The Simply Why Do We Do It Life

Photo courtesy of

I tried three times to watch the movie “I don’t now How She Does It.”  At first I tried to use it to combat the ghost town silence of the office that summer on our small campus often brings. That didn’t work. Then I decided to curl up in bed with a glass of wine and one of my dear west coast friends called and we talked for almost two hours. Then i fell asleep. So that didn’t work. I tried a third time and my sweet sweet friend who got hitched last weekend called. Afterwards…I feel asleep.  so finally, after returning from a successful shopping and late lunch trip in DC, I crawled into bed, opened the bag of mixed gummy sweet treats from the bulk candy store I practiced moderate self control in, whipped out my tablet, started the movie and FINALLY got to watch it.

I appreciated the film incorporating various perspectives of the people in her life, a friend who is also a mom with school aged children, a colleague, her assistant, other mom’s who think she’s not a great mom because she works, and even the sitter. She hear her question herself throughout the film and you see her mental to do list pop up in text across the screen in what you imagine to be her handwriting. you watch her prep for a bake sale using a store bought pie and a too big for that pie pyrex dish, but she makes it work. There are birthday parties she plans, and project pitches, and traveling, and supporting her husband in his entrepreneurial pursuits. Even though you are watching the film to see how she does it, you are wondering “How does she do it?”

Photo courtesy of O Magazine creative team led by Adam Glassman

The same was said of me a few weeks prior in the kitchen of my still relatively new home. My youngest brother was visiting and the dynamics between my other brother had me seriously questioning if I was a bad sister and just completely unaware. So I asked my youngest brother who looked confused by the question and flat out rejected the the notion that I’d even entertain that thought. I pressed more and asked if it was my expectations. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been told I expect too much. He shook his head no and offered “You just get stuff done Ahyana. And it’s like ‘How does she do it?’ because you don’t complain or really ask for help or seem to be struggling.”

When I saw the film, I saw myself. Never mind I have no children or husband. I saw myself creating invitations and planning a graduation party within less than two weeks, creating the back drop and tracking down props for a DIY photo shoot, looking at a calendar that had me traveling out of state four out of five weekends in a row, getting called for job interviews and being asked to phone or Skype interview within 24 hours, working from home and babysitting, serving as the stand in for colleagues at off site meetings, keeping my cool and staying cordial with my mentally ill housemate, trying to find new housemates, accepting speaking engagements, prepping training for student leaders, revamping orientation for new interns…need I go on. And yes, all of that without a darling child or charming husband. I kind of smiled thinking myself the real life version of SJP in that film util I realized, the real question to ask and wait in awe for an answer is not “How does she do it?” but “Why does she do it?” “Why do I do it?”?

Photo courtesy of Kevin Russ

I started asking myself that question. Why do I do all that I do and I was NOT loving some of the answers. Sure some things were practical. Why do I work..because I don’t have a sugar daddy to pay my bills. Okay on a serious note, sugar daddy aside, the reality is i have bills to pay and that requires me working. Why am I a counselor? The jury is stil lout on that. I certainly say that my upbringing had a strong role with it and I am like 82% convinced had things been a little healthier and stable I would not have chosen this field. Why am I still in this field? I’m actually looking and working hard to exit.

Some of the other responses to my why questions ranged from because  want better fort hem. Because if I don’t who will. Because I am afraid. Because it will validate what I have to offer…maybe. Because I’m tired. Because it’s worth it, they’re worth it. I was curious. He was fiiiiiiiinnnnnneeee. I am fiiiiiiiiiiinnnnneeeee. It was on sale. I was hungry. I have no idea. I was hopeful. i’m trying to be patient. God said so….I think God said so. My mom thought it was a good idea. Isn’t that what I’m supposed to be doing at this stage in my life?

Some of my responses made me cringe. Others made me smile. And yet others made me sit silently pondering if the answer was good enough. If being afraid for example was good enough. If worry about disappointing, disapproving, non supportive family and friends were good enough reasons. If buying a house was good enough. If tradition, convention, parental “encouragement”, or the past were the best motivators.

I decided, not so much.

Photo courtesy of Eric Sutton

Don’t get me wrong, they have their place. They can certainly and often do play a role in the impetus for change. It’s when they don’t play that role and hold us back, leads us toward apathy, powerlessness, excuse making, and blame shifting, there’s an issue.

What did I want to be the response to “”Why I do it?” My purpose. I wanted the reason I did most of what I did to be because it brings me that much closer to the whole reason I came slipping and sliding out of my momma’s uterus almost 30 years ago.  I know that sometimes the response will still be because I was afraid or I was avoiding something. I know other times it will because so and so needed that or I just love them. And other times it will be because he was fiiiiiiiinnnneeee and I am fiiiiiiinnnnnneeee.  However, my truest desire is that I am making choices because they better align with who I am and am becoming.

About a month ago I received two invitations to speak. I accepted both and one engagement is this week so send up and out prayers and well wishes. Thanks in advance! I accepted them because both so align with my purpose that I couldn’t turn them down. In fact one of them is at a church and I have never spoken at a church before. Please return to sending prayers  and well wishes. Thanks again!

Photo courtesy of Sarah Potempa

I turned down a job interview for a job in the state I love with an amazing salary and if  I took the job would launch my like 10 years ahead into a career in higher education. But you know what? The position ultimately does not align with the woman I am and desire to be so why waste time and the schools money flying out there to meet in person?

Stop being in awe of the how this week. If you’re not in awe of it, stop freaking out by it too. Stop groaning at how you’re going to do this or that or this and that. Start being awe of the why. Start asking yourself why you are doing and if it draws you a half an inch or eighty yards closer to the reason you got to slip and slide out of your momma’s uterus.

If you’re not sure what your purpose is then I’d like to encourage you this week to set aside some time to think about it. A good place to start is to list the tings that excite you, that you’d do if money weren’t an issue, your current roles and responsibilities weren’t an issue, that you would for sleep and could d in your sleep.

While my youngest brother and several others may have no idea how I manage to do all that I do, I hope that I continue to live in away that shares why, and that why being that it’s a part of who I am and who I am purposed to be.

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