Whew! This year was... different. After 13 years of grinding and navigating the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle, God gave me REST.
In February, I quit my job. Technically, I was fired, but I had mentally quit months prior. I really liked my job, even with the long hours spent handling client requests during London and Hong Kong working hours. But once we were acquired by another company in October 2021, it gradually went downhill from there. There were three rounds of layoffs in 2022, and the new management didn't understand how the smaller company we once were operated as a well-oiled machine. It seemed like they were hellbent on making our work more difficult than it already was.
After the layoffs, I became the only African American at the company in a senior position, AND I handled our biggest and most profitable account. That account was my former employer. For context, the SVP at my previous job actually recommended me for this job because she knew that I knew the company's dynamics, and I would be an asset to the changing needs they required that the pandemic caused.
In late January, one of our new overlords requested that I meet him for lunch in the city on February 2nd. I knew something was up when he repeatedly told me to quit if I wasn't happy. He told me that no less than six times. I started counting after the third time while I sat there and ate an overpriced salad. I told him I never said I wasn't happy, but I did mention that some things needed to change so the company could be more efficient, particularly in the billing department. Because I spoke up about my concerns regarding how they processed invoices (or the lack thereof), he called me "aggressive, terse, gruff, and rough around the edges." During Black History Month. It was intentional. He told me I needed to be "softer" when questioning my colleagues regarding why invoices were **repeatedly** wrong/late/non-existent.
By February 9th, things came to a head, and I sent an email to management and billing that needed to be said. I was professional, yet I shined a light on ongoing problems that they didn't like. Soon word got out, and my legacy colleagues privately agreed with me. They were tired of the BS too. I knew it would likely get me fired, and at that point I didn't care. The job I liked, the job that had me working 18+ hour days, was affecting my mental and physical health. I needed a break.
The next day before 11am, I had a Zoom call with HR. I got severance, unemployment, and peace. Yes, I haven't worked since February 10th. Needless to say, the SVP that recommended me for the job I was just fired from was PISSED once she found out I no longer worked there, and my former colleagues let me know that their biggest client was not happy.
Yet, I was free! FREE! And I used that freedom to pour into myself. Heavily. To the brim. Overflowing abundantly. I set a goal to complete 500 iFit exercises on my NordicTrack treadmill. I lifted weights. I prayed more. I meditated at 10am and 1pm or whenever spirit moved me. I could sleep in or get up early. I could go see a Broadway play at 2pm without a care in the world. I read books that I never had time to read. I binge-watched series after series. I did exactly what the fuck I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it. I was on my own time. For the first time in my adult life, I wasn't concerned about money or how I would pay bills. Thankfully, I invested well during the pandemic.
I wholeheartedly believe God knew I needed a break. I had been pouring into everyone and everything else and neglecting myself. After the Nas One Night Only concert at MSG in late February, I went to Little Rock a week later. I wanted to recharge. See my mom and sis. Get back to my roots. Eat a U.S. Pizza salad or three. Little did I know that my hometown would be hit by monster tornadoes on March 31st. It's crazy how life turns out. How some things change and others remain the same.
Spring rolled around. I saw Chloe Bailey at Terminal 5 in April. I saw Janet Jackson at Barclays Center in May. Then summer quickly came. I was dropping pounds, gaining muscle, and living a life of leisure. After seeing The Book of Hov exhibit at the Brooklyn Public Library in mid-July, I finally decided where I wanted to go for my 39th birthday. While I ate nachos with a friend at Maz Mezcal, I booked a flight and accommodations for Turks and Caicos. I saw Beyoncé four times - twice at MetLife Stadium and NRG Stadium. I finally tried indoor skydiving, something I wanted to do since I was a teen. I saw Kerry Washington and Jada Pinkett-Smith during their book tour stops at PAC NYC. I saw Wu Tang and Nas at Barclays Center for their NY State of Mind Tour. I saw Flyana Boss and Janelle Monae at Kings Theatre for The Age of Pleasure Tour. On October 19th, I saw Pras from The Fugees celebrate his 51st birthday at Barclays Center during The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill 25th Anniversary Tour. The next day, I flew back home to Little Rock to surprise my sister and celebrate her 37th birthday. I felt like a big ass kid again when we went to the Arkansas State Fair.
I also saw Marlon Wayans perform his stand-up set "Good Grief" at The Apollo Theater. Speaking of stand-up comedy, footage I took 5 years ago at Kevin Hart's Irresponsible Tour was used in the "Kevin Hart & Chris Rock: Headliners Only" documentary on Netflix. Seeing my name in the credits dead center between Getty Images and Kevin Hart Family is something I would have never expected! Look at God!
You never know who is watching you... or your YouTube footage. This year has been surreal to say the least.
By November 4th, I met my iFit goal and completed 500 workouts on my treadmill. This morning, I surpassed my goal and completed 600 workouts! Hands down - THAT is my biggest flex this year! Come on hard work and discipline!!! I reached my target weight. I'm toned. I'm healthy. I'm happy. I'm super proud of myself, and I feel amazing!
This year has taught me rest. I'm so used to being on go that I didn't know what pause felt like. Even when I've been on vacation, I was expected to check emails and answer work calls. This year, I've been able to take time for me - to really recharge and rejuvenate mind, body, and soul. I saw a post earlier that said, "God said in 2023, I made you strong. In 2024, I am going to show you why."
God has really kept me this year. He showed me what I'm made of and what's possible when I do me for me. He gave me grace. Stillness. Beauty for ashes. Break for burnout. I'm reinvigorated and ready to take on the next chapter of this blessed thing we call life - whatever it may be. God, thank you for always making a way out of no way - for going before me and making crooked places straight. I look forward to everything You have in store for 2024!
If you're reading this, PLEASE take time for YOU. Social media will have you chasing a bag to the death of you. Comparing yourself to others or trying to climb the corporate ladder (especially when companies are doing mass layoffs) can make you feel like you're not doing enough. I know people have kids, bills, and other responsibilities, but seek time for yourself. Learn to rest. Learn to relax. Learn to unplug. Learn to just... be. Productivity doesn't define your worth. Do NOT equate your value with your output. Be intentional about pouring into yourself because you can't pour from an empty cup.
I hope you have a safe, happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year! Love ya deep! xoxo
P.S. PAY ME LIKE A WHITE MAN 2024, CEASE FIRE NOW, AND #FREEGAZA!!!