At the end of last year, I issued a challenge. A challenge to choose one word to sum up what you wanted for yourself for the year 2018. I chose the word “Freedom”. I boldly proclaimed in my blog post, 2017 Year end reflections and 2018 Word of the year.
“I want to be freed…
…freed from negative thoughts
…freed from toxic relationships
…freed from the shame of my past mistakes
…freed from the heartache of failed relationships
…freed from self-doubt
…freed from fear
Let me explain the power of words. Everything I boldly proclaimed I wanted freedom from has come back as a personal test these last 3 months. So here I am at the start of the 2nd quarter of the year and I felt it was time to reflect, take stock, meditate and hit the reset button in a few of these areas.
Freedom means that you let go of negative thinking. I spent the early part of this year actively making sure I kept my thoughts positive but it has been hard. There have been so many things that have happened in just three short months to push me into negative thinking. I’ve started reciting my daily affirmations each morning to help get me back on track. I say them daily and sometimes throughout the day to keep negative thoughts from penetrating my spirit. Truth is my thoughts won’t always be positive because I’m human; however, I am learning ways to quell those negative thoughts and emotions. Sometimes I use them as fuel to push me into a greater part of myself. I’m learning more about the woman I am, who I want to be and how I want to get there.
I kissed toxic relationships goodbye in 2017 and made a conscious effort to keep the energy around me positive. It was important to surround myself with people who make me happy, keep me laughing and encouraged. As a result, I’ve had more enjoyable social experiences. Recently, I found myself surrounded by negative energy and I felt the shift inside of me. I don’t like the person I am when the energy around me isn’t positive, so I limit places I go and people I’m around. However, I’m learning that I can’t always control other’s negative energy and I have to create a force field of positivity around me so as not to absorb that because it has negative effects on my personality. The idea of not allowing other’s negative energy to affect my own has been an ongoing lesson in reclaiming power and authority over my mind and spirit.
The shame of past mistakes and the heartache of failed relationships
The hardest thing for me to do is to forgive myself. I’m very hard on myself and when I make bad choices or bad decisions in life and love, I tend to treat myself poorly. This year I let it go and actually forgave myself and agreed to be better and do better. Sometimes it’s just that simple. Let it go and release it. Mistakes happen and are a part of life but I can’t use that as a crutch that inhibits my ability to love again. I have days when I think about love lost or the mistakes I’ve made but I use them as moments of reflection and think of ways to avoid being in that situation again. I use my past mistakes as teachable moments that allow me to grow in wisdom and maturity. I’ll be honest, I’m not there yet. I still am quite mistrusting of people and their intentions. I’m guarded and harder than I’ve ever been and I’m trying to “soften” my heart but I have a lot of work to do.
This year, I had specific goals to be out of the red by the end of 1st quarter. I’m almost there. It looks like that will be closer to June but its ok. I’m in a better position than a few months ago. Being a single mom of three kids in private school will have you robbing peter to pay Paul most days but I’m determined to get back on track this year financially. I increased my 401k contributions, got a raise and promotion at work and committed to using a portion of my increase to contribute to my “emergency fund” and created a budget that works. Sounds like a plan right?
Ha! Well life hit me with a few “extras”: car repairs, school registration money, unforeseen medical bills and funds that have to be allocated to growing my business! It’s always something isn’t it? So I broke my budget and I’m back at square one…revising and re-allocating my money. Financial freedom requires flexibility and discipline. I just have to stay focused on my long term goal.
I’ve made so many sacrifices financially in order to ensure my children get the best education possible. The amount of tuition I pay is ridiculous but thanks to my children’s hard work and my due diligence in researching every possible financial option, my tuition payments will decrease significantly next school year. I just have to get thru this year before I see some real financial relief on that end. I’m reminded that I’m not in this thing alone, even when I feel like it. God has my back and has always provided a way “out of no way”. I’m just thankful for his continued provision.
Self-Doubt and Fear
I started 2018 motivated. I was tired of being scared to jump out of my comfort zones and I really wanted to take more risks. It’s starting to pay off. I’ve hosted 2 events as regional director of Black Bloggers United that have been successful, I have a monthly gig as a host and poet of a show called, Love and Lust. I’m actively performing my music and poetry regularly and I have new music that will be released soon and my blogs are seeing steady growth. I’m stepping out of my box and growing creatively as a writer, artist and poet. I get nervous and sometimes scared but I’m using that fear as fuel to push me past my limits and boost my confidence. My writing is improving and I’m more comfortable than ever in being transparent with my audience. I feel liberated creatively.
Free from Anger:
I’ve been told I can be a firecracker but I don’t think that’s the case. I do have a temper but it only comes out when I feel attacked or disrespected. As someone with my life experiences, I recognize my “triggers” and do my best to avoid them or manage them in a healthy manner. I spoke on this in my previous blog post, the necessity of anger”. As I said then, Anger is just a side effect of hurt. I’m acknowledging that more. Previously it was hard for me to acknowledge when something hurt me inside. It was part of the armor I suppose. I am still quite upset by liars and disrespectful situations and hate when people try to silence my voice but now I can identify the hurt that lies beneath the surface. That doesn’t mean I don’t get angry anymore but it doesn’t mean that I acknowledge, identify and try to rectify the root cause of that anger and redirect that negative energy. I spent so many years denying being affected by some of my life experiences that I became great at wearing that “I’m OK” mask. I learned last year how heavy wearing that mask can be and vowed to stop doing it. Part of “softening” my heart requires me to purge it from time to time; acknowledging feelings and then releasing them. Anger is a real and often justifiable emotion but it shouldn’t rule over you. It should fuel you…to move into a new level of understanding about yourself, your boundaries, what you will and won’t accept.
2018 hasn’t started the way I hoped it would. It’s been full of challenges that would seek to sideline me from my goals. The vision board I created for this year has been an extreme help because I see it every day and use it as a reminder to stay focused, do the work and allow the universe to let freedom manifest in my life. I can say I’m taking better care of myself. I’m treating myself better. Taking time away when I need it, resting more, enjoying more experiences with my friends and my family and practicing daily self-care. I’m slowly finding my balance and equilibrium and when it gets to be overwhelming, I just hit the reset button and begin again. When I fall back into old habits and old mindsets, I just hit the reset button and begin again. I'm letting go of the need to be perfect and embracing the desire to be authentically me and loving myself through it all.
I’m finding freedom slowly but more importantly, I’m finding myself again.
How’s your 2018 going so far? If you participated in the Word of the Year Challenge? How’s it going so far?
Until next time, Take care of yourselves and one another