I have read a lot of African American biography in my academic lifetime. Nothing has ever been so thrilling, so inspiring, so thought provoking, or so awe-inspiring than reading about the lives of women who came of age in difficult times. Women who survived and even thrived under incredible pressure. Whatever your politics or personal views, I challenge anyone to read about women like Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Dorothy Height, or Anna Julia Cooper without being deeply impressed by their grit, their determination, their constant striving.
That said, nothing has ever made me feel like more of a slacker in my life than Open Wide the Freedom Gates: A Memoir by Dorothy Height. Of course I would recommend it-just be forewarned. Ms. Height had accomplished more as a teenager than many of us will in a lifetime. I read it in my early twenties and it made me a little melancholy.
I wanted a life. Of course I have a life or I wouldn't be writing or blathering about my tiny little problems on the internet. I don't even mean to say I want a life like Dorothy Height's. I suppose it would be most accurate to say I want a LIFE. Italicized and underlined.
What does that mean? At the end of my life-when I'm cramming for that exit exam and get all lame and religious-I want to look back on my life and have moments that are cause for real concern. That line was mostly for giggles. Really, I want to look back on my life and have moments, moments that are just mine and precious to me because they meant that I was there.
I was a witness.
I have been working hard on rebuilding the life I had and recovering myself. Now it is time to focus on moving forward. My thirty before thirty list is about completing the work of recovery and beginning the work of moving forward.
- Prioritize mental health
- Establish a meditation practice
- Write a short fiction story
- Write a short non-fiction story
- Join a book club
- Write a poem
- Take a writing class
- Learn an Olympic lift
- Paint a watercolor art piece.
- Post three times a week here
- Certify in another teaching field
- Be a poll worker in a presidential election
- Establish a research project
- Get a Maine Coon cat*
- Paint and decorate a room in my home
- Reconnect with
- My mother
- My brother
- My grandmother
- My aunt Shawna
- My big little sister
- My little little sister
- My aunt Flora
- Make a new friend
- Take a day vacation
- Get a massage
- Get my hair done at a salon
- Create a new family tradition
- Clean out my closets
- Get a tattoo
If I had to break this list into categories it would roughly section into: unfinished business, reclaiming the past, focusing on the future, and making home and family.
I will probably write more about each of these as I accomplish them.
*No this is not code for baby. This is code for handsome cat.