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A Hard Word for a Soft Year

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Part of my process to uncover my goals comes from this amazing book.

For the last 13 or 14 years, I’ve come up with a word of the year. I can go back over eight years in my blogs and many more in my paper journals. But in the past four or five years, the choosing of the word and living in it has truly changed my life. It’s like God gives me chances to live in the light of the word when everything around me is saying I should be  walking like one walks in the dark: anxious, fast, clutching my purse. Life circumstances wants me to do the opposite of what I’ve decided to do. It’s up to me to decide if I will stay committed to my word and His word or if I will let the trials and tribulations of life choke the plant of the word God is trying to grow in me in that particular season.

When I chose the word savor for 2013 and decided to chronicle savory moments in my life, I had no idea my car would be totaled on January 9th when a drunk driver ran a red light. When I chose submit in 2014, I had no idea all of my writing submissions would be rejected or my will would fight so hard against submitting to God. In 2015, I had many literal and figurative moments where I needed to practice the principle behind the word attendance. When I decided 2016 was the year to seek God in a more focused and personal way, I didn’t know I would lose things I thought were big parts of my identity in pursuit of His. I’ve come to realize more fully than ever before the power of words, and how hard the devil and this world will fight your attempts to grow.

I took my time coming up with a word of the year this time around. I realized whatever I chose, my resolve to stick with it was going to get tested. The fact I’m only now writing this post is proof I’ve felt the pressure of this word on me. But enough build up. Let’s get to it.

I had a myriad of choices for word of the year. I settled on one and had a whole blog post (that I’ll share at some point) dedicated to my word ready to go way back in December. But it didn’t feel like it fit perfectly. It was like when you can get a dress on and zipped up, but you feel stuffed in it, like all your “rolls” are on display like a well lit bakery display.

My original word was participate. I said the word participate way too many times during writing workshops this year to ignore it. I didn’t like this word. I tried to use another word, but participate stuck. Stuck but didn’t fit. Then in the synonyms section of the definition, I found this:

(my word) usually implies that one as the original holder grants to another the partial use, enjoyment, or possession of a thing.

That’s what my original word was lacking. When we participate, we take part in something. We help create it. We are part owner in the effort. We worked for it. We played our part. Good for us. But I see myself more like this–like a recipient. God grants me the partial use, enjoyment and possession of things. I am not the owner. I don’t work for it. And this year, I wanted to remind myself of this, and help others learn this truth and others connected to this word. The rightness of it sank into my soul. The best part? Like three of the last four life changing words of the year, it begins with an “s.”

My word for 2017 is: SHARE.

:  to partake of, use, experience, occupy, or enjoy with others

:  to grant or give a share in

:  to tell (as thoughts, feelings, or experiences) to others

One thing I recorded in my thoughts about participate stuck out to me: in 2016, I sought God, and like the scriptures promise, I found Him. I learned more about His nature and His ways. I learned to trust in and depend on Him. But now that I’ve found Him, what am I going to do with Him, with this knowledge of Him? I want to revel in this revelation. God shared it with me. Also? I want to share it with someone else.

That’s all my writing is. I’m not coming up with life changing lesson or inventing anything new. I’m sharing the truths God revealed to me.

In studying the word this past year, I saw how important confession/testimony was in the lives of the people of God. It stood out to me the most with the woman with the issue of blood. She shared what Christ did for her with the multitude.

This year, I want to focus on sharing more of what God is doing in my life, to share Him more with a sick and dying world that needs the healing He has in His hands. I want to share what has worked for me and what has worked me, all to His glory. I want to confess, to tell my story. I want to point everyone to the Owner of this marvelous thing I’ve been given to enjoy so they can get their share. I want you to share with me. I want to see God at work in your life, to celebrate and contemplate and commiserate with you as you have been and will be with me.

I have some fun goals attached to this word. I can’t wait to share them with all of you. Sharing isn’t easy for me. It’s downright difficult. But I’m not going to be difficult in response to it. I’m going to be soft, pliable, yielding to all God wants me to share and all He will share with me.

What’s your word of the year?

XOXO,

Erica

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Word of the Year 2016

I’ve chosen a word for the year for at least six years documented (nearly 13 based on my diaries!). Each year I choose a word that will guide my spiritual, professional, and personal goals and dreams. It can be difficult to set an intention for an entire year full of unexpected twists and surprises, both good and bad. The Lord has given me great words that were exactly what I needed in each season of my life and this year’s word is no exception. I believe it will help me to lean into, press into, and abide in Christ like never before in the upcoming year.

The words I have chosen in the past are:

2010–accountability

2011–balance

2012–focus (which I obviously didn’t accomplish if the linked post is any indication!

2013–savor

2014–submit/submission

2015-attendance

The word I’ve chosen for 2016 is: SEEK. 

What are you seeking?

alice_in_wonderland01

Why did I choose seek? Up until I began this post, I was thinking of using other words, but the Holy Spirit placed this word very strongly on my heart. Thinking about everything I wanted to do this year–publish another book, speak, serve, be more disciplined, ask for the things I want, and really dig in and make some big changes–I knew that overall I wanted to glorify God. I wanted to want what He wanted for my life.

I was struggling with what word would best convey that when I remembered David saying that the one thing he desired was the thing he would seek after:

One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple. Psalm 27:4

If we seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness first, everything else will be added to us. God calls His people to seek His face. We seek Him for safety, freedom from worry, for our everyday needs, and for our lives.

In the last sermon of 2015, Brother Drummer preached a sermon on Phil 3:12-14 that really struck me. In these verses, Paul talks about trying to grab hold of the reason for which Christ grabbed hold of Him. Why did God choose me? In verse 10 we learn that Paul seeks to know Christ. An apostle with intimate knowledge of Christ is writing that he seeks to know Christ. A man who knows he has been called to preach the gospel to the Gentiles is still pressing to learn why Christ saved him. Because there’s more to know and more to why we are called.

Christ is everything. I love the promises of God through faith in Christ, but sometimes I don’t love the process by which I obtain those things. Sometimes I go about gaining the wrong way. I covet things God never meant for me to have. I don’t bring glory to Him in what I do sometimes because He didn’t tell me to do it in the first place.

That is a hard, hard truth to acknowledge. You have no idea how much I want to backspace over that sentence. So I’m going to write it again:

Sometimes I don’t bring glory to God in what I do because He didn’t tell me to do it in the first place.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m getting tired of running hard in the wrong direction and getting turned back; of worrying about myself and not being able to rest in all the promises we like to “speak over ourselves” or “speak into existence”; of claiming the promises without keeping the conditions and ending up disappointed. I’m just plain tired of wanting things God doesn’t want for me and being heartbroken about things that were never in the plan for my life. 

So I’ve decided this year will be the year I seek God. For real. I will seek His will for my life, His kingdom, His righteous, and His forgiveness of sin. I will seek His face. I will live in His presence. I will live in the truth that if I seek, I will find. I will pursue with purpose and passion one thing: a closer relationship with Christ in which I know Him as He knows me. 

I know I won’t get there this year. I won’t fully get there until I’m in Heaven. But this is the guiding framework for how I want to be in my life.

There have been quite a few wonderful posts and periscopes on people’s word of the year. Here are some of my favorites:

Courtney Kirkland chose SURRENDER (this was a contender for me, too): Instagram

Katie Brown chose SERVE (another contender of mine!): Instagram

Val Woerner of Val Marie Paper wrote about her word of the year, Small, and her goals for 2016 on her blog.

Lara Casey is doing her annual goal setting series on her blog. You can read the first post here. She revealed her word of the year, ASK (again, one of my contenders), on Periscope yesterday. You can view it via Katch here (and it won’t disappear in 24 hours like on Periscope!).

What is your word for 2016? How did you choose it?

Join me tomorrow to see my year long goals and my goals for January!

XOXO,

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Erica

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A Serious Year: 2015 in Review

I’ve been largely absent from the world of social media for most of 2015. 2015 was a challenging year for me. It was the first full year that Altered before the Altar was on the market. I’m excited about the way God has used it to change the hearts and minds of single women and turn them back to Him. I’m hopeful that God will continue to use it.

My word of the year was attendance.

In short, it’s time for me to show up in my own life and participate in that instead of being an audience member in everyone else’s life.

So how did I do with my word of the year? How did I do on my goals? What worked and what didn’t this year? Let’s get into it, shall we?

Perfect Attendance?

How well did I show up in my own life this year? That’s a huge question that took a long time for me to unpack. I moved from my home of four years to a new place in March, then moved again July 31st. At work, my desk has been moved three times in the past year. My boss, department, duties, coworkers, and department structure have all changed. For a slow changer like, this year full of personal and professional changes threw me for a loop.

It was an uncomfortable way to conduct a year for me. I was tempted to call in sick to life this year. A few times I did. I struggled in it mostly because I struggled with it.

When I told God that my word of the year was going to be attendance, it was because I was supposed to be going places that I wouldn’t want to miss being. I was expecting to do some hard things. I expected to be uncomfortable selling Altered before the Altar and speaking at conferences. I was prepared to sit with God’s word and to be called into deeper relationship with Him through it. I was even prepared for moments of doubt and uncertainty. I wasn’t prepared to be tossed about so hard by life in ways I couldn’t control. And because I wasn’t expecting it, the winds of change nearly blew my house down.

Guys, this year was hard. Beyond hard. 

But this year was also amazing and so much more than amazing. 

It’s both because I did show up in my life. I stayed in those hard places. Sometimes I sat in the corner with my arms crossed, pouting and complaining, but I stayed there. Most importantly, I cried out to God in those places. I read His word in those places. I made a big step forward in not complaining so much about everything that felt wrong in my life. For full disclosure, I tanked at not complaining in the little things that happened, particularly at work, but for the most part, I went to the Lord.

I didn’t always do this because I wanted to. This year I really felt the Lord calling me to shut up. I was largely silent on social media, especially the last half of the year. I kept a lot of things between me and God. And without so many people and their opinions muddying the waters, I was able to see very clearly how God moved in situations. I got to trust Him and look to Him for things I’ve run to people for in the past. That was life-changing.

GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLL!

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A fraction of the 500+ women I had to stand before and explain the heart behind Altered before the Altar to…gulp!

I didn’t choose my goals until my birthday, so I still have nearly two months to make them happen. The ones that I’ve already accomplished are: speaking at a conference; shooting at least one YouTube video (I’m counting a Periscope I did for this), and; creating a professional vendor table set up for events. The goals in process are: writing and publishing another book, opening an online shop, learning to create book covers, and; improving my business cards. I’m not sure if I can achieve the rest in two months, but with God all things are possible.

That’s Not Really Working for me…

What worked and what didn’t? It felt like a lot more didn’t work this year than did, but that’s a perception thing. Even though it felt like very little worked, what did work worked  in a major way and was SUPER significant. In order to leave on a positive note, I’ll reflect first on what didn’t work.

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So what didn’t work? Fighting change, only being present, complaining, fleeing situations I didn’t want to be in, being angry and upset, working from a place of competition, trying to be perfect, comparing myself and my efforts to others, and trying to replicate what other people were doing didn’t work for me. Neither did jealously, envy, self-pity, or striving. I didn’t expect this list to be so philosophical or difficult, but there you go.

I Worked It!

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What did work for me? Shutting up, accepting change, bringing my best to life’s worst, pressing in to God, speaking up, recording myself in the car, following inspirational people online, pulling back from social media, speaking in front of women I don’t know, and being courageous in getting Altered before the Altar out to more women worked. I am so humbled by the feedback that Altered before the Altar changed hearts and lives and led many women back to their first love. I loved getting to meet new sisters in Christ.

Another thing that worked was participating in Blurb to Book. I entered a contest with a 100 word blurb and the first page of an inspirational romance and made it all the way to submitting a full manuscript! I was sent a revision letter and have another opportunity get a contract for a fiction book. I would say trying worked for me this year. Trying and failing and being willing to try again.

Stay tuned tomorrow to find out what my word for 2016 is,why I chose it, how it informs my goals, and my goals. 

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Me and my cousin Deloris. Prettiest picture of 2015!
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Freestyle Friday: Wrapping Up Month 1

Who can believe it’s already the first of February? February is always a month of personal introspection for me as my birthday inches closer and closer (My birthday is the 24th of this month; I would like books, music, movies, a new flat iron, cute shoes that don’t hurt, cute work clothes, gift cards, caramel ice cream or cake, and/or The Adobe Creative Suite, Scrivener, and a laptop:D). Since my word of the year is to savor, I figured it might be a good idea to recap the month. Since I’m recapping the month, I decided to take a cue from Diary of a Happy Black Woman and give the month a word as well. Without further ado, January 2013.

The word of the month: Reset

I could have used a lot of words to describe this month: perspective, backsliding, crashed, pain, delay, etc. Most of them were negative  or didn’t give a full view of what this month meant to me, so I decided to go with the word that most fit what happened the entire month: Reset.

In December when I picked savor as the word of the year, I made preparations to be able to live out the meaning of the word. I had given myself a few things to savor: a great job review/bonus, paying off my car, Mr. Perfect and  I finally making a decision about our relationship, signing up for my first paralegal studies class and the ability to travel more like the last half of the year. I was ready to take writing and blogging by storm. I was going to tithe the full 10%, no excuses.

The thing is, I floundered a little bit. I reached out to an editor, but when it came to sending her a sample, I just wasn’t ready. I gave myself a deadline to finish the book, but I discovered I still had a lot more to write. I went to my first class and felt a crazy mixture of excitement that I was actually doing this and mild trepidation that I was going to fall on my face. I wasn’t sure what to do with the extra money I would have, what I should save for or acquire first. I had set myself all of these high expectations, and I was scared stiff I wouldn’t be able to meet them.

After the car crash, everything was reset. I had to withdraw from the class I was taking. There’s no question what I need to save for and/or acquire first: a car. I had to miss some work, which meant I wasn’t ahead at work anymore. Instead of Mr. Perfect and I pulling back and spending less time together, I see him everyday because he takes me back and forth to work and appointments resulting from the crash.

I could look at this as everything being set back at zero, but that’s not actually what has happened. What has happened is the slate has been wiped clean. No more hold-over expectations from last year; I can start fresh. It feels good to be able to slow down and ensure I have time to fully develop the things I outlined for the book, topics I didn’t even know I wanted/needed to include. Not being able to rush from point A to point B has allowed me to savor some quiet moments to myself that I would have missed. Even though this month has seen me more irritated and a bit snappier than I’ve been in a long time, it has revealed that I still have some growing to do in some areas. If I truly want this year to be about savoring moments and influencing people to be more Christ-like, I’m going to have to slow down to take in all of the flavors and be savory in times when I would rather be sour.

This month has been like the pre-test at the beginning of the year to see what you already know about the subject and what you will need to work on learning. Now that I know where I stand, it’s time to dig in and learn.

I’m off to start day one of couch to 5k. Wish me luck in sticking with it this time.

XOXO,

2blu2btru

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Slow Down

After I was in the car accident (the current dividing line of my life, pre- and post-accident), while I was waiting to be seen at the hospital, Mr. Perfect said something profound to me: “Maybe you got into this accident because you are trying to do too much and you need to slow down.” If you had asked me, I was just getting started. I had been in the same stupid place for so long, and I was just moving forward in life. When you are just getting started, you’re supposed to be getting up to speed, not slowing down, right?

I was FINALLY moving from that slightly discontented space in my life where I’d felt stagnated for a long time. Instead of just saying I wanted to go back to school, I was going. Instead of just talking about writing a book, I was earnestly writing. Instead of saying “when I pay off my car,” I had paid off my car. I was going to open up a new bank account to start saving for some upcoming things I really wanted to do. I was going to get a laptop and start work on a self-hosted site to host all of my blogs, sign up for paypal or something similar to sell my book(s), and begin submitting things for publication. I’d made plans I haven’t even bothered to tell you all about yet (but when they are officially in motion, I promise I will).

However, one illegal turn, and my whole life plan is in ruins (well, not really, but let me be dramatic for a moment, ok?). I’m going to have to get another car. I don’t have a ride to school, so I had to withdraw after one class. There’s no longer going to be extra money for the laptop or the site, nor will I be able to fund another account with what used to be my car payments. All of that was lost in the squealing of tires and crunching of metal. One step forward, two steps back.

What’s funny to me is that my word for the year is “savor” in a year when I was putting my foot down on the gas and speeding through milestones. I wasn’t really taking in everything the way I wanted to. I would note things I wanted to write about that were savory moments, things I didn’t want to forget, but I wouldn’t get to it because I was so BUSY. How am I supposed to savor when I don’t have time to sit over anything?

Because of the accident and not having my car, I ended up having a lot of time to do the one thing that was completely unaffected by the accident: write. I walked over to the grocery store on my lunch break one day and bought a small notebook so I could stop writing scriptures and ideas on all my sticky notes. At this point, it has an outline of most of the areas of the book I am working on. I’ve been bringing my lunch to work, and since I am not driving to get food, I have more time to study scriptures, reread interviews, and write or revise on my lunch break. I found a piece of the book on my computer I didn’t remember I’d started, putting me a bit further along in one area than I realized.

I have gone to my complex’s gym a couple times since the accident and had a few savory moments there as well. When I go to the the gym, I listen to at least one podcast from the Church of Christ in Falls Church, Virgina. I usually listen to one in the series of “The Greatest Stories Ever Told,” by Mike Tune. Those twenty to thirty minute sermons convict me and encourage me so much! They are so practical and remind me of some of my favorite Bible stories. Even before this recent routine, the series caused me to take another look at the story of Achan, which I will cover in my book. The sermon on the Tower of Babel yielded a quote that fit in so perfectly with what I wanted to say in a specific area I can only conclude it was God’s will for me to hear it at just that time.

So even though the accident temporarily took away some of my “joy-joy” feelings and optimistic disposition, like a shaken bottle of water, I have settled down again to a calm surface…let’s just hope I don’t get shaken again for a little while. Although I still don’t know what the ultimate outcome of all of this will be, I am grateful that I had the chance to slow down a bit.

Perhaps school would have been too big a distraction right now. Perhaps my focus needed to be a little more…streamlined. Perhaps my imaginary shopping sprees got more focus than other more important things. Perhaps I was going about things all wrong and it was time to clear the board. Whatever the reason, God knows best. I submit to His will.

I’m also looking for my check from the at faul driver’s insurance company. o_O

Savoring the moment,

2blu2btru

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Word of the Year 2013

 

Me in a tree! ~The Audobon Zoo in New Orleans
Me in a tree! ~The Audobon Zoo in New Orleans

 

 

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. ~Phil.3:13-14

 

(Caution: Long post ahead. Bold points for the lazy busy)

Happy New Year, dear readers! I have been busy trying to come up with my word of the year, talking to a possible editor for my book, filling in for people at work, and writing my butt off to reach my deadline for having the book ready for the editor. After going through several posts, I realized I never even told you what the word of the year for 2012 was. I was so confused that when I wrote this post on my personal blog last week, I still didn’t get it right. The word of the year for 2012 was FOCUS. Before I reveal my word of the year, a brief introduction to how I came up with it.

This year I saw an uptick in people using a word of the year. Katie over at Marriage Confessions mentioned that someone she knows professionally does this and asked people for their words of the year. The response was staggering (I hope to one day be able to ask a question on a blog and get that many responses!). Rosetta over at Happy Black Woman also does a word of the year, as well as words to sum up each month in a monthly review. As a consequence, all of the good words were being taken (not that I have a problem with sharing, says the only child for the first eight years of her life). I know how powerful stating your intentions can be, so I wanted to make sure I chose a word that would characterize what this year is going to be for me. So of course I picked two words of the year. 😀

You’ve already read the first “word of the year,” the most important of the two, the scripture quoted at the beginning of this post. As I examined my life, I realized that I am forever trying to go back, and it isn’t working for me. I have moaned about wanting to be at a previous weight. I’ve relived my pitiful previous writing “triumphs.” I want to be as zealous for the Lord as I was in previous years. I was stuck on how others have viewed me in the past. I was looking behind me and seeing all the good and the bad. I was determined to either recapture or forever evade the things that had taken place in my past. But the past is gone; it’s time to forget those things which are behind. Whether they were “the best days of my life” or the worst mistakes I ever made, my focus can’t be on trying to go backwards; there’s a greater reward in front of me.

At the same time, other than in Christ, I have no desire to live in the future. I don’t know if it’s because my future has been so uncertain as of late concerning my relationship and my career path, or because I am tired of living for “when [insert goal post here] happens,” but I don’t want to try to live for the weekends of my life anymore. Jolene absolutely nailed it in her post on her word of the year, “Be.” Yet, that didn’t fully describe what I wanted this year to be about either. So what did I decide upon?

I’ve accomplished several goals in the last year and I want to keep that going. I want to set myself up well for the future while appreciating the present. I don’t want the past to be the goal, but for the best of what’s before me to be my focus. Therefore, the word I chose for this year is…SAVOR.

1sa·vor

noun ˈsā-vər

Definition of SAVOR
1: the taste or smell of something
3: a distinctive quality

savor verb

intransitive verb
: to have a specified smell or quality : smack
transitive verb
1: to give flavor to : season
2a: to have experience of : taste
 b: to taste or smell with pleasure : relish
 c: to delight in : enjoy <savoring the moment>

When I thought of this, two scriptures immediately popped into my mind (aside from Phil. 3:13), two of my favorites: Taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalms 34:8), and

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. ~Matt 5:13

Savor speaks to a few key things I want this year to represent:

  • Gratitude and praise to God for all that He is doing for me each day. Enjoying spending time with Him. Really tasting and being able to say that the Lord is good.
  • Being in the moment. Whenever you savor a bite of food or a moment, you relish and enjoy it. You are fully present and in that moment. You feel the texture and taste the flavor of it. You aren’t thinking of the last time you had it, neither are you looking forward to the next bite; you are enjoying the now. I want to enjoy the fruits of my labor and enjoy the journey as I progress to the next destination. It can be hard not to mourn what it gone or yearn for what is to come, but I’m going to focus on enjoying where I am and letting things happen in the fulness of time, when God wills it to happen. I can’t speed up His timetable anyway.
  • Lastly, I want to be savory, to be well seasoned. I want the things that I say to be well seasoned. As the salt of the earth, I want to flavor the things around me, to preserve and influence them. I want people to see how God has enhanced my flavor. I want people to want what I have that makes me so…delicious. I want to be able to say and do things to lead people to Christ, to encourage them on their walk with Christ, and to prompt them to share with me things that will help me in the next stages of my journey.

SAVOR. The word for 2013.

I promise I’ll tell you how Decision 2012 went soon. I double promise.

Your Two Cents: What’s your word of the year?

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The 2012 That Never Was…

If ever any year confirmed for me that my word of the year philosophy is better than making resolutions, it was this one. I didn’t even stick to my word of the year, either the original one I intended to use or the one it turned out to be around my birthday (February). In fact, my year ended up being about a different word/theme entirely. So here’s what I wanted to happen, what I tried to make happen, and what actually happened.

From my posts late last year, this year was supposed to be the year of me. I was complaining about how all of 2011 seemed to be about other people and I wanted to focus on myself. I wanted this year to be about improving myself in every way and feeling like everything wasn’t about someone or something else. Well, this was a major fail, in my opinion.

By the time my birthday rolled around, at which point I still hadn’t put forth my word of the year, I decided that the word of the year should be decision. There were some areas of my life I needed to make some decisions on and get settled in my mind about. I wanted to have some resolution on where my relationship was going, on what I was doing in my job, whether or not to go back to school, where to live next year, etc. I wanted to make the hard decisions about my finances that needed to be made so that I could be better positioned going into 2013. This wasn’t as big of a fail as the year of me, but this didn’t turn out to be the word of the year, either.

As I’ve looked over the past 12 months, the thing that is abundantly clear to me is that this year has been about one thing for me: focus. Focus has been the focus of this year (see what I did there? :D). I’ve focused on one writing project instead of a million. I focused on finding out the details of my financial situation and coming up with a plan to address it. I focused on what going back to school would mean to my position at my job, and moved forward with submitting an application to a program that is well respected in the subject area I’ll be studying. When my mother sent me money, rather than spending it haphazardly, I focused on getting things I needed and paying bills. I established a routine of walking in the mornings. I focused.

It’s amazing what focus can do. I am ending this year with only one “one-time” debt left. I have paid off my car. I have kicked the payday advance cycle. I have a most of It Takes One to Know One written and revised. I’ve nearly finished pre-marital counseling. I was accepted into the college I wanted to go to and am registering for a class or two. I have made many of the decisions that I wanted to make this year, and I even managed to pay more attention to my hair!

Yet, in all that I have focused on, I still didn’t do much with me. Yesterday, as I sat getting my first deluxe french pedicure and gel french manicure, as well as lip, chin, and eyebrow waxing, it startled me that I couldn’t remember the last manicure, pedicure or waxing I had gotten. When I tested out a clarisonic at the mall last week, I couldn’t believe how long it had been since I’d worn a face mask or really deep cleaned my skin. As I went through tops and bottoms for the first time in ages at the store, I realized I no longer had any idea what flattered my body shape or what colors looked best on me. I hadn’t bought anything from Bath & Body Works in at least two years. Other than going for walks and doing a basic wash, press, and curl, I hadn’t done any exterior work on me all year. Not. Good.

Thanks to my focus this year, I am in a much better financial position for 2013 than I ever would have imagined was possible. I will actually be able to afford having my hair done, getting a pedicure, or buying new clothes/shoes when I need to. I can see if getting a facial a couple times a year may help maintain glowing skin. I can get a clarisonic and great skincare products. I can get a membership to the new cycling/yoga studio when it opens. I can do things for me without robbing Peter to pay Paul. When I’m not worrying about being able to put gas in my car or making pay stretch to the next week, I can work on developing a stronger prayer and devotional life. I can study for class. I can breathe.

So maybe 2012’s word should be positioning. With all of the hard work I’ve put in this year, I’ve positioned myself to be able to actually accomplish some goals next year that I’ve been striving to reach for a long time. I’m ready to find an editor and get published. I’m ready to see what the best Erica looks like. I’m ready to grow from a job to a stable career. I’m ready for potential to and preparation to meet opportunity. I’m in a position where I can meet an opportunity head on. I couldn’t say that last year.

With all of these exciting developments, what is the word for next year? What are the  goals? And what happened with the real decision 2012? That’s for the next post.

Your two cents: How did 2012 turn out for you? Did it go as you imagined it would go?

XOXO

2blu2btru

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Word of the Year

Pisces
Hint for my word of the year: I'm a Pisces Image via Wikipedia

I’m a Pisces. That usually means absolutely nothing to me, but the symbol has me thinking.

I watched a documentary about salmon once that chronicled their journey to get to their spawning  location. In order to get to this prime spot, they had to swim upstream. When trying to swim upstream, their bodies became soft, and many of them perished, not being able to sustain in such harsh conditions. Those that made it, the strongest and best equipped for the journey, were the ones who created the next generation.

Then there was the trip back to the ocean, downstream. This trip was physically easier for the salmon, but there were predators along the way. Many salmon were fished out of rivers and streams and eaten by bears. This seemed random and arbitrary. Did the smartest salmon swim in the middle and were they therefore less likely to be eaten, or was it the luck of the draw? Did they just go with the flow and let whatever happens to them happen?

For the past year, my word of the year has been accountability. This is the opposite of going with the flow. I’ve been trying to be aware of what’s going on in my life and not take a whatever happens happens approach. I’ve been keeping track of what I owe and who I owe, as well as how much I owe them. I have been working on being punctual, on being where I said I would be. I’ve worked on doing what I said I would do. Those things should continue to be a part of my life, but now I’m wondering what’s next for me. I’m all about progression and growth, and as little stock as I put into Zodiac signs, the Pisces fish (plural) reflect the two aspects of my approach to life. So should this year be a year of learning to go with the flow more? Or should it be a year of continuing to swim upstream, to progress against all odds?

I use my word of the year to frame the goals that I choose to pursue in my life for the next year. It’s the simple answer to what I’m doing with my life and hoping to accomplish in the short time span of a year. So which of these two warring parts of my nature will win this year?

Both.

The word for 2011 will be…balance.

It’s important for me to be aware and accountable in my life, but it’s also important for me to realize I don’t have to go against the grain and fight upstream all the time. Sometimes I have to let go. Sometimes I have to accept that things will change in ways I can’t anticipate and I’ll have to roll with the punches. I need to have a healthy balance between preparation and being able to take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves.

I’ve learned and grown in so many ways by being solely focused on accountability, and taking time to grow and just go with the flow, but now it’s time to combine them for optimum growth and progress.

I’ve been following other bloggers, such as those at To Be Determined and Eat.Drink.Breathe.Sweat, who have been struggling to maintain balance in their own lives. I’ve been thinking about the lack of balance in my life for a while, and what better time to focus on achieving balance than now?

My 2011 goals will be put up tomorrow; stay tuned!

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Day 2

My goals for the year are simple, direct, to the point, a marvel of simplicity–but not easy to achieve. At least not for me. To fully embrace Accountability, I have certain areas in my life that are subpar that I want to work on, but that doesn’t mean I know exactly what I need to change or how to change it. the main idea is that I know it needs to change. Without further ado, my goals for 2010:

1. Get healthy/fit: exercise more, cook more at home, see a doctor, see a “lady doctor” (gynocologist), be more active. The treadmill and I are old friends, but now it’s time to be friends with some other exercise equipment, and outdoor activities like Tennis, biking/cycling, and possibly learn to swim. If my body is really a temple, it’s definitely time for temple maintenance. If I were the Holy Spirit dwelling in me, I wouldn’t be pleased with accommodations.

2a. Write more: It’s been too long since I’ve written anything that was of any substance, something that could be submitted for contests, publication, something other than a few witticisms on my wordpress blog, or a snarky entry in my private diary. Besides, I don’t write here nearly enough for it to count as a serious writing endeavor [but that is to be remedied. see 2c]

2b. Get published: I have been published before, but it was a long time ago, and if I am ever to do what I really want to do for a living (write novels, poetry, short stories, and memoirs), then I have to start getting published, getting my work (and my name) out there.

2c. Write more in my blog/online journals: It is my intention to write something here every single day. It is, at the least, something to make sure I have written everyday, and at most, it will show that I can stick with the process and think critically about my life. It will force me to be more creative if I have to find something interesting to talk about every day.

3. Career growth: In other words, don’t quit my day job, but rather, advance in it. The past six months I have been a permanent employee, I haven’t been given a career path, because I am still bouncing around departments, transferring everyone from primarily paper documentation to primarily computerized documentation and filing. It’s time for me to finish this and settle in to a career track with the company. I don’t want to be a “support specialist” forever. It’s time to make my career goals clear, and start moving in the direction I mean to go.

4. Get my financial house in order: I haven’t much of a problem paying the bills, but due to having to pay back loans, my debt to income ratio is too high, meaning I can’t get approved for much of anything. Somehow, I have to find the extra money to pay more on my debts and decrease them more rapidly, with an eye to a future free from debt and focused on saving for the future.

5 Get my spiritual house in order: I have had some hard knocks this year,  and it’s been harder and harder to preserve my relationship with God. People have died, people have betrayed me, I’ve lost things, relationships have soured, I’ve been frustrated at being stagnated in the same place in so many areas of my life. It’s been hard to continue to be patient and faithful, even for me. I’ve been through rough times before, but when it’s rough year after rough year, you begin to flag. Where is the valley? This year, it’s time to make peace with God; it’s not His fault for my situation(s). My minister said something that resonated with me. In the Bible it says the rain falls on the just and the unjust. What this means is that there are certain immutable laws of creation in place that if you do a, b will happen, whether or not you are a Christian, whether or not you are right. His example was, if I am a person who doesn’t believe in God, yet I plant seeds, till the earth, water it, and so on, I will yield a crop; if I am a Christian who never does those things but prays to God for a crop, I won’t have one. The world has laws governing it that apply to everyone. Sometimes, I’ve been that hand -stuck-out Christian that wanted God to do what I was supposed to be doing myself, at the same time trying to do the things I should have let Him do. It’s time to correct this balance and move forward with the Lord.

6. Time to shorten the guest list: I have to reign in my liberal use of the label “friend,” and my over availability to so-called friends. If I get taken advantage of a lot, that’s my own fault. I try to give people so many chances, and I never want to just cut people off. I have a problem throwing people away; I just can’t do it. What if they still need me? What if I still need them? Some people are just distractions and disturbances. Their aim is to keep you from being able to accomplish what you set out to do in the first place. Trying to help them achieves nothing, and they don’t have any benefit to you. It’s time to let those people fall away.

As I said before, none of this will be easy, and I am not sure how to go about all of it, but these are the goals (not resolutions) that I have set before myself, things I want to achieve. I probably won’t reach them all in a year either, but that is the short term goal period I have set, with my regular check points along the way.

Maybe I’ll keep track in each entry in a Bridget Jones sort of fashion: parasitic friends 20,  publications 0, extra money put to bills 0,  bills paid on time 0, minutes in the gym 0, vegetables 0… we will see.

To anyone who decides to follow along, thank you for taking this journey with me. There will be a few new restructing things on the blog soon. Look forward to it!

2blu2btru

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Day 1–January 1, 2010

[ Wrote January 1, but not posted until the second…important for reasons to be revealed!]

First and foremost, Happy New Year to everyone. I hope you brought in the New Year exactly how you wanted, with the people you wanted. I hope you were safe and happy and not about any foolishness–no drunk driving, drunk dialing, or drunken fights in the club, bar, parking lot, lobby, restaurant, street, car, house party, liquor store…or sober fighting either anywhere at any time.

Culturally, as an African-American, we have many beliefs surrounding the New Year. One is that you have to clean your house before the New Year. I don’t really know why; just to be clean and start fresh, I guess. A man has to be the first one to walk through your door in the New Year. Again, I have no idea why. You have to cook greens (collards, mustards, turnip…you know, the stuff that looks like leaves 🙂  (for prosperity), black eyed peas (for health), cabbage (money) (obviously, there’s a lot of hope/anticipation/preparation for more money. And a little health to, for good measure; gotta be healthy to spend the money.

Finally, last but not least, the myth is whatever you spend the first day of the New Year doing is what you’ll be doing all year. This can get tricky, because, if you have a job but aren’t working, you may or may not still have a job. I guess if you work on the first, you will not only be working all year, but you will have a job to work all year.  You don’t want to clean on New Year’s because you’ll be cleaning all year, etc.

Mind you, these are all traditions. They don’t necessarily have any basis in reality, and since they are symbolic and not action oriented, people tend to be disappointed. I ate my black eyed peas, but I got diabetes this year. Well, if you didn’t eat right or exercise, yes you did. What did you expect? It’s not a magic talisman. I take all of these things as statements of intent. I plan on looking after my health and wealth. I plan on keeping a neat and orderly home. Whatever I spend my free day today doing is something I plan to spend time on throughout the year.

New Year’s Resolutions–I don’t make them. What I usually do is focus on a word that repesents an idea/philosophy of how I want to approach life in the New Year. So, the word for 2010 came to me nine weeks ago. A coworker sent around an email about wanting to start a challenge to lose weight/get healthy by New Year’s and wanted people to join her for….accountability.

Accountability is the word of the year! Accountability means: the quality or state of being accountable; especially : an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions <public officials lacking accountability> Now that we have the dictionary definition, here’s how this relates to my life.

I feels as if it is time for me to be more attentive to the things that God has given me, to be a better steward of the things that I have in order to: a) enhance the things I already have b) obtain a better quality of life c) aquire more, and d) not be in the same position next year, but in a better one. Honestly, no one likes living paycheck to paycheck, being fat, not achieving their goals, watching life slip away from you, but not everyone will acknowledge that they are the reason their life is the way it is and be responsible for changing the direction to the one they really desire. That’s what I’m trying to do this year. If I say my life sucks and this isn’t the way I’m meant to live, guess who has to change all of that? To that end, tomorrow I will list some specific goals.

2blu2btru