Inspiration & Expert Advice on What Matters Most

Posts Tagged ‘growth’

“Living”

In Career, Contributors, Finances, Health, Lifestyle, Relationships, Spirituality on June 30, 2014 at 07:42

Laura Barboza
At the “tender” age of 28, a wise 30+ year old gentleman by the name of Mr. Oliver once said to me “Your 20s are for learning and your 30s are for living.” Those words impacted me heavily, as I was not only learning a lot at that time in my life, but I was also eager to get past the uncomfortable Saturn Return phase I found myself in. Having just moved literally and diagonally across the US from Miami to Seattle, I was struggling to find emotional balance, professional prosperity and growth amidst a very different culture than my own, with a complete new set of acquaintances, and within a broken economy. I was unemployed, confused, and homesick. Reaching my 30s was an anxious goal as it carried the significance of stability for me, especially after Mr. Oliver’s words circled in my mind daily. I was embracing the learning lessons, but I really just wanted to live!
To cope with the many changes I was experiencing, I turned to yoga and was successfully reaching an internal depth and awareness I would have never expected to achieve so suddenly. I began to spiritually reach towards a higher self while attempting to get through the daily challenge of the emotional and mental transience I was inevitably living through. My ultimate goal was to reach my 30th year as a strong, successful and serene being. I therefore collected every bit of energy in me into making this happen. I was determined to shine rather than conform to the “downhill” effect most folks fear when reaching 30. And to support the idea of glowing rather than greying, I was informed of the concept of one’s “golden birthday”, where the day of your birth aligns with your age, and magical moments arise. To my fortune and surprise, I was born on June 30th.
While looking forward to embracing Mr. Oliver’s advise to really live during my 30s, I decided to set a very defined 2-year plan for myself. I sought to complete a master’s degree prior to my 30th year celebration and expand my yoga practice to promote the idea of finding myself in the best physical shape of my life (yes, my life). In addition, I was seeking to implement and practice grace in everything I did, said, thought and became involved in. Grace meant stability in so many ways. Handling anything that life blew my way with complete objectivity, managing confrontations and less than positive moments with ease, and becoming a centered person in every sense was all I wanted.
I’ve since come to understand that finding grace is a lifelong endeavor, and as much as I try, it’s not a daily possibility (at least for me). However, what matters about this aspiration is that it continues to remain my ultimate goal, and though I may stumble more days than I’d like to admit, I strive to be gentle and forgiving when I falter, while remaining humble and grounded when I’m on top. Which brings me to the conclusion of my story. I’m 30, I’m learning, and I’m proud to say I’m humbled every single day. Learning and living are not mutually exclusive. They are able to coexist in the same way we are able to coexist with individuals, emotional situations, and environmental factors. To add to my virtue, I can say that where I find myself at 30 is not where society wants me to be, nor where my pride led me towards. I’ve learned that to be happy we don’t have to fit in, we don’t have to be comfortable, and we don’t have to make money. And isn’t that the true definition of living?
About Laura:
User Experience Researcher in the Seattle area. On her free time, you can find her amidst friends and in one yoga pose or another.
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“Growing Pains”

In Career, Contributors, Family, Finances, Health, Lifestyle, Quotes, Relationships, Spirituality on August 30, 2013 at 08:37

By Deneia Yanique

Turning 30 for me has meant change.

Arrogance to humility

From living in black and white to gray areas of living

From hiding from myself to facing myself

A focus from material growth to spiritual growth

From living unconsciously to higher levels of awareness

Turning 30 has meant changing perspective.

Let me explain more.

In my mid 20s I thought I had it all figured out. I had a family, my career as a teacher, well traveled, my ambition and will to succeed. I felt like I had triumphed over a lot and that I deserved all good that would come to me.  I exercised frequently and my health and my son’s health were great. I had a house, a car and all the material things that are supposed to make an individual feel secure and successful. I felt self-important because I was accepted into a Ph.D. program to be trained in my dream vocation as an applied anthropologist. At times I was extremely self righteous and arrogant. My attitude was nasty and I recognize this now.

In my late 20s I decided I didn’t want to be with my son’s father and moved out with my son. I felt I was missing something in my life and also felt bored being in a relationship. Because I was able to survive on my own I had little patience for others who would come up with excuses for why they couldn’t. To this day I am appalled at my treatment of my son’s father. He did everything he was supposed to do as a father and a man and I was not satisfied. Though I do not wish to be with him I feel my words and behaviors could have been more compassionate towards him.

In retrospect, during this time I believed I deserved better and would quickly leave anyone behind who I thought was beneath me. In the end, I wasn’t honest about my weakness but would grab hold of any chance to flaunt my achievements.

All of a sudden at the age of 29, life happened. I was in a car accident, became involved in some legal trouble, and my home was burglarized by a close friend all in a three-year time frame. My income also declined dramatically as my expenses began to increase. I began to feel sorry for myself and wallow in the pain. Even worse, I began to drink alcohol daily.

Every day I would question where did all of this come from? Why me? What did I do to deserve this? I thought I had done everything right. Even worse, I couldn’t even focus on my research. I grew anxious and would spend the majority of my day worrying. My thoughts controlled everything. My thoughts were holding me still. It was a vicious cycle. I would feel sorry for myself, feel bad because I thought I wasn’t focusing on my son like I was supposed to and because I broke up the family, doubted my research and my capabilities, and then would feel even worse once I realized that I had these pitiful psychological problems while others in the world have real, tangible and concrete problems they are trying to overcome. My main question to myself is how can I help others with my anthropology if I cant even help myself? Every day I thought like this, from the time I woke up to when I went to sleep. It was exhausting and extremely unproductive.

Now at the age of 32, I am slowly getting over myself by learning how to tame my mind. I have come to recognize some things about my being. In my 20s I was deeply insecure, fearful and angry about many things, which is why I responded to the world with arrogance. The arrogance hid what I was not willing to face. I knew the first step I needed to take was to be honest about my weaknesses. I did not know it all. In fact I knew nothing at all. My tone and body language needed improvement. My time management and financial management needed to be budgeting wisely. All of the advice I was so quick to offer to my former students I knew I had to apply to myself. In other words I needed to practice what I taught.

Next, I needed to stop feeling guilty about breaking up the “family”. Western society does a great job of promoting the nuclear family as the foundation for a child’s success. As a black male in the United States I was constantly worried about my son becoming a statistic because he didn’t have the “nuclear family”. I had to forgive myself and realize that individuals do create their own reality and this is okay.

Me and Yohannes in one of our moments.

Me and Yohannes in one of our moments.

Most importantly I realize that I need to develop genuine compassion. The only way I could do this is by having self-compassion. In my 20s I always felt like I had compassion while working with students and members in the community. I offered time and money to causes but in retrospect I realize this was not done in vain. I did these things to make myself feel better and important while at the same time showing others that I was the best. This is what I learned: in order to have compassion for others an individual must first have compassion for self. This is genuine compassion. I cannot offer the world what I am not able to offer myself.

As I write this I am having a revelation. If I want to contribute to this world through anthropology before I die then I need to do the work on myself first. I need to keep my promises to myself and most importantly I need to forgive myself and keep moving. I thank the Universe for presenting these challenges to me because I needed to grow.

Whenever I heard this quote in the past I would often roll my eyes because it sounded too idealistic. At this present moment I understand what it means. “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I am a work in progress.

About Deneia:

New York born, New England educated.  Based in Tampa, FL where she teaches Gifted and Learning Disabled students at the secondary level.  Tampa is also where Deneia Yanique has received training to become a social scientist.  She is current a Ph.D. candidate in Applied Anthropology at the University of South Florida.  Her research focuses on the educational experiences of Black males in the United States and the Caribbean.  In her personal life, Deneia Yanique is a life long learner, a mother, and a part time yogi who enjoys stimulating conversations, good drinks, and a great meal.

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