It was probably a week ago when I sat on my deck under the umbrella shielding myself from the already beaming hot sun although it was still pretty early in the day. The deck had become my new office in the recent weeks as it’s one of the few places that I can work without noise or distractions from my family or one of the many televisions that’s on. That means transplanting my laptop, notebooks, reference materials, cell phone, chargers, extension cord, bottled water and possibly snacks…to the patio set on the deck to work outside. I light my citronella torches to keep the bugs at bay and hunker down for as many hours as I can get without interruption – that’s usually till the first kid wakes up. On this day in particular I was feeling very good about all the progress I had been making on a novel that I’m working on when I saw that beautiful black butterfly flying towards me. Instantly the butterfly reminded me of myself and although I was happy to see it initially, it made me feel sad for a moment. Of course I couldn’t grab my phone quick enough to snap the photo before the butterfly had flown away. That visit from the black butterfly had jolted me into a heightened awareness of who I was, who I am and who I still want to be. Realizing that I had somehow managed to forget that there was a time when I thought of myself to be a “black butterfly” too like so many women who have grown, survived and transformed themselves and their lives.
I honored my association with this “black butterfly” with matching tattoos on my left and right legs many years ago. This small and beautiful creature had shaken my whole thought process up. It helped me put things in perspective. This simple unexpected visit from the black butterfly reminded me of everything that I have survived and how much I’ve changed over the years. Some of my changes have been for the better and others haven’t served me well at all. I sat there trying to figure out when I forgot that I’m always that black butterfly even if I don’t recognize it.
Back then I was a very eager go getter about anything that I would involve myself in. If it was something that I wanted to learn or to do, I did it without hesitation. I was highly motivated and looking to be validated instantly. I’m the type of person who wants to be good at everything I do. I like to think that I’m smart, capable, well read and knowledgable. I don’t mind working hard. I’ve always been a team player and try to go the extra mile. Plus I had dreams, big dreams of success, wealth and respect amongst my peers. My books were going to be best sellers. My screenplays were going to get sold for millions of dollars to the biggest studios and made into movies. I could do it all. I even tried to.
I mailed hundreds of query letters off for different novels, or screenplays. I entered contests. I was doing everything I could to strike gold. I didn’t win any of those contests. I never heard from any of those agents, agencies or companies I queried. It was disheartening. It felt like failure and rejection. It made me doubt myself and whether I was any good. Eventually I was published in 2005, a year after my first son was born my first book “Divine Glory” came out.
I felt good about myself and all that I had managed to accomplish in the midst of my pregnancy and arrival of my son. It motivated me to keep pushing. I set my sights on other tasks though. Being a mother who was working full-time was new to me. I had no time to devote to writing or pursuing certain dreams because I was bad at managing my family’s time and mine. I was doing the best I could, so I devoted myself to being the best mother and wife when I was not at work. My family continued to grow and so did my responsibilities. I remember feeling like I had writer’s block for years when I didn’t write anything at all. I felt creatively stifled although I had tons of creativity for my children and their projects and hobbies. There was just none of that creative juice or myself. It was okay though because I was looking for validation in my new career in the finance industry. Starting out the hours were crappy (4:30pm-1:30am), not the worse but not the best when you want to be at home to put your child to bed and kiss them goodnight. The pay was good though and after a while you could work your way up to a better shift which I eventually did. Then a better position at a better company.
I was making more money and was hopeful of the opportunity to advance and build myself a solid career. What I didn’t know was how cut throat corporate environments could be? I was blind to so much that was going on around me because I was just trying to do my job and move up. I did move up but then I got stalled. In my office environment people weren’t moving up solely on merit. It was politics, relationships and a whole lot of other seedy and underhanded scheming and conniving that I had absolutely no parts of. At that point it didn’t matter how well I worked, I was like a thorn in their sides and it became extremely hard to keep my job. Strategically I managed to hold on to my job as long as I could but I was miserable. I was looking to be free of the stress and pressure that I was feeling daily at work. My first day out of corporate I started writing again. I began writing, “Sweet Justice: A Mother’s Revenge” which I published later that year.
I felt like I was somewhat back on track and that felt good. In 2015 I was baptized and as a result I began a deeper, more obedient relationship with the Lord that helped to transform my life more than I could ever imagine. I was learning a lot about myself and life, what it meant to have faith and believe. I was inspired to write and publish another book, “Amen S.i.s.! It’s Already Done!”
I was in a good place and it showed in my desire to write and create. I had produced a ladies talent showcase at a local nightclub. I was bubbling again. During these years I was recruited by various leagues or organizations. By chance I had managed to run into a member of the Purple Orchids while I prepared for my first book signing for “Amen S.i.s.!” That connection would lead to an invitation to their group that I accepted. Lastly I was installed as a member in an honored ceremony. I was honored that these ladies had selected me to be a part of their organization. My heart was in the right place but I found myself disinterested and unable to commit to the calendar of events that the group kept. In the meantime I had managed to land a good position in another mortgage company. The pay was better and I was doing something different at the other end of the mortgage spectrum. I liked what I was doing and hoping for a second chance to restart a career that I was eager to succeed in before. What I found out was that the culture that I was finally free of was also running rampant in my new company. I was crushed again. No amount of drive or hard work was going to help me advance or get me the recognition that I might have earned and even deserved in this all too familiar environment. When my time at that organization came to an end I was actually relieved but my ego and pride took a hit that would take me years to recover from.
I was needed at home. Hell, my husband wanted me at home so the timing couldn’t have been better. It was then that I was able to immerse myself into being a full-time stay at home mother and caretaker of my family that also included my mother in law fresh out of rehab. I had found my purpose and was finally feeling free of all the guilt and unhappiness that I had carried around working full time outside of my home. These days were busy with my oldest son’s homeschooling and being the engaged Mom who was on top of it all. Even though I was happy, I still longed to support my family financially so I started driving part-time and eventually full-time as a Taxi Driver. The demand of the long 12 hours shifts from 6pm-6am and the danger of driving into dangerous areas for fares was more than I could bear and again I found myself feeling failed at my attempt again. What was worse is that I hadn’t written in a while again.
I had discovered a love and joy in cooking and I was good at it. I was always a good cook but my time at home with the family had given me new tasks that gave me new comfort. I had found success in making people happy with the meals and desserts that I was preparing and out of it my love for cooking was born and a new dream, culinary school. This come to Jesus moment couldn’t have happened at a better time, all of my young children were enrolled in school and my oldest homeschooling was already established. I was ready to go to culinary school. I applied, was accepted and then I was rear ended in a car accident and again my plans were derailed. I couldn’t commit to the rigorous physical demands of school, plus the damage to my car put me out of commission as I drove for Uber and Lyft part-time then. These feelings of failure and disappointment had become a recurring theme in my life. Something would happen. I would get disappointed and I would move on to the next thing looking for success and validation. Even though I wasn’t working on any specific project I had begun writing about my meals on my blog that became my only creative outlet for a while.
It was only when my family’s world was rocked earlier this Summer that I was jolted out of my writing dry spell. Instantly I was reminded why I was given certain talents and what I could do with them if I tried. It was exactly a week or so after this that I had my encounter with the elusive black butterfly in my backyard and was further reminded that my life has always been about growing, surviving and transforming. I figured out that I could still achieve the level of success that I had dreamt of but that meant that I had to still try. I wondered if I could do it all. I was thrust back into the workforce instantly and didn’t want to leave behind all that I had accomplished working on my books and blog.
How do I feel today? I feel faithful today. I know that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me so it gives me the strength to push on when I find myself feeling the challenges and pressures of day-to-day life. My dreams are still attainable and achievable. I know that I’m capable of more than I give myself credit for and I am anxious to try again those things that I felt like I failed at before because even though I may have forgotten, I’ve always been that beautiful black butterfly. I’ve been ever-growing, surviving and transforming all along. I’ve had failures but I’ve also had successes. I’m looking forward to what ever is next while still enjoying the present that is the gift that keeps on giving. I even have new dreams that I never thought I would be interested in.
I’ve been thinking about this blog post for over a week now. I had bulleted points to remember. I had to hear Deborah Cox’s “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here” that references her being a “lovely black butterfly” and in the midst I discovered Deneice Williams’s song, “Black Butterfly” and was floored as I listened and read the lyrics, another reminder to keep flying – to keep dreaming.
Lots of us have desires of our hearts and dreams that we are wanting to come to pass, every day we are here is a new opportunity to keep trying. Don’t ever give up. If you fall, get back up. The world needs you.
Peace and Blessings,
A Very Pleasant Mom of 4, Tameka