Starting Your Dreams Later In Life and Embracing the Detour

Jenee Darden speaking at Creative Mornings I know it's been a while since I've posted anything but that's because of my job. I'm working as a reporter covering Oakland and I host an arts segment on the radio where I get to interview amazing artists from around the Bay Area. Plus I'm publicizing my book  and building my speaking career!  You know what's funny? I thought this would all happen by the time I was 27-30.  Nope. That wasn't God's plan for me. I'm finally beginning to do the things I've wanted to do and I'm almost 40 years old. Some people reading this who are 40 will say 40 is still young. But some younger people reading may think 40 is nearly ancient. But I'm writing this post for those who like me, thought their career and personal dreams would come true much early in life. I'm here to tell you not to give up.  You know, death inspires life. A number of my relatives and friends have passed away, ranging in

Fly Read: My Organic Soul

I hope everyone had a great Easter holiday. Growing up, my family didn't get together for Easter. My mom and I went to church sometimes and I got an Easter basket, but we never went all out with the dinner and egg hunts. As I grew older Easter became a reflective holiday for me. I reflect on Christ's sacrifice for love and how what didn't kill Him made Him stronger. So strong that he rose from the dead. And I can't help but tie that in to my own personal life. For those not Christian, think about Spring. A season of new life and colors. The snow is melting and the cold is gone. It's time for growth and new energy. Again, I think about the challenges in my life. What do I need to rise over? Where do I need to grow?
Easter is also about gratitude. I'm thankful that the things in my past life that seemed to kill my spirit then, only made me stronger, wiser and more powerful today. I'm thankful for what God has done for me in my life.

Usually when I reflect on life I turn to my journal. I've been writing in a journal since I was about 7 years old. My mother made me a journal from a little brown binder she bought from Walgreens. She typed my name on a small sheet of paper and taped it to the cover. That journal is the best material gift she gave me because she planted the seed of my writing passion. I did a piece on NPR's Intern Edition about my journal. Music marketing executive Jacqueline Rhinehart also keeps a journal. She's worked with major talents like Erykah Badu, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Didddy, Notorious B.I.G, etc. I wrote about her last month. Rhinehart has kept a journal since she was 11. She's encouraging people of all ages to write their thoughts in My Organic Soul: A Journal to Help You Discover Yourself through Words of Wisdom from Visionaries Past and Present From Plato to Creflo, Emerson to MLK, Jesus to Jay-Z.

What's really cool about this journal is that it features quotes from scholars, prophets, hip hop artists, singers, etc. I heard Rhinehart speak at the California African American Museum a few weeks ago. She said her mother encouraged her to talk with herself when she needed to make a decision. Listen to that inner voice. Journaling is like having a conversation WITH yourself. I found it interesting that Rhinehart said she's suspicious of people who don't talk with themselves
or analyze their actions. My mom always told me that some people can't be alone with their thoughts. I think that's one of the reasons why some people are so angry, hurt, hateful, jealous. They can't process and look at their thoughts, go inside themselves. When I have feelings good, bad, or feelings that I ashamed of I write them down in my journal and it's so liberating. It clears my head. I was in a meditation class and the instructor told us to feel your feelings so they can pass. If you're sad, don't repress it. Just feel it and then it will pass. The key is to feel your feelings, acknowledge them. But don't your feelings control you.

If you have children or work with children, encourage them to keep a journal. So many American kids hate to write and can't write. But if you encourage them to write early on, it may help them in school. Also, it gives them a space to learn how to address their emotions. As a kid, if I was mad at my mom or going through something that I couldn't express verbally, I'd write them down in my journal. Then I would "accidentally" leave my journal open so she'd read it. I knew she'd read it because she's noisy. She asked me questions about what she read. That helped us communicate better.

Rhinehart is 50 and as you can see by the photo about, she looks GREAT. She's fit and has a warm personality. She does not like 50 at all. So I asked her what was her beauty secret. She told me this really cool quote that didn't record. In essence she said, take of yourself while you're young, have a good attitude and don't sweat the small stuff while you're young, because years down the line how you live your life will eventually show on your body and in your face. So when I walked to my car to listen to my great interview and heard static from the jacked up NEW tape I used, I hit the roof... for a few seconds. Then I realized I couldn't do anything about it. The tape was fine the first minute of the interview but the rest of it was corrupt. I went home and vented in my journal.


  1. Thanks for the Easter thoughts, Jenee. My family and I celebrate two Easters -- one on Easter Sunday and another on Orthodox Easter Sunday with some close friends of ours. It gives us double the chance to reflect on just the things you are saying. Especially, I reflect on time with family and friends and how grateful I am to be here to celebrate another spring.

    I love what you wrote about journaling, and I will remember it for my girls. I love your description of the first journal your mom gave you.


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