You are everything you need..

I’m learning to ask for what I want. To say how I feel.

I should say, relearning, really.

As a child I it was drilled in me very successfully by my mother that a “closed mouth doesn’t get fed”. But, grown up relationships seem to change the simple, easy lessons that we master as children.

Every other Saturday I sit with my therapist and she helps me find the tools to speak up for myself in personal relationships.. to build boundaries to keep out what’s bad for me and bridges to let in what makes me better. She helps me curb the anxiety of triggering other people’s discomfort.

I’m beginning to take leaps. To let the ideas I share be as big as they are inside my head.  And just the act of being authentic and intentional in how I present myself is showing me who people around me truly are as well.

For instance, someone close to me asked me what I want to be doing in 10 years. I answered nonchalantly that I’ll probably be a director of something or running an organization somewhere. The response from her was incredibly surprising… she asked “What makes you think you could do that?”.


My immediate reaction inside was “Bitch..what?”…but I realized that she wasn’t so much expressing her disbelief in me, but in herself. She didn’t know how I could believe I could do that because she didn’t believe she could do that.

A few weeks later, after writing out a mini career manifesto to my boss about what direction I want my career to go I shared with this same person what I was committing to do. Her response was again a little unexpected. Instead of being supportive and happy for me or believing me or just being proud that I was pushing myself to learn so much more. She asked me a series of questions like “Does your organization NEED that position?” “What if they can’t pay you?”… the what ifs and questions came and I had answers for them all. But at the end of the interaction I just felt drained.

Having the closest people be the most supportive is so important. Asking people in your life to be supportive doesn’t always feel good though. How and why should you have to ask someone who claims that they love you to offer happiness and support in your choices?

But we do have to ask, honestly and clearly.

I never really thought of myself as my own biggest fan before. But now, I’m learning to be my own cheerleader and my own advocate. My support is my responsibility.


It’s my responsibility to ask for what I want and not to take what I don’t. It’s one of the best things I’ve learned in this adult life and I can feel it changing me already.


The confidence trick

I was blessed to be born a straight shooter… Nurtured by a combination of growing up in the Midwest, of having a single black mother that didn’t tolerate whining, and a prim and proper black elite grandmother who put a premium on perfect enunciation (“don’t sing your words!), and very early on in my career learning to navigate the social justice world as the youngest person in the room.

I learned to speak only when I had something to add to the conversation, not to call attention to my youth or ignorance on a subject and to lay low, absorbing all the information that I could before chiming in.
My tone, I’ve been told by friends/colleagues/lovers settles somewhere between “commanding” and “aggressive”… The latter, “aggressive”, flooded with stereotypical expectations.
But the weirdest thing I hear about my straight forward, “aggressive” way of communicating is how confident I am.
“You’re so confident!”
It always hits me like a ton of bricks. I am not confident.
I am insecure. I am anxious and afraid. I’m shy and introverted. Doubtful that I’m supposed to be here, wherever here is.  I do power poses in the middle of the day behind closed bathroom doors. I flake out more often than not because I can’t muster up the courage it takes to be out and about in this world consumed by so much self doubt.
Imposter syndrome… I’ve got that. I’ve got breathing exercises for the generalized anxiety and depression that can’t be medicated away. I’ve got scribbles in notebooks about fear because I have to get it out. I’ve got meditation apps and adult coloring books to help me escape.
Cognitive dissonance is a strange reality.
I always wonder if people only appreciate this confidence they say they see because they actually do see the fear too. Like, would they think I was too arrogant if I truly believed and expressed that I was exceptional? Is my humility only because of an internal disbelief? Would I be a jerk if I shed the shell of self doubt?
Would you call me a bitch if I didn’t look away and blush when you told me I did such an amazing job?
So many of my peers are on the “fake it till you make it” or the “be as confident as a mediocre white man” plan through life. I admire them. They are getting gains from a conscious decision to not let the world get into their heads.
Me. I’m just confused but grateful that my confusion works to my advantage. I guess I’ll thank my mom for making me a bad ass on the outside and my therapist for helping me make the inside just as awesome.

Over and over 

It’s true, the only constant is change.

But, this basic truth runs up against the premium our society places on “knowing you who are”. The idea of knowing yourself, knowing your purpose, knowing what makes you happy and what you want is constantly being pumped through the air it seems. So much so that it leaves many of us with book shelves full of self help books and heads full of anxiety. But knowing who you are is not a one and done adventure.

I’ve fallen victim to this ever searching, individualistic focus many times in life. Usually, the quest leaves me wondering if I’ve ever really known myself or how I lost myself along the way. It’s taken me 30 years to understand that I’ve never lost myself, I’ve just evolved.

Sometimes you have to reintroduce yourself to yourself. 

I knew who I was at 18.. I was young and carefree. I was queer, black and happy. I was the free boobing girl with red locs and an eyebrow ring sitting outside my dorm smoking bidis and blacks with the boys, writing poetry by moonlight with my home girls and talking about black liberation and hip hop with kings who respected that I was more into women than they were but kept themselves optimistic I’d change my mind. All I wanted to be at 18 was free. 

I knew who I was at 21… I was healing. I had just figured out what love really meant and what it didn’t. I was on my grind, taking 18 credits when I only needed 13 while working full time. I was living on my own for the first time and making all my own money and decisions (good and bad, including breaking hearts bc I could). All I wanted to be at 21 was free.

The years between 21 and 30 were more of a blur. This is when my obsession with “finding myself” lead me down roads to dead ends. I was so preoccupied with figuring things out that I forgot to just be. 

Now at 30, it’s time for another reintroduction. I know who I am now. I am a storyteller and a warrior for speaking truth to power. I’m a woman learning to choose self over others. I’m a survivor of generalized and social anxiety, learning to be my imperfect self no matter how scary that is. I’m the woman that knows she’s great but can’t fully embrace it yet. I have big dreams and a big heart. 

And all I want to be is free. 


Bruised but not broken

expect sadness


you expect rain


cleanse you. 

-natural. nayyirah waheed 

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about mental health. A lot about my personal struggle with depression. 

For awhile I was obsessed with trying to pinpoint the moment that my life broke open allowing all of the happiness and safety to be spilled out and all the sadness and fear to seep in. I felt like if I could trace it back to the source, then I could rewind life and fix it. Or, at least point to the thing or person who caused it and find comfort in laying blame. It was easy to look back over my life and attribute my sadness to others. There was the terrible job, the emotionally abusive girlfriends, the stress of having to work full time while getting my masters, the constantly trying to live up to praise and expectations. But the truth is that no matter how good or bad life is externally the sadness was always present internally. 

I use to think my life broke open on May 11, 2006 – on my 21st birthday sitting in a padded room at Vanderbilt hospital in Nashville. The day I wanted to end my life. Diagnosed with depression and anxiety and sent home to suffer in silence. Afterward I quietly slipped back into life, I didn’t share with anyone where I had been that evening, Not my college friends or my family (only my mom knew, but we never spoke of it after that night), not my coworkers, and not my friends now. 

Looking for that specific moment of internal rupture made me realize that it didn’t exist. There was no one moment, one thing for me to blame. Nothing but myself. 

At some point in life, not telling others about my struggle became a weight on me. It became the silence that was killing me and despite the quote tattooed in plain sight, I was living like the silence could save me. Not telling others that I have a history of depression, that I have attempted to end my life, that my bad days are sometimes much worse than just being tired meant that even those closest to me couldn’t understand what I was going through. It meant I was suffering alone because I refused to share myself with the very people that could help.

Now at 30, 9 years after the worst time of my life, 9 years full of ups and downs, I’m back on daily medication. I’m back in individual therapy (after a two year hiatus of regular couples therapy), and I’m finally willing and able to talk about the depression. 

I’m not broken. I wasn’t in terrible relationships, didn’t get drained by other ppl’s drama and didn’t stress out trying to live up to other people’s expectations because I am broken. I did all of that because I was depressed and anxious, bc I was afraid someone would find out I was weak, because I thought acting normal was the best way to be normal, because chaos and dysfunction felt like the only thing that was real. I let all the things in this world crush me because I’m human. I let myself be bruised.. But I was never broken.

I am a whole person. No cracks. No chunks missing. None of me has spilled out.

I’m still alive to learn these lessons. I’m still growing. I give thanks for that every day. I give thanks that I no longer have to wear a smile to hide my pain because I can just talk about my pain. I give thanks that I have enough love for myself these days that I can surround myself with only those who can allow me the space to be honest. 

I give thanks that I no longer need chaos and dysfunction in order to feel something. 

I give thanks for anyone who reads this and sees me for who I really am…bruised but not broken.  

Things we thought we left behind (a blog written in 2014)

 (I first wrote this in Feb 2014, and basically just forgot to publish it. But it is a good reminder for me now as I contemplate quitting social media out of frustration with fake closeness)

Last weekend, at the end of a trip to SF that was a crazy emotional roller coaster that started out with my girlfriends wallet being stolen, I sat down to brunch with 4 people that I hadn’t seen in a very long time. 

There was one of the first friends I made in LA who now lives in the East Bay and is still figuring out her place in the world. There was the couple who moved to CA from STL less than a year after I moved. One of which I’ve know since middle school who helped me become the rabble-rouser I am today when we started our high school’s first Gay Straight Alliance (which STILL exists) and her partner who is basically going to take over Silicon Valley in no time. And finally there was the friend who I haven’t shared physical space with in 9 years who even after all this time feels like a part of me. 

And as I sat there I felt complete. I felt like everyone at that table were exactly who I needed to be at that table right then. I remembered that there are people in this world that I have relationships with that don’t require daily attention. 

There are people in this world who I dearly miss but can never have back. 

There are friends that were just seasons who’s time has passed. 

But there are some people that sweep in and out of my life. Friendships that pick up without explanation, like years haven’t passed. I forget that these relationships exist..until I have my arms wrapped around them at brunch and I remember what their friendship feels like, looks like, smells like. 

Running around in circles…

Hey Blog! How ya been?

I’ve been good. Making changes. You know what they say…the only constant is change. I’ve climbed some hills, hit some brick walls and just lived.

I miss writing, so I’m back. I guess this is what happens when you follow the advice of doing what you love for a living. I write all the time, for a living, in someone else’s voice, on someone else’s vision. It becomes a chore. But I miss getting everything that is swirling around in my head – out.

And there is so much in there. Revolution. Love. Friendship. Anger. Hurt. Depression. Growth. Questions.

Can I share me with you? Is anyone reading this? Does it even matter?

I’m still just looking for the same thing…to be seen. to be heard. to be…to be…me.

Just do me a favor and say my name.


What doesn’t kill us

I nearly died.

It all started when I woke up one morning with a tiny bug bite. And it almost ended for me nearly three weeks later on the floor of my bathroom and all of the stuff in the middle can be summed up by one word: chaos.

Somewhere along the way an urgent care doctor, fearing that an out of control spider bite had become a MRSA infection, prescribed me a sulfa based antibiotic and sulfa based cream (on top of the antibiotic I was already taking). And guess what? Like a whole shit ton of other people in the world, I am allergic to sulfa.

After 4 days I developed a high fever, and by high I mean 104. I saw a different urgent care doctor who said that I had a virus OR a UTI (which made no sense since the antibiotic I was taking is most commonly prescribed for the treatment of UTIs) – so cool..they went with I had a virus. I should continue the antibiotics I was on and just take tylenol till I’m over the virus. Oh and drink fluids.

I was sent off on my way, only to experience violent chills and roller coaster temperatures. 3 days later I woke up with a rash ALL OVER MY BODY. Back to urgent care I went. The doctors just kinda looked at me crazy. “It can’t be the sulfa” they said, since at this point I’d been taking it for 6 days. They gave me a benadryl shot and the rude ass rash laughed. So they gave me a steroid shot. It calmed things down for a second so they took me off the sulfa “just in case” and sent me home with more steroids. It was gonna get better they assured.

That night I got 1 hour of sleep. The next day I was even more sick, still had a fever and MISSED Bey and Jay Z at the Rose Bowl, a concert that I had waited ALL summer (ALL MY LIFE) to see.

At this point I had a high fever, a rash ALL over my body, I’m on a high dose of steroids, i’ve had no sleep AND I’m depressed. Great. It can’t get worse than this right???


After another night of tossing and turning and NO sleep I get out of the bed to use the bathroom and lose all control of my limbs. It was a slow motion decent. One minute I was washing my hands and the next minute I was catching my body with my face against the bathroom floor. There is this weird moment when you fall where you think to yourself “oh shit I’m on the floorrrr. I should get up!” – well I’m here to tell you don’t listen to that bitch. You can’t get up.

I fell AGAIN. I couldn’t scream and my love didn’t hear either of those tumbles. So, I made a third attempt. This time I fell out of the bathroom, hit a fan, army crawled to the sofa. Blah.

I ended up back in urgent care on the side of the facility that just looks like the ER. My doctor said some stuff about having a severe dermatological emergency and calling an infectious disease doctor.(At this point I was convinced I was dying for sure) There were bags of fluids. LOTS of tubes of blood. An ultrasound. Finally they say it’s definitely the sulfa.

2 days later the fever finally broke. One day after that the rash disappeared.

And now… the pain has set in. The excruciating joint pain. The pain in my torso that feels like my organs are trying to get out of my body. The headache. I feel fatigued from being alive.

I’m just happy that my liver wasn’t damaged, that my kidney’s didn’t fail, and that my lungs were never impacted.

I have no idea how long I will be in pain. But, I know that being alive means something so different for me today than it did 3 weeks ago. More on that later. I still have doctors appointments to go to, I have life to try and restart.