Untitled Poem

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Brilliant.

Life abounds

then tucks under you.

Spins it’s craning neck

with a dodge

and get this,

it’s right in front of you.

Coconut oil sneaks in to drip from your radiance.

But you didn’t notice.

Can you welcomely

say yes to, The?

The, sun dial of your life?

Will you check the

“Boss”‘Lady””Box”

and pulse, poetically?

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Power To The 5th

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You will never guess how ingenious I felt when I realized that the number 5 is my TRUTH right now in my life.

5 and I have become fast new friends, technically speaking.

We have suited up in armor as of late because I’ve been become acutely aware of the power of this number.

It’s been a theme in my life.

Earlier last month, for whatever reason I sat up and made note of how 5 years of my life have passed and I how I plunged into depression, instability, back-tracking, loss of conviction, weak focus, lack of self-awareness, and muddled mind syndrome (when you are so unsure of what to do or where to go with your life).

I’ll put this into more perspective:

October 17, 2008.

I lost my job, the best job I have ever had.

I was a high school History teacher at a tough as nails high school. I loved those kids.

Lay-offs. Wow!

If you have never been a part of one, you wouldn’t believe how they challenge your self-worth.

I was just getting into a groove as a teacher.

I believed from my heart to my toes, that I was going to be in the field of education until it was time to retire.

For a solid two years I tried to get another full-time position as a teacher.

I took on long-term substitute assignments, took a course on curriculum, and even took and passed the content test for Special Education K-12.

Long story short, I still failed.

No job came.

When I look back I do realize that I didn’t fight hard or savvy enough to get a teaching position. I assumed that all you needed to do was list your resume in job board databases.

I didn’t reach out to Principals directly. I didn’t create a portfolio.

I believe that I didn’t deep down was because I was fearful.

I was afraid of not being good enough in the end. Of not being able to pull through and be a teacher that kicks-ass.

In these past years to make ends meet I had to return to working in retail.

I worked in retail for several years before I began teaching.

I always hated it.

Having to return to it made my gut sink daily.

But this was the real problem.

I felt that I was above it all.

I was ashamed.

Here I was, I had been a teacher and now I am back to square one.

Therefore in 5 years, I worked for 5 different retailers.

I didn’t receive the lesson.

While I have long known that I would never want to work in retail for the long-haul, I should have been using the time to save my money, and work on a Masters degree that fell lock and step in my true career ambitions from when I was a teenager (media production or screenwriting) and mapped out a plan to start my own production company.

If I had done so, I would have been extremely more confident and well equipped financially and mentally to foray into working in media and movies.

All I looked at was that these jobs paid a pittance to what my job as a teacher paid.

Anywhere from 25K less to 18K at the most.

This freaked me out.

When you work in retail, there is really no way to have a part-time job because of the unconventional scheduling structure.

To further close the gap, I gave my hand at being a freelance copywriter.

Sadly, the money I made as a freelancer seemed to never really make a dent in my pocket book. Somehow what extra I did make was on time and needed to pay for something that popped up unexpectedly.

Like an electric bill that was higher than usual, or a birthday gift for a friend.

(Blessings)

Yes, they were. I didn’t acknowledge that. Shame on me.

It seemed that with every job, I went backwards. Then it seemed that I went backwards in every other area of my life as well.

During the past five years, I failed to have enough confidence in myself to do what I was intended to do. BE A STORYTELLER.

I felt that everyone I personally knew just wouldn’t get it.

Therefore, I would proclaim to want to do other things. The things that I believed people would at least not deem so weird.

From law school, to trying to get back in the classroom.

I would make a very big deal about it too.

I’d start shouting it in everything I did.

If someone was to ask me, “girl what are you up to?” I’d reply with, “oh, trying to get a teaching job” or “I am thinking about law school.”

I even started a non-profit. Foolishly believing that it would lead to a viable career.

But non-profits are non-profits. And if you don’t have an air-tight strategy, relentless confidence, and a network that you know how to “work” to your advantage, then the viability of turning a non-profit into a vehicle for change and making a career from it goes down in flames one January afternoon. Right in front of you.

In these past five years, I’ve been broke, had no car for 15 months, had 5 jobs, witnessed my mother’s death, had my life partner give up on me, been extremely selfish in my actions due to my lack of confidence, been dangerously irresponsible, and felt like I was losing my mind almost every single day.

To turn back to my recent clarity with the number 5 is this:

On October 17, 2013. I publicly told the world that my next five years will not be like my last.

I am on the hunt.

I am putting my big girl panties on.

I am going to start worrying a lot less about the past, feeling like a failure, and making the same mistakes over and over and over again.

I am getting crystal clear on how to make my future happen.

I know now that means finding a job that will pay my bills while I also work a part-time one too. All in order to beef up my savings and become the writer/producer that I know that God intended for me to be.

I am no longer freelance copywriting. Its just a route that doesn’t feed my soul and this autumn I realized that it would never truly put extra bucks in my pocket.

I do aspire in the near future to write scripts for companies that are producing corporate films or short cinematic films, and eventually for those that are producing web series.

It’s about writing what nourishes me and for no one else. I need to write to live.

As the famed director, Ava Duvernay recently said at a Film Independent conference, “stop wearing the suit of desperation.” I know that as a freelance copywriter, that’s what I was doing, times five.

More in-focus about five:

This past Saturday night I got the opportunity to photograph my first event (photography is another high interest of mine and I suppose it is because it ties in so strongly to my love for cinema).

The guest of honor had a remarkable reason to celebrate.

This past weekend marks the fifth year anniversary that he was homeless.

In five years he has totally changed his life around.

He has a small publishing company, a steady nine to five, and a supportive girlfriend.

I almost peed on myself while snapping away and listening to his story.

The nature of 5 is strong. It’s a theme for me in my life altogether.

I am a fairly spiritual person and this morning I read that 5 symbolizes loyalty but can be unstable as well.

I couldn’t agree more.

I will take this cue of the five and let it turn me around for the better.

I know that I am finally on my way to being my best self.

I will keep my eyes peeled on the power of five.

My next five years will be stellar.

I will grow onwards and upwards the spiritual ladder.

My mental toughness will press forward.

Professionally I will become redeemable.

I now have no safety nets.

I only have myself.

I have to work harder these next five years than I have my entire life combined.

and…

I am perfectly fine with that.

Power to the 5th 

5 Ways To Be A Stronger Creative Woman

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creativity, creative women, inspire creativity

Image via Addicted 2 Success

1. Tackle a fear

2. Establish rituals

3. Collaborate with another artist

4. Start backwards to go forward

5. Build a team

These are just a few ideas to get some renewal and inspiration as a creative woman, especially as we wind down the year.

What do you see yourself needing to do out of the five?

I believe that I need to do all of the above with more consistency, some with a little more gusto than others, but still all five nonetheless would only make me a stronger creative woman (writer/producer)…

 

Poetry Saturday: The Lonely Love

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Sometimes your so far from the ones you love the most at the moments when you always thought you’d be near them for those moments…

Grappling with that reality feels lonely.

The solitude of those moments feel unnatural…

You just never know when you need someone because you assumed they would need you.

(selfish/selfless)

The feeling stares you in the center of your soul-

push it off?

Not easy.

Live with it…

un-welcomed,

because that won’t work either.

So you wait.

And charge the powers of Heaven to dare do this to you again.

We need people to endure the struggle, even when its not our own. Just make sure you can control the lack of stewardship in those moments…

Love your lovers with everything.

You will need yourself and them in the lonely moments.

Dear Instagram: A Lady Sings The Blues

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Dear Instagram, Feminism,

Dear Instagram,

I am proof positive that you are going to tell me, babycakes, “You’re not a baby, you’re  an almost 34 year-old woman” get that straight. But here goes…

As a social media platform I find you to be absolutely exquisitely jazzy.

I am a writer who bleeds for the visual. Your uncanny knack for culling spirited individuals into your digital lair is beyond impressive. I’ll give you more than $5 on that. I’ll slip a $20 under your MAC.

Thousands of randy folk (at least in my stream) give their all to you. They bust it wide open, let Santa, Yahweh, and your neighborhood grocer see it. And in return you grant them with flows of followers. From food porn pioneers, to crossfit maniacs, to BlackGirlsWithLongNaturalHair devotees, to negroes that shudder with a prayer for hazel eyes and thick thighs, religiously. This is their play/battleground.

Am I getting candid. Well, may I? Thanks.

I came to you from the jump being beautifully boring,              me.

I am the perpetual girl on the left.

I am a home body. I don’t twerk (but I am that miss thang, that can dance all night). I don’t live with fashion bloggers. I only own a Nikon 3100 DSLR and Canon EOS Rebel film camera. I don’t have the good fortune to venture to Rome with only a notebook, little white dress, and a clicky pen.

Selfies at my abode, Starbucks snapshots, my writing space, whipped up waffles, and books I am reading, shit like that was my styl-o.

However, one day it got stupid hot in the Instagram green room and I wanted to shed my specs, and flex.

Ya’ know. Be in the “in” crowd. (Don’t get me wrong, I know that boring bellas can be cool too, but there’s a difference between cool and popular).

UN-Naturally, I went down to casting and got a new me.

I let my curious case of “seek to seek” come home to roost.

I courted when in Rome….

Why? Hmmm, let’s examine the allure.

All those with crazy sick followers make their uploads all about abs, ass, and angelic naughty beauty (insert for beauty = tough as nails fashionistas with wardrobes from somewhere that aint Old Navy, Tinseltown/Harlem fat cats, and indie “photographers” that just so happen to be shaking hands with Kendrick Lamar, cause they bumped into him at 2 in the afternoon). And NO, I don’t follow celebrities, except Tracee Ellis Ross because she is drippingly gorgeous and positive, otherwise these are real peeps.

After leaving casting I nixed the (so real me) handle: writercjjohnson

I legally changed my name to: missfitrunnercjjohnson

And that’s when shit got real…

Look me in the eyes when I say this! I.AM.A.RUNNER.

I’ve been one for more than 20 years. I can run for a solid hour like a champ. Hell, I went to college doin’ this stuff.

The more I posted about it, the more I got inquiries about my regimen. Therefore my follows almost doubled in a month. Don’t get geeked about that, I only have like 102.3 followers.

I posted pics of my six pack, post workouts, actual workouts, you name it, if I was sweatin’ it, Instagram was in it.

I even considered getting a certification to be a personal trainer (I thought shoot, every writer needs a side hustle) so I began to ramp up for the Power House of fitness.

But

A couple of weeks ago I asked myself, what the fuck am I doing?

Am I a natural born runner? Yes.

But I’ve never had any fancy inclinations of making money from what I know about the science of running. I most sincerely doubt that I could ever convince “coach” someone to love running the way I do.

But most importantly, I am a writer. That is simply, poetically, me.

I let my mind go ape shit. (or mush depending on how you wanna call it)

I got so caught up in following other runners/ProFitGirls/personal coaches/healthnuts/ and receiving their adoration in return, that I single-handedly blinded my own end game.

I even found myself following random beautiful people, losing entire blocks of 20 minutes of my day, when all that did in return was make me feel even more un-beautiful.

At the end of the day (I think that phrase is so funny) I am a writer/producer.

How in the hell was I furthering my agenda as a creative writer if I was growing slightly obsessed with getting kudos for my physique and athletic game? Huh, Instagram? All the zany deeds that folks eat up I was giving it to them (FOR FREE) all to your liking I am sure.

I quit you.

For a couple weeks anyways.

Well, I did cheat a little, by uploading 2 posts about an interview that I was doing about my book with another poet-preneur, but that’s it. No “liking” or 20 minute wasting.

I had to take a step back. Talk to my Mom in the sky, look beyond mirrors, and smile inward.

Initially I was going to press “delete, delete, delete” 

I can’t live up to your hype I said. I am not plump enough. I will starve if I stay.

I thought: people here just thrive on the perceived, the superficial.

Boring bellas like me get no play. Just like in real life I suppose. (art imitating life)

However, after about 18 days I’ve taken a breather.

I say FUCK IT. Who cares if I am just a writer with ambitions to write/produce/direct on the small screen?

As I grow more seasoned, I should know better. I should be balls to wall wise enough to ration that being the real you, in the long run, works. There is someone out there that will eat you up with a spoon. It just takes patience.

I friend of mine put on, ironically enough, Facebook a few years ago “Be the best version of you.” While I thought, hells yeah, at the time. I realize that my recent bout with you (Insta) truly tested if I had ingrained in me that line of thought or not.

The shit is scary to think that I didn’t. But, I am being a grown woman aboutthesitutation. I am owning up to it. I didn’t embody and employ the philosophy above.

But get this. Move over. Coming Through. I am staying a little while longer.

I am going to stop following those that only followed me because I posted a picture of me in my boy shorts and sports bra, and clamor to more writers, intellects, producers, readers, artists, cinematographers, creatives and lovers. You know those folks Instagram. The people that originally made you who you are today…(don’t ever forget that)

I am boring, bald, and whip smart, with a mind that spins out of its skull with creative projects to cross off my list.

I’ll use you the way you use US. Are we cool?

Perfect.

LOVE Ya TONS,

A Lady Sings The (Writer) Blues

BTW: I threw missfitrunnercjjohnson out the window and have claimed: poeticallycjjohnson as the real me

Why I Published A Book Of Poetry With No Monsters

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PinkWomanStepsBookCover

I am a monsters kind of girl. I thrive on writing stories and poems that land readers right on the pulse of thumping heart-beats and curiosity.

However, when I decided to publish my first book of poetry, it had no monsters.

There’s nothing macabre or ghoulish about it.

But the thing is, I needed to have it that way.

Poetry was my first written love. Falling in love with who I am as a woman has been my second love and area of exploration as a writer.

I began writing poems about womanhood and honoring the feminist mystique a few years back. The impetus to start writing such was also in relation to the trials and tribulations that I had been experiencing as a woman that was consistently questioning her self-worth, intelligence, abilities, capabilities, and professional direction.

I was FLAT BROKE when I started writing the poems that are in Woman Steps: Poetry and Prose. Truth be told, I still am for the most part, but back in 2009-ish I was really on the throes of situational poverty.

I had no car and needed to take public transit everywhere in Dallas, Texas (and even though I love my native city dearly, it does not have a world-class public transit system, its design is too limiting) so I was really home bound a great deal. And when I was on the train I used that time to put on the hat and gloves of a sociologist (a field that has always fascinated me) and I honed in on women.

Where were they going?

I’d notice the ones that

were under-paid 55 year-old nursing assistants,

Teen Mothers on-the-go

impatient college students.

What was behind closed doors?

late notices, BILLS.

sexual harassment,  BITCH PLEASE’S.

self-sacrifice, BLOODY REALITIES.

loneliness, BESET.

What were their dreams?

-2 Bedroom Apartments

-Fathers for Everyone

-BA’s, MFA’s, JD’s…

-GodGivenRespectDelivered

So therefore, I took those stories and my own to create my first book. I had to get this poetic ode to feminism out of my system first before I could ever move on to writing about imagined monsters…

I had to get real, talk about the real, write the real, and live with the real.

The humor in all of this however, is that as much as I wanted to share this journey while writing it and even while on the brink of publishing it, right after pressing “publish” I grew really self-conscious. I began to feel a little uncomfortable with letting such laundry dry out on a clothesline. After all, I did include a mini poem titled “Mean Girl Names” in the book, talk about pimp rape, and call Evelyn Lozada from VH1 Basketball Wives a lunatic in so many words.

Was this damaging to women I thought to myself. Answering that was tough because my intentions with the book was to celebrate womanhood as a state of mind for women to embrace, not to tear down.

After about six months though, (I published the book 4/17/2013) I’ve realized that I am not to be ashamed. That my words on women pushing through in life can be read widely. I am honored now, feel ceaseless joy, and am full of even more wonder regarding the curious nature of feminism.

So while my first book had no monsters, it has presented an opportunity for me to deal with my own.

I will definitely be writing more books on self-care and womanhood while publishing stories that let those monsters that lurk in your closet be my outlet for creative imagination.

The revised version will be hitting Amazon and Other Major Book Retailers hopefully Thursday, 10/24/13 

XOXO

CJ Johnson

Poet & Author