Today is my 49th birthday!
What amazes me about life is how quickly time passes by while simultaneously trudging along. This year, for instance, has felt like five years in one, but still we’re already in the middle of August, with this very vincible summer just about over.
This year, my birthday is hitting a little different. Not because I wasn’t able to travel to an exotic locale or celebrate with friends and family. No. This year’s celebration is more the way I like it, receiving that stereotypical attention Leos crave from the person I love and who loves me. Yet, it still feels surreal. The masks. The distancing. The not having a choice as to where I’d love to be celebrating the fact that I’m almost a half century old.
So yes, I’m feeling great, having everything I could want on this special day–and have my lady to thank for putting this private celebration together–and yet, at the same time all in my feelings as I witness the world slowly falling apart.
With that said, in honor of my 49 years, I thought I’d share 49 random things that I’ve learned over the years.
- I must do the work. It hit me the other day as I was interviewed by my friend Tiffany… I’ve lived a pretty good life. I’ve been presented with several dope opportunities and I’ve taken advantage of opportunities as well. And while I’m not yet where I want to be career-wise, I have lived. Enough to know that my ultimate goal of writing for television is within my grasp. I just have to continue creating. Continue building. Continue to do the necessary work.
- I have a dad bod… without being a dad. Yeah, I’ll admit it. I’m not where I’d love to be with my body in this 49th year of life. I’ve had goals since the year began to be in optimal shape once August rolled around, and [insert valid excuse here] happened and, here I am. I understand what it means, and what it takes, to be in shape. The past few years have taught me that I can do it. I’m determined to do it again. Wait til you see me at 50!
- You only live once. That’s true, but still… it doesn’t mean you put everything in one basket or spend everything you have without thinking about tomorrow. That’s especially true when it comes to making purchases that may seem ideal in the moment. Will I stop spending if I want something? Hellous Nous. However, I shall take my time when it comes to making certain purchases.
- You only live once. Which is why I will never say no to travel if I can help it. There have been so many trips I’ve wanted to go on and with the privilege of working from home, I’ve been able to. I don’t take that for granted and with life being so fragile, I definitely won’t be saying no to many more.
- If something no longer serves you, let it go. This goes for so many things–people, places, hobbies, etc. The world is in chaos and I’ve learned that you can’t let baggage of any sort, including negative folks or unnecessary emotions, hold you back from staying focused on what’s in front of you. I’ve promised myself I won’t let that happen.
- Less is more, unless we’re talking income. My goal is to have many streams of income to allow me to live a life fulfilled. So in that case, more is always a good thing.
- I must practice self-care. I don’t do that much for reasons that have never been clear. I’m talking mostly about resting, and the fact that I don’t get as much sleep as is necessary to have a fully functional day. I have to find a way to get a full eight hours every night. That’s my goal for 49.
- Check yourself, often. I am always my harshest critic, and my penchant for overthinking has steered me down as many positive roads as it has negative ones. I’ve been told, at my big age, that I still need to grow up. It stings to hear it. Especially when you don’t see the need to do so. It takes self-reflection to see where you might’ve gone wrong. So, the checking has to be that, and not the practice of riding a pity train when all I really need are exercises to set myself straight. I’m working on that. Always.
- Setting boundaries. I’ve had to do that more often with family than in any other aspect of my life. I’ve learned that just because you’re related doesn’t mean folks have the right to talk to you any kind of way. Family can be toxic. It’s OK to realize that and give yourself separation when necessary.
- Real men cry. It’s a cliche that men shouldn’t cry. It’s impossible to think that’s true to life, with everything that’s been taking place on our planet the past, say, 400 years. And with Black people being picked off at record numbers, and the stress that comes with being Black, a good cry can be therapeutic. And a necessary release. I won’t let anyone tell me differently.
- Trust your intuition. It will rarely steer you in the wrong direction.
- You time is important. It’s one of the things I stressed when I wrote the first Introvert’s Guide: it’s important to spend time alone from time to time. To recharge. To gather yourself. To enjoy things that only you will appreciate. The years have taught me never to feel sorry for making time for me. Otherwise, you won’t survive.
- Capture as many special and inspiring moments in your life as possible. I laugh whenever people shame others for posting something on social media, or participating in the latest challenge, or just overall enjoying themselves. You can’t let other people’s misery guide you, and posting that meme, or that photo, or sharing about yourself, will never be a bad thing. Those memories mean a lot, and when you rediscover them a year later, or whenever you feel like reminiscing, trust me. You’ll be happy you did.
- Love is truly one hell of a drug. Period.
- Continue to be compassionate and empathetic. It’s easy to forget what you’re about when you venture out into a world that shows you everyday that they don’t care about you. However, it’s always been my goal to show compassion. It’s what my parents did. It’s my foundation, and I refuse to let the world, or the people in it, knock me off of my square.
- Keep re-reading The Four Agreements. I have to. I don’t have a choice. I still, at this big age, take things personally. Which is terrible. Hopefully by the time I turn 50 I’ll have mastered the art of letting little (and big) things roll of my back. Lawd, I hope so.
- Networking matters. I’ve never been the type that has trouble meeting folks. My big sin was never following up with the wonderful people I’ve met. I must do better, knowing that whenever I do, it yields great results. It’s through my network that I’ve been able to survive and somewhat thrive during this pandemic. I must keep it up.
- Music matters. It makes for enjoyable trips. I’ll always share how I listened to the Hamilton soundtrack on a loop when traveling cross country in 2016. On this most recent trip from St. Louis to Nashville, I put together a playlist of mostly 90’s music that carried us all five hours to our destination. What’s insane is that sometimes I have to remind myself to take a music break during the day. I have to do better. It really does soothe the soul.
- Watch more vintage films. It’s important, if only because there’s a reason some of these were considered classics. The writing, the cinematography, the acting… it allows you to reminisce and to feel good. To appreciate the art. There were plenty nights during the first few months of the quarantine that we fired up old school movies and recalled how they made us feel when they originally premiered. That’s a loving feeling. I need more of that in my life.
- Self-doubt is crippling. That’s another reason why overthinking is a terrible thing. It plants seeds in your head, even if it’s temporarily, that you’re not good enough. That you aren’t worthy of the good things that might be coming your way. I’ve been focusing on the good parts of life lately, not looking for the other shoe to drop. I’ve been attempting to make looking at the bright side a permanent part of my daily life.
- Your journey is your own. I learned a long time ago that looking over at someone else’s life will do you no good. Comparing your ride on this planet to others diminishes what you were put here to do. You don’t know their pain. You don’t know what they’ve had to sacrifice in order to do what they’re doing. I’ve learned that I have to focus on myself. Life is stressful enough. Trying to be like someone else will push you over the edge.
- You don’t have to be happy all of the time. You’re going to have days when you just want to be quiet, or stay in the bed, or want to punch a wall. When that happens, I’ve learned I have to sit in those moments and, after processing it and realizing where it came from, only then can I pull myself out of it. Most times, if I do that, it’s easier to suck it up and keep it moving.
- Give what you can. And nothing more. It could be advice, or money, or space in your life. When you’re empathetic, you want to go above and beyond for those you care about and sometimes, even strangers. Then you realize that you can’t. You have to do what you can, and then hope for the best for them. Extending yourself to the point it hurts you won’t do anyone any good. I have to remember that sometimes.
- Expect nothing. Appreciate everything. Never has that saying meant more to me than it has after writing a book. I had NO expectations of anyone even wanting to read what I wrote. I remember telling my lady that I probably just wrote it for me. I’m glad I was wrong. To say I appreciate folks downloading the digital copy and then requesting the printed copy would be an understatement. If you ever get to see me in these streets again, if I’m floating above the pavement it’s probably because I’ll still be on a high from those book sales. It’s been a surreal experience, in the best way possible.
- Social media is a gift and a curse. It’s true, and something I learned years ago. Back then, I found myself counting how many Facebook friends I had or how many likes my photos got on Instagram. I blame that on certain companies who gauged how employable you were by how many followers you had on Twitter or how many comments you got on Instagram. It gets to be obnoxious and if you’re not careful, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype. It feels good to connect with folks via the internet, but when you discover that you’re no longer friends with someone by noticing they unfriended you on Facebook, that’s when it might be time to unplug. Or at least step away.
- Cheeseburgers are a form of self-care. Debate someone else on this. All I know is that every time I indulge in a medium-rare patty with all the fixings, I feel better about life. Every. Time.
- Do nothing without intention. Facts.
- I miss my plants. Way back in 2012, once I was settled in Los Angeles, I made it a point to adopt a plant. I called her Pam. There was just something about doing so. It gave me something to care for. Something that depended on me (and sun, and plant food) to keep it alive. It also supplied me with the right amount of oxygen that kept my levels even. I miss Pam. I miss caring for a plant. I have to get back to that. And soon.
- I’ll never be comfortable in hospitals. Thankfully I haven’t had to be admitted or kept overnight, but even visiting hospitals creep me out. It’s that feeling of not knowing if the person you’re going to see will make it out alive, or maybe it’s flashing back to the times I have been admitted and had to stay for operations or to be monitored. There’s nothing good about being inside a hospital. NOTHING. No one can tell me differently.
- I might have OCD. And by might, I mean… I do. Not sure what it happened, but somewhere along the way, I’ve become someone who likes and even more so needs things in their place. I’m guessing it started because of my travel, and never wanting to leave things behind in hotels. Whenever it started, it’s in full force now. I need to have things in order. Always. Or I’ll be off until they are. My life…
- I like making lists. I know where that comes from. It’s also from travel, but it’s so I don’t forget to pack anything when I have to leave for airports early in the morning. I make lists at least a week in advance and do my best to be prepared as soon as possible so I won’t have to stress about last minute packing.
- I’m still learning to say No. Not so much saying no, but saying it when it’s in my best interest. I’ll always say no to mushrooms, and roller coasters, and driving at night. It’s the No to assignments I don’t want, or people I don’t want to be around that I’m working on. Hopefully it will become comfortable sooner rather than later.
- No more comfort zone. I’ve done a lot of work to remove myself from mine, but there are still so many things that would make said removal more substantial. For one example, moving to North Carolina was outside of my comfort zone, but staying with family instead of getting my own place is definitely a comfort thing. I must do better. Take another leap. That’s the only way you remain accustomed to doing so.
- I still love karaoke. I told family members I didn’t because I wanted them to leave me alone about the subject, but I don’t think I’ll ever completely be done with it. I’m not a singer, but my goodness, being in a room with fellow non-singers and attempting to carry a tune while creating a facsimile of your favorite tracks? It’s life, B. Life.
- I love podcasts. They’re replaced audiobooks for me. Not because I don’t like reading or listening to books, because I do. I simply believe that podcasts are more topical, and learning about things that are in the news or are happening in the sports world keeps me updated on my current reality. I promise to do better about listening to more self-help books, though. Lawd knows I need them in my life as much as I need the news.
- I can go my whole lifetime without having another soda. It’s been two years since I’ve had a carbonated soda beverage and to say I don’t miss it would be an understatement. I never took seriously just how much they left me bloated, and threw off my alcohol with the insane amount of sugar in each glass. I’ve sworn it off and have no desire to have a soda ever again. Yup!
- I must stop procrastinating about my writing. There are so many stories still inside me that I’d love to tell. That I need to tell. I’m admittedly the king of procrastination, but these stories deserve to be told. I’ve yet. to learn how to quell my terrible tendencies, but I now know I have no choice. I owe it to myself to release them from my mind and onto paper.
- Collaboration is key. Whether it’s a podcast, a script, or even a duet at karaoke, the time for solo missions is over. It’s important for me to embrace the art of sharing by collaborating on projects that will benefit the world.
- Trust Black women. This isn’t something I really needed to be reminded of, but it’s always good to know that there are so many Black women in my circle that deserve my trust, protection, and love.
- Sarcasm is a part of who I am. I’ve tried to stop myself from manufacturing quick and witty comebacks. I’ve found that it’s not possible. My mind works in quick, witty, and mysterious ways. Lord, forgive me.
- Get more rest. There’s something called the Nap Ministry circulating around the innanets, and lemme tell you… that’s the religion I need. I’ve tried everything from melatonin to CBD and most things in between, and I can’t seem to stay asleep. I never need help falling asleep. The trick I have to learn is how to stay there all night. I’m on a mission to do just that.
- Study comedy. I love making people laugh, and I feel like if I really studied the art of comedy, I’d be more confident in my ability to do so. A goal of mine is to take an improv class.
- Continue showing up. Of course that hasn’t been easy this year (or last year, if we’re being honest), but whenever I get the chance, I will definitely be back on the road showing up for my loved ones. It’s who I am.
- Empower others. I don’t have a huge platform, but I do have tons of experience and a group of folks I’d love to help reach their full potential. So moving forward, empowering them is what I’ll do. For sure.
- I can’t acknowledge 45 this year. It’s orange, and terrible.
- More streams of income. Currently working on that and it’s looking good. My goal is seven within the next year. Let’s see what I can do.
- Build up my book collection. I used to have shelves full of books. Moving cross country and then moving back cross country forced me to give a lot of my books away. I know that audiobooks are easier to handle, but I still want to collect books by Black authors. That shall happen this year.
- Build up my bourbon collection. I’m a member of a bourbon society in name only. I rarely, if ever, purchase bottles and certainly don’t hunt down rare brands or search to discover the perfect notes. I stick with my Woodford Reserve and keep it moving. Not anymore. I want to be more explorative with my purchases and put my membership to good use. Watch me. And check to make sure I haven’t passed out from the sips. Heh.
- Write more essays. There’s power in writing essays to express oneself. I need to do that more. I will.
There’s a million things I haven’t done. These 49 are things I hope to achieve over the next 365 days. Before I turn 50. Here we go…