10 years ago TODAY, I used a 1 way ticket and moved to NEW YORK CITY! I didn’t know exactly what type of artist I wanted become, but as SOON as I landed, I knew NYC would help me figure it out. I’ve changed many times over and I’ve lost often myself, but I never forgot my roots. I’ve experienced brokenness, but that taught me resilience. I’ve danced in darkness, unbeknownst to me, the Light never left me. I’ve physically felt the hand of God. I still cannot find the words to describe that moment. Life has taught me how to protect good energy, give without expectations, build a tribe, forgive the unforgivable and to how to relax.
The art of “relaxing” is nearly impossible in such a city. In fact, very few of us actually get it.
I’ve been living away from my hometown, Memphis, longer than I actually lived there. I still call my Grandma every Sunday. I’ve not missed one in 10 years.
If we’ve been friends for a while, then you know that I do a shoot or write an open letter every year on July 17. I think New York is the ish! This place made a woman outta me so I always like to share a few words to commemorate the day that changed the course of my life.
This year, I chose to pay homage to the Elizabethan era. As a kid, I loved that part of history class! I loved the exaggerated makeup, high hair, petticoats and unrealistic garb!
As an adult, I realize that I NEVER saw images of people that looked like me being regal or royal. In the school books, my people were battered, destitute, tattered and torn. I wonder if the school administration intentionally burned these images in our innocent minds…(sarcasm). Millions of little brown future millennials were traumatized and taught that we were subservient and that we could NEVER be royalty. That was such a powerful trick and by far one of the toughest for me to overcome.
This year was a year of unlearning for me. I am reminded that I am worthy and that I deserve all the goods things that have been happening in my life. I am neither anxious nor worrying. I am comfortably in love. My circle is solid and I am valuable to every person in it. God hears my prayers. I am what I say I am.
I am blessed.
I hope you like the images, messages, hair and makeup. My lovely Husband was a great sport as I channled my inner Elizabethan! Photo cred to Tony!
After I graduated from undergrad at University of Tennessee, I moved to Dallas, TX for Graduate School. I stayed there from 2003 to 2007. During my time in Texas, I worked in corporate America long enough to realize that I wasn’t about that cubicle life. I’d always had a talent for art, acting and writing but I was a bit too afraid to pursue it full force. UNTIL….I was left with no other option. I was honestly so unhappy with the way my life was panning out and my creativity was literally being smothered by excel worksheets and paperwork! I hopped on my broomstick and I flew to Harlem. I stayed on 135th and Lenox with a friend for a few weeks until I found my own place on 144th and Amsterdam.
God is my lifeline. Always will be and always has been. Living in New York presented SO many challenges. I mean, I’ve pretty much gotten the hang of it now, but those 1st few years were tough! Many times, all I could rely on was prayer. I talked to God all the time. It wasn’t until 2012 that I finally shut up and began to listen. That’s when everything started to fall into place.
I did not move to New York with an exit strategy. In fact, I did not realize that I needed one until I was at Jacob’s Soul Food spot on 129th and Lenox. Jacob’s is a buffet style place, but they weigh your food in order to determine the cost. After loading my styrofoam container heavily and paying $25 for fried chicken one too many times, I learned how to lean my plate! I was having a meal there one afternoon, and there was a live jazz band. The lead singer was a beautiful woman. She had long red nails, perfect porcelain veneers and a dark brown wig. She had to have been in her late 40s, but her soul was like mine. I could tell by her intense performance that she wanted to be famous. She and I had a chance to talk after her set. I learned that she was from Mississippi! We we both country girls! She moved to New York in her 20s with hopes of being a Broadway performer. She shared her story with me and I started to get sad. She had a life full of almosts and call backs. She never got that big break, but she was still waiting on it. She had put off relationships and kids because music was the love of her life. She gave me a bit of advice that I still hold with me now. She said, “You found your way here country girl. Don’t let New York take your youth. Don’t ever forget where home is”.
In order to NOT go crazy in the Rotten Apple, you gotta constantly check yourself. If not, you can get so caught up in the shenanigans and lights that you will totally abandon your purpose Unless you’re well off, living in New York is HARD. It’s unpredictable, expensive, crowded and literally the BEST city on Earth. There’s an electricity that shoots through your veins as soon as you breathe the New York air. It makes you just want to do a million things in one day. You’ll meet some of the most beautiful strangers you’ve ever seen. You will explore human nature. You’ll learn the art of the hussle (little kids even know how to do an elevator pitch). I’ve become a shrewd business woman and a thinker. I question the rules and I study authority. I’m not naive. I still love and laugh and I am still kind. There are many that have been stripped of their smile because instead of taking a bite out of the Big Apple, it took a bite outta them. I am one of the lucky ones. I have been enormously blessed.