Beginning 2019

When 2019 began, I craved living my life a little differently. It was the first January that I followed through with the willpower on challenging my mental, physical, and spiritual state. I accomplished this with five specific challenges.

Photo by Alexx Duvall

First challenge: Transition to a more plant-based diet

In December 2018, I received results from a physical exam. Everything was great, except for my cholesterol numbers; I needed to lower my cholesterol. This freaked me out, so I began to research options on how to move forward.

I came to the decision that I would go on a fully plant-based diet to reset my system. January meant taking a break from eggs, dairy, chicken, and seafood. This required changing my 6:00am breakfast routine from savory dishes to more oats and fruits. I also began incorporating intermittent fasting at least 3–4 times a week. And finally, the most difficult task was, and still is, avoiding dinner past 9:00pm.

I wanted to get extremely creative with my vegan meals, and dissuade my body from craving meat or seafood. I had gone vegetarian for a year back in 2012, and then pescatarian in 2013, so I knew this was possible.

Long term, I may remain mostly plant-based, with the exceptions of remaining flexible when traveling. My original plan was to stay plant-based for 6–7 weeks, but the change has worked so well that it may be permanent.

So far, I am extremely happy with the results of resetting my appetite. I don’t miss chicken or seafood at all! I’m also extremely turned off by the farm production of everything in regards to non vegan foods. I’ve also made a sustainable decision to support a company called Misfits Market! Misfits have me subscribed to a veggie box which is delivered to my door — the company’s mission is saving produce that would otherwise go to the trash, due to its ugliness. Misfits subscription allows me to put time aside to cook elaborative dishes for the week. I find cooking extremely grounding for my soul, so it is a huge benefit in my lifestyle.

(If you are interested in trying Misfits, click this link) You will save 25% off.

Second challenge: Instagram hiatus

The second major maintenance I needed to undergo — and I wasn’t even sure how long it would last — was taking an INSTAGRAM HIATUS. I also like to call this SPIRITUAL MAINTENANCE, because the benefits were so tremendous.

Because I am a freelance artist, I need to be connected to what’s happening digitally in order to know about shows, auditions, etc. This meant I couldn’t give up Facebook. Instagram made more sense to give up — especially because I find Instagram to be much more mentally exciting, draining, and validating.

I wanted to try giving it up for a month while checking in with what happens to my central nervous system.

I’ve developed a habit of relying on the app for keeping in touch with people, inspiration, poetry, role models…the list goes on. I’ve used Instagram to find reasons to express myself when I don’t authentically want to.

I’d become a slave to just sharing my life consistently and finding joy in everyone’s engagement.

I can see how Instagram has helped me become more vulnerable. But not in a truthful way; it is vulnerability based on a filtered projection. As much as I’ve poured my heart out, and as honest as I have been on my posts, my posts did not depict the fact that I am horrible at honoring my voice when it comes to intimacy. I am broadcasting. I still don’t know how and have no desire, to explain the nuances of my personality on that square app.

Giving up Instagram has been tremendously refreshing. My thought patterns are flowing with ease. I am processing ideas longer without judgment. My attention span isn’t as short. I can follow through people’s ideas calmly without getting lost or confused.

The most important lesson I learned from giving up Instagram: I don’t owe it to anyone but myself to be porous and whole. If I catch myself freaking out on how I should open up in the context of my posts, it means that I am not being authentic. My audience gets used to just maybe 2–3 sides of me when really there is a complex, multilayered being underneath all the glistening filtered photos.

I am afraid some people have fallen in love with a version I project of myself — sadly, they don’t know how to connect deeper with me when the shit hits the fan.

I know I’ve become worth listening to on the app, but only the real raw nitty-gritty hard live conversations can confirm to people that I am worth someone truly knowing. I want the right humans to actually invest their emotional capital into me in hopes that I can reciprocate the same.

Third challenge: Dry January

The next thing I wanted to try that I did not accomplish 100% is DRY JANUARY — otherwise known as ditching alcohol and detoxing from the intense holiday booze. I don’t drink excessively, but boy, December was a super active holiday season on top of being my birthday month.

(I also wanted to have a reason to give up weed if it’s available).

Challenge result: MOIST JANUARY. I mostly accomplished this challenge. There was one weekend where I couldn’t resist because of my best friend’s birthday outing. And of course, I traveled to ATL during MLK weekend where my best friend’s parents shared their favorite glass of red wine with me. How could I say no? And despite not fully accomplishing the challenge, I do feel much more energized not having alcohol lately. That’s a plus!

Fourth challenge: Giving attention to my Musical Theatre skills

I’ve been telling myself that it is time to hone in on what scares me the most: putting myself out there and auditioning for bigger productions where I can be paid consistently. In order for me to thrive, and be a successful healthy freelance performer, I need to improve my weaknesses.

This entails vocal lessons, Jazz technique, Theatre Jazz, immersive acting technique…anything Musical Theatre/Theatre. This meant finally investing in a Broadway focused vocal coach.

I began taking lessons with a teacher who I met through the MATT FARNSWORTH singing workshop. It has been a generous financial investment, but I am super satisfied. I’ve also been attending dance classes at BDC and STEPS. This has been important because I am training with people who are going to be in the room with me in front of casting directors and choreographers. On top of training my body in this new way, I am also taking good care of my physical strength. I am back in the strength training regimen at Equinox; after all, I have access to all of the Equinoxes, 24/7. I’ve been taking full advantage, and my body feels happier than ever!

Fifth challenge: Romantic wellness

Last but not least, my blinders finally came off in a romantic situation. I became significantly more aware of my needs. I needed to decide whether or not to continue investing in someone who would never meet me in the middle.

I’m not sure if all the other sacrifices/challenges made it easier to hone in on what was aggravating me…but I had never felt so confused. Talk about my GEMINI moon taking over! The process felt like an emotional tsunami rollercoaster just to listen and make a cutthroat decision. I never thought I’d be told by all my closest friends that I could do better. I even received messages from dreams, meditations, strangers, spiritual guides, and mentors…these messages were steering me away from this person. Yet I resisted.

The truth is, I am bigger than my romantic life and career. This year, I do not want to keep people around who make me feel uneasy.

I became addicted to the attention, affection, and spiritual cosmic studies we both enjoyed. But throughout the time we spent together, I found myself making excuses in order to keep this person around. I was proud of myself for allowing love in, even if it wasn’t reciprocated to the same degree. I would let the micro red flags pass — and over time, everything built up. The issue wasn’t the other person. It was 100% me.

I do not regret the time I spent investing in this human. It was a journey. The whole experience has brought me closer to myself, intimately. It revealed my weakest trait: setting firm boundaries. I didn’t trust my deepest needs and desires. I continuously ignored my ego. My ego took over, eventually bringing out my most stubborn quality.

Now, I am in a stage of debriefing, healing, and self-forgiving. This included deleting all dating apps and going inward. I will no longer invite these patterns. Next challenge: resetting my dating brain — haha!

It’s been a month now that I haven’t heard from this human, and I feel very content. Needless to say, I have finally let go of this person mentally, physically, and emotionally during the Full Moon in Virgo since I was far away at a tropical destination. I danced the night away, feeling the air of the sea, and vibrant moon. I celebrated.

Tulum, Mexico

The soundtrack of my life is, and will remain: Ariana Grande’s thank u, next.

Going forward

Photo by Alexx Duvall

All of these challenges were my attempt to starting the year as diligently as I can. I’ve never taken this risk, but it feels massively miraculous. I’ve seen satisfying changes in all corners of my life. I also feel very good internally to continue carving the path I intend. This is the true work I need to dive into if I want to invite divinity. It is not an easy path. And I will mess up. But I know God/Spirit Guides/ Universal Law will keep me in check.