Family and Abandonment: An Open Letter

A little back story about this open letter…

I will not be clear throughout this post as to who I am referring to out of respect and privacy for the family.

A few months ago, I received a text that one of my immediate family members passed away due to COVID-19. This was an estranged family member from my mother’s side, one of many estranged members, unfortunately. My abandonment issues run deep. A large amount of my mother’s side of the family turned their backs on me, since a young age. Not all, but a large amount. I think what has bothered me all these years the most is that I had no involvement or control in their reasonings. I did not have a fair chance. And although I cannot say I am exactly disowned, I would consider myself involved in a worse scenario- ignored and forgotten. I am not really acknowledged as a family member. I have no idea where my deceased family member is buried nor was I considered to participate in a remembrance of life. It is bad enough that I have not talked to this person for over 15 years. A lot of pain and resentment sits in my heart.

When I received the news, my reaction was spontaneous.

At first, I was too stunned to give a reaction and for a split second, I felt unbothered due to my lack of connection to this person. Practically a stranger at this point. But rather quickly, the anger set in. Most of my childhood memories involved this person. This person was a big factor in my upbringing. Why was I not enough? How could anyone watch a child grow and be involved in that child’s growth and then just up and leave and never look back? I could never understand it. Ever. The anger set in when I realized I will never have these answers. I decided I was going to confront my family and I had one member, particularly in my mind.

Below is THAT letter. And now months later, I am sharing it with you all:

Hi [name of family member],

Remember this child? Do you know how long it has been since you have spoken to her? Or visited her? Do you even care how she is doing and what she has been up to the past 15 years?

I wish this conversation was more positive but honestly, I was never given a fair chance. You and [name of deceased family member] decided to walk away and stop calling. Somehow you decided that I was not your [relation] anymore. I never did anything to you. I was a child. You three including my mother, are the main reasons I do not know how to form a strong family bond with any of my family members, my father’s side included. The damage your actions have done on me are borderline irreversible. Congratulations. You did one hell of a number on me.

I was informed that [name of deceased] passed away. I am sorry to hear this and offer my condolences. I was heartbroken and resentful when I heard the news. I realized despite being angry and hurt all these years because you both decided to discard me out of your life like I was nothing to you, I still loved her. Crazy, right? So, I think it is time that I am owed an explanation. What did I do to the both of you to make you decide it was best to turn your back on me? You cannot be that cold of a person. It must cross you mind from time to time. Seriously, why? If this year has taught you anything, I hope it has taught you that time is precious and short. Too short to abandon ‘loved ones.’ I want to make it VERY clear that is what you both did to me. So again, why?

I do not even want an apology. I see no point. But if you can do one thing for me, is to please give me an explanation. For my own healing and closure.

Not that you care, but I have done well for myself despite all the toxic damage that I had to grow up with. I have managed to become an intelligent, strong, and compassionate woman. I was able to graduate with my bachelor’s degree in Psychology. I have a career in Human Resources. I am a published writer. I have traveled around the world. I have an amazing fiancé and we plan to marry at the end of this year. And hopefully, God will bless me with a child who I can raise and love the way I have always yearned to be loved by my mother. I can build my own family.

I would be highly surprised if you respond to this but at least I have said my peace. If you do not respond, I wish you the best in life. I hope you come to terms with the mistakes in your life. And I want you to know that it is never too late. It is never too late to try to reconcile with me. It will not be easy and the way I feel, I most likely will not be welcoming at first. But efforts do not go unnoticed. It is never too late. Goodbye.

If you are wondering…

No, I did not send it. Call me a coward or acknowledge that I chose not to for the sake of my own peace, both explanations would be correct. I decided it was healing for me to write it and that was for me alone.

I often find myself wondering if I will ever truly heal from this situation and forgive my family. It is a long, long, strenuous road. You take 5 steps forward, only to take 10 steps back. I may never truly heal from it. I have thought about going to therapy to address it. I honestly feel like I need to. For the sake of my own future child and the generations to follow. Part of my healing process has been finding awareness that a lot of my damage came from my childhood. The generational curses. I am determined for it to end with me. I have no problem carrying that cross if it means that my lineage after me will be filled with love, compassion, and awareness. It is one of my ultimate goals.

You know, reading this letter again after a few months still stings.

So much anger and resentment in the tone. I find myself feeling guilty for being so cold, especially after a death. I feel all my mixed emotions burning in my stomach as I reread the letter. But I know that this is normal. One of the biggest steps of a healing process is truly sitting in your pain and wholeheartedly feel it. I know that brings me a step closer in my journey and I am learning to find peace in that itself. We all have skeletons in our closet. Family traumas that run deep. I happen to be a little more open about it but that does not mean you have to be. Whether you keep it hidden or open, just do yourself the favor and feel it regardless. Do not ignore it. As painful and difficult as it may feel, it is necessary. If you can relate to my situation, I feel for you. You are not alone, and I am sending you so much love. Be kind to yourself. Here’s to healing ❤

Quarantini: 6 Habits to Stir Up during a Quarantine.

“The trick is to enjoy life. Don’t wish away your days, waiting for better ones ahead.”.

Marjorie Pay Hinckley

None of us signed up for this…

But here we are. I know there is a thick fog of uncertainty throughout the world. I know it looks grim. I know we are all anxiously anticipating when normalcy will begin to creep back in. For me personally, any glimpse of it would give me hope. And although we must process all emotions that we are currently feeling, acknowledging them, and letting them go, we must also figure out how to make good out of a pretty bad situation. This is how you keep your energy pure during a time like this. This is how you stay spiritually strapped. Also, this is how you start to find the positives in any situation, good or bad.

If at first you don’t succeed…

Ironically enough, the habits I am about to list were much harder for me to achieve when life was ‘busy.’ Before, I often struggled and rarely kept myself accountable for some of these habits. Granted, I am not a fan of this quarantine. I long for a mimosa at an actual restaurant for brunch. I long for the day that the slightest tickle in my throat or obnoxious sneeze is not sent back with burning glares from others. Just for the record, people who suffer from allergies during allergy season (like me) are NOT doing okay right now! Oh, the judgement. Regardless, the situation is here. This is our present and reality. Life continues. We have to continue with it; adapt and accept. So why not use this time to truly reflect, do some internal work, and develop healthy habits as coping mechanisms? To relieve the anxiety. The sadness. The loneliness. The stress. All of it. There’s no better time to start. A lot of distractions have been removed. Take this opportunity to reconnect with yourself.

1. Meditation and/or Stretching.

I could never develop this habit before the quarantine. But now, I find myself doing this every morning. Meditation helps with clearing your mind and energy. It’s a great way to express self-love. It’s an opportunity to cater and nurture yourself. It has become a beloved morning ritual of mine. I wake up and after brushing my teeth, the first thing I head to is my yoga mat. I light my Palo Santo, give gratitude for living another day, and grab my energy crystals. I like to throw on meditation music such as a sound bath with singing bowls, and I really check in with myself. Am I feeling sad? Hopeless? Anxious? Content? Happy? I acknowledge whatever I am feeling and I sit in it for a bit. Then I take three deep breaths and let it go. I begin my stretching and by the second stretch pose, my back cracks EVERY TIME lol…the joys of getting old! Stretching allows me to focus on my breathing. It allows me to start my day with some form of movement. And of course, gets all the knots out. Then I just stay still. I welcome the stillness. A lot of people struggle with this particular part but it is the most nurturing. You start to think of something? That’s ok. Let it go and continue to focus on your stillness. I’ve gotten so dedicated to this habit that most times, I easily do thirty minutes without realizing.

2. Daily Vitamin Intake.

I could never remember to take my vitamins consistently. And as you get older, it becomes more important. Besides your typical multivitamin, I never paid attention to what vitamins I should be taking and well…things are forced to be different now. I need my immune system to be in tip top shape, as I am sure all of you want the same! I am not a doctor in any way, shape, or form, so I won’t list all the vitamins I take and explain the benefits. However, I will tell you some of the vitamins you should consider including in your daily diet: Vitamin C, Garlic extract, and Oil of Oregano extract. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that boosts your immune system. Garlic extract not only prevents colds, but alleviates the symptoms. When you have a cold, this makes your immune system more susceptible to viruses. Oil of Oregano extract has been shown to stop the growth of several kinds of bacteria. All of these are great for your immune health and given the current circumstances, I’m sure this is top priority for many of you.

3. Daily Dose of Sunlight.

Depending on what part of the world you’re in, quarantine orders may be a little more severe than others. If you are able to step outside for a walk, I highly suggest it. There is no better feeling than feeling the warmth of the sun on your face. Sunlight is a natural source of Vitamin D. Research has shown that lower levels of Vitamin D has been linked to depression. This is another habit I have built, courtesy of quarantine life. In the past, the only time I really stepped outside was if I had to go someplace. Before the virus, I was already accustomed to working from home. But now, there is no escape at all. No gym. No in person church service. No Ross…I’m suffering without the restock of my candles! The only time I really get to give myself a break from the house is when I go for my daily walks. If you are unable to step out of the house, then open your windows and let the sunlight shine through. It will still make you happy, I promise 🙂 every ounce counts.

4. Move your Body!

Exercise has been a consistent routine of mine for the past couple of years. However, without being able to go to the gym, I am forced to get creative with my workouts. Although I am not a huge fan of at home workouts, I have been able to incorporate yoga and your standard workout routines such as squats, lunges, sit ups, etc. But my favorite workouts are outside. Sometimes I will go for a light jog. Most times I am climbing the stairs of my apartment complex with buildings that are three stories tall. It allows me to enjoy the scenery while I feel the burn. Not a fan of exercise? That’s ok. Find other ways to get your body moving and your heart rate up. You can take walks, you can dance, you can stretch, jump rope, anything! Find something enjoyable to you and apply it into your daily routine. Put the quarantine snacks away!

5. Pick up a New Hobby.

During this quarantine, a lot of creative platforms are offering several of their services for free. There are many yogis that are offering yoga and meditation sessions virtually (I’ve attended a few on IG Live). There are many online courses with waived fees that allow you to pick up a new skillset (I’ve enrolled in a 4-week Digital Marketing course and a 10-week wellness course offered by Yale…I may be doing too much). There are even artists offering paint classes virtually as well (one in particular that I can think of- @thepaintnetwork on IG; they have been doing weekly affirmation paintings via Zoom). We have an abundance of time that will be spent in our homes, so rather than mindlessly scrolling on social media or binge watching Netflix, you can use this time productively. Perhaps you want to pick up journaling? Go for it! And when all else fails, read a book. I have so many books I have collected over the years that are collecting dust…yes, I neglect reading too, even as a writer. I’m looking forward to cracking them open and getting lost in another reality.

6. Budget your Expenses.

Let’s be transparent. We don’t really know how badly this virus will affect our economy. We are getting glimpses but the reality is, it may get worse before it gets better. Now is not the time to spend your money on anything that is not considered a necessity. Many people are forced to not work because there is no proper care for their children while schools are closed. Many businesses have been forced to shut down. Many people are being laid off. Economically, we are not okay and it is very possible we might hit a recession. And I am not saying this to scare all of you. I’m simply saying this as a notice to prepare. To be completely honest, my household has been impacted economically and it’s definitely a wake up call to evaluate our expenses. Now is the time to save as much money as we can. Be mindful. Be aware. And don’t panic. Make a plan and follow through. These circumstances won’t last forever. It’s just a matter of when we will be able to bounce back.

I hope these tips help you weather the storm in the most positive way that is accessible to you. Do your best to create a routine that works for you and brings you joy. Try to stick to that routine until it becomes the norm. Actively work at it and do your best. During these times, we need to shower ourselves with love. Keep those vibrations high. And remember, that despite the negative that may be taking place in your life, you get to live another day. Some people have not been as fortunate. You have a roof over your head and food in your fridge. Some people can’t say the same. And know, that this too shall pass. Find the silver lining and hold onto it. Sending my love to all of you and pocketing some for myself ❤ Happy Quarantine.

30 Things to Let Go of By 30.

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”

George Eliot

So much life to live…

For a lot of us, approaching 30 is one hell of a scary thought. You’re probably freaking out and obsessing over the assumption that time is running out to reach all of your dreams and goals. How many of you have thought to yourselves “By the time I’m 30, I’m going to be married with children, live in a gorgeous home, have the career of my dreams, and take annual vacations to exotic places with my family.” No? Just me? Fair enough. But I can almost guarantee that the majority of you have set unrealistic goals by the time you reach 30. Or perhaps, they aren’t unrealistic at all, but you feel you have not or may not succeed within your forsaken deadlines. I can understand the anxiety over welcoming a new decade of life. It’s almost like you’ve been walking through life half asleep and received the most disrespectful wake-up call of your existence. Life smacks you upside your head and tries to warn you that you really don’t have as much time as you initially believed. Because that’s the thing about time- it keeps moving. We have to be legitimate adults now, right? However, this does not call for a pity party. I see it two ways: Either you grab life by the horns and go after what you want or you drown in your own misery and worry.

So I hope all of you are in agreement that Option 1 is the ONLY way…

If not, bear with me. Your 30s don’t have to be the nail on your coffin. Believe it or not, your life is not over! You can actually be proactive in ensuring that this next decade of life is not only enjoyable and filled with happiness, but equally productive as well. So before I move forward, take a deep breath. Let go of your avoidance. Grant yourself patience (and me because this is a long read!). And be open-minded of the list I am about to provide you- 30 things to let go of by 30.

1. Your Comfort Zone.

29 was a huge “coming of age” year for me. I went through a massive transformation which included many harsh realizations and heartbreaks. In return, I was pushed…well, dragged (kicking and screaming, by the way) to find the silver linings within it all. One of those silver linings was realizing that I could no longer remain in my comfort zone. Ladies and gentleman, this is why this blog even exists in the first place. Stepping out of my comfort zone has allowed me to become a guest columnist for a local magazine. It has allowed me to be open and vulnerable about my inner demons. It has allowed me to connect with so many others on such a deep, spiritual level. It has even allowed me to attend a company retreat in France and present my article to my colleagues about this very topic. So when I tell you, stepping out of your comfort zone is such an amazing step in the right direction, please believe me.

2. Constant Need to Stay Connected.

It is so easy to get wrapped up in our phones these days. I’m guilty of doing the same, so no shame towards anyone. But at some point, we have to learn how to disconnect. You do not have to post everything you are doing (yes, pictures of your meals for IG are included in this statement) on social media. Cherish some memories for yourself and focus on living in the moment. You do not have to respond to your loved ones’ texts immediately. You do not always have to answer someone’s call right away, or even call back immediately if you are not in the mental space to do so! I personally like to leave my phone on silent at all times and tend to put my phone away from me as I start to wind down in the evening. Why? Well first of all, I get extremely anxious with all the notifications I tend to receive. And second of all, I’m adamant about disconnecting at least a couple of hours per day. It is the best form of self care I can give myself. I’ll read a book or draw a warm bubble bath or sip on a glass of wine while I mindlessly scroll through Netflix and catch up on some shows. The opportunities are endless!

3. Unmet Expectations for Others.

Have any of you read ‘The Four Agreements’ by Don Miguel Ruiz? It’s literally one of the most enlightening books I have ever read. Without giving too many spoilers, one of the agreements is not take anything personally. In a nutshell, what others do is not because of you. You can also think of this on the flipside, that what others do not do is not because of you. This simply means that if someone has fallen short of your expectations, do you truly believe it was done with intent and purpose towards you? How others treat or react towards you is a projection of their reality, not your own. Once you become immune to the actions of others, you release cycles of suffering. It is okay to hold a standard for how you want the people around you to treat you. But to dwell and take it personally, no. This is why I believe expectations of others should be thrown out of the closest window you can find. Seriously…find one now. Wish those people well and keep it moving.

4. Dismissing your Mental Health.

This idea has been a slap to my forehead lately. As much as I advocate for mental health, I am ashamed to admit that I have never been to therapy. And trust me, I’m way overdue for it! Last year became this big, neon sign that kept directing me to focus on my mental health. Slowly, I have been taking the necessary steps. And at 30 years old, I can no longer ignore the issues I seemed to have never got around addressing. Therefore, I am looking into therapy this year and I am nervous, intimidated, and excited, all at the same time. So if you feel that you have been neglecting your mental health, it is never too late to start taking the steps to improve your situation.

5. Horrible Eating Habits.

As important as mental health is, physical health and your overall well being are just as important. Once you hit 30, your body does not operate the same it would have in your teens and twenties. It becomes harder to remain healthy. And so, you have to work harder at maintaining your health. This includes your eating habits. From 30 and on, you become prone to weight and fat gain, high cholesterol, higher risk of diabetes and heart disease, and so on. At this point, you should probably start viewing your body as a temple and become mindful of what you place inside your body. Unfortunately, this may mean no more late night runs to Wendy’s and getting the 4 for 4. Insert sad sigh. Personally, I have been focusing on my eating habits and recently made the decision to become a pescatarian, meaning a diet with no meat and only fish, along with other plant based options. I’m on Day 23; so far, so good.

6. Personal Timelines.

This is our enemy!! It feeds our inner critic and has the audacity to tell us that we are only valued by the work we put out into this world. It’s a lie and we have been conditioned to become slaves to this idea. It is healthy to set goals for yourself. It is healthy to devise a life plan and set out to accomplish it. However, it is NOT healthy to remain shackled to these timelines. Life is a constant rollercoaster and will not always work in your favor. So if you find yourself making certain goals with timelines, and feel that you are not accomplishing them, which in turn provokes feelings of unworthiness, throw the whole timeline away. I’m going to say it again: Your value is not dependent on your work!

7. Unauthenticity.

I cannot stress how important it is to let go of this. It takes way too much energy and effort to pretend to be something you are not. And 9 times out of 10, others will see right through your bullshit. But besides others noticing, imagine the damage you are inflicting on yourself for not being authentic. You may be scared to show your true colors. You may feel judged or misunderstood. But nothing is worse than not remaining true to yourself. Allow others to get to know the ‘real’ you and make their own judgment. If they are not accepting of you, then this simply means that they are just not a part of your tribe, and that’s okay.

8. Procrastination.

Not to alarm you or anything but we’re not getting any younger. What exactly are you waiting for? Want to start a business? Do it. Want to travel overseas? Do it…well, maybe wait until the whole coronavirus is settled. Want to start a new career? Do it. Do everything and anything your heart desires that will bring you closer to achieving your own happiness, autonomy, and success. Procrastination will only hold you back from progressing. There is never a better time than now to do it.

9. Tired Excuses.

I am a stickler when it comes to accountability. This can cover a range of circumstances. Whether it is excuses as to why you cannot do something or excuses to explain how you are not in the wrong. Whatever your excuses and reasoning behind those excuses, just drop it. All this energy that you are exerting for excuses to defend an action of yours, or lack of, could be channeled into motivation for finding a solution for progression. Admitting to yourself that you hold power in the choices you make is a God given right. Sometimes this means you have to look at yourself in the mirror and truly evaluate how you may be contributing to your circumstances. We don’t only have to grow in age, we can grow in our mindset as well.

10. Toxic People.

Dropping these is a whole mood. As you get older, you realize what you are willing to accept and not accept. This includes the people in your life. You will become wiser and more mindful of the energy released around you. And unfortunately, you may recognize that the people you once considered close to you, are toxic blood-sucking demons trying to keep you in a constant space of worry, hurt, and disappointment. Last year, I lost too many ‘friends’ for my comfort. But as I look back and reflect, I have accepted the fact that this was absolutely necessary in order for me to progress in my life. You pay attention hard enough and you will clearly see who has your best interest at heart, who is truly rooting for your success, and who truly values you and respects you for the role you play in their life. Vibes don’t lie, folks. Walk away from these toxic people and send them peace to continue on without you.

11. Acceptance.

It is basic human need to feel connected to others and accepted by all. But if you haven’t realized this by now, you will soon realize that this will not always be the case. Looking for acceptance from others will drag your spirit and keep it stagnant. Here’s a hard pill to swallow: Not everyone will like you. No matter how loving and nurturing you are. No matter how funny or intelligent you are. No matter how beautiful or talented or gifted or successful you are. No matter what you do, some people will just not like you. I’ll let you in on a little secret…has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. Sometimes, your spirit will irritate the demons of others, and there is nothing you can do about it. My best piece of advice would be to focus on accepting yourself. There are only two people you have to face and answer to: yourself and God. Everyone else are opinions no one bothered to inquire about.

12. Irresponsible Spending Habits.

Being a responsible, financially stable adult, especially once you enter your 30s, is an important transition in your life. One of the top priorities, in my opinion, is to ensure that you are tucking away money for savings and emergencies. If you are spending ridiculous amounts of money and don’t have at least 1k stacked for a rainy day, please do better. Not for me, for yourself. Now, I do want to clarify, I am focusing on careless spending, not the necessary spending that is poured into your bills. Stop thinking small and spending large amounts of money towards drunken nights, restaurant dates, impulsive clothing buys, etc. You really don’t need a 150k car because it looks good for your image and promotes bragging rights. The compliments are nice but I promise you, at the end of the day, no one really cares what you are driving. Start thinking of a bigger picture- owning your own home, saving for retirement, working towards being debt free. That’s where the real freedom can be found. But of course, if you are spending large amounts of money on the items mentioned above, but can comfortably afford it and are able to save as well, then kudos to you.

13. Avoiding Conflict.

Conflict is inevitable. If you are afraid to address conflict in any area of your life, you are going to experience a difficult time maneuvering throughout your existence. Keeping quiet about what bothers you to keep the peace? Yeah, no. Don’t do it. It will only build resent inside of you until you finally explode because you cannot bear dealing with it anymore. Passive aggressive? Why? Be direct and confident in how you feel and what steps you want to take to resolve the issue. Communicate. Explain. Listen. Be honest. All tools for success in addressing conflict. As you get older, conflict only becomes more difficult to handle. Also, NEVER make assumptions. You cannot truly understand how the opposite party may feel until you ask for clarification. What you might have thought was conflict, was merely a misunderstanding.

14. Lack of Sleep.

Ever heard the phrase “I’ll sleep when I die?” Well, lack of sleep will speed up that process. It is vital to get at least 6 hours of sleep. Anything less than that on a consistent, long term basis will lead to higher risk of disease, high blood pressure, weakened immune system, weight gain, and even depression. Plus, let’s face it. Our 30 year old bodies can’t hang like they used to. Personally, I need a legitimate 48 hours to recover from one night of partying.

15. Over apologizing.

I was a repeat offender of this for a very long time and it is just now that I am being mindful in changing my approach on how often I apologize. I am the type of individual to say sorry if I breath the wrong way and I feel like I’m annoying you. Apologies should not come so frequently that you are doing it every other sentence. Over apologizing can lessen the significance of a sincere apology. If you arrive late to a function and find yourself apologizing, flip it around and instead thank the person for being patient for your arrival and their understanding. Furthermore, stop apologizing for circumstances that does not significantly impact another person’s life negatively. Stop making yourself feel inadequate and feed the need to overcompensate for your unnecessary guilt. In other words, boss up.

16. Destructive Behaviors.

Some of us have created coping mechanisms as an aide for survival, especially during the rough periods of our lives. I hope that all of you are capable of letting these go. Self-reflect, do some soul searching, and try to recognize why you react the way you do. Dig up that pain you had buried for so long. And work on developing healthy coping mechanisms. I hope those of you who take steps to developing healthy coping mechanisms have an amazing support system. Because it is not easy to do alone, nor should you have to feel that you don’t have support in making a positive change for your life. 30 is the year of self-love and care.

17. The Idea that Vulnerability is Weakness.

Being vulnerable and openly emotional is not a sign of weakness. If anything, it is the exact opposite. It takes great amounts of strength to openly express yourself and wear your heart on your sleeve. The idea that this labels a person as weak and overemotional, really upsets me. Not many people have your courage. Not many people have your sympathy and empathy. We have been so desensitized by society that no one knows how to handle authentic feelings anymore. It has become entirely too uncomfortable for the majority of people. And that’s not okay. Don’t bury your feelings. I am here to tell you that some of the most beautiful people I have met in my life proudly expressed themselves and were unapologetic about it. It’s okay to soften that heart of yours and share it with others.

18. Comparison to Others.

Comparison is the thief of joy. I know it may seem at times that everyone else is progressing in their lives and are so blissfully happy, while you remain stagnant and miserable. But honestly, people advertise what they wish to advertise. You never know what demons a person may be fighting behind closed doors. And you want to hear the craziest part? They probably feel the exact way towards you. We’re all so delusional and preoccupied with what other people are doing with their lives. Stop worrying about how the grass appears greener on the other side and learn how to water your own grass to your standards. We are all on different paths. Each designed to our free will and purpose. No need for comparison.

19. Grudges.

Ok, so if I am being completely transparent, have not quite mastered letting go of grudges. But I am aware that letting go of grudges and forgiving others for how they may have wronged you, is purely for the healing of yourself. It is not for the other person. Perhaps this person has tried to apologize but you are so deeply hurt and can’t seem to shake the feeling. Let it go. Let go of the resentment and pain. Keeping it bottled inside of you will not do you any good. Meanwhile the person who wronged you will continue to move on with their lives. Or perhaps, you never received the apology you felt that you deserved. Let it go. Live your life and don’t allow past tragedies to weigh you down.

20. That Job that Makes You Miserable.

Oh, man! I am hella passionate about this one. Once upon a time, I was in a job that did not see value in me. Not as a person, let alone as an employee. And it sucked. Bad. It affected my mental health in more ways than I can list. Everyday I felt like I was walking on eggshells, desperate to keep low and out of sight to avoid ruffling any feathers. But no matter how much I tried to showcase that I was indeed a valued employee, it would backfire and make my work situation that much worse. After a few months, I began feeling inadequate and starting questioning my worth and skill sets. Around this time I decided, I had to make my exit. And it was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life! If you are in a similar situation, walk away. I know it is scary. I know you have bills to pay. I know you have a family to support. But if a job is taking such a great toll on you, how are you able to support your family without being in the right state of mind? No job is secure. We’re all dispensable at one point or another. So honestly, you’re not doing anyone any favors by staying in a job that makes you feel this way.

21. Fear of Being Alone.

Nothing is more satisfying than learning how to be content with your own company. Solitude can be one of the top forms of self-love. During your moments alone, you are able to experience introspection. Introspection truly allows you to get to know yourself and share the best version of yourself with others. Learn to find fulfillment and comfort within yourself and not place that responsibility on others.

22. Hating Your Body.

Do you realize how incredibly beautiful you are? Yes, you. Please don’t allow society to convince you otherwise. Those are not imperfections you are looking at. Those are stripes. Stripes and dimples of honor. Your body has carried your soul through life up to this point. And it keeps carrying on. It allows you to keep living. A vessel provided with the opportunity to truly seize life. Take care of your body. Feed it nurturing foods. Thank it for carrying you through life. Be gentle and remind yourself that your body is unique to you, beautiful in its own way. I grew up hating my body. Unfortunately, I was conditioned to think that my body was not only imperfect, it was undesirable. Until one day I realized how much beauty my body carries. Every curve. I hope you all find your own realizations about your body too.

23. Perfectionism.

Say it with me: No one is perfect. Ok, now that we got that out the way, let me provide more insight. Perfectionism creates unrealistic expectations. It will cause unnecessary anxiety. It will cause fears and doubts. Perfectionism will get in your way every time you attempt a new venture. It will prevent you from developing new connects and relationships. Why? Because you will be too preoccupied on how to do it the ‘right’ way rather than throwing yourself in the game. Grant yourself some grace.

24. Taking Things for Granted.

I’m sure most of you know that nothing lasts forever. But are you 100% aware of what this means? Every person, circumstance, situation, blessing, downfall is temporary. Make sure you are holding your loved ones just a little bit tighter and longer. Tell them repeatedly that you love them. Be thankful for the small things, as one day, they will appear as the big things. Express gratitude and let it overpour. Nothing is this life is guaranteed or promised. So while the going gets good, allow the gratitude to take center stage.

25. Control Issues.

For those who know me…don’t come for me! Lol. I am a work in progress, so no… have not quite accomplished this yet. But I am aware and acknowledging I could use improvement in this area and that’s a good first step…right?!! Life has proven to show me how unpredictable and messy it is capable of getting. And each time I am reminded how insane it drives me when I am unable to control a particular situation. So my advice to you would be let go of the reigns and let flow. Don’t cause yourself unnecessary anxiety over something that is out of your power.

26. Doubt.

People will only believe in you as much as you believe in yourself. Law of attraction. What you put out into the universe, it comes back ten-fold. So if you are putting out all of your doubts and insecurities, how could you possibly expect fruits for your labor? It starts with believing in yourself. It starts with putting yourself on a pedestal and becoming your own cheerleader. You are fully capable and worthy, so stop holding yourself back.

27. Lack of Skincare.

Honeeyyyy. When I tell you that beautiful skin will not last forever, please listen to me. 30 is a great age to start incorporating new techniques and products into your skin regime. And if you’re not sure what that looks like, allow me to coach you. Wash your face before bed, ALWAYS! Please don’t leave makeup on from the day and sleep with it through the night. It will cause your skin to age and no one wants premature wrinkles. Exfoliate at least 3 times a week. Get all of those dead skin cells out and allow your skin to feel rejuvenated. Toners are your best friend. I personally like to use witch-hazel because of how natural it is. Face masks are amazing and leave your skin silky smooth. And last, hydrate, hydrate, HYDRATE. I like to use a tiny amount of rose hip oil and mix it with my moisturizer. Also, please use sunblock before you go outside or find a moisturizer that includes SPF. You’re welcome (you’ll thank me later).

28. Waiting for the Perfect Moment.

It does not exist. The end.

29. Following Society’s Ideas of How a Relationship Should Be.

What works for your relationship, will not work for others, and vice versa. I think the most perfect example I can think of is Will and Jada Pinkett Smith. They have been married for many decades and have found happy mediums and standards that works for them and their relationship. A lot of their views seem radical to some. But I do have to admit, they seem incredibly healthy and nurturing towards one another. Don’t allow others to meddle in your relationship. As long as the both of you are happy and committed in your relationship, that is all that matters. Tell everyone else to mind their business and kiss your ass!

30. That You Will Never Find Your True Love.

Love has no timelines. Some people are blessed to find their true loves early in life, as others find their true love as they reach their senior years. But both scenarios lead to happiness, so what’s the rush? This does not mean that you are not worthy of finding someone to love you the way you deserve. This does not mean you will never experience what it is like to be in love. And it definitely does not mean that your life won’t feel fulfilled until you find someone. What it does mean is that you have the advantage to truly cater and nurture yourself in the meantime. A preparation stage, if you will. I can almost guarantee that a love you find once you have learned to fully love yourself, is the most gratifying of all.

So, you see, turning 30 is not that bad…

It’s actually pretty exciting and from what I hear, some of the best years to come. Embrace it. Welcome the changes and seasons. Welcome the opportunities to learn and grow. Welcome the light at the end of the tunnel of truly accepting and loving yourself wholeheartedly. Hope everyone is having a wonderful day and if you have any feedback, would love to hear from you!

Check out more content on Instagram at ang_meets_soul ❤

Life After Death: 8 Ways to Cope with Grief During the Holidays

“As long as I live, you will live.”- Unknown

As the temperatures begin to cool and the leaves on the trees begin to change colors, it becomes more evident that the holiday season is quickly approaching us all. Usually a time of year that brings joy to many people, is a painful reminder to those who will not be spending those cherished holidays with their loved ones who have passed. Losing a loved one is never easy, and there are no easy solutions to offer that can heal the pain- only time can do that. And even then, it remains a faded scar engrained in our hearts. However, there are a few tips that will not only help someone to learn how to cope with grief during the holidays but will also allow that person to honor their loved ones during this precious time that comes year after year.

1. Acknowledge that the holidays will be tough without your deceased loved one(s).

Unfortunately, denial will never grant you the opportunity to heal. The first step is acceptance. Mentally prepare yourself for any emotions that may surface during the holidays. Know that it is completely okay to feel this pain; be present in it. It might even help to keep a journal to further explore your emotions and transform your pain into something tangible- to release.

2. Accept that other people may not be grieving with you.

I’m sure this sounds harsh, but it’s a reality. When I lost my baby, all I could do was grieve and then become extremely angry when others did not understand my pain. Please do not do this to yourself. I’m speaking from a survival standpoint. Be mindful that you are valid in your pain, but others may not understand what you are feeling. It is perfectly healthy to lean on another loved one for moral support if you are respectful of the fact that they may not say or do the actions you consider to be the ‘right thing.’ And always say yes to those who offer support or help! It is coming from a loving place.

3. Create a new tradition in memory of your loved one(s) who have passed.

So many times, we focus on the death of someone. We grieve and morn their loss, and this is normal. But it is acceptable to celebrate their life as well. Creating a new tradition not only keeps their memory alive but allows you to continually feel connected to your loved one for years to come.

4. Seek therapy.

There is nothing wrong with acknowledging that you are not okay and need help sorting through those internal issues with a medically trained person. Often, emotions are at an all-time high during the holidays and may not be as easy to ignore compared to the rest of the year. Talk to someone. You deserve to take that load off your back.

5. Visit your loved one’s gravesite.

It sounds depressing, I know. But if you can handle to do this, it might be beneficial. Consider it a way to ‘catch up’ with your loved one. You can tell them about all the amazing things you have experienced this year, your holiday plans, your New Year’s resolutions, and so on. Tell them how much you miss them and are thinking of them. It is also an opportunity to bring a gift for them to leave at their gravesite during the holidays.

6. Join a support group.

Because not everyone may feel the same pain you are experiencing, sometimes it helps to speak with others who can relate. As humans, we have a vital need to connect to others. We crave it. We thrive off it. Not only are you able to vent to others who understand, you may be able to make new, meaningful relationships.

7. Be honest about how you feel.

This tip alone covers so much ground. Be honest about how you are feeling. Be honest with others if you do not want to engage in holiday activities or join others’ events. Be honest about wanting or needing help, someone to talk to. But most importantly, never feel guilty or apologize about your honest emotions! You must heal on your own time, in your own way. Those around you who love and support you will understand, especially considering the circumstances.

8. Remember to enjoy the holidays.

It is easy to become consumed with sadness during the holiday season without your loved one(s). But never forget the foundation of the holiday season- this foundation consists of love and joy. There is so much love and joy to be experienced during the holidays. I encourage you to feel these positive feelings. And once again, do not feel guilty for enjoying this season. Your loved one(s) would have wanted you to do the same. Honor them by celebrating life.

Sending so much love and light to those who are reading this column. For those who felt the need to read this because they are desperate for solutions- solutions to overcome the pain. You are not alone in your grief. You do not have to apologize for loving someone so much that it has completely interrupted your life in the most painful way. But I also want to tell you, that there IS life after death. Life continues; a constant that never stops moving. It is up to you to decide if you want to continue living it and not just existing. I read a beautiful quote while surfing the web that resonated deeply with me and I am hoping it brings comfort to those who need it. An unknown source states, “Perhaps they are not the stars in the sky, but rather openings where our loved ones shine down to let us know they are happy.” Your loved one(s) are at peace. With a kind heart and a virtual hug, I urge you to find your peace during this holiday season.

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Guardian of Dreams

“In dreams, we enter a world that is entirely our own.” – Albus Dumbledore

Originating in Native American culture, dreamcatchers has symbolized strength and unity throughout many generations. The purpose of a dreamcatcher is to swing freely above your bed, catching dreams floating by. It is believed that the good dreams know how to pass freely through the dreamcatcher, while the bad dreams get tangled up as if they are insects caught in a spider’s web.

I’m an avid dreamer. My dreams are often vivid and constant. Some nights they make absolutely no sense, as if I’m trying to decipher Morse code. Other nights they are terrifying, causing me to jolt out of my sleep in night sweats. And some nights, they are so comforting that I long to live in the dream world permanently. One of my best friends made me a dreamcatcher as a Christmas gift last year that still hangs over my bed to this day. Earlier this year, I was in a very painful mental space. I wasn’t sleeping. My nightmares haunted me. I often questioned myself…my sanity. I felt as if every layer of skin was being peeled back to expose me. To everyone else, I seemed fine. But internally, waking up each day and participating as a normal citizen in life seemed more difficult than it should have.

I began journaling consistently. I would write down random thoughts, poems, vents, whatever could come to mind. Anything that would allow me some relief and clear my mind. A lot of my journal entries were often sad and filled with pain. The other night, I was looking through my old journal entries. Reading back on them often puts my present into perspective. I came across a journal entry from January 7, 2019. It was one of those sleepless nights. I spent the night sitting in the dark looking up to the dreamcatcher that hung over my bed. It reads:

Dreamcatcher hangs over my bed

Dreamcatcher, work your magic

Catch the unwanted dreams that sink into the depths of my soul

The painful, engrained memories that haunt me when my eyes close

The muffled cries that escape from my mouth and leaves me exposed

The ghosts of nightmare’s past, nightmares I refuse to let go

Dreamcatcher, please do not judge me

Please accept that I am wounded, scarred, and beyond your repair

Please hold my secrets and fears

Please secure them in your netted home

Shower your love and light over me throughout the darkest realms

Dreamcatcher, I am scared

No one has an idea

No one knows that I am darkness itself, disguised as a flower blooming in a field

So you’re wondering what is the purpose of sharing this? To show you that it is okay to be broken. It’s okay to rely on an object for strength. Religion, beliefs. Fantasies, or even magic. Sometimes we need a bit of magic to keep pushing ourselves to carry on. You believe in whatever you need to, as long it’s not self destructive. You see, like a dreamcatcher, we are all connected in our pain. Netted and entangled with our individual problems and situations. And when we realize that we are connected in pain, we become a unity and beacon of hope. We open channels for necessary conversations that will ultimately lead to our healing. We become strength itself. Some nights I find myself awake in the middle of the night, staring at my dreamcatcher. Thanking God, the universe, and my lucky stars that I am not in the same mental space as I was in before. Acknowledging that I still have some work to do within myself, to heal. And on those bad nights that creep up on my every now and then, I close my eyes and vow to release the thoughts to the dreamcatcher, hoping somehow it guides my message to God. Sending all of my love to those who need it and saving some for myself. Happy Tuesday, my beautiful readers!

Feel free to check me out on Instagram: ang_meets_soul for more content ❤

Travel Series: Wanderlust takes France

“Better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times.” ―Asian Proverb

Whenever I think of France, I think of the city of Paris. Paris was the goal, initially. But you cannot want what you do not know, and all I knew of was Paris. Of course, I would love to see the Eiffel Tower, shimmering in the night sky. However, when a company you work for offers to send you to France to present a topic on one of the articles you’ve written, all expenses paid, you jump on that opportunity! So that’s exactly what I did. I had no idea what to expect, or what part of France we would be. Honestly, I didn’t care. All I knew is that I was grateful to have this opportunity. As a matter of fact, this trip taught me the art of gratitude and the beauty of disconnection. I will admit that this trip was far different than any of the other places I’ve traveled. A pleasant surprise. But more importantly, this trip taught me what it really means to step out of your comfort zone. Ironic- that was the topic I was presenting while in France. I had no idea that I would be pushed even more outside of my comfort zone than I already had prepared myself to do.

Our flight was on a Monday night at 7:45 PM. I was traveling with my manager and her husband. While waiting to board the plane, I overanalyzed my presentation and wondered if it was up to par to present in front of other people, let alone to my colleagues. I wondered if I would remain poise during the presentation. This particular topic meant the world to me because I was currently living it. My life had changed so drastically over the past year, that I am barely recognizable to myself- and it’s great! But still, I wondered if I would be considered ‘good’ enough. I am one of the youngest in the company, so it can be a bit intimidating. Finally, we boarded the plane and I prepared to settle into my seat. After 10 hours, 2 movies, and in and out of the worst sleep I’ve ever endured, we landed in Frankfurt, Germany for our layover. What seemed like a short wait, we then proceeded to board the plane to head to Toulouse, France. So I thought Toulouse would be our final destination, but it was not…in hindsight, now I know why we rented a car. We drove two hours to the small, quaint town of La Salvetat-Peyrales. Way high in the mountains, where civilization is questionable, stores are borderline non existent, with dirt roads lining miles of land, and not one sign of a street light lol. Turns out that one of the big bosses in the company bought a house in France with her husband about 5 years ago after finding it during their honeymoon. Honestly, the house is stunning and very much reminded me of my favorite Disney movie, Beauty and the Beast. When Belle sung about ‘this poor, provincial town’ she was talking about here. But I do not mean one ounce of disrespect. It is a very simple lifestyle filled with beauty.

The house came with 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 2 kitchens, an outdoor sitting area overlooking a pool, an upstairs lounge area placed outside of the house, and a family room. Some of us were able to stay here, while the rest of us stayed in a cottage about 15 min. walking distance down the road. I was one of the guests who did not get to stay here, but day in and day out for the next 6 days, we spent the majority of our days here presenting, strategizing, and taking trainings in an attempt to better the company and keep it growing- very cozy and family style. Which speaking of the cottage, I know the country life is not for me for the simple fact that it is way too dark and quiet for my liking. Every night while I was in France, I barely slept because I felt the place was either haunted or there would be some crazed killer out there to get me!

We arrived to the house around 5:00 PM where I met the gracious host for the first time. Between the 6 hour time difference, the long flights, and the long drive over here, I could have used some perking up. And that is when we were greeted with glasses of champagne and wine lol. One thing this trip allowed all of us to do is BOND. And I’m not talking that fake kind of bonding where you try to impress one another and hide all evidence of any flaws. Throughout the trip, we got REAL. And I realized in these moments that I DO NOT work for a conventional company- I loved every minute of it! France has a tradition called apéro which means cocktail hour, served with drinks and small appetizers. We celebrated apéro each day we were there so I ate and drank A LOT. The first night there, while enjoying the cocktail hour outside in their hosting area, I couldn’t believe my surroundings. Candles lit everywhere, a cozy fire burning, and GREAT red wine (I don’t even drink red wine like that unless it’s sweet). Total vineyard vibes.

The next few days we dived straight into work. There was not much sight seeing throughout the week, but in our off hours, we gathered together drinking more wine and champagne, and eating more food lol. This was definitely a social trip, for sure. I was worried I would be pre-judged and stereotyped (which was very possible, since I decided it was perfectly ok to wear my Poetic Justice hoodie with an enlarged picture of Tupac on the front lmao one time for the culture though!) After my experience with my last job, you could say I’m scarred but it was the complete opposite. Everyone was so authentic and encouraged one another to do so. So many jokes and laughs. But anyways, back to the food and drinks!

This is common drink in South France. It smells of black licorice and is definitely an acquired taste. Usually served with one ice cube and diluted with water because it is STRONG. But by all means, if you feeling froggy…

A lot of pork is eaten in France from various hams to salamis to bruschetta. The French also consume a lot of bread, olives, and various vegetables such as tomatoes and lentils. However, all produce has to be in season. Nothing is imported to France, so all produce is locally grown. If it is not in season, it does not exist to eat or sell.

A fig picked from a tree in the host’s backyard

We did venture out to a few restaurants where we ate authentic French food. It was definitely an adventure trying to decipher the menu and then order the items in French lol. Google was my best friend throughout this trip!

We went to a restaurant called L’oustal del Barry. As you can see the portions are much smaller than we are accustomed to in the U.S. However, these are three course meals- appetizer, main entrée, and dessert. Add that with wine and bread and trust me, you’re good and full! I ordered the ravioli, lamb, and a Nutella mousse cake.

When we weren’t going to restaurants, the host was cooking at the house. One of my favorite meals while there was the duck confit. If you’ve never tried duck, you’re doing yourself an injustice. Although I have eaten duck in the U.S before, I never tasted duck so amazing than I did in France.

Duck confit with spinach salad, lentils, and bread…of course!

Another item I tried was unpasteurized cheese…and this is not sold in the U.S. because it is considered unsafe to consume raw milk cheeses. But it is the best tasting cheese you will ever taste in your life!

In France, dessert IS THE LAW. Don’t ever turn down a dessert in a restaurant. I did that once and they looked at me as if I committed a crime. An honorable dessert mention was banoffee, which is basically banana foster pie. SO DELICIOUS…

As the week wrapped up, work slowed down. It was Friday and my presentation was pushed to Saturday due to all of us running behind schedule. In addition, we had to drive two hours to the small village of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, where we would tour the Roquefort Caves. Legend has it, that after the Combalou Mountain collapsed and parts of the mountain disintegrated into a giant, chaotic heap of rocks riddled with natural faults and caves. These caves were ingeniously adapted for the purpose of cheese-making. Yes, I said cheese making. Fleurines, which are small tunnels that run throughout the caves makes it the perfect temperature and humidity to develop Roquefort cheese, with the help of microorganisms such as penicillium roqueforti. These caves have been transformed to a cellar that now holds as many as 300,000 loaves of cheese at a time. They had samples of the cheese, in which I tried, but it was a bit too strong tasting for my preference. This cheese is for the brave.

Saturday approached and it was the big day for my presentation. I wish someone could have recorded me or taken pictures. Everyone was so wrapped up in my topic and I had their undivided attention, which is great! My presentation included thought provoking questions that helped others realize the benefits of stepping out of your comfort zone. I got amazing feedback and was not mentally prepared AT ALL for how emotional my presentation made everyone. It was a room full of 10 people and not one person was dry eyed. I had stirred something in them emotionally and one by one, they started confessing things they felt they have held themselves back due to staying in their own comfort zones. It became a roundtable discussion with raw and honest answers of circumstances they struggled with. Each one would start crying as they openly became vulnerable and in return, provoked me to cry as well. But it was not until one of my colleagues opened up about her desire to be married with kids. That she felt she held herself back from finding someone to share her life with. That she feels she will spend her life alone. As she approaches her 30th birthday, she feels she has failed in this area of life. And I thought to myself, “maybe she has valid points, or maybe it’s just simply not her time yet.” And in that moment, I felt the need to share a painful truth of my own- the loss of a child. I didn’t share to be pitied. Honestly, it’s been one hell of a journey and I owe it all to my baby in heaven. If it wasn’t for me going through that situation, I would have never had the courage to write again. I would have never had the courage to leave my job and fall into a better one. I would not have the courage to submit my work to a local magazine and score a guest column. I owe everything to my angel. Sometimes, it is just the timing. Sometimes, we need the time and certain situations to happen to force us to learn and grow through. So that’s exactly what I told her. That her time will come, just like it will for me when the timing is right. And then we cried some more lol. I was so raw and vulnerable and yet, somehow poised. I was authentic and I caused others to take a deep look within themselves. Everyone raved so much about my presentation that I caught the attention of the CEO, so that’s an amazing feeling! I don’t want to overkill on this particular highlight of my trip but it was the main purpose of me going to France in the first place. I am just so relieved that not only did I execute it, I connected with my colleagues in ways I could not have imagined having the power to do so. A major accomplishment in my book.

After the presentation (and after we pulled ourselves together lol), we headed into the city of Albi, France for some more sight seeing. Albi was a charming city with streets lined with boutiques and restaurants. It was a nice change to see some civilization lol. We stumbled upon the Sainte-Cecile, a gothic cathedral dating back to 1280. It is considered the largest red-brick cathedral in the world. Every inch of the interior is decorated with extravagant tiles, gold leaf, and frescoes. You can visit the church and attend an audio tour for just 5 euros. It was definitely money well spent. Make sure you click on the slideshow to see inside 🙂

We had a late lunch in the city and continued to browse around in the small shops that paved the cobblestone streets. I was able to snag a cute shot glass that resembled a miniature wine glass, which seemed so perfect coming from France. The trip into the city was short lived and we headed back to the countryside to prepare for our last dinner spent together. We would all leave in the early morning. (Side note: in France, the majority of cars are manual aka stick shift. In order to get your license, you must be able to pass driving a manual before you can even think to be able to drive an automatic).

In the city square of Albi. I couldn’t help but capture this photo of these beautiful flowers splashed with the background of charming architecture.

France was not a typical wanderlust trip for me. I spent more time eating and drinking socially, connecting with my colleagues, and re discovering the importance of being present in the moment and putting my phone down. And in the nights that I spent alone in the cottage, I re discovered the art of solitude. I discovered that I am a force to be reckoned with. That I can stand powerfully in my truth and connect with others through shared pains. I learned that I have a voice. I learned that I never have to doubt myself again. This trip was for the soul. I opened up in ways that I have never allowed myself to before, especially when it comes to coworkers. I always felt I had to keep a certain level of professionalism. To prove that I am competent enough as a minority woman in what tends to be a white privileged corporate America. But the moment I displayed that authenticity, I was applauded. And I will forever carry that beautiful feeling in my heart. You see, often we think the action of traveling is meant to learn about the places we see and yes, to a certain extent that is true. But what about the things you learn about yourself being placed in an unfamiliar environment? I think this realization was my favorite part of this trip, after all ❤

Generational Curses: Forgive us, for we have sinned.

“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” – C.S. Lewis

What do you consider a generational curse? It’s typically based on ministry teachings that you are able to inherit misfortune based on the sins performed throughout generations in your family. Some examples to consider are depression and other mental illnesses, addictions to drugs and alcohol, marital problems, even incest. Since a child, I was exposed to the majority of these things, particularly on my mom’s side of the family. I would like to put the disclosure that I would never want to disrespect or offend that side of my family. It will never be my intent. However, it’s hard to ignore the circumstances I was exposed to so young. The term ‘generational curse’ has me thinking of the concept of nature vs. nurture. The difference of what is embedded in us since before birth and what has molded us as we continue to grow in life. This is my story. It has no end goal like the majority of my blogs do. I cannot offer advice how to overcome this because I still live with it everyday- I am still figuring it out. But because I remain true to my need to be as vulnerable and raw as possible, not only for my own healing but for others’ as well, I am here to share this part of my life with you.

Since a very young age, I was well aware of what mental illness looks like. I’ve seen it in many of my family members. Cases in which they physically harm themselves to shut the ‘voices’ out. Cases in which they committed suicide. Cases in which sporadic episodes appeared in numerous family parties, frantically trying to make sense of what is taking place in their own mind and body. Heavy alcoholism took place. There had been several times when I saw family members stumbling and unable to hold themselves up. I’ve seen extremes of family members being carried away in stretchers and placed in the ambulance to be treated for alcohol poisoning. I’ve witnessed incest…cousins marrying cousins. And for a while, all of this seemed normal as a child. I honestly knew no better. It never impacted me much…at first. Not until my mother got sick. It hits differently in your own household. Before my mother got sick, my household was a healthy environment. My mother and father were happily married. It was a two person income, I never needed for anything. I was spoiled with all a child desires plus love. My parents had a healthy routine for me and kept me protected from all that a child could be exposed to growing up in Bronx, NY. They laid the foundation for my education, exposed me to libraries and museums, took me to day trips out of the city on the weekends. I say this to elaborate on the fact that despite what I witnessed growing up from other family members, I was pretty sheltered and protected. But then when I was 8 years old, my mother got sick and life became unrecognizable.

My mom suffered from migraines for as long as I could remember. It turns out she had a brain tumor that acted as a ticking time bomb. At 35 years old, she suffered a brain aneurysm, which caused her to suffer from a stroke, which left her paralyzed on the left side of her body. She had to have brain surgery to remove the tumor mass. She stayed in the hospital for two months trying to recover. She became epileptic and will be on medication for the rest of her life. She will never be able to move the fingers on her left hand. She has to wear a sling for support of her left arm because it is literally dead weight. She has to wear a brace on her left leg to be able to walk, and even then, her balance is so unsteady that she has to use a cane as well. As I approach my 30th year on this Earth, 35 doesn’t seem so far away. She was so young and her life changed COMPLETELY. She had to stop working all together. She needed help using the bathroom, bathing, and changing. She was not allowed to be independent anymore because she was no longer capable of doing so. I place myself in her shoes at my current age and honestly, I’d probably become clinically insane. Just like that, so much was taken from her and she had to process and figure out a new way of living. Not to mention, living in constant fear. If she falls and hit her head, she is likely not able to survive that. If she has a seizure and it lasts more than 3 minutes, she can have extensive brain damage. And even with knowing all of this, in my heart, the way our relationship changed for the worse still hurts. My mother was the first person to ever break my heart. And decades later, I’m still trying to come to terms with it.

After suffering the stroke, her behavior changed drastically. She became isolated and paranoid. She started having hallucinations. My dad attempted to help her in any way he could, but her behavior was mean and nasty. He felt we needed a change in pace and scenery, so we moved from NY to MO. My grandfather lived there at the time and my father felt this would be beneficial for my mother. But her episodes only got worse. One time when I was 10 years old, we visited my grandmother in NY. While sleeping in bed with my mother, she woke me up in the middle of the night, hysterical. She accused me of trying to suffocate her in her sleep. She said she saw me on top of her with my hands around her neck. Needless to say, whenever I got around her, she shunned me. Called me all sorts of ugly names, even attempted to physically remove me from her sight. The episodes would come and go. Some days were unbearable and other days were tolerable. You could instantly see the switch between the moods in her eyes. There were nights when she woke me up, told me to help her cover the air vents in our home, because she felt someone placed cameras there to watch our every move. As the years passed by, her behavior became more unusual. Hiding random food items in the cabinets of our bathroom. Some days it was as if she was an empty vessel. Sitting in her beloved rocking chair in the living room, rocking back and forth, staring into the distance. By this point, my father and I were used to not being acknowledged. Sometimes we even preferred it that way because when she did acknowledge us, it was never in a pleasant manner. At this time my dad was kicked out of the room, subjected to sleeping on the couch every night. Eventually, he gave in and purchased a cot to sleep on. My dad would work nights and during those nights, I would lock my bedroom door because I felt unsafe alone with her. This way of life became normal for me…at least I thought. But unfortunately, I began suffering from anxiety attacks at age 11. I experienced full blown depression at the age of 13, particularly after my mother leaving my father and I, moving back to NY. The year to follow, I didn’t hear from her. And honestly, you would think that I would be happier after she left because at least she wasn’t around to treat me the way she did, right? No. Her leaving felt like rejection and abandonment. It was as if she gave up being my mother. To this day, Mother’s Day stings…now for more reasons besides my relationship with my mother…but I have always craved a mother-daughter relationship. I still do and it makes me sad that I will never genuinely experience that.

Sometimes I think that my mother was a product of a generational curse. My heart hurts for her. For me. For us. But then I find myself challenging that idea because in the end, we have the power to determine our reactions despite the obstacles. Over the years, I’ve kept in contact with her. The relationship is not as toxic, but it’s definitely strained. I haven’t completely forgiven her in my heart. I constantly struggle with letting go of what has happened between us. It’s an internal battle because I know she has pushed everyone away and is completely alone, and that thought alone breaks my heart. I don’t know what to do for her because as much as I want to open up and restore that relationship, I am guarded and feel the need to protect myself from her. Time never seemed to heal us. After all these years, it’s still not easy. I can’t cling to the good memories because my heart is flooded with the bad ones. Too much over too many years. It has left me damaged and distrustful. Anxiety and depression is a constant in my life…it makes up the majority of my core because I am conditioned this way. I am proud of where I am today mentally, but the work is never done. I know at some point, the pain will creep up on me again. I told a friend something today that reminded me I am on the right path. I said, “Life is filled with hard times sprinkled with happiness, not the other way around. What has helped me cope is realizing that for every bad moment in my life, a good one follows. I’m always looking forward to that next happy moment.” That’s what it’s all about right? You have to be this constant in an everchanging life. You have to be resilient. You have to fight and be okay with the fact that the fight will never be over. 50 cent said it best, “Death gotta be easy cause life is hard.” Life IS hard. It’s inevitable. But you owe it to yourself to create happiness within you. You owe it to yourself to overcome the obstacles. You owe it to yourself to break generational curses. Perhaps generational curses are not out of your control. Maybe you allow a generational curse to continue because you have been conditioned to do so. Maybe it is simply the concept of nurture. I’ve learned that in some of my darkest times, the most beautiful circumstances appear shortly after. Little specks of happiness within our reach. The question is, are you willing to reach out and grab it?

I’ve Resigned from my job…now what?!

Anything that costs you your peace is too expensive. – Anonymous

A resignation from a job could be compared to a break up in a relationship. Most times, it is because you have found something ‘better.’ Other times, it cannot be worked out and you call it quits. I am the latter. And no, I don’t have another job lined up. And yes, I am freaking out. Don’t try this at home, kids. I’m pretty sure a lot of you will think of this as irresponsible. You are probably thinking that it could not have been that bad. Oh, but it was…is. When a situation is so toxic to the point that it begins to affect your mental health and well-being, guess what? It HAS gotten that bad.

Just three days ago, after much thought, I put in my three weeks’ notice. My official last day will be August 9th. It is possibly the scariest decision I have ever made in my life but I stand firmly in my decision. I am sure I will receive a lot of backlash because of it, especially from my family. But if there is anything I have learned in this incredibly difficult year, it is that my peace of mind and happiness comes first. Never again will I allow myself to lose sleep, shed tears, or increase my anxiety over something as temporary as a job. Because let’s face it, at the end of the day, no one is ever really secure. You can be fired the next day, without reason or explanation, especially in FL which is an at-will state. This decision has been weighing heavy on my heart for the past few months. It has been a constant internal struggle, deciding to go with my heart and what has been conditioned in my brain as the ‘right’ thing to do. The past couple of weeks have gotten progressively worse. Some nights with only 2 hours of sleep and waking up with a heavy sense of dread and anxiety for the work day that lies ahead. Walking on eggshells, anticipating my next failure because I cannot seem to do anything right. My lack of confidence after so much negative feedback. Last week was a deciding factor, where I left my job feeling completely defeated and frustrated; crying hysterically in the car on the way home. In that moment, I decided I had enough. I took the next day off to clear my head. I took some time over the weekend to pray on it. Each time the voice screamed louder, my intuition led me- it’s time to pull the plug. And so I did.

Although I do not get along with my superiors, I still showed them the courtesy of respect. I requested a meeting. I decided I would give a three week notice because of how high priority my position is, that way they have time to find a proper replacement to take over the workload. I explained to them that I have not been happy here and my mental health takes precedence. I thanked them for the opportunity of growth and all of the opportunities to become more skilled. This felt important for me to do. I wanted to leave with dignity. But most importantly, I do not believe in burning bridges. I am one of those people that actually feel guilty for leaving a position, even though I am sure I’m disposable to them. My conscience is clear. During my last weeks, I will still work my hardest to ensure all loose ends are tied. Again, with dignity.

Now you’re wondering how the hell am I going to afford my bills and such? Luckily, I made this decision knowing that I have savings to cover at least a few months of my expenses. I strongly suggest for anyone in a situation similar to mine, to make sure you have gone over your finances before you make a final decision. I will be cutting off certain ‘luxuries’ in this transition. Job hunting is still in full effect. Will do side gigs to keep some kind of income coming in. The rest I place my faith in God and myself. Something will come along in my benefit. God has always come through for me and this time is no different. But in the meantime, I will focus on a much needed break. EVERYTHING happens for a reason.

I have no idea what I am going to do with all of this free time lol. I’m used to being busy and never having time to myself, so this will be a nice change. I can finally work on the loft area and finish turning it into a creative space. I will have more time to dive into my writing. More time to cook, exercise, paint, swim…clean lol. I also have my trip to Hawaii coming up, which thankfully, I have saved money separately from my savings for that. More importantly, I will be able to give myself the time, love, and attention I deserve. I have gone through a lot this year that I have not fully processed or healed from yet. In the end, I’ll be just fine. My gut tells me so.

To anyone who is miserable at a job, you owe it to yourself to find better. Don’t sacrifice your happiness for that, or for any toxic situation for that matter. Life is WAY too short, trust me. Stand in your power and know that you deserve better. I would suggest finding a job first, of course. But if you feel like you can’t hold on anymore, then make sure you come up with a plan like I have. Know that everything is going to be okay and it is temporary. Know that there is a rainbow after the end of a storm. To me, this is just another door opening to my path of happiness and self discovery. I am so grateful for the lessons I have learned up to this point, for the growth. The strength. The bravery. Never would I have imagined that I would make a decision like this in my life. Fear usually paralyzes me. But after everything I have gone through this year alone, I have nothing to fear. AT ALL. I’m proud of myself for taking the necessary steps for my well being, despite the opinions of others. I am prepared to take on this next challenge. I got this. Whatever it may be, we all got this! Stay easy friends and say a prayer or two for me, please ❤

Curly Girl in Corporate World.

I am not my hair. -India Arie

I didn’t always embrace my natural curls. My hair has been through extreme colors that damaged my hair. It has been fried and manipulated against its will. It has been chopped all off, AND has been left to grow its own wilderness. I never worried about the kinds of products I used on it. I never cared to condition it or do hot oil treatments. Although my hair was curly, it was never the kind of curls I wanted. My hair is fine and thin. It lacks volume and bounce. My curls are big and loose. I envy those that had massive amount of hair; curls that seemed to shrink and coil up. Those curls were beautiful, not mine. Once I discovered a flat iron, it was a wrap! I thought to myself, this is how my hair is supposed to be. This hair is beautiful. This warped perception began my unhealthy obsession with straight, “beautiful” hair, that went on for many years.

The first time I ever flat ironed my hair was at the age of 15. My Conair flat iron did me no justice when I think back on it, but I loved how long and shiny my hair was when it was straight. I was ashamed of my thin hair and my thinness seemed to magnify when it was curly. The sense of panic I feel, even to this very day, of seeing my hair fall out is ridiculous. I mean, I’m trying to keep what I have still on my head! In high school, I would wake up every morning at 5:30 am just to perfect my hair. There were days that I cried, due to its lack of volume, but excessive amounts of frizz. I decided that straight hair seemed to suit me. In my early 20’s, I began using the flat iron on my hair every single day. I would use a curling iron on the days I wanted to add a little pizzazz. My hair became my prized possession. It was long, dark, and full of shine. It made me look exotic and put together. It made me feel attractive, which is something I still struggle with. Straight hair during that time was my ultimate solution and I was sticking with it.

After many years of using the flat, my hair became very damaged. It became dry and brittle. My hair was constantly breaking off, leaving it filled with split ends. At this point, my curls were non existent. Anytime I tried to leave my hair in its natural state, this is what it turned out to…

I got tired of using my flat iron day in and day out. With curly hair becoming trendy again, I decided I would nurse my hair back to health at the age of 28. I got my first Deva cut in April of 2018 and chopped off over 4 inches of my hair. As I watched my crispy ends fall off the smock, I felt immediate relief. It was a fresh start. However, I was not prepared for the less than favorable reactions of returning to my curly hair.

When I started my corporate job last year, I stuck true to my roots. I started using products that were silicone and sulfate free. I began using masques and conditioners to promote growth and shine. I eased up on the hairspray and started using curl creams and vegan friendly gels. After a few months of consistent care, my curls came back healthier than ever…and it has been a struggle, especially at the workplace. I am one of the ONLY people there with naturally curly hair. It also doesn’t help that I am the only Hispanic as well. The few times I have straightened my hair, you should see the positive reactions I get- “Omg, your hair looks so soft and shiny.” “I had no idea your hair was this long!” “How long did it take you to straighten it?” “It looks so good, you should always wear it like this!” Or my personal favorite, “May I touch it?” Whoa. No the fuck you may not. It’s really offensive to hear these reactions because what they tell me is that you think less of me with my natural hair. One time, I read an article by Elle that stated that women with straight hair are perceived more seriously than girls with curly hair. It is considered more “professional.” Disheartening.

I shouldn’t feel inadequate because of my hair. I shouldn’t feel less put together than the average woman in the workplace. It is these negative perceptions that are causing little girls everywhere to look at themselves in the mirror and feel they must change in order to fit in. Because of these messed up societal ideas, mothers are making their little girls get damaging procedures done such as relaxers and hot combs are being put to their precious heads of hair. Going natural has been a difficult process for me. So many times, I want to pull out my beloved flat iron just to get that sleek look back. To be able to ‘fit in’ with my work peers. Comparison really is the thief of joy. I often remind myself why I did this in the first place. Yes, I wanted to get my natural curls back, but it was more than that. I wanted to learn how to love myself for who I really am,without all of the manipulation and facades. I wanted to learn to be comfortable in my own skin, to accept my unique beauty. Everyday is a struggle paired with a daily reminder. My hair is not what makes me beautiful. It is merely an accessory. I’m hoping one day I will look in the mirror and feel proud of what I see looking back at me. Until then, I’ll keep reminding myself. If anyone else has struggled with this, I would love to hear from you. What are some of the ways you have learned to love your hair? Do you still struggle? Do you ever feel overshadowed and intimidated by the women with straight hair in the workplace? Do you ever feel like you are perceived differently? Leave a comment and let’s have a conversation 🙂

Approaching 30…send help.

“you have outgrown this skin. stop trying to hold it in. stop trying to hold it together. let yourself break.”  ― AVA., you are safe here.

When I was younger, I was positive that I would have it all figured out by the time I hit 30. I was going to be married, with kids, have my own home, take family vacations at least once a year, and thrive in a career I absolutely loved. As I am currently in the last 5 months of my 29th year, I laugh hysterically at the idea. And then I cry. And then I get annoyed with myself for being so damn emotional. You think you have a certain plan for yourself and you believe you can execute that plan flawlessly. In that moment, you become so comfortable with your life. Plot twist: life senses the complacency and laughs in your face while throwing a slew of obstacles and curve balls. And in this moment, you have a decision to make…do you sink or swim? I’m a magician- I’ve done both this year. Everyday feels like a struggle to swim to the surface, gasping for air…reaching for land. At 29 years old, nothing makes sense. And at some point, I’ve stop looking for explanations. I just…live.

My 28th year was AMAZING. It was a happy time in my life filled with travel, brunch/dinner dates, new friends, new higher paying job, and a WHOLE engagement. I thought “Wow, can it get any better?” I thought for sure the next year would be even greater with all of the blessings that had been bestowed upon me. New Year’s came along… and I don’t know, I didn’t feel excited. There was a sense of dread and urgency in it. In hindsight, maybe it was my intuition mentally preparing me for what was to come.

My 29th birthday in January was the first one I couldn’t afford to travel anywhere, and I’ll admit this bummed me out to a certain degree. But I also had some pretty amazing friends who threw me a surprise party. I quickly realized how spoiled I was and to stop being ungrateful. Trust me, I put myself in check, A LOT. I’m human… Shortly after my birthday, in February, I found out I was pregnant and no, it was not planned. The thought of carrying a child scared the shit out of me. I was in the midst of planning a wedding. I had more travel plans. Financially, I wasn’t where I wanted to be. I had to change my whole lifestyle and I don’t think I was ready. After a few days of initial shock, I accepted it. I told very few people because of obvious reasons- it’s usually best to save announcements after the first trimester since it’s high risk. I prepared for this life change and even got in contact with a realtor to look into buying a house. I wanted my baby to have an environment that he or she could thrive in and have a happy childhood. In March, I went to my first sonogram and found out the baby was abnormal and I would miscarry soon unless I have surgery to physically remove it. And so I did…and then I barricaded myself in the house for weeks. Ashamed, grieving, and self loathing. I still blame myself. There’s not much anyone can say to make me feel better about the situation and NOT blame myself. It’s a harsh realization I’ve come to- I simply need time. I never did follow through with the home buying process. (For anyone who wants to read more about this, check out my post https://angiesoul.home.blog/2019/04/24/my-heart-stopped-the-moment-i-found-out-yours-did/).

Upon my return to work in late March, I’ve noticed a change in my boss’s behavior. Quite frankly, she has made my life at work a living HELL for the past 4 months. Still holding strong until a better opportunity comes along, but it does mentally take a toll on me. We spend so much of our time at work, you know? And constant negativity, day in and day out, is just draining. This situation has caused my anxiety to get worse. Some nights I can’t sleep just because of the dread for the upcoming work day. Sunday nights are the worst. I take it all as it comes because honestly, I have no other choice. Each day completed is a personal victory. (For anyone who would like to read more about this, check out my post https://angiesoul.home.blog/2019/05/29/lost-com/).

In June, a friend of 7 years, decided that we were not friends anymore. There was no real reason behind it. She claimed she felt like this for a while and that we were just going ‘in two separate directions.’ That was heartbreaking. Extremely unexpected. I never saw it coming and in some way, I felt betrayed. She decided upon herself, that OUR friendship was over and didn’t even bother giving it an opportunity to work itself out. With everything I have gone up until this point, my response to her was “I see.” I was stunned. I didn’t have the energy to address it or ask for an explanation. I accepted it and let go.

This year has felt incredibly lonely. People have faded out of my life, friends and family. It feels like I’ve lost a great deal. During this process of healing, I have isolated myself. I have cried more days than I can keep track of. I’ve been angry and confused. I have not been very lovable, and some days I’m not even tolerable. It’s difficult to sit in your pain and accept that there is not much you can do to relieve it. I mean, I try. I eat healthier. I exercise. Meditate. Journal. Paint. Bubble baths with bath salts, heavy on the essential oils. Spend time outside. Hell, I even started a blog in April; a canvas to pour my feelings into. I try it allllll 😀 A lot of the time, especially as of late, I shut off my emotions, merely for survival. Because it’s easier to bury the pain. But when it comes up…man, it’s heart-wrenching and it knocks the wind out of me. In those moments, I just sit with it. Wait it out like it’s a passing storm with its roaring thunder and lightning that illuminates the night sky. Not all days are bad. Some days I am vibrating so high that it seems like I’m glowing; I physically see it. When those days come around, I cherish it. It’s a nice reminder that eventually I will be okay. I might even be…happy lol like on the regular?? What a thought! Until then, I am patient. Patient with the process. Patient with myself. I’ve learned to find the beauty in each day, no matter how minuscule it may be. And as I am writing this, the song ‘Beauty Hurts’ by Jack Be pops up on Spotify. Ironic. I’m back to my travel plans kicking off with Hawaii next month. Super looking forward to that! I’m back to planning the wedding; the venue is booked 🙂 details will come soon. I’ll be looking into therapy; I think it’s safe to say I need it. I continue to push myself out of my comfort zone by being openly vulnerable and being unapologetic about it! Throughout the year, I have felt like I was being punished by the universe. My faith with God has wavered. All of this time I have looked at this year as a conspiracy. A ploy to guarantee my own failure. Realistically, it’s the opposite. I’ve been stripped down to my very core, have shed many layers. It’s a new start. A caterpillar transitioning to a butterfly. As my 29th year begins to approach an end, I’m in awe of myself and my resiliency. I don’t give myself enough credit. I look forward to a new chapter and I welcome a new decade with open arms. If you currently feel like you’re failing at life, or nothing seems to be in your favor, just hold tight. It just might be a blessing in disguise. I’m patiently waiting for mine. And when that day comes, when it all finally makes sense, I’ll be sure to share. Stay easy, friends.