Renee Dugue Co-Founder and Executive Director of Reborn and Rising
I’m so 504! Ask me my favorite food, my favorite music, my favorite holiday, my favorite things to do…they all represent my life in New Orleans, and The Desire. As a kid, were you told to “close the icebox cause you were letting all the cold air out”? If so, I bet you have The Holy Trinity in your refrigerator right now! And if you don’t, I bet you’ll get it before you make your favorite dish. As I write from Houston, TX and you read from where you are, in this very moment, we are connected through our shared experiences, emanating from the soul of our little big city. Small, close-knit, everybody knows everybody! And we’ll feed anybody, at any hour, cause unlike the kitchen on Chef, we never close. Prime, staple ingredients or not, we are true makers of something out of nothing. It’s in our genes; po boys from poor girls made strong with melanin. Whipping a pot of water, some celery, bell peppers, onions, and flour, and within an hour on that fire…got the whole block hot and popping for what you are cooking up. Man! I’m craving a praline and a snowball right now!
Home truly is where the heart is. Unfortunately for so many of us, blended with happy memories, our childhood home is also where hurt lies. Made better with melanin, we’re strong enough to endure the pain though. We stand tall and push forward by any means necessary. This seems so easy for some. It certainly was easier said than done for me. I truly struggled. I was confused by things that happened to me as a child. I was scarred, literally physically, emotionally, and mentally by the sexual abuse I suffered. Pain and trauma were trapped so deeply within me, most of my self-destructive behavior was done unconsciously. Like many, I gravitated towards what I knew. I wallowed in dysfunction as I walked across the courts, around the corner, up the streets, and crossed the tracks of The Desire to wander further, aimlessly throughout the city.
True to our heritage, I masked my low self-esteem. Draped in purples, greens, and gold, feathers, leather and lace, red lips, and painted face; I never showed my true colors. But I couldn’t hide me eyes; and it’s so true they never lie. It took years for me to realize what I was searching for resided within me. I had to face the woman in the mirror. Flaws and all, I came to understand that if I liked any part of myself, I had to accept every part of my life’s experiences, as necessary. I had to be grateful for everyone who was a part of each lesson lived. I had to forgive them and myself, realizing that people in pain hurt people, and when we know better, we do better. Every day is a gift to go further on our path of self-discovery. Sharing my truth has set me free to see my wildest dreams come true. I walk every day, literally, on my journey from desire to purpose. Be encouraged to do the same.
Renee Dugue, is a Healer, Artist, Writer, Humanitarian, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Reborn & Rising in Houston, TX. Learn more of her WALK4WATER Campaign’s efforts to provide clean water to Africans in need. Visit RebornAndRising.org today. Helping is healing. Healing is helping.