Who Is Jacki Kelly

Most of the people on my newsletter mailing list know me as Jacki Kelly, the writer. I’ve been writing seriously since 2010, but my passion for writing dates to elementary school. But that’s not the only thing I do. Like most creative people, I have other creative outlets. Some writers sing, some knit, some crochet, some play musical instruments, some paint, and some plan. I’m one of those writers/painters/planners.

 

Often when I’m trying to work out a plot detail or wake my muse awake to play, I’ll sit behind a separate desk in a different part of the house and paint. I’ve used several medians–oils, acrylics, watercolor, alcohol inks, pastels, to name a few. I will admit I think my writing is much better than my artwork, but I’m only painting to please myself. And when I finished, most of it goes into a drawer. But, like words, colors, especially bright ones, bring me joy.

I’m also a planner. No, I don’t mean like in planning parties. I plan my days, my weeks. I make lists—lots of lists. I organize. Maybe planning gives me an excuse for buying tons of paper, pens, stickers, and stationery, but hey, it’s what I do. For the last several years, I’ve been Bullet Journaling. I know that may be new to some of you, but it’s been around for years. Bullet Journaling is another way for me to express myself with color, design, and creativity. Every week, I design a new layout. I carry my Bujo with me everywhere I go. I keep a list of movies I want to watch, gift ideas, and my word count, and my appointment.

 

 

 

I guess no one is any one thing. We are a lot of things. That’s what makes us all so interesting. We have more than one way of expressing ourselves and fitting into this world. What’s yours?

I Am A Miracle

 

When I contemplate history, I know it is a miracle that I am here today. My ancestors survived capture from their villages, being torn away from their families, their culture, their rituals, their heritage, their language, treated like animals instead of humans. One of God’s creations. Shackled and dragged across the mother continent, then shoved into the bowels of a slave ship.

 

I am a miracle. My ancestors survived the agony of the belly of a slave ship, sandwiched together like sardines in a can. They survived sickness, torture, starvation, as they endured the tormented months it took to journey across the Atlantic Ocean in seven square feet of space to be sold at auction like animals and chattel.

 

I am a miracle. My ancestors survived four hundred years of brutal slavery. Four hundred years of white inhumanity, downright cruelty, families torn apart, beatings, and back-breaking work in the scorching sun under the direction of an overseer’s whip and the depravity of the master.

I am a miracle. My ancestors survived the Great Depression, Jim Crow, lynching, Night Riders, Sundown town, the massacre at Rosewood, the Atlanta riots, Thibodaux Massacre, New Orleans Massacre, New York City Draft Riots, the Red Summer, Opelousas Massacre, Wilmington Insurrection, the Tulsa Race Riot and countless other atrocities not documented in history.

 

I am a miracle. My ancestors survived low wages, or no wages, poor educational opportunities, housing discrimination, racial discrimination, harassment, poverty, police profiling, voter suppression, mass incarceration, human medical testing, and ignorance.

 

I am a miracle. I am strong. My ancestors were stronger, braver. They persevered in times so troubling and inhuman, I can’t begin to imagine their pain and suffering. Everything I do is in honor of everything they did.

WHY IS IT SO HARD TO CHANGE?

As the year 2021 rolls out, I’ve been thinking about change. After last year, I imagine I’m not the only one.

I wondered why was 2020 such a difficult year for me. I have so many things for which to be thankful. My cup runneth over with blessings. I had plenty of space in my house to move around. When I grew tired of looking at the backyard, I could switch to another room and gaze at the front yard, then later in the day I could view the side yard and the playground across the street. I had food to eat, of which I’m sure I gobbled up too much. Now, I have a newfound fondness for salty snacks. My hobbies are enough to keep me busy for hours. But since I wasn’t living my life on my terms, the way I know and love, I started feeling isolated and withdrawn.


I asked myself, what did I have to be melancholy about? Was I just feeling sorry for myself? Was I being a whiny adult who wanted things my way? No matter how I answered those questions, what I felt was real, and I struggled with the change.

I’ve contemplated the many events of last year and there are a few things I have identified that contributed to my swings in emotions. There are things I have to accept. I had no control over what’s happening in the world. I’m not sure I’ve totally accepted that realization yet. Who doesn’t want to think they have power and authority over their life? When I was young, I couldn’t wait to grow up and do all the wonderful things I envisioned adults did. I would decide what vegetables I wouldn’t eat, or the right bedtime for me, or when I’d clean my room or what time I need to leave the club, or how much to spend on a new pair of shoes. Yes, that’s what growing up was all about for me. And now, I couldn’t even go to the mall and buy a pair of shoes or order another glass of wine in a restaurant as I pushed the vegetables to the side of my plate.

In 2020, I lost something I valued…spontaneity. My extroverted self loves spontaneity. It’s built into my DNA. If there was somewhere to go, I packed my bags without asking questions, and I had my plane ticket in hand. Now there is nowhere to go. There is no excitement in going to the grocery store—which has been the only routine place I now visit. I value my relationships and now I’m stuck inside, not fully able to interact with family and friends the way I have my entire life.
These changes weren’t gradual enough to give me time to adjust. I didn’t get a chance to adapt a little overtime. One day I could, the next day I couldn’t. I couldn’t raise my hand for a time-out or ask for a do-over. I wish I could. Oh yeah, any kind of change is hard.

Change Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Dramatic Clouds, Sun Rays and Sky.

So, as I face 2021, I’m taking a deep breath. I know some days, I’m going to be extra wary and some days all this change won’t bother me as much. But no matter what I’m feeling, those feelings are mine, and those feelings are real.

LET’S GET HAPPY AND THANKFUL

In my last blog post, I talked about all the things I wish I had done differently in 2019 in preparation for 2020. This time around, I will humble myself for the joy that 2020 brought me.

Nothing is ever all bad or all good. 2020 was the year of challenges, but it also brought some laughs and joy.

 

First, and closest to my heart—my mother, who proudly claims the title of a senior citizen is well and healthy. I see her smile and hear her laugh, and that alone makes my heart sing. But wait, there’s more.

Even with the pandemic imposed visit restrictions, I spent more time with my sister and mother. Quality time, where we laughed, talked, ate good food, and told stories. Sometimes, calling twice a day to share something we’d forgotten. They live in a different state, so this was no small accomplishment that I was blessed to have. Thanks to Zoom, I’ve seen more family this year than most. Get-togethers on Zoom also allowed me to visit my sister-writers, board members, and teams.

My husband and I have been in the house together for ten full months. Except for a trip to the grocery store or the hardware store or an odd visit with loved ones, it’s been the two of us—day and night. And as far as I can tell, he hasn’t wanted to strangle me, nor I, him. We’ve binged watched movies and series and shared memories. But most of all we’ve laughed together. We’ve found a closeness that has only deepened our marriage and added a new layer of warmth.

Coronavirus is surging again, so we’ve gone back into lockdown, but I’m talking to my family more, and these conversations warm my soul. Even my children—who are busy with their own daily lives, check in with me more often.

Being stuck inside made me happy and thankful I have space where I can relax, and read and write and eat cookies, and watch movies, and eat cookies and listen to music and eat cookies.

Yes, I’ve eaten my share of cookies. 2020 has been a rough year, full of bad news. But there were some glimmers of light. The country elected its first female vice president. Kamala Harris is a woman of color and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority, Inc., the first African American Sorority in the country and my sorority. We also now have two Coronavirus vaccines that might save the world from the ravages of the pandemic and let us return to some kind of normalcy.

Yes, 2020 was rough. I just had to look for some good in the year.

Happy New Year! Let’s Hope 2021 is Better.

IF I HAD KNOWN

If I had known the year 2020 was going to keep me stuck inside, away from the people I love and going to the store to see empty shelves and being absent from all the things in my life, I would have lived 2019 with a passion that would have set my soul on fire.

In January, I would have left the Christmas tree up a little longer to celebrate the holiday that may be forever different.

In February, I would have reached out to everyone I loved and let them know they had a place in my heart, not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day.

In March. I would have welcomed Spring by throwing open the doors and inviting my friends and family in to celebrate with a gathering full of fun.

In April, I would have smiled more at the beautiful flowers that brighten the world. I would have picked more blooms, bought more buds, and filled my house with the colors that illuminate the world.

 

In May, I would have accepted every invitation to every family event, taken more pictures, and reminisced about old times because I miss them so much now.

In June, I would have welcomed summer by hugging those people close to me a little longer and playing with my dog like we had no tomorrows.

In July, I would have celebrated the sunshine, the rain, the warm summer breezes, and the ability to stick my foot in the ocean without wearing a mask and standing six feet away from everyone.

 

In August, I would have enjoyed going shopping at stores with fully stocked shelves and no limits on what I could purchase.

In September, I would have stood outside and waved at the school buses as the students returned to school.

In October, I would have bought more candy and handed it out to the trick or treaters like candy was the medicine that made the world happy.

 

In November, I would have prepared for Thanksgiving with more thankfulness in my heart for every blessing and gift that made my life full and joy filled.

In December, I would have held my family a little tighter and a little longer, and I would have told them and showed them how much I love them.

 

I don’t know what 2021 holds, but after 2020, I will forever look at life differently and know that every day is special and worth a celebration. How has 2020 changed you?

Living During the Coronavirus

During this tough Coronavirus, I’ve had to stop my usual routine—like everyone else in the world—to give some thought about the other things that are important to me. As soon as all the bad news started coming out, I called my family to provide them with my uneducated advice. I encouraged them to stock up on food, water, and gasoline. I hadn’t thought we wouldn’t need gas because we’d be stuck in our homes for several weeks. But at least I was doing everything I could to prepare my family for what looked like an extended rainy day on the horizon. And no matter how much food I buy, I can’t help thinking, it’s not enough. I mean, how am I supposed to know what we’re going to want to eat three weeks from now. I can hardly manage what I want to eat for dinner today.

To maintain my sanity as we enter another week of self-imposed quarantine, I’m wondering what I’m going to do to keep my extroverted self-entertained. I’m writing. I’m painting. I’ve called all my friends to see how they’re making out during this time. I’m even thinking about unraveling a scarf I started to crochet and redoing it over again. I mean, it’s April, I could have it finished by the time winter rolls around back around. But after five weeks, all that stuff has bored me into thinking I want something else to do, somewhere to go.

I know I’m not the only one staring at the walls wondering when this will be over. And in many ways, I’m luckier than most. As bad as I think this current crisis is, many people need our kindness, our help, our consideration. So, I’ll reach out, and do what I can. I’ll do my best to stay optimistic. I hope you will too. And if you have any activities to help occupy the time, please share.

The Year Of Happy

Hello, 2020. I decided to dedicate this year to affirm myself. I’ve sent so much time and energy pointing out all the things I don’t like about myself, or my shortcomings, or my failures, that I’ve decided this year will be different.

 

This year I’m going to be kinder to myself. I’m going to give myself room to make mistakes, to eat too much, to exercise less, to sleep longer or wake up earlier. I’m going to give myself permission to play, and dance and sing out loud and off-key. I’m going to smile at bad hair days, and outfits that don’t fit as good as I’d like and hairs that grow out of my chin (before I pluck them). I’m going to celebrate the good that happens every day no matter how small.

 

I’m going to find quotes and affirmations and opportunities that make me happy. I’m going to laugh when it rains and smile when it snows. Life is good and beautiful and short and a blessing. I can’t waste another day being unhappy at insignificant incidents. That’s just another part of living. How will you be good to yourself this year?

What’s Driving Me Crazy

To celebrate the release of my latest book – In Pursuit of Perfection, I’ve been blogging all month. Now it’s my turn, on my site.

I know this might seem like a nutty topic, but I’m willing to bet we all have a list of things that drive us crazy. I can even put them into categories because depending on the day it’s a different list. Today, I’m going to talk about the things that drive me crazy about aging.
First, getting older snuck up on me when I least expected it. One day I was in my twenties and life was good and laid out in front of me like the yellow brick road. The next day I looked in the mirror and saw lines where smooth skin used to be. As soon as I adjusted to the laugh lines that didn’t make me laugh, my bladder started waking me up in the middle of the night. When did my bladder get smaller and why didn’t someone tell me that was something that could even happen?

Then one day I was sitting in a darkened restaurant and I couldn’t read the menu. I tilted my head, moved the menu around under the dim light, but nothing worked. Now I need reading glasses. And before long, it wasn’t just for dark restaurants. I need them for everything. Now I have them all over the house, in the kitchen, on the nightstand, beside the television, on my desk. And I don’t dare leave home without them in my purse.

Reading eyeglasses and eye chart

Oh, of course, there are more things I can complain about, but I don’t want to spoil all the fun you might have in finding them out on your own. You see, no one warned me about this stuff, so at least I’ve given you a heads-up.

If you haven’t gotten your copy of In Pursuit of Perfection, the links are below.

Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/y67kreb4
Barnes & Noble: https://preview.tinyurl.com/yxfapqsh
iBook: https://tinyurl.com/y2wqjcjr
Kobo: https://tinyurl.com/yym6xbe3

Below is the link to win an Amazon Gift Card. 

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f3118/

 

YEAR-END RECOLLECTION

At the end of every year, I get anxious and reflective. I look back over the last twelve months and judge how well I’ve accomplished the things that were important to me, how well I’ve treated the people in my life and how well I’ve taken care of myself. No matter how broad my shoulders or how big the “S” is that I think I wear on my chest, that’s a lot of stuff.

 

 

 

Some years, I’m happier with my analysis than others. When I look back at 2018, I’m content with how I handled myself this year. Of course, I could have done some things better and a few items died. I couldn’t resurrect them with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. But 2018 had its successes too. I celebrated another wedding anniversary, which was a joy. I signed a publishing contract for a book it took me over a year to write and I self-published two romantic suspense’s novels which were a new venture for me.

 

As I prepare for 2019, I’m anxious — wondering if I’m doing enough to make myself a better person, to accomplish more. I want to take another step. What can I do better? How can I continue to grow? This year has taught me, that I underestimate how much I can accomplish in 24 hours. In my busy schedule of checking off my to-do list, life gets hectic and can take on a momentum I hadn’t planned. I need to allow time for when things may go amiss and, I need to allow time to cherish what I have and all that I’ve received.

But I’ve learned not to stress out too much about the things I don’t get to check off as having completed. It’s part of the journey. I’ve also learned that the time I spend with family and friends brings me the most joy. When I’m with people who love me, there is no judgment, no reviews to worry about and no cues I have to hit. I need to put more visits like that on my list.
As we close out another year, I wish you and yours peace and happiness.

 

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY HOLIDAY AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!

The Days Before

 

In a few days, my fourteen single titled book is dropping. It’s entitled Fear of Dating. You’d think after that many books the whole writing and publishing process would be easy for me. That I’d have a formula, a process, or a list of all the items required to ensure I’ve done absolutely everything I can to make this book PERFECT, that I’d walk through this process like the expert, I pretend to be. But, that is so far from reality.

 

 

The moment I push the button to put the book up for pre-order, I begin to get nervous. As if this were my first time writing and publishing a book. I wonder if the writing is good enough, if there is anything else I can do to make it better, if I’ve done enough to promote the book, if readers will receive the book with enthusiasm. My list of doubts goes go on and on. As the release date grows closer, the anxiety increases.

 

I don’t know if this is normal for all authors, but this is my experience. I want to think many writers/authors have questions about the things they’ve written just before they let it loose on the world. Every day I spend time checking and double-checking all the things that I need to do. Making sure I’ve included all the acknowledgments, the proper links, that I’ve placed it on all the available sites and a hundred other small things. I feel like I have a blinking-neon light over my desk warning me of something else I need to do.

Part of the publishing process for me is trusting that I’ve done the best that I can this time. My hands are sweating, my head is swirling, and on October 18th I will wake up nervous that my email is full of messages stating something has gone wrong—like there are no words in the book, just a bunch of blank pages. I’ll run to the computer and double check everything. Then I’ll turn my attention to reviews. It’s a process with no end. But one day, I’ll have to stop thinking about Fear Of Dating and move on to the next book that is awaiting my attention.

 

I could be doing something that is easier, like knitting sweaters for my dog, who doesn’t complain about anything that I do, but it wouldn’t bring me the kind of joy that writing does.

I hope you enjoy the book as much as I enjoyed writing it.