My body hurts!

That’s the first thing.

I’ve danced salsa on Sunday, early Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. I can’t comfortably lift my left arm and my legs are sore. I’m also walking like a robot. I’m pretty sure this isn’t the first time I’ve done this much dancing. Last year was the year I broke my foot after all, and I’m still convinced it was a direct result of dance-overload. But I digress, my body this week is sore and I schlepped into the nail salon today seeking a chair massage and they were short-handed workers. You don’t know how badly this massage was needed!  At this point I think I’m just going to find someone to pull my arm around my back and hold it there. Yeah, I’ll do that.

When not prepping for my salsa performance in March, I am happily free to do daily projects. I’m starting up my publishing business this year and the website http://www.charispublishinggroup.com is coming along. Pretty soon I want to start shifting gears to editorial and production activities like actually calling on submissions for manuscripts and partnering with Lighting Source, who from Day 1 has been the distributor/production group I’ve wanted to work with. What an exciting but also terrifying time! It’s scary in the sense that I constantly worry about whether or not I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. Especially from a financial perspective. I worry about where the capital is going to come from for production tasks. I also worry about the return on investment (Yes, already!)

Thank God I’m starting the year off pretty well in my prayer life or I’d otherwise be all over the place. Every time I start to worry, or when my worry has reached capacity, which it often does, I just pray and ask for  patience and guidance.  I realize I’m limited in terms of people resources with this right now, but my dream is for it thrive and bring on others who can support the vision.  I always have to get back to it not being about me. Though it’ll be nice to have the extra income, I really want to think about making a difference with what I publish. So, that’s what I wholeheartedly want to focus on this year. I’m a little shaky on the specifics of how I’ll do that, but with time I think things will smooth out.

I’m also toying with the idea of finishing the novel I’ve been working on for about a year now. It’s mostly because every time I read the YA fiction I tried a couple years back, I get the itch to write like crazy. Story-wise, my try at writing a YA romance was just trash. *In my Andre 3000 voice* I’m just being honest. However, I could definitely hold my own if I were called upon to finish a YA work. Yes, some of the characters could be fleshed out more but for a short, YA fiction I could have actually published it. The flimsy plot is a little embarrassing to read at the moment, but the dialogue and the prose are not bad at all. And I’ve come a tremendous way from there in those areas, so I’m hoping there’s improvement.

The work I’m writing now calls for entirely different voice and setting but it too has some romantic elements, so I’m trying to figure out how I can reconcile some of the tricks I used then in my writing to my current project. There was something compelling about the YA I wrote, while the piece I’m writing now falls short a bit, even in my eyes. I really like it, but I don’t yet love it. That could have to do with uncertainty of where I want to go with the characters but I’m developing in my mind what I want to do. We’ll have to see where it goes. It’s tentatively title “The Flame” and is set in ancient Israel so that level of research versus something set in a high school is of a different magnitude. I really like reading accurate portrayals when the setting is historical, so I owe the readers that much.

We shall see. We shall see. If I finish this novel in my lifetime it will be a true achievement  Can someone add some hours to the day? Oy!

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That last post is worth the update. I’m happy to announce that the package was finally delivered to New York. Although it didn’t arrive nearly in the time I thought it would, it made it to Orange County, NY to my dear friend. That ridiculousness has made me vow to never use the post office to send off packages again. Tracking number or not, I refuse to deal with the USPS’s shenanigans.

This week I have women’s ministry and this coming weekend I’m going on a hayride. Don’t ask me why I’m so excited, but I just am. I also think I actually do like Fall, even though I might’ve said somewhere that I didn’t. I just love the colors. The trees are beautiful! Take some time to look today and you’ll see what I mean. (Well, hopefully there’s trees to look at. If not, Google some pics.)

What else…

NaNoWriMo is in my future–possibly. I kind of don’t want to write it out because I’m scared I’ll have to will myself through a month of writing to produce 50,000 words but I’m seriously considering it. The struggle would be starting from scratch, because I don’t have any brand new novel ideas right now. I kind of like how daring that sounds though.

I don’t know what needs to be said, but I want to say something. Not sure where this blog will go.

Well, first let me say: I am going crazy right now over the fact that I sent my friend in New York an autographed Elle Varner poster and it hasn’t made it to him yet. Like a dunce I wasn’t mindful of getting some kind of tracking on the package, so now I gotta sit here and squirm. The post office really grinds my gears at times. It’s going from Philadelphia to New York! And not even upstate New York! In the span of time it’s taken to be delivered, I could have hopped in the car and driven it up to him. Then again, is it my fault for not choosing FedEx or UPS? Shame on me for selling my friend short. I think he understands though. As far as sending gifts via USPS: never again.

Other than that, life is good. My health is better than ever, despite the occasional tremor of pain, a reminder that my illness is chronic. Yesterday I had a conversation with my brother who is a year older than me about relationships. He’s really candid and I appreciate it. Although our views on relationships very often diverge, it’s still interesting to hear his male perspective. While we were talking he told me something that I’ve heard before: you’re never going to find that perfect guy. In a way it’s kind of an indicting statement, even though I know he meant no harm. Still, his assertion is basically that by not dating anyone I’m holding out for perfection. My response was “I don’t expect someone perfect, just someone who shares my beliefs.” These are things people would refer to as deal-breakers.  When he basically asked what I had on that list, I told him the biggest is they have to not just know God, but love God and have a relationship with Him. Let me insert a disclaimer at this point: Going to church is deeply ingrained in black culture and plenty of black people have or have at some point gone to church or gone to church regularly.  I was one of those that went regular and was spiritually disconnected the entire time.  But I digress. Going to church, for me, just isn’t enough. I regularly pray and try to live in a way that reflects God’s glory. This isn’t to sound self-righteous because I repeatedly stumble. That’s why I need God! So basically the reason I’m in no rush to be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t do the same is this: you’re either going to get tired of me putting God before you or I’m going to get tired of you not. Let’s save each other the heartbreak and time!

I’ve realized as I’ve gotten older I’ve repeatedly come under the uncomfortable circumstance of having to justify my singleness. OK, maybe not justify, but explain my singleness. Like I’m a strange, sad statistic. I understand that many women desire to marry, and dating is an ends to a means and that the tagline for your 20’s is to date, date, date. But right now I’m dateless for a reason– I’m trying to protect my heart! Do you understand? The Bible says (yes, here we go again) that we ought to guard it. You ain’t never tell no lie! I’ve seen firsthand the consequences of a wayward heart.  So, yes, in a ways I’m also self-preserving by being single, but also preserving the heart of someone else.

My return to social media was so uneventful. 

I wasn’t shocked to end my Facebook drought on Saturday after 4 days gone to see 19 notifications. Just like I expected, half of them were nonsense: Farmville, birthdays, my calendar, etc.  Who cares…

I learned that I can live without it a while, not that I didn’t know that or assume that to begin with, but sometimes our actions speak for themselves. I WAS on it every day, multiple times during the day–wasting minutes, sometimes hours. I just want to ease into a more productive day where there’s more time to even consider the possibilities of what can be accomplished.

This week my friend challenged me to go on a Facebook hiatus with her. I joked about it being a huge deal, but I was immediately up for it. I have this love/hate relationship with Facebook. The love stems out of the fact that I’m ever-connected to people who would have otherwise fallen off my radar. In some cases I’m happy to reconnect with a high school or elementary school friend. I know of someone who met their spouse this way. So, look, sometimes it’s like a glorified dating website (albeit unbeknownst to you). I also like it for the little things: the fact that it keeps me from embarrassing myself by forgetting a friend’s birthday and it’s prominently where I receive invites to certain social functions. My hate flows from dislike of everything else. It’s the bells and whistles, the Farmville requests, the minuscule status updates, the pictures, the “news”feed. I could so do without this mess sometimes. I’ve posted a picture or two and updated my status here and there, so I’m not judging those who do. I’m just judging the excess of it. I’m also kind of judging the fact that it even exists. Facebook has come so far from what it was when I first joined in 2005. It’s something unto itself at this point and is eerily a part of the way we lead our lives.

Only a day into my Facebook hiatus I’ve realized how enmeshed into my daily routine it is. I usually check Facebook in the morning and periodically throughout the day. My mobile app can have it up within seconds on my phone anywhere. I get kind of starry-eyed when I see I have a notification. If it’s a Farmville request, my reaction is “ehh.” If it’s a “Like,” then I’m thinking “yay!” Then I spend the majority of my time lurking. So my Facebook experience isn’t necessarily one where I’m sharing my life through photos and status updates. Instead, I just spend time liking statues and feeding my need to feel in-the-know about things. In fact, Facebook is my vehicle for nosiness. But even that in itself is questionable. Is it really nosiness? Once you’ve publicized or published something to Facebook, it’s out there for everyone to see. Once you accept my friend request or I yours, you’ve invited me into your world. Now, you can judge the levels of creepiness in how much time one invests “Facebook stalking,” (which has added layers thanks to the Timeline feature), but can you judge someone for simply checking their newsfeed? Facebook keeps you up-to-date on the lives of others because those individuals want it that way! I think therein lies my other issue with Facebook. Like Twitter, it often feeds one’s ego. It’s fed mine! I’ve been vain enough to publish some morsel of information and relish in the “Likes” it got.  I’d rather not get an even bigger head, so I do steer clear and check myself with Facebook and Twitter. The thing is, you know who is going to see it: whatever little world you’ve invited in. I don’t need a cheering audience all the time though.

That’s what I think I like about this hiatus right now. This morning felt quiet. Any other morning there’d be chatter on the newsfeed. I had to find other ways to preoccupy myself, but I was fine with finding those options. In fact, I felt overall more productive when intentionally cutting myself off from Facebook. I even took on some of the tasks that I seemed to endlessly let fall by the wayside: writing, reading, heck — resting. I didn’t realize how being less obsessive over being “in-the-know” stretched out my day. And really, how much am I going to learn on Facebook? The usual suspects are updating their statuses each day as the world continues to turn. I’m not saying it’s the worse thing in the world to be on Facebook multiple times in one day. I’d just rather spend less time on “The Book” and more time being productive in the real world.

We’ll see.

A break from the Face

I sort of feel back in business. This is a little scary to say because my health has been so fickle since June, but I’m finally feeling stable and I couldn’t feel happier. The reason is because yesterday was a marathon day. I attended 3 different events requiring time and healthiness, and my body did not let me down — for once!

First, I served at the church picnic. Bam! I put in 3 or 4 hours there – no pain. Then I went to my dance school’s fall recital — about 2 hours there — still no pain. By 7 or 8pm, yeah my stomach was gargling and sort of burning, but you have to understand – there were times I was bedridden in June and July. Just the very fact that I’ve had 80-90% days successively is utter bliss for me because usually the less in pain I feel, the more I can do. I hate sitting around my house and I hate canceling plans with my friends, so believe me, I am feeling blessed for these days.

Besides that, another exciting thing is I may or may not have a dance partner. Don’t ask me what that means. In my mind, I’m thinking we can travel the world and do a showcase — just kidding. I just may or may not know someone who shares my enthusiasm for dancing. I’m not mad at all!

I can fondly remember the days of my childhood when I gave up on toys and decided I’d rather read books. Thanks to my mom, our weekend ritual as kids was always an excursion to the mall. We’d pile into our Chevy Astro van and head to Springfield. This is why I’m a borderline-shop-aholic, but that’s neither here nor there right now.

Around the age of 9 or 10, I recall bypassing the Toys R Us and heading to WaldenBooks. I’d spend at least an hour to an hour and a half browsing the bookstore and then I’d buy something. Pretty soon I started reading the Love Stories series, cheesy little romance novels geared towards teens. Then I got into vampire books. This was way before Twilight. I  also had a time when I loved anything historical, especially with a romantic element.  I spent so much money on books back then. Every meager cent of my allowance went towards a book. I would finish one in a week, put that down and quickly start another. By each Saturday I was ready for the next installment in the Love Stories series or a new vampire novel.

When I think about that now, I really appreciate first, my mom fostering our appetite for literature, and then I also think what a vital part of learning reading is.

For one, reading makes us better communicators. Around the time I really got into reading, I began journaling. I think it had a tremendous affect on my writing skills. I could barely spell when I was 7 and started my journal. My early entries at that age were big crude letters about early crushes, my ‘Dear Diary’ birthday gift, gigapets. I kept that journal up to college, by the way. I could see a steady progression in my maturity and in my writing.

Also, if it wasn’t for reading, I wouldn’t have distinguished writing as one of my passions. When I was a freshmen in high school, I interpreted something in Steinbeck’s novel Mice and Men and my teacher encouraged me to write. I don’t know what made her think that, but after she planted that seed I knew I wanted to major in English. Yes, English, the poorman’s major. But really, I can trace back so many moments in my life when reading made an impact. I remember days wasted in the library in high school and I can remember even earlier lugging tons of books in plastic shopping bags away from the Free Library near my house in West Philly. I had an overdue books list that had to make me a target for the government somehow.

My love affair with books continues today. I went on to major in English, which was money well-spent in my eyes. Then I got my Masters in, what else – Book Publishing! I’ve managed to come full-circle. And, I can still enjoy books in my leisure time. This month I read the “The Book of Night Woman,” a novel about a Jamaican slave who plots a revolt. I’m also getting ready to read a non-fiction book about Cherokee Indians who kept Black slaves – a history I’ve never seen discussed anywhere.

The one thing I love about books, whether fiction or non-fiction, is they take you to places that you otherwise might not see nor go to. Yet, at the same time, they give you an appreciation for these places. To make it plain, I was obsessed with those Eyewitness Books. They covered everything from Ancient Egypt to Rocks and Minerals. I was in geeky bliss as a kid. In my adult years, with money and time occasionally on my hands – I was able to see some of the things I’d only seen in Eyewitness books. For instance, to go to England and actually see castles was like a dream come true. But even if I couldn’t get there, I first saw it in my mind’s eye in a book!

My world turns. . . so does my blog.

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