As my 27th birthday approaches, I find myself in a reflective state. You may be thinking “at 26 or 27, what does she know?” People are generally shocked when they find out how old I am because of the level of maturity that I display personally and professionally. I am certainly not tooting my own here but these are the facts. I always tell people that I have lived a lot of life in short amount of time; I don’t know if that’s a good thing or bad thing but I know it has all worked for my good and made me who I am today. At the present time, I am nearing the end of a very strategic, God-ordained healing journey. It has been so necessary, so freeing and eye opening! I now know that it was all to not just make me feel better but to actually make me better in preparation for the next stage of life. At first I could not think of 26 things to share with you but I simply asked God to give me what to say. There are so many things that go unsaid in a time and to a generation that is ruled by selfishness and getting all that you can get. I am so excited about this next year of my life spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally, financially and relationally. Every year I find myself reflecting on the previous year of life because for some reason, the beginning of each year (end of Winter/beginning of Spring) is always challenging. It is a time of pruning and blossoming. Some of the lessons are no-brainers, others are personal and some will cause you to think critically about your own life. Here is what the last 350+ days have produced:
1.    Pray Daily – Carve out time in your day to pray in a quiet place so that you can speak to God and He can hear clearly from you. Whatever this amount of time is per day, be disciplined enough to commit to it. 
2.    Drive Slow – Literally. I actually learned this lesson the hard way and ended up in a 6 month long legal battle (attorneys, attorney’s fees, warrants, alladat!) in a state that is 800 miles away which totally changed my perspective on responsibility. If you are running late, you are already late. It is better to apologize for being a few minutes late than to end up in court, or worse, jail!
3.    Take Mental Health Days – You will see the theme of apologizing less repeated throughout this blog because it is okay to be selfish with your wellbeing. Take days off to not think or do anything…and do not apologize for it! I recommend one per month. 
4.    Develop a Life Vision Statement – “What is that?”, you may ask. You need to become very clear about what the purpose is for your entire life. For me, I am clear that my purpose is to help women, business owners or women in business. If an opportunity falls into my lap that does not fit my life vision statement, I can’t do it. Simple as that! 
5.    Learn to Say “No” – And, be okay with it. When you are clear about what the purpose is for your life and the work that you do, anything that does not fit must go. If you don’t want to go to the event, hang out with that group or commit to that activity; don’t. Let your no be your no and your yes be your yes. 
6.    Take Risks – Life really is all about taking calculated risks. I am not telling you to jump out of a plane without a parachute but be willing to step out of your comfort zone. Try new things like learning a new craft, taking a course that you’ve always been interested or going on a blind date! 
7.    Create Opportunities Where They Don’t Exist – Sometimes God will crack a door and you have to kick it in. My daily prayer is that God would set up the opportunities and I will knock them down. (Yes, I literally ask God to set ‘em up and I’ll know ‘em down LOL) Don’t limit yourself to what people say they need but analyze situations for opportunities to share your knowledge or ability. 
8.    Feel the Fear & Do It Anyway – Fear is inevitable but it takes less energy to be courageous than it does to be fearful. So, choose today where you want to direct your energy. The uncertainty is going to come so why not take the risk anyway?
9.    Read for Pleasure – Carve out 30-45 minutes to read a book of your choice before going to bed.
10.    Don’t Waste Time – Stop procrastinating and wasting time. You know what you are doing tha tis wasting time *side eye* You cannot get back one minute of time so utilize each minute to do something that is making you a better person, making you happy and/or building the legacy that you want to leave for others. 
11.    You are Not Enough – Yeah, I said it…but hear me out! This was one of the most heartbreaking lessons because it caused me to really own my humanness and to respect God’s divinity even more! You, yes you, will NEVER be enough to save someone who does not want to be saved. I remember being so hurt and thinking to myself “If he says he loves me, then why won’t he change?” God answered quickly and said “because you are not enough.” That is His job, His power and His ability. You can’t keep that loved one from doing drugs, that friend from going back to the abusive relationship and you can’t keep that co-worker from speaking ill of you. That is a work that God has to do. Learn when to sit back, be still and let Him fight for you. 
12.    Exit Unhealthy Relationships Quickly – Ohhh God! Yes! This is one of my favorites and I am actually speaking about romantic and platonic relationships. Anyone who truly knows me knows that I am very cut and dry and most things with me are black and white; no grey area. So, if you see that a relationship is going nowhere and that it is not productive then LEAVE! As women we always think that we can change those around us and begin to look at relationships as projects. If there is any type of relationship that you are in that is not mutually beneficial then leave…today! 
13.    Take Time to Learn Yourself – This year has been all about this! I didn’t realize how much I did not know myself until I started this healing journey. The way I grew up and the experiences I have had caused me to be stuck in certain ways and I would always say “I am very clear on what I want and don’t want” *rolls eyes* puh-lease! You will encounter new experiences daily that shape who you are before you can ever determine what you want. Be open to this process!
14.    Be Honest with Yourself and God – As you are learning yourself, you first have to be vulnerable and recognize that you need help. You need help to work through all of the emotions and thoughts that come with discovering who you are. Transparency is key. 
15.    Walk in Your Truth – I have seen so many step outside of who they really are to be accepted. I recently had a conversation with some friends and one of them stated that people often feel that because your struggle is not their struggle that your struggle isn’t as real. Be who you are and be okay with where you are in life. 
16.    Go on Dates – Lots ‘o dates! If no one wants to take you on a date, take yourself on one. At 26, you should be dating and having fun. It does not matter if that is with one person exclusively or as many people as you want! 
17.    Do What Makes You Happy – I am at the place in my life where the most important thing is that I please God and do what makes me happy. That may sound selfish but actually a lot of what makes me happy involves helping others. I do what I want, when I want, where I want, with who I want and still honor God! 
18.    Set Boundaries – R-E-S-P-E-C-T. People treat you the way that you allow them to treat you. If someone is overstepping boundaries and not giving you the respect that you deserve, it is because you are allowing them to do so. Contrary to popular belief, you cannot be everything to everyone at the same time. 
19.    Life is Short – As a brain surgery survivor, I recognized at a young age that life can truly be over today or tomorrow. Something as simple as changing the way you drive to work or going to a place you don’t normally go can lead to a freak accident that could end your life. This not to scare anyone but to motivate you all to live your fullest life today. Do as much as you can fit into this one day that makes you happy.
20.    Be Kind – Being kind will come naturally at times and at others it won’t but I encourage you to make a daily commitment to consciously do something that is nice for someone else. 
21.    Take Care of Your Health – Not just physical but also spiritual, mental and emotional health. Protect your space, eat right, exercise, pray and surround yourself with people and places that breathe life into you. No one will ever make you a priority like you make yourself a priority. 
22.    Go For It – If you have a dream of any type, go after it. Whatever your new goal is, make a plan on how you are going to achieve it. You don’t have to wait on anyone to give you permission to live your best life now. 
23.    Live Honorably – Never let your good be spoken ill of and don’t give people reason to talk negatively about you. When you live a good and honorable life, it will be easy to ignore the words of the haters and naysayers. 
24.    Thank Your Support System – Gratitude is so important. The more grateful you are, the more you open yourself up to receive. My friends and family have been beyond supportive. I appreciate it so much because there was a time when I didn’t have this many people rallied behind me. People don’t have to be nice to you so be sure to tell them thank you when they do nice things. 
25.    Listen to Your Parents – Or the wise people in your life.  You will never be too old to not listen to those who are wiser than you. I am beyond grateful to have amazing parents who pray for me and have experienced enough life to tell me things. Had I listened more at a younger age, I could have saved myself from a lot of trouble and heartache. 
26.    Learn to Drive – Not literally. Learn to be in the driver’s seat of life. Take control of your life and don’t let others dictate your future. Had I known this at an earlier age, I never would have gone to college to get a degree I don’t use…just saying! 
As I typed, more and more came to me so I actually had to cut out nearly 20 lessons! (Insider Secret: You can find them in my upcoming literary work, PrayedUp: The Gratitude Journal.) This blog was an emotional one. I shed some tears, laughed at myself and most of all was grateful that I am getting ready to step into 27; whole and free!