Back in July, I went on a quick getaway with one of my girls to Vegas. Although, Sin City is synonymous with wild and crazy nights that are wiped from memory as soon as you return home, I actually left this time having learned a valuable lesson. No, not that I should get a guy’s name before I do things with him that I would never tell my future daughter on her wedding day, but, that sometimes you have to take gambles in life. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I hate to gamble…my idea of fun does not require me to losing twenty bucks at the craps table. No, I’d rather spend that at the buffet and have visual, tangible and tantalizing proof of where my money went.
But, on this past birthday, I told myself I’d start taking risks. That I’d make myself do things that normally would make me uncomfortable. So, I set aside a small amount of cash and played the penny machine. What? I know you didn’t think I was just gonna wile out with my coins right away?! Oh hell no…mommy didn’t raise no fool. What I learned is that it is fun to win. There is a kind of rush when it happens,and that’s what makes you want more. But, in order to win the money you have to spend money and most of the time you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone in doing so. Most importantly, you have to know when to walk away for good or just try again later. That knowing is not based on fear of losing but on listening to that little voice that guides our judgement. So, no matter how uncomfortable I was at times (mainly when I was losing) I kept going, excepting the loses but especially the gains. Now, when I was done and decided to walk away, I wasn’t ballin’ out of control but I did come up about 32 bucks and on a penny machine and that ain’t too bad! A little extra lunch money always makes me happy :). As I was gambling, I couldn’t help but think about how the process of gambling paralleled the life process. How life requires the same risks, circumstances, gains and awareness but the trick is knowing when to stop and when to push your hand a little more.
Which leads me to my next story. Shortly after that trip, I had come to place where I was ready to leave LA and start a new chapter in my life. I had been knocked down again and again by life and I’m no spring chicken, so I was in a place of no return. So I thought. I remember calling one of my best friends and crying to her. Crying with all my soul…with every “no” and unfulfilled promise, every guy who lied about who he was and every lost opportunity and broken heart…I cried. I was more than 80% sure that I was going home. Knowing me for more than 15 years, my bestie just listened and validated my frustrations and when I calmed down, she told me, through asking rhetorical questions that is, that there was nothing there for me back home that would truly make me happy, other than my friends and family of course. She wanted to know what I was gonna do daily there that would sustain me spiritually the way entertainment has for me in LA. Although this is what we do for each other, as friends, I was still in awe by her selflessness. Of course she would want me to be there, but when you love someone it involves loving them enough to let them go, being the first to say sorry or to tell them what they don’t want to hear. And honestly at that moment that was not what I wanted to hear. I wanted someone to validate my running and hiding from the world. I wanted it to be okay for me to quit. But she would not let me. So, I gave myself til the end of the year or early January 2014 to push forward with the most resilience and faith that I have ever have and if nothing had come from it by then, then I would make plans to rebuild back home.
Once I resolved myself to this, something in me just opened up. I was no longer tied to LA. I let my manager know that I was willing to work wherever, accept abroad for more than three months (it takes a while to build a network but even less time to lose it). I kind of submitted myself to life. To what HE had planned for me. Next thing you know, I’m booking weekly gigs and performing at Taste of Soul, songs are flowing out of me like the Nile and everything just started to click. Auditions started flowing pretty quickly and I was getting into rooms for things I did not think I would so quickly ABC Family, Glee, Book of Mormon, THAT GUY and the latest one, Tyler Perry. Don’t get me wrong, it was a slow and gradual process and not an overnight thing. Day by day, I reclaimed a little more joy and started to sit in my faith more and more. Through each audition, I got better, my reading became more and more fluid and I was getting attention based on my readings from casting directors just as equally as I was for my singing. For me, that was a big deal seeing as though I could not afford acting classes. When I booked the role of Keena on THAT GUY, that was confirmation for me that my decision was going somewhere. I just kept walking…and the story is still unfolding.
I never thought that back in July when I decided to give it all up and go home that I would be writing this blog entry from Atlanta, GA. Hanging in Buckhead at a Starbucks on my off day while taping a TV show with Tyler Perry. I never could have foreseen my faith going from nearly nothing to completely blind and impenetrable. All of this in less than 4 months but in a journey coming up on 9 years total….all because I chose to hang in there just a little longer. I listened to that very faint but ever-present voice that said “Just keep going”. I held tight to the ones who know and love me more than I do myself at times and because of that I chose to let them be my reasoning when I was not thinking clearly. I kept on walking; feet bleeding, cracked and splintered from a rough road in this thing called life.
So what is it that you have been hoping for? What have you been dreaming of? How many times have you been kicked down and had to pick yourself back up without any idea of how the hell you were gonna do it this time? Maybe the next time you think to walk away, you should listen to the voice that says, ” It’s not over yet. Keep walking”.