Image from American Affair
Let’s pretend that you and I are sitting down at Cafe Du Monde in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA), enjoying a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning. This may be your first time visiting NOLA so we are just catching up and you asked me the ultimate question, that I get asked often: How is living in NOLA? Which then leads to more frequently asked questions. This week on my Facebook page, I allowed my readers to pick what they wanted me to blog about and here are their choices:
Living in New Orleans (NOLA).… Living here in NOLA since June 18, 2017 has been for the most part, busy except for every other weekend when I’m off. I work at the juvenile jail which means I work 12 hour shifts so most of my time is spent at work. I make sure that on my weekends off, I do some writing, reading, relaxing, more writing, getting out and enjoying the city outside of just hanging out on Bourbon Street, which the city is highly known for.
I try to stay away from the cliche things to do here in NOLA so that I won’t easily get bored. I love going to places that have a live band playing jazz and wine, if the establishment also sell cigars, that’s a winner for me. Since living here, I’ve fell in love with the cherry flavored Tatiana cigars. I’ll smoke a cigar on occasion, just to relax and unwind from the stresses of my job, life or writing…..yes, writing is stressful at times.
I live in a shotgun style house which was a must have once I moved here. I adore the southern dwelling (the house is purple) and everyone in NOLA hangs out on their porches. Something I had to get used to because in Chicago, I rarely saw my neighbors. When I first arrived, I even dressed like a southern belle, wearing long floral dresses. I love the culture and food here. Every week, I make sure I either cook red beans and rice, or treat myself to some of NOLA’s best foods: po’boys, gumbo, jambalaya, etc.
How to successfully relocate….. I get asked this question A LOT! I don’t think I have a “Steps 1, 2 and 3” formula on how to successfully relocate. What I can share is my story. Back in April of 2017 I began having that burning desire again in my heart to live in NOLA. I’ve wanted to live here since attending Grambling State University. The desire would be so strong that I would just sit and cry so many times, when I was alone. I remember the words of my sister Sharrelle, who said to me years ago, when I cried because of my desires to return back to Grambling State University after years of being absent. She said, “If Grambling is where you want to be, then go!”…. This time around, I replaced the word Grambling with NOLA and set out on my spiritual journey.
I asked my cousin Ray who lives right outside of NOLA, for the website for government jobs in criminal justice, because I knew I needed major coins living here. I applied for my current job in April and didn’t hear anything, until….. Until May when I felt God tell me in my spirit, “Put in your resignation letter.” I was currently at a job in Chicgo working for seven years, so naturally I was comfortable in my job security. Why would I give that up to venture out into the unknown? It’s called FAITH. I knew that if I obeyed the voice of God telling me to resign, He was testing my faith and I did the only thing I knew how to do: I resigned from my job and start packing up my house.
Again, I hadn’t heard back from the job I had just applied for, a month later, I started packing up my house and didn’t have a thought or clue of where I was going. June came around, I was scheduled to travel to Paris, France for my 36th birthday but got a call from the Human Resource Director from the job I applied for back in April in NOLA. She asked if I could come for an interview at the juvenile jail that week. I didn’t have much of any money saved, but I withdrew all of my savings, used my paycheck, a recent theater check from my last production Karma and set out on the road to NOLA for that interview. I stayed from Tuesday thru Friday in NOLA because I was hired on the spot and had to complete the background check, psychological exams, etc. Got back home to Chicago on Saturday morning around 2am and guess what? At 9:30am, I received a call from the HR department asking if I could start work on Monday? I immediately said YES!!!!
I talked things over with my children about staying with their grandparents while I lived in NOLA so unexpectedly. There were no objections with them lol, next was delivering this plan to my parents. My dad was instantly sold on the idea. Not so much my mom, for logical reasons but when God opens a door of opportunity for you, GO THROUGH IT. I knew this journey ahead me was about to be a testament of how greatly God will provide for me. I aspire to be a full-time writer in theater and/or film and needed a place like NOLA to live in solitude, to make that happen. I was asked on so many occasions about why I didn’t move to Atlanta, New York or L.A. to pursue a career in writing? For me, this move was about fulfilling both of my passions: working with youth and writing & producing stories. I can always visit those places to network for writing. I need a place of stillness and away from everything and sometimes everyone, to write.
Long story short, my house was already packed and I started work on June 19, 2017. I sold a few big items in my house and gave away other items that people picked up. I created a Go Fund Me account which helped me get my life started as a writer on my off days and criminal justice professional in NOLA. I stayed in AirBnB’s the first two weeks until I found my adorable shotgun house. I would drive around everyday after work and look for “For Rent” signs and scheduled appointments with the homeowners to view the houses. Meanwhile, my car had everything I bought with me from Chicago still in it, those first two weeks. I literally lived out my car for two weeks. I finally found the shotgun house I was mostly impressed with and guess what? My landlords were AirBnB hosts so I stayed with them for one week until the house was vacant for me to move in on July 1st. God, works in mysterious ways, the current tenant had to unexpectedly move back home to Texas to care for her sick mother and I needed a furnished house. I bought mostly everything from her for $300 that she could not take with her and began, living in NOLA. I tell people all the time, take what you can and leave the rest. You can move anywhere and start afresh. Don’t worry about clothes and furniture. Create space for God to provide you with NEW things.
Dating….. I love it!!!!! I’m happy and since January 1, 2017, I’ve decided to keep my love life more private (unless I’m writing a stage play about it lol). But I will say this, God definitely orchestrated this move to NOLA and added love with it because I never even considered love finding me here. I was so focused on my goals and careers that I bumped into love I guess. He is simply amazing!
How you worked on your goals although all was not planned but yet you pressed through them even with the things you have been through?….. Honestly, I just kept moving forward. One thing led to another and no matter what was placed in front of me, I knew that God didn’t bring me over 900 miles away from being comfortable with my family and friends, to leave me. I cried at times, wrote in my journal, revisited my goals listed in my journal, I was frustrated with living out of my car, but I kept pressing forward. I even took a break from writing (that was totally unplanned) to get more settled in my job. Now that I’m settled, I’ve picked up my writing again and I must say, it feels great to be doing both things that I love dearly.
If you are considering relocating, what will make it a success for you? Everyone journey in life is different. Regardless, set out on your journey to a new beginning. If you’re a faith-taker like me, allow God to direct EVERY step of the way and success will happen. If you’re the kind of person that needs to have everything in alignment first before you make a move, start preparing now! If you’ve relocated, share tips in the comments to help others.