Tag Archives: challenges

Sometimes… it’s hard to be thankful

Amongst all the messages of Thanksgiving and hopeful wishes, I can’t seem to shake off the rejection I’ve recently received. The past few weeks has challenged my thinking and created me to reconsider the direction of my profession as an artist.

Don’t get me wrong…

I am ALWAYS very grateful (my family and I are healthy-what more could I ask for? — well…I could) and have an innate tendency to see the positive side of my experiences. I’m always very determined to accomplish my goals (personal and professionally) and find myself often encouraging others to push past their challenges (I may have missed my calling as a coach?).

But every now and then, the “no’s” get to me.

The 4 big grants I spent much of my time completing was rejected (I just knew I would be awarded at least one). The exhibit I hoped to participate in at the Smithsonian… rejected (still puzzled by that). An Editor at L’Oreal interviewed me to feature a story about my work… cancelled. Vroman’s Bookstore in California, shipped my books back (due to no sales), and others are coming up soon.

And…

I haven’t been able to finish my film, not just due to lack of funding ($30,000 to be exact) but also due to the lack of b-roll. Scheduling additional filming dates hasn’t gone so well due to everyone’s schedule.

On my challenging days, I seek quotes that resonate with me and what I’m going through (I love quotes). In this particular situation, I thought about Oprah’s words on the finale of her show, which I’m sure I’ve shared before).

I’ve talked to nearly 30,000 people on this show, and all 30,000 had one thing in common: They all wanted validation. If I could reach through this television and sit on your sofa or sit on a stool in your kitchen right now, I would tell you that every single person you will ever meet shares that common desire. They want to know: ‘Do you see me? Do you hear me? Does what I say mean anything to you?

In truth, my response is a feeling of unappreciation, which truly boils down to feeling a lack of validation. I’m fully aware that I will receive more rejection than acceptance in anything, but at times it’s hard… and exhausting.

And I honestly needed the time to simply slow down a bit, vent about what I’m feeling and give myself the time to grief (Is that an appropriate word? It’s as close to a word as I can come up with at the moment) and rest.

Ipray4u-laugh.jpgSo on this day of Thanksgiving, I must admit, sometimes being completely thankful is hard but even in the moments of disappointment, there’s so much to be thankful about. Not only am I in the best of health but I’m grateful to come home to an amazing family every day. As always I get up, adjust myself and keep going.

What are your challenges and what are you thankful for?

Enjoy the Holiday!

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Transparency

This past Sunday, I attended Fresh Talk: MakeHer Summit, a panel discussion about Women in the Creative Economy, at the National Museum of Women In the Arts. The four creative entrepreneurs on the panel, Rakia Reynolds, Dionna Dorsey, Virginia Arrisueno and Grace Bonney, spoke candidly about entrepreneurship, the beauty and challenges that come with it and the importance of…

Transparency. 

MakeHer-Summit-Alyscia-Cunningham

People often assume your success was an easy road if you never shared your challenges. I’m not sure if it’s the Pisces in me, but being up front about my feelings and experiences is a release. Whether it’s in a conversation, blog or article…

It feels good to let it go.

I’ve always been upfront about my ups and downs as a woman of color, an artist and entrepreneur. My struggles with funding to complete projects and good news of successes that come my way. It’s not easy, but I work very hard.

Here are 3 points that stuck with me:

  1. Being an entrepreneur isn’t sexy. You don’t wake up this way. The struggle IS real, and you need to make that real to the world, including social media.
  2. Sometimes success and financial freedom means undoing the narrative you’ve been telling yourself about what success looks like.
  3. Transparency and fearlessness can be powerful and protective. “You don’t owe anyone anything” on social media. Protect yourself + be real. You can do both..

On that note, I must admit…

The one area of my life that I choose not to be transparent with, is my family. It’s a rare occasion to post photos of my husband, children, grandparents (unless I’m referencing old photos), parents, siblings, nieces and nephews…

I’m sure you get the picture.

But I enjoy keeping that part of my life off of social media. And although my mom often shares posts about our mother/daughter connection on Facebook (as many times as I ask her not to), my relationship with her and our daily conversation is so much important to me than engaging on her post :).

Some areas I’m just not willing to compromise.

Although my life, both business and personal, has been full of trials and tribulations, overcoming the challenges has played a vital role in my determination to succeed. Success does not come overnight (whatever success may mean to you) but the thing that always shows and proves is that….

Persistence seals the deal. 

I used to think it was cliche to hear celebrities give speeches and consistently say the same quote when wrapping up on their thanks and appreciation to the audience…

You can create anything you set your mind to.

Well, it’s not as easy as making the statement and expecting what you’ve had in mind to suddenly become a reality. But I know for a fact that setting the intention for your idea will be the beginning of a process that will connect you to those that will lead the way for open doors. It’s the powerful beauty of the Universe.

Honesty and transparency make your vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway. ~Mother Teresa

You never know who’s watching and learning from your journey.

I Almost Threw In The Towel

As much as I love to give good news, I always want to be open and honest about my hurdles along the way.

I’m exhausted.

It’s as simple as that.

I excitedly reached out to my grantor to inform them that I finally use my grant funding as planned. Keep in mind, the remainder of my grant was supposed to have been released, but because I did not use my previous year’s grant as yet, it has been withheld. {It’s only fair but this is my first grant award and I’m learning that there’s a lot more logistics to the entire process than originally thought it to be.}

My excitement quickly turned to disappointment when I receive the response…

“Is your project complete?”

They can’t be referring to having to the 1,000 copies of I Am More Than My Hair, printed and available for sale? Or so I thought.

I assumed that using my grant money was sufficient for releasing the remaining award and moving on with my project. I thought wrong.

Damn it, another hurdle!

Not only has a set back been obtaining the stories necessary to accompany the photos of all the women in my book, but also obtaining the funding needed to complete it. That’s why the grant was so vital.

My initial response (in my own head)…

“I can’t do this. I’m done!”

It has been frustrating, to say the least, working as a one-woman show. As much as I don’t like to admit this, unfortunately, I’ve had to eliminate multiple women from my project because they either haven’t sent their stories to me on time or have been unresponsive.

If there’s one thing I understand, it is that we all have lives and sometimes making the time to complete “another task” isn’t as urging as our daily routines. Then add the challenges the Universe throws at us from time-to-time.

Today, I made my last attempt to collect the story of one individual, whom hasn’t respond to my emails in over a year. I finally figured I should Google her name to see if her contact info may have changed.

Instead of finding any updates, I found an obituary.

Katie had passed away and I didn’t even know it. I was so stuck in tunnel zone I never thought to reach out to her in another way before this day.

Katie was the first individual to respond to my call for participants {outside of the first groups of women from SWAG and NAAF‘s Facebook post}.  Despite her diagnosed with breast cancer, Katie happily volunteered and often sent positive words of encouragement, especially when I lost the patience with myself and my project. She was never critical and never questioned my timing.

Instead she said…

“It will happen when it’s supposed to. There’s no rush.”

So today, I had to pull myself out of my pity party, say prayers for Katie to rest in peace and the condolences of her family, and remind myself why I started in the first place.

To use my creativity as a pedestal to cultivate awareness, and dispel the myth of a “beauty standard”. I Am More Than My Hair aids in the awareness of alopecia.

And…

I am the vessel given the opportunity to bring it to life.

It has been undeniably challenging, which I am sure is no different from anything you give as a labor of love.

So I move forward knowing that I have to work 10 times harder, but believing that it can and will be done. And although not having the grant on-hand has caused a delay, I can’t give up.

Actually, I take back, because I can.

I won’t.

I thank you for your patience and belief in the work I create, that in some way contributes to social-good, through art.

Enjoy the Holiday!

I Am More Than My Hair -  Katie

Katie… May you continue to Rest In Peace. To her family… I send my condolences and lots of love and light your way.

Peace & Blessings,
Alyscia