I used to wonder what led the amazing singer Adele to title her albums by a number. It wasn't until I discovered that these numbers represented the age in which she drew her inspiration that curated each lyric,stanza and every award winning ballad. I guess when it really sunk in was 3 days before my 25th birthday when I began to realize that I too have somewhat of an album of a life already. Every experience has forced me to write a song. Some were upbeat jingles, others told a melodic coming of age, while I often found myself scoring notes to 3-part harmonies of predictable breakup songs--le sigh. All in all, I've also found that my life has written songs of worship, vulnerable worship that moves, reveals and sets free. All these songs have cultivated my debut album one could say--- my freshman work. Unrefined, hopeful, experimental, naïve, honest and transparent.
So consider the following 25 "Tracks" the title names of the lessons I've learned in my first quarter of life.
1. I got my Umbrella: Storms are inevitable, instead of always looking for a way out of a storm, I've found that getting through a storm is the best response God wants us to have to these seasons. Storms are challenging and difficult but they bring out the best. I no longer run away when I see a storm or seek for shelter under my fears-- instead I've learned to have an umbrella and weather the storm.
2. Puppy Lovin' Don't Mean a Thang: I probably had 5 major crushes during my adolescent years all which consumed my thoughts and journal entries. I seriously lived in a la-la fantasy land with each of them, which consumed too much of my time. I definitely do not have any regrets, but if I could tell my younger self anything, it would be to enjoy being young and responsibility-free. I would play sports, spend more time with my friends and not get so stressed out about the future. Puppy lovin' is cute when you're a kid but those boy-crazy traits have a way of following you into your 20's and quickly turn into desperation. You're worth more than that.
3. Werkin 9-5, Dreamin' 5-9: The bitter truth of work life can be a harsh reality to anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit. Don't lose sight of the calling of your life because of the hustle and bustle of the corporate ladder. Get real about what it will take to still work to keep the lights on, but also give God all you've got to feed your calling.
4. Love is Always the Answer: no matter what. The worst people, I mean the worst--respond to love. By no means should you allow your love to be abused, but chose to fight with the weapon of love daily and you'll end up winning differently.
5. Frugal is sexy: The older I get, the more I value money. I don't love money-- honestly, I'd rather do without it if I could. Money has as much power over our emotions as we allow it to. No matter how much or little you earn, your money should be respected and valued. Use coupons, make budgets-- spend wisely and do not waste what God has given you. I am far from cheap, but I do believe in bargaining, spending wisely and saving to the best of my ability. And yes, I still use a piggy bank. It's gold-- it's fabulous and full of coins huneee.
6. No more Migas: If you do not live in the south or you're not from Spanish decent, let me bring you up to speed-- Migas are a classic Tex-mex Brunch item. Migas on Saturday and Sunday mornings is a millennial go-to. It's clutch, filling and filled with all of the necessary calories to get you through your weekend morning. It is also the reason why you haven't cooked in your kitchen in months, or ever. The art of domestication seems to be a lost art. There's something about gather ingredients to curate a home cooked meal that not only tastes better, but is a lot healthier than always eating out. Consider it old school, but this 25-year old would rather spend a Benjamin buying quality ingredients to make a meal made with love than eat at another chain restaurant.
7. Believe What You see: My mentor told me this statement years ago "When someone shows you who they are, believe them."
8. Community Service: This is what you do voluntarily, to extend a helping hand for the betterment of the greater good. A man should not be that greater good. Men are not community service projects meant for fixing. You can be the tool, but God is the fixer.
9. H2O is the Way to Go: Coffee is so necessary to get through a hectic schedule, but so terrible for flawless skin, especially if you fix it up with tons of creamer and sugar. I committed to drinking at least 64 ounces of water daily since November, and my skin is glowing!
10. Good Mawnin': waking up early and getting more out of the day quickness your mind and awakens your soul
11. Know New Friends: Friends come and go-- so let them go! Recognize the beauty in seasonal relationships and the joy in lifelong relationships. Don't cling unto toxic friendships for sentimental reasons or simply because you feel bad. It is alright to call it quits if you have grown apart, because it creates room for God to bring forth right friends.
12. Lighten Up: this is plain and simple. Laugh loud, worry less and don't harbor resentment.
13. Shake Body: dance often--- like everyday. It keeps your mood up and is a great form of exercise
14. Slaying Speaks: My mother always tells me "dress how you want to be addressed". Even on your worst days, a little slayage will do wonders for you. Always put your best self forward-- you never know who you will meet.
15. Keep you in mind: Take care of yourself. Have a primary care physician and a yearly physical. Seeing an MD who will take your labs may help you know if you're deficient of any vitamins such as Vitamin D, C, Calcium, Iron, etc. Ladies, make sure you have a gyno who oversees your care. Exercise, eat well, remain active and rest. Did I mention drink lots of water?
16. Fam Bam: We were born into our family for a purpose. Some of us have great families but often take them for granted. Spend quality time with your parents, siblings, cousins,etc and treasure your family. Even if you don't have the best biological family, look around recognize the family God has given you in friends, co-workers,etc.
17. Create: Even if you consider yourself uncreative, we were made my a creator-- a creative individual. Dig deep and discover the creative in yourself. Either that, or be fruitful and multiply-- when you married of course ;)
18. Wanderlust: Y'all knew this was coming-- Travel. If you know me, then you know travelling has shaped my world view and watered my soul countless times. Save your coins and travel often. Even if you go within the states or continent, invest in a passport and travel. You will never understand the world we live in without stepping outside of the comfort of your environment.
19. No Explanations: I used to feel the need to defend and explain all of my decisions for fear of disapproval. People will chose to believe what they want to believe no matter how much you justify your decisions. Save yourself the headache and keep it pushing. Especially if God has led you to do something-- do not frustrate yourself with explaining.
20. Get dirty: Gardening is not pretty. It requires sweat, hours of labor and daily monitoring. The process of destiny is similar, as it is dirty at times. To sew seeds requires you to get on your knees in prayer and pray through the dirt of your life. Trust and believe that your daily commitment and service to God waters that seed, and it will bloom-- you will harvest. **looks down at greenthumb :)**
21. Buy a Baker's Dozen: A dozen is 12, a Baker's Dozen is 13. Over-prepare. If you stay ready, you never have to get ready.
22. Pass the Baton: a great leader is only as great as his successor. What is the point of having a great life and being an amazing person if you never take the time to mentor someone? You have more to give than you realize. You cannot run this relay of life alone, pass the baton and teach what you know.
23. Stitch it up: Whether it was a failed relationship or shaky upbringing, mending a broken heart with temporary measures will never sustain the many challenges yet to come. I had to go "under" a Godly anesthesia and allow God to do surgery on my heart and stitch up my brokenness. Because of that invasive and permanent work, my heart and better withstand the struggles of life.
24. Vessel of Honor: Can God dwell in you? I would be lying in to you if I told you I have perfected this one. I will say, I have recognized the value in making myself a vessel of honor, a capsule capable of carrying the agenda of God on earth.
25. Count Your Blessings: No matter how hard it gets, if you look around, there is a blessing not too far from you. Living a life of perpetual thanksgiving opens doors for you to live a life of continuous blessings. When you are blessed, you can be a blessing to others. Blessings are not for selfish reasons, so count them up for the sake of generosity and see the multiply.
Well I hope you all enjoyed my "tracklist"! This post took forever to write, but I wanted to make sure I did not rush the truth. The Images were taken by the amazing Afritina Marie. Please comment below your thoughts.
Grace, Peace & Love <3