Because Life Is: Putting one foot in front of the other

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How do you handle hard situations without losing yourself in your problems? It’s always hard when you have an idea of where you feel your life is going, where your steps are taking you, and thinking that you have control of it all. But, I learned very quickly that I do not.

I never quite knew how to answer that question. And with being so young, there’s a lot more that I will experience in life that I won’t know how to handle. But, I’m learning the hard way that it’s all about embracing the journey. Embracing the hard steps, and never giving up on myself before I show that I have something to prove.

This month alone has really tested the way I see myself and how much I feel I’m personally capable of.

Being a creative, an entrepreneur and a journalist sound like they aren’t interchangeable or could mesh well together, but they find their ways. I could flourish in all aspects, dive head first into my works and not have a problem doing so many things at once from sun up to sun down. I’ve always been involved with so much, and I always feel the need to act on every idea that comes into my head (However, I have quickly learned that is a recipe for disaster!). But when do you make time for what’s happening personally? To deal with the personal emotions that make their way into your everyday life?

That is something I hadn’t quite figured out, just went with the flow. There’s nothing wrong with not having a strict plan, but there is a problem with ignoring the very things your mind needs to take care of.

As business creatives, we tend to develop this machine like mentality that we can push off things, conversations and conflicts and channel any negative energy into our works.

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Looking at this month alone, I have lost way more than I gained from not being real with myself.

It’s so easy to get caught up in answering “I’m fine” to every “How are you?” question. But what happens when you’re not and more things continue to happen?

There was a moment I had this month where things just kept happening. And it was never really anything that people have done towards me themselves, but it was mostly the act of knowing what I deserve and making some hard decisions. But I thought saying “I’m fine” would just alleviate the need to deal with those things head on. But you only do yourself a disservice when you don’t.

The same effort and energy you put into making sure a plan is carried out and it works in your career is the same effort, time and energy you need to put into your personal life.

Show people around you how much you really care. Have those hard conversations if it’s on your mind and you know you can’t be your best self until those feelings are expressed. Be intentional about the growth you want to make and get real. Because at the end of the day, you have one life to live and you don’t want to go through life feeling stagnant and in the same place years from now.

There’s nothing wrong with needing to deal with the hard stuff.

And when it’s all said and done, make sure you continue your walk and put one foot right in front of the other.

 

Because Life Is: About Growth

A new year brings many different thoughts about growth, where you should be, where you see yourself, and whether or not you really changed for the better. Some do it through resolutions. Some do it through reflection and acknowledgement. Others simply just keep it moving and work on answering those questions a day at a time.

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This is where some of the hardest moments start to sink in for me that not a lot of people really know about.

I’m so thankful to God for the amount of growth I’ve been seeing in myself, and it all really dates back to 10th grade.

I will always remember that time of my life because that was a very hard year for me, and it really led to a downward spiral in so many ways. I remember myself back then not really knowing about who I was and the potential I had to be everything that I wanted. God really placed some obstacles and challenges in my life that were hard to overcome. At that time, I didn’t have any intentions to overcome them. I had given up on myself.

I remember being around my friends in class, and getting a message from my mom to meet her. I had no idea what the message was for, or the intent. I just know that if it’s important enough for me to be pulled out of class at 1 PM, something big is happening. Fast forward, we’re making a u-turn in the middle of the highway to follow an ambulance back to the hospital.

My grandmother was the patient.

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Many people who know me well knows that my grandmother is the closest person to me in my family. It can be debated, it can be argued. But, she is the G.O.A.T (Greatest of all time).  But suddenly, I was worried. My grandmother had been sick for a while at this point. She had multiple hospital visits and surgeries, but things appeared to have been going well. But that day, I was sitting in a hospital room, and I was so confused.

Hours later, my grandfather quietly walks up to my mother. I cannot see his face. I can only hear his voice. He said the words I never thought he would say.

“Mary is gone.”

My heart paused for a few moments. It felt like hours. I wish it were days I could just sit and not process anything.

I think at that point, I burst into tears.

Not the cute tears either.

I felt my whole world fall apart. This moment. I was heartbroken. I was angry. I was young and confused by what was happening. I always hate reflecting on that day because it was just a downward spiral. From having to tell my brother and my cousin, to having to tell my great grandmother that her daughter has now gone to be with God. It was a lot. And I wanted out.

I was known for being a very happy go-lucky individual. Even now, people tell me I bring life and joy to every conversation and encounter, but it was that day and that moment that I couldn’t be happy. I couldn’t make myself smile. I couldn’t be for myself what I was to everyone else. It was like a reality check for me, because it allowed me to feel emotions I had suppressed for such a long time because I always felt like I had to be okay.

In highschool, I was a very different kind of girl. You know my name for the 90s hit show, “Living Single”, but if you looked at my ipod, you wouldn’t even recognize the names of people I listened to. From Three Days Grace, to Bullet For My Valentine and Slipknot. Powerful, hard heavy metal. I believe what a person listens to really says a lot about who they are. The kind of tunes I listened to back then were very hard hitting, emotional tracks. They spoke on various things, but they spoke on depression a lot. So, during this grieving moment, I began to face a battle with the infamous D word.

It became normal for me to sit in my room alone, blasting my music and crying myself to sleep at night. I had contemplated a lot of things back then. Ways I could disappear without causing any kind of pain to my family. I thought about overdosing. I prayed to God at many points that he would take my life away. It became a rollercoaster ride to wake up and try the same routine of going to school and coming home and tip toeing around my grandmother’s name and memory. My best friend noticed a lot of these changes in me, and played a big role in why I am still here. She questioned me about the motive behind my thoughts, prayed for me, and just existed with me, even when I didn’t want to explain or answer any of her questions.

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It is so important to have people around you like that in those hard moments. That was a very hard moment for me, and even now, it’s difficult. I know my grandmother would be proud of the woman that I am and the accomplishments that I’m making.

But, I didn’t share all of this with you for it to be a sob story.

This is a situation that I never found the strength to open up about, because it was the weakest time period of my life. But looking at myself now, I realize it was the catalyst for the strong woman I have become. I needed to hurt in order to grow. I needed to be pushed. I’ve been motivated by that hard time in my life to never cease fighting for the very things I want in life and my desires. I never stopped learning how to be more and more of a strong woman like my grandmother in all aspects, from relationships to my career. But it’s all a learning process.

So as you face hard moments in your life, face them head on. Acknowledge that they exist. Take a moment away if you need to in order to get back on track. You don’t have to always be okay. It’s okay to not always be okay. Develop a strong support system around you that you can be real with in every way because then the going gets tough, they’ll never leave your side.

What’s a hard moment you find yourself struggling with? In what ways are you working to face that head on and become a better you?

In loving memory of Mary Pressley Nesmith

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(pictured with her is my grandfather who has also since gone to be with the Lord a year later)

Because Life Is: about being humble

All about being humble.

It’s almost the very end of 2016, and it feels like I have nothing left to give to the year.

It almost seems as if I don’t have the energy to rejoice for 2017.

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This year was a very hard fought year. Meaning, I fought for everything I earned and took no prisoners: (schemers, leeches or negativity) along with me. This year was full of learning lessons that needed to be learned at the perfect time. While I think it’s important to focus on resolutions and things you want to attain for the next year, sometimes it’s necessary to sit back and look at all of the things you accomplished right now, and even placing a focus on the things you needed more of that could better serve you in the year to come.

What I realized about 2016, and almost every other year prior, is that I’m really good at being there when others need me. I’m also very good about being in 5 different places at one time. But what I didn’t realize is how unhealthy all of those things really were when I wasn’t inserting myself into the equation.

College fed into my need to multitask. I felt like I always had to get everything done in a timely fashion. Most of that meant sleepless nights or writing out works in the car, in other classes, or avoiding sleep at all costs. Now, cheers to adulthood where none of that is possible! Literally – try producing a show in your sleep. You’ll be very disappointed when you prepare for the day and breaking news happens.

I have a weakness even while adulting that allows me to believe I can still do those superhero things and not feel any consequences of it. But how I was wrong. In college, you had an idea of how your day would go, and it wasn’t uncommon to sprinkle things in where you felt they were the perfect fit. I wake up daily now and I never know how my day will go (even this blog post was unplanned). It’s just the nature of life.

But just because I can’t tell the future, doesn’t mean I have to ignore making rest and happiness a mandatory objective in my daily life. I realize that lack of sleep is not quite what I need to thrive if I want to succeed and grow daily. I need to give back to myself in the biggest, but smallest ways. I can’t ignore those moments when my body tells me, “you’ve done enough.”

What exactly is enough?

That’s something I could never really define, and I’m having a hard time figuring that out even in this very moment. Because I know the path I’ve chosen to take with my career and passions, I should be content, right? Things should be good, right?

But what happens when others around you take a different path?

I have friends from all walks of life, many of them with the most creative spirits. They’re not aspiring to be journalists. They’re aspiring to get their art off the ground. They’re aspiring to have freedom. They’re aspiring to travel more, enjoy life a little more. Maybe become doctors, lawyers, attend graduate school. Become a nomad?

All of these journeys have their influences, but what many people don’t quite tell you is that they also have the ability to make you doubt yourself and your own passions and your own path. I can’t tell you how many times this year alone that I thought I wanted to quit because things weren’t quite going as I expected. When things just didn’t seem to be worth it anymore. But then I realized why those feelings were setting in.

It goes back to humility. The act of selflessness. The act of appreciation. I wasn’t separating myself from my past life of college fun, freedom to be a journalist and a poet and an artist all at once. I wasn’t allowing myself to transition into the now moment of my life to really appreciate what’s happening and how blessed I truly am. If the people around you don’t motivate you to want THAT kind of lifestyle, it could either be one of two things:

  1. Check your friends, boo.
  2. Check yourself.

In this instance, I knew my friends were DOPE. I needed to check THYSELF.

Going forward, I want more humility sprinkled into my daily life. I want more joy and peace with my journey and more of an appreciation for what God has blessed me with. Someone posted a question on Twitter, asking their followers to reflect on the things they accomplished this year, and encouraging them to celebrate themselves. When preparing my answer, I realize my track record is a high one and very groundbreaking. To graduate college and almost immediately get my dream job in my desired career field is nothing but the grace of God. To live in a new area that is filled with hope, light and love is the icing on the cake. To be in a position where one day I can better provide for myself, soon enough giving back to my family all they’ve given me in the simplest gestures. It’s very encouraging.

2017 is a promising year, but honestly, I can’t even bring myself to focus on resolutions when I haven’t quite yet finished up celebrating me making it through this year.

So cheers to 2017, but also, cheers to the journey of 2016 that is preparing me to move into a better way of life.

“Always stay gracious”

  • K

 

Because Life Is: a second chance.

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Life is a beautiful journey you have to go back and rediscover time and time again just to really appreciate it. I found myself at times during these past few months being so invested in the perfection of having a lifestyle that I could be proud of. When I say that, I mean that I began to think very superficially about things I felt I needed and things I feel like I should accomplish. I wanted everyone to acknowledge that I was putting in work, and with that comes the need for constant likes and compliments. I got lost in the idea that if I helped and supported others, that eventually the same due respect would be given.

But life serves you up lessons in unique ways.

I questioned a lot of things, the most consistent being whether or not I was good enough for much of the very things that I wanted to accomplish.

I’m so grateful for the reassurance that many of my greatest friends and family have surrounded me with.

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I’ve had to ask myself countless times again and again how much my dreams are worth, all while reminding myself of my worth and that it means something.

This series, #BecauseLifeIs is going to be very transparent and very real.

Everything that you could think of — from parts of my life I rarely discuss to love and relationships to career journeys.

Stick around for it all, and thanks for the support, always.

-KD

“I Am Change,” T-shirts available now.

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Cheers to stepping outside of comfort zones and really making things happen within the community.

For the past few years, I have always tried to figure out ways that I could expand the conversation of news media through my communications platform: The Conqueror Movement. Many moments have presented themselves, and we’ve addressed many issues that hit close to home, such as the common stereotypes of the African American male, the natural hair movement and how it’s perceived to other cultures, and now the constant discussion of identity and representation of African Americans in news media (their portrayl, stories that often don’t get discussed, stories that aren’t discussed enough, misconceptions, etc.).

Many have also expressed to me that the platform needs a shirt – and people would actually wear it.

But, I wanted to do something different.

I wanted to create a message – a message that people could identify with and be proud of.

So, I reached out to one of my good friends, Devin Green who is a phenomenal graphic designed and illustrator who owns his own clothing company, Style Clothing Co

He created this vision for me based on what I expressed above and the current campaign I was leading  “I Am Not My Skin”. Thus, “I am Change, I am not the Problem” was born.

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This design was inspired by the voices of many who always seem like they have to explain the importance of their existence because of something as simple as race or gender.

This message couldn’t be more relevant, especially now. By challenging this notion that color tells a lot about who a person is, or gender, we defy what many people begin to call “reality” when it is simply not.

I am hoping that this will not be the end all, be all for The Conqueror Movement, and that we will continue to bring forth many different initiatives and opportunities for conversations like this to occur. This won’t be the last you see of the movement this year, but this is the start of what supporting the initiative looks like. Without you, growth won’t be possible. Invest in the local game changers and change makers.

To support the initiative of the Conqueror Movement by purchasing a t-shirt, click here.

Love,

Khadijah Dennis

Queen City – The Birth of Dreams

The graduate life has been nothing short of fun filled, exciting and most of all, busy for me.

But it’s granted me the experience I’ve always wished to have.

I went from walking across the commencement stage to being on a road trip to Charlotte, NC where the real journey began.

Can you imagine having a dream you’ve always wanted to come true finally happening?

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DiVersitile of Columbia, SC — (left to right: R4L, Brittaney Chatman, Kanisha Keitt, Kendrick Retroversal Houser)

I had the pleasure of meeting 3/4 of this phenomenal group during my mentor, Brittaney Chatman’s production, “A Woman’s Suffrage” back in 2014. It was then that I realized Britt had other hidden talents — she loved music and was an avid performer. Along with that she was a part of a group, DiVersitile, made up of longtime friends who all equally love music. When Britt and I reconnected after graduation and she mentioned that she wanted me to be a part of a project that the group was involved in, I couldn’t say no.

This would mean that I would also get to work closely with Kendrick, who in addition to being a part of the group is also involved with his own platform, Good Food Radio, which stands for  Getting out our Dreams, Focusing on our destiny. 

It’s ironic that the two groups would come together in this instance as my journey with them both has seen this mantra come alive.

When you’re passionate about something, you stop at nothing until it’s done.  -Self quote

The idea of the link up is to get DiVersitile closer to that dream they discussed by finally recording their debut EP.

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For an entire weekend, I got really close and personal with these guys in a recording booth more fit for one person than two and a camera, and super comfortable space for playback and laughter.

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I watched magic unfold, first with music writing, then with the actual recording. It was amazing seeing what every individual  artist brought to the table. Brittaney had a very keen sense of detail — she could hear things within the music that she didnt like, or didn’t flow well that moved the project along progressively.

Kanisha had a knack for bringing it all together with her voice. She could harmonize and improvise. She has a creative spirit and energy that works and really makes things click.

R4L and Kendrick are the heartbeat and the dream makers. Without their knowledge of music engineering and also very constructive, but creative criticism of what works best for the overall song and project, I don’t know how this project could’ve been a success.

“Depending on the story that you’re telling, you can be relatable to everybody or nobody.” – Chance the Rapper

Music has a way of bringing a unique energy and lesson out of everyone. When I was younger, I had this perspective that all it really took to be a successful artist was to have a voice, the ability to write your own music and determination.

Well.

I was right about two for sure. Nowadays, it’s easier to collaborate with a songwriter if you’re lucky.

But it definitely takes alot more than just those things.

It takes alot of time and patience.

For this group, this IS a God DREAM.

But it was also something that won’t be taken lightly.

After a full weekend of recording till the wee hours of the morning and doing it all over again, a celebration is definitely in order once the EP drops.

When it comes to a dream, I’ve seen what it means to never let it cross your mind and not work until your end goal is met. This further shows me what my life will be like, especially over the next year.

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I’ve been learning to count it all as joy, the good times, the easy, the complicated, the unknown. It all leads to something grand. All leads to something bigger and better and more fulfilling.

I’ve learned that having the right people and energy in your circle is super important! You never EVER need to feel like you’re making “moves” and things happen all on your own. Sometimes, you NEED that shoulder to lean on and really get your feet on the ground running all over again.

So let me ask you,

what’s your dream?

How are you making it happen?

Who are you making it happen with?

xo

Khadijah

 

 

 

Happy #NationalPoetryDay!

The leaves are changing

The wheels are turning effortlessly in my mind

stars are aligning

it must mean that our time has come.

Happy National Poetry Day!


 Something about a good word that brings you much pleasure. I truly enjoy poetry and all that it does for the soul. I woke up this morning in reflection of so much, and then it hit me.

“IT’S YOUR DAY LOVE!”

I squealed with so much excitement and joined my family via social media to celebrate us.

The storytellers.

The scribes.

The writers.

This artistry isn’t made for everyone. We have a unique gift that everyone longs to have. It’s amazing.

Sometimes, I can’t even believe that I am a poet.

This art has saved me so many times.

And I’m sure there’s a unique story for everyone behind poetry.


In honor of #NationalPoetryDay, I wanted to highlight some of my favorite pieces and phenomenal individuals.

Spoken Word

Jasmine Mans – Dear Ex Lover

Miles Hodges – From Head To Toe

Carl Lewers – Jigsaw

Alysia Harris – This Woman


Written Poetry

Nikki Giovanni – “I Take Mastercard (Charge Your Love To Me)”

Nikky Finney – “Dancing With Strom”

Langston Hughes – Mother To Son


I hope you enjoy the readings! I’d be remiss not to share some of what I’ve been up to lately, so here’s links to some of my newest works. Feedback is always appreciated <3.

Got something you’d like to share? Shoot me a comment below! I’d love to read.

xo

My “writography”

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New Content Posted + Stay Tuned!

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“You are your ancestor’s wildest dream.”

What does it take to start a revolution?

Work.

Passion.

A different way of thinking.

Community.

Over the past month I’ve observed a lot and have taken in a lot of valuable information that I could greatly use to impact my life and my profession. A huge part of what was learned is not being afraid to take on the very things that others won’t.

Just two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing one of the founders of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, Alicia Garza, and what a moment in time for me it was.

I was in Japan when the hashtag took over timelines all over the world. Having been back in the states for about a year now, it’s almost painful to think that a lot really hasn’t changed since then.

Garza spoke on various topics, but the main point that I took away was “these narratives are not new, but our conditions are.” We are a remake of history unfolding.

This story reminded me that this is only one of many more stories to talk about that represent our generation and the current motions we are going through as a collective. In the new stories that I’ve covered, you will see that shine through.

In addition, I’ve been on a bit of a writing journey through my transitional period, and I am opening myself up to all of you with new poetic pieces.

As usual, I am always open to comments or criticism. I enjoy what I do, and I really hope to just get better and better in my approaches of how I do things and the stories that I tell.

Thank you for your constant support in my endeavors. It really does make a difference.

xo

KD

P.S. Follow my brainchild, The Conqueror Movement (@conquerormovement) on Instagram for very important announcements within the next week!

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“The revolution will be televised.”