Despite the surreal and the tragic this year, there were many things that gave me hope, made me feel good, and inspired me to give a shout-out to the fabulous souls that made life a little sweeter for me. Here are just a few of the highlights of 2017 for me:
I discovered Audible! As a result, I “read” so many wonderful books! I’m giving high fives to my three favorites:
- Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime. This book must be experienced by hearing the brilliantly funny Noah narrate the story of his growing up poor in South Africa with his extraordinary mother during apartheid—his gift for languages, accents, impersonations have made me a huge fan.
- Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness, had me crying and rooting for this beautifully heroic transwoman.
- I was on a stationary bike when I finished Jodi Picoult’s book Small Great Things, about a black nurse accused of letting the baby of a white supremacists die on her watch. It was nail biting and, believe it or not, I found some understanding for the “white nationalist.” Now that’s good writing.
I ate and drank my face off—it’s not what you think! Highlights included winery-hopping with my sister in Virginia, and spa-ing nearby at The Salamander,a beautiful, black women-owned hotel and spa. We were celebrating my sister’s awesome earning of her PH.D—the first ever in our family. Back in Baltimore, brunching became a sport at the beautiful, newly-opened Pendry Hotel, where I had THE MOST UNREAL MEAL OF MY LIFE: melt-in-your-mouth croissants, polenta waffles with pancetta-pecan crumble and whiskey whipped cream (It was a cheat day, by the way). Shout-out to our fabulous server, Alexis,named after the character on Dynasty (I was about to break out my shoulder-pads!) who made the meal even tastier—conversation is the ultimate ingredient! But don’t worry, I haven’t gone all fancy: I’m still a Starbucks super-fan. I was doing a happy dance (picture Elaine from Seinfeld) when Starbucks then-CEO Howard Schultz personally replied to an article I wrote for Refinery 29 thanking him for all his contributions, which have made the world around us better.
I felt the wind in my face. Being outdoors is therapeutic for me, and this year I got myself outside. Working in NYC, I took to the jewel of Central Park as often as I could. AND I FINALLY bought a new bicycle from a lovely bike shop in B-more, Twenty 20. It’s a superfast, carbon bike and it was my splurge of the year. It was worth every single penny, though, because when I get on that bike I feel invincible—the speed, the green, and the hills are so invigorating. I become a version of myself at the peak of athleticism.
I remembered to breathe…… I was running really fast one day to get to catch a plane and when I got to my seat I found myself making a conscious decision to stop and meditate. The swirl and the noise ceased immediately! One of my goals for 2017 was to be more mindful, and in that moment I thought, “Yay! It’s working!” Believe me, I still have room to grow in this area. (Look for the *** below.)
I purged! That is, I’m currently in the midst of a closet purge, as recommended by Greg McKeown, the author of Essentialism (another illuminating read of 2017). I’m getting rid of those things I never wear but have held onto for way too long, and it feels fantastic! Plus, once you get rid of stuff, you get to buy NEW stuff! I found a pair of sunglasses I love, and bought my first pair of 3-inch, pointy-toed heels. It took me four months to find a pair that was actually comfortable—a must, since I’m always on my feet speaking—but I did it! I also found the perfect backpack—you know how hard that is. It’s from MZ Wallace so it’s quilty and mushy and full of compartments.
I believe I can fly…. My work and personal schedule had me crisscrossing the globe in 2017, and after miles of walking through airports and sailing through the clouds, I am still amazed at the miracle of flying. BIG LOVE to the folks that make it all happen. I saw so many places, from sunny California to colorful Cuba, and made it home safely each and every time. There’s just one issue: ***CUE MORE MINDFULNESS: I seem to have lost a LOT of things in transit, including three sets of headphones, a mini clothes steamer I’d just bought, my black wool cape, and those perfect new sunglasses. (If anyone finds any of my stuff please tweet me @VernaMyers or facebook me @VernaMyersSpeaker or hit me on IG @VernaMyers…if this sounds like I’m begging for followers, I am, BUT, I’d really like my stuff back!)
Music made my world go round. A true high point of the year for me was going with my son and his girl to the AFROPUNK festival in Brooklyn this past August, where I saw two of my favorite new musicians, Sampha and Anderson Paak. Sampha is so creative and haunting and soothing—I took his music with me to the dentist’s chair! And Anderson Paak just makes me feel young. His music reminds me of the romance of the West Coast—that feeling you get riding down the Pacific Coast Highway (when the traffic isn’t horrendous). I also discovered Laura Mvula, a Brit with a gorgeous, deep voice, full of so much love.
I’m building a brand—and it remains uncomfortable but I like it…kind of…. I’ve had a lot of joy around my work this year. I’ve keynoted at places that wow me and I feel so lucky to be doing what I love. People have showed up and said I need to share that love and joy with others, and I have a team who pushes me to own who I am and what I’m all about. I’m turning into a “Brand,” apparently, which is strange, since my company is twenty years old, but it’s also kind of cool. This includes my new weekly #AskVernaLive Facebook event (something I never thought I’d feel comfortable doing!), and putting the catchphrase I coined front and center in my work: Diversity is being invited to the party, but inclusion is being asked to dance.TM
My hope for 2018, for myself and for all of us, is that we keep looking for the good in ourselves and others and choose to create even more good by deciding to “dance” with as many new people, ideas, and experiences as possible. Peace and Blessings! See you in 2018!
P.S. If you are not watching Queen Sugar or This Is Us, stop what you’re doing immediately, get on your couch, get some tasty snacks and begin the binge! Oprah, Ava and whoever else is writing the words coming out of any of the Pearsons’ mouths: I ADORE YOU!!!!