Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Best Worst Year

This year was possibly the most challenging and rewarding year of my life. I entered 2014 thinking I was in love and happy, having felt like I figured out my life and my path and now 2014 is coming to a close and I am more sure than ever of who I am and the journey I am on. I spent most of the year healing, growing, and learning more about myself and the woman that I want to be. I would say "2015 New Year! New Me!" but I have been on this path of becoming and it shall only continue in 2015. I want to close out the year focusing on all the good that happened this year that is setting the stage for what will be an amazing 2015.

1. My boyfriend broke up with me: While for most people this doesn't seem like a "good" it actually set in motion all of the wonderful things that happened to me. I was on my own and had no time to mourn my broken heart but rather used it as a catalyst to be more awesome than ever! Not many women...scratch that...not many people could do what I did and for that I give myself a pat on the back.

2. I got my first apartment (on my own): My very own home, found by me, paid by me, loved by me (and Capone). This was the first time I ever lived alone in my own space and it was a challenging but wonderful experience. Paying my own bills, cooking my own meals, walking around naked, singing in the shower, entertaining guests, hosting family. I learned to be alone but never felt lonely.

3. I fell in love: Check that off of my 25th Birthday BUcket list. Yes. I opened up my heart and fell in love. I didn't realize it was happening until I found out I would be moving but I am happy it did.

4. I became a writer: I would have never considered myself a writer. Sure I have a strong voice and opinion but I never thought anyone would be interested in really hearing what I had to say, or reading it. But! I am an official behaviorist for Model Behaviors writing once a month on social justice issues. I had my first post published for the Student Affairs Collective and of course I have been writing here on my own blog. It is surreal to hear from people across the country that they read and are inspired by the words you write. I feel honored that people feel empowered to use their voice through reading mine.

5. Black women surrounded me: I have had the great pleasure of meeting the most amazing Black women... unapologetic ally Black women, this year. All who use their voice to create change, develop consciousness, and who have certainly inspired me. Tanya Fields, Melissa Harris-Perry, Victoria Rowell, Dominique Christina, Frenchie Davis and more.... in short these women don't give a f--k and I love it!

6. #blacklivesmatter: This movement is the greatest thing I have seen...ever. I have marched along side strangers, chanted with friends, cried, laughed, argued, but this struggle is real, peoples endurance and resilience is inspiring, and I lift up the movement in any and every way that I can.

7. My first professional job: I started working at the University of Kansas in Janurary 6th 2014 (although I missed the first few days while I was home with the flu). This job was the best thing that ever happened to me this year. Not because KU isn't kind of a shitshow but here I got a new family, new friends, I continued to develop my voice, I challenged the system, I challenged myself, I realized I am who I am and professionalism is the White patriarchy trying to tell me to be quiet. I have had the best support system in the world and I will love these people, in this place, in this time always and forever. Rock Chalk!

8. I got my 2nd professional job: THAT'S RIGHT! A little less than a year after joining KU, I am making the bittersweet transition into my 2nd professional job (along with a promotion/title change) returning to my wonderful alma mater Wesleyan University. I am so excited to start 2015 in a new (but old) place as I continue to learn and grow as a professional. Go Wes!

9. SJTI31: talk about healing spaces and family. This experience was right on time and gave me some of the most wonderful people, friends, and family. I couldn't have asked for a better transition into my healing, growth, and voice. I hold that weekend close to me and the people I created everlasting bonds with - they inspire me, keep me, and give me courage constantly.

10. ME: Lastly, me. I am a badass b***h and I don't care who knows it. I feel more myself than I have ever felt in my life. I have endured and outlasted all the hardships of this year. I have done more in 6 months then most people do in a lifetime and I am extremely proud of myself. The universe has blessed me immensely and for that I am eternally grateful. Kind people, good people, worthy people receive love, opportunity, grace - I am glad to be on the right side.

Happy New Year!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Dear Brothers

To my Black Brothers by blood and by spirit:

I wanted to let you know in case you didn't hear it today but I love you. You in your graduation cap, construction hat, hoodie, baseball cap. All the things you are and all the things you do, I love you.

There is a world that will tell you that you are not worthy of love or justice. There is a world that will tell you that your life has no value or worth. There is a world that will label you, judge you, call you names, tear you down - but I will fight that, because I love you. 

They will try to justify hurting you, they will try to explain away the injustice you will face, they will try to villanize you long after your gone - I will fight that too, because I love you. 

You are the original Kings. You may not sit on your throne here but there is one waiting for you. In the meantime, I will fight for you, I will lift you, I will hold you, I will love you, always. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

You Tried and Failed: 5 Things to Know for Dating Me

1. COMPLIMENT MY MIND BEFORE MY LOOKS (some of you are struggling with this one)
Blame my grandmother. Ever since I was a little girl my grandmother would politely scold people who would comment on how cute or pretty I was. "Don't tell her that" she would say. Maybe because I spent every waking moment looking at myself in the mirror so the assumption she had was that I was already too into my looks, or maybe she understand that as a young woman I would constantly be judged on my looks and appearance, and for as long as she could control it, wanted my mind to be central as oppose to my body. I carry that with me today. Do I like being told how gorgeous and spectacular I look? Absolutely! Would a conversation on one of my many posts about street harassment, social justice, or identity politics leading to a compliment on how intelligent and interesting I am result in me wanting to potentially jump your metaphorical bone? Possibly/ (probably)

I have goals, dreams, and aspirations which don't include cooking dinner, having babies, or being arm candy. Yes, I do want a family one day. No, that is not all my life will be about. I love the work I do, I love challenging people, having difficult conversations, finding new and amazing ways to impact the world so that one day those babies I may or may not decide to have can live in a world a little better than the one I grew up in. So, dating me requires an understanding that my life will not revolve around my partner (nor should my partners life revolve around me) but rather there be a mutual exchange of support and understanding. I don't know what it is about being an educated career woman that seems to turn off folks but if you can't dig it you can keep it moving. I am being awesome and I need someone who wants to be awesome with me, not dull my awesomeness.

(yes that includes my dog)
My family has never...not EVER, been wrong about anyone I have ever dated. While they will let me learn and figure things out on my own, they are normally correct in their first impressions that a person makes (its like their super 6th sense). If I had listened to them more often I might have been saved from a couple heartaches but that being said as I get older my family's opinions on who I am partnered with is becoming more and more important. If you happen to meet my family 1. feel special and 2. be weary, they can be a judgmental bunch but it is only because they have my best interest at heart (also my dad is a gun owner and I am a daddy's girl- beware).

I was taught some fucked up shit about people and about myself by my family, society, media, church, etc. I refuse to do that to my children. I want to raise my children to be who they want and to be who they are without fear. I will throw a gender neutral baby shower and will raise my child to understand that gender norms and gender roles are socially constructed (and a bunch of bullshit I might add). I will teach my daughter, as I was taught, that her brain is her best asset and not her ASSset. I will teach my son about the dangers of being Black in America and show them both how to navigate the world with a level of consciousness that will probably surpass many of their peers. If I have a trans child or a gay child I will love them, hard, because I know that even in the 21st century the world will not love them, not that much anyway (but my children will be Black so the world won't really love them regardless of their sexuality or gender identity). I will read them poems by Rumi, listen to speeches by Malcolm X, watch documentaries on slavery, and sing them songs in Spanish. They will be woke, I will be woke, and I need you to be woke too.

Lastly, you cannot buy me. You can't buy my love, my happiness (or my forgiveness *cough cough*) but rather understand that the true measure of my joy will be in the laughs we share, the conversations we have, the struggles we might experience, and the growth of our partnership. Now, that being said I do love going out and having a good time (I'm a retired party animal but on occasion I still indulge) and certainly money does not hurt but it isn't everything. I want to live comfortably but I'll take happiness over comfort any day.

Now, let the courting begin! 
(yes, I said courting)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Six Month Check-in: From Heartache to Healing

When babies are born they go in for a six month check up. The doctor analyzes their cognative and physical development. We continue to have annual check ups as we grow, recieving vaccines to develop immunities to sickness, going to ERs and walk-in clinic for emergancies, and as a girl you get an extra special doctor once you reach a certain age resulting in not one but two physical check ups a year. Today I counted, April to May, June, July, August, September, October; six months. It has been six months since I got my heartbroken, since I learned that the man I thought would marry had begun a relationship with another woman, since I moved out of our apartment and began to live on my own, six months since I last cried, and six months since I began to heal, it seemed like an appropriate time for a check up or rather a check-in.

The process has been long, sometimes painful, but mostly good. No doubt, with the 2014 NFL season in full force and living in Kansas City Chiefs territory, there are constant reminders of him everywhere I turn. I strategically avoid bars on game days, refuse to listen to the radio, and turn past the "sports section" in the KU newspaper not knowing if I might see his face or name staring at me.

Thinking about how I maneuver the world intentionally avoiding all things him got me thinking about emotional control, forgiveness, healing and moving on. Thinking that if I truly forgave him and was truly healed I wouldn't be triggered by all that I have been avoiding. So I have had to ask myself, what does forgiveness look like and do I need to forgive to heal?

I don't know if I have answers for these questions yet and I don't know if I ever will, what I do know is that I have spent the past six months returning to myself. Heartbreak has changed me, for people trying to get close to me it has been challenging as I remain closed off, skeptical, and a tad pessimistic; yet, at the same time I have developed this amazing strength and fearlessness in commanding my voice, naming my wants, and unapologeticlly advocating for what I need- personally, professionally, physically, and emotionally.

While I work to figure out if I am a forgiving person I have always known that I am not a forgetful one. As mother Maya said, "people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel" My sentiments exactly, except with text messaging and social media the words are there, recounting the decietful actions that linger in my memory.

A young man has recently been attempting to "court" me and recognized some of the changes that I had not yet realized were apparent to the outside world. Driving around town, I probably said some mean snarky remark and he quickly, honestly, and sweetly said "I don't know who hurt you in the past but..." the rest of what he said is a blur. He knew, I have been wearing it around, my heartache and it was showing up in the form of sassy disregard, unkind criticism of others, and a closed heart and mind when it came to this young man who just wanted to take me to dinner. So I began to share my story, I told him that one day I was sitting in the jewelry store with an engagement ring on my finger thinking this is going to happen and a month later I am homeless, carless, broke, and alone. So how does healing even begin?

I figured this break up would break me or I would use it as a catalyst for personal growth. I am so grateful for the relationship I had, out of that one I have developed amazing friendships, been a part of a wonderful community, traveled around the country, found the best job, and learned so much about myself. I became complacent and comfortable and this break up forced me into an uncomfortable space where I was either going to fail or take on the world head on. Six months later, I am still broke but I love my job, I have a car, a beautiful home, and wonderful friends. I am writing for the beautiful and equally intelligent Toni Munoz-Hunt, who I would not have met had I not been in this relationship and who I probably wouldn't be working with had I not gone through this break up.


I got to witness the union of my beautiful friend Jaid and her hubby Eric Reid, who I would not know had it not been for my move to California and my unwielding dedication to developing and maintaining friendships. 

I am transforming lives daily in my work at KU, most memorablly thusfar hosting the first KU Women of Color Retreat, which was a necessary and fulfilling space. My job has not just been work but has contributed greatly to my healing; being around people who believe in and understand self-care and self-love as a process of liberation. 

So six months later, the wounds are still there but not as deep. Day by day I become more and more myself. My process of healing from this break-up is intertwined with healing the wounds of my identitiy as a Black woman: broken, alone, damaged and yet so resilient, strong, and beautiful. As I continue my journy towards liberation I know that no pain is in vein, it all will mean something in the end...it has to. 


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Model Behaviors: A Documentary Review

I recently had the pleasure of writing a review for the Emmy nominated documentary Brave Miss World  for the wonderful Toni Munoz-Hunt to be featured on her website Model Behaviors. It is so amazing to have space in the world to share the often painful and unheard stories of women who have survived sexual violence, abuse, and rape. Thank you Toni for the space, thank you Linor for sharing your story. 

Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 9.23.04 PM
" In 2013, filmmakers Cecilia Peck and Inbal B. Lessner released Brave Miss World to audiences in hopes of encouraging a global dialogue and ending the silence surrounding sexual assault. The documentary explores the true story of a rape crime survivor, her journey to heal, and the activism that sheds light on the web of shame and secrecy that surrounds sex crimes. The journey begins with Linor Abargil, winner of the Miss World contest in 1997. At 18 years old, and just weeks before being crowned Miss World, Abargil is savagely raped and stabbed by her travel agent while in Milan.  Through sheer determination and quick wit, Abargil is able to convince her attacker that she will not tell anyone what happened, and thus, begins her heroic journey." Read More

For my Jayhawk family, this week is Sexual Assault Awareness Week at KU. There are a few amazing events left so please try to come out and learn how we can do better and be better for our community. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ray Rice, Domestic Abuse, & Apologies from my Ex-boyfriend

In 2007 I began my freshman year of undergraduate school. I found my friends pretty quickly, found a home in clubs and organizations, and found a love interest in my Latin dance partner.

We moved our relationship from the dance floor and out into the campus spending pretty much every waking and sleeping moment together. Things seem kind of fuzzy and I don't know how it all went from good to bad but at some point I realized I was unhappy. 

He was such a passionate person- and by passionate I mean aggressive and what I would call controlling, but that was a trait of Latino men as I was taught. He would get upset and punch walls, get jealous when I would go out with friends, get in screaming matches which terrified my best friend, or he would give me the silent treatment when I went out (especially if I drank). 

I think my best friend and I were the only ones aware that the relationship was not good for me but I was in it up until Fall semester junior year when I decided to get out. While I was in it I don't think I would have called it an abusive relationship, mostly because I don't know if I was ever really taught what an abusive relationship looked like, but I knew that it wasn't a healthy relationship for sure. 

Everyone around him loved him and when I broke up with him I became the villain. He could do no wrong and I was the hoe who was obviously cheating and interested in other guys on campus, even written about on the campus Anonymous Confession Board (ACB). While yes I was attracted to other people, there was this whole other side of the relationship that no one else saw. 

Almost five years later and today my ex-boyfriend called me to apologize. With all the recent news of the Ray Rice domestic violence situation and the national conversation about abuse and intimate partner violence my ex-boyfriend seems to have embarked on a journey of self-reflection. He mentioned that he had come across the #whyistayed #whyileft hashtag on Twitter and reading those stories realized that not all violence and abuse is physical. He apologized for making me feel unsafe and said that he never intended to be that man. 

We discussed that when you are in the midst of a relationship sometimes it is hard to see the unhealthy aspects until you are out of it. We talked about how young we were and I talked about how manipulated I often felt to be who he wanted me to be...but, he apologized. 

I am thinking how fortunate I am to even hear that apology, even five years later and miles away. A genuine apology from a man who is able to look inside and really reflect on who it is he was, is, and wants to be. For the past two days I have been battling with men who continually defend Ray Rice, who say his wife provoked him, who spend more time on idol worship then standing at the front lines for their sisters and I commend my ex-boyfriend for being able to say "I was wrong and I apologize."

That is the beginning of the work. When we can look in the mirror and see the person capable of being and doing better. When we can stop defending, stop arguing and just say sorry. Apologies go a long way, especially for people who have experienced trauma- in all forms. 

I never asked for an apology, I don't think I ever needed one but being a Black woman has been really challenging in the last couple days and so I take that apology and I am letting it patch the little holes that have been dug into my spirit the last 48 hours. I am taking that apology and I am sharing it with you all in the hopes that it gives us courage to look ourselves in that mirror and reflect on how we can be better. I take that apology and use it as an example of what it means to be human- to admit fault and to grow from it. I take that apology knowing that him picking up that phone after five years was not easy but necessary. I take that apology and I forgive- make no mistake I won't forget... 
But the dances we did still flow through my mind and as bad as things were I won't forget the good either. 

If you are in a domestice abuse situation and need to talk to someone please visit 
http://www.thehotline.org for resources. 

Love & Light 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Eleuteria's 80th: Decor on a Budget

I had the amazing pleasure of flying home  the beginning of August for my abuelas 80th birthday party. While I live miles away I was called upon to do all of the decorations for the outdoor festivities in one day with $200. My mother rented the beautiful Laural Grove picnic area at Wickham Park in Manchester, CT 

Featuring a nice big grill, a covered area and open space with long picnic tables. I flew into Connecticut on Thursday night, spent Friday seeing the space and shopping for supplies, and spent Friday night doing DIY projects to make my grandmothers day as beautiful as possible! With a limited budget my mother and I hit the dollar store and hit the jackpot with these beautiful faux flowers 

In addition, we found some great glass jars, pebbles, mirrors, baskets and more.
Our next stop was Walt-Mart and while I have some ethical issues with them, when you are trying to create beauty with a limited budget Wal-Mart is the place to go. Due to the fact that the event would be outside we needed to get some kind of bug repellent and what better than Cutter candles turned table decor? 

In addition to the candels, I turned the dollar stor faux flowers into table bouquets placed in glass jars lined with faux rose petals and tied with a sheer ribbon.

The outdoors, while beautiful in it's natural state, was softened and colored with the flowers, candels, and balloons 

Other decor included, mirrors (bought at the dollar store along with stands) which reflected the space and provided cute messages for the guests. See below more pictures of decor: 

*Mirror reflecting the space that reads "Feliz Cumpleanos. Eat. Drink. Be 80!"

*Outdoor bar featuring another mirror that read "for kids 21 and over!" 

*Cake table decorated with paper lanterns and stremers 

*wood number "8" and "0" purchased at Wal-mart and wrapped with burlap like string purchased at the dollar store and used in this basket as a napkin holder. 

My mom had those awful metallic stars that you see at every high school prom. I refused to use them as is but we needed the weights to hold down the table cloths so I repurpused them with floral tissue paper. 

The event over all was beautiful! I was so happy to go home, even for a short weekend, and help my grandmother have a wonderful birthday! She has been through so much in the past couple years loosing two of her 9 children, dealing with health issues, taking care of her grandchildren and great grandchildren, she is truly a queen and deserved the best for her birthday! Te amo abuela! Enjoy the photos below and if you are planning an event and looking to bounce ideas off of someone contact me! I hope to one day make a career of event planning (outside of higher education). 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Bu's 25th Birthday Yearlong BUcket List

I am days away from celebrating my 25th birthday and I thought to honor my time on Earth I should dedicate the next year to doing things I love, learning new things, accomplishing goals that exist in my head and then sharing that with all of you. I am so excited to start this new chapter in my life and to continue this amazing journey I am on. Below you will find 25 things on my 25th Birthday BUcket List and I will probably be looking for help in completing some of these tasks (*cough cough* Girls Only Trip!). Thank you for sharing in this special year with me and follow my blog for updates on my BUcket List! 

1. Girls only trip
2. Spa retreat 
3. Learn to make cocktails
4. Tough Mudder
5. 25 letters of appreciation 
6. Music festival 
7. Mardi gras 
8. 25 hour movie marathon 
9. Buy Louboutins 
10. Date night with myself once a month
11. Read 5 books (for pleasure)
12. Crawfish Boil (not broil - I'm so New England)
13. Adopt a rescue dog 
14. 25 random acts of kindness 
15. Winery 
16. Skinny dipping 
17. Save for a piano
18. Gun range 
19. Say "no"
20. Learn to bake 
21. Fall in love 
22. Karaoke 
23. Get a hobby 
24. Road trip
25. Dance in a rain storm 

Feel free to join me on any of my adventurous! This is going to be a good year :) 

Friday, August 1, 2014


Today is the beginning, August 1st, the first day of my birthday month. The month of fabulousness that is LEO SEASON! I have vowed to make not only my birthday awesome but the whole month by surrounding myself with people I love, doing things I want to do, and utterly enjoying each day of my life as I enter my 25th year on Earth.

As an avid instagrammer I have created a hashtag all my own for all of the awesomeness that will happen this month and to document the amazing journey to my 25th year and beyond.

the #25daysofBu will chronicle my days in pictures and will end on the 25th day of August (which is the day students start class at KU and the week I dive full force into working and teaching).

I am so thrilled to begin this new chapter in my life and to share it with all of you, beginning today in St. Louis for a weekend with another wonderful Leo lady! (we truly travel in packs)

Follow the fun on instagrm @Bu817

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Stay Away From my Man! The Single Woman Threat

So as it's been written before I am processing out of a relationship. It has been I believe a little over two months since I have moved out on my own and it has taken me a little longer to really get out and meet people as I really wanted to take time and be alone. 

I have been open in talking about my singleness and the joys of really getting to know myself in the process of personal growth. A lot of that conversation happens via social media, Facebook, Instagram, twitter... And by no means does not exist to celebrate my break up but rather to celebrate my resiliency in the face of heartbreak and my need to share that being single is NOT a bad thing.

In the midst of sharing my story and my journey it seems as though other women have begun to view me as a threat even though I am not actively looking for, interested in or paying attention to their partners. Recently I posted a rather funny photo on Instagram (or at least what I deemed to be a tad comical) and received a rather interesting response (see below): 


When I first saw this I was shocked! I didn't recognize the woman's Instagram name, her photos were private and so I had no idea who this woman was. My reaction was mixed with confusion and anger- I started racking my brain about the couple dates I went on and if she could have been partnered with any of those people.

So with some nifty googling I found out who her fiancée was... A young man I grew up with back in my home town who I had recently started following on social media. I assume she noticed that I "liked" one of his photos and apparently found that to be a symbol of my personal interest in him and hence a threat to her relationship. Initially I was upset and wanted to respond in a rather aggressive way, but then I figured I should just explain myself, maybe give her a lesson in how and why social media exists as a means of connecting with past, present, and future friends and not a tool for hook-ups and dating (at least that is not how it is used in my life). Instead I decided to just delete her comment and block her because I figure I am mature enough to just let that go, but I felt it necessary to challenge her comment still: 

I decided to post the above photo with a variety of hashtags challenging not only the woman's aggressiveness toward me, this stranger she didn't even know; but also, her very heteronormative assertion that I was interested in men in the first place. 

Being single and operating in a space where I am trying to develop strong sisterhood relationships with other women is challenging because this instance revealed to me that not only will some women not want to befriend me, but many (especially partnered women) might view me as a threat. 

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said it best: 

"We raise girls to see each other as competitors
Not for jobs or for accomplishments
Which I think can be a good thing
But for the attention of men" 

To the woman who posted on my Instagram: I forgive you, I love you, you are a sister in the struggle and I support your journey of becoming. 

(But don't let that shit happen again...)
Hehehe :) 



Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Period Shaming: Roses are Red

So it is early Wednesday morning, I should be getting dressed to head to work but my supervisor posted this amazing video on Facebook of author and slam poet Dominique Christina. "In response to a male Twitter user who shamed women for menstruating, Christina wrote this poem to her daughter, explaining why she should be proud of her body's ability to do amazing things."

This reminded me of my own relationship with my period. I remember when I was 10-years-old (yes, that's right...I was 10 when I got my first period) I went to my nurse in 5th grade and asked her for a pad, she responded "a writing pad?" and while my 10-year-old self wanted to say "no you dumb bitch I'm bleeding in my underwear what the fuck do you think?" I simply said "no, I have my period." My nurse actually thought I was lying and so I had the assumption that White women didn't get their periods as soon as Brown women, specifically Latinas since she seemed so damn surprised. She was so awful that my friend actually came to the nurse with me and pretended she had her period too as if it would be more believable if I was not the only student in the entire school with her period.

 At different points and moments in my life my period has meant different things. When I would go to the Mosque with my grandmother I hated having my period because as a woman I would not be allowed to pray which really meant that everyone... EVERYONE knew that I was on my period (which also gave men the idea that I was of age to marry). When Monica, "Don't Take It Personal" came out I thought "SHE IS TOTALLY TALKING ABOUT HAVING HER PERIOD!" That song was my anthem when I got into my moods and was continually called a bitch during that 'time of the month.' Well wouldn't you been a tad moody if you were bleeding for up to 7 days and 7 nights (what biblical numbers).

When I became sexually active my period was my best friend... month by month by month I yearned for her arrival after growing up hearing that Latinas are more fertile than other women and we had excessive hormones in our bodies (*side eye*). As I got older the pain of my period became more severe and I dreaded those days leading up to an often untimely arrival.

This one time...at band camp (no seriously I was at a music camp). I got the worst period of my life, I was bed ridden, throwing up and the stupid people wouldn't even let me call my grandmother for comfort (there were no cells phones allowed and no calls but an emergency - this apparently was not an emergency). When I was getting ready to go to college I knew that I could not miss class because of bleeding- it was painful and just not an acceptable excuse. I got on birth control pills to help manage and regulate my very painful periods and it actually worked! I hardly had cramps, I could go about my day feeling pretty close to "normal"....in and out, she came and went. Six years and two abnormal pap smears later I have decided to stop using birth control and to allow my body to be free and natural and in pain if it must be for a multitude of reasons but for one that Dominique Christina said oh so beautifully:

                                   "women know how to let things go. 
                                   how to let a dying thing leave the body. 
                                    how to become new. how to regenerate."

Friday, June 27, 2014

It's Not All Black and White

I have been home for about two weeks since attending the Social Justice Training Institute (SJTI)_ in Springfield, Mass. Now, if you are not familiar with SJTI it is simply impossible for me to explain and for you to truly grasp the impact of the institute. For those of you who have experience SJTI, then most of what I am writing will make since. As described on the website, SJTI " provides a forum for the professional and personal development of social justice educators and practitioners to enhance and refine their skills and competencies to create greater inclusion for all members of the campus community." This description by no means prepared me for what I would call a TRANSFORMATIVE EXPERIENCE. To summarize a small group of professionals (most in higher education) get in a room and talk about race, our racialized experience, how we have been socialized, the messages our families, churches, media taught us, how that impacts our relationship with others, how that impacts our work as professionals, how it informs how we "show up" in spaces, but for me I was truly able to explore how much pain people were in, that I was in, and acknowledge that so completely it became quite difficult to "reenter" the world.

Imagine this, that big old elephant in the room that no one sees... well you see it, and it follows you everywhere, and sometimes it sits on neck and sometimes it just stares at you. Now imagine that elephant is race, or class, gender, sexuality and you walk in through the world knowing that at any moment it can sit on you neck or just stare you in the face, but as always... no one wants to talk about the elephant in the room.

SJTI gave me the opportunity to explore the elephant I have been ignoring for so long, maybe even forgot was there. My mixed-race self, my blackness, latin@ness, even at times my womanhood (though the conversation was focused on race). I wont delve into all of that because it really isn't the point of this post.

I want to honor the individuals I had the great privilege of meeting, laughing with, crying with, hugging and loving during SJTI. I saw a post, or wrote a post- can't remember...but it said something like "God has to take some things you think you want out of your life to make room for the things you need." Now, I wholeheartedly believe in the power of the universe and I truly understand that the purpose of me going to SJTI subsequently getting my heart broken was so that I could be in this amazing space around people who would allow me to heal all of my wounds and explore all of my pain. I was able to focus my energy on redeveloping my HEART around people who were on this journey with me, not only SJTI but in life.

Do you ever think that you have people out their whose lives, mission, purpose, commitments, are directly in line with your own and you just haven't met yet? Well, they are out there, they are family, members of my tribe and while I did not yet know their names previous to attending SJTI, I knew the existed. It is so amazing when you find them and how they each take a piece of you with them on their journey... I feel my own spirit is moving across the world through them and I hope they feel the same.

My SJTI family: I draw my strength from your stories, I draw my courage from your vulnerability, I see your faces in my sleep, and hear your voices throughout my day. I love you all. You changed my life. You helped me heal. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

(and now I'm crying in my office)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Explaining to a 7-year-old...Not All Love Lasts

Today was my first time back home since my recent break up. I thought I would be approached with questions, comments, concerns specifically from my 7-year-old brother who I assumed didn't really know what was happening in my life as he has been consumed by pool season and the beginning of summer vacation.

I sat on the plane wondering all the questions he would ask and how to explain that I was now living alone and no longer in a relationship. I wondered the best way to teach him a lesson that we all learn eventually: Not all love lasts.

I figured a good method would be to highlight my focus on my career and my ex-partners focus on their career and that would be a sufficient enough excuse but then I thought, "am I teaching my brother that he must choose success over love?" and that is certainly not the message I want to send to him.

I thought maybe a better approach would be to avoid the topic all together, brush it off, pretend I didnt hear a question, or act as if nothing has changed but I know that wouldnt be productive in my own process of healing.

I wondered what was it I was trying to hide or deny? Why is it so hard to say that sometimes people love each other and then they don't, or sometimes people are together and then they are not. I mean that is the reality right? In an instant anything can change and that change can be caused by a number of things: break ups, moves, death... Why not teach him now that not all love lasts so when he goes into the world and the things that he feels are permanent, positive, and loving disappear he wont be so surprised.

Yes, that is better... honestly, I wish someone would have taught me that when I was 7-years-old.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Safe Travels: blogging from my phone

I spent the last week thoroughly enjoy vacation in California with my lovely friend assisting in her wedding planning while she provided me a beautiful space to getaway! It was so refreshing to have no work, no dog, no worries for just a few days and to actively assist my friend as she continues her journey towards the aisle.  

I've been back to work for a couple days and am now repacking my suitcase for vacation part 2! I am thrilled to be heading home for the first time since November. I have found great joy in my work and home but am in need of some family love and some drinks with old friends. 

Now, you may be wondering how I am paying for all this. It's not easy I will tell you that! But I am working strategically in a tight budget in order to live life and enjoy some things like traveling. No, I still don't have furniture in my new apartment and I eat all the free food I possibly can but let me tell you... The struggle is worth it! I am now developing a bucket list for my 25th year on earth (I will post that soon) but in that includes some big ticket items that I would like to invest in for my own sanity and independence. I am looking forward to this upcoming year! Ya going to be fun! 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Phenomenally she goes...

I just landed in Las Vegas for a layover as I journey my way to the west coast. Upon turning my phone back on I heard the new about the great mother Maya Angelou and her passing. It has been a while since I have read her poems, books, listened to her speak yet it was easy to find the sound of her voice as I read all the the posts, poems, and quotes as if she had been there all along. 

I remember the first time I heard a Maya Angelou poem. I was 10 years old at a summer camp at Miss Porters School, we had a talent show at the end of the camp, and there is not one performance I remember ...not even my own, but I remember the beautiful brown girl from NYC standing in front of us reading Phenomanl Woman. I don't remember the girls name but I went up to her after and had her write the entire poem in my book where I collected my friends phone numbers and addresses (yes this was before cell phones and facebook). 

As I have gotten older, Maya Angelous words have changed in meaning, resonance, vibration... Her words today remind me of my phenomenalness, my ability to rise, my capacity to love. Her words in every moment where they have entered my soul.... At ten years old, fourteen, nineteen, and twenty-four... Have given me strength, hope, courage. 

I am sad that she will speak words no more but I am so happy that the ones she has spoken, written, and left behind are accessible, available, and will continue to guide me and give me strength exactly when I need it... In those moments I forget just how phenomenal I am. 

Thank you Mother Maya. Thank you for having the courage to speak. I hope to carry your spirit in my soul daily. Love you. Love you. Love you. You have changed my life.

Sunday, May 18, 2014


It is funny to see how easy it is for some people to erase... things, moments, people. I find it is much harder for me to do. In erasing those things, moments, and people... I am essentially erasing what has shaped me, molded me, made me who I am. Good or bad. But I guess we cant all be like me... some of us need to erase so that they can write it over.... or maybe a blank page, a blank mind, and blank memory is just more bearable. Maybe it is easier than a constant reminder of a failure or pain either cause or felt.

All in all, maybe I should try it... erasing...

Saturday, May 3, 2014

When I initially started this blog it was intended to be a space where I could share my joy, my loves, and the things that energized me. Never in a million years did I think I would fall into a space where I could no longer find those things in my life. Through the challenges and hardships that come with being a human being it can become quite a difficult thing to focus on the good so I have stepped away from this while I work through those challenges. I wanted this blog to be an authentic representation of my joy and for a while that has not been a part of my reality.

Knowing this, knowing that life is hard and challenging and not every moment will be joyful and good I have decided to step back onto this forum to refocus on the GOOD.

So, that being said...for all those reading, I am alive, and well, and happy, and still find that there is joy in my life... I have supportive family, amazing friends, wonderful coworkers, the cutest puppy, and I am looking forward to continuing my life's journey. 

you will hear from me soon

Monday, March 17, 2014

Dear Zaire: Lessons for my seven-year-old brother

My brother heard that I had started a blog and of course wanted to check it out. I promised I would write a post just for him but had been racking my brain over the past month about what I would say.

Now, my brother and I are 17 years apart (yes 17), so the competition, fights, and drama most siblings closer in age grow up with, we didn't. I was practically an adult when he was born so I have also been, in my mind, another figure of guidance and support. While we are so far apart in age (and now location as well) I still think it is important to impart on him all that I have learned growing up, I mean that is my role as a big sister right? I have done all that he is getting ready to do and hopefully he will not have to learn on his own some of the things that I did (joys of being the oldest child right!?). So this is for you Zaire, hold onto it as you get older, remember these things and you will do just fine. Your big sister loves you now and forever.

Dear Zaire,

Lesson 1. jiddah is always right (99.9% of the time) 

Our grandmother is pretty amazing. I had the wonderful privilege of living with her for as long as I can remember and while we butted heads sometimes I can say with all the conviction in the world that 99.9% of the time, she was right. She can read people: personalities, behaviors, ambitions she recognized the friends who would help make me great and be a positive influence and those who I probably shouldn't hang around. Now, I took it upon myself to get to know people and make my own judgements but I learned to approach most relationships (friendships and otherwise) with a side of caution.

Lesson 2. your friends today will not be your friends tomorrow

Now you are growing up in the age of social media where you will be able to follow all your friends in your first grade class probably through high school on Facebook and Twitter. I got my first social media account when I was maybe a junior in high school, this thing called Myspace (which you will probably never use or ever hear of). Facebook hit the scene for most people right when I was heading to college (you actually needed a college email at the time to even sign up for Facebook). Using Facebook was a great tool in finding people I hadn't seen or heard from in years (it was also a great way for family to be in my business so if you ever do get a social media account be very aware of your privacy settings). While I connected with people online and can creepily go to their profile pages and see what they have been up to, these once friends are no longer. My point: your friends today, while they may remain acquaintances or you will see updates on their lives a few times a week, may not necessarily be your friends in the future. NO WORRIES! you will make new friends, best friends, and you may have tons or just one, but you will cherish those friendships, especially as you get older and you figure out how hard it is to make friends when you are no longer in school.

Lesson 3. know your history

one of my favorite things to do when I was in elementary and middle school was to research our family history. Learn where we are from and what life was like for our parents, grandparents, their parents, etc. We are so blessed to have our great-grandmother Nana still alive with us so when you can spend as much time with her as possible and learn all that you can from her and all of your grandmothers. We have a rich history and a beautiful family and we never want that to get lost.

Lesson 4. understand the meaning of your name and live by it

Our father is a very intentional man. When you get older ask about your name, first middle and last. Understand its meaning, why it was given to you, and work to live by it. We have amazing stories behind our names. They are unique and they are ours to share with the world (or to not share because a lot of people will ask you about your name as you get older and where you got it from and sometimes you won't want to share and that's okay too.) 

Lesson 5. teach people about your disease 

You have sickle cell anemia. Not a lot of people know what that is or what that means for you. Teach them. You have the great opportunity to be whatever you want in life and one of those things might be an advocate for young children like you who have sickle cell and other diseases. But! You don't only have sickle cell. You have a great sense of humor, athletic ability, some awesome dance moves, and the smartest biggest brain on any seven-year-old so don't ever let your sickle cell be all that you are. 

Lesson 6. respect people until you don't anymore

In one of dad's lengthy cards to me where he wrote a list of lessons for me he said "Respect people even when it seems they don't deserve your respect" I have to agree it is important to respect all people for the simple fact that we share the Earth with them but... at the same time, there are people who will do things to you, or your family, or in the world that you will not like or agree with and its okay to not respect people sometime. (as long as you always respect your parents... and on that note..)

Lesson 7. always respect your elders but challenge them

Now, you may or may not know this about me but your big sister is a tad bit outspoken and maybe a little liberal. I have some fundamental ideals that don't necessarily match up with what I was taught by our family growing up and I often challenge our parents and grandparents on a few of those topics (we can talk in detail when you get older). The lesson here though is while you always respect your elders don't be afraid to share your thoughts and opinions. Challenge them to think outside of what they know as well. You are growing up in a different generation so what is normal for you might be new to them, be patient.

I have a meeting now and 7 is a lucky number so I will stop there but know, there are more lessons coming, more for me to share and for you to learn. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

When my Honey's Away, I Will Play (and by Play I Mean Clean)

It has been almost three months since we moved into our new apartments and I have still gotten nothing done. Right after moving in I started my new job, the exact same day I was diagnosed with the flu and was immobile for a week, then I jumped right back into work. I have spent the past six (going on seven) weeks balancing work, home, dogs, my partner, and life and let me tell you know it is not easy! So of course things have to get sacrificed... and the first thing to go, my apartment.

See what they don't tell you on Pinterest when you are looking at all the beautiful apartments, things, organizing tools, etc that you want to have or try is that it takes time and money (both of which I do not have).  Now don't get me wrong, I love the hours I get lost on Pinterest (those are probably the hours I could have been cleaning and organizing my apartment- don't judge me) but for me, decorating, organizing, and cleaning will be about using what I already have accessible to me in order to make my home beautiful (Pinterest worthy even). 
I have some wonderful items I found at my favorite stores: Home Goods, Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Sam's Club. Even my partner got creative and made this wonderful bedside decor (which is more than I've done):

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Dried flowers he had bought from a week earlier inside a small bag from Gucci. Isn't it just the most amazing idea ever!? Now I am thinking of doing a whole series of beautiful shopping bags and dried flowers.

Well, since my honey will be traveling and my dogs recovering from surgery (they got the snip snip), I am hoping to finally have time to get our apartment in some kind of order and post pictures (eventually).
Wish me luck! 

Monday, March 3, 2014

7lbs Gone: How Changing my Food is Changing my Body

Last week I went to Cache to try on a dress for an event I went to on Saturday. Now, I own a couple dresses from Cache, all in a size 2 so of course it came as a surprise when not one but two Cache employees grabbed the back of the dress I was trying on in an attempt to zip me in it (it was a no-go and super embarrassing)

It has been something I have known and realized for a while but continually deny as I try to squeeze myself into clothes from college and grad school- I am no longer a size 2. Granted I haven't gained that much weight over the years but I have gotten a little lazy with my eating habits and exercise. I have had to adjust the way I think about food, clothes, and my body from being satisfied to being ecstatic about the way I look and feel.

It started about a week an a half ago, I decided to cut processed food and carbs out of my diet. I had heard about Paleo and thought it would be a good way to start eating healthier and really paying attention to what I put into my body. In a matter of four days, just cutting carbs and processed foods out of my diet, and an occasional trip to the gym (because I still have a hard time getting myself to workout) I had lost four pounds.

Last Wednesday, I started Herbalife where I replace two meals a day with a healthy shake filled with veggies, fruits, and two scoops of this:
Since beginning Herbalife and the awesome purchase of Just Dance 2014 (which I use as my cardio)  I have lost another 3lbs- and yes, if you have been calculating that is 7lbs in just a week and a half.

I feel like I have more energy, I sleep so much better, not to mention I looked pretty awesome in my dress this past weekend. 

Its amazing how much your body and health transforms just by eating right and working out. It is all about self-control and disciple (and I wont lie I cheated and have Five Guys and Chipotle twice in that week and a half but!... I had a bunless burger and a burrito bowl with no burrito)

Is is a slow process  but also a fun one with the support of family and friends. I am currently working to help my mom lose her goal of 100lbs, to get healthy and in shape. It is not about dieting it is about changing your lifestyle... are you ready to make some changes in your life?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Code Words: Why Everyone Needs One

 My best friend and I like to think we are intelligent beautiful women, and due to our intelligence and beauty we have attracted an array of partners over the years. During college, it was easy to keep track of each other because we were on a small campus of about 3,000 students and everyone knew everybody's business and then some. Upon graduating we found ourselves back in our home towns/cities, miles away from each other, unable to really keep an eye out  during weekend bar hopping, happy hours and dates with the guy from work you know you shouldn't get involved with.

Initially we were really good about texting each other before venturing out for the evening. The conversations went something  like this

 me: hey what are you doing tonight?
her: going on a date with this guy I met.
me: what his name, first & last? where does he lives? does he have a Facebook? send me a picture? (and any other information she had gained that I needed to know)

Now, some of you may already do this (and if you don't you should). Maybe it is our paranoia that people in the world are crazy and one of us will get kidnapped one day, or both of us growing up as only children who now had someone to watch out for us. Whatever it may be, it was important that we kept each other safe and in an unfortunate incident would have answers as to where we were and who we were with. 

To take this a step further, I believe every person (no matter your gender or relationship status) should have a code word. If you need to make a phone call, send a quick text, even send a Facebook message to notify someone that you might not be in the safest situation. How would you do that without the person you are with knowing?

Now as we have gotten older and even further apart (distance-wise), my best friend and I have not been doing the best job in looking out for each other. She has never met my partner and I have no idea who she has been seeing but it is something that we will be getting back to soon enough. 

With the many instances of domestic violence, kidnapping, and assault in the news, its important to have someone, anyone who will know when you say, type, text "--insert word here--" it means... I'm in danger and I need help.

If you don't have anyone, I'll be your person (cough*cough* Grey's Anatomy anyone!?)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

You're Partner Doesn't Know what You're Thinking

I've been having some interesting conversations with my friends lately, all who seem to be having a hard time getting what they want and need from their significant others. I have been blessed with a great partner who is invested in our relationships growth and the journey we are taking together but with that also comes areas that need improving. Growing up an only child I have developed my own habits and ways of doing things without necessarily considering other people. My partner is a little different and is very particular about certain things so, something that we have been working on over the past year is our communication, and whenever I get the chance I try to share some of the tools we use to continue to improve in that area.

First things first,


Not your momma, not your pastor, not your siblings (well maybe if you have a twin), and especially not your significant other. The key to communication is saying whats on your mind, no matter how stupid or insignificant you might think it is. Stop waiting for someone to ask you how you are feeling, doing, living... if you have thoughts to share just share them! (that being said there are times in a relationship where you should just keep your mouth shut) 

Secondly, that perfect proposal, valentines day surprise, birthday gift, spontaneous date that you are waiting for.... 


They will come when they come (or they wont, and thats okay too). I remember growing up thinking,  if I were a boy I would be the best boyfriend ever, I would do this...and this...and this... so on and so forth, and I only thought all of those things because as a young lady I was waiting for the surprises, gifts, and dance mob proposal to happen to me. Things will not be how you envision them (hopefully they will be better) but unless your partner finds your diary from 6th grade where you wrote about your dream wedding and the perfect date... stop waiting because they probably dont know you want it and have their own ideas about the way things should be.

In addition,

Communicating your wants and needs to your significant other and actually seeing them fulfilled isn't going to happen over night. My partner is still reminding me to close the cap on the soap and to put my shoes away when I get home, and I'm sure as tired as he is of reminding me (and as tired as I am of hearing it) he continues to remain patient and communicate.

Lastly, if you are in the beginning stages of a relationship, and you keep picking out thing after thing that you think is wrong with the person you are seeing, ask yourself two things:
  • is there actually something wrong with this person? (besides what Web MD told you about their psychological state)
  • or, am I making excuses so that I don't have to put in the work to develop a successful relationship?

... give it some time, energy, and enjoy the good. You never know... they just may be


and in the Beginning...

This blog has been a long time thought in my head and while it is now real and just in its beginning stages my hope is that it will continue to grow as I do: a working document of my journey, experience, and joy. 

As a young adult, full-time employee, partner, and dog mom life can get pretty stressful but is also absolutely wonderful. In the past eight months I have gone from Connecticut to Chicago, California to Dominican Republic, Kansas City to Las Vegas and I am looking forward to the next stop. This blog is a celebration of all the places I have been and the places I will be going; for all of the wonderful things, people, and hobbies that energize me and bring me joy.  

Here's to the continuation of my ebullient life... and to hoping you have one as well.