Thank you Oprah

When you woke up this morning in January, Oprah Winfrey’s name plastered the headlines of many different articles. The 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards was held last night, and Oprah became the first black woman to receive the Cecil B. DeMille Award. It was her speech that reminded us all of how remarkable Oprah is.

You know, I started this blog with one goal in mind- to tell my story as I journey towards a better, more fulfilled life. For years, I have been afraid—even shamed—of telling my story. Lots of times, not even feeling my story has any merit worth sharing. I’ll spend many years into the future continuing to share in hopes of inspiring.

Last night, Oprah inspired one specific thing for me—to speak my truth.

“Speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we have” –Oprah, 75th Golden Globe Awards

Whatever that truth may be, she gave me courage to speak up and share. Like so many other women, I have often felt that success comes with a price. I have found myself apologizing for being too bold, too aggressive, and too assertive. I’m a bitch if I speak my mind, I’m ignored if I don’t. I’ve spend many years filtering my words, actions and myself.

I have felt the shame that comes with being objectified as a woman. I’ve felt the fear of walking alone to my car at night. And, I’ve felt the pain of the words “NO”—as it is taken as an option.

Sharing my story won’t be easy. And I’ll spend a lifetime trying to get it right. But, one thing’s for sure—I’m proud to be a strong, bold, intelligent, passionate and skillful woman. Congratulations on your achievement, Oprah…and THANK YOU for reminding me of my worth.

Just another Chapter in your book

There is such a thing as growing apart. What was once your closest best friendship may become absent or even obsolete over time. It’s true– as seasons change, so does a person and their friendships with other people. Priorities change, life events happen, and you just….grow apart.

It’s not a bad thing at all. In fact, it’s a natural part of life. But, that doesn’t mean it won’t be hard to let go of something that once was. Losing a friend is a tough, hard and heartbreaking experience. You’ve lost the friend, but the memories are still there…hold on to those.

It’s those memories that you can look back on and appreciate when your little girl is making her first best friend in grade school. Know that your friendship helped make you the person you are today. Although things aren’t the same as they use to be, you can smile knowing you had some fun times….

Because Friendships are like Chapters in a book….YOUR book.

Embrace each chapter as you turn each page. Over the years, I’ve lost a few of those childhood best friends– who I will consider “Chapter One.” Two in particular– Rachel and Claire**. While it was a very sad experience for me to acknowledge we weren’t best friends anymore, I also took the opportunity to reflect on and appreciate the meaningful and deep friendships that I have made along the way as I move on to “Chapter Two.

I think what made a big difference for me is realizing the type of friendship that was important to me at this stage in my life. I want a friend who I can confide in. A friend who I can trust. A friend who will love my daughter as her own and a friend who can come over to binge watch TV with.

Truth is another important factor in the friendships that I seek. I want a friend who I can be truthful to (good or bad) and one who I can expect the same type of truth. A friend, who– after 3 weeks (sometimes MONTHS) of not seeing OR talking to– when we are back together, it’s literally like we are picking up where we left off. A friend who knows me inside and out and accepts me for who I am. She knows how much I love my wine and Netflix and doesn’t judge me one bit. She knows my struggles with depression, my family problems, and the need to feel good enough–just like I know her personal challenges too! We help each other through the tough times, and celebrate each other for the good things. Because, that’s another thing– my closest, BEST friends are also my biggest fans and loudest cheerleaders just as I hope to be for them.

Sometimes, it takes an argument or falling out to realize what’s important to you in a friend. Surround yourself around people who uplift you, VALUE you, challenge you and are honest with you. Once you’ve identified those few “ride or dies” (as I like to refer to them as)– HOLD THEM CLOSE and appreciate them as they are with you through this Chapter of your book. You may have closed one Chapter of the book with a friendship lost, but be happy to know that this is just another Chapter in your book and embrace it!

**Names changed to protect the privacy of the individuals

 

It’s been a rough week…

It’s been a rough week. Matter of fact, it’s been a rough couple of months–even YEAR. Settlements, Earthquakes, Hurricanes, Tragedies….the list continues to go on and on. If you’re not careful, you might find yourself sucked into the darkness of despair. I’ve been there. I’ve felt the helplessness and anger about the events that have happened around me.

 

However, that’s not what this entry is about. If you’ve found yourself in a situation where you’ve felt anger, outrage or even anguish about the recent events that are highlighted in today’s news– it might help to remember the words of my childhood teacher and visionary/TV personality. Yesterday, I was reminded of him– the late Fred Rogers:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”- Fred Rogers

It’s true. You could fixate on all the negativity…everything going WRONG in our world today, and get lost in the chaos. But, what good would that do? Instead, I encourage you to look for the positive in such a devastating event…”look for the helpers.” There are already so many helpers…

I avoided a car accident yesterday. On my way home from work. I was passing an intersection and a car turned right into my lane as I was crossing. I slammed on the brakes and just BARELY missed the car. My brakes stalled and I was stopped in the middle of the intersection. In any normal situation– after my panic subsided, I would have become ANGRY and APPALLED– quick to place the blame on that individual who almost caused me to collide with them. However, yesterday was different. After my initial panic, I forced myself NOT to place blame, but to feel compassion and understanding. I thought to myself, “This was not on purpose. Perhaps the person driving the car didn’t see me and didn’t realize I was headed straight towards them.”

Friends, it was in that moment that I decided to practice more kindness. Instead of being quick to place blame and focus on the negativity, I am challenging myself to look for the positives. No matter how rough and tough life gets, I will always look for the positives…like the helpers, and the givers, and the ones who are able to see the light through all the darkness.

If not me, then who? It starts with us. Change is possible and we can make it through all of this together.

On the surface, I’m OK

In July of 2017, Chester Bennington committed suicide. Linkin Park fans and what seemed like the entire world mourned the death of a “voice of our generation” as it was quoted in the news. Chester was 41.

On surface level, it may seem like I’m joining the rest of the world as we mourn the tragic death of a celebrity who we didn’t personally know. One may even echo the phrases “bandwagon” and “sensationalizing the topic” when hearing of just how hard I took the news. A similar outpour of opinions were also raised when the Original Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” became a hit overnight earlier this year. The main premise of the show was a teenage girl who committed suicide and documented on tape the 13 reasons why she chose to end her life. I saw the first episode, and I was hooked. So, to most people– it may appear that I’m just joining the bandwagon of relevant topics once they become popular… Of course, those people wouldn’t know the real reason why this topic hits close to home for me.

You see, depression and suicide is something that I have first hand experience with. I’ve felt the desperation and loneliness that drives someone to believe that the world would be better off without them. That’s what it really was for me… a sacrifice that I was willing to pay in order for the world to be better off without me. The darkness that I lived in was something that I learned to hide from the public eye. I would smile and even sometimes laugh, but I kept my distance from people. I cut off friendships and didn’t even care to immerse myself in high school life. From the outside, it appeared that I was a typical teenage girl with an older boyfriend who I thought I loved.

But, the relationship was toxic. We were young and naïve and didn’t realize the destruction we were causing each other. I felt worthless and desperate.  I spent countless nights alone in my room, crying myself to sleep. Often times, I found solace in the lyrics and voice of Chester Bennington of Linkin Park….

“Crawling in my skin, these wounds they will not heal. Fear is how I fall….confusing what is real”- Linkin Park “Crawling”

Honestly, it seems like a dream. I’ve even moved myself past the memory and forgotten that night. But then Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell happen. And my past pain resurfaces.

I’ve described it before as a time when a “dark cloud” constantly loomed over me. I would cry out for help, but didn’t find the support I needed. I couldn’t breath, I couldn’t imagine my future. I didn’t want to.

The topic of suicide and depression is something that means a lot to me, because I’ve personally lived through it. From my personal experience, depression comes and goes. Depression consumed me yet again in the form of “postpartum depression” when I first became a mother. It runs in my family history, and something that I constantly have to check myself from. Thankfully, I have learned to be positive and happy. I surround myself with people and family who truly care about me.

I consider myself a survivor, when so many have lost the battle to personal demons. For that, I am grateful and also feel obliged to share my story and increase awareness around mental health and depression.