1 Vision

Vivid Talk™ Radio | Sanya Whittaker Gragg

I Set Out to Create a Positive Vision for Our Boys

I am Wife. Mom. Social Worker. And now Author. I’m Nashville native, and I have always had a passion for working with and inspiring kids. I hold degrees from the University of Memphis (Bachelor of Arts, Marketing), Georgia State University (Master of Science, Sports Administration) and the University of Southern California (Master of Social Work). I have worn many hats including nearly 10 years in marketing, public relations and athletics working for NIKE, the Detroit Pistons and the University of Michigan Athletics. I have also served on the board for an Ann Arbor homeless shelter for families and advocated in the courts for foster children.

My work in the community and with families prompted me to pursue my Master’s degree in Social Work. This led to my working in Tulsa Public Schools as a school based therapist and social worker. Over the years, I have also taken breaks in my career to be at home full time supporting her children with their many activities, as well as supporting my husband with his demanding career as an athletic director.

Vivid Talk™ Radio | Sanya Whittaker Gragg

I also now have a 3 year old “Tulsa surprise” who is keeping me busier than ever, but raising two black sons (now young adults) actually prompted me to write my debut book, “Momma, Did You Hear the News?” Its purpose is to give parents a way to have what’s known as “The Talk”. Unfortunately, it’s a conversation nearly all African-American parents have with their children–more specifically, their sons.

“Momma, Did You Hear the News” is centered around 10-year old Avery who is disturbed by yet another unarmed black man being shot. This prompts his parents to sit down with him and his brother to talk about what to do if approached by police officers. Their Dad references a catchy chant taught to him by his mother to help remember the five things to do to come home ALIVE, “A to the L to the I-V-E! Come home ALIVE…That is the key!” Vivid Talk™ Radio | Sanya Whittaker Gragg

I make a point in the book to stress that “all policemen are not bad”, and we should “pray for those in blue”.

My past experience working with kids taught me that when you add music or song and dance to a lesson, young people are more likely to engage, and more importantly, they are more likely to remember. Each letter corresponds with a reminder. For example, “V” is for VISIBLE hands always! The book encourages readers to Memorize the 5.

I know this book will not guarantee the end of unarmed black male fatalities. Our community will continue working to educate our kids on “The Talk”, but we need law enforcement to continue working to educate and train officers too. I make a point in the book to stress that “all policemen are not bad”, and we should “pray for those in blue”. However, as long as unarmed black men are disproportionately killed by the police, my debut self-published book will be one of the ways that we can give our boys a positive vision for their futures to do what we can to make sure they come home alive. It can be purchased now on Amazon. Click here to listen to my interview on Vivid TalkRadio.

Vivid Talk™ Radio | Gabrielle Johnson

I Had to Believe Again

It’s funny how when you’re younger, you take risks so easily.  Think about a baby. When the dad is playing and throws the baby in the air, the baby is usually having the time of his life. The baby laughs hysterically, probably while the mom is having a nervous breakdown. And of course the dad does it again and again, just to hear the baby laugh and giggle. The baby doesn’t know to fear. The baby never thinks the dad will drop him or her. The baby just has faith that the dad is going to catch him. The mom fears the baby will get hurt, but the baby is having a wonderful time.

I seemed to always have faith as a child. As a young person, I would speak something and it would happen. I would desire something, and it came to pass. I never really thought about it not happening. Just child like faith, I guess. As an adult, I knew I wanted to be a scriptwriter. I studied screenwriting in college and just believed it would eventually come to pass. I was asked to write a stage play that would give hope to a hurting people. I did so, and with the Fishers of Men ministry, we produced the first show in December 2000.

I went on to produce the show several times after that first one. Some did well, some did not. Over the years, I started looking for an Executive Producer, someone to invest in the show in order for us to take it on tour. At one point, I spoke to a producer, and he told me he did not want to review the show on DVD. He wanted me to stage a live production. I did so, at my expense of course, but he didn’t show up. Another time a pastor wanted to support the show, so he said. I sent him my only copy of a show we did in Alabama. I told him that it was my only copy and that I needed them to review it and get it back to me. He never got it back to me, and he never helped produce the show. Another time we did the show, it was by invitation only. We invited producers, investors, businessmen, etc. It was very classy, and we laid out the red carpet for them.  We got a lot of interest and people that just wanted to see the show for free. Each show we thought, “This is our moment. This is the time. This one is going to be our big break.” 

The show had an excellent storyline, great music and the best actors and acting this side of heaven. I say that because I couldn’t understand why it didn’t take off. Why wasn’t the effort and work we all put into it getting the rewards it deserved? Not Tony’s or Emmy’s, I’m talking about the big-break-type rewards. Each time we did a show, no matter how it did, I always went home and started planning the next one. I would dust myself off and start again. I had such an awesome cast, and we were in this together. We vowed never to give up, and at some point somebody would pick up the show. We had faith to believe it would happen. Each show, after the very first one, I funded myself. One other person that truly believed in me and absolutely loved the show, invested in the show as well. He believed the show would be a hit and that eventually we would get the investors needed to take it national.

Well, we did the show some years back and had an excellent turnout. I went forth believing this is the one that will take us over the top. The box office didn’t do well. I couldn’t pay my actors. Again. This time I went home and felt defeated. I didn’t have the zeal to get up and try again. I realized I was actually angry at God. I was embarrassed. I was exhausted and just could not understand why. I knew God gave me the script. I knew He anointed the unbelievably talented actors, and I knew He gave me the message. So, why God?

Even when the show wasn’t as successful as I would have liked, I still tried again and again. Years went by, and I was still kind of down. I had so many projects come to mind, and I would get excited about them, and then stop. I would be so excited about a creative endeavor, start doing the research, and stop. I did this several times. I would start a book and wouldn’t finish it. I would start a stage play, screenplay and project and just stop writing. I was depressed. I was frustrated, and some days I didn’t want to get up in the morning. One thing I know about myself, if I’m not creating, I’m not living. 

I didn’t understand what was happening to my faith. I didn’t understand what was happening to my zeal. I went to God and admitted I was angry with Him. I believed what I was doing was what He told me to do, so why wasn’t it successful? Of course, He’s God, and He knew I was angry with Him. He knew I was hurt. Failure is a part of success. Was I doing the shows for fame and glory? Or was I doing the show to truly minister to the lives of hurting people? That’s where my true frustration came from. 

When I repented and humbled myself before God and admitted I was angry at Him, He showed me. He showed me some things in me that He was pruning and purging in order for me to go to the next level. He showed me that where He was taking me, my character needed to be able to sustain me there.  It was at this time that I finally realized why I would start things and wouldn’t finish or wouldn’t have the excitement I used to have when I started a new project. It was because, I was afraid to believe again. I was afraid to get my hopes up again. I was really afraid to let myself get lost in something and see it die with me. I didn’t have the energy or the faith that I once had when God would give me an idea. I had lost hope. I knew what I went through was still to grow my faith. God had to get me to a place like Abraham. The Word says that Abraham believed beyond belief–when there was no evidence and no reason to believe. Abraham believed beyond hope. So, I brushed myself off and began again with my new swimsuit line that I mentioned during my guest appearance on Vivid Talk™ Radio, knowing that everything is working for my good–knowing I will trust and believe God–even when I can’t see any reason to keep believing.

Get a vision for every area of your visionary lifestyle

I have this unique ability to see big, giant, colossal, ridiculously huge projects–equal parts artist and architect. There is the most intense level of satisfaction as a big picture is defined and comes to life for others to understand and embrace. I’m a visionary. If there’s a problem to be solved, I’m like a moth to a flame. I have to try to solve it. I’m a visionary. Whenever I’m asked, “What are you working on?” I have to giggle before I respond because I realize that if I tell the truth, most of the time it will sound preposterous. Imagine the comfort I derived from the definition of the word visionary.

ADJECTIVE: given to or characterized by fanciful, not presently workable, or unpractical ideas, views, or schemes; NOUN: a person of unusually keen foresight; a person who is given to audacious, highly speculative, or impractical ideas or schemes; dreamer – dictionary.com

Ambiguity is my friend. Possibility and Purpose are her cousins. Even if you can’t agree with those sentiments for yourself wholeheartedly, the Bible clearly says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” So, that tells me that if I am not happy with any area of life, it’s because I don’t have a vision for better. I like the part of the definition that says “not presently workable”. Your vision, by its very nature, will not be workable this very moment. That’s why it’s a vision. It’s a big picture.

Vision gives you the spark you need to endure any test, trial, or trauma. In every life, there will be many. Click To Tweet

You can say, “I want a better job,” but you have to define what “better” is. It’s that blurry picture way out on the horizon. I imagine those dream sequences in movies. They are glowing and idealistic. So, even though your vision is impractical, it serves a vital purpose. Habakkuk 2: 2 says, “Write the vision, and make it plain.” Vision gives you the spark you need to endure any test, trial, or trauma. In every life, there will be many. Statistics for business success tells us that only 20% of new businesses will make it past their first year, and after five years, half of those will go out of business (usatoday.com). That tells me that there’s more failure than success, and any entrepreneur can attest that they are changed in the process.

This has proven true in my own life, and I have seen it in the lives of entrepreneurs around me. What’s most astounding is that those same people (me included) keep going and going and going. It’s truly a way of life–the visionary lifestyle. That’s the reason for Vivid TalkRadio, a featured Blogtalk Radio Show, Vivid TalkLIVE, a live streaming video show, and Vivid Magazine, available in print, digital, and online versions, to cultivate the visionary lifestyle. You need to get a vision for every area of life. We have summed it us as your inside, your outside, and your surroundings. Making your vision “plain” is a process. I have defined it as the V.I.V.I.D.Model for growth and development. It serves as the foundation for everything we do, and we are bringing together other entrepreneurs and visionaries to coach you through the process.

As the Principal of Adam Red, a branding agency, and Better Life Coach, I am most concerned about the core–your inside. You will find me talking about faith and identity as a foundation because without a vision of who we are and where we ultimately come from, success will be fleeting. Dr. Jada Moore-Ruffin and I connected through a women’s network. After 20 years in family practice, she launched REAL Weight Loss + Wellness, and as a Wellness Coach, she wants to help you get a vision for your outside. You need a vision for the physical body that carries you through this life. Katherine Jordan and I met through The Pinkpreneur Network. She is the owner of The Savvy ID where she is the Creative Director offering home staging for real estate agents and interior styling for female entrepreneurs. Katherine will help you get a vision for your surroundings. The environments that you create for yourself matter in this visionary journey. We decided to collaborate so that we could create, execute, and sustain something bigger than ourselves. Hear about our visionary lifestyles here, and tell us about yours for a chance to win Vivid swag!

X