So, this is my first blog post of 2020. And much of what I have to share is the first of many firsts. It’s one of the reasons I haven’t posted since December 2019—I’ve needed some time to process it all. To sit with my highest highs and lowest lows, and all of those “I’m trying to figure it out” moments in between. 2019 was quite the year for me, personally and professionally. But in the midst of it, much of last year felt like one of the lowest seasons in my life. Only upon reflection can I see that every moment led me to where I am today: Experiencing some of the best of what life has to offer.
One of the reasons I love Instagram is that I often use social media as a reflecting tool. I’ve found it helpful to look at my current and archived posts to be reminded of my journey. From wanting to be a writer to becoming an author. From trying to be a minimalist to sharing tips on how to live an intentional life. From worrying whether I’m a good mother to raising an amazing young woman who will soon head off to college to pursue her dreams. It’s all right there, captured in those little squares. And I cherish the opportunity to reflect on each memory.
Over the past two months, I’ve spent a lot of time looking at those square snapshots of my life. And while there are many joyous and hilarious posts (hello, lemons!), I am most moved by those posts where I was doing too much, not resting enough, not eating properly and worrying about things that would eventually work themselves out. (Eventually, everything works itself out in one way or another.) But it took me traveling to West Africa to truly discover that even when living with intention, it’s easy to forget who you are.
To say that my homegoing was life-changing would be an understatement. My two-week trip was self-care and soul care at the highest level. There, away from my hectic routine and hurried Western pace of life, I rediscovered myself. Every day, there was a moment of healing or something to remind that I’ve exceeded my ancestor’s wildest dreams. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to my own ‘eat, pray, love’ journey. (Note: there was definitely more eating and praying than loving!)
“Yes, my homegoing was truly everything I’d hoped for and more. Returning to honor my ancestors taught me to honor myself.”
There were many first of firsts in 2019. The stress and anxiety of giving my first TED Talk. The first time I’d been under pressure to simultaneously write multiple children’s series. There was the reconciliation and burial of my estranged biological father, and hearing him say “I love you” for the first, only and last time. Painful lessons like acknowledging for the first time that I needed to learn how to establish boundaries. Learning the hard way that sometimes I will absolutely and apologetically need to say no… and accept whatever the outcome. Even as I write this, I keep pausing, remembering. Because last year, I thought many of those first of firsts were the worst things to ever happen to me. Of course now, I think and know otherwise.
“Pursuing your dreams and goals requires a lot of sacrifices. Even the people who love you most tend to do so from a distance because ‘you’re always busy’ and they ‘don’t want to bother you.’ Even when you know you’re loved, you often feel alone and are alone. And even though I enjoy solitude, especially when creating, there were moments last year when it was beyond challenging. But during my trip to West Africa, I used those quiet moments alone wisely. To reflect. To grieve. To be thankful. And to heal.”
There’s no need to try describe how I’ve changed and am ever-evolving. Presently, it’s impossible for me to convey my soul transformation but maybe that too will come with time. However, it does gives me joy to know that those closest to me can see it, feel it and are celebrating for and with me.
2020 is already off to an amazing start. My first TED Talk is now live and I’m grateful for the many hearts and minds it’s starting to reach. Soon, I’ll be on the road for two book tour stops with Courtney Carver to discuss her latest book, Project 333, the fashion challenge that helped transform my wardrobe. I’ll be able to reach more people to share my journey to intentional living. The children’s book authoring also continues, still at a rather feverish pace, but I’m much more in control. I’m being selective about the projects I choose, making sure my work is purposeful rather than a means to an end. I feel brave whenever I say, “No,” to projects and people. And for the first time in a long time, perhaps if ever, even when I’m afraid I feel empowered.”
Much like Instagram, blogging is another medium to capture life’s highest highs, lowest lows, and all the moments in between. Each post is like a little love letter to myself that I can later reflect on. So this year, I’ll be sharing more stories here… for you and for me.
As always, thank you for joining me on this wild ride called life. Wishing you a great week and a new year of many first of firsts.