I think I should post this every year. This is one of my favorite videos that I ever shot because it’s powerful. Yes, it’s long but it has some amazing tips on how to set goals in a way that works for you.
How do you set goals? What are some of your takeaways from this video?
What happens when you are surrounded by friends who unknowingly give off negative energy? Or family who never have anything good to say about you? What happens in situations when you want to be the bigger person, but it’s so much easier to stoop down to someone’s level instead of rising above the foolishness?
A friend of mine shared with me that one of her goals in 2017 was to protect her energy. This means staying away from all of the aforementioned. Her goal shook me to my core, I wanted to do the same. As someone who is progressively trying to move towards a more positive life, it’s hard when you’re sometimes surrounded by people who don’t want to do the same work in themselves. Here’s how I plan to protect my energy in 2017:
There’s a season for everything and everyone…Let it Go!
Hard pill to swallow that some people are meant to be in your life for a season even though you thought it would be for a lifetime. I’ve learned a long time ago to let people go when they no longer feed positivity in your life; when their energy is no longer building you up, and you’re not doing the same for them either. You either outgrow some friends or you don’t grow with them fast enough. Let them go. Even if it’s for a season because holding on to a dead friendship is more emotionally draining than anything.
Fight Negativity with Positivity
This is easier said than done. I have a family member who is absolutely miserable. Every time he sees me, he says something to me that’s meant to tear me down. I know why he does it. Like the old saying goes, misery loves company or hurt people hurt people but I don’t feed his negativity with more negativity as hard as that is. I feed him with positivity. I return his negative comments with positive comments about himself, leaving him for the most part dumbfounded. I learned that strength doesn’t come with an eye-for-an-eye mentality. No, strength is when you are able to ignore and rise above the hate.
If you don’t want to do something don’t do it. If you know the area surrounding the club your friends want to go to is dangerous, don’t go. If you know a certain group of friends only get together to gossip, avoid those outings. If you know a birthday dinner is going to be triple the cost of your actual meal, propose a brunch the following day with the birthday person instead. If you get a funny feeling about something and you feel like you shouldn’t do it, then don’t. It’s so important to learn to say no to things that’s not for you.
Gossip is anything that you say about someone that you can’t say to them while they are present because it’s negative. Avoid it. It doesn’t feel good to revel in someone else’s adversity. What goes around comes around, so be careful how hard you laugh at someone else’s situation.
Last but not least, forgiveness. It’s so important to just let it go and forgive those who have wronged you. Forgive those who have not apologized yet. Forgive those who hurt you. Just forgive and exhale.
I first learned the term “Self-Care” in 2016 while at Blavity’s first Women’s Conference called “Empower Her.” I listened intently to a group of panelists, zeroing in on Francheska of HeyFranHey as she discussed self-care and the importance of taking a break from the world when it gets tough. Some of her tips included:
(1) Turning off your phone
(3) Taking nice baths
I thought these were great ideas. You can read some more about her tips here in this recent article published by the Huffington Post Black Voices. Hey Fran Hey, inspired me to create 5-self-care tips of my own that I want to share with you all for 2017:
Prayer (Church): First, let me address what church does for me. Even before I was a believer, I always went to church. Initially, I was forced by my mother but eventually, it became a personal choice. I would go after spending all night out at a party, I would go when I knew I was doing everything God didn’t want me to do; it didn’t matter, I would still go. There was something captivating about Church. The peace I had as the service ended and feeling more encouraged to tackle the cruel world eventually had an effect on me. Today, it still serves as my refuge. A place where I can lift my hands and worship Jesus through song and prayer for all he’s brought me through. As I mature in my walk with Christ, I realize that I don’t have to get down on my knees to talk to God, I can talk to him throughout the day, when I’m in the elevator, on the train, at work, in my head, out loud, it doesn’t matter, because he’s always there. Sometimes saying a simple prayer about whatever is bothering me, makes me feel better. Sometimes, reading a spiritually based devotional or the bible makes me feel better too. I feel like prayer is a very important self-care tip, if not the most important because you have the security in knowing that you are not alone. God sees everything; he knows what you’re going through before you even say it. He can intervene on our behalf, we just have to talk to him.
Limit Social Media Intake: Notice I said limit, I didn’t say get rid of completely (although for some people that works too). For me, social media has become a part of my life. It’s where I discover news and keep up to date with my family and friends. In reality, I don’t want to rid myself of it entirely, but I understand that if I spend too much time on it, it becomes overwhelming. I also know how draining it is to follow people who only post negative or nonsensical things. So, if you’re like me try limiting your social media intake. Spend10-15minutes on Facebook or Instagram a day. Unfollow the people who annoy you for peace of mind and keep it moving.
Read a book: I love reading so this might be a bit self-indulgent but getting sucked into an amazing book is one of the best feelings ever. I always feel most accomplished and fulfilled after I finish a great book. It definitely helps to take your mind off of everything else.
Positive Vibes: Hanging out with people who have amazing vibes is one of the best feelings in the world. Discovering a new restaurant or spot that you enjoy is equally as amazing. Being surrounded by positivity is one of the best self-care tips I can suggest for anyone. Self-care doesn’t always mean you’re isolated and alone. It has taken on a new meaning for me in recent months as I discovered a tribe of women who I can just be transparent with, letting my hair down, discussing insecurities and imperfections and not feeling judged according to my flaws. I can’t emphasize the importance of positive vibes in everything you do whether it’s the friends you choose, the people you choose to work with, or even the places you visit during a night on the town. You make the choice, and the choice has to be one that makes you feel good.
Activities: I dance in the mirror. It’s something that I do. I like looking at myself while I dance. It makes me happy. Weird quirks aside, I like to paint, take a class that builds a skill (TV Writing, DJ’ing, Cooking), take myself out to dinner or a movie, write, exercise (don’t sleep on a Twerkout or Aerial Yoga), make collages, watch DVDs…basically, I do anything that makes me feel good. I try not to limit myself and what I do and you shouldn’t either!
Solange, Va$htie, Brittany Skye, Kitty Kash—These are all female DJ’s that I’ve come to admire. They are also the reason why I have been so hell-bent on becoming a DJ for the last 2-years. After going to numerous parties, more than I care to admit, I realized there are very few female DJs in the industry and when I do see one, I am filled with pride.
There’s a lot of pressure on these women too. They have to be better than the men whose set was before theirs, and although they are more than capable of, I’ve noticed the lack of representation in this arena when it comes to women DJs and I want to see more. So I decided to take a DJ class to really understand the technique and if I had what it takes to become one.
The class was at Dubspot. It started promptly at 7 and ended 2-hours later. We learned to mix, spin, and scratch with the musical likeness of Jay-Z , Eric B and Rakim, and Black Rob. It was an excellent class, one that I will consider taking again although the lessons are pretty pricey. I think this is an investment and a craft I would love to learn, just because…well you never know. DJ Ky in the House.
I’ve discovered a lot of new TV Shows this year since I’ve been taking a TV Writing class, and the key to writing for TV is watching it. So excited about my discoveries because these shows are amazing!
1-Younger (TV Land)
The creators of Sex and The City have done it again with this show Younger. What I love about this show is that it takes place in Brooklyn (and Manhattan), so everything feels familiar, but it’s mocking millennials and everything we stand for, which I think is kind of humorous and pathetic at the same time. The main character Liza, pretends to be 26-years old (even though she’s in her 40’s), just to land a job at a publishing firm after her divorce. Her efforts to conceal her identity is both suspenseful and funny at the same time.
2-Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
I’ve never laughed so hard after watching a series since Martin and that’s saying a lot. This show created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock chronicles the life of Kimmy Schmidt, a woman that was kidnapped by a man when she was a teenager and was rescued by a swat team after being locked up in a bunker for years. Now, as a 30-something year old, she’s forced to reintegrate into life in New York City. It may seem weird, but it’s laugh-out-loud funny.
3-You’re The Worst (FXX)
I am so happy I discovered this show, You’re The Worst. Another show that makes me laugh so hard I gasp for air. Jimmy and Gretchen are two cynical and borderline terrible people who meet at a wedding and fall for each other. They decide to have a non-conventional, non-mushy relationship but what they find out is when it comes to matters of the heart, they can’t stay evil forever. This show is HILARIOUS.
I think having a Vision Board party in January set the tone for an amazing year. I still get comments from my friends saying their vision boards helped them check off goals on their list that they probably wouldn’t have done without the help of their boards reminding them. My board is still something that empowers me when I look at it. I am encouraged to remain strong-willed and grounded.
That glitch fare on Christmas day last year allowed me to go to Dubai for only $200. What a blessing that was. Dubai’s desert was probably my favorite part. That vast landscape of beautiful sand and horizon is something that will forever be embedded in my heart.
For the first time in a long time, I feel good about the direction God is leading my life in terms of my career. To be honest, I’ve fought it for a long time and for the most part kept what I do a bit private, for the obvious reasons of professionalism, but what I am about to share needs to be written down, not only to help myself understand God’s plan but also to help and inspire others. Right now, with a new year looming, I am reflecting on the growth I’ve made in my life and I am happy with it. This year has not been easy. It was filled with a lot of changes, some that I feared initially, but I am so excited for what’s to come, more so than previous years. The title of this post is called “Why I jumped off the Career Assembly Line.” I picked up a book recently, at Urban Outfitters (they have an eclectic book collection), and read a passage that talked about Assembly Lines in terms of your career.
Assembly lines, if you’re not familiar with the term, is a process by which things are progressively made in parts or work stations that add on to a sequence until the final assembly is produced. It reminds me of the car company, Ford, which built their cars using the assembly line in the early 1900s. One station was in charge of putting the wheels on the car, the next station was in charge of placing the doors on the car, and so on and so on until finally, the car was complete. But the idea here is that the process is monotonous, ongoing, and straightforward. No change can happen or else the car won’t be identical to the others. The same can be said for my life (career-wise), until I decided I didn’t want to be on the assembly line anymore.
The first time I made a drastic choice in my career, and decided I would jump off of the assembly line, commenced while I was in college. I started school as a journalism major and by my sophomore year switched to pursue a pre-law/political science degree. It was a huge decision, one that I still question, although I know why I did it. Journalism was my passion. I love to write; I can’t shake that trait about me, it’s a God-given gift but my family wanted me to pursue a more stable career, so they told me, I should become a lawyer. I listened to them. I wanted to please them and so I did just that. I spent the rest of my college career, writing legal briefs, studying constitutional law in the library, and constantly on Lexis Nexis researching. As intriguing as the legal system was, I knew it was not for me. I didn’t get excited; I got anxiety. Literal anxiety. Now, as I reflect, I think it was a mix of knowing I was doing something unaligned with my purpose and being stressed by the course load.
My turning point came around the time when I started looking to pursue law school. I started visiting legal college advisors for some advice and direction on my decision to go to Law School. One said, “Law school is for people who’s really passionate about the law, why do you want to go to law school?” I gave a politically correct answer to save face, but deep down in my soul, I knew I was being fake. I wasn’t passionate about going to law school or the legal system, I was just trying to please the ones I loved most. One time I was asked this same question by another legal college advisor and I told her I wanted to help women as a lawyer. She followed up by saying “You do know you can help women without going to law school right? Besides, what do you do now to help women? Your resume shows you haven’t done anything since last year, while you were still in college.” She called me out and she was right. That day on the train ride home, I was excited that this woman had the balls to call me on my bluff because I knew, my life would change. I could do many great things in my career without going to law school, but how would I break the news to my family?
The other day at my Weight Watchers meeting, Toni, our leader, stressed the importance of finding things that you love and doing it. Based on our feedback, she created a list of things that we love to do or would like to do to have “Me Time.” The idea here is to use these ventures as a substitute for eating. See below some of the things we came up with:
Exercising/Going to the gym
Taking a new Class (Cooking/Language/Sewing/Knitting)
House Work/House Décor/Pinterest
A lot of revelations came out of this meeting. For one, if you know me then you know that I don’t have a problem with finding “Me Time” but more on that later. What was surprising to me was how many people in that room thought personal time for themselves or a creative outlet was foreign or something they could not fit into their schedules. That’s terrible!
There are so many people on this earth that are not living, they’re just existing. They go through the motions of life without taking the time to look up and see the beautiful, colorful, and multifaceted world that God created. They go to work, come home, deal with whatever they have going on at home, and do it all over again the next day. To be honest, a few years ago this person was me! I just focused on my job. I had no other goals and ambitions and did not even think about a purpose for my life as yet. I know how miserable that life is because you’re doing nothing to make an impact for yourself or others, you’re just there, existing.
Maybe I do these things too much, I thought.
While at the meeting, I questioned if I had a problem because I didn’t need someone to tell me the importance of finding creative outlets to just do what I love, I try to do something I love every single day, whether it’s writing, painting, reading, or going to museums, it’s definitely in my schedule because my soul craves it. Soul Food, or food for the soul, is the single most important thing you can do to bring happiness and fulfillment into your life. Tapping into what you always wanted to do and just doing it, no matter how good or bad you think you are at it, is such a beautiful thing and adds character to your personality and your life. Who knows you might even find your purpose in this. Matter of fact, I am sure you will find your purpose in just doing what you love.
Some people might think whatever you’re doing is a waste of time but that’s because they don’t get it. The first line of Ecclesiastics in the bible says “everything is meaningless,” and when you think about it, it really is. Life is so temporary, we are here one minute and gone the next and nothing you do, not that degree, that job, that house, or that savings account, can come with you. Why not make the best of life while on earth? Feed your soul with travel, feed your soul with time with loved ones, feed your soul with experiences, feed your soul with activities, feed your soul with all of the things you love to do because it needs it.
Oh, the pressure! Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s them, but the pressure exists. The older I get the more I realize I have to try and wean out that pressure in my life. Some people are not meant to be placed in a box and I am one of those people. I feel anxiety when people tell me I can’t fulfill my dreams because it’s not lucrative or won’t make me a million dollars. I also feel that same feeling of not being able to breathe when someone tells me what I should be doing as opposed to what I am currently doing.
I am a creative. I am at my happiest place when I am doing what I love. I am not where I want to be yet, but I believe every single thing I am doing with my life is what I always wanted to do. I have a board in my room and it lists my strengths. Under strengths, it says Human Rights/Human Trafficking/Women Issues, Writing/Blogging/Websites, and Fashion Styling. Yes, fashion styling was something I always wanted to do on the side as a hobby but I never ventured into it for some reason. On the other side of the board, it has travel and a list of places I would love to visit for the year and then finally there’s a list of my ultimate dreams and goals in life. I use this as a source of inspiration. When the year started I told myself I wanted to be bold and consistent. When I look back on the first half of 2015, I’ve definitely been bolder and I’ve tried to be consistent. I manage my Reserved website and blog on both my travel and lifestyle blog. This summer I will release a documentary that I’ve worked on for the past year dealing with human trafficking/prostitution. I’ve also shared some of my projects on social media which is huge and something I still struggle being comfortable with.
Sometimes I have to remind myself that this is only the beginning and will get better from here. Maya’s video gave me hope. She talks about her come up and how God has blessed her life in so many ways. I am happy she created this video because it serves as a major source of inspiration for my journey as well.
There is something about summers in New York. I can’t explain the feeling but it’s just liberating. Each year, there has been some kind of life lesson or personal growth that took place in my life during the summer months. I am inspired to become a better version of myself for the latter part of the year and give life my best foot forward. One of the things I enjoy doing and have been doing every year since I graduated is creating a list of things that I want to do over the summer. It could be something dealing with the arts like exploring a new exhibit, writing more or wearing my hair natural. Whatever it might be, I always try to hold myself accountable to achieve my goals:
When I first graduated from Penn State in 2011, I was lost. I didn’t have the slightest clue where I was going to work in the fall. I had no money and no insight into my future. But those things did not take the fun out of my life. I was shockingly content with finding myself. I let go and let God take control and I allowed myself to live a little. Just getting out of a bad pseudo-relationship, I spent the summer rebuilding my self-esteem, writing, and spending hours on Youtube learning everything there was to know about the big chop and being natural(It would take 2-years before I actually wore my hair natural in public). I even started an earrings business.