By Takiya Smith
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It has been close to two months since my last article and as I begin to write, I admit that I have missed these moments. Quiet, private moments where I can put pen to paper and let my soul flow. Since childhood, writing has always been a way of escape, release, peace and expression for me. It’s a God given talent and as I sit here, poolside on a much-needed family vacation, I’m listening to my children’s laughter and the splashing of water, and I now have a newfound purpose to His cause.
Just a week ago I was in the ER, silent but inwardly fearful and believing that I was having a heart attack. Thankfully, after an EKG and some X-rays, I was cleared. However, the underlying cause of my sudden onset of short, painful breaths and tightening in my chest that radiated through my neck, shoulder and left arm were signs of something just as serious. Stress, anxiety and fatigue were my diagnosis. The doctor’s orders: take it easy, give myself a break and relax.
Now, I must admit this is not the first time that this has happened to me, nor is it the first time doctors have said to take a break, yet this time was different. This time, the pain was more severe than ever. This time, the doctor spoke to me with cause for alarm. This time, it hit home that if I did not listen, I could die.
That night, and for the next few days to follow, I re-examined my life and priorities. Since the age of 16, all I have ever done is work. Work to establish myself as a young adult, moving out of a treacherous childhood past. Work at the age of 21, opening and managing my own cleaning company. Work, now as the owner of my own lash and brow spa. Work, work, work, work, work, work, work. Work to support my children. Work to pay the bills. Work to have a future. Work to prove that I am somebody.
Then it hit me. I, Takiya L. Smith, was guilty of being a workaholic. Looking further into my addiction, I realized that after years of succeeding then stumbling, I was working out of fear. Just four years ago, my children and I were homeless. Even though life has come together again, I found that I have secretly tucked away a fear of having to experience that again. So I have worked non-stop, with no boundaries or time for myself and no regard for my body’s health and well being. Furthermore, I was disregarding and alienating my parental duties by feeling as if my excuse of working sufficed my letting my children down, my lack of participation, or my expectation of their understanding of my excessive fatigue.
Now, at a state of wisdom and a peace about God being in control of my life, I have made a self-command to set boundaries and live for today so that I can be here tomorrow. I pray that those of you who can relate will make a choice to do the same. Work is in vain if we are not here to enjoy the fruit of our labors. Our lives are at stake, and our loved ones, friends and our community need and count on us.