2015 is the year I was EMANCIPATED...

Emancipation is defined as The fact or process of being set free from legal, social, or political restrictions; liberation.

As with every “one word” challenge, that word and definition manifested itself in my life during 2015. I was set free mentally, spiritually, psychologically, and emotionally from things that have been a burden on my spirit and in my life. I turned forty this year and that was definitely the most emancipating feeling for me. I celebrated my birthday this year with something smaller and more intimate. I really wanted to be surrounded in love on my birthday. I wanted the ones I loved the most with me on my birthday. I was missing a few people but overall I got my wish. I felt so loved and got emotional in the midst of it all. Here I was, 40 years young surrounded by my closest friends and I had flashbacks over my life from my 20’s and 30’s and I was still standing. I was happier, more fulfilled, stronger, wiser, more confident, and completely aware of who I was and what I wanted. I was a fully grown woman!!! I set myself free of preconceived notions about who I should be. Sometimes we love to place women in boxes then get upset when they show us they are “the sum of many things” instead of the box you placed them in. I’m not just a mother, sister, and daughter; I’m a woman, a banker, a number cruncher, a poet, a writer, a recording artist, a powerful, sensual, sexual being who is spiritually grounded and keenly aware of the power I hold inside of me.

I was set free from years of intimidation delivered at the hands of my ex-husband. This year, I regained my power. I've been out of that relationship for almost 9 years now but was still held captive by an ex who was determined not to let me go, using threats and intimidation to keep me scared.   My ex attempted to return to his old intimidating and bullying ways but this time he aimed at my children. Now any parent knows that when someone comes to harm your babies something will take over and you will find a new strength you didn’t know you had. I made a deliberate and conscious decision to remove him from our lives for good. It’s something I should have done years ago but I was held captive to this hope that “one day” he’ll “get it together” and do right by them and society’s views of “what single mothers should do”. I no longer cared about any of it. It was about me and mine…not just protecting them physically but protecting them mentally and emotionally and doing what I know in my heart was the right thing. He’s still fighting but he’s fighting me and I’m a hellava lot stronger than the woman he married…I won’t allow my children to be used as pawns for his manipulation. I won't allow you to damage them emotionally or psychologically. This time I spoke up and reached out to my entire village for help...friends, family, clergy and I was surrounded and protected.     I was emancipated and stepped into my courage and my strength in a new way. I felt free…no longer bound to an abuser. My family was free to move forward. My children are on track to do great things; especially this year and I intend to help them reach their goals without any unnecessary distractions. I could now focus on our family. The idea that it’s “just Us” was no longer scary for me…I embraced it. This is my family and I’m doing a damn good job taking care of mine. No longer afraid or fearful of retribution from him, I picked up my sword and got in full gladiator mode and finally defeated the "Goliath" in my life.   Emancipation felt strong and powerful.

I embraced being an artist and writer in a new way this year and was blessed with so many different opportunities to grow and develop. I started the year off with two performances in Miami at the Winter Music Conference and was truly humbled. I left Miami feeling like I had so much more to learn but grateful for the opportunity to preform and be heard. I met people from around the country who were familiar with our music and our songs and loved them. For the first time, I got to see it up close and personal. People were connected to the music!!! What an awesome feeling. We released a new single, "Gruv Me",  early in 2015 and it went to #1. Our second #1 single!!! Wow!!! It was confirmation that I’m on the right track. I decided to take more risks and become more vulnerable especially in my performances. I performed at the various locations, including the House of Blues and slowly saw myself embracing “the artist” in me. I was completely and totally inspired by two “jam sessions” I attended over the summer. Watching artists in their purest form express themselves was so amazing. The best artists are the ones who aren’t afraid to strip completely down and allow you in… to experience the moments we write about. I want to be a more vulnerable and more open artist in my writing, my poetry, and my performances. When you see me preform, read my writing, or listen to my music, I want you to feel a piece of me each and every time. I want to allow you into that creative space and get to know me better. I’m so fortunate to know so many amazing artists. I truly am inspired by each of them in so many ways. I watch them closely…writers, poets, dj’s, producers, singers, musicians….and I learn from each of them. I’m humble enough to know there’s still more to learn every day but confident enough to know there is a seat for me at this creative table. Emancipating my fears took me to a new level in my artistry and there’s still so much more to come. I have so much more inside of me, so much I want to share with you, whether through song, poetry, upcoming book or my blog…the best is truly yet to come. 2015 was the year I emancipated fear and doubt in my artistry.

2015 also was a year of emancipating myself from relationships that were unbalanced. I must say this one came as a surprise to me. After all these years, I thought I had a tight circle of friends but as the year progressed I realized some friends were merely acquaintances masked as friends and some were never friends at all but enemies in disguise. This emancipation was painful and angered me at times because I wasn’t prepared for it. It was all quite a hurtful surprise. In the midst of it all, I learned what I value most in my relationships….LOYALTY. I’ve said it so many times because it’s true. I don’t see my circle as just “friends”. My friends are “family”. I hold my friendships on higher pedestals because I’m not foolish enough to think I can do any of this on my own. I need my sistahs!!! Faith…friends and family have always been the glue that holds me together. We are in times where we “know a lot of people” but as much as I allow you to see me and my life via social media, etc., only my family and friends know me entirely. There are no walls, no guards, no filters…these special people know it all and vice versa. In that circle is a level of trust, respect and most importantly loyalty to one another. As a friend, I’m extremely protective and fiercely loyal. If you attempt to harm one of my friends physically, mentally, emotionally….I’m there…ready to fight and/or defend. I’m the chick you call at 3am, I’m the chick that will “ride out” when you need to, I’m the chick that will say put on ya “freak em” dress and lay your cares on a dance floor, I’m the chick that will give you 24 hours to be a hot emotional mess, then tell you to get up and dust ya self off and keep it moving, I’m the chick that will be your personal “GIRL YOU THE SHIT” cheerleader when you are feeling at your worst. I’m the girl who will meet you at hospital no matter what time without you saying a word because I know you don’t need to be alone. I’m also the friend who will side eye anyone who tries to hurt you or dishonor you. I will give you my last dollar if I know you need it. I will shoulder tap your man (or your woman) and let them know…this one you can’t hurt. I’m a friend who loves INTENSELY.

I’m not an “inbox” gladiator…I’m public with my loyalty. If I have your back I’m never ashamed to let anyone know. I treat my friends like family and I expect the same in return. What I realized this year is not everyone is cut from the same friendship cloth. I think I was naive to believe that everyone feels the same way about friendships like I do. That was a painful lesson for me. As with any relationship, when the love, respect and loyalty isn’t reciprocated…that hurts. Anyone who knows me knows that strong female relationships are extremely important to me. We live in a society where relationships with women are always questioned. Women are shady to other women for the attention of men, women forgo their sister friendships for the attention of men and men are quick to dismiss female relationships and create doubt and division amongst women…we aren’t good friends to one another, let society and social media tell it. My circle of friends are the opposite of that stereotype. My girlfriends are amazing. They are smart, beautiful, sexy, talented, strong women who have different personalities and “superstar” traits. They are single, they are married, they are dating and in relationships. They are mommies and wives. They are single moms. They are gay and they are straight. They are analytical, and creative and sexual. They are “the sum of many things”. They are bougie, they are tomboys, and they are “round the way girls”. We drink Champagne and beer, wear stilettos and chucks!!! You can’t place them in a box. I can’t brag on them enough…because they are that fabulous!!!! They are confident in their own skin. When you are surrounded with women with a strong sense of self, you don’t have competition within your circle, you don’t have jealousy within your circle, and we embrace our similarities and our differences. That is what makes my circle of friends so unique. Each one of us is different and that’s what I love about them. We share the same values but embrace our individuality so when we are together as a unit…what you see radiates. Go beyond the jewelry we wear…the real sparkle is within and when together….WE SHINE!!! That’s the real sparkle!!!!

Sister circles are powerful when everyone is on the same accord. Quite frankly, that’s why they are under attack so much. Folks love to dismiss it…calling them cliques or even bandwagons! SMDH!!!! When women are unified….whew!!! There is power in your sister circles…please believe that!!! I love these ladies to the end …they are tried and tested, confident, loyal, protective, honest and real. We are able to be vulnerable with one another because we trust each other and we communicate with one another on a real level. If my girl tells me I’m not right or I was wrong, I know she has my best interest at heart. If she tells me something I don’t want to hear…I don’t question her love for me… I know everything said to me, good or bad, comes from a place of love. This circle is built on loyalty, so there is no room for judgment. In my circle, I can love Trina and Jill Scott without judgement. LOL… It’s my safe space…where I know I can just be me and they “get it”…no explanation needed. Everyone should have a circle like this…whether it’s a circle of 2 or 10…your circle should be your safe space just like family. That doesn’t mean we are perfect. We argue, we disagree, we don’t see eye to eye on some things…but the level of respect is so high that we always work it out….privately and “in house”, even if we agree to disagree. Outsiders never know what’s going on with “crew” and even now, you’ll never hear me speak a negative word about those I’m no longer friends with because at one point, I had love and respect for you and I’ll never violate that. EVER!!! Like I said, I’m cut from a different cloth. You violated my trust but I’ll never violate yours. The realization that some violated the “homie code” and needed to be removed was painful and hurtful. I typically won’t allow most to see my hurt via sad faces and tears; you’ll see my anger and rage instead. I can admit that...lets just say I'm working on being more vulnerable in each of my relationships.

I didn’t think I’d need to have eulogies over some relationships this year but I did and it was sad and painful. I’m learning to count it all joy because everything happens for a reason. Folks and things are always removed from my life when I’m getting ready to move to a new level…so the ship got lighter but the ship got tighter and for that, I’m grateful. Maybe I can’t see the “why’s “ now but I know God sees obstacles and heartbreaks in my way before I do…maybe they were removed for a reason I can’t see just yet. On this journey called life, I need my ship tight and my burdens light. I don’t want to be around those I can’t trust, those who won’t defend me the way I defend them, those who don't love the way I do, those who don't share the same codes as me. I have no need for one sided relationships, secret inbox friendships…etc. I value friendship too much and hold women in such high regard to engage in those that are superficial and fake. 2015 was the year I set myself free from the things that are holding me down and holding me back. I’m ready to go to new levels in 2016. I’m ready to push myself into things I was once scared of. There is freedom in letting go of fear, doubt, and burdensome relationships. That leads me to my word for 2016…

To cause to move forward; To put forward; propose or suggest; To aid the growth or progress of; To raise in rank; promote; To cause to occur sooner: To raise in amount or rate; increase ; To pay before due.
2016 is the year I advance.

Advance in my career by networking more and becoming more vocal about my ideas, Advance as an artist and writer by opening myself up to new opportunities, becoming more vulnerable and pushing myself to move further out of my comfort zone, Advance as a mother by being more present in my children’s lives. I’m a mom on the go 95% of the time and so much of our lives is scheduled, this year I want to take more time to just enjoy being a mom with my kids, Advance in my finances by setting clear goals and sticking to them and cutting out frivolous spending and using my money more wisely, Advance in my relationships by being a better friend and partner, taking the time to do more than text but call, taking the time to enjoy a “girls night out” or “quality time” with my man.

My life is overscheduled…2016 is the year I Advance into moments of just enjoying life and the beautiful relationships I've blessed me with. It’s a blessing to be a mother to my 3 children, it’s a blessing to be part of a loving family, it’s a blessing to have friends I consider sisters, its’ a blessing to have the love of a man who loves me in spite of my flaws…these relationships are precious and so valuable to me…I just want to make time to enjoy them more. It’s time to move forward and in the words of another fellow writer, “take the lessons and leave the baggage.

HAPPY NEW YEAR AND HAVE A WONDERFUL 2016 where the words you speak over your life manifest itself in powerful ways!!!