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

How Do I Get My Power Back?

Photo by Ana Labate

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”
--Alice Walker

I finally had enough. As I prayed asking for the burden to be removed from my shoulders, I felt something I hadn’t felt in a very, very long time. I felt powerless. This time around it was more daunting. I felt it in my body that my spiritual and mental battery pack of power had hit red. Empty. I asked God for my power.

In five years I’ve been broke and jobless due to the recession, stood up to verbal attacks, helped care for a relative dying of cancer, attended many funerals and dealt with various health issues related to stress. People I thought who had my back turned their back on me. I’ve had to reconfigure my support network, the people I can rely on. I’ve been harassed on the street and narrowly missed being attack twice. I miss the friends and city I used to live. I’m not living the career dreams I worked hard for in school. And it seems when I try to achieve, I fail. The last straw was the last attempt by someone to harm me. I was angry as hell then wondered, “What happened to my life, what happened to my power?”

You probably can relate. Maybe you’re married to someone and it’s not working anymore, but you feel stuck. Or you’re in a job that you loathe going to every time the alarm clock rings in the morning. You can’t control your children. Or you’re in a financial rut. Someone you loved died unexpectedly and tragically. For the first time in your life, you failed. Through this all you feel powerless. You’re wondering, “What happened to my life, what happened to my power? How do I get it back?!”

I’ve always been successful and for the most part pleased with the direction was my life was going. Now I feel like I’m walking a dark road in the forest.  I must have some light somewhere.

After having that spiritual breakdown, I watched an episode of Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. Buddhist Nun Pema Chödrön was the guest. She’s the author of “When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times.” Things falling apart? I can relate. She talked about bouncing back after her husband left her decades ago.  She said that when our lives feel broken to think, “Something new is going to come out of this. This could end you up in a whole new place, a better place—if you know that.”

For Pema Chödrön, her husband leaving her led her to a better place-- Buddhism.

I went to my old vision board and read an article by former Essence editor and In the Spirit author Susan L. Taylor. I highly recommend her book. It’s about 20 years old but I still turn it for guidance. It just so happened that her 2004 Essence article “LifeWithout Limits” reflect my feelings and spoke deeply to my heart.

Taylor wrote:

So many of us sisters are on a mission to recover the parts of ourselves we feel we've lost. We want to reclaim our power, our passion, our purpose and, most of all, our joy.
Society's fear of feminine power, its devaluation of women's contributions, and its dismissal of our voices still take a toll on our confidence and self-esteem. Through social policies and in popular culture, in the workplace and often in our homes we are treated with condescension and made to feel inferior. In some way this has hurt all women. And not just women: The world is in chaos, out of balance, in part because things fall apart when women live at half measure…

Raise the bar and follow your dream. The Holy Spirit put it into your heart for you to pursue. Put faith and action behind it, and the universe will organize its resources around your intention. All that you need begins with you… It's time for us to rise, shake off the dust of limited thinking, and with bold authority step into the light.

So how do I get my power back? How do you get your power back? I still don’t have the answers. I can tell you what I’ve tried so far.

--I’ve looked for options to help better my life. Taylor wrote, “All that you need begins with you.” Chödrön said on Oprah, “We already have everything we need.” For a while I wasn’t sure if I could write a book. Then I realized, I know published authors! I sought them for advice. Think of the resources, people, support in your community that can help you. I’ve even made a list of resources. Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re weak or powerless.

--I’ve explored ways to empower myself in areas of my life, and will keep building up until I’m back on Full Empowerment.  Taking a self-defense class after being harmed empowered me regarding safety. No matter how hard of a day I have at work, I always feel empowered when I work on my book, because that’s my passion. Both have made me feel I have some control. 

-- A Buddhist teacher said during a meditation retreat, “Sometimes it just needs to stop.” She recognized this when she was in a stressful job. She got out of it. Some people I befriended who were disturbing my peace of mind, I ended the friendships. It needed to stop.
You will bloom again.
Photo by Jeneé Darden

--Say NO. This is my favorite. We as women are often expected to comply and take care of everyone before ourselves. If your plate of responsibilities is piling up say
NO. If you’re uncomfortable say NO.

--Keep feeding your spirit. Reading inspirational books, watching shows like Super Soul Sunday and talking to God are helping.

--I keep contact with people who keep me uplifted.

Most days these tactics work, some days they don’t. It’s not easy. We’ve all survived some kind of bad experience. We can survive again. Remember that quote at the top from Alice Walker. Your power may be on E, but you can recharge. The power is there. We just have to find it.