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Putting the CL on that ASS!

A Bernie's Daughter Thing

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adulthood

When I Reminisce Over You

Dear 16 year-old Je’Niece,

I look at you today with eyes that have seen so much more than you. That’s not to say that you haven’t seen your fair share of life. But these eyes of mine have seen more than the visions of sugar plums that are currently dancing around in your head. These eyes of mine have seen you achieve your highest highs and your lowest lows. And I have to say to you, based on the road traveled, this 38 year-old woman owes you a sincere apology.

I have blamed you for so much. I blamed you for not speaking up when necessary in this life. I have blamed you for all my failures and disappointments. I have blamed you for not being perfect. I stopped seeing the beauty and wonder that existed within you, and instead only saw how you failed to measure up to this ideal that I thought should have existed. In short, and I’m almost ashamed to admit this now, I hated you. I hated you, 16 year-old Je’Niece. It has taken me all this time to see and admit this.

And just where did this hatred begin? I don’t think there is one exact moment that serves as the definitive one. No. Instead, I think it was a gradual process. An unfortunate seed that was planted, fertilized and watered over the course of one year. The seed germinated until it infected every area of your life. Let’s see, at the age of 16, you lost your virginity. You didn’t really want to. But you didn’t know how to say that. You wanted to be liked, and so you acquiesced. Your religious foundation left you feeling damaged and unworthy after engaging in such a sinful act. You felt guilty beyond repair. It didn’t help that you would vacillate from saying you would never have sex again to dismissing that declaration without much thought. And then it happened. The one thing you never thought would happen to you. You became pregnant. Prior to your pregnancy, you looked your nose down at the young pregnant girls you saw walking around. And then you became one of them. This discovery left you devastated. After all, this wasn’t supposed to happen to you. This was the sort of thing that happened to “fast” girls, but it wasn’t supposed to happen to you because you were supposed to be a “good” girl–a “smart” girl. You should have known better. And there was no way you could have ever told your father. No way! So that left you with only one choice. Abortion. Yep, you had an abortion. This one choice sent you further into the abyss of despair, guilt and shame. This choice followed you and the shame permeated your every choice after that. You didn’t believe you deserved anything good. You told yourself you deserved to be punished. And you unconsciously set out to make sure that you were.

So you accepted ill-treatment from others because you didn’t believe you deserved to be treated better. You lived in fear instead of love because you didn’t think you deserved the fruits of love and joy. You didn’t seek out your dreams because again, you didn’t deserve to have your dreams come true. In short, you resigned yourself to a life of just enough. Just enough to get by. Just enough to wear a half-hearted smile to cover your true shame. Just enough to create the illusion that you were ok. Just enough to continue to buy the bs you were selling to every one else. You walked in fear that you would be found out. I mean, if people only knew the truth, they’d know what a sham you were. Right?

No. Wrong, My Dear.   And I’m sorry I didn’t know any of this back then. I blamed you for so much. I bullied you. I treated you so badly. So these eyes of mine tear a little when they look at you now, because these eyes have seen so much and they see so much more clearly than your young ones. These eyes of mine see so much beauty and strength and grace. My goodness, young woman, you are powerful beyond measure! You carried all of that on your shoulders–alone–and still managed to graduate a year early from high school with honors, go on to college and grad school, get married, raise a baby, and have love in your heart for others! You never allowed the light within to truly dim. You need to know that all of that is a sign of strength.

So yes, I have to say sorry. I used to look at you and hate what I saw. I used to think you were pathetic and weak and could have been so much more. I’m so sorry because I now know I couldn’t have been more wrong. Looking at you now leaves me with so much gratitude. It’s because of you that I stand here today. Your strength brought me this far.  So yes, thank you, 16 year-old Je’Niece! If I could, I’d give you the biggest, warmest, heartiest hug you have ever had. But since I can’t, allow me to say something I wish I’d said a long time ago. I love you.

In The Game of Life, Someone Must Win and Someone Must Lose . . . Or Really?

Happy Friday! It’s a beautiful day to be alive! I didn’t always feel that way, and truth be told, sometimes I still have to give myself that reminder. But it’s the truth. If you’re here, you have to know and trust that you’re here for a reason–and not just cause your Momma and Daddy got busy. They were all part of the design to get you here. Do you realize how special and amazing that is? It’s ok if you don’t right now. Just promise me that you will get around to recognizing that sooner rather than later, ok?

Today’s video is inspired by My Fizzle. She loves to play the board game, Life. Problem is, I don’t love playing with her. She is ultra competitive and she cheats! She really does! She’s also a hater. She hates on you the entire time we’re playing. She doesn’t want anyone to make more money than she does, get married before her, have babies before her. None of it! But watching her play reminded me so much of how a lot of us walk around playing this actual game of life. We fell into the trap of thinking there are limited resources that only a select few of us can have access to. We hate on others for having and being more than we perceive ourselves to have and be. But what if just like Morpheus told Neo, I told you that the reality you’re choosing to believe is false? What if none of that were true and there was enough for everyone? How, then, would you view yourself and others? Hmm . . . something to really ponder, isn’t it? You keep pondering that and let me know what you come up with. Love ya!

That Mother Wound is A Mutha!

Happy Friday and Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms! For many of us, it’s a wonderful day because it gives us a chance to celebrate our favorite women: Our moms! For others of us, it’s not as wonderful because mom is or was absent–physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, or e) all of the above. Mother’s Day can be a reminder that mom was the first person to betray us, disappoint us, hurt us. And what do you do when that happens? What do you do when mom is not the safe place we think mother’s ought to be?

As Mother’s Day approaches, I am hearing more frequently the phrase, “Love your Mother because you only get one.” Actually, I hear the phrase a lot in every day conversation. While I understand the sentiment, sometimes I think this phrase is used to give mothers a pass. Yes, there are some good and great mothers who love, protect, nurture and guide their children to the best of their abilities. But there are also some mothers who are not; and we fail to acknowledge that. Some mothers are cold, heartless, cruel, and unloving toward their children. In the case of the latter, it is not enough to tell the children, “Love your Mother because you only get one.” While I believe in offering Love to all, I also believe you have to accept people for who they are. Not every woman who carries and births a child is capable of being a true Mother. So to those who await Mother’s Day with dread because their Mother is not, or was not a loving Mother, I offer my love and encouragement. I hope that you are able to find the Love that you feel you missed from your Mother–because after all, it really isn’t missing. Like Dorothy in the wondrous land of Oz, it’s been in you the whole time.

I love you and wish you well today and always!

Who Do You Say You Are?

Happy New Year! I’ve been going back and forth between excitement and dread since the turn of this new year of our Lord. Excitement because the optimist in me believes that I am closer to the true joy that I long for. I believe doors are going to open that were once closed. Dread because the little doubter in me is afraid that it might not happen. So that what if it doesn’t pops up now and again. So what do I do? I sit back and watch the two battle ’til the death for it. Well not really. But it would make for an interesting show.

Anyway, as the sun revolved around this here earth for one more ‘gin, I was hit with an unexpected circumstance. Initially, it made me really sad. Someone who believes they know me accused me of being some things that I’m not. But as I sat with it, I began to feel better because I was reminded of how far I’ve come. I know this person was either truly mistaken or simply lying because I am not the things that I was said to be. But I remember a time when I wouldn’t have known the truth of that. I remember a time when I would have simply believed what this person said because I unknowingly would have assumed this person was in authority over my life. Thank goodness for growth and wisdom because today I know better. Today, I know who I am. And any time I’m confronted with a moment like this, I ask myself the question, “Well who do you say you are, Je’Niece?” It’s proven to be a good practice for me.

As we go forth into this 2016th year, may we all take a moment to ask ourselves the question so that we can root ourselves firmly in the knowledge of who we are. Happy New Year again!

Gratitude Day #6

I’m late. I’m late. For a very important date!  Well, not really. But I feel as if I shouldn’t have waited so long to post today.  I really meant to do this earlier. However, this California dreaming has got me in a different state of mind.  It’s been so nice to leave my cares behind–albeit temporarily.  So that’s yet another reason why I’m grateful today.  Interestingly enough, I’m no more thankful today because it’s Thanksgiving than I’ve been every day before.  I am just in a state of gratitude.  Life certainly hasn’t been a crystal stair (Oh Langston, you wordsmith you!), but it hasn’t been as bad as I’ve felt it’s been at some of my darkest moments. The great thing about it has been that when I’ve felt it wasn’t worth living, once I just kept living  (kind of like Dory told us to just keep swimming), the feeling passed and there was another feeling.  It’s made me understand that life isn’t about any one particular feeling, experience, or moment.  No!  It’s about the collective.  And just think, I’m not even done.  Yeah, as Tina Turner once sang, I think it’s gonna work out fine.  So here’s today’s gratitude.

Today’s gratitude is interesting for me because it is just so fitting.  I truly didn’t plan this–and yet isn’t that the beauty of life?  Since my dad has passed, the holidays don’t mean the same to me.  I don’t “celebrate” them as I once did.  I’m more about appreciating the moments which add to the collective experience of my life.  My dad was such a wonderful teacher, and the lessons haven’t stopped because of his passing.
On this day I am grateful for my dad. But today I want to say that I’m grateful for not just his life, but also his death. Of course I’m not happy that he’s no longer here. But after 5 years of mourning, I can see the beauty in the midst of the pain. It’s that beauty that I’m grateful for today. I’ve said before that my dad was my soul mate, and I really believe he was. I’m convinced we’ve shared many lifetimes together. I was and still am in awe of him. He was unlike any other person I have ever known–beside myself. When I look back now, it’s amazing to me how much we mirrored one another. From our sharp wit to our sensitivity (Yes believe it or not, The Mac Man was extremely sensitive), we were carbon copies. Now that I get that, I can totally understand why and how my father could work my last nerves better than anyone’s business. In his absence, that’s what I miss most. He was my button puncher, and I his. I’ll admit that I didn’t always understand him. He spoke in ways that seemed so far above my pay grade. He would speak in codes and riddles. He would tell me “You don’t understand what I’m saying to you right now, but one day you will.” I, being like any normal daughter, would mumble under my breath “No I won’t” and I truly thought that I meant it. But he, being the wise sage that he was, was absolutely correct. I didn’t understand much of what he said until he passed away. A veil of fear, uncertainty, and insecurity shrouded my vision of my life. It wasn’t until my dad passed that the veil began to lift. I can’t accurately describe it, but all of a sudden, I could see everything so clearly. And everything he’d ever talked about made sense or came to fruition.

When my dad was alive, I learned to play the supporting cast member. I stayed quietly (and happily) in the background. And I had no complaints. After all, he was the one who always wanted to be famous. It was just his personality. And as much as we were alike, I bought into the notion that we were different in that respect. I didn’t want fame. I didn’t want to be the center of attention. It’s amazing to me how unaware I was of my own self. After my dad’s death, I felt like I was catapulted into the spotlight. Suddenly there were cameras in my face. People were recognizing me. It was so uncomfortable and I resisted. In my resistance, I tried to make everything about him. I started working with his foundation, convinced that it was my duty because his legacy needed to continue and who else but his only child could take it on? What I didn’t realize is that was just my way of carrying out my same pattern of hiding. If I could make everything about my dad, I wouldn’t have to deal with myself. I would talk to my dad everyday. One day I was at home talking to him about how unhappy I was with the foundation. It just wasn’t what I wanted to do. I asked for his guidance. I pleaded for him to help me. That night he came to me in a dream. He told me how proud he was of me. He told me how much he loved me. And he told me that it was time for me to live for me. He said, “Boops, you’ve spent your whole life doing what you think everyone else wants you to do. Now it’s time for you to do what you want to do. This is your life. Don’t’ worry about me. I’m fine. I did what I needed to do. Now what did I tell you about letting folks steal your mojo? ” I realized then that my father’s legacy was/is in tact because of the work he did here on earth. His job is done. And above all else, his legacy will continue because of me. I am his legacy. Jasmine is his legacy. There’s nothing I need to do for him. I need to create my legacy. The next morning, I told my mother I was leaving the foundation. Once I did, doors started opening that I’d never expected. I received a call from some producers of a new TV show, which would be called Windy City Live. They asked me to audition, and I did. I was scared out of my mind, but I did it. After my audition, one of the producers pulled me aside and said, “You know, for someone without any experience, you’re a natural in front of the camera.” And while I didn’t get the job, they still continue to call me for appearances. More than that, they helped me to see how capable I am. A producer by the name of Robert Small wanted to do a documentary about my dad. While working on it, he called because he wanted me to conduct some of the interviews. And I did. While we were working together he told me “Je’Niece you are really talented. You have a real career in this industry if you want it.” I’ve traveled across the country speaking in front of audiences. I’ve been on radio. I started a blog. I’m not sure I would have been able to do any of this if my dad were still alive. It’s this very thing that I’m grateful for. As much as I miss my dad, I recognize that the transformation that I’ve undergone is a direct result of his passing. When my dad died, I was devastated. I felt like I lost so much. But now that I’m on this side of my grief, I can see the picture in a broader view. Sometimes things in our life are torn down in a most ugly and painful way in order to create anew something beautiful. That’s what happened to me when my dad died. Yes I did lose some things when he died, but now I know that I also found some things. I found my voice. I found my truth. I found myself. I’m not at all sure of what lies ahead of me, but I know that it is something(s) I would have never imagined possible. Beyond that, I’m no longer scared of the possibilities. Daddy, you know how much I love you. I am so thankful for the 30 years that we were able to spend together. You were the most amazing person I’ve ever known (besides Jasmine) and it was and still is an honor to say that I’m your daughter. I thank you for everything that you’ve given me–in life, and even in your death. I am because of you and that means more than I could ever say.

*Reading this today actually brought tears to my eyes.  Two years have passed since I wrote this and I must admit I’ve forgotten some of these things at times.  But I find my way back to the truth–or either my dad keeps bringing it my way. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it’s the latter..*

Gratitude Day #1

I had the pleasure of sitting in on a podcast the other day.  The show is produced and stars a really wonderful young lady by the name of Kellye Howard.  Kellye is a hilarious stand up comedian, writer, and talented woman. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing her perform many times and I’m always left with laugh and smile lines, and a bit of a nugget that makes me think.  Her podcast is called Living With Regrets With Kellye Howard.  The premise is to take one thing in your life that you originally saw as a regret, but over time you’ve been able to see was probably something that helped you out in some way.  That’s pretty much how I tend to look at my life so it wasn’t difficult to do that at all.

It was actually quite fitting that I’d done the show this week because I was musing over some of my old writings when I saw some Gratitude posts I’d written on Facebook a couple of years ago.  I was feeling really down and I wanted to stop moping around.  I decided to take an objective look at my life and see how there have always been sunshine and calm amidst my so-called storms.  So I wrote a week’s worth of gratitudes for those stormy moments in my life.  Since Thanksgiving is upon us–and it’s the holiday that’s dedicated to gratitude–I thought it fitting to go back and remember those moments.

So here’s Day #1 of my Gratitudes.

On this day, I am grateful for the love of my life, my Fizzle. At 27 years of age, a yearning awakened in me unlike anything I’d ever felt before. After years of professing that I never wanted children, my soul began to ache. The cause of the ache was simply due to the fact that I wanted to be a mother. I wanted to birth my own child so badly that it was all I could think about. I could see, hear, and feel my child. I knew she was on her way to me. And then the glorious day arrived: the day I learned I was pregnant. I was so overcome with joy that I fell to my knees and wept like a baby.The moment I found out I was carrying this life within me, I was overcome with a love I had never known– and one that continues to stupefy me.  I couldn’t wait to meet the child I so badly wanted.

The day I met her was one of my scariest. She arrived 3 weeks early after the placenta threatened to abrupt. Even though we didn’t find out the gender, I knew in my heart that I was carrying my Jasmine. I was so fearful for her, but she arrived healthy and full of willful, feminine energy. Yet, upon her arrival, I learned very quickly how ill prepared I was to be a mother. I had no clue what I was doing and unbeknownst to me at the time, I slipped into a most horrible bout of post-partum depression. But even in the midst of my darkness, the love I had for this precious little girl was ever present, ever growing, and unwavering. This love pulled me through the hardest moments of my life and forced me to grow the hell up and get the hell on with the business of truly living. The love I had for this little girl catapulted me into true Womanhood. It forced me to take a good look at my life and get real with myself. The life I was living wasn’t good enough for her. And then I recognized the ugly truth: the life I was living wasn’t good enough for me! And so, with that love in tow, I made the decision to leave a bad marriage and start living for me. That same love pulled me through yet another bout of depression when my father died. It stopped me from putting a bullet through my head and leaving her motherless, and the world without the beauty that is Me. That very love sustains me even now. Jasmine, your very essence gives me LIFE! I know without a doubt that I was born to be your mother and though the journey hasn’t always been an easy one. I would not, could not EVER trade it in for anything. I am so thankful that the Almighty saw fit to gift you to me. You have been such a wonderful teacher and a pure joy to guide and grow along side. I know there are many more days ahead of us. But I just wanted to take a moment to give thanks for the days that have already been.

 

*Be sure to check out Kellye’s podcast.  It’s a great show. *

 

Tales From The Mommy Side

If you know me, you know that my daughter. The Fizzle, as I affectionately call her, is the love of my life. I love her in a space where there are no words. But, as much as I love her, that love is not enough to sustain me. If I did nothing else but love her and be her Mom, I would die unfulfilled. Now, before you write me off as a selfish Mommy, hear me out.

I said that I love her. She is the love of my life. However, my love for her cannot shade my divine soul purpose. I know that I was put here on this Earth to do something beyond motherhood. That’s not a mark against motherhood though. I think that being The Fizzle’s mom is one of the most rewarding roles I will ever fill. What I’m saying is that it’s not my only role.

When the Fizzle was first born, I was overwhelmed. I had this image in my head of what being a mother was supposed to entail.  I was so fixated upon this image that I overwhelmed myself. I felt bad if I let her cry for too long. I felt bad when she cried even after I’d crossed off all the important items on the baby comfort checklist: fed and burped her, changed her diaper, had her at appropriate temperature. I simply felt like a failure. I can’t even say that I put myself last because I didn’t even put myself on the list. I fell into the trap of thinking that a good Mommy is one who martyrs herself for the sake of her child. And as a result, I was tired and miserable. I remember one particular day when I was just spent. I had nothing left. The Fizzle was only maybe 3-4 months old. She was crying and so was I. I had done everything I could think to soothe her, and was unsuccessful. So I put her in her crib and closed the door. I decided I would go downstairs just to collect myself. I couldn’t even make it down the stairs. I fell on one of the steps and simply cried. I remember saying, “I know I wanted to be a mother. This is what I wanted. But I didn’t think it would look like this.” Well the problem was that in my vision of motherhood, I was showing up every day. But in the reality of it, I was not. I was failing to show up for myself. I demoted myself in this world as just a Mom. And in doing so, I signed myself up to feel inadequate and to not take up my rightful place in this world.

I thought about my daughter and all that I wanted for her. I wanted so much for her. I wanted her to be and have everything that she wanted. And I believed that she could do it. So how is it that I could have all this faith in her, yet none for myself? And how exactly did I expect her to do whatever she wanted if I didn’t model that for her? How unfair I was being to the both of us. I was being unfair to myself by failing to show up for myself in every way. I was being unfair to my daughter by placing an unrealistic burden on her to be my everything. While it makes for catchy song lyrics, she was not, in fact, all I needed to get by. No one person can ever truly fulfill another—not even a child. To ask one to do so is selfish in my opinion, so I won’t. That is far too great a task to ask of my precious child. And I love her (and me) too much to do that.

No, I couldn’t ask that of my baby. Mommy needed to get on with the business of living for both of us. And that meant that I needed to engage my innate gifts and talents. That meant that I needed to admit that I had dreams that needed fulfilling. And if I didn’t go on to fulfill them, what was I doing with my life? And just like that, I gave up the ghost of martyrdom. I stopped telling myself that being a good mother was all I needed to do with my life. I stopped pretending that there weren’t dreams inside of me. I made the conscious choice to dedicate myself to myself and live my truth.

I’m so grateful to my daughter for helping me to learn this lesson. She showed her Mommy the way—and she didn’t even know it (or maybe she did and I just didn’t know). And that is why I can boldly and lovingly say that which I said at the start. While I love my daughter, motherhood alone will not leave me fulfilled. My father would say to me that the world owes me nothing. It is I who owed the world. I owe it to not only myself, but also this world to put forth my best self and use the talents that I possess to leave my imprint upon this world. And that’s exactly what I’m doing.

*photo by YourMemories Photography*

If Then, What . . . ?

Happy and Joyful Friday! I am sending you all kinds of ooey gooey love from the very depth of my heart. Not that I’m trying to inspire a living for the weekend mindset, I just think Friday can be a great day to recharge. People seem to cast their cares away on Friday, and I think it’s a great time to drop a little nugget that you can carry with you through the weekend (and Infinity and Beyond!). But that’s only should you choose to. And quite frankly, I do hope that you choose to.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance this week to tape a new Happy Friday video. However, I have a video that I recorded a few months back that I think will still be great. I ask myself a the question of what would my life look like if . . . ” While I make a point of being cautious of the if/then mentality. I think this was a great question to ask myself. I hope you’ve asked yourself the same. And even more, I hope that you’ve answered. If you haven’t yet, maybe you will after seeing this. I think it’s great to ask ourselves questions. And asking ourselves questions are great because it gives us the opportunity to actually answer ourselves. So that’s why I chose to ask myself this question. I think I even ask you at some point as well.

My only wish for you is that you live life with joy and power (the good kind, not the ego-driven stuff, cause that’s not really power anyway). And if this little blog of mine (and I’m gonna let it shine) can do inspire you to do so, then all is well with me. Have a fabulous weekend . . . And Life! Until next time! Muah!

Better Late Than Not At All

There is a tremendous amount of pressure that exists to “have it all together.” A huge part of having it all together lies in having a career. And if that pressure wasn’t enough, just wait cause there’s more!  Yes, there’s even more pressure to have all your stuff together by the time you reach adulthood–which  depending on whom you ask, can be anywhere between 18-30. The 20s can be an incredibly stressful time because many spend this time trying to have it all together while simultaneously figuring themselves out. There is a pervasive belief that one should definitely have it all together by the time one is 30. So it can be incredibly disheartening to find oneself at 30 (or beyond), still hoping to “arrive” at this place. I understand it all too well. I’m 37 and I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. And for a long while, I placed a tremendous amount of pressure on myself to have it figured out. I expected that I should have this glowing career by now. And for a time, I felt inferior to others because I didn’t.  Well, I now know that one of my first missteps was operating under the should mandate. You know that mandate. That’s the one that dictates how you are to conduct yourself as an elite member of the Worldwide Federation of Adulthood.

Unfortunately, we don’t realize that we’re setting ourselves up for extreme disappointment by hanging on to this mandate. By believing and abiding by the shoulds, we make it easy to become disappointed, depressed, and down right despondent with life. I know, because I’ve been there. I was depressed for years, due in part to the fact that I hadn’t arrived yet. I finally forgave myself and allowed myself to recognize that there is no place to arrive. As a wonderful woman I know said, “I am in a race with no one but myself.” And while that doesn’t mean I have all the time in the world this physical life has to offer, it does mean that I do have some time to figure things out and make them happen. Circumstances are so temporary, and where I am today is not necessarily indicative of where I can be a year or so from now.

It got me to thinking. Since we are all more alike than we allow ourselves to recognize, I figured I couldn’t be the only person in the world to gain success or walk into my passion later in my life. And you know what? I’m not. So here’s a list of fellow late bloomers.  These are some people who are considered extremely successful in their line of work, and they all have a very common trait.  None of them actualized this so-called success until later in their life.

Julia Child didn’t learn to cook until she was in her 40s and she didn’t star in her famous cooking TV show until she was in her 50s.

Alan Rickman (film star probably best known for his role as Snape in the Harry Potter movies) didn’t get his first film role until he was 46.

Stan Lee wrote his first comic, The Fantastic Four, right before he turned 39. He didn’t start writing his most well known comic books until he was 43.

Toni Morrison published her first novel (The Bluest Eye) at age 40 (and she was a mother who was single).

Morgan Freeman got his break out role (Glory) when he was 52.

Laura Ingalls Wilder was 65 when “Little House on The Big Prairie,” the first installment of her highly popular children’s books was published. The last book of the series hit shelves when she was 76.

Rodney Dangerfield’s big break didn’t come until he was 46, when he was booked as a last minute replacement for an act that cancelled on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Vera Wang didn’t start designing clothes until she was 40, after she had “failed” at a figure skating career, and even as an editor at Vogue magazine.

J.K. Rowling was 32 when Harry Potter was published. And this was after she was rejected by 12 different publishers.

Samuel L. Jackson didn’t get an award-winning role (Jungle Fever) until he was 43.

While Steve Jobs formed a successful company in his twenties, he was booted from it. He didn’t find success again until he was in his mid thirties.

Actress Jane Lynch didn’t receive a noticeable role (Best in Show) until she was 43.

Harrison Ford was a carpenter who was hired to make cabinets for George Lucas before he was cast in the lead in Star Wars. He was 33.

Gene Hackman starred in his breakout role (Buck Barrow in “Bonnie and Clyde”) when he was 37.

Lucille Ball wasn’t popular until she created the “I Love Lucy” show at the age of 40.

Estelle Getty didn’t become a household name until she was 62, after starring as Sophia Petrillo on The Golden Girls.

Kathy Bates was 42 when she starred in Misery and garnered mass attention for her acting skills.

While she’d been acting on Broadway for years, Phylicia Rashad didn’t gain notoriety as an actress until she was cast as Claire Huxtable on The Cosby Show at the age of 35.

Larry David was 41 when he collaborated with Jerry Seinfeld to craft one of the most iconic TV shows  (Seinfeld) in television history.

Phyllis Diller was 37 when she started her stand up career.

Duncan Hines was 55 when he wrote his first food and hotel guide. He licensed the right to use his name to the company that developed Duncan Hines cake mixes when he was 73.

My Daddy.  Oh how could I not add my Dad to this list?  My dad was 33 when he appeared on Def Comedy Jam for the first time.  He was 34 when he appeared the second time to perform his now famous “I ain’t scared of you!” routine. He didn’t begin his acting career until a year later at 35. And he was 42 when The Bernie Mac show made its television debut.

So if you’re reading this and you were feeling a bit down about your place in life, fret not. You are not alone. And you should count yourself fortunate.  You have some pretty good company with you.  I hope this helps you to remember that all is certainly not lost, as you are probably exactly where you need to be. Your place today is simply a stepping stone for you to create the life of your dreams.  And know that you absolutely CAN go on to create the life of your dreams. So here’s to us: The late bloomers. Better late than never, my friends. Cheers!

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