For the last few years, I've done a three-week cleanse at this time of year. It gives me pause on all of my normal behaviors as far as food and other indulgences go. It's a challenge, it's scary, and wow, I feel like a warrioress when I've made it through.
This fall I've decided to hold off on the physical cleanse and focus on a digital cleanse of sorts. I'm putting a pause on all of my projects and choosing to do a social media detox from now through the end of the year.
There's been quite a lot happening in my world over the last few years that I haven't shared publicly, and in order to give this choice context, I'm going to give you some insight into my inner world.
It all started in the fall of 2013, just as I was about to take my first trip to Bali to meet with a group of Femme entrepreneurs to powwow about our businesses and expand our possibilities in the palm of one of the most sacred beautiful places I've visited yet.
"It" meaning my shadow. My shadow started to come out of hiding and dance with me. Oddly enough it took over a year to realize that this was a dance, that I had not fallen backward, retracted, lost anything... just that I had reached another place in my journey where my shadow was ready to be seen in a larger light, greater capacity and newer perspective.
It was unsettling to say the least. At the end of 2013 I was wrapping up the best financial year in my consulting business yet. I was feeling good, strong, powerful... ready for the more better that I was sure was on it's way.
When 2014 rolled around, I wasn't prepared financially, mentally or emotionally to have one of the leanest financial years I've ever had as an adult. I was convinced I would keep climbing the financial ladder and growing not only my consulting business but also my passion-based business, which I had been pouring resources, time and energy into since 2012. The goal/vision was to transition from consulting to singing, speaking, creating and uplifting as the vehicle to share my greatest contribution in the world, and to also thrive financially.
I was sure it would happen fairly quickly as I had seen it happen for others.
At the top of the year, I lost two of my best clients unexpectedly for different reasons. It was disappointing, but I threw myself into business development for my firm and found myself losing faith, and dwindling any savings I had built up when great meetings turned into dust on the shelf, and my frustration (and fear) were mounting. It literally felt like opportunities were disintegrating into thin air, and I didn't know why.
I feel into the victim again, screaming, cursing creation (think, me standing in my kitchen, finger pointing into the air, murmuring, shouting or screaming at a power greater than myself for not having my back. Sort of hilarious to think of it now, but it wasn't very funny at the time) for "making" me struggle so much, for making other people successful in their endeavors and for making me a failure. I started to despise myself; I was jealous of others who's passion-based businesses and projects were picking up, thriving and going big on all levels. Deep inside I felt like a loser, worthless and a failure.
I wondered where the bubbly, eternal optimist went. Where did she disappear to? And how the hell could I get her back?!
Regardless of all of this, I embarked on one of the biggest solo projects I've done to date. I recorded and released five of my original songs on a self-funded, self-produced EP titled "I Am."
Honestly, I was certain that my community was going to stand behind me 150 percent, support the project to the fullest and share it all over social media with their friends and family. I was certain I'd make at least enough to recoup my investment and put some money in the bank. But what seemed to happen, like many things that year, is that even though I worked my ass off, and received support from my community, it felt like it fell flat, almost on deaf ears.
I began judging myself harshly based on how many Facebook comments or likes my posts received, or how many people shared (or didn't) share my posts (because it's all about the numbers right?!). I fell into the comparison trap over and over again, and compared myself harshly to other people, wondering why they got so much love on social media, and why my community didn't seem to support me the way I thought they would. I found myself wondering, "Does anyone even give a shit?! Am I making a difference?!"
Needless to say, I went waaaay down the deep dark rabbit hole. It was one of the most uncomfortable years I've had in many years. The shadow was dancing with me, and I was resisting.
During the summer of 2014 I hit another "wall"... with my daughter about to start her senior year in high school, I started to feel anxious about the transition our relationship and reality were starting to take. I fell into a depression for the first time in years and felt so out of sorts in my body/heart/mind/soul and in my in general life.
Scrapping by financially, with mounting credit card debt for the first time in my adult life, I felt even more worthless. How could someone with so much potential, so much drive, so many skills, experience, and ideas be struggling so much to make money? To be happy? To feel fulfilled? I felt devastated when I realized that even after all of the work I've done to transform and evolve myself, my self-worth was still directly tied to how much or how little money I was capable of generating doing my own thing.
Throughout the 2014-2015 school year, I felt like time was dripping through my fingers. I started to come face to face with the reality that I'd spent a large part of my daughter's life obsessed with being successful, and for me that meant making over $100,000 a year, being well known and respected in my industry and thriving in all areas of my life. Coming into 2015, I was carrying a significant amount of credit card debt, had few prospects on the table, had barely any money in the bank to support my daughter's college journey, and felt like a complete and utter failure.
I started to face the uncomfortable reality that I cannot get time back. I can't get 5, 8, 10 years old back with my daughter. I won't be 20, 25 or 30 again. And, it's difficult if not impossible to make that time up. There's no going back... only forward.
My daughter's senior year was one of the toughest years I've had with her. All of the things that she's experienced in her life started bubbling up to the surface. To say the year was chaotic and challenging is an understatement. I felt that my relationship with my daughter was in a serious breakdown, and I was heartbroken and finding it difficult to cope. I felt so small and couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel.
On some of the many nights she would spend out of the house, I started to realize how strong my parents were when I ran away at 16, not only out of state but across the country to California. No cell phones, no social media, just a weekly call home from their run away daughter via payphone. Their faith and trust were deep and unshakeable. Their support and experience gave me the faith and courage to carry on.
During the spring and summer of 2015 business started to pick up. My daughter recommitted to finishing high school, and things were moving forward in a positive direction. I cannot even begin to express how amazing it felt to witness my daughter graduate from the same high school I dropped out of 22 years earlier. Her ceremony was exactly 20 years from what would have been my high school graduation. Talk about full circle!!
Something new was stirring within me. I remember looking at her father and his mother as we were getting ready to leave the graduation. And I thought to myself, "I am no longer willing to carry your judgments and criticisms of me. I am FREE of you!!"
That was the moment that my newly-named "Liberation Mode" really kicked in.
I started learning how to relate to my daughter in new, more adult ways (still learning!) I started to disconnect my sense of self-worth to the amount of money I was making (this is a process!) I made changes in my spending habits, choosing to humble myself and learn how to live with the discomfort of having a heap of credit card debt.
I again went through another shadow play dance at the end of the summer and into September. My daughter was off to college in New York City, and I was, for the first time in my adult life, freer than I've ever been or felt. There is something really powerful that happens when you can begin to measure your life in 18-year chunks of time.
I began reviewing the last two-plus decades, and how this high school drop out, black stallion wild child managed to naturally birth, parent and raise a young woman while creating a career out of thin air based on the inherent skills and talents that I have. Now that is a powerful measure of success.
I started to acknowledge and recognize how much I've HELD over the last 18 years, how much I've achieved and how many amazing adventures we'd been on so far. I also started to come to terms with all of the hopes and dreams that I strived for over the last two decades that haven't come to be just yet. Like wanting to meet my king man while my daughter was still living at home as a child, so that I could provide her with a "proper" traditional family. While there's grief in my soul that this didn't happen before she left for college, it also feels like a huge relief. Like a weight has been lifted.
As I've moved into autumn and am getting settled in this transition and new reality, a few things are becoming very clear to me...
Quiet the noise
Trust the process
Clear out and simplify
Don't do or create for doing's sake
I don't have to ride the roller coaster with my daughter or anyone else... I can become a compassionate observer
Allow things to come to you naturally
A few months ago I on-boarded a new VA and brought on another young woman to handle social media marketing for me. We were just about to dive into a whole rebranding process for "Laura Aiisha" while planning a new website launch in January and some cool projects for the new year. But I couldn't ignore the song of my soul asking me to put a pause on things, to take a break, to let it go.
Shit... this is scary for me!!
Over the last few years, I've noticed how social media affects my state. At least 50 percent of the time I find myself getting caught up in comparing myself to others and checking to see how many people have liked or commented on one of my posts. When there's a lot of activity I feel great! And where there isn't, you already know... there I go down the rabbit hole. Realizing the toll on my time, emotions and mental state social media can have, I knew something had to change.
So, ironically enough, this passionate networker, connector, community builder is choosing to silence the noise. To take a break from social media and put a pause on all of the doing I've been doing, so that I can get clear, create some space and clarify how I REALLY desire to spend my time in the new year, how I REALLY desire to contribute on this wild and wonderful adventure called life, and how I desire to feel as I live, love, generate and receive.
It feels big, scary, exciting, nerve wracking and so many other things... and it is ohhh soooo necessary and liberating!!
I know this is a longer than normal post, and I know that if you've made it this far then it's carried some value for you.
I'd love to hear your comments and some insights into what you're choosing to put a pause on (or recommit to) in order to get clearer about what you really want to be/do/create/experience/share with and in the world in 2016.
And, if you're feeling this and know someone else might too, please share.
On this Thanksgiving weekend I'm giving sooo much thanks for YOU! I'm also giving thanks for life's ups and downs, because I believe that it is the full spectrum that creates the most dynamic journey.
Here's to more better!