Despite the fact that I have read tons of self-help books, I still can't seem to honor me. To add insult to injury, I even penned a top-selling, award winning tome myself in 2011 Black Woman Redefined that was aimed at encouraging women of a new generation to live more fulfilling lives by daring to conquer ourselves and to redefine our lives in ways that make us happier, healthier human beings. You'd think by now I'd be an expert at changing my life into the one I truly desire, but, I am not.
I make excuses for why I can't rest, why I can't change, why I can't take time out for me. I run myself ragged, I give too much of me away, and I take care of everyone else’s needs but mine. Sound familiar? Sadly, so many of us are running around, doing, giving, serving, all with a smile, yet feeling empty inside. We are like mice on a treadmill wheel, we run and we run but we find ourselves getting nowhere fast. We are disconnected from our power source: Our faith and our truest selves.
Here is what is really deep, though: Many of us out here dispensing “how to live” advice, hosting conferences, and writing books are what I like to call “wounded leaders.” You get past our glossy veneer, our outward beauty, our encouraging words and you’ll see lots of cracks, gaping holes, unhealed wounds, and women who are struggling to get by just like all of you.
This past week I made a decision to stop the madness. As my friend Rev. Jacquie Hood Martin likes to say, "STOP talking about it and JUST BE about it." In the wake of Whitney Houston's untimely passing, I have been reflecting a lot on my own mortality. I just entered my mid 40s and I know that odds are that I have fewer years ahead of me than those behind me. I have really been thinking about how to truly LIVE my life, who I want in my life and have more time for what I value, love, and cherish day to day. Like all of you, I have been in need of a refreshing, a renewing, and a true and lasting transformation in my life.
A week ago today I got “metamorphosized”; by that I mean, I attended a National and soon to be International women’s conference, Metamorphosis, hosted annually in Houston, Texas by its servant-hearted and visionary Founder Pastor Mia K. Wright. I attended the final day and was blessed to hear Potter’s House Pastor Ms. Sheryl Brady speak. I was changed not so much by her words, but by our shared journey. Let me explain.
You see a “Metamorphosis” is a lifestyle change, it is a way of learning how to transform ourselves into the fulfilled women we all long to be with consistency. It is the story of the beautiful butterfly that emerges from the molten, ugly and dank cocoon. So many of us live in that cocoon daily, yet, my hope is for us to emerge healed, stronger, resilient and victorious. As Maya Angelou says, “Surviving is important, but thriving is elegant.” True transformation is all about thriving in your life.
When I returned home to Virginia late Sunday, after being on the road for almost three weeks, I made a decision that Monday was going to be a “change” day. No Blackberry, no work, no bills. Just a day for me to reconnect with myself, restore myself and be with those that I love. Here is my journal entry of how my metamorphosis journey has begun:
Journal Entry 3/12/12 7PM Middleburg, VA:
Today I did something I rarely do; I took a day just for me. I slept in my own bed till 10AM. I had coffee in my pjs, I prayed with my best friend & my mom for another sister friend who I only recently came to understand was so deeply in need. I did not turn on the TV, nor did I speak once on a mobile device or dare send a Tweet. Instead I did all the things I love today.
But the thing I loved most of all is that I was reintroduced to me.
Today I put on my favorite riding boots, my favorite worn blue jeans, a white long sleeved Hanes T-shirt, my sunglasses and my newest jeweled cowgirl Stetson. I grabbed my guitar, and headed off to my favorite place on earth Middleburg, Virginia.
Today I reconnected with a loving God that I have at times forsaken. I sat in the middle of a pristine field and watched horses run wild as I played my guitar. I basked in the sunlight and smelled the wildflowers as they were starting to bloom. I stopped to pray on my knees in an old 18th century church and I read scripture aloud from a 150 year old Bible. I had coffee with a Pastor that I did not know and she shared with me about a new shallowness of life and how we as people seem to take God’s amazing grace for granted.
Today I talked with little old ladies, and aged men. All full of wisdom, yet grateful for conversation with a younger woman. They said I was glowing, radiating life and that my spirit seemed at peace. I found myself laughing out loud like I did when I was a teenage girl. I am still that girl deep inside — full of love, warmth, laughter and that is where I long to reside.
As I reflected on my life, both the good and the bad I realized that despite the pain, I am still triumphant with much more to gain. I sat and closed my eyes and thought about my grandmother and how I miss her so. She’d be proud of the woman I’ve become and she’d really like the man that I love. I gave God quiet thanks for the love in my life, my mom, my girlfriends, and love council — these are the people that breathe life into me when it gets hard, they keep me going when I want to give up. They celebrate me, lift me, nourish and fill me.
Today I stopped the world around me from moving so very fast. I stole a day for me. No intrusions, no regrets. I bathed my spirit and took a critical first step toward lasting change. I drove with the car windows down and I listened to Nina Simone: It’s a new Dawn; it’s a new day for me. The question is will I honor this part of me every day. Will I be consistent, when the storms of life come a raging — will I remember to take care of me?
As this day ends, I am sitting by a fireplace, with my favorite glass of wine, holding my love’s strong hand, realizing that I have been “metamorphosized” after all. I am a woman reborn, a woman who gifted herself with the precious time of a new day. It only took my 45 years but I finally have found my way. (smiling).
Sophia A. Nelson is an award winning author, TV personality, & frequent contributor to Essence.com