It is the last day of the year and I'm reflecting on my 2014 journey. When I woke up to a cold, single digit temperature Chicago morning, the sun was shining bright. Through my windows, a warm golden glow spread throughout my apartment. The kind of glow that makes it seem like the day is personally welcoming me to it. As if the sun was shining just for me. After thanking God for bringing me to the last morning and work day of the year, I mentally reviewed the past year.
When I think back over 2014, I realize how much got accomplished and all of what happened throughout those fast-paced 12 months. The year flew by, but so much took place. It's weird because there are things that seem so far removed from now and where I am today. I had a surgery to remove a suspicious lump in my breast (all is well). I traveled to Paris, Amsterdam and Las Vegas. I got a new job. I dated a creepy man from St. Charles, IL who taught me how to make a traditional lamb cake for Easter. A Ukranian man who took me to my first Puerto Rican Festival. And a Nigerian critical care nurse who gave me my first boyfriend administered flu shot. There was the death of my mother's eldest brother, which I thought I was handling well until I stopped to realize I spent a month eating my feelings, crying in the midnight hour, angry at everyone and everything and finally a dermatologist explained that my grief over my uncle's passing, was the obvious cause of the clump of hair that fell out- leaving me with a clean circular-shaped bald spot at the top of my head. (Thank goodness, my hair is finally growing back.)
I meditated and prayed more. I read books that elevated my understanding of myself, my spirit and soul, like: Why You're Not Married...Yet: The Straight Talk You Need to Get the Relationship You Deserve, Calling in "The One": 7 Weeks to Attract the Love of Your Life and When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times. Two of those books I got from watching Oprah's Super Soul Sunday on OWN, a show, I discovered, feeds my soul when I don't make it to church. Another shocking thing that happened this year, was that I lost an old friend who succumbed to complications of HIV and cancer. He and I had not been 'friends' for years after a major blow-up, but we still had a couple of mutual friends and acquaintances. From time to time when we might run into to each, it was always cordial and nice. We would even muster up a joke or two. He was younger than me and his death reminded me of my own mortality. On top of all these events, I joined my gym's bikini challenge and managed to lose the weight (23lbs) I vowed to get rid of by June, with dieting and exercising.
Whether it was seeing Beyonce and Jay Z, Usher or Ledisi in concert, witnessing my best friend get married or reuniting with old friends, it has been quite the year. I cannot believe it is almost over! Tomorrow I plan on spending the day cooking my collard greens and black-eyed peas for good luck and good measure while creating my 2015 vision board and making plans for next year.
How did 2014 treat you? Any plans for 2015?
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Saturday, December 20, 2014
My car was recently out of commission. I needed brake pads, rotors and calipers- I think, I'm not really sure what that all means, except my car was smelling and loud as hell when I drove it. Apparently, my calipers (or was it my rotors?) locked and caused my car to feel like I was driving with the emergency brake on. I was quoted a price for the parts and service and scheduled an appointment for this past Monday. The cost caught me a bit off guard and I wasn't prepared to pay when I first got the diagnosis. So for about a month, my car sat in my building's parking lot, un-driven. For what had been at times a very inconvenient month, I schlepped through the city on bus, train or on the passenger side of whoever was willing to drive me wherever. The rest of the time I spent in the house catching up on my DVR recordings (I had 'Tonight Show' episodes that dated back to the end of summer), cooking, eating and reading. I had not been to the gym; I didn't just tool around town. When I grocery shopped, it's my mom who usually took me. Or my good girlfriend and neighbor would give me a lift on her way to work, and I rode the bus back when done.
Besides my car being out of commission, my budget has been hard to resuscitate as well. Funds are low. Through it all, I didn't complain, but rather exercised truth-telling and humility. Asking for a ride to or from my mom's house is not always easy. Informing your beloved book club that, although you would love to, you're unable to meet the group at Fig & Olive for the next meeting, but instead could host a brunch potluck at your place, is not fun. It took me several days to muster the energy and courage to do so. Yes, taking the bus and train everywhere, even on the weekends (I'm a public transportation commuter for work during the week) can give you that New York feel. I think of all my New York friends who hop on and off subway trains to go to parties, the movies, meet friends for dinner, etc. and I think, 'You're being a baby.' But I'm a South Side Chicagoan, where everything is spread out and not walking distance. Plus, I am spoiled by organic, natural and specialty foods and products. I find myself having a hard time buying my meats, cheeses and poultry anywhere other than Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. I read labels obsessively sometimes, making it hard for me to just shop at any grocer in the neighborhood. What the fuck is high-fructose corn syrup anyway?!
All of this put me in the position to have to ask for help and share my truth. It tested my friendships and relationships with others. I had to humble myself and say 'I need help'. I hated it, but loved it at the same time. Although I hated doing it, I love that people do care enough to help. And it releases me from the unattainable goal of being a superwoman. I stood blindfolded so to speak with courage, as I awaited someone's answer. Yes or No- it seems simple enough, yet it was a real challenge. But challenges are meant to be met, right?