My mama, aunties, and cousins who have followed this blog over many iterations know I have not had an ‘easy’ life. Since I was a child I’ve always had a lot of complex health needs. Trauma + structural and environmental racism have run havoc on my body for decades. Then I became a wife, parent, caregiver, and grandparent and things got even more interesting. I have not and probably will not ever have a simple life. I’ve always been leading with a lot in the background.
For years, I was sad about how complicated things were for me and grieved it. Then somewhere along the way I transitioned from a state of praying and begging for things to be simple or normal, to a begrudgingly resigned state of ‘it is what it is.’ I stayed stuck there through much of my thirties and somewhere in my mid-forties started moving toward a a zen-like acceptance.
I accept my life and all the complexities it brings.
How I got here took too long and was expensive. Therapy, self-help books, workshops, and soooo much more. I’m here to give you a cheat sheet that might save you time and money. Here are some things I’ve done to live into an easeful life as a Black woman in leadership.
E – Excellence is not perfectionism. Instead of striving for perfectionism, I have anchored myself in excellence. Excellence, as I conceptualize it, comes with hard work and commitment – two things I excel in as a Capricorn. I’m committed to being an excellent leader of myself, my family, and my community. If you swapped perfectionism for excellence, what type of leader would you be?
A – Action takes planning. My life is easeful when I have a plan. My plan is not rigid but it has structure. I use my calendar and to-do lists. I use my 4D system – Devote, Delegate, Delay, and Delete – to prioritize and get real with what I can and what to spend my time on. Look at your to-do list and give each task a number (1-4) and see where you end up.
S – Slow down my brain. 30-minute brain breaks are important to plug into my days. I have a menu of things I do to give my brain a reset during the day – tapping, napping, doodling, listening to music, and more. Find the things that rejuvenate you and give them a try for yourself.
E – Emails are not an emergency. Just because other folks are moving fast does not mean I have to. Now, yes, there are some things I want to take quick action on because they are aligned or have a critical need. Others are folks’ wants and desires, and those are none of my business. I had to learn the difference and communicate accordingly. For a week, try turning off email notifications and setting a timer for occasional email checking (i.e. 9am, 12pm, and 4pm). Audit your week and see if you notice a change in your production and engagement.
F – Fall back into joy. I’ve learned that joy is always available to me. I can pull out a picture of someone I love, smell a scent that brings back a good memory, or turn on my favorite Afrobeats song. No matter how hard the day, I can carve out a few minutes for joy. What’s one thing that switches your mood quickly? Add that thing to your workday/bring it to your desk.
U – Unclench your jaws. We hold a lot of tension in our bodies. In fact, some of us are holding our breath 90 percent of the day. If we can set some intention to unclench and take a breath, we create more literal and figurative space for thinking, feeling, and being — the three things we need to take purpose action. Check-in with yourself while you’re reading this. If you notice your jaw is tight do a round or two of box breathing and tap back into your body.
L – Laugh to keep from crying. Sometimes I have to laugh at the ridiculousness of a new alert or inquiry. I chuckle and tell myself, that whatever they intended, was not for me. I’m [energetically] sending it right back to them! Laughter yoga feels silly but it works. Even Taraji says so.
Learning to accept my life as it is has been liberating. Embracing these tools has helped my days be more consistently easeful. If you try any of these, let me know.