I am an artist, a writer, an educator, a priest of Ifa/Oya/Egbe, a wife and mother, and an entrepreneur. There’s no hierarchy to that list…I proudly rock all of these hats at the same time. My life has always been pretty packed, but I am happy with the fullness of this plate. I have not always been able to claim this happiness, though. I have put the brave face on like many I know, learned to “push through,” and smiled when it was the last thing I felt like doing. I live as honestly as possible now, giving the uncut truth to everyone else and especially with myself.
That being said, I am constantly trying to do the work of being a better me – to grow spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Make no mistake, though; I am not levitating in some blissful existence of Having My Whole Life Together. I will always have work to do. Below, I describe a few things I’ve worked on over the last decade in hopes of productively staying on this road to growth.
I feel as if I’ve dated the same person (and issues), manifested in a different body, at least three times in life. In a few of those relationships, I also found myself repeating the same mistakes. In other relationships, when I decided to let a few toxic people go, they all seemed to have the same traits and I wondered how I could possibly be attracting the same kind of people. Great, I finally figured out who didn't need to be in my circle. Still, I asked myself, “What have I been doing to repeat these unproductive connections?”
I know that I’ve also done a lot of self-checking over the years, especially when certain beliefs popped up in my psyche that I needed to question. I learned to recognize these flags when I would say things like, “Well, it’s always been like that,” “I’ve wanted this as long as I can remember,” or “To be ____, I’m supposed to ____.” I saw these as subconscious rules I lived by…and I wasn’t always completely sure of the origin of these beliefs. I asked myself, “Why do I hold these things as law?”
There are things which have happened throughout my life that, no matter how hard I try or whatever ritual I do, I haven’t one hundred percent let go. I may not burst into tears at the mention of a particular person or situation anymore, and I may be able to talk about it with all kinds of deep insight as to how I’ve grown past it or lived through it…but I know that there are some things that have been difficult to release. I needed to figure out a process for digging in to what still weighed on me, and to understand what to do with the things that have never come with forgiveness, explanations, justice, or at the very least, some semblance of closure. I asked myself, “Why can’t I just let it all go?”
I sat back and really thought through these different aspects of my own growth. I needed to understand what they all had in common, because they were a part of a whole which affected my “right now” whether I liked it or not. I could be as woke and spiritually elevated as I wanted to be, but all the sage and candles lit in the world weren’t stopping the above questions from being a reality on my path. I did NOT want to continue to be a casualty of my own past. I’d learned how to FEEL better. But I wanted to GROW.
Then it hit me. I was missing a process for identifying the source of these issues. I was mostly dealing with the symptoms, like a doctor who never really tests for anything, just gives you pain medicine because you say your back hurts. I knew how to stop hurting, or to cover it up at least. But the root or the cause was STILL THERE, unaddressed, not fully understood, and causing a snowball effect of other issues.
How, then, was I supposed to not repeat negative relationship patterns if I didn’t have a process for dissecting them clearly, understanding both how the other person showed up AND how I said yes to whatever they showed up with? How do I detangle my current thinking to recognize the difference between what has been an indoctrination of standards and dogma, and what I authentically want or believe? What do I do with the residual impact of traumatic experiences, broken trust, heartbreaks, and the plethora of other moments that hadn’t come with an ending?
So, as creative people who also happen to be analytical thinkers tend to do, I built a process. I worked on the surface at first because it felt safe; every time I pulled back one of those superficial layers, I kept applying this process of excavation to deeper aspects of my past experiences. I discovered how much accountability I had missed taking in many situations. I uncovered lessons I hadn’t yet received because of the dogma that said this was just "how it always goes" or remained stuck in the emotion rather than the much larger message…and saw exactly why the same people and situations kept repeating themselves. (The universe has a way of sending you through remedial life courses when you don’t learn the lesson the first/second/third time.) I dug up emotions I was reluctant or even ashamed to face and feel, but I began to understand why I needed to name them: they were creating behaviors and cycles I thought were justified, but they were not serving me.
As a part of this process, I started understanding what to DO with this energy, these feelings, the behaviors, and the unfinished business. Even though I’d told myself that what I wanted was happiness, peace, good relationships, abundance, strong spiritual connections, and good character…I discovered why I had yet to begin to receive all of the things I felt I deserved. Oh, and I also found out how to make room for what belonged in my life.
So then I wrote a book about it. I worked hard to deconstruct this process, and to make it accessible no matter where (or who) you are in your life. I wanted to share this for simple reasons. Between social media and my personal relationships, I just get tired of knowing how people want change and growth but feel stuck, and they hurt in ways they let few people see. I wanted to give people someplace to start, a tangible tool that could be used without fear of needing to be vulnerable with someone else (until they're ready). I hoped folks would appreciate a process for doing this kind of work that comes with no judgment, bias, or someone standing there telling them how to feel.
I hope I accomplished that in The Book of Mirrors. If you choose to take the trip through this journal workbook, I hope you find the kind of answers and clarity I continue to uncover for myself. One of the first things I tell you in the book is that I claim no expertise. Another is that this is not a replacement for help available through professionals. I have reached no mountaintops, but I have found some tools for the climb. I am just sharing what works. As humans, that’s one of the best gifts I figure we can give.