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

Photo courtesy of gratisography.com

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.

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.

chicago

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.

aer-lingus

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.

at-the-ball

In Transition

There are moments in your life in which you’ll feel lost, unfocused, unmotivated, unambitious. It will seem like everything you want and dream of is always just out of reach. You will be filled with indescribable pain – pain that doesn’t radiate from a clear point, but is felt intensely just the same. Your appetite will begin to fail you, and every sunny day will have a permanent cloud floating within it, directly above your head. And in those moments, there will be nothing easier than for you to feel as if you have failed, and in effect, allow yourself to stop living. Not necessarily physically, but spiritually, emotionally, mentally.

Laundry

Every single disappointment that is felt – every failed career move, every failed relationship, every failed diet and health endeavor – every supposed failure will begin to take its toll on your soul. The heaviness will feel immovable, and you will feel immobile and stuck. Almost as if your feet are covered in cement blocks, and you’ve been thrown into a vat of quicksand. When you’re in quicksand, you’re told to refrain from fighting, because you’ll make it worse, and that’s true. But some fights don’t require physical strength. It seems counterintuitive, but in those moments, your focus should turn inward, and you should seek wisdom to help calm you. These are the moments that are most crucial, because those moments are called transition. 

Which Door

So many of us hate the thought and feeling of transition. It is uncomfortable, because it is stretching us, pushing us towards a life that is unfamiliar to the one we currently have. We want desperately to hold on to what we have now, even if it is not serving us well, because the thought of the unknown is far worse. As humans, we are creatures of habit, because habitual behaviors enable us to multitask and get through our everyday life rather seamlessly. Our habits are a gift and a curse, and they can pin us down into situations and experiences that should be changed. We settle for less than what we deserve and what we want, because we put in our minds that something is better than nothing, and something familiar is better than something new. If we continue to hold on to that mindset, we will never experience growth, and lack of growth is akin to death. Would you rather be dead inside than to try, just a little bit?

Strength

Our cycles of growth are cyclical, and we are given the opportunity to evolve every few months or so. If I want to keep it one hundred, I would even argue that those opportunities are provided to us every day, the moment we open our eyes. When you’re going through those transitional growth periods, your biggest tool is to be present, to pay attention to what is occurring within as well as around you. It is when we’re at our lowest points that our biggest seasons of change are revving up. I’m personally experiencing my own growth cycle, and damn, it doesn’t feel good at all. And I’ll be honest; I don’t want it – I don’t want to deal with this battle. But I know that I need it. Some of us walk into the storm, but others hunker down deep in the basement of their minds. If you’re feeling paralyzed, be introspective and figure out why it may be happening. Cut down on the distractions and begin the process of internal de-cluttering, but most importantly, don’t be complacent. There is something so much greater for you, but you have to be willing to go through the changes to get there.

(All photos courtesy of gratisography.com

 

 

 

Prepare for Greatness

One of my very best girlfriends sent me a wonderful, inspiring short video this morning. It was a video of Steve Harvey, and in it, he was discussing how important it is for us to decide to step out on faith and take that “jump” towards fulfilling our purpose in life. I loved it so much that I shared it with other friends, who immediately stated that it was just what they needed this morning. For Millenials like myself, life can seem like one endless sequence in “Groundhog Day“. We get up, we slave away at work (usually without taking a lunchbreak or any sort of break), we stay there well past quitting time, we rush home, cook dinner, get some gym time in, shower, fall into bed, and prepare ourselves to do it all again the next day. We comment on how quickly the days, the weeks, the months, the YEARS fly by, and lament on how we don’t feel fulfilled. How if, we just had more time, or more money, or more focus, we would be living the life of our dreams. We stare lifelessly at our work computer screens, we feel our souls dying with each meeting request that pops up on our Outlook to fill our day, and we complain. And we make excuses. And we do nothing. So how do we begin to get out of this sick cycle?

Mini Man

I believe the first key is to start taking just a little bit of time for yourself each day. No, I don’t mean that you should take thirty minutes to scroll aimlessly through your Instagram feed, admiring the false lives of others (that’s called procrastination and distraction). I mean really take that necessary “me” time to get to know yourself. Start by making a list. What is it you would do if money and time weren’t an issue? What makes you sing in the morning? Do you get excited when have time in the kitchen to really put something amazing together? Maybe during all of those meetings, you’re sketching amazing pictorials on your notebook. Or you’re active imagination is creating a telenovela of the fictional lives of your coworkers. Essentially, where does your creativity seem to be sparked?

Open Land

After you’ve taken this time, and made this list (or, if you’re like me, your visual guide), start figuring out how you can begin to fit these things you love into your daily life. Maybe, instead of taking your cell phone in the bathroom with you at home (we all do it, don’t be coy), you bring a notebook to start outlining your plans for your new interior design company. Set real goals for yourself – S.M.A.R.T.E.R. ones – that are attainable. The key here is to get everything down in writing, so, when you feel unmotivated, you can have your own positive words written down to reignite your passion. For me, it was easier to map out my yearly goals on my vision board, and then I could figure out which ones I could expand on and tackle first. Your priority is to be intentional with what you want out of life. The things you want aren’t just going to appear out of thin air, no matter how much wishing and praying you do. Prayer means nothing without action, so you MUST ensure that you aren’t just sitting there hoping for miraculous deliverance.

Live Free

 

And finally – and this is the most important part – share your plan with someone you truly trust. My friends and I are very good about motivating and encouraging each other on a daily basis. Of course, positive reinforcement is great, but what’s most important is that it makes us accountable to the goals and aspirations we have set. One of my friends had a great idea last year to text each other one small goal we had for the day, and at the end of the day, we either checked in to say we completed it, or the other friend would check in to find out if the goal was met. Life kind of got the better of us and we fell off a bit, but it helped us to feel accomplished even when the days weren’t going the way we wanted. It is essential for you to connect and engage with like-minded people, because negativity is a poison that will hinder you from your progress.

Waterfall

It’s so easy to blame others for the lack in our lives, but no one is responsible for you but you. You are the only person who has ultimate control over your progression and your destiny. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is to stop the blame game, and to accept responsibility, whether good or bad, for the choices I’ve made in my life. When you begin to see the light in every dark place, you gain power and understanding in reaching your ultimate purpose. Like Steve said, sometimes you’ll make that jump and the parachute won’t deploy immediately, but sometimes trying is better than not trying and never knowing how strong that parachute could have been.

 

Control Freak

I have an issue with control – I like having it. Wayyyy too much. Or maybe I should say, I had an issue. I needed to have complete and utter ownership and a say in everything that happened in my life, whether it was my decision or not. And when something happened that was ultimately out of my control, I tried to do everything in my power to take back the reins. I’ve discovered though, life doesn’t really work that way. Sometimes, bad things (and good things!) happen, and no amount of willpower and determination will give you the opportunity to bring yourself back to a time when you COULD have changed things. That’s called time travel, and we haven’t been able to master the technology to make that a possibility.

Clock

In my efforts to psycho-analyze myself, I sat down one day and really tried to figure out why I was so hell-bent on controlling all of my life situations. Like most things in our lives, we can track it back to our childhoods. Childhood is such an important belief-shaping time period for us. Our minds are malleable and formative, and if we’re not careful, we can absorb habits that will become a hindrance to us as adults. I can recall moving a lot as a child. By the time I was 18, we had lived in about 13 different apartments. It was all in the same town, but a few times, I had to change schools, depending on what side of town I lived on. There was a lot of lost friendships, as well as cherished items that were left behind because of all of the moving. I can remember feeling so lost and helpless as a little girl, forced to live a life based on the decisions of others. As a result, I started focusing on all of the things I was able to control – my schoolwork, my public image, my talents. I was a great student, and I made sure that everyone knew I was one. I put on the personality of a responsible, conscientious young person, and found myself having to live up to that ideal on a daily basis. Exhausting, really. But at least I could control it.

Young Shonnie

As I got older, some of those controlling habits started to trickle into my interpersonal relationships with others. When I didn’t get my way, I would shut down, or feel hurt, have an “attitude”, or work my magic to manipulate the situation to my advantage. But guess what happened when I did that? I still didn’t get my way. And the end result was a lot of mis-communication, hurt and pain, and the eradication of my relationships/friendships. I was starting to be seen as someone who always needed to have her way, no matter what. That type of mindset erodes trust, and if there is no trust in any relationship, then there is no true relationship at all. I learned that I had to stop blaming my past for my future, and start working on ME. I stopped putting my impossible expectations on others – instead of expecting, I started accepting.

Robot Duck

This isn’t to say that you stop having control of yourself or the decisions you make. That is still important, and you need to do that for your own growth. What I am saying though, is that at some point, you need to evolve and become more emotionally mature. You can only control your actions – people aren’t dolls to play with, or robots to program to do your bidding. You may not control the ultimate outcome, but who cares? As long as you know that you’ve done everything you could to be authentic, and that you didn’t manipulate someone to get your way, then you’re on the right path. Because in reality, “It is our attitude toward events, not events themselves, which we can control.” (Epictetus). Focus on your attitude.

What’s Your Vision?

What’s your vision for 2015 and beyond? A friend of mine purchased a book for another friend, entitled, “One Word That Will Change Your Life”, and, while I haven’t read it (I plan to!), the idea is a novel one. What better way to keep yourself and your goals in sight than to give yourself a theme for your year, and every year going forward? I know that for me personally, my last year was one wrought with many changes. It was a year of heartbreak, shattered dreams, and destroyed goals. But it was also one of self-actualization, acceptance, and perseverance. If I could sum up the last year in one word, it would have to be transition.

Pile of Junk

It’s New Year’s Eve, so of course, many people have created a laundry list of resolutions. For some, that may work, but for me, I’d probably lose the list by the second week of the year! I eliminated my desire to create resolutions long ago and instead resolved to be a better me every day of my life. Sometimes, I move two steps forward, and other times, I take six steps back. However, as long as that backward movement taught me something valuable for my growth, then the regression was inherently worth it.

Sterile Room

For the coming year, I’ve been trying to come up with my one word. I know that I’ll be focused on exploring all of the elements that make me so unique, becoming even more comfortable in my skin, embracing my talents and quirks alike. I want my days to be purposeful, meaningful, and filled with growth and love. For too long, I have allowed my spirit to be stifled. I’ve cared too much in the past about following some generic blueprint for life, being flexible to those who don’t deserve such accommodations. This year will be about me breaking through my oft self-inflicted barriers, about me becoming more organic and authentic, being more free. Hence, my focus for the year will be spent freeing myself of any thing that constrained me in the past. My word for 2015 will be freedom.


Freedom

Turn Pipe Dreams Into Reality

Every once in a while, we find ourselves lost, confused…feeling out of place. We look in the mirror, and all we feel is disdain and displeasure with the image reflected back at us. We feel insecure, unloved, depressed – every negative emotion and feeling available. And some days, it’s seemingly impossible. We’ll never find true love (for the first time or again), we won’t get that promotion, our dreams won’t ever come to fruition – or so it all seems. In short, we feel trapped and despondent, slaves to stagnancy.

Bunny Suit

It’s so easy to stay stuck in that place, believing that happiness and joy is just a pipe dream being sold by some shady dealer. Those feelings of despair lead to quiet discontent and complacency, making us almost immobile to change and progress. The key to moving past this is understanding that nothing is permanent, and realizing that the only thing keeping your situation the same is you.

Hockey Players

Have you ever gone into a restaurant, retail store, government agency – anywhere – and, instead of receiving a smile and good service, you were met with a negative attitude and annoyance? And, if you’re like me, the first thing you thought was, “Well, if you don’t like your job, why don’t you find a new one!”. Like, how could anyone be THAT unhappy, yet still hold on to something they hate? When you give in to the negative side of being at a standstill, you might as well be that disgruntled employee.

Pug

I know it’s not easy to just magically change a situation, and this is definitely not a “pick yourself up by your bootstraps” soliloquy. And maybe you can’t change your current situation immediately, or even the next week. However, what you can control is how you view it and handle it. You can give in to the “woe is me” mentality, or, you can start making a concerted effort to focus on the positive, and making those plans to propel yourself forward. Maybe that means loving yourself more; maybe it means getting more education, or putting yourself in a place outside of your comfort zone. Whatever it is though, you need to start it now. Not tomorrow, not next week, not for the new year, but NOW. Everyone deserves joy and purpose – start claiming yours.

“The Art of Letting Go”

One of the hardest things in life, for most of us, is letting go. Whether it be a person, a habit, an item, a feeling – most times, we go through a great deal of stress when it comes to releasing it. Humans are, inherently, creatures of habit. We take comfort in familiarity, in repetition. We hate when something disrupts that constant, because we’re pulled out of our “safe” zone, our bubble, and we feel vulnerable and unsure. We hold on to things way past their expiration date, way after the relationship has gone sour, when the habit has become almost detrimental or nonsensical, because we seen to think that if we release it, we may risk releasing a part of ourselves. The paradox in holding on is that we start to miss out on opportunities for growth, we don’t free up the necessary space to allow other people or experiences in, and essentially, we stunt our development as human beings.

Girl Balloons

How do you know you’ve been holding on too long? When it doesn’t bring you even the slightest amount of joy. When you’re investing wholeheartedly, but you see no return. When it starts to hurt you spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and even physically. When the thought of it makes you ill or angry or depressed, more so than the thought of it NOT being in your life. When you feel more empty than you do whole. It’s time to let it go.

Clock Black and White

In my very humble opinion, the entire purpose of life is to be as genuine and intense and awesome as you are, and to share that genuinely intense awesomeness with the rest of the world. Your goal should be not what you can acquire and hold on to, but what you can give and release back into the world, to improve it and the lives of others. Your uniqueness and your gifts are what sets you apart from others. Don’t be a hoarder – your home – and your soul – should be free from clutter and outdated things.

Long Hallway

Appreciate what you have and who you have had enter your life, and learn the lesson. Enjoy the experience, and let it allow you to mature and become wiser. Nothing in this world is yours forever, and, although this may be difficult to comprehend, those people you’re holding on to against their will, because you can’t see yourself letting them go, they aren’t yours either. Once you start to sense that they are rattling their cage, don’t put a sheet over it and hope they’ll go to sleep. Open the door and let them soar, because when you give them their freedom, you’ll start to have yours.

You’re Not Hungry Enough

A good friend and I were having a very intense conversation late one night (much like the majority of our nightly convos), and this one was about careers and life goals. I was complaining about the lack of creativity in my corporate role, while he was proclaiming his anticipation of finally being able to do what he loves on a full-time basis. I made the mistake of telling him that I wish I felt that way about what I do, and thus, the probing began.

Creative Mind

He asked me to think about what I loved to do; something I would do, even if I didn’t get paid for it. I threw out a couple of things I like doing, but then I said, “If I could do anything full-time, something I absolutely love, it would be to create, to write”. Of course, he says, “There you go. Do that”. And like many people, I began throwing out excuses: no time, kids, this, that, yada yada yada. He quickly and quietly shut down my negativity monologue though. “You don’t want it that bad then. You’re not hungry enough”.

Baby Birds

That comment gave me pause. Because of course, when it comes to work, I try my best, I work hard, so I almost felt offended that someone would insinuate that I wasn’t hungry! I bust my behind with everything I do, because my hunger and competitive spirit doesn’t allow me to be anything but the best. When I really thought about it though, I realized that my work-life really isn’t my best. It’s the best for someone else. It doesn’t give me an extreme sense of satisfaction. It doesn’t make me feel like I’ve contributed anything awesome to society. Essentially, my “best” isn’t bringing value or meaningful growth to ME.

Live Your Best Life

I decided to take that comment as a challenge, and start making goals that would reignite that feeling of competitiveness, of usefulness, of hunger. But not just goals that I’ll write down, walk away from, and barely remember. I want them to make me accountable, not to everyone else, but to myself. Sometimes, we allow circumstances to shift our focus away from where we want to be in life, and we create excuses for that shift, instead of making changes. Excuses are null and void for me now; I’m ready to create change.

 

 

When Life Gives You Seeded Watermelon…

…just spit the seeds out and keep it moving. Man, it’s been a minute for a new post, and for good reason. So many transitions in my life right now, I can barely keep up. I’ve been up, I’ve been down, turned practically inside out like Penny from Pee-Wee’s Playhouse (I couldn’t find the inside out episode…if you haven’t seen it, I can’t help you). I’ve been spending the last few months re-learning who I am, what I stand for, and what I want out of life. And yo, this crap is not as easy as you would think. When you spend the last fourteen years of your life being defined as one thing, it takes some time to unravel and shed your old persona, your old ways. You have to re-think and re-define everything you assumed you knew (with certainty!) about life, people, love, relationships. And it feels just about impossible.

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I think the most difficult part is removing old labels and behaviors that were so deeply embedded in your psyche, your every day life. Essentially, those habits that encompassed your reality for half of your life, gone. Understanding and accepting that you are, in actuality, your own person, with no restrictions, no labels, and now you have to begin rebuilding yourself. At first, it seemed daunting, which is almost laughable, considering how independent and self-assured I can be. But nothing is more stressful than the unknown, regardless of how confident you are!

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So, in true Misfit fashion, I’ve begun to embrace it. Pain and change is temporary, and you can only allow yourself so much time to wallow in it. My friends have commented on my strength and perseverance, as if I’m superwoman. I’m not. Not even close. I’ve just come to the realization that I can’t necessarily control situations, but I can choose how I respond to them and how to overcome them. My strength comes from my will to ensure my happiness and peace, no matter what life throws at me. Most importantly, I’ve come to realize that I can do whatever the hell I want to do, how I want to do it, and when I want to do it. I accept these changes as my challenge to do just that. And lucky y’all…you’ll hear all about it.

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