Beatrice BrunoCongratulations to Beatrice Bruno, co-winner of the January 2021 Barefoot Writing Challenge! (Your $100 prize is on its way!)

The challenge was to write an essay that answered this prompt:

Instead of a New Year’s resolution, what single word do you choose to guide your actions, goals, and behavior for 2021?

Beatrice shared a beautifully honest reflection of the thought that held her back for many years, and how she overcame it. Enjoy her winning submission:

My Word for 2021: Tenacity

While growing up in the ’60s and ’70s, tenacity was something one required to survive just growing up as a little “colored girl in South Carolina. I developed the tenacity muscle for a short time in my young life. Then, words of others caused me to abandon that word and character from my life.

Tenacity: Determined or stubborn. Tightly held. Persistent.

Because of the dark hue of my skin, I was always told I was too black to accomplish anything: be pretty, succeed, etc. And I believed it. I gave up hope of ever doing anything worthwhile in my lifetime.

After becoming a teen mom at the ripe old age of 16, I really believed I had ruined my life because of words from family and others.

Stay away from that fast behind Stalworth girl. She is nothing but trouble.

I believed what was said about me; therefore, tenacity had no place in my life. Even though I had qualities that, if developed, would cause me to excel, my mind believed every negative word.

I entered the Army. Tenacity returned with a vengeance! From basic training through my 15 honorable years served, I was Tenacity personified! I was made for the Army! My life changed! As a drill sergeant for basic training soldiers, I used tenacity consistently and continually. I created soldiers for my beloved US Army!

After the military, I implemented tenacity in my marriage as my husband and I raised four kids — his, mine, and ours — to adulthood. Definitely needed tenacity for that! Then, my world crumbled.

On August 7, 2018, the love of my life, my husband of 27 years, 4 months, and 10 days, died unexpectedly. The wind was knocked out of me. Of course, throughout planning his memorial, even preaching his homegoing service, I employed tenacity like a champ. I handled everything with persistence and perseverance.

Reality set in.

Tenacity… Did I abandon it? Did it abandon me for almost three years? I discovered it was gone in a conversation with my pastor. He told me I needed to become tenacious again in 2021 so I could achieve what everyone else knew I could achieve. Huh???

I stepped back from Beatrice; I stepped back from the façade I had built around myself since my husband’s demise. I looked at myself for the first time in many years. Every word Pastor had said was true. I had lost my tenacity.

So, in 2021, I return to Tenacious Beatrice, the drill sergeant of life. I will become my old but new determined, stubborn, persistent self so I can accomplish all God has called and created me to accomplish in this season of my life. Hold me accountable, will you? After all, we’re in this thing together, aren’t we? God bless!