Because Black Women Be Reflecting

“Become a good ancestor.” – Layla Saad (A Black woman who be knowing)

Hey, hey, hey! As we leave 2018 behind and dive into 2019, I can’t help but acknowledge how many people I see cutting folks off for the new year and declaring, “new year, new me” all over their social media pages. What I’m not gon’ do is declare that because I don’t need to wait til January 1st to do any of that shit. If I don’t like you on Sept 19th… BYE Felicia! If I wake up on May 2nd and I’m not feeling who I am, time to change. That’s it.

So instead of talking about what I’m gonna do, I’m just gonna reflect on what I’ve learned this year. Here are my gems. Feel free to take the ones you need, share some of them with your homegirls or homeboys and/or leave what doesn’t serve you.

Get yourself in formation. One of the things that I really had to identify, with absolute certainty, were my values. What do I care about? What is non-negotiable in my life? How do I live into those values? And would people be able to say that they know what my values are based on the way I show up in the world?  

I know. Shit is already getting deep.

So major book alert- I just finished reading Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead (she’s not a Black woman but she’s dope.) She stated three things that had me like Yaaaasss Hunty!

  1. Get clear on your values which should not be more than 2-3. Just cause I like y’all I’m going to share my three values: Excellence, integrity and vision.
  2. Ain’t no difference between your personal and professional values. I can’t emphasize this shit enough. I don’t have two selves. I got one self and my values manifest themselves in every aspect of my life. When you live different lives, only one thing can come of that: a fucking identity crisis.
  3. Not everyone’s opinion matters. You need a square squad- the four trusted people whose thoughts and input you value, and influence your decision-making. I used to say, I don’t care what anyone thinks, kind of like those teens on Maury who be like “Y’all don’t know me. Whatever, whatever.” That shit is ignorant. Unless you don’t ever come into contact with other people, you need to care about what others say just choose your people wisely.

I recommend that everyone reads that book and try to tell me that you don’t see yourself and people you know all throughout that shit (whether good or bad.)

Leave them niggas over there. Like I said earlier, I don’t wait til the new year to get rid of raggedy ass people. That’s like saying, I’m gonna wait til Jan. 1st to to take the trash out. I don’t want no shit stinking around me so the minute you identify trash, TAKE. IT. OUT.

I live by the motto, protect your energy. What does that mean and what does that look like? It means that we all have to do things we might not want to do or agree with but my best advice is listen to spirit and decide. When my spirit is agitated or just flat out rejects someone or something, that someone or something needs to be left right where they are. I’m not giving any of my time to people and things that don’t serve me or aren’t in service of a goal. Periodt.

You know what else I realized? When people show you that they’re disloyal, petty, jealous or whatever else, they aren’t just revealing themselves, they’re revealing a part of you as well. I had to start asking myself, I say Self: How you gonna respond to this? What did you learn from this situation? Oh, you bet not give this MFer another opportunity to pull that shit again (clearly this isn’t a question but that’s my inner voice laying down the law.)

I had to stop letting people convince me to tolerate things that were diametrically opposed to my values.

Oh, you don’t operate from a place of excellence? FOH!

I’m sorry, you forgot your integrity this morning? Go back home and get that shit.

You don’t have a vision for this work? Call me back to the table when you do.

We all heard the saying, we teach the people in our lives how to treat us. Some people are slow learners and some people keep coming to class unprepared so for those people, there’s a really dope song for you by Quavo from Migos. You can sing along if you like:

Keep that shit- keep that shit

Keep that shit over there

Yo, keep that shit, keep that shit

Keep that shit over there

Go back and listen to the whole song if you like but that’s the gist of it.

Make every space you enter better after you leave it. One day during the summer, I was walking around Marshall’s and I came upon some office decor. Obviously, that is not what I went to Marshall’s for but you know how that goes. This desk plaque has one word and I couldn’t resist buying it. It simply says Inspire. It’s on my desk at home and I look at it everyday.

This is how I know that I’ve internalized that word… because other people see me as an inspiration. The essential question is, are your values visible to others? Right before the holiday, my colleague (another sista) gave me a note that said that my Black girl magic and the way I welcomed her is inspirational. That matters to me.

I naturally pour into every one and every space that I enter and that’s part of my definition of being excellent. I don’t half-ass myself and therefore I don’t half-ass others. You can’t expect people to do any more for others than they do to and for themselves.

My friend, Khalilah used to say, “People lie to themselves all the time, what makes you think they won’t lie to you?” We were speaking in a different context but it’s crazy how true that shit is. If a person is self-destructive, it’s only a matter of time before they bring that destructive energy into the spaces they’re in. If a person loves themselves, they gonna spread that love, plain and simple.

There was an article on 21Ninety, another dope site for Black women that focused on getting rid of to-do lists and start writing to-be lists. This is something that we all need to engage in. I love the feeling of productivity and getting shit done but who am I after all of the boxes get checked off?

Remember the season finale of Insecure where Molly gets to work on the big case and outshine the brother at the firm? Issa has to check her friend because although she’s getting everything she wanted, who is she becoming to get it?

That’s a question we all need to ask ourselves so I’ll let you contemplate that for the new year.

Lastly, here are some practices that have gotten me through 2018 cause the Goddess knows that my patience has been tested this year.

  • Show gratitude- Regardless to where I’m at in my life versus where I want to be, there is always something to be thankful for and it’s crucial to not only speak my gratitude but capture it. I use the Secret of Happiness app to jot down 3 things I’m thankful for every day. iPhone users, you may have to find a different app but y’all be aight.
  • Meditate- Sit yo’ ass down somewhere. Remember our parents used to always tell us that? I’m finally listening and I set aside 10 minutes first thing in the morning for meditation. I have to clear my mind and set my intention for the day, ensuring that what I plan to do aligns with my values.
  • Run- Listen, my thighs are cussin’ me out right now cause I got back on the track yesterday and did a 2 mile run. I ain’t been out there in 7 months and my body ain’t fucking with me cause I wasn’t fucking with it. But I deserve that. Running is obviously good cardio but I’m never more clear and present than when I’m running and it relieves so much stress. I noticed I wanted to go upside some folks’ heads a lot more when I wasn’t running so I’m definitely re-establishing this routine so I can save me and my alibi the problems.
  • Listen to Black Women- Y’all know I love me some Black women cause I love me. I value our opinions more than anyone else’s. Almost my entire square squad include Black women and I know that I’m cared for, loved on and supported by my sistren. White folks, if y’all reading this, get you a Black woman friend and not as a token- but one who can tell you the hard truths and get you some dope ass soul food. Y’all spirits need it.

There you go! Don’t say I ain’t never did shit for you. I hope y’all take the time to reflect before y’all get drunk and see how far you’ve come. Drop some comments too if the spirit moves you.

Have fun, pop bottles (champagne, wine or cider- I don’t judge unless it’s Henny. That shit is nasty) and get ready for the next phase of the journey. Cheers to 2018 and let’s get it in 2019!

Live your truth.

Live it up.

Live out loud.

And if you don’t know, now you be knowing.

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