New Year’s Eve Reminiscing

One of the best New Year’s I had was in 2011. I had just quit my job a couple weeks prior (Christmas Eve was my last day at work). For the previous three years, I was working as the executive assistant to a nightclub owner, which meant I worked both during the day (five days a week) doing the behind-the-scenes business operations in the office, three to four nights week when the club was open, and on call 24 hours a day to respond to phone calls, text messages, and tweets about club events. It also meant I worked holidays and weekends. It was a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun. Until it wasn’t.

I remember 2011 vividly. I remember being told by God to quit my job. I remember not obeying. I remember being told by God in a variety of ways, through a variety of different mediums that it was time to quit my job. Finally, I remember quitting my job. I was scared y’all. I was more scared of imagined earthly repercussions than I was confident in following God’s commands. But I finally did it, and on December 31, 2011 I remember sitting at home, alone, on my couch drinking some champagne, watching the ball drop in Times Square, and feeling so at peace. Words cannot capture how at peace I felt. I was at rest in God’s will. I didn’t have a job. I didn’t know what I was going to do next. But it didn’t matter. I knew it would all be okay. Sometimes having ‘nothing’ is better than having the wrong thing.

I remember being excited, expectant, and full of hope and possibility for 2012, and that’s exactly what 2012 turned out to be. It was so exciting – knowing that anything is possible is exciting! Stepping out on faith is exciting! Knowing that God’s got you is exciting! It’s freeing. It’s empowering. The year exceeded expectations – I had support from people who I didn’t even know and people who I didn’t think knew I existed. I was making income from food blogging. Then, I got accepted into grad school. I moved to the DMV to start my PhD in sociology at the University of Maryland. 2012 was an adventure! And it hasn’t stopped.

Here I am three years later, another December 31 and I’m still at peace. Life is not perfect. It never is. But, I am still at peace. There is a confidence and security in pursuing your purpose and having a relationship with God. The future is unknown. It always is. But, I am once again embracing the new year with excitement, expectancy, and full of hope.

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New Year Goal Setting

new-year-chapter-one

This is my favorite time of year! With the new year approaching by the hour, people are full of hope and motivational messages abound on social media. I love it! As you know, I’m all about list making. So it should come as no surprise that I LOVE New Year goal setting. Of course, I’ve already made out my overall 2016 plan and a month-by-month detailed one. Here’s what it looks like:

First, a theme.
2016: The Year of Persistence and Pushing Boundaries

Then, a few framing quotes for motivation.
“The dream is free, but the hustle costs.”

Hebrews 12:1-3
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Followed by What I know (to be true about what I’m supposed to be doing in my life).
I’m supposed to share my story. I think about this in a few different ways – through  my academic work (on adoptees more broadly) and through blogging and other social media posts.

Finally, the initiatives. What are actions that I want to continue or start that are in line with my Purpose and personal goals. It’s important to list the end result as well as how to achieve it.

Spiritual Tune Up
Re-read the Four Agreements
Daily mindfulness meditation
Re-read The Book of Awakening
Daily Bible study
Cultivate my intuition

Writing
Weekly journaling
Weekly blogging
Daily research writing

Health & Fitness
Eat a fruit/vegetable at every meal
Cardio/weight training at least 3 times a week

Financial
Debt free. No credit card debt.
Monthly savings.

Send out papers for publication
Identity work
BGLO
Club book proposal
Adoptee twitter (depending on twitter data findings)

Build into my relationships
Friends
Family
Myself – self-care

This morning, I stumbled across this article about making a list of your past year’s successes and current fears. I’m adding this to my New Year routine, and you should, too.

Writing it all down is important, but my New Year goal setting doesn’t end there. Each month I reassess where I am. What have I done well? What needs to be tweaked? Then, at the end of the year, I can look back and see where I was successful and what areas need more work. This year I also looked back over my yearly initiatives for the past three years. It was amazing and quite humbling to look back and see my tremendous growth. Looking at the themes and initiatives showed me what I struggling with and what I was working towards. It also gave me motivation to continue working towards my goals.

 

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Year of Yes

year of yes cover

For Christmas I was gifted Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person. By far it is the best gift I received. It’s such a fabulous book, I’ve had to pace myself, forcing myself to put. the. book. down. so that I can continue to relish it. Otherwise, this book would’ve been devoured in mere hours.

It’s been a while since I’ve had the desire, or the time, to devour a book. Blame it on all the academic writing I’ve been surrounded with for the past four years. But this book, like the Shonda shows, is special. It’s witty and funny and entertaining and inspiring. I’d want to be like the Shonda in this book, except I realize I already am. I’ve had my Year of Yes. I’ve been having my Year of Yes. I’m relishing in its aftermath.

This book does the same thing that those early years of Grey’s did for me – it is a mirror. I could see myself. Maybe it was the me I was or the me I could be. But it was me nonetheless and it was quite visually seeing a me. Christina Yang’s character was me on the tv screen. She looked like me. She acted like me. The drive. The sarcasm. The stories she told in her eyes. Christina Yang was a mirror, a (dark twisty) sister, a need (on tv but also, as Shonda points out, for herself and other women). So, it is quite the treat to hear some backstory info on the character and the actress who brought Christina Yang to life, Sandra Oh.

Because I’m a fan of the Shonda shows and Shonda the writer, the Year of Yes was an ideal gift. But, it is so much more than a sneak behind the curtain. Like the words that spurred Shonda’s life-changing commitment to action, her words should spur us to our own. Happy Reading!

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2015 Testimony

Earlier this week Dr. Anderson sent out a call for God-stories, how God has brought you through this year, in other words a testimony. I didn’t send anything in, but I started to think about how God has been at work in my life in 2015.

When it comes to testimonies, we’re often focused on the BIG, life changing, and tragedy-overcoming stories. They humble us. They’re awe-inspiring. They clearly remind us of our dependency on God. They give us hope. I can testify to the many ways God has been there in what seemed like my darkest hour or used supernatural power throughout my life.

But, when I think about this year, I see the God of small things. I see the daily renewing of my mind to focus on what is good and true and right. I see the peace of resting in God’s direction and provision. I see the confidence in walking boldly along the path God has set before me. I see a circle of care from people who have my best interest at heart.

Because of how God has shown up in my 2015, I hope that I have been able to share mindfulness, peace, confidence, and care with those I come in contact with. That has been my goal: to give what I have received.

The other night I was talking to a girlfriend of mine, and we were remarking on how much growth we’ve seen in each other throughout our nearly decade long friendship. While there have been many struggles and triumphs throughout those years, the only reason I am where I am today is because of God’s persistence and that is a testimony worth sharing.

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From the Fast Life to a Full Life

As I was having my quiet time this morning (so necessary for maintaining balance), I had a full circle moment.

Four years ago, Albert Tate was a guest speaker at Fellowship Memphis and gave a sermon entitled, “Sabbath Rest.” Let me back up, four years ago I was church hopping with some friends because none of us were regularly attending church at the time, or at least I wasn’t, and we thought it would be something fun to do. I had grown up in “the church” like all good Southerners do but had since fallen off the bandwagon. My Christian walk was pretty much non-existent, but my material or worldly life was going quite well. I had a good paying job for a single person living in the cost-friendly city of Memphis, enjoyed a range of employer perks, was able to shop every weekend (watches were my weakness), and was well known in the social circles I was part of. So I had a little bit of money and a little bit of status. All in all pretty successful from an outsider looking in perspective.

Inside, however, I knew that the lifestyle I was living was not really me and not for me.

That Sunday as Albert was preaching, I felt my spirit stir. No, stir is too tame. I felt convicted. He spoke about how we often want to comport who God is to coincide with what we want and a worldly lifestyle, and how we relegate God to a passenger as we drive ourselves along this life; how due to our need for control we can miss out on what God has for us; how we don’t know how to rest in or rely on God’s work and instead want to maintain control.

See, around this time God had given me directions on my next step, but I didn’t want to take them just yet. I wanted to prepare myself for what God had directed me to do. I wanted to make arrangements before I committed to His word. Despite being well versed in the stories of Bible characters like Moses, Sarah, Jonah, and many others and how God will anoint you where you are (or as the colloquialism goes, He doesn’t call the qualified but qualifies the called), I still wanted to put God in the passenger side as I drove the car and chose the route. Yes, it was all about me, my time, my plan, my life.

This morning as the sun was streaming through the blinds and I was sitting in the quiet of the day I was finally able to identify this feeling that has been present lately, a feeling of serenity. Life is not perfect, but I feel an immense sense of peace. The need to chase a high or be adorned in the latest material goods is gone. The days are no longer hectic, confused, or rushed.

The other day my boyfriend said, “You notice how we plan differently. I plan for the long term and never the short term. You plan for the short term and not long term.” And I thought about that, and it’s true. How ironic! I used to be all about the long term plan, and now here I am, not without one, but definitely not obsessive about it either. I have an idea of where I would like to be career-wise, but I also realize that those directions can change. In the short term, I know what needs to be done to pursue those goals and I do so but I am able to pursue them without the obsessive and unhealthy grasping and centering these objectives and successes as central to who I am or my self-worth.

The difference in this all is that I know who makes the plan – God – and I know who will ensure the plan’s success – God. Instead of feeling so burdened to make the plan and make it work, I am finally resting in God’s work.

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