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

NABJ, Red Hat Society
What a Summer!

I haven't had a summer so busy in a long time. And lucky for me, the events I wanted to hit up were in Southern California. Ya'll now a sista is on a budget. A few days ago I met journalist and Let's Talk About Pep star Jacque Reid at the National Association of Black Journalists convention in San Diego. She was so kind to take a picture with me. I can't wait for season 2 of Let's Talk About Pep. I am so hooked on the show it's ridiculous. In case you've been living in the mountains, Let's Talk About Pep is like a black/brown version of Sex and the City. It follows the dating lives of Pep from the rap duo Salt-N-Pepa and her friends. It's my TV crack. Speaking of crack hear about the drug bill President Obama signed regarding the sentencing disparities between crack and powder cocaine offenders? Sorry for the detour but I am a journalist. Back to Jacque , she is pretty on TV but gorgeous in person. I hope she finds love because she seems too smart, pretty and kind to be single. When I first heard she was doing the show I was disappointed because I always respected her work on BET News, CNN, etc. Doing a reality show to me seemed beneath her. I didn't know if the show was going to be another dose of VH1 coonery . And I questioned if it would negatively affect her journalism career. But I LOVE it. On the show Reid is open about her desires to have a baby. My girl pushes her dog in a baby stroller. In one episode she even considered making a baby with a male friend. Reid's situation is a reality for a lot of women, especially professional women. Her dating adventures along with the rest of the crew make for some good, juicy television. Good luck in love Jacque!

As you can see at the NABJ conference you never know who you'll bump into. While heading to a recruiter's booth at the convention's job fair USDA official Shirley Sherrod walked past me. My apologies for the quality of the photo. Cocoa Fly needs a new camera. A group of people were following her and snapping photos. It's amazing how one incident can change your entire life. Three weeks ago people would just walk past Sherrod probably trying to get in line to be interviewed at the ESPN booth. Now she has some fame. Andrew Breitbart may have been the best thing that happened to her.

But the true stars of the weekend were the ladies of the Red Hat Society. Those women know how to par-tay. Not party, but par-tay. Their national convention occurred in the same hotel as the NABJ's conference. When I first arrived to the hotel, I took a wrong turn and ended up in this sea of red hat, purple feathers and fierceness. The women in the org are 50 and up. I must say 50+ never looked so good and so much fun. When I asked Patti Lannen from San Diego (far left) if her organization puts on events or does community service she said, "We don't fundraise, we raise fun. " I love it! They're women of a seasoned age spicing up their lives. (L-R Patti Lannen AKA Queen of Sunshine, Debra Granich, CEO; Mary Ann Palmore AKA Queen Moca Latte)

These ladies were participants in the fashion show. I didn't get their name or chapter. Anyone reading this know that info, please let me know. But don't they look fab? I'm telling you the Red Hat ladies know how to work it.

It's always nice to meet someone who opened the doors for people like me. Here I am at a BET News reception with Bay Area radio talk show host Ray Taliaferro. Mr. Taliaferro was honored with a Hall of Fame award from the NABJ. His show comes on 1am-5am. When I was a kid his voice would drive me crazy at night. Some people sleep with the TV on. My mom slept with the radio up high, listening to Taliaferro in and out of sleep. I hated that darn radio because Taliaferro's voice woke me up in the middle of the night. Who would have known years later I'd be working in news radio myself. And my mom makes it a point to frequently remind me.

Of course there were menz at the conference. My friend who came by to visit me at the hotel said she hadn't been around this many professional black men since we both took classes at Morehouse. Shout out the brothers of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity from Delaware. I met a lot of brothas who are doing all kinds of great things in media: anchor and reporter DeMarco Morgan from NBC New York, Greg Gross at I'm Black & I Travel, and Omoyele Sowre is uncovering ground breaking stories from Nigeria on Many people I met at the convention were laid off journalists who launched their own news sites...

and are getting back on their feet. Some with style. I took this picture with a reporter and two women from Canada. Richmond-Times Dispatch Sr. Editor Sundra Hominik snapped our feet candy ;) for her column "In My Shoes." She and her colleagues are telling great stories and having some good girlfriend conversations over at her column.

And that was my time at NABJ. Workshops, networking, spotting famous people, some partying and I forgot to mention hanging out with friends. Shout out to my friend C for letting me crash on her blowup for a few days. After all of that ripping, running and driving, I'm gonna kick my feet up for a while.