Living Life Purposefully

Where Purpose Meets Passion

Category Archives: Life

Faith Note: What Will You Harvest

orchard in bloom

I spent over ten years of my life running from my issues. I busied myself with doing the necessary work to break damaging cycles in my life; but I did it all with the hope that it would change the people around me. I spent that time focused on the wrong things and the wrong people.

The realization that I needed to work on myself – Me, and me alone – hit me after I spent a year of losing almost everything. After spending time approaching life differently, I’d finally started to feel as though things were working out in my favor. I had a car that I was no longer anxious about driving, I had a better relationship with my Mom and brother even though we didn’t speak much, and I had a job that I was okay with going to.

All of that changed in August 2017. I was stopped while driving for an expired brake tag and things began to unravel quickly in my personal life. My Dad passed away, my car was repossessed, I found out two student loan accounts had gone to collection, and I started to struggle financially. Still? I wouldn’t break. There was a steadfast resolve in my spirit to fix whatever I thought was broken.

That is – until July 2018.

I saw the beginning of my 32nd through blurred vision because I spent the majority of that day and time crying. I felt lost. I felt little hope. I felt invisible and worthless. I felt like I had questions that God refused to answer. And? I felt angry. I felt the kind of anger that burns everything around it until I was exhausted. This anger was the culmination of years of being silent and silenced. There was a lot there and it took a long time to work through it.

Eventually, I did. I would ask God questions until I couldn’t think to ask anything else. The answer would always be the same, “Look at where you are.”

In the beginning, it felt like a mocking reply to someone who was hurting. Over time, I began to realize the instruction meant I needed to realize that where I was – the very place I found myself – was exactly where I needed to be. This was where I was to sow my seeds and wait for the harvest. For someone who spent the better part of her life trying to solve problems and “move on,” this was the hardest thing to do.

“Blessed is the one…whose delight is in the Lord…That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither–whatever they do prospers.” – Psalm 1:1-3

That Bible verse – one I’d read before – seemed to offer a new perspective to my problems. I felt like I was drowning in things trying to fix them when the answer was simple – get out from under my issues. Little by little, I started to forgive myself for my unwillingness to face my problems where I stood. That forgiveness started to chip away at the burdens that my heart felt and it began to open my eyes to different solutions. I started to focus on myself and simply commit to blessing those around me with my words.

As I did, I started to see the first blooms of what was to come. I’m at a point now where I haven’t seen the fruit of my harvest, but I’m determined to be content with what shows up. It took me close to 30 years to begin this necessary work and I’m okay with not rushing the process with my impatience. After all, everything happens in due season whether we are ready or not.

With gratitude,

Ms. C. Jayné


Faith Notes: Into the Fog

Foggy Road

Wow! It’s been a while since I broke out my laptop to share my thoughts here. I think it’s fitting that the first time I’ve sat down to write something has been inspired by uncertainty while praying for a lifestyle makeover in the new year.

A quick confession if you’re new here – I’m a recovering perfectionist (I talk about it here). Part of my problem when it comes to remaining committed to something is worrying the outcome won’t match my idea of success. So? I eventually give things up. However, 2018 showed me that isn’t the way to live. It’s not how God designed me.

“So what am I to do?”

That question has been on my mind since I realized what committing to my purpose would actually look like. I tried different things that didn’t seem to fit my personality, my style, or the way I process emotions. But driving to church on a foggy Sunday morning changed all of that.

As someone who has serious anxiety while driving, I had to chuckle that unfavorable weather conditions made me feel the safest I’d felt on the road in a while. The reason was simple – I couldn’t see the obstacles (other drivers, traffic, etc.) and visibility was reduced to three car lengths ahead at most. I quietly reflected on how this mirrored my spiritual walk: I was fine with knowing my purpose but absolutely terrified if I saw too much of the journey ahead of me. If you’re anything like me, you have probably encountered the same feeling of feeling inadequate for the journey your purpose requires.

Those thoughts all beg the question: how many times have we given up on a dream or ignored the direction of our spirit because we saw the obstacles ahead of us? Like me, you’ve done this more than you care to admit. And? You’re probably starting to realize your forward progress being hampered was more about your fear you’d have to fight the battle before you. While it’s fine for those fears and questions to rise in your spirit, it’s important to remember that you are not on any road that you’re not supposed to be on. There isn’t any direction you can move in that won’t lead you to where you need to go. The question for you to answer is will you continue to try to fight your obstacles yourself; or will you give up needing to know everything and ask God to cover you?

That’s for you to decide.

In 2019, it is my hope you continue to walk into the fog & trust God in ordering your steps. It is my prayer that the fog serves as a reminder that things will work out and whatever needs to be moved out of your path is done before you have to take that step.

With gratitude,

Ms. C. Jayné

God Knows.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you, not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

It’s a beautiful verse. Many people look to it for confirmation of better things to come when going through something difficult. So…here’s the thing — I think we’ve misunderstood the context of that verse because we don’t read the verses surrounding it. In essence, the beginning of Jeremiah 29 is a message to Jerusalem (God’s people). But more than that? It’s a reminder. Jeremiah 29 not only contains messages of joy, peace, and comfort.

It’s instruction of the highest order – it’s God reminding his people of the agreement they made in following him. So let’s talk the key points of these verses, shall we?

I. Prosper Where God Places You

At this time, God’s people were in a foreign place & captivity. The Elders at the time knew WHY they were there (God made it pretty clear) & knew eventually they’d be in a better place. Even in knowing they’d be in a “lower” position socially, God still gave a very clear instruction – THRIVE. They were commanded to live “as if” they had never lost their position as God’s favored. The reality is they hadn’t lost favor even though circumstances suggested they had.

That’s the thing about life. Difficult circumstances manage to convince us that we aren’t worth our weight in gold. Life will suggest we don’t matter. Complicated relationships will blur our vision on who we truly are.

And that’s where we start to ask, “Well, what’s the point?”

The point is that our lives – and who we are really – are our callings and we are to serve God (your Creator as you know of them) even in the most humbling positions. It’s tough but that’s…just how the cookie crumbles.

Live even when you don’t seem to count. Thrive anyhow.

II. There’s No Such Thing as an Unknown Place

Life doesn’t present unexpected circumstances. It’s a series of transactions that follow the formula of “If I do A, then B is a possibility.”

What makes circumstances seem unexpected is that we never expect the worst to happen. We like to bet on the best thing while saying we’ll be ok with just the good. We go through life unfairly using grace, mercy, love, & forgiveness as tools to manipulate people/things to work in our favor. It’s an ugly truth to swallow (I’ve been sitting on this admission for weeks). We apologize with the hope it’s enough to not be held responsible for our behaviors. We pray with hope that a miracle shows up to get out of trouble we shouldn’t be in.

Here’s the thing – accountability matters and you can’t grow to who you are supposed to be running from it. The thing about true, authentic, and actual accountability is that it takes place in parts.

First? You know better. Then? You do better. Finally? You teach what’s better.

This is why you see generationS (plural) of God’s people in captivity. The separation was intentional. The question being asked of you when you’re the foreigner is: “Do you confirm what’s in your spirit or conform to what’s around you?”

Being an outsider tests your commitment to promises you make because it’s easy to get caught up in what the ppl around you do. Not only that but when you’re the “Odd One Out,” your behavior is easier to spot. What you do “right” stands out just as much as what you do “wrong.” And when you stand out? You find yourself explaining why you do things differently more than you’d like.

III. Acceptance (Actual Acceptance) is a Part of Obedience

This is something I struggle with but there is something to be said about the freedom that comes with saying, “This is where I am. This is what my life is. Okay.”

Acceptance is “Let your will be done.” in action. Acceptance is present-tense. The blessing in actual acceptance is that you live in a space of who I am now isn’t who I used to be or who I’m growing to be. It’s acknowledging everything about yourself and striving towards better anyhow. Authentic acceptance is what allows you to accept the blessings that come your way even when you feel you aren’t deserving (because 9/10, you know you could have done things with more care and concern than you wanted to have at any given moment).

And it’s THAT kind of acceptance God (cosmic laws in general) wants us to approach living purposefully with. When you aren’t accepting, you start to list out the things you thought you were supposed to have & the timeline you expected it.

My point…

Why be determined to live a life outside of God’s promise for you?

Stop questioning the good stuff because you’re focused on your (un)worthiness. There is no way to fulfill your purpose here when you decide to postpone or refuse blessings God has promised you.

Peddling Perfection

For the last 26 years, my life has been defined by a series of accomplishments and accolades others would be proud of. Was I kind? Check! Was I smart? Check! Was I involved in organizations and did I stay out of trouble? Check! And well? Check!

By the time I graduated high school in 2004, I was already in the beginning stages of what I’ve come to call an identity crisis. I wasn’t ready for college but I was going because “it made sense.” Why would a well-rounded Honor Roll student NOT go to college? That decision to stay home and figure things out would have made little sense to others because it was the logical next step for a “good kid.” On a late-August day, I buried my concerns deep within myself and committed to “Peddling Perfection.”

My definition of perfection has always been going with the expectations others set for me. This was the pact I made with myself and transitioning to college became a traumatic experience. I realized I was stuck in a place where the level of expectation suddenly changed. This was a place I’d have to decide everything for myself. To be honest, I’d lived through some pretty devastating experiences and learned skills to ensure my survival; but this transition made me realize I wasn’t equipped to thrive.

I was existing as a shell of an expectation but I desperately wanted to live.

As I went through college and graduate school, I was constantly stuck between unraveling completely to figure my shit out or moving forward with the hope it would work out on its own. I chose the latter. The routine that rigorous study offered to students gave me just enough to keep going. Inside, I knew I was breaking down. But I was okay with moving forward as long as it looked like I was still doing what I was supposed to.

All of that changed in December of 2010. One night, I sat on my floor in tears. Nothing had taken place to cause a breakdown. I was simply tired. I was extremely overwhelmed. I needed a break but I didn’t think I had the room or support to take the time I needed to get myself together. The cost of Peddling Perfection meant that I would have to admit the image I presented for so many years was false.

And I couldn’t do it. That kind of honesty would mean I’d have to admit I was lying to myself and others.

This moment of clarity prompted me to do what I should have done five years before that when I’d had my first panic attack in college – seek the help that would offer both security and support. I’d found the number of a crisis line and called. The woman connected me to a number of affordable treatment programs and I made the decision to go.

When I got to the inpatient behavioral health program, the intake specialist remarked that he’d seen people like before. “You just keep going knowing that you’re almost out of gas and hoping a station pops up before you run out. Don’t be too hard on yourself while you’re here.” The people I met there made me feel like I could finally be honest with myself about who I wanted to be and what I wanted from life. Answering the question, “So what brought you here?” was the first time I cracked the mask of perfection. It was the first time some light finally felt like it was shining into my world.

The day I told my in-house art therapist that I didn’t know shit and I was scared to move forward because there was no guarantee it would work out. That was the day I finally paid the price I could afford for the life I wanted. That was the day I made the decision to finally

I closed shop on perfection and decided to move forward in honesty. My hope fore the person who reads this while at a similar crossroads is that you know you aren’t alone. You can trade in a life built on other people’s expectations and grasp the one truly meant for you.

You can and you absolutely should.



If you are (or feel you know someone) in distress and crisis, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a network to point you in the direction of some resources.

Call 1-800-273-8255 or visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website.

In God’s Time

“Don’t worry, Baby. It will happen in God’s time!”

This was a phrase I used to hate hearing. In these moments, I could understand the person who said them meant well, but it usually left me feeling like, “Well, shit. If it’s going to happen anyway, why do I have to go through all of this mess?”

But that all changed one day while I cooked dinner for my family. Standing in my kitchen, my countertop was cluttered with the various things that would go into the meal. I had raw chicken, uncooked rice, vegetables that were in the process of being prepped, various seasonings to enhance the flavor, and the tools to actually prepare the meal. Mentally, I went over the order of the steps to take to make sure the different components of the meal would finish at the same time. Reaching over the stove to turn on the appropriate number of burners I’d need, I thought to myself, “OH MY GOD!”

I stepped back and once again surveyed my counter. I realized I had all of the ingredients for the meal but I did not have the meal itself. I also had all of the necessary tools to make sure I’d have the meal I wanted, but I had not yet used them. In that moment, I understood exactly how I would interpret the phrase, “In God’s time!” moving forward.

You see? When we talk about our purpose and living purposefully, we fail to realize we are a lot like the ingredients for a meal. We fail to realize the trials, tribulations, and devastating events we experience in our life are a lot like the stoves used to prepare food for consumption. Finally, we fail to realize that being stuck in a place or meeting the same obstacle is a lot like the time it takes to actually cook the meal.

Knowing now that God’s timing is all about preparation for a task ahead has changed the way I think about my personal struggles. Speaking candidly on one issue in particular, I have found myself in the same kind of job environment for the last ten and a half years. It’s been a struggle to reconcile the dissatisfaction stemming from the understanding I’ve worked for the same kind of managers in the same kind of job cultures. The tapes recorded throughout my job experience had started to play a devastating message in my mind: “I wasn’t in the right places doing the right kind of work and having the right kind of impact.”

The struggles I felt and still face today led to a lot of self-loathing that I work daily to unpack. I thought maybe, just maybe, I was the problem.

Until this realization clicked for me.

Knowing what “God’s timing!” is actually about has allowed me to move forward with more conviction about what it is I’m here to do. Sometimes, I fumble things when I share new ideas with more people, but I’m always reminded of the importance of “God’s timing.” In the moments where I’m not as sure of myself as I wish to be and things around me still feel completely devastating, I tell myself I’m still on the stove. It’s practice and the bits I’m prompted to share are just me allowing others to taste what God wants them to have.

That’s why I’ve decided to share this personal reflection for others to see. If you find yourself facing challenges while trying to move forward on the path you know God has for you? If you find yourself wondering if you’re supposed to be in those rooms talking to those big people but worry they’ll think you’re a fraud? If you find yourself asking the question, “But why is this happening to me?” Don’t give up. It doesn’t mean you’re not supposed to be there. It just means you’re not yet ready for where you are to go.

Your time is surely coming.

The Power of Relationship

“The nature of the relationship dictates everything!”

As I sat at my work desk attempting to remain present-minded enough to do my work, that phrase rose in my spirit. I realized I was caught in the uncomfortable familiarity of walking a thin line of depression while wedged between job dissatisfaction and the inability to just quit. Once again, I felt stuck – and feeling stuck left me feeling trapped.

In this body I inhabit as a Black Woman in the USA, I find myself often revisiting the idea of freedom. That is what I crave. That is what I clutch onto when any semblance of it lands in my hands. With a low-paying job, high student loan debt saddled to my back, and a bunch of other stress-inducing issues? I was often left feeling like I am a walking embodiment of unrealized potential; and this moment was no different.

I had become a star that burned too strongly. Too brightly. Too soon.

As I sat as my work desk a few days after my 32nd birthday, I was almost brought to tears by the magnitude of this quiet realization. My Soul was reminding me of the kind of wisdom you bring with you into life. The kind you just know without it being explained. It dawned on me that the conundrum is we often forget this knowledge because it isn’t explained. We are taught so much about what’s acceptable that this is the wisdom we forget to apply to life.

“The nature of the relationship dictates everything!” The voice reminding me of this was resolute. In my confusion, I paused long enough the voice was able to follow with, “And everything in life is relationship.”

Now I said before that I was almost brought to tears. In my mind, I saw my life move in reverse as though God, my Inner Self, or some other deeply revered source of wisdom flipped through a picture book. I started to see pivotal moments and the barrage of emotions – ones I can name and some I can’t – poured over me. To feel everything at once without any way to stop it left me stunned. Similar to other moments where small realizations are posed to become significant breakthroughs, my Spirit asked, “And what will our relationship with life be going forward?”

What will my relationship with life be going forward?

Answering it quietly in my heart, I made up in my mind to find myself and reclaim my power. My life feels like a tapestry of grief being held together by very thin threads of punctuated joy. I know going forward that I have to prioritize recoloring those experiences. In other words, what was once soft grays, biting blues, ominous blacks, and occasional threads of gold? I will look at those very same experiences as a canvas and choose to repaint parts of it in my heart with the vibrant colors signifying who I wish to become.

I am here.

And my relationship with life going forward will be acceptance, accountability, and peace.

This is my toast to life and what’s to come.

The Immortality and Identity of Henrietta Lacks


You walk into an inviting room and approach the receptionist’s desk. Most times, they smile in your direction and inquire as to why you are there. You sign in on the clipboard and the thought may cross your mind, “What do they do with this?” Since it’s routine, it’s fleeting. You finish signing in by confirming your information.

And then you take your seat.

You wait. 10 minutes on a great day or close to an hour on a really bad day. Finally, you hear your name called. You walk through a door and you glimpse an official-looking sign that may read: NO ENTRY UNLESS ACCOMPANIED BY STAFF. This part of the office is less inviting. Your escort knows this and tries to lighten the mood by engaging you in small talk.

“How have you been since the last time we saw you?” You step on a scale. They take a note. “Oh right! I remember. Did you manage to get that job you were applying for?” You walk down a hall illuminated by fluorescent lighting. “I know that’s right. That’s all you can do.” You walk into a room with two chairs next to a very small desk which holds a computer used for notating in your electronic chart. “You can have a seat in one of those chairs.” You sit down and explain why you’re there. If it’s a good day, it’s just a check-up.

But if it’s a bad day? There is really no telling where it will go.

You answer those questions as best you can. Your escort finishes their notations and says the words that you either welcome with anticipation or meet with dread.

“The doctor will be in shortly.”


Most of us have this very sterile experience when visiting our doctor’s office. While there are many people who are there for routine visits, a great majority of us often go when we feel something is wrong in our bodies. In these cases, we trust that our doctors and their staff will do right by us and give us the type of treatment that allows us to live the long lives we hope for ourselves. The expectation here is that Mothers will walk out the door to spend time with their Children. Daughters will walk out the door to spend time with their Mothers. Wives with Husbands. The expectation here is that doctors not only heal, but that they heal our bodies with good intention. But a sad trend is that if you are (1) Black, (2) poor, (3) uneducated, or (4) any combination of the first three, the likelihood is that you won’t have that experience. You won’t have the experience of being seen as a whole person with a family outside of the walls of the hospital. You, and to some extent your body, can become a fascinating specimen where the need to make a significant contribution to society and science erase the empathy that allows medical professionals to see you as a person.

That was the case with Henrietta Lacks.

Henrietta Lacks

Henrietta Lacks. Shutterstock Image.

It took me a day and a half to read the tapestry Rebecca Skloot weaved in her writing of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” The author does a stunning job of adding the depth of Personhood that is intentionally stripped by most scientists in their discussion of her. To many? She is a “thing”; a marvelous thing but a thing nonetheless. Skloot reminds you (the reader) that the woman behind the HeLa cell very much mattered to those she touched in life. In The Immortal Life, you learn of her impact on her children, husband, extended family, and community. Finally, you get the idea that what made her remarkable wasn’t that a damaging piece of her was immortal; but that she loved fully and completely – even in damaging circumstances. She was real. She was raw. But more than that? She had a name.

For that alone, I would recommend the book to any person who is interested in learning about the woman responsible for many of the leaps and bounds medicine has made in the last 60 years.

However, as I read this book, I felt a gathering of emotion that will easily consume anyone identifying as part of an underserved population. As a Black American woman from a low-income background who currently finds herself a part of the working poor? This book brought to surface the feeling of “Other” I was introduced to early in life by those possessing some form of societal privilege. In many instances, I was reminded of the extensive disenfranchisement and abuse Black Americans endured at the hands of those in power. This reminder left a constant knot of frustration in my throat while reading.

Other parts of me, trained social scientist, abuse survivor, and the patient living with a chronic health condition, read the book differently. “For once,” I thought, “here is a book that puts it plainly what it means to be Black and poor in the US and experience different institutions.”

As a social scientist, I appreciated the qualitative approach Ms. Skloot took in introducing those close to Henrietta Lacks. You were reminded she had a family because their voices and emotional burdens were loud, clear, and distinct on these pages. Their frustration in never receiving an answer to the ever-present question of “What happened to my Mother/Wife/Cousin/Friend?” was palpable. Their condemnation of those who would take advantage of people who trust someone because of their expertise was rightfully placed. More than that? The void of having missed a Mother/Wife/Cousin/Friend in their lives would never be filled and was only exacerbated by the assumptions they understood what was happening to their family. With the writing of this book, Ms. Skloot seemed to help fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle. This left me somewhat relieved.

As an abuse survivor, I readily recognized the cyclical and long-term damage of being harmed at the hands of close relatives. To see it take place generationally reminded me of the “Keep family business in the family!” stance many Black families take. I thought about how differently life might have been for a few of the women in the book had they received the kind of help that would let them lead a life free from worry. I wondered what would have happened if they had been advocated for. More than that? I recognized their bodies being harmed as a byproduct of having to protect the Black Family and the Black Man above protecting their own Black bodies. The intellectual toll, emotional scars, and lack of skills to cope with physical abuse was also illustrated. This left me mostly sad.

As a patient living with chronic health issues, I felt conflicted reading about a woman whose death directly contributed to my personal management of my health crises. As a Black woman living with chronic health issues? I felt anger at the thought that my cells could be used (and probably are being used) in such a fashion. I thought about the lack of accountability in meeting people where they are when explaining confusing ideas and field-specific terms. I thought about the lack of foresight many of the medical professionals seemed to possess when it came to deciding between furthering their ambitions or receiving a “No.” from a patient fully aware of the risks involved. This left me mostly angry.

As a person from a low-income background, I felt a deep connection to the environments many of the voices introduced in the book found themselves in. At any moment? I can take a trip to a neighborhood not too far away and see the implications of what happens when people are tossed to the side only to be remembered when they need to clear space for other people. In many of these instances, the faces there will look like mine – Black or Brown but noticeably absent of white faces. Understanding this, the distrust of Ms. Skloot was warranted. After all, who put people like us in those neighborhoods to begin with? Who benefitted most from programs allowing upward mobility and a chance at a life better than the one their parents experienced? The blight and subsequent effect on the welfare and well-being of the remaining Lackses spoke to the determination to make it by any means necessary. All too often, this is a story many Black Americans still find themselves tied to. This “fact of life” left me reminded with what it means to be burdened while Black.

Overall, this book was a really good (almost great) read. It was written well and comes across as thoughtfully intentioned. The biggest thing is that it finally gives the everyday person an idea of the woman being called Immortal in the medical and scientific community.

We are finally told of the woman Henrietta Lacks.

The Journey to Self-Healing

When you embark upon a path of self-healing, you can become transfixed on it having to look a certain way based on the teachers you initially meet. What makes self-healing a difficult experience is that we often find ourselves at a fork in the road. 

The decision before us becomes: “Do I continue to follow this teacher? Or do I strike out in search of another teacher?”

Having been in some form of counseling since I was 9 years old, I’ve come to this place many times. To put it more bluntly, at 30 years old, I realize I’m at the point in my journey where more is required of me. 

The thought came to me in the quiet stillness of the morning – “Teachers can only teach you what they know. They can only teach you what they’ve experienced. They can only teach you what they are ready to be honest about.”

It felt jarring. It felt harsh. The statement felt like an indication of where I fell short. Often? The most important lessons come wrapped in a demeanor of frustration and a tone of exasperation. 

To that, I hear you God.

As a Black Woman, that’s what makes self-healing scary. I don’t have the luxury of no longer acknowledging vague needs and must now explicitly state what it is that opens these personal wounds. And it’s a lot to burden yourself with when you seek answers from those who offered their help, yet remain committed to not touching the same kind of hurt within themselves. 

All heartbreak is not the same. All betrayal is not the same. All disappointment is not the same. ‬It’s why I’ve realized  you can’t look for specific wisdom in a person that’s never experienced the same type of wound. ‬

Knowing this, it’s important to remind ourselves our task remains the same – heal yourself fully and help others do the same. ‬So get to it. 

With love,

Ms. C. Jayné

Truths Revealed

January 1st is always a day that feels like it comes with a built in reset button for life. It is the only reason that I look forward to it with so much anticipation. This last year though? I wondered if it would hold the same promise that other “new year” days held.

With 2015 being as bad as it was, I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t see thirty if life continued to feel as hopeless. What changed for me was a response to a message I sent to a friend that was really close to me. In it, she told me that she wanted to work on our friendship.

And that has been the theme of many of my conversations lately. People are just as afraid of being vulnerable as I am. Their fear of the truth crippled them as much as my fear crippled me.

The thing I learned though was to face the fear and find something, anything, to pull me to a place of courage. We’re all afraid because we’re human but the fear should never stop us from living a vibrant life.

That’s one truth revealed.

Thank you January 1st for this.

5 Things to Know By 30

Featured image

I bet the title grabbed your attention right?

This isn’t one of those posts that you get a list of the things you need to do before your 30th birthday. It isn’t a list of lessons you needed to have learned. It isn’t a list of places you needed to have visited.

Rather, it’s a reflection of where I am in life based on those things.

Essentially, I’m in a place of Reflective Struggle. It sounds nice when I write it that way but my truth is that I’m in some shit, I’ve been in some shit, and it doesn’t look like I’m getting out any time soon. Basically, I have started to wave my white flag in surrender to life. I’ve been busy facing my personal inadequacies as markers of real-to-me success.

By some measures, I’m a success and there are people (who know me personally) who will be absolutely confused by this post. They’ll say, “But she has these things.” And it isn’t about things. This post is about the frustration I felt with not being supported in a way that made me feel like they valued my spirit. It’s about the sorrow I have from feeling like I wasted my time doing things that weren’t for me. I spent years in spaces that didn’t make me happy because that’s what made sense to people on the outside. I accepted jobs that made me absolutely miserable and chipped at my self-esteem on a daily basis to pay bills that a dent hasn’t been made.

I’m the most successful failure I know because I accomplished all of those things and failed at faking happiness.

Since my 25th birthday, I’ve dealt with a constant nagging that I wasn’t living; I wasn’t even existing. I was lost. And it was then that I started to look at the lists. I wanted to see all of the lists and compare them and study them and use them to set my intentions.

My existence became an exhaustive list of To-Do items, many of them out of my reach. It’s important that I share since graduating with a Master’s degree in 2010, I’ve always been poor. I’ve been less than working poor. I’ve been “I’m so poor I’ll never own my name.” I’ve been “check to check” and “I have more month than money” exhausted. I’ve been “What the hell did I go to school for?” weary. Yet I was determined to live by these lists. The result? I’ve lived a pretty embarrassing life since following these “rules”.

And the other day, I sat down in a fit of exhausted rage when I cried tears of frustration because I’m tired of trying.

At 29 years old, I now base my accomplishments on what I’m able to get through during the day. Did I wake up and sing a song that made me happy? Did I talk to someone on the phone? Did I brush my teeth and comb my hair? I feel like I’ve lived if I did those things. I’m so weary I can’t even look at the lists anymore.

What’s the lesson?

Life is the one thing you don’t really get an instruction manual for. If there isn’t anything else you get from this post, take that nugget. There are no “How-To” manuals for this shit and no list will make up for a void of purpose.

You get up. You move. You fuck up. You try again. You don’t fuck up. You keep doing that. That’s life. That’s what you need to get by 30. And 25. And 21. And 18. And don’t forget to dream. The last thing you want to do is what I did – get caught up in the rat race of getting by in life.

You dream. You get up. You move. You fuck up. You try again. You don’t fuck up. You keep doing that. And in the meantime, you smile and make music and dance and love and laugh and cry. But you keep going. You keep doing that.

I wish someone had told me that before now.