Learning to Love

Things I Learned (To Love) About Myself During My First Year As a Freelancer

They say that it’s great pressure that removes impurities and creates diamonds. If not for the hard times, we wouldn’t be able to expose the dark parts of ourselves to the light. Well, thanks to the past 12 months of my freelance career, my skeletons are out of the closet and doing a tap dance routine in my living room. From the constant solitude, to the pressure to perform, the glorious rejections, and mind altering approvals, my dirt has been put on display day in and day out for one year and the experience has changed me for good.

Of all the shifts, the ability to recognize my real self, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and I love me anyway has been the greatest take away. I’ve been shown my strengths and my weaknesses, faced the dragon, slayed it, and received a well-deserved aha moment to cap off the adventure. Each victory refined me into a new person, but at the same time made me more me than I was before.

The mark of a great relationship is the ability to see the other person as they are and love them anyway. I think now I am in a fantastic relationship with me and it is getting serious.

Here are a few of my hard earned pearls. I share in hopes that they resonate in others and set them on their journey….

You are good, you are enough.
One of the hardest lessons to learn and even harder to walk out each day – YES, I can tell a great story and people will want to listen to it.

I am an expert in my world, and I should never discount my knowledge.
In the beginning, I defaulted to others too often thinking they knew best. My insecurities were suffocating my ability to do my best work.

I am hilarious, and I don’t need to hide that to be taken seriously.
I like to add humor to things and I should never think that makes me a clown or makes others perceive me as less than.

I can be in the company of other talented people and not disappear.
Shrinking violet syndrome was running rampant and it wasn’t until I stopped positioning myself in the fringes did I find a place at the table.

No, it is an honor to work with me.
I’m done with taking what I can get because I’m just happy to be here. I have earned my place and deserve to be valued.

I am not afraid of pushing towards excellence and I shouldn’t be scared to require that of others.
If they leave because I set standards, then so be it.

If it doesn’t create a positive platform for something or someone, I don’t want to do it.
I only have so much time on this Earth and I want to spend it doing something worthwhile. I am not building a career, I’m planning my legacy.

Be brave enough to say no.
I like to give 100 percent, so I must watch what I dedicate myself to.

My instincts are always right when it comes to me.
No one knows what is best for me better than me. Period. Trust myself.

Accept the seasons, nothing is meant to last forever, even your blessings.
Let go when it time to let go. It is not that it wasn’t good, it is just that something better is on the horizon.

 

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.

In Love.

lia      How did SHE fall in love with herself? I was always driven. From a young age I knew I was going to be the best lawyer that ever was. I am proud to be the first generation to graduate with a high school diploma, Bachelor’s Degree and now Masters from my household. During parent/teacher nights in elementary school, my teachers would be surprised to find my short 4’9 mother shaking their hand. She has always been refined in presentation yet modest at heart. They were expecting to find an educated professional but instead of a little stern woman. “Digame la verdad, como se porta mi hija” translation “tell me the truth teacher, how has my daughter acted in school.” She never worried about my grades because I always brought home A’s. The important factor for her was my conduct. I went on to High School, was honored with the Gates Millennium Scholarship to go to college and moved into Law School in the cold state of South Dakota. The first summer I lived there I was gracious enough to live with a recent graduate. It was the most economic option for me, he was married and had one child. That family had no clue I was Latino, maybe, but one day I was saddened by the words that came out of their mouth after a news report.

“All those Hispanics are coming over, they are crossing the Rio Grande and just coming over. They ought to stay where they are.”

As an adult, I was now worried about my conduct. Was I acting in a way that would honor my family’s legacy? I had choices, yes, and one of those was to be quite and excuse myself. I left to the Mexican restaurant in town and had a wine-rita (because they weren’t able to sell the real stuff) and I reflected. Was it racism? Was it buying into the media? Did they really have a problem with my culture? It was at that pivotal moment I decided the next time my mother called and I was in a common area, I would answer the phone. They had yet to see an educated Hispanic person and I would subtly introduce that part of me. She called the following Sunday, I picked up the phone and started talking. It then prompted the question, “what is your background” to which I responded. The look of surprise will never leave my memory bank.

It was in that moment, I couldn’t be prouder of my heritage, of my values and of the extreme form of discipline I had undergone. I didn’t make a big deal of it, instead I found a way to educate them and maybe change their perception. At that moment, I fell in deep love with the passionate, empathetic, tactful, proud Latina, ME.

 

–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 Anniversary of Silence

As we continue our series SHE…

 

I am often asked, “How long have you been writing?” My answer usually ranges between the ages of 17 and 19, but the truth of the matter is I have been at it since grade 5. I was in a talented and gifted program (TAG), and I was tasked to create a book of poetry for a class project. This project introduced me to my love for words being eloquently linked together to tell stories. Not just any stories, but stories that my imagination birthed.

Over time I became more enamored with the multitude of pictures I could paint with words. It became an addiction for me to see how many people I could touch; how many women I could woo; how many of the fellas I could inspire to be more creative in their approach. I guess in a way I felt like writing was my mutant power (LOL). It was something about that pen and pad in my clutches that made me feel invincible. Writing gave me a power, an unequalled high, and a borderline sense of superiority. This craft has taken me on an amazing journey. I have been on stages with gifted musicians. I have headlined open mics with some of the most talented wordsmiths. I have been adored enough to be called a mentor to some of the most creative minds one would ever want to know. I enjoy the creative process, I really do. It’s like breathing the freshest of air. I cannot wait to inhale and exhale again.

The Anniversary of Silence

Facial features disguised

But she couldn’t hide the pain that outlined the unrest in her eyes

Untruths buried… Fed far to many lies

Even her tears had tears, drowning in cries.

Scared to be alone, so she couldn’t find the strength to leave him,

Unable to see past the blurred lines of hate wrapped in love, overwhelmingly deceiving

Because he loved her so much in that right eye that she hated to see thru her left

Thieving her self-esteem which each punch and kick, last breathes

Mommy I try to remember you,

But I pray to forget

The way that temperament changed when his empty bottle tipped

Liquor infused with the devilish spit

Massacre ensued, how fatal the script

Baby brother cry’s still echo with pain

Blood soaked denim still clutters my brain

No longer enjoying the beat of the rain,

Crazy how GOD’s music conjures up so much disdain

I just want to be plain,

A regular man who sleeps at night without the shakes and shivers

Without the cold sweats that my memory delivers

Without the eerie vision of a canvas painted in a nauseous river

My breathing is hampered

My legs are wearily weak

My arms don’t move

My mouth doesn’t speak

A victim

A witness

A murderous cowards retreat,

I try to drink the pain away

Smoke out the guilt

Purge the details from that night she was tragically killed

Silenced by Daddy

 

#TamirSaidIt

 

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

 

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_.