Why Growth? Issue 001 Reflection.

by Lauren Ash. Photography by lawrence agyei.

Why this focus on growth? 

I'm not yet a mother, but the birth of Black Girl In Om brings feelings of excitement, anticipation, and elation, which I imagine new mothers experience, as well. The past four months I have stretched in places I didn't even know existed. So much excitement dances around my vision, which has turned into a collective vision that other beautiful souls have helped me manifest. Simultaneous to this excitement, I have experienced discomfort and uncertainty in jumping into this process headfirst: quitting my 9-5, investing countless time, ideas, and resources, building a dynamic team, asking and responding to lots of questions. Last month, in a visioning session co-facilitated with Zakkiyyah (my partner in creativity, wellness, and manifestation) the dialogue we had with an intimate group of open souls led me to a revelation, perhaps simple, but I choose to view it as profound: the purpose of life, a quest for every body and every soul, our task on this earth, is to continuously respond to questions. Not answer the questions, as answering implies there is one right, correct, sound response. But to never stop responding to the big questions life asks of us.

To illuminate this, I think of my Mother. The kindest, most loving and patient soul I have ever known, and will ever know. Self-less and ever-giving, about a month ago she discovered that which many of us fear: cancer. A terrifying, life-taking, unwanted thing. Even discovering this about my Mother took some prying, not because she didn't want to share it, but because she didn't want that news to distract me or my sister from our respective paths in life right now. There she was, faced with her mortality, and she wasn't even thinking of her self. How many of us can say we would do the same? I've heard that mothers are granted with some special love that only they can understand, But I also consider my mother to be in a special state of grace and love in a league all her own (when I was young, growing up in a Christian household, I remember pondering how Jesus could be the only perfect human who walked the earth because I seriously viewed my mother as perfect, too). This desire of hers to keep her news to herself evidenced how much she believed it important to take on that burden all her own and continue to love and support us as she always has. 

Of course during news that shocks your entire being you start to reflect: what has my life accounted to? Who have I been able to bless? If I were to leave this earth today, how would I be remembered? What am I doing with my life, really? My mother has been grappling with these questions, and has also returned to questions life originally asked of her. Over thirty years ago my mother had dreams. Big ones, like I do. Dreams of being an artist (she's a good one, still, even if she refuses to admit it - artistry doesn't die, but remains within your bones). Dreams she buried due to "common sense," family encouragement, and, eventually, daughters. These are the unresponded questions. The questions that demand a response. A lifepath as of yet unlived. 

I firmly believe that in investing in our greatest assetsour selves–we can be better for all those around us. That my mother has been an incredible version of herself despite giving so much away to others is unbelievable and I know I'll see even more beautiful things as she has begun to make necessary strides toward greater self-care and self-love practices. And, interestingly enough, I have seen that when we take greater care of ourselves our souls are then sparked to respond to those unanswered questions stirring within us and around us

As many (black) mothers do, my mother made enormous sacrifices for her family at her own expense. A question I've asked repeatedly during the past several years as my own interest in wellness intensified: what have you done for yourself today? Most days, she couldn't answer that question. My mother made a brave decision last week and now the cancer is gone. Thank God. And now, she is beginning a new journey. Faced with mortality, she is now returning to something she considered thirty years ago: responding to the first questions life asked of her. The original ones, before life asked her to be a wife, a mother, a hardworking bad-ass boss. The first questions included "won't you become an artist?" and "why not travel the world?" And a whole host of other things that get her excited. This is how we expand. This is how we grow. 

How have you experienced a correlation between investing in self-care and your ability to engage with your purpose in life? Let me know: Lauren@blackgirlinom.com.

If you're in Chicago, I invite you to join me at our next vision+yoga workshop on Saturday, April 11th, where we will share the visions we have for our lives, and manifest them together. All attendees of BGIO visioning sessions are invited to come to our first ManiFEASTing Brunch, set for late April.

Lawrence Agyei is a Chicago based photographer from Ghana. He is a 24 year old, trilingual visionary, capturing essence in each shot. His work has been featured in Rolling Stones Magazine and the VSCO Journal. Follow Lawrence on Tumblr, VSCO, and Flickr