And a New Journey Begins…

Dear Friends,

This post feels difficult to write. Not because I shouldn’t, but because I feel like there is so much to say. I just don’t know where to begin. People often say, “Write from the heart.” In fact, I’m one of those people. But what do you write when your heart is overflowing? What do you write when your heart feels emotions that your mind cannot express?

On June 13, 2011, I began this incredible journey here with all of you. It has been a journey of discovery…a journey of unveiling all the secrets in my roux…a journey of perfecting the gumbo that is me.

…the process of turning simple flour and oil into a rich pot of complex flavors and aromas is much like the process of transitioning from a young, naive girl into a strong, confident, and self-assured woman. It takes time, thought, and careful consideration.

~Donloyn LeDuff Gadson, The Creole Magnolia

Those were some of the first thoughts that I shared with you all.

As I reflect on all the emotions, inspirations and fears that I have shared on this blog with all of you, I see a woman freeing herself… moving away from the young, naive girl she has carried inside and making room for the confident and courageous woman she has become. I see a woman who understands the complex relationship between growth and acceptance. I see a woman who once undervalued her uniqueness but who now has gained the courage to celebrate it.

As I reflect on the ideas shared here, I see themes surrounding love, courage, fear, vulnerability, self doubt, uncertainty, growth and strength. But, above all else, I see the theme of Clarity.

My most insightful assessment regarding Clarity was when I recognized I was Looking for that which I cannot See.

Sometimes We Must Dwell In Darkness In Order To Appreciate The Light!! By darkness, I do not mean despair or gloom. What I mean is the unknown, the uncertain, the unchartered, the absence. Finding Clarity is not like finding a lost hairbrush or your favorite lip gloss. You don’t just happen upon it. Clarity is a presence, a knowledge, a breath of fresh air that is Attained! It is not tangible. And it is immeasurable!

I’m not sure I’ve truly gained Clarity. Some days I believe I’ve achieved it. And others, it’s gone. But I have come to accept that there is a large portion of Chaos that comes with Clarity. And you must work through that chaos, one layer at a time.

Clarity requires action, a continuous moving forward. And that is what I am doing…moving forward, embarking upon a new journey, working through a new layer of chaos.

This post will be last here on Creole Magnolia Cafe. This is last serving of inspiration I have for you. And the truth is, you’ve inspired me more than I have inspired you.

I will be moving forward, not as The Creole Magnolia, but as Donloyn…Donloyn LeDuff Gadson. I will step out from behind the moniker, and I will be whom I have always been…me. I will embark upon this next phase of my writing career with transparency and vulnerability. And I will take comfort in knowing that Clarity will come.

This blog has served me well. Not only has it given me the platform to inspire all of you, but also it has given me the opportunity to find the courage necessary to accept me…a unique individual who has never fit into any one box. I do not know what the future holds for me, but I do know one thing…

Clarity is always closer than you think.

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your life. I will keep this site active so we both can reflect when necessary. Because sometimes, you have to remind yourself of where you’ve been in order to fully appreciate where you are.

I’d love for you to join me at my new website and blog, www.Donloyn.com. I pray my new  journey will inspire you to develop, accept and celebrate your own beautiful uniqueness.

Wishing you more Love, Peace and Clarity than your hearts can hold.

Happy New Year,

Donloyn_Logo

The Giver, Part 2: Confirmations, Trust and Newfound Clarity

I was obedient. I followed what I know God put on my heart (and, oddly enough, in the fortune cookie). I was obedient. I wrote, and I sketched. Ultimately, I created The Giver, and I shared it all with you.

And then…I waited…expecting Clarity to immediately pick me up, dust me off, and position me upright upon my once stable two feet. I waited…impatiently…and nothing happened. At least not immediately.

The day slowly faded and transitioned into the next, and I found my myself, and my thoughts, even more confused and muddied. Clarity, at this point, was a fleeting memory, a story of long ago, something I had possessed at one point in time but somehow lost along the way. Like losing a box in the midst of a move…you remember packing and handling it with care; but somehow, it’s vanished.

And so I prayed. I begged God to pour into me. I just needed the answers and I needed them from Him. I needed to know what His plans were for me. I needed to know how He planned to use me. I needed to know what my next steps would be and how I was to use my skills to enhance the lives of Sassy Sophisticates. Sassy, I needed to know what was next for me AND for you.

Remember, I’m The Creole Magnolia, the Inspiration Specialist, leader of the Sassy Sophisticate movement…my job is to inspire. Only one problem…I wasn’t feeling so inspirational.

So I prayed. I spoke to a friend. Tearfully and reluctantly, I shared with her how shaken I was. I doubted my talents and gifts. I even questioned my calling and my ability to get the job done. I thought to myself:

My Sassy Sophisticates need me and I need them. We need inspiration, and they depend on me to find it and to find it from within. So just get out of your head, Donloyn, and get this job done. The Sassy Sophisticate movement needs YOU!

While talking with my dear friend, I shared with her my prayer asking God to fill me up, telling Him I was an open vessel ready to receive. She was confident that by the end of the day not only would God fill me up but also I would be overflowing. If anyone was ready to overflow, it was me.

Moments later, the first testimony came in. My post, The Giver, was speaking to people and in such a profound way, a way that I had never expected.

Then came more shares and messages. Like this one:

“This is my Season…I <3 this! Donloyn LeDuff Gadson…what a piece! You just told my story!” PRM

 

My 11-year-old daughter shared with me the first few lines of a book she is writing. Yes, you read that correctly–And it was GOOD! She is serious about having it published and has asked for my help in doing so. Then I stumbled across two beautifully written poems in my 8-year-old twin boys’ school folders. Moments later, one of those boys informed me that he would like to start a book club for kids. This is not a mommy blog; however, mentioning my children is quite fitting in this instance because I even began receiving confirmation through them. Yes, my children were speaking to me. It was as if they were saying, “Mom, we hear you. You’re inspiring us, too. Keep on inspiring. You’re doing good.”

 

And then came a testimony so grand it brought tears to my eyes.

Confirmation

Donloyn Gadson, I hope u don’t mind but I have put pic of ur tree on my locker next to my “Award for being the greatest Mom” that my son made for me. Your blog ministered to me in a great way. I put the tree on my locker as a reminder of who I am, as a giver to my family, co-workers, patients, friends and everyone else in my life BUT more importantly as a reminder of how great a Giver my Father God is. And that even when I rejected Him, He still loved me in my mess and gave His one and only Son as the best gift ever, for a daughter that He waited on patiently, to return to Him!…This Word that God gave u is going to travel and reach farther than u will ever know! It will be the catalyst God uses to heal, deliver and to set His people free. 
Your pic is no longer on my locker. It was up there for maybe 30 minutes. My co-worker has it now along with a copy of the message that came with it. I wanted to share, I mean how cud I hold on to life changing Words and not give them away (I guess that’s part of The Giver in me) She carefully read the Words, asked if she cud have a copy and said that God had just given her revelation, with tears in her eyes. I know that she too will have to share this great Word just as I did! God bless you sis! Be ready for when the testimonies begin to pour in!  LG

 

And then…a few days later…I won this!

 

MeandAward

MyAward

First Runner Up in the 2013 Charleston Multicultural Bridal & Events Association Awards for Best Blogger!

I was humbled, honored and, again, reminded.

After receiving all of the Confirmations, my Trust is being renewed, rebuilt and restored, and I am beginning to ease into a Newfound Clarity. And for that, I am truly thankful.

~

How has your Clarity recently been restored? Inspire us in the comments below!

Project SHINE: Celebrating Sassy Warriors

Three of the most important attributes of a Sassy Sophisticate are her strength, tenacity and ability to inspire. For the Sassy Sophisticates waging war against breast cancer, these qualities shine brightly. Their unwavering courage, persistent drive and relentless refusal to give up inspire all whom they encounter.

The nation pays tribute to these shining warriors every October, and though we recognize the importance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and are overjoyed to join the fight, many of us have been touched personally by these women, and thus battle alongside and claim small victories with them year-round. They are wives, mothers, grandmothers, sisters, daughters, grand-daughters, cousins, best friends and co-workers. These stars play leading roles in our lives and are deserving of their moments in the spotlight.

Project SHINE, a unique initiative created by Dana Klein of Photography by Dana, is an annual event held in Charleston, SC that celebrates the beauty of the breast cancer survivor. Its mission…To shine the light on these beautiful warriors. Through the coordinated efforts of hair and makeup talent combined with the photography skills of the project’s creator, local breast cancer warriors are treated to a day of beauty and pampering followed by a professional photo shoot to commemorate this special occasion.

Nancy Barnwell, one of the beautiful survivors celebrated during Project SHINE 2013!

Nancy Barnwell, one of the beautiful survivors celebrated during Project SHINE 2013!

This year, Project SHINE is 2 years strong, and I have been blessed to play a small role since its inception.

In 2012, after being asked to help spread the word about this wonderful cause, I was able to sit down in a one-on-one interview with Dana in order to learn more about her as both an artist and a humanitarian (She is extremely humble, and although I may get into loads of trouble for mentioning her too often, I must give credit where credit is due. She is a wonderful woman! Check out our interview from 2012 and see for yourself!).

This year, not only did Dana invite me back, but also she gave me a “backstage pass!” By allowing me behind-the-scenes access to Project SHINE, I was able to see first-hand how it all comes together.

And now here I am sharing it with all of you! I hope the positivity of this event and the strength and beauty of these women inspire you as much as they have me. These women are a true testament to the spirit of the Sassy Sophisticate!

May they continue to SHINE!

Is there a special warrior in your life who you would like to SHINE the light on? If so, I invite you to share in the comments below! Let us join you in celebrating her Strong, Sassy Spirit!

To learn more about Dana and Project SHINE, please visit her online at www.PhotographyByDana.com or on facebook at www.facebook.com/danaphotography!

 

“Inspiration is a dish best served with coffee!” ~The Creole Magnolia

 

Diving into Purpose: Thoughts on Life in My Forties

In my twenties, I knew it all! Or so I thought. I was stubborn and strong-willed and convinced I had it all together, despite the crumbling walls that enclosed me. I had no idea who I was, what Life was really about or what my purpose was in it. I was a selfish, hungry caterpillar, whose prime purpose was to feed my EGO. I didn’t intentionally set out to be selfish; however, like most “twenty-somethings,” it was all about me.

When I reached my thirties, I was swiftly smacked with the realization I actually knew nothing at all! All the truths I held dear began to unravel, and I was thrust into a Decade of Discovery–a time to develop, explore and transform into the real me. During the early years of this decade, I was unsure, doubtful, fearful. I longed for the comfort I had created in my disillusioned twenties. Although that was the time I lacked purpose and was severely misguided, I had created comfort for myself. And even though the security and self-esteem of my twenties was created through immature tactics and lies I told myself, it was still comfort all the same.

Once I entered my thirties and recognized there was much work to be done, I had to become comfortable with the unknown…the unanswered questions…the uncertain outcomes. I had to learn that it was okay to spend time in the dark, uncomfortable places because it is only then that we grow. My thirties can easily be equated with entering a cocoon, where a magical transformation occurred.

When my 40th birthday arrived, I was ready! I had emerged from that metamorphosis knowing exactly who I was, ready to share my newly found sense of purpose and womanhood with the world. I had emerged as a beautiful butterfly, ready to test out my wings.

40 marked my New Beginning…a new decade…a new journey. It was to be one of Enlightenment. There I was on the threshold. Walking through the doorway, away from being a girlish imitation of a woman and into being a fully grown, fully matured woman with a voice.

And at 40, I stood there, gazing out into vast ocean of possibilities, excited by all that lay before me. Dismal clouds of fear, comfort and self-doubt were far in distance. And I stood there, a lovely Butterfly, God’s love and light shining upon me, illuminating all that was in store. I spent a year testing the waters, spreading my wings just enough to exercise them, but not quite enough to show that I had truly accepted my Purpose. And I continued to stand there, gazing upon the waters of possibility that made the Decade of Enlightenment so phenomenal…patiently awaiting the day when I would dive right in.

And when the day came, I knew…

I knew that at 40, I had to continue to reflect, continue to prepare, continue to take it all in. The sun had risen on my new day, but I had to wait for each inspirational ray to fill the sky, warm my skin and illuminate all that was designed for me.

As I approached my 41st birthday, I had an epiphany. I realized why I had been waiting…why I had moments of forward momentum followed by long periods of rest. In that realization, I discovered the difference between being 40 and being in your 40s. Being 40 means having the wings and testing them out. Being 41, means having the confidence to spread them far and wide. Being 40 means standing on the side…standing in the doorway…standing at the threshold, watching, waiting patiently. 41 symbolizes the jumping right in.

And so I did…

Diving completely and gracefully into my Purpose. Embracing all that my 40s have in store.

Diving completely and gracefully into my Purpose. Embracing all that my 40s have in store.
Artwork by Donloyn LeDuff Gadson ~The Creole Magnolia

On Tuesday, October 1, 2013, I jumped right in. With complete trust, faith, hope and love, I jumped into all that God has prepared for me. I am committed to my purpose with no fear of the future.

And I have the promise that with each passing year, my Purpose will continue to become clearer and clearer, and my Decade of Enlightenment will become more fruitful and more gratifying than ever.

How will you live life on Purpose?

~

RememberInspiration is a dish best served with coffee!

 

And The Winner Is…

Greetings Sassy Sophisticates!

The last 2 weeks have been filled with marvelous encounters!

I’ve had the pleasure of being involved in several different activities and functions that have exposed me to some pretty spectacular ladies! And I have been overflowing with inspiration!

I was invited to be a part of the Renew & Restore Expo brought to you by Restoration From Within and even hosted my very first Sassy Sophisticate Social! At both events, all in attendance were able to enter the drawing for the Sassy Sophisticate Inspiration Sampler which is a gorgeous gift basket filled with tons of goodies designed to inspire the crap out of you!

Sassy Sophisticate Inspiration Sampler

If you have a dream, a goal, an aspiration–anything trapped inside and dying to get out–then pray your name is drawn, because the goodies in this basket were all selected with the purpose of encouraging you to explore your inner most thoughts and feelings.

Giveaways are awesome! Giveaways that inspire…Even Better!

I would like to thank you for taking the time out to enter. I am about to make one Sassy Sophisticate very happy!

So, without further ado, click on over to the video! Could the winner be you?! Find out now! And be sure to congratulate the winner in the comments!

Oh yes, and subscribe, too!

And remember…

Discover your passions! Create your own identity! And let the world hear your Voice!

Until next time…

Stay Sassy!

The Creole Magnolia