I’m happy to say that this year is even better than my last. When I turned 30 last year, I challenged myself to set and reach new goals for each year of my life from that point forward. Why? Because when I reach 40, I want to be able to measure my growth. I don’t want to be that person that looks up after 15 years have passed and says, “where did the time go?”, and all I have to show for it is years. So this year, in addition to launching some new initiatives for 20/30E and my new consulting business #designherdreams, I’m on a quest to engage myself in 31 brand-spanking new experiences that will inspire, encourage, and motivate me to be the best me. This past week, I completed 3!
Yesterday, I completed quest #1. Hiking!
After a few failed attempts at joining a local gym, I’ve realized that while I love exercise and being healthy, I get bored easily doing the same routine exercises, looking at the same people week in, week out. So I started searching for alternative ways to exercise in environments that would inspire me. I decided to try hiking. A huge shout out to my buddy J.T. who was a good sport and went with me this past weekend. We decided to do the trails at the Gifford Pinchot State Park here in PA, which has over 18 miles of trails ranging from easy to difficult terrain. I had a blast! With fresh air, beautiful woodland and lake views, and great conversation, we hiked 1.7 miles in no time flat.
What inspired me? Taking this hike taught me that if I challenge myself to think a little more creatively, I can turn even those mundane tasks into something challenging and exciting. Also, just by taking myself out of my regular, day-to-day environment, I gave myself an opportunity to clear my head, appreciate the beauty of nature. and just live in the moment. As women, we need that. Within any given day, we could have tons of things trying to get our attention all at much. I know that I’m often guilty of laying in bed while I should be relaxing and re-capping my to-do lists, or taking my lunch break and using it as an opportunity to catch up on other projects outside of work, rather than just giving myself a mental break.
Quest #2: Embracing a natural me.
This is a picture of me and my best friend Toni at dinner last night. Besides the fact that I was able to have a bestie moment with this dynamic mother, teacher, and soon-to-be college graduate, I made the decision this past week that I would totally embrace my natural curls. It took me a long time to get to that point because for years, I told myself that I was prettier with straight hair? Why? Because as I was growing up, when I turned on the TV or looked at a lot of the women in my community, they all had straight hair. Straight hair has long been the idealized standard of beauty in the black community. So for years I subjected my hair to the hot comb, the TCB relaxers, and the flat irons. And although I’ve always been complimented on my hair due to its thickness and length, I always felt uncomfortable wearing it in its natural form, curly. It always seemed untidy, thick, and unprofessional looking. But as I started to see more women reclaim their hair roots (pun intended), I started to explore ways to style my own hair in a manner that would be professional, fun, and most importantly, me. So as I got dressed up for my birthday dinner, rather than pulling out my trusty flat iron, I opted to let my curls run free.
What inspired me? Embracing my natural hair spoke volumes about how far I’ve come with accepting myself. We spend so much of our lives trying to live up to others’ expectations that we forget what’s unique about us. We choose careers based on our parents expectations’ or because this news article says that this is one of the most lucrative careers. Finally, I had made a choice that wasn’t based on what I thought other people would like, but on what I liked. So as I move forward and continue to build my non-profit and my consulting business, instead of trying to compete with others, I’ve realized that I only need to focus on growing it in a manner that is going to be fulfilling and support the vision that I’ve been given.
Quest #3 Had dinner with an inspiring friend who had the guts to pursue his dreams.
Okay, so this actually isn’t something new, but I thought it fitting to spend my 31st birthday with a fellow go-getter. Meet one of my oldest and dearest friends, Eric Wortham II. This guy is pretty hot stuff in the music industry and one of the most accomplished pianists I’ve ever met. I remember when we started going to summer music camp together back when we were in high school, and 15 years later, he’s touring the world with the likes of Jill Scott and Janelle Monae.
What inspired me? It’s not the stars that he’s had the privilege to meet and work with that make his career impressive. It’s his drive. He developed a clear vision for his life and he went after it. And I have many friends like him who are throwing caution to the wind and going after what they want. These are type of individuals that I want to surround myself with as I continue my journey so that I can stay motivated and encouraged.
So each week I’ll report on my progress. My goal is to complete the challenge by the time my 32nd birthday rolls around. Wish me luck!