Tag Archives: Vision Boards

2020 Reflections

Each year I do a vision board. I have it blown up and I keep it framed in my bedroom so that I see it daily and am reminded that there are things to do.

My 2020 board included things like evolving my parenting now that Hope is in college, chasing some adventure, self acceptance, health and as always love.

How does the meme go?

How it started…It was to be a year of great promise.

How it ended…It was a year of survival.

COVID-19 pretty much took a wrecking ball to the year.

Hope is currently not enrolled in school, and I’m back to daily, active parenting. Just when she was becoming more social and connected, everything was cut off. It all made her really vulnerable, and just like that trouble found her. It’s been really hard dealing with the fallout of the summer’s drama. The pandemic made it just that much worse—there are so few outlets for having any sort of social connection.

Adventure? Well, going to the grocery store became an adventure. Going anywhere became an adventure. I feel like my world just closed in this year. In January I was counting down days to a trip to Israel in March, but instability in the region made my travel buddy want to cancel. We rebooked and planned a trip to Costa Rica, but then COVID hit and our trip got postponed to November. November came, along with a surge in cases, and Costa Rica was cancelled. In July Hope and I took a day trip to see my parents. That was a highlight for the year.

My vision board has hiking and relearning how to swim on it, meanwhile the pool never even opened. Adventure finally came about two months ago when I decided that we would start visiting local farms in the area. It was fun, and I have a lot of jam in my pantry now. It was wonderful having fresh pressed cider and fresh picked collard greens. I will likely sign up for a CSA in 2021 so that I can be sure to keep the goodness coming.

While I’m grateful that I found small ways of creating adventure, I’m sad that my world shrank in so many ways.

I have had a lot of time to think about what I like and dislike about myself. I’ve also had a lot of time to remember that Hope watches and learns from me. I have been able to make a lot of progress on self-acceptance. Listen, I’m not saying I’m “there,” but I’ve at least switched my thinking from focusing on my looks and size, to focus on what my body can do and what I need to do to make sure it is able to keep doing those things. I lost about 20lbs this year, most of it in January-March, but have largely kept it off. I walk every day. I’ve managed to increase my daily steps substantially. I cook more.

But I also still make a cake every 4-5 days; I still eat too much sugar, I still haven’t mastered hydration and my coping mechanism when it comes to consumption is still…an issue. 😊

I’ve been fortunate that I didn’t take a financial hit this year. I’m grateful for that. It’s meant that I’ve been able to keep debt low and afford some things that have made quarantining more comfortable—more streaming subscriptions, a new electronic standing desk, and some other odds and ends. I’m now contemplating some updates to the kitchen and my bathroom. I mean, if I’m going to be hold up here indefinitely, I probably should make it pretty and comfortable.

The flip side is that this has been one of the most challenging years of my career. The emotional toll is heavy. Dealing with rampant White supremacy in the midst of a pandemic is draining. The murder of George Floyd will be with me for a long time. The fall out has changed the way I think about the work I do, the pleasantries that I’m sometimes forced to engage in, the patience that I’m nearly always in short supply of. And watching some folks just fade back into racial oblivion is…toxic, yet to be expected during the best of times.

It’s been hard.

And love? One of the great loves of my life passed away in January, Elihu. I miss him every day. I wonder what I could’ve done to change the course of our relationship, even though I know my ending it was the right thing to do at the time. The loss of E came on the heels of losing another one of my great loves just the year before. Dating this year was trash. I am seeing someone, but I know it’s not a great fit for me, so I also know it has an expiration date. What can I say pandemics…#shrug. I’m hopeful that maybe I’ll make a meaningful connection in 2021—not meaningful like the Match commercial with Satan and 2020, but meaningful nonetheless.

But I suppose there are some bright spots.

  • I survived my own bout with COVID early in the year.
  • Hope had two jobs for a while and was really good at them.
  • Yappy is much more affectionate with Hope, even if he is primarily still very attached to me.
  • I managed it all without completely falling apart.
  • I deepened some of my friendships.
  • I did a lot of writing and creating, though not in this space.
  • I found another level to my voice regarding diversity at work.

I’m also super conscious of the fact that lots of folks would trade places with me in a minute during this crapshoot of a year. Hope and I are fine. I would give my left foot to hug my mom and dad, see my sisters and snuggle my niece and nephews, but I guess I’ll settle for waving on camera. In the grand scheme of things Hope and I are very fortunate to be comfortable. Our families have not suffered any losses. We are able to afford what we need and largely what we want. We have each other and Yappy.

We’re ok.

I have no idea what my vision board will look like for 2021; right now I just want a giant picture of OUTSIDE, but I’m guessing I should be more specific.


The Year of Transition

I finished my vision board earlier this week. I started it on New Year’s Day and got stuck, so it sat on my screen for a week.

I usually choose a word that drives me for the year. Originally, I thought 2019 would be about liberation. I would be even more liberated in m travel. I would try to make some moves to make this writing thing, well, a thing. I would continue to make and achieve my financial goals which would bring me closer to financial liberation. I would pursue companionship, hopefully shedding some of my hang ups that have shaped my love life for so long. I would continue to wrestle with the emotional part of empty nesting with Hope soon off to college, possibly reframing it as a way to think about some adult freedoms to do things I haven’t done in years.

In all things, I would do, I would pursue personal freedom, my own little forms of liberation.

And most of those things are still on my vision board; they are very much a part of my plan.

But I realized over the last couple of weeks with Hope home, that I don’t think I’ll really have much of an empty nest. I’m not sure where Hope will be after graduation. To be honest, I worry a bit that we won’t make it to graduation. It’s made me think a lot about what that means for Hope, but with respect to my vision board, it made me also spend a lot of time pondering what it means for me.

Mothering Hope is not quite all consuming. Some days are less intense than others. This is not complaining but just a description of my experience with my daughter. Even the great days can be consuming. Like most parents, I am able to do a bit of revisionist history when I reflect on these few years. I am able at times to gloss over the many times that had me laying awake at night quietly praying for us to get through an especially challenging trauma-shaped period.

These few months with her away at school taught me just how much my own life had been shaped by secondary trauma. The anxiety, the depression, the fear, I had become so used to this especially heightened state of being that I didn’t realize how much trauma had just rubbed off on me.

And while I spent some time coming down from that state, I also transitioned to something new distance parenting. I case manage from 75 miles away. Finding new health care providers, therapists, hypnotists, pharmacies…building relationships with new teachers, guidance counselors, resident advisors. I beat the highway twice a month to see her, manage the bank accounts, buy way more ramen than I ever thought I would. I definitely still parent, but with Hope in such a structured school, I am not consumed in the same ways I was before. My day to day exposure to her trauma was limited, and I think I was able to heal a little.

As I look forward, I am unsure what will happen this summer and this fall.  Hope and I are waiting for the colleges to make their decisions and then we will figure out our options and make ours. It’s a weird time for her, for me and for us. I hope she gets admitted somewhere—she needs the emotional boost. That’s the first hurdle. Then I wonder whether she’s ready to go anywhere; these last few weeks at home and her first semester grades suggest maybe college isn’t really for her at least right now. And if it’s not, then what will being at home look like for us. She has done minimal volunteering and hasn’t had a job yet. She still doesn’t have her driver’s license. What will I expect of her if she is home for a long period of time; how will our relationship change?

There’s just a lot that is up in the air, and I’m thinking about all of it all the time. And thinking about something all the time is not liberation.

So, we’re in transition.

I’m in transition.

I’m moving into another life chapter. A lot of my personal goals remain the same, but Hope is and always will be a game changer. My master goal, to somehow usher Hope into functional adulthood, remains, but the incremental goals feel a little iffy at the moment. I need more information. I need to figure out young adult resources. I need Hope to play a bigger role in her own life in terms of figuring how what the next steps will look like.

So, my word for 2019 isn’t liberation. I might have some goals that will lead to my personal liberation, some that are designed to make me be and feel free. But really, this year will be about transitions for me and Hope.

I’m not sure how to feel all about that, I just know that transition will drive the year.

Here’s to 2019.


New Visions

2017 both flew and dragged by. At times it seemed like it would never end and other times it seemed I could barely keep up with all the goings on. The fall was particularly challenging as Hope struggled with everything and I was on business travel 5 days a week for several weeks on end. By the time the holidays rolled around I was finishing up a huge project for work, trying to get a jump on some 2018 projects, and jump through all of the requisite holiday hoops.

I barely got the Christmas cookies baked. I never got our holiday video done (Grammy commented that she was looking forward to seeing it. Yeah, well, so was I).

I did manage to overhaul my eating habits in the middle of the holidays and up my exercise which resulted in some much needed pound shedding before the new year.

Mostly, as the year wound down, I focused on me and Hope. It was clear after the rough fall months that my steady presence was critical for Hope’s emotional health. My daughter was under my left butt cheek for a solid two weeks. She was affectionate. She was communicative. She was less anxious, less depressed and as close to stable as I’d seen her in months.

And we leaned into all of that. It was one of the best holiday seasons we’ve had since the creation of our little family.

We capped off 2017 with a decadent dinner downtown. We dressed up. Hope fretted about how fancy everything was. Our server was amazing at just helping Hope to soak up all the special of the night. It was magical right on through dessert!

On New Year’s Day, I began working on my vision board. I failed to create one for 2017, which might be why sometimes I seemed goal-less in some areas of my life. I decided to get back to this particular tradition in 2018, so I fired up Powerpoint and thought about what I wanted for 2017.

Thinking about what you want for a year of your life is cool but challenging. I try to really zero in on me–this is my vision board. I am cautious not put things I want for Hope on it, this is really about me and me alone.

After a few hours of pondering I came up with several major areas: adventure, freedom, creativity, health and companionship. All of this rests on a year of possibilities. I found images conveying all of this and put them on my slide. Then, I saved it as a picture.

Since I’d decided that this year’s theme would be the year of possibilities, I set about to get Hope to join me in doing her first vision board. I sent her mine as a model. She thought it was cool, but just didn’t know where to start.

Admittedly, I nagged her and told her how I came up with mine and how she could just do the same.

Will I ever learn that Hope and I are *not* wired the same?

Bless her heart, she sent me a bulleted list of some goals for the year rather than a vision board.

I sat down to read it and nearly cried.

My Hope is maturing in ways that weren’t clear to me. I knew she had recently confided that she was a bit overwhelmed by the future–prepping for college and adulthood. I wasn’t prepared to see a list that tackled all of that head on. Hope’s list was the most cogent, mature thing I’d ever seen her produce; it was specific, it was optimistic, it was forward thinking. It was everything that every parent wants to see their kid lay out for themselves for the year ahead.

I desperately wanted to post it as is everywhere, since that who “sharenting” thing is real, but I only shared the list with a few close relatives who would really appreciate how awesome Hope’s goals for herself really were.

I gotta say that I also felt like…I must’ve done some stuff right on this journey for her to get here. We have so much farther to go, but man, that list was like a winning lotto ticket.

I took Hope’s list and reinterpreted it in pictures for a vision board. I sent her a couple of drafts to see if the images I chose were in line with what she had on her list. I made a couple of gentle recommendations on a few additions which she greatly appreciated. Within a day or so her board was finished and I saved her board as a picture just like mine.

Vision boards are useless if you’re not going to post them as a reminder to yourself throughout the year. I typically post mine in several places–my bedroom, bathroom and maybe a small version in my office. Sometimes as my screensaver.

I sent Hope her vision board picture and then I sent both of our boards to Costco for printing in multiple sizes. I framed one for each of us to put in our rooms. Hope really seemed to dig having this visualization of her goals for the year. So did I.

Visionboards

Fuzzy to protect our privacy!

I’m hopeful that this is a practice that I can instill in her to do every year. I know for me, even if I don’t do everything that’s on it, I make progress towards getting it done. Redoing my bedroom was on my 2016 board; it didn’t get done until the end of 2017 but gosh do I LOVE my new bedroom. I got there…eventually.

I am excited about the possibilities and adventures that are in store for me and Hope this year. I’m also glad that we have some guideposts in place for us to measure our individual progress.

It’s going to be a great year.


Old Visions & New Identities

With the New Year, like many people, I often take time to take account of what happened the previous year, consider what I hope will happen the next year and just take a moment to breathe the present.  The last couple of years, I’ve also embarked on creating a vision board using Powerpoint.   I use pictures, words, clip art, etc to create a vision for what I want to happen in my life for the next year.  I print it out and post it somewhere in the house so I see it every day.  I’m not necessarily into the whole “Secret” thing, but I do believe in making sure I stay focused on moving things around in my life to make that vision a reality.

So, in 2013 my vision board tackled this adoption journey, a bathroom and bedroom renovation, some vacation time, health improvement, faith building, advancement towards graduation, seeing a group of girlfriends that I adore and finding love.

Well, you know how the adoption thing is going.  The dissertation is underway (Woot, starting chapter 5 this weekend!!).  I did some bathroom updates myself on the cheap, enough to get me by for now.  Hope’s bedroom is shaping up fabulously.  I saw my girlfriends when one got married. Vacations got subbed with trips to see Hope.   I grew in my faith and in my church.  I began 2014 weighing the same thing I weighed a year ago (eh, could be worse, shrug).  And then there was love; love was nowhere to be found in 2013.

Sigh.  For some reason in the last 24 hours, the lack of romantic love bothered me the most.  Never mind that my life is about to be turned upside down with the adoption; nope, last night I found myself crying out to God, “Hey, what about the brown chocolate dude I put on that vision board last year?  Huh?  What about him? Where is he?  I even put a pair of wedding rings on my vision board. Come on man!!  Holy Dude, what is up with that???  Well I’m putting it on the board again! ”  Then I cried.  Oh, good grief, these emotional landmines are ridiculous…Jeesch!

I haven’t cried about being single in a long time; honestly I can’t remember the last time I got emotional about being single.  Sure, there’ve been lonely moments, but I’ve dated a lot over the years, had good relationships, not so good ones, ones that I thought would lead to marriage and others where I just knew it was never going to work, but boy were they  fun <smirk>.

All this emotion came out of nowhere, and it annoys me.  I haven’t really had time to think about dating in months.  I saw someone off and on for a few months, a lingering relationship that was kind of comfortable, but we both knew it wasn’t going anywhere.  The upside is that it wasn’t a relationship that was threatening to my goals since I knew it wasn’t going to lead to anything permanent, and require me to navigate figuring out this parenting thing, this dissertation thing and then the whole real relationship thing.  We remain friends, but we’ve moved on.

I know that I’m not in a space to handle a serious relationship at the moment, but I suppose I didn’t realize that underneath it all there’s a loneliness I simply wasn’t cognizant of until I took a moment to take stock of life.   I don’t mind being alone, but I just didn’t know I was kind of lonely until I was putting another faceless Tyson Beckford-esque looking dude on my 2014 vision board.  I do wonder whether the loneliness is somewhat exacerbated by some of the isolation I feel on this adoption journey.   I don’t really know.

I also wonder whether it has to do with the identity shift that’s so imminent.  The day that Hope arrives I’ll officially be a Single Black Mom (SBM) in addition to ABM.  I’ll be a SABM.  Ugh, acronyms.

And since I don’t plan to go around announcing that Hope is adopted, the absence of a partner potentially puts me into an identity category rife with stereotypes and unpleasant narratives.  It also creates a narrative for the imaginary man that folks will assume passed through my life about 13 years ago, whether he was a husband or just a ‘baby daddy.’  Hear me clear, I have nothing against SBMs, but like most, I didn’t expect to be one.  I’m so excited about this chapter, but something about the looming new identity and the absence of even the imaginary dude has me mourning what I thought my life would be like at this point.

I’ve been thinking about that life a lot lately.  I didn’t think I was still mourning it, but the parallels and bittersweet episodes that put me on the path to adoption occasionally lead me to think about what might’ve been.  I’m a doer, so I resigned to change my life when things didn’t turn out the way I expected, but I guess I still think about that life.

I do wish I had a partner on this journey.  I wonder when I’ll have another date.  I wonder if I’ll end up as one of those moms on an afternoon talk show, desperately needing a makeover because I started wearing “mom jeans” and just stopped grooming because I accepted never going on another date because I was so devoted to my kid, and I just let myself go.  Yikes.  So dramatic.

I don’t want to be that person either, even though I intend to be devoted to Hope.  I still hope, in time, to go out with the hot single dad that I met when I forced her to play one season of county soccer, during which time she sulkily rode the bench, while looking forward to the after-game pizza party.  I want to be that SABM.  I want to still have a separate identity as a fun, sexy, desirable woman.  I’m a little afraid that the Single Black Female (SBF) that I’ve known all these years will just cease to exist for a while.  That makes me sad…and a bit lonely.   Sigh.

This life changing stuff is a messy, messy business….a business that, apparently, will keep my therapist in nice shoes for many years to come.


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