Lifestyle

I do my best to stay firmly rooted in who I am. I work hard at maintaining a sense of self for me. I’ve done a lot of work on myself through journaling, affirmations, prayer, therapy, and daily routines to develop my sense of self. I’ve worked hard through these media to build confidence, self-esteem, acceptance, and congruence in my life.

At the core of who I am is my identity which is firmly rooted in Jesus Christ. I am fully aware that I am a child of God and that my single purpose is to do His will. I live my life with the understanding that I am here for a reason and for a purpose and my goal is to keep fulfilling that purpose until the day that I leave this earth.

Consequently, I follow this adage daily by recognizing that I am always serving others. Whether in my various personal and professional roles as mother, wife, daughter, sister, relative, friend, therapist, writer, mental health advocate, or educator, I recognize that I am always interacting, helping, teaching, guiding, and sharing with others.  Along the way, I’ve identified four key principles and values that govern my life. These values function as filters for my decision-making, for my goals, for my ideas and plans, and for the way that I live my life.

These core life values are:

Abundance

Purpose

Service

Legacy

It has taken me a long time to identify and simplify my core life values but the journey has been worth it. These 4 values help me to see the world more clearly and they hold me accountable with every decision that I make. Building core values into your life is essential if your desire is to live a life that you love.

Developing personal core values helps you to manage your time more wisely, invest in relationships that grow you, reduce interactions with people who are toxic, uncompassionate, and whose values are not aligned with yours, and teaches you to make wise decisions that align with the future you are trying to build for yourself.

Let me break down the 4 values that I’ve identified for myself.

  • Abundance: As a Believer, my core value is that Jesus came so that I may experience life abundantly, not just when I go to heaven but also here on earth. I recognize that there are ups and downs to life, but abundance is my most important value. It reminds me that it is perfectly alright to prioritize peace of mind, joy, fulfillment, compassion, and love in my life because all these things are from God. Yes, abundance does include financial stability, and it also includes health and wellness.
  • Purpose: An extension of my belief and faith in God is that He has a purpose for everyone. I was raised in the church but left for a period of time when I questioned my faith and relationship with God. However, this belief has been renewed and in doing so, I no longer believe in accidents. I believe that God has a purpose for everyone. I believe that we are all here for a specific reason and it is our job to live a life in pursuit of this purpose. Everyone’s purpose is different and that’s the joy of life.
  • Service: Service is essential. As humans, we are interconnected. The sooner we learn and accept this fact, the sooner our lives become more rounded, fulfilling, and determined. Service allows us to care for each other and to increase the joy in our own lives. As a Believer, this is a clear mandate from God. We are to glorify God and care for others because of our love of God.
  • Legacy: Legacy is of utmost importance for me. As an immigrant from Jamaica, it is vital to me to pass my culture down to my children. I want them to know their culture, to know their heritage, and to be firmly rooted in these concepts so that they know who they are. It is also extremely important to leave my children with an understanding of health and wellness, as well as financial provisions. As Blacks, one of the biggest detriments that slavery has caused is the lack of resources. We are working from deficits because we do not have ownership to pass down to future generations. This is another area that I am heavily focused on in my own life.

I hope hearing about my own personal core values will encourage you to consider this concept for yourself. We must understand and heal from our past to help us clearly identify a future for ourselves. We also cannot overlook the present for it is what brings us joy and motivation for the future.

Breast Cancer

My story has expanded over the last year with the addition of this health journey. Upon administering my own self-examination, I discovered a lump in my left breast in the spring of 2022.

On June 8th, I was diagnosed with Stage II Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) is a rare form of cancer that affects approximately 13 in 100,000 women per the Cleveland Clinic. TNBC represents approximately 15% of invasive breast cancers per the Cleveland Clinic. TNBC means that this type of breast cancer does not present with the cell receptors for estrogen, progesterone, and the HER2 protein. TNBC tends to appear frequently in women aged 40 and younger, and in Black and Latina women. It may also present in women who have the BRCA1 gene mutation.

While I am now approaching the end of my treatment, it is very important for me to share my experience with others. As a Black woman, I understand the fear of going for regular check ups. However, I get the value and necessity of doing so. With this diagnosis, doing the regular check ups that my ob/gyn always encouraged me to do has quite literally saved my life. Following up with my doctor after I found my lump dramatically increased my chances of survival.

Following 6 months of chemotherapy from August 2022 to February 2023, I had my surgery in April 2023. I will continue a few more treatments until September 2023. And when treatment ends, I still have to be monitored for approximately 5 years for reoccurrence of breast cancer as is the standard of care. Additionally, there is a very high reoccurrence rate for this specific type of breast cancer. You can read more about my experience with breast cancer here.

Hence, continuous vigilance is a necessity. With sharing this health journey, the 4 values identified above (Abundance, Purpose, Service, Legacy) are even more essential because I have been given a second chance at life.

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