*raenote – this post is long as hell – get a drink, some coffee, tea and get ready.
“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” ~ Zora Neale Hurston
Y’all have seen me use this quote many times. I use it because it’s true. The year of 2012, of all years was a year in life lessons. New lessons learned and many old ones that wanted to come and see me again. It was a year of answers. I had amalgamated answers – compounded lessons. Of course a few additional questions have come up – those will be answered in other years I’m sure. I’m not a woman who believes in New Year’s Resolutions – not of the formal kind. I normally consider my reset year on my birthday (May 29 if you plan to send gifts).
Let me sum up 2012: love, conquering, getting cut, getting chose, getting cut again, the rising of a writer and a blog, finding my voice, discovering the limits of my love, discovering things I didn’t know about myself, healing, brussel sprouts and expansion
At any rate, without further adieu – let’s go over what I learned in 2012:
I am a writer. I am a fabulous writer. I used to question this years ago. Mostly because well, I hadn’t gotten any feedback on my writing. But I hadn’t shown anyone any of it!! Well, my Dad and Gram believed I could write, but don’t they always support you? I was so afraid to show anyone what I was writing – I wasn’t ready for the rejection. But I think enough dating disasters can help a woman (or a man for that matter) realize getting turned down, or someone saying they don’t like something you’re working on – isn’t the end of the world. Normally, they’re mad that you’re doing something you want to do and they aren’t, haven’t, can’t or won’t. Special note: If the criticism isn’t constructive (read constructure in my Madea voice) then just let that shit slide. Seriously.
People are going to do whatever the fuck they want to do and it has absolutely nothing to do with you, me or anyone else. I know this sounds crazy, but it’s true. I’m sure you’ve heard it a thousand times if you’ve heard it once. There is a hamster in their head telling them to do certain things – things that don’t have any consideration for you or your well-being. It’s all about them. So – just remember that. But here’s the kicker if you’re married, attached or boo’d up to to someone exhibiting this behavior there will come a point when your own desire for life (and not just existence but a manner of flourishing and thriving) will have to take over and kick in. Don’t be upset – well, you can be upset, just try not to be too out of pocket about it for years and shit. It won’t help you.
I used to think it isn’t personal but it is. My Dad and I were having a conversation. I was telling him about a situation I had to deal with and here’s how our conversation went:
Me: “I don’t take it personally Dad. I don’t think they meant it like that.”
Dad: “It’s always personal. That’s the shit people feed you. But it’s always personal when it’s that close.”
So with that conversation, I had to really think about it for a minute – actually it sent me thinking for a few days. And guess what, as usual, my Father is correct. (He has like a 95% success rate on advice). As much as I want to believe the Four Agreements – great book by the way, and as much as I think people are looking out for themselves, there’s only so much that you can let slide and not take personally. That’s not to say I have to walk around pissed off all the time or holding a grudge – I don’t. What I do do is take note of it and then rearrange someone’s place in (or out of) my life. It gets simpler as the years go on, listen and watch people. Some things are personal and at the same damn time, some of it isn’t – it just may still personally affect you.
There must be a plan in place at all times. Albeit a fluid plan with room to contract and expand – but there has to be a plan! (I didn’t try to make it rhyme but as I typed this I was reading in my Dr. Seuss voice). So look - if you don’t have a plan for life, life will make a plan for you. Plan things out and make sure you’re actually doing things to get where you need to be. In some respects, the blog is both and accidental and deliberate success. I hoped it would do well – it has. But I don’t know if I was planning and executing things as well I can. In fact I know I wasn’t. But there was still a plan. I recommend also having a series of back up plans. So if a blog fails, or you don’t get accepted to something you apply for? Well – start another blog, review and the re-apply.
There is no way around your fears. You just have to go through them. In various times throughout 2012 I saw a few things that made me feel vulnerable (betrayal, illness of a loved one, financial issues, disagreements). Honestly – some of it scared the shit out of me. I wanted to stay home, hide and pull the covers over my head many days (it does keep the monsters out). It’s the remedy that sometimes works. But that’s only good for about three or four days until you have to face things. And I had to face things. There wasn’t anyone else to handle it. No one else that COULD handle it and was willing to jump in. That’s when courage, faith and the reluctant willingness to get through something has to and MUST kick in. All I can say is that it will. Keep waking up and facing the day. As Joyce Meyer puts it, “Do it afraid.”
Some gifts don’t come wrapped the way you expect. Sometimes, the most precious gift can be wrapped in a situation or a circumstance you’re not exactly ready to handle. Or at least you think you’re not ready to handle it. You are. Trust me. On the flip side of things, it’s very possible someone who is going to be the most important person you’ll ever meet – maybe they don’t look the way you expected them to, they’re not in the position you imagined, they are younger or older – whatever. In other words, they’re not your ideal “whatever it is you imagined.” I know we put all of these parameters and things on people and say how we want things to look exactly a certain way but let me tell you how often I’ve been surprised at who has blessed me, helped me and taken care of me. It’s not to say there aren’t wolves in sheep’s clothing – there are – but damn. Additionally, some of the best gifts come wrapped in the most terrible of life’s lessons. Hold on to that last line.
Learn how to open your mouth and ask for help, ask people for what you want, say how you feel. You don’t get paid for being silent. Or at least I don’t. Sure – people can walk off and run away when you tell them how you feel and what you want. Trust that you’d rather have it that way than never saying anything. On the flip side of that, so many of us suffer in silence and don’t ask for what we need (within reason). Especially in our closest relationships. Let me tell you a story - a couple of years ago, a man I loved dearly decided to just pull the great disappearing act that negroes pull when you ask questions about the direction of the relationship kind of magic trick. I opened my mouth. I wasn’t nagging, I wasn’t upset – but right after I asked? He was gone. I can only convey maybe in voice or in real time how devastated I was. I didn’t see it coming. But guess what – I haven’t stopped asking for what I need either. This year was no different. I had to express some things I didn’t want to, but when it came time – I was thankful I did. Say this and clap your hands after every word: Open.Your.Mouth.
Take a damn chance. A calculated one. But just take that shit. Seriously loves. It’s really that serious. It’s important that when you see new opportunities, that you take them. Some opportunities only arrive every now and again. Some only once. If you see Falcor land outside your window and you didn’t pop a Molly, you may want to actually get on him and ride. Take an adventure. Do something different. NO, I’m not
completely off my rocker. It’s just I know in order to make any sort of progress we all have to take chances.
Some people are seasonal, situational, semi-permanent and if you’re lucky permanent (with the right ones). And it’s ok. Every few years I lose a few people. Maybe we grow apart, maybe they stop wanting to deal with me, maybe I don’t want to deal with them. It’s OK!!! It’s just the way life is. There isn’t room for every single person on my road. I’ll confess – it hurts like shit every time I’ve had to cut someone, untie a relationship or they’ve cut me off. There will be people who are going to go hard in the paint with you for your lifetime. In fact, don’t be averse to picking up a few more of these folks should you meet them in the coming years. Real talk – most folks won’t be there but for a flash in the pan. Get in, let them serve their purpose in your life and you serve the purpose in their life and then get out. No need for nastiness or harsh words or foolishness. Just let people walk when they are ready to go.
When people are ready to go – let them walk. Of course there are caveats to this lesson. A husband, wife, mother, father, children, siblings, best friends of decades, etc. I suggest working it out. Reconciliation. However, while dating, meeting new people, doing business, etc? It only causes damage to hold on to some people. They’re fighting to get free and you’re hanging on. You end up getting your face in the dirt because you didn’t want your “good thing” to end. Let folks be and let them go. Otherwise, you’re likely to be hurt. Holding on to someone when they’re trying to leave – you’ll get your arm broken.
Be open for new and wonderous things. Brussel sprouts. Let’s talk about those. I didn’t like them. I went to a friend’s house and her and husband served brussel sprouts. As I think to myself: I thought I told them I don’t eat brussel sprouts when they brought them out. At any rate, because I’m the graceful and polite person that I am – I ate them. GLORY BE!!! Jesus – lo and behold – I like brussel sprouts! (say that again in Sweet Brown’s voice) Point being – some things you think you don’t like you may need to try and it and find out. In 2013 it’s going to look like taking a huge chance on an opportunity outside of my comfort zone, being even MORE transparent, doing what feels good to me and doing what’s right for me.
Choose you. It’s self-explanatory. But so many of us choose what everyone else wants us to do over what we should do for ourselves. I have been guilty of it for years. I was delivered from that last year. It doesn’t mean I don’t take others into consideration. It doesn’t mean I don’t take others’ feelings and needs into consideration. It just means I’m not on an altruistic sabbatical to sacrifice myself for someone who doesn’t want to help themselves. Given that knowledge, it sometimes means the choices I make won’t be popular amongst people. It’s not the way things always happen.
Do the work it takes to be happy. As much as all of us talk about how happy we want to be and the things we want to do, how many of us are actually doing those things to help us get there? I honestly can say about 50 percent. I talked good game for years about the things I wanted for my life, things I wanted to do and I was STUCK. You hear me? I mean, I had some moxy to move and at least put myself in a position to do better. During the time I’ve been here in DC I have grown. Immensely. From a young woman to a woman. These last 24 months – some of the growth I’ve experienced was unintentional and then I became very specific about it. I stopped dealing with certain people. I decided to be honest with me about me. I went through counseling and got through some hard spaces that had happened. Some things you need to get over and go THROUGH. We tend to get stuck in some high time in our life and don’t appreciate the now. Get with it. You have the ability to be happy now or tomorrow. You can bah humbug me and all that, but I’m not feeling it. So there. Don’t kill my vibe.
Which brings me to my final grand lesson …
Be able to be honest with you about you and about what you want for your life. This is an answer or a series of answers that take courage. For me, I’ve always known a few things about myself – I want to write, I want to be happily married, I want a family, I want to make a positive difference. It doesn’t mean when I talk to friends or family that aren’t so keen on any of that that my dreams and wishes fall by the wayside. In my Joel Osteen like voice …if God manages to plant that desire in your heart, then it’s possible. But it takes courage to admit things to ourselves. I know people who will say they came out the womb with all of this figured out (there are a few) but mostly they are great at hiding the fact they’re feeling around in the dark as much as anyone else.
These were just a few of the lessons I learned in 2012. I have more – but I’m saving those!
Note: I have to tell you – I am ridiculously happy! I had one of the most difficult years to date and thought I had lost, but I won. I gained. I found missing pieces of me. I discovered more of who I am as a woman. I’m thankful. And 2013 is set to be a year of building, restoration and as me and Rodd Klever deemed – convalescing (healing).
Me and some other friends who blog will be on the Dr. Vibe show tomorrow night at 9pm discussing “Lessons Learned in 2012.” So tune in and tweet me! To listen live tomorrow night – just visit http://thedrvibeshow.com/ at 9pm. All you have to do is visit the site and the show will automatically start at 9!
So, what lessons did you learn in 2012? What are your thoughts on the lessons I listed tonight? Can’t wait to hear from you!