A woman I admire taught me how to "review" my experiences. I love this exercise, and I use it for almost everything now. Here's how it works.
Take a piece of paper, create four quadrants:
1. What worked?
2. What didn't work?
3. What's missing?
4. What's confusing?
Then you dump everything you can remember about that experience into the four quadrants without judgment. It's best to do this when the experience is fresh on your mind. When you're done "dumping" everything you can remember into the four quadrants, you can go back and see what you learned and how you can improve next time!
In the spirit of the New Year, I'm going to do this exercise to review my 2018, and I'll share something from each of my quadrants with you! I pray that this inspires you to do some reflecting on your 2018 too.
Okay, here we go.
What worked for me this year?
1. Greenleaf! Yeah...first network TV booking. What's dope about this is that in 2017, I really wanted to stretch myself and believe God for something I thought was impossible. I didn't have any network TV credits, so I decided to believe for a recurring role booking in 2018. That was the goal.
In November, I wrote my goals down for the new year, and put them up on my wall. Then, the craziest thing happened. I started getting auditions for recurring roles. I'm serious. I'd been auditioning all year, but the moment I wrote down what I wanted, I started SPECIFICALLY getting auditions for recurring roles for network TV. It was almost like the right role was looking for me, not the other way around. BANANAS.
January 11, 2018, I got the call from my agent that I booked a recurring role on Greenleaf. INSANE. I barely dipped my toe into the new year before manifesting my biggest goal of the year.
What did I learn from this? Keep stretching myself and my faith. Reach for the things that feel impossible. Believe and execute!
What didn't work?
My small business. (Insert deep sigh.) I've been running an after school performing arts instruction company for over a decade. It's small, effective, and a consistent form of supplemental income.
At the end of 2017, I told myself I was going to go hard in the paint, and make this company grow. I had a good company and all the tools to make this thing a national success if I could just FOCUS. I did the work. There was some growth, and then I hit a wall. I kept running into issues with hiring new teachers and building relationships with schools.
So I went harder. I read books, took business classes, talked to friends, and I figured out I don't want to do it anymore. Ha! By doing the work, I learned that it was time for me to pivot. I was putting time and energy into a business that I was no longer passionate about. The mission was noble, but my heart wasn't in it. So, I'm closing that business after the current school year. Done.
What did I learn from this?
Not to be overly attached to an outcome. I let go of one business and discovered another that I'm actually passionate about. And you know what, I started making money in the new business the moment I let go of the old one. I could look at this as quitting or starting a new chapter. I choose the latter. For the first time in a long time, I feel inspired every day.
Dance and singing. I've been dancing and singing my whole life. When I discovered acting, I stopped doing the other two. I'm not trying to be a professional singer or dancer, so I figured I'll get back to it when I have extra time. Um... I never found the extra time. Every time I see someone dancing or singing, I get low key jealous because I miss movement and music.
What did I learn from this?
No matter what, I need to make time to do the things I love. No excuses.
Asking for help. I realized last week I was completely overwhelmed by my obligations. Someone suggested that I get an assistant. What?! Where am I going to find the money to pay an assistant? I just started building my brand. Who is going to take me seriously?
But....when I look at my time and my responsibilities, sometimes I really do need help. I'm not at the place where I'm comfortable yet with the idea of getting an assistant, but I can start by using some tools to help me get things done. I can also look into starting small. Maybe having someone work with me once a week on some of the administrative tasks, so I can focus on the projects that actually need my attention.
What did I learn from this?
I need to ask more questions and have more conversations to figure this one out. The one-woman show isn't going to work long-term.
Bonus: One more thing that worked.
Therapy. I've been dealing with depression and anxiety off and on for years, but this was the first year that my acting career sent me on a serious emotional roller-coaster.
I've always wanted to go to therapy, but I told myself it was a luxury I couldn't afford. Well, I dealt with a bout of depression this summer and just got fed up. I was going to get help. I did the research and found out my insurance covered the cost, and I just needed to pay a $25 copay. I got started immediately.
Overall, my mental health is in a good place, and I'm going to keep doing the work I'm doing.
What did I learn from this?
If there is something I want to do, decide to do it and figure out the details from there. When I finally decided to go to therapy, the provision showed up. I could've been going years ago, but I procrastinated because of my own limiting beliefs. So, I know not to tolerate any of that nonsense in the new year.
There you have it! That's a little of my annual review. My challenge to you is to grab some paper (and maybe a glass of wine) and do this for yourself. Let me know what you come up with!
On Christmas morning eight years ago, my family went to an early church service and came home to spend quality time. My dad wanted us to hang out and open gifts as a family, but I really wanted to hang out at IHOP with my friends. So... I went to IHOP for a couple hours and came back home. My dad was over me, but I didn't care. Technically, I was grown, and I didn't do anything wrong. Looking back, I now realize how insensitive that was, but at that point in my life, I just wanted some space. I don't remember if we had a fight, or if we just did that passive-aggressive, radioactive silence thing that we used to do. As always, my mom tried to keep the peace. I don't know what my sister was doing, but she was around, I'm sure.
My mom looked at us all and said, "This year, let's not do this. I have a feeling this Christmas is a special one." I had chills. We stopped fighting and enjoyed the day. That was mommy's last Christmas. She died in the summer of 2011.
And that was our last Christmas as a family, I think. At least that's the last one I remember. I grieved by working. I pushed myself for two straight years with very little down time. Somehow I managed to create a healthy relationship with my boyfriend. I honestly think he was sent by God to help me keep my sanity, but that's a conversation for another day. Most of my life then was hard, but it felt like a blur. I can't remember much of it, including the holidays. Somewhere in there my boyfriend asked me to be his wife... I love him with all my heart. I said yes.
After that, I spent almost every holiday season with his side of the family. Every once in a while, we'd change it up and visit my extended family. But it was never my old family nucleus. I was normally with my man's family. Doing Christmas their way. Enjoying their company. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE my man's family. But holidays are interesting. Being with someone else's family put me in neutral. It wasn't bad. It wasn't good. It was different. And I wasn't 100% there.
We both noticed this pattern, so we decided to do Thanksgiving differently this year. We were going to just be with my side of the family. I was so excited! We were even going to recreate a thanksgiving we had with my mom years ago. It was time. I thought my family and I had grieved the appropriate amount of time and were ready to be together. Just us. Like old times. I was ready to be with my people.
That's the best way I can describe it. For the life of me, while we were eating and playing games I couldn't figure out why it didn't feel like old times. It was cool. I was grateful. Still am. But I didn't know how to feel while it was happening.
The next day it hit me like a ton of bricks. Mom was missing! This was the first time I went into a space where she would normally be, and she wasn't there. All the other holidays, I was in new environments, so I didn't feel it nearly as much. I grieved all over again and felt stupid for doing it. It's been 7 years! Get over it already.
This is what this Thanksgiving taught me about me. I've been just "getting through" the holidays the last 7 years. Just coasting. Not wanting to be effected. Then I accidently faced my pain and learned just how little I've enjoyed the holidays since loosing mommy. This year, I actually MISS her. And it's okay.
I also learned that I thought grief would stop completely after a few years. It hasn't. I'm not hurting every day like I used to, but it still hits me in the gut every now and then. That's not a bad thing. It just means I miss her.
I told my man I want to keep Christmas really low key this year because this is the first holiday season I'm actually feeling the loss. Will it look like this every year? I don't know. But this year, I will be kind to myself and my family. Love in truth. And figure out a way to honor God and my mother's memory, even if it hurts a little.
Christmas and I are beefin' this year, but it's okay.
About me . . .
I'm Cyrah Hill. I'm a woman of faith, an actor and an everyday black girl.