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(The Cost of) Living My Best Life Pt. 7 - The Journey

[Read Living My Best Life Pt. 6]

Angela and I
A Promise
This past Wednesday I cried real thug tears as I hid behind opaque sunglasses in a bus terminal in upstate New York. I couldn't believe that I had gotten to this point -- somewhere between trusting God and not knowing if I'd have to hitchhike my way back to New York City. If this fast has taught me anything, it has taught me perseverance. Several times I almost backed out of this trip due to financial constraints placed upon me by the student loan gods. (Girl, you know Sallie Mae and 'em done wiped out my savings from now until eternity.) Last minute planning for school paired with paying off debt left me scraping for barely enough change to get from NYC to Syracuse. Now add "Living My Best Life" to that mounting pile and you can call me broke as a joke! As I waited for my connecting bus to take me from Syracuse to Auburn, I broke down and wept ... covertly, of course. I was exhausted. I wanted to quit. My phone was dying, my limbs were sore, but I had made a promise...and I don't break those.

Fight or Flight
Months ago, I told my best gal that I'd come see her in the US premiere of a new musical slated for Broadway. She hadn't done a show in a while and was thrilled to be performing again and I told her I wouldn't miss it. (Many people say that and don't mean it) Fast forward to Tuesday evening and I'm scrambling to find a way to get to the closing performance. I board a bus Wednesday morning, the bus breaks down. I get to Syracuse late and with extremely limited funds. I go scavenger hunting for an ATM because public transit buses only take cash in middle America. :insert eye roll emoji here: After that failed, I maneuvered my way to downtown Syracuse where I was able to withdraw the last $20 from one of my bank accounts to attempt to catch the bus to Auburn. I had just about decided to turn around and take the evening bus back to NYC when a new wave of strength pimp-slapped me across the face. (Is this the "strength" that I prayed for back on Day 14?) It was a fight or flight moment and after 16 days of fasting and persevering, I started boxing with my brokenness. I chose to fight through the exhaustion because I believed that something magnificent was waiting for me on the other side of the fight.

Long story short, I made it to Auburn safely, the show was fabulous, I'm now back home and greatly anticipating this direct deposit that's bout ta waltz into my account at midnight! Come, Lord Jesus!

The Cost of #LMBL
If you connect "Living Your Best Life" to wealth and materialism, you can excuse yourself from this blog right now. Everybody wants to know "how I do it"-- how I live by myself or how I get to travel so frequently. I go to work just like everybody else. I save, I budget, I book gigs that allow me to see the world, and if I'm lucky, I have left overs for charity. But it's hard. My life is hard. Living my best life is even harder. I moved to New York City five years ago with $200 to my name and everything I owned stuffed in my hatchback sedan. I've had to follow my dreams surviving on $2.50 a day. There were days when I had to walk from my apartment at 151st street to my show at an off-Broadway theater on 46th street because I didn't have enough subway fare for a round trip. I've maxed out my credit card to pay my rent before. I've walked 30 blocks to church to lead worship and with a good heart because "God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7), even when you're giving/serving on an empty stomach and little sleep, right?
But despite the hardships, I've always taken my promises and service to others seriously because, ultimately, living your best life is not about you
As I sat in my living room on Tuesday night, contemplating whether or not to cancel on my friend, I had to examine why I felt like I had fight to be there in the first place. After all, it wasn't a Broadway debut and she didn't have a lead role, but that has never stopped me.

Finish-liners & Journey Partners
As I confronted myself, I realized that life is too short to wait for the most ideal moments to be present in someone else's journey. Sometimes being present in their journey can give new meaning to your own. Angela tried to talk me out of coming but something in me said, "Fight!" I wanted to be there no matter how small her role was or how much she didn't think it was a big deal. Maybe I fought because I understood that acting gigs can be few and far between. Maybe I fought because my ego wouldn't let me break a promise, no matter how minuscule; yet, I think I fought because I know what it's like to feel abandoned in this industry--to have friends and family tell you they're not coming to your "lil" show, that they're "waiting for Broadway" (as if the work that I'm doing now is invalid). These are the people who have never bought an album but want you to sing at their wedding for free. These are the people who are waiting for your "big break" but ain't around for your breakdowns and your breakthroughs. These people are destination supporters, or, what I like to call, "finish-liners." They stand at the end of the marathon, having only arrived 30 minutes before you cross, with a sign and balloons, maybe some hot cocoa and a granola bar. They may even give you a kiss on the cheek or shed a tear or two but they weren't with you shooting in the gym! (Hey Rick Ross!) Maybe I fought so hard to get there 'cause I didn't want to be a finish-liner.

My Leo (my hero) and I after a
performance at
Syracuse University in 2009. 
Conversely, I've had the privilege of knowing amazing journey partners--the people who have held me down and lifted me up, the ones who have followed me from community theater in New Orleans to Syracuse University, from my professional performance career to my new academic and vocational pursuits. These are the folks who came when I said, "it's not a big deal," or "I'm just in the ensemble," or "just wait until the big show." These folks -- my parents, my aunt De, my Leo -- never waited for "the big show." They supported right where I was. My Leo would take his last dollar to fly across the country to see my "lil" shows because he knew that it was about the journey. He didn't have to wait until I got to the finish line. He gave me every flower while I was sweating in the trenches, every handwritten card when I wanted to throw in the towel. He encouraged and praised me right where I was. The last show Leo saw me in before he died, I had told him not to come because "it wasn't that important." (Oh, how we talk ourselves down and diminish our worth) In retrospect, I'm so glad he came... to everything...the showcases and dance concerts... because he knew that life was too short to wait for the most ideal moments to be present in someone else's journey. I guess my fighting to see Ang's show was me channeling my hero. It was me being who I prayed for on Day 3 of this fast -- a God-ordained partnership ... a journey partner. It was me fighting against becoming a finish-liner. It was me practicing perseverance in a different way.

Discovery and Expectation
As I journeyed through the mountains to and from Auburn, a sweet presence of peace sat upon my soul. Peace -- the "something magnificent" that was waiting for me on the other side of the fight. I haven't felt that in a while. It shifted my exhaustion to gratitude. For the few hours I was able to take in the breathtaking scenery that only God could've designed, I felt nothing but gratitude. I discovered that gratitude lightened my load. Worry subsided and doubt faded. As I allowed myself to bathe in the peace that had fallen upon me, my limbs loosened and my anxiety lessened. I decided on Day 17 of this fast that I was going to expect an attitude of gratitude from myself, always.  My smile widened and the kick boxer in me stood up strong and proud. What a fight?! A guy at work said I looked like I had just won the lotto! If only he knew! lol I may be broke until midnight, but I have an attitude of gratitude. Even when life gets hard (and it will) and I have no clue how to dig myself out of the hole that I'm in, I'll maintain an attitude of gratitude. If I'm lucky, I'll even have some journey partners to help dig with me!

7/5/16 - I am expecting a bridge (to carry me from my passion to my placement)
7/6/16 - I am expecting an action plan (to discover or create a plan for building that bridge)
7/7/16 - I am expecting a God-ordained partnership (to help me get to my placement)
7/8/16 - I am expecting a financial blessing (that will free me up to focus)
7/9/16 - I am expecting patience (in the process)
7/10/16 - I am expecting a fresh wind (of inspiration and motivation)
7/11/16 - I am expecting a new job (to support me on the journey)
7/12/16 - I am expecting vulnerability (to receive everything God has for me).
7/13/16 - I am expecting reconciliation 

7/14/16 - I am expecting transparency
715/16 - I am expecting suffering
7/16/16 - I am expecting intercession (on God's behalf)
7/17/16 - I am expecting courage
7/18/16 - I am expecting strength (to get me through the breaking point)
7/19/16 - I am expecting a miracle
7/20/16 - I am expecting rest (at the end of this fast because I'm exhausted)
7/21/16 - I am expecting and attitude of gratitude, always


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