Digging Out and Pressing On

I am blessed with a circle of incredibly gifted peers, associates and friends. Folks whose resumes and portfolios leave me awestruck, regularly.

Talent, we've got in heaping doses. Finding ways to finance the creative flow, however, is often a far more arduous task.

As I continue to navigate my way into the next stage of my professional career, I have much sharper clarity on how this latest shift is part of a pattern in my life. Back in 1998, I decided to leave the relative comfort of my job in advertising and PR to strike out on my own and be more creative. In 2008, when the Great Recession hit, I was forced out of a wonderful job as a creative consultant, developing curriculum for a local nonprofit that sought to illuminate the relationship between artistic expression and spirituality. And here in 2018...same shit, different org.

But, as I mentioned in a message to some of my college homies earlier today, I receive constant reminders that there is no room or time for pity parties. A colleague at a local dance company has been let go after 21 years of faithful service, due to "budgetary concerns." Other friends have had health crises over the past year and have been shifted around in their positions, protected only by federal regulations that say they can't be fired outright for getting sick. So my situation is majorly inconvenient, but manageable. I've just got to reignite my hustle and put the bitch in overdrive until my next Hallelujah appears.

I take immediate inspiration from my girl Ursula Rucker: word warrior, teacher, performer. She has an international following because of her incisive poetry and recordings, and she's been plugging away at this artist thing for decades while raising four beautiful sons. Last week, it was announced that she's been selected as a 2018 Pew Fellow. She joked that the SIXTH time must be the charm! And because she's a friend, I know firsthand how hard she's hustled to keep the lights on, pay tuition and continue to elbow out room for Spirit to come and bless the poetry. How many times she's considered calling it a day and finding some more reliable, stable way to earn her keep.

But, truth is, there is no such thing these days. Companies come and go, employee rosters swell and subside. All of us are just out here trying to do the best we can to earn a living and maintain some peace of mind about our purpose here on Earth. My struggle is neither unique nor singular. In my lean times, I've got to better my hustle. And in times of plenty, I've got to learn to be a better steward of my resources to minimize the stress along the path to the next win.

It ain't new and it ain't special. It's the reality of my creative world. And the sooner I embrace it, the quicker I can coalesce the energy to rise above it. For at least the next 10 years, according to my life's path thus far. We'll see how well I've done when 2028 rolls around.