Deborah J. / Blog

Peak Performance

As much as Tinsel Town likes to parade super heroes across the big screen, infusing us all with that momentary rush which leads us to sincerely believe we’re capable of breaking through brick walls and rounding up every villain who might lurk in our neighborhoods by the time we leave the theater, the fact is; we’re humans. We all need several things to thrive. Those things are water, good food and rest. I learned a valuable lesson this week; I can’t trash my body and expect to be at peak performance.

As an athlete at UMES (Maryland Eastern Shore), I had a coach who preached putting the proper fuel into your system. The cycle was, sleep well, eat well, stay hydrated, and you will run your best. I finally found myself moved to believe him and to try it out. Low and behold, I was shaving off seconds in the 800m almost every race. This week I discovered, deviating from that as a singer is just as detrimental as it would be if I were preparing to go to the starting line of a big race.

I’m not a big drinker. Actually, outside of an occasional tryst with Moscato and Riesling, I avoid alcohol on a long-term basis. I typically force down water daily because I hate it vehemently, and I shoot for fruits, veggies, protein and pizza. You didn't expect a list totally void of some indulgence, did you? However, this week (which ended with a weekend of several performances) I decided to sip on a few Lime A Rita’s while watching X-Factor. Actually that’s two things I normally avoid (alcohol and television) put together, so you know it was a recipe for disaster.

Needless to say... 5 drinks later… I was sick. I woke up sick, and all I wanted was pizza. I wouldn’t eat anything until I had it. I went to work Wednesday, Thursday and Friday sick. Yes I was hungover for several days. It disrupted my sleep every night. I craved spicy foods because they make me feel better, so I indulged in loads of chips and all things pre-packaged. My morning smoothies faded into the back of my mind. By show time Friday night, I was spent. I sang my heart out, of course, but I physically knew I wasn’t at peak performance. The take away? If you really want to sing, take care of your instrument by taking care of your body. Lesson learned!

**Upcoming Shows**

Hello Everyone! I was asked to participate in the Hip Hop 4 the Homeless Tour recently, and so far it has been absolutely a blessing to me in terms of getting my music heard. I want to share some of the upcoming dates and cities we will be visiting in case you would like to come out and support this worthwhile cause:

Sat. Oct. 13 Atlanta, GA

Sun. Oct. 14 Alexandria, VA

Sat. Oct. 20 Washington, DC

Fri. Oct. 26 Charlotte, NC

Sat. Oct. 27 Raleigh, NC

Fri. Nov. 2 Colmar Manor, MD

Sat. Nov. 3 Atlantic City, NJ

Sun. Nov. 4 Baltimore, MD

Sat. Nov. 10 Los Angeles, CA

Sun. Nov. 11 Las Vegas, NV

Sat. Nov. 17 Syracuse, NY

Wed. Nov. 21 Washington, DC

Sat. Nov. 24 Orlando, FL

Sat. Dec. 1 Philadelphia, PA

Fri. Dec. 7 Laurel, MD

Sat. Dec. 16 Hyattsville, MD

Sat. Dec. 29 New York, NY

Mon. Dec. 31 New York, NY

Sat. Jan 12 Miami, FL

Sat. Jan. 19 London, UK

Tue. Jan. 22 Amsterdam, Neth.

Fri. Jan. 25 Cannes, France

Sat. Feb. 16 Houston, TX

Sat. Mar. 2 Orlando, FL

Sun. Feb. 3 Orlando, FL

I truly do hope to see some of you all who support me so adamantly all over the net at my live shows!

Much Love and Hugs!

Why I Will Rap 4 Food

In 2003, I became a first-time mom. Needless to say, this was huge! Diaper changing, breast feeding and caring for my little girl became the center of my focus. This was the epitome of late nights and early mornings. Outside of school and track and field, I had never invested so much of myself into anything. Fast forward two years, and I had several snapbacks with my name attached. I ran my way into maintaining my track scholarship. I was a full-time student, I was working part-time at a local news station, and I was living alone with my daughter. I had a point to prove. Years prior, a close relative moved me out of the house upon the discovery of my pending pregnancy, and she left me with the piercing words that I wouldn’t be able to run again when I had a baby to care for. I couldn’t graduate on time if I brought this child into the world. I wouldn’t, couldn’t and shouldn’t. The bull horns sprang forth. Fortunately, I wasn’t alone. Encouragement sprouted as if from a garden when I needed it. I remember vividly sitting in the car in tears debating whether or not I would return to school my sophomore year. I didn’t have enough money to live off campus. I didn’t have a baby sitter. I didn’t have family there. I didn’t have anything I needed. I didn’t realize how wrong I was. I had everything I needed within me. That’s where God planted it all. There was a tiny seed of hope, a few seeds of determination, a couple seeds of resilience and the most important of them all, one of love. He then surrounded me with women who cared more for me than anyone had in a long time. I thrived. This time of tending my inner garden came with much struggle. There came a point where all I could afford was heat, rent and daycare. Please note food is not on this list. Pride held me back from letting anyone know how bad things were for me. I stressed, cried, and worried. Finally, I prayed. I don’t know why prayer was a last resort back then, but I have learned my lesson. I remember getting up from prayer in tears but feeling a little lighter. The next morning, one of the young men at my church at the time came to my door. He had a bag in hand. My daughter peered out from behind me to see what would be weeks of meals for us. I thanked him sheepishly with a hug and closed my door. As the door closed, I was hitting the ground filled with tears of gratitude because I knew that without mentioning my desperate need for food to anyone, God heard my voice and made provisions for us. Why this story? It’s to explain my involvement in a very important cause. You see, I can’t just hop on to anything without it having some type of purpose. When I heard about Will Rap 4 Food, I immediately related to the cause. I know what it means to be hungry and not have the money to provide food. To know that 1 in every 2 children in DC are at risk of hunger touches me deeply and personally. It’s not fun to be without something as essential as food. With all of the wealth our nation has, no child should be hungry. What can we do? We can get behind this cause and make a difference. We can do whatever possible to ensure the founders of WR4F Pro’Verb and Melisa Kim have the support they need to bring awareness to our community. Truthfully, the movement is only as strong as we make it. I’m hopeful because I know a lot of us can shave a little off of our budgets to put a dent in the stats. We must grab hold of this movement and make it our very own. Tell your story, share your talent, and share your financial means. Whatever you are able to do to contribute to the cause, do it. It’s not an epidemic one can end alone. As the Cuban Cigar Smoka said yesterday during our interview on WLVS Radio, if we can’t end hunger here in the U.S., then it’s a lost cause in other less wealthy countries. I know it’s the right thing to do and the write thing to do, so I WR4F. I don’t know what your “Rap” is, but do it. … Willrap4food.org

Drastic Measures

I've wanted to make some changes, but I haven't been able to figure out how! I've thought to try new avenues, but making a turn onto a less certain road from one that has more stability wasn't appealing to me. That's until last night! I keep preaching about following your passions this, and living like it's the end that, but I hadn't realized how fearful I’ve been to step out on my own passions... fully.

Something certainly changed last night. Various opportunities have come and gone as I clung to what I felt safer. But as I thought over my goal sheet for this year, I became aware of the fact that where I want to be and go will require moments of what some may perceive as danger. Living a safe life isn't something I'm putting ahead of my purpose.

I have my moments of being an extremist, but I feel the decision to take a leap of faith isn’t extreme; it’s necessary.

Do you have a goal or desire that you push to the back of your mind for the sake of feeling safe? Do you have a great idea you feel should be heard or used, but taking out that loan to begin the process seems dangerous? I want to encourage all of the dreamers out there, all of the innovators and creators, take a moment to step out on the edge. Investing in your ideas, goals and dreams… your purpose, not only requires investment of time and money. It also requires the ability to take risks for what you want to accomplish. Nothing great can be accomplished by doing the ordinary.

My challenge… get extreme when it comes to your dreams. Do something drastically different!

Own Your Song

Today was one marked by many tears... happy ones of course. I will describe the past week as one full of hard work with love and laughter to match. I think it's important to count these blessings, especially after several incidents this week.

Friday morning, I walked over to my neighbors' house to give my condolences and pay my respects to the family who lost their 19-year-old son to cancer the night before. Initially, I felt awkward and speechless, but as I felt the trembling of a grown man as I hugged him, something surged through me. It was the realization that I don't have to be in their family to feel their heartache.

Some of you have heard me talk about losing my mom in March of 2005 followed by my 19-year-old sister in January of 2006. Ironically enough, my sister died of cancer as well. The experience of losing them, I cannot put into words, but it was brought to my memory afresh as I hugged various members of my neighbors' family. I'm very relational, and I find that when people hurt, I mourn with them. It's almost involuntary.

I have two young children, and to lose one of them... I cannot imagine. I left the porch and walked to my car. Drove off to the grocery story and began to cry. I cried not for the loss of life, because that is God's work, and He doesn't err. It was for the hearts that were behind me. I know what it feels like to sob uncontrollably because you've lost your closest friend. I know what it is to have more questions than answers. I know what yelling out in frustration with God feels like, and I empathize.

In addition to this, I just moments ago read a status of a fellow artist who watched as a motorcyclist perished on the highway. His call to action for all... cherish those who you love and those closest to you. Today, I got to cherish some of the people who have helped shape me as I am today.

I was very angry, hostile, defensive, and reckless as a college student. Wild... definitely. I felt alone, bitter and overwhelmed as I lost more and more of what I thought was a part of my "everything". There was a group of about 12 ladies who poured and poured tirelessly into me. I loved them, and I spent my time with them. I shared my thoughts and perspective and listened to theirs. I shared my time in dance and music rehearsals. We prayed, a LOT! Changes in my life weren't immediate, but they happened, and I will always feel indebted to them.

Today we loved on each other. I reminisced on a time when we spent all of our days together as a sisterhood. I believe that although God has my sister with him, he gave me a bond just a strong. This is a love that hasn't been broken by time or distance. Some of these sisters I've been connected to for more than a decade.

What does all this mean? It means, be happy where you are and with what you have because someone somewhere is happy with far less. Continue to seek growth and change, but always keep in mind that we don't know when our final hour has come. Just like that motorcyclist woke up with plans for his day, maybe some worries and some joys as well... we too wake up and go about our day. He didn't plan or schedule to be in a fatal crash. We don't plan or schedule our deaths (typically).

Since we can't predict the end, we have to cherish every second. We have to live each moment like it's the last moment. Do what you do with your heart. Love yourself no matter what is not perfect about you! Be free to be who you are. If you want to break out in a dance in front of complete strangers, get your freaking James Brown on! Sing if you feel like singing and OWN your song! Don't wait for tomorrow because it's not owed to you.

Good Night.

Use Your Connects

A message has been repeating to me over the past couple of days. It's as if the signs are pleading with me as they point me in the direction of tapping into my resources. Inanimate resources are cool, but what I'm referring to is the resource of people... our relationships, and connections. We all have them because connecting in part is what humans were designed to do. We tweet, update this and upload that for the world to see because we desire those connections. We want to be known for who we really are. That's beautiful, but have you ever wondered if someone you know could potentially have the key you're looking for to open that door you've been trying to break down? I believe in hard work as much as the next person, but sometimes it's better to work smarter rather than strain ourselves unnecessarily. It's very simple. You can beat the door down, or you can step back from the task, and ask for help. People like me love independence; we thrive and get off on doing it all on our own, but the man who believes he's an island is merely a fool destined to be his own demise. It's okay to have to look back and say, "he/she helped me." Plus we all need to practice the craft of giving and receiving. It's a good thing to be indebted at times because it keeps you humble and also enables you to more readily help those who need YOUR gift of a key to unlocking their particular door.

So I ask, who do you know?

Humble Beginnings

Yesterday, I took a road trip to Dewey Beach, DE with a car full of family. For the entire week leading up to the performance, I had several things on my brain that were pestering me. One thought was how would the audience receive my music because I looked at a few of the artists on the bill, and my genre was a little outside the box. I also had concerns about the fact that I was one of the few who would be using tracks instead of a live band. I miss the days of working with the band, and I definitely prefer it over using tracks (of course). But I set those concerns aside to focus on the task at hand.

My co-star Warchild joined me on this trip, and as we all walked on the beach prior to my performance, he mentioned the term "humble beginnings". It struck me quite hard. It wasn't the idea of going from nothing to something that got me. It was actually the thought that I appreciate my humble beginnings, but I want to remain humble throughout the entire journey of my life. It made me pose the question, is there a marker or point where artists say, "okay time to be an arrogant, loveless, soapbox riding diva"?

I've been told before to dress differently (more revealing), be a little more confident almost arrogant to set myself apart, and it's never been in me to do. I feel my purpose is to love people through music, and to be perfectly honest with you all, that is a work in progress for me because I've yet to figure it out. I believe we're all connected. I probably say that too much, but people don't care about what you say as much as they do about what you do. So my question is now... what can I do for those who support me, those who are that 20 percent that download my music? How can I transform my music into a machine that will lift hearts, spirits and lives from low places. Well... you know where my heart and mind is. I'm taking advice :)

When You're Hard Headed...

Some of you know me well; some of you know me just enough. Whichever category you fit into, it's clear that I can be a bit dogged. Today I got some consequences for it. Don't get me wrong, being persistent or determined can be good, but I suppose doctors have their jobs for a reason. My point? I've told everyone who follows me about my knee injury via one of my students and I colliding while playing a game on the basketball court. Two months later, I was diagnosed with a tear to my MCL. It ends there right? Very wrong! I was told repeatedly to wear a knee brace, but I had several problems with it. It's uncomfortable, ugly and ugly (that's right said it twice). Lol. Bottom line... I was/am very inconsistent with wearing the nuisance of a thing. So my leg has been struggling to keep up with me. I go and go and work and work sun up til sun down. This morning, I believe my body crashed. I do tell you guys all the time that being part of the #NoSleep crew is stoooooooooopid. I still believe that. But I guess being a part of the all work and no play crew is just as stupid. I did get out for my birthday, btw I had a blast and I adore you all who came out to celebrate with me! But I mean if you are going to work work work work ( @Wale style) you have to consistently find space to relax. Basically, I was told my knee has been straining and it's been impacting all of the muscles on that side of my body. I had a lack of mobility this morning and some other pain, so I'm presently taking several prescriptions (we all know that won't last very long). :) But I appreciate the doctors for what they do.

The best news today... the nurse who gave me my IV said I'm lucky to have good veins cause placing an IV can take all day. Considering I'm a sucker when it comes to pain, she was the lucky one lmao.

Love The Music

It's early, so I have plans to keep this short and sweet. At times I think as artists, we get away from the music. In this generation it seems to be more about appearances and fame more than it is about the actual sound and content of the music you create. I'm no musical revolution in the making, or maybe I am, but in order for that to happen, I need some people to join the movement who are loyal to the art. There's a difference between real music and a hobby. When you love the music, you don't murder her and destroy her essence. You build her up and make her more beautiful than the day before. I'm just saying...