2014- A Year of Adventure

Photo courtesy of Salma Sandoval as pinned on Pinterest.com
It was February when I first wrote the year 2015 in the date of my journal entry.  I laughed and thought to  myself “Wow Ahyana, already over 2014?”. I was actually. I had returned from what was one of the worse trips to San Francisco with my housemate to a housemate who gave way to his vices and almost enthusiastically created one of the worse housing situations I’d been in for years.  What I was used to being a safe haven and a place of peace had turned into a mine field. Not knowing if my housemate was having a good day or not, was up for conversation, or wasn’t, if asking how their day was was being perceived as me trying to sneak in a counseling session, and discussion house issues such as a more secure back door was going to be interpreted as intrusive and nagging. Things never got better and I  with retaining a lawyer. ultimately had to retain an attorney and put the 
February was only made worse by the death of one of my clients whom I still maintain wasn’t supposed to die. She was nineteen. Who dies at 19? Correction, who waits for 19 years to get a healthy heart, gets it, and still dies. But February had more tricks up its sleeve. A mere two weeks later I woke to learn of the death of a woman who’d been a mentor of mine during my latter years of undergrad and life thereafter. Writing 2015 not even 50 days into 2014 may have been subconscious, but it was intentional. I was telling the year enough already.
Photo courtesy of Luke Gram
In July I moved across  the country to Spokane, Washington. 
At the blessed age of 29 I started a position as an Assistant Dean of Intercultural Student Development at a small private institution. My launch was nothing short of  regrettable and unforgettable. It is the perfect case student for how not to start with a new employee and i am sure will make it into some one’s graduate level course for organizational psychology and leadership. Maybe even my own. I started the the first couple of weeks working 12 and 14 hour days and missing out on get to know folks gatherings because of what  I walked into. I still can’t tell if I was bothered more that the start was so bad (I am really trying hard not to use what I call justifiable profanity, help me Jesus) or that people in several departments knew my start was going to be so bad and apologized that I walked into a mess or as some referred to it “A shit show.” I  won’t share all of the details as I know some of my students read this blog, but let’s say I still have administrators  worried that I will leave because the launch was so unnecessarily bad.  I’ve even had colleagues send me jobs to other institutions and agree to serve as a reference should I decide to apply.  I don’t think I’m taking creative license when I say my start was no bueno.
The semester starting off poorly wasn’t enough. It kept it up. It was bent on consistency. Kind of like much of the year itself. It offered the physical assault of a student who has been such a blessing in my transition, the sexual assault of another student, a suicide of a student with whom I absolutely loved our frequent run ins on campus and was trying so hard to make things work , the car accident of one of my student leaders, finding out a colleague took my leaving a meeting early as the perfect time to share all that they didn’t like about me with those in the meeting instead of me, and a team of students that at various times throughout the semester were grieving the loss of family members. This is the abbreviated list of the rest of the semester. 
Photo courtesy of Davis Ayer
But I can say this. This year was what I asked for. I know. I know. You are wondering if I’m some kind of depressed sick sadist. I’m not. I’m saying that I started the year open to adventure and it delivered. It so delivered. While there were more mountains full of jagged edges that I face planked into, there were some very very lush valleys full of life giving moments and momentum to sustain me through the growing pains and downward tumbles.
After tumbling down a mountain during this year’s adventure I’ve

  • Landed in beautiful new cities I got to travel to, 
  • Friends who gave me one heck of a going away party and have been nothing short of supportive and fantastic while I have been away, 
  • A friend who has already come to visit me in Spokane
  • A new church that I really really like and have missed while being back east, 
  • An amazing realtor, Shakirrah, who is helping me sell the house back east (if you’re buying, I’m selling),
  • Sweet fellowship with Shelly Miller of  Redemption’s Beauty, Her writing is as amazing as she is and I have been so grateful for her during this year especially. She’s had her own adventures that she happily shares on her blog!
  • Finally moved ot the west coast (don’t count California out yet, I haven’t. wink wink!), 
  • Cerebrated the one year anniversary of this blog (see my commitment issues are so being worked on),  
  • Met some really sweet, thoughtful, bright, encouragingg, handsome men. some have been younger (okay one has, I’m not a fan of younger guys) and one a former two time winning world championship boxer , oh and a pleasant sir I’m currently getting to know who’s a fellow east coaster and has a thing for traveling.
  • There’s the book I published.  All your favorite (and my favorite) words of encouragement and motivation in one sweet book. 
  • Spoken at another national conference
  • Performed in an Eve Ensler Production for the city of Philadelphia
  • Was awarded two grants at my current university
  • Turned 30 (yep, that happened), 
  • Partnered with incredible students to help them find and use their voices to effect change on campus regarding discrimination, privilege, police brutality, and a call to assess the campus’ commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. That landed a sweet picture of me in the local paper. Serving these students has been such a privilege. 
  • Attended the wedding of a dear dear friend from undergrad and couldn’t be happier for the two of them. I also got to see other dear dear friends I haven’t seen years. 

Photo courtesy of Fabrice Trombert
While that’s a pretty sweet list, perhaps what was most meaningful during my year of adventure was finding myself belly up in fields of compassion, grace, forgiveness, hope, and love. Those words, ideas, and realities have been so completely ruined and slowly rebuilt this year.  And for that, with tears, even as I write this post, I am immensely grateful and truly a better version of myself than a the start of the year.  I thought I knew rather well what each of those meant and how to live them, but this year completely redefined all of that for me. I have sat and sobbed through cries and prayers of forgiveness, mostly towards my housemate but also towards myself. I have literally laid down next to others and held hands as moved by compassion, challenged myself to be gracious with myself (I’m pretty good with extending it towards others and being understanding with others, but with myself, the struggle is real, painfully extended my hand and prayers toward hope, and lived love as a verb and as the only option I have regardless of the allure if like.  And since all of these lessons are still relatively new…I anticipate further practice in 2015.
I won’t lie. I sort of wanted to give one of those highlight only reels of 2014. All the blogs are doing it. Shucks, so are Huffington Post, Bravo, Buzzfeed, etc. But  more than that I wanted to give an honest picture of this year for me, the highlights and the low-lights. That’s life isn’t it? It’s full of moments that sucker punch us right in the face and send tears streaming down our face totally jacking up our expensive mascara and mixing bitterly with our rouge lip color. Yet it’s just as full of moments that have us double over in laughter, our eyes well with tears that cause our expensive mascara to run and mix joyfully with our rouged lips. Life is one big adventure full of both and. It’s landscape offers mountain moments that don’t guarantee arrival to the mountain top but can send us tumbling down into valleys that aren’t  desserts but green and plush, offering rest and renewal  in the arms of compassion, grace, forgiveness, hope, and love.
Photo courtesy of Mai Spy as pinned on Pinterest.com
May 2015 be exactly what you ask for, and may you have the eyes, ears, heart, and mind to perceive it as such. May it be a year full of the reality of life, of both and, of mountains and valleys, of letting go and letting in, of compassion, grace, forgiveness, hope, and love. May it be a year that when you are ready for it to be over you manage to continue to see it through and when it is over you manage to look back and see the myriad of small victories.
Happy New Year and thank you so very much for 
joining me in my year of adventure! xxoo

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