Diamond in the Rough: A Collection of Personal Essays and Poems

 

 

Picture of a shining black diamond gem

 

Being the inspirational person that I am, it has been put on my heart to write this book. In it, I share different accounts of things that I have experienced in my life. Much of what I talk about in this book is painful, but I feel that it can help someone out there suffering through something that they feel is pulling them under. I want to give my readers hope. I want them to know that despite how things may seem right now, things will get better. The underdog doesn’t stay down forever, and with God by your side, you can make it through any situation. That is the only way I can explain how I am still here after all I have been through. It has to be nothing but God.

 

I want to share with you the introduction to my book. My hope is that this book touches someone out there struggling to get through life. I want to inspire, encourage, uplift, and motivate them to keep going. Don’t give up on life. The waters may look murky now, but through strength, determination, and God, you will clear away all the murk and see the clear, clean water below. Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning. I had to go through all I went through in order to help someone else through it. Lets cross the finish line to victory together!

 

Introduction to Diamond in the Rough: A Collection of Personal Essays and poems

 

Introduction:

 

My purpose for writing this book is to help encourage, motivate, uplift, and inspire others out there who may be struggling with things in their life for which they see no way out of. It was not my intention to write a book sharing different events in my life that were painful for me, but when God puts something on your heart, you do what you are led to do. In this book I share my personal stories of trials and tribulations that I have endured. Things have never been easy for me, but through it all I am still standing, and I am stronger than I have ever been before. It took me a long time to transition into this state of mind. The roads were dark and long, and most times lonely, but I made it through. By the grace of God, I am a survivor. I am alive to tell my story. There were many times I wanted to just give up on life, but God brought me through. He is an awesome God, and heard my pleas. He delivered me from the pain and brought me peace.

 

The essays and poems you will find in this book are true accounts of situations that I have faced throughout the years. From child abuse, rape, and domestic violence, I share them all here. These are my true emotions, thoughts, feelings, and ideas written in these pages. I’m sure there is someone out there who has experienced one, some, or all of the situations that I have faced in this book. I want my stories to show you that you don’t have to remain a victim, but you can become the victor of your circumstances. God does not put more on us than we can carry. I know at times it seems as though things aren’t ever going to get better, but believe in your heart and soul that you will prevail. What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. You are stronger than even you know you are.

 

If no one else has ever told you, I want to be the one to tell you that despite your dark past, you have a bright future ahead of you. We all suffer in life in some way, shape, or form, but we have to have the strength to go on, but sometimes it’s hard to smile when you’re used to frowning. For me, my life has been filled with nothing but pain and tears, but through God and his unconditional love for me, I have a reason to smile. When I shed tears, they are no longer tears of pain, but tears of joy. Through Jesus Christ, I found the love I have always been searching for. No matter what, his love will never forsake me.

 

I have broken my chains of pain and heartache. I am no longer a prisoner of fear, humiliation, and doubt. I know who and what I am. I now have confidence in myself that I didn’t have before. I am no longer ashamed of the things that made me who I am. I turned my trials into triumphs. Instead of breaking me, my life’s experiences made me into the diamond you see today. A diamond starts as a piece of coal deep in the belly of the earth. With time, heat, and pressure, slowly that piece of coal transforms into a beautiful gem. It took trauma, abuse, neglect, and fear to transform me into the diamond I am. Instead of letting the struggles of your life keep you buried in the ground, use those struggles to rise to the top and shine bright like the diamond you are.

 

When I was finally able to conquer my demons and see myself for the beautiful, light-hearted, ambitious, quizzical, unique, and extraordinary diamond I was, Blaque Diamond was born. For me, it represents words I feel describe me. It symbolizes my growth and my strength to overcome the toughest situations and still be standing. I am renewed. I am reborn. I am a Blaque diamond. Reach for your inner Blaque diamond. Let your light shine through.

 

A Blaque Diamond

 

Beautifully created from this earth

Light-hearted and full of laughter

Ambitious and goal oriented, I am

Quizzical and willing to seek knowledge in all ways possible

Uniquely different and at times the same

Extraordinary creation from god’s paintbrush

 

Determined to overcome all obstacles in my way

Intelligence is a gift that is priceless

Another gem within a world of beautiful gemstones

Miles of mountains and hills climbed to seek inner peace

Observant of my every day development and ways to improve me

Not easily broken and defeated, instead I conquer

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but I am my own diamond

 

Coming soon in April 2018!!!! Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Don’t Give Up

 

Picture of men playing tug-of-war with a rope

 

Don’t just give up the fight

Hold on with all of your will and might

Anything worth having is worth fighting for

Even if you feel you can’t fight anymore

Things will get better in its own time

What is god’s will isn’t yours or mine

Hold on tight to what you believe

Because your dreams are meant to achieve

There will be days of disappointments

But the end result will be for your enjoyment

No matter how hard it seems

Never let go of your goals and dreams

Even when other’s doubt and wish bad on you

Know in your heart that you will make it through

Everything in time will work itself out

And that is what patience is all about

It’s not time to throw in the towel

You can make it through these trials

It will take some time and effort

But don’t think it won’t happen never

When you feel you’ve done all you can do

Just remember all of this work is for you

So don’t just give up the fight

Hold on with all of your will and might

 

 

 

 

What is Love?

 

Picture background of pink, white, and red hearts

 

“Love is a verb that requires action to have true meaning. Without action, it is just another noun.” – Blaque Diamond 

 

This article is dedicated to the two people I love most in the world. The two people who helped me discover what love feels like.

 

Samantha Cunningham Jones

Quinton Terrell Jones

 

I decided to make this topic my writing prompt for today. Love. Such a small word, but it has such a big meaning. Love represents different things for different people, so what you think is love, and what I think is love, may be totally different. Neither one of us is wrong, we just see love differently. What is love? What does love mean to you? How do you know how to love? These are questions that I have been asked by several people in my life. Just recently, while walking with my walking partner during our break at work, he asked me,

 

“What is love to you? How do you know how to love?”

 

We have very deep conversations while we strive to get in our daily exercise. I love stimulating conversations, and I especially like conversations that make me think. Although, I didn’t have to think too hard about this subject. Love is something that has always interested me. There is being in love, and there is having love. Most people throw around the word love just like any other word because they don’t know that there is a difference in the way you use the word. You can have love for someone without being in love with them. When I use this way of speaking of love, I’m referring to relationships, friendships, family etc. Yes, I can love your new coat, or love to read, but that kind of love isn’t in the same context I am relating this article in. That type is more of a strong like for something.

 

I was also asked the same question while doing a podcast interview back in August of this year. Ms. Blue asked me,

 

“How can you love if you’ve never experienced love before?”

 

My response to her and my co-worker was the same.

 

“Love to me is natural. It isn’t something that I had to learn to do. I love because my heart allows me to. If you have to learn how to love someone, then you don’t know what love truly is. Love comes from the heart. It is a natural reaction. No amount of teaching can teach a person to love if it’s not in them to do so.”

 

To most people that may be confusing, but to me it’s clear as day. Growing up, I never heard the words “I love you” from my parents. I don’t think the word love was ever even mentioned in our household. There were no signs of love at home either. There weren’t any hugs or kisses, displays of affection, or words of endearment. So, as you can see, I never experienced love from my parents while I was growing up. At home is where love should first begin, but that wasn’t the case for me. I grew up in a loveless household. If love lived there, then it was well-hidden from my reach, or maybe it wasn’t meant for me to receive love there. So, I was thrust out into the world without ever once knowing what it felt like to be loved by someone.

 

As I journeyed into adulthood, I got into relationships looking for the love that I never received at home. All I ever wanted was someone to love me. One bad relationship after another left me still wondering what love was. What was so wrong with me that I wasn’t good enough for someone to love? Yes, guys told me that they loved me, but based on their actions, the love wasn’t genuine. To them, love meant me being pushed into a wall, or their hands wrapped around my neck if I didn’t do what they wanted me to do when they said do it. That was their version of love. Being a young girl out in the world by herself, I started to believe that maybe that was what love really was. My parents were supposed to love me, and all they did was abuse and neglect me. So, a man saying that he loved me right before he smacked me across the face seemed natural. It was all I had ever known. Love for me meant pain.

 

When I finally took a hiatus from dating and took time to delve into myself, I found my answer to what love was. Despite the hurt and pain that others had put me through, I still loved them. Even though I tried to tell myself that I didn’t, deep inside I knew I loved them. I couldn’t explain how I could love people who did nothing but hurt me. I tried for a while to define my feelings and pick a part my reasoning’s. But I was always brought back to the same statement.

 

“Love to me is natural. It isn’t something that I had to learn to do. I love because my heart allows me to.”

 

The lesson that I had to learn while searching for love was to learn to love myself. Even though I had never experienced love and didn’t know what being loved felt like, I knew that before I could truly love someone else, I had to love myself first. How can you expect someone to love you when you can’t love yourself? That was a question that I repeated to myself over and over again over the years. One day I sat down at my computer and opened a brand-new word document. At first, I had no idea what I should write, so I just sat there for a while. Finally, the thought came to me. I wrote this exact question.

 

What do I love about me?

 

Once I wrote that question, I began writing all the things down that I loved about myself. The more I actually thought about it, the more things flowed from my mind to the computer screen. Once I had listed all the things that I loved about myself, I sat back and went through the list. I was surprised at how much I loved about myself. Things that I hadn’t even thought of reflected how I felt about myself in my words. I couldn’t believe that there was so much about me that I could love. It didn’t matter to me anymore that I had never been loved by someone else. I had enough love for myself to suffice. Of course, I knew God loved me, but to know that I had so much good about myself that I could love actually brought tears to my eyes.

 

I worked on me over the years building up my self-esteem and my self-confidence in myself. Never being told anything good about myself had me thinking that there wasn’t anything good about me, but after making my list and frequently going back to look it over, I knew that I was worthy of love. While I was on that journey to self-love, I met some wonderful people who showed me what being loved felt like. For the first time in my life at the age of twenty-one, I knew what it felt like to be loved. Even though I was in a relationship at the time that was loveless, I had two people in my life that I knew for sure loved me without a doubt. There love had no limitations, and there were no boundaries that their love wouldn’t cross for me. I am eternally grateful to them for being the first people to show me true and unconditional love. Because of them and my own self-awareness, I now know what love is. I know how it feels to be loved, because I love myself, and they love me also.

 

What is love to you? Leave me your comments below. I would love to hear from you on the topic of love.

 

Author Q and A: Leah Forney

Picture of author Leah Forney

 

“Take a negative experience and turn it into a beautiful memory.” – Leah Forney

 

Blaque: Welcome back everyone to another author spotlight. Today, I have the pleasure of speaking with Nonfiction author, Leah Forney. She is the author of “Unapologetically me: Living, Owning, and Walking in My Truth”.

 

Leah: Thanks so much for allowing me to interview with you Blaque Diamond.

 

Blaque: I am the one who feels honored. I want other authors like myself to get as much exposure as they can. Any little bit helps, and I want to do my part to help guide your writing career any way I can.

 

Leah: I am definitely thankful for this opportunity.

 

Blaque: So, tell me a little about your book “Unapologetically Me: Living, Owning, and Walking in My Truth”. It sounds like a book full of inspiration and strength.

 

Leah: Well, that it definitely is. This is my story. The story of my struggles, strength, and redemption. I want to teach others that even the most painful parts of our lives have a purpose. With God by your side, you can become who you were created to be.

 

Blaque: Wow! That is such a powerful statement. I have always believed that to be true. That’s why I never regret anything I have went through in my own life. I believe it made me who I am today, and I am unapologetically me.

 

Leah: That’s the message I am trying to convey in my book.

 

Blaque: Well, I’m sure some lucky reader out there is going to get your message loud and clear. So, let’s get to know the woman behind the inspiration. I think your book gives us an idea of who you are, but let’s touch on things that might not have been revealed about you in the book.

 

Leah: Ok. That sounds good to me.

 

Blaque: So, What inspires you to write?

 

Leah: I am inspired by life to write, and also by the people around me. My family and friends, my relationship with my fiancé Joseph, and the good, bad, and ugly aspects of my life inspire me to write. I believe that everyone has a story to tell. No one can tell your story like you can.

 

Blaque: That is so true. No one can tell your story like you can. Now that we know what inspires you to write, where is your favorite place to write?

 

Leah: My favorite place to write is in my bedroom. It is something about my bedroom that allows for my creativity to run wild. I have penned some of my greatest poems, short stories, essays, etc. in my bedroom. It is also the place that I pray and worship my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I believe that’s why my bedroom is a special place for me to write.

 

Blaque: When it comes to creativity, I believe the place where you develop your craft should feel sacred to you. What is your favorite season, and why?

 

Leah: I am a winter baby. I was born in January. My favorite season would have to be the spring. Spring is the start of new beginnings and fresh starts.

 

Blaque: We all have those things that annoy us, so what is your biggest pet peeve?

 

Leah: That’s a great question. LOL. My biggest pet peeve is someone who is a habitual liar. I don’t like liars because I believe that liars take away a person’s right to choose.

 

Blaque: That is one of my biggest pet peeves also. If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

 

Leah: I would change human-trafficking. Human-trafficking is happening every day. It is not being talked about on a regular basis like it should.

 

Blaque: You are right about that. That is one of the most deplorable and inhumane things someone could do to another person. SMH. Everyone has the right to make decisions for themselves. No one should have the power to dictate your life, but I’m not going to get in my feelings about that right now. We’re trying to keep things on a positive note. LOL. So, what is your favorite food?

 

Leah: My favorite food is Lasagna. I absolutely love Lasagna.

 

Blaque: What is your favorite holiday? Why?

 

Leah: My favorite holiday is New Year’s Eve. It is something about the start of a New Year that makes me feel amazing.

 

Blaque: Since you are so full of inspiration, I know there has to be others who inspire you. Can you name three people who inspire you and why?

 

Leah: The three people who inspire me are my mentor Andrea Hines, my spiritual mother Pastor Karla Godbee, and my grandmother Noel Mays. Andrea Hines inspires me because she was the first person that believed in the writer in me. She was the first person to ever allow me to act on stage as well as contribute to writing a stage play. Pastor Karla Godbee inspires me because she is my spiritual mother. She is also born on the same day as my biological mother. She is the mother that I never had, and I love her so much. Lastly, my grandmother Noel Mays inspires me because she is the first person to introduce me to Jesus Christ. I learned about faith and Jesus Christ from my grandmother.

 

Blaque: It’s nice to have so many people in your life who can encourage and inspire you to achieve your dreams. So, where do you see yourself in five years?

 

Leah: In five years, I will be married with a child. I also see myself writing and publishing more books. I will be traveling more, and by then I will be a licensed marriage and family therapist.

 

Blaque: That all sounds amazing. It’s always important to have a plan for your life. How many books have you published to date?

 

Leah: This year is the first time I became an author. It has always been a dream of mine. I have only released one book, but my second book will be releasing in early 2018.

 

Blaque: As authors, we are also readers, so how many books can you honestly say you’ve read in one year?

 

Leah: I have read six books and counting so far this year. I am an avid-reader. I believe that if you consider yourself a leader in any capacity, then you should be reading.

 

Blaque: How do you deal with writer’s block?

 

Leah: When I am experiencing writer’s block, I usually have to take a break. I don’t get writer’s block often. I usually have to do something fun that will help me to relax because I am putting too much pressure on myself.

 

Blaque: Yes, taking a break is the best way to give your mind time to slow down and relax. You can’t give something your all when you can’t focus properly.

 

Leah: You’re speaking the truth.

 

Blaque: Who has been your biggest supporter in your writing career?

 

Leah: It is a tie between two people. My grandmother Willetta Daniels, who is my father’s mother and my fiancé Joseph Washington. My grandmother literally carries my book in her purse so she can brag to everyone about it. My fiancé is an incredible guy who knows how to push me in my writing, but also knows how to help me relax.

 

Blaque: Do you prefer to write your first-draft on paper, or on the computer? Why?

 

Leah: I prefer writing on both. I usually make an outline with my key ideas on paper, then I transfer it to my laptop. I feel like paper makes it feel more alive than the computer does. The computer aspect is more so for convenience.

 

Blaque: Where do you get most of your story ideas?

 

Leah: I get my ideas from life. My stories are my experiences in life. They come from the people in my life. Every good, bad, and ugly experience in my life creates my stories.

 

Blaque: What advice would you give someone who aspires to be an author?

 

Leah: My advice would be a few things. First, know your why, and be patient with the process. There’s a misconception that you can become an author overnight. Many of us, including myself, know that it can take years to become a published author. Knowing why you want to be an author will help you to stay motivated on the days that you want to give up. Secondly, know your audience. Who are you writing to and for, is very important. My publisher told me that my book is not for everyone. It is very true, so knowing who your audience is will help you to write your story. Lastly, be unapologetic in your story-telling. Again, No one can tell your story like you can, so own it and be bold about it.

 

Blaque: That is some very good advice you gave. I’m sure an aspiring author can gather confidence in their writing from your thoughtful answer. So, who is your favorite author, and why?

 

Leah: My favorite author is Shonda Rhimes. Shonda Rhimes inspires me on so many levels. She has a humble yet unapologetic spirit about herself. Her book “The year of Yes” inspired me to take a leap of faith into becoming an author.

 

Blaque: What is your goal as an author?

 

Leah: My goal as an author is to touch one person’s life. It is also to inspire, encourage, and motivate a generation of people who are experiencing such hopelessness in the world we live in today.

 

Blaque: What has been the hardest hurdle you had to jump over while embarking on your writing career?

 

Leah: I would have to say getting over the fear and just doing it. I can be my own worst critic at times, so I had to stop giving into the self-doubt and take the leap in faith.

 

Blaque: If your parents could see you right now, would they be proud of you?

 

Leah: I would hope that my parents would be proud of me. I don’t have a relationship with my parents because they have battled with addiction and incarceration since I was two-years-old, but I would hope that they were proud of my accomplishments.

 

Blaque: What a way to end this interview. I would hope that your parents are proud of you also. Despite your misfortunes in life, you have persevered and strive to encourage and inspire others.

 

Leah: We all need someone to inspire us and push us in the right direction.

 

Blaque: Sometimes that encouragement comes from home, and other times it comes from strangers. No matter who it comes from, it can impact someone’s life in a positive way. I thank you for all that you do to enrich the lives of others out there in the world. We need more people like you in society today. Thank you so much for talking with me. It was a great pleasure to get to know you better, and I’m sure readers will find your amazing spirit and drive throughout your book. Where can they get their hands on a copy of your book?

 

Leah: My book is available in paperback and as an EBook on Amazon.

 

Blaque: Are you active on social media?

 

Leah: Yes, readers can visit my Facebook page to learn more about me and my writing. They can also follow me on Instagram.

 

Blaque: Well, that’s all I have for today. I hope everyone enjoyed getting to know author Leah Forney in a deeper sense, and I hope she brought you encouragement through her words of inspiration. If you haven’t already read her book “Unapologetically Me: Living, Owning, and Walking in My Truth”, I would encourage you to pick up a copy and see what Leah has to share with you. Until next time. Happy writing.

 

Leah: Thank you so much for having me.