I experienced my first author interview on the microphone recently. It was a great experience! To share my story and to encourage others to take the step in becoming authors is quite the blessing. Are you thinking about taking the plunge? Listen to my story, along with two other authors of the Flint area, and be inspired to pick up that pen, scribble on that paper, or tap on those keys.


Being Keynote Speaker Has Changed My Life

On June 5th, the class of 2013 blessed me with the opportunity to do #52 on my bucket list. I was able to speak in front of thousands of people by being their keynote speaker. It was an amazing opportunity, and the process of getting the speech done was quite the chore.

You see, it was a totally different style of writing compared to what I was use to. I had to write with even more perfection than ever because if I made one slip, everyone in that audience would know that I was a screw up.

The whole process began in March. After classes finished for the day, and right before I went running to change to get ready to coach, three girls from student council came into my room with grins on their faces. I knew that they were up to no good, and I paused to stare at them.

“Ladies, what are you up to?”

Ashleigh was the first to speak.

“Oh, nothing. We were hoping you could do us a favor.”

For those of you not involved with high schoolers on a daily basis, when you hear that phrase, you really don’t know what “favor” is coming next. It might be a letter of recommendation to begging for a dollar, you just don’t know. With much regret, I had to follow up with the statement, “What do you need, ladies…”

Allia, who has the loudest voice of the group (actually, of the whole senior class) stated the request to be commencement speaker. I was shocked, and I gave them a funny look before I replied.

“Are you sure that you want ME to speak? Ya’ll know that I am kind of crazy.”

The girls giggled and assured me that I was the right choice. I accepted.

It took quite a bit of time to figure out what I wanted to talk about. Actually, I didn’t come up with the final concept of my speech until a week before commencement day. I couldn’t find a way to express myself the way that made me happy. I looked up famous quotes, read other speeches, watched videos, but nothing made me feel that it was the right angle.

Finally, while laying in bed, it struck me. I picked up a pen and my purple pen at 2:00 AM. It’s odd when inspiration hits, because when it does, I can’t help myself and I had to write. I had to write, and it doesn’t matter the time. I started to brainstorm, and draw circles with themes to work with, and suddenly things started to come together.

I stuck to what made me the person who I am. I am a poet, and I would make sure to let the world know that I loved my kids and was confident enough to express myself the best way I knew how. I wrote off and on for many hours, and slowly, the final product was developed.

I read it to my juniors, and they said that it was the “realest” poem they had heard, and I realized that I was ready.

I must say that it was one of the best experiences that I have had in my life. It was life changing, because people let me know afterwards that I had a voice that needed to be heard. I had never had complete strangers come up to me and say such kind words. I received emails, hugs, praise, and notes that made me realize that the skills that my family and Carman-Ainsworth provided me helped me to become a unique individual.

Walking up to that microphone made me feel reborn as a writer and a role model. It let me know that when the opportunity comes, you have to take it and enjoy each part of the moment.

The best part of the whole thing came after graduates walked through the congrats tunnel. After students turn their tassels, all the teachers go to the back, line up, and clap for the new members of the real world. Students are always so surprised when this happens, and it always leads to hugs, high fives, and well wishes.

One senior that I had never met before ran up to me and gave me a hug. As long as I live, I won’t forget what she said to me. While hugging me, she leaned in my ear and said, “You are my inspiration. Thank you, and I am going to work to be just like you.”

This event has changed my life.

Greetings of the Front Door

Today I have started my day super grouchy. I won’t get into the specifics, but I got out the wrong side of the bed and can’t shake it off. I know I can’t be the only one who has just woken up in a foul mood, and to be honest, this doesn’t happen often. Usually I have a positive spirit about things. I can hear the older mothers of the African American churches saying to me, “Praise the Lawd that you woke up this morning, and celebrate another day.” I just don’t feel like it today.

One moment that made me smile was meeting up with a co-worker at my front door. Steve is quite the character, and you never really know what is coming out of his mouth at times, which I find quite entertaining. He does have the ability to know when I am in a grouchy state of mind, and he won’t let you get away without saying something to try and brighten your day.

Today, Steve greeted me at the front door with compliments. Yesterday, my team played his daughter’s in the semi-finals in a district match at my school. My team lost 4-1 due to some crazy mishaps, poor choices in marking up, and, more importantly, the brutal heat took out my number of subs.

I had to think so much in that game that I went home afterwards and took a nap. Actually, I took two naps because the heat and coaching had wore me out so. Steve must have realized that, because he had nothing but positive words to say about my coaching and my girls play yesterday.

“I know you can’t be frowning about what happen yesterday, Jes. Not with the good job your girls did on that field. You did a great job coaching yesterday.”

If there is anything that can get me out of my mood, I hope it’s the words of Steve. I am proud of my team’s efforts yesterday, and I am proud to be their coach, in good times and in bad. Maybe if I think of yesterday and I can make my today better.

Cross your fingers.

Becoming Focused Once More

Today, my former student posted a picture on her Facebook wall. I thought that it summed up my feelings for the past month when it came to my writing. It stated, “I lost my focus but not my mind.”

I am not surprised that she posted such a message. She is quite a wise child for her age, and she is probably the most creative soul I have always taught. I agree with this statement completely.

There have been a number of events and reasons that have gotten in the way of my creative thoughts and expressing myself on paper. I was coaching, I was promoting the new book, I was teaching, and I was just trying to survive. But I realized that I was starting to lose myself within the chaos. So, I made some choices.

My seniors are gone now, so I made the decision to make sure to sit back and write for at least 20 minutes. Writing for school doesn’t count. Writing the commencement speech I need to give a week doesn’t count. Writing more voting forms for soccer don’t count toward my 20. Be it at lunch time, or after the bell rings, I have to this week sit back and write something.

So today, I am admitting that I lacked focus, but I am getting it back. I have made the decision to not do summer school, and work on me and my writing abilities. Sometimes, you just have to take a break and be you, and do you. I am going to buy a new laptop tomorrow, and the two of us going to make sweet things together.