Honoring Her Life

Every year , March rolls around and it’s always a bit different and off -kilter for me . March is the anniversary month of Granny’s passing.  This year was no different. Year one   was hard as expected. I didn’t expect year two to be as difficult as it was. Year two was even more difficult in the sense that her death and the fact that she’s not coming back was solidified more in the second year than the first. Year three hasn’t been without its struggles. There are still many moments where I’m heartbroken that I can’t physically talk to her , that she’s not here to experience life with and that I can’t sit with her as she gushes out an unending supply of wisdom.

This year , I honored her in a similar way as I did last year, a T-Bone steak! It was just my luck ( and I’d like to think a little gift from Granny) that steaks were on-sale for $7/pound. I added a side of macaroni salad from the deli , another one of her indulgences. Granny would have been proud. I also spent the  day looking through pictures and watching the video we were able to put together as a farewell at her funeral. This, I also do annually, sometimes several times a year.

I remember how my prayers changed when she passed. I remember feeling like not only were my prayers not being answered, but not even heard. A wise word from my therapist provided a bit of a salve to my aching heart. ” You never know the prayers our loved ones are whispering for themselves.” Perhaps.

 

Perhaps , Granny had seen all she wanted, laughed to her heart’s content and ached enough for 10 lifetimes and  had prayed for her  soul’s rest.

The way that Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon  character, Pilate ,loves reminds me so much of my Granny. Pilate’s final words were,“I wish I’d a knowed more people, I would of loved ‘em all. If I’d a knowed more, I would a loved more”

Oh Granny, they woulda loved you , too. Until we meet again…

 

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The Birth of A New Year

” We’re overwhelmed because we don’t know where to start and afraid because we don’t know how long it will take.”

This quote  overheard on a podcast seemed to sum up everything I was feeling  within 20 words. The list of overwhelming things range from laundry to career to weight loss to entrepreneurship.When it comes to laundry, where do I start in the humongous pile? Should I take a class, start writing that web-series or send out a nifty picture postcard to further my career?  Cardio, weigh-lifting, calorie-counting or low-carb for the best weight-loss solution?  Do I get a business license, create designs, or secure a website first before diving into entrepreneurship?

Then, how long will it take before I can get the results I want, results I can be proud of. Laundry is a finite task , but career, weight loss, and entrepreneurship are very much life-long journeys. How long will it take to be successful? Weeks, Months, Years, Forever?

As I cross the threshold and head into a new year, in some ways, I felt like I accomplished more in 2015 and suffered less.  Just as I felt like I was getting back to myself, 2016 came with some heavy hitters that I was not prepared to go to bat with. I suffered some in 2016 and I let the pain of life change who I was and not for the better. I was vengeful, bitter and full of resentment. And yet, but for the grace of God, here I am . I am not as afraid now as I was heading into 2016. The struggles of 2016 have given me a new perspective. If I can survive that year, then what have I got to lose? What can’t I make it through?

I know that change always starts within and so there are some inner workings that must be re-done and re-wired and even  uprooted from the very core of me. What new story do I tell myself everyday that gives me permission to have and do all of the things that are etched in my heart and soul?I’m writing it as we speak. I have no idea how long any of this will take, but I know that not starting at all will always leave me behind, afraid and wishing I had gone for it.

As we watch one year exit, we blow out the candles and birth in a new one. May the light of love always be shining brightly upon your face even in the darkest hour. May you stand on the shoulders of your previous successes ,pridefully .May you recognize the valleys of failure , humbly . May those in this realm and the next push you past fear and encourage you to take that next step.

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Gracefully, 

Candice

 

 

 

 

Are you overwhelmed heading into the new year? What’s the first step you’re taking towards your dreams?  Are you fired up for the new year? What started that fire?  Share below!

Going Public

A few weeks ago, I did something I almost never do. I shared some pretty awesome news  about my career rather prematurely.  I normally share last minute when it comes to realized dreams. I rarely post about the rehearsal process when I’m doing a gig because of  FEAR.  I’m afraid of getting fired from a gig and I’m also afraid of not being supported. It looks crazy reading it over in print. I’ve never been fired from a gig (at least not that I can remember) and friends and family are normally pretty darn supportive of me.

I realize that these are both major signs of someone dealing with some issues. Brene Brown refers to  these moments as “the other shoe dropping”. The whole concept of whoa, there are some pretty awesome things happening right now. I don’t deserve this. Something bad is going to happen and it will all be taken away which will prove the point that I didn’t deserve it in the first place.

Going public initially seemed like a good idea. But then people started liking the post, and commenting , and sharing for other people to like and comment and share and like and comment and share and… Yikes! The jig is up. It took everything in me not to snatch the announcement down, deactivate my account for a few days and just hide because… I have issues…that I’m working on…sometimes.

I tried to reduce the moment in my head. The conversation in my head was not the most uplifting. ” It’s only a few lines , Candice. What if you end up on the cutting room floor?  There would be all of this fuss over nothing. Plus, look at the tornadoes going on in the rest of your life. Are you really keeping it “real”? Why don’t  you share some of the failures and messiness of life and see how well received that news is?”

THAT girl had to go and THIS girl came in.

” This is huge! Remember when you were auditioning for Claire Simon for the first time since your move to Chicago. You were so nervous then , but 3 years later, honey here you are, booked! So what if you end up on the cutting room floor. You did the work, cashed the check, and enjoyed that delicious brownie turtle cheesecake from craft services.Yummmmm! This is worth celebrating. And yes, life is a mess. You are in the middle of some huge transitions and storms, but we will get through them and be better on the other side. Just because life is messy does not mean it’s devoid of beautiful times like this. Relish in this moment,savor it, celebrate it and allow it AND  you to be celebrated. THIS celebration is  not because you might not get this moment again, but because THIS IS YOUR MOMENT, and you are worth every ounce of good that comes your way. Take Wings, Candice Jeanine, Take Wings!”

 

There will be many more conversations between THAT girl and THIS girl, but for right now I’m content to leaveaLOTTAroomforgrace…

 

Anyone else have an internal war going on? How do those conversations normally end?

 

Thanks for reading! The episode I filmed should air tonight, Tuesday 10/25/16  at 9pm on NBC’s Chicago Fire with the rest of these beautiful people!chicago-fire-new

On His Birthday

I always try to make up some type of formula to remember the birthdays of people I love. For my Grandpa George, it was 24/8 (instead of 24/7) because 7 days were simply not enough for all that he did for us. Today I reflect on what would have been his 71st birthday. If he was here, we would be celebrating with a feast that at least included fried cabbage and chitlins.  Grandpa George was a good, no-nonsense kinda guy.  He always reminded me of  a character straight from the pages of a Walter Mosley book. He operated in facts, but every now and then he would let his feelings shine through with a well-chosen Hallmark card. Even when it came to cancer, he underwent procedures to prolong his life. When the chemo only worsened his condition, he accepted his fate and warned us not to make any plans. Unfortunately we lost him on 8/8 a mere 3 weeks before my wedding.  I still have his addressed invitation as a keepsake. Below are some of my mom’s reflections from his life.

 

Trying to honor my father via this post, I thought I’d share memories of my time with him throughout my life. Though I only lived in the same house with my dad for a very brief period, my nuggets are far too many to share in a post. Yet, I believe I can share the essence of my dad and how he has influenced my life.  I can’t believe I can give you the entire sum of him, but I can tell you what I see: his actions that are his words to me.

I realized a couple of years of ago that my father was patient with me.  When I was in elementary school, I called my father by his first name, George.  That seems so disrespectful to me now, but he never complained about it.  He understood that because we had lived apart for several years prior, the relationship was perhaps not there to warrant a more endearing term, and so he didn’t try to force it.  I wonder what he must have felt to hear me say his name… I don’t know what he felt.  I don’t know that he was patient in other areas of his life.  I just know he was patient with me, and I eventually came to call him Dad.

My dad’s generosity to me and my children is unparalleled.   Mind you, my dad had one child; I have three!  He sponsored not only Christmas for my children, but also birthdays, especially for the baby boy.  And rarely did I have to ask.  I don’t know that he was generous with everyone, but he was generous with me… and mine.

My dad is one of the most humble people I’ve ever known.  We may be in that group where we have or know a lot of people who attended college.  The number of people who played sports while in college is fewer.  Those who played on a collegiate football team is fewer still… and those who made it to The Rose Bowl is very small. Finally those who were on the winning team on the field defending the last possible points of the game as a defensive end??  Yep.  That’s my dad.  Yet, was that a topic of his conversation?  Nope.  It was a topic of other folks’ conversation.  And maybe he wasn’t such a humble person with other people, but he taught me humility.  I think he taught me as well that accomplishments in the past are just that: in the past.

Of course, there are a flood of memories that show how he has influenced my life.  He introduced me to Puzo’s The Godfather before the movie as well as John LeCarre.  I love movies because we went to see the Big Ones together: Shaft, the original (yes, I was too young!), Kramer Vs. Kramer, Star Wars, Close Encounters… to name but a few.  I love horseback riding and tennis because of him.

He has a devilish smile and a snorting laugh!  He listened intently as I raved about an NPR story that I thought was simply fascinating!

Of course, he is past tense now.  Yet, I am so grateful for my memories.

My dad didn’t plan on being my dad.  Yet, he stepped up to the plate in his way.  He enriched my life by spending time with me.  He improved the quality of my life by loving me.  I did not want this post to be about my loss because it is my truth every day.  I wanted it to be about his example of patience, generosity, and humility because it was his truth every day.

 

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Mommy’s Dearest

To my dearest Adeleke on your 2nd birthday:

Sometimes I wonder why you came so soon. Though your birth was at full term, your father and I had barely been married three months before we discovered on Thanksgiving night that we would have a little more to be thankful for. We were both somewhere between shock and disbelief. You see, your father and I are both artists. We were both hitting the ground running trying to make connections to establish our careers as well as our lives as husband and wife.

So there we were trying to make a life together with a new life growing inside of me. Sometimes life was just as much hopeful as it was stressful.  I mean , were we really ready to be your parents? Didn’t God know that there were a few things we wanted to have in line with our own lives before we ushered in another one?   Finances , foundation , faith and figuring out careers, these were all things that would be drastically rearranged! Buuut, Granny was excited. She was in the hospital when I gave her the news that she would be a great-great grandmother. She was tickled to see me pregnant with you. She had dreams about how you would look and you peeping around the corner in the house I grew up in . She was tickled to rub my every growing belly. Things started to make sense. The 5th generation was coming sooner than expected, but it was coming…  And then she died when I was carrying you in my 5th month.  There was the devastation of loss combined with the hope of new life. It was a roller coaster.

A few months later you arrived like a quiet force. Everyone was delighted to see you! People drove overnight, took trains and flew in just to witness you!  Your life added sweetness to so many lives. For your middle name, we chose Adedoyin meaning “the crown becomes honey”.

I am no longer consumed with the “what ifs” ( we had waited a little longer)  and “if onlys” ( we had a little more in order when you were born) . I am confident in “what is”.  You, my love have been created for such a time as this.

The past few months have been full of me smothering you with kisses. Subconsciously ,I believe that  each kiss will somehow persuade time to slow down . You are growing up so very fast. You are so extremely resilient and joyful that it is a wonder to watch.  You shriek with delight and with your quick feet do your happy dance. You clap when your father and I return home as if it warrants a celebration. You laugh at laughter which breeds more giggles. You are the very best parts of me, of life, of us. You have been the joy in the mourning.

As we prepare to celebrate your 2nd year of birth on a hot day at the zoo, I pray many things for you. I pray that you will accept your natural gifts  with sincere humility .  I pray that you will understand that you are of a royal breed. The crown does not only exist in the translation of your name. It is the very essence of who you are. I pray you are not tangled in whatever weaknesses you may possess. They are there to remind you to depend on the one who has created you and loved you from the start.  I pray that you will always be surrounded by  the love and light of friends and family no matter where you are. Lastly, I pray that you always make it home safely.

 

Mommy loves you, Sweetface
Mommy and Daddy love you

Leke's Birthday

Dropping the Call

 

 

I was headed to an awards ceremony that would honor my husband’s work in the community when I received a text from my agent. ( Sidenote: For those who don’t know, I’m an actor. The agent in this case is my commercial representation) “I’m working with a direct client wondering if you’re available tomorrow for a possible booking”.  Exciting! I had an in-house audition that day after not having one for several months and now this, double exciting…except…I was already ” booked” tomorrow. I had agreed to babysit a for a friend.  This wasn’t a free thing. Babysitting is one of my side-hustles for extra income. As a mother , I KNOW how hard it can be to have someone cancel on you last minute when it comes to babysitting. I had already given my word to my friend and I didn’t want to be that mother that let another mother down sooooo … I replied that I was, unfortunately unavailable.

I still mourn that decision which is probably why it’s taken so long to write this post.  The way that direct bookings work is there’s a possibility of booking you on your look alone. Let’s say a client needs 2 women for the job , but there are 10 women who they like based on a head shot. They send out feelers to the agent and say, we like these 10 women, can you check their availability for tomorrow from 8am-noon?  Out of those 10  women, perhaps 8 of them are available.   Out of the 8, they choose 2, ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom. The 2 show up to set next day, film and eats snacks and somewhere between 30-90 days get paid enough to cover rent for one to several months.

Is it possible that I could have said that I was available and still not booked the job? Absolutely. Were the odds stacked in my favor ? Yep, based on the numbers alone. Auditions can have upwards of 40-50 people called in for one role versus the smaller numbers in direct bookings.

Hindsight is indeed 20/20. I should have simply sent a text to my friend to say, ” Hey, there’s a possibility that I will be doing a non-union commercial for a major retailer tomorrow. This would mean that I could only watch the kids from 8am-12pm.  Nothing is confirmed yet, but I simply want to be available for this opportunity.  I will let you know as soon as I find out more information, but can you please have someone on standby?” You know what the friend would have probably said? ” Oh my gosh, that’s awesome! I know this is an exciting opportunity for you and your  family. Let me know when you find out more, but I will have someone on back-up just in case. I hope you book  it!” End Scene.

 

I am constantly learning the lesson of choosing what’s right for me over helping someone else. I feel the most empowered in my decision making when I set boundaries. This lesson stings just a little bit more because of Granny. Maybe this was the big news she had for me or maybe it’s something even bigger.  Sorry Granny, next time I won’t “drop the call”. In the meantime, I’m just searching for a lil’ more grace and forgiveness for myself.

 

 

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Have you chosen doing what’s right for someone else over doing what’s right for you?  How did that decision affect you in the long run? I want to hear from you in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

On the Main Line

I had a strong desire to call Granny today.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to reach her, but still I had this itching urge.  It could be because it’s National Best Friend’s day.  The 59 year age difference never stopped us from late night TV watching, Riverdances or buffet brunches.  It feels like I want to tell her something BIG, cept I don’t have any big news to tell.  Maybe it’s she that has news to tell me, and I just haven’t sat still long enough to receive it.  Granny’s got a secret and she just can’t wait til it reaches the earthly realm so she can sit back and smile, knowing the big news, the good news has finally reached me… I wonder what it is…telephone-450639_1920

The 5 Kinds of Friends You Need

 

I have been blessed to have REALLY good friends. In terms of currency, they are worth their weight in gold. The number is not large, but it’s enough for me to manage and keep quality relationships. I pray that you are truly blessed with great friends. These are the 5 that make living this life easier.

 

 

 

1. Friends that Pay for You

Ever gone out for a meal or shopping  with a friend and pull out your card to pay for your purchase only to realize that you friend has paid for it already?! These friends are ninja-quick with the payment method. They are eager to treat you to a refreshing lunch or a mani/pedi , a massage, or even surprise tickets to a Beyonce concert! It’s ok to let yourself be taken care of in the moment. Pitch in the tip and on the next one, you’ve got their back!

2. Friends that Party with You

There’s a quote I love that says, ” Go where you’re celebrated, not just tolerated”. This friend is your biggest cheerleader. They are there at graduations , plays, speeches, showers, weddings, you catch my drift. They are always ready to genuinely celebrate not only your accomplishments, but simply you being you. Sometimes it’s in person, a facebook post or text,  or even by way of a random note in the mail. They keep the confetti coming!people-1230872_1280

3. Friends that Push You

These are the friends that get in your face and tell you just how wonderful you are and just how much of that wonderful potential you’re wasting. They will call you out on not-going after your dreams, staying in a dead-end relationship or continuing to do a job that you constantly complain makes you miserable. They remind you that you can continue to complain about your issues or change your issues, but you can’t do both! They hold you accountable for the life you say you want to lead.

4.Friends that Protect You

There are some deep secrets that we all possess. Sometimes it’s as trivial as that time you threw a party while your parents were out of town. Other times it’s something more serious, like the possibility of a life threatening disease that you just aren’t comfortable revealing to everyone while you’re in the state of the unknown. Great friends respect that and protect the info you confide in them. They listen with no judgement and keep your secret locked in a safe until the date you’re ready to reveal it ,which just might be never.

 

5. Friends that Pray for You

I have friends that I can send a mass text to asking them to pray for me,  my family, or WHATEVER and they will summon the heavens on my behalf. I also have friends that are D.E.A.P. , Drop Everything And Pray kind of people. They don’t just say I’ll be praying for you on * insert issue here* . They will stop in that moment and pray. It could be in the middle of our phone conversation, or an immediate text reply with a carefully transcribed prayer you can frequently reference. I even have a friend who left a prayer on my voicemail. Missing her call that day is one of my biggest blessings because I can always replay her voice speaking life over me.  Friends that pray are so vital because they submit you and your issues to a “rock” higher than yourself.

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Do you have any or all of these friends on your team? Also, what kind of friend are you? I’d love to hear about it in your comments below!

 

 

 

 

 

Fear Goal

I walk past them every day, but I have yet to pick them up.  Them being my printed copies of my 101 Goals in 1001 days.  I’m not new to this rodeo of goal setting, but 101 goals is definitely the largest amount of goals I’ve decided to take on.

Last year I was reading Brian Tracy’s Goals.  Brian (yes, we’re on a first name basis) suggests writing 10 goals down every day as if they are happening.  For example, instead of writing “vacation in Miami” write “I vacation in Miami in Summer 2016.”  I wrote my list of 10 goals down, and quite frankly I had no idea how some of them were going to happen, but I wrote them down anyway.  One of my goals was to take a class.  I knew I didn’t have the money to take it at the time, but I figured I’d write it down.

I will never forget the moment that goal became a reality.  I realize that most goals require some effort on our parts.  Weight loss doesn’t just happen from writing down “I weigh x lbs.”  However, in the case of this particular goal, quite literally, an unexpected check came in the mail that allowed me to pay for the class.

I was struck with fear.  I felt paralyzed like I couldn’t move forward on the thing that I said I wanted so much.  I didn’t believe I was worth having this goal completed/dream come true.  Also, if this goal was possible, then didn’t that mean the other 9 goals on my list were possible, too?  Yep.  Nope.  Not worth those either.

I’m not really sure when this unworthiness thing kicked in.  Have I always been the queen of self-sabotage?  Just when I’m close enough to something great, I try to figure out a way to prove that I’m undeserving of this wonderful love, life, job, career, the list goes on…and so I write.

I’m writing to get through this fear.  I’m writing until I believe that worthiness, like grace is not something that you earn, but something that you’re born into. I’m writing until I’m unafraid of my own light, my own dreams, and the manifestation of the life I want to live.

 

Tonight.

 

Fear Goal

101 Goals in 1001+Days

 

This year didn’t start off like I thought it would. I found January to be a very happy and yet very lazy month for me. I turned “that” age in December, you know the one where there are no longer any calendar days to support your age..It’s like something clicked and said , ” It’s REALLY time to grow up, Candice” or ” Get your life together, like really  this time” and yet I find myself unable to seemingly do this adulting thing like I think I should be doing it. I stumbled upon a template for  101 goals in 1001 days in an old journal and I figured there was no time like the present to get it going. I’ve been working on this list for a couple weeks and I’ve already started to cross off a few things already so there might just be something to this whole thing.  I used categories such as: mom, wife, diy, travel, career, sister, fitness, “just for fun” to help me compose my list. It’s also the start of the Chinese New Year, so I figured I’d stop monkeying around and get to it ( see there what I did there)

Start Date: February 8, 2016

Completion Date: November 5, 2018

 

  1.  I lead a faith-based small group.
  2.  I attend 3 faith-based workshops.
  3. I join a church we love as a family.
  4. I spend 10 minutes of uninterrupted quiet time with God for 8 days straight.
  5. I give 10% of my income.
  6. I read all of the letters written by Paul.
  7. I read 45 books/plays.
  8. I complete a crossword puzzle/lumosity 3 times/week.
  9. I take an online course in something new.
  10. I do at least a 30-second plank everyday for 30 days.
  11. I run 5 5Ks; such as the Hot Chocolate Run and Color Run.
  12. I reach pre-baby/wedding weight.
  13. I reach my ultimate goal weight.
  14. I exercise before noon on M, W, F, and Saturday.
  15. I won a car.
  16. I run a 10K.
  17. I dance with Baby A 4 times a week.
  18. I spend 20 minutes of uninterrupted play time/reading time with Baby A 4X a week.
  19. I write 33 letters to Baby A in his journal.
  20. Place 100 index cards around the house for vocabulary for Baby A.
  21. I enroll Baby A in swim classes.
  22. Enroll Baby A in daycare/ Montessori school nearby where he is safe, supported, loved and pushed to learn and grow.
  23. I gift pampering service for moms, mil, stepmom, and grandmas.
  24. Send flowers to CJ, MO,GD, OJ, GB DG.
  25. Hubby… top secret
  26. Hubby
  27. Hubby
  28. Hubby
  29. Hubby
  30. Hubby
  31. Hubby
  32. I travel to Nigeria.
  33. I travel to Kenya and stay at Giraffe Manor.
  34. I travel to South Africa and visit Soweto and Cape Town.
  35. I travel to the Gullah Islands in South Carolina
  36. I travel to LA and hike.
  37. I travel to Costa Rica.
  38. I take a road trip with the family.
  39. I DIY 2 pairs of heels with glitter.
  40. I KonMari method the entire apt.
  41. I purchase new home fragrances/candles 1/month.
  42. I purchase fresh flowers 1/month.
  43. I am debt free.
  44. I have xx,xxx in savings.
  45. I purchase a car cash.
  46. I volunteer at a Soup Kitchen 7x.
  47. I read to the kids at the bookstore on Saturday 7X.
  48. I send JB gifts to 10 friends.
  49. I cook 21 new recipes.
  50. I purchase Stiletto Dance 5 class pass.
  51. I will have coffee/lunch with a girlfriend  1/month.
  52. I own a home.
  53. I zipline.
  54. I see a sunrise/sunset.
  55. I have a successful garden with tomatoes, habanero peppers, onions, cabbage, okra, eggplant, jalapeno peppers, purple tomatillos and spinach.
  56. I  get pampering services at least 1/season.
  57. I am paid to travel somewhere beautiful and warm for work with my family.
  58. I get my hair groomed professionally at least 1/season.
  59. I get new cool business cards.
  60. I  attend 2 blogging conferences.
  61. I am a paid speaker at a blogging conference
  62. I  complete commercial acting training
  63. I proofread and edit previous blog posts and save them to a hard drive
  64. I attend 2 ABFF events
  65. I create and adhere to a blog schedule
  66. I work professionally with 3 brands I love
  67. I train to be a life-coach
  68. I start a business
  69. I create an annual book scholarship for students in East St. Louis in the arts
  70. I write and publish 3 children’s books
  71. I successfully complete a blogging challenge
  72. I have dinner with my brothers 5x
  73. I pay for someone else’s meal 10x
  74. I book a national commercial campaign for a product/company I love
  75. I build a voiceover studio
  76. I complete voiceover coaching
  77. I am a SAG member with consistent work
  78. I purchase a home for my mom
  79. I attend 50 plays
  80. I complete my play
  81. I write and direct a short film with hubby
  82. I cut off 9 inches of my hair
  83. I host 10 events in my home: breakfast/ lunch / game night
  84. I attend a Frankie Beverly and Maze concert with hubby.
  85. I get the couch re-upholstered
  86. I save 15% of my income
  87. I am a pescatarian for a week
  88. I am a vegetarian for a week
  89. I am a vegan for a week
  90. I own a tailored navy business suit
  91. I replace my 15 year old bookbag.
  92. I join and complete an online fitness challenge
  93. I pay for a stranger’s meal 10x.
  94. I complete a business course.
  95. I complete a home buying course.
  96. I am on Hollywood Game Night
  97. I do Sunday yoga 33x.
  98. I ride to a terminal stop on the train and explore
  99. I spend the night with WJ and OJ 10x.
  100. I visit and stay with AR in Mississippi
  101. I trace my ancestry