This is 32.

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I’ve always been tickled and slightly perplexed by the fact that once you surpass 25, the years seem to go by faster!  You blink and literally 10 years are on the books and you’re sitting there trying to figure out what happened on all of those days in between!  I mean if I can be honest, Jeopardy, Sudoku, and Lumosity are a large part of the reason my memory is still somewhat sharp!  However, I’m fortunate in that I can look back on even the last year and be mesmerized by the experiences that have cheered me on, made me cry, accelerated my thinking, granted new opportunities, and doubled my sky miles.  There were times when I knew undoubtedly that the only reason why all of my being hadn’t fallen into a sea of despondence was because of grace.  I learned how to receive the gift that it is, but more importantly, how to give it when every part of me just wanted to step aside from the palm trees so I could throw some real shade! There were also moments when I’d be in a room full of highly accomplished and financially prosperous people wondering how in the world is there a seat at this table with a perfectly placed name tent in Arial font for ME.  Who am I?!  You should know that imposter syndrome is a real thing, and it can zap every bit of your happiness about any of what you’ve done that you personally deem successful.  And as a Black woman, it’s heavier than any words I could ever formulate into a sentence.

What you’ll likely discover is that one of the best things about life is that so much of it is bigger than you.  With everything happening all at once, it’s easy to be overwhelmed, lonely, and feel like you’re living in the twilight zone.  But, somehow the universe has a way of helping you to balance the scales and continue to move full throttle toward another day.  So, on this birthday, I celebrate the topple and the ascent of who I am as a growing adult and complex human being.  While the voyage to whatever adulthood really is can be volatile, I know that it will continue to be one that I pursue with confidence, peace, and that extra dash of splendor as a woman who is proud to be bold, Black, and excelling under the mantle of the Highest angel.

This is 32.

Monday’s Mantra: Show and Slay

Whew!  I just needed to let that out because the last few weeks have been nothing short of eventful!  I recently wrote about how I was about to be full steam ahead into my travel season that would take me to med schools and conferences across the country.  What I neglected to consider was all the other parts of life that happen in between, the programmatic fires that would have to be extinguished from time to time, and the riveting surprises that bring success with almost always a side of new responsibility.  But, no matter how consumed I am with all the details, I’m somehow invigorated by the challenge.  My continued excitement and energy has much to do with God and less to do with me, but I also attribute it to the fact that I’m right where I should be.  There was a time in my life where I was literally drained by boredom.  I didn’t feel like my gifts, abilities, or knowledge was being utilized effectively.  That was painful…like getting your body hair waxed for the first time painful (eek)!  I felt undervalued and stuck in many ways.  But, thankfully trouble doesn’t last always, and I can now say I’m moving, growing, and building in several arenas.

Last week as I was headed home from a trip, I found myself reciting a phrase that most of us probably know very well…”to whom much is given, much is required” (taken from Luke 12:48)  This came following a sleepless night that was spent reviewing a few dynamic entrepreneurs and change seekers vying for a spot at TEDMED – the premiere conference for sharing creative ideas to transform the way we think and do health.  As a 2016 TEDMED Research Scholar, I have the privilege and difficult task of helping to develop the TEDMED programming!  Super exciting opportunity!  But, as I was trying to wrap-up my usual duties from my business trip and still garner what was left of my mental acuity for the day to write a comprehensive review, I definitely had a moment of “what have I gotten myself into?”  It’s funny how quickly you begin to doubt your abilities when the mountain before you looks steeper than anything you’ve ever climbed before.  Of course that’s easy to overcome with a long prayer requesting angelic toothpicks to hold my eyes open and several bites of a blueberry muffin paired with espresso to keep me hanging on until the final click of the “Submit” button.

You can expect that when you’re in the right place at the right time for receipt of your designated assignments, you will be stretched.  It’s part of the package.  You will learn the true meaning of sacrifice and be detached from your usual patterns.  You will have to do more not just because you’ve been furnished with more, but because you’ve been given all that you need to be more.  The days will be long.  The caffeine will be in short supply (I mean unless you have 24/7 accessibility to a Keurig).  Everything inside you will want to bow out gracefully.  But, the show must go on.  And if you’re blessed to have a role, your presence is required.  In the end, what is given to you deserves your best whether it’s giving a talk, organizing an event, writing a report, or baking for the community fundraiser.  I bet you probably asked for this moment at some point after all.  So, stay up[lifted], perform well (angelic toothpicks are indeed little miracles!), and believe in the possibility of the standing ovation.  You’re only given what you have the ability to slay (you know in the 21st century pop culture kinda way)!

 

 

Monday’s Mantra: Look Up

My travel season for work is now in full swing.  That means plenty of airplanes, a strategically organized carry-on, and pre-arranged Apple Music playlists as I move about the country doing my part to improve the medical school experience for current and future medical students and faculty.  Airports aren’t necessarily one of my favorite places although I do enjoy traveling to new places, particularly if the exploration is not on my dime  😉  However, it always seems as though most people are in a rush, confused, and allergic to smiling.  And for the life of me I can’t figure out why people who have assigned seats on an airplane will crowd the gate just before it’s time for them to board?!  Yes, I know you want to make sure there’s a space for your carry-on, but you’re in Zone 3!  Ma’am…sir…what are you doing?  There are like 75 other people boarding before you that you’ll be standing behind on the jet bridge.  Rest yourself and please stop obstructing my perfect view for people watching.  Ok, back to the post…

Most people are in their own world when in an airport and in life in general, which makes it easy to miss opportunities that can leave a meaningful imprint in the present surroundings.  On a recent trip, I was seated next to a gentleman who was gracious enough to introduce himself and exchange a few kind words before we took off.  I must admit I was surprised since I’m used to only hearing complaining passengers and the boisterous voice of the flight attendants over the intercom directing my attention to their safety presentation.  But, I appreciated this guy’s conversation, because it meant that he was wise enough to not take life too seriously and capable of setting himself aside to acknowledge the worth of those he encountered along the way.  That was light in the middle of my extra long day of flight delays, gate changes, and overpriced sky snacks.  The best part about it all was that I had the opportunity to return the kindness.

As we reached our cruising altitude among the cumulus clouds, I saw that he was reading notes printed in incredibly small text.  I was engaged in the same enriching activity so I was using my overhead light.  Earlier I noticed he had reached up to turn his on as well, so I assumed the shining light on our row was from both lights.  After a few minutes of reading, something told me to look up, which is when I saw that the light above was only coming from my side.  He had been reading for probably about an hour trying to share my light!  Part of me felt badly because I hadn’t noticed sooner and couldn’t do anything to save this guy’s pupils, but all I had was now to make up for it and let him know that I did indeed care that his light had blown out.  I proceeded to readjust my light so that it was shining directly on his manuscript.  He smiled and expressed his gratitude, and we both continued our in flight activities, which by that time mine had switched to sleeping for me.  Although sharing my light was a small act of kindness for someone I’d probably never see again, I knew it was the right thing to do.  It was also a good lesson.

We should all be mindful of those opportunities we have to brighten someone’s outlook.  So, whether it’s to help someone see what they’re reading or maybe see where they’ve gotten off the path, be the one who illuminates this fast-paced, and sometimes brash world with your light of tenderness, joy, and thoughtfulness.  Seat backs and tray tables up.  We’re ready for takeoff toward another week of an amazing journey!

Monday’s Mantra: Slow Down

Last week was quite a treat.  The buckets of snow that Mother Nature emptied in our backyards resulted in closures and/or delays for most schools, governments, and organizations just about every day of the week.  I think the kids even had a few extra hours of shut eye this morning too, because my commute was way too light for there to have not been a 2-hour delay.  No complaints from this gal!

When the roads were finally clear enough for places to begin re-opening late last week, it felt as though everyone was in a rush.  I’m still trying to discern whether people were desperately trying to escape another day in the house with their families or they just couldn’t wait to get back to their corporate tasks.  The jury is still out.  After navigating my way through the chaos of the Metro parking deck on Wednesday, I made my way into the wet and airy station hoping I wouldn’t have to stand outside for an unknown number of minutes waiting for a train to go downtown.  As I was walking up, I noticed a lady carrying three bags and racing through the station.  My immediate thought was why is she running when there are no trains to board and practically everyone has a delayed arrival.  She wasn’t really getting too far with the weight of all of her tote bags dragging her down anyway.  Within those couple moments of me watching and wondering, I was completely caught off guard as I saw her feet in the air and all the bags plopping on the ground one by one!  Have you ever seen dominoes fall?  Yikes!  I quickly ran over to ask if she was okay and put my hand out to help her up off the ground.  I really wanted to find her some Shout Wipes since she was now wearing the black gunk from the shoes of thousands who had trekked the melting snow and ice inside the station.  The woeful look on her face let me know that she was probably more embarrassed than she was anything else since she had violated one of the fundamental rules for Metro riders on the move — wear rubber-soled shoes!

Long after witnessing this lady’s unfortunate event, I couldn’t help but think of how burdensome it can be when you’re in a hurry.  Living in the DMV area, you don’t really have to look far to see someone lost in the translation of their thoughts and trying not to spill Starbucks all while bobbing through briefcase toting crowds.  Some days I’m personally overstimulated by the pace in which we all operate and have accepted as normal.  I should acquire my country cottage very soon.  I imagine the feeling is the same in any other large, metropolitan city across the nation.  We’ve somehow normalized working late hours, running around town to meetings, and guzzling caffeine to keep us going, but yet we tend to vilify balance, time for reflective thinking, and time off (dare I say paid time off).  I wonder how much that has stifled our creativity and effectiveness as a collective body and diminished our individual abilities to do more with less.

I think this week we should take a moment to breathe and slowwwww down.  I know it’s the first of the month and we’re one month into the new year, but life is not a race.  Too often we think we’re outsmarting and outdoing those around us by being “first,” but instead we’re really cheating ourselves by rushing through life and chasing things that probably aren’t meant for us in the first place.  We could all take a lesson from that lady I encountered in the Metro — sometimes you have to slow down and level your thoughts to avoid unnecessary falls.  But, if for some reason you just can’t resist the urge to hurry to your next engagement, do make sure you have the proper footwear.