How My Friends Taught Me to Be Flaky as F*(! … and I LOVE It!

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flaky

I opened my first email account when I was a freshman in college and didn’t start texting until nearly a decade later. I grew up in a rural town so no one used RSVPs – you just stopped by, showed up, or gave your word. I share these things because I learned much of my etiquette around corresponding via email or text messages and the value of RSVPs: 1) much later in my life; and 2) mostly in the professional arena. This timing shaped how I view email, including the form in which I send emails. It shaped what, how and with whom I send text messages. And it absolutely shaped the value I placed on giving my word, verbally or via an RSVP. However, it didn’t take long for me to learn that the same value I placed on these things was not shared by others. I’ve received numerous emails with no greeting or salutation at all – simply a question or statement. I’ve had colleagues who I have a strictly professional relationship with text me late at night or on the weekends. And I’ve more than my share of experience with folks saying they will attend an event and showing up significantly later than the start time or not showing up at all. Naturally, this used to upset me and sometimes it still does, especially when someone’s RSVP requires me spending money to reserve a spot for them. But this last year has taught me get comfortable with being flaky as f*(!.

My new lease on life is in no way an excuse for me to disregard others’ time or my commitment to complete a task. Instead, it has forced me to separate business commitments from personal commitments. No, I can’t wake up and just randomly decide to take a week off from work. But I can decide that a social event I previously committed to attending no longer fits my schedule and respectfully inform the host of the change. On a very minute, but important level this change also allows me to ignore the need to reply to every personal email, text message, or phone call I receive – which is not a practice I exercise as freely in the professional arena. I have friends who reply to text messages weeks later or not at all; family and friends who never check email, much more take a moment to respond to them. The ironic thing is many of these very same people will obsessively text and/or call me if I do not respond to a message from them within what they consider to be a reasonable timeframe. BUT I’ve opted to stick with my new leaf and do as I need, when I need to – especially as I am working earnestly to balance all that comes with finishing graduate school. *Note to all: We are ALL busy juggling multiple things so your level of busyness is not an excuse to dismiss the commitments others have as well*

So thank you to all my flaky friends 🙂 – I’ve learned a lot from you. You’ve taught me that changing my mind, disconnecting from my phone, and engaging with the social world when desired is an act of radical self-care. Thank you!

Saying Good-Bye to 2016

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It’s almost time to say good-bye to 2016 so before I head out for vacation, I am posting my last blog for the year.

I started the year out in Hawaii – one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited – spending time with one of my most amazing friends. This trip created the tone for the year: intentions were set, wishes were cast, and my actions were aligned with my goals for the year. Albeit rocky, 2016 was a great year! As I scrolled through photo album on my phone, I was reminded of just how blessed I was during this year. From professional conferences and publications to an abundance of quality time spent with family and friends to so many chapters of my life ending – including finishing up my doctoral coursework 🙂 – this year was a wonderful one. I retreated more than ever and am now preparing to heard to my 3rd retreat for the year :-). I traveled; I celebrated; I cried; I laughed; I loved … real hard; I danced; I rested; I renewed and re-found me. I fell in love with my life all over again, remembering that I have the power to decide at any moment that “this is not how my story is going to end”.

As the year comes to a close, I continue to take moments to give thanks for all the ways that I received love, light, and favor.  In addition to all the memories that were created, I must say that 2016 has been my launching pad for what I anticipate to be an even better year in 2017! I look forward to sharing my world with you in the New Year and I hope that somewhere along the way, I inspire you to CREATE your best life.

Happy holidays and Happy New Year! #grateful

Seasons Change

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seasons-change

This week I welcomed fall with open arms! After an adventurous, active, and somewhat rejuvenating summer, the end of one calendar season and beginning of the next seemed to bring with it much chaos and shifting in all areas of my life. New arrivals, deaths, sickness, and a whole host of other events happening in my family, friendship circle, and across the globe escorted summer to a frenzied end. And all the same, the new season brings with it opportunities to embrace change, new beginnings, and reasons to celebrate. While I don’t long in any way for a replay of the not so pleasant happenings of the last three months, I am reminded that there were many reasons to smile AND of the beauty in recreating. So here I am here and here we are just a week away from October. Ongoing dissertation stuff, a long awaited weekend retreat, a professional development conference and presentation, in addition to a wonderful group of students who I get to share space with twice a week all linger just around the corner. I’ve been spending more time journaling … a lot more time engaged in leisure reading and quiet time … more nights spent reflecting, reprocessing and rebuilding. I am taking more steps to embrace the new and carefully pack away what is no longer.

Hello Fall! Hello New Beginnings! Hello Opportunity to Recreate, Rediscover, Reinvent, Re-purpose, Renew … Rewrite another chapter of my life’s story. Hello World!

#allsummer16

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All summer 16

This summer has been an incredible one for me! After an intense four years of course work; a year of teaching again; more pounds added on than I care to share; comprehensive exams; getting going with my dissertation; and all sorts of other life events in between, I was exhausted at the start of the summer. However I knew I needed to make some changes for my mental, physical and spiritual health. This post of dedicated to what I did to get my life back this summer ~ enjoy!!!

  1. I started the summer out by changing my eating habits. I knew I needed to get back to meal planning and meal prepping so the start of summer break was a great time to do so. You can read more about my final resolutions here.
  2. I got back to a regular exercise routine. Although I started slow, by the middle of the summer I was working out twice a day two to three times a week. The goal was to retrain my mind and body to crave physical activity and make it my go-to during times of stress versus emotional eating.
  3. I continued my therapy sessions. I have seen a therapist off and on for a number of years now. I believe that therapy is one of the most underutilized resources we have access to. Therapy has done wonders for me during seasons of turmoil, uncertainly of stress, and confusion; this summer was no exception.
  4. I paced myself. I had a long list of things I wanted to do this summer, but I knew I couldn’t do it all! I started small and kept going. Each week I added and adjusted my goals – sometimes I wrote more, sometimes I wrote less; sometimes I exercised more and other times I exercised less. Regardless of where I fell along the spectrum, I kept going.
  5. I made an email adjustment! Up until this summer, I checked email chronically. I receive emails about school, about work, from students, in relation the Board I am president of, and everything in between. Opening my email and seeing 50 emails stresses me out, but I realized that checking email so frequently was also stressing me out so I removed my work email from my phone. Best decision ever!
  6. I learned to tune out. In addition to email, I am usually checking and responding to text messages, looking for updates on social media, and just doing too much. This summer was about me learning to turn my phone OFF, check social media less frequently, and just enjoy some quiet time.
  7. I checked my relationships! Second only to getting my physical, mental, and spiritual health in check was checking my relationships. I realize more and more than I tend to keep in touch with a lot of folks from previous seasons in my life: undergrad, Peace Corps, grad school etc. While some of these relationships have proven to be invaluable, others have continued solely on the strength of memories. This summer – by force – I allowed a few people to become permanent fixtures in my past. Had a series of events never happened, I really don’t think I would have had the courage to separate myself from these people. But thankfully the universe intervened so there you go.
  8. I checked the negativity. Related to #7, I learned that I have to constantly and consciously choose to separate myself from negativity – even from people who I consider to be friends. This summer I chose to honor my peace and take as much space as needed from folks who weren’t doing the same.
  9. I danced!!!!! I love dancing and one of the things I have hated most about my school and work schedules has been not having a lot of time to dance. This summer I took as many dance workshops as I could. I have a FABULOUS time and it felt so good to be doing something else I love doing so much.
  10. While I was checking friendships and checking negativity, I also embraced my friendships that truly are treasures. I spent time with my friends – much needed, long overdue, quality time. I made time for lunches, dinners, and other social outings. It was wonderful to have time to spend time with my friends. It did my soul good.
  11. I learned to honor me. I am who I am. It has taken me a LONG time to accept who I am as I am. I honor that I am a hard worker. I honor that I see MYSELF as my greatest competition. I honor that I don’t give up. I honor the hustle in me. I appreciate how and the extent to which I honor my word. I have learned to not make apologies for any of the aforementioned. This is me and this summer was all about honoring me.
  12. I accepted who I am ~ see # 11 :-).
  13. In relation to numbers 11 & 12, I also spoke up for me! In more than enough instances I could have chosen silence when I felt others had wronged me. But this summer I truly embraced speaking up and advocating for ME!
  14. I made a financial investment in my health. This summer I attended workshops, retreats, seminars, and webinars. I purchased books and whatever else I thought I needed to get my life together. I invested in me.
  15. And finally, I LIVED! School has really taken over my life in more ways than I imagined. Now that my course work is done, I am looking forward to having more time to make my summer practices a regular part of my life. My goal for this summer was to focus on me in such a way that these practices become my new norm. I know it’s a daily choice, but summer allowed me to get a taste of how fulfilling my life can be – even with multiple responsibilities.

My summer ‘16 has been all that I needed and more. Unfortunately it’s over – classes resumed on Thursday and I am back with a new group of eager students <3. Let’s see if I can carry a little bit of my summer along for the ride :-).

It’s My Birthday … and What Happened at the Party!!!

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BIRTHDAY

I met a few friends out this weekend to celebrate my birthday. When I arrived at the venue I noticed that the event was being held in two separate rooms, which I assumed were adjoining. As I walked the corridor following a slew of people, I heard one of the hosts tell a guest in front of me that a particular entrance was only for VIP guests. I kept walking until I approached another open door. Once I walked in, I saw several people dancing, could spot the DJ, and found a place to stand where I could easily move between the dance floor and a resting spot. Once my friends arrived, we began texting back and forth about where to meet. After several failed attempts to locate each other inside the room where I was, I suggested that we meet in the hallway. Once I walked into the hall, I spotted one of my friends coming from a completely different area. I asked her where she was coming from and she asked me the same! Without even taking a look in the room I’d just exited she instructed me to follow her. We walked to a completely different section – near one of the doors I’d passed before – and she opened the door! This room was about 4 times the size of the room I just left with just as many occupants. Oh. My. Gosh. What had I been doing all this time? I danced in the other room and had a good time, but it was no comparison to the room where my friends were! Clearly I was missing out. Here were all my friends in the REAL party room and I was merely experiencing the overflow … at best.

How many times do we do this in life? How many times do we pass a door that is not open to us in the immediate future, only to never return again and see what is on the other side? How often do we settle for overflow or what is good and never made it to the real deal or what is GREAT? This was a lesson for me as I celebrate the blessings of this past year and look forward to another wonderful year of life. In honor of my birthday, I am sharing my affirmations for this year.

  1. I will not be held hostage by myself or anyone else by who I used to be and what I used to do! I reserve the freedom to change gears at any time, acknowledge when my actions don’t match the highest version of myself and change course without any explanations.
  2. I will be selective of who I spend my time with and what I spend my time on, including family, friends and everyone/everything in between.
  3. I will put my health FIRST!
  4. I will live my life as my authentic self ~ no apologies.
  5. I will honor seasons in all things: places, relationships and practices.
  6. I will dance. I will laugh. I will love. I will celebrate. I will teach. I will learn. I will write. I WILL LIVE!
  7. I will practice ongoing acts of kindness and gratitude through service, prayer, giving, meditation and periods of solitude.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME 🙂

Change Is In the Air: Prince, Lemonade and the End of Coursework

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Beyonce and Prince

A lot has happened over the last two weeks. As many across the world mourned Prince, I sat closely watching with awe at how many lives he has touched through his art, philanthropy and mentorship. He was such a complex man, a talented musician and a ground-breaker in ways that many never imagined or had the courage to face. Prince redefined manhood and artistry – doing this in such a way that I never even questioned who he was, why he wore eyeliner or heels or even bothered to wonder about his sexuality. He was just Prince – doing his own thing and many of us accepted him as so.

Just a few days after Prince’s death, Beyonce released Lemonade. I didn’t watch the visual album on the night of its release, but didn’t wait too long afterwards to indulge in craze. As a non-Beyhive member :-), I watched simply to see what all the talk was about. I found it hard to pull away from the first viewing and convinced that I’d missed something monumental, I watched Lemonade again on the same night.

There is nothing new that I can add to the seemingly endless praises, critiques, analyses, dissections, accolades, and affirmations. What I will share is that Prince’s death and Beyonce’s release of Lemonade came at a time when I was closing one chapter and opening another. For those of you who have been following me for the last four years during my academic journey, you’ve read about my many revelations and realizations; challenges related to attempts to find balance in my life, practice self-care, excel academically, sort out personal and professional relationships, recreate my voice, honor who I am … it has been a long FOUR years! But on Friday, I celebrated a HUGE milestone. This semester marks the end of my time taking coursework fulltime (four to five classes); it marks the end of evening classes and late night commutes; it marks the end of the academy controlling 70%-80% of my schedule with required courses, homework, and papers. Yes, I still have one more elective and my dissertation but no other semester will ever be like those I have experienced over the last four years.

I am in no way comparing Beyonce to Prince, but what I am doing is gauging the inspiration I gained from both these events. Prince’s legacy lives on in my life as a reminder to JUST BE ME. There are no boxes, no limits, not constraints on who I am and exactly how I perform in my me-ness. Both artists remind me that my platform – writing and teaching – is not for my own success or celebration, but as a gift to the world: to shape, recreate, define, alter, and inform those who I reach.

I approach this summer like many of previous years with grand plans, long reading lists, a quasi-schedule and high hopes of being renewed along the way. But this summer is also a little different. I am starting a 21 day vegan challenge on tomorrow, attending a 10-day silent retreat in July and aggressively attempting to regain control over my physical health. In their very own ways, both Prince and Beyonce gifted me over these last two weeks: they gave me an extra bout of courage to move forward, press on, and be me authentically … without apology. They also reminded me – yet again – that I can’t give or serve without first caring for me. Let’s see what the summer brings … stay tuned ;-).

Embracing Womanhood

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Delta

In just six months, I will celebrate my 30-somethingth birthday :-). 10 years ago, this would have made me cringe … I would’ve thought about how old I’d be and how many things I couldn’t do anymore. Today the thought excites me! I am excited and celebrate because my life truly has gotten better with time and for that I am thankful. My dreams has slowly unfolded, been recreated and come true in ways that could never imagine. I am surer of myself – who I am, what I love, what I cannot and will not tolerate – more than ever before. I love me more and am more forgiving of my not-so-great choices. I choose wisely and am not afraid to change courses. And this year for once and for all, I embrace ALL of the person that I am!

This is significant for me because at various times in my life I have worked hard to still one part of myself or another … my inner wild child or flower goddess 🙂 or inquisitive seeker of knowledge or overzealous academic achiever or loyal girlfriend or intimate lover or peace seeker and the list goes on. Today more than ever I love my complex, complicated, goal- setting and dream achieving self. Today, more than ever I distance myself from those who do not support me in being my best version of me.

While listening to a podcast last week I heard the quote “the way you do one thing is the way you do all things”. This has quickly become my favorite quote of the month – this defines me. I am a dream big or go home type of woman! I love hard and give my all … in every way in everything I do. I am all in and if/when things shift I am done. I am me and I love it all!

Last thought: this past weekend I bought a new tube of lipstick. This may be a small deal to women who have dozens of tubes of lipstick or endless mountains of make-up that they can’t seem to keep organized (or maybe they do :-)). But for me it was a practice in self-care – to put just as much time in my physical health and appearance as I do in academics or soul-searching. It was another small drop in the bucket of being my best self and embracing the process. To me, this is womanhood: growing, learning, loving and finding new ways of expressing the aforementioned – all the while remembering who I am and why I was created!

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