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Acceptance vs Ambition - Where Do We Draw The Line

Talk about thrilling. I was sitting in my seat waiting for the hit play “Secrets of a Black Boy” to start and I could literally feel the energy and the buzz of anticipation all around me. People were genuinely excited about this show, and after seeing it myself for the first time, I shared their excitement. secretsI was invited out by the writer of the play, Darren Anthony, whom I had just met a couple weeks earlier. We had a chance to chat when we first met, and he was excited about his show’s upcoming road-trip to DC and Baltimore after first debuting just over five years ago here in Toronto. We also spoke about commitment and perseverance, an d the courage to take that final leap of faith and do whatever it takes to follow what you know is your calling.

He was admittedly a bit nervous about making that jump, and we got into a discussion about where to draw the line between accepting where you are in life, accepting what you’ve accomplished and where you’ve come, and balancing that with the ambition you feel to do more? How do you stop when you know in your heart there’s so much more to for you to do, so many more lives to touch and people to inspire?

We spoke about how our loved ones play a role in those decisions, how maybe having a child or long term relationship changes the outlook of what we thought would be our future. And that may be true, and many people can substitute “child” or “relationship” with any other external influence - family, work, time - and have that be their scapegoat of choice.

But anyone who’s been reading my blog for the past year, anyone who knows me personally and understands what I stand for knows scapegoats don’t exist in my world. Teenage parent, so what. I still graduated from university. High school dropout, no problem. Now I’m a successful writer and first time author with readers and fans all over the world.

I create my own reality, I dictate what’s possible, I dictate my present and my future. A few years ago I pictured my life as it is right now, and right now I’m busy creating more mental molds of what my life will be during the next five years. I don’t know how wrong or how right this is, but there is no line for me. My balance is weighted completely on the side of ambition, squarely one sided on the scale of not accepting anything less than what I know I am meant to do, on what I am doing right now. chess-316658_640

I’m not a dreamer because I live this reality everyday. I am not delusional because I set goals and continue to shatter them. I play without a lifeline, without any boundaries to how far I can go. My life is my life.

I was invited as a special guest speaker at my old high school’s graduation. Seeing the excitement of all those young people ready to take on the world, still believing anything is possible, those few hours were inspirational for me and reminded me of how naivete can sometimes be a powerful perspective. All of those students still operate from the belief that nothing is impossible, that they can be or do anything. And really, who’s to tell them any different?

The fact that the influences of the world have not fractured their ambitions is what makes them special, what sparks evolution and leads to revolutions. And we should encourage this behaviour, so long as it is backed by a comparable work ethic and determination to follow through on these passions.

Secrets of a Black Boy received a standing ovation. I saw tears in Darren Anthony’s eyes as he hugged his sister Trey Anthony, an accomplished writer and producer, herself, with The Kink in My Hair as her launching pad. Our chance meeting suddenly ran through my mind, and somehow I feel his decision was already made.

#PassionAndPaper

Get your copy "Thoughts of a Fractured Soul" here.

 

Find Success in the Process

It was my biggest flaw, and probably still is to some degree. Always hungry, never satisfied, always wanting more, pushing towards that next milestone with my eyes fixed like I was driving down a two way without any headlights. It's tough being ambitious, and no I'm not saying that playfully, I'm being really serious here. It's not easy living day to day with the weight of the expectations I put on myself. It's not easy having all these visions of success and literally seeing exactly where I want to be, who I want to be, how I want to live; being able to see that everyday but have it be just out of my grasp. And I feel myself getting closer, feel the energy of the people I'm touching, can actually see real results; measurable, real life progress.

But it still isn't enough.

At least it still wasn't enough.

Over the better part of the last 12 months, I've made a conscious effort to stop chasing. I've realized that everything I want I already have, and I mean that. Maybe not in the abundance that I want, but it's all right here, right now. So the last year I've let go, taken chances I normally wouldn't take, opened myself up to other people more than I ever have, forged some amazing new friendships, lost some amazing friends, saw some amazing friends lose themselves, made more money than ever before in my life, then faultered and struggled a little bit with managing that money. And I haven't even touched on my book which has brought me the most joy in my career thus far.

But I was there for it all. Conscious. Aware.

I found success in my journey.

And I don't mean this in a philosophical kind of way, I mean I truly appreciated and recognized all of my successes with friendships and my writing career during this time period. I realized that I don't have to keep waiting for this grand moment when all of a sudden I'm going to feel like I finally "made it." I don't know where "it" is and everything I'm trying to make I already have.

Ghandi has a saying that goes something like this:

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are all the same.

I can't say I'm all the way there yet, but I'm damn close!

#PassionAndPaper

I Saw a Girl Fall Today

Eight young runners in a staggered set holding their batons at the starting line, three of their teammates spread across the rest of the track pacing, anxious, waiting for their turn. The gun sounds and the race begins.

Alternating positions around the corners and down the straightaways, each young girl snatching her chance to run, run, run, only thinking of passing on that baton for the next step to victory.

Then the last runner cradles the baton in her hand and sprints to the finish line. She's racing to the ribbon with ribbons in her own hair.

Then she falls...

And rolls on the floor a couple times before looking up at the crowd with what must have been embarrassment, or anger, or maybe even fear. Concerned coaches and trainers come rushing out to her aid but before they can attend to her injuries she lifts herself to her feet and finishes the race.

Everyone claps and acknowledges what they have witnessed is a winner.

I think of a line I heard from a song on the radio: "I rather lose the fight than miss the war."*

I think of something I saw on TV a few mornings later. Hilary Duff is talking about moving out to Los Angeles at 10 years old and being rejected 200 times at auditions.

Two hundred times.

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." **

I would love to be able to follow the young girl I saw fall today, five years from now, ten years from now. Nothing is guaranteed but her will is undeniable. What are you passionate enough about to pursue after getting told "NO" 200 times? What pushes you to get back up after everyone you know and love and care about has seen you fall?

For all the success I've had, I've been told no much more than I've been told yes. But I'm sure of who I am and what I do so those no's are milestones to be celebrated even if they sting. The more painful, the closer I am.

#PassionAndPaper

 

* Lyrics from My Inner Ninja by Classified.
**Mahatma Gandhi

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