“Do not be afraid…to roar, to be traditional, to be vulnerable, to be predictable or unpredictable or to be any of the things we are and are not supposed to be. Do not be afraid to change your mind, clothes, opinion, or hair and the next day change it all again. Do not be afraid, that is the only thing you must not be.”
*Describe your a-ha moment.
I’ve had so many! The day I left my very small town, where I knew everyone, to go to a school where I didn’t know any of the 20k students. I went 600 miles & 3 states away to find that my comfort zone is wherever I am.
The weekend I moved from Chicago to Miami with my puppy and a U-haul, even though I didn’t have a place to live once I got there. I had my dreams, my puppy and my faith, and sometimes that’s all a girl needs.
The night I stood on a stage in Moscow, in front of thousands of people & felt unapologetic as an almost 30yr old, female dancer who chose career over love & family.
The moment when I found out that I was pregnant and knew that unplanned is sometimes the best plan. The afternoon in September that I found out I miscarried & realized that we don’t even know some of our biggest dreams or fears until they happen to us.
The Sunday that I packed up my life into 6 boxes & a couple garbage bags and moved to another state to be with the man I loved, who I met only 6 months prior.
Last night & every night, when I thank God for my very beautiful life and the little voice in me that says “do it” that has led me to all my “a-has.”
*Tell us something about your personality that used to bother you, but you’ve now learned to love and use to your advantage?
I do my very best to not let people see me cry, but when I get really angry, I cry. It is involuntary & completely unpreventable. I hate it because when I need to appear the strongest, I feel weak & vulnerable; crying and succumbing to the theory of hysteria! It infuriates me, which makes me cry more!
While I haven’t learned to love it or use it to my advantage, I no longer apologize when I rage cry. I wipe my tears & keep bitching! I’m an extremely passionate person and I refuse to apologize for being physically consumed with how I feel.
*What’s your best piece of woman-to-woman advice?
Do not be afraid…to roar, to be traditional, to be vulnerable, to be predictable or unpredictable or to be any of the things we are and are not supposed to be. Do not be afraid to change your mind, clothes, opinion, or hair and the next day change it all again. Do not be afraid, that is the only thing you must not be.
*What has been your favorite mistake?
I chopped my hair off in undergrad. My hair was so long (waist-length) and healthy and I chopped it off, Halle Berry, off! I was so sick of being the “light-skinned girl with long hair” and all the connotations that comes with that title: stuck-up, pretty but not smart, not black enough and I hated being called Pocahontas!
It was a huge mistake because I cut my hair to prove a point to others & not because I wanted short hair. It all worked out though, because I learned a lot: its hair, so we cut it off and it grows back; there are connotations attached to all things (short hair, long hair, light skin, dark skin, women, men, everything…) not just hair, and they are only as powerful as we make them; and I hate being called Halle Berry just as much as I hated being called Pocahontas!
*What is your favorite way to express yourself creatively?
I write, I always have. When I was young, I wrote fictitious short stories and kept a journal. Now I blog, which is basically a live journal of all my personal short stories! Every now and then, I still dance in my kitchen, because sometimes there aren’t words.
*How does having a creative outlet promote emotional health and well-being?
Having a creative outlet allows me to get the feelings out of my body, where they would otherwise take on a life of their own and consume my every thought & action. When my feelings build up, they begin to physically manifest; I get sick and don’t want to eat or I only want to eat! Writing gives my feelings a space to live, outside of me, while I digest and analyze them. Writing keeps me sane and healthy.
*Have you ever experienced depression or anxiety and how have you gotten through it?
Yes, while I’ve never been clinically diagnosed, my background in social work has taught me enough to know that I experience episodes of both and I imagine that I always will. I become consumed with people, relationships, ideas… so I easily become overwhelmed. Feeling overwhelmed leads to anxiety and when these people, relationships, ideas, etc., don’t meet my expectations, I experience a high level of disappointment, which triggers the depression.
I have learned to manage my expectations and take responsibility for the role that I play in my own disappointment, be more realistic about what others are capable of offering, and acknowledge that not everyone reciprocates the same.
It also helps to take mental breaks from all relationships where I am being held accountable for someone else’s feelings. I communicate that I’m overwhelmed and I just need some temporary space to recharge and digest what’s going on in my world. People who love me don’t take it personal and give me the space that I need to get back to being the best version of me. I try not to beat myself up when I’m in a valley and I remind myself that these feelings are temporary. I also know that I’m strong enough to come out the other side.
*What do you not want us to know?
My telephone number. Seriously. I get so much anxiety about people asking for my phone number because then I have to tell them, “I’m sorry, but I don’t give my number out.” and then people get ALL up in their feelings & take it personal, when it’s not. In this age of technology, people have so much access to you, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, email, and a million other apps that I don’t even know exist!
My phone number is personal to me, not you & I know every person who has my number, personally. Not everyone needs to have access to you at all times and keeping my phone number private allows me to create boundaries for when I get overwhelmed and need to take a mental break!
*When do you feel most creative? What inspires you?
I’m always more creative at night. I think a lot of right-brainers get a jolt of inspiration at night! It may have something to do with your brain being done with processing the day’s events or your brain finally feels free from tasking and has space to create, not think!
I’m extremely aware of what’s going on around me and what people are going through. I see a lesson in EVERYTHING, know that NOTHING is coincidental and I am inspired by the purpose that goes into every moment we get. It’s not even a process that takes place, it’s automatic.
When I see my dog birdwatching, I’m immediately grateful for the reminder to take breaks & appreciate the beauty that is everywhere we look.
If I find a lost puppy, I know that he found me and I am meant to help him, otherwise someone else would have found him.
If I get a red light, I’m meant to be in that space, waiting.
If my call drops or my message fails to send, my words are not ready to be heard.
If I see a homeless person and I have a dollar that is not spoken for, then I am meant to give it away.
If an opportunity presents itself, I am meant to see where it leads. It will either be a blessing or a lesson. There is meaning in all moments, small and large & each meaning is specific and unique to you because they are your moments. 🙂 I write because I find it therapeutic to share my moments and I know that someone is meant to read my words, and so they will…
*How do you soothe yourself when you are upset, disappointed, angry, jealous?
I always turn to music when I’m hurt. A song becomes the soundtrack to my feelings & I play it over and over until I’ve exhausted the feelings that I’m holding onto. Then, when I hear that song, I always remember the emotional space that I was in and it’s satisfying to be free of the feelings that I was once sitting in.
When I have learned a lesson or am finally able to see the beauty in my hurt, I write & share my words in hopes that someone else sees themselves and knows that they are not alone & they too will come out the other side.
*What does it mean to you to be a soulful beauty?
A soulful beauty is someone who possesses a beauty that is so deep, it must be aligned with her spirit. This beauty is obviously more complex and withstanding than physical beauty, but I think it lends to her physical glow. And given that the beauty is aligned with her spirit and not her hair, eye color, or the shape of her lips or hips, it is truly unique to only her.
The best compliment people give me is not that they love my hair or anything attached to my physical beauty, but that I am transparent. There is no kinder compliment than having someone tell me that they see me for who I truly am & then they choose to stick around. 🙂
*What is your favorite quote, scripture or affirmation?
Oh, so hard!! There are so many! Can I share three with you?!
When I am struggling with change or letting go, I turn to the first verse of The Serenity Prayer:
God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other…
Whenever I feel alone from loss, I turn to this quote by Mitch Albom & it forces me to acknowledge the small distance between & I know that I’m obligated to continue living, despite my loss, because one day I will be on the other side of that small distance between…but not today.
“Death doesn’t just take someone, it misses someone else, and in the small distance between being taken and being missed, lives are changed.”
The last quote is Ernest Hemingway’s response to being asked what he means by “guts,” and he replied,”grace under pressure.” It’s commonly known as his definition of courage. So now, when I pray, I ask for grace, so that I may be courageous.