What it’s Been Like for Me to Write in this Blog for a Year

We recently celebrated our first anniversary of our blog (like a few days ago). Happy birthday to us! Writing in this blog has brought up quite a few things for me over the year, and so I thought I’d post what it has been like to write a blog for a year, and as such, what it has meant to me.

1. It’s often changed the way I think about events or experiences. Especially at the beginning, but even today (like literally today), I’ve thought in blog terms. I’m not sure if this makes sense but my point of view or “author voice” has popped into the way I’m viewing my daily life. I sometimes think in blog posts. I think that makes me a better writer and more reflective about the meaning of experiences at times versus just going through the motions.

2. It has been frustrating at times. The hardest part of writing a blog is my desire to be authentic and wanting to write about what’s hard. There are still many things I haven’t written for fear of context. There have been things that have been taken out of context. I have had to deal with family and friends questioning what and why I wrote what I wrote. I sometimes write posts and delete them for fear of what others think. I sometimes have great posts in my head that don’t materialize into a post because of the same reasons. The thing is, the more your audience grows, the more impact you potentially can have – which is both a blessing and a challenge. If I have a wish of what the next year will bring, is caring less about what others think and more trusting and caring for myself! And yet at the same time…

3. It’s been so damn liberating at times. Although, there are times I “censor” myself, for each of those times, there is a time I wrote about what hurts and what is joyful and what is me, despite what others may think (although sometimes I do things to decrease the reach of a post). I’ve been able to put into writing abstract thoughts that are hard for me to sometimes say to people. I’ve shed some of the mask and have been vulnerable. I have written about things that make me human, but bring me shame. Sometimes that shame disappears or decreases after writing. That is liberating.

4. I’ve reconnected more with one of my first loves – writing. Many people who know “post high school LeAnna” do not know that I wrote poetry and short stories all through grade school and won a few district wide prizes. Few people probably know that actually. I’ve always wanted to publish a book, I’ve always wanted to publish my poetry. I think in poetry and flowery prose. But due to unfortunate circumstances and some shame, I tucked those dreams away. Writing here as made me write more and want to write even more. It woke up that sleeping dream, tapped me on my shoulder, and my pen has found a voice again.

5. I’ve had the ability to connect with other people on a different level. The best parts of my blogging experience are “me too” texts, “you get me” inbox messages, and when people tell me to continue writing my story, that my vulnerability makes them feel less alone. I have a few purposes in my life, but I know one is to connect deeply with others and to help them through various parts of their journey (often not through a very specific piece). Counseling, teaching/education, and activism, have all been vessels for this purpose, but never did I think my writing could be. Those comments make me want to write more and boldly. They make me want to not censor, to be fully human in order to connect with other humans.

6. It has made me reflect and connect more pieces of the puzzle known as myself. I started out only thinking I’d talk wittingly about my dating escapades. That quickly became something else – about who I am, my spirituality, the way I see the world, the toughest things I deal with on a daily basis. Writing here as made me think about and explore the angels and demons of what makes me. It’s made me evaluate what’s important at times. Writing for me is a process of discovery, and each time I write something here, I discover a little more about me. I’ve always been this way (see above) but I somehow lost this as an adult. I’m happy to be returning.

Blogging has been a fulfilling, but not perfect experience. I have had so much fun, and sometimes doubt, sharing a little more in depth piece of my soul with you. We have grown to over 75 followers, and tbh, that’s more than I ever thought. I hope you enjoy our thoughts and continue to follow us. I’m excited what two years of blogging will teach me.

Happy birthday A Tale of Two Cities followers!

A Love Letter on Valentine’s Day

My Dearest Friends,

Thank you for the love and light you have given me in my life. At my lowest points, when I feel unworthy of love or incapable of being loved, you are there to remind me of my “enoughness” and that I am loved.

Valentine’s is a celebration of love and I’d be remissed to ignore the great deal of love that you put into my life. My oldest friends, those we cannot remember how or when we became friends, thank you. You keep me grounded in my roots, you remind me of the past and how much I’ve overcome, and your love always feels like coming home – familial, warm, and safe. You are my rock. We have withstood time.

To my friends who developed during hard times in my life. Who gave me a love wine and whiskey, fed me when I was too sad or weak to feed myself, and weaved yourselves into the fabric of my being, thank you. I love you for providing me the gift to grieve and reinvent myself with no judgement and lots of space. I’m thankful we are still friends, and I hope I’ve been able to return that.

To my friends who quickly became family. Who encourage me to dig deeper, stay authentic, and fulfill my potential on a level I cannot even see at times, I’m so grateful for your ability to believe and see the good in me when I cannot. I’m grateful that you hold me accountable to be the woman you see, even when I feel like shit. That you remind me of my worth on low days. You give me the gift of self worth.

I’m thankful for the friends who have stepped in as family in my travels. That have been the sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, and cousins when my biological family could not fulfill those roles due to space, time, and place. Thank you for inviting me to the metaphorical “cook outs” and family dinners, and keeping me safe and always making me feel like someone has my back.

Thank you to those who know me better than myself, and remind me when I forget. I’m grateful for my friends who tell me like it is, but with a gentle touch that reminds me, they love as they love themselves.

I love you all and the way you make laugh, cry, and rejoice. The way I could never truly be lonely because you all live in my heart and remind me often that you do.

I most of all you love you because you allow me into your worlds, expose your vulnerabilities with me, and trust me with your being and souls. I can only hope the love you feel from me is half the love I feel from you.

You all allow me to be me without condition or expectation. You are my soulmates and my Valentines forever. No matter what happens romantically in my life, I always know I have love because of you.

I love you. You matter. May your life be filled with the love you crave and desire, and not a penny less. Happy Valentine’s Day from the bottom of my heart.

XOXO,

LeAnna

Obligatory Year Review

I went back and forth about writing this. Then my wonderful fellow bloggers did and I felt like I had to as well. But honestly I probably would have anyways.

I like to think that I do a lot of internal reflection throughout the year. Reflecting and adjusting as necessary but New Year’s is obviously a time to do that a little more extensively.

What’s working? What’s not working? What should stay? What should go? Did I do all the things I set out to this year? Where did I succeed? Where did I miss the mark a bit? What are my hopes for the year to come?

I think the biggest lesson I learned this year is that I am enough. Just as I am. Right now. Today. Tomorrow. If nothing were to change. I am enough. Does that mean I don’t need to improve? No. That’s not what I’m saying. There is always room for improvement, but I think it’s important to focus on where you are, where I am, and be proud of that too.

I have spent a long time, not just 2017, feeling like I wasn’t enough. Wasn’t good enough for someone to Love, wasn’t cool enough, wasn’t a good enough friend or Mom or therapist. Just less than in all areas. This thought guided everything I did and definitely encouraged the way I interacted with people.

But I told y’all, 29 years and 9 months was the exact moment I became too old for this shit! Too old for doubting myself, minimizing myself, and treating myself as less than. Too old for allowing people in my life who do those things. Too old for not standing up for myself. Too old for not loving myself. The world is going to do that enough, I don’t need to join in.

Honestly, it’s hard. Sometimes I feel like I’m being cocky, or selfish, or crazy, or thinking too highly of myself. But I think that’s just old ways of thinking creeping in. There are many moments when I still feel less than or like I’m not enough. I work hard to make those moments smaller. They will always be there but my goal is not to live there anymore.

So to all of you who read this, to my lovely blogging friends who I adore and thank for this outlet, to my family, to my co-workers, to my daughter, my hope for you for 2018 and beyond is that you believe and live a life knowing that you are enough!!

( I also hope you make/save all the money, pay off all the bills, lose all the weight, get all the gains, kiss all the people, have all the laughs, cry all the tears and feel all the feels!)

“New Year, BETTER Me”

I’m such a hater of the phrase “New Year, New Me”.

This mantra invades our Facebook posts, and Twitter feeds and it’s always a show of how possibly someone’s life was so bad, that they get to press the “reset” button at the end of one year and beginning of another. As if you’re able to just do a 360 twirl and start brand new.  As if the problems from the year prior can no longer penetrate your environment.  As if everything in your past life led you to this moment.

Yes, striving to be better is great.

But don’t forget where you’ve come from.  Why does the new year have to bring a new you?  Why can’t we strive to be a BETTER us?  Every moment in life is a teachable moment.  And yes, life is not perfect, but that’s the beauty of it.  We learn from the imperfections of life and build upon those experiences.

Those who do not know history are bound to repeat it.

This is not only true in social, political, and historical context, but also in personal context as well.  Give yourself hope, that where you are currently, is no longer where you were.  You are enough.  There’s no reason to undo who you’ve been this year, just to most likely repeat these actions in the upcoming year.  Striving to be better is one thing, but pressing the reset button completely is another.

And if you seem to think that maybe life is bad enough where you need to press the reset button.  I hope that you find your base platform from which you need to build from.  But at the end of this year, I hope that you aren’t posting “New Year, New Me” but “New Year, Better Me”.

 

 

 

 

Reflections of 2017

It’s New Year’s Eve, and for me this is a day of reflection (and later, celebration). I truly believe in the power of reflection as a learning and growth tool, that is necessary for humans to really understand their lives. And so, as I sit on my brother’s couch (who the hell told him he could grow up and have a whole apartment and wife by the way?), I hope to try to make some sense of a pretty rollercoaster of a year and share my learnings with you.

1) I learned that I equate suffering with “goodness” in myself. I am sure this stems from a very conservative religious doctrine that characterized much of my early religious experiences and also from some complex traumatic events. It is unhealthy and damaging no matter how I look at it though. Staying in situations, jobs, etc to prove to people who do not value my well being, that I am worthy or “strong” is damaging. It kills my soul, ups my anxiety, and deepens depression. It also reinforces a faulty idea that I hold that I’m not good enough. It literally kills me. I am still working on how to combat that, but I took some brave steps against that belief this year, and have at the very least, realized that martyrdom won’t make me happy or make others see my worth.

2) Love did not knock on my door this year, but actively dating did teach me a lot about myself. Dating was an integral part of my journey this year. I further refined what I want, who I am in a relationship, realized patterns, and continued to try to understand how to balance doing enough with too much. I learned that no matter how wonderful you are, if a man isn’t on the same wavelength as you, he won’t come around to you. I learned that I bathe in self loathing and blame when rejected, and that destroys my soul. And so I learned to reframe the self loathing a tad more so as to protect my soul from that damage. I learned that I am jealous that I have friends who can easily make men love them, and seem to find beautiful men who are interested, even if short lived or forever. I learned that I hate being jealous, but it is hard. I am not sure if I am anyone’s cup of tea to be perfectly honest, and I also realize my standards are high. I realized that first dates are exhausting and to trust my instincts more, because my intuition is hella good.

3) I learned about loneliness – again. Living in NYC has been one of the most thrilling and loneliest adventures of my life. I’m perfectly comfortable being alone, eating alone, exploring; I actually quite enjoy it! But I’ve missed true and deep human connection, which in all of my travels, I’ve never seemed to lack in. But in NYC, connections seem fleeting, sometimes superficial, and often non existent. I am not used to not having close friends and coworkers around. I have learned or perhaps, deepened, my understanding that introversion has nothing to do with not wanting real relationships and connections, but instead means that in order to effectively reach my full potential and happiness, I must engage in meaningful relationships. I am still really not sure how to do this in a city like NYC, but I’m working on it.

4) I learned a lesson that constantly replays in my head. I am not perfect, can’t be perfect, never been perfect, and shouldn’t be perfect. This lesson is one that I’m always in a constant state of learning. I saw a beautiful quote that said “self care is… learning to forgive yourself for not measuring up to your impossible and damaging standards of perfection.” This is totally something I need to master in 2018. Expecting perfection in work, dealing with my emotions, my body, my health, as a daughter, friend, sister, relationships, and mentor is literally the most insane and hurtful thing I can ask of myself. I am literally asking myself to live in a constant state of shame and depression. I am torturing me. So now that I have learned that, the hard part is learning to extending grace to myself.

5) You get older. The years fly by. You develop aches and pains, your genetic lot of diseases, you have to eat better, move, manage past trauma, parent your parents, pay bills, plan for the future, hangovers get worse, and learn to live with it all. You also get wiser, more confident, develop more fuck it in your system, drink better wine, become more patient, and your sex drive and game gets stronger. Getting older is a blessing and privilege, not extended to all.

6) My siblings are amazing. I know this isn’t true for everyone, but I’m so blessed. I learned to lean on them more. So happy to bring in 2018 with them.

7) I am really, really, really angry. Maybe I’ll write a post about that one day. But I learned I have a lot of pent up rage in my body and mind. I am afraid to express it because it is so strong. I’m hoping 2018 will help me express and manage that.

8) You can be loving your job and career in one second, and the next, be in a state of exploration, trying to figure out what is next? I also learned that my worth is very much tied up in my professional success. I often feel that is all I am good at, and when that part of my life isn’t fulfilled, I feel like a failure. I have spent a lot of 2017 feeling like a failure. But along with that lesson, I learned, you can always make another decision to transform your professional life (or any life). And people will judge you, and that has nothing to do with you.

9) I learned to turn off the news and social media. That there are people who hate me because of my skin and gender, but I cannot indulge in that all the time, as it will kill me. That the world is scary and heartless, but I don’t have to be. And that to be black (woman) and conscious in America is truly being in a constant state of rage, but I have to learn to take care of myself if I want to help others.

10) I only have so much emotional energy to expend. Spend it wisely. Turn off your phone. Spend your time with people who fill your energy account as much as you fill theirs.

11) Despite all my flaws, I’m a badass in my own right. My flaws are not even flaws actually, they are me and what makes me glorious and human.

I plan to to into 2018 with these lessons in mind and do my best to build upon those, while also fully aware that I may have setbacks. But my hope is next year, I can write about a further step I took, a new lesson realized, and a little happier.

May peace and love follow you into 2018.

Happy New Year!!

So This is 30!

I have officially entered the 30 club! Whoop whoop! I received about as close to a parade for my 30th birthday as possible. Thank you again to all my friends and family who showed up and showed out for little OLD me! As far as birthdays go it was pretty wonderful.

So now a time of reflection.

The last three decades have definitely been interesting. Living all over the world (or at least Europe) as a child, moving back to America as a pre-teen, middle school (ugh), high school, teen pregnancy, motherhood, college, grad school, first job, first counseling jobs, Love, heartbreak, Love again, heartbreak again, and ultimately self-love. Obviously a very condensed nutshell of my life so far.

Here are my hopes, dreams, prayers, demands, #goals for my 30’s:

Continued but unwavering self-love. I plan to love myself so much that the next time someone comes a long and it doesn’t work,or if no one comes a long at all, or if they do and it does work, that my love for myself does not waver or weaken or crumble. Honestly, this is a tough one.

More travel. Wether it’s around the world or up the street. I don’t care. Just do it. And take Taylor with.

Save money. This is an area I struggle with to the pits of my soul. But somethings gotta give.

One day make enough money to move out of my parents house but also still be able to afford to eat on a daily basis.

Do more things alone. I spent the last decade or so doing a lot of waiting for someone else to do things with. Autumns came and went where I didn’t go on awesome fall dates because there was no one to take me. Museums have been unvisited. Movies were left unseen. Restaurants were left untried. Because for some reason in my head, to do things alone was the ultimate form of sadness. My fellow bloggers write a lot about dating or dating experiments. Dating scares me. Maybe I will blog about my solo dates…hmmm.

Which leads me to,

Go on more dates. I honestly don’t know why the idea of going out with someone I don’t really know to well scares me but it does. Especially if this person was found on a dating app. People are crazy. I’m not trying to be no ones breaking news or lifetime movie. But, alas, it is the way the rest of the world works so it’s time to hop on board the dating train.

Find a workout/exercise/healthy living routine I actually enjoy. Kind of self explanatory really. Any suggestions?

Learn to knit things that aren’t rectangular. I knit a lot of scarves, blankets, things that look round but are really just rectangles sewn together. Gotta learn some advanced techniques.

Learn to leave people on “read.” This could probably be an entire blog post in itself and maybe one day it will be. But for now, just thinking of it as learning to walk away and not feel bad for doing so when relationships end or even just conversations.

So yea. I think that’s pretty much it. Pretty standard stuff really. Obviously the list has the ability to be adjusted and tweaked as needed. I feel like an official adult now! Not sure how I made it here but here I am. At the very least it should result in a few entertaining blog post!

What are/were your hopes, dreams, prayers, demands, #goals for your 30’s?

My Christmas Wishlist

The following is an incomplete list of things I would like for Christmas.  If I were to get any one of these, I would consider it a Holiday Miracle.

  1. My bills paid
  2. Lottery scratch offs
  3. Women to get respeck
  4. Men to stop acting like every little interaction with a woman is considered sexual assault
  5. Toys for my puppy
  6. Reese’s cups (the BIG ones)
  7. Donald Trump to stop being president
  8. Donald Trump’s Twitter account to be suspended permanently
  9. To lose weight, easily
  10. Shoes
  11. A new car; Without the car payment, obviously
  12. Endless supply of coffee
  13. Police to stop shooting black people
  14. Chick-fil-a to stop putting crack in their chicken
  15. Black people to realize their worth
  16. Walmart to stop being so terrible at everything
  17. Net Neutrality
  18. Healthy food to stop being so damn expensive
  19. Equal pay for all
  20. Equal rights for all
  21. Donald Trump to stop being president.
  22. AND A MAN WITH A LOT OF MONEEEEEEEYYYY