New Year, Better Me: It’s All In The Bag

Hello world!! Happy New Year!!! It’s 2023 and I am ECSTATIC about what this new year is going to bring. It has been a loooooong while since I’ve written here, but NEVERTHELESS, here we are! The Vision Blogger is here again!

My last blog post was written in May of 2021. WHEW! What a journey I have been on since then! I have crossed many bridges, conquered even more mountains, and God has continuously kept me alive and my mind intact. I’ve sprouted a few new strings of grey hair and cut most of it off (I still can’t believe I did that one) but God has been faithful. Thank you, Lord!

Where did I leave off? I was released from my job assignment with the county in April of 2021. I worked solely on my business up until September of last year when a work-from-home job almost fell into my lap. Literally. I accepted the position with the intent to continue to focus on my business as much as possible. *I dare not give up on my dreams ever again for a job.* So, while working for this company, adding a few more business ventures, along with writing books (which I released my first word search puzzle on Amazon here) and being a mother, I continued to serve in ministry. Needless to say, I am a very busy woman. Now, the issue I have with being busy is making sure I’m being productive. Productivity is not only what I produce with my hands, but what I produce in my mind, body, and spirit. I, sometimes, focus so much on producing with my hands, that I neglect what matters the most. So, when I was invited to the New Years’ Eve Purpose Brunch by Lady Tina Armstrong, I cleared my entire day to take time for myself and focus on what God wanted to say at that moment.

I was the first one at the location because I wanted to get there to take a few pictures and drop off some items Lady Tina asked me to bring. As I entered the front door, I was given a SUPERWOMAN box of goodies, a purpose planner/journal/devotional/everything to help you get through the year, and a pair of cozy socks. Lady Tina had me remove my shoes, put on the socks, and allowed me to make myself at home. She was still in the kitchen cooking and prepping for the other guests to arrive. I did as requested. I kicked my feet up and prepared my heart and my mind for what was to come.

As I sat on the cozy couch, in my comfy socks, that moment brought back memories of going to my grandparent’s house for Thanksgiving, which had been years since my grandmother has not been able to cook for us after having to live with dementia. I felt at home. I made up my mind right then, this was a safe space. As the other ladies started to mosey in, introductions were made, hugs and kisses were exchanged, and conversations about seating arrangements through laughter filled the room. Brunch was served. As you can see, there was a SPREAD. You had fried chicken wings, seasoned potatoes garnished with fixings, grits, eggs, biscuits and gravy. WHEW! I got excited all over again. Not only was there good food, but your favorite choice of juice was available with champagne to make a sweet mimosa. This wasn’t Thanksgiving dinner, but it definitely was the breakfast I wish I would’ve had the morning of.

With our bellies full, it was time to go to work. For our first activity, we were given white bags and instructed, by Lady Kenisha Malone, to decorate this bag however you would like to, might I add, without knowing what the purpose was in the end. I drew a complete blank as to what I wanted this bag to say or have on it. The first thing that came to my mind was “Only The Beginning” because this was my beginning. The beginning of focusing on the moment and taking better care of myself. I placed those words in the middle, drew a few flowers to represent growth, and wrote my name on the back. After making this bag ready for display, I was told to take some sticky notes and write down my “baggage”, which were things I wanted to leave in 2022. I dug real deep inside of me to those secret places to pull out “the baggage”. I learned quickly these bags were not going to be for display, but was reminded that this is what we do with our baggage. We put on these facades to display “everything is alright” or “I’m good” or “I’m not hurting”, so no one will see what we are dealing with or what we are carrying. After filling these bags with our baggage, we were forced to crush it. My beautifully decorated bag full of things I felt made me who I was or comfortable at one time or another was headed for disposal. This was only the beginning.

Now, let’s get into this purpose planner/journal/devotional/everything to help you get through the year. Lady Tina hit the motherload with this one. This book was not just your ordinary planner. This book had scriptural-based meditation pages for a daily devotion, letters of encouragement from the SUPERWOMAN herself to get you through the day, week, or month, pages to write out your prayers, coloring pages to decompress from heavy days, and everything else to discover WHO YOU ARE, WHAT YOU WANT TO DO, and WHY. Yes, it’s a lot to take in and digest, but it’s so necessary.

Throughout the pages of this planner, it helps you write it out. I don’t know about you, but my thoughts are so much clearer on paper. There are even times when I don’t even know what to write about, but this book opens that dialogue within yourself that allows you to discover or rediscover YOU. There were other pages that made you think about who you are and what you really want. There was a page for you to write a letter to your future self. This page stuck out to me the most. I really had to think about where I see myself in years to come to be able to write to that person. I believe this book is perfect for anyone looking to learn, grow, and evolve.

Lady Tina took us through a few vital pages through the planner. Together, we completed these pages to the best of our ability and some of us shared what we wrote. We talked about one thing we could do that day to improve ourselves, one thing we would tell our teenage selves, our biggest inspirations, strengths, and weaknesses. Tears flooded this living room as we shared our thoughts. Through these tears, there were moments of reflection, encouraging words exchanged, love and understanding was dispensed. There was no judgement or shame about what we had been through or the damage others or ourselves had caused. We were in the LIVING ROOM to share and/or empathize with our sisters who needed an uplifting word, advice, or just prayer as they completely gave God their YES. We weren’t only there for ourselves at this point. We were in this together.

It’s moments like these that help you understand a key factor about life: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. It may feel like it because of what we see, but there is SOMEONE who understands where you are. A lot of times, when we are going through situations in life, we can feel like we are the only ones who have had the experience or understand our process. We might not have been the person it happened to or we might not have had the exact same details of the experience, but we share the emotions. That is one thing I love about God. Those tough circumstances don’t always feel good at the moment, but He makes it very clear that every test and trial serves a purpose. It might not be for you, but it can definitely be used for someone else. He’ll place you in LIVING ROOMS, even if it’s your own, to minister to a group of women who need to be freed by your testimony or granted strength in knowing they can be completely healed from past hurts, love after being taken advantage of, or overcome any and all situations.

The theme for this brunch was butterflies. Upon my research, according to PBS, “Butterflies are one of the most¬†diverse and most recognizable¬†creatures in the insect world. They are famous for their symmetrical wings that often display amazing colors and patterns. But the life of a butterfly is far more than their beautiful wings. The butterfly’s life is one of complex change.” In a nutshell, the butterfly lays very small eggs that are so small you can’t even see them without a magnifying glass. The eggs are placed under a leaf until it hatches into a caterpillar that now uses the leaf that once covered him, for nourishment. The caterpillar continues to eat and grow, shedding layers of skin throughout its time until it can’t grow anymore. Then the caterpillar finds a safe space to create a cocoon until it is ready to break free. When the adult butterfly is released from the cocoon, their wings unfold and it’s ready to fly to fend for itself, mate, and start the process all over again.

I related our lives to a butterfly. We are eggs growing into babies in our mothers’ wombs, considered the covering, only able to be seen by a special machine called an ultrasound. We are under this covering until the birthing time where we become caterpillars, feeding from who gave us covering or any person God places in our path to provide nourishment. We eat and grow until it’s time for us to find our secret, safe space to privately deal within ourselves until it’s time for us to be revealed to the world covered in bright, unique colors. The beauty about each of us is that everyone’s time is different. Everyone’s path to birth and growth is different, but we all have our moment to be presented to those who will receive enlightenment from our process or our wings. Be Blessed and never stop flying.