The City of Storytelling

I was supposed to post this one a couple of weeks ago, before my passionate post about the killings of many black men across the nation. So here it is, enjoy! 

 After a long and wonderful weekend for Essence Music Festival, I am home.

When I first left for the weekend, I really didn’t have any expectations on how things would be. My main goal was to not compare myself to others in my group, as I struggled during a past event with embracing my personal accomplishments, looking at those around me – their accomplishments consumed me, that was in 2012. My ultimate goal…do NOT compare and of course, network like crazy.

I must admit, I traveled with a fantastic group of very successful individuals this time around, but something inside of me changed in the last few years. The weight physically and mentally holding me down, no longer existed. During the 2012 DDA event, I was about 218 pounds physically, mentally I was bogged down in relationships holding me back from attaining my true potential and I was frustrated in finding myself, in finding my true calling. I let comparisons and personal insecurities overtake me during the DDA event in 2012 and I had troubles networking, even with my mom there trying to motivate me. I didn’t feel valuable. I encourage anyone reading my blog right this very moment to put in the work. Your true self deserves you to be your personal best, striving for the better version of you that not only you deserve but the WORLD deserves.

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Now back to the reason I brought you all here.

In New Orleans, I got the chance to learn so much! Working in the Theme Park industry I’ve found it pertinent to become the master of storytelling. New Orleans is RICH in storytelling and people willing and ready to share a bit about their life. I met a woman named Pat, the security guard in our hotel – the Marriott, who was wonderful! Pat took the time to teach us a ton about the culture and history of New Orleans. Pat is now family. Just one night at dinner changed my life. I’m sure many of you read my post regarding the loss of my grandmother…Pat reminded me of my grandma and had stories like her too. She provided me with a sense of healing that no one could, affirming that my grandmother would always be looking down on me, loving me… Like I too was her granddaughter. It was a life-changing connection.

Then, there was Terrence – the chef! The king of French toast! I guess you guys now know where I am in my health and fitness journey. LOL. Terrence made the best French toast I’ve ever had, it was larger than my head (three slices, I might add). He too, shared stories of the lovely foreign women he was blessed to meet and talked all about New Orleans culture and offerings of entertainment downtown. Terrence and Pat were both born and raised in New Orleans. If you guys are reading this…know that you both changed my life and made my first NOLA experience wonderful!

Many of the locals I met shared a love of God and provided their personal accounts of Katrina attacking their homes. Some mentioned leaving New Orleans for a bit of time, staying with friends and family members elsewhere. Others stayed behind and helped those in need. Pat shared a story about a wonderful high school teacher whom she loved and actually visited, well she hadn’t heard from this teacher since Katrina happened and didn’t know if she was still alive. This story severely touched my heart as I remember tears flowing down my face the day Katrina hit – simply watching the news, but in that moment I truly felt just an ounce of the pain the people of NOLA must’ve felt when this tragic storm happened. Then there was the young girl I met who was born and bred in New Orleans and when Katrina hit she had to stay with family in Georgia, she shared with me her admiration for her loving mother who made certain to keep her family together, keeping she and her siblings in the same school district regardless of where they went or how many times they moved. Many of her friends, couldn’t say the same. Her smile and positivity shined bright as she shared her story. She described herself as blessed and was glad to have a mom so strong and willing to keep the family together. 

Among the stories and a wonderful weekend of meeting celebrities and community driven individuals I found something so valuable…the gift of storytelling. There’s something SO powerful in sharing your stories and your testimony with others. There is power in acknowledging and discussing events and life experience. For me, hearing these folks, shared culture, provided a sense family comfort and ultimately made me realize how blessed I truly am. I am blessed to meet people different from myself and my environment. I hope you can enjoy the photos from my experience, NOLA truly is a place to discover. Extremely rich in history.

Oxxo (Because Everyone Loves A Good Story), LUV,Tay