Pack your belongings, 2013!

Alternately titled: 2013: Bye, Ashy!

2013 was a shitty year, yo. I began the year unemployed, (& semi-homeless) PLUS one of my favorite people passed 19 days into this fuckass year. The majority of this year has been about picking up the pieces of a shattered life and trying to make some sense of it again. Through all of the fuckery though, I’ve learned a few lessons that I’d like to share with the 1.5 people who aren’t me that happen to read this blog every now and again.

1. Clear communication is *Jay-Z voice* SO NECESSARY!
You would think that this would be a common sense type of thing for most adults, but I’ve had the most kerfuffles this year due to a lack of clarity. In some cases, intentions and expectations were not effectively laid out to me, so I ended up offending and eventually losing some folks. In other cases, I did not clearly and efficiently lay out my expectations, leading to one disappointment after another. In order to not bring this mess into 2014, I am pledging to do two things. 1: Use language that cannot in any way be misconstrued; basically being as direct as possible. B: Ask questions when I am unsure of what is really expected of me.

2. Self-preservation is key!
Can we all agree that selflessness is overrated? In the aftermath of the loss of my aunt I tried to be everything to everybody. I put my own grief on the backburner as I consistently tried to be there for her children whenever they needed. In doing so I essentially burnt myself out. I was so wrapped up in making sure everyone else was appeased, that I rarely took time for myself. When I did, I felt guilty and ashamed, then resentful. As we’re coming ‘round the bend of the year’s end, I’ve achieved a better sense of boundaries. I still am there for my cousins and will drop (most) things on a dime to ensure that they are taken care of, but I will no longer neglect me in the process. I know that in order to be the best for them, I have to be the best for myself. Coming to this conclusion was not the easiest or quickest thing to grasp, but I am finally there. Thank God.

3. I can do this writing thing.
I know my way around a word or two. For years friends and acquaintances have said I should write a book, but I never quite felt like my work was good enough. I never even used to share it with others for fear of ridicule. This year, however, I stepped out of my comfort zone and joined a writing critique group. While I have fallen off like bad dope in the past couple of months, the group has been an immense joy to be a part of. For the first time, I had people outside of those who are nearest and dearest to my heart telling me they liked my writing and wanted to read more. Strangers! I had a little Sally Field moment quite a few times when reading feedback. In 2014, I want to rededicate myself to the written word. I plan on immersing myself in literature, my Macbook, and every now and again, le pen & moleskine. My goal is to finish at least one major work/idea that I’ve been stockpiling and possibly self-publish. Quite the undertaking, but it’s time. Hell, truly it’s overdue.

4. Asking for help is not showing weakness.
I’ve had a chip on my shoulder for quite a while when it comes to asking for help. After much reflection, I’ve realized it stems from a desperate need to prove my independence to others. As a kid I got teased quite a bit for being “spoiled”. This teasing dragged all the way into my undergraduate years because, though I worked part-time while attending school w/ an overloaded schedule, my parents still gave me a monthly allowance. I always said that as soon as I got a “big-girl job”, I’d never ask them for anything else because I didn’t want to get more shit from people about being spoiled as an adult. My, oh my how stupid this line of thought was. Living in one of the most expensive cities in America coupled with shitty salaries, this line of thought left me hungry many a day. In the aftermath of my layoff, I eventually had to move back home with my mom. I’m still there as I try to rebuild. The shit is SO humbling. BUT I don’t feel like a charity case and am not putting myself in dire straits just to prove some shit to someone else. I’m taking my time, thankful for the help, as I rebuild my empire—knowing that when it is back in tact, I’ll be able to send all the help right back to those who helped me.

5. Time is of the essence, live in the moment.
I blogged about this recently, but all I will say on it further is that life is too short. Losing my aunt at 42 definitely taught me that. It’s such a cliché, I know. Whatever dream you have, act upon it…barring it being harmful to yourself and/or others. Take that vacation. Kiss that guy/girl. Quit that job (if you’re financially stable). Live your life in the way it is truly meant to be lived and be damned what anyone has to say about it. It’s YOUR life.

6. Don’t let the standards of others dictate how you live.
This kinda intertwines with a couple of the others, so for the sake of redundancy, I’ll just say—self-explanatory.

7. Love fiercely. Laugh frequently. Cry when necessary. Yell if needed. Let your emotions run free.
Do not be afraid of the intensity of your emotions. Take the time to let those whom you love know it often. Say it with words. Show it with your actions. Be a human manifestation of love. Embrace being a beacon of light for those who may be in shadowy times. Bask in the glow. Do not be afraid to parcel out your love to those you deem worthy and snatch it back from those who do not appreciate. Do not hide from love. This is not to say that you should be overruled by emotion, though. Know when to keep them in check and when to just let them be.

8. There’s no room for apathy in my life.
There’s a lot to be said for necessity as it relates to things in one’s life. If I can’t even be bothered to expend energy toward someone (thing) why the hell should I keep them (it) in my life? NOAP. As Auntie Sweet said “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

Okay this is turning into a Martha Beck penned; Oprah sent newsletter so I’ll wrap this up. All in all, I’m grateful to the people and things that have survived this turd of a year and I look forward to 2014 and whatever it has to bring. It certainly can’t get any worse than the “bird shitting on your head after you just got your hurr did” 2013 I just experienced.

Things I Learned Last Week

I was afforded an amazing opportunity last week. I have to rewind a bit to get to it, so bare (bear? IDK, I always confuse this saying) with me. So if you’re uninitiated, there are three artists on this here Earth that I stan for harder than anything. Janet. The Yoncé. And Kelly Clarkson. The last doesn’t really fit in with the others, but that voice won me over the first second she belted on American Idol. Anyway, through the Kelly thing I’ve been blessed to meet a tremendous amount of people and befriend the best of the best of that bunch. Fast forward to years later and one of the group was getting married. I was honored that a) I was even invited and 2) I was one of few who were able to witness the nuptials as the wedding was a destination extravaganza. I was on the isle of the Dominican Republic for 6 days, 5 nights and LOVED every single second of it.

In the time I spent basking in the sun, body rollin’ and sipping ridiculous amounts of house champagne, I had a series of thoughts that I felt that I needed to share with you all. So here we go…

1) I am ready for love.

At the risk of sounding like that insipid India.Arie song that I hate I think I am finally ready. I’ve been on what I’ve called a dating hiatus for…well let’s just say I think Bush II was in office the last time I was serious about someone. I’ve had dalliances here and there, but no one really managed to capture my heart in any way. I’ve been asked by a few people what’s wrong with me and I’d just get really frustrated. I honestly wasn’t in the headspace where love was a priority for me. If I happened to meet someone, great. But I wasn’t actively seeking it. Sitting on the sidelines seeing some of my girls go through it with their sig oths certainly did not make this any more appealing. At the ceremony, I did one of my favorite things which is taking a peek at the groom as he sees his wife to be for the first time. The huge grin on his face coupled with the love shining in his eyes got me. For the first time in a long time, I immediately thought “WOW. I cannot WAIT to feel like that.” I was taken a aback a bit by the strong rush of emotion, but after marinating on it for a few days. I’m ready to stand in it. So I’m semi on the prowl, looking for prospects LOL. I’m ready to give and receive love.

2) My friends are awesome.

I have been blessed to cross paths with some of the most amazing people in life. We all have our little idiosyncrasies, but I am so thankful to have each of them in my life. I lost a good friend earlier this year over something that now (to me) seems really trivial. Since the dissolution of that friendship however, I am now making a cognizant effort to make sure that I am the type of friend to my friends that I feel like they are to me. I want to make sure they know that I have their backs no matter what. I need them to know that if you call me at 4am souping snot and babbling incoherently, I will be initially annoyed, but will get over it quickly. I want them to know that the word friend is not one I use lightly. Everyone does not get the title and if you hear that word flow freely from my lips in reference to you, then you’re automatically family.

4*) My new life’s philosophy is to LIVE IN THE MOMENT.

Social media has ruined me. Taking this trip put me in a position where I could not Facebook, Tweet, Instagram every second of the awesomeness. I was forced to FULLY be present . I was reminded of when life was simpler and we didn’t necessarily need to let everyone else know how much of a good time we were having, we just had a good time. Before the advent of smartphones, social networking and the incessant need to give the world a bird’s eye view into every aspect of our lives, no matter how much we control what was being shown. I took approximately 20 pictures. Each of them were taken with the mindset of “Ok, dammit I did promise so and so I’d show them parts of my vacation when I got back…” The rest of the time I was reminded of this one video I saw from a Beyonce concert. This kid was in the pit and she was literally 2 feet away from him singing. Instead of vibing and being in the moment, he was snapping photos or videos with his smartphone like a madman. Bey calls him out on it saying something like “I am standing right in front of you. Live in this moment. Put that damn phone down.” I remember laughing so hard at the video, namely because I couldn’t figure out how I would handle the same situation. I mean I’d obviously want people to know I was that close to royalty (*lulz*), but I dunno. Sometimes the memory is just enough. Like I have no photographic proof that Oprah gave me a high ten, but the memory of the moment of being singled out is something that a photograph would never ever be able to convey.

I’ve digressed, but the kids may be onto something with that YOLO shit. Now I’m not getting all wild and crazy, but I now certainly aim to live life in a way that allows me to be present in the moment and soak it all in. Living in the now and giving it all I’ve got is the name of the game right now.


*There is no number three because I don’t like for things to end on odd numbers.