I have been thinking over my past 10 years for a while now. A lot has changed. A lot has stayed the same. I have learned many lessons that have been for the better. Although while I was going through it, I surely did not see it. Now, on the other side of it— I am thankful. For every sleepless/teary night, every heartache, every challenge that was meant to break me down, I have been built up in spite of it. Every smile, every new adventure, every hug has reaffirmed the love and the hope that I have in my life. Have you had time to reflect on this decade that is soon ending? What were the best moments? What have you learned and what have you released? What will you take with you as we approach this New Year and what will you leave behind? I believe that sometimes we just have to decide. We have to make a choice. We need to decide what it is that we want— how we want to feel, how we want to live, how we want to love and be loved. We have to decide on the life that we want and we have to live it. We have to live it so fully that regrets have no place. I have been learning some of the most valuable things about myself since the start of this decade, and I have realized that without these experiences I would not have become the woman that I need to be to fulfill my purpose with joy and conviction. I had to learn these lessons so that I can walk confidently towards my dreams no matter the situation, no matter the obstacle even when I don’t know what is next — Unapologetically, Me.
Just A Decade of a Few Lessons Learned:
“Speak your truth, even if your voice shakes.”
We do not need to justify the space that we take up. We do not need to justify our feelings. We can speak boldly even when our voices shake. Sometimes those are the moments with the most impact. We are doing a disservice to ourselves when we lessen our wants and needs so that those around us feel comfortable. For me, I was uneasy with not being seen as “nice”. I had to get over that and understand that I should never have to compromise my feelings or myself. If I set a boundary and someone doesn’t like it, and they choose to see me as someone that I am not— that is not my problem to carry around. Speaking up for myself and saying “no” does not make me anything less than the kind, caring person that I am. It simply sets a healthy boundary for myself. I do not have unlimited time available for everyone. There should not be an expectation that an all access pass to my life, and me will be granted at the whim of an outside force. I have the ability to choose what is best for me. And I have things that I need to do in life— I have to prioritize myself too! I am convinced that we all would be more productive if we said “yes” to the right things and “no” to the things that we need to. Yes, it can be easy to dismiss women as emotional or difficult when we stand firm in our truth and speak up for ourselves. It can be an adjustment to those around us who have become accustomed to us being available for them at any time, for anything. We can appease those around us for so long that we dig a hole for ourselves. On the December 3, 2019 episode of Jada Pinkett Smith’s Red Table Talk with T.I. and Tiny Harris, a part (I’m sure) many women were shaking their heads in agreement with was when Tiny explains that there came a time when she found her voice. T.I. wasn’t used to this new Tiny and it caused issues in their marriage. She realized that she should have a voice and express her opinions. As women, at times we can forget that we don’t need permission. We dim our lights. We sadly silence ourselves unintentionally at some points in our life. However, we usually step into our power because we realize that it was always within us. We have a responsibility to make choices for ourselves and for our families and we have valid, needed perspectives that must to be heard. We just have to decide to own it. Our voices should be amplified not decreased or ignored by ourselves or anyone else. Noted, Gabrielle Union.
“Life is better when you’re laughing.”
Sometimes we can find ourselves so caught up in making things work that it leaves no time for fun and seeing our dreams come to fruition. Other people’s needs and outlooks can drown out our clarity. Let’s leave that behind as we move forward into a new decade. Feel your feelings but don’t allow your pain to overshadow your laughter. Laughter truly is good for the soul and we should not be walking around carrying weight that limits our joy. For example, this year, we took our daughter to Sesame Place for her birthday. It was the best time. When we walked in, she was not so convinced of the good time that was about to be had! Nevertheless, the smiles and laughter soon showed up. We fell in love with the lazy river. I think we all needed to relax, unwind, and just be a little lazy for a moment. I got on my first water slides and it unlocked something in my spirit that I did not even know existed. It didn’t matter that it was at Sesame Place! Sometimes we just have to experience things for the first time, as you would have as a child. I felt so free and adventurous! My daughter has been my greatest gift in so many ways. One being, she has truly reintroduced me to myself. After giving birth to her, I lost myself. I didn’t recognize the face that was staring back in the mirror for many years. Yes, there were moments, weeks and even months of Tiffany throughout the years but I was going through so many different life changes that I put myself to the side and just pushed through. Pushed through so much that my laughter was misplaced many times as well. Last month, my daughter wrote me a note and within her sweet thoughts of Mama— she said that I was “funny!” It brought tears to my eyes because I have felt like I have had to be so serious for so long to make things happen and keep her safe. It is important to me that she sees me in full. Not only in soundbites from others and not just linear, “keeping things going Mom”. In 2018, I had an awakening. And in 2019, I have been intentional about placing more importance on being free and just enjoying life. For so long, I was bogged down with stuff that I should have never had to carry around for that length of time. I have laughed a lot this year and I am so appreciative for the ability to find the joy even in the darkest moments.
“Those who bring you the most peace should get the most time.”
Life is short; spend time with those who allow you to be yourself and love you for it. If you walk away depleted on most occasions after being around certain people, this is the red flag. I now limit my time with those who empty me. I refuse to be an energy source for those who just want to drain me all the while filling themselves up. There have been situations in the past where I felt like I had to give myself a pep talk before I spent time with certain people. I began to feel like there was always going to be “something”— you know? I just got to the point where I was done. Done sacrificing my peace for the sake of keeping the peace. We all have choices and there usually comes a time where we may have to choose our calm over their storm. I love leaving family and friends with a smile on my face and joy in my heart. I choose that when possible. Your tribe keeps you aligned with the light you deserve.
“Self-Care is not selfish.”
When I have consistent me-time, I function better. I am a happier person. I have more energy to do what needs to be done. I can be there in a more complete and present way for those who count on me. It’s easy to feel guilty about taking care of yourself, unfortunately. Most of us have busy schedules and a never-ending list of to-do’s. However, it is essential to find time for yourself. Maybe for you, it’s regular mani/pedi appointments and candlelit bubble baths, maybe it’s not. You can define the self-care practices that work for you. Even if it is a 10-minute walk to get some fresh air or stopping by your favorite coffee shop for 20 minutes of indulgence— do it. You deserve it. You are not being selfish.
“Focus on your dreams.”
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” – Mary Oliver
This year I took a Girls Trip to L.A. I didn’t know when I booked my flight that I would be reminded of all of my dreams, wishes, and hopes. See, I left Los Angeles in 2009 (the beginning of the aforementioned decade of enlightenment J ) and moved to the concrete jungle. Now, at the end of the decade, I returned to the City of Angels. I had some of my girls in my city. Yes, it is still my city. I grew up there in many ways. I caught up with friends and it was just as I had never left. Sometimes we need to remember who we are. When we leave our comfort zones and face fears, a new world can open up for us. My perspective changed after my trip. I felt a different kind of freedom. When I returned to NY, I was offered this opportunity at The Daily Feels. (Thank you, JB McCann, aka “The Phoenix”) for referring me. My first blog posted on April 28th of this year and I have been on a journey of rediscovery ever since. I have not felt this alive in years! Why? I’m writing again on a regular basis. And in doing so, I am connecting with beautiful people who are full of light and love. I know that this is my purpose. It is important to be able to express your whole self even as your life roles evolve. Always make room for the things that you are passionate about and your goals. My point, focus on your dreams and put the work in. You will find a fulfillment that could have only been written in the stars especially for you. You will find a joy that no one can take away. What makes your soul feel free? Decide and put your whole heart into it.
The past 10 years have shown me that losing yourself can birth and rebirth the best version of who you are meant to be. Tears can be cleansing, and the real ones in your life are absolute treasures. I am grateful for my family and friends who have been there and shown up at essential times always reminding me how loved that I am. (You know who you are.) Always reminding me of my goodness when I needed to hear it most and allowing me to be there for them. One of my biggest takeaways from this growth period has been that you have to make room for things that bring you immense joy. Not those mediocre moments that fall flat in your heart space, but the moments of exhilaration that remind you that anything and everything is possible. Let’s make this next decade one to remember for the best reasons!
Cheers to Us!
Tiffany Reneé is a writer, poet and activist based in New York. She is a free spirit who loves to truly connect with others. She believes that life gives us opportunities to learn and grow daily if we are open to see the beauty in the expansion. Family time, deep conversation, wine, cooking, music, laughter and travel are a few of her favorite things. She’s a soulful dreamer from the Midwest who has always been drawn to the city lights and the possibilities that exist in choosing “more” of what allows you to live a life that you love.