Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh, say can you seeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
Independence Day 2017 may have passed, but your favorite “online DJ” has a special mid-year post-holiday mega broadcast on deck to keep those frankfurters, fireworks, and fun days poppin’ all summer long!
Mixing things up a bit from the usual show, I’m bringing you observations and reflections, along with images and tunes, that celebrate my wrap-up of an insightful first half of the year and the jump-off to what promises to be a fulfilling second half. So, sit back, grab a cold one – whatever that is for you (beer, wine, milkshake, slushie, freeze-pop, etc.) – and enjoy!
First 90 Days
The first 90 days of my 2017 were wide open with possibility as I started new jobs (yes, plural), a new commitment to living with intention, and renewed side projects that kept my creative juices flowing on an almost weekly basis.
Words flowed faster than I could get them down sometimes – whether on paper (with a return to keeping a physical journal) or online (with a reboot of my previously intermittent blog). But all three months proved fruitful for interested readers near and far as I shared my thoughts on leadership, experiencing life, and blogging with purpose.
Of course, life also has a way of shaking your nerves and testing your momentum – especially when under the fire of preventable stressors like possible apartment eviction and car repossession. As an adult, I know there will always be a financial risk involved when changing career course mid-stream to pursue ideas within a dream, when banking on a sizable tax refund that evaporates before your Form 1040 can even be filed, and when being woefully unprepared (in savings, income level, or backup plan) to face such challenges appearing to happen all at once. But sometimes, you have to live to learn.
And for dreamers like me, that’s how life lessons stick, how faith deepens, and how reminders (especially that close family and friends are super precious – not just in times of emergency) are necessary. As they say, “no man is an island, entire of itself.”
And so it goes, and so it goes…
Second 90 Days
I kicked off the second “quarter” of 2017 with a mad rush of productivity. Maybe it was my method to quickly overcome a month-long pause in progress due to financial stress and self-doubt, or maybe it was the stars aligning in just the right way…
I ran with it regardless – designing and testing new product samples for my online shop, writing and scheduling blog posts days (sometimes, weeks) in advance, readying for print my very first photo “zine,” and absorbing tons of entrepreneurial advice and inspiration from YouTube videos by folks like Evan Carmichael, Ted Forbes, and Marie Forleo.
“It’s never about the resources you have. It’s about how resourceful you are.”
– Evan Carmichael
Settling into a semi-regular work schedule and routine of healthier eating and more exercise definitely helped me refocus my time, energy, and thoughts to the mission at hand – moving forward in my vision. And yes, my vision board still kept me on track (consciously and subconsciously) with where I wanted to go from here.
As always, music was my motivation! Not only was I discovering “new to me” South African artists like Brenden Praise and Black Coffee, but I found other tunes by my favorites were resonating with me through my recent experiences too. For example, this empowering tune by Yuna turned into my “theme song” that month:
… which then carried me into a new month and theme for the next 30 days.
I had the dust of past mistakes and recoveries settling all around me. Temporarily unable to fund production of new product samples, I shifted gears to writing… and doing tons of research. Whether reading articles on Etsy, checking out ideas on Pinterest, or watching inspiring videos on YouTube, I spent strategic amounts of personal time encouraging and feeding my creative soul.
And slowly, slowly, it began to pay off.
Where I was being “showered with productivity” before, I now “bloomed with balance and beauty.” I started following additional YouTube channels like Pick Up Limes and The Financial Diet, ones in line with what I wanted for myself – a holistic approach to the things I used, the products I purchased, and the foods I consumed. I took stock of how I appeared to others – meaning, how my internal well-being reflected in my external care (and vice versa).
And, I began to feel more connected with my workplaces, their missions and respective communities. There’s nothing like supportive coworkers combined with participation in service projects, site visits, and training workshops to totally reinforce one’s commitment to meaningful work and making career choices that matter for reasons beyond salary or advancement goals.
Of course, my constant companion – music – cheered me on every step of the way. I discovered more “new to me” artists like the urban/hip hop Samoan New Zealander Ladi6 and the American jazz/soul singer Gregory Porter. Then, there was the “moonshine roots” revelation of genre-blender Valerie June – who has a vocal style so distinctive and a mindset so refreshing, I became ever more enamored with her after each interview I stumbled upon. [By the way – if you’re curious to find out more about Ms. June, check out this interview presented by LR Baggs. It’s a great introduction to the magical woman behind that unique voice!]
But, if I were to single out one song to summarize the month of May for me, it would be this catchy tune by the Sudanese/American musician Sinkane:
Could it be the song’s title, “U-huh,” or its throwback sound and video visuals?
But I’m going to say it’s the Arabic line in its chorus, “Kulu shi tamaam,” and what that translates to in English, “Everything is great!,” that seals the deal for me. I believe one look at the television clips used within the song’s video reinforces the strength of their words… and how appropriate their message is for the times we’re currently living in:
“Kulu shi tamaam/
Everything is fine/
As long as we try/
We’re all gonna be alright”
Unfortunately, it didn’t start with a theme nor did I ever find the time to develop one. But, I can summarize for you now in two words what that month came to represent for me – reflection and WORK. Lots of it.
Knowing that June was not only the last month to 2017’s second “quarter” but also the last month to this year’s first half, I entered it in serious self-reflection mode. And questions fell upon me like rain drops:
- Did I accomplish the goals I set out to achieve by this point?
- Where was I on my vision board – was there an area still left untouched?
- Am I really making the most of my time, talents, and treasure – at home, at work, in life?
- Is this still the right path for me?
No time then to think through my feelings, I just dug in and pressed forward – making granola from scratch (thanks to a simple Pick Up Limes recipe), purchasing my first three tubes of lipstick evahhhhhhhh, and completing a custom jewelry order for a friend’s wedding. All accomplished… by cobbling together bits of free time around a back-to-back work schedule.
But, there was one evening I happened to be staring absent-minded at my vision board pinned to the wall. My eyes came to rest on the “Home… there’s no place like it” quadrant, and I realized in that moment the reason for my growing discomfort with June – an unfulfilled desire to make our empty space a home. And when I say empty, I do mean empty.
Because, for the past 11 months I had been living in a “state of transition” but calling it something else – and June represented month 12 of that existence. From moving out of a studio apartment last June, to crashing at friends’ places while changing jobs that July, to essentially living out of an unpacked closet, kitchen, and bathroom (but no furnished bedroom, living room, or dining room) for the next 10 months – I was pretending this was minimalist living when really it wasn’t.
But the stars (and dollar figures) aligned once again in my favor…
So, on Father’s Day weekend (my first free weekend off in months), we rented a U-haul and put in work to get the basics moved out of storage and into our place. Since then, life has been humming along – I feel the healthiest I’ve been in a while, I can see and appreciate the benefits of living minimally but in comfort, and I have the blessed assurance of knowing my faith and family will make it possible for us to meet our immediate needs and necessary bills.
Oh! And if you’re wondering what happened to the music during all of this…
No worries – it continued to be there, with me and for me.
Which is the reason why I picked this fresh gem as my “shout out” anthem for June – a month of understanding the depth of lessons learned and taking ownership of the power within. Called “New Takeover,” this song by Maori New Zealander Stan Walker (yet another “new to me” artist but one definitely worth checking out further) is so inspiring. And the beauty personified in this visual feast for the eyes – natural, cultural, sum total – is absolutely stunning.
Second Half of 2017
In true Lady Luck fashion, it’s only fitting that I jump off July with the fireworks of a powerful song I believe reflects what it means to have a resilient spirit – especially in today’s world!
So, here’s my latest music find to close out this show – a hot dance track titled “Indomitable” by DJ Shub. It’s sure to get you moving, and if you’re like me, the sounds of Northern Cree Singers in this mix will have you wanting to roll out to the next powwow nearest you!
With that, good people, may you continue enjoying your summer and reveling in that sweet freedom and independence we all should hold very dear!
DJ Lady Luck