2018 Reflection

me

I always look forward to looking forward. At the start of each new year, I list my goals, maybe create a physical or virtual vision board, and completely ignore anything that has taken place in the past 365 days. Very seldom, do I take the time to digest everything that has occurred in the past, determined to focus on tomorrow. However, nearing the end of 2018, I completed a 21-day Daniel fast, choosing to end the year out with a bang rather than wait for January 1st to have a fresh start. During that time, God charged me to reflect over my past year in order to process what He is doing in me in this upcoming season.

I started by looking over my 2018 journal entries. I am by no means a consistent journal writer, as is very evident by this blog site (I promise to do better). However, whenever a pivotal “aha” moment occurs, I tend to document it to sort out my thoughts and God’s intention behind the event. Reading over those journal entries led me to my knees in gratitude. I had forgotten many of the milestones I hit that year. I quit my job and shortly after landed a new one, worked as a contractor, started a small yet successful AirbnB, moved my younger brother in with me, moved two or three times (I’ve lost count) due to the growth in my household and business, joined a writer’s group, and made a couple handfuls of new friends and built new networks expanding my little community here in LaLa land.

In about three weeks, I will have been a Los Angeles resident for four years, thus making this my longest place of residence as an adult outside of my home state of Maryland. My, how time flies! This year marks 10 years out of college, two years in my thirties, and one year as a faux flexitarian (aka a wannabe vegan). It’s easy to remember the lows when reminiscing over the past year because we are so determined to turn them into highs in the next. But we must process everything, good and bad, in order to understand where we are going.

Many of us possess suppressed issues of our past that we don’t even recognize we haven’t overcome until some familiar event or person triggers them within us. This was my 2018! Two mini anxiety attacks later, I decided I wanted to seek counsel; an unbiased third party who could help me place all of my past on a table and organize my feelings like a deck of cards. But finding the right therapist is like finding the right man; hard as hell! I finally decided to stop searching and let the right fit come to me (in more ways than just therapy) and truly listen to what God was telling me. He had me go through my journal which is a beautiful notebook gifted me by my friend Atavia before my move here. And, yes, four years later, the pages are finally almost full.

I learned that I’ve experienced, like all of us, a series of ups and downs over the past few years. But there is one common theme in much of my writing; I made it. God has provided provision. However, it’s one thing to survive and another to rise and conquer. This season is all about rising and conquering. Learning from my past, and applying the tools I’ve gained to create a better situation. And then sharing these experiences with others so that they don’t encounter the same hiccups.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending my alma mater’s Alumni West Chapter Brunch. It was amazing to connect with other Towson University alums over french toast and mimosas about our journeys from the east to west coast. I was able to gain invaluable advice from seasoned graduates with tenure in the entertainment writing industry. But the highlight of my day was speaking to a 2017 graduate. Her story felt just like mine. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and relocated to L.A. to work as an Admissions Counselor at a university.

She, too, accepted a job, outside of her field, in hopes of getting her foot in the door of the workforce but with aspirations of becoming a screenwriter. I advised her not to waste too much time; to take the tools she’d learn in her current position, the resources and network and move on to the field that would fulfill her and give her excitement about waking each morning. These were simple words I wish I’d heard in 2009 as a confused 22-year-old unsure of her path in life. I had an open mind but just didn’t know where to begin. 10 years later I know the answer; just begin.

This was the first year that I didn’t set a bunch of expectations. Instead, I felt led to reflect over the prior year and thank God for it all; the highs, the lows, the valleys, the mountains, the brokenness and mended relationships. My greatest achievement in 2018 was obtaining a new outlook on life. I learned to face my insecurities head on and appreciate myself as the person that God created. While I may be flawed, He is not, and did not make a mistake in any dimple, hair follicle or fingernail. He created an individual willing to serve and ready to listen and that to me is the greatest vision ever told.

GOOD MUSIC: TORI KELLY, JOR’DAN ARMSTRONG, KORYN HAWTHORNE, ERICA & WARRYN CAMPBELL & MORE

Jordan-Armstrong

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve done one of these but a lot of good music has been blessing my Spotify that I had to share it with ya’ll. I know you’ve been struggling to find tunes that you can bop and worship to at the same time. I got you!

Creating good purpose music that the young folk don’t consider “corny” can be a hard combo to come by, but every artist on this list has proven that you can be sanctified and lit. I’ve got a lot of new fire for ya’ll today so let’s hop into it!

First up, straight outta “the boot-shaped state,” is my boy Jor’Dan Armstrong. Any time Jor’Dan drops a new record, I’m downloading. He recently released a Deluxe version of his Blsd EP and as usual it does not disappoint. His single “Tomorrow” has been on repeat all summer, but his new track “Lose My Number” is also a banger!

I shook the devil off, shook him up off me/ I know he really mad, I know he salty/ Lose my number, don’t call me/ I’m living godly/ I reminisce of how far He brought me

Erica and Warryn Campbell dropped some real gospel Bey and Jay heat with their first duet “All of My Life.” I know the saints is mad but in the words of OT Genasis when you getting to the money, everybody mad. Just kidding.

I just wanna show you that it’s certain/ With my hands up, I call it worship/ Yeah I know it’s real, yeah I know it’s real/ And I ain’t gotta question how I feel/ Gimme gimme gimme purpose/ No I never ever nervous/ Everything you say, believe Him/ No I never ever leave Him/ I ain’t steppin down off this word/ Imma keep this thang clear that’s for sure

We’ve known since “Dear No One” that Tori Kelly’s voice was anointed. But now she’s released a worship album, “Hiding Place,” that is releasing that anointing to the world. This track, Psalm 42 is like pure spring water on a hot summer day. Listen and be blessed.

tori-kelly

As the deer pants for the water/ So my soul needs you, Lord/ We’re thirsty Lord, you’re the living water/ And my soul needs you Lord/ It needs you Lord

aaron

My only disappointment with Aaron Cole’s music is not being introduced to it sooner. His record with the beautiful songbird, Koryn Hawthorne is fire! Aaron hails from Bristol, VA and get this…he’s only 19! Look out for this young man; he is going to have heavy impact in the burgeoning industry of Christian hip-hop.

I knew I was built for this thing/ I ain’t been a saint/ He show me love anyway/ I hear you talking a way/ Get out of my face/ He knew His plans for me/ This for my family, family
You living a fantasy if you think you can handle me/ 705 Chester street where it all started in a condo/ All we had was the ray and john got me feeling like Rondo/ 14 years I been in this thing and I still ain’t even reached my peak/ Everything that I need already living up inside up of me/ Just a Walmart mic and a dream/ Using hip hop ej 4 feeling mean/ Sleeping on church floors in the summer 14/ Fam stayed together like young Al Green