2018 Brilliance

January

  • Was offered a second contract to do evaluation work–boosts my resume and gives me some extra income to help pay the bills
  • Was the teaching assistant for a master’s level class
  • Worked with an awesome team to conduct some groundbreaking qualitative research on police violence in New Orleans

February

  • Had an awesome Mardi Gras–went to the Greasing of the Poles and Orpheus Ball with my mom, and made a head-turning headpiece
  • Engaged in all the foolishness of Black Panther’s release

March

  • Finally made it to St. Joseph’s night to revel in the mystery of the Indians
  • Gave my first lecture on police violence for master’s students

April

May

  • Finished all my PhD coursework
  • Was offered membership into a mardi gras krewe and will be riding with the Nyx-sisterhood Feb. 2019
  • Got myself a bomb-ass advisor and mentor
Under the house

June

  • Managed to scrape up the money to do a very adult thing of fixing the foundation and doing a whole-home leveling, and now I realize I just live in a crooked little house, not an un-level one.

July

  • Led an evaluation workshop for the sexual violence centers in Louisiana
  • Stayed up all night to watch DJ Questlove do his thing

August

  • Completed a year of sobriety
  • Had a brilliant birthday weekend with one of my best friends, eating at popup dinners and touring the city
  • Brought in my 30th birthday at midnight with friends and family, delicious homemade red velvet cake, and some champagne to break that year of sobriety
  • Ate my way through a conference in Anaheim, CA: In n Out burger and Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles

    Roscoe’s
Chicken & waffles!
In n Out

 

 

 

 

 

September

  • Treated myself to a late 30th bday present of OTRII tickets
  • Survived my comprehensive exams
  • Made time to see Drake in concert

October

  • Did my first conference presentation on a panel with dynamic researchers, and as the ONLY student
  • Got to witness the inauguration of the first Black president of my alma mater (Oberlin College), have a mini-reunion with classmates, and do a road trip with one of my best friends in order to be there
  • Danced down the streets in some oppressively hot weather for the Halloween parade and my makeup stayed intact!

  • Spent a full weekend just hanging out on the couch and eating gene’s poboys, fried catfish, and beignets with my best friend
  • Passed my comprehensive exams with one of the highest scores in the history of the exam in our department

November

  • Presented at the Delta Omega Symposium for Excellence in Public Health Research

December

  • Danced down the street in still ridiculously hot weather for Krewe of Jingle (climate change is real!)
  • (FINALLY!) Submitted the manuscript I’ve been working on for over a year for peer-review, as first author–fingers crossed!
  • Bought art from one of my favorites–jhandpaints aka Jessica Strahan
  • Survived and enjoyed the holidays despite a drastic change in life circumstances
  • Grew a tree! (it’s still growing)

 

Dec 30, 2017: planted
June 2018
Dec 31, 2018: it’s huge, but all the leaves fell off

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not to mention, all of the delicious food I’ve eaten at dozens of new restaurants, all of the words of wisdom I read by inspiring Black women, and all of the sights and sounds I consumed in New Orleans and throughout the state of Louisiana.

I’m sure I’m missing many other moments that made 2018 brilliant, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that everything was not great this year. For all the fun and revelry and accomplishments, there were equal parts anxiety, guilt, shame, frustration, and loss. Zora Neale Hurston wrote,

There are years that ask questions and years that answer.

I think 2018 was a year of questions. So I’m looking forward to 2019…even if it is more questions than answers.

 

I don’t really love new year’s resolutions, but the last couple of years I’ve been making lists of things I want to leave behind with the close of one year and things to remember in the time going forward.

Things to leave in 2018:

  1. Shame and guilt for prioritizing myself
  2. Shame and guilt for pursuing my joy
  3. Self-doubt
  4. Paralyzing perfectionism
  5. Fear over making a mistake
  6. Self-censorship
  7. People pleasing
  8. Fear of rejection
  9. Talking to myself in ways I would never talk to a friend
  10. Worrying about what “they” would think
  11. Apologizing for taking up space
  12. Being silent about pain
  13. Eating garbage and mindlessly eating
  14. Staying inside for days at a time
  15. Contorting myself to fit into social situations

Things to remember in 2019:

  1. Be more vulnerable and honest; your full expressive self
  2. Minimize your consumption of and attachment to things–but in consuming, make it an investment
  3. Experience more, simple experiences included…take time to observe how all your senses are stimulated—the smell, sounds, feel, taste, colors, texture…
  4. Get off of social media, in fact, put the screen down
  5. Write with a pen and paper, and put it in the mail. Everyone likes getting mail that isn’t a bill or credit card offer
  6. Go outside: there is clarity in taking a walk, in working in your yard
  7. The peace of a clean house–the feel of fresh sheets
  8. Make time to stretch and meditate
  9. If you can, do it now, not later
  10. Sleep is your friend
  11. Make time for yourself–take a bath and light a candle, dance in the living room, read in the hammock or under a big tree
  12. Only you are living your life, trust your gut.