Hey, hey, hey. And Welcome, welcome, welcome back to another episode of self published. I’m Aziza Kibibi and I would like to humbly thank you for allowing me to caress your eardrums and penetrate your mind.
It’s not easy being your own boss. When you have a “superior” there are often consequences for slacking and not getting the job done; theres someone who holds you accountable. A certain amount of discipline is forced out of you because there is somebody to answer to. But, when you are your own boss, the only person to answer to is you. And between being your own worst enemy and your most favorite person; well, if you could conjure an image of what coming and going at the same time looks like, it just may just manifest as standing still. The ability to effectively motivate oneself can be as elusive as your shadow on a cloudy day.
And then throw in life events and friends and family who may not necessarily support you (of course I have some homegrown, fresh brewed tea to share on that later in the show)…we haven’t added the haters and competitors onto the list. It very often feels like you have more reasons to not achieve your goals than you have achieve them.
But you know what, it is not impossible, just stay th… you know what? Lets get into this blog post before I start preaching.
The Blog post
September 5th, 2013
I HAVE A DREAM
August 26, 2013 marked the 50th anniversary of the the day that Martin Luther King and 250,000 Americans, marched on Washington DC for jobs and freedom. Unfortunately do to my limited education, I didn't know much about the original event in 1963. I remember my father repeatedly playing a vinyl record of Dr. Martin Luther King's speech on Lincoln Memorial when I was little. But at that time the significance wasn't explained to me. So prompted by a trip already planned by a friend, I decided to join him and the other anticipated 300,000 people, to see what the historic event was about.
At 4:30 in the morning, myself and 3 others drove almost 5 hours to Washington DC to participate in the reenactment of a peaceful protest headed by one of America's most influential leaders, fifty years ago. My friend brought a painting he created himself titled "I am a Man", to make his own statement among a crowd of many. He received a lot of attention. People took pictures, requested interviews; he even gave a live interview to Fox5 news, as I stood and soaked it all in.
I tried to imagine the strength that it took Dr. MLK to rally and inspire hundreds of thousands of people in an attempt to cause change in a society where African Americans were severely discriminated against. Was his dream so strong that he ignored all the risk and dangers associated with trying to bring it to reality? Was he initially alone in his plan to act? If so what about him personally inspired strength in others to do what he did and speak out for their cause? What about Mr. King made people follow and listen to his ideas enough to get up and out of their homes and put themselves out there? As I pondered these questions I began to feel alone in my own quest for change.
See, my sisters, along with one of my brother's do not want to be associated with anything that I do to raise awareness for child sexual abuse, if it includes my life with my dad. I posted the link to the interview I did for NJ.com on my personal Facebook timeline, and one of my sister's asked me to take it down. I understand and respect their privacy but I can't help but feel alone and in some ways abandoned in carrying this torch that will shine light on this terrible social deviance. On top of that, their position only reminds me of some of the tactics my father used to put fear and doubt in our minds so that we wouldn't fight back against him. When you are surrounded by people that you love and they are against what you believe to be right, it makes you question yourself. To keep us divided, my father planted seeds of doubt and deceit in everyones heads, which made us not trust each other. Unfortunately, weeds of his manipulations remain to this day.
I’ve not seen the long term results of opening myself up to others, but something deep down inside me says it's the right thing to do. So I've taken these gifts God has given me; my writing and story telling abilities, my vivid memories; an innate ability to listen and empathize, my thirst for knowledge, the discipline my father instilled in me, my desire to help those in need, and my ability to talk about hard issues, and I truly believe I'm fulfilling my purpose!
I remember the exact moment I discovered what a lot of us search for in this existence. I was sitting in front of my computer drifting in and out of thoughts on the present, lessons from the past and plans for the future, when a moment of clarity descended upon me. The transformation in my energy from this realization was like the change your reflection undergoes in the mirror after you wipe away the condensation collected from a hot shower you took. Clean and precise. I knew what I was meant to do!
It wasn't cooking, it wasn't opening a restaurant or anything dealing with my passion for food. It was and is, to publish my book and help other women and children any way that I can. The irony is that I already started writing my book years before (up to 25 pages), for therapeutic reasons. But something about that moment in time, whether it was a guardian angel whispering in my ear, or the universe opening up to direct me; that moment fueled what I'm doing here today. And I reflect on it anytime I need some encouragement.
If I had the opportunity to ask him one question, I'd ask Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. what kept him motivated and how did he handle the naysayers? Without coming across bombastic, maybe he had a moment of clarity, like me.
Food for thought:
Some interesting facts about Dr. MLK's March on Washington in 1963.
- There was a large military and police presence at the march. The entire D.C. police force was mobilized, along with 500 reserves and 2,500 members of the National Guard.
- Only two women, Daisy Bates and Josephine Baker, addressed the crowd that day. At 60, Baker told the crowd, “I am not a young woman now, friends. My life is behind me. There is not too much fire burning inside me. And before it goes out, I want you to use what is left to light the fire in you.” Bates, the architect of the Little Rock school integration and president of the Arkansas NAACP, said,“All the women pledge that we will join hands with you… We will sit in, and we will kneel in, and we will lie in if necessary, until every Negro in America can vote.” (AP Photo)
- CBS, NBC and ABC broadcasted live coverage of the program in its entirety. Sixteen-hundred press passes were issued for the march. Extensive coverage helped the march become one of the most widely reported on events of its day.
- The official name of the now-famous march was “The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.”
- Scholar, activist and founder of the NAACP, W.E.B. Du Bois, died that morning in Ghana, at the age of 95.
- Organizers recruited and trained nearly 2,000 parade marshals, mostly black police officers who belonged to the Guardians Association, a fraternal organization of black police.
It's understandable that your family may not be comfortable yet with disclosing their past trauma publicly. Perhaps in time they will come to feel differently..and perhaps not. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of ignorance out there surrounding sexual abuse and incest not to mention the good ol' everyday issues we face as women, minorities, of a certain socio-economic "class" etc. This often creates and sustains a vicious cycle of shame, isolation, and fear which continues to further victimize the victims. (That is why your voice is so very important!) Everyone deals and heals differently. You and your family has survived something almost inconceivably difficult to many.. That being said; Please don't second guess yourself and your choices over those of others! You are an amazing and inspiring person, Aziza, and your courage in being so open SURELY has touched and will touch many. I will never know exactly what its like to overcome what you have, but I have been close with more than a few women who experienced things very similar to you. Each of them are amazing people, good friends, beautiful women and mothers. I have tried my hardest to be a supportive friend and let them describe their stories on their own terms, and react in a way that makes them feel safe--whether that be to just listen, to help them find counseling, or to promise to keep their secrets til the grave. All but one had kept their past secret from even their own family for decades on end. The relief of even a single friend wiping their tears and loving and supporting them, letting them know they are not alone has been remarkable to me and I feel blessed to have had each of them in my life.
I KNOW for a fact that knowing there are other people out there who understand is a huge thing for many people who suffer alone.. and for that alone you are giving an incredible gift to so many sharing your story.
Keep following your dreams and your heart, Aziza! I'll be looking out for your name in the NYT bestsellers list :) I have a feeling the universe has some pretty great things in store?
SLH in Oklahoma
If you only knew how much your comment means to me SLH in Oklahoma. I take your words as yet another form of conformation that I am doing the right thing. I am sympathetic to my family's position and I do everything I can to respect their wishes. It's just challenging at times to walk the road (seemingly) alone. With that being said, I am so grateful for your encouragement and your acknowledgement. I will continue to do the best that I can to encourage, inspire and help as many people as possible.
You are definitely a blessing to me and your comment couldn't have come at a better time.
Remember in Episode 4 I spoke about book cover design? I hired and paid my graphic designer sister to create 3 front cover options, the book spine and the back cover for Unashamed a life tainted, using the photos I commissioned from a photographer friend. I also planned to hire her to do the text layout for the interior once my manuscript was edited. But there was a delay in the editing because my editor was missing in action. I’ll have to save that story for it’s own episode, but trust it was as dramatic as the rest of my life.
Before I appeared on the Katie Show, my sisters were in full support of me publishing my memoir. I called a family meeting to gauge their comfort levels of my laying my life bare for all to see. Though they never requested to read the manuscript, they were all systems go on the condition that I don’t use their real names in the final edit. In my mind, that was automatic; They even picked out their own aliases and I went about finding and replacing their real names in my document, with the titles they settled on in our family meeting.
Things were moving along according to plan. Until… It’d been almost 3 months since I taped the Katie show when it finally aired. My email, social media and blog was overrun with questions, well wishes and appearance requests the day I debut on national television for the first time. My phone rang off the hook with congratulations from friends and acquaintances.
But from my family….there was little more than whispers of judgments and criticisms spread on the leaves of the familial grape vine.
The submittal date of the finished artwork for my book came and went and I hadn’t heard from my sister. I emailed, I called, and I emailed and I called. No answer or response for days. I inquired and I inquired some more and just before I got in my car to knock on her door, I called one more time.
“Hello?” finally! I was relieved but oh so confused. “Hey”.
“Oh hey Z.” She replied nonchalantly. Way too flippant for my taste.
“Uhm, I haven’t heard from you. Whats going on? How far are you along with the back cover.”
“Oh yeah about that. I’m not gonna finish it Z. I’ve decided that I no longer want to be a part of the project. Sorry.”
My heart sank. Now things seemed to be falling apart. My editor missed her deadline and was nowhere to be found, I was already kicking myself for not having my book complete before the Katie show aired, and now my graphic designer was skipping out on me!
Once I pulled myself out of the left field spiral my mind was heading, I asked my sister why. She said she was getting “heat and pressure” from my other sisters about being involved in publishing my book and no longer felt it was the right thing to do.
All I could say was ok and hang up. The news took me for such a loop, I didn’t even think about the fact I paid her in full for the Job until a month later.
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As usual, links are in the show notes.
Writing And Publishing Advice
The Katie show pushed me and my story out to the forefront more than I could have ever imagined. Even before it aired, I was able to use the prospect of the opportunity to gain an audience with the Feminist Press, the writer of an Eddie Murphy film and an Executive from MTV. Though these run ins didn’t pan out to a contract or anything, I received a lot of information and feedback that was very useful in the development of my brand. Which brings me to this point. As close to my heart, mental and spirit my mission is, I cannot deny the business aspect of my delicate situation. I often found myself at a crossroads between personal and professional. And the challenge with my sister was one such crossroad that didn’t even have street names to refer to. The business of business and the business of being your own boss consists of primarily making decisions, living with those decisions, having back up plans if you make the wrong decision and most importantly, learning from those decisions.
My entire journey publishing my book has been a huge lesson. The ups and the downs.
I had to make a decision after my sister told me she wasn't going to finish my book cover and I had to make it fast. After I realized that I wasn’t getting the work I paid her for, I decided that it would cost me more in time and energy to try and get any of my money back then the value of the money itself. And I let it go.
So now I had to find someone to finish the cover of my book therefore I got to yapping. In answering my many messages from complete strangers, I came across quite a few people who were in the media business.
One of them happen to work with my (get this) father and my brother as an intern and was willing to support my work any way he could.
When I shard with him my dilemma with the book cover, he recommended a website called Fiverr.
Fiverr is a platform of independent contractors who do everything from web design to book translations, to voiceovers. The premise is that all gigs start at 5 bucks and it was my saving grace.
After posing questions to a few graphic designers on Fiverr, I settled on one who designed my back book cover, 2 other option for the front cover and the spine of the book for a fraction of a fraction of the cost I paid my sister. And they provided me the same quality of work with much better service and a turnaround time of 4 days. 4 days!
I cannot stress enough the importance of opening your mouth about your project to others. And honestly, people in passing or you’ve only recently met can often give some of the best advice because they aren’t emotionally invested. That’s not to say those around you who care about have little to offer. But you must make the decision to deal with the drama that may come with hiring a family member or your best friend. Just listen to your gut and meditate on some of those difficult decisions. Though it may take some time and honestly, many, many attempts and mistakes, you can and will make your dreams a reality.
Hey, hey, hey you, you. Thank you so much for listening; for allowing me to grace your eardrums and penetrate your mind. I hope you were able to derive something from this episode. Feel free to shoot me a note with any questions and I’ll do my best to respond, and I’d really appreciate your feedback and ratings on this and all of my episodes. I’m a work in progress taking in all I can to progress.
Thanks in advance.
Until next time. Be blessed for your are a blessing.
Most Music and effects: Epidemic Sound
Other Music and sounds:
"Sourire à la Vie" - Josephine Baker
"Lean on Me" chanted by attendees at the 50th anniversary of MLK's March on Washington - Aziza Kibibi
Resources and Offers
Sex abuse prevention and recovery: https://preciouslittleladies.org
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