Diving Into My Brag Bag To Be More Creative

I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth so everything I got in life has been because I’ve worked hard for it. Growing up in a single parent home the odds were stacked against me. If society had it’s way I would have been another statistic as a teenager; teenage mother, living off of government assistance, and quite possibly a high school dropout. My mother was not having that for me at all. I knew my father but he was not an active part of my life, so watching my mother work various jobs to always provide for me was the best example of hustle and heart.

We lived in the family house until I was four and starting head start.  We moved across the street to Fort Bailey housing projects.  Walking to the store for a bag of pink cookies and a cream Ritz soda was a treat, now I live for my crab legs and moscato…LOL!  I was a project kid, with a key at the age of five letting myself into the house each day by myself then waiting for my mom to get home.  Life was sweet in the 80s.  Now it’s not that easy to leave kids home alone because too much can happen with predators lurking at every turn.

I grew up being very independent and doing a lot of things for myself because the fact is I spent a lot of time by myself.  My mom worked and that was understandable, so throughout middle and high school, during my mom’s off time we spend time together, then when she was gone, I’d read a book or watch t.v.  So by the time I graduated high school in 2000 having worked at Wendy’s and Shoney’s I could make a little money for myself but in the back of my mind I always wanted to just write.

I went off to college to the University of Florida and partied my life away.  I was introduced to beloved Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., met some amazing people but ultimately blew it.  I joined the United States Air Force in 2001, lived in New Jersey my entire enlistment, got deployed to Bulgaria and Italy, got married, had my two sons, then separated from active duty status in 2007.  My background had set the tone as I share my story because it was not easy being active duty, married, tending to babies, and pursuing my studies all at the same time.  I was very overwhelmed and emotional a lot of times but I pushed through anyways.

By the time I relocated to middle Georgia, I had acquired 3 degrees and had multiple ideas of starting a women’s magazine, writing a book, short stories, or just something creative because I have always had the passion to write. By the time I began teaching in 2008, I was halfway through my Masters in Public Administration program and still had no idea what I was going to do next. But the yearning for more was peeking over my shoulder and in my subconscious. I kept digging until I outlined my first nonfiction title. In 2013 I said to myself that my book was going to be great and everyone would want to read it… Well that didn’t happen. See I wanted more but I didn’t have a plan. Now the plan is for me to TELL MY STORY, so people really get a true idea of who I am, what I represent, and what I’m all about. I defied the odds and I have a story to tell.

Achieving my advanced degree in 2016, my Doctorate of Education in Higher Education Leadership was personal.  It was a checkmark to be place of my list of life goals and accomplishments.  There have been others that did it younger than me, but see at the age of 34 with two kids, a second marriage, six years of honorable military service and eight years of teaching, I was doing damn good for myself.  So where is my POP?!  When things got rocky and I thought I had a clear vision of what I want to have happen, a second divorce happened on 2017.  I wasn’t devastated, but I was derailed so my goals for pursuing speaking and writing more took a backseat.

Now here I am 11 years into teaching, having taught roughly 2000 students, each year I wonder who will or who has been that one?  I have highlighted some of my most memorable students in My Fourth Year, but beyond that when students come into my room to hug me midway through a lesson, or stop by my door during transition to class it has been too many to count or name.  My colleagues are hit or miss, but some of them know where my heart is.  I simply refuse to give up on my population of students, but good God some days it is hard.

When I look at my mixed career I have done a lot and take a stand for individuality. I’m often confused and people like to put other people in a box and you shouldn’t. Creativity is an extension of who a person is and you have to tap into your greatness better than anyone else can and tell your story.

Be vulnerable because someone needs to hear from you.

*Two Years Ago*

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Two years ago I decided that I was going to revamp my blog and try to be more serious about my writing.  After all, I had received approval on my Institution Review Board (IRB) application for my dissertation so I felt my time freeing up and I was ready to write more creatively.

I felt like all the years of preparing to graduate since enrolling into my doctoral program at Nova Southeastern University in 2011 was finally about to pay off in a major way.  Let’s be real, since graduating from Ware County High School in 2000 and a six year enlistment in the United States Air Force (2001-2007), I had literally been in college off and on for 16 years pursuing various degrees.

*Doctor of Education; Higher Education Leadership (2016)

*Educational Specialist; Curriculum, Instruction, Management, and Administration (2010)

*Master of Public Administration (2009)

*Bachelor of Arts, Liberal Studies (2007)

Plus two associates degrees, you would think that writing would be the last thing on my mind.  Hell you’d probably even think that I had accomplished a lot in my own right academically but for me that still is not enough.

So I revamped my blog!  I was kidding myself thinking that this would be an easy journey and my name would ring supreme.  I learned very quickly that in this industry building a name for yourself and brand takes times.

I had the obnoxious idea to try to do a blog a day during that summer.  I had lame ideas like Motivation Monday, Thoughtful Tuesday, Wisdom Wednesday, Thankful Thursday, and Short Story Saturday.  I soon found myself burnt out and really not producing quality content.  I thought my posts were decent.  Now looking back it was just a bunch of fluff because I honestly just did not know what to do or what I was doing. I was trying some stuff out to see if it would work.

I managed to churn out chapters 4 and 5 of my dissertation and pick back up on my book project that I had outlined in 2013.  I was feeling like I was ready to put that story out to the world and I did, My Fourth Year in Middle School: The Truth About Teaching.

Now how does a busy mom like me balance work, school, and writing a book all at the same time is beyond me, but I had an inner strength to get some things done so I did.  I admit it to myself I am a fast burner because everything I set a timeline to do when I began teaching in 2008 was easily exceeded.

Still on the hunt for more, I now ponder the idea of pitching my book to publishing houses because I feel like there is a really great lessons that were learned for myself along the way.  These lessons are sure to touch the hearts of aspiring educators because it’s a lot behind the scenes that you often do not hear people talk about.

So hear I am fully exposed and ready to do the work because after listening to all of the experts, I can’t be afraid to fail.  Everyone of the EXPERTS  have shared a story of an idea flopping so I get it.

I am guilty of thinking that I had to have a logo and a big following to relevant.  But I’m learning that if I continue to be me, put my best effort forward, and stay true to myself then everything will fall into place in due time.

Now that I think about it, this time last year my focus was light and love.  But I’ve had to regroup and think about branding and narrowing my niche.  Yes!  Dare I say it, I truly see why the experts are the position that they are in and I’m striving day to day.

So my third book project is in the works and the personal approach I am taking it is why it has yet to be finished.  Just the other day  I was admiring my 12 year old because he was anxiously trying to print an essay earlier this week that is due tomorrow.  He was so frustrated because there was no ink but the overachiever in him got the best of him and all I could think was that he got that from me.  While on the other hand my 14 year old has a painting from his art class on display at the mall and I am in awe of his artistic ability and how his mind works.

I have taken time to really value the work that I have put into my two books. I have also realized that what I thought I knew two years ago was only the beginning.  I am just now beginning to scratch the surface and walk in my purpose.

Being that I am doing everything on my own as a one woman show, it feels good when the people who genuinely support me tap into my words and tell me how the things I write make them feel.  That is the impact I ultimately want to have.

When I began teaching I looked at each class period and asked myself how did I plan on touching 22 sometimes 27 minds at one time.  Then I quickly learned that if I touched one, then I had did my job.

Now as a writer I ponder the same thought.  How do I plan to reach the masses?  I’m realizing that if I get one new comment, then that’s a new soul that I have touched so I’m growing.

I have come so far to realize that all of this takes time, planning, patience, and hard work.  I am sure when the time is right for my first book to catapult it will.  I am confident that my brand will grow as long as I stick to being authentic and transparent.

Two years ago I made up in my mind that it was time to take my writing to next level.  And since hindsight is 20/20, who would have ever thought that 30 years ago in the streets of the projects, I’d grow up to be this woman on a mission to create the life I want to live, boss up, and be very unapologetic for daring to dream.

Keep coming back for more.

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10 Things I’m Proud Of

When you are grateful.  Fear disappears and abundance appears. ~Anthony Robbins

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I have been inspired by list posts and recently took a second look at my 35 Randoms Thoughts on the eve of my 35th birthday and the 7 Things You Should Do in 2017 and my oh my have I enlightened my own self.

I am in such a different space in my life from the restart of my blog (March 2016) as I pursue my writing and grabbing opportunities to express myself (Pursue Your Dream Career).  I love lists….I write everything down and look back at the things I affirm in myself and feel a sense of pride when things come to fruition.

Right now there are so many thoughts in my head about what I’m trying to do and where I’m trying to go and I know that the next few years are going to push me closer to my purpose.  In the meantime I’ll just focus right here at Tilyarealeyes.com and put things into the atmosphere and watch them come full circle.  

So here’s to the 10 Things I’m Proud Of

10.  I began my college journey at the University of Florida the glorious summer of 2000.  My #1 school of choice and I had a blast…my very first Blue & White weekend, being introduced to Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. by way of the fabulous Mu Epsilon Chapter…endless memories…oh what a time I had.

9.  Due to the fun I had at UF, I subsequently enlisted into the United States Air Force and spent six wonderful years on active duty.  I met some amazing people…but I also walked away with 2 associate degrees and my bachelors when I separated in 2007…Honorable Discharge…Veteran Status

8.  I have given birth to the most amazing little boys on the side of heaven.  I’m supposed to be proud as their mother…that damn Lil Phil (3.4.04) waited 20 hours to make his appearance into this world…after contracting, I stalled at 5 centimeters so a c-section it became and he’s still stubborn to this day.. #Big   Then came the baby, my Preston (2.9.06) my little genius and scheduled c-section.  He melts my heart…so innocent…so sweet…so caring… #Little

7. My trials and tribulations in life remind me that everyone struggles at times and it is a part of life but it’s ultimately about how you handle things.  I have no choice but to be resilient…I have children to take care of.  I am defined by my experiences and that is what completes me.  db42f1c66ab6b254f78baae55b330a64

Taking a deeper look though, my first name has 7 letters in it…L.A.T.I.L.Y.A.

Loyal…Ambitious…Talented…Intelligent…Loveable…Yummy…Amazing

My journey makes me aware of who I am…7…the number of completion!

6.  I have been in the traditional classroom for 9 years and I love it!  It’s not easy each day or each year.  In time middle school will be my foundation as I move up to the next level.

5.  Five years ago…April 2012 I closed on my first home…ALL by MYSELF at the age of 30. God is so Good!  These past 5 months have shook me up…my marriage ended…a financial setback…but I’m home!  The devil got busy, but I’m grounded in what’s mine and I give it all to God.

4. I have survived what might drive others crazy.  I am not ashamed of my second divorce, nope not one bit.  Marriage 1 changed me, matured me, and birthed me my 2 delicious babies.  Marriage 2 taught me what I deserve and I don’t deserve to be cheated on, lied to, disrespected, or unappreciated.  It was not all bad but the truth of the matter it was a struggle.  I have my dignity and I learned my lesson. I’m not sure if 3 times is the charm… Who Knows…But You Already Knew That…I Want The Magic.

3.  Writing my book, My Fourth Year in Middle School will always be a proud moment.  Personal, honest and something I always wanted to do.  So stay tuned for my next body of work.  Because I’m super critical of myself, when The Journey to Here is complete it will be because I’m ready for you to see it.  Being a creative is not easy…I’m passionate about MY words and how I intricately weave them together.

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2.  My education!  I’m modest about it, but having someone speak life in me and say, “You should introduce yourself as Dr. Williams”, it is a constant reminder of my accomplishments.  Surround yourself with people that SPEAK LIFE into your existence, your being, your soul, your day…those are the kind of people to have on your team. Community College of the Air Force…Thomas Edison State College (now University)…Bellevue University…Nova Southeastern University…Since 2000 I pursued my education and ultimately became Dr. LaTilya Williams.  No easy feat…but yes I did it.

1. My spirituality!  I luh God!  He is the author of my life.  Without him I would not be able to stand strong.  I am where I am in life because of him and I embrace all of my blessings.  My life is changing for the Good…the Great…the Better.

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20 Facts About Me

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  1. I am my mother’s only child.
  2. I have half siblings on my biological father’s side.
  3. I was in a secret relationship my Junior year in high school. (I hate him now!)
  4. I began my college journey at the University of Florida.
  5. Seafood, specifically snow crab legs and shrimp are my favorite food.                       
  6. I have attended 8 different colleges and universities from 2000-2016.                  University of Florida, Burlington Community College, Western International University, University of Phoenix, Community College of the Air Force (A.A.S. 06’), Thomas Edison State College (A.A. and B.A. Liberal Studies, 07’), Bellevue University (MPA 09’),  Nova Southeastern University (Ed.S. 10’ and Ed. D. 16’) img_20160518_110904.jpg
  7.  I am from Waycross, Georgia, Home of the Okefenokee Swamp. 
  8. I joined the United States Air Force in 2001, and served until 2007.
  9.  The first time I got married was in 2003 until I got divorced in 2011.                                                                                                                   
  10.  I have visited 12 United States and 1 U.S. Territory:  Florida, Nebraska, Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Virginia, Texas, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and U.S. Territory-Puerto Rico
  11.  I am a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.20160116_112608-1-1.jpg
  12.  I have been on 3 Carnival Cruises: Bahamas twice, and Cozumel/Key West once
  13.  I worked for the Office of Child Supported Services for 8 months, and hated it.
  14.  I love the The Real Housewives Franchise, except for the Miami cast, they don’t do anything for me.  The Real Housewives of Atlanta are my favorite since I’m a GA Girl.
  15.  I have twelve tattoos…three of them are butterflies that represent the changes in my life.
  16.  I have two wonderful sons, Phillip who’s 12 and Preston who’s 10.
  17.  I have been a middle school teacher since 2008.
  18. I got remarried in 2014.wp-image-1457144966jpg.jpg
  19. I have played tennis as a hobby since 2012.
  20. I self-published my first book My Fourth Year in Middle School: The Truth About Teaching
    20160702_170048Comment and let me know what you find the most interesting, I’ll be sure to respond.