2020 Warrior: A reflection on this past year
So 2020 y'all... Whew!
When I say I had to fight some of the hardest battles of my entire life this year. But from it I gained strength, an appreciation for my life, and realizing the importance of friends and family. Amongst other things, I founded this brand. NaTania B Parker the brand has been a huge blessing to me and was instrumental in giving me reasons to push myself to be my best everyday. "You're a brand now you need to constantly exude what that means." I've even said, "You're a brand now, watch what your social media presence says about you." The list really goes on. I'd like to use this blog post to talk about some of those battles I fought this year, along with the good that I was able to make out of a global pandemic.
One thing about me I love love love the temptations. Most people who know me know this. My grandfather introduced me as a baby. My first concert and first date was at 5 when he took me to their concert. I'm only in my twenties, so of course the only original members alive were Dennis Edwards and Otis Williams. So I guess I did come to see Otis(it's a movie joke lol). Anyway, my friends in school knew how important it was that I see this show. One day, there was a boy, who I'd like to say had a girlfriend and no romantic interest in me which made the gesture so much more genuine. He came up to me in our last class on a Friday. He told me how he knew how much the temptations meant to me and he's been entering the lottery everyday to win tickets. He had won! He took me to see the show of my dreams. It met every expectation. I saw the original cast all except Jeremy Pope. I almost cried when he asked and I definitely cried during the show. This was such a highlight for me. We even were able to wait at the stage door and meet the whole cast... those beautiful and talented black men SHEESH... and get our playbills signed. For those who don't know thats what you do on Broadway, we didn't like stalk those people or anything lol.
After successfully finishing first semester and a relaxing second semester break in Vegas, it brought me to second semester. I was optimistic about all I had learned and building upon that. COVID-19 had other plans. We got an email one day on a Wednesday in March, that by Friday we needed to make arrangements to go home. I was secretly already coming home to surprise my friends and family for the weekend, but had no intentions on staying. They said they would give us a week spring break and then two weeks online and then we could come back when this all "blew over." Something in me knew it would be way longer before I got back to NYC. Here I am writing this in December and still haven't been back to my favorite place. I kinda had the opportunity, but it's nothing like the place I loved with the shutdown of broadway and live performance. Meanwhile Buffalo just approved 6,700 fans in the football stadium for playoff games. I could go on a rant about that, but I'll let it go for now.
This shook up my whole world and honestly still affects me everyday. I feel miserable when I think about the fact that I can't see or perform anything on stage. But it makes me even more sick to my stomach to think of the performers and production people suffering and starving because they can't work and the government does nothing to show that they care.
Oh yeah, if you're a trump supporter why are you even here? This blog is all love and no hate, but I say this in the most disrespectful way.... go away. Don't even wear my clothes, you'd be tainting my brand. #BlackLivesMatter #ByeTrump
Now we're in March and that brings us to my birthday. Now, MY BIRTHDAY has never been cancelled. I've gone all out or my mom has every single year. This was a hard pill to swallow for me. Governor Cuomo closed down the world Monday March 16th. There were no more bars, restaurants or anything else for me to do. I had an amazing Sunday funday the day before, but if I knew I wouldn't have a birthday.... I would've partied just a little bit harder. This is me on my birthday March 19th, taking shots in my kitchen with my best-friend on face time. Thanks to some friends with personal bars in their homes, I was able to be around some people that loved me to celebrate my day. But omg and still to this day, I MISS THE OAKKROOM!! If you live in or are from Buffalo, you know what that means lol. I thought this would be one of the worst things to happen to me this year. Until I found out we were not going back to NYC and would be spending the remainder of the semester in our homes. I spent weeks recording self-tapes in my driveway. I wore down all my shoes and my body took its' own beating. MISERABLE I said.
By April I ended up in this boot. It's not completely the concretes fault, but it did not help. I had an ankle sprain in December that I never got checked out for real, so my mom finally made me. I found out I was dancing on a fracture in my foot, and a torn tendon, and I had two extra bones in my foot that never fused together correctly at birth. The orthopedic doctor had me do physical therapy, then wear this boot for stabilization for a few months. The result was the surgery I'm sitting here recovering from as I'm typing this. Except, I was mid semester here. I had to finish. I didn't tell my school I was hurt and I kept the boot on at all times except when I had to dance. So yes, I kept dancing until I could finish my semester. I was in pain mentally and physically. I had mood swings. Some mornings I didn't even want to get out of bed. I felt like the world was crumbling around me. So me and my fragile body and mind could not prepare me for what came next this month.
April 17th 2020 I got a world shaking call. I was up working on recording something for class. Next thing I know I was on the floor and literally the breath had left my chest. My father and I had a super strained relationship. Many ups and downs and sometimes no communication at all for years at a time. I'm not here to make him a saint, he was a terrible father. He missed so much of my life and I spent a lot of time angry for that. I even wondered myself why I was so torn up over his passing. I've been on a journey to healing from the trauma of my childhood and being abandoned by the first man that was supposed to love me unconditionally. From that healing I decided that the past couldn't be changed, but the narrative of the future could be whatever I wanted it to be. I told him one night that there's no way we can completely erase our past or get back the time or events, but I'm so excited for when he gets to be a grandfather and try all over again. I had zero intentions on making him the bad guy to my children. I wanted to give him the gift of a complete clean slate. I wanted him to be able to show me he could be better as much as he told me. But it was his time to leave here and follow me forever, no longer
in this world, but walk with me everyday in spirit. His death hit me hard because death is permanent. There is no coming back. I think about him everyday. I used to feel like I mourned losing him a long time ago, we don't have a lot of birthday or holiday memories. But to know we won't make any in the future is the part that kills inside. I can write an entire posting just about him, and one day I probably will. Also I 'd like to make it clear, not that I have to explain myself, my dad did not die from COVID, and that's as much as I'm going to say about that. RIP Don Allen... you always said I was your angel, and now you're mine.
Shortly after I lost my dad, I welcomed a new life into our home. My aunt and I have pretty much always been cool and kept in contact. But THIS YEAR I wouldn't have made it without her. She lost her brother just like I lost my father and when I say she has been a solid rock for me.
She got little missy here as a sibling for her dog and they didn't work out to say the least. Now that she's older, this alpha personality is larger than ever, and I see why. So she gave her to me. This is my baby girl Bella. She was named by my best-friend, who dropped everything and hopped on a plane from Texas to come be with me when she found out what happened. Then she stayed for over a month. I constantly say how thankful I am for the family and friends around me, but I can't emphasize enough how much they came through for me this year. So now I'm a two dog mommy and my mom and grandparents have their grand-dogs. If you look at that pic in the bottom corner you'll see how Chloe's head was bigger than her whole body. Now Bella is weighing in at about 5 lbs and Chloe at 75 lbs. They're sisters, they fight something crazy, (Bella is not scared, she runs Chloe) but they protect each-other and they protect us. Thankful for my "therapy dogs" who both came into my life at times when I needed love the most.
Then "The Yard" was created.
We refused to let COVID completely ruin the summer. We couldn't go anywhere or do anything, but we took full advantage of the space in our yard. We had a bar, pool, fully furnished, the grill, fire pit table and even a large screen to have outdoor movie night! I found a lot of peace outside just laying and/or floating around. Plus it was outdoors and so much space to be socially distanced, we could even entertain little groups of people here and there. This was a bright side to the summer. But it couldn't be summer forever. It was time to decide if I was going to continue into the summer semester at school or not. My mom told me that If I do classes, I wouldn't have to use the driveway anymore, but she would build me a studio. She meant it.
Then "The Studio" was created
These are pictures from the very early stages, I just haven't taken any recently. But as you can see, she was very serious when she said would do whatever I needed to be successful. My mom has always been a rockstar and done whatever she had to do to make sure I was good and living my dreams out to the fullest. This would be my space until I was able to leave again. Everyone asks what we're going to do with the space when I leave and we still don't know. But while I'm here I have my very own creative space to really vibe out like creatives do. The stages are so early in the pictures, I barely recognize it like this. We went on to do so much more and even do a lot of work in the rooms off of this one for creative spaces for other types of artistry. I just wanted to give you an idea of what I meant by she literally built me a studio.
Shoutout to The Parker's!!!
Each person in this picture had a hand in making my dream studio space, amongst other things this year and I just wanted to say quickly that I'm eternally grateful for their constant love and support.
So everything was going as well as it could in the middle of a pandemic. I was taking class via my school's LA campus, online. Meaning all classes and deadlines were PST(3 hours behind). My classes didn't start till noon, but those days I had to go until 11pm because of it were kinda rough. I was locked in that studio all day long. The reason I took online in LA was because I wanted to experience how the other campus works and may I say they are worlds apart. But also because when I made the decision, California was open and they were letting students come there for in person instruction. California took a turn and that was no longer possible. So luckily I had my studio because this wasn't like second semester where we just sent in busy work, we were expected to be in class, plus assignments, plus editing, plus manage our home lives etc. It just... was so much. Here's my lovely class schedule. Remember you guys, conservatory vs college, two completely different ball games. Also keep in mind these times are PST, so I had to be mindful to switch everything myself.
Since I was spending long hours at the studio, my mom wanted me to be able to come and go when I needed to. I sold my car when I moved to NYC, so when I came back of course I didn't have a car so we shared. She decided she wanted a new car anyway, so she bought herself a new one and passed hers to me. It was great, we could both come and go whenever, leave and get food etc. Until one morning we came outside to find my truck stolen out of our driveway. To make a long story short, we found it 10 days later in a downtown parking lot in pretty bad shape. I can't make this up... a crackhead had been living in my truck and joyriding around the city. I say joyriding because there were multiple sitings of this lady and the police couldn't catch her.
They found it in such disgusting condition, not to mention the front tire being busted open, I just could not drive it again. So back to sharing a car with my mom. Most times it's not an issue but we're two adults, combining our lives gets complicated....
One day in September I was in class and an idea sparked to begin my brand, my legacy. I won't get all the way into this story, because it's already on this website. So if you want to know about its' conception check out our story or the about tab.
But fast forward I'm getting ready for my big launch. The car is full of boxes of merch. In my moms brand new car, we were at a complete stop and got rear ended. Just like that, one hit, and now I have problems I'll live with the rest of my life. As a dancer we all have our pains, but these back and neck pains really hit different.
I was lifted out of the car by firefighters, taken to the hospital by ambulance, and was in the hospital long enough for the nurses to switch shifts twice. The first pic is from the day of. The second was from a few days later when I thought I broke something and another hospital trip told me I had a hematoma in my arm. This just meant that a lot of blood had rushed to my arm to form this bulge.
Not many people know this happened, unless we really talk. I didn't make an announcement or anything, but since I'm airing out my 2020 grievances, here's yet another bump in the road. Because of this accident I am required to go to the chiropractor three times a week and a massage therapist 1-2 times. Plus specialist appointments, MRI's, X-rays etc etc. We're not going to even get into my legal obligations and the restrictions. Most importantly I am in a world of pain all the time. I'm a dancer, I need my body and my body is not okay right now.
This happened right with about three weeks left in the semester. I was told in so many words by administration that I need to try my best to dance in class otherwise I would have to withdrawal... WITH 3 WEEKS LEFT. I was in such a bad place that when I moved my arms too much my entire face and neck hurt. I'm so thankful for my teachers making it work for me. I was able to do well enough, but my grades did take a hit because there are some assessments that just could not be substituted with a paper instead of performing it. I just couldn't finish strong like I planned.
We're family on this blog so I'm gonna be straight up with you guys. Here's my transcript. You can see how my grades suffered. It may seem slight to some people, but I was working hard to have an A in all things this semester. Those C's and B's HURT. That girl that hit us..... ugh. I won't finish that.
I wish I was finished... but wait there's more.
Thank God what happened next was actually pretty dope!!!
An exact week after that, I had my brand launch photo shoot. I still don't know how I was able to orchestrate all of this, but I'm so proud of the way it panned out. Again this is all on this site already, but I'm thankful for my photographer, makeup artist, DJ, and models for making this night the charge up I needed to carry on with this brand. I continue to make it better every single day because of my tribe behind me.
Here was my halloween just because...
My mental health required I got out of town and I'm not sorry I did it. I went to visit my best-friend who lives in Houston, TX.
Oh and a few honorable mentions....
I was featured in a LA Magazine.
I choreographed for my first wedding, which I am so excited to do again.
AKA hmu for your choreo needs!!!
I successfully threw my mom the dopest surprise graduation party. I did not think I was going to pull this off. The lady is nosey y'all. But I am endlessly proud of her and this accomplishment!
I saw my name on a movie poster! This was just a short film, but I had fun with the role and I think the overall product came out pretty great.
I also filmed a commercial for my chiropractor's office. I guess you can say this was a good result of the accident.
Wrapping this up with the last and certainly one of the most significant... this here foot. The surgery that sparked this entire blog.
2020 giveth and taketh away.
There were things that I posted and that was public information. There are also some things you may be reading this and finding out for the first time. I appreciate everything that comes to me because I've lost so much. I will forever consider myself blessed no matter what happens. I thank God for keeping me. I thank my family for loving me. I thank my friends for supporting me. Most importantly I thank me for not giving up on me. The strength that 2020 gave me will lead me to crush anything I put my hands on all 2021.