Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Moment of Truth - "Settled"

It happened, I mean I know it was meant to happen, but it HAPPENED. 

It finally hit me, that I am no longer in transit, no longer attempting to find my place in life and actually am in fact settled. I arrived back in London after one of the best girlie vacations ever that bridged my globetrotting lifestyle, with my new found home and as I got back to my flat and began unpacking, I just couldn't help but take a moment to sit down and stare at my room. The room that looks nothing like my old apartment and that somehow symbolizes more of who I am than any place I called home before this moment. 

THIS IS ME and THIS IS HOME and the minute the words left my head, severe moments of panic followed. I realized that the comfort of my old life, would be just that. A string of memories, good and bad times and people, love, life and everything in between that all were just a part of a process that was meant to lead me to the life I am now living. So maybe in this moment, where I sat in my room staring at every inch of it, did I finally realize that I could accept everything I had felt, forgiven myself for anything I ever did wrong and come to terms with all that has happened. And yes I mean everything that has happened. 

For so long I resisted the things that were happening. For so long in my life, did i hold onto things that I knew deep down, were not either meant to be or good for me or any of that sort of thing and all because I was afraid of living my own life, of listening to my voice, to following the beat of my very own drum and to just letting go and walking blindly into the future. I was afraid of me. And maybe because it's like that poem by Marianne Williamson: 

" Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

I was afraid of my own power, I was afraid that the things I wanted most were things I was capable of getting, having and living, and more so because all i could think of was if I would ever be able to hold onto the things that I wanted most, or if i would get them, enjoy a brief moment of joy, which would then be followed by an instant explosion of my world crashing down as those wants, dreams and desires suddenly left. And that's just the thing. I had already experienced this, that is the sudden explosion. So maybe, I thought as I sat in my room staring at all the little details of my creative home projects, did it not matter, if I fell again or if I went down a path that was not meant for me and the universe had to do what it had to do, to make sure I got back on the one that was right for me. I am a survivor, just the way Destiny's Child sings it, so now that I have settled, fallen in love with my life and surroundings, what do I have to lose?

In the months I have been in London, I have picked several quotes to serve as my mantra's to help me with all the change. From "I can and I will" to "Let Go" and to "Discipline is just choosing between what you want NOW and what you want MOST" each of these has served a purpose and has helped me "settle" and now that I am settled, I think it's time for a new mantra: 

"Fall in Love with the Process and the Results will come"

Which means that even when you don't have the answers or are capable of making a decision yet, you just have to fall in love with the daily moments, clues and hints and know that you will eventually get there.  

Signing off as the luckiest girl in the world and asking you all to think about where you are today and all that has led you to this moment. Life and this universe thing are crazy, but also insanely amazing, so enjoy today and know that its leading you to tomorrow :)

- A  

Monday, June 9, 2014

An Ode to My Daddy - Happy Father's Day

I think I will hate myself for this tomorrow morning as I am getting yelled at to run faster during this ridicules #barrysbootcamp class I have signed myself up for. But I had to do it. 

Today, the whole day just seemed like this weird turn of events and pathways that led me to this inspiring evening that lit this incredible fire in me. I wanted to drive the tube home and run as fast as I could, just to make it to this computer, so that I could just spill out the words oozing inside of me. It was one of those moments when I walked through my flat door where I wished I could pull the "boy", you know drop your pants, unbutton your dress shirt, brush your teeth and be pj and home body ready. Clearly that didn't happen, especially since I scrubbed every corner of my flat this weekend. But none the less, at last I am sitting in the comfort of my flat, neatly placed at my lap top, rambling away, aren't all you people in cyber space JUST THAT LUCKY?

I wanted to get this out and while I know Father's day is not yet till this weekend, this evening's events made me want to do this now, so that I could capture every bit of the gratitude, love and happiness inside of me. And what better way to get this all out then in a form of an old school letter to my daddy, to just say "Happy Father's Day" you are the best, but not only the best, you are truly the BESTEST AND MOST SPECIALIST FATHER EVER.  So here we go: 

Dear Daddy, 

Sorry firstly that I didn't return your call today, the day just sort of slipped away. But none the less I wanted to tell you about this incredible evening I had that made me think only of you and all you have done for me, for us, for our family. Tonight I went to the screening of a film called girl rising. It is a documentary that focuses on young girls in the developing world and their fight to gain not only a "normal" life but an education. While tragic, it was beautiful and at its core extremely empowering. 

But how this whole thing ties to you, and how I came to think only of you during this film, was when they featured this one little girl from India. The father of this girl, had moved his family from their secure and safe village to the busy, crazy streets of India just to make sure that they, his kids, could get an education and make something of their lives. The whole story, had me in tears and primarily because I could in those moments remember all the late nights you worked, the dreaded math books you made us do and all the summer / christmas holidays that were spent doing extra homework and reading science books. I could see in those moments how much you pushed us to do more and more because you too wanted us to just be, be something, be someone, leave a mark, make a difference and live the life that you dreamed for us. It was in these moments that I felt the luckiest I have ever felt to be your daughter and to be thankful for all the times you challenged me to do better, to really think about the choices I was making and to live to my greatest potential, even if it meant standing in front of a mirror and lecturing myself 100 times over. 

We have had a crazy ride, these past couple of years. And while I know there are moments, words or events we wish we could do over, the reality is I wouldn't change a thing. Especially since it all led me to this very evening where I could for the first time in my life witness everything you really have strived hard to give us. 

So with out continuing to ramble on, I do want you to know that not only did this evening make me see all these great things in the father I have, it also made me realize who I want to be in this world and the mark I hope to leave. And while it is something I want to hold close to my heart for awhile, I will tell you that it will make you proud, it will make you feel like all the hard work, the annoying lectures, and repeated words were all worth it in the end. Because i did listen this whole time, even if I pretended not to. 

Thank you for being the best daddy ever. 

Love you always. 

And there you have it, an ode to my daddy. And now, yes now, I turn to you all out there and encourage you all to do the same. Get a piece of paper and a pen and just pour your heart out. Tell your daddy, or that special father figure in your life just how much they mean to you. 

Tonight made me see how women make the world go round and while I am a strong advocate of that, I will say that the support of a man too helps that rotation a bit more. So its important that we embrace, love and cherish the father figures in our lives. 

Happy Father's Day :)

- A

Monday, June 2, 2014

Celebrating the Start of This FRESH NEW YEAR - yea you heard right, I said FRESH NEW YEAR

Its almost been 8 years to the date. That momentous date, where I stood in front of all my fellow classmates and belted out what I thought was an inspiring set of words. My university commencement address, was one of the most monumental moments for me in my life, a journey that I didn't really realize that I had always been on, but since it has happened, I know that it was meant to be this climatic moment that would be this constant reminder for me in my life as I continued forward that dreams really did come true. 

I know I must sound like nerd central, but after being beat out in 8th grade for the valedictorian spot by a classmate whom only won because the teacher went about the voting the wrong way and then again being beat out in my final year of high school because of the tight candidate race, I just WANTED MY TURN TO COME. And in reality I never entered University thinking it was a possibility, I figured High School was my last real shot. I mean in University I thought that managing school and my attempt at being cool would take up so much of my time that in my mind I just wanted to finish and decent enough that some employer would want to hire me. 

But as luck would happen my desire to be good at everything and anything, made me stick out and landed me in front of what seemed like millions of people, with the important task of inspiring for the future. JESUS. Talk about a load on your back. At the time I was just focused on getting through my speech with out stumbling and freaking out, but in retrospect I wonder if any of the professors and the dean knew what the hell they were doing when they picked me, LITTLE OLD ME. 

Regardless, I did deliver, I didn't have any voice cracks and that image of everyone staring at me from the audience will forever be embedded in my mind. And it's because of all this, that every year around this time I seem to get all nostalgic and feel this need to celebrate with the millions and billions of people graduating around the world. I take this time of year, as my true new year - the ending of all of the great things that have happened since the fall and the beginnings of the new somethings beautiful to come. 

And what better way to celebrate this time of year, then to sit in front of Youtube and watch HOURS AND HOURS of commencement addresses by all the famous people that have had some major influence over us in the past year. While I know there are many more to be posted, I have to say that so far none of them to date have let me down - I have laughed my ass off, cried, attempted to run for the hills and danced to the memories of the songs that were hot when I was a teen thanks to PDiddy's address at Howard U.

All of them have made me reflect, but I would say that Sandra's Bullock's speech is the one that has had me thinking the most. I have often talked about what I would tell my younger self - the crazy kid, the lost teenager and girl trying to figure out what this life thing is. But what I have never considered, or even asked you all out there - is What about the person that graduated from University / College or anything alike. That age, that early 20's, high as a kite, ready for the world, scared as hell person. What would you tell them now? And about the real world, the world that can suck you up and rip you to shreds and at the same time let you feel and experience things that you quite possibly never even dreamed were true. 

I graduated thinking I was the BOMB. And then i walked into my first day of work and met a group of people that had seen and lived so much more than I could have ever imagined. And it took me from feeling amazing all the way to feeling like the most insecure human possible - I couldn't even imagine or begin to imagine how this life thing would work out and how I could ever have thought i would be okay. And so I think of that girl, and what i would tell her today, especially knowing about how the eight years that have followed have gone. 

And here is what i have managed to come up with. 

Dear Me, you know the early 20 something version of me, that is totally in love with the wrong guy and 100% overwhelmed about how you will top that big moment that you just had as your University Valedictorian. Before I say too much, I should just start with a "it's going to be okay" and not in that parental, I have to tell you that to make you feel better kinda way, I mean it in the real way. After all I am looking at you from 8 years in the future, and girl you have no idea about HOW AMAZING your life is going to be. Now I am not one to sugar coat anything, so I will tell you point blank that at this very moment you are so overwhelmed with wanting everything and anything at once that you will lose yourself in it all. And you will spend years trying to figure it out. But that's okay. Because in attempting to figure it all out, you will test your limits, your boundaries, spread your wings and see some of the most beautiful places in the world and inspire more people than you will ever know. Your heart is what will keep people around you forever and your ability to just have some good banter and challenge everyone that comes into your life will act as the magnetic pull. You will meet tonnes of great people, fall in love a million times over, vie to see the best in everyone, let go of some friendships you thought would be around forever, but in the end at this 8 year mark, your life will be so beautiful, fresh, positive and full of more love than you can imagine. All the people, experiences, tears, laughs, moments of frustration will eventually bring you to a point, where you wake up get ready, walk out the door and take one deep breath and understand why everything happened as it did. It will all come together and you will understand that it was because you were so lost in the overwhelming feeling of entering this next phase of life that you wound up taking the journey you did. So that is what I want to tell you, dear 20 something version of me. It will be okay and all the things you dreamed about, even that fairy tale story, will happen. This universe thing has a funny way of working out and in all the mess, just smile and know that it's going to be okay - you just have to stay focused, strong and reminding yourself that you gotta enjoy all these adventures, because when that real realistic part of life, with the mortgage, kids and an annoying husband come into play you will lay awake escaping to these moments just to break away from those real life responsibilities. Don't give up and most of all don't be afraid to step away from it all, enjoy the moments where you can hear yourself and really allow yourself that first voice. If there is anything I can leave you with it is that - never stop listening to what your head, your heart and your mind are saying in one. Trust your instincts, because just like that valedictorian address you gave some time ago, when you believe and trust your gut dreams do come true. They really do. NOW SMILE, GO OUT THERE, SHAKE WHAT YOUR MOMMA GAVE YOU AND CONTINUE TO BE THAT DREAMER, OVERACHIEVER, WORLD SEEKER, GOOFY WOMAN that you are. 

And that's that. 

So now what would you tell that version of you? I challenge you all to slow it down, take some time to reflect and pen an old fashioned note to yourself and then fold it up, place it in a hiding spot and like a time capsule, give yourself some random timeline and then has a group in cyber space let's revisit those words some time away from now and relish at how wise we were and how much wiser we will become. 

Here is to growing up, realizing our potentials and most of all letting go and starting a new in this fresh new year. 

- A