Happy Friday, friends! How is it possible that time can feel like it’s both dragging along and flying by? I’ve been working at my old school in Massachusettes since late June, and here we are with just one week left before I head back home to Chicago. I honestly never thought I’d see the finish line. I love it up here and it’s been so incredible reconnecting with old friends and making new ones, but there’s nothing like being in your own bed and in your own space, right? We also have Saturday classes, so it’ll be really nice to have a real weekend and just enjoy my summer before starting a new graduate program this fall. It’s hard to believe this may very well be the last time I teach English, so I’m definitely savoring every moment. How are you spending your summer break? Comment below, and without further adieu, here are two of my favorite finds of the week. Have a great weekend!
Happy Thursday, friends! Apologies for the late post, but I didn’t know how to say what I wanted to say without being long-winded. That was a mountain I didn’t quite conquer, so bear with me. I don’t know much, but what I do know now is that for the first time in my entire adult life, I can honestly say that I feel happy, calm, and centered. I’ve always been the type of person who looks ahead in life and believes that if I have the next best thing or what my heart desires, then I can be happy and live the perfect life. The problem with this thinking, however, is that it means my happiness is solely dependent on the unforeseeable future and on what was not and could not be guaranteed. If I couldn’t guarantee achieving the next best thing, then I couldn’t be happy. Living in the future felt like a constant wheel I just couldn’t get off of–a state of mind I couldn’t escape. It was also an unproductive and unhealthy place to be. I can only imagine what I’ve missed out on because I was too afraid to be still and live in the moment. If only I knew early on how easy it could be to start over. I know it’s not this easy for others, but all it took for me was a conversation with a new friend, a new moon, setting new intentions, and intentionally practicing daily meditation to completely change my mindset for the better and recognize that being present is the best present of all. I hope this is a start for you.
On a recently unusually cold morning in Massachusettes, I started the day like I typically do, listening to Pandora Radio. Scrolling through my 99 stations (of which I honestly only listen to like, 10), I stumbled upon and selected 90s R&B. After suffering through a series of commercials, I heard a familiar beat with synthesizers, baseline, and a kick drum that made way for melodious vocals. I recognized it from the very beginning: TLC’s “What About Your Friends” (1992). Now, I was only four-years-old when this song first hit the airwaves, but having older sisters pretty much meant that this song was on constant rotation at the time. 25 years later, and I’m still dancing around the room every time it comes on. The only difference is, I’m now more aware of and see the value in the lyrics because having incredible friends who stand by you at your lowest low and highest high is one of the most significant and necessary elements for one’s overall well-being.
Since starting this blog, one of my main goals was to address mental health, and I’ve been really candid about sharing my own ups and downs, much of which started, unsurprisingly, when I began my freshman year of high school (what is it about that age???). I was experiencing so much and wasn’t quite sure how to cope until I found unhealthy strategies that weren’t really helping me properly cope or heal, namely self-harming. Thankfully, I didn’t stay there long, and to this day, I firmly believe music is one of the things that pulled me from this darkness. It was one band, in particular, that helped me put into words what I was feeling inside, helped me know that I was not alone, helped me find somewhere I belong.
Last week, Chester Bennington, lead singer of Linkin Park, succumbed to the demons that plagued him for so long, the very same demons he helped save me from. I’m still processing and mourning such a deep loss, and as an adult who largely grew up with him and his bandmates, I know I can never listen to those albums the same. Chester left this world without a suicide note because, if you listen closely to those lyrics, every painful and angst-filled song was one. We found peace, understanding, and even hope within each album. And while I’m so thankful for what Linkin Park did for me and so many others, I only wish Chester had, too, been saved. I don’t know what support systems Chester had, but I hope you know that if you ever find yourself in the darkness, please look for the light. Seek help. Tell me. Tell someone you trust. You don’t have to walk this road alone. I promise.
In case you or someone you know needs support, here are some resources:
Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK
Crisis Text Line, the free, nationwide, 24/7 text message service for people in crisis, is here to support. For support in the United States, text HELLO to 741741 or message at facebook.com/CrisisTextLine.
For support outside the US, find resources at http://www.suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html
Now, to honor his work and legacy, here are five (plus two LIVE bonuses) of my favorite and most meaningful Linkin Park songs from their earlier albums. #RIPChester
Happy Monday, friends! It has been exactly 101 days since my last post, and while I never intended to take a break, particularly one this long, I need you to know that it was needed in a way I didn’t realize or expect. And it’s probably no surprise that my return is one day after the new moon–a point where we leave behind the old and make way for the new. I don’t think this period of the month or my life could have come at a more perfect time! Now, the break was hard, as are most disruptions and endings. But when we let go of that which does not serve us, when we leave behind the pain and suffering, we make room for peace, love, and joy. I’m feeling empowered and renewed this morning, and I’m so happy to be back, so here’s to this new moon and new beginnings. May goodness abound. And before I share all the goodness and positive changes I’ve encountered over the last three months, I feel like I need to explain my absence. In short, I no longer felt like myself.
What do you do when you have a ton of work to do but are totally and disgustingly sick? Power through–snot-nosed, congested, sore throat and all. I’m a mess right now and would definitely do a cartwheel to celebrate Friday’s arrival if I could! So instead of the cartwheel, let’s celebrate with a few of my favorite finds from the week:
I was so in love with Nicola Yoon’s debut novel, Everything, Everything, reviewed last week, that after hearing that her most recent novel, The Sun is Also a Star was even better, I knew I needed to read it, and so I did. I gave up shopping for Lent, so instead of purchasing my own copy, I stopped by my local library, nabbed the last book, and began reading almost immediately. After devouring it in less than 24 hours, I was so fatigued, I couldn’t think straight. I was visibly exhausted and took a shower to just kind of meditate and try to reenergize. It didn’t work. Now a full week later, I’m still reeling, still processing, still reflecting. American literary great William Styron once said, “A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.” Styron must have written this after reading The Sun is Also a Star because this novel was such an incredible, unique, soul-crushing, heartbreaking, draining, and wonderful rollercoaster ride, it left me yearning for more.
A few weeks ago, I shared a list of my favorite podcasts and destination spots. Not too long after that post, a friend of mine pointed me towards another podcast, and I’ve been addicted ever since! Black Girl in Om is a new(ish) podcast and online publication dedicated to promoting wellness and building community and culture among women of color. Co-hosts Lauren Ash (Founder), Zakkiyyah Najeebah, and Deun Ivory (Art Director) post almost weekly episodes that both empower and inform women of color on various ways they can and should practice self-care. In a world that very rarely shows Black girls any love, each episode celebrates Black sisterhood and provides a safe space that encourages me (and I hope women and young girls who look like me) to not only be my true self, but also–and more importantly–to simply love who I am and the skin I’m in, and to do so unapologetically.
We all have aspirations we yearn to bring to fruition, dreams we pray will turn into realities, and goals we want to achieve, but sometimes the path to getting there isn’t paved in gold. Instead, it’s more like a dull, rocky, gross texture. Just when you think it’s smooth sailing, you hit rocks you never saw coming. Sometimes these rocks are thrown your way and sometimes you (un)intentionally put them there yourself. Whatever the case, whatever the path, and whatever the dream, don’t let anything stop you from pursuing your passions and walking in your purpose. Here are five of my favorite Disney songs to remind you to believe in the beauty of your dreams:
During the spring of 2015, I was traveling in Brazil with some of my incredible students, when I started to consider a career change. At that point in my teaching, I’d only been in the game for about two years or so, but I soon realized that what I thought I loved about teaching wasn’t actually teaching, but it was hanging out with kids, getting to know them, listening to them, advising them, and helping them become their best selves. The problem was I wasn’t exactly sure what that would look like career wise. Surely I couldn’t get paid to just hang out with teenagers. That job doesn’t exist, right? Well after talking things over with a few of my closest friends, I learned that it kind of does exist in the form of becoming a counselor, a therapist, a clinical social worker, or a psychologist. But how could I do this? I’d just accepted another job at a new school. I couldn’t just leave that behind. I couldn’t back out. I couldn’t change my mind. It was too late. The thing about discovering and pursuing your purpose, however, is that it’s never too late to make it all come true.