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  • Dear Love - Forgive Everybody, For Everything

    Iyanla Vanzant in her acceptance speech at the McDonald’s 365Black Awards said something so poignant that really stuck with me. “Forgive everybody, for everything.”

    Vanzant stated that this is one of the three principles that she lives by in life. Well it made me think about forgiveness in relationships. So many of us have a hard time with forgiveness not only in our romantic relationships but platonic, professional and the like. But I have learned that forgiveness is surely one of the keys to survival.

    The first and most important thing when it comes to forgives is the realization that we are not perfect. Once you accept in humility that you have the ability to hurt someone, disappoint someone, or let a person down, I think it makes it a lot easier to forgive others. Most often in relationships we hear about someone cheating. It’s like somehow when this happens all the other person’s indiscretions and mishaps are out the window. Have you been the perfect mate? Everyone has certain things that they can’t take, I certainly understand that and I am not urging anyone to stay with someone who has wronged them. However, I will always urge folks to look at the whole picture in their relationships and not just one action.

    The second thing I think is extremely important when it comes to forgiveness in a relationship is learning how to forgive quickly. Constantly there will be spats, miscommunications, and disagreements but I have found that the quicker you get over them, the better off you’ll be. I personally can hold on to things. Sometimes I think that we are just “highly developed” as Pastor Rochelle Brown would say in being angry. But newsflash! No one wants to be with a person who always has an attitude and can’t get over the small stuff. I often find myself asking “Is this something that I want to ruin my whole day?” And if not, it’s water under the bridge.

    Lastly, I think that often we think forgiving someone, means keeping them in our lives. That is certainly not the case. Sometimes we have friends, relationships, etc. for seasons and it can just be time to MOVE on. But forgiveness is a heart thing. Sometimes we say we forgive someone but we still have feelings of unrest when that person comes around. We are sucking our teeth, rolling our eyes, but “acting” like everything is all good. Well you are fooling no one! And harboring those feelings just eat away at your joy, not the person that you are mad with. Let it go. Life is really too short, no matter how many times people tell us that, we don’t believe it. We cannot continue to sweat the small stuff and give OTHER people power over our lives in that way.

    Forgive someone today. It may not be right away but start working on it. Forgive the cashier with an attitude, forgive your mom for meddling, forgive your spouse or significant other for their carelessness but express what’s important to you so they can get it right the next time. By forgiving others you are opening your life up to so much grace and mercy from God. Do not be bound in unforgiveness, in my humble opinion, it’s a silent killer.  

  • WRITE - Throwback Thursday

    Lately … looking back has meant a lot more than posting old photos on Instagram. Listening to a podcast the other day, the pastor talked about looking at where God has brought you from. You will often hear me talk about the struggle of balancing striving hard for your dreams and being thankful for what you have. There seems to always be a fine line. But what I realized is that it’s again, a heart check when you really look back at where you’ve come from.

    I can’t speak to anyone else’s journey but mine, but even looking at this blog is a testament to where I started from. This blog began as Music’s Chess: A Pawn’s Story. Lol. That was the title. It was all about chronicling my experiences as an upcoming songwriter in the music business. Quite frankly, I felt like you couldn’t even make some of the stuff up that happened in the industry. But I was never consistent with it. It was something kind of just on the side that I never thought would see much traction. I kick myself now, because that was before everyone and their mom was a blogger, so I definitely could have made some headway.

    Nonetheless, fast-forward and a name change and here we are at Writelaughdream. I have always been a writer. As a kid I wrote short stories, kept a journal, and wrote poetry. I started as a journalism major at Drexel University but later studied and received my degree in Comm and Mass Media at Temple. So when I think back to the time before I even accepted that writing would be my fate, I am amazed at how far I’ve come.

    I have contributed to awesome sites like GRAMMY.com, Philly360, and For Harriet. I have written stories for JUMP Magazine based in Philadelphia. I released my very first book, Dear Love: A Love Letter to You and I am working a second. I have even gotten slightly more consistent with blog posts though I can always use work in that area. Is there ever enough time?

    I’m big on writing down goals and I found one recently that mentioned getting 100 followers of my blog and writing a book. Well check and check. The fact of the matter is, that there isn’t much that I have set my mind to that I haven’t had the opportunity to accomplish. Not on my own but with the grace of God. Saying all that, not to brag but to say, I’ve made it this far!

    I tend to get 100 yard vision without first looking at the step in front of me. I can honestly say that I never thought I would be this far, so I can trust that God will take me farther. It’s easy to get caught in the delusion of the grind. But in any moment, when you lose sight and feel like you’re not moving forward, just take a moment to think of where you were 2 years ago, 3 years ago 4. I bet you’ll see something that makes you stop in your tracks and simply say, Thank you!

    I mean I used to work at an Italian restaurant people! Lol. As a waitress. God bless em’. LOL. But I now have a great job that allows me to work from home and work around music. I’ve grown in my relationship, I’ve grown as a believer in Christ. I have a lot to look back on and say, if God brought me this far, I know there is more for me.

    What are some of the things you are happy you achieved this year? Tell me about it in the comments below! 

  • Philly 360 Playlist: Jeremy Isaac, Clouds (So High)

    Just last week, the smooth and incredibly talented R&B crooner Jeremy Isaac released a new single “Clouds (So High)” from his forthcoming EP. And, this hot mid-tempo landed just in time to provide the Philly 360° Playlist with a little sizzle before summer comes to a close.  

    As usual, Isaac's vocals are on point for this track. The Philly native sings about a woman that might be impairing his vision and clarity — yet he just doesn’t want to come down from the feeling.

    The track, produced by E. Banga and Scott Stalloneis easy going and provides a great backdrop for Isaac to showcase his unstoppable vocals. Some of the track's most intricate and impressive parts lie in the song's vamp, where Isaac's adlib and vocal precision are unmatched.

    Like many Philly talents, past and present, Isaac began honing his talent as a singer in church. And, from the young age of seven he knew that he wanted to be an entertainer. Jeremy also studied musical theater at the historic Freedom Theater here in Philadelphia, which prepared him for his break-out role in the stageplay “Baby Mama Drama.”

    Read the full feature and check out the song via @Philly360

  • WRITE - Life on the Marina, Two Events Two Worlds Apart

    This weekend provided a very interesting juxtaposition of experiences in my life. While I was accompanying my bf at a gig at a high end marina in New Jersey, a community in Ferguson, Missouri was left stunned at yet another senseless death of a young black male at the hand of a police officer. But these two things aren’t necessarily related outside of my own observation of how many worlds away I felt on that day.

    I’ve never even seen the marina, as many times as I have been to this part of New Jersey. As we pulled into the area, the homes were decadent and like no other “shore homes” I had seen before. We arrived to a setting of friendly smiles, though we were the only two brown faces as far as we could see. Oh until we got some food and realized that one of the caterers was brown as well.

    Immediate discomfort set in. But I had to analyze exactly why. Clearly, this isn’t the first place that I’ve been with a lack of diversity. But it was unfamiliar territory. I mean we were hanging out with people with boats. I know people trying to buy their first cars, let alone buying boats. So it was exclusive, it was a place that you have to be in a certain league to even know about and this little brown girl from Logan in Philadelphia, felt a bit out.

    It was when I went to use the restroom that I really had a moment. I couldn’t help but think of a time, when black people who worked in the homes of white people, couldn’t even use the same bathroom. Where we have come so far in that arena, I thought about the harsh reality that we still have to teach our sons about the sensitive relationship between young black men and police.

    “Don’t ask them why they pulled you over,” “Reach for your license and registration as slow as possible,” and even still you may be killed. These are the very real conversations that are had with young black men across the country on the daily basis. But how do you explain being unarmed and nonthreatening and being killed by police? How do you explain that yes Civil Rights bills were passed 50 years ago, but at any time simply living while black can become a familiar threat?

    We were in the midst of a party, where we felt oddly out of place while a 17-year old black boy laid fighting futilely for his last breaths. I desperately wanted to get to the bottom of why I felt so uncomfortable at an all-white affair. What was it that in this day and age, growing up decades after so many fought for our freedom that made me want to high tail it out of there as soon as possible?

    My conclusion … that at any minute it is no longer safe to be black. At any minute those who are comfortable with you being around can become uncomfortable. That sometimes even being in the wrong place has cost black people their lives. I feared that at any point someone could say something less than flattering to myself or my significant other. The reality is that some black people like myself, whether in a particularly “white” setting or just breathing in America can often feel a sense of discomfort. We feel an uneasiness about whether we really belong here and an uneasiness about the folks that think we don’t.

    And at the point that we get too comfortable, we could find ourselves, staring down the barrel of a police officer’s gun, or faced down on a hot, steaming sidewalk, or withstanding the force of being called the “n-word” and contemplating what exactly we should do next.

    Life on the marina doesn’t have to be concerned with a young black boy in Missouri. But every black person has to be. It’s not a “hood” thing, it’s not a “certain” black people thing. Whether you’re black at the marina or black in Missouri, their continues to be an underlying fear in black people across the country as we walk the fine line between being a citizen with rights and being a citizen of our dark and twisted past in this country.   

    And the question I don’t necessarily have the answer to is, what exactly do we do about it? 

  • Philly 360 Playlist: Guordan Banks, Good at What You Do

    Dreamchasers signee Guordan Banks is back with a new single entitled “Good at What You Do” from his highly-anticipated EP, I Wanna Sing for Oprah. The talented writer serenaded his way onto the Philly 360° playlist with his clever lyrics and undeniable melodies.

    In this smooth mid-tempo track, Banks sings of the woman with enough appeal to make him forget about all the “Rihannas, Teyannas, and Ciaras" of the world. The synth-driven track was produced by Philly 360° Creative Ambassador Ivan Barias.

    Banks is slowly teasing fans with great records from his upcoming release. It was first his Meek Millassisted “Where Are We,” then “We Might Die” which featured a stunning visual shot by Spike Jordan. Though there hasn’t been a release date announced yet, we know many are hoping it will be sooner than later.

    Read the full feature and check out the track via @Philly360

  • Dream - Young, Black and Viral Hangout

    I don't know about you, but sometimes I just like to hear other people's stories so that I don't feel alone in the stuggle to obtain my dreams. Well if you are looking for a little motivation that you can do it, I would definitely suggest checking out this Young, Black and Viral Hangout that was put together by Terron Moore from The Root. It was very insightful and encouraging to writers like myself, that are just continuing to grow in pursuit of total world domination. Check it out below! 

     

  • WRITE - Time for Illmatic Taught Me

    Music as a weapon. This theme most certainly came together with the screening of Time is Illmatic at the 3rd Annual BlackStar Film Festival in Philadelphia. The film profiled the people and circumstances surrounding Nas’ classic album Illmatic and I must say that I was impressed.

    I would never by any stretch of the imagination fancy myself a hip hop connesieur. However, I am not sure you can be any type of musically inclined without knowing that Illmatic helped to change the landscape of hip hop in 1994. But I really had no idea what it meant for Nas’ life.

    I don’t want to give away too much about the film, but I will say that I definitely left enlightened and maybe even a bit inspired which I wasn’t really expecting. I just thought there would be the sharing of studio stories and unlikely songs that made the album, etc. But what I got instead was really an album that saved Nas from Queensbridge and what could have become his fate if it wasn’t for music.

    And yes it inspired me. It made me feel like I could surely do anything if this kid from the projects could be so wise beyond his years. That if Nas could make all of this of his life on an eighth or ninth grade education that surely with my diploma and degree that the possibilities are endless. I’m sure that may sound cliché, but I guess you have to see it to feel it.

    I’ve always seen a sadness in Nas, from afar clearly. But this film gave so much insight into that bit of that sadness. It also gave insight into the triumph and the fight that ensued for him to garner a spot as one of the best emcees to do it. I knew that I wanted to see the film, but I didn’t know how much depth it would give to those 10 tracks released 20 years ago.

    Even the Q&A portion with producers of the film One9 and Eric Parker was motivating. These guys started on the journey to create this film 10 years ago. Stay focused, stay the course, be brilliant. Just a few of the nuggets I got from that evening at the International House. $25 well spent.

    Just for fun. Check out the remix project that actually was one of my first introductions to Illmatic’s production. Illkidmaticcity, a mash up between Nas’ Illmatic and Kendrick’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City.

    I know, I know, late in the game, but better late than never right? You can check out the trailer for Time is Illmatic below. 

     

  • Philly 360 Playlist: Ernest Stuart, BMJ

    Trombonist, and founder of Center City Jazz FestivalErnest Stuart is treating fans to some new music with his new EP Love/Loss. From playing with other notable musicians, to starting a CC Jazz Fest, and producing his own solo projects, Stuart's creativity pushes music lovers to think outside the box. And, this week Stuart's latest project has landed him a spot on Philly 360° Playlist.

    The first single “BMJ” aka Big Mamma Jamma is an expressive piece that fuses together elements of rock with a big brassy sound. The track is inspired by Stuart's childhood memories of a character his mother would assume when playfully chasing him and his sister around the house.

    Love/Loss is the follow up to Stuart’s critically acclaimed LP entitled Solitary Walker which he released in 2011. After traveling extensively across the world playing with bhangra band Red Baraat, Stuart felt he had something important to express in his music. Moving outside of the constraints of genre, he just wanted to be able to tell stories through music.

    Check out the full post via @Philly360.

  • Dear Love - I Write Better Than I Speak ... Sometimes

    I’m not sure how much more redundant we can be about the importance of communication in relationships. But somehow it seems like we still haven’t gotten the message. What is it about being able to accurately express yourself to another person that leaves us failing miserably?

    Would the excellent communicators please stand up? Some of us like myself need to study you. Somewhere along the way I’ve learned that I excel in communicating in writing and not so much when it comes to speaking with my significant other. But the older I get, the more important it has been for me to enhance my communication skills. It’s honestly the only way a relationship can survive.

    So where do I fail at communicating? Let me count the ways. Lol. No I am not that bad but I have noticed a few things about myself that could use work. I have a tendency to shut down if I think what I have to express could possibly be irrational. The fact of the matter is, we all have irrational feelings sometimes. But the only way to get through them is to express that to the other person. Keeping it all in really just builds resentment and can be catastrophic long term.

    I also don’t have a great medium when it comes to communicating. I either know how to be really nice about something that’s bothering me or not so nice about it. You have to be able to speak the truth in love. You can still be kind without putting your feelings on the back burner. For me it’s been all about learning the balance.

    One thing is for sure, when I finally do articulate properly what’s in my head, I feel like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. It always clears the air  and my partner in crime, most often understands where I’m coming from. Sometimes it takes a few rounds of explanation but nonetheless, we come to an understanding. 

    You feel it, say it. You want to fix something, do it. You miss them, tell them. It has to be as simple as that! I beg of you, just know that you will truly have a hard time succeeding in a relationship without enough trust to tell someone how you feel. You should be with someone who welcomes your thoughts and your feelings and who won’t judge you because of them but will do all they can to help rectify those feelings.

    Happy Communicating! And if you have some tips, feel free to share! 

  • WRITE - Authenticity of Your Voice

    It would make complete sense that after attending a church named Authentic Life over the last 8 months that I would find myself in this exploration of authenticity. Right? Either way, it has just been heavy on my brain lately. It seems that in today’s society it’s become increasingly difficult for people to remain their authentic selves. We live in a time of gangs and groups and this odd uniformity. Those that stand out are often cast into a space all their own and individuality is hard to seek while being bombarded with so many outside sources of what’s “cool.”

    Nonetheless, I find myself meditating on being my authentic self. By subscribing to social media and constantly peering into the lives of others, I can admit that my authenticity is something that I have to remember to be conscious of at some times. For instance you may see someone receiving gratification for something and think, ok what can I do more like that to garner that attention? I mean a lot of people won’t admit to that, but if that's the case you may be in denial. 

    It’s in those moments that I literally have to cast aside that feeling and sometimes I even say out loud “what God has for me, is for me.” I am not like anyone else. I am the only me. How can I try to build a blueprint off someone else’s measurements? It would make absolutely no sense. Same with our lives. We have to trust our voice. The one that comes from our deep.

    I have found that I literally have to take time to center myself and spend time inward to focus. “Stay the course” has been highly resonating with me. It makes me think of how certain exercises don’t seem like they work when you are trying to tone up. But you have to just continue doing it, even when the results aren’t apparent at first. Then you look up and see that those muscles have developed later. It’s the same with life.

    I don’t know about you, but sometimes I can get feelings of “Am I working so hard in vain?” But that’s silly. This is the preparation. This is the building phase. Once it manifests, you will wish that you had more time to reflect. Everything, everything, everything is working together for our good and for a purpose.  You will never find it if you don’t remain authentic. It’s the moment that you are trying too hard to be something or someone else that the route of your journey gets twisted and turned.

    As a writer, I am trying to be true to what I have to say. There are certain things that God has placed in my heart to say. It can only come from me. That means no matter how many books or blogs there may be on a topic, I am the only one who can say it the way that I am saying it through my own personal experiences. It’s so important to know that. The internet has made it increasingly difficult to hear yourself over the noise. It’s made it difficult, at least for me to feel like what I have to say can somehow stand out among the crowd. But it’s my voice I have to trust. It’s my authenticity I have to trust.

    I encourage you to trust your voice as well. It’s important. “Stay the course” of the things you feel you are called to do or say. And do you best to block out what’s happening around you. Not that you can’t observe, praise and indulge in what’s around you, but DO not let it discourage you, do not let it infiltrate your trust.

    Does that make any sense? I hope so. Lol. Just something I’ve been thinking about.