Posted in Inspirational

Open the Box and Release the Gift

Fifteen years ago, I sat across from a principal who was interviewing me. He asked, “Where do you see yourself 15 years from now?” I didn’t hesitate at all when I answered that question. I knew the answer because it was the only one I had. I proudly stated, “I see myself right where I am today, in the classroom teaching.” That’s what I saw and that’s what I meant. I couldn’t see anything else for me other than what I saw growing up, so it made sense that that’s the life I would have too, right? WRONG!

Years later, something happened. I wish I could tell you exactly when it happened and what caused it to happen, but all I know is it happened and my life hasn’t been the same since. One day, the walls were removed and I was able to visualize a life for myself outside of the classroom. Maybe it was when I was promoted to Reading Coach. Maybe it was that move that showed me there’s more to my life than being in the classroom. It took me a while, but I soon discovered that the classroom was actually my clutch. It was my comfort zone. I wanted to stay there forever because that’s where I felt safe. The children didn’t judge or critique me. In their eyes, I knew everything. Whatever I gave that day was good enough for them, but once I stepped out I realized there was so much more I needed to learn, to do, to see, and experience, and I was ready for it all.

In 2009, I wrote my first novel, “Dirty Little Secrets.” It’s amazing how you start out doing one thing, and just when you think you finally know what God’s calling you to do, BAM something happens that takes you on a whole new turn. When I was in the classroom I thought, This is it. This is what I’m supposed to do for the rest of my life. Then I published Dirty Little Secrets and I thought, No the classroom wasn’t it. This is it. Writing novels is what I’m supposed to do for the rest of my life. So, at that moment I decided this is what I want to do. I want to spend my time writing and selling novels.

Well, that was all good for a while, but then something happened. God gave me the idea and the name to start this blog. Initially, if you ever feel like scrolling back to the beginning, you’ll see that it started off with general, motivational posts that then turned into a blog series. Secrets From the Bayou was supposed to be a weekly blog series. I thought I was supposed to write and publish these weekly posts and something amazing would happen from them. When I thought something amazing, I was really thinking more like, I’d gain more readers AMAZING, not I’m filming based on my blog AMAZING!

Some days it still doesn’t feel real. I can’t even begin to describe the feeling I get seeing others acting out the words I’d once held in my head. Very few people get to see their words come to life and I don’t take that for granted at all. 

I thought this is it! I want to write and produce films for the rest of my life. This is what I’m supposed to do, but then…. something happened again. I found myself coaching more and more people through writing their novels. I LOVED it! I love everything about teaching, motivating, and writing so I guess it made sense for me to love teaching writing. I invested in myself and signed up for a coaching program that would help start my own program. I had the teaching part down pat, Southern University and EBR Parish School System, prepared me for that part, but the business side was different. I needed help. I finally understood that if I wanted it, I had to be willing to sacrifice and pay the price. 

Today, I’m still filming, still writing, and now about to launch my coaching program. Throughout this journey I found myself doing the same thing I did all those years ago as I sat across from that principal. I was placing myself in a box. I thought novels was it, I thought filming was it, but then coaching came along and I realized I deserve to use all my skills. I’m not saying what’s it. I’m opening myself to whatever new adventure God brings my way. 

Where do I see myself in 15 years? Exactly where God needs me to be!

Posted in Inspirational

A Life Worth Living

There’s so much I could say about this lady… my friend… my writing partner… my Sissy! One week ago today, God held out his hand and she took hold and allowed Him to lead her back home. A place where she no longer has to suffer. She no longer has to worry about doctor visits or bad reports. She is free to live with her Master. The God who created her and the God she spent her life serving. If you know nothing else about Tanishia Pearson-Jones, you know that she was a faithful believer and there was nothing anyone could say that would cause her to doubt God’s love for her. When the pain increased, so did her faith.

I spoke to her the day after she’d taken the picture above. She said, “Sissy, I got my report and it doesn’t look good.” Before I could respond she continued. “The tumors are back and it’s inoperable. I was having a rough day, but I decided to go ahead with my photo shoot. My body was full of cancer, but I didn’t want to show it. I wanted people to see the God in me and the God in me don’t look like cancer.”

We hear people say all the time, “I’m so glad I don’t look like what I’ve BEEN through,” but it’s a lot different to say “I’m so glad I don’t look like what I’m GOING through.” The picture above is a true example of a child of God, who was deteremined not to look like the diagnosis she’d just received. She looked beautiful, flawless, peaceful, joyful… everything a child a God should look like. Tanishia was handed a death sentence. We all know that inoperable means there’s nothing more we can do to help you. How can someone who knows that death is a great possibility sooner than later, still get up, get dressed, pose in front of a camera and smile like nothing’s wrong? I know the answer to that million dollar question…GOD. 

You’d have to know God the way Tanishia knew God to be able to do that. The walk she walked, the trials she endured, the pain she suffered, wasn’t for the weak or the mild, it was only for the strong and I can tell you with great assurance that Tanishia Pearson-Jones was one of the strongest women I’d ever met. She was young, just turned 36 on October 19th, but she had an old soul. She reminded me so much of my grandmother who’d take in anyone in need. Tanishia gave birth to two children, but she was a mother to many. Someone posted that she made everyone feel as though they were her best friend and that’s so true. We’d only had a few conversations before she started calling me “sissy.” She knew that term would make me feel special like I played a major role in her life, I know she played a big role in mine. 

 

I believe there are two big lessons we can learn from Tanishia, way more than two actually, but for the sake of your time and the length of this blog, I’ll keep it at two:)

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1. Always trust God. No matter what. Trust His decisions and His timing. Trust that even when the answer is no, it’s still for your good.  As you can see from our inbox message, Tanishia made it clear she knew how to fight. She fought with prayer and the word of God. 

2.  Stop talking and start working. Tanishia worked hard at her house, in her church, in her community, and in the literary world. She was always doing something, but the one thing she really wanted was to write her own book. So many days we laughed about doing everything except what we should be doing…writing! She thought she had time. She was going to finish her book and start speaking about her journey. Those were her plans, but God’s plans were different. Thankfully, Tanishia did finish writing, and as she requested, Joyce and I will carry the torch to the finish line. You’ll get to read about her journey in her words. 

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Tanishia sent this to me. We had plans. But so did God. 

James 4:14-15 

14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.    
15 For that ye ought to sayIf the Lord will*, we shall liveand do this, or that. 

 

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We thought we had time. I’m sure you’re thinking the same thing too. The truth is,  as the scripture clearly points out, none of us know.

Do what you can do while you can do it. 

Posted in Uncategorized

Writing Saved My Life

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It may sound a bit drastic to say that something as simple as writing saved my life, but I do feel that way. I know, of course, that God has always been by me during my toughest trials, but I also know that He’ll give us avenues to use when life’s battles seem to be a tad too much. 

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I started writing after my mom died in 1990. That was the first major death I’d experienced, and boy was it, MAJOR! Losing a mother, the person who knows how to make everything better, is devastating, especially for a thirteen-year-old girl who’s just discovering things about life and her body. Not a good feeling. 

A year after my mom died, I wrote a story called “The Day I’ll Never Forget.” It was all about June 9, 1990, the day she died. I mentioned in an earlier blog that it was that award-winning story that caused my teachers to encourage me to keep writing. I didn’t listen. I only wrote when I had to for school, rarely for pleasure. However, writing that story was therapy for me, but as a fourteen-year-old, it’s hard to explain how writing made you feel better.

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The next big loss came when my daughter passed on October 9, 2012 (Something about those 9’s I tell ya). I wrote every day for a year straight. I wasn’t working on a novel; I was working on me. Each day I’d write in my journal. It felt safe to share my true feelings in my journal. There I could write without the sad eyes, or the sympathetic tone that would’ve come had I told anyone else. I was free to say what I wanted, cried if I needed, and moved on. That’s just how I am. I don’t handle sympathy too well, never really learned how to do that. 

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Then, in 2015 I was hit yet again. Really God? That’s how I felt/feel most of the time because this time God took the first man I ever loved. Losing my daddy was like losing all the air in my body. I never really expected him to die. I know that sounds crazy, but my daddy, in my eyes, was next in line after Jesus. He wouldn’t die and leave me here. Okay, maybe that’s a bad example because Jesus died too, but you get the point :).

You have to understand; he was more than my dad; he was truly my best friend, my counselor, my doctor, my lawyer, my minister, my whatever I needed him to be when I needed him to be it. As you’ve probably gathered, I’d call him for any and everything. He had a way of making everything right. Even if it wasn’t if my daddy said it was alright, then my spirit felt that it was alright. Now don’t get me wrong, our relationship wasn’t always grits and butter :). We shared a birthday, and we were both Taurus’, so we knocked heads a lot. A little-known fact about me, I’m never wrong, and neither was he. You can imagine what those conversations sounded like LOL!

After my dad passed, I finally finished the novel I’d been working on for so long. I threw myself into my writing. It was my escape from the reality I no longer enjoyed. I’m blessed with a wonderful family and fabulous friends, but none of them are my daddy, and even through my many blessings, there’s still a lot of pain. 

I say that writing saved my life because it was my outlet. Storing emotions can be very damaging both mentally and physically. Everyone feels like they’re okay and managing it well until that day comes and you snap, or you crack, and then you realize you weren’t doing so well after all. I urge you if you’re hurting, grieving, suffering at all, please find a healthy outlet. Don’t hold it in because eventually it will come out and you, your family, friends, or coworkers may not like the manner in which it arrives.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Biggest Mistake We Make in Life!

 

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When I was in middle school my mother passed away from lymphoma  which is a group of blood cancers that develop in the lymphatic system. Three years after my mom’s death, I wrote a story called “The Day I’d Never Forget.” In this story I told about the day she passed away, a day I can still remember from beginning to end. Every little detail of that day is engraved in my mind, so telling the story was no problem. I simply wrote what I remembered, which was everything.

My teacher, Ms. Kim, read the story and was amazed at how well I was able to tell the story and how descriptive my writing was at the time. She said she felt as if she was right there with me hearing the news of my mother’s death. She told me how she cried because she felt my pain through my words. Ms. Kim urged me to submit my story to the Louisiana Young Author’s contest. I did and during that time and for many months after, Ms. Kim encouraged me to keep writing. She saw something in my writing that I really didn’t see for myself. I knew stringing words together to form sentences came with ease for me, but I definitely didn’t consider myself a writer per sa. Well, my story won first place in the state. I was so proud, but it wasn’t because I won, it was because others had read about my mom. For me, it was a way of keeping her memory alive.

Well, after I left Ms. Kim’s class and ventured on to the next grade, I had the honor and privilege of learning under Mrs. Gloria Davis. Ms. Davis had been teaching for many years, and coming from a very small school, I’d already heard all the horror stories of being in her class. I was so afraid that I’d asked to be placed in another class instead, but that request was rejected, and I thank God that it was. That was a lesson for me that I still live by to this day, “always judge a person based on your own experiences with them, not someone else’s.” Mrs. Davis turned out to be my favorite teacher. She knew English like I knew my name and she taught it to us well. When I’d write papers in her class, she constantly told me I should really consider journalism. Mrs. Davis also saw something that I didn’t see at the time. I was a writer.

I graduated from high school and went on to study Elementary Education at Southern University in Baton Rouge, La. Every English teacher I sat under encouraged me to keep writing. They all said I should really consider journalism, I should write for the school newspaper, they wanted me to perfect my craft, but I wanted to teach.

Little did I know that all my English teachers were right, but so was I. Writing is my gift, it is the tool that God has given me to use for His good, but so is teaching. I know this because of the list of parents who would request me as their child’s teacher. I was meant to teach and I was meant to write.

The biggest mistake we all make is missing the cues. We spend so much of our lives searching for something that’s been with us all along. Our purpose isn’t something we have to seek out. We just have to be open and listen to what others are saying about us. Don’t dismiss it as just something you like to do, perhaps that something is the reason God chose you.

My plea to you today is don’t waste time looking for something that you already possess. Take time to sit still, listen to the chatter of others, and I’m pretty sure you’ll be just like me, and realize your purpose has been there all along. You were just too distracted to see it.

I’d love to hear your story of how you discovered your purpose or if you feel you still don’t know, share that too. Tell me about yourself maybe we can figure this thing out together 🙂