A Time When Gratitude Won

Photo retrieved from: https://thriveglobal.com/stories/the-importance-of-practicing-gratitude/

December 21st marked the alignment of Jupiter and Saturn. It also happened to be my mom’s birthday. While I have never quite been an astrology or zodiac buff, I did find it interesting all the conversation this event generated. People were supposed to get super powers and a shift was to be felt around the world. In retrospect, I am unsure if I felt anything, really. I have been more aware of my surroundings and I had a few vivid dreams this week, but nothing major. What super power did you get, if any?

I told myself that rather than acquiring a power that I had never had, the powers I already possessed would be magnified. That I have found to be quite true, especially after enduring this whirlwind of a year. I have deepened my sense of self-love and stood by the notion that I come first. I have ceased pouring into situations that do not replenish me the same. It can be draining to care, but a happy medium must be found between caring and the absence of such. Sometimes, not caring becomes a defense mechanism that can do more hard than good.

My favorite aspect about this year has been giving myself permission to exist as I am without trying to please others. I thought I had done so in the past, but I realized that there was still so much I was hiding in terms of what I thought and what I could do. I especially love the epiphany I had about allocating my energy more wisely when it comes to certain situations.

So what intentions am I setting for next year? Quite frankly, I want to be more intentional about everything that I do. I want to understand and stand by the ends to the means, and surround myself with people who support those efforts.

In contemplating my year, I realize that I spent a lot of my favorite moments in a virtual space. And surprisingly this resulted in the creation of one of the largest friend groups I have ever had. I am super grateful for the ability to turn this year into something positive. So while we might be quick to scoff at the year 2020 has been, let’s also relish in the good times that we surely had. Because there were so many!

Bonding over the love of music in safe spaces created by DJs online. Taking that first step in creating a business or showcasing an idea because we had a little more time to do so. And more importantly, being even more grateful for the human connection that, while it was limited physically, was transferred to kind gestures online.

That is how I would like to remember 2020. A time when gratitude won.

You Don’t Always Get What You Want When You Want It

So what do you do when you do not get what you want when you want it? How does it make you feel? Does it make you believe that all your efforts were in vain? That you were not meant to succeed or be happy? Or does it fuel your quest to ensure that next time you get it? That maybe the timing was off and that in due time your goals will become tangible?

I think the first thing most people feel is frustration and disappointment. It is a bit unnatural to just accept in that moment. Accepting that you did not get your way sort of like a grieving process. You go from denying to bargaining, the whole nine yards until finally you accept your reality. But does your current reality represent your fate? The answer to that question separates everyone who endures this circumstance. The optimist is hopeful that this is just a temporary phase in their current reality rather than permanent defeat. The pesimist accepts their fate as permanent and will likely never try again.

Does this ideology work with everything you want? Sometimes we want positions of power. Other times we desire people. When is it time to go against the grain and try to force what appears to be unnatural to work in our favor? For some it has led to success. For others it has led to quite the contrary.

Is life easier when we just accept what comes to us? Just accept what flows? Possibly so (assuming what comes to us is good). But is ease necessarily good? Sometimes it is, sometimes it can be dangerous. Ease does not stimulate growth. We do need the tugging and pulling. The seeds that are planted underground and know darkness from birth might squint in discomfort when their first leaves see the sun. But they know it is good for them. It is necessary for their survival. The rain helps them grow, too, no matter how light or heavy it may be. Perhaps what you need supersedes what you want, and the ultimate goal is to want what you need. What you want might be fleeting. What you need is your power.

What I Learned in 2018

Artwork from Art Basel, Fontainebleau. Photo taken by Adaola O.

2018 was a particularly interesting year for me. Why, you might ask? It was the first time that I was really real with myself. It was the first time I stopped making excuses for the inexcusable behavior demonstrated by others in my circle and outside my circle. Let me explain.

I had to reckon with my definition of being a friend. What did it mean for me to be a friend to others? What did it mean for me to call others my friend? Up until that point it had unfortunately become a loose term that I distributed too freely and without much consideration. Basically if someone was nice enough to me and could hold conversation, they could be my friend.

What is my new definition of a friend? Someone who wants to help put you on when they see you doing something positive with your life. And not only do they WANT that for you, and TELL you how proud they are of you, but they DO something about it. They shout your business out on their social media. They patronize your business, support your ideas, and overall play an ACTIVE role in your success. If your current friends are not doing that for you, then what is the basis of your friendship? Is it gossip? Is it clubbing? Drinking, smoking, eating out every weekend talking about anything but how you can progress as an individual? To me that is just a time-waster. Does your family put you on? Do they support you? Because the same applies to them, to a higher degree I might add.

And of course I asked myself how frequently I was doing the aforementioned positive acts for others. I can honestly say that I did a pretty good job of supporting my friends or people I worked with (photographers, artists, etc) and publicizing their work on my social media or to contacts I knew could help them. But this year I plan on taking it up a notch with my new podcast series (stay tuned!). I challenge you to ask yourself the same questions and DO BETTER in 2019!