Stretching…

I am the proud alum of the University of Houston. I was blessed to work in downtown Houston and my mother made sure I had a humble heart. I was blessed to speak Spanish and understand the language of poverty.

During my stay in Houston I learned about the worker’s will to unionize and of the incredible push back they were receiving. The janitors that worked downtown after hours only earned minimum wage, which at the time it was $5.15. They also paid for their own parking. When I worked late hours, I saw kids, not that much older than me, taking out the trash, vacuuming and covering the square footage of this twenty floored sky high building. I decided to join them for the march that would not only change the earning ability of Houston janitors but ultimately the minimum wage of the country.

They won their campaign and I went to law school. Through life’s journey, I did not become the lawyer I dreamt of becoming since the 6th grade. I instead became something better (it is my interpretation, so to my lawyer friends, don’t get offended) by quitting law school and become a (self proclaimed) epic organizer. Giving a voice to the voiceless or ignored, I facilitated an organization of janitors in negotiating their pay just like lawyers, doctors, and business professionals. I organized over 500 janitors to go on unfair practice strikes because they were not being treated fairly, and getting taken advantage of.

I had to have tough conversations with families who shared a one bedroom apartment to prepare them for the aftermath of a strike. I had to prepare them for worst case scenario and give them hope for best case scenario. I had to talk to people who were making decisions for their children based on their minimum wage and had 16 hours of sweat and tears, emotional roller coasters. This was the biggest growth and stretch of SHE.

 

 

 
–Laura Isabel Alvarez

Laura earned her degree in Political Science from the University of Houston and currently serves on the Board of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs as the Vice-President. She was inducted as a Master’s of Science of Organizational Leadership from Quinnipiac University in May 2014. She joined Guadalupe Centers, Inc. in April 2013 with several years experience in Human Resources employee related issues and education. As a manager of HR, she is responsible for all Human Resources and Talent Management programs at Guadalupe Centers. You can connect with her on twitter or LinkedIn for the latest happenings in Kansas City, MO.

 

 

 

The Fear…of Success?

We are excited to continue the series SHE with today’s contribution…

 

 
 

“You don’t seem that excited,” said my loving husband.

“No, I am,” I responded.

“You don’t seem that excited,” he repeated in his knowing tone.

“Ok, I’m freaked out,” I admitted.

Earlier that morning I received my first job as a professional writer. I sent in a pitch, it was accepted, and I had my freelancer contract in hand. I should have been over the moon excited, but I actually felt sick to my stomach. I told my husband the good news and, to spite my putting on, he could see I was in panic mode. For the life of me I could not understand why I was on the verge of tears, until I thought about the last time I felt this wonderful. It was the week before my father passed away. 

It was also the week I gave my two weeks’ notice. I was taking my leap into entrepreneurship and going for my dreams and the person I was most excited to share the news with was my dad – also known as, my biggest cheerleader. We talked for an hour about my plans and he gave me the encouraging words I knew I needed to hear.

Three days later, he was gone.

I knew to expect the pain, the loneliness, the fear of going on without him, and the deep sadness, but what I didn’t realize was that I had unconsciously fused joy with pain. One of the saddest days I ever experienced came not one week after one of my happiest. Because of that juxtaposition, I internalized the belief that the other shoe will eventually drop and great happiness is only the prologue to great sadness, so don’t get too happy.

Receiving that acceptance email from my editor set off a countdown to tragedy in my brain. It was only a matter of time until the rug would get pulled out from underneath me. I wasn’t freaked out by what was, I was freaked out about what could be around the corner. 

I have since unlearned that lesson, but I think we all, for one reason or another, are afraid of being too happy. So, we pass on opportunities that could be the gateway to our joy, not because we are worried our dreams won’t come true, but because we are afraid they will. 

We need to release the fear of failure, but, more importantly, release the fear of success.

If you can survive in suffering, imagine how high you can soar in the midst of joy.

 

cherise Cherise Luter is a freelance writer with Bustle.com and Houston Press. To learn more about her or connect with her, visit about.me.

From the Earth

(Our continuation with the series SHE..)

 

Seed to Flower to Tree

Ink to Words to Me

I Was

I Might Just Be

Birthed in the womb of the struggle

Reared in the tight grasp of the hustle

Came of age in a lane that keeps me respectfully humble…

I reach for stars with the lengthy limbs of a Poetic Goliath

Never touching, but that doesn’t stop my mind from aspiring to breathe new being into my plight

Profusely drawing my life in pictures with hieroglyphs and scriptures that speaks to my ancestral mixture

You see my people were kings like Askia Muhammad long before they were forced to rebel like Nat Turner

Read about it…

I am cut from a cloth that has a certain string about it

I am encrusted with a sense of pride, and I refuse to live on my knees about it

I am willing to scale the highest mountain and vigorously scream about it

I came

I saw

And I am not yet satisfied with my current state

So where to start and when to stop is a steadfast debate

Those that love the arts can surely relate

Enough is never enough

A collection is never complete

A poem is never expressive, descriptive, or polished to the point of perfection

So all that’s left is, to turn the page and make yet another valiant attempt to be that Tree

That matured from that Flower

That was birthed from that Seed

And again allow the Ink to formulate the Words that represent Me

TamirSaidIt

 

 

 

ts   Tamir Salaam is a Dallas native and a master composer of the written word. You can connect with him on facebook or blogspot to read more of his work.

MetamorFROsis

image1

Inspired by your idea of the human metamorphosis, I explored the physical appearance of women, specifically black women! Going natural is a process that not only takes a great deal of patience, but it also challenges one’s self confidence, will power, dedication. I feel that black women who decide to take the journey of transitioning possess high self esteem, accomplish more, and seem to be more in tune with who they really are! As a man I admire I truly admire all those traits in a women.

–Thaddeus Arvie, Creatively Insane Art

A Louisiana native Houston based artist, Thaddeus creates custom pieces of art for showcase and sale. For more inquiries on his work, you can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, or IG:_creativelyinsane_.

The True Beauty of Words

I was in second grade, a little older than the picture below when my parents announced they would be getting a divorce. To be frank, my parents never married for love. My mother married to have the freedom to fly, to be a butterfly. My father married my mother because she was beautiful; she had long dark hair that would make any color bolder and brighter. Their marriage was peaceful. It was exactly what it needed to be to raise a little girl full of love and joy. My mother was a joyful creature. My father was full of peace. Together they created the epitome of yin and yang.

Lia

My father left shortly after they completed their divorce. I locked myself in a closet with a roll of toilet paper because that’s what I had seen on TV. I sat there and waited to cry. I never shed a tear, I wasn’t sad. I was happy for my mom. I was happy she would have a second chance to find “true love” and I was thinking that my father would always be around. I was the only biological child he could have so how could he forget about me, right?

It was October twenty something, a few days after my birthday in 2nd grade. My father had called me and told me to get ready to go to the mall so that I could have those lights-up shoes they sold at JcPenny, I cut the picture out and everything. I waited by the street light to see if I would see him drive up. I waited I waited for hours as the street lights turned on and my mother made me come inside. I waited on the couch and I called to make sure he was okay. I waited and never saw him.

My mother called him and let him know his biggest mistake was to get my hopes up. I went to my room to reflect. Was I sad because I was left waiting, I was in 2nd grade; I had plenty of time to wait. Was I sad because I was lied to? No, I was mad because he lied to me. Was I even sad at all? No, I was mad because he lied to me and thought it would be okay.

It was that moment when I learned the true beauty of doing what you say you will do. It was that moment that I saw the value of letting your words mean something. It was that moment that I understood the concept of integrity. It was at that moment the birth of greatness in my core values occurred.

–Laura Isabel Alvarez

Laura earned her degree in Political Science from the University of Houston and currently serves on the Board of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs as the Vice-President. She was inducted as a Master’s of Science of Organizational Leadership from Quinnipiac University in May 2014. She joined Guadalupe Centers, Inc. in April 2013 with several years experience in Human Resources employee related issues and education. As a manager of HR, she is responsible for all Human Resources and Talent Management programs at Guadalupe Centers. You can connect with her on twitter or LinkedIn for the latest happenings in Kansas City, MO.

My Highest Self

To be great is to be my highest self

To be me to my fullest capacity

Unapologetically. Honestly. Sincerely.

Loving myself completely

And loving the life I live

Putting love and positive energy into the Universe

With no expectation and all the faith in the world

I am great because I’ve claimed it.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

 

Christine M. Hamilton

Visual Artist, Wardrobe Stylist, Style Blogger, Style Enthusiast

Born and raised in Bton Rouge, La

Current New Orleans, La Resident

www.CMHstyle.com

The Discovery

The first time I “discovered” my love for writing was by sheer accident. Well, not so much writing as discovering the ease at which I could make up fictional stories and characters in my head. I was eight years old, extremely bored since my brothers were off playing and my mom was doing motherly duties. I didn’t have any paper but I improvised with one of our educational books and wrote my very first short story inside of the cover. It was a morbid little tale and after I finished, I read it excitedly to my brother who wasn’t quite as interested as I hoped. Since I couldn’t get anyone to believe my tale, I tucked my over active imagination and my knack for story telling away. Deeply. I went years without feeding this gift, never once realizing it was indeed a gift. As I got older, I found a love for my English & History classes, particularly the ones with a heavier writing curriculum. I kept journals and a diary throughout all of middle school, junior & high school. And by the time I entered undergrad, I was so good at crafting original work out of thin air, people actually paid me to write papers for them. Still I saw this as nothing more than a hobby, at times less than a hobby because I had robbed myself for so long of a passion that ignites my soul. I tried, unsuccessfully, to fill a void I wasn’t even aware existed with other oddities and hobbies but always had paper to scribble words down. You see, for me, the conception of my gift came later (much later) in life, although present at birth but conception came when I was ready to acknowledge it. I couldn’t acknowledge it without first learning the who, what, where and when of my calling. And that entailed getting to who I am because acknowledgement is only the first step. So, how does one go from conception to transformation into who you are created to be? Through a process we are taught in 5th grade science class: Metamorphosis.

As young children we learn the simplicity yet complex process of metamorphosis. What our little minds cannot grasp at that early age is ALL LIVING THINGS WILL GO THROUGH TRANSFORMATION. At different ages and stages in life. All must go through a process of metamorphosis, the shedding of a former skin for a renewed one. What we don’t learn in fifth grade is the degree of difficulty of the process, all we understand is being a caterpillar, hiding out in a cocoon for a short time and coming out a beautiful butterfly. Easy breezy. We tend to take that simplistic approach about life into adulthood. We wait for transformation to “magically” happen or wait for assistance from a higher power, never fully grasping the work it takes to actually transform into greater. We don’t really want to put in the work or our desire is for someone else to do for us. We fight it, gripe, whine about how unfair life is yet we unknowingly possess the keys to unlock the trunk of answers.

Ever wonder what the caterpillar feels? It happily strolls along life’s path, content with who it is and its function, never grasping that change is on the horizon. It then gets locked in a very uncomfortable position: the cocoon. It isn’t even aware of how long it will be inside of what appears to be not new life forming, but a dark damp grave. I imagine several thoughts swirl around it during this time. Will I survive this? What will become of me? What exactly is going on in here? And I wonder does it even desire to be a butterfly? Once the process begins, does it contemplate escaping its hellish prison? The truth is transformation (change) is supposed to be uncomfortable. The cocoon is where everything we know to be true is challenged. Weighed. Balanced. Renewed. It is where we learn, sometimes very painfully, to release the things that no longer serve us in exchange for a big ol’heap of uncertainty. It is where we learn to trust the very moment we are breathing in, not anxiously planning the future or living the past. I’ve learned we go through many cocoon phases in life, only seeing a better version of ourselves once we’ve emerged a different creature.

Unlocking Purpose

The 9 Questions That Unlocked My Purpose and My Gift

I make my living by communicating. My voice is my hammer and ideas are the nails.

They say the thing you were meant to bring to this world is the exact thing people try to beat out of you, and my life followed that adage to the letter. One of the first compliments and one of the first insults I ever received revolved around my voice.

“You speak with such power for a young person, what an amazing gift.”

“The way you talk intimidates people. You are too bossy. You make people feel bad.”

I’ll give you one guess which statement I internalized until adulthood.

For 30 years, I hid my mind for problem solving, my knack for turning a phrase, my ability to bring people together through sharing, and my love for questions under a rock hoping no one would happen upon them. I allowed the idea that my God given talent would eventually chase people away burrow a whole in my heart so deep the excavation took three years. I spent thirty years pretending to love the acceptable life I had created for myself, then the floor fell out from underneath me and I was forced to admit I didn’t recognize the person in the mirror.

The only way I could figure out who I was, was to ask myself the big questions and allow only my inner voice to give the answer. After all, I would have to live out the findings of this expedition, so it only made sense that I have sole input. So I began…

What makes me special?

What talents do I bring to this world?

What could I do for the rest of my life and be satisfied?

What fills me with joy?

What steals my joy?

What does love look like to me?

How do I define success?

Where do I place my faith?

Who do I trust?

I followed each with the universal and all important question…why?, which, in most cases, is the tiny word holding back the floodgates.

Each question was a stronghold I needed to pull down, a lie I needed to dismantle, or a curse needing to broken. For three years, I felt my feelings and thought my thoughts completely removed from the fears, hopes, dreams, emotions, and intent of others.. I dared to reawaken my voice. Then, I set about learning to use it.

 

 

 

 

cherise Cherise Luter is a freelance writer with Bustle.com and Houston Press. Learn more about her at about.me.

SHE.

The concept for this new series, SHE, quietly and convincingly parallels the healing journey I have undertaken in the last year. And as I began to search for my own truths in this life, I contemplated curiously how the journey might look from other creative being’s eyes. For an artist, vulnerability and transparency can give birth to a creative work or destroy it. And though I feel I have found my creative voice, I want to bring recognition to other great artists and provide a platform of inspiration for all creatives out there in the universe! I hope SHE brings some inspiration to your journey, whether it’s about healing, gain self confidence in your giftings and abilities or simple motivation in knowing there is still parts of your story being written out.

SHE is a celebration of women, at all different stages of life. Finding purpose. Loving. Living life. Accepting ourselves. Finding joy. Evolving consistently. Just Being.

Who is SHE?

 
Infinite Kairos
Magnificently Magnetic
Powerfully Evolving
A force to be Reckoned with
Peaceful Agape
Defined Vulnerability
Spoken Agility
Gracious and Humble
the Heart of the Universe
 
 

TJ

 
*Original artwork by Creatively Insane (Thaddeus Arvie), you can contact him for inquiries at taddos10@gmail.com.