You Need to Cut It

Have you ever had a conversation with someone about aspects of your life that you KNOW you need to change, and you kind of brush it off like, yeah yeah whatever. You hear them, but you’re not truly listening to what they’re saying. We all like to think we’re completely right, and for the most part, you should listen to your own instincts and not let others give too much input into your life and the direction it should take. But those same things you’ve brushed off, you suddenly see or hear somewhere else? Literally days, or even hours after the conversation? This just happened to me, as I debated on whether or not to write a blog post about the same themes that continue to play a significant role in my life. A friend of mine (I say friend even though we’ve never met in real life but appreciate each other’s posts consistently) on Instagram posted five things that needed to be gone from her life, and dammit if three of those things didn’t pop right out at me and poke me in the eye.

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Photo courtesy of gratisography.com

First up? Living in the past. How many times have I rode the shoulda coulda woulda train. If train of yesteryear has annual passes, I must be a platinum member. This evening, I was discussing all of the reasons why I don’t feel like I’ve done enough in my life, and I focused on all of the things I wanted to do but didn’t get to do. Everyone has this grand plan for their lives, and while some people can get hit with a detour and regroup and move on, others move through the detour and still worry about the path they never got to see. I am notorious for being that person, unfortunately. Shoulda went to this college, coulda had that experience, woulda been that person. I never stop to think about the fact that, had I followed my desired path, I may not be where I am today. Sure, my life may have been great, but I would most definitely not be the person I am today. My detour shaped me, and although rough at times, it molded me into someone with resiliency, persistence, and maturity.

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Photo courtesy of gratisography.com

Fearing change. Okay, this is a funny one to me. For someone who has gone through so much change in the past four years, I still despise it. I love adventure and new experiences, but I somehow want everything in my life to stay intact. It’s like playing a Sims game and enjoying the new world, but coming back to the comfort of sameness when you log off. I’ve written posts about embracing change, not because I do it with excitement and eagerness, but because it’s something I have to do and realize the importance of. This past year, I literally threw caution to the wind, took a chance, and moved across the country. I had no concrete plan, but I somehow knew it would work out. I was fearless in making the decision, yet somehow I wasn’t fearless throughout the process. I hated almost every moment of it, because every day the planning yanked me out of my comfort zone. The fact that my relationship has managed to stay intact is amazing to me (I’m a lucky gal). And even though I made the biggest leap and came out virtually unscathed from it, I’m still not settled yet. I’m still adjusting to the change, but I’m not afraid of it anymore. But, should something new come up, I can’t promise that it won’t come with growing pains and a little bit (read: a lot) of resistance. I hope though, that the fear that has clouded past changes can be replaced with mild annoyance, at least.

Broken Cookie Jar

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Overthinking. Whooooo, this is me me me. I’ve gotten better through the years, but my goodness. I am guilty of re-reading a text message or email and assigning my own interpretation of it. Did you know that, “If that’s what you want” can have a thousand different meanings? And usually not the meaning the person who sent it intended for it? Being an over-thinker has caused me pain, confusion, and just plain sadness. It’s difficult for me to believe that when people say things, there is no underlying meaning, and they only mean what has been said. It’s a horrible habit, believing someone is out to con you, that they can’t be trusted. I’m finally learning to accept things at face value, and not spend all of my precious time and energy trying to discern an alternative interpolation of it. It is very easy to be in a bad mood and follow the rabbit down his hole of despair, but it’s so not worth it, trust me. You can’t control other people nor their intentions, but you can control your response to both. Accept what is and reject what’s not.

Couple Couple

Photo courtesy of gratisography.com

We all have things that we need to work on, things that recur to the point that we feel like we’re living out a scene in Groundhog Day. We may feel like we’re alone in our issues, that others don’t suffer from the same sort of self-criticism and self-deprecation that we so generously stow upon ourselves. Sometimes, it’s comforting to know that we’re not alone, and that we all can’t stand who we are (kidding!). But seriously, realizing that we’re only human, just like those around us, can provide a first step in moving forward from the behaviors that may be holding us back.

 

 

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Insufferable Sufferers

What would happen if you decided to love yourself? Like, really love yourself? What if you woke up in the morning and, instead of being frustrated that it’s all starting over again, you were determined to face the day and enjoy being you? That you woke up with a song on your lips, a little pep in your step, and love in your heart? Not many of us can truly say that we whole-heartedly embrace who we are, that we’ve forgiven ourselves for our shortcomings and transgressions, because we relive them with every new day. We claim that we’ve moved on from the job we lost, the relationship that failed, the poor decisions we made, yet, we punish ourselves daily. If we’re enjoying ourselves, we immediately churn up a memory of how we screwed something up in a similar setting. If we find someone who loves us for who we are today, we consistently give them reasons why we’re NOT lovable, in the hopes that they’ll prove us right by leaving. These aren’t the actions of someone who loves themselves, at least not fully. These are the actions of someone who’s still hooked on life “survival” methods that we should have outgrown – concrete walls around our hearts in an effort to protect ourselves against any more pain. In reality, we’re just rejecting potential love from ourselves, and from each other. This, my friends, is the martyr complex.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that we’re all intent on being the victim, because a lot of times, no one knows when you feel you’re the victim. Sometimes you even go out of your way to prove that you’re “okay”, as to not alert someone of your victim status. If you were raised in an unhealthy environment that consisted of physical, mental, or sexual abuse, this is something that could be psychologically engrained within you, and without proper treatment, it could be almost impossible to defeat. If you’re not healed, you’re virtually incapable of loving yourself or others. Oh, but you will try. You’ll seek out other broken people, because you see yourself in them. And because you can’t fix yourself, you’ll do your best to try to fix them. You become overly accommodating, painfully generous. The great side benefit is that while you’re focused on fixing them, you can bury all of your issues (presumably) and push off working on yourself. As we know though, that’s not 100% accurate. The more likely case is that you’ll just project your issues on to them, adding on to the baggage they’re already dragging around. Hurt people, hurt people, right?

You don’t have to be dealing with extreme trauma to have this intense need to suffer. It could be a past relationship that left you with some scars, scars that scab over, but never heal. This lack of healing ultimately causes a lack of self-love, and in turn, a lack of happiness. And with every new relationship, job, or personal endeavor, the scab will follow you. Maybe you’re not the sort of person who feels therapy would help – that’s okay. But what about self-care? What can you do to stop the cycle, to begin the process that will allow you to become the best version of yourself? It’s okay to forgive yourself, but you have to truly feel that you are worth forgiving. Go on a retreat. Talk to someone. Meditate. Pray. Get to know who you are, and start to be kind to yourself. You are worth loving, even by you.

The Truth About Motivation

A couple of days ago, I was having a conversation about the lack of a viable creative community in San Diego, or at least one I could find. I lamented on how I’d been lacking with my writing and other creative pursuits, and that I wanted to get back to doing “cooler” things, and creating more. This turned into a 30 minute discussion, and in the end, I hadn’t really come up with a resolution on how to make it all happen. I mean, it’s great to have the ideas, but it’s even better to have some sort of actionable plan of follow through. Fast forward to later that afternoon, when I was perusing some posts in one of my San Diego Facebook groups, and a cool event popped up. It was an AirBnB experience, and was taking place in the Barrio Logan section of the city, one I hadn’t yet spent much time in. I spent a little time checking out the location, and, ever the impulsive one, I signed us up to participate in Saturday afternoon’s experience, excited that the Universe had obviously listened to my ask.

Saturday morning rolled around, and we ventured out, not sure what to expect, but hopeful that a great experience would ensue. When you roll into Barrio Logan, the first thing you see is the famous Chicano Park, which was designated a national landmark just this year by President Obama. It’s a beautiful outdoor display of the local Chicano culture and arts, similar to the vibe you get from Miami’s Wynwood Walls. Keep on moving through the streets, and you can feel the buzz of how alive the entire neighborhood is. Locals moved through in their lowriders and classic cars, and the sounds of West Coast hip-hop and Mexican music battle it out for the top spot as the street’s soundtrack.

 

We finally get to our destination, and we’re greeted by The Real J, our neighborhood tour guide for the day. J is a spoken word artist/hip-hop lyricist, but most importantly, he’s a native of Barrio Logan. He gave us a history lesson on the community, and talked about the gentrification that has been trying to infiltrate the neighborhood. So far, the community has been able to block such efforts, but it’s hard when dollars speak louder than preservation. The shining light in all of this? The creative community is doing what they can to hold on to the authenticity and richness of what they have. We walked down the street, and discovered artisans of all creative crafts, including music, art, and jewelry making. I’d never felt more at home in my new home than I had at that moment, and I knew I’d found what I’d been looking for.

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Photo by multiracialmisfit

I’ll stop the story for a moment, because a lesson about motivation and paying attention to what is right in front of you is warranted. How often do we whine about what we want, and never plan on how to get it? Better yet, how often do we pray about something, but somehow miss out on the very thing that we prayed about? When the want doesn’t take on the form of what we think it should, we completely miss out on the need that was provided right in front of our faces. Just think about it for a moment. You asked for a new car, and instead, you got more hours at work (and possibly complained about being overworked when it happened). You didn’t get the car, but you were provided the means to the want. In my situation, I wasn’t necessarily provided with a plan on how to reach my goal on being involved in a creative community out here, but I was given the gateway to that want. And THAT’S the crux of motivation. Motivation isn’t the actual attainment of your goal, but it’s what you do with the tools that are provided for you to reach that goal. On this day, make a list of three wants. Speak them, believe them, and then, pay attention to what’s in front of you that will help you reach them.

Soul Interrupted

Moving in general can be a life-changing experience, but moving clear across the country, across time zones, can be somewhat surreal. The after effects can leave you in a constant state of “where am I?”. Your soul will feel unsettled, much like those dreams where your spirit is floating above everything, as you watch the world going on without you below. You want to participate in it all, but somehow, you can never insert yourself into the scene. Everything you know is different, from the scent of your new home, to your ride to work, to even the water you drink. No matter how excited you are for the newness, it can be frightening. So, how can you stay sane?

Try and keep a routine. 
This is soooo crucial. When we move to a new place, we want to experience everything. We get up early to watch the sunrise, run ourselves ragged, and then stay up late, just so we can’t miss anything. Then, days into your move, you’re sick. Or your exhausted. Or you’re sad because you’ve overtired yourself and now you just want to go “home”. Don’t do it to yourself. Get up at your normal time, take a shower whenever you normally would, keep your schedule. Those things you’re so excited to see and do? They will more than likely be there tomorrow. You DON’T have to kill yourself to get it all done today. It’s not vacation – you’re HOME.
Keep in contact with friends and family from back home. 
This one here is another important concept. I know that getting situated in a new place can be time-consuming, but if you don’t make time for your loved ones, you will run the risk of getting homesick. Very, very homesick. You’ll realize, after weeks of not speaking to anyone, that you have been unintentionally distant. It’ll come in the form of a song on the radio, making you nostalgic for things that happened years ago, and ultimately, sending you into a mini-depression. When you’re in a new place, without new friends, the best thing you can do is accept the support and love from the existing ones. If there’s a time difference, schedule a phone call, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
Embrace the moment.
Because you want to make your new place feel as much like home as possible, you’ll be in a constant state of planning. You want to make sure everything is perfect, that everything is squared away, because then, and only then, will you be able to feel comfortable. That might be true, but that might also hinder your ability to be present. Being present is something I struggle with, even when it’s something that I constantly tout. You’ll miss so much if you’re more concerned about the future (and sometimes the past). A couple of days ago, I went for a 4 mile walk, even though there were so many things I felt like I needed to be doing at that moment. I begrudgingly took that time, and was blessed to see some dolphins in the Bay in my new city (not a regular occurrence in the southern city I just moved from). Seeing them gave me a sense of peace, and let me know that everything will actually be okay.  Even now, I conjured up this post because I took the time to just sit quietly outside and watch the planes fly overhead. With so much busy-ness in the world, it’s often more beneficial to just be “here”.
I’m not saying that adjusting to a new life will be easy, but I also don’t believe it should be too hard. Every stage in our lives gives us an opportunity to write a new chapter (or book), and have a new adventure. Be proud of the changes you’ve made, enjoy them, and get comfortable!

The Dragonfly Effect

This morning was not, by many standards, a good day. I woke up exhausted, having spent the night tossing and turning, uncomfortable and restless. I snoozed for a bit, then woke up with a start, because now I was running late. Traffic was awful, making my commute last almost an hour. I got to the Whole Foods-esque grocery store, only to find that, due to a water main break, I not only couldn’t have my coffee, but a smoothie was out of the question too. Begrudgingly, I stopped at a local restaurant, whose high prices on their subpar food is pretty much insulting. By the time I got to the office, any semblance of a happy mood had vanished. I got into a silly disagreement via text, got flustered on a call I was presenting on, and lamented having even gotten out of bed this morning. All in all, a pretty shitty a.m.

Photo courtesy of gratisography.com

I decided that maybe I should go shopping during lunch because you know, that makes people feel better. (Side note: that NEVER makes me feel better. The frugalness within me brings on a huge wave of guilt as soon as I swipe my card for anything costing more than $19.99). Instead, I went to my favorite smoothie place, and complained that they somehow lost my smoothie points (they didn’t), and then sat ashamed at my first world problems grievance. As I sat and wallowed in my self-importance, I thought of things that could cheer me up. You know, count your blessings and all of that. Instead, I just felt sadder.

Photo courtesy of gratisography.com

I brought my acai bowl back to my car, and instead of driving away, I sat in my car and just thought. Thought about life, thought about decisions I’ve made, thought about my life purpose, etc. etc. I stared out at the people walking by, and a little lonely dragonfly alighted the window shield of my car. I watched in fascination as it continued to fly around, landing, hovering, and then staring at me (I PROMISE it was staring at me). I’m a big believer in signs, so, I looked up the potential meaning of a dragonfly sighting.

Photo courtesy of dragonfly-site.com

“In almost every part of the world, [the dragonfly] symbolizes change and change in the perspective of self realization; and the kind of change that has its source in mental and emotional maturity and the understanding of the deeper meaning of life” (dragonfly-site.com). Whether this description is true or not, it did result in making me feel somewhat convicted, but in a way that brought upon an epiphany. When we feel as if we’re struggling, and we can’t quite pinpoint the source of our struggle, it is most likely that we are battling internally with what was and what will be. We are stuck in this purgatory of sorts, and it not only confuses our minds, but it conflicts our souls. We are in a process of change; a process that requires stretching, pulling, and pushing. This change is bringing us to a place we should be, but even change with the greatest of promise and intentions can be painful.

Photo courtesy of gratisography.com

That little dragonfly came at the right moment today, because it brought me a message of hope, and promise. It reminded me that nothing worth having is ever easy, and in order for you to experience growth, you have to endure the change that comes with it. As you go through the rest of your day, stay cognizant of the little reminders to keep pushing, even when it hurts. It won’t always be easy, but it will almost always be worth it.

A Note From A Friend

In light of the most recent episode of “why having a badge is equal to having a Purge-like murder pass” as well as, “why justice doesn’t really exist”, I was compelled to post a wonderfully written comment-turned-article by an awesome friend of mine. I urge you to pay attention, understand, and hopefully internalize her words, possibly awakening yourselves to a different point of view that doesn’t seem to be oft held by the majority of the people like her.  It is because of rarely challenged potential (and actual) racist social behaviors that we are able to be desensitized to its effects when the crimes occur. There will never be any chance of change or progression if we fail to recognize and accept that there is indeed a problem. If you are still not angry, if you still do not believe that there is privilege and prejudice at play, if you are still blind to the effects of both “soft” and “hard” systematic oppression, then you too are part of the issue. Please feel free to share your thoughts and reactions in the comments. 

“To My White Friends…” – C.G. Heilmann

When I attended Tulane (2000 – 2004), the Kappa Alpha fraternity held something called “Old South” every year, which was a Confederate-themed celebration and ball. Men in the fraternity rented Confederate uniforms and their dates were expected to rent antebellum dresses. The kick-off event for this day was a march from Tulane’s campus down St. Charles Avenue to Robert E. Lee Circle. This part, I refused to attend. Later in the evening, a black-tie formal dinner and dance was held, which I did attend.

When I was at P.S. 9 in NYC (2008 – 2010), the 5th grade taught a Civil War unit that assigned the students – including children of color – to be Union soldiers and Confederate soldiers. They learned about the “facts” of the Civil War through a reenactment game.

I am ashamed and embarrassed of my participation in upholding white normative traditions, rather than teaching children and ourselves to look at our history and current socio-economic order through a critical lens – asking my white friends to look critically and humbly at ourselves, asking the “why”. Why do we need to control a history, a narrative and a system that continues to hurt and oppress others? Why do we need to hoard all the opportunities, the wealth, and sit in all the places of institutional “gate-keeping?”

This weekend I learned that achieving “whiteness” in the United States is about giving up your ethnic culture, language, spirituality, community, and humanity in exchange for power and privilege, because the melanin in your skin – and the laws of our country – allowed you and your ancestors to do so. In order to right these wrongs, white people can stand up and say that we are ready to give that power and privilege up. That we are ready to stand aside while people of color build their own power and liberation. That we say “black lives matter.”

“Make America Great Again” is about maintaining the racist social order on which this country was founded, in the face of attempts to break that apart, analyze it, and build something else. To my white friends and family, it is ugly, it is embarrassing, it is shameful. It doesn’t feel good and it is easy to get defensive, to say “but I try to do and be right, but I like who I am, but I – and my ancestors – work hard.” But remember, “whiteness” isn’t who you are and it isn’t something you worked for, it is what has been given to you. And as I learned this weekend too, you can’t “do right in a do-wrong system.” That icky feeling in your gut is nothing compared to the violence people of color feel and suffer under every day in our country, and have for generations and generations. And so I am willing to stay in that uncomfortable, icky place…and I hope you’ll join me there.

 

Ready is Relative

“Great people do things before they’re ready”. Simple quote, but yesterday morning, during my daily wake-up ritual of opening up social media (don’t judge me), it was the first one I saw, and it hit me hard. It ended up shaping not only the course of my day, but it also impacted my interactions. Maybe there was something in the air, but a lot of my friends and colleagues seemed to have awakened with a restless motivation. You see, the status quo didn’t, and doesn’t seem to working anymore, and being just to be is no longer good enough. So many people expressed that they were living, but aren’t actually alive. The realization that there is more to life hit them just like that quote did for me. Are you feeling it too? Because here’s the thing: that restlessness is a clear sign that you are ready and in need of a change, and that change is imminent.

Train Tracks

Photo courtesy of gratisography.com

Maybe you work in corporate America, and you spend the majority of your days attending mindless meetings. You know, those meetings that aren’t held out of necessity, but more so because you had an empty spot in your calendar? And you end up spending those meetings daydreaming, unfulfilled, disenchanted, disillusioned, and disengaged. You find yourself starting to wonder what the point is, and whether there is truly more than what you wake up and do, day in and day out. You have ideas, you have dreams, but you don’t feel like it’s the right time to go after them. So instead, you sit in your meetings and push the daydreams out of your mind, because you know, security and responsibility and all of that. But of course, when you’re ready, then you’ll make the right move. However, at which point do you decide you’re ready?

Corporate Cat

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That’s the issue many struggle with. Everything has to be done at the “right time”. I’ve realized though, that the right time doesn’t really exist. Tomorrow isn’t promised, yet we constantly push everything to that day. Recently, a friend of mine who was jaded in her corporate role, decided to take a chance and follow her passion. She was afraid, even terrified at times, and she needed somewhat of a push. She definitely wasn’t ready, but she decided that not being ready wasn’t a good enough reason anymore. Don’t get me wrong; she does admit it can be difficult at times, but the most important part is that she’s happy, fulfilled, and feeling as if she’s being true to herself and her heart.

Photo Girl

Photo courtesy of gratisography.com

If it scares you, yet thrills you…if it makes you want to curl up and hide away in a safe comfort zone, but the thought of NOT doing anything is more daunting, then chances are, it’s time for you to explore it. Maybe you can’t take the risk, maybe you’re afraid to jump, but if you take that approach, you’ll fail at it 100% of the time. Sometimes, the fear of trying is trumped by the fear of never knowing. Make today the day you try.

Set Goals, Not Resolutions

One week of the new year down, and what have you accomplished? Many of us create beautiful vision boards that we tuck away and ignore all year. Some of us make elaborate lists with lofty goals that becoming more and more intimidating as the days fly by. Even more of us keep the ideas we have and things we want floating idly in our minds, with a silent promise of, “I’ll start tomorrow” lingering in the cobwebs. Did you know that almost all of the people (91%) who make resolutions never succeed at reaching their desired outcome? With a week down, have you thought about what side of that coin you’re going to land on?

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I always tell people that I don’t make resolutions, and that’s the truth. Part of it is because I hate doing what other people are doing, but the bigger part is that I know that I’ll fail at them, because they’re just words. My daily goal is to always be better than who I was yesterday, and that encompasses not just my actions, but my internal growth meter. Of course, that is a pretty vague goal, so I follow-up that vagueness with brainstorming specific actions I need to take to meet my micro-goals that enable me to be a better version of myself.

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Effective planning is probably the most integral part of my goal setting strategy, because honestly, how can you get to the end if you haven’t thought about the journey? You would never (hopefully) travel to a new place without doing some sort of research, and you’d more than likely pull out the maps app on your phone to help guide you to your destination. In order for your goals to be realistic and accessible, making a clear plan HAS to be your first step. Of course, I didn’t really think about this in the past. I would just go through my days, fitting things in on a whim or when I had what I considered to be a spare moment, and as a result, didn’t get much done. I’ve taken to planning out my week on Sundays, to make sure that I’m doing at least one thing per day to reach specific goals. It doesn’t have to be big, but it has to be consistent and with intent.

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Consistency and intent are in the top five of my relationship priority list, but they’re also at the top of my goals planning. I always have grand ideas that seem impossible, but I’ve learned that working towards them daily is what brings them to fruition. I set aside time each and every day to work on a particular goal, and this set time is non-negotiable (save for emergencies). Even if I’m just reading something that relates to my goal, I make sure that there are no distractions and that the time is sacred. It may seem as if blocking out time is restrictive, and that we don’t have enough hours in the day, but how often do we start scrolling on social media (me) and look at the time and realize we’ve been doing it for 30+ minutes (also me)?! If you have at least 20 minutes a day, that’s enough to add a drop to your goal bucket.

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Finally, accountability is a huge step for me, and one that keeps me on track. My friends and I will frequently share our goals with each other, and schedule routine check-ins to make sure we’re doing what we vowed to do. I talked about the steps towards your goals not having to be large, and this has resulted in a daily habit I share with my friends. We will text each other in the mornings with one to three micro-goals, and then follow-up in the evening to make sure we’ve accomplished them. One thing I hate is appearing unprepared or like I’m falling behind, so I make sure I’ve done whatever it is I said I’d do.

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After the excitement of creating resolutions and goals has worn off, they can turn into pretty daunting things that are easy to cast to the side because they seem difficult, but they don’t have to be. Staying focused on your vision is the most important aspect of goal-setting, and can be easy if you plan smartly for it. One of my favorite books that discusses this in more detail is the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey. For planning, I purchased the Passion Planner this year, and it has helped me plan my days down to the half hour. We’re only a week into the new year, and it’s not too late to focus on making this your best year yet. Don’t be the 91% who didn’t follow through.

 

 

When One Moment Ends, Another Begins

2016. The “awful” year that seemed to fly by in the blink of an eye. I don’t mean this in the same depressing memes and posts I’ve seen, in which everyone is lamenting about 2016 being the year of pain and suffering, about it being the worst year ever. It wasn’t a horrible year. A trying one, yes. One that engulfed many in heartache, most definitely. But I’ve been viewing it mostly as the year that the wool was lifted from the eyes of many, where the reality of life and the world finally seeped into the forefront of the social media circus, permeating the shallowness of so many with a hard dose of truth. The idealism that we may have felt on 12/31/15 has been chipped at a little, but it doesn’t mean that the year was lived in vain. Some of us attained knowledge of self and others, in ways that made us question everything around us. It was a year of growth – uncomfortable growth – that served the purpose of revealing our strengths, and our weaknesses.

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As I reflect on all of my experiences throughout the year, I feel accomplished, and at peace with everything I’ve gone through, good and bad. I traveled a lot – including my first trip to Europe. I met my favorite hip-hop artist/activist, David Banner. I saw Beyoncé give an amazing concert in my favorite city of all time, NYC. I took a chance with my writing, and although the dream hasn’t come to fruition yet, I am a step closer to realizing it. I rekindled precious friendships that I believed were all but lost, and I came to terms with the fact that some are sadly lost forever. I learned patience, and loving even when the love isn’t returned in the way I desired. I realized that kindness should always be the first choice, and when it’s not an option, then silence is best. And most importantly, I learned that I am not for everyone, but it doesn’t make me any less unique and beautiful.

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Tonight, as you get closer to the countdown, I urge you to give a little reflection as well. Many of you will be out partying until your hearts’ content, but before you do, be thankful for all that you have gone through this year. If you were the same person you were this time last year – hell, if you’re the same person you were yesterday – then you have failed your goal of living and evolving.Be kind. Be loving. Be positive. You made it through, and if you made it through with scars, remember that they can still be healed. Make some real plans – not resolutions, but goals that you can etch away at each day. Look forward to everything that’s ahead of you, because it will be an amazing time. Every day is a gift just waiting to be unwrapped, so make sure you’re present for every moment of them.

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Sharing is Caring…Literally

I grew up in a household with five other siblings, three being younger than me, and I can recall despising the concept of sharing. I would look at the adults and think, none of THEM are sharing – why do I have to? I would go to school and balk at the kids wanting to borrow my crayons, asking for my loose-leaf paper, eating my candy. I had to share my time, sometimes my bedroom, even my money when I was old enough to get a summer job. I relished in the times I had to myself, the moments I could open up a pack of Now and Laters without a hungry glance from a younger sibling, the moments when I could sit in a park and write uninterrupted (save for the attacking pigeons). I detested the concept so much that I carried my disdain over into adulthood, even in my friendships and unfortunately, in my marriage.

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Now, don’t get wrong. I was a very giving person, and I still am. But that giving was always on my terms, under my control. I love nothing more than to help someone in need, to donate to a cause, to give my time and energy to something I believe in. However, when I was younger, if you told me you needed my sharing, my stubbornness and deep-rooted aversion to it would take hold. Even if I succumbed, it would probably be half-heartedly or with resentment. The more I was faced with compromise, the more I stood my ground, feeling that if I bended and shared, it would be akin to weakness. Nothing exemplified this rigidness more than my marriage.

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We were married as teenagers, a time where you are still trying to find your way in the world, when you’re still trying to understand who you are as a person. And no one (NO ONE ) is more selfish than a teenager. Without the guidance of those who had been on that ride before, we fumbled through the relationship, without a clear path in mind. If he wanted to go left, I would probably go right. If I wanted to criss, he would probably want to cross. Compromise (the biggest form of sharing in a relationship) was a constant battle, and one that neither of us seemed to ever win. Instead of actually sharing, we would find ways to ensure our independence was intact, behaving in ways that destroyed the purpose and beauty of marriage. Even when it was breaking, it still wasn’t enough for us to attempt to mend it, because you see, we were both still viewing ourselves and our relationship from a selfish teenaged point of view.

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For me, it wasn’t until after I was far removed from the relationship that I could clearly see that the cracks were really breaks. Hindsight is always 20/20, and knowing that a lot of the issues could have been solved, had the intention to actually share and compromise been at the forefront, was eye-opening. Some say people never change, and I believe that to be true. You should never change who you are at your core, because your uniqueness is what makes you, and you should never compromise your moral standards. But experiences – those should push you to grow, to evolve, to elevate yourself to a higher standard. I’ve learned that sharing isn’t a bad thing, and when done correctly, and bring the most amazing people, experiences and most importantly – love – into your life. I realize now that maybe – just maybe – our kindergarten teachers had the right mindset.

 

(All photos courtesy of gratisography.com)

Multi-Racial Misfit

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