Who’s in your five? A mentor of mine asked me that question, and I honestly couldn’t answer. He was saying that when you have a challenge in life, lean into the five closest people in your community.
Over the years, I’ve developed a tribe of very positive, inspiring people. I have a church home, lead a small group for young married couples, live on a street where everyone knows everybody, teach an acting class, take an acting class, participate in a group chat and keep up with family. My tribe looks great on paper; it consists of people I look up to, people I mentor, people I do life with, people that make me laugh, people that show up when asked. On the outside, I’m surrounded by good folks. But my mentor made me realize something: I hadn’t really let any of them “in.”
Here’s a perfect example. On my wedding day, I handed out three plaques to the women in my life who have stepped up as “mothers” in my life after my mom passed. In essence, I was telling saying, “Tag, you’re it. When I need a mom, I trust you will show up and support. In turn, I will show up as a daughter and love your family as my own.” It was a beautiful gesture, and I’ve been in contact with all of these women. But overall, I’ve only really talked to them about how life is going when life was too hard for me to handle alone. That’s not relationship. If my mom was still here, I would show up for dinner and check in just because. The reason I haven’t really done this with these ladies is because I don’t want to be a bother.
So, back to my “aha” moment with my mentor. “Who’s in your five?” I decided for the first time to conduct an experiment. Typically, I go through challenging times in private and celebrate the victory with my tribe after I’ve gone through it . . . alone. I know that’s crazy, but what can I say? It’s learned behavior. So, here’s the experiment. The last time I was in the middle of a challenge, I decided to reach out to my tribe. I mean everybody. I wanted to know what it felt like to be supported; I texted/called my substitute moms, messaged my small group, texted my friends in the group chat and called my dad.
The result was interesting. Some people didn’t respond at all. Some people didn’t know how to respond. Some gave me the basic, “love you, praying for you” response, and they kind of disappeared into the business of their own lives. (I’ve done this before SOOOO many times, so I’m not judging.) I had hour-long conversations with others: people I hadn’t really talked to in years. Some people LITERALLY showed up, which surprised me.
Now that I’m better and on the other side of the challenge, I learned something about my squad. Not every relationship is created equal. Some people, I’m there to serve. Some people are clutch when I’m in a bind and need good advice. Some people are great at just being there. Some people support me well and are safe to lean on. I learned that in order to have true relationships, I have to let some people in. I don’t have to let everyone in, but I need in “inner circle.” They can’t just orbit around my life, they have to be invited into the messiness of it, and in turn, I need to jump into theirs.
So, I chose my five. They’ve always been there, but I’m proud to say that over the last week, I’ve contacted all of them and intentionally let them in. They may change over time, and that’s okay. The point is that I started a journey of vulnerability in my closest relationships, and I’m elated! I’ve had some “just because” conversations. I’ve also had some long, hardy belly-laughs. I’ve had some deeper conversations, with awesome exchanges of wisdom. It’s been amazing. I feel supported. I feel loved. I’m not doing life alone, and it has been life-giving to my soul and body. My friend, I hope and pray that I maintain this practice because it’s just so healthy. I feel a difference already. I also pray that your squad supports you well and that you “belong” somewhere. If not, take the risk and start letting someone in. We were made for that kind of thing.
We were helping my in-laws move. Well, my husband was helping my in-laws move. I was sitting around and catching up with family. I’d just gotten off bedrest and didn’t want to overdo it, so I was just kind of there, hanging out.
On our way back home, I was deep in thought as I watched the trees go by. My thoughts: why do certain areas of my life seem to just fall into place, but other areas feel like a constant struggle? My recent health issues were overall non-threatening but seemed to go on much longer than necessary. What was the hold up? I thought about it, had some light conversation with my husband, realized it was late, and let my musings go.
I woke up at 5:30am the next morning for quiet time and did some reading, praying and meditating. While reading, something popped out at me in a different way. I was reading a Bible passage in Matthew. In the story, someone approaches Jesus, asking him to cast out a demon that his disciples couldn’t. His disciples struggled, but Jesus was able to do it with ease. When his disciples asked why they couldn’t cast out the demon, Jesus said, “Because you have so little faith.” Then he went on to teach them that if they have faith, “Nothing will be impossible for you.” I felt like God was whispering the answer I needed to my spirit.
The reason why I struggle with certain areas of my life is my lack of belief in those areas. The reason I win with ease in other areas in my rock-hard confidence.
For example, I never worry about making rent or paying the mortgage. My husband is a contractor, and I’m self-employed. It’s been that way our entire marriage. Before I married him, I was self-employed, so we technically don’t always know where our next check is coming from. We are responsible adults who work, budget, pay bills, save. But sometimes life happens. When it does, I don’t worry. I trust that we will have a roof over our head, clothes on our back, food to eat, and a way to get back and forth to work. For whatever reason, I’ve always felt like those things would just work themselves out. God will provide. And he does. Every. Single. Time.
I’ve also always believed I was worthy of healthy romantic love, so I’ve never been pressed. When I was single, I repelled romantic drama and attracted healthy relationships. Meeting, dating, marrying and living with my husband has been a simple and beautiful process. And I’m STILL not pressed. If he changes his mind and wants to leave, he’s free to go. I don’t own him. He doesn’t own me. We’re both here because we WANT to be. If he did decide to leave, I’m sure that someone else amazing would come along. I don’t worry about it. I almost never think about. There’s so much ease in this department of my life because there’s ease in my heart.
The recent struggle with my health was a result of my mental back and forth. I would have one symptom, then worry for weeks as my body healed. Then, I’d get another symptom, and the worry cycle would start all over again. I was holding the issue too tightly, trying to control something that I ultimately couldn’t. What I learned is that the way I believe really does affect the outcome of my situations. The key to my victory is a sense of ease: releasing the issue and trusting that it will all work out in time.
Where am I with this now? Mentally, I’m in a good place. I finally stopped worrying. I still have some symptoms that I don’t understand, but they are minor, and I’ve prayed for wisdom. While I’m waiting on the answer, I’ve let the issue go. I’m now clear that manhandling my problems doesn’t work, so I’ve chosen to release my problems and just stay on the healing path, no matter how long it takes.
September 1st is kind of my New Year. Every summer I’m working on something that takes up a lot of my focus, and I normally come out on the other side with a renewed sense of clarity. Without fail, God gives me a vision for the coming year right around that time, so I have a fresh set of goals every September 1st. I used to fight the urge to do this mental purge and planning session in early fall because it made me feel like a loner. The rest of the world seems to catch the planning spirit around the actual New Year. It’s kind of fun to see how other people are progressing with their goals the first half of the year. But this year I finally made peace with the notion that my New Year starts in the fall. I create something awesome over the summer, take a short vacation and the planning begins.
This year, my process was as follows:
Created a vision board – This is actually the first year I created a vision board for my life. I’m normally a bullet point goals type of gal, but with my minor health issues this year, I really wanted to see something positive. I’m actually still working on the physical vision board, but I created an inspiration board in IG that’s a pretty good proxy. It worked well enough to get my creative juices flowing for the rest of the planning process. I have images of the following areas on my vision board: spiritual, emotional/mental, health, relationships, career, material (stuff), experiences (like travel). Instead of focusing on targets or accomplishments on my vision board, I focused on how I want my life to feel overall. I think of my vision board as my “big picture” ideal. Whenever I have a free second, I jump on IG and scroll through my inspiration board, and it makes me smile.
Created my one-year goals – I normally start with my five-year goals when I’m planning, but this year I skipped it. That’s probably because my vision board this year scratched my long-term vision casting itch. Also, I have a really aggressive one-year career goal for 2020, and I’ve decided to put a significant amount of energy and focus into manifesting that one goal. I guess I’m on that “dream big, focus small” line of thinking this year. I did create goals for different categories of my life, and they are all specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. It took me about half a day to really drill down on what was important for me to accomplish over the next year, but I’m satisfied with what I’ve come up with.
Created my one-year plan – This part of the process was all about HOW I’m going to accomplish my goals for the year. It’s normally the most frustrating part of the planning process for me because if I can’t come up with an actionable plan for a specific goal, I force myself to take the goal off the table for a time until I can figure out how to make it happen. This is usually the stage of the planning process where I re-evaluate my goals as well. I ask myself questions like, “Am I trying to accomplish this particular thing to boost my ego, or is this really bringing value to my life and others?” “Does this goal align with my purpose?” I try my best to get to the bottom of why I want to accomplish a particular goal, so I’m not wasting my time and effort on a cause rooted in a terrible motive. In this phase, some goals get scrapped all together, so I’m only left with what I feel a deep conviction to accomplish.
Set up accountability – This is the first year I’ve made it a point to be accountable outside of myself for getting ish done. I wanted to join an accountability group, but I got frustrated and impatient looking for something that would work for me. Instead I opted for electronic accountability, and it’s working super well for me! There are some goals that are task oriented and take step by step action to accomplish. I dumped those goals into an online system that helps me track my progress for those goals. But I also have healthier habits I want to implement this year (like taking dance classes regularly) that I dumped into a habit tracker app on my phone. The app has been SUPER helpful with keeping me on track with my day to day work habits. There’s an overall percentage at the top of the app that lets me know how I’m doing, and looking at that percentage everyday is enough to keep me focused. I find this particularly helpful because most of my work freelance, and I don’t have a direct supervisor all the time. I treat that percentage as my boss, and things get done.
Next August I look forward to looking over my year and being proud of the person I’m becoming and the work I’m creating. Until then, I’m putting my head down and getting it done, so Happy New Year folks!
One of the ways I’m working on my mindset is starting my day with gratitude. Making a list of everything I’m grateful for puts things in perspective and elevates my overall mood. Here’s today’s gratitude journal entry:
I’m grateful . . .
For a working car and the money to keep it running.
That every day I get to wake up and do work that excites me.
That I have a clear sense of my purpose in life.
I live in a safe home with people that care about me.
My partner in life cares that I’m happy.
My partner in life is kind not just to me but to pretty much everybody.
My son is healthy, happy and does something every day that makes me laugh.
He goes to a daycare every day with a teacher that truly cares and nurtures his mind and relationships when I’m not with him. She reminds me a lot of my mother. That’s one of those beautiful “God winks” in my life.
I’m surrounded by women who inspire me and model life for me while my mom is kickin’ it in heaven.
ALL of my family and friends support what I’m doing. I’m starting to learn that isn’t the case for everyone, so I’m grateful.
I have like-minded friends that make me want to level-up.
My body is mobile.
My immune system is strong.
I can see, hear, touch and breath.
Every day my physical body is getting stronger.
I feel connected to something/someone bigger than me, and that brings me great peace.
I can honestly say that I’ve healed in a healthy way from major traumas of my past.
When emotional pain comes up, I know how to express it and heal in a healthy way.
I’ve worked with celebrities and felt like I belonged.
I get to do this art thing full-time.
I don’t really have strained relationships in my life. Those who are close bring so much value to my life, and I have boundaries in place to protect me from foolishness.
I am loved, and I’m starting to own it as my life’s foundation.
So . . . a week after my ER visit, my leg started going numb. Here’s the thing. My body had a lot of little weird hiccups after we closed JUMP. Nothing painful. Nothing life-threatening. But it’s been weird. I’ve sat with doctors and tried to explain some of my sensations and literally heard back, “Well, that’s a first.” Then, I’m prescribed little or (more often) no medicine and told to just give it time.
My reaction in each of these episodes should have been gratitude because overall, I’m in good health. I wish I would have thought, “Hmmm, my body’s doing a weird thing. Oh well. I should just give it time to heal.” That was NOT my reaction. Instead, I thought the absolute WORST was happening to me every time. I thought, “Oh no! What if I have (insert life altering disease)?” My mind had no evidence to support these thoughts. It was just my knee-jerk reaction to believe the worst. I found out there’s a name for that . . . negativism.
My particular brand of negativism is the belief that life is out to get me. Now, it’s not something I deal with on a conscious level very often. On the surface, most days, I’m moving forward with the absolute confidence that life is good. But the moment my body started sending me strange signals, I had to fight off some pretty dark thoughts.
So, when my leg started going numb after I JUST went to the ER about my arm, I lost it. I crumbled to the floor and prayed. I told God how I really felt.
I was afraid that something bad was going to happen to me because I watched a very bad thing happen to my mother, and it left a scar.
I kept fearing the worst because that was my subconscious mind’s way of trying to protect me from getting sideswiped by life again, and I needed Him to take away that fear.
I needed to His help getting back my foundation of feeling loved and safe, so I could speak goodness over my body from a place of truth.
The next day I did a follow up with my primary doctor, and we figured out what might be triggering my symptoms. But more importantly, I told her what I was afraid was happening to my body. She gave me all the reasons the “big bad thing” I was imagining was probably not true. Based on my symptoms, I didn’t have a disease. I was triggering the inflammation with my work habits, and I just needed to make a few adjustments.
She said, “Don’t go searching for zebras when you have a horse right in front of you.”
She was right.
Since making some adjustments, I do feel better. But if I look at the big picture of my life, God used my body to show me a deep fear in my subconscious mind that I never dealt with. In true Type A form, I want to jump in there and blast that fear to Hell by working really hard to beat it. But my gut is telling me that I need to treat myself with a steady diet of love and compassion over time. What my spirit really needs is kindness and patience.
For now, I’ll stop “searching for zebras” and take care of my heart.
My kid and I were on vacation the week before he went back to school. On the last day of our week together, we both took a nap, and I woke up with a numb arm. I figured that I slept on it wrong and kept it pushing . . . until it was still numb a couple hours later. It was numb but not weak, and I wasn’t sure what to do. On one hand, I knew that numbness in the left arm isn’t something I should ignore. On the other hand, I didn’t want to jump over to the ER and pay for some that turned out to be a minor, non-emergency.
I called my husband to talk it out. I also called my primary doctor’s office. We all agreed I should at least get it checked out. I packed up my little one. My hubby came home early from work, and we made our way to the local Urgent Care facility. When I walked into the lobby, the nurse asked me what was wrong with me. Almost the moment I said arm numbness, the staff said I needed to go the ER. I did NOT want to go the ER. I wasn’t sick. My body was just doing a weird thing I couldn’t explain, and I needed someone to tell me what my body was trying to tell me. I didn’t want the ER hassle, and I didn’t want the ER bill. I kept thinking about that bill. But alas, I went.
We pulled into the hospital driveway. When I entered the hospital, I walked up to a desk that had a registration sign above it.
Nurse: “Can I help you?”
Me: “Yes, my left arm is numb.”
Nurse: “Oh honey, you want to go to the ER for that.”
Apparently, I walked through the wrong door, and was in one of the “non-emergency” sections of the hospital. I didn’t feel like my arm was an emergency, but all the people with medical degrees were treating me like I did. So, I found the right door and checked into the ER.
Nurses checked my vitals, asked me all sorts of questions, and within twenty minutes a doctor was in the room with me. As she walked in, my arm started to feel better. I thought, “Am a going crazy here? Is this whole thing a hoax?” My arm had been numb for hours, but the moment the doctor entered the room, it felt better. We talked, and the doctor said I probably slept on it wrong. She did not recommend running blood tests, etc. I didn’t show any signs of heart attack or stroke. It just seemed to be a nerve issue, specifically in my arm. I felt a little silly for going to the ER in the first place, but I thanked the doctor for helping me and my hubby for taking me. I got back to life and tried to forget about it.
A day later, it happened again. This time, I wasn’t laying on it or anything strange. I tried to put it out of my mind and went for a walk. Within hours it got better again.
Two days later, it happened again. I wasn’t laying on it. I was in church, listening to the sermon and taking notes. So, we headed back to the ER. On our way out of church I cried out of frustration. I just wanted to feel better and get back to my life.
This time they asked questions, checked my vitals, checked my heart and head. I even got a pregnancy test. Surprise of surprises . . . I’m not pregnant. I felt a little silly for doing all this, but I kept moving forward. My body was telling me something, and I hoped to find out what it was this time around.
The doctor came back in with the results. My heart and brain were normal, but there was a small amount of arthritis in my neck that was probably causing some inflammation. He said, other than that, I appeared to be in good health. He referred me to a neurologist for a follow up visit and said I would probably just get better with time.
“Other than that . . . “
It’s such a funny phrase. I little neck issue took so much of my attention. My mind obsessed over the arm numbness for three days. I had perfect health otherwise, but before I knew that, it took everything in me not to freak out or believe the worst. To a doctor who sees real emergencies all the time, my issue was minor.
“Other than that . . . “
I have a good life, but the moment something threatens that good life, I tend to obsess about what needs to be “fixed.” The awesomeness I get to experience everyday becomes background noise to the issue at hand, and I forget what living means.
Should I have gone to the ER? Absolutely. I needed to know what was going on in my body, no matter the financial cost. My wellbeing is a priority. But in many ways the whole thing was more of a metaphor for how I choose to live my life sometimes. Sometimes I am in reactive mode, running around my life trying to fix things that I think are wrong. But a better way to live my life is to slow down and decide what I want the “garden” of my life to look like. I need to plant those seeds, tend to the garden and enjoy the fruits of my labor. If some weeds get in there, I can get them out without neglecting the whole garden. I should tend to my life with patience and compassion because it is a gift from God.
To the person dealing with much more difficult health issues, I see you. You are brave, you are loved and you are so much more than the thing that’s happening in your body. Keep tending to your garden, and don’t let this thing distract you from your good life.
I used to give my whole check in the offering plate at church. I was a teenager and had little financial responsibilities except myself and my car. I was taught that if you gave money, God would give you more money, and if you gave more money, God would give you even MORE money. So many times, I gave it all. I hated it, but if that’s how God worked, who was I to question it?
Around the same time, I volunteered in my church’s youth department. I think I had the same mentality about my time that I had about my money. I gave away all my free time to help others. Don’t get me wrong. In some ways, it was a beautiful time. I met some of my best friends there. I learned a ton, and I think that was where I really figured out what I was good at. The main problem was that I just felt off emotionally. At one point, I “served” so much I couldn’t remember when was the last time I sat down and listened to a sermon for myself. I felt drained, but in some ways, I felt proud of myself, thinking, “I’m a real Christian. I’m doing this to help my church.” I was unhappy, but I was proud. If I wasn’t suffering a little bit, I wasn’t doing it right.
This is how I grew up. When my mom was alive, she was the most loving person I knew, but she was also the most exhausted person I knew. My fondest memory of her was after her cancer diagnosis. She had to quit her job to work on her health, so she was forced to rest. She picked up complex puzzles at the dollar store and spent hours putting them together at home. She’d listen to sermons, eat snacks and just do something she enjoyed. Sometimes I joined her. Sometimes I didn’t. It was boring to me, but to her it was relaxing. It made her smile. In the years after her passing, I’ve gotten better about taking care of myself, in part because of her story, but it’s been a slow process overall . . . until last year.
Last year I made a decision that changed everything. I stopped saying “yes” when I really wanted to say “no.” I don’t know what made me make the switch. I probably read something that inspired me, or heard something on a podcast. Who knows, but the point is that I tried it. At first, I felt SUPER guilty when I could do something but said no because I didn’t want to do it. I felt selfish, but I said “no” anyway. Over time, it’s gotten easier.
About a week ago, I looked up and realized I was doing a ton for myself. I've been emotionally and physically recovering from the last acting job. I've been prioritizing self-care. I even went to a small beach town for a couple days to celebrate my hard work. I’ve come a long way. In my new normal, I feel full. And for the first time in a while, I’ve had the urge to do something for someone else, just because.
The other day, I took my husband to the grocery store and told him to pick out magazines about stuff that inspired him.
The husband: "How many do I get?"
Me: "It's not a matter of quantity. It's a matter of quality. What do you really want? What speaks to you?"
The husband loves surprises, so this experience was particularly fun for him.
The son: “"I meed (need) to get the cars!"
My son was asking us to buy him more toys, but he doesn't need more toys. He has plenty.
Me: “Today’s activity is about daddy. We aren’t getting any toys right now. You can play with your toys when you get home.”
Even at three, I want him to be comfortable with the idea of supporting someone else’s moment.
We bought magazines, glue and snacks, and when we got home, we had a vision board party just for my husband. It was all about his thing. We ate snacks, freestyle rapped to some low-key beats, cut and pasted images of his dream. I didn’t do it out of duty. I didn’t do it hoping he would do something spontaneously fun for me in return. I did it because I wanted to, and it was a blast!
In this next season of life, I hope to be more like this person: the woman who does loving stuff for others because she wants to, not because she has to. I want to be generous but not depleted. I want to be both energized and giving. I believe it’s possible if I keep checking my motives, following those generous instincts and saying “no” when I need to say yes to something else.
“Babe, what’s wrong?” My husband asked me this question off and on all day. My answer was that I was just quiet, trying to relax or some other variation of, “nothing.” As I was getting ready for bed, he asked again. This time demanding that I take a second to check in with myself. I paused, seeing the concern in his eyes. I tried to think. A teardrop trickled down my face. My response? “I don’t know.”
The whole week after closing night, my emotions were a hot ball of confusion, and I didn’t know what to make of them. I felt mentally and physically exhausted, and I tried to knock out my responsibilities early in the week. The game plan was to get the icky stuff done, so I could take a few days off. Then . . . adulting. Doctors’ appointments, business obligations, parenting emergencies . . . Stuff just kept happening. It wasn’t a hectic week by any means. It just wasn’t the completely restful one I’d planned.
Every night I felt some type of frustration or sadness. Frustration that my house was a mess after two months of focusing on my work and not caring about how my place looked. Sadness that my body felt funny, and I wasn’t 100% sure what was going on. Frustration that I had a crap ton of business ideas that I didn’t have the energy at the moment to structure or pursue. Sadness that had nowhere to go now that I didn’t have somewhere to ball my eyes out every night. Frustration that I didn’t really celebrate my accomplishments my way, and I didn’t know why. Sadness just because. Every night some version of the emotional rollercoaster would happen until the night my husband asked me what was wrong and actually expected an answer.
After I told him I didn’t know, I went into the bathroom and had a mini meltdown. I silently prayed, “God help me. I don’t know what’s going on, but I need your help.” Then it hit me. This was depression.
I’d been spending so much time trying to push past my emotions that I didn’t even recognize I was being pulled back into depression. It’s been almost a year, and I’d honestly forgotten how that downward spiral feels at the beginning of it. This time, I didn’t catch it at the beginning. I recognized it once I was fully in it. I’m thankful for my husband for not letting up. I’m thankful for God for whispering the answer when I needed it. I’m thankful for my willingness to get help months ago, so that I knew what to do.
I was still sad when I walked out of the bathroom, but at least I was clear. I told my husband the truth. I was dealing with depression, and I wasn’t sure what triggered it. It could have been that I’ve been working on an emotionally taxing show, and my body was responding in anger about the trauma I put it through over the last couple months. It could have been that I was just emotionally depleted and needed to fill back up again. It could have been that I expected to feel amazing after the whole thing was over, and I was disappointed that I didn’t. It could have been a combination of all of the above. But what I needed more than anything was patience, kindness, rest and a partner that wouldn’t freak out on me.
Over the next two days I focused on all of those things. I stayed off social media. I organized some of my house while listening to sermons. I went to a comedy club with my best friend and laughed until my face hurt. A took naps when I needed them. I spent time with my guys (hubby and the toddler). I acted and got some of those negative feelings out, and I didn’t pressure myself to be perfect. I went to church for the first time in weeks and heard exactly what I needed to hear from God. I am loved.
I’ve had a few good days following my bathroom revelation, and I hope to stay on this path for weeks to come. I’m not pressuring myself to be anything in particular. I am caring for myself and slowly reintroducing my routine. The whole thing may have just been post-event blues. In which case, that sudden bout of depression was completely normal. Either way, it’s okay that for almost a week I was emotionally down. I’m thankful that I had faith to lean on and tools to help me pick myself up. I’m not sure that I’m 100% back to normal. But as of today, I’m feeling more joy than sadness, and that it is progress.
Photo credit: Casey Gardner Photography
As we approach the closing weekend of JUMP, I’ve been thinking about ways to say goodbye to Fay (my character in the play) and this experience. The last two months have been both slow and fast, a whirlwind of emotions and an absolute dream.
To start the process of saying goodbye, I want to take a look at what I’ve learned.
I am worthy. I spent most of the rehearsal process worrying about whether or not they got the right person for the job. The script is NOT easy, and it didn’t come to me automatically. It took work, and it took a team to bring it all together. I didn’t find my confidence until opening night. Once the show opened, I found that confidence, my voice, and I took wings! I’m doing just fine. Thanks to this project, I refuse to second-guess myself on the next. If I do the work, take direction, stay open to new ideas and depend on my God, I will always be fine. I was worthy before the job, and I will still be worthy when it’s over.
Protect my soul and my body. I took vitamins daily, got plenty of rest, drank lots of water and said ‘no’ often. I knew going into the rehearsal process that this show would take a lot out of me, and I’m proud to say that I took care of myself the whole process. One week I even turned down auditions, so I could finish memorizing my lines. I didn’t allow stress or negativity into my personal space. If something popped up, I handled it quickly and got refocused. JUMP can be emotionally draining, but thankfully, I’ve had plenty to give every night. Having the stamina to pull this off gives me hope for my future in this business.
Anger is a healthy. There is a moment in the show when Fay gets angry. Every time I approached this moment in rehearsal, I would feel hurt, confused, even sad, but never angry. Our director eventually talked to me about it. We realized that anger is almost foreign for me. After years of training myself to work around my anger and control my emotions, I almost forgot what it felt like to express it.
When I first started working on it, it scared me. That feeling of being out of control scared me. But once I got through it, I felt a great sense of relief. Holy crap! It felt good to let it out. I could think more clearly once it was out. I didn’t have to suppress it or control it. I just needed to express it, and everything was okay. I’ve been angry about quite a few things in my life and suppressed it. I can see now why it took me so long to work through it.
I wish I could go back in time and tell myself it’s okay to find a safe space to scream, curse, stomp, and throw stuff. On the other side, I breathe better and think clearer. Just let it out! It’s healthy.
This can be my life’s work. During this run I’ve handled my business. I managed my personal and professional life well. I didn’t miss a day of work. I was on time every day. I did a play and an episode of television, and neither conflicted with the other. I was able to do both! My home didn’t fall apart, and I am happy! I decided about six months ago to make acting my professional focus. Now I know I can do it.
I’ve gained so much from this experience, and I’m confident I’ve given something of value as well. This show has been an absolute dream, and I’m honored to be a part of it. After we close, I’m going to take a few days off to celebrate my hard work and a successful run. If you’ve seen the show, thank you so much for going on the crazy ride with us. If you live in Atlanta and haven’t seen it, catch JUMP before we close! You won’t be disappointed.
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Prov. 27:6
This week I hurt someone really close to me, and the next morning I felt like trash. The night before, I confronted a dear family member about something that I wanted. We disagreed about how to make that happen. We both spoke our truth. We handled each other with gentle words, but my final decision hurt someone I care about. I can’t fix it. It sucks.
At the beginning of my soul-care (self-care) journey, I didn’t know this would be a part of it. When I sat across from my therapist for the first time, we talked through my personal issues and patterns that I needed to grow past. We knew that I was dealing with depression and anxiety, but I didn’t know what was triggering either of them. By the end of the session, we came up with two goals for my growth: learning to trust my instincts and learning to enjoy my life.
My instincts and I have had a very interesting relationship over the years. I’ve always been hyper aware of what I believe the Spirit of God and my intuition are telling me. I KNOW what my spirit is telling me to do. I’ve been like that at least since I was twelve years old. The problem is that many times my spirit will tell me to do something that is in direct opposition to what someone I love wants me to do. When it comes to my inner circle, I’m a people pleaser. I want to have my family’s support at all times and at all costs. As a result, I’ve often violated or completely ignored my spirit, my gut instinct. And that’s costly.
For years, I’ve chosen to honor the people in my life over that gut instinct. Hence the depression. I was constantly suppressing my own voice for the voice of others out of care. The problem with that is that my spirit has never steered me wrong. I don’t really understand it, but it’s true. When I listen to it, I’m amazed at how spot on it can be.
So, for the last eight months I’ve been practicing slowing down, listening to that inner voice and then honoring it. I do what it’s telling me to do, even if it feels scary. The results: the circumstances of my life have blossomed in the most beautiful way. My marriage is the best it’s ever been. I’m enjoying motherhood after years of frustration. I’m finally working consistently as an actor on projects that I’m passionate about. Overall, I have more peace and joy, and it isn’t because I’m grinding harder. It’s because I’m finally honoring that inner voice.
I started with small decisions like whether or not I should attend an event. Now, I’m working on the bigger questions about my relationships and life’s work. This past week, I had to make one of those decisions. I prayed about the decision before having the conversation with my loved one. I took time to sift through my emotions. I sought out a ton of counsel, so I wasn’t out just making a decision without perspective.
I made the decision based on my truth, had the conversation, learned that my loved one was hurt, felt like trash, got quiet, then took care of myself. By the end of this cycle, I was better. I was even proud of myself, not for hurting someone I loved. That’s never the goal. I was proud of myself for honoring my needs, telling the truth and speaking with gentle words. I was proud of myself for having empathy for someone else’s pain. I was proud of myself for taking care of myself. And that night, I went to the theatre and played the lead of a great show.
Self-care sounds cute. It looks sexy on paper. But there are some days when self-care means being a grown up and confronting things you would much rather avoid. I’m learning that now. Only time will tell if I made the right decision.
I may have made a mistake, but strangely enough, I’m okay with that. I’d hate if that mistake was made at the expense of someone’s feelings. But mistakes can be fixed in time. I’d rather fail forward than go back to being a person who lies to herself, ignores her spirit and pretends with others to avoid pissing someone off.
There is also a chance that I made the right decision, and we’ll both be better for it in the end. I pray that it works out that way.
But for now, my reality looks like this:
This week I hurt someone I love. I pray that we both heal in time. This week I also grew up a little by speaking my truth. For that I’m proud.
About me . . .
I'm Cyrah Hill. I'm a woman of faith, an actor and an everyday black girl.