Where The Road Turned...and why
WHERE THE ROAD TURNED...and why
All of life is continually filled with forks in the road. Unless we know where we are going and are determined to follow the path of our knowing, we will get lost and miss our place to be. The voices of distraction to our soul’s knowing are everywhere. Seeming purposely planned to take us off course. Even when we know our purposeful being, distraction is perfectly placed to dishonor who you say you are and what you say and believe.
We have signposts along the way to guide and direct us. But we often fail to understand, and when we do understand, we often begin to doubt – why? Because of the many voices that come to take you away from who you are – and where you are supposedly convinced you should be.
There is such shrewdness at work when one is taken off course and lured into the wrong fork in his road. Because of innocence and the trust it invokes, it becomes like taking candy from a tiny baby to move you – to take unfair advantage of you as you move along your path. The techniques vary, but they often seem so reasonable. So loving. But what else would they be if they weren’t designed to partner with your reason—your mental, your intellect, your thinking. And of course, the luring by the avenue of love is all needed to place you within a power that seems so right. A power that partners and is seemingly motivated by the space where love resides.
Sadly, all the techniques remove you from you – from that destiny marked for you likely before you came from your mother’s womb. So now, what do you do? Once you realize you’ve been duped. Yes, duped. YOU. The one God has so solidly informed and invested wisdom. When 40 years have gone by, the only thing you have are eyes that look back. Filled with tears. You now have a mind that questions. Why? And How? Did you get here – instead of THERE—where you believe—no...where you KNOW in your heart you should have been.
Through the tears you can re-trace your steps and see the subtleness of the enemy of your fate. And who, indeed, was that enemy? Names come to mind. And so does blame, through the tears. And anger. But, who, indeed, was the greatest enemy at drawing you when you were at that fork in the road? Can you admit it? Let’s say it out loud. “I was my biggest enemy.” Yes. You were. I was. Once you and I admit we were our biggest enemy, we can begin looking back with clear eyes—though tear-filled.
Why did you—the enemy of yourself at that time— allow and go along with the talented partner who awaited the opportunity to absorb you, rob you, steal from you the best place, the best opportunities, the greater prosperities. What names do you give to the “you” at that time? Naïve. Afraid. Selfless. Foolish. Compassionate.
I will speak for myself as I now self-evaluate, self- analyze, provide self-therapy and wonder why I am at this state in life that I find puzzling at times. Especially knowing my past. Knowing my skills. Knowing my ambitions. Knowing my status in the eyes of a world of people. And knowing who and what I believe God had purposed for me.
It's now been 40-plus years. I left Right On! Magazine after a very successful career that came to me when I was just a very young lady. It literally came to me through a friend who gave me information that I followed up on. I contacted the company which I had never heard of. I was basically hired on the spot. The night before I was to begin, I was very afraid. After all, what was an Editor? I had never met one. I certainly had never met a Black one. I knew how to write. It was part of who I was. Me, a lover of words, who put them together while at breakfast, looking at them on the cereal box. I could mix and match them. Me, an observer from the time I can remember. Me, the people-watcher on the bus with my mother in Little Rock, Arkansas where we were relegated to the back of the bus. Despite that – I observed all—or just about all who got on the bus:
“Momma. That little girl is bad,” I said about the little blond girl seated two rows ahead. The little pale- faced kid who licked her tongue at me. And I licked mine back at her. Beyond Mama’s eyesight, of course.
But I had all the qualities of a writer—and an editor as well, though I knew no editors. I understood how to structure a sentence so that it was more easily understood. I intrinsically knew how to do that. In college, my first major was Journalism. But I dropped out and changed my major to Dance and Psychology. Why? Because the teacher, in my young opinion, had no idea how to help the students communicate and translate ideas to others who would read a written work. He was tall and bald-headed. He was not bright in my opinion. He was so set on us using a formula, instead of allowing writing and communication to be what I THOUGHT it needed to be. Which was simply to communicate and connect with a particular group of people for whom the writing was addressed.
My English-writing/Homeroom teacher in 7th, 8th, and 9th grade, Mrs. Camille Cannady was the best teacher ever. She taught me to expand. To go beyond what seemed tiny and small. Her encouragement allowed me to be free. My college professor didn’t.
So, becoming a writer and editor (assistant for the first 6 months until they understood my value!) was perfect. I was on course. In the right place. At the right time. I stayed there for almost 5 glorious years. I say “glorious” because I gloried in doing what I was so capable of and what I love. I say glory, too, because I was glorified by my readers whom I understood—and who knew I understood them.
Near the 5-year mark, I knew it was time to leave. The owners and I were not on the same mental page. What we valued was different. I knew that going in, but because I had a work and purpose, I remained. The articles I wrote on the famous, beloved Black people made me famous also. That I also became famous and beloved was not a welcome position from the perspective of the white-owned publishing company.
Because I know the impact and value of stories and words, I tread in wrong waters when I dared to interview and write a story on a civil rights activist. Jesse Jackson. After all, this was a teen magazine— which was famous for a bit less-important-stories. Nevertheless, I knew my audience and the greater value this story could impart to them. In doing so, my publishers were upset and ordered the story be removed. Unfortunately, or fortunately—depending on your perspective—I did not obey. The story ran.
They tried to stop the printing simply because Jesse Jackson was in the issue. Somehow, a bigger power must have decided differently. The story ran. My photo with Mr. Jackson was removed. Because of all the fuss, I decided it was time to leave. I resigned— before the issue actually hit the newsstands. Somehow, the silly publishers decided they’d punish me for resigning—and for the article—by blocking/deleting my photo with Mr. Jackson. Because earlier, the signs of dissention were obvious, and I was told the publishers thought I was getting too big and popular, I knew it was time to leave – I had made plans to do so. I saved my money. I began planning for starting my own magazine and publishing company. The momentum for me to do so was in place. I resigned with the aims and purpose in place.
My road and vision for it were clear. One day, a friend—an older gentleman in the record business—visited me in my office. As I look back, how “perfect” or “imperfect”, based on your perspective was his timing for my life-road-trip. He mentioned he had just begun steps for his magazine—he told me he wanted me to join him. He made it seem like it would be a great thing for a powerful young Black woman to join forces with him – a music executive—and do what Black people should do: bring their talents together for a greater good than if we do things solo.
All of those kinds of things rang a bell with my heart. I believed so much in Black people unifying. It was the late 70s, and things still were not unified as they should be with Black people. My friend delivered a good reason. Unity of our people. Growing a business together. The heart of the matter was there.
But where was the actual plan—a good, step-by-step plan? He talked. But I saw nothing. Other than his reason for me joining him and using my good reputation and popular name value as a way of building a business. But where was the plan? The contract. These were good sounding words. I wasn’t even offered a salary. I wasn’t told how I would benefit financially—nothing on paper. Only talk.
I swallowed the talk. The idea with no concrete plan. I became Executive Editor of The Soul & Jazz Record Magazine. He wanted it to rival national popular white owned music publications, like Billboard Magazine – and tell the stories from a Black perspective. It did. I was all “in”. I helped tell those stories. What did I gain? I got no salary. He hired a receptionist. Paid her something—maybe $10/hr. Drugs led to her being fired. Because I needed help, I hired a receptionist. I personally paid her $10/hr. After 3 to 6 months, she left. There were no more receptionists, and I handled the calls in addition to the Editorial and Writing and writers’ assignment work. I did it all. But, now, I needed to be paid something. I was receiving job offers left and right.
After almost 2 years, I took a promising offer with a major Record company—Arista Records—still renowned for superstars like Whitney Houston, Phyllis Hyman, and Gil-Scott Heron. I became their West Coast Publicist in 1978...though I knew it was not what I wanted to do. But now, I needed to earn my living with a good salary. I did—and it allowed me a financial pathway to owning my own home at a young age. (Though while at Right On! Magazine, I earned enough, and could have bought my own home, too.)
Somewhere along the way – I was at a fork in the road. But I knew which direction I should walk. Until... Until someone’s voice took over mine and assured me my initial direction should be changed for the better good of Black folks.
That is the place – in July (or January) of that brilliant expectant new year – that my road changed.
I can’t say this for sure, now that I look back, but I think I “changed” MY MIND. Because someone else told me I should. I obviously lost my mind and accepted his. It changed my destiny. As I look back, there is sadness. There are tears for the child-woman who believed the older gentleman. For the child- woman who believed in the ideal of Black people uniting and having and passing along a greater value. Had I walked MY PATH and took the fork I believe God had prepared for my travel, I believe my life and that of my children and family would be so much different. And different in a better way than the struggle that began and that has persisted much too long.
Indeed, I have not mourned in great detail the path I believe I should have taken. But I have begun to consider the ways not to allow it to happen further. God had said to me in January 2020 “I need one week with you. Will you give Me that?” To which I said, “I will.” On this new path of hearing, obeying and walking to the Voice of God I know I hear, I am finding so much wisdom. And I am gaining so much courage. I am finding my own voice where I understand there is as much honor in saying NO as there is in saying YES— especially in response to a voice that is not mine—and not one sent by God for my purpose-ordained and best life.
As I began my honor of God to allow him “... one week...” with me, I am able to now mourn some things that I did not take the time to mourn. Like, first, not mourning losing my way—my way—and being taken off course for 40 years.
I’m learning that I have not allowed myself to mourn things. I had to just keep stepping. But in mourning, there is a refreshing of the mind and spirit. And it’s okay to take that time. It’s okay to stop being busy. It’s okay to take time for myself—longer time than just a few moments. But when faced with the obstacles and decisions I’ve had to handle, I am due some mourning time. I am due/obligated/have a right to say, “NO!”
Without that mourning, there is no reflection. There is no acknowledgment. There is not re-calculation. There is no re-setting the path that was and is ordained. There must be mourning and reflection and quiet time, and listening time, and hearing the Voice inside—that direction from the Spirit of God, awaiting your hearing.
And now, I hear. And the Voice of my spirit says, again: “Let Me direct—and I know you will and can hear at this second opportunity to walk the path so
ordained you from before you left your mother’s womb. And no, it’s not too late—time is as you use it. And now, you are using it. Continue. Abide by Me—by the Voice of Me that indwells you—right now. I give you Time to walk the path of prosperity –prosperity in every way. This I do because you chose the right path—Me. And you are forever in and under my wings—and on My path. Rest in knowing. Rest in your continual growing.”
And so, it is. I know and admit and mourn and move forward. The path—road—turned. I did not walk it. But now it has my attention. I will not disappoint myself, my kids, my family, my God.
Yes...the road was the road...Did it turn? Or did I? Were there forks? Which was I to follow? I know now. And, inside my heart, I knew THEN.
Follow your heart.