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

A Ceremony Fit for a King

On Tuesday, July 7, 2009 at 10:30am PST the world stopped. Whether you watched the memorial or just thought about the service, people all over the globe took a moment for Michael Jackson. The service was beautiful. It wasn't a concert or even a memorial. The program reminded me of a traditional black funeral. Despite the thousands of people in the Staples Center and the estimated 1 billion people tuned in, it felt intimate. Everyone who set foot on that stage did a great job. Mariah Carey's voice was shaky but her performance was passionate because you could hear the sadness in her voice. John Mayer's "Human Nature" performance--simple and moving. Jennifer Hudson was stunning, Stevie Wonder put it down with so much soul and both Lionel Richie and the choir turned the arena into church. Rev. Al Sharpton's eulogy reminded me of a sermon in a black church. And Usher singing to his mentor's golden coffin was heartfelt.
But one of my most favorite moments that people aren't talking about was Queen Latifah reading Maya Angelou's poem "We Had Him." That poem summed up how the world has felt over the last week.

"Beloveds, now we know that we know nothing, now that our bright and shining star can slip away from our fingertips like a puff of summer wind. "

Magic Johnson's story about eating a bucket of KFC on the floor with MJ at Neverland was priceless. I'm sure Colonel Sander's people are overjoyed too. I will never eat a 2-piece and cup of coleslaw from KFC the same way.

And of course little Paris Jackson who gathered the courage and heart to tell the world her daddy was the best. I noticed when Rev. Al told the kids that nothing was strange about their dad, she instantly got on her feet and started clapping. Her tearful expression at the end of the service is going to be one of those memorable moments in history like when John John saluted JFK's casket. I hope the media leaves the MJ's kids alone so they can have somewhat of a normal life.

It breaks my heart MJ is gone. Listening to his music and watching his videos this past week has been such a great journey back to my childhood. Berry Gordy was right on. Michael Jackson is the greatest entertainer ever. When I look at so much of the garbage music that's out now, I'm so happy that I grew up during his prime to witness what real music is all about. He was magical to the end. The international community is dealing with wars, a worldwide recession, dictatorships, faulty elections etc. In the midst of this world chaos, only Michael Jackson could make people all over the globe put their problems aside for a few minutes on Tuesday, join hands and sing "We are the World."

Michael Jackson may be gone, but the magic in his music is eternal. And my ears and dancing shoes will always be under his spell.

Go to the U.K's Telegraph for great pictures of the Jackson Family.

We Had Him
by-Maya Angelou

Beloveds, now we know that we know nothing, now that our bright and shining star can slip away from our fingertips like a puff of summer wind.

Without notice, our dear love can escape our doting embrace. Sing our songs among the stars and walk our dances across the face of the moon.

In the instant that Michael is gone, we know nothing. No clocks can tell time. No oceans can rush our tides with the abrupt absence of our treasure.

Though we are many, each of us is achingly alone, piercingly alone.

Only when we confess our confusion can we remember that he was a gift to us and we did have him.

He came to us from the creator, trailing creativity in abundance.

Despite the anguish, his life was sheathed in mother love, family love, and survived and did more than that.

He thrived with passion and compassion, humor and style. We had him whether we know who he was or did not know, he was ours and we were his.

We had him, beautiful, delighting our eyes.

His hat, aslant over his brow, and took a pose on his toes for all of us.

And we laughed and stomped our feet for him.

We were enchanted with his passion because he held nothing. He gave us all he had been given.

Today in Tokyo, beneath the Eiffel Tower, in Ghana's Black Star Square.

In Johannesburg and Pittsburgh, in Birmingham, Alabama, and Birmingham, England

We are missing Michael.

But we do know we had him, and we are the world.


  1. I said the same thing. It reminded me of a regular black Baptist funeral, which really surprised me. One of my favorite highlights was Jermaine singing "Smile". I thought they did him a great service in the end by portraying him as human above all else.


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