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When saying Happy Birthday, I also include Happy New Year whether the person is born in January or not. I believe each person’s new year begins with their individual birthday. I look at the new year just like a new day –another opportunity to get it right. Whatever “it” may be.

My new year began in September when I celebrated a milestone birthday. Instead of making resolutions that would later send me on a guilt trip, I took a page out of a dear friends’ book and asked the creator: “How shall I serve?” I heard my answer not from a loud booming voice from the heavens, but from the work I already had in action.

While on vacation, swimming in a small pool of water, off the beaten track and away from the tourist beaches, a woman and her children drove up to me, and asked if this was a place she could swim. I told her yes. Her kids impatiently watched as their mother climbed down a small hill to join me.

Stretching out, letting her head rest in the water’s waves, and ignoring her children’s glares, she said,: “I needed this.” Our spirits clicked. She shared some of her concerns and her need to destress. I told her about a gratitude jar I started, but let lag, and how I need to get back to it because it’s a reminder of how much good there is when negativity wants to claim space. Before she left, she said a prayer over me and thanked me for being a blessing to her. I could not figure out how I blessed her. Perhaps the why and how were none of my business. All I was supposed to know is that I served as a blessing.

In truth, the way she prayed over me, I thought I was the one who was blessed. Perhaps that’s how blessings work-; they are reciprocal. At the close of 2023, SOAR was blessed with over $1000 worth of donations from our GoFundMe campaign as well as from a fundraiser given by Melaine Ausbrooks, a SOAR Board member. Although we have not reached our target of $10,000, I feel blessed by those who are joining our effort to bless a new cohort of young women who will come through SOAR’s My Daughter’s Power Circle to attend the annual retreat. At the fundraiser, a video message from Anaya, who is a member of the first “My Daughter Power Circle,” was played. She too used the word “blessing” when speaking about the circle and SOAR’s work. 

The opportunity to serve as a blessing to other young women by introducing them to writing as a path to heal and then linking them to mother mentors who serve as guides for them at pivotal moments in their lives creates an inter-generational legacy of sisterhood that will live beyond me. I’m grateful that I asked how I am to serve when coming into my new decade and new year and that the Universe answered. 

Ask not what the New Year will bring you, but rather what will you bring to it?  How will you serve?

Woman silhouette in green and yellow over the images of Gold Christmas blubs with the year 2023 in read and the words December Wednesday Wisdom centered in white.

  I woke up scared. I’m not sure where the root of the fear was born; it pounced on my chest like a cat looking in my face daring me to move. I lay there thinking about all the things I was scared to do and the different ways that I might fail and what that failure looks like. I shut my eyes and prayed to go back to sleep; sleep didn’t come. Instead, I heard a voice saying: “you can’t erase the day.”

Hiding under covers did not make the day go away. To ease myself into the day, I decided to write myself into it, but before I could pick up my pen, I began another battle: how not to give my fears life on the page. Writing my fears down made them real. I didn’t want to relive old wounds to wake up old stories that were doing a tap dance in my head—the stories that replayed like a bad old movie that questioned my competence and worth. 

As a diversion, I scrolled through a friend’s Facebook page and stopped at an interview with Sheila Johnson, a self-made woman who has reached phenomenal heights and written a book, Through the Fire, that details her journey. Listening to the interview, I was inspired not because she made history as America’s first black female billionaire but because of two things: she said, “wounds build wisdom” and the writing of her book was part of her healing. This made my skin tingle. Her words reminded me of how words can conquer wounds to lose their power once the words are put down on paper. I found this out almost 30 years ago when I created SOAR’s Writing for Healing Workshops to teach others to put clothes on their words to take back their power. 

 In my fear state, I neglected to think about how far SOAR has come. I was licking wounds instead of charting SOAR’s wins. Over the years, SOAR has lifted the voices of teen mothers, recovering addicts, domestic violence survivors, incarcerated youth, and a plethora of adolescent and grown women who were in relationships that did not serve them. This past month, with the help of Nikita Easley the Deputy Committee Director, Committee on Facilities & Family Services in the office of Ward 4 Council member Janeese Lewis-George, SOAR has secured its first memorandum of agreement with Child and Family Services to work with young women aging out of foster care. 

To work with young women aging out of foster care has been a personal mission of mine for a very long time. I was inspired first by a young man I met waiting for a bus. He was agitated and began talking to me about his experience in foster care and being abandoned. He went on to tell me how he was now in and out of mental health facilities. My second encounter was with a young woman, who was a promising writer who was accepted into Spelman, but she was unable to combat her wounds of mental and physical abuse she experienced within the foster care system to take advantage of the opportunity. The last young woman was a student at Morgan who spoke to me about being dumped by a foster mother who she thought loved her until the woman stopped receiving checks from the state. 

What I realized I woke up to do was to write down my wins. When I do that, I don’t have time to think about what can’t be done. Is this the day you need to write down your wins?

Did you know that today is Giving Tuesday??

#GivingTuesday is the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the United States. It is touted as a "global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world". GivingTuesday is a global movement that reimagines a world built upon shared humanity and radical generosity. S.O.A.R. continues to do the work year after year within our community. 

 To date, S.O.A.R. has served over 400 people with its writing for healing workshops. This year, we are raising $10,000 to fund SOAR'S first annual My Daughter's Power Retreat where young women who are at pivotal moments in their lives will be paired with Mother Mentors. These mentors assist young women such as those navigating aging out of foster care to other young ladies just seeking guidance on their journey into adulthood.

We can all remember the challenges of navigating that stage of life when you transition from a girl to a woman. Some of us still have the scars to show for it. Some of us are still trying to work through the traumas, the malicious words, the mistakes, etc. Let's make sure the next generation of women have the tools and support to step into womanhood well-equipped.

SOAR's Purpose is to empower others to claim their space through our writing for healing workshops and retreats.

SOAR's Mission is to use writing as a tool to create a safe space that promotes healing and emotional literacy.

SOAR's Goal is for black women to reclaim their voices to address barriers to their potential.

So Others May Ascend Righteously #SOAR

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