The truth is: Belonging starts with self-acceptance. Your level of belonging, in fact, can never be greater than your level of self-acceptance, because believing that you’re enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic, vulnerable and imperfect. When we don’t have that, we shape-shift and turn into chameleons; we hustle for the worthiness we already possess. — Badass Researcher and Philosopher Brene Brown-
Today is my 44th birthday and if you know me personally, you know just how much I love this day! My birthday is a time when I can reflect on my past and set new intentions for the year ahead. On my 43rd birthday, I set my sights on making it a year of transformation, beginning with my incredible trip to Curacao in January. On January 6, 2016, I posted the following Facebook photo with this message:
So very grateful for all of the bumps and bruises and every test (and person sent to test) that I have had to endure along the way. I have Over-come and I have Be-come because and despite! See, I know my own strength, but can also embrace my vulnerabilities…I choose to LOVE myself flaws and all! I am the Tyra you have always known yet I am in constant transformation! Show me and watch me; teach me and learn from me; Inspire and be inspired by what you see in me (even when it drives you a little nuts!); lean in and stand back: Watch the way I Capricorn!!! #2016yearofthe9s#onepluseightplus2016 #43in2days
As I predicted, 2016 was indeed a whirlwind of change. Not all of the change was easy but every bit of it has been valuable: Necessary and productive toward me living a more authentic life. Shape-shifting is overrated and quite frankly, it exhausted my mind and body to the extent where it became difficult to move.
Ironically, though, NOT moving was crucial to my transformation. There is power in being still. It enables me to allow life’s “matter” to land wherever it will. It affords me the opportunity to assess, collect, clarify and strategize. In doing so, my actions are less susceptible to the pressures of being defined by any given situation. This gives me room to make decisions that are congruent to living life as the vulnerable, beautiful soul that I know myself to be.
2017 is my year of 4’s–my off-season, if you will. I am not anticipating a year full of heavy change or life-altering realizations. Instead, I set my intentions on learning to settle into the comfort and security that my new life holds. This year, I want to just be happy and surround myself with others who want the same thing for themselves and me. I’m convinced that this is NOT an impossible dream. The reason why is because in my year of 4’s, I commit myself to the following 4 truths:
1) I am not in control of all things at all times: Relinquishing the need to be in total control gives me the freedom to allow God to move in my life. I cannot tell you how many times I have messed around and blocked my own blessings by thinking I knew a better, quicker, more instantly gratifying way. Now, when I begin to feel like I am not in control, I don’t give in to the anxiety and fear that goes along with it. Instead, I honor that feeling and step out of my own way.
2) I have faith that the The Universe is on my side (and is conspiring in my favor): The message between the lines of this truth is GRACE. I believe in and have benefited from this sort of favor. In times when I have made terrible choices, a power that is greater than me often steps in to reshape the situation so that it works to my benefit. Grace is not earned or deserved. It is something that just is given and, in my belief, is closely connected to the truth I will speak of next: Purpose.
3) I believe that my life has a greater purpose: There is more to life than meets the eye. If I am not mindful, I might be tempted to think that going to work Monday through Friday, paying bills and getting a new pair of shoes or jewelry is the definition of living. It might be easy to confuse my ability to love and be loved with happiness and purpose. There has to be more. For me, that purpose is lived more fully when I write. When I deny myself the necessity of creating, I am denying my soul the opportunity to live with the greater purpose for which I was intended.
4) Once I acknowledge my quirks, then I can laugh and live freely: While I am indeed a flawed individual, I have learned to better distinguish between an actual flaw and what might be better described as a quirk. In my view, a self-proclaimed flaw is a negative attribute that I work hard to change or outgrow at some point. A quirk, on the other hand, is an attribute that may seem peculiar to others (and even myself) but will not likely disappear. I have a list of quirky things about myself that I have decided to embrace. And yes…I will share just 4 of the many:
Quirk #1: Ringtones and notifications startle me! Seriously, I have been known to physically hold my heart and gasp or jump whenever my phone (or anyone else’s) rings or dings or whistles or otherwise makes a loud, sudden noise. As a result, I am that person who will rarely answer the phone when you call. Not because I don’t want to but because my ringer is perpetually silenced and I cannot hear it ring. My voicemail notification icon is disabled on my phone, so for the same reason, if you leave a message when I don’t answer, I probably won’t get around to hearing it until at least a month later.
Quirk #2: I wear socks to bed every night. It does not matter if my feet are hot or cold. Yet somehow, I manage to wake up sock-less each morning. The weekly rescue of the multiple pairs of socks stuck in the tuck between the top sheet and the fitted one is an ongoing source of amusement in my house!
Quirk #3: While I am obviously NOT not a 65-year-old man who has worked in the corn field his entire life, my rough ass hands have obviously not gotten that memo! For that reason, I avoid holding hands…at all costs! This used to make me anxious whenever I began dating someone new, (which is why when I met my husband, I lead with the story of these rough hands. More on that in another post!). This could also be the reason why going to church has always been somewhat of a nightmare for me. It never fails, by the end of the sermon, someone always wants to hold hands to pray. In my defense, some of the phobia about holding hands has to do with witnessing folks sashay directly from the toilet to bathroom door without stopping at the sink to wash.
Quirk # 4: Large groups of people with matching outfits that are NOT uniforms…Yeah, that weirds me out! I am not a person who gets excited about a white-out or black-out event. I take an exception to being told what color to wear and unless we are all planning to take a group photo, I cannot understand why everyone must have on the same color. So yeah, I’m that girl at the event with a splash of pink or yellow or red …just to be certain that I am not conforming to the dress code that exists for no real reason.
I guess what I am saying with this last truth is that embracing my quirkiness has been made easier by my ability to laugh at myself. I recognize that my quirks are part of what make ME uniquely ME! The ability to shake my head in a manner that is somewhere between annoyed and slightly amused, comes from the fact that I know I am well worth that smile– even when it shows up while admitting how beautifully messed up I am! Laughter makes me more comfortable with being vulnerable and authenticity resides in the creases of vulnerability.
My journey toward self-acceptance is paved with faith, grace, purpose and laughter. May you all be encouraged to consider the things that you believe in, acknowledge your own grace, recognize and honor your greater purpose and by all means…LAUGH YOUR ASSES OFF while doing it!