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.
About me . . .
I'm Cyrah Hill. I'm a woman of faith, an actor and an everyday black girl.