For My Misses Who Are Feeling Burnt out – How I Re-lit My Hustle

For My Misses Who Are Feeling Burnt out – How I Re-lit My Hustle

 

So I am sitting at my desk listening to the rain fall, watching my cursor blink until my eyes burn. It’s the kind of grey Tuesday that pairs perfectly with the overall blah-ness still hanging over my head from the weekend. Today would be the perfect day to spend in bed, because frankly, ya girl is burnt the fuck out.

Thanks to social media, it’s no secret I’ve been going hard to turn my dreams into a reality. I’ve been putting in work 7 days a week for so long I’ve lost count. Between clocking overtime at my whack-ass 9-5, setting up photoshoots, promoting my new book, and working as a brand ambassador on the weekends, my life has room for very little play right now. Like, VERY little. But, in order to be great sacrifices must be made. . .

I’ve always viewed my ambition or my “hustle” as a good thing to have until about two months ago when I went to LA for the first time. And while I enjoyed my time there, I can still remember standing in the middle of my Air bnb on that first day and just feeling like, “Okay. I’m here. I made it. Now what?” Surely, there should be someone I should be calling or somewhere I had to be by a certain time. I felt uneasy and anxious at first, and it had nothing to do with the fact that I just traveled across the country by myself.

I’d just released book number four the day before I flew out. Technically I was on vacation, and I for damn sure earned it, but there I was feeling guilty about not being productive – even if only for a few days. For the first time in a long time I legit had nothing to do, and I didn’t know how to feel about it. What I will tell you though, is the peace I felt on the rooftop as the wind blew through my curls and the sun bronzed my skin was a feeling I hope to recapture next week. Lord knows I needed that.

Not that there is anything wrong with working hard. I just think it’s important to set limits and be selective. Lucky for me, I came home to more interviews and my very first hosting gig, but my time away taught me that I cannot take every opportunity presented to me – even though the do-it-all in me might want to. In order to keep making progress it is important that I take time for myself and rest. Coming home from LA helped me realize I can still find ways to get things done, and that it is okay to give my body/mind the time it needs to catch up.

#formymisses Caught up in the Headlines: Racism at the Races & Why Art Always Wins

#formymisses Caught up in the Headlines: Racism at the Races & Why Art Always Wins

Regardless of whether you write, paint, make music, take pics; or if you are one of the lucky few who have been blessed with a combination of talents, I think we could all agree that now is a tricky time to be a creative. Artists around the world use our feelings and experiences as inspiration, which in my opinion, is what makes art so fucking amazing and necessary. But sometimes, these same feelings and experiences can also make the idea of picking up a pen feel like it weighs a thousand pounds. Sometimes it’s easier for me ignore my own thoughts rather than share them with you.

I have a lot to catch you up on, but for now, let’s take it back to the weekend of the Charlottesville riots. I had briefly mentioned this post was coming a few weeks ago, but what I didn’t tell you was I was one of the models hired to work a NASCAR event representing a major car maker as a brand ambassador. Basically it was my job to smile, interact with potential customers and give away free stuff (because who doesn’t love free shit). Simple enough right?

I had worked at the speedway before, and despite my reservations, my interaction with crowd-goers was nothing less than pleasant and polite. However, as a woman of mixed-descent (Italian and Black in case you were wondering), I’m not going to sit here and act like I never once questioned how I would be received at what was sure to be a mostly-white event. The saddest part of it all was that out of all the smiles and “Thank Yous” exchanged, the image I took home with me is of a group of 3-4 teenage boys wandering around with Confederate flags tied around their necks like capes. Driving past the rows of trailers I saw too many Confederate flags to count.

Needless to say, the 45-minute ride back to Ypsi definitely had me feeling some kind of way. I normally don’t leave an event questioning how many people looked me in the eye and smiled . . .  only because I was still technically “serving” them. I mean, we all know what that flag stands for. We all know what it represents and why people still choose to display it. I refuse to argue its historical “relevance” here, there, or anywhere, so please don’t come at me with that weak shit. I know what it is by how it feels – a feeling that has stayed with me to this day.

And while I realize that all this might sound a little extreme to some, ask yourself: is it really? Is this not a perfect example of what our country is, and always has been? Is the promise of life in America one big smiling facade on the surface with a history of hatred and violence brimming just beneath?

Unfortunately, there is no escaping the constant bombardment of racist bullshit we are subjected to thanks to you know who. And I’m not here to pretend like it was my first time seeing that God-forsaken piece of cloth. It’s just that given the horrific events of that weekend, the timing of its message hit me harder than the random occasions I’d see it waving from some guy’s pickup truck. Partly why I’ve never really spoken about race on any of my platforms until today is because it can be so difficult to digest what is (still) going on in our country, and how that affects both sides of my family as well as myself. But now I see there is no running from racism. It’s here. It’s real. And it’s in your face.

Every day I am disgusted by the headlines that seem to meet me at every turn, but I am learning how to create through the madness. I have also come to realize that when it comes to race it is okay for me to talk about it. I can even blog about it. But I can no longer remain silent.

 

 

Feature photo courtesy of NASCAR.com*

How I Made Rejection My Bitch

How I Made Rejection My Bitch

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Rejection sucks. But I’m sure you don’t need a blog post to tell you that.

Whether you finally got an interview for that great paying job you always wanted, you snagged a big audition you’re praying you land, or you are obsessing over that guy that is just “too busy” to take two seconds out of his life to text/call you back, the sting of rejection is always painful. And I’m speaking from first-hand experience as an author, model, and a woman. Just this past weekend, I was passed over by another major modeling agency (yet again). Over the course of the last three months, I realized the one guy who is always on my mind, clearly never thinks about me. . .

Putting yourself out there can be scary enough, especially when our vulnerability is not padded by a sense of achievement or acceptance. At least not on our timing.  Going for what you want takes a certain level of courage and bravery that may take some time to muster up, so when that risk is not immediately followed by a reward, it easy to see how a sense of failure could take a toll on your confidence. But it doesn’t have to.

When thinking of all the times I’ve been forced to swallow the bitter taste of “not being good enough,” there is one instance that sticks out most in my mind. I was in my early 20’s, and I had been working a dead-end job cashiering at Whole Foods for several years too long. In short, I was miserable waiting on snobby Ann Arborites who could barely be bothered to acknowledge my existence, while at the same, I was dying for the opportunity to write full time.

With my talent, working retail was a special type of torture that seemed to be prolonged by my negotiations with my publisher at the time, Kimani Tru. Per my contract they had first dibs on my next manuscript. Only thing was it took two years of negotiations to tell me they didn’t want it – no exaggeration. I was actually at work when I found out that I’d written a whole new book – like so many had wanted, and all that work, was for nothing. After watching my email like a hawk on a daily basis, it was back to the drawing board. And then, not even five minutes later, I am on my lunch break when I get a call informing me that my agent Mannie Barron, who helped me get my start in the industry, had passed away. It was all so overwhelming. And it all came crashing down on me in a matter of 15 minutes.

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Now, I think most people at this point would have taken this as a sign and left it at that. I could have easily said the author life is not for me and let it go, but my passion for writing would never allow it. It was then I decided to re-write what I had already written, and publish it myself, which was great because it granted me the freedom to create on my own terms. Once I wasn’t trying to fit anyone else’s criteria, I could restructure the story to my liking. However, cutting out the middle man also meant I would have more creative control as well as financial responsibility. I had a lot to learn and it was up to me to teach myself, but I still managed to launch “Love, Lies & Consequences (The Fast Life Sequel)” on my 25th birthday, after a six-year hiatus in an oversaturated industry. Coming back to the game after being gone for so long, and without a major publishing house to back me, let’s just say I had my doubts (lol). Had I listened to them, I wouldn’t be getting ready to launch book number four this summer.

So as much as it hurts, rejection has taught me to be all the more grateful for the opportunity in the first place. And instead of trying to figure out why things didn’t go the way I hoped they would, I simply accepted the outcome. I’ve learned to build off of constructive criticism without critiquing myself as a person and that most of my frustration comes from the fact that I actually do believe in myself and my abilities – not the opposite. Knowing I have what it takes, I figured I could drive myself crazy or I could channel that energy into my success. I could let it stop me or use it as fuel. After all, there is always room for improvement.

Whether it affects my personal or professional life, rejection has taught me there is good to be found in everything – especially new beginnings. So if anything, hearing the word “no” only motivates me to go harder. More promo. More photoshoots. More castings and open calls. My perseverance has no expiration when it comes to things (or people) I really want. I also realized that the more I put my name or face out there the more likely I am to be recognized for my grind later. And in this day and age, you really never know who is watching. In some cases, all it takes is one yes in order to be successful. Just know I’m not going to stop until I get it.