Creature of habit

January isn’t the start of a new year for me. Seems I don’t get into the whole “New year, new me” mindset until around February. During last year’s new me episode I went on hiatus from social media, took up running, signed up to run in a race, scheduled fun activities to explore the city, and mapped out blog posts for two months.

Last February I had a clear mindset of what I wanted my year and my life to look like. I’d decided that I was tired of waiting around for my life to happen, and so I was just going to get up and go live it, and I did. I accomplished everything I set out to do last year all the way down to signing up as a volunteer for the Montrose Center to help support the LGBTQ youth. I started two new websites, took some writing and journalism classes, submitted some writing applications to some content mill type websites, most of which I was rejected from, the application for one is still in my email. Every once in a while they buzz me to remind me that I have to submit my final article for approval before I can gain access to the site. I volunteered for Houston Pride, took up running seriously, ran a 5k and lost some weight. The only goal I fell short on was dedicating more time to my blog.

In October of last year I lost momentum for everything. I stopped running, stopped going places, and fell back into the same familiar patterns that I have been in for the past few years. I started waiting on outside influences to encourage me to move. In this, I started eating like trash, gaining weight, I stopped running and working out all together, I stopped writing completely and just existed in my bed when I wasn’t at work. So now, here we are. It’s February, I’m ten pounds heavier than I was this time last year and all the progress I’d made towards becoming the version of myself that I see in my head is back to square one.

The conversations I have been having recently about life purpose and deeper meaning have shaken the part of my brain that houses my aspirations ,dreams, and goals out of a coma. I’ve pulled out my calendar again, started looking for ways to get, and stay, active this year. I’ve cleaned my house literally and I’ve been cleaning my mental house as well. In doing so, I’ve found myself in a lot more moments of self reflection. I’ve been surrounding myself in silence more often. When I have chosen to allow noise in my space I have been strategic about the type of noise I have been allowing. I get like this from time to time.

As a Gemini, I am normally pretty chatty. Basically, from the time my eyes open in the morning until the time I go to sleep in the evening, I am talking in some form. Whether I’m texting, blogging on Tumblr, taking a call, or commenting on this or that I am communicating non stop. Every once in a while, like this week for example, I get in a mood where I don’t want to talk, and instead I meditate to music.

I was on my way to work this morning when I realized that I have a pattern. Much like last year, I have found myself in self imposed isolation. Seems every few months I turn into a recluse. I take a recharge period. During this time, I end up being very aware of myself as a person, and my impact on my environment and the people around me. I close myself off to everything and evaluate who I am, where I am, what I want, and how to get it. It’s strange that I’ve never noticed before today the signs leading up to a strategy breakdown but, I’m glad for the recognition now.

A few things I noticed today is that a few weeks before I fall completely into isolation I start doing small things to shut myself down. My body starts to get irritated with noises and sounds. I’m not able to focus on people, things or conversations and so I start turning things off. It starts with riding to work in silence, then I’m riding home from work in silence too. Then I get home and I want everything quiet, I stop answering phone calls, text messages, and it progresses like that until I reach a point of decided defining silence. I stay here for a while. I can hear my thoughts clearly. I feel like I understand myself here and I start doing childlike things. In the silence I paint, color, read, and crochet. During this period I get emotional. Once I have given myself the time, silence, and space to feel and understand, I invite music back into my space. There’s a select few albums that I have come to rely on in the past few years to bring me back to the land of productivity. I’m coming to think of the albums I listen to during this period as my plotting soundtracks.

Soundtrack of my road to resurgence:

My slow crawl from the mental solitary confinement I’ve slipped into starts with Solange A Seat At The Table, album. From the first song on the album I start to reconnect to who I am at base. The narrative of the album reminds me of who I am, that I am here for a reason, and that my purpose in life is to find the purpose of my life. This album moves me every time I hear it. It’s like a dog whistle call to action for me. I get inspired to start leaning into my blackness, my womanhood, and it gives me permission to be unapologetic about my existence. After Solange scratches and puts grease on my scalp I move into the second phase, getting right with my spirit.

Stevie Wonder’s, Songs in the key of life, album is responsible for this phase. It’s the stage I’m in now. Stevie reminds me of all things spiritual. He starts the album telling me exactly what I need to hear, that love is in need of love today. From there, he takes me on a journey of consciousness of other people’s reality which reminds me to be grateful. Stevie talks to me about the importance of keeping a relationship with God, appreciating the miracle of life, to acknowledge love, and to have pride in my community. Stevie’s phase is my favorite phase. It gives me hope, optimism, and faith that love will heal all. I usually stay here for a while. Something about his voice the vibe of his music makes me feel like I’ve found a piece of heaven that I never want to return from. Once Stevie has nursed my wounds and shown me that it’s okay for me to go back outside and play, its on to the third phase, accountability.

D.R.A.M, Big Baby D.R.A.M. I had to tell myself to go and get it myself is possibly the most empowering and affirming thing I have heard anyone say. I’ts not like it’s otherworldly profound, it moves me in its simplicity. “I got tired of waiting on everyone else, I had to tell myself to go and get it myself”, to open an album, hits me like a ton of bricks every time. He moves through this album calling out doubters and nay-sayers, gives me permission to not answer my phone, he reminds me to pay my WiFi bill, have great sex regularly and secure my bag. By this point I am ready to initiate a plan but not quite ready to emerge from my solitude. It’s time to get motivated.

Kanye and Jay-z, Watch The Throne, sends me up, up, and away. This is usually the phase of planning. While Jay-Z and Kanye innundate my brain with delusions of grandeur, I’m trying to figure out how I can get me some. By the time niggas are in Paris and ballin’ so hard muthafucka’s wanna fine them, I’m evaluating my bank accounts, I’m setting goals, filling my calendar, I’m mapping out workouts, brainstorming blog posts, figuring out how to get where I want to be and what steps I need to take to get there. By this point I am coming out of my shell. It’s February.

So here I sit, creature of habit, in the beginning of my Stevie Wonder phase.

I’ve thought about the planning. I’ve started in the gym. I’m thinking about the direction I want my year to go. It’s February and I am trying to become the person I see myself being.

This is just the first of many reflective episodes this year though. I’d like to get out of the practice of being a creature of habit. It hasn’t been serving me. Yes, the burst of inspiration that I feel in February and the renewed interest in bettering myself is great but I want to move towards it becoming an everyday part of my life. There should be a moment in everyday where I listen to my planning soundtrack and get focused on myself and my goals. It shouldn’t take something cliche to kick me into gear.

This February will be different and I’m making the choice to break the old habits and create new ones. “New year, new me” this year will simply mean making a conscious choice to take stock of my goals regularly, and create time and space to shut down daily.

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