Cultivate: My 2021 Word of the Year

Cultivate in horticulture is defined as preparing and using the land for crops or gardening. It’s secondary definition is trying to acquire or develop (a quality, sentiment, or skill). In other words in order to cultivate something you have to be intentional. Nothing can be left to chance. The land won’t sprout crops on it’s own, you have to prepare it. You won’t just wake up with all the qualities and skills you want, you have to develop them. The seeds I planted in 2020 and before, must be cultivated if I want to see real change.

In this final year of my 20’s I see myself as a sapling on the precipice of becoming a tree. I just need a little bit more water, sunshine, and fertilizer to get there. Does this mean that when I turn 30 everything will be perfect? Of course not. A tree must still gain buds that turn into blossoms before bearing fruit. But before I get to point I have to do the work.

In 2021 I want to cultivate…

Creativity: I don’t work in a traditional “creative” field (although working with small children you are forced to get creative everyday) but I am a creative person and need an outlet. That is the reason I decided to get back to blogging. I’ve loved writing since I was a kid and it’s one of the few things I always felt came naturally to me. I’ve planned and set dates for posts for the first quarter of 2021. I’ve made use one of the several abandoned notebooks I have laying around and designated it for blogging notes. So we’ll see how it goes!
Another creative hobby of mine is singing. It was my goal last year to sing at a open mic but then the world shut down. But before that I was attending open mics with a friend and trying to figure what song I would sing. That will continue in 2021 and maybe if things go well it will be safe to spend time in a bar or coffee shop. Until then I have a karaoke app where I sing and continue searching for that perfect song.

Rest: I’m what you would call an evening person. That’s someone who isn’t quite a night owl but isn’t an early bird. I have to be at work before the sun rises completely and I don’t leave until it’s nearly set. It’s a long day, and I don’t get enough rest. It’s hard for me to get up in the morning, but it’s also hard for me to get to bed at a reasonable time. Because I struggle in the morning I need an extra 15 minutes just to muster the will to get out of bed. I also need a full hour of wind down time in my bed to fall asleep. I NEED A NIGHTIME ROUTINE. I know without a doubt this will be the hardest one for me. If you have any tips or tricks please reach out. I have a 3 hour window between when I get home from work and when I need to get in bed.

Play: This one is tricky as we don’t yet know what’s going to happen with Corona, this vaccine, and when the world will be safe again. I did not leave the state of Georgia at all in 2020 so it’s my intention to travel in the Spring, domestically at least. My goal is to set aside funds for this travel.

Meaningful Work: I love teaching but it isn’t the most lucrative job. So my goal is to find a side hustle that not only helps pay off these student loans but is also something I enjoy. Ideally it would be something that has flexibility, and is worth the effort monetarily.

Peace of Mind: I have come a long way with my anxiety (shout out to therapy) but I still find sometimes my mind racing about things that either don’t matter, I can’t control, or are situations I’ve imagined. I’ll think about it all day to the point that I’m no longer engaging in the present. Then when I get home I can’t sleep because my mind is still buzzing with what if’s. I’ve used meditation in the past to help with this but for whatever reason I threw aside this tool in 2020. I want to cultivate a meditation habit so when the anxiety comes as I know it will, it won’t affect my entire day.

Self-discipline: As a procrastinator with a perfectionist complex and who’s also on the lazy side self-discipline is especially tough. How do you become more disciplined? Is there an app or a podcast? Maybe a Ted-talk? I’m sure there’s all those things. And I’m sure I’ve listened/used to them all. But I still struggle. If I want to accomplish any of things I’ve listed I have to be disciplined, keeping in mind that it won’t happen overnight. It’s hard to start a new habit but I know myself well enough to recognize that if I want it badly enough I will find a way.

I’ve always known what kind of person I wanted to be and I’m willing to do the work to get there. Today is only day 1 of 365, plenty of time for me to fall and get back up again. This could very well be another trash year but I’m going to grow either way.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Hey 2017, Thanks for Nothing

2017 was a year that the entire world couldn’t wait to begin after a tragic 2016. But little did we know that while we sipped champagne and sang Auld Lang Syne, or if you’re like me nursed a cold and binge-watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer to bring in the new year, that 2017 was not going to be that much better. 2017 brought more mass shootings, more hate crimes, more disasters, a truckload of sexual misconduct allegations, and let’s not forget that Cheeto puff who leads this country showed us just how awful he is.

This worsening of the things in the world was mirrored in my personal life. Everything that cracked in 2016 crumbled in 2017 and I find myself headed into 2018 with very little hope. This is unusual for me, I may not get into Christmas or Thanksgiving but I actually really like New Years. All that hope and excitement of a new beginning usually warms my heart. But this year a cold wind passes through me where my heart used to be.

Honestly, I’m scared of 2018. I’m scared that the Trump administration will continue to step on the necks of the marginalized. I’m scared that another disturbed person will take a gun to a crowded concert, or mow down pedestrians on the street. I’m scared that white supremacists will find new and terrifying ways to spread their message of hate. I’m scared that wildfires will continue to ravage southern California. I’m afraid that more people will die in the Middle East. I’m afraid that I won’t find hope again. I’m afraid that my depression will worsen. I’m afraid that 2018 will be just as heartbreaking as 2017.

So how do you respond when the world is a garbage can rolling downhill?

Some of us will run to our faith and hold on for dear life. Some of us will throw ourselves into some kind of human service. Some of us will turn to drugs and alcohol. Some of us will take our own lives.

How will I respond? Not sure yet.

So here’s to you 2017. Thanks for showing us that things can definitely get worse. And 2018 for God’s sake please have mercy.

Photo by Kristopher Roller via unsplash

My Top 5 Books of 2016

2016 was a great book year, I read a total 25 books this year and they were all good but I’ve narrowed it down to my top 5.

 

2016 was a great book year, I read a total 25 books this year and they were all good but I’ve narrowed it down to my top 5.

  1. The Line by J.D. Horn
    The Line is the story of Mercy Taylor a magic-less girl in a family of witches. After the family’s matriarch is murdered Mercy is thrown into the center of the upheaval that follows. This is book 1 in the Witching Savannah series.
    I listened to this book and it really made Horn’s writing come alive. This story kept me on the edge of my seat with its twist and turns. I loved the main character Mercy, she was strong and witty. I recommend this book for those of you who love fiction but may be looking for something different. Or those who love supernaturally themed books.
  2. All The Ugly And Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
    This novel follows the life of Wavy, the daughter of a meth dealer and a meth addict. She strikes up an unlikely friendship with Kellen one of her father’s thugs. As Wavy grows up their relationship changes into even more unlikely romance.
    This book grabbed me from page 1 if I’d had more time I likely would’ve read the book in a few days. Greenwood is the daughter of drug dealer herself and her writing was startling straightforward. She dived into the most depraved parts of her characters minds without hesitation. Wavy and Kellen were unique characters that I won’t soon forget.
  3. Helen Of Sparta by Amalia Carosella
    We all know Helen of Troy as the woman that empires warred over. But in this story we get to know Helen before she became that woman, when she was just Helen a willful princess of Sparta. Betrothed to a man of questionable sanity, Helen sets out to find a different husband. Men from far and near come to get a chance to marry the most beautiful woman in the world. But only one man steals her heart.
    I loved that someone finally thought to give Helen her own story apart from Troy. Carosella makes Helen out to be a woman who knows her own mind, desperate to be in control of her life. I admired her persistence for changing her fate when most woman in her position would’ve given up.
  4. The Mothers by Brit Bennett
    This story centers around 3 black teenagers in a tight knit church community in Southern California. Nadia, her best friend Aubrey, and her boyfriend Luke who also happens to be the pastors son. When Nadia finds out that she’s pregnant, her and Luke are faced with a tough decision. That decision will have lasting effects on everyone’s lives.
    Narrated by the “Mothers” of the church, I was drawn back to my own childhood in southern California when I went to a small black church. Brit Bennett is a masterful writer, every sentence was like a piece of poetry. She’s inspired a life long fan in me, I will be on the lookout for her next book.
  5. The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon
    Natasha & Daniel could not be more different, they’ve grown up in separate worlds but those worlds clash on one fateful day in New York City. But their new love is threatened by the fact that in 12 hours Natasha will be deported back to Jamaica.
    There were so many elements to this novel that made it more than you average love story. Not only did tell the story of Natasha & Daniel, but it also peered into the minds of the cast of characters they meet that day. Also interracial romances in YA books are kind of rare (Daniel is Korean) so it was a nice thing to see. I read that it will be turned into a movie, I hope it does the book justice because it was amazing.

What are some of your favorite book this year? And what are some of new releases your looking forward to in the 2017? 🙂

Goodbye 2016, We Won’t Miss You.

We have to live the best lives possible… The world is crazy and there’s no way to know what’s going to happen tomorrow. Let’s make 2017 the year we shrug off all our fear and anxieties, live passionately and purposely.

via Daily Prompt: Hopeful

 

2016 was an interesting year to say the least. The terrorist attacks in Europe and Orlando, the deteriorating situation in Aleppo, the shootings of black people by police and the shootings of police in reaction. Then there was the election, Brexit, the deaths of many pop culture icons, and that whole killer clown thing.
The general mood of 2016 was that it was a terrible year, that things are worse than they’ve ever been. Personally, this past year reminds me of that saying “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Because it’s always been this awful it’s just that now social media and 24 hours news cycles keep the bad news constantly in our faces. Black people have been killed unjustly for hundreds of years, wars where civilians are killed happen plenty, and America has seen it’s fair share of questionable presidential candidates. Death, lawlessness, hatred, murder are and have always  been apart of our world.
So what can we learn from this? What can we take from 2016 into the new year that’s beneficial?

We have to live the best lives possible… The world is crazy and there’s no way to know what’s going to happen tomorrow. Let’s make 2017 the year we shrug off all our fear and anxieties, and live passionately and purposely. Do the things that make you incandescently happy, offer your hand to a neighbor in need. I’m not talking about another meaningless resolution but an actual life change. Let’s not waste one more moment not loving our lives, because this is our only shot at this. Those people in war torn, impoverished countries could only dream of the opportunities that we have right in front of us.

This is not only a call to action to you but to myself as well. 2016 challenged me mentally, emotionally. I found myself depressed by the world and my place in it. I thought to myself “The days are passing so quickly, am I making the most of my time? ”
In the new year I vow to spend less time doing things out of obligation and more time doing things because I actually want to. I want to continue nurturing my gifts, and exploring my passions.

So what’s calling your name in the new year?

2017 is going to be a roller coaster so buckle up, put your hands up and enjoy the ride.

Happy Anniversary!

On this day in 2014 I started my blog. I had no idea what I was doing, all I new was that it felt right, and exciting. We are coming very close to the end of 2015 and as I look back I realize it has been a difficult year. Mostly it has been the growing pains of leaving behind early adulthood and opening the door true adulthood. Things like buying a car completely on my own and getting health insurance. This blog has been here for me every step, as that creative outlet when life was too much.

January 1, 2015 I wrote:

I don’t usually make New Years resolutions but this year I am. My only resolution will be to write more. Hence this blog. I want to use more of my time for my passion. I don’t know exactly what 2015 will hold but I know with God above me and my loved ones beside me it will be everything I want and more.

Well I did write more for sure! I blogged consistently every month and I journaled. My passion for writing and especially poetry grew. But was it everything I wanted? Well…I don’t know. I found myself about midway through in a job that I didn’t enjoy, struggling in my classes, never too far away from tears and trying but failing to get a good nights sleep.

Summer brought some new experiences though. I went on a trip without any family, just friends. I went white water rafting, which was super fun. I was invited to a few parties and celebrations. It was a good summer.wp-1449592834167.jpg

Fall was a killer. With every fallen leaf my depression grew. I think I cried  to God more in the months of September and October than ever before in my life. I tried therapy for the first time ever and I learned that I needed to make time for the things I enjoyed, especially if most of my day consisted of things that I didn’t. Also I needed to learn to be okay with not being okay and to be honest I’m still working on that one. My blog during this season fell to the bottom of my priorities, there just isn’t enough time in the day. But like a good friend the blog is still here even when I neglect it.

I have high hopes for 2016, I mean if its not better than 2015 then I’m just going to throw in the towel. I’ll call quits on life, curl up into a little ball and lay there until I starve to death. I’m kidding of course, but barely. I’m ready for this pre-quarter life crisis to end before my actual quarter life (25th birthday) begins. So prayers up dear friends to only gains in 2016!