“When we fill our schedules with appointments and hands with phones, we divest ourselves of downtime. When we’re endlessly doing, it’s hard to be mindful of what we’re doing.” —Janet Choi
Thanks to Hercules, Mother Nature and homeboy Jack Frost, 2014’s arrival has been a frosty affair of brisk body slams and chilled to the bone shivers. As much as I wanted to get this new year started off in a blaze of unfettered Can’t stop, Won’t stop glory, my gangsta boogie has been a mere teeter-totter of a shimmy, shimmy… no ya. This Polar Vortex had me feeling more sluggish than ever! I have to drag myself out of bed every morning. I don’t dare unfurl from my duvet until I’m stepping in a shower so steamy I can’t even see my feet. And yea I made it to church last Sunday, the first Sunday of the year, but hold your applause. I was almost 30 minutes late and missed the church announcements (y’all know you can’t miss the announcements in a Black Baptist church). And I’ve seen neither hide nor hair of the gym. The only exercise I’ve done is exercising my right to push my snooze button.
I guess this is the point where I’m supposed to say how disappointed I am in myself and get my rant on about how many resolutions I’ve already broken, but I’m grown and at a point in my life where I’m ok with not getting caught up in the hype of being a Superwoman. I didn’t even make any resolutions– haven’t done that in about six years. I don’t like when I’m not my best self, but I don’t beat myself up when I’m not. I have bad days, some bad nights too, but I understand that when the going gets tough, the tough sometimes just need to lean back, exhale and pour a glass of Pinotage.
And also when it’s 4 degrees outside, something protective and knowing in me clicks on. Seriously, how many of you just said, “Eff that!” this first week, and decided to get your swerve on next week? Personally, I know that much of my resilience stems from being self-aware and knowing and embracing my limits.
Blood, sweat and tears is a powerful piece of speech writing and no doubt much of our success has emerged from a work ethic defined by a non-stop grind that leaves our feet swollen, our brains drained, our backs in need of a crack, and our emotions turned inside out. It’s the American way. When I see 12 and 13-year olds with luggage-size book bags and they’re doing all-nighters in the 7th grade, something is wrong. We have somehow found the need to live our lives like we are in bootcamp. There is honor in sleepless nights, having high blood pressure, not taking lunch breaks, having more than one cell phone and break-of-dawn emailing. As Janet Choi mentions in her fantastic essay, our “busyness” has become our new virtue and frankly, I think it’s all a bunch of crap. Unhealthy, unreasonable, non-satisfying stinky crap!
On New Year’s Eve before I danced the night away, I wrote a letter to myself. In it I made commitments to myself—things I will do for my mental, emotional and physical enrichment. I don’t resolve to lose weight. I commit to be more mindful of what I eat. In my letter I make a commitment to people whom I feel I need to connect with more. I give thanks for both abundance and scarcity because in both I commit to finding out more about myself. I always make two copies of this letter. One letter I seal, mail to myself and open on New Year’s Day (a tip I got from my godmother) and the other, I keep in a folder. Sometimes I forget about the letter I mailed to myself and when things get rough I have to pull out that other letter before January 1st and remind myself of my commitments because these commitments remind me that I AM ENOUGH.
When I remember that I am enough, it’s okay that I’m tired. It’s okay that I only crossed off one item out of the 15 on my list of Things To Do. It’s funny because as I’m writing this I realize that the title of this post totally describes our condition when we are born (and yes, it’s also a subtle stab to that reality show). When we come into this world we are bathed in our mother’s blood, sweat and crap. That’s it. And ironically, we could not be any more significant than we are in that very moment. No business cards, no fancy red carpets, no Facebook pages (well hopefully not), yet we are enough.
Now I’m not saying we don’t have to grind and work hard, but let’s be mindful to not let our hustle define our flow (lol). When we value ourselves by how busy our schedules are, we find ourselves disappointed and beat ourselves up when we don’t do anything or don’t get it done fast enough and that’s a scary place to be. Feeling like a failure because you actually took a lunch break is a set-up, which will have you acting and in-turn being treated like an inconsequential machine. At least twice a week get out of your office and eat and relax. Trust me, your esteem and value will skyrocket. Six years ago, my comrade and neighbor, Harriette Cole, said to me upon hearing of my father’s transition, “Be gentle with yourself!” It is some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten and I reflect on it every New Year’s Eve when I write my commitment letter. So when Hercules wants to bum rush my city with icicles, I’m aight with not being motivated to go to the gym or making it to the laundromat. And when I do grind, I try to do it not for the bragging rights of busting my as$ or to be fashionably exhausted, but because the passion of my work propelled me to do so. For me, that is what makes a woman (or man) super. Happy New Year!