I grew up in a family that was and is very much rooted in Christianity and the church. My father was recently “installed” as the pastor of the church I grew up in. My mother is now a first lady and missionary. One of my grandmothers is a church mother, the other is an evangelist. My uncle is a Pastor and my aunt is a first lady as well…you get the point because the list goes on. As a kid, I was active in Sunday school, the youth choir, the junior usher board, and the youth ministry programs and activities, but as I got older, none of it felt authentic to me. It was as if I was programmed to practice Christianity because that’s what my parents practiced and their parents and so on, but I never felt like I belonged there. I felt fake. I felt like I was going through the motions.
When I got to college, my first couple of years, Christianity and church were the last things on my mind. I was in a new environment completely free from my parents who didn’t wake me up every Sunday morning to get dressed for a long day in church. I felt free. I felt liberated from it all. Somewhere along the way, I tuned into all the background noise telling me I needed to be in church, and I needed to read my bible and I needed to pray and there I was feeling guilty because I wasn’t doing any of those things. So once again, I found myself in church, and attending campus small groups during the week trying to fake it until I made it. I pledged a Christian sorority and found myself with more questions than answers trying to reach a standard I really didn’t care too much about in the first place. I got tired and burnt out from trying to keep up. So I stopped. (more…)
I’ve been absent from the blogsphere for a while since I’ve decided to go back to school and pick up a new profession (teaching) and during that time I saw it as an opportunity to really give back to an audience I’m truly passionate about: adolescent girls of color. I wanted to create a brand and organization that would allow them to fully understand that they are in complete control of the direction of their lives. As women, we are often told what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and where to do it so much that there are times when we stop and wonder if anything we are doing is because we genuinely want to do it. So on January 28, 2017 I launched Curate Your Life, a girl’s empowerment and enrichment organization that focuses on sisterhood, leadership, social justice, wellness, and media literacy for teen girls of color, but the idea was birthed in June 2016 and there were a number of lessons learned along the way.
Community is SO Important
I knew that this wasn’t something that I could do on my own and be effective at the same time, so I built a community of professional women and organizations who would see and understand my vision. The day of the launch, I didn’t realize I would be doing so much running around and improvising when things were absent, but the community that I built was there every single step of the way. I just asked them to show up and facilitate workshops, but they’ve become family with every “You got this Deja.” or “I’m proud of you Deja” or “Tell me where I can help Deja.” Even my mother came and catered the event with my grandmother. I say all of that to say, you are as strong as the tribe you build and God blessed me with an amazing one. (more…)
This year I’ve found myself heavily immersed in the Knowles doctrine with Lemonade earlier this year and now A Seat at the Table for the later half. I found myself connecting with both on a spiritual level. I appreciated the evolution of a woman scorned in Beyonce’s Lemonade and from that I found that it’s okay to have the feelings that we have without falling privy to the Angry Black Woman stereotype. For the first time, I didn’t see Beyonce, I saw a woman. A woman dealing with grief, breaking unhealthy patterns, heart break, bitterness and still CHOOSING to transcend. Still choosing to turn those bitter lemons into something sweet.
I listened to A Seat at The Table feeling proud. Proud that a woman released a 21 track womanifesto on taking up space and creating our own ish. “What can you bring to the table?” I brought the damn table! I got my life this weekend at the neighborhood bar in Jersey City when they decided to play “Don’t Touch My Hair” and all the white folk was staring like “what is this?” Go off. My hair stands up and my skin rises a little when I proudly proclaim, “this shit is for us…”
Far too often, I hear women saying they’re waiting for their seats at the table. For any of us, at any given moment in our lives, that table has no many different meanings whether you’re trying to find your footing in your career, get a handle on your love life, or just be a different person than you were last year, I say, f**k that table. I’ve gotten to a place in my life where I’m tired of waiting, expecting, and anticipating. I realize I can set up my own table and pull up my own seats to that table and brew my own lemonade.
I was sitting in the coffee shop on Saturday, reading a book and reflecting and I thought about how tired I am. Like emotionally and physically exhausted and I thought about my emotions in particular. I thought about how I’m just so disappointed in people these days and I decided in that moment that I don’t have to be.
So I’m brewing my own lemonade. I’m not waiting for life to turn those bitter things in my life into something sweet, I’m doing it myself. I’m not waiting for someone to give me a chance. I’m creating my own opportunities.
So I leave you with this:
- Think about what you want to be
- GO BE IT!
- Think about what you want to do
- GO DO IT!
- Think about the things you need
- GO GET IT!