NO

“No is a complete sentence.” – Anne Lamott

No. I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with the word. I love the word because it has given me an option and I love options.  But throughout my 20’s, I hated using it in fear of disappointing or upsetting folks. There have been countless times that my mind has shouted, NO over my heart’s whisper of Yes. I never thought it was enough and always dreaded explaining myself. I also never wanted to hurt feelings or make someone uncomfortable. Bottom line — I’ve been afraid of the repercussions of the word. When I turned 30, I remember thinking, I can’t wait to turn 40! I had been told that at 40, you lose all worries and can finally give No the love it deserves. But I’m now realizing that I need to stop creating boundaries on when things should or need to happen and allow them to happen organically. It’s possible to be the 40-year old woman I always dreamt of being at 35+.

Since I’ve been attempting to live in the NOW, I’ve come to respect the word. No isn’t always negative. No isn’t a synonym for selfish. No doesn’t always need to be justified or explained. No is freedom. No is self-acceptance. No is confidence. No is complete. For the first time in my life, I’m telling people, “No” and I’m not feeling the guilt that once was attached. I am finally learning to put my feelings and comfort first. At 35+, my heart is finally expressing its love for NO.

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Time

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up knowing that it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. And every morning a lion wakes up knowing that it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle; when the sun comes up you’d better be running.” – Unknown

In my 20’s, I always thought I had time. Time to travel… Time to start my writing… Time to make a difference… time to succeed… time to achieve my greatness…

However, as I’ve aged to a wiser 35+, I now know that time isn’t mine to claim. Within the last few weeks, the handful of unexpected deaths that I’ve come across in the media and in the personal lives of Facebook friends, have really got me to think about time and my toxic dependency to it.

One word that I’ve always used to describe myself is “procrastinator”. And I’ve always justified it by claiming that I work my best under pressure. But now I recognize it as just another excuse added to the many that I’ve planted in my head and have faithfully watered over the years.  “I can’t because of my job”; I can’t because I have writer’s block”; ” I can’t because I’m not ready.” These excuses have all been created and justified because I always thought, “I had time.”

But last week it hit me… I have to stop abusing time.  I have to stop using valuable time visualizing what will happen when I finally decide to begin running. I have to stop using costly energy whining about bad knees or why I can’t run. Every morning, I have to get up and start running to capture my greatness.  Every day I have to dedicate myself to live my best life today instead of depending on it to happen “one day”.  And every night, my movements of the day should afford me the opportunity to appreciate every second of the time granted to me.

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Daddy (issues)

“It is from her father that she begins to infer messages that will linger a lifetime— I am, or am not, considered by men to be pretty, desirable, valuable, dependent, weak, strong, dim-witted, brilliant; Men are, or are not, trustworthy, loving, predatory, dependable, available, dangerous.” – Victoria Secunda

As I celebrated my 35+ birthday last week, I started to answer some important life questions. One question being, “Why am I still Single?” When I’ve pondered over this question in my 20’s and early 30’s, my immediate response would often place the blame on the other side:“I can’t find a good man”; “Black men don’t know how to be real men”; “Men can’t accept my independence and strength.”; “Men make it hard to date in LA.”

But today, I’m ready to answer the question — At 35+, I’m still single because I have “Daddy” issues.

My parents separated when I was eight years old. Although my father was mostly absent from my life when my parents were together and became practically non-existent afterwards, I loved my father and constantly blamed my mother for the separation. It wasn’t until high school that I accepted the truth. I began to regret my ill feelings towards my mother for all of those years and the resentment against my father multiplied.  I finally confronted him in my 20’s; however, after I released the anger that festered in me during my childhood years, I invited it back in because I thought it had a right to return to the place it called home for so many years.

Over the years, I’ve held a tight hold on all of the issues that created the resentment and have found delight in the fact that I’ve been strong enough to recognize and hold on to the promise that, “I will never allow a man to treat me like my father treated my mother.” This hold has allowed my negative feelings for father to spill over in my personal relationships with men. Because of my issues with my father, I have never fully warmed my heart to depend on and trust a man. I created a list of expectations that I placed on my father and have passed on to men in my life. My strong grip of my unresolved past with the only man I once adored and trusted  have caused the reach to an optimistic future with a man to constantly move farther away and slip through my fingers.

In September, my father turned 80 and one of my brothers organized a big, birthday bash at my home. Before the party, I was on the fence. I thought, Why are we giving this man a party? Why am I rewarding him for not being a good father? But that day, as all of his eight children celebrated a father who had been absent from all of our lives, I realized it was possible to exist without the anger.  So, I’m finally taking the steps to forgive my father.  

At 35+, I’m taking responsibility in my part of why I am still single. I finally accept my father for the man he is. And I thank him for his role in my independence and strength. My father has taught me how I should be treated by a man and I have to trust that those lessons are enough.  So, today, I am looking forward to releasing all of my “Daddy” issues and I’m finally opening myself up to the possibility of being vulnerable, being understanding, and being loved by a man.

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Celebration

“If you’re not living your life at such a level that pee isn’t running down your leg, then you’re living too small.” – Iyanla Vanzant

Today, I celebrate my 35+ birthday. My past birthdays have always been about the external celebrations: trips, parties, people, Mrs. Beasley’s cake. However, this year, I’m going to try something different.

The past few years have really been a journey of self discovery for me. When I was told I was being let go at my job two years ago, my first thought was, “Yes! I can go to Disneyland on my birthday!” since it was the following Tuesday. After that initial thought, my mind immediately told me it was finally time to pursue my passion, so I went into double-speed, action mode and it turned out to be the best year of my life. However, I didn’t realize how devastated I would later become, not because I was happy and/or passionate about the job, but because 1.) I had never been let go from a job and 2.) It was a place where I had become comfortable.  So, after the positive and productive year, my ego remained bruised. Even though my mind didn’t want to care about anything attached to the job, I was still angry and didn’t understand why I couldn’t let it go.

I have been dreading and dodging the hard work it takes to actively participate in the journey since my 20’s. I pretended to want to put in the work by buying self-help books that I never completed and doing soul-searching without even opening myself up to allow the digging to begin. I even went as far as thinking that I could maybe speak it into existence. For the past couple of years, God has been trying to get my attention to let me know it was time. It started with small taps that I ignored, then hits that I procrastinated to acknowledge, and finally a push that literally knocked me off the pedestal. Thanks to Oprah’s Lifeclass, I’ve learned that when you’re comfortable, you’re not growing. And all of this time, I had been ignoring all the signs around me because I had settled in a cozy, over-sized chair on the pedestal with a  snugly blanket – I was so comfortable.

Since I am now walking on this journey instead of speeding my way through like I’ve attempted to do in the past, I can now see why I had to be let go from that job. And at 35+, I no longer want to be comfortable. I want to live with pee running down my leg at all times! So, today, I’m celebrating Kim! I’m celebrating the journey! I’m celebrating living big!

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Death

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.” – Steve Jobs

I used to be terrified of death. The mention of the word would send my mind into a spiral of what, how, when. I would even look the other way whenever I drove passed a cemetary. After losing my mother, I was forced to deal with it, but I still struggled with understanding it.

The passing of Steve Jobs last week affected me in ways that I would have never imagined. I remember being sad when I first heard of his illness years ago. A few years later, I also remember thinking that his wealth had kept him alive longer than most. I was a loyal consumer of the Apple Brand and respected his creativity and passion. But at the end of the day, I’d never met him and didn’t really know anything about him, besides his connection to Apple.

However, when I read on my Yahoo page that he had died, something changed. After confirming his death on TMZ.com (yes, I confirm EVERYTHING on TMZ), I wanted to know more about Steve Jobs, the man.  I read his Wikipedia page and was instantly inspired. Steve Jobs was a wealthy, powerful, creative genuis who couldn’t escape death. And during his time spent here, he was able to live to his full potential because he understood death.

“No one wants to die, even people who want to go to Heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet, death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be. Because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It’s life’s change agent; it clears out the old to make way for the new.” – Steve Jobs

So, at 35+, I’m now understanding death, which is removing the fear from it. For the last four days, I’ve been really clearing my head for something new. I have to stop focusing on what I don’t have and concentrate on what I’m capable of doing. And I have to start doing in order to stop the fear. Remembering that I will be dead soon has helped me to make the choice to live to my full potential every day that God has chosen me to live.  Thank you, Steve Jobs!

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Food

“We are indeed much more than what we eat, but what we eat can nevertheless help us to be much more than what we are.” –            Adelle Davis

During my freshman year of college, I ate a cheeseburger every day, sometimes twice a day. My first partaking  of lettuce was a Caesar salad four years ago at a wedding. Anyone who knows me, is aware of my long, extensive list (mostly filled with fruits and vegetables) of foods that I “don’t” eat. However, that list is slowly, maybe at a snail’s pace, starting to change.

In my older years (yes, 35+ is older), I am now noticing the different effects foods are having on my body. Whether it’s the lack of energy or just good old-fashioned pain, my body has had enough and is protesting my years of abusive behavior.  I’ve been moving towards healthier eating by growing a garden (watermelon from my garden pictured above) so I think it’s time for me to take a jump. FOOD REHAB!!!

For the month of October (my birth month), I am going to be conscious of everything I put in my mouth. Since the first week is usually the time for withdrawal, I am giving up burgers for a whole week (yes, I’m taking baby steps). Okay, make that two weeks!!

Yes!!! I’m ready for a new and improved 35+ body! Maybe, I can even lose a few pounds in the process. I’ll keep you posted…

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Forgiveness

“Forgiveness is letting go of the hope that the past can be changed.” – Oprah Winfrey

In my 20’s, if you did me wrong, you were forever on the “List”. Now, I could always continue to be cordial, but forget about enjoying the full benefits of my friendship.  I always equated forgiving someone with weakness or accepting the wrong that was done. Yesterday, a dear friend provided a different definition and of course, it was defined by Oprah. As I let the definition penetrate my mind all night, I realized that there are a few things in my past that I would want to change. And the things I would change have nothing to do with the names on the list. In fact, many highlights of my life have resulted from the “wrongs.”

Is it possible that at 35+, I could have yet another major breakthrough? All of these years, I have allowed the wrongs to consume me at times causing inefficiency, anger, and  depression.  I realize that this has blocked the flow of positive and creative energy and have stifled the growth of becoming the being I desire and am destined to be. So, it’s time to start forgiving and forgetting! I’m so looking forward to this new journey. I’m still not sure how I’m going to get there but I’m ready to take the wheel and start driving.

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