A Half Century In

It’s been almost three years since I’ve last written to you.  The intention was never to go this long without sharing, but life and FaceBook has a way of interfering with the best of intents. 

However, here I am just a few days after my 50th birthday. For five decades now, I’ve roamed this planet. Admittedly, I’ve put plenty of miles in, worn down many soles, and have broken off a heel or two. But even if I could go back to twenty-one with the lead that I now have, I wouldn’t. Honestly, there’s not a slew of things that I would do differently because making another set of decisions would just lead to a different path of detours, dead-ends, close calls and everything in between before reaching now. What I’ve learned is that the journey is inevitable; it begins at the point any decision is acted upon. It’s how one navigates the process that determines how far one goes.

For the most part, I’ve played it safe and flirted with risk. My career has spanned over two decades and has catapulted me into some great opportunities, but it’s far from my first choice. And, I’ve left my hometown three times now, just to come back.  Yet, I still can’t promise that I’m here to stay. Life’s just too fluid to make such a vow. 

My passport is stamped with many fond memories. I’ve gotten lost (literally) in Italy, scorched in Belize, argued with a native in the Dominican Republic (he tried to charge me sixty US dollars for a bath towel that wasn’t even plush), and ate Pie and Mash drizzled (such a tourist move) with eel gravy in London. I’ve had fun, but I’ve been disappointed and felt the sting of shame too.  I’ve suffered through the agony of a stillbirth at one point and made a decision many conservative Christians wouldn’t approve of at another.  There was a friendship or two that expired, a few jobs that didn’t pan out, and I still haven’t written that book. Yet, today I proudly stand.  

Unequivocally, I am loved. I’m blessed with a mother whom I adore, a son who was kind enough to forgive me for not getting the parenting thing totally right, and a family with only a few members that I think about trading in every so often. (Beware though, there will be a holy war if you actually try to take them away from me.) I have strong friendships that span over cultures and decades, and a tribal family that rivals blood. And, in a few short days, I’ll be gifted a daughter through love who is intelligent and lovely and kind. That’s buttercream icing for me.

There’s nothing for me to complain about but much more for me to do.  My expectation for this life is another strong seventy years (yup, 120 minimum), so technically, I’m not even middle-aged yet.  But I’m wiser and happier. My tools are sharper, and my aim is more targeted.  That’s the foundation from which I build upon now. 

If you ask me what fifty years of wandering has taught me, it’s simply this:  Nothing works unless I do; mercy is the ultimate demonstration of love; and, life is nothing to fear.   

Happy 50th to me!  Cheers! 

Truly yours, 

Mo~

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Hello, It’s Been A While…

It’s been a while since I’ve last written, and much has transpired both as a nation and personally. I could rehash the atrocities plaguing the United States and even some of those of other countries. But you’re well aware of those things, and you’re probably more interested in viable solutions – solutions, to me, that are as varied and multilayered as each and every human. Collective and creative solutions, that frankly, I don’t have to offer you.

In my personal life, I’ve had some hard conversations and have made some uncomfortable decisions. At the pinnacle of a career that spans over two decades and in a firm that offered me “home”, I gracefully walked away. To a city that has served me well, taught me that fine line and small space between love and war, a city that offered my grandparents and immigrant father hope and opportunity, a city that educated me from elementary through grad school, a city that allowed me to sit at tables and help positively impact communities – I’m saying farewell. Thank you, Philadelphia; I appreciate your care. But, it’s time for me to go now.

Talk about uncomfortable. I’m 47, have earned my accolades, paid my dues, and could nestle in this life. And, I wait until now to bow out? Yes, because the truth is I’ve created a hell of a life that I merely settled for and into, and while I am eternally grateful, I want to do more.

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For years, I’ve had the honor of instructing adults in a training program. These are adults who after decades have stepped back into the classroom. Adults that – through their fears, doubts, insecurities and other lies they may have bought into – return Saturday after Saturday for 11 weeks and stay for as long as six hours. Honorable, committed, courageous adults.  I truly admire them.

During one class, we discussed the difficulty of change and the ease of settling. It occurred to me that just as the fear of the unknown often keeps us complacent, so too have the zigzags of our journeys. It’s impossible to forget the triumphs and defeats, the love and tears, the one win followed by two losses, and the repetition of it all in no particular order. Just when we’ve gotten to the point that we have it all managed and all under some sort of perceived control, we realize that while the space is safe, it’s far from great. Then, if we muster up the heart to reimagine the possibilities, we look back, remember, and think, who wants to endure that shit all over again?

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For those who find themselves at a crossroad frozen and agonizing on whether to nestle in or to bow out, there is no right or wrong answer. There is only your answer, your choice, your life to live out. I chose what was right for me. In the middle of my life, I now know what to expect: a journey that will be unpredictable yet exhilarating filled with hopes and disappointments. That’s fine though. I’ve been there before, and I’m willing to live it out again.

I’ll be writing you more often. Until the next time, live each day to your fullest! Feel free to leave a comment!

Truly yours,

Mo~

P.S.:  You can reach me on Facebook @ Monique Danielle; Twitter@MoDanielle_8; Instagram@Mo_Danielle8, and via email @ modanielle8@gmail.com.