I’ve Got a Bad Case of the “Should’s” | Finding the Right Words Day 5


Breaking news! We’re quickly approaching that time of the year where the temperature drops low enough for me to turn my AC off at night. This means summer is almost at an end. I happen to be a summer baby ☀️. I was born shortly after the Summer Solstice, a time of bright sun, warm weather, long days and everyone being outside and having fun.

I hate it. I hate the summertime.

Here’s a little fun fact about me: I get Seasonal Affective Disorder (also known as S.A.D.) in the summertime. Most people associate S.A.D. with the wintertime, when the sun sets absurdly early and we’re forced to spend the majority of the day in darkness, craving vitamin D and the time we used to spend with our friends before the air gets so cold it hurts your face just to open your front door. But me, I look forward to the winter, because it means my season of “shoulds” is in the rearview mirror.

Summer stresses me out, it always has. As a kid, summers were especially hard for my family, it was a time when my mother–a teacher–would be out of work and therefore out of an income, so funds and food were particularly lean in the summer months. As an adult, I still deal with the trauma/memories of those experiences, but now added to that is an intense pressure to make my summers worthwhile. In the age of social media (and honestly long before), I feel a powerful obligation to be doing what everyone else does.

I should be wearing tank tops and short shorts and sundresses.

I should be at music festivals.

I should be outside with my friends.

I should be at cookouts.

I should be doing things!!

But a lot of these summer traditions make me uncomfortable. I’m still learning body positivity so exposing my skin makes me feel self-conscious. I get nervous around crowds and I don’t like loud music (or spending money) so festivals are a no-no. When my friends are busy or equally broke and I’m stuck in the house alone, I start to feel bad that I’m not out and about gallivanting for the ‘Gram. I don’t like cooking, so I dread invites to the function where I’m expected to bring a dish. I get so stressed out!

But why?


Give the People MONEY!!!


One of the last times I was in an office. Unionize your workplace!

Happy Labor Day, comrades!

A few years back, there was a viral “I Don’t Dream of Labor” movement happening online. People (particularly Millennials and Gen Z) were posting videos on TikTok, IG, and YouTube about how there’s no such thing as a “dream job” and that prioritizing climbing the corporate ladder and achievement under the system of capitalism was fruitless. We as a people should be prioritizing ourselves and our personal growth and goals.

I used to relate to this sentiment (before it went viral, haha). I’ve echoed Miryam Hasnaa’s personal definition of success: being able to take naps whenever I want! And I’ve had a very successful career, napwise and corporate-wise, if I say so myself. I’ve worked for magazines, newspapers, websites, and a very popular streaming service. I’ve traveled the country and world. I’ve made a lot of money for myself and my family. I’ve met some amazing people and I’d like to think my work has had a positive impact on others.

But spending a decade as an overachiever climbing the corporate ladder was exhausting physically, mentally, and financially. And the idea of abandoning my career and traveling the world as an internet influencer was looking really tempting.

I’ve been out of the traditional workforce (by choice) for about 6 months now. And I’ve realized that while I’m not quite as ambitious as I used to be and I’m no longer that interested in a high level career and I’m actually enjoying no longer being in the rat race, I do, in fact, have a dream job. I believe there are some basic things that every job should have and I don’t know if it’s even possible (that’s what makes it a dream).



Orange White Floral Illustrative 30 Days Saving Challenge (1)

Get A Life, Jolie Brown. | Finding the Right Words Day 2

All work and no play makes life suck. Don’t wait til you get “healed” to be happy.

Today's journal entry + art by Rayo & Honey

Today’s journal entry + art by Rayo & Honey

Feel the Depression, Do It Anyway | Finding the Right Words Day 1

20230901_164028Every room in the house is a mess.

I’ve been trying to clean my home for 5 months. Each time I start to get organized, something goes wrong. Between the stress of leaving my job, moving back home, losing a friend, losing two aunts, getting sick, losing my home (temporarily), family drama, boy drama, getting sick again and then one more time just for fun… it’s been a pretty shitty spring and summer, to put it lightly.

My mind is a lot like my house right now. Everything is in disarray and I don’t know where to start putting it back together. Should I move my body and go back to the gym? Well, I’ll need gym clothes for that so I should do laundry. If I have time to clear out your closet, I should be spending it looking for a job. I should feel bad about being unemployed. I should feel bad about letting my feeling bad cause me to distance myself from my friends. I should feel bad about gaining weight while self isolating. I should go to the gym. Well, if I’m going to do that, I need to do laundry…

​​On and on the cycle of thought goes and nothing gets done and it seems simpler to just crawl back into the bed I’ve been metaphorically chained to and let the rhetorical and literal mess continue to pile up and drown me.

…That’s depression for ya.

Depression is so fucking dumb.

Like, it is the dumbest, most stupidest thing in the entire world. And I can say that as a card carrying, prescription popping, DSM-diagnosed person with moderate to severe clinical depression (and a sprinkle of anxiety and PTSD thrown in for a little razzle dazzle).

It’s more than just feeling “sad.” It’s feeling… incapable. Of anything. Depression has a powerful yet subtle little voice that tells you “don’t” repeatedly. Don’t get up. Don’t bother. Don’t move. Don’t try. Don’t annoy anyone with your emotions. Don’t do anything. And in some severe cases, don’t live.

Even things that will make you happy or feel good or accomplished, depression whispers, “Now why would you do a thing like that? Wouldn’t it be better if you just… didn’t?” What if you didn’t answer the phone when your mom is calling even though you miss her? What if you didn’t journal even though you and your therapist know it will help you feel better? What if you didn’t go to dance class and see all your friends? What if you didn’t reply to those emails of employment opportunities? What if you just don’t bother??!

Depression tells you you don’t deserve anything. That people and circumstances–and by proxy, you!–will be better off if you just didn’t get in the way. So, you do get out of the way. You bury yourself under a cloud of sadness and despair. And when that fog finally lifts, you can see all the life you neglected and all the people who’ve been waiting for you on the other side. And sometimes, that’s enough to make you feel so ashamed and wanna crawl back under the comfort of the covers and let the fog take over again.

But each time you emerge, you gotta just let yourself start over. If my depression has taught me anything, it’s how to start over.

Change The Things You Can

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. The courage to change the things I can. And the wisdom to know the difference.”

Happy New Year! I missed the trend where everyone was posting on Instagram in the days leading up to January 1, 2022. I enjoyed watching all the slideshows and reels and stories and super long posts about everything people learned and loved from 2021 and everything they were hoping to leave behind.

In looking back over my own 2021, that year was… a lot. A lot happened! I moved into my dream home in a new state where I knew virtually no one. I’ve reconnected with old friends. I got my heart broken. I got attacked in my car! I got a promotion at work and started a journaling program, something I’d always wanted to do. Then I left that job to start a crazy new opportunity at Netflix of all places! My loved ones have gotten very hurt and very sick and some have not made it into the new year. I dealt with (and am still healing from) some extreme illnesses of my own. My niece was born and named after me! I had some really hard but transformative therapy sessions. I’ve had some amazing opportunities and collaborations. I met new people and I said good-bye to others.

Even though I spent 80% of 2021 in my house in the middle of a pandemic, it was an eventful year. I experienced some really high highs, and some really low lows. People tend to say: “If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.” And after looking back over my own year and years passed, I’m asking myself, “If I had the do it all over again, would I change a thing?”

And my answer is “Hell yes, I would!” I would change A LOT of things!

Things are the way they are but that doesn’t mean that’s how they always have to be.

Look, I’m grateful for my life and all the lessons I’ve learned along the way. But some rough and tough shit has happened to me and I’ve often found myself wishing that it hadn’t! I’ve wished that I’d been smarter or more alert. Wished that I’d made different choices or never met certain people. I’ve looked back and wished I’d done many things differently but it’s too late now.

Or is it?

The thing is, I think I can do a lot of things differently. I think we all can, all the time. I’ve been looking back with my wishful thinking when I should have been looking ahead. I may not be able to change anything from my past but, knowing what I know now, I have the opportunity to do a lot of things differently moving forward.

I can’t go back in time and undo shitty relationships and one-sided friendships that caused me pain and distress but I can use what I know and make sure I’m never in another relationship like that ever again. I can’t take back the Sundays I’ve spent depressed and anxious about the upcoming work week. But I can make changes so my work life is less of a drain and I can figure out what I need to have a career I enjoy. I can’t cure everything that physically ails me. But I can make changes to live as healthy as I can in spite of all that. I can’t undo childhood fears and traumas. But I can use all the resources at my disposal (like therapy) to make my current and future existence are as peaceful and happy as possible.

I do think our experiences have something to teach us, even if the only lessons we glean is that we never want to experience something like that ever again.

I’m not sure if everything happens for a reason. Some things just happen and it sucks, it really sucks and you may never get any explanation as to why it happened to you. But I do think our experiences have something to teach us, even if the only lessons we glean is that we never want to experience something like that ever again. I also believe everyone exists for a reason. And I think every new day we’re still here is a new opportunity to try to make this life a little better than the day before.

So yeah, if I could change some things about my life, I totally would. And now I’m starting to think I totally can. Things are the way they are but that doesn’t mean that’s how they always have to be. If I’ve learned anything in the last year, it’s that life will change on its own. In an instant, you can go from healthy to sick. In love to alone. Employed to broke. Alive to dead. I don’t think we can control everything. But that doesn’t mean everything is out of our control. Life doesn’t have to be a thing that just happens.

I’m still learning that I do have the power to make some things happen for me, and to make sure other things never happen to me again. And of course there will always be times in my life when I can’t control a damn thing. But why not take everything I know now, everything I’ve got, to do life a little differently than I’ve done before? Why not try? I mean, the alternative is to go through life with the same things happening to you over and over again. And like I said, I’m grateful for my life but there are some things I never want to repeat.

This is the time of year when everyone is trying to make some changes and yeah, it’s a little cliché and in some ways annoying (especially at overcrowded gyms). But in many ways, it’s admirable to take your life into your own hands and change what you can. I don’t want to keep lookin back and wishing things had been different. When I’m looking back at the end of this year, I wanna be able to say, “Yeah, I did that!”

What’s It Going To Take For Black Hair To Be Seen As Professional? [via HuffPost]

5c5b4095260000d401fb0aa1Last week the New York City Human Rights Commission released new guidelines that make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of hairstyle. Under the guidelines, residents have the right to have “natural hair, treated or untreated hairstyles such as locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, fades, Afros, and/or the right to keep hair in an uncut or untrimmed state.” And any targeting they may face in a public place like work or school can be deemed racial discrimination.

When I read this long overdue measure toward equality, I immediately thought about my grandparents and a specific day in the spring of 2012.

I was just a few weeks away from my college graduation and was visiting my family in Virginia during spring break. I recall sitting at the table in my grandparents’ house with my grandma, grandpa, mom, sister, aunt and cousin. We were having an important family discussion, or what some might call an intervention.

The issue on the table? My hair.

I’d recently stopped getting relaxers after more than 13 years of keeping my hair chemically straightened. Trying to tame my growing naps with just a flatiron was proving a frustrating and futile fight, so I grabbed the scissors to finally do a big chop and cut off all my relaxed ends, revealing a teeny weeny Afro for all to see.

And what my family saw was a problem that needed solving.

Read more on HuffPost.com

7 Times Rihanna Was Unapologetic About Her Blackness [via HuffPost]


Robyn “Rihanna” Fenty unapologetically embraces her sexiness, her talent and her Blackness and that fearlessness reminds me to live just as boldly in my skin.

Here’s the thing: I don’t need to Rihanna to “remind” me I’m also Black. I can see I’m Black when I look in the mirror, when I show up to the office or when I go out into the world. But Rihanna does remind me that my Blackness is powerful, that the culture I come from is complex and deserves respect. She inspires me to show up fully as myself in all rooms I enter, be it a boardroom or a bedroom.

Still, when I need a boost in confidence, I turn to some of my favorite memor-Rihs (see what I did there?) of when the singer showed the world that she’s a proud Black woman.

Read more at HuffPost.com

[HuffPost] Beyoncé’s Black History Month Collage Teaches Us A Powerful Lesson

Screen Shot 2019-02-05 at 12.08.35 PMBeyoncé remains the queen of poignant Black History Month moments. In 2016, she dropped her hit-single-turned-black-anthem “Formation.” In 2017, she revealed her pregnancy with Sir and Rumi Carter. And this year, she surprised us with a creative reminder to recognize the black history happening around us every day, with a photo collage on her website honoring 45 black men and women who have done and are doing amazing work in the black community.

The collage honors some well-known names in black history like Aretha Franklin, James Baldwin and Maya Angelou. It also features famous faces from today like Beyoncé’s sister, Solange; Emmy Award-winning producer Lena Waithe; and activists DeRay Mckesson and Janet Mock. And it features some people who you may not recognize ― but should definitely get to know.

Read more at HuffPost.com

[HuffPost] Big Freedia: My Voice Is All I Need To Break Barriers

Big Freedia

Big Freedia did not come to play with you hoes, as she’d say. She came to break barriers and make noise and live out loud. Really loud.

You may have heard her booming vocals on hit songs like Beyoncé’s black girl anthem, “Formation,” or Drake’s new summer single, “Nice for What,” but she’s way more than a disembodied voice on a track. She’s the reigning queen of New Orleans bounce music with hit songs of her own like “Excuse,” “Drop” and “Rent.”

And believe it or not, Queen Bey and Champagne Papi are just the tip of the iceberg for Big Freedia. With her EP “3rd Ward Bounce” dropping at the beginning of this month and her world tour kicking off soon, she’s just getting started.

Big Freedia has overcome violence, adversity and the tragic loss of her greatest cheerleaders and has proved she’s an unstoppable force of positivity and pride. She is on a mission to increase LGBTQ visibility, to challenge stereotypes about queer artists and to encourage everyone who hears her voice to live their best life and shake their ass while doing it.

Read more at HuffPost.com

5 Lessons In Resistance Explained By Harry Potter


Happy Epilogue Day! This day, September 1, 2017 marks 19 years since the Golden Trio defeated Voldemort, went on with their lives, got old and fat and happy and had children of their own with terrible names who they took to Hogwarts. Today, Harry Potter fans across the country celebrate the happy little ending JK Rowling wrote at the end of the last book in the Harry Potter series.

Nineteen years prior to the epilogue we celebrate today, the Wizarding World was a different, dark place. Harry Potter and the Hogwarts crew were going through a time very similar to what we’re going through as a nation right now, with a strange looking evil man using power, intimidation and a clan of mindless, violent followers to disenfranchise the vulnerable and change the dynamics of our country.

As I look back over the last 20 years of Harry Potter, I’m wondering if Joanne knew how her beloved childhood books would provide clues as to how we can defeat the evil in the real world.

Harry Potter Explains Why (some) People Can’t Be Trusted

I was rereading the first books and found myself thinking “Hm, does Professor Quirrell MirrorOfErised_PM_B1C17M1_QuirrellAndHarryInFrontOfTheMirrorOfErised_Momentremind anyone else of the ‘alt-right?’” No? Just me? Okay then, let me explain.

On the surface, Professor Quirrell seemed pretty normal. Unassuming, downright forgettable. But he had another side. An evil, power hungry, prejudice side, that he kept hidden until the right moment when he had nothing to lose. Like Quirrell, white America has two faces. We saw the evil ugly side pop up occasionally when neo-Nazis marched on Charlottesville. And we see it when people cry All Lives or Blue Lives Matter after an innocent Black person is killed by law enforcement.

Quirrell said it himself, who would suspect him? The shy, harmless guy who just stuck to the rules and did his job without incident (unless you count the troll)? But it’s exactly the Quirrells and white guys in khakis with tiki torches who we need to look out for, walking among us like normal when all the while, there’s unspeakable evil and prejudice in the back of their minds.

Professor Quirrell is a fictional character in a fictional series but the reality is many of our white and non-Black family, friends and coworkers are walking around with two faces. A lot of them show their true colors on Facebook posts. A bunch of them showed their true colors after this election. Some of them showed their true colors in Charlottesville and other “alt-right” rallies throughout the country. All of them are more emboldened by a Dark orange Lord of Twitter. Quirrell and eventually Pettigrew, Barty Crouch Jr., and other seemingly “good guys” became who they were because they were weak and allowed hate to take over. Now is the time to be strong.

Harry Potter Explains How Ending Racism Is Everyone’s Responsibility

And I already know someone is reading this and immediately thinking “Not every white person is a Professor Quirrell in sheep’s clothing and that this is not the Hogwarts–I mean, America–they know.” And I know that, too. Just because a few people want to carry on the racism and cruel legacy of the Confederacy doesn’t mean all white people do. In the same way, just because one of the professors was out in the woods murdering unicorns and plotting for the death of all Muggle-borns doesn’t mean they all were. In fact, all most all of the other teachers throughout the books put forth considerable effort to protect Harry, the stone and all of the vulnerable people.

Because that’s what you do when you’re in a position of power. White Americans and whites people around the world are also in unique positions to be allies for people with less power and privilege than they have. They must recognize that it’s as much their responsibility as it is the responsibility of marginalized people to make the world a better, more just place. I mean, you didn’t see Professor McGonagall out at the Battle of Hogwarts with a #ThisIsNotUs or #NotAllWizards sign. No, she was on the front lines doing the fighting for what’s right like the badass she is. If you don’t want to be associated with the Death Eaters of the world, do everything you can to disassociate.

Harry Potter Explains How To Be An Ally

I hated Ron. I truly did. He was annoying and petty and insecure. But he was loyal to Harry and did what he had to do to keep Harry alive. He supported Harry even when he didn’t understand what was happening to him. Even when he couldn’t relate to whatever scar-burning nonsense Harry was going through, Ron always believed him, defended him and stood by his side. Allies can take a lesson from Ron and do the same for the marginalized groups they support. Believing us when we say Black Lives Matter, defending trans people who are fighting for the right to use the bathroom, standing up for a woman being harassed on the street.

Often, being an ally will mean checking the people you love when they mean to harm someone you’ve decided to be loyal to. Ron did this in book five when he shut down Seamus for trying to come for Harry. Neville did it in book one when he stood up to the Golden Trio to preserve the standing of Gryffindor. As Dumbledore tells us toward the end of the first book, “It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, and far more to stand up to your friends.” Who among your friends and family needs to be checked?

Harry Potter Explains Why Equality Is Good For Everyone

I always felt like Dudley Dursley was the embodiment of privilege and supremacy. He controlled everything in his life, whether or not it was his to control. Any attempt to treat Harry equally (even just barely, like giving Harry Dudley’s junky and abandoned second bedroom), Dudley viewed as oppression and as stripping away his own autonomy and happiness. A lot of Americans view attempts at equality the same way. We can see this when they scream “All Lives Matter” at Black Lives Matter protests. Or when they push through restrictive laws and bills when a trans person simply wants to serve their country.

Dudley eventually let go of his childish selfishness and notions of being oppressed when he realized there were more important things to worry about like staying safe with his family. Because if Voldemort can come for Harry, he can come for any and every body. Maybe there’s hope that white people will soon come to the same realization. I mean, it took Dudley 7 books. Better late than never, I guess…

Harry Potter Explains The Power In Resistance

#Resist is a new hashtag and a movement following the inauguration of Donald Trump. And while the effort may seem small, throughout the books we see how small revolutions end up making big waves in the Wizarding World.

When Hogwarts was taken over by an evil dictator protege of Voldemort, Dolores Umbridge, Harry, Ron, Hermione and their classmates banded together to educate themselves and fight back against her oppressive policies. Even though it was just a small, secret school group, they retained the lessons they learned in resistance and when the real Battle of Hogwarts began, they banded together on the right side.

Even small steps to learn more about history, each other and ourselves helps arm us for the long fight down the road against systems we may need to dismantle to reach equality.


I know Harry Potter is just a fictional book series. There are no wands and spells in the real world that we can actually use to defeat our version of the Death Eaters and try to start over in peace and understanding. But the reason Harry Potter is so great and will continue to be essential reading is because the series gives hope of what a future and humanity can look like when we get rid of people and policies that would harm us and put forth an effort toward equality.

Where will we be in 19 years? Still dealing with the ramifications of 45’s determination to divide the nation, or will we be able to look back on a time when we decided to be brave and tackle discrimination and fear-mongering head on and be proud of the part we played to take down darkness and make way for a marvelous, magical new day? Will there ever be a time in my generation, when I have my own kids (*knock on wood*) that I’ll take to their first day of school, when I can look out and ahead and say “All Is Well?”

#UnapologeticallyResisting (and reading)