The year is coming to a close and we are on the cusp of a new decade, can you believe it?
In my session the other day, my life coach asked me if I could sum up my year. I’d been thinking about my experiences in 2019 and what they’d taught me for a few weeks and then the question presents itself, alignment is powerful. For me, this year has been deeply clarifying. Things that I have struggled to understand, now make sense, my understanding of people has expanded and many of my relationships have changed. The relationship that I have with God is no longer ruled by fear, I am at a place in my life where spirituality(not religion)is the stabilizing energy that drives me. I feel like the tumultuous roller-coaster ride that I’ve been on since 2011 is finally coming to an end. This ride has thrown me for some massive loops, turning my life upside down. I had to leave my teaching career, mama passed away, the sudden death of my sister broke me, I endured grief so crippling that I couldn’t function, and I was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer. As much as all of this contributed to the hardest fight of my life, the outcome of it all is miraculous. When the ride slowed down, the tossing and turning ceased, I began to regain my footing. It seems that being broken and alone for the first time in my life was where I needed to be. As Langston Hughes stated, “life ain’t been no crystal stair,” but it has been and continues to be worth the climb.
I can’t tell you that I’ve arrived at some pinnacle of enlightenment that makes me immune to the challenges that come with living, however, I am the most self-aware that I have ever been. Despite living with complicated Generalized Anxiety Disorder that has plagued me since childhood, I live with a calmness that is cultivated by my practice of mindfulness, balanced living is my norm. I’ve faced and healed traumas that have haunted me since childhood. I haven’t had a sleepwalking episode nor nightmare in many months, this is healing. I could continue with my testimonial but I want to share with you nine lessons that 2019 has taught me and how these lessons have played a role in my journey back to myself.
Eventually, No Matter What, You Will Be Ok.
There will be times when life crumbles, scattering remnants of the foundation that you’ve built your life upon around like discarded trash. When the suddenness of calamity hits you like a hurricane, people have betrayed you, you lost your job or any circumstance that invades your life; in those moments with what minuscule faith you have left, dig deep and believe that you will be ok. In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t the first time life has knocked the wind out of you and it won’t be the last. Find the strength to surrender to and trust the process, and get the lesson. The moment that I woke up to this truth, in my darkest hour, I found the strength to endure. Life isn’t always going to be ideal yet when you know that you can survive it all and trust that you’ll be ok no matter what, you change yourself and the game.
Self-Acceptance Is Liberating
I spoke about how deeply my level of self-awareness runs these days and with that comes self-acceptance, it’s the substance of my freedom. Being accepting of yourself is similar to awareness but not identical, you can be aware of something and not accepting of it. We live in a comparison driven society, constantly looking at the next person seeking to figure who we are and how we should function, it’s problematic, not to mention, dangerous. There’s nothing wrong with having role models who inspire us to be great, we need guides otherwise we would wander through life bumping into each other. The dilemma that we face is elevating others by diminishing self. One remarkably uncomfortable but the best result of my work with my life coach is my discovery of self. She has an incredible ability to hold a mirror up, clear away the fog while helping me to see, me. Self-acceptance helped me own all of who I am, dark and light with compassion and understanding. Simultaneously as I got to the root of behaviors, beliefs, and fears, the shame that I carried about certain aspects of myself, started to disappear. By fully embracing who I am, stepping proudly into my individuality was almost automatic. Living authentically is the bedrock of my existence. The only way to be successful in any way is to be secure in yourself. Denying any part of who you are is imprisonment. The moment you judge an aspect of yourself and deem it unworthy is the exact point you begin a life of internal struggle that will affect your relationships, endeavors, or anything you seek to produce. When you grasp the totality of self, you are destined to not only succeed but to do so with an awareness that propels you forward.
Laughter Is Medicine
My sense of humor and my ability to find a reason to laugh in the toughest of situations has been my salvation on many occasions. I have made a rule for myself, my moments of laughter must exceed the number of tears that I have shed and I’ve cried a lot, I mean… A LOT. It has been medically proven that laughter has a positive impact on your physical and emotional well being. I remember the days when I was making arrangements for my sister and those intermittent times of laughing that was provoked by memories or by my over the top planning antics. I look back at some of the things I wanted to do, like releasing over 50+ balloons by myself and think, gurl. I was amped up on adrenaline and drowning in grief at the same time yet I laughed. You’ve got to look for reasons to laugh, find things that bring a smile to your face as they pour joy into your heart and hold onto them.
Meditation & Mindfulness Is A Dynamic Duo
My mind and I haven’t always been friends, I grew up believing that the way my mind worked was shameful. Because my thoughts were plagued and provoked by my anxiety disorder, I worried obsessively, feeling as helpless as I did hopelessly. I now understand that some thoughts just are what they are and I don’t have to engage with them, every thought that floats into my mind isn’t from me. Throughout the day, we take in a lot of information from many sources, some of it is bound to get caught in a loop in our brains, it’s ok. Earlier in the year, I participated in a Mindfulness Study for people with PTSD and it blew my mind open. No longer do I feel guilty for having thoughts about conversations I had in middle school that cause me to panic. I was introduced to meditation and all the lies that I had been told about it being of, “the devil,” were eradicated. As challenging as it was and still is, at times, I adopted a practice of meditation(guided), with it came a level of connection and calmness that has been transforming. I’ve learned how to practice staying present, if you know me, you know that the present wasn’t a place I frequented often. Now, I can gently bring my mind back when it drifts to places that don’t align with the life I live. If memories of past events spring up, I allow it without engaging. I check in with my body to give me cues about decisions, it’s a habit that keeps me grounded. When I feel my anxiety rising, I quietly go inward and find my place of balance and surrender. My routine of meditation and mindfulness has changed how I respond to situations, showed me how easily triggered I can be to react impulsively and held me accountable to work on healing those wounds that are still open. It’s a way of living that has helped cultivate a balanced way of living. I am not perfect at it and there are days when I fall short but I bring myself back to center and maintain my zen.
My Body Is My Friend
This body of mine has been through a lot and I haven’t always treated it with kindness. I’ve tried to prematurely abandon it and rejected it too many times to count. Because of illnesses like Endometriosis, I’ve labeled it as unworthy and flawed, incapable of doing the basic thing that a woman’s body should do, like birth a child. I have looked at it with disdain for bearing the secrets of horrible experiences and begged it to just release me. In spite of all that my body has endured, it has always held me, for that I am grateful. As women we aren’t taught to love what we see, we are told to fix this thing or that thing and then we will able to love our bodies, it’s all lies. My body was divinely designed by God for me. This body has suffered through 20+ years of illnesses and recovered from 17 surgeries, it has protected me, fought for me, healed for me, slowed down the growth of Cancer, and loved me when I didn’t return the same love. My body is my sacred home and I have fallen madly in love with it. It is my partner in spirituality, cues me to my surroundings and helps me make decisions. It sustains itself and keeps life flowing through me. At night when I climb into bed to be to sleep and insomnia greets me, my body digests the medicines that help me find rest. The days of wishing to be in a different body are gone and together, my body and I are healthier than we’ve ever been. Endometriosis has calmed, the cancer is gone, pain isn’t crippling, and contentment abounds.
Love Isn’t Always Enough
Love, in the purest form, covers us. It connects us to others in ways that can defy odds and overcome the biggest obstacles but what do you do when love isn’t enough? Whether it be a spouse, lover, friend, or family; when you find yourself in a space of love being the obligation that makes you stay, trouble is brewing. My sister’s passing changed me in a multitude of ways. When she was no longer the buffer between me and certain family members, I was exposed to the reality of who they are, things that I chose to ignore were confronting me, there was no room for denial. I am related to a few people that I love but am not fond of. For me, life is too precious to spend time with people who drain me, the ones who have an agenda connected to their interactions with you. I recognized that love wasn’t enough for me to keep them in my intimate life. I still love them but they have no idea that they have been moved because this is a decision that I made for me, it’s not totally about them. I had to make room for people who add as much to me as I to them, to come into my life, that couldn’t happen as long as I was holding onto folks just because I love them. My relationships are a reflection of the love that I have for myself and when I saw that allowing people to mistreat me in the name of love, was a form of self-betrayal, I made adjustments. My people purging days are not done, it’s a continuous process that’s done with a lot of prayers and thought, never malicious. I quietly fade into the background and continue to love but from a distance.
Connection Is Better Than Attachment
Fear has been an entity that I have dealt with all of my life. I’m at a place in my life where if something is touched by the slightest hint of fear, I want nothing to do with it, that’s how I feel about being attached to anyone or anything. This is a topic that I want to expound upon more deeply so I will only discuss it briefly. In my opinion, attachment is fear-based, it seems to carry this posture of having to hold onto something or someone to prevent losing it or them. Whereas, connection goes beyond physical senses. For example, my best friend and I have been friends for 30+ years, we live in different states and we don’t talk to each other every day. However, I can feel her moods or emotions and vice versa. There have been times when she has called me and said, “what’s wrong,” just when I was about to succumb grief or stress, that’s a connection. I am never worried about losing her, I never contemplate her not being apart of my life. On the other hand, should a day arise when we have to part ways, whether by choice or not, I have a lifetime of memories to sustain me. My connection with her isn’t something that can be adequately explained, it has to be experienced. Since releasing my need to attach, my relationships are governed by connection, some are deeper than others but they’re all held together by a force that frees me of fear and fills me with enormous gratitude.
Parents Aren’t Perfect
This one is powerful!
The more I heal the more I understand my parents, especially my mom. Nobody gets through life without a wound or two, including our parents. We have put parents on a pedestal, holding them to a standard that’s not only unfair, its impossible to attain. Through therapy, I have found that as much as I would like to blame my parents for the lie that they conceived and raised me in, for my identity crisis due to their lies about who I truly was, and a host of other infractions; when I unraveled it all, I found love. I don’t agree with the decisions that they made, the hurts that I suffered, nor the traumas I endured, I understand and even empathize with them. I can’t imagine being in my mom’s position and having a child under such circumstances yet despite what she was facing she chose me. I often find myself talking to her and telling her how much I love and understand her now and how I wish that situation could’ve been made easier for her. I tell her that I accept what happened and I love her for all that she did out of love for me and to protect me. Parents aren’t perfect they are just humans trying to get it right and you will find that in accepting them you will find healing.
Lizzo Is A Movement
I said what I said, fight me!!
If you don’t know who Lizzo is, open another window, google her, and thank me later. Lizzo isn’t new to the scene but her light has been amplified and it is shinning for the world to see. There’s no denying her reach nor her power. She is energizing the masses of black/brown women and girls, mobilizing a movement of self-love, acceptance, and celebration that is challenging bigotry, hatred, and discrimination against women(girls) of color who have full and fabulous figures. From her song lyrics to her twerking videos on Instagram that have the trolls angry, Lizzo is pushing against an industry that has tried to lock her out. When you watch her videos and see young girls who look like your daughters coming out triumphant, it’s reviving. Lizzo is a wave that I am happy to ride!