After several years of applying on multiple platforms with various organizations, I am so EXCITED to finally have been awarded my first grant. The Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County, MD provided me with a $3,500 grant to help me develop and print 1,000 copies of my book I Am More Than My Hair: Bald and Beautiful Me, a social-change coffee table book that tells the stories and celebrates the beauty of girls and women who have lost their hair due to medical conditions.
Although the many rejection letters I’ve received was disappointing, I must admit, I was unprepared for a grant before this. After comparing my previous applications to the one I was awarded, there’s no mistaking the growth between then and now.
Looking at my old applicators I wouldn’t have granted myself an award either. Don’t get me wrong, the art is beautiful, but the execution of it wasn’t planned out as I’ve organized it to be now.
Also, recently being selected as an art panelist, for another arts & humanities council, allowed me to view applications from the eyes of a judge. And of course I was able to give back to the community. For my next round of grant applications I will fully prepared.
With all of the excitement and appreciation inside of me, I’ve also had to recognize that I’ll need to come up with an additional $25, 870 of my $29, 370 budget, to complete both the book and documentary. Yes it’s that much!
For this reason I decided to apply for Fiscal Sponsorship (it’s another application process that has to be approved) and will launch a Crowdfunding campaign in January 2017.
I will send the details and status as I get closer to the dates. In the meantime, know that I’ve been working like a mad woman…and learning so much in the process. Thank you for your support and encouraging emails along the way!
I’m still looking for participants for I Am More Than My Hair. Know anyone? Let’s connect!
This week I received news that I wasn’t expecting. Ms. Yvonne Johnson, a participant in my first book, Feminine Transitions, passed away. On the same day, I received an email for a link to a blog post about the passing of Debbie Osarere, a participant in my upcoming book, I Am More Than My Hair: Bald and Beautiful Me.
The culprit? Cancer.
For privacy purposes I won’t get into the details of their diagnosis, but I will say Cancer is an epidemic and it is taking the lives of too many of our loved ones.
We Can Stop the Cancer Epidemic, by educating ourselves, our families and knowing what to avoid. Although it’s hard to completely avoid all chemicals such as chem trails sprayed in the air by our government and pesticides in our foods, we can reduce our rate of cancer diagnosis by eating healthy (try growing your own food), exercising daily and doing your best to have a piece of mind (no stress).
I’m not a doctor, neither is this a diagnosis. Just like everyone else I’m fed up of the epidemic taking the lives of family and friends.
I ask to please keep Ms. Yvonne Johnson and Debbie Osarere’s family, any of your loved ones that have passed or holding on for dear life and those that are alive and well, in your thoughts and prayers. May these two beautiful souls continue to rest in peace.
It was the fall of 1999. I was in my 4th semester in college and unsure of the direction of my career, but knew for sure I DID NOT want to work for a company for the rest of my life. I just couldn’t stand being told what to do.
If there was one thing in particular I knew about myself is that I was innately creative and had the character traits of an entrepreneur since I was a child. When I was young my grandfather used to bring me with him as he went canvasing around our neighborhood in Corona, Queens, NY.
He was selling countertop NASA water filtration systems, the first of it’s kind to be introduced to home owners. Buyers could connect the hose to their kitchen sink and get clean filtered water.
Despite the actions of my neighbors (nice or not so nice) my grandfather kept going. He never allowed a no to stop him. I didn’t know, at the time, that my grandfather was instilling qualities within me of a future business owner.
I just wanted to give you some background. Let’s fast forward to college…
I always loved to draw and doodled often (more like everyday in every class). Taking a drawing class while in college was my release through all the intense studying.
My art professor was so impressed with my art that he suggested I take photography as an art elective. I’m not quite sure how he made the connection but he was convinced I would do really well.
In the fall of 2001 I immersed myself in photography. I enjoyed being behind the camera and capturing what captivated me. I was intrigued by the process of film and print development and amazed at my new found creativity.
I was in love…
While close to graduation I made a nice niche for myself and connected with a few magazines that were interested in hiring me for future editorial shoots and peaked the interest of several media companies that contacted me to inquire about commission work. I actively participated in exhibitions, artist groups and everything revolved around creative networking.
Then reality hit…
I was really good at what I did and heard it often. I often heard, “I love your work”, yet the appreciation of it didn’t lead to many sales. And I quickly learned that although I truly appreciated the compliments, it wasn’t providing me with an income.
At a certain point, the constant compliments, without sales, brought me to a bitter place with my photography. And when I was hired for work, the constraints of what people wanted, really wasn’t something I enjoyed.
I fell out of love with the love of my life…
But how could I? I thought I was in love?
I took a break for some time, put my camera down, and switched from Government contracting (which I was doing while being a photographer) to contracting with media companies. I tried Photo Editing for a change.
Although I made a great income I quickly realized I DID NOT want to be behind a desk all day. Unfortunately I didn’t want to do commission work that was unfulfilling for me either.
It took a few years, and various business ventures (while working I did Network Marketing and was also in the process of buying a franchise), for me to discover my passion. Through my journey I learned business skills that not only prepared me for my future endeavors but also helped me to redefine my ‘Why‘.
I rediscovered my passion…
See, when I fell in love with photography I was free to create what was beautiful and rewarding for ME, without the worries of being dependent on making an income from it.
In order for me to get back to that feeling, I needed my freedom back…
Instead of depending on my art to make me money, I depend on my art to give me freedom. Freedom of expression. Freedom of release. And the freedom to dive into my innate creativity without restriction.
Pelican cleaning it’s feathers at the pier in Oceanside, CA.
Instead, I choose to use my talent to work on personal works such as Feminine Transitions, I Am More Than My Hair and the countless of other ideas in my head. I am still hired as a photographer (by folks I know personally or by referral). But this time around I’m performing the work that represents my style most. And I still own a construction company :)
One thing I have learned…
I love being happy and I love to make money. As women we sometimes have a difficult time saying that. But without it we can’t survive…unfortunately. Reading the the harsh statistics about women and money in a dear Sister’s book, Whatever Works (chapter Money and the Elephant in the Room), not only scared the hell out of me but also bought me to new awareness.
So make your money, enjoy your freedom and do what you love.
I’ve been busy at work…literally. My Home Improvement business has grown significantly since the start of 2016. Due to the growth I haven’t been able to dedicate as much time on my art and writing as usual. Given that the past few years has been most challenging I won’t complain and most definitely grateful for the blessing.
Thankfully I was awarded the 2016 Docs In Progress Fellowship, which allows me the focus and support in order to produce my first film. I’m so excited about this! Now I only have to catch up with everyone (and everything) but no worries, I’ll get there.On that note, I’m seeking another intern. If you have someone in mind please send me your referral.
Also, this semester I started Screenwriting class and couldn’t be more pleased. Writing is a release and through it I’ve learned that I’m actually pretty good at it (Yes I’m patting myself on the back:). I wrote three scripts and will take a shot at shooting it, unless it picked up by a film studio. That will be later on once I’ve completed my project however.
I just wanted to reach out, say hello and let you know what I was up to since I haven’t written in a while. And if you’re free for any of my upcoming events simply RSVP and I will add you to the list.
Last thing… I found an article about my work on SoulPancake. How cool is that! I love SoulPancake and their message of delivering news that matters.
“I am NOT my hair because I have accepted and EMBRACED he fact that I AM so much more.”
What that comes to mind when I think about Jameelah is she has an undeniable strength and sincerity. I met her just a few weeks after I had the idea for my project I Am More Than My Hair, at a book fair.
I spoke excitedly about my plans and Jameelah reciprocated the excitement as well. I asked if she could recommend anyone for my project and she looked at me and said, “I have alopecia.” And she’s also the Founder of SWAG (Sisters With Alopecia Group). Most of my participants thus far have come through Jameelah.
She has been one of my biggest cheerleaders and encourager. I am so grateful for Jameelah because if it wasn’t for her, through my frustration I would have given up. And so I continue.
This sweet baby was just 7 weeks when I took her picture. She is now 5 years old. This was the only picture I was able to take with her looking into the camera. Her mama was behind her ducking down and holding her up while she was wobbling and looking around.
I love the purity of babies. That’s before they are affected by the craziness of the world. Beautiful she is and I hope she will always be reminded.
The older I get the more I realize that starting fresh doesn’t have to start with a new year because every day is a new day. But I must admit that there is something special about the Universal feeling of everyone celebrating together in excitement of what’s to come.
2015 was challenging for me but through it all I’ve grown. For that I am thankful and I look forward to a very Happy 2016! I have great things in the works as well.
I wish you the very best now and always and pray that you remain in the the best of health, feel an abundance of happiness, peace, love and support and all your dreams come true.