2018 Year End Reflection and My 2019 "Word of the Year"

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I struggled with this year’s reflection.  The word I chose for 2018 was freedom.  This year I’ve never felt less free.  In fact, I’ve felt incredibly dependent and held captive.   How do I sum this year up in so many words?  Did I even manifest my word for 2018?  As I began to write this reflection, I realized that freedom did manifest in my life this year but not in the way I anticipated.

“I CLAIM THE FREEDOM TO BE AUTHENTICALLY AND UNAPOLOGETICALLY ME AND TO WALK INTO THIS YEAR WITH THE EXPECTATION THAT THE FREEDOM I DESIRE SHALL BE GIVEN TO ME AS LONG AS I CONTINUE TO DO THE WORK”- D. Sanders (2017 Year End Reflection)

That was my bold declaration for the year. Freedom from negative thoughts and toxic relationships, Freedom from the shame of my past mistakes and heartaches of failed relationships and freedom from self-doubt, fear and financial struggles. It sounded good at the time.  One thing I notice about the “One Word Challenge” is that as soon as I make my declaration, I’m hit with something to throw me off in the first quarter of the New Year.   This year was no different.  The beginning of the year brought cancer into our household.  A close family member was diagnosed with cancer and it tested my faith.  I was angry and scared. I had never entertained the possibility of losing this person and it forced me to confront one of my biggest fears.  Thank God for my mom. She shows me what real supernatural faith and love looks like. I watched her quietly.  I watched her pray. I watched her stay positive in her thoughts and actions. I watched her still living as if cancer wasn’t at our door step in the body of our loved one.  She was powerful in her praise and her faith and I watched in amazement as my mom continued to LIVE in the midst of her fears.  She continues to teach me without saying a word.  

The Takeaway: Freedom is to continue to LIVE in the midst of your fears and in spite of them.

FREEDOM FROM FEAR AND SELF DOUBT…

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From the moment I started sharing my writing, poetry, music with the world, I’ve been gripped with fear.  Fear of being vulnerable, fear of exposing my heart to strangers, fear of rejection, fear of judgement…I grew tired of feeling that way and promised myself I’d do things, I didn’t want to do and challenge myself to step out of my comfort zones.   This year I did that. Sometimes I succeeded and other times I failed but I was taking that step. With each moment I stepped closer to becoming the writer and artist I want to be.  I was allowing people to see more of me…authentically. Losing that mask and the image and allowing people to see me flawed, imperfect and sometimes wacky; it was all me.   Stepping out of my comfort zones allowed me to step into new experiences.  I became to official blogger to two large music events that exposed me to more people.  In those two jobs, I realized my words connect.  I wrote a song about my love of house music and released it and it shot to the top of the charts! It was even named one of the best of 2018! Becoming fearless in my writing and my music allowed me to grow and become more confident in my gifts.

At the end of 2017, I was on a high because I was asked to co-lead the Chicago branch of a blogging network. We started the year off strong with new members, excitement and great events.  I was proud to be part of something I believed in so strongly.  That feeling was short lived when the organization dissolved with no warning or explanation.  I felt defeated because so much work had gone into building our network and it seemed as if it was for nothing.  I wanted to start my own network but once again fear gripped my spirit.  Self-Doubt crept in and whispered, “You think you can really do this”?   Standing on the belief that Chicago has a wealth of creatives, I created the Black Bloggers Chicago network.   We are starting over and rebuilding a network of content creators and a community.   There’s a lot of work involved but it’s ours and we control it.  We have the power to build it into something special and I’m up for the challenge.  I still have moments of fear and self-doubt. I’m not 100% there yet.  I’m still an introvert but I’m getting better at allowing people to get to know me and that has brought new friendships and new relationships into my life that I know I would not be open to previously.   

The Takeaway: Freedom from fear allowed me to grow into new spaces and places and embrace my gifts. Freedom from fear allowed me to find my voice and be unapologetic in expressing my thoughts and beliefs.

FREEDOM FROM TOXIC RELATIONSHIPS, THE SHAME OF PAST MISTAKES AND THE HEARTACHE OF FAILED RELATIONSHIPS…

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I’ve discussed my past relationships before on this website.  An abusive marriage, toxic friendships and a end to a  long term relationship with a narcissist left me very broken and hardened.  At the end of last year, I was at a crossroads.  I had an eye opening moment of clarity in the midst of an awful display of hurt and anger and it forced me to confront some things that had been buried very deep.   I knew I wasn’t ok and I knew I wanted to release these emotions and feelings in a healthy way but I didn’t know how.  At the beginning of the year, I sought help.  I went to a therapist to unpack some stuff.   My therapist helped me get to the root of my heartache and it was only then that I was able to start to do the work of removing that hurt, pain and shame from the inside of me. I call it “soul surgery” and my therapist gave me the tools.  My only goal this year was to get back to the woman I was “before those relationships”.   As I proceeded to do the work, I realized I’ll never be that woman again and it’s ok.  I can be the woman I am with new wisdom and clarity while evolving to the woman I want to be.  I wanted a heart that was ready to be open and vulnerable with another.  I started dating again this year unexpectedly but I have to admit, I’ve enjoyed it.  I’ve become more open and slowly those guards are falling down.  Walking around with a cold heart was placing me in captivity. 

The Takeaway:  There is freedom in love and allowing yourself to be loved.

FREEDOM FROM FINANCIAL STRUGGLE…

I said this would be my last year struggling but I was wrong.  This year was even harder than last year.  My daughter was graduating and her expenses were high!   Tuition payments, registration fees had me stressed.  I was pouring money into my businesses and not seeing a return on my investment.  I was pouring money into my kids’ education instead of saving for a house. I was feeling like a failure and a loser even though I was hustling hard this year.  Running these websites, making music, writing and guest blogging in addition to working full time with a new promotion and new responsibilities; I was struggling to stay afloat this year but God was faithful and his provision was evident in my life.   My daughter graduated with honors and received a scholarship to a private school that I’d never be able to afford 100%.  My two boys were also awarded scholarships to help with their tuition.  This year my tuition expenses are less so I’m able to save more.  Am I financially free?…hardly but I’m slowly getting to a place where I can begin to plan for my future instead of living check to check.

The takeaway:  Financial Freedom takes patience, time and planning.  Last year, I laid the foundation, this year I build.. until I reach my financial goals.

WRAP IT UP!

2018 allowed me to break free of preconceived notions that I had about myself. I did more than I imagined, I accomplished more than I dreamed and I survived things I thought would break me.  I grew, I built, I loved and I evolved…2018 freed me from the inside out and allowed me to see myself with new eyes.  I’m not there yet but I’m getting there slowly but surely and that’s ok because life is the journey.

I’m LIVING in spite of…

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2019 WORD OF THE YEAR

This year, I chose the word “Intention” as my word for 2019. 

“Intention is a mental state that represents a commitment to carrying out an action or actions in the future. Intention involves mental activities such as planning and forethought.”

This is a year of intention for me.  The goals and plans I’ve set for my life will require moving through this year with intention and focus.   Everything I do will be done with intention with the expectation that it will put me closer to my purpose, destiny and dreams.

So there you have it…2018 reflections and my 2019 word! Happy New Year everyone! 

Are you participating in the One Word Challenge? If so, share your word with me and why you chose it in the comments below!   May 2019 bring new blessings, experiences, opportunities and abundance in every area of your lives!

Until Next Year…

Take care of yourselves and one another

D. Sanders