Belated Birthday

 

Every year on my birthday and New Year’s Day I try to reflect on what happened in the past year. I try to see what I did, what I want to do, who I’ve become, and who I want to be. 

This year’s birthday post was hard. Excruciatingly and painfully hard.

I lost a friend and a mentor suddenly within two weeks of each other. Emotionally I was a wreck. So much happened that I didn’t know where to even begin. I couldn’t remember what exactly I did for my birthday last year. I knew that I hadn’t reached the goals I set for myself this year. I knew and didn’t know a whole lot about myself and that drove me mad.

I don’t like being out of control when it comes to my life. I like knowing what’s going to come ahead and I like being prepared for it. 

This is why my anxiety is such a big problem. 

Something small snowballs rapidly into something that's overwhelmingly large. It throws me off of my tracks and puts me on edge until I find a solution or it continues on for an unknown amount of time passes. 

What has me on edge lately? Well...it's a large combination of things. In fact it's so large I'm not going to get into all of it in this post. It's going to all be in an organized and honest post coming up later this week. 

(Which is the truth because I've already outlined it and written half of it.)

What I will say about it is that I am a work in progress just as everyone is around me. However, I am also no longer going to allow my emotions and feelings to be brushed aside for the sake of another's comfortability. If my emotional reaction or feelings towards an event upset you, that is no longer my problem. I do not have to explain over and over again how or why I feel that way. 

I feel incredibly blessed to be loved and surrounded by the people in my life. I know I am blessed by the amount of people who wished me well on my birthday. I know I am blessed by the amount of laughter, support, and love I get on days that are not on my birthday.

 will leave you for now with the following list. Now this numerical list is not in order of importance. Some of the items have details and the others are just straight to the point. This list is compiled of tips and things I've learned or come to realise in the past year. Some are things I've said in the past. But that is okay because good things are always worth repeating.

  1. Take care of yourself first and foremost. It's not about being selfish it's about existing. 
  2. Don't let mistakes ruin your life. Let them be mistakes you learn from.
  3. Dream on. Dream big. Keep dreaming because every accomplishment and success come from one.
  4. Stop running from reality. Face your life, grab it, and be a part of it. Fail in it and thrive in it.
  5. Remove the negativity from your life. No matter how much it hurts. No matter where it comes from. Remove it from your life. 
  6. Believe in yourself. Do something to remind yourself of your accomplishments if you ever forget that you're possible of extraordinary actions.
  7. Understand your emotions are valid. Don't let anyone tell you how you should feel about something that happens to you. If you're angry, be angry. If you're relieved, breathe and rest easy. 
  8. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to be loved. Everyone deserves the right to be loved. No matter how much I might disagree with people I believe that it is their right as a human being to have joy in their life. 
  9. Mourn when you need to. Celebrate when you deserve to. 
  10. Love the ones around you.
  11. Don't compare yourself to others. You live the life that is yours and no one else's. Don't compare your failure to another's success. 
  12. Let temporary remain temporary. Don't remain where you aren't meant to be just because you're comfortable. Don't remain in a place where you aren't happy because you're afraid of change. 

There you have it. That is all I have to say for now. Stay tuned for the next post! It shall be honest, vulnerable, and revealing. Grab some snacks because they're vital to any long trip. Buckle up. Let's ride.

This post is dedicated to Ezra Robertson and Margaret Kargbo.
I'll remember the laughter, the words, the jokes the music and the advice you gave me. 

Making Changes

This past week I flew to Houston, Texas and attended the Creating Change conference of 2014. It was my first time attending and I definitely believe it was well worth it.

Let me just start by saying my attendance almost didn't happen. Thanks to Snowpacalypse Jr. I missed my first flight. Not only that but the lovely people that were getting me there were trapped in Atlanta for the same reason. But once I got there the education began.

Seeing old friends. Making new friends. Being in the presence of Laverne Cox.  Education at Creating Change 2014.

Seeing old friends. Making new friends. Being in the presence of Laverne Cox.  Education at Creating Change 2014.

I had the impression that I would learn information about networking, activism, and get a general understanding of how to make things happen back home in Chattanooga. I definitely got all of that. But I also got a better understanding of myself and revelation of what life is like for others like myself. 

As I've stated in one of my previous posts, I didn't always like what I saw in the mirror. I suffered depression and felt a distinct feeling of isolation. With every session and workshop that I attended that was a resounding sentiment that kept recurring.

(Mental health and mental care have been given such a stigma in our culture. No one wants to talk about it. No one wants to be tested. No one wants to seek help. No one wants to seem "weak". )

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It never occurred to me until this conference that I needed to congratulate myself on doing the things that make me...me.  I've never had the notion of congratulating myself on doing the things that have kept me here. I've always given others the necessary shout outs for helping me get through rough moments. But I've never given myself the shout out. I've never thought about the brilliancy and beauty of my mind and soul that kept me here. 

There was a session I went to that focused on liberation. Which is the one thing I didn't know I needed but once it was revealed to me I realized it was everything I needed.

I'm already taking selfies of myself to give myself the confidence. But this session helped me see the second part of what I need to do. Take the control back that I let people have over me. Take the power back that I've given to people because I want others to be happy. 

It's okay to want other people to be happy. Just like it's okay to want and demand happiness for myself. Because I deserve it. I deserve to be happy. I deserve to be proud of the things that make me happy. 

I deserve to be free from the self punishing mentality that I often put myself in.

I deserve to be free from the limitations that society puts me in.

I deserve to be free.

That's what I'm taking away from Creating Change 2014. 

Next time I go (which will happen without a doubt...) I want to see more of this. I want to see more liberation. I want to see more brown faces. I want to see change happening while I'm there and not just when we leave. I want to see less lectures and more interactive training sessions.  I want to do all the things that are important to me. I don't want to have to choose between one subject and the next. I want more combinations.

I want more change.