Sincerely Syreeta: When did you have your #ATOEpiphany and what were the circumstances that preceded it?
Ms. Passion Art: My most recent epiphany was that it’s okay for me to take sometime to myself. I think a lot of people jump to the conclusion that, that means to cut people off or take people out of your life; sometimes you just have to spend less time with those people in your life. Very recently within days and hours even, because my devotions just confirmed it, it’s that I have to listen less to those people in my life so that I can hear God more. That being okay with me…it’s…it’s brand new because those people include my mother, my best friend, you know people I talk to on an everyday basis. I’m excited about it, but I’m still learning how to do it.
SS: Why did it become important for you to focus more on the voice and presence of God as opposed to everyone else?
MPA: I felt like even though I spend time in the word almost every day of my life, I [still] started questioning myself. And I realized that things I was told in my devotion would then be questioned in my every day life. Like, God tells me I’m doing the right thing and then mom says, “you need to get a job.” You know? Then…I’m looking for a job. [laughs] And it’s not that mom is wrong with her concern, it’s just that God already told me something. A whole part of the epiphany is that it’s not about people being right or wrong, but it doesn’t mean it’s right for you.
SS: What has been the most challenging part of this epiphany?
MPA: It causes you to be lonely and to stand on your own in your loneliness. You’re not going to get everybody to cheer you on because everybody may not agree or understand why you’re doing what you do. I gotta accept that my mom thinks I need to get a job when I know I already have a job. [laughs] A lot of people think that because I’m an artist, I don’t have a job. The challenging part is learning to allow both opinions [mine and their’s] to exist and not try to pull one in the other direction. I want everybody to agree with me, to understand me, to get me, to support me…but they may not, and that’s okay. All of my actions were based on trying to prove something to those people as opposed to me just trying to live out what God already told me to do and letting the proof come when He says it’s time.
SS: Wow. Your words are resonating deeper than you know. So what has this epiphany taught you about yourself?
MPA: I’m stronger than I thought. I’m more beautiful than I thought. So many things about ourselves are contingent upon some form of approval from somebody, somewhere. Until someone somewhere gives it the okay or “hooray” or whatever we’re looking for, it’s not quite right. I’m learning that I have to be “quite right” by myself. If I like it, that’s good enough. That’s not an easy place to be or easy thing to do, especially when what you do involves other people–I’m an artist so I do need people to buy it, to understand it, to want to get it, BUT I can’t let that be the controlling factor because at the end of the day, God is going to take care of all of that. I can’t force those people to be the people who I want them to be. You know?
SS: Oh honey do I. What would you say it’s taught you about life…and people?
MPA: We’re molded in such a way where things have to be black or white, for it or against it. We don’t really give people space to be in the middle, but the reality that space exists, is very much so. What I’ve learned is: just because something isn’t for me or the best advice for me, I don’t have to box them in based on that. It’s not always so hard-edged; we gotta soften those edges and allow it to be multiple rights. I can then take those conversations and say, “oh I hear her, yeah, she makes perfect sense, however, the way God got this thing set up it just may not make sense [for me].”
SS: Right, just giving people the space to be who and what they are, and not necessarily taking it so…
MPA: Personal! I mean everything that’s going on with the Black Lives vs. All Lives–it’s that need for people not to let other people have their space, thoughts, wants, and views. We’re all going to see the same thing differently.
SS: What words of wisdom would you share with people who are going through a similar process and epiphany?
MPA: It’s okay to slow down. It’s okay to have quietness. It’s okay to not answer a phone call here and there. It’s okay to not take that brunch meeting. It’s okay to not be everywhere and in everything and a part of every conversation. My problem was not feeling productive enough. It’s okay to not do all that. To just get still and…think.
SS: How do you live your life differently in this moment, even though this epiphany is relatively new?
MPA: This moment as in this morning? [laughs] Honestly I’ve been sliding into it without even knowing, so that’s a good thing. I’ve kind of been doing it and I didn’t know it was happening. So I don’t have to start it because I’m already in it.
SS: It’s funny because your spirit and body know exactly what’s needed. It’s usually the mind that is the last to become aware. That’s where the internal fight comes in–the mind trying to process why things are changing or why your spiritual positioning has changed, and so comes the emotional waters that consume the space of awareness and understanding between the mind and the spirit.
MPA: I was like involuntarily in it so to speak. I was like, “oh that’s why wasn’t talking to…” and “ohhhh!” But I would say–for example, I sat down and outlined my show, I have a solo show coming up and days ago before I had the epiphany I had a list of people I was going to call to see if they liked the title before I decided to run with it. Then I was like, that’s [going to be] the title. I took complete control over my vision and I feel great about it. I had to give myself permission to do what I wanted to do with my work.
SS: In keeping with the idea that things don’t happen to us, rather for us: Why do you think that this may have happened for you?
MPA: The time is now. I was in the process of preparing for this upcoming show and I feel like God needed me to go into this season of my career different from before. How can I be better, not different? I felt frustrated enough internally…where “enough is enough,” and “[some]things have to happen.” I felt that and then after I got to that point it was like, “ok now that you’re finally fed up, let’s talk about how we’re going to do this.” If I would have stayed there any longer at that point I would have gotten depressed, if I wasn’t already. I allowed myself to experience the low and then I got pulled up in [due] time.
SS: So if you could sum up your ATO Epiphany in one sentence that ends with “and that’s okay”, what would it be?
I am an artist…and that’s okay.