2016: Year of Awesome

After seeing post after post of people constantly saying on social media how 2016 was such a bad year, one of my friends asked on her timeline who among us had a good year. That prompted me to do an inventory of my year and I have to admit 2016 was definitely the year of awesome for me. Not because I finally hit the lottery or because I found the solution to world peace but because I did one thing. I decided to be happy, no matter what. I made a conscious decision to live in the light!

What does that mean, “live in the light?” To me, it’s my new philosophy for not getting bogged down by whatever life throws my way. Not bad health, not heartache, not financial headaches, nothing, and I mean nothing, can come between me and my happiness.

It’s no secret that my teens, 20s, 30s, well most of my life, have been filled with tremendous ups and downs. Depression and zero coping skills have led me to crash and burn more times than I can even count but, when I turned 40, I said to myself nothing will ever again keep me from my happiness. I made a promise to myself to stop beating myself up, to stop worrying so much about getting validation from others, and to just listen to my own mind and my own heart. I told myself that it was okay if I made a bad move. I reminded myself of all the things I had lived without for a long time. I reminded myself of the many times I felt that if love left me I couldn’t go on, but did.

Life really is truly more about how you respond to the things that happen to you than the things themselves. I simply came to a point where I said to myself, either continue on this roller coaster or choose to stop. And, stop is exactly what I did. When I say I chose to live in the light, that is exactly what I mean. I started focusing on my strengths, not my weaknesses. I surrounded myself with those who loved me and stop worrying about making new friends. I did what I wanted to do with my time and forgot about having a fancy title and a nice office. If I was hurting, I did everything I could to push past the pain and keep pushing forward. And voilà, I’ve been “living my life like it’s golden ever since!”

Ladies Luggage and Lipstick Conference

2016 Highlights:

1) January, hosted a press conference at the National Press Club.
2) March, featured in a documentary celebrating the 35th anniversary of Humanities DC.
3) May, selected as a World Learning Leadership Development Fellow.
4) June, began working for myself full-time.
5) June, returned to Egypt after 3 years.
6) July, traveled to Ghana.
7) July, traveled to London.
8) August, traveled to Nashville and spoke at Ladies, Lipstick, and Luggage, alongside Adriane Alfred.
9) August, returned to Egypt for a 4th time.
10) August, traveled to Munich.
11) October, celebrated 41 years of life.
12) November, invited to and attended the Kind Foundation’s Social Entrepreneurship Summit in New York.
13) November, co-wrote a book with Seneca Gates.
14) December, launched Parra Fdn’s project in Colombia.

Plus, I met some pretty amazing people this year (Yasmine Arrington, Cassandra Burton, Odette Forbes, Julia Wilton, Cha Jones, Jose Molina, and many other wonderful folks)!
Yep. I’d say it’s been an awesome year!