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Black Excellence: The Evolution of Articulation.

Happy Twisted Tuesday. Although I spend a lot of Tuesdays promoting my new Twisted Series, I realized that writing is something passionate and worthy of giving more than one message. Today I share with you an important one that hits home to me. FYI: I grew up on the south side of Chicago if that provides any perspective on the tales you’re about to hear. 

The Evolution of Articulation

Black Excellence

Black Excellence - Squad Goals-3

High School:

I can remember it like it was yesterday. The way his eyes watched me as I spoke. Naturally, my stare skated away from his questing eyes as my hands moved rhythmically. I had captured the room’s attention and I wasn’t turning back now. When I was finally done, I sat back and looked at him once more as if challenging him to speak his mind.

“You know. You is so articulate.” He said with a warm smile and I couldn’t help but feel proud of myself. I had only been at the high school in this neighborhood for two years but hearing from a neighborhood native that my articulation was a good thing meant a lot. Finally, I wasn’t talking “white” or “proper” anymore. I was respected.

Six Months Later… 

We were kissing on the front porch of an abandoned building around the corner from class. He had convinced me to ditch my fifth period: Economics. I pulled out of the kiss and simply wanted him to hear it again… I opened my mouth to speak but he put his fingers to my lips giving me a lustful stare before saying: “Sh. Don’t talk.”

Black Excellence - Squad Goals-7

My First Big Girl Job:

“You know.” My boss stood beside me and smiled at me. “You’re not like other girls from your neighborhood.” She looked at me then and although I imagine that the word to describe it was an appreciative glare, it felt anything but.

I played coy and asked “What do you mean?”

“You know because black people speak really ghetto most of the time. We always have to hire people who can’t say library. Lie-berry.” She giggled at it. I didn’t want to tell her that that’s the way I pronounced it until I was in kindergarten and went to a suburban school where my teacher gave me a failing mark each time I mispronounced a word the way I’d heard my grandma say it. I didn’t tell her about how every time my damn tongue didn’t touch the tip of the back of my teeth, I’d cringe because “Ask” always came back out as “axe.”

It’s not as easy to shut off living in a neighborhood where people have trained you to believe that it’s okay when it’s not. No one was telling my neighbors that they were pronouncing “library” incorrectly. They were too busy trying to survive and the concept of correcting someone who probably had a gun hidden on him somewhere wasn’t inviting. This was my reality she was giggling at.

I’ll never forget the day I put my two week notice in. Good riddance to the world of privilege that didn’t understand that if you weren’t taught, you didn’t know why “everyone knows that” when you weren’t ever given a school system that provided you with a chance to learn that.

Present Day: 

Black Excellence - Squad Goals 2-2

“Move over guys!” I called out as a group of black men and women stood in the rain in their Sunday’s best.

“Girl! Hurry up and take this picture!” One of them called out but I paused and smiled. These were a group of black excellent adults just like me who had grown away from the system. In it were college graduates, full time job working people, and most of all an articulate group of male and female leaders. Each and everyone of them face the same thing I face everyday. Standing out.

Later that day, I had a consultation with a new client. She was from a different neighborhood than I was but I wasn’t uneasy. The events of that morning had made me confident that my articulation would surpass my address because one outweighed the other.

“Why should I choose you over other photographers?” She asked as she crossed one leg over the other. It felt like a challenge but I didn’t care. For once in my life, I had the strength to identify the one quality that had given me mixed emotions my whole life..

“I can articulate your vision. I can give people a shock factor you wouldn’t believe. If there’s one thing I’ve been told my entire life, it’s that I’m articulative and that’s a common misconception among young people in our demographic.” I stated sternly before crossing my own arms in an effort to mimic the gesture of challenge. She smiled and said:

“It’s impressive that you can identify that quality in yourself.”

Well. It wasn’t always like that as you can see. Society, interactions, and previous work relationships created this strange feeling of inadequacy so when I finally was complimented, I was almost stunned into silence and submission because I had to learn what a positive thing articulation was.

Articulation isn’t a bad thing. It doesn’t make you anymore attractive in a relationship or anymore desirable in a work place. It makes you project a form of excellence everywhere. It is a quality that no one should be talking down to you.

Don’t allow anyone to take your excellence away.



Twisted Tuesday: Writers And Structure


I had a lovely lady request we meet up because she wanted to discuss my writing process. All week, I wandered around and was baffled. What would I say? I didn’t want her to be underwhelmed when she found out that my progress was merely putting my pen to my paper. Yet when it finally became time for the meetup, both she and I learned a lesson on how important it is as a writer to have structure. So this Twisted Tuesday suggests to you the beauty of structure.

Expectations Vs. Reality: How Structure Came About.

When I walked into my meeting, I was nervous. Talking to people is scary. I say the “F” word a lot. I’m loud. I’ll ramble forever if you let me. Yet, I had a system. Hug, smile, get coffee, and then engage. This particular meeting was with this awesome young woman.  She was just like me in a sense that she did a lot. She mentioned that she was a writer, a massage therapist, she did theater, she had a daughter, she had a business degree and so much more. She could have been a model too. Seriously, she was gorgeous.  “Finally!” I thought. I’ve finally found someone who understands what it’s like to be both an artist and a human.

Then. She asked the question and it made the entire “Writing process” make perfect sense.  She asked me “How do you juggle it all?”

My Answer.

Fun Fact: I have a Type A Personality. I’m always urgent about projects and I’m also never satisfied with them. I melt down when it comes to problems and it always tends to be horribly stressful. Structuring my life was the best thing that ever happened to me. I liked making plans and goals. My anxiety attacks decreased so much since I started effectively building my structure. More importantly, my writing increased as well as improved.

Writer to writer, artist to artist, person to person.. It doesn’t matter who you are. Everyone gets overwhelmed and if you’re a person like me who wants to do a lot at once, it gets scary. I can’t count how many times I’ve missed my writing for weeks or had to cancel meetings because of stress, conflict, problems or just plain being exhausted.

What’s my solution? It’s simple. Structure. 

Remember When You were In School?

Wait, wait! Stay with me!

Remember when you were in school? Did you know that school provided you with structure? It gave you deadlines and allotted times due to the way a teacher’s lesson plan had each subject scheduled at a certain time of day. It was professionally designed for you to succeed provided you maintained discipline. It sounds silly but school instilled structure upon you. Some people were extremely responsive and carried it over to adulthood. Yet most of us, especially artists, have neglected the tradition. (I don’t know about you guys but I’ve missed meals to finish projects! NO REGRETS) So, why not try making a schedule? It doesn’t have to be completely set up like school either. It can be anything from just setting a reminder on your phone about eating to building a full-on time table.

My most efficient technique is probably my blog planner. I bought a 5 subject notebook and sectioned it  off so that I had a different subject for each section on my blog. Each blog has a scheduled day, and I programmed reminders in my phone the morning of to remind me that a blog needs to be posted today. It made such a big difference. Soon after, I found a blog calender online for my website which allowed me to see my blogs posted in calender view. I often look at the times because then I could tell which times I struggled to get the blog up, how long it took, what time is easiest for me to focus, etc. I found it was most efficient when I had already had a draft of my blogs written because then I could flow freely with my already organized thoughts. Therefore, my most efficient technique was the planner notebook. $3.  Years of sanity and organization.

So upon discussing My Writing Process, I Taught Both Myself And Her Something..

As I gave my structure speech to my new writer friend. I realized that my life as well as my writing career have changed immensely since I found my structure. Little things turned into something big. I was actually proud when she said that I should teach a class.

So this Tuesday, I just had to share little tidbit with my fellow artists, especially the ones like myself who wear quite a few hats at once. It gets scary, I know. Keep calm and make a plan or a schedule and stick to it.

It helps, I promise. Now it’s your turn. How do you balance your life and art?

Note: I have to give the biggest thanks to Sarah Syhakhoun. She doesn’t know it but she was the start of my structure and accepting how much I relied on it. She made me feel okay with it. Her blog shares personal stories of how she stays organized in both her business and her marriage. It was inspiring.I remember gushing about how phenomenal her binder tips are and now, a half a year later, I am writing in my blog planner how to share her wisdom with others who crave structure much like mine. She’s also a photographer and you guys should check her out.

But for now, this naturalista, is hasta lavista. 😉


Twisted Series Writing

Twisted Tuesday: An Autobiography?


I have decided that every Tuesday from here on out is a “Twisted Tuesday” where I’m not blogging as a blogger or as a photographer but instead as an author. More specifically, the author of my current work on the “Twisted” trilogy which has a book available now!

The most frequently asked question about “Twisted” is if it’s an autobiography. I always lie. I always say “no” or “technically no,” because never in this series outside of thank yous, acknowledgements, italics, or quotes do I ever use the word “I” and using Microsoft Word search engine, I find that the word “Jasemine” makes its appearance twice: once on the first page and once on the last. Simply put, this book isn’t about my life. Continue Reading

Twisted Series Writing

An Open Letter To The Future Readers Of “Twisted Illusions”

Dear [x]

I wish I could replace [x] with the name of a person, someone who I know is going to indeed pick up, read and fully understand Twisted Illusions but that’s the gamble of writing a novel. You never know who’s going to read it, who’s going to feel it the way it was written and fully grasp all the messages. Twisted Illusions was written from the heart. There are details in this series that I can’t fully conjure up vocally.

So many people have been asking for a summary, a hint, a character’s name even. For almost two years, I haven’t given a detail, a snippet, etc. The first book is probably going to confuse you. I hope it doesn’t, but I won’t hold it against you if it does. It’s meant to. It’s meant to make you question, it’s meant to pull you into a journey that you’re not sure how you got down. Because that’s how life is.. that’s how life’s been.

I want you, you who I’ve named [x] whoever you are to take the journey, feel it, and know that there are things you’re going to read in this book that are written in depth from experiences, from feelings, and from real events. All the while staying fiction. I want you to fully immerse yourself, and when they journey is over, I want you to truly feel.  That’s a bit ambiguous and also demanding, but it doesn’t have to be.

The purpose of Twisted Illusions is to touch someone but also to entertain anyone. Ideally, Someone’s going to feel it. Someone’s going to endure the same emotions I did creating it. That’s why it’s taken over two years to create just one piece of it. Every time I thought it was done and time to move on, it drew me back in.

I can’t wait for you to read it. Please be gentle with my heart. (And by my heart I do mean, Novel #2, the whole three parts.) Each session in this trilogy describes a different time.

I really hope that you, whoever you are [x], stay with me through this journey.

Thank you. Also, thank you from future me to future you for giving Twisted Illusions a chance.