You Gotta Get Up.

It’s hard to fight the funk.

Lately, I’ve been battling with thoughts of being in the way. Being in the way of my goals and milestones. Being in the way of others and their own progression at my expense. These past few months have been the most transformative as I’m preparing to step completely out of my comfort zone, and embark on a brand new beginning.With that, there’s been a lot of new changes in my life that have required a lot of community. I’m in one of the most vulnerable spaces I’ve been in for quite some time. It’s uncomfortable, as it should be. But it can also make you question a lot if you’re used to doing it all on your own.

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One of the best parts about these past few months is being able to step back into church and embracing my church family. In a recent sermon, the pastor made a remark about the acronym: “TIS” or “SIT”.

T – Thoughts

I – Influence

S- Suggestions

He says it’s easy to stumble when the Enemy tries to gain influence over you in the only way he knows how to – your mind. His impact can effect your thoughts, which then becomes an influence, and a suggestion for you to do something that you shouldn’t.

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When I think about this acronym, I think about the many ways I’ve allowed myself to feel small. It’s been xx months, and I still haven’t gotten this part of my life together, or I’m still struggling to find my footing in media, or I’m still attracting men who don’t value me the way I value them, or I’m feeling alone because my community is distant.

These thoughts are the catalyst for a downward spiral.

Me not having my life together must mean I’m not meant to have one.

Me not finding my footing in media must mean I won’t ever be seen in this industry.

Me attracting the wrong men must mean I’m not capable of ever finding love.

My loneliness must have a direct impact on who I am.

These thoughts all suggest one thing: quitting. Quitting on life. Quitting on trying. Quitting on loving. Quitting on existing. Quitting on your goals/hopes/dreams.

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I can’t say that I take pride on quitting anything, but it almost became an easy choice for me. Coming off of last year’s car accident, and the downward spiral of things that erupted from that, every day is a new journey and a process. We are no longer living in our past, but that doesn’t mean that more obstacles won’t stir up old feelings.

I’ve had to remind myself that God makes no mistakes. Only I do. And there’s a purpose behind that. DJ Khaled says: “failure is a major opportunity to learn something.” The mistakes you make teach you not to make those again. The mistakes you make show you that there is another way, another option to achieve what you want.  But you’ve got to be willing to take the risk. And no, it won’t feel easy. It won’t feel great. But it’s a powerful risk that leads to a powerful change.

It’s hard to fight the funk, but you gotta get UP.

A word that stuck with me from hearing P. Diddy speak at the REVOLT Summit is: “As long as you keep getting up, that’s going to inspire other people to keep getting up.”

Your responsibility is not always your own. But your dedication to self is. 

 

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#WomenSupportingWomen

Women empowerment is not a cookie cutter phrase. It’s real work. It’s a celebration of who we are, what we accomplish, and overcome on a daily basis.

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I was reminded of all of that this past weekend after attending “Black Women United Day of Unity” in Atlanta, Georgia. Before attending the day’s festivities, I started incorporating the hashtag, #WomenSupportingWomen as a way to acknowledge the work women are doing in and around the Charleston, SC area in which I reside. I also make it a point to acknowledge those who may not be in close proximity as a show of solidarity and support.

It was only right that I was told about this incredible event from an equally incredible woman, who also happens to be my sorority sister: Davida Roach. Davida is the owner of Hair Bakery Boutique LLC, Dear Deanndra, and the creator behind her new blog, Davida’s Diary.  She is the epitome of a true girl boss. 

The event took place inside of the Georgia State Capitol. Upon walking in, we both couldn’t help but to really take everything in. The fact that we were attending this important event inside of an important space where laws are created and talked about, and important people dwell, to just seeing so many brown women in one space, in their best attire, ready to take in any messages received. I didn’t quite know what to expect, because I didn’t know that I would be there. But there was so much confirmation in the messages spoken.

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For starters, Glenda Williams of MEG Enterprises says ” I recognize what it took to protect yourself, especially as a Black woman.” It went hand in hand with universal messages of sisterhood, and caring for others , and being honest about your personal journey. She encouraged everyone in the room to “rise above hurt, understand healing, and what it takes to push beyond the odds.”

Imani Baskins, who moderated the event, made a powerful statement on vulnerability. She says,” Vulnerability is our super power. Sometimes, what looks like a flood is a cleansing.”

As a Black woman, I can honestly say that it is very hard to stand firm in being vulnerable. Simply because there is a lot to take on in my own day to day life that requires me to be strong, and to carry the weight of it all in order to simply survive. It’s HARD. But vulnerability is like a doorknob. You have the control over how much the door opens, and what you let in or out. The power is in the capacity in which you give. But you can’t afford to not give anything if it only holds you back. We can’t allow ourselves to give in to fear.

Renee Peoples, of The Peoples Network says, “You have to find that happy place within yourself that you can go to, that no one can tamper, despite all of the voices in your head.”  And on the same note of allowing ourselves the energy to be selfish with our emotions and protecting of that energy, Glenda Williams says, “As we grow and build, sometimes we leave ourselves out.”

In that moment – over a dozen women chose not to leave themselves out of healing. Everyone came for something. Whether it was shared with a fellow woman there, or kept quietly tucked away in their minds for them to hold, women were being fed what they needed to take home with them and really get things going.

I know because I was one of those women in the room. Taking notes. Physically and internally. Intently listening to what each woman on that panel had to say. The energy around me was filled to the brim with emotion. As a Black woman, I don’t often talk about my experiences with being a Black woman in this world. I don’t always get the chance to talk openly about my experiences and what they mean for me as I continue growing into womanhood. Being in a space where that didn’t really matter at all – but in fact was embraced, was just the medicine I needed to recover from past traumas of self-censoring for the appeasement of others.

I was embraced.

I was loved.

I was lovingly criticized.

I was seen.

And with this simple hashtag, I want women to feel the same. As I continue to do more with my own works, I hope that everything I do has an underlying foundation of women empowerment – and not just the sister circle of, “Yass Queen!” and “Black Girl Magic”, but real hard conversations, centering moments of clarity, and collaboration without competition.

What does supporting women look like for you?

 

 

Purposeful Alignment

“Everything I’ve spoke, I’ve done.” – Missy Elliott

Words are power. At a very young age, I’ve heard this phrase and have tried to make sure that every word I speak is one of positivity. Confidence however is something I’ve always struggled with. Even as a current 25 year-old, I realize that the confident words about who I am, my character, my work ethic, even my looks almost always comes by word of mouth from those who have known me for some time, or are amazed by our first encounter. I guess that’s why I struggle with often times needing to be validated. If I’m not told I’m doing well, most of the time, I don’t feel like I am. Self-validation is hard for me, because it feels like I’m being more self-centered than confident.

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What has been inspiring me to break out of that habit has actually been closely watching Black women creatives both on a mainstream level and in close connection who truly are doing the damn thing.

 

Take Missy Elliott for example. I honestly can’t believe God blessed me to grow up in such an era where Missy’s creativity was all in our face to bask in. From the eclectic music videos, to empowering words and raunchy rap tunes. Missy clearly is never afraid to be herself. 

Aside from her outward appearance, what really gives me inspiration is the way she feels about herself. All while still being humble and appreciative of the work, skills and talent of those around her! In a recent interview I happened to stumble across on LinkedIn, Missy Elliott shared that “everything she spoke, she’s done.” When reading those words, I couldn’t help but to get chills, and really pause and take a moment to understand what that means for ME.

I’m surrounded by advocates of the belief that words are power, and who believe in their hearts that manifestation is real, especially when words of the tongue, and the heart’s intentions align. So being reminded of that is also a full reminder to hold myself accountable. I’m exactly where I need to be for the time I need to be here for. I’ve spoken this very moment into existence through desires of the heart and intentions. 

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Just a year ago, I told myself that I wanted to find more ways to serve my community and tell more of the stories of those not often told in mainstream media. Since then, I’ve managed to take on quite a few clients and roles that have allowed me to do just that. All while running a company (Conqueror Movement) that is always working to elevate the way we tell those stories.

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While I didn’t envision things happening quite like this, I had a true desire for freedom and more intentional living. The end result was inevitable.

And even the things I have yet to witness because of the uncertainty of time in God’s promises, I need to walk in those habits, and visions, and feelings as if they are already my own.

But to do that means you have to be confident.

And as I said earlier, confidence and I struggle quite a bit. So, how then can I truly level up?

It starts with getting comfortable being uncomfortable. We all love a sense of security, and protection. We desire to have it in alot of things. And with ourselves, we are our biggest protectors. But, we’ve got to start making it acceptable for us to fall, in the same way that we prioritize success and coming out on top. We have to desire learning what our fall could teach us, and not always seeing it as a bad thing.

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The end result is the focus point. The part of the story that motivates us to even have a story in the first place. I believe that everything has a unique purpose, and being confident that the purpose and your true intentions align is powerful because it’s ordained. 

I’m beginning to walk a little differently with all of this information, and really see my success taken to new heights. I’m learning how to observe myself, my habits and my resources, and really being focused on how to live the life I desire. 

 

Getting Out of My Own Way.

Sometimes, the only obstacle in the way is you.

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It’s a very hard reality – but one that is necessary to come to terms with on the topic of moving forward and upward. Since the last time we’ve talked, life has been forward moving in a lot of ways. From really soaking into this transition I’m in of finding my voice in the media world, and better ways to serve my community, to putting my mental health first, and changing around quite a few priorities.

Whether you’re a full time working millennial, or a person who desires to create more, you understand the complexities of the spaces above, but also how freeing it can be. I’ve had to come to terms with some very harsh realities, and I believe in transparency no matter what position I’m in. One story can always help another.Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.

For starters, it’s okay to change your pace/ explore other interests.

When I resigned from my dream position at the top of the year, it was very hard to cope with at first. Many of the thoughts I had inside of my head were: “Yes, I’m happy, but why do I feel like I’ve failed?” When I began introducing myself without the title attached, it felt like I was losing something – or not believing enough in my own abilities and what I’ve been able to bring to the role in the first place. I had to constantly explain why stability does not equate to my unhappiness. If I’m feeling off balance in any way, that deserves my full attention. Sure, things will be uncomfortable, but what does your bigger picture look like, and are you living it?

Second, no one has the power to duplicate who you are, and the unique qualities you have, and that is your power.

In my current space, I’ve had alot of time to think about who I am. It may sound silly, but sometimes, you forget. You forget about what you bring to the table – whether it be in your professional life, your personal life, romantic or platonic relationships. Instead, you become occupied with the journeys of everyone around you, and just how much you amount up to that. It’s an unhealthy thought process, because it doesn’t allow you the space to be genuinely happy for other people, and their wins. After all, you won’t know just how much a person has lost to get to that point. Everyone’s burden looks very different. Everyone’s plate wasn’t constructed the same way.

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If you’re a fan of music, and the Dreamville team, there’s a song on the collective’s newest project, Return of the Dreamers, III, out called “Sacrifices”. The song features a break down of what sacrifices mean to the four artists, including J.Cole, Smino, Earthgang, and Saba. Just a couple of the lyrics that stood out to me that I’ve really resonated with over the past few months are:

“I put my heart and my all in my art…” and “You can’t be everything to everybody.”

There’s so much more the song has to offer lyrically, but I want to stay true to the topic of getting out of my own way, and what that process has looked like for me. Stepping away from a professional role that clearly maps out my time and places a certain cap on my creative limits allowed me to really explore what creative freedom looks like. It gave me more time for much of my other on going responsibilities such as my digital media space, The Conqueror Movement, and further building my freelance brand, #LifeThroughArt.

Putting my all into my art meant being more present and innovative. What does the community need to see more of? How can I show myself, my talents, and those of others the value and worth I feel has been missing? While I have taken some time to regroup and reset, I have also been taking just as much time to plan and execute a few ideas, such as extending The Conqueror Movement’s single-day networking mixer to a three day event. I’ve also managed to plan and conceptualize three video projects, and one branding project for women-led initiatives.

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On the flip side, it’s taken a lot to hold myself accountable emotionally. In a lot of ways, I categorize myself as a people pleaser. I love to show up for others as much as I can. My support is very extensive and can look like emotional, financial or physical (i.e – talking one on one, cooking, being a shoulder to cry on, physically showing up to events, etc.) aid. I’ve always defined support as being able to do freely those things without asking for anything in return. I realized over time how burdening that definition can be, and so my sacrifices have started to adjust. I’m thinking more of how I feel, and what I can reasonably give. I’m allowing myself more time to be alone, and not really having to explain my desire to do so. I’m allowing people the access to show up and support for me out of their own genuine feelings. And I’m being honest and transparent about the position I’m in and what that looks like.

Which brings me to my next revelation – actions may speak louder, but words are still necessary.

This life owes you nothing. And the people around you owe you nothing. And that’s a hard pill to swallow. Essentially – you have to approach many familiar situations as being brand new. People are allowed to change and grow, without you. Opportunities can genuinely be meant for someone else. Time can be perfect for one, and the opposite for another. While your actions may be loud enough, you’re not exempt from speaking. What does an opportunity mean for you? Why does a person’s involvement in your life matter to you? What exactly does that involvement look like? In many ways, social media has made it easier for us, but I will speak mostly about myself, to communicate my exact thoughts through memes, and shared tweets or statuses because sometimes you just can’t find your own words. But in moments where there is opportunity to let your voice lead the pack, quiet energy is the opposite of what’s needed. Assumptions are the downfall of alot of things. Make your intentions clear.

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Getting out of your own way is a journey. There’s no guide book on it. There’s no three-step and elevate process. It’s just your journey. And it takes time, and patience, and sacrifice, and words and action. It takes accountability from yourself. It takes a lot of long nights. Emotions you may not want to deal with, but need to face in order to close the door and open another.

Returning to this space of vulnerability is necessary for my next step, and for those who identify with this, I am here to encourage you, and to be honest.

Welcome back to Unwritten.

 

 

 

 

I hate Love Songs

Love is not just a verb, it’s you looking in the mirror 
Love is not just a verb, it’s you looking for it maybe.”

-Kendrick Lamar, Poetic Justice

Confession: I love listening to love songs. The melody. The patience the artist gives every element, creating beautiful harmony, accompanied by smooth vibrations and rhythms that take you into a new universe. But I hate them too. I hate how vulnerable I become listening to every word of patience, hope, monogamy and embracing the imperfections of someone who embraces yours.

 

I’m only 24, but I have felt the powers of love’s heartbreak, beat skips, control and self-awareness.

The term love has always been a weird one for me. Growing up, I would consider that I was surrounded by lots of love. My mom showed me day in and day out how much she loved me, mostly with actions, but she was never above sitting me down, holding me tight and letting me know that she loves me, all parts. My grandmother was the most intimate. She had such a comfortable hand squeeze, and you just wanted to hold her. Her laughter showed how happy she was with every moment. Her love is unconditional and knows no bounds. Then there was my grandfather who was the first real impression of love I’ve seen from man to woman done well. Not perfectly, but enough to withstand all trials and obstacles that came in the way of the relationship. It wasn’t all gifts and glamour. (Think “Everybody Hates Chris” Father vibes) but it was true and honest. It was “I only see her” and “She is my Rib” (Genesis 2: 18-24).
But as much of the positive sides of love I have seen, I realize that there have been many instances of toxic love as well that I’ve either witnessed, or experienced first hand. For example, I didn’t grow up in a typical father and mother household. At the age of seven, my parents were signing off on a divorce. My first relationship in theory was perfect in the way they showed me love, but as life went on, I realized that I was undergoing mental abuse in the sense of always feeling low and insecure about my abilities to please and keep them around. While I was trying to show them how much I loved them, there was always push back, which often led to accusations of whether or not I was being faithful and if I could be trusted. That set the tone inadvertently for my attractions to men after and overstaying my welcome in relationships or not walking away from harmful situationships.

 

My last relationship was every piece of right and wrong with a perfect balance. On the one side, I had a best friend I felt I could rely on. He made me feel comfortable sharing my inner thoughts and insecurities, and was very gentle with those things. He wasn’t necessarily a provider, but if there was something I needed, for the most part I never went without. But on the flip side, arguments on my feelings and the validity of actions were very one-sided. I was often made to feel like I read too much into things that turned out to be very true. The level of emotional intimacy given didn’t match what was being poured out, causing ruts of feeling like I wasn’t in a relationship at all. For every “I love you” and “you’re beautiful”, It was almost always paired with something that would make me cry or cause me some sort of pain and loneliness.
Reflecting on each of those instances isn’t being said to make any of those men come off as not capable of giving the right kind of love to the right person. I’m grateful for what has been shared in those relationships. And I value the way they did love me. But it also shows me the red flags I can’t ignore when it comes to allowing someone that kind of access to me. And it starts with me seeing my own red flags.
For one, being a lover of love, I can fall very easily for a person who shows me the level of intimacy I’m looking for. Everything from enlightening conversations, to the way my hands or hips are held to direct eye contact. It’s very easy for me to ignore anything else that taints my vision of that person. But that has gotten me in the most trouble.
I can also be very one sided in the way I love. My love can be overbearing because all I want to do is provide the best physically (i.e. experiences, gifts, etc) and emotionally so that my partner never feels left without. Left without a shoulder to cry on, or someone to vent to, a partner to trust and help with whatever is needed, etc.  But subliminally it really shows how insecure in myself I really am. It stems from my need to always perform and be validated constantly.
I am learning how to listen more. What is a situation telling me when it comes to what I should do? One of the best words of advice was written by a famed poet, Maya Angelou: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” I can be very bad at that, but I think in some ways It’s normal. A person really only shows what they want to. You then learn more with time.
Over time, I’ve come to understand that love is very complex. There’s no true guide on how to love and the right and wrong ways to love a person. There’s not enough on how to truly love yourself and how that connects to the way you love others. In my own experiences, I have recently only realized much about myself and the things that need to happen in order for me to truly open myself up to being accessed fully by my next partner. One of the things I realized is that i’ve never fully given myself time to be alone. Therefore, I don’t truly know who I am outside of a relationship. These past several months have been the most uncomfortable because of it. But I’m learning how to better appreciate this time and what it could lead to.
I have plenty of moments where my singleness gets the best of me. Where many days I think something is wrong with me because i’m not in a relationship. Or feeling frustrated when a guy tells me “Yes, You are the ideal girl, but you’re too perfect/good for me.” I am learning, daily, that I was created to be who and what I am, and that is enough. That all of who I aim to become is extraordinary. That even on days when I can’t recognize myself, where I falter because of my desire to be loved (back), or when I’m just way too hard on myself, that I will make an effort to pick up the pieces and try again.

I Lost My Car, Still Searching for Life

This series was supposed to start a little differently.

I was supposed to go into some background on why “Unwritten” exists. I was supposed to tell you how I’ve had a lot of pent up feelings and situations that I never really spoke about, and how being more vulnerable and transparent has been my thing lately. So, I wanted to be open and honest. Not just when things are good, but when things are rough too. I wanted to open up more about fears, and how scary mine are, but how I’ve been working to not let them define me. I wanted to be transparently motivational (we’ll coin that as a term for now).  But then, I lost my car. And to be honest, the world around me stopped for what feels like 10 years.

I want to preface this by saying – It’s not about the car. If I had to choose between my life and my car, thank God for breathing. But that’s the thing. I haven’t been breathing. I haven’t been living. I haven’t just been for the entire year. If I’m being honest, life has been extremely hard for me. I’ve lost something, or have gone through something, every. Single. Month. In the year 2018. So losing something that I’ve worked so hard to get at a time where, in my eyes, I had not much more to lose, really did something to me.

I’ve been trying to find the words for those feelings, while silently piecing together everything that’s been happening to try and find myself again. To find the lesson. But I haven’t been very good at it.

Back in February 2016, I made a down payment on my first car. This comes years after broken promises from someone I’ve been trying to establish a consistent familial relationship with for years that it would be coming “soon”. But, soon never came for me. After becoming friends with the clerks at Greyhound stations all over the East Coast, to finally making enough to “upgrade” to Amtrak, maybe picking up a few rentals here and there, I got her. Miracle. I found my Miracle.

From long evening drives and loud speakers when my mind just didn’t want to process my day to day life, to surprise visits to my mom or brother, to just getting out and seeing parts of the United States and helping to make curating random events easier. Miracle has been a lifelong treat, and a great start to my adulthood.

But then I lost her.

October 11, 2018 – I was heading into work after a hard conversation with a friend about how hard this year really has been for me. How things are changing before my eyes in my then relationship, my family life, and even down to my career. I was dealing with change after change after change that I knew I needed to take action on and finally figure out.

When I walked away from that conversation – I had a little more confidence. Perspective.

And then I pulled out – and I was hit. Directly. Hit and knocked unconsciously for what felt like hours.

A few weeks prior, I wrote a sticky note with wise words from Pastor Michael Todd: “Your hardest hit will be the one you don’t see coming.”

And that was my hardest hit of the year.

That was the icing on the cake for me.

And internally I lost it. At that time, I wasn’t even thinking about how I would even get around. I just couldn’t believe that after what was a year of me constantly LOSING – there was still MORE for me to LOSE.

Those who knew gave me a lot of reassuring messages and helpful words. And then there were some who I expected to show up a little more – and they didn’t. And that hurt.  To lose again at a very tender moment of my life.

After the accident, I only had about 3 days to only focus on the accident and affairs (which is a whole other internal battle). And then it was back to work, but I wasn’t present. Suddenly, this entire year started to take over my entire life and I couldn’t catch a grip.

I found myself waking up, and immediately crying. Every. Single. Day. It became a routine, or I should say it took over my routine. I would force myself to take extra time out to find something positive to focus on. Whether it be a few things I was looking forward to each day, having tough talks with God which never ceased, or focusing on a quote or message that could get me through. But it was hard.

I couldn’t find the motivation to work at my best, which made things even worse because I am my own worst critic. And in some ways, I felt like no one around me could understand what was happening. I began secluding myself – shutting off my social media, breaking my phone (on accident) with no rush on having it turned on to further silence things around me. I was no longer making regular appearances at events. While I couldn’t force life to stop for me,  in doing those things, I felt I had a break.

When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.

In my break down, I’ve learned so much about myself. The biggest being I can and will overcome any obstacle that comes my way. I am the light that shines through in my darkest times. Though I may feel alone, I will always have the love and care of God by my side. And thankfully, He’s blessed me to have a strong support system even when I do feel too down and out to notice.

I’ve learned that there is no such thing as pity in the work force. It’s a great disservice to me to be off of my game because it gives people ammunition to think that I cannot handle what comes my way, and that is simply not true. I have also learned that it is okay to be human and communicate. Communicate with your team and your bosses, no matter what you feel. Your feelings are important.

My focus has increased much more on what my needs and priorities are. In eliminating distractions and zoning into my feelings and emotions, I was more able to acknowledge and accept that right now, I am not my strongest self. That it’s okay to step away from anything that doesn’t allow you to take care of yourself. If it is meant to be, the opportunity will be there.

As we enter the new year, I encourage you to place self-care at the top of your goals. I encourage you to be honest with yourself about where you are, and what you need. I encourage you to be honest with your friends, your loved ones, and even those around you in the work force. You don’t have to be this all powerful supernatural  being. My “in my head” mentor, Myleik Teele made a very big point on her October podcast “How I’m Learning to Ask for Help”: “Accepting help is hard because it requires you giving up control.”

This year, I had no control over any aspect of my life. And that was very hard for me to accept. I was prideful when it came to asking for help, and in some ways, I still am. I have the idea that asking for help equates to me being a burden. But, in having help from others, I could have probably avoided a lot of situations made worse due to “fear”. In 2019, we’re breaking up with “fear” and we’re entertaining “confidence” and “joy”.

In the coming months, my new blog series, “Unwritten” will unfold into spirals of transparency and hard conversations. I will be my most honest, and I hope you don’t mind having a seat at the table and taking off the mask with me. Thank you in advance for your community.