365 Days in The Bay: Week 2-Decision.

End of Week 2. Midway through week 3. Completely over-stimulated about the number of decisions I’ve been considering within such a short amount of time. I miss my dog. So I decided to dog-sit. I needed to eat healthier. So I decided to go to the Farmer’s Market. I needed to get out of the ‘house’. So I decided to drive to Mountain View for a movie.

Those being some of the simple decisions I made; that weren’t quite as simple when you (I) don’t know where anything is. ha!  I’ve found myself in this interesting space of talking about Maslow a lot lately. I am experiencing, so clearly, the need for basics needs being met.

The work environment is charged with my needing to make the decision of how I work best. Or quite possibly– me making the intentional decision to articulate how I work best. My past few jobs have shown me the importance of teaching people how to work best with you, or rather how to mange up. I’ve finally given up on trying to mold myself into someone else style; I know only myself and I’m going to go with what I know best. All to say– 2.5 weeks in and I am deciding to set my own pace {despite the fire-hose full of work I’ve been drinking}.

This past week has been full of lots of tears. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t second-guessed myself. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that by day 3, I was wondering if I made the right…decision. It’s hard to know, right? We live in a world where we (I) are often chasing the next best opportunity. I live in a space between my own two ears that strives for purpose and value driven work. By Day 3 I was so viciously searching for meaning and clarity that I had made the right choice, meanwhile I was being placed in a space of deciding and actualizing all the moving parts of my new role.

“Can you do this? I mean truly, Cierra, can you do this? Are you going to make the decision to commit to all the discomfort, all the sleepless nights, all the tear, all the feels that come with change and transition? Are you going to embrace everything you are experiencing as a part of your journey…your story? Are you going to remember how your best friend helped you prepare for this moment? He said to you, ‘Only you know how change impacts you, and only you can prepare yourself for how you can be successful amidst so much change.’– Are you going to embrace any of that?

Are you going to apartment search? How many roommates can you live with? What can you afford? What are you giving up based on affordability? What do you value most? Do you want to drive to work? bus? train? Do you even know how to use public transportation? Is your privilege showing? Are you being a wimp? Are you thinking too much? YES!!! Okay you are thinking too much, how do you just be? but wait…that requires thought too!?”

Ongoing decisions and ongoing questions. Things that have challenged me to get to know myself on a much deeper level. Forcing me to gain an understanding of what I am afraid of– what I need in order to be successful, and what am I ready to embrace as a growing space. I cannot do it all at once. I just cannot and I am going to stop asking myself to. I am going to stop expecting that by 2.5 weeks in, I should have it all figured out. I am also going to rename failures. Haven’t come up with what that’s going to be yet, but that word must leave my vernacular…asap.

I spend a lot of my down time on the phone. Talking to friends I haven’t connected with in a while. Family members encouraging me to stay prayerful and empowered. I still hear the sting of distance so clearly in my parents voices…little do they know that nearly every time I hang up the phone— I cry.

Big tears. Big weeping ugly snot bubble tears. Tears that are connected to how much I love them– how much family means to me– and how hard it is…it was… to decide to be this far from them. All of them. Life is tough and I recognize how fortunate I am to be the product of two people I love so much it hurts. Loving and missing them as also charged this completely other conversation with myself about what having a family of my own means to me…questioning whether or not I see or want to be a mom, wife…’nuclear family’ person. Those are big questions {and decisions} for a different day…I just know I miss them more than I can truly articulate.

Decisions have been the current for these past few weeks and I’m all in. I’m all in to making decisions based on what I know is best for me–my goals–my peace–my sanity.

My anxiety has been on a new level and it’s because while I’ve been on the phone asking advice; it’s the first time in my life that at the end of the day, I truly have to LIVE in whatever decision I make. Just me.

I can ask as many people as I want about the CA commuting and neighborhoods, safety and social aspects, roommate vibes or solo living– I can ask and ask and ask and ask– and people are happy to talk it out…and yet ultimately…It’s up to me to decide what’s best for me. How liberating and terrifying at the same damn time. #ohvey

All of the complexities of identity discoveries, work environment vibes, personal preferences– all of these ‘things’ end up defining us and truly shaping how we interact with the world and with ourselves. In all the anxiety I am feeling; I’m most excited for the courage I’m gaining in being authentically me…snot bubbles and all.

hydration.nutrition.fit.sound.

decisions-300x199

 

 

Advertisements

365 Days in The Bay: Week 1- Wearing My Skin

Last Saturday I left my best friend in Ohio, Ruby. My four-legged daughter/best friend/life-companion. One week without her has taught me a lot about myself. Starting with I’m a dog person. That’s just who I am. As exhausting and expensive as having a pet can be, I’ll likely always find myself snuggled up next to a furry friend. This week has also shown me how humbling and freeing it is to have time with just you. I’ve been transitioning into a new job, yes, but what’s been the most shocking is the complete unveiling of self. My self.

No TV. No social life. No distractions….just me. I tried deflecting and my human best friend (not Ruby) reminded me that my inaugural California frustrations had everything to do with me. Things I’ve been able to pack down deep inside and put on a mask and hide behind in lieu of being well-received and liked. For years my priorities have been all jacked up. I’ve been silencing myself in order to people please. To be the brilliantly successful kid I hear my parents telling all their friends about. I buried the brokenness and took the ‘high’ road. Acting. I’ll just pretend everything is fine and maybe eventually everything will….be fine.

Faking it until you make it isn’t working for me. 28 years later…end scene. Camera fades.

Pans screen to reality.

No TV. No social life. No distractions….just me. This strange space of realizing, feeling and being. This first week has been a great training ground for authenticity. For the first time in my life, I’m being honest with myself. Telling folks what I need to be successful, openly identifying my intentions of working style and saying no. Do you know how hard it is to say “No” in your first week of work? 

And here I am…saying No. Not because it feels great or because it’s liberating. I said ‘No’ because I ultimately know who I am or at least I’m beginning to– I’m just un-burying everything I’ve hidden in order to fit in, but I know, that I cannot afford to hide anymore. My mental health and self-love has taken too many hits on the back of others’ happiness. No. More. I have to say No to anything that threatens my ability to be my best me.

So what does that mean? How do you transition into a new role–into the trenches saying No? Let me tell you– I’m no genius, but I’m learning that no isn’t the problem. People don’t freak out about no– it’s how you say it and how your provide a solution to what you are saying no to. No requires solution-oriented thinking and a commitment to proactive versus reactive work-flow. That’s a true art that I’m embracing. It’s also about letting people know who you are up front. Setting clear expectations and recognizing that although those expectations may be challenged– you have to be honest with yourself and and only YOU can truly take YOUR best interest at heart (please re-read that Cierra, that line is from you and for you!).

I love being in a work environment that respects that. That respects me being me, and my being honest about it, and I’m grateful that God continuously places me in environments that are a training ground for helping me to become everything He designed me to be.

Aside from work, this week has been quite profound in reminding me of the color of my skin. In Ohio, I rarely took notice to my differences. Primarily due to the privilege of growing up around forward thinking families and continuously being in an environment where my name proceeded my identity. Small town privilege or something of the sort. I could have it all wrong. Maybe it’s just that I was truly a color blind kid until the world reminded that I couldn’t afford to be. That my skin was too dark and my hair was too tight to not be aware of how my melanin and crunchy coils would impact my interactions in the world–outside of my comfort zones or pockets of “safe”ish spaces in Ohio.

Being pretty alone in a new environment brings to life a constant reminder of a statement I’d regularly hear from my mom, “It’s okay that you are comfortable, Cierra; just know that you must always be aware.” My mom use to say that to me all the time and I’d roll my eyes. I’d say “Okay, but Mom it’s not like that anymore!”

My bubble burst when I looked myself in the mirror one day and said, damn. Not the good kind but the deep reality kind of ‘damn’. It literally doesn’t matter how nice I am, how qualified I am, how insightful I am– fill in the blank– I will always have to be aware in a way that non-brown people may never understand. And then I felt dumb. Naive for being such a late bloomer….dreamer maybe, I don’t know. I’m still working through everything; I’ve always had culturally sound and profound people in my life, and somehow I just so resisted my blackness as something that could work against me and as something I truly needed to understand.

It’s a strange feeling– looking yourself in the mirror and feeling all the bubbles you’ve been allowed to live in, burst. Not because someone popped them. Not because anyone has called me out of my name (to my face anyway); but just because for the first time in my life, I’m experiencing people treating me different due to the color of my skin. Looking at me a little longer, being off-put from my smile and genuine exuding of goodness. People giving me advice on different communities to be in touch with out here, or neighborhoods where I’m most inclined to be comfortable– based on my brown skin. Oh mom. Yes. I must always be aware.

I went to see Hidden Figures today so I’m not sure if that’s what’s triggered such a level of awareness. I also watched President Obama’s Farewell Address– the first presidential address I’ve watched in entirety. I also, for the first time, took some time today (MLK holiday) took some time researching how and why we have this holiday. I think all of these experiences combined helped me feel comfortable writing or talking about everything I’m processing. I’ve always hid behind my blackness– hoping that my Cierra-ness would be enough to take the color component away. I wanted that so badly, but as I entrench myself in truly knowing myself, I have to be honest in acknowledging the blackness I carry and all that comes with it.

So. A heavy first week, but an enlightening one nonetheless. Here’s to more self-discovery, honesty– authenticity, and self-love.

I use my powers of faith and strength to face and overcome difficult situations. I use my powers of love and understanding as I pray for myself and others. I use my powers of wisdom and guidance when I question my life’s direction.

I am a spiritual being, gifted with unlimited power and potential.

‘When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face.’—1 Corinthians 13:11-12

-Daily Word 1/17/17

 

hydration.nutrition.fit.sound.

index

 

Write.

I’ve been thinking of a creative title for the past 3 days. I knew I wanted to make myself sit down and blog about my first morning waking up in the Bay Area as a newcomer. I wanted some profound catchy title. I thought about writing first thing this morning–but since I woke up at 5am bright-eyed, disoriented, and starving, I was distracted by my buddy Maslow reminding me of the basic needs I needed met immediately…FOOD.

I then quickly learned that west coast football = morning football; my Pittsburgh Steelers were playing at 10:00am so no time to write #gametime. With an afternoon quickly filled with answering check-in phone calls, making sure folks knew I was alive, and hitching a ride  with a new colleague to do my first Californian Trader Joe’s run (please note: Bring your own bags!), I walked back in to my sleeping stomping grounds feeling a bit outpaced.

Day. 1. Maslow: Basic Needs met… the reality of the move starts to settle in…time slows…heart rate sky rockets…thoughts racing…

You came here dear Cierra on a one-way ticket. You left the comforts of your 2 bedroom 2 bathroom apartment, your dog, your family, your friends, and you now are shacking up in dorm-style room  with whatever happened to fit in three rolling suitcases. What in the actual hell did you pack that you truly needed?? Have you ever arrived some where and try to make sense of why you packed certain things over others?  I have enough clothes to avoid laundry for 3 months… but no toothbrush case or deodorant *rolls eyes*. I have enough shoes to change my outfit 5 times in a day, but no rain boots or shoes that can put up a fight to wetness…nope..tennis shoes…and “dress boots”…it’s been raining since I arrived. You have 8 bottles of perfume but no blanket {you want to go night night, *****? Kevin Hart reference…} WTF!

I’m fine. Truly I am, lol– I literally just laughed at myself as I re-read my post lol, but really guys I’m okay 🙂 I have my basic needs, but it’s funny what we think we need until we realize what we truly need. I need time. Me time. I need some down time of adjusting. Time to mentally work through all that has happened in the past 24 hours, and what will happen over the next few weeks…months…years?  I need time to cope with no dog–no Ruby laying her head on my lap as she sense my anxiety. I need time to sit in silence, hear the rain, and wrap my mind around being patient with transition. Silent time to remind myself that I am just fine and that I have hit my quota of “figuring out” for today; my brain needs a break.

I’m a Virgo, so naturally one of the first things I did after situating my basic needs was starting to organize. Make list. Write goals. Perfect my living environment (everything has it’s place!) In my “perfecting” I was swept with the overwhelming reality of no matter how exciting and life altering and guts-y this move is… there is no way I’m master overnight perfection. There’s no way I am settling in to the reality of this decision in less than 24 hours. You can, however write. “You need to write, Cierra.”

Write. That’s the title I came up with for my first big day in The City. So I’ll continue to write…and write…and process…and write. I’ll continue looking forward and stepping in to all the discomfort and allow myself to feel everything I’m feeling. I’ll look forward to continuing to find all the little nuggets of encouragement my mom secretly packed within my luggage…because she is the best and she knows that I was unpacking the moment I got here. ❤

What a blessing to have an opportunity to experience a fresh start. What a blessing to look at myself in the mirror and say “Here you are, Cierra. You have actualized your vision board….it’s time to create a new one and start living the life you were designed to live.”

hydration.nutrition.fit.sound.

img_0214

 

 

A Letter to God.

Dear God,

Help. Seriously…help. I’m trying here. I wake up every morning. Three days out of the work week I head to a hip hop fitness dance class at 5:45am. I’m packing something new daily. I’m meeting with people to say goodbye. I’m posting my life as a giant for sale sign, but  I’m not praying… I can’t do it. I just can’t talk to you right now.

I have no idea why I’m feeling so overwhelmed. I mean, Yes, I am moving across the country in less than a month. Yes, I am selling practically everything I have ever owned. Yes, I am walking away from my ultimate comfort zone. And yet, in the strangest way, I cannot bring myself to talk to you. I know that everything that’s happening to me right now is a part of your plan. I know that. I also know that you know that I can’t talk to you right now. I just can’t. 

Talking to you will unleash how totally petrified I am to leave. Talking to you will send me in to this spiraling of tears– guilt– and frustration for how your logic doesn’t match with mine. Talking to you will make me angry because I feel ungrateful and imperfect, and a let down to this gift of change you’ve given me. I don’t get it, I don’ feel worthy of where I know you are taking me in this life, and so I don’t want to talk to you. I don’t understand how something I wanted so badly, something that felt so spiritually sound, is currently causing me an immense amount of distress. Why am I so negative?

…I’m scared. that’s why. It’s easier to be negative, passive aggressive, and short-tempered, than it is to admit that I am flat out terrified of failing this mission you have for me. I feel like I am being slowly stripped of everything I know. Good things, challenging things, and situations you’ve called me to move on from. I have death grip on this life, and you and gingerly, yet purposefully, calling me to let go.

The last time we talked I prayed a big prayer; I asked you to remove anything from my life that wasn’t for me. I asked you to transform me into who you made me to be. I had no idea that the transformation process would be so shattering to my current identity.

I look at myself and I see, deep in my heart, everything you created me to be. A woman who will transform into this beacon of hope to people who cannot see beyond the immediacy of their circumstances. A voice of reason to other people who share an identity of being smothered by depression and anxiety in world that calls you to be at your best at all times. I see that you created me to be an example of dreamer who actualized everything you have planned for me. I see it all. And I’m scare d…

I think this is one of the greatest misses in all the success stories people share. Either I’m a total nut, or people just don’t get into the weeds with this part…

The thing is, I know what I am capable of. I know that I’m unique and wonderfully made. I know that I will literally set this world on fire with everything that lives within me. I know that my purpose is so much greater than I could’ve ever imagined. The hard part is stepping into that. The hard part is knowing that my strengths can quickly become my weaknesses if I over do it…and that in the same breathe, overthinking everything will keep me right where I am. The hard part is turning my back on the crowd to lead the orchestra. My entire life has been so centered on appeasing the crowd. I’ve always wanted to fit in.

This mission you’ve given me, God, is scary, because it’s a reminder that you never intended for me to fit in. You didn’t make me to be like anyone else in this world. That’s scary for this small town girl who’s primary goal in life has been to have a boyfriend and a dog to go through life with. You haven’t called me to simplicity– you’ve called me to greatness…and to whom much is given…much is required…

So I write this letter to you, God, because I can’t pray, I’m scared. I write this letter to you, God, because I hope that writing will help remind me that you have given me so much. I write this letter to remind myself that everything I am fearing is a reaction to leaving my comfort zone. I write this letter to remind myself that I am covered, despite my fear, and despite my resistance to pray. I write this letter to remind myself that it doesn’t matter how far I think I’m running away from you…you are right here and you love me…and  I can’t run away from you.

Love always,
Cierra

Believe in the Journey

d12-14-02

hydration.nutrition.fit.sound.

It’s Within You…

“You have the power to climb out of the darkness and reconnect to the part of you that is worthy of everything you want. You have the power, but you have to realize that it’s within you. It’s not out in the world. It’s not in the words of this article. It’s not in your yoga practice. It’s not in your therapy sessions. It’s within you.”-MBG 10/17/16

Life is tough. Everyday is mixed with such a plethora of emotions, i.e. weddings, babies, new jobs, to deaths of family members and friends, scary diagnosis, and reminders that it could all change for you in and at any moment. It’s a gift, life- but it’s tough. It’s hard to wrap our human minds around the concept of spiritual guidance/acceptance. Whomever you pray, for me it’s Jesus, there’s at least some part of you that can’t escape the human nature of worry. Some days present themselves and you have all the faith in the world…get some news from a friend or family member and that unwavering faith may start to wobble.

At least mine does. I use to be real embarrassed about that. How one morning I could wake up and post something super inspirational about moving forward and then in the very next moment, end up crying the entire way home from work. Why? Because something happened in that day that shattered my faith. How does that happen? How can I be so faithFULL and faithLESS at the same damn time ? (Song pun intended).

One practice I’ve picked up is silence. I wake up in the morning and make every attempt to spend 2-3 min awake, but in silence. I try to hear what’s causing to me feel anxious, or excited, or nervous,or upset. Focus on what’s triggered the emotion and then just sit in it. The other day I woke up in a panic fearing I’d lost information I need for creating my business. I was so certain that I had lost it and was sadden and pissed off at the thought of having to start over. Before my feet had even hit the ground I was spiteful and angry. I sat still. Embraced everything I was filling–laughed at myself a little for being so uptight, and gingerly said, “Cierra, if God wants you to have this, you will find it, and if he doesn’t, he needed you to be okay with a fresh start.”

A friend talked to me last night about “the wisdom to know the difference”. The serenity prayer is a good one…but I had never really taken the time to work through this part of it. The prayer reads, God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

The wisdom to know the difference is the trickiest part of that prayer. I have a piece of art a friend and business owner made for me that says “Feel the fear and do it anyway” my therapist in grad school would say that to me when I would come in to see her bottled up with fear and anxiety about a decision I needed to make. Most recently I’ve struggled with two perspectives on that… feel the fear and do what’s in your GUT anyway or your HEART anyway or your HEAD anyway? If you are anything like me, it’s a rarity that these three are in alignment.

God sent a carrier by way of a friend yesterday to help me work through that… he said that God greets us through his love, guides us with his unconditional love, and shapes us through love…the heart…the heart is the single organ that keeps us alive. Yes, it works in tandem with all other parts of our bodies, but it’s the heart and when it stops beating that determines when earthly life has come to an end. God speaks to me through my heart. He speaks to me through a quickened heartbeat, a flutter, and then a short small whispered voice. I know how God speaks to me and I hear Him when I get silent and still enough to truly listen to my heart.

I write all this as I have woken u with a lump of anxiety on my chest. I woke up with a big giant fear of the unknown– curious to what God’s plan are for my life. Curious of what hardships and celebrations will be apart of my story. Fearful for wrong decisions and misunderstandings of feel the fear and do it anyway…am I hearing God? or am I hearing myself?…the wisdom to know the difference…

Silence ( and writing to share my story) helps provide me with the wisdom I’m seeking. Find yours…it’s within you, I promise.

serenity-prayer

hydration.nutrition.fit.sound.

 

A Birthday to Remember

10, 21, 25, 28. My most memorable birthdays. 10th was a pool party at my high school’s public pool. Double Digits. I vividly remember asking my mom if this could be my last birthday. I didn’t want to get any older.

21 for all of the obvious reasons. Sloppy drunk at Ugly Tuna with my dear friend Theresa. She was determined to have me out at the stroke of midnight. Particularly because I was the last of my friends to turn 21-always the baby of the crew. Rolled down a hill in front of my residence hall and passed out. A friend hosted a house party for me too somewhere around that time. That’s when Sophia and I’s RA relationship started. I got broken up with the day after the party, not truly broken up with- we weren’t formally dating. He liked someone else more. Went to Bob Evans that morning- borrowed his Kid Cudi CD, and later that day he said he “just wanted to be friends”. Something of the sort.

I had a mental breakdown and didn’t leave my dorm room for several days.

25th birfday was the last one I remember spending with my grandmother. I went to Steubenville to get my new license and then to her house to hang out. We watched Steve Harvey re-runs…maybe some Gun Smoke? Went to lunch with my mom, dad, and cousin Julian. The waitress spilled hot coffee on my dad. We haven’t gone back there since. They didn’t even comp. us at all…oh steuby.

28. Took my first totally solo trip to the city of my dreams. Rode a bike 9 miles from Pier 41 down pass Crissy Fields all the way around to the west entrance of the Golden Gate Bridge. My eyes welled up with tears and I literally just paused to try bottle the moment. I didn’t want a picture. I wanted to remember with everything in me the extreme sense of accomplishment that comes with packing a single backpack, looking myself in the mirror and saying- I’m doing this. No matter what. I took a picture just in case.

If I die on this trip so be it. Okay, I know that’s a bit extremist; the point being I refuse to sit still any longer waiting for the world to make sense. It’s just not going to. I’ve lived a successful 28 years, and I vividly remember 4 birthdays. Probably a few more if I really sat still long enough (sleepover with 21 girls at my house in middle school where one of my closest friends had peanut butter spread all over folks… She’s severely allergic… 😶 I have the best mom ever.)

4 birthdays. This 28th birthday my momma told me the story of my coming into the world. Everything that was going on around her. I listened on the phone and silently cried. I was her dream come true. A baby girl. Her girl. She would give her life for me to live- she almost did.

I refuse to allow her dream to be a waste. Sept 16th is the day God chose to bring one of her greatest dreams to life. 28 years later I know exactly why He created me. To live, to travel, to share, to experience near death moments and survive in His light to tell the story. To challenge the world built with suffering and fear. To step in faith with Him as my companion. To understand why I’ve never feared death and always struggled with the choice to live. Not to breathe, but to live. To have moments where it doesn’t make sense, cry through it, and move on…at my own pace.

When I die I’m going home. I’ll be with my Aunt Alexis, my Nana, my Mama –all my previous pets and whomever else God takes that way between now and then. I’m not looking forward to it happening any time soon. I hope the plan for me is beyond year 28, but here’s the thing, I’m not afraid of that. I’m afraid of sitting still–breathing and not living.

What an experience. To have your heart flutter with the unknown. To step on to public transportation with a slight tinge of am I absolutely crazy/ will I get shanked today, and how freeing it is to know that I have no control over what happens next. May as well, live.

hydration.nutrition.fit.sound.


A Backpack and Some Sneakers

I had to take my popcorn with me to the bathroom. I’ve gotten so acostumed to going to the movies with someone that I didn’t think to wait to purchase my popcorn until after my typical pre-movie stop. Sitting in the stall I thought to myself, “this must be what dating yourself feels like.”

Free. To take popcorn in the bathroom without anyone making a comment or declaring me the most unsanitary popcorn eater, ever– at least not to my face anyway.

I went to the movies by myself for the first time in a while, and smiled at remembering what it feels like to just think about me. To be alone.

I’m on a flight to San Francisco now- just thinking about me. I packed a small Target backpack with what I determined were must haves and my best friend dropped this small town Midwesterner off at the airport.

Him: “Where’s your stuff?”

Me: “I have everything I need.”

Never in my life have I traveled anywhere with just a backpack. Not to a sleepover, no to Girl Scout camp, not to a quick trip to visit a friend down the street. Hell, I practically carry a suitcase with me to work!

I always have stuff. Too much stuff. Quietly singing Ericka Badu in my head girl you can’t hurry upppp cuz you got too much stufffff.

I’m tired of carrying it. I want to be free.

When I was 10 years old I wrote a list of life goals. Random goals, but things that my 10 year old self wanted to do while my lungs continued to open and close. One 10 year old Cierra dream was to visit San Francisco.

I’m on the plane. The eve of my 28th birthday-with that dream coming to life. God willing, these wheels are going to land in Oakland International Airport and I will be one Bart ride away from making a dream come true.

I don’t have a clue what it is about The City that’s placed this dream in my heart. I’ve mentioned in previous post that I could feel a hunger for drastic change in my life and for whatever reason, San Fran has been heavy on my heart.

So here I am. One a plane. By myself. At the movies- by myself. In a bathroom stall with popcorn (yup!) by myself. And for the first time in a long while, free.

It’s funny because this month started with me fearing the onset of being alone. I could feel that my partner in crime was experiencing a shift. That he wasn’t able to give me any more than what he was giving and I needed more.

I didn’t want to carry my popcorn in the bathroom. Or not call him in the habitual pattern of dependency I had created. That’s my jam- meet someone- decide I’m committed to it working- sacrificing sometimes on BIG non-negotiables because I’m in love with love.

I simply melt for a romantic comedy, better yet the idea of my love story becoming one. The idea of someone seeing a beauty in me so much deeper than I can understand and just being this nurturer who believes in me… Who believes in us.

I was watching my rom com fall apart and I just felt weak. Until I cried in the parking lot of my apartment for a full 5 min and quietly heard God telling me…

I know you are hurting. I know you don’t understand. Hear me now, I have more.

You have more what!? I could feel my heart asking. More pain? More disappointment? More loneliness? More self doubt?

I had to silence the snot bubbling tears long enough to hear, just More.

I have no idea what that means. I also don’t know if I’m a lunatic for seeming to hear God’s voice at the darkest hour. I do know I haven’t cried since. I know that my best friend can be my friend without all the other stuff- the junk that was weighing our friendship down and numbing me to needing to focus on me. What I need.

I know that I am 2 hours out from a 6 day adventure in my dream city, with just me.
Less than 24 hours away from my 28th birthday, and this year, I didn’t wait on anyone else to help make this birthday as important to me as birthdays are.

This year, I bought a ticket. Packed a backpack and some sneakers. Prayed to God and tearfully followed my heart to San Francisco.✌🏾️

#listeningtoZendaya #Replay

hydration.nutrition.fit.sound.


Inner Peace

” The peace of God surpasses all understanding. God is in charge. Surrender to the peace of God within. Remember that lack of conflict or fear in my life in exchange for a new set of fear is not the peace I seek. Only God can truly comfort and soothe my soul.” -paraphrased by Daily Word 8/16/16

I turn 28 in a month. Wow. I also broke up with one of my longest standing relationships. Fear. It’s been a battle. He {fear} calls everyday- I panic- heart sinks and then the darkness of “I don’t know what to do” pours in. Today I said no to an extra shift and gave myself the space to reflect on how I was feeling during and after consumption–ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE. Gasy- bloated- disgusting. Anxious…. Gross Yuck and Done.

Waking up each day asking God what he has for me for the day has often turned into a groggy alarm slap and extra dose of drool on my pillow. I wake up, roll out of bed, dragging my feet to the bathroom with my eyes barely open and already feeling defeated. That sneak Ex, fear jumps into my lap and just like that, lord Voldemort, aka fear has hijacked my day.

I’ve talked to my therapist. My physician. Even some family friends–all who have offered sound advice. I’ve tried anti-anxiety meds (made it worse) and anti-depressants ( not for me!) and even worked out beyond measure to shake free from my toxic relationship with fear.

18 months later fear is still coming on strong. I’ve decided that the only way I’ll truly be able to end this relationship is to stop answering when he calls. To embrace the anxiety of fear’s presence and smile, and walk in the opposite direction.

Feel the fear and do it anyway. Feel the heartache of the breakup with the chains of fear and walk away from the darkness anyway. I think I’ve held on to fear for so long, because in it’s own way- he’s been safe. Fear has kept me in my house, in a “secure” city, and stagnant in my desire to try new things.

Breaking up with fear is just one step of many for me to walk fully into the light of life. And just like any relationship- fear will pop up at the most inconvenient time–but it’s all gravy- I’ve managed to smile in the face of a bunch of piss poor relationships; I’ll add fear to the bunch! 😏

hydration.nutrition.fit.sound.


Practice Saying No {in Bolivia}

I’m currently in Bolivia…practicing a concept that’s much needed and yet extremely difficult. Saying No.

We all have our limits- most commonly I jump over mine in honor of seeking a thrill, relevance of some sort, or even validation that I’m needed in order to make something more enjoyable- more worthy. It’s in the moments of saying no- going against the group grain, that I feel the most terrified and releeved.

It’s important to challenge yourself. I’ve talked about that before, but what I am learning is it is equally as important to know yourself. To know your limitations and to be okay with being different than the masses. I’m currently traveling with a group of students who are soaking up every opportunity to try something new; I know that it is my responsibility to encourage their growth and exploration. I want to provide every opportunity possible for expanding their worldly knowledge while recognizing where I am in my own journey. You cannot feed if you are starving yourself.

I came into this trip from a really dark place. It’s been a dark year or two and I know that it’s related to my continuous need to please. I practiced saying yes, which meant I was committed to saying yes to everything that scared me. I asked my boss for the freedom to develop a service-learning abroad initiative, I climbed a small ladder up a HUGE tree and went ziplining in Costa Rica, I did the roommate thing, I dated, I joined a church, I was baptized, I committed to a strenuous workout and diet regiment and lost 50lbs, I went to Jamaica, I bought a solo plane ticket to San Fran, I started working part time in the gym, I walked away from a secure job in pursuit of my passion, I called my therapist when I wanted to give up.

I said yes.

I learned a lot.

I found peace in trying and exploring and meeting and living and growing.

I walked thousands of feet closer into self love through saying yes and pushing through the darkness.

The clouds are lifting on a new season. A season where I am much more secure in who I am- even if other people don’t like it. The Soles4Souls rep said something yesterday that stuck-I’m going to tell you the truth…whether you like what you hear or you don’t. That’s powerful. It’s been humbling to be around someone who is so pleasantly pleased with who they are and what they are doing with their life. That’s the season I’m walking in to.

I’ve worked with mentors to set up a variety of informational interviews to start sorting through who I am and what I want to do with my life. I told myself o was committed to powering down in order to figure it out. Bolivia has been the absolute PERFECT place for it.

I look at my stomach rolls in the morning adoringly as they represent my feeding my struggles instead of quitting. I gained a lot of weight. I also chose to keep loving myself even when I was so very disappointed in who I was becoming. I’ve spent the last year beating myself up for gaining weight and on this trip- I looked at the mountains and thanked God that he helped me continue to breathe through the pain- through the darkness. Food kept me alive– it’s like although it wasn’t the best coping strategy, it made me fully aware of how I cope and what behaviors I need to change in order to find a new coping strategy.

My rolls, stomach pooch, and back fat are the shield I needed to keep trying to live. Seeing my weight in Bolivia has been such a gift. It’s through the journey of getting here that I have peace with my ability to lead. I have peace with my ability to make difficult decisions. I have peace with my ability to say no.

The world didn’t stop. Everything didn’t go perfectly and it blossomed into this beautiful story. I knew I was ready.

I knew a few weeks ago that I was walking into a new season- the problem was that I was too terrified to embrace it. I was afraid of saying no. Of disappointing someone or making the wrong choice. Now I see that all decisions are scary. Every decision comes with some type of outcome. I can’t sit still any more trying to rationalize and critique EVERYTHING.

I can say No, or Yes, or I don’t know- and guess what? I’ll be just fine. Guess why?  Not everyone is going to like me… And that is finally okay.

I’m loud, I’m adventurous at my own pace, I’m loving, nice to nice people, and I pee a lot. My laugh lights up a room (good bad or indifferent!), I love music and to dance. I love traveling and meeting new people. I love the concept of Jesus and I pray with my full heart that it’s all real.

What I know for sure is I am me; I know myself best. It’s damn well time I start believing in myself as much as I believe in others. Life is too unpredictable to be saying yes to things that I know are a hard No, and to short to say no to things that I know deep in my heart, are an absolute yes.

hydration.nutrition.fit.sound.


I’m Ready Now.

Went to my first Ohio State Fair today. Ate a pepperoni roll and deep fried oreos. As soon as I was finished, I knew….I’m ready now.

Most of you know that I pride myself on authenticity. I’ve shared some of the most challenging experiences of my life thus far through blogs and then partly through journal-ing that I do for myself- when I can’t get from between my own two ears.

Today I woke up exhausted. Not sleepy exhausted but like, I’m carrying too much exhausted. Carrying too much weight, too much stress, too much strain, too much emotional pain— I’m carrying too much. I’m losing things that are important to me because my brain is constantly on over drive. I’m either on a mission to fix something, lose weight, find a career, meet the love of my life, or find financial relief. I’m trying a new meal plan, reading a new book, starting a new workout regiment, only drinking smoothies, swearing off of fast food for life– something extreme. That’s all I know. I know how to dive in and then jump TF out.

I don’t finish. I quit. I get close– I feel the progress. I quit.

Do you know how many books I have on my shelves that I’ve started? 30 pages or so in and I decide that I need to focus on a different topic.

Do you know how many “Mondays” or “1st” that have come and gone– started with a commitment to clean eating and ending with a Pizookie from BJ’s?

Do you know how many times I’ve had roommates for the sake of saving/paying off debts and end those roommate relationships with more debts than I started with?

I signed up to pay an excruciating amount of money for braces…invisalign/..that I barely wear!

Enough.

I’m exhausted.

I’m wearing myself out. I’m worn out.

I was watching the news this morning, heard about a high school student who was murdered in the back of a grocery store. I’m watching people die every day because life is not promised.

I’m eating and starting and quitting and complaining and sleeping and waiting for something to make sense. This entire time, I’ve been praying big, giant, scary, bold prayers and waiting on God– only to realize…

…He’s been waiting on me….

All I know is quitting. Giving up. Wearing thin.

I jump out- and start something new….

I want to finish.

I’m ready now.

hydration.nutrition.fit.sound.

taste of heaven