I don’t know where the custom started, but it’s a good one. Instead of making New Year’s resolutions, people will select a word that they hope will shape the year. My word in 2013 was Perseverance (the word of the year always goes in caps–lol), in 2014 it was Risk. Given that 2014 was a great year in terms of my writing endeavors, I had pondered keeping my word, but then just the other day something occurred to me. At almost every point whenever I had a success in 2014–my second Golden Heart nomination, my books hitting the Amazon bestsellers lists, my two Emma nominations–I always felt compelled to apologize in some way for it. It has been a real struggle for me to just take in the high points without apology, explanation or even a slight feeling of embarrassment.
These emotional reactions have to stop.
So I have selected a new word for 2015 that I hope will help me with my issue–Shine.
Shine is a word that does have some negative meanings, even racially, but I’m going to explain what it will mean for me this year.
I was raised by a very wise woman who taught me to reach far and to seek accomplishment, but once those goals were attained, then the accomplishment should be downplayed so that other people would not feel uncomfortable. My beautiful mother, who was one of the first black female business executives in the Pittsburgh area, steeped herself in this principle and I followed her example. However, I’ve learned a particular codicil to this belief.
It doesn’t matter what you do or say, there will be some people who cannot deal with it. I experienced this directly on Twitter when someone, who I thought of as supportive, engaged in subtweeting (talking about something that I said without referring to me directly). If someone has a problem with something that I’ve said, I would expect for them to engage me directly. So disappointing. This experience convinced me that I need to do and say what comes from my heart. No matter what, there will always be someone who has a problem. But that is their problem. Not mine. I do not need to be, or desire to be, “in your face” about what I do, but I don’t believe my mother wanted me to feel embarrassed or apologize for it. I know this is true because “This Little Light of Mine” was one of her favorite spirituals.
When my mother’s illness changed her appearance, my cousins wanted to honor my mother with a quilt where everyone created a block representing how they felt about her. They were sneaky and made her make her own block that represented advice that she would give to the children of the family. She chose to paint and embroider (in her creative way) the block that I’ve shown here. It’s in the center of the quilt. Also, as I reflect upon the true meaning behind her philosophy, there are other songs that she liked that were always referring to bringing light–“Shine, Jesus, Shine” and “We Are Singing for the Lord is Our Light.” Ahh. Now I get it.
So. Shine. No more explanations or apologies about the choices I’ve made in terms of the publisher I’ve chosen to put forward the three Bledsoe Sister books later in 2015, no more embarrassment about taking Milford College into the 20th century this year, just–do it to bring light.
Embracing Shine will not be easy. It was hard for me to even write this post. It’s an every day battle to reinforce the belief that I have a voice worth listening to, or a point of view that matters. But I believe that Shine will help me with this in 2015. And it starts in 2015 with the first blog post that discusses the next Milford book–The Representative’s Revolt. Onward and upward!