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30 Things I Learned Before 30

IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!!

In honor of my 30th birthday today, I thought I would share 30 life lessons I learned before 30. Hopefully you know most of these but maybe you’ll learn a thing or two.

  1. Sharing is caring – I learned this one early on. Not just material things but advice, experiences, and love.
  2. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you – The Golden Rule. Treat others how you want to be treated,
  3. Reading is fun and fundamental – I learned to read when I was three. And I have been in love with reading ever since. Reading is an escape from reality and a bridge to knowledge.
  4. Amazon is life – When you have social anxiety, not having to go in public to buy even the most basic things is awesome. Having it delivered to your door is even better.
  5. Always carry your health insurance card. – You never know what may happen. (Bonus: always wear clean underwear in case you get into a car accident.)
  6. Don’t take no wooden nickels – One of many Grandma-isms I learned over the years. Cause wooden nickels don’t spend.
  7. Always keep your cell phone charged – And don’t trust people who let their phones die. Ok, that may not be a life lesson but it’s my opinion.
  8. Cruises are the best way to travel – Cruises are my favorite. All the food, alcohol, and entertainment you could want and all you have to do is ride!
  9. Always have enough money to get home or cover your meal – When dating, always make sure you can get yourself home and/or cover your meal at the restaurant. Cause stuff happens and dating is dumb.
  10. Men mature slower than women – Speaking of dating, whew chile…it takes men a while to catch up…Patience is a virtue.
  11. It’s important to live by yourself at least once – I always thought living alone was lonely and boring, but oh how I miss the solitude now. Counting down the days until I’m back in my own place!
  12. Nieces and nephews are the best birth control – I love them dearly but I knew when they came along that I was not ready for kids yet. They keep me grounded.
  13. Aunties have a special place in the world – On that note, aunts make the world go ’round. I love the bond I have with my niece and nephews. Like a mom, but cooler.
  14. Blood doesn’t make you any more or less family – Blood relation isn’t the only definition of family. Real family is the one you choose and there’s always enough love to go around.
  15. Big brothers make the fiercest protectors and the best friends – Speaking of family, big brothers are the best. They’ll always have your back, even if they don’t always agree with your choices.
  16. Your mother is usually right – Hard to admit I know, but moms know a thing or two about life. Listen to them sometimes.
  17. Not everyone is your friend – Mom used to tell me this all the time but I just ignored it. As an adult, I learned this lesson the hard way. You can’t trust everyone. And when your mom says she doesn’t like someone, listen to her.
  18. If the answer isn’t “Hell Yes!” then it’s a no – Don’t be afraid to say no. If the answer is maybe, you should probably just say no. Don’t stress yourself out over stuff you don’t really want to do.
  19. It’s ok to ask for help – Asking for help doesn’t make you weak. The strongest I have ever been was when I admitted that I couldn’t do it alone.
  20. Know when to speak up for yourself – I hate conflict and I hate rocking the boat but there are times when speaking up for yourself is unavoidable. Don’t be afraid to defend yourself and your boundaries.
  21. It’s never too late to build or strengthen relationships – With family, with friends, with coworkers, with strangers. Relationships are the building blocks of life and without them, we are islands.
  22. Excessive drinking leads to bad decision making (but wine is amazing) – Know your limits. That’s it.
  23. It’s important to have a spiritual journey outside of your parents – I know all about going to church because that’s how you were raised or that’s what your parents do, but having your own spiritual practice and connection is crucial.
  24. Mind the business that pays you – No explanation needed. Mind your own business.
  25. Mental health is important – Having a consistent mental health practice whether that’s meditation, yoga, or therapy is the key to being healthy, happy, and whole.
  26. Financial planners are a God send – If you’re like me and need help managing your finances, get a good financial planner. It’s worth the investment.
  27. Hot showers are therapeutic – After a long day, physically, mentally, or emotionally, a a hot shower is the most soothing thing there is.
  28. It’s ok not to be ok – You won’t always be happy or feel good. And that’s ok. You don’t have to pretend to be ok all the time.
  29. There’s no specific timetable for life – You don’t have to finish college or be married or have kids by a certain time. Things will happen when they are supposed to for YOU.
  30. It’s ok not to have it all together by 30 – I was dreading turning 30 for the longest time because I wasn’t where I thought I should be in life by this time but I have an amazing job, family and friends who love me, and a whole lot of life left ahead of me. I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.

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Reloading…

Hey Friends. I’m Back!

I know, it’s been a long time. I’ve been meaning to write something for a while but so many things kept pushing it back. When I started this blog, in 2018, I was in a place mentally where I needed an outlet and a distraction from everything I was feeling and thinking. Blogging provided that. As I began to improve mentally and find joy in the real world again, blogging started to feel more like a job than an outlet. But over the last several months, I have been feeling like the universe was telling me that it was time to pick it back up, not as an outlet this time, but as a tool to help others. I have been amazed by the number of people who told me that my blog helped them or that my story was inspiring. It wasn’t intended for that purpose but I am so glad it has morphed into that.  I am excited to continue to share my story and use it to help others.

So here’s a little update on where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to in 2019:
  • I have an amazing job doing event planning, PR, and public engagement. It was never the field I saw myself working in but I am so grateful that it fell into my lap. I got a promotion at the beginning of the year and a significant raise at the end of the year. I love my job and I am excited to keep learning and growing.
  • I became a Big Sister at Big Brothers Big Sisters. I just met my little for the first time last week and I’m so excited for our future adventures together. She’s 14 and a high school freshman. I purposely requested a high schooler because I know how tough teenage years and high school can be and I don’t think teenagers can ever have too much support. I hope that we grow to have an amazing relationship.
  • I joined a new church and started singing on the worship team. I have always loved worship. It’s always been my favorite part of church service so I love getting to be on stage leading others into worship and helping to usher the presence of God into the service. And I’ve met some amazing people along the way too!
  • I developed a new relationship with my grandma. I moved in with my grandma last November and it was supposed to only be for 6 months so that I could save up for my next move in life. Well in that process, my family and I determined that Grandma benefitted from having someone else there to help out around the house and keep an eye on her so we decided that I would stay until my mom was able to move in permanently in May 2020. This last year living with my grandma has been full of growth, laughter, and lots of love. My grandma and I are closer than we have ever been in life and she has become one of my best friends. I just love her to pieces!
  • I turned 30! (Well, almost). My thirtieth birthday is on December 26. I have been dreading turning thirty for most of the last year. I felt disappointed that I wasn’t where I thought I should be by thirty- marriage, children, home ownership, financial stability. But recently, I have come to embrace what turning 30 at this time means. I am entering a new decade of life at the same time that the world is entering a new decade. It’s a time of new beginnings, of refreshing old ways and patterns, of setting new goals and sowing new seeds. I am excited to see what my thirties has in store for me. It is sure to be a big decade for sure.
  • I’m still seeing my therapist monthly. Even though I am in a WHOLE lot better place mentally now, it is still so helpful to have that monthly check in with my therapist to make sure I’m still on the right track and to help me sort through life’s daily struggles. I think of it as a monthly tune up. My therapist and I are almost three years in the game and she continues to be an integral part of my life.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog, for your encouraging responses, and for sticking with me while I figure out this thing called life. I have so much to share and I can’t wait for you to read it. More to come soon, I promise. Til then, Happy Holidays!

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1 Year Later: Lessons Learned From My Stay in a Mental Hospital

One year ago, I was admitted to the Hyland Behavioral Health Inpatient Psychiatric Unit at St. Anthony’s Hospital for severe depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. It was the single most terrifying day of my life.

After sitting in the Behavioral Health Unit of the Emergency Room at Depaul Hospital for 12 hours, I was transferred via ambulance, alone, to Hyland, where I had to repeat the same story about why I was there to no less than 5 people, before being stripped of all my clothing and belongings, given paper scrubs to wear, and shown to my room occupied by a sleeping stranger, after 10pm. I was exhausted, defeated, and in tears.

And I was absolutely terrified.

I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know if there would be people running through the halls screaming. If I was going to be put into a straight jacket. If the nurses would be mean and torture me. If I would be allowed to use the phone or talk to anyone. I’m sure I had every negative image of a psych ward that I had ever seen in my life running through my head at that exact moment.

But blessedly, it was nothing like that. It was actually exactly the refresh I needed. And now looking back a year later, I can tell you that the things I learned during my 3 day stay will stay with me for life.

3 things I learned:

  1. Your boat just has a hole that needs to be plugged.

    The first time I met with my psychiatrist, he said something that I will forever remember. He told me that I was like a ship that is normally able to rock with the waves and weather the storms but that my boat had just gotten a hole that needed to be plugged. Life-changing. In the midst of feeling absolutely broken and useless, I felt a weight lifted. I was not broken beyond repair. I was fixable and I would one day sail again. I just needed to right tools to plug the hole.

  2. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength.

    In the wake of recent stories in the media like Kate Spade’s suicide and the popular Netflix show 13 Reasons Why, I am glad to be reminded of this lesson. I waited until it was almost too late to reach out for help because I thought that by asking for help, I was admitting that I couldn’t even handle the daily stressors of life. I thought it made me weak that there were people who had it far worse than me and here I was moping and crying about seemingly insignificant things. But on my first day, one of the group facilitators congratulated me on having the strength to speak up and ask for help instead of allowing myself to continue down the blackhole of depression. I thought he was crazy for saying I was strong when I felt anything but. Now looking back, I see how much easier it would have been to just give up and give in rather than continue fighting but I am so glad I found the tiny shred of strength I needed to make that phone call.

  3. Behavioral Health Units are nothing like you see in the movies.

You know how you see movies like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Girl, Interrupted and you think “Those people are crazy. I could never end up like them” or “I wouldn’t survive in a psych ward. Too many crazy people”. Well I’m here to tell you that my experience was nothing like the movies. There was no mean nurse taking advantage of people or long-time residents who had learned how to manipulate the staff and patients. Quite the opposite actually. The nurses were one of my most favorite things about my stay. They were so friendly and supportive. They truly cared about you, your wellbeing, and your recovery. And there were no “lifers” or people having been stuck there for years. The average inpatient psychiatric hospital stay in the US is only 12 days as inpatient is geared toward the acute, crisis situations. The goal is to get the patient stable enough to return home and continue treatment. Believe it or not, that 3 day stay was the best thing to happen to me at the time. I needed that break from life to focus on myself and give my mental system a “soft-reset”. Would I ever want to go back? Heck no! But if I needed to, I would.

So there you have it. Straight from the horse’s mouth of what mental institutions/behavioral health units/psych wards are really like.

As I was thinking about where I was a year ago a wise woman said to me, “Don’t think of it as the day you bumped your head and fell down. Think of it as the day you got up from the fall and kept moving”. Wise words from a wise woman. (Thanks mom!)

June 5, 2017 thankfully was not the end of my life, but rather the beginning of a journey towards freedom and mental health. But I wouldn’t be here right now, if I hadn’t reached out for help.

If you or someone you know is in need of someone to talk to…

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Mental Health

The Stigma

I had someone tell me today that I needed to stop using my anxiety as an excuse and that I needed to “grow out of it”.

The person that said this is someone I care deeply about and whom I know cares deeply about me. However, the way they see the world is entirely different from me. They are very logical and practical. X+Y=Z. Period. Everything is black and white. And emotions and feelings belong nowhere near the decision-making process.

I, on the other hand, am as emotional as they come. I am both an empath and a highly sensitive person (HSP) meaning that I am very sensitive to the environment around me, the emotions of others, their moods, sights, sounds, smells and also that I absorb the energy of those around me and make it mine (which I have to fight hard to control). So when I make decisions I rely on feeling and intuition, thinking about how my decisions and my words will impact others, how it will make them feel. And I deal with anxiety on top of all of that.

So you can imagine how I must have felt hearing that comment. Offended, hurt, livid. Just to name a few.

One of the things that annoys me most about our society is the stigma placed on mental illness and how it is treated so differently from physical illness. For instance, you wouldn’t tell someone with Type I diabetes that they needed to “grow out of it” would you? Type I diabetes is a physical illness that is usually diagnosed early in life and for which there is no cure. People with this illness take medication daily and make lifestyle adjustments like healthy eating and exercising to maintain control over their illness. If they don’t follow the necessary maintenance steps, the disease gets out of control and takes over and they end up in the hospital or worse. God forbid that this person loses a limb due to their disease and has to go through physical therapy to learn how to function again.

But nowhere in this scenario does someone tell them to “suck it up” or “get over it”.

Now think of a mental illness like anxiety in those same terms. It is something that can be diagnosed at any age but once it is diagnosed, it becomes a part of that person’s daily life. Some people take medication for it and/or make lifestyle adjustments like self-care and avoiding trigger situations. If they don’t perform these maintenance steps, the anxiety gets out of control and takes over and they end up in the hospital or worse. Following hospitalization, individuals usually require some intense therapy to learn how to function in society again.

Speaking from experience, a year agoI wasn’t following the steps necessary to maintain control over my anxiety and depression and I landed in the hospital. After spending 3 days in an inpatient behavioral health unit, I was stable enough to go home. But I had to spend 6 weeks in intensive outpatient therapy (IOP) to learn how to function again. IOP was like physical therapy for my mind.

But I didn’t just want to function. I wanted to THRIVE. So following completion of IOP, I continued to see a therapist twice a week for months. I put in some hard work. I faced hard truths about myself. I changed thinking patterns. I cried many tears. But most importantly, I FOUGHT.

Everytime it got hard and I wanted to quit, I FOUGHT. Everytime I felt like I took two steps backwards, I FOUGHT. Everytime I felt discouraged, I FOUGHT. I fought like hell to become the woman I am today. I fought hard to get to a healthy place and maintain it.

So you’re damn right I take offense to someone belittling my hard work and reducing it to a phase that I just need to “grow out of”. As would someone who lost a limb to diabetes and put in the work to learn how to walk again.

So the next time you encounter someone with a mental illness and you aren’t sure what to say, remember this:

If you wouldn’t say it to someone with diabetes, a broken leg, or any other chronic physical disease or ailment, don’t say it to someone with a mental illness.

Breaking the stigma that society has placed on mental illness is very important to me. May is Mental Health month and to kick it off, I am participating in the St. Louis chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ annual walk on May 5. I would love your support in any way.

If you would like to participate in the walk with me, donate to my fundraising campaign, or just send kind words and prayers, your support is appreciated.

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Dating Mental Health Uncategorized

Finding Peace and Freedom in Solitude

Before my current relationship started, I had been single for 8 months, living on my own for 2 months and until this year, I had NEVER lived alone. Technically, I had an apartment of my own until June of last year but the amount of time I spent there was limited. I didn’t know what it meant to be alone and actually enjoy it. I equated being alone with loneliness and sadness. In my mind, being left alone meant no one cared about me enough to want to spend time with me. Everyone had better things to do than to hang out with me. My brain told me I was useless and unworthy of anyone’s time or effort. Never mind the fact that I had a family who loved me and a boyfriend at the time. If left alone for any length of time, my mind began to sing the same old song that no one loved me. I was a FAILURE.

Being alone actually contributed to my mental breakdown last summer that landed me in the hospital. After a fight with my boyfriend, I spent an entire weekend locked in my apartment, alone and crying. That Monday morning, I called my mom inconsolable and suicidal. I can’t say that having someone around would have prevented my breakdown completely but being left alone for 3 days certainly didn’t help.

After my hospital stay, I moved back in with my mom, where I was seldom left alone for longer than a few hours for the next month. My mom checked on me when she was at work and got my brother and nephews to stay with me when she went on a cruise for a week. Alone time was my enemy and my idle mind was the devil’s playground.

However, through hard work with my therapist, I began to identify the thinking patterns that led to my fear of being alone and combat them. I began to find things to occupy my time when I was alone to keep my mind from wandering. I started changing the way that I thought about the word “alone”, the way I defined it.

I replaced alone, sadness, and loneliness with solitude, peace, and freedom.

My boyfriend (we’ll call him Bae ;-)) and I have been dating for exactly 39 days (but who’s counting right?) and we have seen each other 27 of those days and spoken via phone or video chat all but 2 of those days. The only times we didn’t speak and/or see each other have been when I was on a boat in the middle of the ocean. (Yeah, I know the old folks warn against spending so much time with a person, especially a new relationship, because it is so easy to get caught up in it and lose sight of yourself in the process but us young folks don’t listen anyway right?)

Bae does a fast once a month only allows him to use his phone for emergencies for week and instead spend his free time with God, in prayer and studying God’s word. It worked out that his fast for March happened while I was on a 7 day cruise, so it didn’t much matter how much time he had available to talk to me. But when Bae told me on Sunday, that he was starting his next fast on Monday, I flipped (wrong reaction I know but stay with me). We had seen each other more than half the days and spoken almost everyday of our relationship. What do you mean you want to go 6 days without seeing or speaking to me?!? Reluctantly (and with an attitude), I agreed to give him his space to partake in what he felt called to do.

Today is day 3 of that fast and although I miss him like crazy, I have to say it has been so REFRESHING!! I forgot what it feels like to come home to my empty apartment with an entire evening stretched out in front of me filled with nothing but whatever I want to do. Whether that’s sleeping, taking a long, hot shower, reading, journaling, binge-watching Netflix, taking a walk, going out for a drink with friends. I forgot the feeling of peace and freedom that comes with seeking solitude and actually enjoying it. What I thought would be a week of being lonely, staring at the phone, and sulking has actually turned into a week of enjoying the silence, treating myself, and loving on my Jesus.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am still looking forward to Saturday when I will get to see Bae and enjoy his company again, but this week has turned out way differently than I planned it, in a good way.

I was reminded yesterday during my quiet time of journaling and reflection of the following bible verse:

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

It was God’s gentle reminder that I have found peace in Him and that no matter the struggles that the world throws at me, I shall remain at peace. Y’all don’t know how hard I fought for this peace and I intend to hold on to it for a lifetime.

Thanks Bae for following the Lord’s call into this fast so that He could remind me how hard I worked for this peace and freedom. Now here’s to hoping Saturday comes quickly!

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Family

A letter to my father

On March 19, 2018, while on vacation at a cruise stop in Jamaica, I found out that my father had passed away. My father has been in and out of my life since I was 4 and prior to this past August when I found out he was dying of cancer, I hadn’t seen or spoken to him in over 8 years.

I tried not to let this ruin my vacation but since I have returned home, the reality of the situation has hit me like a ton of bricks. When I found out my father was sick, I reached out to him in hopes of building some sort of relationship with him before he passed away. Unfortunately that relationship never manifested and I never got to express to him how I felt about his absence from my life. The letter below is what I would tell him today if given the chance. It may seem harsh to some but it is my truth.

My father was cremated last week and his family currently has no plans to hold a funeral or memorial service. It’s hard to get closure from death when there is no final ceremony or service at which to say goodbye but hopefully writing this letter brings me one step closer to the closure I so desperately need.

A letter to my father:

Dear…You,

(I have never known what to call you because “dad” was too personal, Andre was too formal and “sperm-donor seemed inappropriate.)

I am heartbroken. My heart hurts every time I think of you. But not because of your death. I’m heartbroken over your life. That you lived and died alone. That you pushed away the only family you had left, even when they tried everything they could to be there for you. I mourn the fact that you died never having witnessed how intelligent, compassionate, and vibrant this person was whom you brought into this world. I’m sad for you and all that you missed out on.

Truly, I’m not sad that you’re dead. As a matter of fact, I’m angry at your death. I’m angry that even in death you managed to do the one thing that you have been consistently good at for the last 28 years: abandoning your only child. I grew up wondering what was wrong with me, what I could possibly have done, that my own father didn’t want to be in my life. I grew up thinking that I did something wrong, that maybe I pushed him away, that somehow it was my fault. My mom would always tell me that it wasn’t my fault and that you loved me in your own way and just didn’t know how to show it. I tried to believe her but there was always this little voice in the back of my mind that questioned whether I was worthy of your love. As I got older, I started to remember that I was the child in this situation and there shouldn’t have been anything in this world that kept you from me. I watched as my mom moved mountains to make sure that I had everything I needed and most of what I wanted. I watched her struggle to fulfill both roles and give me twice as much love to make up for what I lacked from you. As I reached adulthood, I stopped caring altogether (or at least I pretended to). I stopped caring that you didn’t call me on my birthday. I stopped caring that you had broken every promise that you ever made me. I pretended that it didn’t bother me that my fathered hadn’t earned the privilege to walk me down the aisle at my wedding. But as I matured and unpacked 20+ years of baggage through counseling and prayer, I learned that it did indeed bother me. It bothered me that I didn’t have the relationship that so many other girls have with their dads. It bothered me when some knuckle-headed boy broke my heart and I didn’t have my dad to tell me that I was still beautiful and worthy of love. It bothered me when I saw the impact of not having my father in my life manifest itself in my relationships and dealings with the opposite sex. It bothered me that my biggest fear in life was being abandoned by the men in my life because the one man walking this earth who was supposed to be there no matter what, wasn’t.

I’ve had a hard time dealing with your death because I didn’t know how to feel. I felt bad for being angry at you for dying. I felt selfish for thinking only of myself and how it affected me. But I’m not the selfish one in this situation. You are. Because you abandoned your only biological child in life and in death.

I know that it will take a lot of counseling, prayer, and self-reflection to deal with the emotional scars you left behind but life will go on and I have so many people in my life who love me enough to make up for all the love I missed from you.

I don’t know where you are, whether you’re in heaven, hell or somewhere in between. But I hope that wherever you are, you see this little girl you left behind and the amazing woman she has become, and you smile. Because in spite of you, she is strong and she will survive.

Sincerely your daughter,

LaKecia Eboné Veal

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Mental Health Uncategorized

What Mental Illness Looks Like

Oh life…

Yesterday was one of those days where I wanted to go home, curl up in a ball, and cry. Or bury myself in the covers, never to resurface again. Or get drunk until I black out and forget everything. Or all of the above.

It was one of those days that started off bad and got progressively worse. It was one of those days where I sat at my desk trying not to cry because I was so frustrated with life. It was one of those days where I called my mom in the middle of the day for a pep talk because I was slowly falling apart.

It was one of those days where my mental illness reared its ugly head. It was one of those days where my usual bubbly demeanor breaks and the mental illness simmering under the surface peaks through.

I often hear people say that someone doesn’t “look like they have a mental illness”. My question is always, “well what does mental illness look like?”. Mental illness doesn’t look or sound like one particular person or thing. It’s not the person who “looks” crazy. It’s not the person walking down the street talking to themselves. Mental illness is not one particular race, ethnicity, socioeconomic class or gender.

Mental illness could look like the coworker you sit next to everyday who seems like she has it all together but cries herself to sleep every night. It could look like the corporate VP with the perfect family who finds it difficult to find energy to even get out of bed on the weekend because of his depression. It could look like the devout christian woman who goes to church every Sunday, prays, and reads her bible but still can’t calm her anxious thoughts.

This week, mental illness looked like me: a beautiful, educated, gifted young black woman from a stable childhood with a private school education and a great support system who got a little overwhelmed with life…but thankfully has the skills and support to overcome.

But due to the stigma of “what mental illness looks like” or “should look like”, some people don’t have access to the same resources or skills. This is why I am passionate about sharing my story so others can see what mental illness truly looks like and helping to break the stigma that keeps people from seeking help when they need it. I want everyone to understand mental illness and be able to recognize the signs so that anyone suffering from a mental illness can get the help they need.

If we all stop hiding and begin to share our stories of our struggles with mental health, together, we can #breakthestigma.

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Uncategorized

10 Things You May Not Know About Me

For a lot of you, you may not know me personally or know much about me. So I wanted to take an opportunity to give you a glimpse into my life and learn a little more about the girl behind the blog.

1. My favorite color is rose gold. I know, not a traditional favorite color but I love anything rose gold. Although if push comes to a shove and I have to choose a more traditional color, I’ll go with pink (begrudgingly). 20160703_162838

2. My favorite holiday is the 4th of July. I LOVE SUMMER!! Everything about it, the heat, the long days and warm nights, the fashion. I also suffer from mild seasonal affective disorder so my mood and zest for life are so much higher in the warmer months…so of course my favorite holiday would take place in the summer. I look forward to Fair St. Louis every year for the food, the fun, and of course the FIREWORKS!!

3. I am a picky eater. You know those picky eater tests going around Facebook right now? Well the list of things I do eat, shorter than the list of things I don’t eat. I seriously eat like a 5 year old. Ask my mother.

4. I am part of the 12% of the world’s population that is left-handed. I hold that honor with pride. Yes I struggle with smearing on my papers, and writing in ring-bound notebooks but I love being unique and the excitement of finding people who are also left-handed.

889312_587433264601053_1451743419_o5. If I could live anywhere in the world it would be Costa Rica. I spent a week in Costa Rica in 2013 for class during my master’s program and I fell in love with everything about it. The weather is gorgeous, the people are so nice, and the food is AMAZING. I’m planning a trip for my 30th birthday and I’m not yet sure if I’m coming back home. One of my dreams has been to spend 6 months to a year in Costa Rica doing mission work. I haven’t given up that dream yet so maybe one day…

6. I love to dance. I danced from middle school all through college. It was always an opportunity for me to let go and just have some fun. After college, life got in the way and I didn’t dance for 6 years. But I decided this was the year that I would go back to doing something I love and try something new at the same time. So a few weeks ago, I took and survived my first heels class which is essentially hip hop dance in high heels, a la Beyoncé. It is definitely not as easy as Queen Bey makes it look but it’s so much fun! I’ve also taken some other classes that were just as fun. Definitely found my new workout routine. (If you’re looking for adult dance classes for dancers of all levels, check out my friends at Consuming Kinetics Dance Company).

LaKeciaPhotos-45

7. I am a bullet journaler. For those who don’t know, bullet journaling is a form of planning that combines the functionality of a traditional planner, a sketchbook, journal, and notebook all into one. It is seriously the best thing I have discovered in the last year. I tried so many other forms of planning but I kept coming back to the bullet journal. It’s so versatile and really gives you the freedom to turn it into whatever you need it to be. If you’re interested in learning more about bullet journaling, start here.

8. I have been engaged 3 times. Long story. Hit me up if you want to hear the sordid tale.

9. I am an empath/ highly sensitive person (HSP) which basically means that I am very in tune to the feelings and emotions of others which can sometimes affect me negatively because I absorb other people’s emotions, both positive and negative. It makes me a great listener, naturally giving, and highly intuitive but it also makes me more susceptible to bouts of depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and a host of physical symptoms.  But I choose to look at it positively and think of it as a gift that gives me a special ability to understand others in a way that many people can’t. Think you’re an empath? Find out here.

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10. I AM ENOUGH. This may not seem like news to you but it look me almost my whole life to learn this about myself. I spent most of my life worrying about whether I was “enough”. Good enough. Smart enough. Pretty enough. Black enough. Successful enough. It was the cause of a lot of anxiety in my life as I was always concerned about what other people thought of me and whether I lived up to their standards. But through therapy, prayer, and self-reflection, I have slowly changed this thinking pattern to one that says, “I AM ENOUGH”. Even if I don’t live up to your expectations, I am enough because God says I am and I believe I am.

So there you have it. 10 things you may or may not have known about me. Did anything on this list surprise you? Anything that we have in common? I would love to hear from you!

Follow me on Instagram and Facebook for daily encouragement and updates!

 

 

Categories
Mental Health Uncategorized

Open Letter to 2018

Dear 2018,

Let’s talk…

2017 started off great. I was in a relationship with someone who I thought really loved and understood me. I took several trips, including visiting New York City for the first time and going to my extended family reunion. I had a new position at work that I loved. And I had some many plans for more great things in 2017.

And then the bottom fell out. 

And I hit the lowest point I have ever been in my life. I spent 3 days in a mental hospital and then 6 weeks in intensive outpatient group therapy. In the midst of which, my boyfriend broke up with me, I lost my independence by having to move back in with my mom, and I had to take 6 weeks off of work. I then spent the next 6 months trying to get my life back together, get over my ex, regain my independence, and get back to a stable place mentally.

Which brings me to you, 2018. I don’t want to have a repeat of last year so let me tell you how this year is going to go. I’m putting you on notice that this year will be AMAZING.

This year I will be stronger

This year I will be unstoppable.

This year I will be FIERCE

This year, I will operate in my PURPOSE and I  will not let anyone or anything pull me away from it.

This year, I will not be afraid to say no to anything that does not serve me, grow me, or make me better. If the answer is not “hell yes”, the answer will be no. If it does not bring me joy, the answer is no. If it takes me away from fulfilling my purpose, the answer is “hell no”.

This year I choose to let go. I choose to let go of those who hurt me in the past. I choose to let go of negative thoughts. I choose to let go of things that have been said about me that weren’t true. I choose to let go of anger. I choose to let go of longing for things that I know will never happen.

This year, I will not let mental illness defeat me. I will recognize my triggers, I will seek help when necessary, and I will take time for self-care. I will speak out about mental health and use my story to help others.

This year I will embark on new adventures, create new memories, and be open to new experiences. I will take trips, try new things, and expand my horizons.

This year will be AMAZING. 

 

So here’s your notice 2018. I will not tolerate any of 2017’s shenanigans, ya hear?

So now that we have an understanding, LET’S DO THIS!

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What do you need to tell 2018 to prepare you for an amazing year? Drop me a comment here, or connect with me on Instagram or Facebook. I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Categories
Uncategorized

Grace not Perfection

Happy New Year and welcome to Grace not Perfection! Thank you for checking out my new blog. I am so excited to share my life with you and I hope that you will get just as much out of this journey as I will get from sharing it with you.

Where to start? Let’s start with why I chose the name “Grace not Perfection”. I am a self- proclaimed perfectionist. When I want something a certain way, I will not stop until it is exactly how I pictured it in my mind. Needless to say that got me into a lot of trouble because no one is perfect and very few things or situations are every really perfect. So when I came across the phrase “I will hold myself to a standard of grace not perfection”, I was mind-blown. I mean, there was actually a standard other than perfection? One that was actually attainable? One that wouldn’t put me into an overly anxious state and cause me mental anguish every time I didn’t achieve it? Well, sign me up! And so grace became my power word for 2017. (If you aren’t familiar with power words, see here.) That one word was a reminder to myself of several things: 1. that God grants me the grace to make mistakes without sacrificing his love for me, 2. that I needed to grant myself the grace to not have to be perfect all the time, and 3. that I needed to grant others the same grace that I extended to myself. So “Grace not Perfection” became my life mantra. And over the course of 2017 with Grace always at the forefront of my mind, I learned a lot; about grace, about perfection, about relationships, and of course about myself.

That’s what this blog will be about. All of the things I have learned over the past year and all of the things I am continuing to learn every single day. I can’t promise that I will post every day or even every week, but when I have something to say, you’ll be the first to know. And I am granting myself the grace that that will be enough.

Well, that’s it. Welcome to the journey that is “Grace not Perfection”. I look forward to bringing you on this journey with me. I hope that we will laugh together, learn together, and grow together, even if we sometimes have to cry together.

Here’s to 2018 and making grace the standard, one day at a time.

p.s. I’m new to this whole blogging thing and I’ll take any and all comments and feedback but grant me some grace as I learn, ok?

*Follow me on Facebook at Grace not Perfection and on Instagram at @gracenotperfectionblog.*

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