Inspired by Johnny’s famed line from the ending scenes of the cult classic film Dirty Dancing, the title of my debuting novel is my personal mission statement. It’s a very clear message stating that the situation I was born into, my personal past, and other people’s expectations and views do not determine what is possible for my future. I’ve always wanted to write books and now that I’m on the path toward doing so, I feel like I’ve woken up and rubbed the crust from my eyes after a really long sleep.
This book was originally going to be entitled White Washed and most of the subject matter was centered around my experiences growing up in foster care. While those details still play a major part in my story as a whole, as I started to (seriously) write, I watched the book warp and form into something completely different from what I originally set out to do. New authors are often given advice that says to “go for what you know”, and I did.
What I didn’t realize is that what I know is the merely a final product, made up of what I’ve experienced, observed, felt, seen, thought, etc. When I began to tap into everything that went into making me the woman I am today, it became much more than a story, it became a legend – one that I knew my ancestors would be proud of, and one that I knew my descendents would treasure and learn from. I understood that the task at hand was about more than entertaining people, it was about teaching and healing, and that sharing my story could open the door for opportunities to share the wisdom gained. This story is about healing my family’s karma, and I’m hopeful that being so transparent will help others do the same for their families.
Having lived this story, one might assume that writing it would be a big, moist, piece of chocolate cake, but the experience has been far from that. There were some parts that I could spit out with no problems, parts that were of no consequence, funny parts. But there is a lot of darkness in my story and detailing those painful memories forced me to relive them. Taking my mind back through feelings of abandonment, displacement, remembering the abuse, and thinking about all of the mistakes I made that only served to exacerbate certain situations was a cross that I was not yet willing or able to bear. I dragged my knuckles for months. I outlined the book piece by piece, I wrote here and there, but the apprehension loomed and part of me was not ready. As it seems, I was putting myself in a corner through self sabotage.
I engaged my rituals and put all of my energy into them, since I couldn’t hunker down and focus on writing. I began to ask that my energy would be cleared and that my past and the people in it would be forgiven, and that I could truly forgive myself for the part I played. I listened (meditation) more than I spoke (prayer) and what I heard was that it was all already forgiven and that what I really needed to do was call out and slay the parts of my ego that were still holding me back from my purpose – the parts of me that held steadfastly on to the hurt. In a move that is completely uncharacteristic of me, I strayed from my stubborn ways and let go, and the possibilities for my life became magnified.
My subconscious mind clearly had a much bigger picture of what this story should be about than my waking mind could ever have fathomed. It transformed from being about amusing racial discourse into a full on memoir, and it’s phenomenal. Arrogant much? No. I say it with an assured sense of self and with humble pride in what I’ve done and with childlike hope in my eyes about what’s to come. Having pulled myself out of the corner, fully aware and ready to move in sync with what life has to offer, I’m ready to make my debut on the world stage and dance my heart out, just like Baby did.
Check out this YouTube clip for a dose of nostalgia.