This past weekend I attended the Oprah Winfrey event in Atlanta at the State Farm Arena (formerly known as Phillips Arena…and before that as the Omni). I have had a number or significant experiences at that location. In 1989, I attended the Janet Jackson Rhythm Nation concert with my older sister. It was my very first concert. It was the first time my mother entrusted her teenage daughters to drive into town at night for an event without her. If I had to pick a word for that night and that time in my life it would be “freedom.”
Years later in 2004, I attended a Prince concert there. One of my other favorite bands opened for Prince- Morris Day and the Time. It was a few weeks before I was having a life changing but necessary surgery. Like many African American women, I suffered from fibroids, which have a major impact on fertility. If I had to pick a word for that year it would be “transformation.”
At Oprah’s 2020 Vision event she asked us to all pick a word that symbolized what we wanted the year to represent. We were to pick a word that signified our intention for 2020. A word that represents what we want from this year. At first I struggled to come up with a word. The last year and a half have been so eventful. Much of that time I didn’t know what to expect next. I was preparing myself for the fight of my life. That’s what any person who is diagnosed with a life threatening illness during the prime of their life would do. The truth is, I hadn’t thought much beyond that. My focus has been on my care, my mother’s care, my sibling who needs a lot of support, and continuing to provide services in my practice.
When I think back on what the word would have been for that period of time it would have be “uncertainty.” My conscious thoughts were on gratitude…but my unconscious thoughts were about death and fears around pain, discomfort and potential decrease in ability. Fortunately, reflecting on a vision for 2020 allowed me an opportunity to slow down and think about my life from a different perspective. What if I live? So my word for 2020 is “live.” For me living is not about going out and traveling or partying or spending time socializing. For me living is about reconnecting and re-committing to a sense of purpose. Purpose that is not rooted primarily in what needs to be done to take care of others. For me right now living means developing both a present and future orientation in which I get to choose what serves me. “Me” is not the dirty word that so many women fear it is…If you can’t risk disappointing other’s to affirm your own life and space and structure…then you never will. As Mary Oliver said “Tell me, what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
I hope that everyone reading this sets a clear intention for this year and this stage in your life. If you had to pick a word…what would it be and why? My hope for anyone dealing with uncertainty, fear, pain, loss or grief…is that you don’t lose yourself. My hope is that anyone who is holding their breathe and bracing for the next wave to hit like a tsunami, that you get a chance to set your feet on the ground. I hope that when the storm breaks you are still standing. I hope you get a chance to fulfill your word and your intention in every moment of every day.
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