Hi Journey Group!

If you know me at all, you absolutely know that I crave new experiences and love to share them. This year, I have begun new adventures… from beginning a new job, to becoming the first African-American female Publisher in Charlotte, to fulfilling a life-long dream of writing and publishing a book. We all have connected at different points in my life, and by far, this is the most exciting time for me that I’ve had in a very long time.

As you should know by now, I began this latest adventure in my life with a group of wonderful teenagers who are apart of PFO. Playing for Others (PFO) provides a space for teens to explore and answer the questions, “Who Am I?” and “How will I give of that?” through programming in Personal Development, Service and the Arts. I know, it sounds like this organization was created for me, doesn’t it? You are so correct! There is a list on the website of PFO core beliefs that I would love for you to take a look at when you have the time. As I begin this new journey, the belief that sticks out the most to me and the one that affects my life daily is:

Anything is possible regardless of condition or circumstance.

On July 21, 2009, I had an incident occur that completely changed my life. Due to a domestic violence situation with my spouse, I ended up in the hospital with a loss of my motor skills and bruises. While the doctor’s tended to me, I remember wondering if I would ever be able to write my name again or form a complete sentence without stuttering. Over the last several years I have developed seizures and have been diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). To say that depression and insecurities have plagued me is an understatement. I thought that my life would never be the same and that surviving this was next to impossible.

But then something magical happened! Due to a praying mother, friends that would not allow me to close myself off to the world, and something inside that whispered “keep pushing”, I have arrived here… in this space that I am in today. It took a lot of hard work. Cognitive therapy sessions, returning to my foundation of faith, and acceptance of my “new normal” were all a part of my wellness plan. In the end, I couldn’t return to my job of 17 years because it required travel that my physician has not yet cleared me for. Instead of allowing this to consume me, I relied on my skill set, and through networking at a social event, was presented with an opportunity to own a company that has a direct impact on the community that I love and serve in. Immediately following the announcement of my Publisher position, the mayor issued a proclamation naming the month of June after my company, Visit Gay Charlotte. In that moment, I was so proud to know that not so long ago, I couldn’t even write a complete sentence, but now I have a staff of adults who work with me and look to me for editing and artistic direction. Almost simultaneously, I began a position for a job working for a non-profit that I have previously volunteered for. It’s a job that I am passionate about, and it is a stretch of my skill set on many different levels having to deal so closely with spreadsheets and financials. I see the impact of my work immediately, and that is very fulfilling.

And now, I am here at PFO. I work with the most creative and impressive staff. My advisor team, no… my advisor family, are a group of beautiful souls who I look forward to seeing each and every week. And my teenagers…I really can’t begin to describe how inspired I am to work with them. Often I find myself in awe of how “together” and insightful they are already at such a young age. And here I am, trusted within the group of adults who will help them accomplish great things. My goal is to paint a picture for them through my passion and energy, that anything IS possible. Not to let any condition or any circumstance stop you from tapping into your authentic self.

I am so happy that all of you are a part of my Journey Group. May these next months be impactful for you, too. Here we GROW!

  • Melanie Anderson

    This is definitely your TIME Gwen. This too helps to fill in some of the gaps. Bless you for pushing through and making your way back to purpose. It’s a joy to work with such an infectious spirit. Continue to sprinkle love and laughter and be a constant reminder that all we are guaranteed is this moment, so we’d better own it!