Taste and See

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You won’t leave here the way that you came.

Welcome to KHADIJAHDENNIS.COM, home of a journalist who also takes pride in being a creative. This personal website project has been around for years, but with that comes many changes.

I’ve gotten around in the blogosphere for a while with my personal blog, “Truth Be Told” which gave me the opportunity to contribute to conversations regarding the world’s most talked about current events, and highlight the work of other young adults in the surrounding area. But I knew that eventually, I would need something more. Something that would give people a chance to know the person behind the work. Something that would give people an opportunity to view the transition from being a student and working towards a career to the life of a woman actually making things happen. So, alas this site was born.

Here, you can find several different kinds of things:

  • seasonal blog series –  Before I picked up a camera, I was a writer. I pour everything into the words that I write and curate, so it makes sense that I would continue the core of my journalism career, which is writing. Through my seasonal blog series,  you can find everything that I never really talk about unfolding as things I’ve learned, experienced, or have grown from. (RIGHT NOW: You can read the latest post from my current blog series, #Unwritten.)
  • Client Works – No more college projects, these are the REAL deal. Over the past few years here in Charleston, SC, I’ve had the opportunity to make other people’s ideas come alive through video and photography services. And every project looks a lot different and deeply personal. Check out my portfolio of projects.
  • Personal Life – Everyone’s journey is very different. But you can find the inspiration in many. Through this platform, I will be as open as possible with you and the ways I’m continuing to grow and evolve as a woman.

Here, you get to see my experiences come alive. I appreciate you and your support of my work. I hope you will visit often.

KD

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Taking Action + What’s New?

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We skipped the New Year’s resolutions this year, and turned to action.
On 1.11.2020, I packed two bags, and made my way to the mecca of the Southeast – Atlanta, Georgia. In the most quiet way, I prepared for this journey only three months prior to actually leaving what was my home of three years, Charleston, SC. Aside from living in Japan in 2014, I had never not lived in South Carolina. Having access to a close knit community, my family and getting involved in helping to shape and transform the creative scenes in the Holy City and Columbia made me very comfortable with that choice for a long time. But after awhile, something clicked: It’s time to step out on faith, see the world, and get closely aligned with my purpose.
It sounded so out of the blue at first. I mean, nothing was perfect about my journey in my home state, especially these past few years, but given the good and the bad, I wasn’t unhappy. But I later realized, it wasn’t unhappiness that made me feel that way, it was being and feeling unfulfilled in certain aspects of my life that only I could really change.
I push myself very hard., and I work even harder. But given what this past year has taught me, I’ve got to move with a whole lot more intention. What is the purpose? Why do the project? Does this work align with your purpose and end goal? Is the work helpful or hurtful to your brand? What is the cost (to your mental health, physical health, and financial health) of doing the project or partnership?
I love telling stories and showcasing the journey of others. I didn’t feel at first that it really even needed a price attached to it – I just desired to do the work. But 2019 granted me a number of valuable opportunities that shifted my focus from just moving, to moving with intention. And being CONSISTENT.
In a previous blog post, I discussed my happenstance opportunity to work the REVOLT Summit with P. Diddy in Atlanta. Being surrounded by his knowledge and great work, along with the knowledge of other celebrity guests really opened my eyes to seeing the massive impact I could also create with the visions that I have for my company, Conqueror Movement, and my personal story telling avenue through Life Through Art Media. It wasn’t that I was ever blinded to the opportunity, but I definitely had my focus set on what was the modern day way of thinking about success and sustainability. I worked in news for 6 years, and had a great background in producing content. I always thought about solely taking that world by storm, and that my other talents were just a bonus of the craft. But given how much of a direct impact my brands have made on my community, and surrounding areas, it was time to rethink that plan, and have a little more confidence in ME.
After discussing the possibility of a move like this with my SC support system, and new relationships in Atlanta, I had no choice but to go for it.
Not seizing this opportunity would only lead to regret, and that’s not the life that I want to live for myself. In 2019, I told myself that 2020 would be very different. No longer are we being afraid to step into the forefront. We will not be afraid to take chances. We will embrace failure and learn from it, and be thankful that we even tried. We will honor ourselves and our work. We will be proud of the legacy that we are creating.
With this move comes some very intentional changes to this blogging platform, and my brain child, The Conqueror Movement.
Here at Life Through Art Media, I will be making it a point to get more community involvement into my writing. I don’t just want to let out my feelings and share my advice with you on tough topics, but I want to bring in the voices of those you look up to in your community and have genuine conversations with them, and expand how we tackle those tough topics as a community. You will see a lot more behind the scenes of what this journey for me here in Atlanta looks like – the good and the bad! We’re not holding anything back. And lastly, expect some pop up events all across the Southeast.
Actions speak louder than words. Welcome to my world.

 

 

Here are just a few photos from my Atlanta experience so far. As you can see, we had a lot of foodie ventures. I’m also now even more in love with Ponce City Market and will be a regular visitor. Cheers to new experiences!

Things I Learned in 2019

 

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2019 really came and went.

And while I could get into all of the ways that the year has really found ways to challenge me, I will only say this: 

2019 has NOT been a gentle experience. We started the year with lesson #1:

Unlearning toxic habits and thoughts.

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The transition between 2018 and 2019 was far from clear. The year end for 2018 had me in a place where I felt that it was pretty impossible to overcome. Everything that had become routine for me was no longer as such. I had to make decisions based on my well-being, and that was something I wasn’t really used to. I had to learn how to make myself a priority. What do my current priorities look like, and what is the amount of dedication and time commitment that they are given? Now how do I apply that to myself? In what ways can I show up for myself? How do I learn to place the responsibilities of being gentle with myself and my feelings on myself, and not just others around me?

It sounds like a bunch of loaded questions, but let’s be honest, it’s something we don’t ask ourselves enough when it comes to what we NEED versus what we want.

Unlearning habits and behaviors are hard because of how natural they are. Almost like a routine.But that’s no excuse because of our ability to learn something new. We’re just afraid of the amount of time that it takes. I can definitely admit, I’m not a patient person. I have a very hard time accepting the phrase “things take time,” simply because it’s not on my time. And 2019 has definitely been working against my time.

#2: I’ve had to learn the importance of going with the flow.

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A couple of the only sure things we can do involve: setting our intentions and making them clear, and putting the work in on our end to reach our goals.

It can be very discouraging to put in so much work, and know that your intentions are good, but life takes you in another direction. I must admit, I’m so grateful for the change. Without it, I don’t think I would have gathered enough strength or courage to say: I will take this chance on myself. I will see where this road leads. I will be the best me that I can be, and show up for myself. Many of the decisions that I’ve made this year were far from planned. But we were very intentional about the places we wanted to be, the ways in which we wanted to feel, and the decisions made were a direct result of that. For that, I have no regrets. And neither should you.

#3: I deserve love.

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This one sounds very self-explanatory. But I wanted to go in a little more on what exactly this sentence means for me. When I talk about love, I don’t just mean in the most romantic of senses. I mean I deserve self-love and dedication to self-care and creating my own happiness. I deserve friendships that are fulfilling and supportive, encouraging and constructive. I deserve to have the freedom to forgive and acknowledge hurt from those close to me, and to heal at my own pace to repair and rebuild relationships if I so choose. I deserve a love that feels like home, where we can truly be ourselves, and allow ourselves the growth and space to come into our own separately with support.

#4. Life continues even when things go wrong.

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While no one really wants to hear that phrase when everything is falling apart, it’s a very hard reality check. And something that can be extremely helpful for our healing process. I had a lot of things go wrong this year, and in the same breath, it made way for things to go right in my life that I didn’t expect. Whether it was a lesson about going after what you truly want, learning how to let go of our comfort zones, or giving ourselves time to grieve properly in order to truly celebrate what’s to come in our lives. The fact that life doesn’t wait for us can actually be a good thing. What would happen if we allowed life to stop at the things that are traumatic to us? We’d never experience the rainbow after the storm.

In 2020, I am hopeful for many things, but the biggest thing that I wish is just to see myself WIN. In order for me to do that, I know that these lessons learned were necessary to create my foundation. It was the step in the right direction that I needed. It’s been refreshing to sit back and truly reflect on this year. Now that it’s over, I’m ready to show up for myself in ways I never have, while creating opportunities to also do the same for others.

I wish you peace, love, prosperity, and healing.\

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You Gotta Get Up.

It’s hard to fight the funk.

Lately, I’ve been battling with thoughts of being in the way. Being in the way of my goals and milestones. Being in the way of others and their own progression at my expense. These past few months have been the most transformative as I’m preparing to step completely out of my comfort zone, and embark on a brand new beginning.With that, there’s been a lot of new changes in my life that have required a lot of community. I’m in one of the most vulnerable spaces I’ve been in for quite some time. It’s uncomfortable, as it should be. But it can also make you question a lot if you’re used to doing it all on your own.

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One of the best parts about these past few months is being able to step back into church and embracing my church family. In a recent sermon, the pastor made a remark about the acronym: “TIS” or “SIT”.

T – Thoughts

I – Influence

S- Suggestions

He says it’s easy to stumble when the Enemy tries to gain influence over you in the only way he knows how to – your mind. His impact can effect your thoughts, which then becomes an influence, and a suggestion for you to do something that you shouldn’t.

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When I think about this acronym, I think about the many ways I’ve allowed myself to feel small. It’s been xx months, and I still haven’t gotten this part of my life together, or I’m still struggling to find my footing in media, or I’m still attracting men who don’t value me the way I value them, or I’m feeling alone because my community is distant.

These thoughts are the catalyst for a downward spiral.

Me not having my life together must mean I’m not meant to have one.

Me not finding my footing in media must mean I won’t ever be seen in this industry.

Me attracting the wrong men must mean I’m not capable of ever finding love.

My loneliness must have a direct impact on who I am.

These thoughts all suggest one thing: quitting. Quitting on life. Quitting on trying. Quitting on loving. Quitting on existing. Quitting on your goals/hopes/dreams.

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I can’t say that I take pride on quitting anything, but it almost became an easy choice for me. Coming off of last year’s car accident, and the downward spiral of things that erupted from that, every day is a new journey and a process. We are no longer living in our past, but that doesn’t mean that more obstacles won’t stir up old feelings.

I’ve had to remind myself that God makes no mistakes. Only I do. And there’s a purpose behind that. DJ Khaled says: “failure is a major opportunity to learn something.” The mistakes you make teach you not to make those again. The mistakes you make show you that there is another way, another option to achieve what you want.  But you’ve got to be willing to take the risk. And no, it won’t feel easy. It won’t feel great. But it’s a powerful risk that leads to a powerful change.

It’s hard to fight the funk, but you gotta get UP.

A word that stuck with me from hearing P. Diddy speak at the REVOLT Summit is: “As long as you keep getting up, that’s going to inspire other people to keep getting up.”

Your responsibility is not always your own. But your dedication to self is. 

 

#WomenSupportingWomen

Women empowerment is not a cookie cutter phrase. It’s real work. It’s a celebration of who we are, what we accomplish, and overcome on a daily basis.

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I was reminded of all of that this past weekend after attending “Black Women United Day of Unity” in Atlanta, Georgia. Before attending the day’s festivities, I started incorporating the hashtag, #WomenSupportingWomen as a way to acknowledge the work women are doing in and around the Charleston, SC area in which I reside. I also make it a point to acknowledge those who may not be in close proximity as a show of solidarity and support.

It was only right that I was told about this incredible event from an equally incredible woman, who also happens to be my sorority sister: Davida Roach. Davida is the owner of Hair Bakery Boutique LLC, Dear Deanndra, and the creator behind her new blog, Davida’s Diary.  She is the epitome of a true girl boss. 

The event took place inside of the Georgia State Capitol. Upon walking in, we both couldn’t help but to really take everything in. The fact that we were attending this important event inside of an important space where laws are created and talked about, and important people dwell, to just seeing so many brown women in one space, in their best attire, ready to take in any messages received. I didn’t quite know what to expect, because I didn’t know that I would be there. But there was so much confirmation in the messages spoken.

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For starters, Glenda Williams of MEG Enterprises says ” I recognize what it took to protect yourself, especially as a Black woman.” It went hand in hand with universal messages of sisterhood, and caring for others , and being honest about your personal journey. She encouraged everyone in the room to “rise above hurt, understand healing, and what it takes to push beyond the odds.”

Imani Baskins, who moderated the event, made a powerful statement on vulnerability. She says,” Vulnerability is our super power. Sometimes, what looks like a flood is a cleansing.”

As a Black woman, I can honestly say that it is very hard to stand firm in being vulnerable. Simply because there is a lot to take on in my own day to day life that requires me to be strong, and to carry the weight of it all in order to simply survive. It’s HARD. But vulnerability is like a doorknob. You have the control over how much the door opens, and what you let in or out. The power is in the capacity in which you give. But you can’t afford to not give anything if it only holds you back. We can’t allow ourselves to give in to fear.

Renee Peoples, of The Peoples Network says, “You have to find that happy place within yourself that you can go to, that no one can tamper, despite all of the voices in your head.”  And on the same note of allowing ourselves the energy to be selfish with our emotions and protecting of that energy, Glenda Williams says, “As we grow and build, sometimes we leave ourselves out.”

In that moment – over a dozen women chose not to leave themselves out of healing. Everyone came for something. Whether it was shared with a fellow woman there, or kept quietly tucked away in their minds for them to hold, women were being fed what they needed to take home with them and really get things going.

I know because I was one of those women in the room. Taking notes. Physically and internally. Intently listening to what each woman on that panel had to say. The energy around me was filled to the brim with emotion. As a Black woman, I don’t often talk about my experiences with being a Black woman in this world. I don’t always get the chance to talk openly about my experiences and what they mean for me as I continue growing into womanhood. Being in a space where that didn’t really matter at all – but in fact was embraced, was just the medicine I needed to recover from past traumas of self-censoring for the appeasement of others.

I was embraced.

I was loved.

I was lovingly criticized.

I was seen.

And with this simple hashtag, I want women to feel the same. As I continue to do more with my own works, I hope that everything I do has an underlying foundation of women empowerment – and not just the sister circle of, “Yass Queen!” and “Black Girl Magic”, but real hard conversations, centering moments of clarity, and collaboration without competition.

What does supporting women look like for you?

 

 

Purposeful Alignment

“Everything I’ve spoke, I’ve done.” – Missy Elliott

Words are power. At a very young age, I’ve heard this phrase and have tried to make sure that every word I speak is one of positivity. Confidence however is something I’ve always struggled with. Even as a current 25 year-old, I realize that the confident words about who I am, my character, my work ethic, even my looks almost always comes by word of mouth from those who have known me for some time, or are amazed by our first encounter. I guess that’s why I struggle with often times needing to be validated. If I’m not told I’m doing well, most of the time, I don’t feel like I am. Self-validation is hard for me, because it feels like I’m being more self-centered than confident.

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What has been inspiring me to break out of that habit has actually been closely watching Black women creatives both on a mainstream level and in close connection who truly are doing the damn thing.

 

Take Missy Elliott for example. I honestly can’t believe God blessed me to grow up in such an era where Missy’s creativity was all in our face to bask in. From the eclectic music videos, to empowering words and raunchy rap tunes. Missy clearly is never afraid to be herself. 

Aside from her outward appearance, what really gives me inspiration is the way she feels about herself. All while still being humble and appreciative of the work, skills and talent of those around her! In a recent interview I happened to stumble across on LinkedIn, Missy Elliott shared that “everything she spoke, she’s done.” When reading those words, I couldn’t help but to get chills, and really pause and take a moment to understand what that means for ME.

I’m surrounded by advocates of the belief that words are power, and who believe in their hearts that manifestation is real, especially when words of the tongue, and the heart’s intentions align. So being reminded of that is also a full reminder to hold myself accountable. I’m exactly where I need to be for the time I need to be here for. I’ve spoken this very moment into existence through desires of the heart and intentions. 

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Just a year ago, I told myself that I wanted to find more ways to serve my community and tell more of the stories of those not often told in mainstream media. Since then, I’ve managed to take on quite a few clients and roles that have allowed me to do just that. All while running a company (Conqueror Movement) that is always working to elevate the way we tell those stories.

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While I didn’t envision things happening quite like this, I had a true desire for freedom and more intentional living. The end result was inevitable.

And even the things I have yet to witness because of the uncertainty of time in God’s promises, I need to walk in those habits, and visions, and feelings as if they are already my own.

But to do that means you have to be confident.

And as I said earlier, confidence and I struggle quite a bit. So, how then can I truly level up?

It starts with getting comfortable being uncomfortable. We all love a sense of security, and protection. We desire to have it in alot of things. And with ourselves, we are our biggest protectors. But, we’ve got to start making it acceptable for us to fall, in the same way that we prioritize success and coming out on top. We have to desire learning what our fall could teach us, and not always seeing it as a bad thing.

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The end result is the focus point. The part of the story that motivates us to even have a story in the first place. I believe that everything has a unique purpose, and being confident that the purpose and your true intentions align is powerful because it’s ordained. 

I’m beginning to walk a little differently with all of this information, and really see my success taken to new heights. I’m learning how to observe myself, my habits and my resources, and really being focused on how to live the life I desire. 

 

Getting Out of My Own Way.

Sometimes, the only obstacle in the way is you.

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It’s a very hard reality – but one that is necessary to come to terms with on the topic of moving forward and upward. Since the last time we’ve talked, life has been forward moving in a lot of ways. From really soaking into this transition I’m in of finding my voice in the media world, and better ways to serve my community, to putting my mental health first, and changing around quite a few priorities.

Whether you’re a full time working millennial, or a person who desires to create more, you understand the complexities of the spaces above, but also how freeing it can be. I’ve had to come to terms with some very harsh realities, and I believe in transparency no matter what position I’m in. One story can always help another.Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.

For starters, it’s okay to change your pace/ explore other interests.

When I resigned from my dream position at the top of the year, it was very hard to cope with at first. Many of the thoughts I had inside of my head were: “Yes, I’m happy, but why do I feel like I’ve failed?” When I began introducing myself without the title attached, it felt like I was losing something – or not believing enough in my own abilities and what I’ve been able to bring to the role in the first place. I had to constantly explain why stability does not equate to my unhappiness. If I’m feeling off balance in any way, that deserves my full attention. Sure, things will be uncomfortable, but what does your bigger picture look like, and are you living it?

Second, no one has the power to duplicate who you are, and the unique qualities you have, and that is your power.

In my current space, I’ve had alot of time to think about who I am. It may sound silly, but sometimes, you forget. You forget about what you bring to the table – whether it be in your professional life, your personal life, romantic or platonic relationships. Instead, you become occupied with the journeys of everyone around you, and just how much you amount up to that. It’s an unhealthy thought process, because it doesn’t allow you the space to be genuinely happy for other people, and their wins. After all, you won’t know just how much a person has lost to get to that point. Everyone’s burden looks very different. Everyone’s plate wasn’t constructed the same way.

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If you’re a fan of music, and the Dreamville team, there’s a song on the collective’s newest project, Return of the Dreamers, III, out called “Sacrifices”. The song features a break down of what sacrifices mean to the four artists, including J.Cole, Smino, Earthgang, and Saba. Just a couple of the lyrics that stood out to me that I’ve really resonated with over the past few months are:

“I put my heart and my all in my art…” and “You can’t be everything to everybody.”

There’s so much more the song has to offer lyrically, but I want to stay true to the topic of getting out of my own way, and what that process has looked like for me. Stepping away from a professional role that clearly maps out my time and places a certain cap on my creative limits allowed me to really explore what creative freedom looks like. It gave me more time for much of my other on going responsibilities such as my digital media space, The Conqueror Movement, and further building my freelance brand, #LifeThroughArt.

Putting my all into my art meant being more present and innovative. What does the community need to see more of? How can I show myself, my talents, and those of others the value and worth I feel has been missing? While I have taken some time to regroup and reset, I have also been taking just as much time to plan and execute a few ideas, such as extending The Conqueror Movement’s single-day networking mixer to a three day event. I’ve also managed to plan and conceptualize three video projects, and one branding project for women-led initiatives.

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On the flip side, it’s taken a lot to hold myself accountable emotionally. In a lot of ways, I categorize myself as a people pleaser. I love to show up for others as much as I can. My support is very extensive and can look like emotional, financial or physical (i.e – talking one on one, cooking, being a shoulder to cry on, physically showing up to events, etc.) aid. I’ve always defined support as being able to do freely those things without asking for anything in return. I realized over time how burdening that definition can be, and so my sacrifices have started to adjust. I’m thinking more of how I feel, and what I can reasonably give. I’m allowing myself more time to be alone, and not really having to explain my desire to do so. I’m allowing people the access to show up and support for me out of their own genuine feelings. And I’m being honest and transparent about the position I’m in and what that looks like.

Which brings me to my next revelation – actions may speak louder, but words are still necessary.

This life owes you nothing. And the people around you owe you nothing. And that’s a hard pill to swallow. Essentially – you have to approach many familiar situations as being brand new. People are allowed to change and grow, without you. Opportunities can genuinely be meant for someone else. Time can be perfect for one, and the opposite for another. While your actions may be loud enough, you’re not exempt from speaking. What does an opportunity mean for you? Why does a person’s involvement in your life matter to you? What exactly does that involvement look like? In many ways, social media has made it easier for us, but I will speak mostly about myself, to communicate my exact thoughts through memes, and shared tweets or statuses because sometimes you just can’t find your own words. But in moments where there is opportunity to let your voice lead the pack, quiet energy is the opposite of what’s needed. Assumptions are the downfall of alot of things. Make your intentions clear.

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Getting out of your own way is a journey. There’s no guide book on it. There’s no three-step and elevate process. It’s just your journey. And it takes time, and patience, and sacrifice, and words and action. It takes accountability from yourself. It takes a lot of long nights. Emotions you may not want to deal with, but need to face in order to close the door and open another.

Returning to this space of vulnerability is necessary for my next step, and for those who identify with this, I am here to encourage you, and to be honest.

Welcome back to Unwritten.