This last post of the year is a quick review of the ups and downs and “meh” moments from 2017. It’s a personal reflection, a public display of vulnerability, and most definitely not a “how to review your year and plan for the next” type of post. If you’re looking for that kind of post, check out Rosetta Thurman of HappyBlackWoman.com she has a great guide on it. Personally, I’ve started to use a tweaked version of the Life in a Notebook planning system that my friend C.J. Hayden developed. I typically do better with a brain-dump of desires for the year, and then writing intentions and goals in 90 day increments.
If you’re still here with me though, my hope is that through my personal experiences and the resources I’ve personally used and will share with you, you gain some clarity, confirmation, new insight and fresh perspective.
As I’ve shared before in previous reviews, I center most of my intentions for the year around 6 areas or slices of life: Spiritual, Personal, Social, Physical, Professional, and Financial. Though I have come to believe that spirituality is the foundation of the pie and “personal religion” is the slice.
This year I didn’t do a notebook system. Instead, I simply wrote a list of desires and intentions and crafted a vision board, (image you see above). I did the vision board with my family because they were new to the concept and wanted to try something different, and quite frankly I wanted to try something different for this year. I’m typically not big on vision boards, but I wanted my board to be of use to me so I hung it on the wall right next to my desk so that it wouldn’t collect dust. I purposely found words and images that were in alignment with the intentions I had already written down for the year and added intentions to my list that came up as I let my imagination run free gluing images to my board. I also usually have a word and/or theme for the year that gives me a focal point for all the desires, intentions, commitments and goals I set for the year.
My word for 2017 was “Work”. It probably doesn’t seem like it’s the most motivating word but when coupled with my personal theme: “Work is Love Made Visible” (Kahlil Gibran) it made great sense.
I have actually had my themes for 2016, 2017, and 2018 since the end of 2015 when I heard a message deep in my heart, “The Work of Transformative Love”. And so this year was about making what I’ve learned about living love out loud visible through my work.
Because my focus was on putting my head down and “making it do what it do” as Ray Charles said, I did not set big lofty goals for too many things. I wanted to be the best of who I already was, I wanted to do better at what I already had the capacity and grit to level up on. I understood that mastery of your gifts and talents requires prioritizing and focus.
So for my Professional slice, I focused on finishing and publishing my book about mental health and entrepreneurship. I focused on rebranding my business beyond the aesthetics of a new website. I prioritized building a practice filled with clients that I would love. The kind of clients who would inspire me to want to be the best I could be so that they in turn could develop as leaders and serve more people. I’ve been challenged all year to try to think of ways in which I could get things done as efficiently as possible, while also being able to help them iron out ideas and develop new ways to do things. It’s nerve wrecking and exhilarating at the same time. I’ve been challenged to improve my own systems and continue to develop and honor my boundaries, to develop my communication style, to increase my skills and efficiency, and to step up as mental health advocate and event organizer to leaders and would be leaders. Because I’m team #alwaysbelearning I’m super excited to be a new student at AssistU come January.
In my Finance slice I was determined to earn the kind of money that sustained my business and gave me room to create, save and giveback. I discovered that I had to give myself permission to earn money that helps me sustain my life. I had to give myself permission to believe I was worthy of earning more than just survival mode money. I realized that many of us who come from social work backgrounds tend to be the self-sacrificing kind. We are so used to giving with our hearts and not receiving much in return that making money comes with some guilt and feeling uncomfortable. I have to work transform that line of thinking even more that I thought I did. I have to work on a new set of beliefs that tell me making money will help me be in a better position to help more people and to give back on a larger scale. This year I wrote out affirmations and repeated mantras such as “I am worthy of taking action toward a better future that brings me wealth in every area of my life” (hey I don’t knock the power of a placebo effect). I started to pay attention to the wealth of resources I’d been introduced to via my clients who are in the personal finance space. I read, actually liked, and began applying what I read in my friend, Emily’s book, End Financial Stress Now: Immediate Steps You Can Take to Improve Your Financial Outlook I shared one of my client’s new personal finance book for single moms with a special single mom in my life (my lil sis) because why not pass the resources on if they help?
With a better grasp on my professional and financial realities I was able to set aside what I needed in order to create a Physical slice that honed in on what was ailing me. I finally made some long overdue doctor appointments, I had to handle the personal crisis of medical shake ups and make new commitments to my health and wellbeing. As I shared in my last post I began to focus on the connection between gut health and mental health, and became more committed to addressing wellness holistically and with compassion.
It is also with compassion that I forgave myself for letting my social slice narrow down to the bare minimum. I didn’t get out much this year. I recognized that I’m the type to isolate and be perfectly happy alone so I made it a priority to attend gatherings to uplift my spirit, and give me shelter from the storms that brew when I sit inside my mind too long. I made sure to attend support groups, as well as help facilitate support groups. I hung with my few good friends and said yes to new experiences as long as they did not distract me from my work of love. But I didn’t do too much outside of my comfort zone. However, I embraced my quirks and fought hard to remain true to my truths and my values even if it felt uncomfortable, even if others couldn’t receive and accept me for me. I learned to love again and I didn’t rely on anything or any one person to give me that kind of power, I held the courage to grow within myself all along.
I realized that foundationally, spiritually, I had my work cut out for me. It’s hard to choose love when there’s so much hate and fear and animosity all around you. This year I’ve seen many friends become enemies, I’ve seen overt calamity and chaos at levels I hadn’t wanted to fully acknowledge before. It left me very disheartened and fighting feelings of hopelessness. However, I am the type that when I really feel resistance I eventually let myself feel it and all of the fear, worry, and angst right along with it. I confront my negative emotions, I make a decision to do what I feel is life-giving even though it’s hard, even though I get angry, discouraged, and disappointed sometimes. Even as I have to acknowledge that I may not be around to see the seeds planted take root and grow. It seems to me that as society swings from one side of the pendulum to another I have to hold fast to my great commission. I have to remain true to who I am and what I’m here for until I can’t anymore. So while I’d acknowledged the many different set of belief systems that weren’t necessarily in alignment with mine as best I could, I fought to transcend anyone’s box or side of the fence they think I should be on. This year has been tons of learning, collaborating, acting and then finding time for restoration and readying myself for activation time again.
When I reflect back about what I’ve written about purpose, these words come to mind: awareness, acknowledgment and experimentation, courage, mastery, and embodiment. There’s more but I’ll leave it here for now.
As I head into 2018, I hope to take with me the many lessons I’ve learned about taking a concerted effort for love in action and continue to apply it in practice and policy. I hope to take what I’ve learned about exertion rather than apathy and explore creative ways to live awake as much as possible, to be a part of helping others live awake as much as possible, and always staying focused on the message, mission, and ongoing work of love.
Until Next Time…Peace, Love, and Wellness!
Oh! By the way, if you want to learn more about the blogger of this post feel free to check out my about page.