyebrows crept lower making wrinkles on my forehead , I quickly maneuvered through the impatient bodies.
I was back on 23rd street. High stress morphed into a numb state. People and cars shifted shapes until all I could see were complexions , yellow, blue, and reddish brown. The inner soundtrack of my breath masked the lively sounds of 23rd street. Suddenly, the buzz from my phone brought me back to reality. It was an email from chase bank informing me that I received $20 with the message: ” friends do for friends!”
As I got on the semi- crowded subway, I was filled with relief. The guy playing an original song an acoustic guitar didn’t annoy me. Instead, I actively listened. I became aware of numerous positions people held while riding. SENATOR MCCAIN WILL VOTE was printed on a newspaper adjacent to me. Mocha skin with a faint rose tinted cheekbones lingered of floral nodes a strong musk came from a man with blotched peach skin and brown beard.
I was going home. It was the first time in awhile I was grateful for having enough.
*Dev and I somewhere in Brooklyn.
On the morning flight, I had my new life figured out. I was going to become the next best thing New York had seen. The city would fall in love with my vibrant personality and acknowledge my talents. A revolving door of opportunity would present itself as I audition for various shows. I would be a standout because I would be myself. I can do the work; I needed the chance. Then, the plane landed.
Upon arrival, an ocean of bodies surrounded me filling any pocket of personal space. With a stuffed green, military duffle bag strapped on my back and black backpack hanging in my right hand, I headed to the taxi station.
After a several minutes wait, a driver of African descent pulled up to the curb.
“Where you going?” The driver asked with a strong West African accent.
“125th and Lenox’ I replied with confidence which hopefully conveyed to the driver that I was a native. Truthfully, I only knew three locations in NYC by memory: 125th and Lenox ave., 116th and Park, and Sadri’s, a famous restaurant where Broadway actors would attend.
A car ride that should’ve taken thirty minutes lasted for an hour. Eventually, the driver admitted that I was his first client in America. Overall, I was on 125th and Lenox and lost. The restaurant I wanted to attend was close for renovations and since it was around 11:15am other places were still closed. So, I walked.
After four blocks, I decided to catch a taxi to the Upper West Side and found an eatery on 86th. It was a breezy day with a kind sun; Therefore, I sat outside. Everything on the menu was free of something, (gluten, diary, soy, sugar.) I decided to order two items an eatery can never mess up, water with lemon and grilled chicken with vegetables.
As I waited for my food, I took a big breath. From there, I noticed the beige apartment building across the street with fire escapes that zig-zag along the side. Then, the various shops among the street covered by construction happening above. The soundtrack were car horns, various conversations, and ambulance sirens. I was overwhelmed.
I landed in a city where survival was daily life and anything above that was considered glamorous. Stress seemed to be spiritual breakfast. People walking oblivious to one another. Concrete overpopulated grass.
To give myself some time to grasp this urban ecosystem, I canceled any auditions I planned for the next few days. I was at an awkward place. I didn’t want to go home; but I wasn’t ready for New York.
“Chicken with vegetables!” the petite waitress said as she placed my food on the table. “Heading to the airport?” she asked.
“No, just landed a few hours ago. I moved here.”
Suddenly, a bolt of energy shifted her mundane personality into excitement. “ YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE IT HERE!” I politely smirked.
As I ate my food, her words resonated. Then, my outside smirk became an inner smile. Suddenly, the ten year old version of myself who proclaimed that he would move to New York City possessed me. My cynicism was tucked away.
Through it all, I was living my dream.
The first time a man touched me was my first experience at a club. He was security with the duty of patting down patrons, checking for weapons. After all, it was Mardi Gras. With a scrawny physique but big hands, the bouncer patted underneath my arms, my hips, my thighs, and my legs. Lastly, the bouncer sprung up to eye level. “Oh yeah, this one is good.” Though I was creeped out by his statement, I brushed off my offensiveness eagerly anticipating the unknown.
As I began to move from the creepy bouncer, he nudged me back into place. “Baby, give me that identification.” the creepy bouncer ordered. Suddenly, I froze. I was seventeen years old; granted, it was my eighteenth year, but my birthdate was in August. It was mid-February.”Similac!” the once creepy now annoying bouncer shouted while checking my identification card. I felt my heart pounding; However, I focused on the music that blared from upstairs.
Finally. I entered.
The room was lit with black lights. There was a sea of beautiful black people. Some were not
ideally beautiful but their glowing spirits stripped my preferences. The sea of people was
smiling, dancing, singing, and countless activities that I associated with liberation.
“Here!” my cousin Meka said.” Sip this.” I took a gulp of her drink. “GODAMN! Slow down.” Meka said handing me the cup of Amaretto and Pineapple Juice.
Subsequently, with a half-a-cup of alcohol in me, liquid courage introduced itself. First, my hips made a figure-eight to the rhythms of hip hop classics. Second, I mouthed lyrics while my hands did impromptu choreography. Eventually, I began to wink at attractive people.
Moments later, a gold chain eclipsed my view. The jewelry belonged to a guy wearing an all-white ensemble. He asked,” Are you ok?” I raised my eyebrows.” Baby, you’re drunk.” He stated. With a cheerful expression and robust voice,” I’m Herbert. You can call me H.B.” “So,is this your first time here ,Herbert? I informed him about how my cousin dragged me to the club and that I was a senior at Riverdale High School. “Can we dance? “ I assumed he would leave. However, he led me to a corner. I faced the crowd with his arm around my shoulder and the other resting on my hip. We danced by rocking from left to right. “Cuz we’re ordinary people, we don’t know which way to go. “His voice was lovely like most voices are when whispered. He gripped me tighter. “H. B., let’s go!” Meka said holding an empty cup-within-a cup. I nodded. He removed his shield from my body. Bringing his arm back to his side and raising the other to sip from his watered drink. Before I was filled with embarrassment, he gave me a hug. “Jesus” I exasperated. He pulled out his wallet and handed me a business card.
On the ride home, I studied that crème business card with black lettering. It read: Calvin Johnson, Winn-Dixie Produce Manager. There wasn’t a contact number. Over the next three months, I became empowered. I would stride through the halls of Riverdale with my chest out and shoulders back. When teachers would address me, I made it a priority to sustain eye contact. Granted, unoriginal, daily insults about my sexual orientation were slung at me. However, the slurs didn’t stick anymore. I knew the truth. High school was a fraction of the real world, and there was a Calvin out there for me.
Stay focused. YOUR focus is your biggest fan in your race to whatever your goals are. Make the world focus on you. If you get your hair done, ROCK it. If you get a new car, keep it CLEAN so they notice.
Tell the world focus on you. This means that you have to focus on yourself and your growth. What can you do better? How can you get to the next step? These are questions you should be asking at least once a month. I feel that asking daily cause stress and anxiety, plus neither are cute and concealer is expensive. Just a quick thought.
IN the end there are only a few main points. MAINTAIN your focus. PURSUE what you are focused on. IGNORE anything that isn’t focused on you (except your job, them hoes pay you). Last but not least PURSUE anything that you focus on WHOLEHEARTEDLY.
Stay creative, Stay inspired, Stay awesome,
*me on 9/20/2016 holding the camera I used for the “Chains” filming.
So it’s no secret, I’ve gone slightly ghost on my beloved website, but umm I’ve been extremely busy. Yes, I know that’s probably one of the most cliché excuses someone could give…but it’s the truth.
As most of you all may know I’m an actress, but at the beginning of this year I decided to transition to behind the scenes and start a production company. In June, I began the pre-production for my first short film project “Chains: The Story Of A Lost Black Man’s Soul.” I knew that making a film would take a lot of commitment and time, but what I didn’t know was how hard it would be to maintain my many other gigs. Multitasking has always been one of my strong suits so I figured adding “making a film” to my list of to-dos would be no big deal. Oh how I was I wrong.
Throughtout this entire “I’m becoming a filmmaker” process I’ve had several grand a-ha moments, and I’ve learned so much about myself as a businesswoman and a creative. Solidifiying myself as a legit filmmaker has been such a whirlwind and surreal experience. The most important lesson I learned from this is that you can’t always do everything on your own and that it is okay to ask for help sometimes. I can’t say thank you enough to my diligent production team and talented cast of “Chains.” Truthfully, their encouraging words is the only reason I haven’t completely lost my mind throughout this process.
Although the film is still in production, I’m making a commitment to all of my DEVandtheCITY supporters whom have been constantly asking me what’s going on with the site to make it one of my top priorities again. The fact that you all have missed that I haven’t been consistently updating the website means the world to me. Thank you all so much for all of your continuous love and support.
You can look forward to more thinkpieces, style and beauty tips, fun cocktails recipes, and interviews with the dopest up-and-coming talent coming soon! I’m ecstatic to continue to share my life’s journey with you all.
Photo | bingimages
I haven’t always been this strong, self-assured, and confident woman that I am today. I can recall a time in my life where I was so lost or even confused on what it even meant to be a confident woman. Growing up, I was always surrounded by such beautiful and strong women, who without even saying one word commanded the attention of everyone every time they walked into a room. Something I always wanted, but never quite understood how to do.
When I got to my teen years, like most people I began to second-guess everything about me, and truthfully I began to ask the age old question “Am I good enough?” I would pick myself a part physically and mentally. It didn’t matter how much others complimented me, I never quite believed them, I almost felt like they saw me as severely flawed and only told me positive things out of pity. This way of thinking lasted until maybe my sophomore year of college.
At 19, I began to learn about the art of Kabbalah. Kabbalah means to receive, and is the ancient wisdom that reveals how the universe and life work. It teaches you how to receive fulfillment within your life. A huge part of Kabbalah is reciting healthy affirmations. I began to really sit with myself, meditate, and learn why I felt such negative things about myself. I started practicing daily affirmations that focused on inner peace and understanding my self-worth.
After about a month or so of reciting my affirmations, I started believing others when they complimented me because I began to see the beauty within myself. I began to realize perfection is not attainable and that I am a work of art created by God himself (or herself) and that alone makes me good enough. I stopped apologizing for my beliefs and morals. I stopped caring about others perception of who I am. I began to truly see myself, my real self, and love the woman who I saw in the mirror everyday.
Cut to now, I am probably the happiest I have ever been with myself. When I say I love me, hunty I love me. I am so proud of the woman that I’ve grown into, and I will never apologize for being authentically myself. I gotten to this space in life where I now know if someone doesn’t like me, it has nothing to do with me but everything to do with them. As my Hébert would say “Hunni, they just can’t take, and that’s okay.” So call me conceited, vain, and any other similar adjective. I’ve worked incredibly hard to become the empowered woman that I am today, and I refuse to apologize for having such a beautiful, bold, and bright aura.
If you haven’t gotten to this place of sanctity please know that it is okay. It takes time, and is not something that will happen overnight. Finding peace within yourself is not an easy thing, but it is extremely necessary. It’s the only true way you will grow. I promise you that one day you will get there.
Remember being beautiful has nothing to do with physicality, but everything to do with who you are on the inside. Truly beautiful people have a light that comes from within them. They have an energy that is unmatched. And they have a spirit that is so captivating you can feel the happiest that lies within their soul.
Now go out find your inner-peace, find your happiness, and most importantly find your self-worth…and don’t you ever apologize for it.
I’ll never forget the moment I decided to become a lifestyle blogger. I had been secretly writing poetry and think-pieces on my tablet for maybe a year or so. I would write about my life, the world, and how those around me would make me feel. Creative writing has always been very therapeutic for me. After sharing a few of my pieces with my family they encouraged me to share my passion for writing with the world. At first, I wasn’t sure how to go about doing that, and then one day it dawned on me I’m always giving advice or debating about topics that are near and dear to my heart, why not turn those discussions into blog entries? Well that’s exactly what I did. After that, my website DEVandtheCITY just flawlessly came together.
It’s a surreal feeling to know my website has been in existence for an entire year now. I have viewers from all over the world, and everyday I find it hard to wrap my head around that idea. I love the fact that I can freely express myself and you all just seem to get me. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that your words resonate with individuals that that are thousand and thousand of miles away.
To all of the DEVandtheCITY supporters, I just want to say from the bottom of my heart thank you all so, so, SO much! Thanks for sharing my posts on your social sites, for the retweets and favorites, and just for old-fashioned “word of mouth.” You all will never know how much you mean to me. I truly hope you all will continue to support my website and my brand. I look forward to continuing to share my life and thoughts with you all.
Always remember to keep God first, be kind, remain humble, stay grateful, and that there is no such such thing as a dream being too big.
Photo | Grove Pashley/Corbis
On last weekend the annual Essence Festival made its’ way down to New Orleans. I look forward to the Essence Fest every year, its always a fun and fabulous time! There’s music, good food, beautiful people, and my personal favorite the “empowerment seminars.”
This year I had the pleasure of attending a seminar hosted by renown speaker and author Iyanla Vazant. I am such a huge fan of hers! Like myself she keeps it real, and is very witty. I just love her spirit and energy. Her message was simple. You are the sole controller of your life, and don’t you forget it.
After hearing Iyanla ‘s speech, I began to contemplate. I thought to myself, why as humans do we find ourselves allowing others to make decisions for us? Do we feel inadequate to make our own choices? Do we want to have someone else to blame other than ourselves if all goes wrong? No matter the reason, we need to stop. We have to learn to start depending on our own knowledge. Will we always get it right? Probably not, but that is what life is about. Life is a learning process, a feeling process. We will never have all of the answers, nor will we always make the right choices.
I will say, as I’ve gotten older my ability to make the “right” decisions has tremendously improved. Most would say it’s because I’ve matured, but honestly, I don’t think it has to do anything with that. I’ve learned to trust my instinct, or as my mother would call it, my “gut-feeling.” So far it has yet to steer me wrong. Another thing that helps, prayer. One of the joys of the journey of life is that we never have to walk it alone. We all have a higher power on our side, whether you realize it or not. As long as we have faith, everything will always work out according to plan.
Understand that life is not easy, and it never will be. Those struggles are necessary, and in the end you’re going to be a stronger and wiser person. So stop worrying about if you have all the answers. Stop caring if you don’t get it right all of time. Go out and enjoy life. Everything will fall into place when it’s suppose to. Remember the hiccups of life may not be pleasant but they’re necessary, they help us grow.