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

Get Your Mojo Back...And Your Freedom

At the 7th Annual Juneeteenth Awards Celebration
in Oakland.
The hustle. The grind. They turn your dreams into reality. Some people romanticize the hustle and the grind. They boast about hustling, grinding, not sleeping, working 27 hours a day for their dream--all of that. I don't brag about hustling and grinding. It's hard work. It's draining. But I do it because I'm passionate about my dream and my writing. But sometimes the grind can grind your spirits.

A post from Humans of New York touched me (pretty much all HONY posts touch me). It featured a woman who said she lost her mojo. She had confidence and high hopes in college and grad school. But after that, "Life beat me up a little bit," she said. "And these days I’m wondering if I have what it takes to put together a single deal. I’m not sure exactly how it happened. But somewhere along the way, all my confidence got replaced by questions. Are you smart enough? Do you have enough resources? Who are you fooling? But I’m going to start changing the narrative. I’m taking this as a sign from the universe that I’ve got to get my mojo back."

I've felt like this sometimes. As we live life happens and sometimes it sucks out the fire inside of us. I felt like this during a recent battle with writer's block. I prayed and asked God to lift me up. The next day I saw this HONY post and it reminded me that I'm not alone in my feelings. Then the day after that,  I went to speak at the Juneteenth Awards Celebration in Oakland, hosted by and We Tell Our Stories Film Collective. I spoke about lifting up Black girls and how mental health stigma in the church affected me. I'm so grateful that the audience appreciated my message. I got a standing ovation. To my surprise they presented me a certificate of recognition from the California Legislature Assembly. So many other amazing people in the community were also honored, including my friend/writer/mental health advocate Lyndsey Ellis. It means a lot when your peers and community say they appreciate you. That night, the people at the event, the friends with me gave my spirit a boost.

Prior to all of this, when I posted that at times I could relate to the woman on HONY, someone responded with encouraging words that also lifted me up. Right before I started writing this post, one of my closest friends drunk texted me that she loved me and is inspired by my writing. Nothing like a loving drunk text from a good friend. 

This all added fuel to the passion in my heart. I'm not saying that you need to be recognized by your state to get your mojo back. But if it's possible to lose your mojo, it's also possible to find it again. It may start with going to friends to lift you up. Or looking at the great things you did in the past and remembering that person is still in you. Regardless of the kids, marriage, bills, health issues, job loss, deaths, etc. --that passionate person is still in you. And maybe once you get your mojo back that passionate person inside will re-emerge even better. 

One song that I play to get me pumped and my mojo flowing is "Freedom" from Beyonce's Lemonade album. That song gives me new life every time I play it. Bey and Kendrick Lamar rocked the hell out of that song on the BET Awards tonight. That performance was EPIC. When they were kicking and dancing in the water--whooooo you have to watch it.

Free yourself from the self-doubt and thoughts of the impossible. The grind and hustle aren't easy. They aren't pretty. But as Bey sings, "...keep running because a winner doesn't quit on themselves."

Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar perform "Freedom" at the
BET Awards. Visit for more
performances from the awards show.