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THREADS Newsletter #11

Dirty Thirty

Turning 30: The Funny Saga of Embracing Adulthood with One Foot in the Playground Ah, the big 3-0! It's the age when you're supposed to have your life together, figure out the meaning of existence, and finally stop binge-watching cheesy reality shows. It's a milestone that can make you reflect on your accomplishments, your dreams, and the fact that your metabolism has officially abandoned you. Since turning 30 has never been a significant milestone for a man, allow me to take a crack at what it might feel like for a woman. Allow me to take you on a humorous rollercoaster ride through the trials and tribulations of turning 30.

First and foremost, let's talk about the endless bombardment of "friendly" reminders from society. The moment you hit your late twenties, your mailbox transforms into a sinister messenger, flooding you with brochures for anti-wrinkle creams, discounted gym memberships, and newsletters for people who genuinely believe that life begins at 30. As if my impending departure from the roaring twenties isn't already riddled with existential dread, now I have to deal with the guilt-tripping postman and his smug reminders of my impending physical decay.

Then there's the well-meaning advice from friends and family. Suddenly, everyone becomes an expert on life at 30. They'll tell you things like, "You're not getting any younger, so you better start investing in a retirement fund!" or "It's about time you settle down and find a respectable partner!" As if turning 30 is a magical switch that automatically transforms you into a mature, responsible adult who understands the stock market and has the innate ability to find true love. Sorry, Aunt Mildred, but I can barely remember to water my plants, let alone figure out the secret formula to a fulfilling and successful life.

Speaking of love, let's address the elephant in the room: the ticking biological clock. Once you enter your thirties, people start treating your uterus like a malfunctioning time bomb. "When are you going to settle down and have kids?" they inquire with a mix of concern and nosiness. Suddenly, your entire self-worth is reduced to your reproductive abilities. Well, newsflash, folks—I can barely keep a goldfish alive, so entrusting me with a tiny human is probably not the best idea. Besides, who needs kids when I can barely handle the responsibility of choosing what to eat for dinner?

And let's not forget the pressure to achieve all those "adulting" milestones by 30. You're supposed to have a stable career, a mortgage, and a collection of tasteful throw pillows that scream, "I'm an adult." But let's be honest, I still find amusement in making fart noises with my armpit. The only thing I can afford to mortgage right now is my ever-increasing student loan debt, and my idea of adulting is successfully cooking a microwaveable meal without setting off the smoke alarm. But fear not, my fellow 30-somethings, for there is hope amidst the chaos. Turning 30 can also be liberating. You start caring less about what other people think and embrace your true self—flaws, quirks, and all. You finally realize that having a collection of novelty socks and a secret stash of junk food is okay. You learn to appreciate the little things in life, like a nap on a Sunday afternoon or the sheer joy of discovering a new wrinkle cream that actually works. So, as I embark on this journey into my 30s, I do so with a mix of trepidation and excitement. I may not have it all figured out, but I'm determined to navigate the unpredictable waves of adulthood while still holding onto the spirit of my inner child.

Story by Mark Davis Creative Director: Monay Joyner and Shakeema Cochrane Photography: Mark A Davis

Stubborn, impulsive, cautious extrovert, undisciplined, clumsy, and temperamental. Shakeema Cochrane is all of that. But how does she make what most would consider negative personality traits into something that works for her?

Like most, if you don't know Keem, you could quickly think, like I did, that these were traits that she would have to overcome and work on to begin to unlock her best self. However, as you get to know her, you realize that these traits are not handicaps but characteristics that might just be a pretty damn good mix when balanced with other features.

When I first met Keem, she was a writer searching for a platform. Her friend Sierra Dejesus had recommended her to me because Sierra had already started producing work for THREADS and felt the forum could also assist her. As we began working together, her stubbornness immediately caught my attention. She would always show up for herself. No obstacle would prevent her from doing what she said she would do. No car, no problem. Childcare issues, no problem. Keem is showing up for herself one way or another. Her no-quit mentality is right out in front, the first trait that caught my attention.

Keem's life is like a saga that continues from season to season. Her impulsive decision-making is the stuff of legend. She often finds herself in predicaments that, after close examination, were, in most instances, avoidable. Don't get me wrong, she is intelligent and savvy and can maneuver around whatever situation she finds herself in. Again we could be talking about this trait as something terrible, and she would admit sometimes it is. But that trait has trained her to make decisions in stressful situations void of panic. This ends up being a common theme with Keem. For things that would usually be negative, she can flip it and make it an asset.

Just what the hell is a cautious extrovert? At first glance, Keem appears outgoing, silly, engaging, and flirty. While all these things can be true and it's easy to view her as an open book because she is. I see her more like an open book with locked chapters. Keem has a way of making everyone seem special to her. They are special, but your key will only unlock so many chapters of the book. Keem has a remarkable ability to compartmentalize people and relationships. So it's conceivable that many people are running around thinking they have the keys to all chapters when the reality is that few, if any, have that set of keys. So cautious extrovert seems quite fitting.

Undisciplined. Decisions are usually made at the moment despite having adequate time to think things through and prepare herself for what's coming. She has excellent instincts and can see things coming; she knows her feelings about situations can sometimes be irrational, but she lacks the discipline to let her better judgment overrule her feelings. I see this manifest itself primarily in her ability to empathize with others. Most of us can agree that the ability to empathize with others is usually a good thing, but over-empathizing with people can sometimes be detrimental to the bottom line. In business, over-empathizing with people can encourage project-threatening behavior and hurt the overall objectives. Once again, somehow, this works for Keem. This over-empathizing with people makes people want to show up for her and generally not disappoint her.

Is this chic clumsy? If an opportunity exists to knock over a light, drink, or generally anything that's not nailed down, trust me, she will make it happen. It's actually funny as hell. This attribute is not just cute and endearing. It actually serves a purpose. Clients often come to the studio and are nervous and apprehensive. Keem knocking something over and me yelling at her has become an unscripted icebreaker and often puts the client at ease.

Keem is temperamental. When I say temperamental, I mean just that. Her emotions can go from zero to 100 and back to zero at light speed. This characteristic has a good and bad side. Bad in that she can run very hot, very fast, and in a short period of time, she states at 100, a great deal of damage can be done. However, the good side is that she never really stays angry for long. Perhaps the real strength of this characteristic is that she knows this about herself and has made great strides not to act when sitting at 100. Keem has come to rely upon crucial figures in her life to utilize as sounding boards. Often time talking herself through difficult situations. I can't tell you how this shit works. I only know it does.

Call it luck; call it divine intervention. Hell, I can't even begin to know what to call it. I've just seen this odd combination of traits work. Maybe the combination of characteristics with the right temperament makes it work. However, I've stopped letting myself try to figure out why it works, and I have learned that it is best just to let Keem be Keem. I have figured out some truths in this world. The one I swear by is that the most straightforward answer regarding dealings with relationships is usually best. So acceptance of her quirks, accepting of the good and the bad, means simply accepting Keem. Time will smooth out the rough edges. I've already seen tremendous growth. At the end of it all, When it is all said and done, Keem will be Simply Keem.

Her friends, family, and peers describe her as fun, caring, honest, stubborn, strong-willed, loyal, and lovable. However, she prefers to go by Simply Keem and believes that appearances can be deceiving. Simply Keem's journey began with self-exploration and understanding. Through writing, drawing, painting, and pursuing her passions, she found an outlet for expressing herself and delving into her thoughts, passions, and curious inquiries. Her mission with THREADS Online started with blogging, where she aimed to offer a glimpse into her mind and share the knowledge she gained along the way. Her goal is to connect with others and encourage them to explore healthy ways of coping with mental and emotional stress by looking within themselves. Shakeema Sherry Cochrane is an Afro-Latina who grew up in a family of seven, including her parents and four siblings. She was the second-to-last child, with an older sister, two older brothers, and a younger sister. Shakeema is bilingual and fluent in American Sign Language, which was her first language due to her mother being deaf. Throughout her life, Shakeema faced struggles of acceptance and being true to herself.

Born in Manhattan, NY, Shakeema moved to Hunter-Tannersville, NY as a baby. In that town, there were few people who looked like her, and those who did often left soon after moving there. Eventually, her family experienced a traumatic event that led them to leave their home of 12 years. They then moved to Catskill for five years, followed by two years in Hudson, then six months in Atlanta, Georgia, and finally back to the Hudson Valley area.

As you can see, Shakeema had to start over repeatedly, with little stability. She was always on the move and in survival mode. Shakeema was one of the first in her family to graduate and attend college, accomplishing this milestone by age 20. She worked throughout her pregnancy and obtained an apartment, car, and job before giving birth. Working as a Med Tech and PCA at an assisted living facility for several years, she worked long hours, ranging from 40 to 60+ per week. Wanting more for herself and her daughter, she became a Home Health Aide (HHA) and continued her education, becoming a Medical Assistant, EKG Tech, and Phlebotomist. In 2018, she earned her Associate's degree in Medical Assisting. In 2019, she discovered she was expecting another daughter, just a month before the Covid pandemic began. Concerned about bringing the virus home, she decided to step back from the clinical side of healthcare and took a job at a Medical/Dental insurance call center. While on medical leave, she created a guided journal to help others manage their emotions in a healthier way. She later returned to work from home, continuing to balance her responsibilities. During her subsequent pregnancy, Shakeema faced emotional and personal challenges in her relationships, friendships, and career. She realized her true passion lay in the creative world during this time. Engaging in photoshoots and witnessing the magic unfold ignited her excitement and purpose beyond being a mother and partner. Initially starting as a freelance model, she soon realized that her true calling was to become a creative director. This decision was a natural fit, allowing her to pursue her passion while getting paid for it. From there, she embarked on her journey, demonstrating the power of determination and perseverance in finding a balance between work and home life. However, despite making it look effortless, Shakeema encountered numerous hurdles and challenges along the way. Dive into her journey as Simply Keem to explore more.

One Year As A Model/Creative Director

Model Published 3 times Paid Ad Gig Music videos (Goddess Pt 3, Smooth) International music video (Gatebe Gataki) Walked a runway Brand ambassador (NA Luxury Des.) (Hamilton Hill) (Unytee) Creative Director Made a business Nationally Published Weddings Maternity Portfolios Birthdays Set creation Project management Threads online lead writer personal projects 7 deadly sins Alien vs cyborgs Runway of terror bts production team unytee iGrind collab

Nya Renee Unwatered

I was hurting in places I didn’t know

Healing things I had no strength to heal

Fixing things I did not break

Putting my sanity at stake

Repeating mistakes that became choices

Listened to voices I should have locked out

Given problems to solve without the pieces

Carried burdens that only caused more burdens

Somehow I haven’t figured out why I’m so broken

Carrying the weight of the world

When earth was made to carry me

I just needed to plant  my feet

And water my own seeds

In order to grow

I had to see

The problem was

I wasn’t choosing ME

I poured into people

Who didn’t have enough to pour into me

While they were flourishing

They were draining me

when the well became dry, and their glass was full

I served no purpose

But all the while I was definitely worth it

So I emptied my glass and shook the tree

Released all the things that burden me

I place the stones , and painted the path

Built my self up from the ground without tipping my crown

Left all those burdens in the past

I stopped watering them and started watering me

Now I'm no longer that un watered tree

I am unapologetically me

Nya Renee 🥶🖤✍️

Tell me about your creativity as a child.

So, as a child, I loved drawing. Art class was my favorite subject. I even participated in drawing contests and won a few. Have you heard of Odyssey of the Mind? It's a school activity where you compete with other schools by creating skits based on given scenarios. One year, we did a Star Trek skit. We had to fulfill certain objectives and compete with other schools. It was a creative endeavor that involved building props and costumes. We met regularly to prepare for the competition. In summary, my childhood creativity revolved around art class, Odyssey of the Mind, and the various creative projects I undertook in those activities.

I believe my childhood creativity significantly influenced who I am today. As a kid, I had a strong inclination towards art. Every year, when my parents asked me what I wanted for my birthdays, I would request art supplies. They would buy me large art materials, keeping my mind engaged. Unlike most kids, I didn't spend much time watching TV. Instead, I preferred being in my room, listening to music, and drawing. It became a way for me to escape and occupy my thoughts. Although I didn't fully understand it back then, art provided me with an outlet to express myself and divert my attention from the challenges I faced in my upbringing.

So your art became a coping mechanism for dealing with your life experiences and upbringing? Exactly. It was a means for me to express myself and momentarily forget about the difficulties I encountered as a child. It's interesting because most kids my age would watch TV and engage in similar activities, but I always gravitated towards listening to music and discussing it rather than being immersed in television shows.

How would you categorize your upbringing? Would you say it was tough? I come from a background deeply rooted in the streets. I would describe my upbringing as a constant struggle. My family faced significant challenges, but despite that, my siblings and I shared a close bond. We supported each other and welcomed others into our family as we understood what it was like to have nothing. Okay. And how many brothers and sisters do you have? I have a total of five siblings. There are two brothers and two sisters in my family. Okay. Are they influential in your life? Are you the youngest? No, I'm the second youngest among my siblings. I have an older sister named Jasmine, two older brothers, and then it's me, followed by my younger sister. So you're a middle child. Yes, essentially among my father's children, as he has three kids. With my mother, I'm the middle child. Growing up as a middle child, has that had any influence on you? I never thought about it until I became a parent and observed how my children behave. Being the middle child wasn't easy because it often felt like I didn't receive as much attention. The youngest sibling is typically seen as cute, and my brothers were praised for their athletic abilities. It seemed like attention was focused on everyone else, and I didn't have many opportunities to be in the spotlight. However, now that I reflect on it, I realize that I don't care for that attention, which doesn't define who I am today.

Pride (Featuring Model: Trina Murray With Body Paint by Kymberli Galliard, Photography by Mark A Davis)

Helping people was definitely my calling. It's actually quite funny, Mark. Recently, I was going through some stuff, and my daughter stumbled upon a book I made in high school. It's just a few pages long, and I couldn't help but laugh. On the front page, there's a picture of me with my name and birthday. As I flipped through the pages, it asked about where I was born and where I'm from. I mentioned Harlem Hospital but also talked about how much I moved. I still have the sticky notes from my teacher's comments. She wrote, "Wow, you moved around a lot." The most amusing part was when it asked about my happiest memory, and I wrote about my beloved hamster. I took care of him for about 3.5 years. But what's interesting is that I mentioned the most important people in my life were my family, and my dream job was working with kids, helping them understand life and everyday situations. I also mentioned wanting to make people smile and expressed a desire to be a teacher or social worker so that I could help someone every day. It's quite hilarious how it aligns with what I'm doing now. I try to help people in my current work.

How did having your first child impact you?

Having my first child had a significant impact on me. It was actually a motivating factor. Before getting pregnant, I didn't really have much going on in my life. I was 18 when I got pregnant and 20 when I had her. At that time, I was staying with friends after leaving my parents' house. Once I got pregnant, I moved in with my baby's father, and from there, we moved to Kingston. When I was pregnant, it was quite stressful. I was considered high-risk and ended up delivering my baby prematurely. Being young and inexperienced, I didn't know what to expect, and it was a challenging time. But it made me realize that I needed to prepare for my baby's arrival and provide her with a stable living situation. So, while I was pregnant, I started working at Home Depot. I got the job when I was six months pregnant but didn't tell them because I feared it might affect my chances of being hired. I know it's against the law to discriminate based on pregnancy, but I was scared nonetheless. Eventually, my belly became noticeable under my apron, and my coworkers asked if there was something I needed to tell them. That's when I revealed that I was expecting. So, I worked at Home Depot throughout my entire pregnancy until the day I gave birth. It was quite a journey.

How did you transition from working to becoming a model to becoming a creative director?

Initially, my main focus wasn't on modeling itself but rather on the platform it provided. I was particularly interested in the writing platform associated with modeling. Throughout the process, I didn't really have a strong desire to pursue modeling. It was more like people around me were encouraging me to give it a try because they believed I had the potential for it. They would often say things like, "Why don't you try modeling? You take great photos and have the right look." Eventually, due to their persuasion, I decided to get involved with modeling, primarily because I noticed that you, as a platform, also offered a writing component. This appealed to me because I had created a journal during my pregnancy when I wasn't working and wanted to find a way to help people develop healthier coping mechanisms for mental health issues. So my initial goal was to focus on writing and similar activities. However, once I started exploring modeling, I quickly realized that it wasn't my true passion. To begin with, I had friends who wanted to be my model coaches and others who claimed they could book modeling gigs for me. But at that point, I already had three children, and my priorities revolved around them. I wasn't willing to sacrifice time away from my kids just to pursue a modeling career, as modeling demands a significant commitment to your life. Creative directing, although also a demanding field, felt different to me.

Everyone's journey is unique, depending on their experiences and approach. Now, let me share my own journey. When I started, I was incredibly motivated and actively sought opportunities in every direction. Initially, I focused on modeling because it helped me gain visibility and recognition. People noticed what I was doing and became interested in pursuing similar paths. As a result, I quickly transitioned from participating in various creative projects, such as photo shoots, to attending events and networking with new people. Each time I booked a modeling gig, I would meet someone new and exchange social media contacts, which allowed me to expand my network. This networking aspect played a crucial role in opening doors for me as a model. However, during one of my creative directing shoots, I had an epiphany. I realized that I wanted to be the one directing and orchestrating the poses rather than being the person in front of the camera. This realization fueled my passion, and I knew that creative directing was the path I wanted to pursue. From that point on, things started to fall into place. I reached out to you, expressing my desire to learn more about creative directing, and you encouraged me to jump right in rather than spend too much time observing others. You emphasized that the best way to learn was through hands-on experience.

So is being accepted important to you?

Yes, we moved frequently throughout my life, and the constant cycle of starting over and building new relationships became incredibly frustrating for me. I despised the process and longed to be accepted wherever I went. It was mentally exhausting to constantly form connections and create friendships, only to have to leave again. This experience often drove me to desire instant acceptance, as the process of making friends and meeting new people can be challenging. It requires being outgoing and socially adept, traits that don't come naturally to me as an introvert. However, I consider myself an outgoing introvert who can be sociable but also needs time alone to recharge.

You tried to incorporate a team approach to Shakeema Cochrane Creative Services early on. How did that work out, and what did you learn from that experience?

That was quite an experience. Initially, I believed having a team would be beneficial because everyone would have assigned roles and responsibilities, and things would run smoothly. However, I soon realized that managing a team meant dealing with multiple schedules and the unpredictable challenges of everyday life that can affect individuals. This added complexity to the equation, as I had to consider these external factors that were beyond anyone's control. While I had a strong desire to work with a team, the reality turned out differently than I had imagined. It often resulted in more chaos for me because emotions and various issues came into play, particularly because the majority of my team members were women. Some team members sometimes felt unseen or undervalued due to their specific roles compared to mine. To address this, I made a conscious effort to give credit to each team member for their contributions. I wanted to avoid any perception of stealing anyone's spotlight because I recognized the efforts of everyone involved. I understood their desire to have a shared identity rather than solely being associated with my brand. However, in the early stages of my creative directing journey, there were team members who wanted to take over the creative direction entirely, seeking a new name and identity separate from Shakeema Cochrane Creative Services. While I comprehended their perspective and the need for collective recognition, reconciling individual aspirations with our collaborative efforts became a matter of reconciling them.

So finally, what's next for Keem?

I have a few follow-up projects coming up, but the truth of the matter is whats next is what comes. For me, its always one step at a time

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