Sankofa: Looking Back, Moving Forward

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In 2012 I got my first (only) tattoo. At the age of 28. One of my closest friends got the same tattoo, in the same place, on the same day. The decision to get our first tattoos together was a bit impulsive, as the idea arose as we were driving by a tattoo spot with a bunch of our other close girlfriends during a weekend getaway in Charlotte, NC. Initially we had no idea what tattoo to get, or where to put it, but intended to get something that was meaningful to both of us and symbolized our journey as friends (especially through the enormous torture known as graduate school).

After a few minutes of flipping through my mental rolodex, I suggested we get the Adinkra symbol for Sankofa, meaning “go back and get it”. The proverb “se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenki” (“it is not taboo for you to go back and get what you forgot”) is represented by a bird reaching back on its body for an egg. It’s thought to mean you reclaim or take the good of your past to move forward. I also suggested the heart-shaped version of Sankofa be placed on the inside of our wrists – as the hands/arms are physically used to reach back.

For me, the Sankofa symbol/concept was the only one worth permanently etching on my body. I lived Sankofa. My past is an important part of my future. Through the soul-draining challenges I experienced in grad school, I became painfully aware of myself. Where I’d come from. Who I was and who/what shaped me. Who I wanted to be. Where I wanted to go. And the revelations were liberating.

As I look back on 2013, I acknowledge what a good year this has been for me. Things weren’t perfect, but I have no regrets. I will enter 2014 on a high note.

2013 Highlights

  • My first full year living in Portland!! Not easy to make friends when you’re in an adult, living in a city that is NOT diverse. But I met some great people and I’ve been some cool places. I love it here.
  • Witnessing my best friend in the whole world marry the love of her life and standing as her maid of honor.
  • Being hooded and conferred for my PhD during graduation! Man, what a sense of accomplishment. My 2012 defense was traumatic and painful and I didn’t have the opportunity to enjoy my shiny new PhD. But graduation almost a year later made it all feel real, and deserved.
  • Turning 30! And taking an impromptu 36hr trip to San Diego to spend my birthday with my family.
  • Surprising my best friend in the whole world for her 30th birthday in Vegas.
  • Learning to read, write, and speak Farsi. And asking a Persian restaurant owner where the bathroom is in Farsi (“Bebakhshid, dast shooyi kojast?” ببخشید، دست شویی کجاست؟).
  • Having my chapter on ADHD published in a book. Huge accomplishment after only 18 months of my postdoctoral training.
  • Spending Thanksgiving at home in San Diego for the first time since I graduated high school. With the love of my life by my side.
  • Every moment the love of my life was physically by my side.
  • Being appointed to a nonprofit organization’s Board of Directors. Truly an honor and I’m so excited to serve on my first board. Ready to learn and grow.

I have a lot to look forward to in 2014. And since I am a strong proponent for resolutions (be they in January or July) I have a few things I’d like to resolve/accomplish (and I hope my readers are willing to hold me accountable!).

2014 To Do List

  • Lose 15lbs before 31. I’m starting the New Year on an extreme cleanse (Why? Why not? Go hard or go home, right?) and joining the last cycle of #SexyShred starting January 9. Time to get back to better nutrition and fitness. Whether or not I can keep the weight off past July 7 is another resolution…
  • F*ck b*tches, get money.
  • Run a 10k. Because #fitness.
  • Get my mile down to 10 or less. I am pretty slow but now that I’ve gotten comfortable with running more than 2 miles, I’m ready to kick it up a notch.
  • Reduce my cc debt by 50%. This will require committed budgeting and lots of prayer.
  • Incorporate more prayer and bible study into my daily/weekly routine. Prayer calls with me girls, bible study with Habibi, daily meditation. All things that make me feel better and closer to God but I don’t do hardly enough.
  • Take 3 “fun” trips. Due to various circumstances, trips outside of SD and DC weren’t very feasible. But I want to make more attempts to travel and see friends/new sights.
  • Blog once a month about my “progress.” Be it progress about my work, fitness, nutrition, spiritual journey – I need to hold myself accountable and reflect on my progress (or lack thereof).
  • Make more lists. I am pretty forgetful and absent-minded. I do much better when I make myself lists and post them where I cannot avoid them. I must do this more. My ability to function in this world personally and professionally depends on this.
  • Spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve (for 2015) with the love of my life. Fate has not allowed us to have either of these holidays together, unfortunately, but I won’t stand for another year under these conditions!!
  • Live out “Partition” – the lyrics or video, either or.

My list is a bit long but very doable. I resolve to accomplish them all!!! I’ve gathered many things, great and small, from 2013 that will enable me to have a great 2014. What are some of your highlights from 2013? Do you have any new year’s resolutions or things you want to accomplish in 2014?

HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR!
-Gem the Go [Back] Getter

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18 thoughts on “Sankofa: Looking Back, Moving Forward

    madscientist7 said:
    December 31, 2013 at 9:54 am

    2013 was a great year for you!! glad I can say i was there for most of those events even tho we live on 2 different coasts. so many accomplishments. i love your 2014 list as well especially the last 2 lolol.

    2013 wasn’t the best year for me but i’m committed to make 2014 even better. my list includes but is not limited to:
    -building my savings to put money towards a down payment on a home.
    -pay off unsecured debt 100%.
    -grow spiritually
    -gain 10lbs of muscle. i’ve already started this journey.

      gemmieboo responded:
      December 31, 2013 at 12:32 pm

      yep yep – I have appreciated your support and presence for most of these things more than you could ever know. i’m so blessed!!

      lol you should like the last 2 things on the list ;-) gotta help me check those off!

      2013 had its rough points, but they were all a set up for a come up!! i’m sure you’ll achieve all your goals this next year. your perseverance, diligence, and passion inspire me. you can do nothing but succeed!!

      I guess your habibti doesn’t make your list, huh??

        madscientist7 said:
        December 31, 2013 at 3:34 pm

        i’m down for the cause. gotta help when i can.

        thank you I’m definitely ready for a come up!! you didn’t see the “includes but not limited to” part? of course habibti makes the list. matter of fact habibti has seen the full list. lolol

    Wu Young, Agent of M.E. said:
    December 31, 2013 at 10:15 am

    2013 high points:
    1. Marriage. Balls to the walls awesome! If I may quote my bro-in-law Major Gonzalez “The most fun you can have without beer.”
    2. Started getting back into shape. Slowly but surely I’m getting back into fighting shape whether my f**king elbow likes it or not.
    3. Peace- My siblings and I finally got the emotional release we needed during my wedding after a rough three years.

    2014 plans
    1. Take Moneypenny on a honeymoon.
    2. I WILL NOT SELL GUNS FOR @ethiopianboy again. I’m not afraid of him.
    3. I’m going to finish my novel. Why the f*** not?
    4. Purchase a new vehicle.
    5. Get my sleeve tattoo.
    6. Save as much scrilla as possible.
    7. I kind of low key want my concealed weapon permit.
    8. Keep slamming Caddy doors.

      madscientist7 said:
      December 31, 2013 at 10:40 am

      lolol at selling guns. i’m getting a 1/2 sleeve. what are you getting?

        Wu Young, Agent of M.E. said:
        December 31, 2013 at 10:42 am

        I want a half sleeve centered around a breast cancer ribbon. I’m still trying to design the rest of it.

        madscientist7 said:
        December 31, 2013 at 11:09 am

        niiice. i want mine centered around my country. coat of arms to go with what I already have: africa with nigeria shaded in.

        Wu Young, Agent of M.E. said:
        December 31, 2013 at 11:21 am

        Dope. I’m trying to fit SC’s state motto into the tat also. “dum spiro spero spes” which means “While I Breathe I Hope”

        madscientist7 said:
        December 31, 2013 at 3:36 pm

        thats dope of sc. finally i can say that. no shade to your state but shade.

        Wu Young, Agent of M.E. said:
        December 31, 2013 at 3:52 pm

        *shrugs* We have a dope motto. I could be from Texas or Mississippi. Then again evey where has their something.

      gemmieboo responded:
      December 31, 2013 at 12:37 pm

      yayyy for your 2013!!! i’m so happy for you and Mrs. Moneypenny and really glad to hear you and your siblings are at peace. that is a blessing.

      any ideas on where you’re gonna take MP for the HM? lmbo @ not sell guns for B. those E. Africans are scary… NBR is patiently waiting for this book – GET ON IT! I really want to learn how to use a gun first before I can move on to owning and carrying one.

        Wu Young, Agent of M.E. said:
        December 31, 2013 at 1:24 pm

        I’m thinking about New Orleans. I’m telling y’all that TDA isn’t who y’all think he is. I’m doing my best on the book but there’s nothing worse than blowing all your mental energy for the bosses then come home to blank pages. I mainly want my permit to use it as a middle finger to the right showing them a southern, liberal black man can use the 2nd Amendment and not be a raving zealot about it. #causedf#!#em

    MsEvahoney said:
    December 31, 2013 at 10:51 am

    Great post and goals love! My 2013 was up and down but towards the end, I started to find some peace and clarity within myself. It is so wonderful to accept and love yourself just the way you are. It has taken me almost 33 yrs to feel this but man the freedom!

    2014 goals:
    – Move to Atlanta and go to Georgia State for Public Health
    – Commit to self care which will be including WLS in March
    – Going to church more and practice meditation
    – Start on my path to financial freedom
    – Love me even more!

      MsEvahoney said:
      December 31, 2013 at 11:08 am

      One of my goals was to buy a new car Next year but I purchased one last weekend!

        gemmieboo responded:
        December 31, 2013 at 12:39 pm

        niiiice!!! what kind?

      gemmieboo responded:
      December 31, 2013 at 12:39 pm

      I am so happy you are happy and feeling free sis!!! I know things haven’t always been easy but you have everything it takes to get past the not so good and move on to the GREAT. I pray that all of your 2014 goals come true. habibs and I will be some of the first to come visit you in the A!! you got this!!

        MsEvahoney said:
        December 31, 2013 at 1:31 pm

        Thank you so much! I bought a 2012 Impala cause Im a G lol

    Amy Juicebox said:
    January 26, 2014 at 9:01 am

    Ow owwww at the last one! ;)

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