I have always been slightly (OK, overwhelmingly) obsessed with my own birthday. Every week, I calculate how close I am to the next anniversary of my birth. In general, I believe every person should get excited for their birthday! I mean, celebrate yo’ self! You only come into this world once! That was a historic day. But for the most part, my family is pretty blasé about the b-days. Now that my brother and I well into our twenties and thirties, my mom doesn’t even make an attempt to give us our birthday cards on time… let alone a gift.
Anyways… My birthday is in less than two months. Even though there’s a bunch of other people’s birthdays happening between now and then, I think it’s time that I think seriously about my intentions. I’m turning the Big 2-5 this year, which I’ve been calling my “Grown Woman Year”. I feel like 24 was somewhat of a throwaway, so I really want to make 25 count (whatever that means).
1. I will visit my favorite family members in Texas. Some of my favorite people live in the Great Ol’ Republic: my aunt, my four older first cousins, and their families. For a long time, I would see them every year. My mom and I would go visit at least once a year. But the last time I saw them is when I was there for Thanksgiving in 2009. I’d really like to visit them this year for Christmas. I’m not the most family-centered person, but it does feel good to be in the presence of your tribe.
2. I will visit New York. It’s been over a year since my last trip to my favorite city in the world (tied with Paris, of course). I think about New York everyday, especially this time of year. Late spring/early summer is my favorite time of the year in the NYC. The city comes alive. Everyone’s outfits are bright and superfly. A bunch of free shit happens. And it’s just the most beautiful place. I miss my main girl (every thing/place/emotion/idea I love ends up being my “main girl”). I definitely plan on spending a substantial amount of time there at some point this year.
3. I will visit the Bay Area. When I can’t make afford expensive airfare, but really want to “get away”, I love hopping up to the Bay Area. In recent years, I’ve had more friends move up there. They are so good to me. They feed me well and indulge me in great conversation and convince me that I need to move to the “Yay”. And then I come back to smoggy, trafficky, sprawling L.A. and am like, “Oh, but this is home. For now.” I definitely want to visit Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, and some other cities in the Bay Area. Plus, with my new fuel-efficient car, I’ll be able to drive this time!
4. I will save more money (and not spend it). I’ve gotten really good at saving. But after buying a new car, she’s taken a hit. I still have a pretty good amount saved up, but it’s nowhere close to where she was. I would really like to save up a substantial amount this year as a combined rainy day/travel adventures/emergency/preparing for grad school fund. I pride myself on being somewhat fiscally responsible, as I’ve seen what life looks like when you’re not. I want to keep it up.
5. I will treat my body right. I have been working out 2-3 days per week with my homegirl for about two months now. She’s an amazing personal trainer/health coach/fitness guru/holistic wellness expert (and a bomb-ass friend). Even though I haven’t lost any weight and I still grunt-huff-puff-wheeze-complain my way through every work out, I feel so much stronger and more confident in my body. I bought some shorts and a bathing suit this summer. Not because I think I look particularly fwiiiine in them, but because I feel more comfortable in my body. There’s muscle under all this fat and cellulite! I want to continue working out on my own, adding at least three additional hour-long workouts per week. And I finally want to change my eating habits. For good. I won’t say that I won’t ever have a cheat meal again. But I remember how amazing I felt when I lost weight last year through diet and exercise changes. I want to get back to that again. I want to lose weight and improve my health… For good, forever.
6. I will be more fearless with my creative pursuits. Interning at For Harriet has had a wonderful affect on my confidence as a writer. I still get nervous/sad/frustrated when I read the comments. (I just want to post, “All y’all are haters!” sometimes.) But I like that there is finally a platform for a wider audience (read: those who are not my Facebook friends) to engage with my writing. And I like that readers challenge me and interpret the things I say differently than I intend. But there’s so much more I want to do with my writing. I’m currently working on a web series right now with my ace-boon-sistafriend. And I would like to start vlogging regularly on YouTube. Plus, I’m applying to graduate writing programs beginning in December. I want to take the fear, doubt, shame, and self-consciousness I feel out of my writing and creative process. I want to finally begin working on all the ideas I’ve had. I know not every idea I have or thing I produce will be good. And I know not everyone will like what I write/create/produce, but I can’t let that keep me from doing what I was born to do.
7. I will find a work/life balance that works for me. I went from working a full-time “office” job to working part-time from home this year. There are things I enjoy about both, but neither one of them are actually what I want to do long-term. I have a second interview at an arts-in-education organization tomorrow. But I know nothing is guaranteed, so I’ve been thinking about what it is that I really want to do. More than anything, I want to work towards becoming a full-time writer/storyteller and creative content producer (in whatever manifestation that looks like.) I still dream about working for BuzzFeed one day. I’ve gotten really into seeing all the cool things people are doing with YouTube. But until then, I have to pay my bills. And I have to do something that won’t take up so much of my energy, resources, or mental/emotional capacity that I’m too drained to write, perform, and create at the end of the day. I’ve been thinking that I may find another part-time administrative gig for the next year, as I work on projects and grad school apps. And then, of course, I’ll continue seeking out freelance opportunities. I’ve given up on trying to meet others’ expectations of what I “should” be doing when it comes to work. Instead, I’m focusing on what will allow me to still be responsible while working towards my goals and enjoying myself.
8. I will spend more time out of the house and away from electronic screens. I need to go to the beach more. I need to breathe outside air, frolic in nature. I need to disconnect from the holy trifecta of my MacBook, iPad, and iPhone. I need to realize that it’s possible to live a fruitful life without constant Netflix streaming, WiFi, and Facebook/Instagram creeping. I need to read books. I need to see more plays. I need to visit museums. I need to have in-face conversations with my friends. I need to get out of my room and be in places that make me happy. I need to people watch, so I have good shit to write about. I need to go out, so I can meet a normal person to potentially date and sex up. (Kidding about the “sexing up”! Maybe…) I need to go out dancing because I love it and I miss it and it makes me feel good. As much as I love the comforts of my mother’s central-air-conditioned home with a fully stocked kitchen… I want to be out in the world! Begone, recluse tendencies!
9. I will consistently work on my gratitude and spiritual practice. I have much to feel grateful for. God done the upmost good in my life, praise be! Seriously, the Universe generally has my back. And when She doesn’t, it’s usually because I needed to learn something or laugh at myself or both. But most days, I spend a lot of time feeling sorry myself or conflicted or depressed or frustrated or angry. I mean, I’m always going to feel a little bit of those things. Our world is fucked up. But I need to learn to counter it with some good gratitude affirmations, meditation, and prayer. There was a time when I talked to God everyday. We were pretty tight. And then… I kind of drifted apart from Him (or Her or They or It or whatever limiting pronoun one uses to describe the Big and Infinite and Living Indescribable). Lately, I’ve been wanting to find my way back. Because despite all the messiness and fuckery and tomfoolery that is my life most days, I know God is present with me always. I know all of this is a goodness and a grace, in some way. And I just want to feel more of that freeing goodness and loving grace.
10. I will be kinder to my parents. I am a brat. I am a high maintenance child. Not because I’m constantly asking for things, but because I am so unpredictable in what I need from my parents. Sometimes, I want them to leave me the hell alone. Other times, I want them to smother me with affection. I’ve spent a great deal of time angry at them for whatever reason. But in general, they are the best people and the most loving parents. They truly raised me, as in lifted me up to the sky Lion King style and made sure I understood the vastness that was available to me. But they also gave me incredible roots. They are strong, intelligent, hard-working people. And they’re funny and interesting. I don’t know if I necessarily want to spend more time with them. I mean, I do. I definitely do. But I recognize that for them, this is first time in over thirty years that they’re not responsible for taking care of anybody. I want to give them their space to groove and be free. But I want to be more compassionate with them. I want to be kinder, more patient with them. As individuals, as human beings. I want them to realize that I still need them, but I can take care of myself. And I want them to know how much I love them.
These are my intentions for my 25th year on this here giving and gracious Earth. If I can work at these things everyday, I know by the time 26 rolls up, I will be in a great place. I’m excited/nervous/crazed by whatever the future has to bring. But mostly, I’m ready to do the damn thing and sing Beyoncé’s “Grown Woman” to myself every morning when I wake up and enjoy this living. Huzzah!