As you can imagine, there was a ton of flurry in the weeks immediately after receiving the news about our QVC and The Home Shopping Network Business Spotlight opportunity. The Friday before our air date, I had two successful Skype tests to ensure my live streamed segment would go off without a hitch.
I was nervous; I was antsy and they said that my test was the smoothest that they had experienced this year! Wooo hoooo! I was grateful that our Spotlight segment was during the final week of the schedule; a good 10 weeks away from the moment we found out, and I was generally excited overall,... but nothing could have prepared me for the morning of our on-air day!
Just the evening before, I was frantic; shouting at contractors, freaking out about the renovation project for my new community arts space, The Art SPOT. Would they be sure they would be finished and cleaned up so I could use the space for the big day?? A few frenzied hours later, there I was,... alone in a white room of freshly painted walls frantically wiping off the dust, breathing in that good feeling when you get to see a vision manifest. Setting up the Culture Portrait Product Collection on my handy-dandy IKEA bookcase was the cherry on top!
I took a few deep breaths, placed my tripod in its proper place and headed to bed. The day concluded with my having checked every one of the “to-do” boxes on my list; in true artist fashion, I actually draw boxes to check off (my mother thinks that is so funny), so all in all, the day felt “good.” I took a hot shower, snuggled into my blankies and closed my eyes on my cool pillow.
I wish I could say that I woke up to the bright morning sun brushing my cheek.
I remember where I was when I received the call: at my dining table working on my laptop. My two teenagers were sitting on our couch fiddling on their phone… the TV blasting in the background.
It was a typical summer day during COVID. The city remained pretty shut down, we were still freaked out about being close to strangers, wearing masks and washing our hands a million times per day.
Just a month or so prior one of my business mentors forwarded me an email. QVC (yea, QVC!!), HSN and their parent company, The Qurate Retail Group were looking for Black owned businesses to spotlight and, on a whim, I applied.
Using their platform to spotlight black owned businesses was their response to the recent uprisings, racial injustice, and general obstacles to opportunities in the Black Community. Now, you may not know this about me but I apply to everything! While I generally check if I am qualified; I can make no promises that I will not apply for a grant, residency, award or contest even if I am completely unqualified for it on paper.
As a matter of fact, most of the traditional jobs I have landed were “out of my league” on paper. You just never know! Most people DON’T apply; they talk themselves out of even the opportunities that they ARE qualified for, so… I have trained myself to STOP AND APPLY as soon as I see an opportunity.
It has generally worked out in my favor. Do I land every deal, grant or residency? No; but I would’ve definitely missed opportunities had I never applied to the dozens of applications that have crossed my email inbox. So I “say all that to say” that I made sure to apply to this QVC/HSN opportunity even though I never thought I would get it.
I wish I could say that I applied with confidence...
It's been rough. 2020 has been a real curve ball for so many intersected and overlapping reasons. I am tired.
I find myself not knowing what to do; restless; energized and exhausted. Have you ever been in that place? What do you do to re-energize?
I am not a big fan of taking photos... of myself. Never have been. So what do I do? I set up a photoshoot with a friend who is great at taking photos and I push through it... looking uncomfortable the whole way. Why do I do that to myself?
Over the last few weeks it has become increasingly clear that no matter how successful I am in business, at home, with my children... if I don't get reallllllly comfortable with the uncomfortable things my life will not be as fulfilling as I desire. I remember plopping on a couch feeling the whole weight of my body, my spirit and my story bang into the cushions. I remember looking up through tears of glass and saying, "Either we are gonna find out what is going on with me or I am jumping out of the window." That was at minimum 3 years ago. Erva Baden (she is dope. You should definitely check her out.) sat across from me and held my hand through unraveling decades of trauma.
That was three years ago and I am reminded of an old church adage..."Another level, another devil", except this time (and likely every time) the devil is ME. NO! I am not saying that I am the devil! Relax! Put your annointing oil away and breathe. What I mean is this: with every new level I ascend, there is a new level of ME I need to conquer, love and understand.
Some things need to be conquered, processed, expressed and stood upon. Some things need love, care, soothing, shit, a hug! Then there are some things that need to be understood, validated, heard.
I hate this place. Hate being defined as really, Really, REALLY not liking something. I hate this place because it forces me to move to and THROUGH so many hurtful places that I instinctually retreat from. Who WANTS to stick their hand in a fan? Who WALKS toward the fire? Even the Pheonix would retreat if it could.
So because I don't want to, I write... about some of the hardest, most destructive and defining moments of my life. The lump in my through tells me I am moving in the right direction. Until then.
New challenge: to be open, vulnerable, and expressed.
I have been painting or creating just about all my life...
Even the 15 years or so, from about 20 to 35 years old, when I put the paintbrushes, charcoal and canvas down and stopped creating through visual art, I was creating programs, curriculum, and events at work. There was this incessant need to create, to make something new that I hadn't seen before... to see what could be made from the components given to me that invigorated me.
It was kind of like the "When life gives you lemons" saying... I would, throughout the years, take what life threw my way and do all I could to stay afloat and make SOMETHING, anything, out of it that resembled a palatable creation. Sometimes the creation was too bitter and others it was just right but, all in all, my creative drive was always there. That is not to say that it was always easy to create, to get in the zone.
I remember dark times, very dark times, when the most I could create was a dark room with me on the couch and tears, lots of tears. There is a strange thing that happens when you are depressed (and I was- very much so), the music you select (let me correct that) the music I (underlined "I") selected was somber, sad, dark, melancholy... I couldn't talk about what was going on with me. Hell, I didn't really understand what was going on with me and it was like the songs helped express it for me. The songs helped me cry more which seems like a bad thing but, I have learned in the almost 20 years since that time, it is good for the soul; the actual expression of trauma, pain and grief. Of course, I had no idea that is what was going on or that trauma, and grief were the culprits but the songs helped none the less.
What did she say?...
Yea. You heard me right,...Before you dismiss it, judge it, or try to figure out what Kool-Aid I drank today, let me explain. Please. Please let me explain. First, let me be sure to share that I am not a yoga expert, practitioner or even a reasonably good yoga student. Second, know that there is a method to my madness... I am sure you are wondering how long I will take to get to it already!
sI have practiced yoga off and on since my now 16 year old son was born. Initially it was used as a way to relax and reset my system. My pregnancy was especially amazing and stressful at the same time. I really found peace and a place to restore my sanity even if only for the hour during the classes. As I returned to yoga over the years, whether in a class or via YouTube with my daughter following along (that was fun and cute!), there has always been this one concept that I have heard repeated over and over... "Strength and softness", "be strong and soft", or some other variation. Coming from a family of strong black women, (my grandmother raised 5 children solo for the most part while building a business, my aunt runs a business while raising children and keeping a home for her and her husband, my mother raised me as a single mother building her business, and the list goes on and on) it was not a question of what type of woman I would be. There was a single phrase I remember my grandmother drilling into me over the years:
There comes a time in every soul's life when the self begs the question... "What I ought... or what I AM?."
Those are the words I wrote on January 17, 2017... I wrote those words then stopped writing... until today.
It seems the answer to that question was too heavy for me at the top of this year. I am not so sure that it is any less difficult now or if I am just up for the challenge of seeing what the answer might be... or maybe it is in pondering the question that I can figure out the oughts and AMs of my life. Are there overlaps? Things that I ought to do that are also part of who I AM? I hope I am not getting too deep...
BEHIND THE BRUSH