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 an English Lit. or 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 like clock-work.  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 own singing voice.  I couldn't belt out a Whitney tune to save my life, 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.  Once that happened, my mom introduced me to Minnie Riperton and I tried to hit every note in her whistle register (still working on it!), revisited the group Nirvana that I disdainfully declined to ever listen to in the 8th grade of the Catholic school I attended, and I not only loved 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 a mix of rock, pop, soul, rap, country, salsa, house, club, instrumentals, and loads and loads of gospel.  Music was everything to my family and you could here a variety of it all at our house at any given time on any given day. Overall, I was enjoying the bits of liberating experiences that gave me inklings to who I was to become.

Then, at age 17, I stopped doing what I loved and forgot about all that jazz.  The music stopped.  I didn't sing anymore.  The subscriptions cancelled.  I didn't complete the Cosmetology program.  Sketching didn't cross my mind.  I was barely passing English and nearly graduated high school while preparing for my journey to motherhood, which began with a baby boy due in October of 1997.

What I haven’t shared with you so far is the stuff behind the scenes. 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 because I was not dark enough nor light enough to choose a side, 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 when asked how I was doing.

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.

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

To make a longer story shorter, by the time I hit 30, I realized something greater:

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 hold destiny captive nor could I ignore it's screams from 6 feet under.  I buried myself when I tried to act like nothing 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!