Updated: Feb 14, 2022
A distinct memory of my childhood was desiring to go to Hillman College and live in this collegiate dream that played out in A Different World. This was the first time many Black kids had been exposed to real life higher education - college, with intellectual Black people - and I loved it! Although I couldn’t fully identify with her, as someone growing up on the other side of the Southern tracks, I adored Whitley Gilbert’s character as this well-to-do Southern belle, full of sass. One of my favorite episodes was with the illuminating Debbie Allen playing Dr. Langhorne who was Whitley Gilbert’s therapist.
PAUSE - let’s take in the fact that the show was ahead of its time because Black people partaking in therapy was definitely taboo at this time.
Anyway, as Whitley whines about her relationship with Dwayne, Debbie Allen’s character stands, does this hilariously funny movement and advises Whitley to practice one of the show's coined phrases, “relax, relate, release!”
If you’ve missed this humorous moment, click below to see it in action:
With less than a month left in this year, I will take a page from Dr. Langhorne's book and suggest that we all have to find time to ‘relax, relate, release’ for a strong finish to 2021!
RELAX - Create White Space
I have to start this piece by saying thank you for seeing the end of yet another unpredictable year. With so many highs and lows, life and death, we have to take a moment to celebrate where we are - amongst the land of the living, in the words of my great-grandmother!
It was so poignant that Dr. Langhorne advised Whitley to relax, because in order to create a game plan for future success we have to take a moment to stop, rest, and recharge. We are so conditioned to believe that our resilience comes from nonstop busyness, but at some point you will burnout. In one of my former roles, we used to call our mental free days ‘white space,’ which often gave us the clarity to ideate. This critical period of rest allows you to unravel the mental pretzel happening in our minds, so that you can see a clear path forward. Take a staycation, do a weekend getaway, tidy up your office or file extra papers lying around, and just chill. For the busybody amongst us, this may sound counterproductive but you can’t set your sights on the horizon if you don’t have a clear vision. So RELAX!
RELATE - Stroll Down Memory Lane
After your rest period, take a moment to relate or reconnect back to yourself by looking over your year. It’s okay to take a stroll down memory lane every once in a while, but don’t pull over and camp out there. This reflection point is a critical moment of clarity that tells you where you’ve been, how you got there, what places to avoid, and the steps towards your way forward. Centering into your truest self is also important to ensure you are designing a path set for you and no one else. I love the end of the year because you get to draft your next masterpiece. Our lives are ever-changing so this is the time you get to truly flip the script and write the bestselling version of your life. Remember mediocre is pretty full, and you are looking to ride that elevator up to excellence, so make time to RELATE!
RELEASE - Let It Go
Now that you have reflected on the year, let go of those things, people and places that will keep you from growing - PURGE. This is your time to shine, but don’t give up on the things that didn’t manifest this year. There is a time and a season for everything in your life, and sometimes this can be the most difficult part. Releasing whatever is no longer beneficial to your life is cleansing and essential if you are planning to walk along your path of greatness.
You have one more month, so make it count, and know that everything happens exactly when and how it’s supposed to manifest in your life. All you have to do is put in the work and stay the course, let go of joy slayers and surround yourself with joymakers, and seize the goals that align with your path and those that don’t, you can RELEASE!
Finish strong in 2021 and 'relax, relate, release'! A little more humor below...