31 Jul DiscovHer.life
As I ponder who I am, who I believe I should be and where I’m going, I’m a bit uncomfortable saying, out loud, that “I don’t quite know yet.” As a person who has always planned out every detail of her life, not knowing is quite different. Fear of the unknown does not encompass the void that I feel.
What I am feeling reminds me of the eagerness I experienced when heading to Howard University as a 16-year-old. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was certain of two things: 1.) College was going to be good and 2.) I was going to graduate!
When I walked onto the yard, it was like a visit to the United Nations for people of color. Being from the south side of Chicago and going to grammar school and high school there as well, my exposure to other ethnicities of color was limited to say the least. While at Howard, I was exposed to people of color who were not African-American. I became friends with Nigerians, Ethiopians, Ghanaians and Kenyans. Everybody I met from New York was either a first or second generation descendant of a Caribbean Island.
For the first time in my life, I was challenged to think about what it meant to be an African-American female. Prior to attending Howard, I took for granted that every person of color that I’d met shared the same cultural values and history as I did. This intrigued me. I was inspired to learn more about other cultures and religions, and to ultimately live abroad.
My senior year at Howard was the year that the Ralph Bunch International Studies Center opened. I would walk past the building three times a week on my way to class. Looking in the window, I would think to myself, “I wish I could study abroad!”
Then, I would think, “It’s too late! You should have done it your sophomore year. You have to graduate to help take care of mommy!” My mom had been diagnosed with Stage IV Breast Cancer that year. So, I did not pursue studying abroad. I have no regrets. I graduated and was able to practice as a Registered Nurse. Most importantly, I was able to support the person who I loved more than life, my mom!
My mom died from Breast Cancer four years later. My dreams of living abroad were still there, but I did not want to leave my brothers. There were several opportunities for me to live abroad. However, with each instance, I chose to stay in Chicago. I had commitments and fears. I had dreams that I only envisioned coming true in Chicago.
But in January 2015, something stirred in my soul. I was chronically tired, irritable, and, quite frankly, depressed. I looked in the mirror and did not like who I saw. I could not figure out what was going on. I could not point to one thing that was “wrong.” I had a great paying job. I was living out several of my passions: traveling the country, collecting art, and mentoring young girls through Joanie Girl’s Heart, a nonprofit that I started in 2011 to honor my mom, “Joanie Girl.”
A host of family and friends were always around to show their love and support. But, something was off. One day, a friend asked me a very simple question, “Are you happy?” I honestly couldn’t say yes. I paused, then answered, “I’m getting there.”
I was ashamed that my answer wasn’t yes. I mean, I had many things that most people dreamed of. I felt very guilty because I did not want to seem ungrateful for all that I had and all that I had experienced.
I sat down, meditated and prayed. I asked God to simply help me. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted Him to help me with, but I knew something needed to change.
I kept hearing, “Let IT GO!”
I thought, “Let WHAT go?”
After a few serendipitous events and much meditation and prayer, one thing became very clear. I needed to change. I was holding on to thoughts, beliefs, people, places and things that no longer served who I was becoming.
From January 2015 through September 2015, I let go of a bunch of people, places and things. It was easier to let go of some more than others. I sold my condo, furniture and most of my clothes, and moved in with a friend. I payed off my credit card bills with the profits from those sales. I took out my weave and cut my hair to save time and money. I also went from getting my nails done weekly to once a month. (I gotta say, cutting back on my nail regimen was harder than cutting my hair!) Finally, I took a leave from Joanie Girl’s Heart, and stopped volunteering for extra assignments at work.
The cutbacks were all part of my commitment to take more time to just be. No agenda. No goals. “JUST BE!”
If my therapist read this, she would be utterly shocked. Two years ago, she suggested that I take one Saturday a month and have no plans. I emphatically told her that was impossible. Well, look at me now!
This brings me to the purpose of my blog. I invite you to discovHery — my personal journey of lighting my fire! I have a list of countries that I want to explore. I want to see the world from different perspectives. I’m opening my heart and giving myself the freedom to experience love, joy and peace in MY WAY!
I’m sure you are wondering how I am financing this trip (I’m not independently wealthy and I don’t have a rich husband, yet). I’m using my savings and money from the sales of my personal items, that’s how. It’s funny. I started an emergency fund eight years ago for a rainy day. The rainy day has come. My soul needs watering! As you follow my travel around the world, I invite you to travel outside of yourself. Miracles happen outside of our comfort zones and plans.
Miracles happen outside of our comfort zones and plans.
To all of the people who have loved and supported me and will continue to do so on this new journey, I looove you more than words can say! I know that I am rich because I am loved.
I plan to post every other week, so please sign-up for the email list to get my updates.
Wishing you love, peace and discovHery!
P.S. Check out my fabulous blog logo! The wings of the Phoenix represent freedom, and red is my favorite color. The tag speaks for itself.
P.S.S. Check out the “Inspiration” page for my favorite quotes! You can visit the store and make purchases.