By the time I was 12, I wanted to have 8 children because I just loved kids, marry my then "boyfriend", and become the next Whitney.  I thought maybe I would become an artist first, then a wife and mother, and lastly a music teacher.  

When I turned 14, I decided to started putting together different styles of clothing and when I couldn't find them in a store, onto sketching in Science class I went (eh hem....sorry Mom! BUT, I did ace English….I loved and still love to read and write).  I used my own money, here & there, for choice pieces since I had a solid hustle braiding hair for the girls in my school, their sisters, and even their moms too!  I was fast, neat, and kept my prices low which kept them coming back every month on schedule.  It just made so much sense to enroll into Cosmetology courses and with mom's permission, I did.

At 15 I had loads of beauty magazine subscriptions and bought every useful product for my daily hair and skincare routine.  I didn't morph into a totally different person but I loved & still love enhancing what I have.

By 16, I gave up trying to be Whitney and started to love my singing voice.  I couldn't belt out a Whitney tune but I could croon to Stevie Wonder at least 1 octave higher and 1 octave lower.  I didn't notice my vocal range until it dawned on me that my Chorus teacher asked me to switch sections between Soprano A & B all the way to Bass when she needed support in a certain section.  I tried to hit every note sang by Minnie Riperton in her whistle register (still working on it!), revisited the group Nirvana that I disdainfully declined in the 8th grade of the Catholic school I attended, and I not only fell in love with their smash hit but I fell all the way in love with Alanis' Jagged Little Pill.  If I had an ipod or an iphone back then, it would look like it does today with rock, pop, soul, rap, country, salsa, and plenty of gospel.  Music was everything to us and you could here a variety of music and sing-a-longs at our house at any given time on any given day.

Overall, I was enjoying the liberating experience of finding out just who I was so I could figure out for sure, what I wanted to be!

But at age 17, I stopped doing what I loved and forgot about what I wanted to become.  The music stopped.  I didn't sing.  The subscriptions cancelled.  I didn't complete the Cosmetology program.  Sketching didn't cross my mind.  I was barely passing English and yet my journey to motherhood began with a baby boy due in October of 1997.  

By the time I was almost 18 years old, I experienced physical abuse and sexual violation by family and strangers, being betrayed by friends, racism in my high school, prejudices within my own race, and abandonment.  On top of that, add hungry times, cold nights, low self esteem, emotional turmoil, and heartache that reverberated through my entire being and you would easily see me tremble just to keep from breaking down.  

Each of these experiences stirred the pot that blended together the seasonings of misery and at 17, I caved in and stopped living.  The only thing I could do was pray silently and even that was a change since I was used to praying aloud and often.

BUT I knew that there was a way out of THIS low place. I just had to find it beyond my pride that was destroyed at the thought of what everyone else thought about me.

By the time I hit 30, I realized something greater than what everyone else thought:

The essence of who I was, have always been, and am destined to be never died, was still alive, and was yearning to live.  It seeped out of the pine box I placed it in over the years and finally, I could no longer ignore the stench from trying to kill destiny nor could I ignore it's screams from 6 feet under.  I buried myself when I buried all that happened instead of facing all that happened and the only thing I could do to be whole, was to find out where "X" marked the spot!

I hope you see my point.  If not then I'll say it this way, no matter what you go through, the center of who you are will never die even if you've held your own funeral.  I had to figure this out the hard way but my mission is to make sure that you don't have to.  When you read the next line, just know that I'll be there with you to get my hands dirty:

Take a shovel, start digging, and you'll find that the best part of you is still breathing and is ready to live!