Umoja Habari Gani

It's worth pointing out up front that I'm notorious for going backward in order to move forward. Meaning I will not be getting to the actual point of this post for a few paragraphs yet. In the meantime, let's take a trip down memory lane...


Last year this time, I was coming down from a wave of emotionally generative but draining travel experiences and feeling overwhelmed at the thought of processing them all (slow cooking them, really) into the crockpot of my daily routine. This year is no different. In general, I'm not a fan of most end-of-year rituals. I prefer to look back at what was according to my own slow methodical pace, but life just keeps moving forward without me whenever I do that. So I try to keep up with it all (the list-making and resolutions and goal-setting) less for sheer joy of it and more for the time-capsule it provides.

I can be so hard on myself sometimes. So caught up in this idea that I'm somehow behind schedule from where I'd like to be in my personal and professional life. Writing about my accomplishments and making plans for the next year give me a way to reclaim some of the time I've spent full of angst at all the things I didn't get done throughout the year. Instead there's this little golden nugget I'm able to dig up of all the ways I succeeded and that leaves me feeling a bit like a time conservationist. Like I'm doing the good work of slowing down my own thoughts if only for a little while. It's also a way of sharing myself and my vulnerabilities with others - something else I don't exactly enjoy.


Last year, I wrote a long meandering IG post on New Year's Eve about my trip to Charleston for watch night service. I had hoped to write more in the coming days about my time in Montgomery a week earlier, visiting the lynching museum and stumbling into a children's choir Christmas performance at Dexter Avenue Baptist church; or my time in Charlottesville over the Summer for a transformative poetry conference... on the anniversary of those hateful "you will not replace us" chants; or my time studying with Mitchell S. Jackson & the Hurston/Wright Foundation in DC and visiting the National Museum of African American History and Culture. I really meant to document those moments. But it is enough that I wrote about some of it and I remember what the rest meant to me; how it made me feel.

Today is the first day of Kwanzaa, Umoja Habari Gani, and I'd like to try again at sharing a little bit of 2019 Constance with whoever reads this. I may not keep up with it perfectly across all seven days but I'll have shared a little bit more of myself and that's what counts.



In the lead up to January of 2019 I bought a planner and decided the first entry would be rooted in making my kwanzaa practice a daily/weekly effort. That decision has really affected the way everything else has followed and I plan to continue it going into 2020. Thinking about this year though, I have been much more intentional about which opportunities to pursue and which things would not serve my wellbeing. I have hardly been consistent with embodying each kwanzaa principle and I'm likewise still working on many of my creative goals (I can write a blog or otherwise social media post like no other but somehow longform writing for publication brings out all my insecurities and I tend to freeze up 😩) but if Kwanzaa is about the power of the harvest, I have planted so many seeds this year and I intend to continue tending them and growing myself into 2020. It's about the process.


Likewise, if January was about setting clear intentions then February saw me out in community with my fellow poets at the Black Poetry Conference at Princeton University. What a way to spend a valentine's day weekend! I am still in awe of all the poetic wisdom I took in and of the people I met.





February also saw me continuing to make plans for myself throughout the year but I'll leave that for "kujichagulia" later today... y'all know I dragged my feet re: this sharing until well after midnight. Anyway, it's past my bedtime. Sweet dreams!






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© 2018, Constance Sherese Collier-Mercado.

Atlanta * The Bronx * Chicago