Sunflower2Sunflower : Interview with Poet & Author, Brittany Traveste

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I connected with Brittany by seeing one of her Instagram posts on the Explore page. It lead me to her page, which lead me to her website, and before I knew it I was ordering her book , Bloom. I thoroughly enjoyed reading her book of poetry & prose, especially the story of love & lust,  but there is so much more to the book. I reached out to her for an interview and she said yes. What follows is a eloquently responded to interview.

INTERVIEW

1. How old are you and what is one word that describes this age /time of your life?

I am 27 years young, and the one word that I’d definitely use to describe this time of my life is “bloom.” I am open wide to everything that the universe has for me, no longer hiding in my fears. At 27, I’m just bursting full of life and ready to share my light with the world.

2. How have you bloomed? What is the biggest change you’ve made in your twenties so far?

I’ve been able to reach this stage in my life by accepting the others that came before it: the sprouting and growing, the soil and the rain. Had to get comfortable with both my darkness and mylight, knowing that just as a flower, I wouldn’t be able to grow without either. Going through major self-reflection led me to great healing and through healing, I was able to release those things that were preventing me from blooming. Also, I discovered my true identity when I began to strengthen my relationship with Christ. I am greater than any of the lies that have been said about me, and even the lies that I’ve said to myself. Despite any mistakes and what I once perceived as shortcomings, I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Growing into this knowledge has changed the game for me and allowed me to discover my BLOOM.

3. Who or what inspired you to start writing?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been writing! It’s been a certain solace for me and even at times, a friend. Being raised an only child, when I wasn’t with my cousins or neighborhood friends, books and journals were my company. I devoured stories as a child, and in turn, I began to write them. I recall filling up notebooks with short stories and poems and having my family to sit in the living room to listen to me recite them. Back then I dreamed of being a published writer, and even as I grew up and discovered other passions, that dream never faded. I wrote in high school. I wrote my way into Howard University. In college, I wrote my way to a print journalism degree. After graduating from Howard, I decided to teach writing to middle school kids in New Orleans. While teaching my students of words, I found myself floating back to a little girl’s dream of being an author, so finally, I went after it. With BLOOM, I wrote myself to healing.

4. What are the steps you took to publish your first book, “Bloom”? Do you ever plan to write full time?

I began writing BLOOM after a breakup. It was in my eyes, yet another failed attempt at love and relationships. In that space, I decided that it was time to look at this thing from another angle. Instead of simply saying that I’m not with this person anymore because of his shortcomings, I chose to look at myself. I began to look at my string of unsuccessful relationships and determined that the correlation between all of them was…me. That realization was a punch to the gut, but it was also the beginning of something beautiful: self-reflection. I began to really examine my life. My childhood. My friendships. Things I witnessed with my mother. My relationship with my father. His death when I was 16. My heartbreaks. My pain. I started to realize that there was so much that I hadn’t dealt with. I also realized that I couldn’t be the only one, who on the outside seems to have it all together, but is torn up internally. This was more than just something that could be summed up in an Instagram post. It was time to write the book that I’d been holding inside of me for so long.

It’s amazing that at the point of me accepting my destiny, so to speak, everything began to fall into place. I can’t even tell you the exact moment that “BLOOM”as a title ran across my mind, but once it did, I knew that I was on to something. Deciding that I wanted my book’s structure to mirror that of a flower (seed, sprout, grow, and bloom), gave me an outline to work with. I had so much writing stored in my phone and in my heart that it didn’t take long to fill each section. As a teacher, I worked with other poets and published writers who were able to give me guidance. One of them even agreed to edit my manuscript. My god-brother, Alvin Epps, was on board to do the cover, and a friend of mine, Jade Meyers, was ready to work on interior art. I found myself pulling books off of the shelf and studying them, not just for their words, but for their structure and format. I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning researching the elements that a book should have, as well as publishing options, as I didn’t want to go the traditional publishing route. I gave myself a deadline. I wanted to publish BLOOM by my 26th birthday, which was March 25, 2017. I went to work, doing whatever it took to make that happen. And I did. I began in November and by February, BLOOM: A Journey to Self-Love was finished. It was hard work, but one of the most meaningful things that I’ve ever done. At times, I felt like giving up, doubts filling up my mind. What if no one reads it? What if they read it and don’t like it? What if they judge me? Yet, every single person that I shared the concept with, through tears and stories of their own, insisted that the world needed me to write it, and so I persevered. Through transparency and vulnerability, I healed myself and upon publishing, I gave other women (and men) the freedom to do the very same.

As far as writing full time, I’m open to it! It’ll be beautiful to see how this story continues to unfold.

5. What is your favorite thing about you & if possible, how do you use it to inspire others?

I’d have to say that my absolute favorite thing about myself is my spirit and energy, or as some would describe it, my light. I feel like I noticed pretty early on that there was something unique about it. I’ve also realized that people are drawn to me because of it, and that they leave a little happier than when they came, rather it’s because of a word or laugh I was able to give or just my presence. Upon recognizing that, I began to cultivate it. Making sure that I’m the best version of myself, not just for me but for everyone who may be in my company or even watching from afar. Also being sure to show that it is God shining through me that allows me to be a light!

6. How do you keep up the momentum of going after your dreams?

I must admit that it is so easy to get comfortable with your life as it is and content with “safe.” The mystery intertwined with dreams can be extremely frightening. However, our dreams are usually tied to our purpose here on Earth, and manifesting that dream brings you closer to that purpose and destiny. Reminding myself of this correlation motivates me to keep going after the dream, no matter how tough it gets. Also, recognizing that if I achieve a goal, someone connected to me can see that it is possible for them, too. My students needed to see me write and publish BLOOM. They were definitely a motivating force for me. I’d say that having a dream that is bigger than you, that will impact more than just you, helps to keep up the momentum.

7. Best relationship (romantic, family, or friend) lesson you’ve learned so far?

One of the best relationship lessons that I’ve learned, which can pertain to any type of relationship, is to accept people for exactly who they are. And to love them that way! So much of our disappointment with people comes from failed expectations of who we want themto be and how we want them to act and when they are not able to deliver, it’s a problem for us. It’s extremely selfish when we think about it. Yet, if we can take our parents, friends, and significant others for who they are, right here and right now, with the knowledge that they may never change, we actually leave room for true understanding and an “agape” love that is unconditional. You can have peace in these relationships. You can stop forcing yourself and your ideas on others. You can alleviate yourself from disappointment. You’ll also realize that when you give people grace to grow free from your judgement, you might actually like the results a lot better! This is something that I’m working on, for sure! One day at a time.

8. What is the Greatest advice/or self realization you’ve had in your 20’s?

The greatest self-realization that I’ve had in my 20s is that the love I have for myself dictates all the love that comes to me in this lifetime. Most importantly, this love stems from God. Getting my faith relationship together elevated my union with myself, and everything started to really fall into place from there. Self-love has changed my outlook, my confidence, my passion, my standards, my joy, and so much more! I’ve loved myself to wholeness and the remaining years of my 20s will continue to be evidence of that.

9. Currently, what is your biggest hurdle & how do you plan to overcome it?

Currently, I’d have to say that one of my biggest hurdles has been accepting the single season that I’m in. It’s easy to get caught up in the comparison game, seeing so many of your peers married with children, and having previously thought that you’d have both at this point of your life. It’s hard, especially for women, to “have it all together,” except that. The one thing that we can’t seem to get “right.” It’s such a silly perspective, but it’s reality for so many.At the end of the day, though, I’ve learned to be happy with my portion and that everything that is meant for me, will be for me. Scripture says: “I know the plans that I have for you…” I don’t have to know it all or even see it all right now. I know that God’s got it under control. Until then, I am literally living my best life. Loving the people that are here, traveling, writing, going after dreams, growing, glowing, and basking in my magic! Like every season, this one won’t last always. I may as well appreciate it while it’s here.

10. How does a sunflower/twenty something make it out the middle or embrace being in their twenties?

A sunflower makes it out of the middle by taking on the same notion that I mentioned with relationships, accepting things as they are instead of what we think they should be. Dropping all of the illusions that we had about our 20s growing up, and instead choosing to go with the ebb and flow of reality. Enjoying everything and rushing nothing. Our twenties can be super weird at times as we journey to discover our true selves and find purpose in the midst of such a crazy world. We have to be easy and grace ourselves on this adventure we call life.

        CONNECT WITH BRITTANY !

                                                          Instagram: @brittanytraveste

Facebook: BrittanyTraveste

Website: Brittanytraveste.com

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