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

Swirling Comes to Oakland...And We Had a GOOD Time

Cocoa Fly with Swirling authors Christelyn Karazin (l) and Janice Littlejohn

 We got our talk on. We got a little bit of our drink on. We got our Swirl on.

The Swirling event, hosted by the Meetup group Sisters with White Misters (SWM),  took place at Kincaid's right on the bay in Oakland's Jack London Square. The afternoon kicked off with a panel discussion about interracial dating.  Patrick, a single white dad of very cute biracial daughters, talked about his experiences of dating black women and dealing with relatives who weren't accepting of him dating out. In case you're wondering, he does do his daughters' hair. I had to ask :) .  Sunnie, a black woman in a relationship with a white man, shared her experience of being open to love who she wants regardless of race. I found it interesting that she said when she's out with her boyfriend, she receives more negative looks from black people than whites.  

Janice and Christelyn signing books. 

Then came the main attraction. I've wanted to meet Swirling authors Janice Littlejohn and Christelyn Karazin for sooooo long.  Christelyn is bubbly and funny in person as on her blog And Janice is poised, graceful and friendly. Just as I imagined. They're a great team.  Not only are these ladies smart, but they are both beautiful in person (I love their lipstick colors. I need to get the 411 on their makeup). Back to the talk, they were awesome as expected.  Janice spoke about going out of your comfort zone to meet people and not being ashamed of dating who you want. Christelyn shared a great story about her own "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" experience with her then-boyfriend/now-husband's family.  Christelyn and her in-laws have a great relationship now. You can listen to our interview from a few months back for the story. 

I really enjoyed facilitating the discussions. Everyone who spoke asked great questions.  If you haven't bought the book, get it. It's a great read for not only black women, but men as well. The authors said there has been an interest in the book from Latinas who want to Swirl but are also concerned about cultural differences.

Here I am facilitating. Thanks to Christelyn for snapping this photo. 

Great group of people at the event.

The book is hard to put down. I was flying to Portland on a business trip with my co-worker and going over the book to prep for the discussion. My co-worker, who is black, asked to read the book. She got into it quick.  She bought the book at Powell bookstore the next day. Afterward, we went across the street for pizza. As I was walking to take a seat, the white guy at the table next us brushes the crumbs off of the table and seat where I was planning to sit. I flirtatiously told him thank you and that I can't wait to tell people back in Cali that I met a nice, young man who showed me Portland hospitality. He gave a flirty smile back and told us to have a good time.  My co-worker says, "See, she read the book." LOL

Thanks to the Meetup group Sisters with White Misters for inviting me to moderate. Another thanks to SWM member Shannon for snapping a few photos for me. And a BIG thanks to Christelyn and Janice for making time to hang out with us in Oakland.  They sold the rights to the book and it looks like it's going to be made into a film.  I'm excited for these ladies. Get the book and get your Swirl on!   

Hey DC, I hear Christelyn is coming your way soon. Don't miss out on the fun! 

Cocoa Fly, the authors and Jena, founder of Sisters with White Misters


  1. Sounds like a great event...I hope to check them out when they are here in DC :)

  2. I had a great time. You should totally see them when they go to DC.

  3. This is a community where all are welcome to explore, ask questions, and just be who you want to be. The authors were a gift to us. Thank you.

  4. SWM-- You're welcome! For people interested in joining Sisters with White Misters, go to


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