1.  SURROUND YOURSELF with a ALL things creative. If you're a writer you need to write but you also need to read! It isn't easy I know because I struggle with this myself. Having two children under college age and a very busy traveling husband makes the element of TIME a constant challenge. However, it's a challenge worth making time for. If you're a dancer you must go to class and dance but you also need to experience what other dancers are doing. You must continually expose yourself to the larger creative world around you. When was the last time to visited a museum, went to hear a symphony, see a play or musical or walk into an art gallery? Try making a commitment to do one of these things once a week or even once a month! And there are a lot of things to do that are free or at a nominal cost, you just have to do a little research and sniff it out. Inspiration begets inspiration but it doesn't always show up at your front door. Go to it!

2.  THERE'S A REASON THEY'RE called "masters". Rembrandt, Tchaikovsky, Ellington, Shakespeare, and Ella were masters of their craft. We don't hear the word "craft" referred to so much anymore but guess what, the commitment that's needed to be the best at what you do hasn't changed. To be the best blogger, PR maven, or self-published author doesn't just happen. I still have moments when I want to just close my eyes, spin around three times, and wish for instant success but  then I open my eyes, sit down to do the work, post, and tweet. Did I mention "work"? The work is the only thing. Although it seems that international beauty guru Bethany Mota woke up one day and became an overnight sensation, don't be fooled. I guarantee you any amount of money that she'll tell you a story about making endless videos all by herself in her bedroom, for quite awhile before anyone even noticed her. But she did her work and she never gave up. The masters are tireless in their approach to the work. Find the individuals around you whom you most admire. who have been the most successful, and inspire you. Forget all of the people who only talk about what they want to do. Instead, attach yourself to those who are DOING IT or have done it. There are no shortcuts to greatness. The magic is work, work, work.

LEAVE YOUR COMFORT zone, by any means necessary!

It's so easy to coast, to meander, stay comfy, and cozy. Like Steven Pressfield talks about in his book The War of Art, Resistance is chomping at the bit and waiting for you to stay safe, cave in and give up. Do not go quietly but fight that urge to remain comfortable and complacent with everything you've got! It IS easier said than done but it is dire to becoming the very best of who you choose and need to be. We must constantly be pushing ourselves, reinventing, and surrendering to the uncomfortable in an effort to evolve, stay relevent, and ever creative. So gear up, put on that armor, and steel yourself for battle; whether to sit down and write, go back to the ballet barre, or make the daily posts. Do it consistently, passionately, and creatively to mold yourself into your own master!




A Sweet Farewell To Geoffrey Holder

Geoffrey Holder was a giant among men and artists! He has departed to leave us with a wealth of human spirit, beauty, and inspiration. Maurice Hines Jr called me yesterday to tell me that he would soon be making his transition and we talked a long time about how we will never again see the likes of Mr. Holder, Alvin Ailey, my father, Gary DeLoatch, Lonnie McNeil, Lowell Smith, and so many others of their elk, ever again. When I did the memorial for my father at St. John The Divine, there was no other choice as to who would begin that very special tribute. The only choice was Geoffrey Holder and he was positively delicious as he spoke so lovingly of his comrade, my father, in dance & the arts. I was so incredibly lucky at fourteen to dance in one of my personal favorite ballets Dougla with The Dance Theatre of Harlem. These are the gods and goddesses that have paved our way; never to be forgotten and to be regarded with the utmost awe and respect because there is only one original. Mr. Holder was without question that and then some. The arts community has lost a creative angel and we will miss your physical presence, your enormous and beautiful hands, your booming voice, and the work. Always the work! Thank you for all the creating and all the giving. XX

Welcome October: There is only love

Welcome October! Next to Christmas, it’s my favorite and craziest month of the year. I’m thinking about so many things these days. I’m thinking about service and information that can benefit all you writers, artists, and every day people out there. I’m taking stock of my last several months that were some of my most challenging and how work and grace allowed me to move through to move onward. I’m thinking about turning 49 in two days and what that means, if anything, to me right now, and I’m thinking about the work.

I’d asked for input regarding questions or topics you might like me to talk about. I think I’ll choose this thought today:  How love pulls you through?

Well, this could be the subject for an entire book and something I’ve turned to over and over again, indeed to ‘pull me through’. Growing up without the guidance, love, and support of my mother, but instead raised by the enormous love of my father and my father’s life partner Chip Garnett pulled me through my entire life. It remains my strongest example of the best and most powerful love and my strongest reserve that I continue to call on. Love of dancing helped to pull me through my adolescence. It helped to nurture, in physical terms, loving my body and myself. The love I grew to have for reading and writing became an intellectual, a creative, and a kind of self-help love for things I didn’t understand. It broadened my love for other worlds, love of different kinds of people with different sets of challenges and circumstances. Reading, especially other people’s life stories, developed my love where empathy is important, while writing helped me to unlock my inner most feelings and fall in love with all of the complexities of my life. Falling in love over again and believing in love has continually kept my outlook healthy and positive. I mention this because sometimes a lost love, broken love, or ended love can make us bitter and cynical about our future with it. But it is too big, too important, and too vital a thing to turn away from, give up on, and desert. We must continue to believe in it. It is the only thing. When my father was dying of AIDS the only thing I could offer him was my love in return for all that he’d done for me. It was the only gift, the best gift, the most natural and right gift to give him. The gift of love costs us nothing but believing and trusting. And although those are often not easy places to surrender, nothing on this earth can replace the dividend one receives. I have not mastered always being my most loving self because I do have “trust” and “belief” issues but I do know that in my darkest place I must always turn to love, must always draw from that most basic positive force, and sometimes suck it to the marrow because I KNOW it will always help to pull me through.

Monica, I hope this was helpful in responding to your very good question and I welcome more! In the months ahead, I will be working hard to address and offer up information that I hope will be of help in some way. Please leave a reply, “like”, “share, “follow” me and enjoy the beauty and the bounty that this October no doubt has in store for each of you.



How do you keep the creative fire burning under your own flame?

This is a question I’ve been asked over and over again. It’s a really good question, especially because it’s something that I also struggle with: in between projects, when the calendar isn’t filling up, and there’s a drought of tweets, likes, and phone calls. It’s also a question that also typically follows after I’ve shared the fact that I gave myself ten years to write my first book.

How did you keep going?

I have no idea. No, seriously I have some idea but it wasn’t just one thing. Due to the question of constantly needing to reinvent oneself, to often create in isolation, and pouring so much of ourselves into a project can have you feeling “spent” and all the while never knowing with any real certainty if what you’ve produced is worthy, relevant, and –dare I say- [purchase] ready. It is the nature of the beast to have all these questions and concerns and they can show up even before we’ve written or typed a word. It shouldn’t be that way but it’s the price of being a mere mortal who wants nothing more than to share his or her best work, be respected, and to hopefully earn a living doing the thing that we love.

In my own journey with the ups and downs of the book process: the self-published process, I had my share of those challenges. In fact, my lowest low hit such a place that at one point I came close to chucking the whole thing into two large garbage bags. Do NOT try this at home and do NOT follow my example.

Never give up. I’ll say it again, NEVER give up!

When I hit that low, I called on everything I could attach myself to. I sought out buoys, ports, and barnacles that represented anything positive, productive, or fortifying to grab onto. Sometimes you have to fake it ‘till you make it and sometimes you just need to take a step away. You might just need a break. I did. I took some time away to regroup and recharge to gain some fresh energy and a more objective perspective. This allowed me to return to the work with more clarity and once again inspired to finish what I’d begun, with the best I had to offer. Walk away from the table but always come back. And I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this but…never give up!

Surround yourself with all that keeps you engaged, juiced, motivated, and determined. Read about other people’s stories. Triumph over challenge never gets old. Visit museums by your favorite artists, go to the theater, and listen to music that you love or different kinds of music that you never thought you’d listen to. You might hate it. But you might get surprised because it could inspire something completely different in a whole new way. Find positive affirmations, films & documentaries, workshops, terrific articles and blogs online, creative or informative events, yoga, whatever!! In other words whatever works to keep you going. The goal is to keep working and keep pressing forward.

Although I made use of and continue to pull from all of the above, I’d have to say that the most important element that has helped me to keep the faith and keep at it was staying connected to those people in my life who not only inspired me-based on what they had accomplished and were continuing to accomplish, instead of just talking about it-but who also believed in me.

Having said all this, at the end of the day, it begins and ends with YOU: your commitment to “it”, your commitment to continually push passed the comfort, fears, and self-doubts, your commitment to yourself and to the WORK. For those of us who dare to put it on the paper or onto our laptops, all we need to do is…begin. Begin, show up again, and keep chipping away until you’ve reached the end. Just work. Chop wood carry water. Work, work, work is all that really matters. And did I mention? Never NEVER give up.

Have an inspiring and crazy productive November!