The Path Unfolds



Sometimes, I worry if I will ever be able to inhabit all the spheres that I want to. There is so much I want to do, see, love, explore, achieve in this life. And while I know how capable I am of gettin’ shit done, I also know that time is the ultimate H.B.I.C..

This week, I’ve realized that I will always be an organizer and educator. Yes, I am an also an artist and storyteller and writer and performer. But I am also incredibly gifted at community building. And just like I’ve felt half-baked for the past two years, because I haven’t been writing or performing or telling stories… I also know that I will feel half-done next year if I am not involved in social-justice-based community work.

And so, here I am. It’s a balmy (I can say balmy if I live in L.A., right?) night in the middle of June. I’ve got projects in the works. I’ve got schemes and strategies galore. I’m hoping that next year, I really can inhabit all of my selves. I hope I can bring a my creativity and story-obsession to community-based work. And I hope I can bring more of my passion for social justice and transformation to my art-based work.

By now, I think it is time that I accept the fact that I be complex and I inhabit many worlds. And there is nothing wrong with that. I used to pray to be simpler, in high school. I really used to pray to God, on my hands and knees, to dilute my interests, my desires, my curiosities. I figured if I was less intellectual, less creative, less rebellious, less emotional—things would be easier for me.

I’ve since come to realize how awful that would’ve been. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with “simple” people (are any of us all that simple?). I’m saying, that for all of the frustration and confusion this inner-complexity brings to me… it also brings a richness, a manifoldness to my life that I wouldn’t trade for anything. It allows me to be in and of the world, which is honestly all I’ve ever wanted.

So tonight, I’m embracing my too much. I may not see The How just yet, but I know that it is possible to be a writer, poet, playwright, storyteller, performer, artist, producer, director, entrepreneur, cultural critic, social media maven, community organizer, social justice educator, scholar who splits her time equally between New York, Los Angeles, and everywhere else in the world.

I have always known, deep down, that I have a “calling”. I have always had an intuition as to what that calling may be, but I’ve never been able to articulate it. I still have a bit of trouble articulating it. But I’m getting closer. And I realize, I don’t need all the “answers” now.

I just need to answer the call by saying: YES.


Owning My Name


Today was just a beautiful-ass day.

There was no rhyme or reason to it. But I feel like I got a little closer to all the things I desire and dream for in this life. And I feel like I got a little bit closer to the center of myself today. And that’s all that matters.

This morning, I got to work at 10am. I usually get to work at 10am. A few weeks ago, a co-worker made the observation that I’m a night-owl, based on when and how often I post on Facebook. It’s taken me damn near 24 years to realize that she’s right. Usually, every morning I feel guilty that I cannot be at work at 9:00am like normal people do. But then I realized that for the past year, I get to work by 10am and no one is sweatin’ me about it. So, maybe, 10am is my “on-time”. And maybe, when I’m pursuing this self-determined path next year, I stick to what I know about myself.

I’ve been in-between feeling guilty that I’m Not Doing More to prepare for the Great Leap in August, and also knowing that things take time… and I usually do my best work when I’m under pressure. I want to push myself, to light a fire under my ass that keeps burning through the next year or two (and hopefully, my whole life). I have the tendency to get down on myself, which then turns into shame-spiral of not being productive and berating myself for not being productive. It’s all bad. So, I’m trying to find that balance between working everyday towards this thing that I want and see and know for myself… but also, appreciating the fact that it’s summer and I currently still have a full-time job. Today, I leaned into the vulnerable, scary space a little. But I also allowed myself to breathe.

And so, I’m writing tonight. And I had some beautiful thoughts come to my head. And I read a really great article on LA Magazine’s website. And I just don’t feel too bad about very many things in this moment. You know, I’m living the good life and I really do appreciate just how good it is.

I think the most important thing I did today is realize how far I’ve come in this journey of owning and embracing myself. I think the journey really started sometime between the summer before and the summer after my last year of college. The summer before, I spent a lot of time alone, with myself, in New York City. The summer after, I spent a lot of time re-calibrating who I was and re-learning the language of Home. And in the space in-between, I was a senior in college—loaded with all the angst and dreaming and faux-intellectualism that entails.

But it was during that time, I first started to hold up  and revel in this name my mother and father gave me. Michelle Denise Jackson. I started realizing that for the most part, that’s all I’m ever going to be—and all I’m ever going to be happens to be quite a lot. Before, my name was usually something I shied away from. I always wanted a nickname growing up, an alternative moniker that I could be known and held up by. But besides Shelly (and I’m not Shelly), there’s not much you can do with Michelle or Denise or Jackson. I think the closest thing is MJ, which is how I often sign e-mails. But even that is still my name, purified and abbreviated.

Even when I attempt to lean it down, I still know the weight of it.

While I Was Sleeping


The cat is finally out of the bag.

I’ve officially begun telling folks that I am quitting my (safe, secure, benefits-providing, salary-paying, full-time) job to pursue living as, working as, and being an artist for a year.

Every time I tell someone else what my grand plan is, it becomes a little more real. As the words march out of my mouth, they take on a life and mission of their own. I realize that this is, indeed, what I have committed to doing. Even if for the simple fact that I’ve told so many people about it now, there’s no going back. The Universe is doing an excellent job holding me accountable. I guess it’s time I finally start believing it and showing up for myself.

I think one of the reasons I struggling with fully showing up for myself is, I’m not actually going anywhere just yet. I’m committed to staying where I am until the end of August. This is both really important to me for personal and professional reasons, but it’s also a necessary part of this process. So while I am emotionally, spiritually, and mentally preparing myself for The Next Big Thing… I am still very much so keen on being where I’m at.

I often tell myself that it’s no big deal. I’ve got time. I’ve got time. Well, that may very well be true—I do have time! But there will come a point when my time has run out. And I have to make sure I’m prepared. (Well, as prepared as I can be.)

In the past 48 hours, I’ve gotten some “signs” from the Universe telling me that I’m doing a piss-poor job of keeping it bossed up during this transition time. June is supposed to be the month where I’m setting things up and strategically building. So far, I’ve done a lot of sleeping, eating, and watching Game of Thrones (S3E9 will forever live in TV infamy!). However, I have not done a lot of planning or preparing. Yesterday, when I made a decision not to attend an open mic—even though that’s a big part of my strategic building—PRINCE WAS IN THE AUDIENCE and I had to read about it on my friends’ Facebook statuses. And today, I was taking a nap when a message came in about an opportunity that just may be exactly what I’m looking for… but I’m not apart of it (yet). Literally, I have been sleepin’ on my own damn self and my own damn dreams. (Pun intended.)

To some degree, I know that I cannot prepare for every single step of this journey. When the end of August comes, I will be jumping into the Great Unknown regardless. I can hope for a soft landing, but it’s not guaranteed. All I can do is jump and pray that the metaphorical gravity is much kinder to me than real gravity would be.

This doesn’t excuse me from handling my business, though. Especially since I’m the only person who is handling my business. I’m my manager. I’m my agent. I represent myself. I’m going to be one entrepreneurial, self-enterprising mother-lover by the end of this summer. And I’m committed to this FOR A YEAR. You know, 365 days and all. And if I’m keepin’ it 100, I do not have the financial means to do this without income for a year. So yeah, I need to wake up. I need to stay that way.

I think because I’ve felt so empowered and proud of myself and hopeful about all of this, I’ve been floating inside a little bubble. Things are very la-la-la-la in my head these days… which is WONDERFUL. I’ve fought very hard over the last nine or so months to be this happy and self-possessed and determined. Now I have to be proactive. Now I have to be responsible. Now I have to figure out a way to exist in this transitioning space.

I have to be more present than ever.