Born To…

Today has been one of those funny days when I`ve been surrounded by inspiring stories from inspirational people, who`s worked hard for every single piece of success they`ve achieved and who still, even after having reached the summit of the mountain still was able to stay humble, be grateful and pay it forward.

It`s amazing how some people get herald as ‘overnight’ successes when they`ve actually been working hard at it for most of their lives, especially for those who`ve felt born to do whatever it was they were doing. In the arts, I believe there`s an element of being born and sculpted to dance, sing, act, write etc. I honestly don`t believe people who wasn’t made for these industries would survive in them long. There`s a certain level of confidence, drive, faith and discipline needed especially when the going gets tough, because let`s face it peeps, aint no bodies parents going to tell them, “yes, go for the career where you`re not guaranteed of a steady income.”  Creative people are of the most misunderstood people, and as I wrote that sentence my mind went Van Gogh *shakes head* what an example!

But I`m not going into that, this post isn`t about being misunderstood, it`s about me experiencing a day of inspiring people starting with the reality TV (hey don`t stop reading! Reality TV can be good, it`s not always ratchet! *laughs* Love that word!) STARTING with the reality TV show Born to Dance Season 1. Twenty talented aspiring dancers competing for a chance of a lifetime with choreographer for the stars and dance director Laurieann Gibson.

LaTonya-SwannI don`t often follow reality shows religiously. In fact, I get bored with talent show competitions after the auditions. But with this show I got invested even more with every episode I watched. These women, each with their own story and dreams of making it to the end. Halfway through the show I felt like all of them were winners for what they had endured, how they gave it their all, but with competitions there`s got to be a victor and when, the show`s first winner, LaTonya Swann won, I was so happy for her. I cried. Yep, not ashamed to admit it, I was wiping my tears with a goofy smile on my face. I lived every second. The other two women, who had made it to the final with her, embraced her and you could literally feel the love they all had for each other through the screen. Yeah, I know impossible, but that`s how I the viewer experienced it. I was so inspired by just the camaraderie, the level of humbleness and gratitude expressed by the winner. And I realized something profound: people who make it to the top (and yes there are exceptions) all, have this great attitude. Yes talent, discipline and working hard goes along with it, but you know what, there are so many who do those things and never make it. What truly makes a difference is being a team player with a great attitude toward people and life. Born to Dance inspired me and taught me this truth about those who reach the summit.

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The second inspiration of the day came in the form of Tamar Braxton who at age 36, after thirteen years of going through ups and downs, being dropped by record labels etc. came back stronger, more mature to receive three Grammy Nominations and winning three Soul Train Awards. I mean, goodness that`s a comeback if I ever saw one! And also, yes I have to add more, at an age when most people would think it`s too late. She`s not young anymore and wouldn`t keep up with all the young girls, at least that`s what they said. Instead, she kept working, she kept fighting and not only released her 2nd studio album after the thirteen year hiatus to critic acclaim but she had also pitched her family`s reality show The Braxton Family Values which spurned a spin-off of her own show Tamar & Vincent. Then she went on to be a TV presenter on The Real talk-show.  Her life story reads like a Liftetime Channel movie. People are always so up in arms when they hear about people like Tamar, who`s connected to a famous sister aka Toni Braxton and older sisters who also performed and who`s celebrities in their own right, that they couldn’t possibly have worked as hard as someone without the ‘connections’ *snorts* Trust me honey, no one would take you seriously if you didn`t have any talent, ask Paris Hilton *snap*

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My third inspiring moment came from watching Jimmy Fallon interview Oprah Winfrey. The woman`s an icon. There`s nothing I could possibly list here that`s not in the public domain already. She`s a mogul, multi-faceted and if the words ‘everyone`s getting a car!” didn`t mean anything to you than well, you`ve been living under a rock! She`s an actress. Yeah, you knew that. See I can`t tell you anything! She`s got her own school in South Africa. Yep, you knew that too. She`s a John Travolta fan and giggles when she talks to him. Yeah, you pretty much knew that too *laughs* Her new movie`s definitely a must see. Her Master-class documentaries, something I love to watch and draw wisdom from. I honestly don`t know what to say more about her, because just the name Oprah says it all. So I`m done, I`m out- OPRAH.

And fourthly my inspiration for the day came from people I knew in my everyday writing world. This year my writing group, Romance writer`s of Organization of South Africa (ROSA) had made strides in the romance writing world in SA, from having our first ever romance conference in Johannesburg attended by acclaimed authors and major publishers` representatives to winning national awards for their work, to being interviewed via radio, podcast and television appearances.

ROSA Logo Revised

Writing contracts aren`t to be scoffed at and many a ROSA had a breakthrough year. I, myself got my 2nd writing contract from Decadent Publishing in February.  The support within the group`s phenomenal. From writing tips, Beta Reading, cooking recipes, social media and just sharing life. All of these women, each with their own stories/lives, still took the time out to give each other a virtual high five and with so many successes this year, it was a love fest.

I`m inspired by this. In an industry which we`re constantly reminded of how saturated it was, there`s no petty jealousies or cattiness when it came to the writing and books. I loved that. And another thing I learned as a side note. Make authentic, genuine connections with people. With the up come of e-publishers who require in their contracts that authors also promote their work, so many authors fall into the trap of pushing themselves on authors who they regard as successful and basically becoming a ‘you know what in you know where’. People will snuff you out if you`re connecting with them or sharing their Tweets/Facebook updates only because you want them to do the same for you. This group, unwittingly, taught me that. I`ve always been someone who rave about the things I love on my social networks and as a young person who were there at the start when social networks were becoming big (yep I`m that old), my social networks are extension of me. Like I recently heard said, social networks are the modern day dairy *laughs* I only share what I like, love, support, find amusing and inspiring. So here`s my deduction about making authentic connections with people in writing groups: if you`d never, ever, write about or mention an author in your ‘dairy’ or even recommend their work to anyone of your friends to read, you have no business ‘hounding’ them over social media *hands in the air” Just saying. Genuine and authentic. Remember those words.

*laughs* I just had to add the last bit of wisdom because you wouldn`t realize how important that is. Authors are the most *cough* temperamental *grin* people I`ve come across. You honestly don`t want to be labelled as a ‘stalker’. I`ve seen that word thrown around on my News Feed a lot this year.

Lastly, my final source of inspiration of the day came from …wait for it…my mother! Yep I`m corny like that. My mom is truly a phenomenal woman and person in her own right. She`s my go to person for business and marketing advice. And of course *cough* when I need advice in general. But she`s been my go to person in regards to the next step to take in the writing world, which books to go ahead with etc. This new year holds so much fresh beginnings in for her. She`s achieved so many successes in the retail industry, achieving Gold Status in Retail amongst other sales awards. She`s just finished her BA degree in Theology and Counselling and got offered a lecturing post at a local church though I don`t think she`ll be taking them up on it since she`s got big plans to put her new degree and business skills to good use. At the age of 56 (her birthday is on the 1st of January!) she`s still moving forward, still striving, working to better herself. She`s disciplined. She`s humble. She`s grateful for the life she`s led so far and looking forward with the excitement of a twenty year old to what lies ahead. I`m inspired. Every day, having a front seat to someone who`s beat the odds from being labelled the ‘black sheep of the family’, not supported, raising three kids (all with more than one degree and qualification behind their names which is a big deal if you consider the history of this country), who allowed life, her life, to be a teacher rather than viewing it as an enemy…how could I not be inspired?

Like I said above today was a day of being inspired. What all of these people mentioned have in common, they were all born to do what they`ve done and are still doing in life. They`ve reached the top level in their fields, but clearly not calling it quits. When you`re born to doing something you`ll never reach a point where you`ll retire from it, I`m thinking of Diane Von Furstenberg now. And with that I want to end this blog post with a favourite quote from hers, one woman`s success is an inspiration to everyone. I`m paraphrasing. I hope this post brings inspiration to make 2015 a year to keep working hard, to stay disciplined and most of all, write like your life depended on it! *laughs*

 

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