What a time; what a year.
It started with a bold goal in the MeditatedMelanin Team GroupMe about three months ago. After daydreaming about the future and what to do next, I told the team that I wanted one thing: “I think we can get, like, 80 people to the Blogsversary this year.” I thought I was insane when I typed it. I knew someone would tell me “Lex, you’re crazy. Where are they gonna fit? How can we afford it? Girl, WHO do you think you are?”
I didn’t hear any of that. Instead, I heard affirmations of “Same”, “We may be able to do bigger” and “What’s the theme this year?”. I had a crazy big plan to accomplish a crazy big dream and everyone around me was for it. We started to plan, to request and to work.
Between October 2017 and January 2018, 80 women turned into 105. My dream venue turned into reality. Programming became innovative. And slowly but surely, M^2: The Second Annual Blogaversary was more than notes I furiously typed on my notes at night; it became a physical space for women to come and celebrate themselves and each other.
This past Sunday, January 21st, over 100 women in the Columbia, Missouri community gathered together for a day of celebration. Not only were women asked to celebrate themselves, but to bold affirm other women in the room who have made a difference in their lives and others. I had hopes that it would be a great event, but in the five days since I still have been unable to wrap my head around it’s beauty.
We laughed together at my nervous jokes as I described the event. We got to know each other during this year’s networking activity “The Original and The Remix.” This year’s speaker, Tyler Riley, spoke to us about the importance of self-forgiveness and we wrote about how to forgive ourselves. And then we cried; a lot. Tears of joy, happiness, gratefulness and liberation. All of this happened in the span of 2 hours (really 2 and a half hours, but who’s counting?) and I wish that I never had to leave.
I could go on and on about the different reasons why this event was amazing, but I think it all really comes back to one thing: 100 beautiful women gathered together to be in a needed space. They were able to come and be themselves in a world that sometimes doesn’t allow them to be. As we cleaned off the tablecloths and reorganized the ballroom, I was inspired to be as great as the women I encountered and I can only pray that they were inspired to do the same.
Thank you to the Memorial Union staff, the Division of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity, the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center, Trina Rager, and Tyler Riley for their contributions in making this possible. To Ayanna, Allisa, Michi, Jasmin and Allyson, thank you for being my first team and for letting me know that I am not crazy; I’m just a dreamer. And to everyone who attended, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for deciding to spend your time with us. My gratitude cannot be matched with words.
The lessons learned and shared will remain with me beyond Stotler Lounge. I hope that they have left with you all as well, and that you carry them into 2018. I hope that everyone left empowered, enlightened and encouraged, and that you are able to see what MeditatedMelanin has next.
See you next year 🙂
Alexis G. Ditaway