It’s the end of 2016, which marks for many of us the beginning of a brand new year. Promises will be made, many of which won’t be kept. But, in this time and space that is the dawning of a newly born era — an invisible millisecond trip to the top of next years calendar if you will — we ceremoniously reflect upon the past 12 months and look forward to a magical new set of days ahead. A clean slate, a fresh start, or better yet, another chance to screw up our dreams. Always wishing for grandiose opportunities and then being too lazy or afraid to see them through.
Yeah, I know. If you sense a hint of sarcasm in my tone, you are correct. I am being sarcastic. But what exactly are you expecting? The same old, “go for it gumshoe!” “Let your dreams be your guide beloved!” or “Just have faith and all will work itself out in the end!” I especially love that last one. Just have faith. Faith that it will all work itself out in the end. What exactly is ‘it’ and when exactly is the ‘end’? I know about faith. I’m good on faith. But faith without your own effort is nothing. You hear me? Ab-so-lute-ly NOTHING. The ‘end’ is when you’re dead. And if you’re waiting for DEATH for everything to work itself out, then you have wasted your life, friend. You have wasted your entire damn life!
By the way, my name is Toi Powell and I am an author. I released my 1st book Blood of a Queen: Book 1 this past summer 2016 but, we’ll get to that later. Right now, I am on my Sagittarius ish and I am pounding away at the key boards. Nope, not angry typing, just making sure all of my letters actually end up on the screen as I type them because this dang laptop’s keys are so frigging thin! (Thanks Lenovo) Rant over.
Anyway, it has been foretold in the stars and also to my face, that I can be quite blunt. Blunt as in, ‘I tell it like it is’, not ‘blunt’ as in “you may experience blunt force trauma, for calling me blunt.” I kid, I kid. But seriously. This is a serious conversation, about serious things that can and will seriously happen to or for you within the next year. My bluntness, as I always try to explain — to no avail — is always out of love.
“Swallow this pill of truth”, I say. “You don’t need no dang sugar! Sugar is for babies!” But not really though cause if you give babies too much sugar and they’ll never fall asleep!
(I digress. You’ll realize I’ll digress a lot. My mind is an active beehive of words and it just needs release sometimes. Unfortunately, since you’re reading this, you’ll just have to deal with my swarmy thoughts and imagination, at least until you reach the end.)
Without boring you with who I am and what I do in long drawn out woooooords, I’ll tell you as quickly as I can, almost like a social profile.
Name: Toi Powell (I already said that)
Gender: Woman (Notice I didn’t say female. A cat can be a female but I … I embrace my womanhood)
Status: In a relationship (yes we’re serious)
Age: In my 30’s
Career: Author (Blood of a Queen series. Book 1 on Amazon now! Go get it!)
Day Job: Digital producer
Now that that is out of the way, let’s get back on topic of… wait. Did I even give you a topic? Let’s see, I said this is the end of 2016, …oh yes! Now I need to bluntly tell you about yourself and how you need to stop relying on blind faith and dreams and start doing! Now don’t get upset with me, cause it’s wasted energy and I don’t care. The best advice, I feel, sometimes comes from someone who has nothing to gain from your success and accomplishments. There is no underhandedness in their willingness to take the time out of their lives to give you the best gems of knowledge that will help you better yourself. Unless you come across a super-villain and in that case, congrats! You’ve finally become that actor you’ve always wanted to be! No need to read further, cause clearly, you got it going on! How’s them Marvel checks?
Now for the rest of us, we need to really examine ourselves and get to the root of our own problems. Here are a few examples of how we stand in our own way and then resurrect those same resolutions year after year. And nope. I’m not editing anything to make it sound politically correct. This is how yall sound.
It always starts with “This year…”
- I am going to lose all this weight.
- I’m getting me a new damn job
- I’m gonna open up a business selling my grandma’s secret sauce
- I’m gonna stop perming my hair and go natural
- I’m getting a brand new car
- I’m fixing my credit
- I’m leaving him/her
- I’m getting married
- I’m going on vacation
- I’m gonna write that book I’ve always wanted to write.
Let’s talk about this for a second.
I am going to lose all this weight.
Why is your resolution the same as last year? What didn’t you do and why? Can I speak, bluntly? Why you aint lose that weight? Seriously. What stood in your way this year that kept you from physically losing your weight? Notice I said “your” weight. It’s because it’s your load to carry. Yes, the weight itself is a heavy burden, but also the load of broken promises to yourself weighs down on you emotionally. Don’t you hate it when people break promises to you? So why the hell would you allow YOU to break a promise to yourself? Unless you were physically or mentally unable to do it, there is no reason why you couldn’t have at least tried.
People lack discipline. They lack drive, ambition and the vision to see a much more vivid, vibrant larger picture. If you live day to day, expecting to start tomorrow, you’ll be right back at the top of a new imaginary calendar repeating yourself. Stuck in an endless loop of broken promises and dusty dreams. Find a nutritionist, sign up for a gym or grab some Shawn T. DVDs. Get into it!
I’m getting me a new damn job
What stood in your way this year from getting a new job? I’ll be a bit sensitive here because I know the job market tends to suck, but, I say BUT…did you go on any interviews though? Did you make any phone calls, network, print and deliver resumes? Did you do any research on the field or companies for which you wish to work in? Did you take any online courses, watch youtube tutorials and self-teach yourself a skill? Or did you sit around your home or current job and mope, wishing to be somewhere else? Wishes are for babies. Go find yourself a cake and some candles because that’s the only time when wishes are somewhat acceptable and even then, I side eye and turn that ish into an affirmation.
You have to put in the work and the time to get anything you want out of life. And your new year resolutions are no exception. I know I listed about 10 resolutions earlier and I won’t bore you with an explanation for all of them, but I will touch on at least 2 more.
I’m gonna open up a business selling my grandma’s secret sauce
Yah grandma’s secret sauce. Now, this is not a bad idea to have but I have heard so many people claim that they are going to take their family recipe and sell it in stores because everybody tells you how good it tastes. Someone in the family is poor (maybe you, or not) and this can bring them some money and/or you have this grandiose idea of becoming rich because you know how to stew up some tomatoes and add a little Italian seasoning and some oregano and the whole world will love you for it. Honey. There are at least 25 different sauces on the shelves in my local Shoprite. Each of these sauces probably tastes very similar to the next. What you bringing to the table?
Digression Confession: I can not tell the difference between Barilla and Bertolli pasta sauce. Only Shoprite can and those prices are what drives my meal. Ragu needs to be condemned to the fiery gates of hell. They can use the extra water in the sauce to put the gates out.
What will make your sauce stand out among the other 25 sauces? Better yet, how are you going to get the sauce on the shelves? But let’s back up some more. Are you cooking and bottling these sauces yourself or will you need a distributor? Where are you getting your bottles from? Which farms will grow your sweet grandma’s tomatoes? Clearly, you can’t feed the world off of that little patch of land behind the house? What is your business model?
I lost you at business model, didn’t I? Watch all of those encouraging family members and friends who loved your sauces slink backwards into the darkness once they realize how much WORK actually goes into getting your grandma’s secret sauce on the shelves.
If you stand by your sauce, then stand by the damn sauce! Do your research, reach out to people, companies, get a lawyer, discover some local farms, build relationships, start small. Work your way up, but the point is you are doing something. You have taken this friendly, family conversation out of the kitchen and into something more tangible. You have bookmarks in your browser of websites that will help you become established. You are taking the steps to ensure that grandma’s sauce will make it out, to at least your local market. You can either put in that work or get lost in the sauce. The choice is yours.
Let’s just run through these resolutions really quick, ‘cause I think they’re pretty popular with repeat offenders and I don’t want to leave anybody out. I’ll give you a quick, blunt answer so you can get what you need and move on before I get to the last one.
Digression Confession: I’ve been drinking red wine all night and I have a slight headache. Probably from this last round of cheap red in my house. I also have a killer cold and have been drugged up on cough syrup for 3 days. I do not have the will nor the energy to type out long paragraphs for every resolution I listed. I assume we are all adults (hiccup) and you get what I call.. the gist. Also, do not ask me which red wine I am currently drinking. I started with Pinot Noir and at this point it’s all a red blur… I mean blend. It’s all a red blend. Jezus. Here we go…
I’m gonna stop perming my hair and go natural
Ok. We all know, relaxers give black women a green film over their skulls from years of chemically treating their hair. If this doesn’t convince you to stop, then perhaps your goal is to become the Grinch Who Stole Christmas…from the inside out! Stop perming your damn hair! You act like a big tooth comb is gonna kill you! Do the Hokey-Pokey, Grow that baby out, oil up that scalp, do a 2 strand twist out and that’s what it’s all about!
I’m getting a brand new car
Great, do it. Check/fix your credit, save some money for that down payment. Look into Money Market Account (MMA) savings accounts for higher interests and research the types of loans you’ll need to get your dream car. Don’t forget to research how much your insurance rate will go up. Plenty of people forget to do that.
I’m fixing my credit
Awesome! You’re on your way to getting that brand new car! You get a car, YOU get a car! Make sure you research everyone you owe money to and your state’s statute of limitations. You may not have to pay ish! You can also request a statement to prove what you owe and original documentation of your debt. Do your research. Remember, I’ve been drinking a red blend. I do not have the energy to do it for you. This is your resolution so, get tah gettin!
I’m leaving him/her
This is one of my favorite ones. If you have to keep talking yourself into leaving someone, then…(sips wine) Chal! You need to just be done and over with it. Just walk away. Just put 1 foot in front of the other and hut, 2, 3, 4! Do NOT about face. You have been about facing all year. What are you waiting on? Are there kids involved? Pets? Deeds? Accounts? Businesses? What is it? Figure that ish out and leave! Here comes the Sagittarius… be warned. You are NOT the only person on the face of this entire dang planet that has been in the situation you are in. You are not special in this case. You will not be the only single mom or dad out there, you will not be the only one starting from scratch and you will never be the only one who will have to dig deep down inside of themselves to find the stronger YOU in the face of adversity. There are millions of humans on this planet. And they have done it. What makes you any different? Find that stronger you, get over it and move on. Enough is enough.
I’m getting married
Oop! Look who’s moved on! Ok, you’re getting married. That’s cute. I mean beautiful! It’s beautiful, especially if you plan properly, seek assistance in the form of a PAID wedding planner. Not your cousin Ti Ti cause she pulled off your mama’s, friends, brothers daughters wedding 2 years ago. Cause that sounds like a mess, cause it was. I saw the pics on instagram. Make sure you have a viable budget, follow the plans and take the steps to getting it done. You do not want to be engaged for 3 years and then out of frustration, here comes the next new year and you’re standing on a mountain shouting…This year, I’m getting married! Girl…get down. Either plan it or drop it. We are getting too old for promise rings. When you do get married, make sure you have funds left for a cute lil honeymoon and a house! Don’t spend $20K on a wedding and don’t have nowhere to live. That’s tacky. And you know what else is tacky? White church stockings under your wedding dress. Don’t do it.
I’m going on vacation
Now, I LOVE this one! Sag’s love to travel! Especially when I know where I’m going. Do you know where you’re going? Pick a spot. Have you done the RESEARCH? How many stars does that resort have? How many days are you going for? How much is the all inclusive… per person? Air BnB? Don’t use an ethnic name at booking or else they won’t book you (Yes SHADE!). Do you have time off from work? Most importantly, do you have a passport? No? Do you know how to obtain one? How much for a rush passport cause I know you booked your trip before you got your passport…trying to get that groupon deal! Tsk Tsk. Please make sure you look into everything before you depart into the world ie, world events, hurricanes, wars, you get the gist.
I’m gonna write that book I’ve always wanted to write.
This resolution is very close to my heart. Because in a way, it was my own, only let’s replace the words write with publish. I’m gonna publish that book I’ve always wanted to publish. That was me last year. I wrote a 3 part series for my book Blood of a Queen back in 2007. I started it as a hobby — something to do in my spare time. 1 year later, I had a 3 part series but I had no clue what to do with it. I did my research into literary agents, publishing houses, query letters, the whole nine yet, I was exhausted and I lacked motivation to see it through.
Every year after that, the book crept up into my mind and I would say, I am going to publish this book I’ve always wanted to publish. But I’d continue making excuse after excuse and psyching myself out — believing maybe I wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t until I came to a realization that almost 9 years after writing my book, I had nothing to show. No reviews, no feedback, no cover art, no…book. I began to mentally and emotionally reset myself back to a time when I was fearless, where I challenged myself just for the hell of it. Not to prove to people that I can do it, but to prove to myself that I…can…do it.
I prepared myself mentally and spiritually to make a promise to myself and keep it. I held myself accountable and I recruited others to hold me accountable as well. My promise was…you guessed it, to publish this book I’ve always wanted to publish. And you know what? I researched my butt off and learned what I needed to know in order to do it. I even thought outside the box and took my book to another level by adding music, videos, documentaries and 3D augmented reality. I explored new ways to deliver my work to the world and I was so proud of myself that actually followed through.
It was by far the hardest thing I’d ever had to do in my life. Don’t trust me? Watch my book launch journey videos here and you’ll see some real ish! I still work a full time job, I am still in a relationship, I still love my family and friends but, this was something I had to do for me. Yes, I cried, I laughed, I studied and wrote diligently, I worked long hours at the job and I came home and worked until 4 am most nights. Why? Because I made a promise.
Would you know 8 months later I had a book on Amazon? I got sponsors, I sold my book at Circle of Sisters Expo in NYC. It all took time but I felt accomplished. I said I was going to do it and I did. No excuses and no quitting when it got too tough. I pushed myself, followed through and because I had FAITH that I could do it, I did it. Nothing happens on faith alone. You must mentally and spiritually prepare yourself to change course into a direction that will make you that much better, that much stronger and much more fulfilled.
I know I’ve been coming down pretty hard on you because I want what’s best for you. I want you to tell your story and encourage, motivate and inspire another repeat offender. We’re not all perfect by far and you may be wondering if I have any resolutions. Sure I do! But I am happy to say that it is not the same as last years. I’ve completed that one. Check! But I have new ones that stem from my past accomplishments and I am watching it grow. I am watering it, tilling the soil, fertilizing my creation and if you follow through with your resolutions and affirmations, you will literally reap what you sow.
I will not wish you a happy new year. Remember wishes are for babies and cakes. I will leave you with these affirmations instead.
My dreams will come to fruition.
I will not stand in my own way.
I will follow through in all that I do.
I will exert positivity within me and all around me.
Today I am waking up with strength, spirit, and a sound mind.
I will know my worth and will accept nothing less.
Go forth into this new year high stepping and radio city rockette kicking down every obstacle! You got this!
Happy New Year!
Author of Blood of a Queen: Book 1