Lessons Learned in 2017

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Caption: A photo of the Spellbound Sky Metaphysical Store in Los Angeles, CA, that I had the chance to visit today for the first time! 

I have several rituals for ending the year. One of my favorite rituals is to reflect on the lessons learned so that I can make the following year better.

In no particular order – these are the lessons I’ve learned in 2017:

  1. Very few people will give you anything without expecting something in return.  Ask people up front about their goals, wishes, desires, so that you can be clear about yours & move accordingly.

If someone gives you anything without expectations, that is blessing. I’ve experienced people giving me things – recommendations for grants, connections to a contact, free marketing, etc. without expectations and I always express my gratitude. Understand that most people want something in return for what they give you. Sometimes what they want can be non-tangible – your time or your energy, but there is still an expectation. Similarly, you may give or do things as a “downpayment” or “deposit” for something that you’d like from someone else.

What I’ve learned this year is that it is better to be as clear, specific and direct as possible with your expectations so that you don’t have to waste time or get hurt feelings later when someone doesn’t (or can’t) deliver. Even if you are not sure about what you want from someone, just being clear about your goals, your trajectory and your intentions are helpful. What I’ve found is that even if someone can’t give me something because they don’t have it, or they don’t want to give it, being clear about my intentions, they can give me pointers or recommendations on where to go to get my needs met.

If you are on the giving end, get in the habit of asking people about their goals, intentions, dreams, desires etc. If you are on the receiving end, express your goals, intentions, dreams and desires.

2. You won’t like most things that are good for you. Do it/them anyway. 

This year I made a commitment to add exercise to my lifestyle. I purchased a (super affordable) treadmill from Amazon, gathered all of my fitness equipment (Kettle Bells, Free Weights, jump ropes, yoga mat, etc.) and created a workout area in my basement. I worked out for 40+ days straight for an hour per day. Since I started my journey in October, I’ve lost 12 pounds. I do not like working out! If you were to ask me “Do you want to work out?” 99.99% of the time, my response would be no… but I never regret working out. As a woman with high-blood pressure, and with so many other ailments that I’m predisposed to, working out is an essential component of my life – if I want to continue living, free of illness and pain. It’s childish and irresponsible to think that you’re going to WANT to do the things that are good for you. Suck it up. Chin up buttercup. Put on your big girl panties and big boy undies and DO IT/DO THEM ANYWAY!!!!

3. Try to live your life in a way where the best is always yet to come.

I’ve accomplished amazing things in my life and I am very happy, proud and grateful for those accomplishments. I am also grateful for my past, because the past was the pathway to my present. However, I want to live my life in a way where the best is always yet to come. I want to have things to look forward to. I want my future accomplishments to outshine and expand my past accomplishments.

Have you ever met people who seem stuck in the past? Whether they are holding on to traumatic events and experiences that they use to justify something happening today… Whether they are holding on to their best bodies, the best experiences of their lives, or the best accomplishment that they had, they seem to be tied to last year, five years ago, ten years ago? Until I die, my prayer is that next year is better than any year before. This trip is better than any I’ve ever had. This moment is the best I’ve ever had. I believe that when the best is always coming, you have a sense of purpose, direction and fulfillment that is unmatched.

I want to be mindful of the past, so that it informs today and tomorrow but I don’t want to live in the past.

4. Plant more seeds than food you need to harvest.

Life will make you a skilled gardener, fisher(wo)man & farmer. There are so many elements of the growing process that are out of your control – the amount of sun, the weather, etc. It is important that you plant & cultivate more seeds than you need, to ensure that you and your family will have enough food – despite the variables that are out of your control. One of my favorite shows is Queen Sugar! While Ralph Angel is passionate about and the show centers around Sugar Cane, he has to plant Soybeans which are an easier crop. The decision to plant soybeans proves profitable for the Borderlons! In life, we don’t have the luxury to JUST plant collard greens, or to JUST plant tomatoes. If we’re smart, we will have multiple crops, plant way more than we need, and really study and learn what it takes to get a good harvest.

5. Do great/epic/right stuff and divorce yourself of the outcome.

Do great things. Do epic things. Do the right thing. When you do great, epic and right things USUALLY good things happen. The only outcome that you have to worry about is that it is a good outcome. That is not to say that there will be a good outcome all of the time. When there isn’t a good outcome, usually there is a lesson for either you and/or someone else. Sometimes outcomes actually have nothing to do with us. They are for our fellow humans, and we just so happen to be the chosen vessel, example or outlier for the creator to showcase his (or her, depending on what you believe) power & authority over this realm.

Earlier this year, my husband Executive Produced a powerful Black History month program called “Creating History.” In it, he showcased some amazing people doing great work including Emile Cambry of Blue 1647 and Beverly Davis of Prosperity House. It was an intense couple of weeks as they shot & edited all of the segments. Once the final product was finished we were proud of it. After a while, we forgot about it. About 3 months ago we received notification that the segment was nominated for an Emmy. We were amazed, because when we made it, we weren’t thinking “This Creating History thing is going to be nominated for an Emmy.” We did our best. We created a pathway to shine a light on other people. Magic happened.

I’ve been studying metaphysics and the law of attraction a lot this year. A lot of times we think we can just will ourselves to becoming a millionaire. Or will ourselves the partner of our dreams. It’s a lot more complicated than that. The earth and the universe are ecosystems and our wills have to align with our purpose in order to truly manifest. Our wills cannot intentionally cause harm to other people. We have to be prepared in every way – mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally for whatever it is that we are trying to manifest. If we we are not, we will likely not receive what we’re trying to manifest.

6. Spend time with people who are doing what you want to do or who do what you want to do better.

In 2017 I’ve been intentionally putting myself in rooms and with people that are out of my comfort zone because that is where growth happens. I’ve been seeking the council of nonprofit executives that clear $1 million+ per year. I’ve been intentionally spending time with women who make great friends, who have good energy and who make me laugh. I’ve been studying millionaires and wealthy people and finding myself in rooms & company with them to learn!

If you’re the smartest, most capable, strongest, most creative, etc person in the room – I won’t say that you’re in the wrong room, because you have a responsibility to help and teach others who may not be where you are, but you have to intentionally put yourself in situations and rooms where you may not be the best at something. You will be uncomfortable, that’s ok. You will feel imposter syndrome, like you don’t belong, that’s ok. You will say things and do things that you later feel embarrassed about, that’s ok. I swear, every time I go to a formal dinner I have to consult my phone discreetly to figure out which fork to use lol & I still have yet to master chopsticks. I don’t allow my inexperience, insecurities or lack of expertise to keep me out of experiences and out of the company of people who will only sharpen me and help me get better.

7. There is no such thing as one size fits all for anything. Find your own formula.

When it comes to diets. Relationships. Employment and Career Choices. Spirituality. Politics, etc, you have to find your own groove. What works for your family may not work for you. What works for your spouse, may not work for you, and that’s ok. Just like we all have our own unique fingerprints and genetic code, we have the right to design, and live our lives as we see fit. You may be the only one in your circle or in your family that does things a particular way. Don’t apologize for that and don’t feel bad about that. As long as you aren’t encroaching on other people – I believe that you can do whatever you want to do, and will live a more joyful & fulfilled life that way.

When it comes to decisions, I’m of the mind that you can always make another choice. As hard as it is, you can also always start from scratch. I’ve had a few of times in my life where I literally had to start over, from scratch. Whether it was moving from one state to another with my mom when I was 14, just before I started High School. Whether it was moving to another state to another when I graduate from High School, to start a new life in the big City of Chicago, or whether it was getting a divorce from my first husband after 5 years of marriage, and only having the clothes on my back and trashbags filled with clothes. More often than not, those experiences were opportunities for me to “begin again more intelligently,” and although terrible, they did not kill me, they made me stronger.

Tomorrow, I plan to publish a comprehensive blog about my end of the year rituals. What have been your biggest lessons this year?

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