First YOU, Then Others: Taking Time Out for YOU


How many times have we heard this? I do not know; maybe you have not. I should not assume. I am sure; however, you have listened to the announcement when on the airplane when the attendant announces the instructions for administering the oxygen mask. First you, then others. You cannot save your children or anyone else until you protect yourself. Well, that makes much sense! Then why don't we practice this more often? That is the single reason why I have created what I call the NO AGENDA ZOOM.


I came up with the NO AGENDA ZOOM just because there are so many competing agendas in the game of life. How many hats are we wearing as mothers, sisters, wives, significant others, teachers, employees, employers, business owners, and girlfriends? However, if someone were to sit you down right now and ask you who you were, what would you say? My guess is any or all these things would come to mind but would you be able to say who you were spiritually, mentally, and physically? Look at it as an elevator pitch. You have exactly 5 minutes to tell someone who you are, what makes you so great and why somebody would want to come to sit by you. Think about that. How did you do? Did you come up with anything?


I know I could not. I can give people a resume of things that I have done in my life, but if someone were to ask me what kind of person I was, I don't think I could honestly answer it. I would not know where to begin. I might be able to tell my accomplishments and what I have done. I might be able to tell you what I hope to be in dreams and aspirations. I know for sure; I would not tell you how my heart and mind are functioning or feeling grounded and in the whole purpose of mind and body. I know I could not. Being absent from the answers has caused me to be still. Unfortunately, to become still, something must smack you off your feet so that you are forced to lay there for a moment and figure out just what happened.


When my mother took ill, I did not think it would change my life as much as it had. It changed my perspective on so many levels that I do not have enough time in this article to say. But the one underlying blessing that I can tell you is that I learned about forgiveness. I learned how important it is to give yourself pause to the wonderful being God has created in YOU! YES, YOU! I learned that it was essential to forgive my mother for the things she said to me through her Dementia. She was not herself, and I knew that. But it was that last lesson that she taught me and how poignant it was. The lesson was to forgive and just to let go.


I was a bird in an empty cage with a broken wing, and the cage door was right to open. I had to fly. Just fly!!!! When I did, I embraced my mother in her illness, even when the family may not have understood me. My mother taught me when and how to assess a support system in my life and who was a spectator. I finally realized what she had told me even years ago when I was much younger…. People come into your life for seasons, reasons, and lifetimes.

‘So, what does this all have to do with a NO AGENDA ZOOM? The Zoom is a time to BE STILL and LET GO.’

I know for myself I needed to be knocked off my feet entirely before I realized the importance of self-care. Just being in your own space is one TRUE survival skill. I wish I knew this 30 years ago when I was too busy running around trying to be the NEXT BEST THING! I wish someone had told me to think about all the things that are in front of me. Well, maybe someone was saying it. Perhaps I was getting the message loud enough but never took a moment to relish in WHO AM I??? I decided that I wanted to provide a platform where women could do just that….relish. I wanted to create a space where someone could come and BE STILL. They did not have to come with a prepared speech, and there was no need for pen and paper to take notes. I did not want them to have to come to feel that they need to have something to sell or something that would be sold to them. I came up with the NO AGENDA ZOOM in March, not long after the PANDEMIC opening, and just as the title states, I did not prepare anything other than setting up the zoom link. Had it not been a pandemic, I would have reserved an empty room and just said. COME ON OVER.


Just before the nation as we know it shut down, I had already been on a path of self-discovery. My mother had passed, and I started reevaluating my life in many aspects, family and career. I decided I wanted to be a Life Coach, and I had already been enrolled in a program. When I opened the NO AGENDA ZOOM, it was the result of my revelations. It was an outlet I knew I desperately needed.


I did not market it to any group other than…if you were going through something, you knew me, and you just wanted to talk, then there is a room. The demographics mean nothing to me, but naturally, the participants would primarily be African American women. That was pure because of my network base. I do have friends outside of that spectrum, however, too. I think they would have joined again…it was probably just timing. Many thought the idea was great; however, oddly, no one ever said a word. They just dialed in at the designated ZOOM time. I believe there is something to be said about that. Someone saw the need, and they just showed up…for themselves.


I have conducted the NO AGENDA ZOOM a few times now, and every time I have walked away with such an invaluable lesson. Listen, live, and listen again. Sometimes we need someone to listen to us. It does not mean that they necessarily understand us or that they agree with us. It just means that they are in a space to hear and to be appreciated. That is a cause to keep this new initiative open. I am excited to push this further.


Some say this is a midlife crisis, maybe it is because it is coming currently in my life, but I am okay with saying that. It is also a celebration!!! What a joy to come full circle with what makes you tick…or, at best, to be on the journey to find out!!! And it is essential we know because, as stated in the very beginning, you cannot take care of anyone until you take care of yourself. Put your mask on first.


The NO AGENDA ZOOM will be a monthly timeslot for anyone that wants to join. As I could tell you more about it, there is not…..there is NO AGENDA. This is a communal bond that is necessary, particularly for us to embrace one another. It is an open invitation with no demographics, BUT you must come in good spirit to welcome, not just network. See you next time on the NO AGENDA ZOOM.


Leslie Crudup is a Certified Health and Life Coach, Speaker, and Business Mentor for her company Crudup Diversity Strategies. She can be found on LinkedIn, Instagram, and you can find her in the private group on Facebook: Transformations, Transitions, and Women Just Going Thru Changes.


She can also be found on www.crudupdiversitystrategies.com


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