Being Myself…with Grace

Heya,

Today I took a ‘rest day’ from working out. Part of it is because I woke up late and part is because I don’t feel good. Just nauseous and hot flashes, boy don’t we love being women? 

But I also feel good about it. When I first decided to take a rest day, I thought oh no, this is how the quitting starts. Then I reminded myself to allow space for grace. I don’t feel well and I need to work more on my health and less on my goals. They go hand in hand and neither could happen without the other. So it’s a mental health day. 

Mind you, part of it might be due to the fact that I stayed up late, and then I went to Walmart at 8 am to buy chili fixings. I spent a hefty amount of time cooking and the only time I really got to take a nap was when Naomi threatened to ruin the apartment. 

The chili was really good. Check out my Instagram story to see the fix! (@JadeBethJ)



***

Something great happened the other day. I posted on social media about how I was so excited about Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour. I also said that I didn’t have the money to buy it right now. I’ve been on EVERY waiting list possible for a while. Then a woman reached out to me and said that she sees my posts in the book groups and appreciates how I’m always positive and helpful. She said that I have great vibes and she’d like to buy the book for me. 

Wow, right!? 

We chatted for a little bit and she ended up emailing me an Amazon gift card to buy Black Buck (as well as a little extra for other books I might want in the future). Not only did it make me happy to get a book I’ve been dreaming about, but it made me realize that the way we move on social media is seen by so many. 

It’s an obvious thought, but I never really care who’s watching because I am who I am. In-person I am just as awkward, nerdy, overly excited, and overly talkative as I am online. It’s wild because I can definitely be too much for people but they just aren’t my people! Not everyone is going to like me and it’s taken me a long time to discover that it has nothing to do with me. I’m a drama queen who loves books, crying at mushy things, and turning the channel the moment I get second-hand embarrassment. Now, people who watch me without interaction don’t really KNOW me, know me, but they get pretty darn close. 

So I got a book for simply being myself. My heart is happy. 

Good Readdance,

Jade

Book Review: Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

Heya,



I know that I said I would be reading books by different black authors – as a part of my Black Literature intensive – but I just can’t stop reading Octavia E. Butler. I’m not sure if I’m just more open to science fiction, and speculative fiction, now that I’m an adult or what but I love it. With every book I read in this genre, I’m drawn away from romance, thriller, domestic thriller, and even memoir! It feels almost impossible that I didn’t start reading them until now. Reading or writing!

Kindred is about a black woman living in the ’70s who unwillingly travels to the past. During her time in the past, she’ll become a slave, deal with assaults (physical and verbal), and learn the truth of her ancestors. The book tackles interracial couples, the tensions between white and black people in the 1800’s, gender roles, societal expectations and so much more.

I listened to Kindred (because the Parable of the Sower series worked so well via Overdrive) and it was phenomenal. All of her narrators have been amazing so far. Or maybe it’s because I’m alone in Florida without a black community or family supporting me, that I always feel like I’m getting a hug from black narrators. I knew from the first twenty minutes that I wouldn’t stop listening until the story was over.

The characters are strong with depth and purpose. Every character felt important, and every scene was beautifully written. I aspire to her level of style. It’s like the ‘minimalism’ of writing. Every chapter and every scene pushed the story forward. There were no chapters that drug, making me want to skip ahead or roll my eyes. It held me enraptured from beginning to end.

I feel such a kindred spirit in Butler. All the things I want to say about the world, she does. All the solutions I’ve come up with are expertly addressed in her work. I love this novel and I’d love to own a physical copy. Maybe that’ll be the next gift I give myself.

I think I’m going to read Fledgling next, although I’m not sure how to feel about the synopsis. It’s…weird. But at this point, I’m willing to read anything she’s ever written. The other day my mother-in-love told me she was listening to a podcast that mentioned Butler, one that described her writing as genius, and we spent a hefty amount of our Zoom time discussing the topic.  

I’d love to discuss this author with you: Have you read any of her books? Do you have any thoughts on Fledgling? What about comparable authors? After I finish Octavia E. Butler, I’d love to read more black authors writing in the same genre. Do share!

Good Readdance,

Jade

Link to Book

12 Books Releases by by Black Authors in 2021

Heya,

I found a list of 35 books written by black authors that are coming out in 2021. The article titled “35 Must-Read 2021 Book Releases by Black Authors” was posted recently on Marie Claire’s page. After going through each book, I found several that I plan to read! I’m so excited about it! Here’s my list! Add them to your Goodreads, like I did, or preorder them! Are you planning to read any of these books?

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  1. Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

This quick-witted satirical debut follows a young man who transforms almost overnight from an unambitious Starbucks employee to a ruthless salesman after a chance encounter with the CEO of NYC’s hottest tech startup. When tragedy strikes, he resets with a new goal: helping young people of color infiltrate America’s sales force.

Available January 5, 2021

  1. Angel of Greenwood’ by Randi Pink

Isaiah Wilson and Angel Hill attend the same school in the Greenwood area of Tulsa, Oklahoma—known as Black Wall Street—and hold different views on how to defeat racism. But when a vicious white mob storms the community of Greenwood on May 31, 1921, leaving the town destroyed and thousands of residents displaced, Isaiah, Angel, and their peers discover who their real enemies are.
Available January 12, 2021

  1. ‘A Glimmer of Death’ by Valerie Wilson Wesley

Fans of cozy mysteries will love this novel about caterer and psychic Dessa Jones who takes a job at a real estate firm when her bakery company goes bust. Her new boss, Charlie, is an abusive jerk, so when he’s found brutally murdered, his many victims become the suspects. As Dessa follows the case, she realizes that she needs to do something fast before she’s either the next victim or the primary suspect.

Available January 26, 2021

  1. ‘This Close to Okay’ by Leesa Cross-Smith

Recently-divorced therapist Tallie Clark is heading home when she saves a man from jumping off of a bridge. Told through both Tallie and the man’s perspective, this is a touching story about two strangers who meet under the worst of circumstances, but end up finding love and healing within each other.

Available February 2, 2021

  1. ‘The Gilded Ones’ by Namina Forna

One of *the* most talked about books of the year is this West African-inspired feminist fantasy set in a patriarchal society, where a woman’s worth is tied to her purity. When Deka bleeds gold—the color of impurity—at the blood ceremony, she’s presented with two choices: stay and be subjected to torture at the hands of her former community, or leave and join an army of girls just like her to fight for the empire. The novel has already been auctioned for a TV adaptation.

Available February 9, 2021

  1. ‘The Conductors’ by Nicole Glover

In a post-Civil War Philadelphia, Hetty Rhodes, a magic user and former conductor on the Underground Railroad, solves murders and mysteries with her husband, Benjy, that the white police ignore. When one of their friends is found murdered in an alley, they set out to find answers, but their search leads them to unexpected revelations that will change everything.

Available March 2, 2021

  1. ‘Act Your Age, Eve Brown’ by Talia Hibbert

The final installment in The Brown Sisters trilogy centers on the flightiest Brown sister, Eve, who sets out to prove herself to her parents by getting a job at a B&B. However, the rigid, perfectionist owner, Jacob, is instantly put off by Eve. When she accidentally hits him with her car, he’s forced to accept her help. Before long, she’s infiltrated his work, his kitchen, and his heart.
Available March 9, 2021

  1. ‘Wild Women and the Blues’ by Denny S. Bryce

In 1925 Chicago, the jazz capital of the world, Honoree is trying to dance her way to the top at Dreamland Café, where she socializes with celebrities. In 2015, grieving film student Sawyer Hayes seeks out the 110-year-old Honoree to get answers for his thesis on the legendary filmmaker, Oscar Micheaux. As the past meets the present, it’s a final chance for Honoree to truly be heard and seen before it’s too late.

Available March 30, 2021

  1. ‘Love in Color’ by Bolu Babalola

Following its earlier U.K release last summer, Bolu Babalola’s debut collection, Love in Color, is finally getting published in the U.S. In the anthology, Babalola retells the most beautiful love stories from around the world focusing on the myths, folklore, and history of West Africa, Greece, and the Middle East.

Available April 13, 2021

  1. ‘Sorrowland’ by Rivers Solomon

Sorrowland follows Vern, a young girl who flees the cult-like commune where she was raised to provide a better life for herself and her children. But even in the forest where she has gone, she is a hunted woman. To protect her family, Vern transforms into something terrifying and powerful that may just help her break free from her past. Sorrowland is a powerful story about motherhood, survival, and the cruel treatment of Black bodies.

Available May 4, 2021

  1. ‘The Other Black Girl’ by Zakiya Dalila Harris

 With an adaptation already in the works at Hulu, Zakiya Dalila Harris’s debut novel is one of the most highly-anticipated books of the year. When Nella Rogers, an editorial assistant at the predominantly white publishing firm, Wagner Books, meets Hazel, she is initially thrilled to no longer be the only Black girl at work. Then, the threatening notes start appearing, and Nella can’t help but wonder if Hazel is behind them.

Available June 1, 2021

  1. ‘Seven Days in June’ by Tia Williams

This beautiful love story follows an erotica writer, Eva, who’s juggling her career and single motherhood when she reconnects with the love of her life, Shane, who’s now a famous literary author. However, Eva’s not sure she can trust the man who broke her heart, and she wants him out of her life—after she gets some answers, of course.

Available June 8, 2021

Discover Black Literature

A Discovery of Black Literature

Growing up, the only people who encouraged my love for books taught in my classrooms. Teachers who went above and beyond for the young foster girl who’d rather read fiction than her textbooks (and often got in trouble for sneaking a novel beneath her desk where she thought no one could see her).

My adoptive parents weren’t champions of my reading. If anything, my adoptive mother tried everything she could to stop me from reading. Especially if it wasn’t about religion – Christianity. Once, she went through all my shelves searching, just searching for something to tear to shreds. Books by black authors often fell under the category of “too mature” for me – obviously, my parents had no idea what reading level I was on. So, any attempt to branch out was quickly extinguished.

This had the reverse effect on me.

I read anything and everything I could get my hands on. Anything that I could pull off the front of the shelves, check out with my secret library card, and shove in the bottom of my backpack. However, this fingertip-convenience meant more books by white authors than black authors. This meant more stories by people whose books never represented me or my culture. Whatever that culture was. 

As a foster kid, I grew up daydreaming about who I was, who my ancestors were, and what kind of magic might flow through my bones. I knew my biological mother and a handful of siblings I’d been split from. However, I didn’t know where my people were from. I’d been given so many answers, African (of course), a blend of Asian in there somewhere, something else with light skin, and something loosely coiled hair (evidenced by my own head than anything). Something with thin hips and rhythm and short stocky women. 

What I really wanted to know about was Literature. Who were my people? What did they write? What did they read? Were they all slaves? Did anyone create a new language, or code, or shorthand? Were they intelligent? If they were, does that mean I’m intelligent?

These questions weren’t answered.

So, I searched for them in books. I didn’t realize, until I was much older, there was an oppressive reason behind the lack of representation in the books I loved. I just read. Absorbing each page and regurgitating them to my teachers with a childish enthusiasm that shocked them. 

I remember one teacher (Mr. Vincent Potts, a handsome man who listened to me drone on about fictional characters and how “1984” changed my views on…everything) sending me home with a letter saying that a recent essay was absolutely phenomenal and that “if her love for literature is fostered, she could be writing essays at a college-level very soon”. As you can tell, my love for literature and writing wasn’t fostered. No one seemed to care. 

There I was, a love for books unchecked, far away from the black women writers I wanted to discover. 

At some point, our lack of knowledge is our responsibility. Especially when recognized. Once I became an adult, I spent years reading anything that interested me because I didn’t want to close myself into a box. I didn’t want to be like those readers who said “I only read books by black writers because what can white people teach me?” I was astounded by this and I clutched my bookish pearls. I’d read so many books by so many authors of other cultures that truly blew me away. I couldn’t imagine never discovering them.

So, why would I assume I had put enough focus on my own culture?

Over the years, I read many books (articles, interviews, essays, and short stories) by black writers but I didn’t put any more focus or light on them than the white writers. I never cared what race they were. If the synopsis sounded good, I read it. Most of the time, I didn’t even look at the author’s name or picture on the flap. Stories can come from everywhere. 

If I loved it, I told everyone about it. If I hated it, I told everyone about it. 

I still read books by all sorts of writers, but the importance of intention can’t be overlooked. A few years ago, I recognized that my connection with the black community had begun to slip due to my cross country move and my extreme introversion (which kept me from making new friends and frankly, leaving my house).  I realized I wanted to focus more on literature written by African Americans. More specifically, Black Women like me.

Yes, I’ll eventually sign up for Ancestry.com and discover what’s in my blood but first I need to discover what is in my heart. 

I intentionally read books by black writers and appreciated them for the masterpieces they were. I shared them on my book groups and talked about them with my online writing friends. I spread the word about them with renewed excitement in “my” history. They also worked as a creative catalyst to opening up my writing “eye”. I discovered my Voice and didn’t feel like my blackness was diminished because I could see myself in the work I was reading.

It still isn’t enough. 

This year, I want to put a spotlight on black women writers like I never have before. It’ll be a “Study Black Lit” intensive. I’m on the search to find an author that will spark an academic flame in me. Someone who will inspire hours of scholarship, collections of essays, and true passion. To do this, I plan to read works by a different black woman at a time and deeply study them. Taking notes. Deciphering clues, metaphors and intentions. Recognizing frustrations. I want to get to know the writers through their words. Align my experiences with theirs and see that we are the same and yet oh, so different.

I’m not sure what I’ll do with all of this studying or if it’s just for me but…I’m going to enjoy the journey of rediscovering Black Literature. And I’ll take you along.

Good Readdance,

Jade

P.S. I will say, I always wondered why black women writers are always relegated to that one very tiny university course titled “African American literature” or posted under a very long list of “optional diversity courses”. They’re so jam-packed into these courses that there’s only space for one. How does this do them justice? Us justice? How amazing would it be to see these works by black women highlighted instead of boxed away? How great to have a range of black women writers join the ranks of “classics” literature and be taught as a major focus and not a supplemental one? How inspiring would this be for young black girls as interested in books as I’d been?

I’m getting ahead of myself but…you see the love, here. 

Book Review: Ties That Tether by Jane Igharo

At twelve years old, Azere promised her dying father she would marry a Nigerian man and preserve her culture, even after immigrating to Canada. Her mother has been vigilant about helping—well forcing—her to stay within the Nigerian dating pool ever since. But when another match-made-by-mom goes wrong, Azere ends up at a bar, enjoying the company and later sharing the bed of Rafael Castellano, a man who is tall, handsome, and…white.

When their one-night stand unexpectedly evolves into something serious, Azere is caught between her feelings for Rafael and the compulsive need to please her mother. Soon, Azere can’t help wondering if loving Rafael makes her any less of a Nigerian. Can she be with him without compromising her identity? The answer will either cause Azere to be audacious and fight for her happiness or continue as the compliant daughter.

Heya!

First, I want to say how beautiful this cover is. I love the vibrant colors, the representation through skin tone and hairstyle, and the mirror image of the guy through the glasses. When I first saw it, I was immediately like I’m reading that!

Second, I stayed up all night just so I could read this book. Then I immediately fan-girled and wrote a Tweet to the author to tell her just how much I loved it. In Ties That Tether, you get to see parts of the Nigerian culture through words, phrases, and traditions in comparison to the character’s (and author’s) experience as an immigrant in Canada. You get to see the holds that family has over your life and how you might end up with someone you don’t love just because you want to please your parents.

I’m not Nigerian but I really related to this character. All my life my parents have stressed the importance of dating within my own race and how we’ve got to ‘stick together’. I dated a few white and light skins when I was younger and was immediately labeled the daughter who would Most Likely Go White. You should’ve seen their faces when they found out that Tony, my partner and (of course) soulmate, is black.

It also goes along with how you can’t judge someone by the culture they were raised in. It’s hard to tell who is racist, who is a pushover, and who is truly willing to stay and put up with your family because they love you – when you are only looking at their ethnic background. The struggle the main character goes through to listen to her heart or the generations of ancestors is visceral and shows on the page. It might make you agree to anything – as we see over and over.

That being said, I wanted to slap this main character up the head a few times (which I’m sure she might’ve gotten from a parental figure a few times). Girl, get it together! Might I also mention how important it is to show healthy girl-friend relationships!? Everyone needs someone in their corner (even me…I need friends, ahora) and I love how more and more these days you are seeing secondary characters who are more than just a device thrown in to further the plot. Also, I think I’d like to see a sequel with her best friend as a main character and finding love!

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and I’m so glad that I read it. I felt like it was the first romance in a long time that didn’t make me roll my eyes or frustrate the hell out of me – which is saying a lot. Y’all know how I love my mushy stories.

If I had a star system, I’d give this book 4 stars! Thank you Jane Igharo for introducing us to the culture with an experience that is relatable and honest.

Link to Book

Good Readdance,
Jade

Book Review: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past.

Link to Book

Heya,

One of the things I enjoyed while listening to this book is the narrator. I loved her voice, her inflections, the way she did mama Vignes’ voice, and the emotions felt from her throughout. This is one of the greatest things about audiobooks. You can get into the world of the characters as if they are real. Love it!

It seems weird that I – someone who can not pass for white – found myself relating to Stella V more than her sister. Someone who started over, created new opportunities for herself, recreated who they knew themselves to be, dropped all of her family and moved on with her life (although, I held on to the last few toxic tethers for years before I finally knew what was good for me), and finally struggled with the guilt of it all. I felt that fear she had when she had been passing for white for so many years and the mere presence of a black couple (moving into her all-white community) threatened to reveal her secret. She’s just as strong a character as her twin who is dealing with an abusive partner and single mom life, and her mother whose husband was killed by a white man for no reason.

The Vanishing Half hits so many marks for me. So much so, you want to take a pen to it (or a handy notebook) and point out all the parts that you’ve been through, or know someone who’s been through, and write a long journal entry about how it’s affected your life. Oh, that was just me? Sorry.

I never understood true colorism until I was a teen. Before I had dealt with racism from other foster kids (white) and the white kids at the private school I went to but I didn’t realize it could come FOR me from my OWN people. The Vanishing Half dives deeply into the importance put on skin complexion – not just ‘color’ – in society and among family relations. There’s this part in the book when one sister returns home and everyone is wondering who that ‘dark’ girl is (her daughter) and it puts into perspective the ‘one drop’ rule. One drop of white – to black people – and you’re white. One drop of black – to white people – and you can’t EVER be white. Not even a little bit. You can’t put it on your bank documents, you can’t claim it at school, you can’t say you’re white to your white friends, and you can’t mark ‘White/Caucasian’ when getting a job.

Another interesting thing about the novel is the fact that it spans several generations. Often, I worry that there isn’t a chance to truly get to know our main characters if we make time jumps. Of course, there is no worry with Brit Bennett. The transition from one generation to the next is as smooth as butter. Not only do you see the issues of colorism from the white-passing Vignes twins but you also see it through the white daughter of one twin and the black (and dark-skinned) daughter of the other. You also get to see the world modernize, how things change in opinion about black people, and the job and educational opportunities afforded to them as time moved on.

I would definitely recommend this book, and not just to the black readers of the world. White people, and any POC, should glean the wealth of cultural knowledge between its pages. If I had to give this book a star rating I would give it 4.5 stars! If you’ve read this book please let me know in the comments! How did you feel about the points hit in this book? How do they relate to your own life?

P.S. If you have any books you’d love for me to read, please leave them in the comments!

Link to Book

Good Readdance,
Jade

Readers Suggest: Books by Black Authors

Heya,

So, I recently asked readers “What are some of your favorite books by AA (Black) authors?”

I had an out pouring of suggestions from multiple genres. I’m going to share some of those with you! Maybe you’ll find something that you like. Maybe you will find ‘that one book from way back when’ you really liked is actually by an black author. Not that it changes your opinion of said book…I just want to elevate, promote and excite the world about my community! Below are books that I have not yet read!

One thing that I thought was really crazy: I had more people sending me book suggestions in my ‘open’ book groups on Facebook than the ones for POC. Struck an odd bone to me.

Anyway! Here are a few that I thought were interesting…and a tiny snippet of their synopsis (from Amazon).


Fiction

The Inheritance Trilogy, by N. K. Jemisin (Epic Fantasy- name is almost like mine) Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king.

Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Lavalle (Fantasy/Horror): Charles Thomas Tester hustles to put food on the table… He knows what magic a suit can cast, the invisibility a guitar case can provide, and the curse written on his skin that attracts the eye of wealthy white folks and their cops.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (YA): Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer.

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward (Lit Fiction) Jojo is…trying to understand what it means to be a man. He doesn’t lack in fathers to study, chief among them his Black grandfather, Pop. But there are other men who complicate his understanding: his absent White father, Michael, who is being released from prison; his absent White grandfather, Big Joseph, who won’t acknowledge his existence; and the memories of his dead uncle, Given, who died as a teenager.

The Wedding Date, Jasmine Guillory (Romance): Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn’t normally do. But there’s something about Drew Nichols that’s too hard to resist.

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke (Thriller/Crime): When it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules–a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger, knows all too well. He travels up Highway 59 to the small town of Lark, where two murders–a black lawyer from Chicago and a local white woman–have stirred up a hornet’s nest of resentment.

NonFiction

Hunger by Roxanne Gay (Memoir): In her phenomenally popular essays…Gay has written with intimacy and sensitivity about food and body, using her own emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health.

The Color of Water by James McBride (Memoir): McBride retraces his mother’s footsteps and, through her searing and spirited voice, recreates her remarkable story

The Origin of Others by Toni Morrison (Memoir/Dissertation? This one got a raving review!): America’s foremost novelist reflects on themes that preoccupy her work and dominate politics: race, fear, borders, mass movement of peoples, desire for belonging.

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin (Race Relations) At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin’s early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal and provocative document.

Memoir Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (Memoir): Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. I heard this one is great on audiobook because he narrates it himself!

Becoming: Michele Obama (Memoir): As First Lady of the United States of America – the first African-American to serve in that role – she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world. I have a hard cover version of this book that I bought pre-order! (Yes, I’m excited about that.)

A Promised Land: Barak Obama (Memoir): This one wasn’t suggested to me because it wasn’t out yet but I had Michele and knew I had to come back and add her husband! In the stirring, highly anticipated first volume of his presidential memoirs, Barack Obama tells the story of his improbable odyssey from young man searching for his identity to leader of the free world, describing in strikingly personal detail both his political education and the landmark moments of the first term of his historic presidency—a time of dramatic transformation and turmoil.

 
Good Readdance,
Jade

Reading for Self Betterment and Accomplishing Goals in 2018

  Heya Readers,

I’ve been reading since I was a young child and, for the most part, it’s been for entertainment. I hardly ever read non-fiction. I always found it hard to find something that didn’t drone on like a history book. Lately, I’ve been really getting into biographies (autos) and non-fiction works and I think it’s because I’ve been seeking for something real. Something that will actually do something for my mental health. Don’t get me wrong, my love for fictional books (paranormal romance, thriller, psychological thrillers, mysteries, science fiction, general fiction, the list could go on) will never die but this is different.

I’ve been through a lot over the last few years. After the loss of my daughter last year (my second loss in two years) grief, depression, hurt, nights of crying myself to sleep, days of lethargy and more ruled my 2017. I am feeling better (Although I still cry when I think of her sometimes) and I plan to have a better 2018. I know that you can’t rush the healing process but it has been eight full months since I gave birth. I’m just ready to stop feeling so…down.

I’ve really been trying to take back control of my life. Last year I slacked off on a lot of things. My plans for weight loss, my strive to officially get a job in my career field (I tried to find the right fit and couldn’t and I didn’t try again, I’m embarrassed to say). After celebrating Cherchez La Vie this past December I listed several of these things on my goal list for the next six months. I’ve accomplished a few of them. I just got a new job and I’ve been attempting to figure out how I can work the gym into my new busy schedule.

As a child, I always wanted to be a writer. I thought the ability to spin stories and create new worlds, worlds better than the one I’d been living in, was a fascinating idea. I had a hard beginning and landed in foster care. Then I was adopted. It was tough and I still feel some of the residue of abandonment and rejection that was a huge part of my early years. Reading and writing were ways I could create something new. It could make the pain go away, it could make me feel wanted. Because…your characters never disappoint you right? Riiiiight.

Somewhere along the way I got distracted by the glamour of building design and the philanthropy of creating safe and envirnoment-friendly spaces for the homeless. It was a weird girlhood dream of mine, especially after a few months of HGTV and Extreme Home Make over (Move That Bus!). I studied hard and right out of high school I enrolled in college at the University of Kansas to get my master’s degree in Architecture. That was just a funny way of saying I was going to be stuck in school for six years. I loved it, for the short time I was there. I started out with reciprocity grants and scholarships, that only lasted for a while.

Attending school as an out of state student, without scholarships, would cost me nearly $30k a year. I eventually ran out of money and had to withdraw. That was six years ago. I was really upset about it in the beginning but decided not to drag me down. I moved to Florida; eighteen hour road trip with a friend, stretched over two days. I made new friends, I met my soulmate. I changed the course of my future even though I wasn’t sure how it would pan out.

My love for writing has never gone away, I have dreams and goals that, I feel, are bigger than me. I want to accomplish them. I am going to accomplish them. In 2018 I plan to set that into motion. Get a job in my career field, finish two books (WIP!), and continue my education. It will be tough but I’m sure that I can do it.

I have lived in Florida for three years now. This means that (exaggerated pause for effect) I can get instate tuition at the university here! I had no idea and I just happened to be sitting on the couch, watching TV when one of those commercials drew me in. You know, the ones that are like ‘Hey, do you want to finish your education?‘? Yes, one of those. The university here is actually pretty amazing, I’ve already been on campus. It’s literally a dream come true. That’s a major plan for self betterment that I’ve already put into motion. Less than two weeks from now I am starting my spring courses. I should graduate just over two years from now.  I’m getting my degree in English, with an emphasis in rhetoric and fiction writing.

Wow, obviously I talk a lot. Thanks for sticking around. I said all of that just to say  I’ve picked up Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes (creator and writer of Grey’s Anatomy, How To Get Away With Murder, Scandal, etc). Shonda (as she’s so informally referred to on the inside flap) is an introvert, like me! She, too, has issues with public speaking and large crowds. The book is about how saying yes turned her life around. “Yes, I’ll do…” “Yes, I would love…” “Yes, I will show up to…”.

Year of Yes

I’ve actually already started it and am excited to tell you guys what I’m gleaning from her story. She has a particular voice that makes me feel empowered when reading it. This year, I am really trying to incorporate books that will help me live a better life, fuller life. Live life…in general. This is one of many on my list this year. So here we go.

By the way, if you’ve read this book and loved it, leave me a comment below! Tell me what you thought of it? Did it make you laugh? Did you smile? Are you an introvert like us? (Yes, that’s me referring to Shonda and I like we are best friends). What are your plans for a brighter future? Do you have any goals, big or small, that you want to accomplish this year? Are you in school now?

Happy Readdance,

Jade

Link to Book

Book Review: Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

Mary B. Addison killed a baby.

Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: a white baby had died while under the care of a churchgoing black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it?

There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted—and their unborn child—to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary’s fate now lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But does anyone know the real Mary?

Although I was adopted, my parents still took in foster kids until after I graduated from high school, and still do today. In my opinion, you could akin our house to a group home. That, along with Mary’s feelings of abandonment, was one of the biggest things that made me actually interested in reading this book. I wanted to see if the writer would show the truth of the system or if it would sugar coat it and all the characters would be singing Kumbaya in the living room while wearing knee length dresses. It shocked me how raw the story was, how Mary really came alive and you could feel her emotions. It went into the issues of falsified evaluations and issues with desensitized social workers. Allegedly shows the true side of the majority of foster parents and their interactions with the downtrodden.

Allegedly by Tiffany D Jackson


I wasn’t prepared for how the story would really trigger me. After being unwanted, unloved and rejected I definitely understood her thoughts. After my own experiences with infant loss, the basis for the story squeezed my heart and then Mary’s fears for her own child and the outcome of it’s future, due to her circumstances, pushed me over. Halfway through the book I had to stop for a breather before I could pick it back up.

Having a strained relationship with my own biological mother, Mary’s love and hate for her mother twisted me in circles. The story goes into the deepest corners of a mother-daughter relationship that is based on lies and false hope. It’s relatable in a way that will make you cry or shake your head in frustration. It’ll make you wonder at the secrets you’ve kept and whether speaking on them would serve you or hurt others. I would definitely recommend this book. Black, white, old, young, anyone should pick it up. It’s a beautiful story about the consequences of life, of protecting the ones we love and also ourselves.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I saw this book in a facebook group for black women who like to read. I was on the fence about it. I believe this is actually one of the first books by a black author that I’ve read in years. I’m not a fan of books that are about thugs, violent baby daddies and angry absentee fathers. I’m will admit that this is what I was expecting when I first joined the group. No, not because I’m ‘prejudice’ against “my own people” but because I joined a group before and a lot of the books that were suggested were that type. I left because I didn’t want to be stifled and no one wanted to discuss anything that wasn’t The Coldest Winter Ever, a book that I took a quick dislike to as a child. So many of the women suggested the book and, after reading it, so many of them came back with shocked responses. I figured, if so many of them were that into it then why not? I’m definitely glad I picked it up!

If you’ve read this book, if you liked it, disliked it, hated it or haven’t read it but plan to…let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear your thoughts.
If you have any book suggestions for me to read or any reviews you’d like to see here, let me know!

Good Readance,

Jade

Link to Book