Five Things (Dec 7, 2014) Spotlight: Alia Atkinson

 

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1. Alia Atkinson is a Jamaican woman. She is a professional swimmer. Yesterday she tied the 100m breaststroke world record and  became the first Jamaican and the first black woman to win a World Swimming title. Let that sink in. *bangs pot covers* YESSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!

I don’t know if you grasp how big a deal this is for our little island of Jamaica. It is HUGE! I feel like shouting about this awesomeness from the rooftops for the rest of the year. Alia had problems getting financial support at different points in her career because swimming is not one of our specialties- it’s sprinting that gets the money. I know that this win will go a far way in opening some minds and some pockets for our many other athletes who specialize in non- track and field sports and I am ELATED! There is so much untapped greatness in our little country, but it’s just for us to be patient, think outside the box sometimes and polish a few diamonds in the rough.

Alia has made history. She is the FIRST! No one can take that away and this is a brilliant example of what hard work and persistence can do. When people turned their eyes away, Alia channeled her inner Dory and just kept swimming. Major big ups Alia. I hope you get welcomed home in style. And for all of us new or old to the bandwagon, there is room for everyone. A deserving athlete can never get too much support.

Here’s video of the greatness:

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2. Black girls are magic. This needs to be said every day because it’s true and because some have forgotten and even worse, some don’t even know yet. One of the most magical black girls I know turned two this past weekend and it’s so amazing watching a human being grow from a babbling baby to a talkative toddler. I feel that girls form their personalities faster than boys, on average, and this particular baby girl has had me convinced she’s an old soul. She’s so aware of herself and her environment and already so independent, it’s beautiful. One of my favourite things about her is the fact that she does things on her own time. She walked before she she crawled. She gives affection only when she feels like it. She knows the power behind her saying “no” and she uses it often. I hope she never loses that.

3. I just finished reading one of the best books I have ever read in my life- Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It was gifted to me by my future mother-in-law and that is just yet another confirmation that I said yes to the right person. Not everyone is fortunate to have great in-laws, that’s not lost on me. They say when you marry someone, you marry their family. I lucked out in that department and I am grateful.

I have so much to say about this book and yet I feel I don’t have the words to do it justice. I want to be like Chimamanda when I grow up. She and I have the same amount of letters in our first names and surnames so I feel strongly about that dream coming true.

My favourite thing about the book is that there is a love story, a couple actually, in it that is woven so wonderfully, that doesn’t get lost while the really important story of an immigrant black woman living in America is so deliberately described. (I am in an alliterating mood! It still counts if it’s just two words, right? It better!). How Chimamanda balanced the two is nothing but pure magic. I. LOVE. THIS. BOOK. Thank you, Mama D 🙂

4. It’s assignment time at school and I. am. so. not. enthused, it’s ridiculous. Maybe it’s because this is the fifth consecutive year of being in law school and it took me this long to realize it’s not my passion but I am tired. I need more holidays, more school breaks, At the same time, I just want to finish. That’s the motivation for many of my colleagues right now- just finishing. The steam is dwindling, the batteries need recharging but we hold on because we are so close to the finish line. I don’t know yet what I will do after I’m done but I just want to clear this hurdle so I can find out. It’s funny that I use this metaphor because I sucked at clearing hurdles when I was on my high school track team. That technique is not for everyone. I think I’ll put it on my 2015 bucket list to clear a hurdle properly. Or maybe I’ll just do some yoga. I find that life is that much more fun when one isn’t physically injured.

5. An Octavia Butler quote is what got me through this post. Some days, writing is hard because the inspiration is absent or it’s not enough to spark movement. Some days it’s hard because my mind and/or my life feels so jumbled. But, as she says, persistence is key. Habit is what will get you through. While I acknowledge thats sometimes I just need to take a break and walk away and I don’t subscribe to the notion that a writer HAS to write every day, I do get the value in forming habits. I do get the importance of writing more than I think or read about writing. For those of you who may need help finding “inspiration”, I have placed the quote below.

[First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice. 

Forget talent. If you have it, fine. Use it. If you don’t have it, it doesn’t matter. As habit is more dependable than inspiration, continued learning is more dependable than talent. Never let pride or laziness prevent you from learning, improving your work, changing its direction when necessary. Persistence is essential to any writer — the persistence to finish your work, to keep writing in spite of rejection, to keep reading, studying, submitting work for sale. But stubbornness, the refusal to change unproductive behavior or to revise unsalable work can be lethal to your writing hopes. 

Finally, don’t worry about imagination. You have all the imagination you need, and all the reading, journal writing, and learning you will be doing will stimulate it. Play with your ideas. Have fun with them. Don’t worry about being silly or outrageous or wrong. So much of writing is fun. It’s first letting your interests and your imagination take you anywhere at all. Once you’re able to do that, you’ll have more ideas than you can use. Then the real work of fashioning them into a story begins. Stay with it. 

Persist.

Octavia E. Butler, excerpt from Furor Scribendi ETA: Which is an essay in “Bloodchild and Other stories”]

I do hope this helps at least some of you to push along. It really helped me.

Featured image Source (picture of Willow Smith edited by me with filter and text)

Until next time!

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