*Two Years Ago*

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Two years ago I decided that I was going to revamp my blog and try to be more serious about my writing.  After all, I had received approval on my Institution Review Board (IRB) application for my dissertation so I felt my time freeing up and I was ready to write more creatively.

I felt like all the years of preparing to graduate since enrolling into my doctoral program at Nova Southeastern University in 2011 was finally about to pay off in a major way.  Let’s be real, since graduating from Ware County High School in 2000 and a six year enlistment in the United States Air Force (2001-2007), I had literally been in college off and on for 16 years pursuing various degrees.

*Doctor of Education; Higher Education Leadership (2016)

*Educational Specialist; Curriculum, Instruction, Management, and Administration (2010)

*Master of Public Administration (2009)

*Bachelor of Arts, Liberal Studies (2007)

Plus two associates degrees, you would think that writing would be the last thing on my mind.  Hell you’d probably even think that I had accomplished a lot in my own right academically but for me that still is not enough.

So I revamped my blog!  I was kidding myself thinking that this would be an easy journey and my name would ring supreme.  I learned very quickly that in this industry building a name for yourself and brand takes times.

I had the obnoxious idea to try to do a blog a day during that summer.  I had lame ideas like Motivation Monday, Thoughtful Tuesday, Wisdom Wednesday, Thankful Thursday, and Short Story Saturday.  I soon found myself burnt out and really not producing quality content.  I thought my posts were decent.  Now looking back it was just a bunch of fluff because I honestly just did not know what to do or what I was doing. I was trying some stuff out to see if it would work.

I managed to churn out chapters 4 and 5 of my dissertation and pick back up on my book project that I had outlined in 2013.  I was feeling like I was ready to put that story out to the world and I did, My Fourth Year in Middle School: The Truth About Teaching.

Now how does a busy mom like me balance work, school, and writing a book all at the same time is beyond me, but I had an inner strength to get some things done so I did.  I admit it to myself I am a fast burner because everything I set a timeline to do when I began teaching in 2008 was easily exceeded.

Still on the hunt for more, I now ponder the idea of pitching my book to publishing houses because I feel like there is a really great lessons that were learned for myself along the way.  These lessons are sure to touch the hearts of aspiring educators because it’s a lot behind the scenes that you often do not hear people talk about.

So hear I am fully exposed and ready to do the work because after listening to all of the experts, I can’t be afraid to fail.  Everyone of the EXPERTS  have shared a story of an idea flopping so I get it.

I am guilty of thinking that I had to have a logo and a big following to relevant.  But I’m learning that if I continue to be me, put my best effort forward, and stay true to myself then everything will fall into place in due time.

Now that I think about it, this time last year my focus was light and love.  But I’ve had to regroup and think about branding and narrowing my niche.  Yes!  Dare I say it, I truly see why the experts are the position that they are in and I’m striving day to day.

So my third book project is in the works and the personal approach I am taking it is why it has yet to be finished.  Just the other day  I was admiring my 12 year old because he was anxiously trying to print an essay earlier this week that is due tomorrow.  He was so frustrated because there was no ink but the overachiever in him got the best of him and all I could think was that he got that from me.  While on the other hand my 14 year old has a painting from his art class on display at the mall and I am in awe of his artistic ability and how his mind works.

I have taken time to really value the work that I have put into my two books. I have also realized that what I thought I knew two years ago was only the beginning.  I am just now beginning to scratch the surface and walk in my purpose.

Being that I am doing everything on my own as a one woman show, it feels good when the people who genuinely support me tap into my words and tell me how the things I write make them feel.  That is the impact I ultimately want to have.

When I began teaching I looked at each class period and asked myself how did I plan on touching 22 sometimes 27 minds at one time.  Then I quickly learned that if I touched one, then I had did my job.

Now as a writer I ponder the same thought.  How do I plan to reach the masses?  I’m realizing that if I get one new comment, then that’s a new soul that I have touched so I’m growing.

I have come so far to realize that all of this takes time, planning, patience, and hard work.  I am sure when the time is right for my first book to catapult it will.  I am confident that my brand will grow as long as I stick to being authentic and transparent.

Two years ago I made up in my mind that it was time to take my writing to next level.  And since hindsight is 20/20, who would have ever thought that 30 years ago in the streets of the projects, I’d grow up to be this woman on a mission to create the life I want to live, boss up, and be very unapologetic for daring to dream.

Keep coming back for more.

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I Have A Story To Tell

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I am often asked my age and when I boldly say that I am 36 years old I am then told that I don’t look my age and I have accomplished a lot to be so young.  Now when I think about being four years shy of 40 I feel like that I need to have more of my life in order.  That’s a lot of pressure I put on myself after already having two self-published books and a doctorates degree in the field of education.

Yes I know that I should chill out but I can’t!

I have also been told that there is no way they (individuals) could do what I have managed to do over the past 10 years.  I birthed the idea in me that writing is my purpose and I plan to pursue writing fiercely and fearlessly.

I have candid conversations with my friends about life, relationships, children, and my self-published books I still find it rather amazing that those that inquire the most have never peeked at my blog or downloaded a book, but I digress.  I wholeheartedly believe everyone has a story to tell, but I share my story with hopes to inspire.

All of my life I have written things down.  I have notebooks and old journals full of ideas that I keep telling myself I’m going to turn into books. However right now I’m honing my writing skills to write with more emotions and not so scholastically. Quite frankly I want to be a bestseller and one post at a time is going to get me there.

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My first book which I playfully refer to as my baby is about my teaching journey.  I highlight in detail in my recollection of how my teachers treated minority students in the classroom.  They were unfair and outright disrespectful at times.  Going to school in the mid 1990s versus now is very different, but let’s just say my brown face in a merged school  system was not kindly welcomed with all of the questions I posed on a regular basis.

I write to share my story because when I stepped into the field of teaching I was all the way GREEN!  I had no idea what I was getting myself into and found out very quickly at my inner-city middle school.  So here is the story that I want to tell!

Ironically, my stream of consciousness when it comes to writing in to unveil my truth, my background, my passion, and my drive.  I share my own life experiences and as a certified teacher this is my approach because I want people to learn from my risks and mistakes.  I feel that every lesson that I have learned over the years from my career, divorce, and relationships are teachable moments.

My blog serves as an extension of my mind as I search myself and relive the many places that I have been and recall some of my most painful truths.  It is no secret that I have been married twice and each one shaped a different part of  my continued existence.  It’s no secret that my sons are the absolute loves of life and there is nothing that I won’t do for them.  But a lot of times the journey that my life has taken has opened my eyes, made me extremely happy at times, and reclusive in some of my darkest moments.

My writing process is a self-healing process that takes me back to my feelings of the exact moments that I choose to write about.  Some days when I’m recalling love I feel so vulnerable, uncomfortable and exposed.  I often ask myself am I sharing too much?  Am I being as transparent as I proclaim to be?

I have had the idea about a new book, and I read and reread my work often to channel my likeness and flow of my chapters.  I have a black and white striped journal notebook that I jot down my many thoughts and ideas then revisit those jots and plan my attack to my project.  My sole purpose is to share my experiences and offer encouragement.

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My newest project I want to launch without a hitch and really step my game up as this will be my third book.  I write nonfiction and I feel that the thought-provoking inspiration and realness that I’m serving will be around for a long time.

I find the most time to write while I’m in school.  Being an English teacher, when my students write, I write too.  I am really taking my time with this next project because the content that I choosing to put into this book is the back story to who I am, my thought process and why I want to continuously share my story and my life.  I’m real life thinking beyond the books and want to be center stage encouraging, inspiring, and motivating.

Now my first book My Fourth Year in Middle School: The Truth About Teaching went live by mistake and from that point forward I want to be more intentional with my products/books/minibooks/ultimate guides/etc.  Creating the the superb writing environment requires a little bit of white noise and spiral notebooks everywhere.  I write when the urge hits me and lot of times I save notes in my phone and refer back back to them when my ideas begin to connect.

I do not have a set time to write because I write part-time while teaching full-time.  I find myself admiring the writers with bigger audiences.  I’m not comparing my work to theirs, I just know that in due time it will be my turn.

I have a lot of stories to tell and whether I’m balled in the corner sitting on my feet at the end of my couch, sitting upright on the chaise lounge in my bedroom, or sitting in a meeting at school typing away; I’m moved by my thoughts and the words that are burning to get out at the moment.

Writing is one of my favorite things to do.  I can be as candid with my words as I choose and dare someone to hold my words against me.  I’m having fun on my writing journey. I am discovering my voice.  I am developing my flow.  Most importantly I’m taking my time and I am having fun.

I’m doing my personal best even with the amount of pressure I put on my shoulders to be a great writer.  I feel like I am getting better each day and I know for those that follow me they can see my growth.

Whenever I’m asked what is my dream job, I say to sit on someone island writing books because I want to be a well known author.  I’m continuing my journey to writing greatness.

Leave a comment if you like what you’ve read so far and visit Amazon to check out my book reviews.

11 Summers of Reflection

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In a friendly conversation I was asked if I reflect on my life.  I had to resist saying, “Duh!” because it would have been childish, but it turned into a fruitful conversation and a serious train of thought for me.  Since coming into the new year, I promised myself that I wouldn’t dwell in the past, but some things are worth remembering.  Today I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude and knew that I had to sit down for this blog post.

I separated from the Air Force in 2007, the summer of 2007 and here I am now, not working my 11th summer and still getting paid.  That is a blessing!  Not because I’m an educator, but it is a blessing that I have a career that I love and it frees up my time to pursue my passion during breaks and holidays.  My website and blog are my outlet to practice my writing skills as I crank out my inspirational nonfiction.  I never thought nonfiction would have been the genre of my first two books My Fourth Year in Middle School:  The Truth About Teaching (2016) and Brown Sugar Magic: Goal Setting and Reflections Journal (2017).

So here we go, 11 Summers of Reflection…

2007:  I was scared out of my mind to be separating from the Air Force after six years because I was concerned with finding a job.  It didn’t matter that I had earned two associates degrees, my bachelors, and was separating honorably, I was preparing in my mind for my future.  I settled into my new home back in my home state and pushed dozens of my resume and applications out.  I chose to go work for the Office of Child Support Services.  In eight months I learned that child support enforcement is not the kind of job I wanted.  Thankfully I was a forward thinker and able to move on.

2008: The summer of newness.  After working for the State of Georgia for a hot minute… I was impressive enough to secure interviews in April of 2008 to become a teacher.  So mid-way through my Master’s program leading into the summer, I was blessed enough to not work a second summer in a row, and still collect a check.  My Essentials to Teaching class was an eye-opener, but I was excited to take on a new challenge and start my new career as a teacher.  I had no idea what I was getting into.

2009:  This summer broke me just a little….  I had been with my high school crush since 2001 right before joining the Air Force, but at the end of my first year of teaching we had a MAJOR fight… the fight was the snowball to that marriage.  I celebrated my first year of teaching, the highs and lows.  I found love for the classroom and for the students I taught.  I moved forward with my career while crying my eyes out at night, but pulling it together to be SUPER mom for my boys.  We separated.  Tough Summer!

2010:  I had filed for divorce, experienced a fling with a blast from the past and when that didn’t work, I flew to Puerto Rico.  It was just the getaway that I needed.  Now there is no need for details, but being around a familiar and trustworthy face made the trip worth it.  We ate, we drank, we talked.  I loved him but we understood that our love was not to be explored beyond where we were at.  We were adults… still distant friends… Truly someone I will never forget.  I see his life now and I’m extremely happy for him.

2011:  I had completed my third year of teaching and I had some tough decisions to make.  Reconcile completely or not to reconcile at all.  Things were not adding up so I made a choice to walk away.  After someone says they don’t like the word marriage, you walk away.  I never work summer school, but one of my friends had the bright idea to start a book club and we had the most fun ever.  The book club fell to wayside because life happened but shortly after the summer, September to be exact, I was officially divorced.  After all according to that spouse, marriage was just a piece of paper.  Ain’t no way hell was I about that life.

2012:  This was my summer of sexy!  I had officially become a homeowner and hosted my housewarming party.  This was one of the most rewarding experiences I had in a lifetime.  Becoming a homeowner and decorating my home was the best feeling ever.  I could not have been more excited in this year of independence.  I loved every moment of my freedom to do as I chose.

2013: Summer of blur.  I was in a relationship.  It was fun.  It was combative.  Two summers post divorce, and second summer of home ownership.  I had tunnel vision and was completing my last required courses towards my doctorate.  I was trying to be a free spirit and finding myself all over again.

2014:  Let’s call this the summer of love.  I was smitten. I was engaged. I was a nervous wreck.  I was trying!  I think I tried and cried so hard this particular summer.  I honestly don’t know if I was coming or going.  But that is all apart of life.  The struggle to get to what is real.

2015:  The summer of laughter.  A beautiful summer of grilling, slip and slides for the kids, Tybee Island, Jekyll Island, and Summer Waves.  WE had fun…a lot of fun.  I was oblivious and living in the moment.  I was happy.  My boys were growing up and mama was having a life too.  Life could not have been more grand than what it was.

2016:  Revelations and Celebrations!  A year ago I was flying back from Fort Lauderdale after walking across the grand stage to receive my Doctorate of Education.  I was starting my “business” of writing and blogging and trying to figure things out.  I published my book and was on an emotional high.  Of course some things did not feel right in my marriage, but I took things in stride and accepted some harsh realities.  The highs of cruising to the Bahamas a second time, Florida, and family kept me motivated.  I was continuing to come into my own.

2017:  The journey to here!  I am elated to be standing because I know who I am.  I know the impact I have on my LOVED ones, and the RESPECT I have earned in my career, my family, my friends, and my life.  The story is still being written as I’m WRITING!  So do I reflect on my LIFE?  Hell yes I reflect on my life and I am forever grateful for all of my experiences.  The GOOD and the BAD.  The HURTFUL and the LOVING.

In my 11 summers I have made time for myself.  I love myself and the woman that I continue to become.  Others will wonder how I do it?  I’ll just say that it’s the drive and the God in me.  I’m not perfect, I’m original.

Live~Reflect~Write~Learn

LaTilya Rashon

Create Your Vision

I would be remissed to say that the recent release of my second inspirational book, Brown Sugar Magic: Goal Setting and Reflections Journal has been met with lukewarm acceptance and I want to change that reception.  Receiving the “likes” on my social media is okay, but in true entrepreneurial spirit I would like to see those “likes” convert to sales.

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I have been dealing with so much lately over these past six months, between a divorce being finalized, regaining control of my finances now as single mom, and closing out a school year, I’m surprised I got this second book out, but it was something that I HAD to do.

Yesterday after feeling like I had hit a brick wall emotionally and feeling a twinge of being burned out I laid across my bed and began listening to a couple of podcasts by Cara Alwill Leyba.  Her message is clear and distinct and it pushed me to look back at my “do what you love” notebook and really plan out my course of action for these next few months.

I have to remind myself that yes it has only been a year, and my need to be good at everything I do is taking over my thought processes and essentially making me overthink EVERYTHING in my life.  I had taken to Facebook and joined all of these groups and I find that this blogging industry is SATURATED.  Everybody is creating a lot of the same things and the competition is STEEP.  Even though regionally everyone is spread out, and there are some small hubs of creators in the same area, I see why now more than ever I must stake my claim in this creative industry and CREATE MY VISION!

So I see for myself in my vision and my future:

BROWN SUGAR MAGIC

I want Brown Sugar Magic to be my main inspirational platform.  Creating my vision started with setting some realistic and achievable goals for myself.  Through planning a course of action to take and being unafraid to put my words on paper, self-publishing my first book was a personal goal that I accomplished.  My education was not pursued haphazardly, I was deliberate and intentional as I attained higher degrees of education.  I know what it’s like and even sometimes find it overwhelming to want to do one thing but then have to revamp that objective or goal to take care of smaller things first.  God planned my path for me and he innately gave me the ability to aspire for great things and become successful in my own right.

If I can inspire someone to be SMART about their choices in life as they design their future, be in touch with their needs and take care of themselves before they have nothing to offer to the people around them; I take on the role.  Additionally, I want to help African-American women and girls build themselves up to only rely on their independence to see them through life.  That’s not to say that having help in life is not good, but this is to say be able to help yourself so that if you are ever in the position to have to do for yourself, YOU ARE NOT HELPLESS!  As I walk in my purpose, my dream, and define my vision; I will celebrate my setbacks, imperfect moments, and my growth.  I see this as a way to encourage many others.

SPEAKING AND HOSTING

All throughout school I was constantly reminded by my teachers about my continuous talking in class.  I was a fast learner and completed my work often times ahead of my classmates so I was always looking for someone to talk to.  It could have been the fact that I was an only child but that would be an excuse.  I simply just love to talk.  The cheerleader in me wants to be in the limelight spreading inspiration, joy, and motivation.  I have a lot to say about coming from a SINGLE parent home and PERSERVERING through the STEREOTYPES that were placed on me.  I have had to be disciplined, make tough decisions, and show my resiliency to get to this place in my 35 years of life.  I say this time and time again, I DEFY stereotypes and my authentic rawness at times is just the dose of reality people need to know that LIFE
AIN’T FAIR! Put me on a stage…I will rock the party, keep you engaged, but most importantly MOTIVATE!

BOOKS AND BLOGGING

Ever since being told by a teacher my senior year in high school that “MY PEOPLE“ need me, I get tickled at the thought of her saying that often.  I love books and have read what I like over the years and always knew that one day I would write a book of my own.  My flagship book, My Fourth Year in Middle School: The Truth About Teaching chronicles my transition into what was spoke on to me at the age of 18.  If my people need me, whether it be teachers, African-American women and girls, writers, or whomever feels inspired by my words, I’m glad to be of SERVICE.  I have always wanted to write, and the urgency I feel to be great will take time, after all, I teach full-time and pursue my writing when I am not in the classroom.  I blog as much as possible and I am continuing to find inspiration and write what I think people need to read from me.  Writing what I consider to be my first epic blog, What No One Tells You About Blogging, was the tip of the iceberg.  One day my persistence with pay off!  I am establishing my voice.  This creative journey is personal.

THE EXTRAS

If an ebook, writer’s apparel and other products surface as I make my stamp then so be it.  Anybody can make a t-shirt, cup, bag, and other doodads and it will sell, but I want to be as consistent with my message that I anticipate being with these other endeavors. The ones that are selling everything under the moon, make it look easy from books to lip gloss.  However, I’m learning that when you have a concrete audience, it is doable to make those kinds of sales.  Because I’m still new to this I will limit my conversation on that.

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If it takes me a few years to get this entrepreneurial niche down pact, I will do what I have do.

~LaTilya Rashon