“One thing we can guarantee when you leave the Process is that life will keep happening… you can’t change that; we can’t change that. What each one of us can change, however, is how we meet life, how we handle the events and situations that come our way.”
–Left Road/Right Road Choice and Visioning
By Regina Louise
Saturday morning, August 17th. There I stood. The fifth teacher, delivering one of the many seminal pieces of the Process. Hope-filled. Grounding our students into the work they’d all come to do. Years. Grinding the truths promised of “Left Road/Right Road, Choice and Visioning” into my bones, embodying their meaning, no small feat. It wasn’t lost on me that we were all on a parallel journey.
By week’s end we would’ve all been invited – repeatedly – to stretch into our growth’s edge – and, amongst many new learnings – identify the differences of living from our Dark Side versus engaging our Will and deciding which side of the road we wanted to travel down, what bus route would we choose to board – the one leading us to the Left Road, our Dark Side, or the Right Road, where our vision for a different way of being sat in the driver’s seat, navigating us to our heart’s desires. Both – student and teacher – invited to take in new world views, while simultaneously testing our currently held beliefs against a language of other, and perhaps more distinct knowings. Courageous.
By week’s end we’d return to our more acquainted lives – home, work, love, or displacement. A committed flock of support, it would be up to each to coalesce the new and less familiar, with that life, the one that had led us to the Hoffman Process in the first place.
Saturday morning, August 24th. There I stood. The last author of the day; expected to give a presentation, read a bit of my book. I’d traveled by automobile, train, a bus, leaving home at 4:30 A.M. in order to honor the time agreement of standing center stage by 4:00 P.M. The text I’d sent my “person of contact” lay unanswered in its oblong coffer.
A phone call, another text, an email to my publicist who’d set the event up… Nothing. I searched for my name on the banners and signage that hung from the mall rafters. I was nowhere to be found. I considered that I’d somehow misunderstood the address. Laila Ali, Michael Datcher, Trisha R. Thomas, names of well-known and familiar African American authors, celebrities; they had not only made it to the event but their names were well displayed. Mine was not amongst them.
How f–ing DARE them? In a Kodak moment I was in the front seat aboard a bus speeding towards darkness, my Left Road.
A plethora of self-deprecating patterns were cheering from the sidelines, pumping their jeers vigorously. Who do you think you are? … You’re a nobody… Not good enough… It doesn’t just happen in the world of white people; look at how your OWN people treat you… You suck! On and on the berating went. I was on a head-on collision into a shame spiral so deep I’d need the jaws-of-life to dig me out. Or would I?
“Charlotte!” I called out to my publicist, the one who’d arranged the event.
“Hey there, girllll,” she exclaimed over the throng of festival attendees standing in line to have a photo and their book signed with Laila Ali, the Muhammad’s daughter. The line snaked through the mall as endless as my envy.
“When do I go on?” I asked, impatience leaking at lethal degrees.
“This kid from foster care is here to interview you,” she pushed Isiah in front of me. Slender. Shy. Seveenteen-ish.
Then she asked, “Didn’t you get my email?” Of course I didn’t.
“I was thinking the two of you could just stand over here (a hidden sliver of dark space behind the Step-n-Repeat canvas) and have your interview.” She paused to gift someone a swag bag.
“You mean, in the middle of this chaos?”
I informed Charlotte that I would give Isiah what he’d come for, a dignified interview, and that we would do it from the stage. He’d lived his life relegated to the margins and I, for one, wasn’t going to encourage anything less than my full respect.
Side-by-side we sat, facing a straggly audience; this young man asking sometimes hard and intimate questions, me using the moment to regulate, lean into benevolence for both his and my Emotional Child, moving in tandem. We continued this way, my heart opening more and more to him, his journey. Before long I’d steered myself back from the Left Road. While repositioned at Choice, I was better able to speak from my Vision, share with Isiah that I was turning my career interest elsewhere; from foster care to female empowerment, soulful healing. He shared that he’d watched I Am Somebody’s Child and that it had changed his life, that seeing another foster child succeed the way I had gave him permission to shoot for the moon. I was touched. Moved. Inspired.
Later, after the interview, Isiah and his escorts pulled me aside and said, “Thank you.”
I asked, “What for?”
Zara, one of the escorts, said, “Thank you for standing up for yourself and Isiah today.”
“Yeah,” Isiah chimed in, “I’m speaking at the Emmy’s in September. You standing for me makes me inspired to stand even taller for someone else.”
We hugged. Said our goodbyes.
I, in turn, silently acknowledged “Red,” my Emotional Child, for her willingness to get off that blasphemous bus. Together we’d worked to course-correct and avoid an even longer trip to the Dark Side. Remembering all of who we are, we’d co-created a better way to respond to life, and the unexpected nature of change.
Regina Louise – amongst all things creative – is very excited to be a Hoffman teacher. She was born into foster care, outside an Airstream trailer in Austin, Texas, the same day – in history – that Anne Boleyn, Queen of England, was arrested and imprisoned on charges of adultery, incest, treason, and witchcraft. Not only was it the 122nd day of that year but also the 18th Wednesday. During the week of Regina’s birth, people in the U.S. were listening to “Soldier Boy” by the Shirelles and, four days later, the National Bowling League would bowl its last game. The recipient of many accolades, Regina’s work has been featured in Narrative.ly, Reader’s Digest, and Black Clock literary journal. She received her MFA in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts from University of California Riverside, and is currently at work on a personal growth book and a YA series.