My Plan Not My Purpose (part 2)…2 min. read

My plan, not my purpose had me embarrassed and angry at the position I had placed myself in.

Part 2

One chair sits across an empty room on a plain discolored wall next to the door. A little television sits propped on the chair serving as entertainment that in a short period of time proved to be a distraction out of poverty. For the next four hours, cartoons would be the choice of education for these men. Men that had single mothers, children and “baby mommas” that awaited the attention of a man with purpose, drive and ambition that was so needed to destroy the generational curses of sin and poverty that was exposed every time I stepped onto the pavement of the apartments that were gravely positioned down a stretch of road littered with trash on both sides.

My plan, not my purpose had me embarrassed and angry at the position I had placed myself in.

The smell of crack cocaine came in between the stints of empty Vodka bottles littered about me. As we sat on the crumbling brick wall that lined itself along one of the apartment buildings, I listened to the meaningless and uninformed conversation of the men and women who determined success by the amount of money spent partying over the weekend. As the liquor continued to flow, a deep-seated sadness began to fill me. The only way to survive was to partake of the spirits.

But I sat quietly with a slight buzz from the Vodka because I am considering that I am out of my purpose, and anger is rising because my plan, not my purpose put me in a poverty ridden apartment overgrown with weeds that disguised themselves as people.

My plan.

Not my purpose.

Was taken me to nowhere.

To be continued…

© 2016 All words & images by Tanya Graham unless otherwise noted.

My Plan Not My Purpose

Living Your Life Out Loud (The Move part 5)…2 min. read

Michelle Obama Farewell Speech with Oprah was on my list of shows to watch in the new year. As I sat watching the interview on YouTube, I knew that I would be inspired. There was no way that inspiration would bypass me while sitting watching two of the most powerful and influential women in the world. But I wanted to be more than inspired to watch and feel hopeful, I wanted to be inspired enough to change. Inspired enough to live my life in a way that would evoke change in others.

This statement from the First Lady moved me.

“Let me live my life out loud so that people can then see and then judge for themselves. Live it out loud. Don’t dial it back. Don’t dilute it. Don’t apologize for it.”

So how do I “live my life out loud”? How do I say exactly what needs to be said? How do I take advantage of those special teachable moments without actually saying a word? My actions are speaking with such authority my lips need not move. My life is speaking out loud with…no dialing back…no diluting…no apologizing. All without losing the effectiveness of the message I am trying to convey. The answer sadly is “I do not know”. I am learning.

I began to think…Can this be done with an assertiveness that makes people watch and listen? A way that does not offend but creates a desire to look within. A way that will impact the people that I see every day. Or even a couple times a month.

This historical area is ever changing but hurting. Buildings and homes are being renovated. New businesses are moving in. People are coming into town to enjoy the eclectic venues, good food, and spirits. But, in between all of this, we have a group of people that are lost. Consumed with the use of drugs, the selling of drugs, prostitution, panhandling, disease, and hunger. It is not only my responsibility to live in a way that provokes hope but to also provoke a different way of thinking and living.

Yes. I know sometimes the way I talk you would think I moved to an entirely different country rather than just a different city less than an hour away. Although the distance is not so great, the world that I have been divinely appointed to be a part of is quite different than that I have lived for my forty plus years. Some days I pray with a vengeance that it is divine and not of my own will, because if not, this may go horribly wrong.

Since the temperature in Atlanta was well below freezing the last couple of days, we had quite a few homeless people that continued to come in and out of the store trying to stay warm. This calls for heightened security, awareness, a special level of sympathy and a whole lot of patience. So often I struggle to balance business and outreach. But in order for me to be effective; I need to be able to present and represent my business goals and my limits of outreach. I believe the most effective and successful people can do this unapologetically, without dialing it back, without diluting their life down to a “message” that appeals to everyone but impacts no one.

I know this can be very difficult to comprehend. But I think if we all take some time to really think about whether we are “living out loud” and living an impactful life, we would start making some changes. That statement made by the First Lady probably meant something totally different for her just as it will mean something totally different to me and you but we all can decide to live in a way that will positively impact our individual “worlds”.

Please feel free to share.


Crossing the Bridge Into a New Year (The Move part 4)

The Move (Blog – Part 3)

The Move (Blog – Part 2)

The Move (Blog)

© 2017 All words & images by Tanya Graham unless otherwise noted.

Living in the Wrong Paradise (part 3)

Today July 8th, I craved peace but peace did not come. My truth was filled with visions, feelings, and hopes that were as dark as the night on a back country road in the deepest woods of Georgia. This darkness that reminded me of the late night nightmares that haunted my spirit and soul could not be identified.

Was it the turmoil that spilled over into the streets of our nation?

Or was it the aches, pains, and weariness that is running through my bones?

My truth was spilling over the edge of time running into my crystal blue water. I sit still craving the one thing that this world does not understand.

Today, I am still living in the wrong paradise.

© 2016 All words & images by Tanya Graham unless otherwise noted.

Hot Summer Days of Georgia Became a Curse to Me

The hot summer days of Georgia had a special way of piercing my skin with a darkness that made most black folks uncomfortable. I was a beautiful sun-kissed child that loved playing outside; but somehow, this love and longing to enjoy the beautiful rays of sun and the smell of the fresh grass and blooming flowers became what seemed like a curse. I remember waking up each morning excited to go outside and play with all the other kids. We would play from morning to night without rest. That’s just how great it was.

But somehow the hot summer days of Georgia would seem like a curse to me…

As I got older and began to take notice, I watched other black kids sun-kissed skin turn to what I perceived as an envious colored cinnamon, mocha, bronze, and mahogany skin that glistened as they sweated in the hot summer days of Georgia.

But somehow the hot summer days of Georgia would seem like a curse to me…

As I played and toyed with the sun of Georgia, it played and toyed with me. My beautiful sun-kissed skin took on the sun like it would never see it again. My skin obsessed with the sun developing a relationship that would not be broken. We made a bond that produced a child with a rich of blackness that glistened in the Georgia sun. This child was beautiful. This child was me.

But still somehow the hot summer days of Georgia would seem like a curse to me…

Blacky! Tar Baby! Black Jesus! …what are these names that I hear? The child born of the Georgia sun was beautiful. I was beautiful. I was not these names I heard as I played hide-go-seek and caught grasshoppers in the hot summer days of Georgia. This child could not be any different than the cinnamon, mocha, bronze, and mahogany black children playing “red light, green light” in the large country fields…Feelings of unworthiness slightly creeping in as we all played hopscotch in the hot Georgia sun.

The hot summer days of Georgia were becoming a curse to me…

The hot Georgia sun and my relationship grew strained as I fought the urge to disappear as my deep dark  black skin continued to grow darker under the hot Georgia sun. A color that made most black folks uncomfortable.

I began retreating in the arms of another. This other shielded and protected me from the relationship that caused me so much pain. He kept me sheltered hoping one day I would feel normal like the cinnamon, mocha, bronze, and mahogany black children that ran under the water sprinkles in hot summer days of Georgia.

My love for those hot summer days of Georgia grew to an end. I fell in love with the darkness that took over the sky as the sun decided to retreat from the Georgia sky. Instead of amusing myself with the butterflies that flew around us as we played, I began counting the stars that glowed brightly in the sky. Now I watched for shooting stars in the Georgia sky.

Even though I could not avoid running into the hot summer days of Georgia, I kept our relationship brief. As I also did with the black folks that stared with an uncomfortable glare at the deep dark black skin that covered me.

As I stared at the sparkling stars, I began to forgive the sun that so beautifully kissed me with a darkness that would not go away. My new love helped me develop a passion and hunger for that darkness that made most black folks uncomfortable. I fell in love with my deep dark black skin as I began to view life in the sparkles of the stars that covered the Georgia sky.

-Sun Kissed

© 2016 All words & images by Tanya Graham unless otherwise noted.






Living In The Wrong Paradise (Part 2)

TODAY June 4th I craved peace but it did not come. It was not tangible so I could not touch it. My paradise eluded me again. I sat delusional. My truth still holding me captive. My reality engulfed pain and disappointment. Anger that spilled over the edge of time and ran into my crystal blue water. I still crave that one thing that will not be moved by the delusions of what you do not understand. Today I am still living in the wrong paradise.

© 2016 All words & images by Tanya Graham unless otherwise noted.

No Loitering in this Soul

(Private Property)

I watched you…I watched you. I watched you talk. I watched the words come out of your mouth. Yes, I did. I can see the words. I can hear the words. I am considering these words. They are deep. They are convincing. They are intentional. They are demoralizing. I could not bring them to a standstill. They struck my most personal and gentle parts. They escaped about this private property and not a word fell unheard. Swirling and swirling to cover more ground in my soul. They touched me inside and out. Seducing my most delicate spaces. They dug deep into my pores…heading with such eagerness directly to my Soul.

Then I saw your mouth say “Sorry”. Sorry for loitering on this partially guarded property. You thought it was okay since this precious land was left unattended. “I am sorry for intruding” you said. At the sound of your “Sorry” my spirit jumped with such delight…and those words that did not make it to my most inner core but instead had taken up residence on my skin began falling to the ground.


But No! No! No! Those words that “my protector did not take notice of” had burrowed themselves deep into my soul only waiting to be scraped away some day by a stint of time. They had settled in this property without a title or legal right. They had taken permanent residence in this private property called the Soul.


Welcome home you squatters…

© All words and images by Tanya Graham