resolute rose

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Finding My Way in the Valley

Reflections

2020 has been a doozy, but I refuse to believe that it is all bad. If anything, 2020 has taught us to value the people, places and things that truly matter. It has also brought a lot of “gunk” to the surface regarding relationships, lifestyles, habits and thought patterns by forcing us to slow down and be present.

2020 for me, like many, started on a high note. I finally got the promotion I had been asking for at work, I was planning two weddings—one in Atlanta and one in Greece—and I was preparing for one of the self-proclaimed best years of my life. Of course, we all know what happened in March with the exponential spread of the coronavirus and subsequent ‘world stop.’ By May, with the death of George Floyd, we were battling two pandemics with racial and social injustice at the forefront of our generation’s civil rights movement. Just as we got acclimated to writing the correct year on our documents, the year of “clear vision” seemed to be crumbling before our eyes.

By June, I reached a mental tipping point. I felt out of place at work, out of options with my deteriorating wedding plans, and a bit out of my mind for daring to believe that the way I had been operating prior to March was anywhere near “normal.” Unknowingly lost, I found my way home to Georgia from Baltimore twice in less than a month’s time. First, in June to celebrate Father’s Day, then again in July for my sister’s baby shower. On both occasions, I had important conversations that would dramatically shift the trajectory of my year. The first was in June with my father, who sensed my unsettled spirit, and in a matter of a 2-hour heart-to-heart, gave me the affirmation I did now know I was waiting for: It was time to walk away from my job. Yep, my newly promoted, six-figure, I’m-so-great-at-this “dream job.” Coincidentally, I had journaled about leaving my job and ‘not working a day past July 31, 2020’ back in 2018—but things were going so well with my promotion when I initially revisited the manuscript that I thought, “maybe I was just in a weird headspace back then,” and disregarded the prophecy.

My second conversation was in the form of a dream—what I’ll call a “spiritual download.” In the dream, I reconnected with my 12-year-old self. I was reminded of all the dreams I had back then—namely, working at Johns Hopkins (check), being married (almost check), living in my own house (check), living ‘comfortably’ financially (check again), and enjoying my family (…and, checkmate!). I claimed my dreams with such resolution back then that they almost had no choice but to come true in the present. I then reminisced on my journey, and how the universe had truly conspired to ensure that everything I aspired to actually came true. Almost immediately after this feeling of pride for 12-year-old me and all of her dreams come true, 30-year-old me felt an overwhelming sense of “NOW WHAT?!” Unfortunately for me (or maybe fortunately?), I had never dreamt with more audacity than I did when I was twelve—I guess Elaine Welteroth was right when she cited that a young woman’s confidence peaks at age 11. Then my Higher Power stepped in and told me very plainly, “You’ve fulfilled everything YOU were capable of dreaming of. Now, it’s time for what I have prepared for you. Do you trust me?”

I woke up in my childhood bed with soggy, tear-stained pillows. My first thought: “WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT?!” My second thought: “It’s time to go.” I decided in that moment that not only was I leaving my job at Hopkins, I was going to walk boldly towards my (still mostly secret) desire to bring joy and healing to others through my art. For the first time EVER, I didn’t have some well-drawn blueprint on how it would happen, but hey—it was no longer my plan. I decided to surrender and allow what was rightfully mine to flow to me. I put in my resignation upon my return to Baltimore, citing “spiritual reasons” for anyone who inquired (still cracking up at how they must’ve taken that), triple checked my savings, which I had been building aggressively for the past two years (I guess 2018 me really WAS onto something), and decided to proceed. My last day was Monday, August 3.

Now, let’s fast forward to my recent birthday. October 3 marked my 31st birthday and exactly two months since I had walked away from my full-time “dream job.” During my annual reflection that conveniently coincides with my birthday, I took the time for a personal assessment—“Girl, how are we doing? How do we feel? Where are we going? Is this what we expected?” I told myself what I had been telling others: “I feel great, but at the same time, it’s like I just leveled my life.” While collecting my thoughts in my journal, a thought came to me about mountains and valleys—another download. This time, in only two words—DIVINE PROVISION.

“Why is it that we romanticize making it to the top of the mountain, but miss the divine provision that comes from the valley?,” I thought to myself. Yes, making it to the top of the mountain (read: reaching our highest potential) is the goal, but if that’s all we focus on, we will actually miss the abundance in the valley (the process/journey). The top of a mountain has great views but otherwise few comrades and a bunch of thin air (I know there are more positives—humor me). But the valley—the valley has running water, abundant life forms, and the resources needed to make it to and up the mountain. While we shouldn’t settle in the valley, we should absolutely revel it, celebrating the fact that we have the time and space to connect with everything and everyone that will ultimately prepare us for the trek to the top. I know that this may sound abstract, but keep in mind that the words given to me on my 31st birthday were DIVINE PROVISION. In essence, 2020 brought the realization that I had reached a proverbial peak, had a revelation, and had “leveled” my life, landing me squarely in the valley. While I don’t have some elaborate plan to make it to the top of my next mountain, I do have thoughts on how I plan to spend my time in the valley.

  1. Take in my surroundings. Who and what am I surrounded by? How will they help me (or not help me) to progress? Most importantly, what aspects of the ‘mundane’ have I previously taken for granted, and how can I honor them moving forward?
  2. Assess what limiting thoughts, behaviors, and beliefs need to be let go and left behind. Toni Morrison said it best: “You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.” The shit Ms. Morrison speaks of often starts with a heavy, negative mindset and translates to limiting beliefs that ultimately manifest as toxic behaviors. I’m not interested in taking any more than what is essential on my journey. Therefore, I’m taking notes then editing RUTHLESSLY!
  3. Determine what and who I need to introduce into my life in order to move forward. Just as I need to edit what’s not working, I must also think about what will work, and ask for the help I need. I’m a quote junkie, so here’s more food for thought in the form of an African Proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
  4. Envision the life I want, and practice habits that will lend directly to it. It’s one thing to know what to do (I give great advice), but it’s another to actually DO IT. Consistently. You can probably guess that, like many, I often struggle with taking my own advice. In the spirit of going FAR, rather than FAST, I meet with my accountability partner weekly to keep me honest as I continue to make progress. It’s been super helpful thus far!
  5. Side note: I purposely didn’t put “envision the life you want” as #1 because distracting yourself by staring at the mountain without first taking in, appreciating, and being a good steward of your surroundings in the valley will leave you staring into Lalaland with little to no progress. Close your mouth, you might choke on a fly!
  6. Trust the process. I remember a couple of years ago during a random conversation with a woman named Carleen, she told me, “there’s a big difference between being STILL and being STAGNANT.” As I’ve mentioned several times, I don’t have things all figured out, but somehow that sits well with me. What I know for sure is that nothing that’s left me is better than what is coming. Therefore, I make the conscious decision to be still when required, move forward when instructed, and trust that the universe will continue to conspire in my favor. In the words of the Southern church folk from my childhood, “God’s got me.”
  7. Celebrate every step. Notice that I didn’t say, every step in the right direction. I plan to celebrate every step. Simple as that. Progress is progress, and whether it’s good, bad, ugly or uncomfortable, I will celebrate the fact that I’m either moving forward or learning new lessons. I, personally, don’t like to call new lessons failure because what I know for sure is that I will always come out on the other end with more knowledge. You only fail if you quit, so rest if I must, but I WILL NOT QUIT.
  8. GIVE. MYSELF. GRACE. This honestly might be one of the hardest steps (for me). I expect so much for and from myself that I can be harder on myself for not meeting my expectations. I plan to combat this by keeping at the forefront of my mind that *ding dong* this is no longer MY plan! Trusting the process, in many ways, requires that I don’t place my own conditions and limitations on what I think progress and success look like. All I can truly do is stay the course, stay present with my Higher Power, and continue to do my work.

Being that this is only the beginning, I cannot tell you that this is a fool-proof plan. What I can do is continue to evolve and document my journey, which I plan to do here. My hope is that wherever you are in life, and whatever you’re going through, something here resonates with you. Until next time, I wish you all my best. I truly hope that this was helpful.

Much love,

The Resolute Rose

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Yewande K. Davis

"True purpose is where passion and vulnerability collide"