Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 was a Great Year... Why Did it Have to End?

While so many others were rushing the year 2016 away, urging it to end faster for various understandable reasons, I spent the tail end of it reflecting. Thinking about everything I accomplished, as well as the still-incomplete goals that I set for myself months ago. I failed in some areas, but I was not defeated... 

When chapters are ending and we're readying ourselves for the unknown, fear creeps through the shadows and attempts to keep us from moving forward. No matter what challenges I face or how impossible things may seem, I always push; even with fleeting strength and invisible hope. 

In 2016, I finally learned how to balance love and my career. It's a continuous study session, but I'm acing it so far (I think). Some of the moments shared below were planned and some were by-products of spontaneity. Since my memory is fading with age, I can't remember much from the earlier months; however, I survived 366 days without drinking coffee and, for me, that's something worth celebrating! 

I laughed. I cried. I traveled. I prayed. I danced. I complained. I apologized. I inspired. So 2016, thank you for the memories, for the lessons, for the dreams come true...

May 8-13, 2016

My first trip to the West Coast was truly unforgettable. With aspirations to someday be a member of Hollywood, this introduction lit the fire within me that had been yearning to burn. Something about being in celebrity territory made me feel supreme, as if fame was within my immediate reach. Los Angeles was flooded with ambitious, not-well-known socialites and the positive energy was contagious. Success should not be based upon one's location, but it's obvious that LA is where dreams turn into reality.

June 15-19, 2016

In the midst of striving to obtain my MFA degree, I needed to be more of an active learner. Besides, the purpose for returning back to school eight years post-undergrad was to reach a new level as a writer. I attended the American Black Film Festival in Miami as a spectator, not really knowing what the experience would offer. In addition to receiving a load of information during an intimate Writing for Television workshop with the Senior Vice President of Programming Talent Development & Inclusion for NBC Entertainment and Universal, Karen Horne, I networked and mingled closely with actors, screenwriters, producers, and executives, most notably BET's President of Programming, Stephen Hill, and acclaimed TV ONE Journalist, Roland Martin. I left the ABFF event with more knowledge and inspiration than I could handle, as well as the desire to kick my #WriterGrind up a notch.

July 22, 2016

No matter how many premonitions I've had, I could not have accurately imagined how my Mr. Write would pop the question... It was a normal date night, a Friday. There was nothing unusual about him inviting me to go walk the beach. During our courtship, it became our "thing". So, we walked. And talked. And walked. And talked. Then, we stopped near a spot where other beachgoers weren't stationed or encapsulated by the short-lived Pok√©mon Go craze. The conversation continued. Still, I was clueless when I jokingly commented on how he hadn't officially asked me to move in with him, since we were preparing to sign a one-year lease on our new place that weekend. 

His reply: "I know..." accompanied by a smirk. A few minutes passed and he started fidgeting. "Will you move in with me," he asked. Before I could respond, suddenly, he had one knee in the sand with his arm extended towards me holding a ring... "AND will you marry me?" 

Shocked, wide-eyed, and caught off guard, I blurted, "Are you serious?" He shook his head and waited for my answer. As I said YES, he slid the ring onto my finger and we hugged for what seemed like forever. Fiercely fighting back tears, in that moment, I didn't want to let him go. And I never will.

August 15, 2016

My teaching journey has been so challenging, yet so fulfilling. This school year, I was tasked with the assignment of educating 90 double-blocked, L-25 students (the lower quartile sophomores who are reading extremely below grade level). I made it clear to my ELA administrator that I may not be the perfect person for such an inaugural project. However, he assured me that of all the options available, he believed in my abilities the most: "You're a quick problem-solver... When you joined us the second half of last year, it didn't take long for the students to fall in love with you... Trust me, you can handle it..." Although it took an entire semester for my confidence to develop, for my students to recognize my commitment to their progress, to understand that it's possible to execute more than one purpose in life, simultaneously, I'm handling it. Better than I thought I could.

September 16-18, 2016

I still consider myself to be an amateur when it comes to traveling, but it's a recently-discovered passion that both enhances and complements my busy, chaotic life. My second trip to the Bahamas with the besties was quite an adventure. From struggling to keep my balance on a banana boat to almost touching the sky while parasailing to eating fresh fish with the head still attached, this will be marked as one of my most thrilling vacations, ever.

October 28, 2016

I spent the majority of the year absorbing the process of screenwriting and learning how to strip down my words for visual entertainment was so difficult. Every four weeks, I began a new course, nervous and unsure, yet confident in my God-given abilities. Staying up past midnight to revise and re-read scenes. Seeking feedback from classmates on how to properly format my scripts before deadlines. Striving to get better every single day... I completed Full Sail University's online, accelerated program, mentally exhausted, with TV-worthy ideas flooding my brain. 

About a week before Christmas, this document arrived in the mail, my second collegiate-level degree. To some, it's just a piece of paper. But to me, it serves as another reminder that I was born to write... "From Books to the Screen in 2017"

November 22-28, 2016

After a first-class flight, greeted with roses and a longed-for kiss, I spent the last, wee hours of my twenties on a New York City subway resting my head on the shoulder of the man I will soon marry. We explored the NYC streets like evident tourists, pushing through large crowds and braving the unfamiliar cold. I've been reminiscing about every moment since we left... the rocky ferry boat ride en route to the Statue of Liberty, strolling through Manhattan neighborhoods pretending not to be lost, ear-ringing at the top of the Empire State Building, risking our lives inside taxi cabs and a bicycle carriage, and of course, biting into slices of greasy, dripping pizza. 

Operating on a self-imposed deadline, feeling pressured and restless, I barged into my thirties with a sense of happiness that was previously undiscoverable. When December rolled around, I found myself clock-watching and procrastinating. With a new year rapidly approaching, what goals were remaining to be accomplished? Had I literally done it all? 

Personally and professionally, I continue to raise my standards and test the limits of my potential. A new year was present before I got a chance to comprehend the overall message of 2016, but I'm fully aware of what it taught me. How can I be completely open to elevation if I keep looking back? There's nowhere to go but up. What if I reach the top and fall all the way back down? Truth is, I'm growing a bit weary of the amount of drive that's required to compete against myself and others. Sometimes, I just want to press the brake. Stop. Relax. Breathe. And exist with no worries. Sigh. "To whom much is given"... 

Despite all of the WTF moments that it delivered, selfishly, I wish 2016 could've lasted a little longer. I have no doubt that 2017 will be a great year, too, though. I'm trying to refrain from being so strategic/controlling as the months go by and live more carefree, but wedding planning is already deterring me from that sentiment... LAWD!

Happy New Year :-)