“Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we’re all in this together.”
― Brené Brown
When my mom suffered a stroke at the age of 25 I was only 2. I honestly do not have any memories of her without it. One thing I say about my mom is she is resilient. Her stroke left her paralyzed on the left side of her body yet she still drove, cooked our family traditional Trinidadian food (not a quick process), ironed our clothes and walked very fast without her cane (especially when coming after us for something we did wrong). Seeing my moms determination really didn’t give me a choice but to develop the same character. She had no excuses and neither do I. I give thanks for my mom for showing me true strength.
Besides being of a West Indian upbringing, I am a West Coast baby. I was born in Tacoma, Washington on March 17, 1979, but moved to Germany after a year.
My father was in the army so my family and I moved around for he next four years. Afterwards my parents, brothers and myself spent our childhood years in the neighborhood of Corona Queens, NY. At the age of 12 we moved to Maryland and this is where I’ve live for the past 23 years of my life.
I honestly didn’t like MD (not even a little bit) from the first day I arrived. It was April 1991 and I stepped into a new 5th grade class at Chillum Elementary School in Hyattsville, MD. I appreciated the greenery but the majority of the people…I didn’t and still do not relate with to this day. That doesn’t go for all of course. I’ve met wonderful folks here. The funny thing is, in most cases, they are not from this area.
It’s simply a different mentality.
Although I’ve settled here after having my son followed by two daughters, 12.5 years ago, my spirit still isn’t at rest in this area. In other words, I don’t feel like I belong . I can hear the words of Aloe Blacc’s song in my head, ‘Wake Me Up’.
Last year, March 2013, I submitted a proposal after receiving an email that the American Society on Aging is seeking presenters for their 2014 annual Aging In America (#AIA14) conference.
First of all, I’ve never heard of ASA but after doing research I truly appreciated the mission and knew my book, Feminine Transitions, fit perfectly into the category of aging. Even better, the conference takes place in San Diego, California, where I’ve wanted to visit for years. I wrote about it in my previous blog, ‘Feminine Transitions Goes to California‘.
To my pleasant surprise, I received an acceptance and congratulations letter in August 2013 and happily accepted.
I flew into San Diego Airport for the conference on March 10, 2014. I arrived late at night and therefore did not see much except for the city (where I stayed). Given that, I wasn’t immediately impressed, but the energy felt so right. This is a feeling I truly cannot explain.
My poster presentation, on March 12 with #AIA14, was received very well. Throughout my presentation I had large crowds viewing, commenting and even crying (with joy) about my topic ‘Embracing Our Natural Beauty As We Age’. The feedback was positive and the attendees appreciated the fact that I’m promoting self-love and acceptance in a world full of ads doing the exact opposite.
The energy was just the same at my other events, each unique in it’s own way. Starla Lewis, the Co-Curator of “Beautiful, Brillant and Bold: A Celebration of Black Women” exhibit at the Women’s Museum of California, volunteered to come out and help me that day. What a huge help it was. Author Anthony Browder suggested I connect with her before going to San Diego. Connections, connections, connections. I love it!
It wasn’t until Thursday, March 13, when I drove my mom to Barona Casino, did I finally get the chance to experience a real view of San Diego outside of the city.
For the first time in my life I feel in love with my environment and was enticed with all five senses.
The sight of the mountains moved me. The smell of the fresh ocean air grooved me. The sound of tranquility soothed me. The breeze caressed my hair and skin smoothly. I got a taste of San Diego and fell in love truly.
Later that day Kristy Salazar interviewed me at the Women’s Resource Center. After our discussion she spoke about reading that same previous blog I mentioned earlier, ‘Feminine Transitions Goes to California‘, and how much she related to it.
She then surprised me with a beautiful birthday cake dedicated to my achievement. As excited and appreciative as I felt in that moment, I was also overwhelmed with joy. I felt so appreciated. Thank you ladies!
After commenting on the fact that I am a new hiker, Lee – in the audience at the Women’s Resource Center, offered to take both my mom and I, hiking and on a tour of San Diego. I was so grateful for the opportunity. Not to mention, how wonderful it felt meeting a stranger and becoming a friend.
The hospitality and support was undeniable and I wondered why people left here and moved to DC (I met quite a few Californians within the past year who happened to move to the DMV area). Of course everyone has a different environmental need. My desire was to remain where I was at that moment. All I needed was for my husband and children to pack their bags and meet me there. 🙂
My only option now is to overcome the fear of failure realistically. I’m human and have no issue admitting that I sometimes question my decisions.
How am I going to move when money is tight? What about my home in Maryland? Are the schools good for my children (who are all very creative)? Will my photography, publishing and construction businesses thrive? What if I’m not successful?
So many unanswered questions.
One thing that resonated with me while in Cali was the large number of homeless people on the streets. The reality of the strict mortgage laws California withholds is obviously a serious matter. There was no statistic. They were all ages and races. I thought to myself, anyone can become homeless. If I wasn’t adamant about keeping my home seven years ago, that could have been me.
Think about FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real. We all experience it at some point of our life. The beauty is letting go and going into the directions of our dreams…fearlessly.
I’ve put it out there and prayed for guidance as always. All I can do now is see where the wind takes me. I planted the seeds just to make sure.
We all have our own journeys to travel. The blessing in it is discovering our passions and growing wholistically through it all. I turned 35 years old last week. I am a strong, determined, talented and confident women and truly appreciate the changes that come as I grow older. As difficult as my path has been, particularly in the past seven years, I’ve realized the blessing in being who I am as Alyscia.
I have much traveling to do. San Diego, know that I will return to you.
I offer an immense thank you to everyone who contributed to my fundraiser. All of you made my trip possible.
Dad, Mom, Grandmother, Grandfather, Anita Kamienski, Aunty Janet Fortune, Ebony J., Erica Tyson, Evelyn McKenly, Jeff Brooks Photography, Juanita Smart, Tamara Lumpkin, Trista Hendren, Karima Amin, Lane Cobb, Necilia Jones, Uncle Lyndon Brown and 4 Anonymous contributors…THANK YOU!
I am truly excited to be given the opportunity to travel to San Diego, California and engage in discussion about my book, Feminine Transitions. Not only am I in a position to spark necessary conversation about social change but I am passionate about creating positive images that facilitate self acceptance. Wait until you hear about my upcoming project. I am so looking forward to the new journey.
For those of you that may not know me personally, for the past five years I’ve wanted to go to California for two reasons, other than simply visiting this beauty. First, Cali was the first state (I seriously prayed about it) I planned on holding a book signing/discussion before Feminine Transitions was a physical book. Second, I wanted to celebrate my birthday and have arranged it over the years (hotel and everything) but had no choice but to cancel due to financial hardships.
There is no doubt that my prayers have not been answered and I take this moment as a blessing.
Not only was I chosen as presenter for the Aging Society of America’s (ASA) Aging In America Conference 2014 (#AIA14) but it also takes place during my birthday; March 17th. How powerful is that!
The topic of my presentation at the AIA conference is, of course, ‘Feminine Transitions: Embracing Our Natural Beauty As We Age’. I’m looking forward to dialoguing with the audience.
If you or someone you know is in the San Diego area, come out and join me for great conversation and purchase a copy(ies) of Feminine Transitions.
Don’t forget I am still holding a crowd funding campaign which helps cover the expense for my trip to California. Your support, big or small, is appreciated. Contribute here.
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
Feminine Transitions is a tribute to that little girl who is constantly told by society that she is not beautiful. For the older woman who hides behind her mask and colors her gray hair. And to the senior woman who feels that her wrinkles are a negative reminder of growing older.
Know that you are all beautiful, just the way you are. Let the radiance you were born with shine through.
Feminine Transitions: A Photographic Celebration of Natural Beauty is a photography book that promotes and celebrates the true natural beauty of girls and women at all stages of life. It includes a portrait series of females faces ages 7 weeks to 103.
Free and open to the public.
Saturday, February 8, 2014
811 Wayne Avenue
(Whole Foods shopping cntr)
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Feminine Transitions Gift Pack
Save $20 on 3 pack gift set
The Holidays are right around the corner but you still have time to purchase gifts for your friends and love ones. You can now purchase a 3 pack gift set and save $20 (regularly $134.85 now $114.85). Purchase as a gift for someone else or give one to three of your most favorite people.
Need gifts for the holidays? Order your 3-set gift pack here. Offer ends January 1, 2014.
If you missed my interview on MMC TV with Carolyn Bruna, host of It’s A Woman’s World, you can now view it on my YouTube page. This was my first television interview. I appreciate Carolyn for allowing me the opportunity. Don’t forget to give me your feedback. Thanks for viewing!