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  • Nicole (Johnson) Williams

7. S/o to The Griots

Updated: Jun 1, 2020

Writer’s Block….

It’s real. I haven’t written a blog post in 7 months. Just living a WHOLE LOT of life. Sometimes it’s best to just shut up for a while honestly lol. Spent some time with myself. Started off rocky, but turned out pretty dope. And now I’m back, and couldn’t get through one good idea to save my life...


But I believe a podcast may have saved my blog!


One of my dearest and most inspirational friends has recently decided to start #DancingOver30 (figuratively speaking, of course, because she's not a dancer)! Over the past few years, she has started doing more with her poetry, started her Hive Over Matter brand and website. She's begun her new journey as a life coach, and started a podcast called The Griots (GO LISTEN! GO LISTEN! GO LISTEN!)... all while being an amazing wife and mother to two beautiful young queens. There's so much to celebrate about this woman, but we're going to focus on the podcast for today. In the first episode, the hosts explain that a griot is a storyteller; the keeper of oral tradition and the one who helps to pass the culture forward. It made me think of how many Griots had influenced my life so drastically over the past few months/years. Storytellers and Tradition Keepers like Toni Morrison, Oprah Winfrey, Jill Scott, Maya Angelou, and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar (along with a HOST of other artists and all-around amazing individuals God has placed before me) have kept me, fed me, and affirmed me. And what they all have in common: they create life changing art built on a foundation of vulnerability, truth, relate-ability, and… well…. The ordinary. They do these extraordinary things with children, and husbands, and non-husbands, and big jobs, and small businesses …


But, regardless of age or stage, they continue to shape the culture and change the world around them one story at a time.


In the podcast, Jomil and Keith (the hosts) interview NPR’s Chief Diversity Officer (who is also Keith’s dad). He helped me remember that the most extraordinary work comes from the most ordinary experiences. Stories that touch us, move us, and inspire us are the stories that resonate most clearly in our souls and are most familiar to us… Those in which we can clearly see our mothers, friends, neighborhoods, and SELVES - either past, present or future. A reminder that it's the everyday moments that teach us and shape us, little by little. And it's those experiences that so often connect us with others.


I had to remember that whatever I have to say is worth saying. And that there’s no special way I have to say it. There’s a beauty in being able to put into novels, or music, or sculpture, or comedy, or dance the Thing that unites us all. The common thread between one uncommon person and another. Human Experience.


So, in the spirit of #DancingOver30, I am renewed today! No matter how long the break, #DancingOver30 means you do it anyway! There is no judgement or time frame in which we can be great in this life. But we can only make our way to greatness if we START somewhere. Or, in this case, start AGAIN somewhere. It may not start off perfect. It might be outright bad in the beginning, but as long as we’re passionate about it, and committed to improving the quality of our voice (whatever medium that may be), we’ll always grow.


The journey life has taken me on in the past 5 months has challenged me in ways I never even knew were possible (and so necessary). A lot of it was very hard. A lot of it was very sad. There was also a lot of discovery that ended in light, peace, and resolve so that's good. But overall, I'm becoming more okay being, sharing, and living in my own authenticity instead of constantly feeling as if what I have to offer is not good enough. This is NOT the best writing I’ve ever done. I can own that. And there’s a part of me and is very tempted to erase the whole thing and start over with a new idea….. AGAIN… But I won’t lol. I’m grateful for this work, just as I’m grateful for what I believe to be my best stuff. It doesn’t always look good, but it’s all part of the journey. What I now know for sure is that it doesn't have to be picture perfect to be valid. And that's what makes it perfect. So I encourage everyone reading this to 1, go listen to The Griots Podcast. And 2, allow something great to come out of the imperfection you're working with. You might just surprise yourself!


***Lastly, but certainly not least, I am grateful beyond words for my Family, who continuously keeps me, supports me, and walks with me. The Family I was born into, the Family I chose along the way, and the Family I married into make up an incredible Tribe. I love you and thank you with everything in me***

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