Imani Wisdom's brainchild -- Pink Noire Publications -- has been known for her unpredictable style of storytelling. Now its founder is expanding the "pink and black" brand to shine on prolific artists. From the inspirationalist, Danica Worthy to bestselling author, Stacy Deanne, Pink Noire understand these talented individuals know how to express their craft through words, song, dance, and stroke of a brush.

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I Bend, But I Don't Break!

I once have had,
and now it’s gone
You can’t bring back
or cry what has been
Echoes of old laughter
flood my mind
Despite the swelling feelings
brewing inside
Choose to run or hide
but I hold my head
up high..,

I smile

Stretchin’ that dollar
from fifteen cents
for bills
for food
for clothes
and yet sometimes
you just don’t know
when the unexpected
Still, from all it said and done...

I smile

How can someone smile
despite waking to clouds
of uncertainty?
Staying optimistic when the rain
won’t stop,
or hurried winds sweepin’ your mood
How can anyone stay positive
when life is cruel?
Well, I don’t know ‘bout you,
but I smile

If darkness arise from nowhere
Lift your head unashamed
Weeping is temporary,
but joy comes in the morning
 You think you’re breakable
when in truth you only
Straighten yourself up, my friend
and smile

How can anyone smile knowing
their life’s out of control?
Or question God’s intention
and significant role?

How can anyone continue to dream
when doors are jammed shut?
Or thing when goes awry and nothing
what it seems?
Or the proverbs of their words
taste bitter than sweet?

Yet there’s always a reason to smile .Nothing, no one, not even the worst of my enemies can stop the sunshine. I smile because I want to, not because I can. My smile represents my strength, my inner bond. It’s a shield against doubts, as well as signifying I’m charge of my life. As long as I have breath in this body, my defining moments will be the ones I create, and not the destructive thoughts from man. And that’s what freewill is about – making your choices. So, I choose a simplistic form of healing that never cost a dime; it’s effortless as you’re breathing right now – I choose to smile. 

©Imani Wisdom, 2013

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How This Little Girl Coped With Awkwardness

I remembered being the shy and quiet kid in grade school that stayed to herself because being around people was an uncomfortable experience. My big, round head, skinny, iddy-biddy legs, and glasses with bifocals (yes, bifocals at five year old), didn't help my awkwardness. I got teased, horribly. And to add insult to injury, I had a speech impediment.

Yes, I was one of those students you would see in the movies who gets thrown in their locker; or get tripped by the class jocky-jerk in the cafeteria while carrying a tray of food; or become a victim of innovative name-calling (or joning, in my later academic years); or find herself isolated not because she wanted to, but because no one could connect with her. I mean, I even thought being left-handed was strange.

My escape from the cruel and unforgiving world at that time was my vivid imagination. Those very images of whatever or whoever was my solace, and safe to say, still is. But I’d often wondered the disconnect I had with others. Of course I had a friend or two, and then later in high school I hung with a small group of quiet and reserved students like me but not with the popular cliques. Looking back on it, I find myself in the midst of quiet company today. Perhaps I haven’t outgrown the awkwardness, just find it comforting.

This trend, if you want to call it that, frenzied through my adult years. The unforgettable twenties – a time period we thought we knew it all, and most likely tried to do it all. The unimaginable thirties, when life reminds you aren't twenty anymore. And of course, the forties, when you look back the last twenty years and ask yourself: “Did I really do that?”

For me when I look back and remembered the years of awkwardness, being uncomfortable in large crowds, or having me time like an event for the ages, I thought they were antisocial tendencies, a desire of not wanting to be around people. Then one day I read an interesting article about the traits of introversion and career choices.

Introversion, according to the Free Online Dictionary, is the directing interesting inwards towards one thought and feelings rather than towards the external world or making social contacts, or the act of directing one’s interests or to things within self. However in Imani’s world: I don’t see people or conversations in black and white; I see everything as an in-between, straight-forward without small-talk, and yet sit back and quietly observe the minute details of living things: The way people carrying themselves; such as, speaking, their body language, and even how they blink.

In retrospect, I've done all of those things, including daydream my way through twelve years of grade, middle, and high school. My introverted personality became an open door to many opportunities. Sounds crazy, but it has.

Another thing I've learned is the difference between shyness and introversion. Shyness, according to Susan Cain of Psychology Today, wrote, “Shyness is the fear of negative judgment, and introversion is a preference for quiet, minimally stimulating environments”. The vast misconception of these traits isn't unusual. I didn't comprehend the definitions until later in my adult years, and even then I had the notion of introverted-souls were creepy for the outlandish.

Now that I've reached the fabulous age of forty-two, I've come to terms of who I am. I’m a lot more than just a writer and storyteller, but been blessed with a unique personality. I used to ask God what was wrong with me: Am I a defect. Why do I feel ill at ease around people?

But you know, I had to stop questioning His intention and live life. My introverted personality was by far no accident whatsoever! And it also don’t matter what others think, but how I respond.

Wouldn't it be something else if I go back in time to that bighead kid with skinny iddy-biddy legs, and look into her heavily-lined bifocals to tell her she isn't strange or awkward. Then I will also add: Continue to daydream and act out those daydreams into stories with your dolls. Because you just never know, your imagination could just payoff. 
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What Do These People Know About Success?

Have you ever had – as one-time Queen of Talk would say – that “ah-ha moment’? Well mine felt more of a KAPOW between the eyes.

I was doing one of my morning rituals – reading from one of my favorite online newspapers, and low and behold, I became befuddled from the first line of an article – Success: What does it means to you?

As simple as this question may be, I knew I could answer it in one breath, but I couldn't. So I stared at the question, as though as my computer could reply for me – hoping anything would kindle a slightest idea or thought, but nothing.

I was so determined to answer this question that I prayed and meditated for an answer that would satisfy my heart. Then while doing my usual morning run it finally hit me – success should not be by its definition(s) alone. However, according to the Free Online Dictionary website:

1. The achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted: attributed their success in business to hard work.
a. The gaining of fame or prosperity: an artist spoiled by success.
b. The extent of such gain.
3. One that is successful: The plan was a success.
4. Obsolete A result or an outcome.

These definitions are well and good, but it’s meaningless if it doesn't come from the heart. And that was the problem I had: No heart.

So I went to the wonderful, world of social media to ask others this same question. And the response I've received was tremendous. Here’s what some had to say:

From Facebook:

Ernie Eans says - Success to me means that I can wake up everyday and be able do what I want and need to do and be able to look at myself in the mirror and say Job well done at the end of the day!

Author C. Michelle Ramsey says - Success means that I am walking in the destiny that God has ordained for me. That each day I am making my difference in someone's life no matter how small it may be. It may come through a word of encouragement, inspiration and empowerment through my stories, or something that I did that affected someone. Success means that whatever, goals and dreams I have set for myself I am progressing towards accomplishing them.

Author Tamyara Brown says - I believe success is being able to support yourself financially but also be able to be blessing to someone else. Being able to still be humble no matter the awards or accolades while lending your hand of help to up and coming artist. Success means overcoming those days you cried, ate Ramen noodles and still persevered.

Gibran Tariq Ali says - After spending 35 years in some of the toughest prisons in the country, success, for me, is the acknowledgment that I survived some of the harshest conditions known to man and yet I never lost sight of my dreams.

Kat Blu says - Success for me means being able to live authentically, true to myself (my values, my convictions, my joys) without requiring a "thumbs up" from others to do it. It means prospering in a way that enriches my life and the lives of others (i.e, win-win) and leaving behind a legacy (no matter how small) that contributes to making the world a better place even after I've left this plane of existence. (Success also means the little daily efforts made to accomplish the above.)

Kai Kaiology Mann says - For me success means that I am living my life in the fullness there of. That I am able to be myself, not worry about the next person, run my own race, and know that I am doing all that I can do to live out my purpose.

Hasan Malik says - Success is the ability to be totally honest with yourself, realize your shortcomings, and the wherewithal to become a better you... Smarter, wiser, more in tune with the world around you, and use the accumulation of knowledge in past achievements and failures in order to master any endeavor or pursuit. A defeatist believes that the end or loss of something is a reason to give up... A forward thinking or success minded person believes that the end, loss or failure of something is a new beginning and an opportunity to perfect or do something better.

Author Angelia Vernon Menchan says - Success is staying true to the integrity of who I am and making a difference in the life of others. Every time a mentee says Ms. A thanks for being there and truly listening without judging, I'm successful.

Radio Host, Smooth Drama says - Success is being comfortable in your own skin and being able on the regular to appreciate all the blessings you have bestowed and been bestowed upon.

From Twitter:

@aothitis says - striving to spread love care and joy to especially the children and people of the world

@Chicki663 says - 2 me, success means being free 2 do what I love, creating stories readers love and getting financial benefit from my work.

However, Cheryl Wells- Gordon from Facebook said it best:

Success for me, is being able to look back and say, I accomplished everything I said I would! To touch those dreams that were so far away when I was younger. To have loved so much and have been loved by so many. Being able to remember the good, the bad and the ugly and what kind of person it has made me today. To the young people, success isn't only about money. It's what you have done to prosper in life.

After reading these great answers, I've come to my own conclusion about success. For me if you can wake up in the morning with no regrets, subject to failure; and yet back on your feet; look back on the past and understand it’s only the past; putting fear aside for new journeys; finding your happiness, learning to forgive, accepting responsibility, and making conscious and positive efforts to make changes in your life, then to me that’s success. 

So what about you? What does success mean to you? Share your answer in the comment section. Who knows I may repost or retweet it on Facebook and Twitter. 
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