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

Switch It Up!

"Switch It Up" is a Cocoa Fly series encouraging women to step out of the box, break it down and put it in the recycle bin. It's time to have fun and live it up!

Kelly Rowland could have called it quits and stayed in the bed. The Destiny's Child star's U.S. record sales were low. But when she heard London calling, girlfriend packed her bags. Forget about making green, Rowland is stacking her pockets with pounds, Euros and other foreign ching-ching. What did she do ladies? Say it with me- SWITCHED IT UP. Kelly told USA Today in a recent interview, "Here, sometimes it's like my music didn't quite work, but overseas it's on top of everybody's chart. I've had more international success than domestic success, and I think that opens my eyes up to music. I mean, I just got back from performing in Lebanon. Lebanon!"

Sounds like Kelly is having fun and living the life she dreamed as a solo artist. Kelly was smart and realized Americans aren't the only people who buy music. She 0pened her mind and took a chance. Okay, so we all don't have Destiny Child's money. The point is there's a whole world out there. But American's don't leave the continent much. The State Department estimated in 2007, 27% of Americans carry passports. Compare that to Minneapolis Star Tribune staff writer Jon Tevlin findings “... in Germany, 90 percent of citizens have passports. In Canada, it's 40 percent. In Great Britain, 64 percent.” Traveling abroad makes you more well rounded and appreciative of other cultures. It makes you feel more apart of the global community. We live in a global economy now. Don't you want to see where some of your money is flowing? To my Cocoa Fly college readers I highly advise you to study abroad and learn a language. More jobs require people to be multilingual. If you want to compete in this world, you have to learn about news, politics and life outside of the U.S.A.

The best part about traveling abroad is F-U-N. You meet so many people, see different places, tastes all kinds of food and wines. You learn about yourself and it's great for networking. I've taken a spa trip to Mexico. Explored the World Expo in Canada. Spent a summer working in England. Toured religious-segregated neighborhoods in Northern Ireland. And I ate chocolate in Belgium so delicious that I'm not sure if sex is better. Seriously, it was that good. I made friends and professional networks in some of these places. And you appreciate the range of male beauty when you go overseas. I remember meeting this gorgeous German bartender when I was in London. He was tall with bright eyes and sandy colored hair get my point.

One of my travel dreams is to see the Egyptian pyramids. I've been fascinated by them since I was a little girl. One day, I want to own a flat in London so I can spend half the year there and the other half in the U.S. Kelly, call a sista if you need a roommate.

Don't limit yourself to U.S. borders. If you're scared of traveling to another country, research. If you're not scared, research. I can not tell you enough--READ BOOKS ON THE COUNTRY BEFORE YOU LEAVE. One of my friends traveled to Northern Africa and didn't read any books about the region. She had a terrible time. If she had done her homework before leaving she would've been more prepared. Talk to people who visited or lived in the country you're visiting. They can give you the scoop or even contacts who are there. Check U.S. government for vaccines if needed. Learn some of the country's language. If you're going to an English speaking country, learn the lingo. I had no idea what a "loo" or a "lift" was until I left for London. Most importantly, be open minded. You're not going to America so people do things different. I know, shocker right? Don't talk mess about the country out loud for people to hear. Americans already have a reputation for not being well traveled or globally conscious overseas. If you're still nervous about travelling abroad, work your way up. Start off in the Caribbean or Canada, then go from there.

Finally, if you can't afford to go overseas right now make the library a destination. That's what my mom did for me as a child. She introduced to me books about different parts of the world and took me to cultural fairs. That ignited my passion for travel.

Let's go on a mental vacation. For those that have "Switched It Up" and gone overseas where did you go? Readers outside of the U.S., tell us some of the countries you visited.

Photo Credit:

Jenee Darden/Spa Retreat in Mexico
Jenee Darden/Spa Retreat, Beach in Mexico


  1. I love traveling abroad. I went to Spain when I was 16 and I was hooked. This past spring I went to New Zealand and Australia. I'd really love to get in one more foreign destination this year (maybe over a long weekend), but I haven't found anything that fits within my budget yet.

  2. I regretfully have to admit that I've not been to Europe yet but I am dying to go. I have a friend that travels to Germany at least twice a year for business and I am determined to go with him next time he goes. I'm convinced my husband is of European decent. Nothing like a tall german, let me tell you. Also, for those ladies interested in traveling abroad, I found this wonderful site on one of the many blogs I read.

    Hope it helps.

  3. I'm from the Caribbean originally but living in NYC now. A girlfriend and I spent eight days in the Bergamo/Milan area end of July. We had so much fun. It really does open up your eyes to see things in a new light. Also I've been to London twice loved it. I really wish more black women in this Country would travel.

  4. traveling abroad: LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT

  5. I plan to get a stamp in my passport for every year I have it! I behind one year and they didn't stamp it in Italy last year so I'm dissapointed about that, but I've been there three times so I'm over it. I went to Dublin Ireland solo for St. Patricks day. Was maid of honor at my friends wedding in Cancun, Mexico and plan to got to Stockholm, Sweden this fall.I decide where I want to go,research the place, start saving my money and go have a good time!

    I strongly encourage more black women to travel abroad.

  6. New Zeland, Australia, Milan, Germany, etc. Go 'head ladies! @Femmefab I agree it's important for black women to travel and all Americans. Tell us about Sweden when you return! And Miss One made a great suggestion I forgot to mention-- join travel groups. Or go teach overseas.

  7. Hello Jenee, really been enjoying your posts. I'm back from my solo living abroad "experiment" but I hope it's only temporary. I've traveled to 8 countries on 4 continents so far - I live to Switch It Up! Ain't that what life is all about. Group travel, solo, volunteer vacation, teach ESL, property caretaking...ladies do what you gotta but get out there!


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