I’m sure I’m not alone in this, I am not a morning person. I am the queen of hitting snooze, getting up at the last second and getting ready quickly and mindlessly. I am always rushing and running late.
Honestly, it’s a pretty shitty thing to do to myself. By rushing and stressing every morning, I not only lose out on valuable time to take care of myself, I’m setting that tone for my day.
1) Get Up, No Really Get UP!
Pick a time and stick to it. If you’re not used to waking up early, you may want to start by waking 15 minutes earlier each day. I chose 6:30AM as my wake up time. I leave in the morning at 8AM, so it gives me an hour and a half to wake up and set myself up for success.
You must, and I cannot stress this enough, get up as soon as your alarm goes off. I find it helpful to set one alarm for the time I must wake up and get back to bed. If I set 3 alarms 10 minutes apart, I won’t fall back into restful sleep anyways.
Making it routine to hear your alarm and get right up is key for actually getting up. Sure, it sucks. Especially in the beginning. However, the more often you do it, the easier it gets.
2) Have Something To Look Forward To.
For me, it’s coffee. I love flavored hot coffee. I prepare it the night before so I can turn on my coffee maker, use the bathroom, and wash my face.
By the time I am finished, I have a warm cup of flavored coffee to enjoy. After a few sips of coffee, I am ready to continue my morning.
I also light a candle and play some gentle music, sometimes acoustic covers and sometimes The Coffeehouse by Sirius XM.
3) Eat Something, Even If It’s Light.
I usually alternate between cereal and oatmeal along with a banana or some strawberries. Some prefer to eat breakfast after getting ready, but because I try to stop eating an hour before bed, I’m pretty hungry when I wake up.
I like to have my journal out, in case I feel like making a physical note of how I’m feeling, jotting down ideas, or making a to-do list. Typically, I look at my planner the night before, but if I know it’s going to be a particularly heavy day,
4) Move Your Body In A Way That Works For You.
I don’t think I will ever be the person that bounces up from sleep at 5:30AM and gets ready to go to the gym. I don’t like getting up before the sun does. For a lot of people, it’s what works. I’m scared of those people.
I try to move my body in a simple way each morning. I do some light yoga or take my dog on a short walk. I don’t sign up for 6AM workout classes that I’ll snooze my way into missing. I keep it easy and quick, practicing deep breathing and mindfulness.
5) Start Getting Ready.
Take a shower if you didn’t take one last night. Wash your face, brush your teeth, take your medication. Drink water, lots of water. Pick out an outfit that you feel confident and if you’re feeling it, put on a little make up. Not for anyone, just for yourself.
To keep myself moving at a pace that will get me out the door on time, I like to listen to a podcast. My current favorites are Michelle Obama’s and The Highest Self Podcast. Hopefully I’ll learn something new. While getting ready, I state my affirmations. I listed a few that I say almost daily.
I am strong. I am capable. I am loved. I am deserving of good things. I am important to others.
6) Whatever Fills Your Cup.
Once I am ready, I make my lunch if I didn’t the night before and pack my bag. When I am ready, I determine how much time I have until I need to leave. I make it a point to leave the door 5 minutes before I need to.
Below are some activities I do with 5 minutes, 10 minutes, and 20 minutes before leaving.
5 Minutes to Fill:
Quick phone sesh, swipe through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and my favorite, TikTok.
Write out a to-do list, grocery list, gratitude list. Make a list.
Take deep breaths, meditate, stretch.
Listen to music (Folklore still on repeat for anyone else?)
10 Minutes to Fill:
Watch an Inspiring TedTalk
20 Minutes to Fill:
Watch a short light-hearted show
Wash some dishes
Fold some laundry
Write a letter
Pay a bill
Do something that tired 5:30PM you will be happy about
Let me know in the comments if any of this is useful, or what pieces are necessary in your morning routine! There’s no right and wrong way, but this has been my experience about what the best and most effective ritual is for starting my day. Likewise, you know yourself better than anybody!
TW: depressing AF, a little hopeless, definitely whiny
I won’t for a second pretend that I have it harder than anybody else. For years, I was the queen of woe. I was depressed. I was anxious. I had trauma. I had the early stages of an alcohol problem. I was poor. I was lonely.
I’m sitting back, looking at the past tense that I use to describe my struggles, but most of them I’m still dealing with today.
I am depressed. I am anxious. I have trauma. I struggle with money. I am lonely.
Loneliness, I believe, is the biggest mental health crisis of 2020. We are all lonely, because for awhile, we need to stay alone as much as we can.
We cover half our face, but you can see it in our eyes. This is really fucking hard. I sleep in the same bed as my girlfriend every night, and while I’m asleep I know I’m not alone.
But when I have to wake up, I’m by myself.
By myself, I have to get out of bed.
By myself, I have to take a shower even when I can’t even imagine doing so.
By myself, I go to work and take on the burden of others even though I too am struggling.
By myself, I prepare dinner and force myself to eat something besides cereal, as that had been the meal for the past several days.
By myself, I go to the pharmacy to pick up my antidepressants, only to find out they hadn’t been filled. A blessing, really, compared to going the following day and my card getting declined and not being able to take my Zoloft in 5 days because I couldn’t afford it.
By myself, I pick my scabs off my skin, layer after layer until it gets infected or I find the will to stop.
So if I’m struggling and feeling like the weight of the world is on my shoulders but I can’t hold it because we’re supposed to be six feet apart, what the hell am I supposed to do?
How do I get others through this if I can’t get myself through this?
I don’t know how much loner I can do this. I am so lonely, even in a crowded room I feel so fucking alone. Everyone is so far away, both geographically and mentally.
It’s just me. And if I feel like I’m slowly dying while trying to get through every day, I cannot imagine what others are going through.
Nothing is more important than community, and despite efforts to make us feel connected through technology and letters and masked hang outs, it’s not the same.
My family lives really far away. I wasn’t ready for any of them to move away but they all kept leaving. At 21 my parents moved to Tennessee and by the time I was 22 my sister had moved to Pennsylvania (now North Carolina).
I feel like I lost my family. Today, I FaceTimed with my sister as she and her husband went to visit my parents for the long weekend, because its only a 5 hour drive and restrictions are much looser down south than Massachusetts. My family members that live closest to us don’t reach out because they have their own lives, but today went out to western Massachusetts to visit more family. My baby cousin turned 2, and I wasn’t invited to her birthday party.
Even my mother, who lives an hour away in Massachusetts refuses to visit, but went up to New Hampshire with my brother to spend Labor Day Weekend with my brother’s family.
I don’t know why I am constantly excluded from everything, but my dad and stepmom used to make sure we were together for the big stuff. At 24, they didn’t live thousands of miles away from their families. They lived near the siblings and their parents. They were grown up but they weren’t alone.
I finished college and I knew this was coming. There was no home to go back to. I had to make my own home, my own family, my own support system. Still, I begged everyone to still include me during the holidays, to go out to lunch, to go for hikes, hell, even to let me babysit so I could be with family.
There’s a pandemic, so why would I feel like I can take this personally?
I work with at risk individuals and have been closely exposed to coronavirus several times, I can’t blame my family for not reaching out so often. I’m struggling, I know they are too.
I’m just so lonely. I know I will be fine and am learning to embrace being alone. It just sucks.
I don’t have it harder than everyone else, but it’s still hard and I am still struggling. I’m not pushing my feelings aside and just going through the motions anymore.
I am feeling all the feelings, even the ones I’d rather not. I’m in less of a fog, I’m remembering my dreams, I am making progress and killing it in life. Even though I’m sensitive.
I’m okay today and I will be okay tomorrow. Life will keep getting harder but I believe I will keep getting stronger.
My job is really stressful. I know a lot of people have stressful jobs but like, my job is really stressful. Overseeing the day to day operations of a drop in homeless day center and supervising a staff of 10 take up far more than the 40 hours I’m contracted for.
I love my job. It’s fast paced, the work is meaningful, and it’s a good work environment. But girl, is it stressful! Breaking up fights, calling an ambulance for suicidal clients, and narcaning individuals when they overdose. All while smiling from day to day, updating my notes on time, and giving it 100%.
It’s a lot. My role changed drastically when the pandemic began. I was working with sheltered individuals 1:1 to secure housing, which could be overwhelming at times but overall was manageable. When the pandemic began and resources became scarcer, my organizations’ drop in center attendance skyrocketed. The clientele became more acute, the work more stressful, and there’s a pandemic going on!
As work, my mental health, and my life got harder and harder to handle, my therapist suggested taking 2 weeks of medical leave to separate from work and focus on stabilizing my medication and positive coping mechanisms. I took a minute to process that, and then asked “Am I really that bad?” I was.
But I kept going anyways. 5 months risking my health and safety to serve others. As Monday of this week crept up, I knew I had to take a mental health day. I finished hiring 2 new staff, scheduled their shifts to begin next week, and cancelled all my appointments for today.
I worked extra hours to make sure I would be caught up and my absence wouldn’t complicate the jobs of everyone else (as a small non-profit, we have to watch out for each other!). As I said goodbye to my supervisor yesterday, I told her “Just so you know, I am going to be calling out sick tomorrow and taking a mental health day”. She replied “Okay, are you OK?” to which I replied, “Yes, I just need to have a self-care day, my mental health has been poor the past couple of weeks and now that I got everything I needed to accomplished, I need to focus on me”. And she said “That’s fine, have a good weekend!”
I typed up an email last night, and sent it out to our team first thing this morning. being honest with them as I did my supervisor. “I need a mental health day so I am calling in sick, I’m ok but need to focus on my mental health today”.
I am so glad that I did. I don’t get physically sick often. I never call out. I feel guilty when calling out when I’m struggling with my depression and anxiety. Who doesn’t have depression or anxiety? Who doesn’t need a self-care day now and then to rest and recharge?
I shouldn’t feel guilty for taking a day to make sure I’m ok. I was getting really burnt out, and saw that my service to others was lacking because I was running on empty. I would never judge someone else for taking a day to focus on their mental health, why do I think that my co-workers would judge me? Why was I judging myself?
I was honest, and it allowed me to enjoy my day freely.
I called out sick today.
And it was a really great day. I slept in a bit, ate a slow breakfast and drank my coffee. I went to the pool in my complex and read a book. I took a shower, for the first time in 3 days, and put on a face mask. I caught up with the cleaning and laundry. I wrote in my journal. I did what I needed to do to feel better.
I called out sick today and I am so glad I did. For the first time in a long time, I put my own needs first in a small way and showed myself the love I’m constantly showing everyone else.
By calling out sick today, I showed up for myself.
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I have been working through my anger for a long time. A LONG time. Angry at my parents, angry at my peers, angry at my bosses, angry at the world, and most of all, the systems that keep people marginalized/impoverished/down.
I had a tendency to react quickly and dramatically. At times, I would be in a full meltdown over a minor inconvenience, and if someone wronged me I would hold a grudge. I was angry at myself and at the life I lived. It just kept getting projected onto others.
So yeah- I know plenty about being angry, but I have learned so much about working through my anger, channeling my anger into something positive, and sometimes just letting things go.
Here are my top 5 alternatives to getting angry, brought to you by psychiatric medications, lots of therapy, and slow but steady self-growth.
1. Wait 24 hours, then react if you are still angry.
It’s important that you give yourself time before you react, especially in a serious situation. My standard is to wait 24 hours if I feel alright doing so, and if it still bothers me in 24 hours I will speak up. After 24 hours, I use my voice in a calm way to clearly state what I am angry about and what I would like done.
2. Find the root of your anger, and deal with that.
Anger is often simply anxiety in disguise. Not always, of course. Sometimes an individual’s action can anger you, or another direct scenario that led to an angry response.
Are you angry at the amount of traffic there is at rush hour, or are you upset at yourself for pressing snooze one too many times and running late?
Are you angry at your partner for not doing the dishes, or are you feeling overwhelmed about how much you have on your plate?
I believe that more often then not, anxiety manifests itself as anger as an “easy” coping mechanism. By deflecting an anxious situation by simply getting angry, you are denying yourself the opportunity to recognize your triggers and work through them.
3. Practice deep breathing.
The key to successfully utilizing calming breaths in situations when you are angry is to practice when you are not. Being able to turn to a healthy alternative to anger must be practiced and its unlikely that you will be able to adequately calm yourself down with deep breathing if you are in the middle of an angry episode.
Meditation, a sister of practicing controlled breath, is also a great option if you’re looking for something more intense. I’m a huge fan of guided meditations on Spotify or Headspace.
I underestimated the power of stress balls for the longest time, until a friend of mine got me one. I LOVE these ones from Amazon. Squeeze while you breathe in, release as you breathe out. I keep one in my office, one by my bed, and one in my bag! It’s a must have.
In through the nose, out through the mouth. Breathe.
4. Move your body.
It might be the last thing you want to do, but getting up and physically removing yourself from a situation that is causing you to be angry is an easy immediate solution. It could be as simple as going for a walk or as intense as going to an exercise class.
You know yourself best, and might need to try a few options until you figure out what works best for you to keep your cool.
5. Check in with yourself and see what you need.
9 times out of 10 I’m hangry, not actually angry. By pausing for a moment and seeing what you actually need, you can address that before and then see if the response is necessary. Have a drink of water, have a snack, take a quick walk, put on some music, talk to a friend.
Give yourself permission something that makes you feel just a little bit better in the next few moments. By tending to one or more of your needs, you’ll be able to get yourself in the right mindset to properly tune into yourself and figure out what you’re angry at and why- and most of all, if it’s worth being angry about.
6. Be angry. Let yourself feel how you feel, then let that sh*t go!
If you’re angry, you’re angry. Let yourself feel anger for a moment or two, but don’t hold onto it. Life is too short to be angry, and you won’t feel any better for staying angry. Very little is worth your anger, channel it into something better, make a change, or let it go!
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I’m a list girl. I make lists all day long, to do lists, grocery lists, lists of favorite things, favorite people, and favorite books.
I’ve always made sense of things by breaking it down into a list, both for organization and for accountability.
I am so tired of hearing myself go on about all the things I will do someday without having a plan to do so. Without having a broken down list. A bucket list – but we’re putting a 10 year time goal on it.
Will I do it all? Maybe. What if I don’t by 2030? That’s okay. But I’m giving it my all, because who knows if I’ll even have 10 years? Life is short and things can change in the blink of an eye. But today, Saturday August 15, 2020, I want to do these things within the next 10 years.
Become fluent in Spanish
Improve my public speaking abilities
Learn to rock climb
Learn to ski
Learn basic sign language
Learn to play piano
Learn to scuba dive
Learn to ice skate
Learn to change my car’s oil
Learn to play tennis
Be my own manager
Independently employ someone
Attend a networking event
Write a thank you letter to a past employer
Make 100k in a year
Practice yoga regularly
Maintain a healthy weight
Run a 5k
Run a 10k
Get lasik eye surgery
Get a breast reduction
See a chiropractorr
Hold a head stand for 1 minute
Find spiritual grounding
Create a self-portrait
Go 24 hours without phone
Go 48 hours without phone
Go 72 hours without phone (a fun little “phone jail” maybe?)
Get a couples massage
See a psychic
Take a flower pedal bath
Become an intuitive eater
Make peace with my body
Travel to 2 more continents (aside from North America & South America ☑️)
Travel to every state in the United States
Go on a road trip with no destination
Attend Mardi Gras
See one of the 7 wonders
Rent an RV and explore the west coast
Ride a trolley in San Francisco
Spend a holiday somewhere other than home
Fill up a passport book – this is the cover that I use for mine and LOVE!
Experiences to Have
Swim under a waterfall
Leap off a rope swing
See Wicked on Broadway
Name a star
Take an improv class
Hug a redwood
Take an outdoor shower
Act in a play
Meet a world leader
Work on a pottery wheel
Smaller Things I’ve Always Wanted to Do
Get fitted for a bra
Grow a garden
Get a third tattoo
Try blonde highlights
Bake my own bread
Complete a 500 piece puzzle
Pierce my nose
Milk a cow
Go into the woods to pick up trash
Refinish a piece of furniture
Make a scrapbook
Reach a credit score of 700+
Pay off my car
Pay off my credit cards
Pay off my student loans
Win big on a scratch ticket
Support a non-profit monthly
Develop & stick to a budget
Monetize my blog
Create a podcast
Write an article to get published in a newspaper or magazine
Develop a loyal following
Get verified on a social media platform
Publish a book
Earn my masters degree
Find a mentor
Develop my core values
Join a book club
Read 52 books in 1 year
Attend a weekend retreat
Befriend a complete stranger
Go on a social media cleanse
Relax in a hammock in a public place – I personally love this one:
Creating My Legacy
Make my own family traditions
Host a major holiday
Be featured on a podcast
Pass out candy on Halloween
Become a foster parent
Volunteer in a prison
Own my property
And here we go! What goal (or 100) do you want to achieve in the next decade?
Sometimes I wish that I could fast forward through the next five years. Skip past the hustle and grind, not pinch pennies to make rent, advance in my career, and to settle in to the rest of my life.
Life is really fucking hard. Like really hard. Harder than I expected, but 15 year old me never thought 24 year old me would be around and living the life I am. I’m better than I thought it I would be but I’m not living the life I am.
Looking around it feels like everyone has their life together. Everyone has it just about figured out, my high school friends are getting engaged, even married. My college friends are buying houses, and my coworkers are having kids. Life seems to be moving faster for everyone else and I want in.
I love my little family and my home, I love my job and my car and all the wonderful things I have. I love my friends, though few in quantity and far in distance, I’m supported no matter how far they are. My life is good and I am okay.
Even though I know in my head that my life is good, I worry if any of this is real. I worry that I will wake up and lose everything I have worked for. I worry irrationally and all of the time. Knowing that the thoughts are irrational is half the battle, but the other half is still hard. The other half is filled with doubt, doubt of others intentions, doubt of love, worthiness, and trust. I think I’m fake, and someday everyone will catch on and see it’s an act. It’s not an act, I know that. Irrational.
About a year and a half ago I scheduled my first therapy appointment. I walk in, depressed and anxious as can be, and unpack as much as I can as quickly as I could so it wouldn’t hurt as badly. Like ripping off a huge bandaid but in front of a complete stranger.
My therapist is my sounding board, my voice of reason, and even at times my cheerleader. When my therapist felt as if I wasn’t making much progress in treating my depression, she referred my to a psychiatrist and we begun the medication tango.
Wellbutrin, clonidine, lexapro, zoloft. Those are the four I’ve tried, currently I’m taking all but lexapro. The journey has been a literal roller coaster but slowly we are getting a good balance that works for me. The self care and therapy and coping skills are half of it, my medication is the other half. I’ve never been ashamed, the outcome has been too positive.
I’m working so hard on myself but I still want to skip ahead. I want to enjoy the here and now, the today, the present. I want to picture myself 80 and happy. But me as a happy 80 year old won’t be happy if I waste my time being sad about money or stressing over work. I have to become the woman I am meant to be.
I have it together more than I’ll ever give myself credit for. I’m a badass, working a cool and exciting job and making the world a better place. I am compassionate and honest and healthy. People want to be around me, they’re just also busy. I am doing okay, I am okay.
This is hard, but as my favorite human being Glennon Doyle repeatedly says, “We can do hard things”.
At least a little bit. I grew up admiring others girls in school wishing I looked like them, and feeling warm and safe with my closest girl friends. I grew up looking up girls kissing on the internet and quickly deleting my browser when my parents called me for supper.
As crazy as it sounds, I didn’t know that it was an option to date women, love women, marry women. I was an ally, loudly rooting on the LGBTQ+ community when marriage equality finally became the law of the land. I loved others so fiercely, but honestly, I didn’t know anyone who was actually gay.
I come from a very small rural farm town, and my family was one of the few blue votes in a deep red community. I left for college and I prepared to grow as a person more than I ever imagined I would.
My freshman year, I joined a sorority. I developed connections with diverse, passionate, wonderful women that I will have for the rest of my life. One of my role models in the organization was gay and she led us with grace, and lived her truest life.
My sophomore year, I spent my time mostly seeing men, but it was also my sophomore year that I first set my Tinder to men and women. I would match with women, chat with them, but chicken out with anything more than texting.
One day, junior year, I was hanging out at a close friend’s house and we were both laying on her bed, swiping through our respective Tinder accounts and she noticed on my phone that a woman came up. She asked if I had my account set to men and women, and I said yes – I’m just seeing who is gay around us. She proceeded to change her settings so we could match each other and it would be so fun.
Shortly after, I deleted my account.
I spent my time fantasizing about being with women, to the point that when I was sober I couldn’t be with men anymore. It pushed me to drink more, to party harder, to put myself in unsafe situations, I was pretty numb for a while, binge drinking every weekend, leading guys on until I got bored and moved on to whatever or whoever came next.
I just wanted to have a good time and begun accepting that maybe I wasn’t right to be in a relationship with women, I wasn’t deserving of the love and the life I wanted.
My senior year was when everything really changed.
I made it a personal goal to finally push that barrier and do something with a woman – go on a date, kiss at a party, or anything else that happened. I just didn’t want to be the bisexual woman who hasn’t ever actually done anything with a woman anymore, which in retrospect, didn’t invalidate my sexuality at all.
I started by messaging a girl from my college that I knew of; we had mutual friends and a lot in common. We messaged for a while, hung out once, and there was nothing more. I think we both thought it was something that it wasn’t, and the more I’ve grown, the more I thank my lucky stars that we didn’t settle. But we kissed. She was my first kiss, and honestly I felt as if I pushed past a threshold that would allow me into this community that I desperately wanted to become a part of.
Shortly after things fizzled out with her, I met another girl in one of my classes. She and I also had mutual friends, and sat across from each other in class, and always worked with each other on assignments. I messaged her through our school’s online learning portal and gave her my number which was an incredibly bold thing to do, probably one of the boldest moves I had ever made. I saw her at one of the clubs we went out to regularly, and I thought we had hit it off.
We spent a few nights together where nothing really happened, and eventually she stopped messaging me back, she stopped going to class, she seemed to have cut me off entirely. I used to drink back then, a lot. She did too, we were used to having most of our exchanges through shots and stumbling home late at night. She was the first girl I did like, but things sizzled out once again.
I honestly started regressing back to feeling like maybe, things weren’t going to work out for me right now. I accepted it, and just focused on everything else.
I stopped trying after that. All of a sudden, it was my last semester of my undergraduate education and I was applying for graduate programs, interviewing for assistantships, and savoring the last few crazy weekends with my best friends.
I was set on flying halfway across the country to Arkansas to study Higher Education and Student Affairs and work at one of their programs, but I didn’t get a job. I decided to wait and work in Massachusetts for a year while I figured things out. I wasn’t going to move, I wasn’t trying for a relationship. I was just focusing on me.
Then I met Jenn. Jenn, a gorgeous, tall, sporty, soft butch woman, and a close friend of one of my close friends. Typical. Jenn started going out with my group of friends on the weekends.
She was in a relationship, I kept an eye on her but was careful not to show interest out of respect for their relationship. Things were going downhill between the two of them, and one night she asked us for advice about what to do. We were all in unison, do what makes you happy. Period. Later that week, she was single Jenn.
Jenn was different, so different than any of the men or women I had met before. She was calm, gentle, and so sweet. She had the patience like no other, and became a friend immediately and my girlfriend shortly after.
A bit after Jenn broke up with her ex-partner, she began getting closer and closer to me. We started with a single kiss, to spending the night together, to her practically moving into my dorm room.
We went on our first date to a Celtics game (TOTALLY not my thing, but I sure as hell pretended it was). We spent St. Patrick’s Day together with our friends in Boston, and we held hands all day and danced and kissed all night.
I wasn’t sure if she was the one, but I couldn’t imagine being with anyone else. I felt comfortable, beautiful, and so safe with her.
I knew I had to officially come out to my family, who assumed I was straight and would marry a man one day. They knew about my past boyfriends and wouldn’t assume otherwise.
My older sister and very best friend didn’t bat an eye, I could have sworn that she knew all along she was so nonchalant about it.
I texted my stepmom that I had a girlfriend, just to let them know. My stepmom was out of town at a retreat and responded with something along the lines of: yay!!! I just told all of my coworkers and we love you and are so proud of you, we are all crying”.
It was so cute and heartwarming. I let her tell my dad, because I knew he would be happy for me but not make a big deal about it, which was perfect. She proceeded to make at least 5 LGBTQ+ Facebook posts within the week.
Jenn was in my room with me while I packed to go home for Easter weekend, and my mom came to pick me up. She came up into my apartment to use the bathroom, and gave a quick “hi, nice to meet you, see you later!”. I went home with her and we didn’t talk about Jenn.
On Easter morning, I told my mom that my friend Jenn that she met in my dorm was my girlfriend, and she was casual, said it didn’t matter to her if I dated a boy or a girl as long as they respected me.
I posted on Facebook that I was in a relationship with Jenn, and my cup was just overflowing with love. Aside from one comment “I didn’t know you were like that” from a friend (and another friend immediately jumping in saying “yes she is and we love her!!!”, nobody really bat an eye.
My mom called me a few days later to let me know that my Nana knew I was dating a woman. Somebody saw it on Facebook and got to tell her before I could. Her first response was “Tell her to take it off Facebook – not because I have a problem with it but because future employers might discriminate against her”. I struggled with all of this – being outed, being a shame to her. Today, I realize that she just hated anything being on Facebook. She refused – and always begged my mom not to post pictures of her. She lived her life proudly, but hated pictures and others knowing her business unless it’s being told by her.
Nana now loves Jenn as much as she loves me. Grampy took a minute to realize that my beautiful butch girlfriend was in fact a woman, but a few months ago, Nana texted me and asked if Jenn wants to be hugged by Grampy or if she would prefer a handshake. He now hugs her as tightly as he hugs me.
Graduating was so both exciting and scary for me. I realized I had real abandonment issues, and Jenn didn’t want to leave me either.
So we did the typical thing gay women do, and she basically moved in. She was living with her parents for the summer and would be living in the dorm for her last year of college. So she stayed with me in my dorm room that I had while I worked at the university for the summer until I found a place and an adult job.
By the end of the summer, I had two good jobs and an apartment with roommates. Jenn moved into her dorm room for her senior year, but stayed at my room every night.
I gave her a key and she lived out of a suitcase for the year, going to her dorm here and there but 100% living with me.
A wonderful year passed by us, I learned so much about myself, how to love myself and someone else with my whole being. How to root for her success as she cheers on mine.
I learned what my values were, the standards that I deserved to be treated, and grew into my sexuality as I grew into my independent young adult life.
I became a part of Jenn’s very close knit family- they welcomed me with open arms. I love them like I love my own family. Jenn is my better half, my best friend, my whole world.
And now we have a puppy, which is basically the equivalent of a wedding ring. Ha ha ha!
Aside from my relationship, since coming out and becoming a more authentic version of myself, I have developed some of the truest friendships that I will ever have. I learned who was really there for me and who wasn’t. I figured out who my healthy friendships were with and who I had to cut off for my own wellbeing.
I learned who I was, what some of my greatest strengths are and what I need to continue working on. I let myself grow, past my comfort zone, beyond anything I ever thought I was capable of.
I learned to love myself so much that I started going to therapy and work out some of my issues, manage my mental health, and to always keep moving forward.
Labels have always been hard for me. Before I came out, I felt as if I couldn’t be anything before I was really with a woman. How could I be sure when I’ve only dated men my whole life?
I was though. I knew.
Men made me uncomfortable, I could not be friends with men and after being with Jenn, I would never date another man. I said I was bisexual for a while “just in case”, but I am sure.
I’m a lesbian.
I love my Jenn, I love my community, I boldly, proudly, and fiercely love who I am. It has been quite the journey to get to where I am, but my journey is what made me who I am. The good, the bad, the lessons I’ve learned have brought me to the 24 year old life of my dreams.
As a “femme” straight passing woman, I will have to come out over and over again, but I’m glad to do it. I can finally push back my internalized fear of not being accepted, because all that matters is I accept myself.
This is my 3rd Pride out of the closet, confident in who I am and who I love. This Pride is focused on BIPOC, and that’s how it should be. Pride started as a riot led by Marsha P. Johnson, a black trans woman that threw the first brick at Stonewall in 1969. That’s the focus right now, that’s what this Pride (as should every pride) be about.
We will continue to lift black and brown queer voices to truly be proud. No Pride for some until there’s Pride for all. I needed to grow in confidence and figure out who I am.
My coming out story is finished but I won’t stop learning who I am and what power I have to make the world better for the LGBTQ+ community, but particularly the black, brown, and indigenous voices, the transgender voices, the most marginalized group of our community.
Now more than ever, it’s time to use my privilege, influence, and power to elevate those voices.
I’ve been on so many diets. Like, SO many. I’ve tried keto, Atkins, tracking every bite through My Fitness Pal, Weight Watchers. I saw more success with weight watchers, but I gained it all back. Is that success? I don’t even know.
A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a “non-diet dietician” who goes by Claire Chewning on TikTok. She posted a video about how no food is bad and resources to ditch diets for good.
I’ve been told my whole life that I need to lose weight. By family members, friends, strangers, clients, celebrities- even my doctor at my last physical. “Lose the weight now or it’ll haunt you for the rest of your life” a family member said.
Another family member commented after having the flu for 2 weeks as a child, “you were sick as a dog but you never looked better.”
I would love to lose weight. I would love to feel confident in a bathing suit, be able to buy cute strappy bras that don’t dig into my shoulders, not feel like I have to contour my chubby cheeks and collar bone before going out.
I would love to be skinny. But I’m not. I have always been heavier due to my metabolism, genetics, and pure hatred of running.
I have been struggling with my mental health since I was 12. I dealt with bullying, living in an unstable environment, and overcoming a quite traumatic event that I’m not getting into today.
Food has always been my comfort. I looked forward to the nights my mom was too exhausted to cook and we would get McDonalds from the drive through. I looked forward to helping bring in the groceries so I could snag a few snacks for me- boxes of pancake mix or bottles of maple syrup.
I waited until late at night, for everyone to fall asleep to binge on whatever I had. I ate until I was sick, though I rarely got sick. I spent nights sitting next to the toilet, too afraid to make myself purge.
This went on for years, and it’s a habit I still fall back into from time to time, grabbing fast food on my way home from work to eat chaotically and then throwing away the evidence. Eating what I thought was good or healthy during the day, but when my adoring girlfriend fell asleep, eating everything in the cabinet.
Claire phrases intuitive eating as “If diet culture didn’t exist, intuitive eating would simply be called eating”. Intuitive eating is about neutralizing food, eating what I want because no food is off limit, and honoring my body’s natural cues.
I’m so lucky to have the opportunity to work with Claire 1:1, unlearning diet culture and learning what it is like to eat in a controlled and “normal” way.
This is what I am doing. Committing to myself, my body, my life, my journey. No more diets, just eating.
I’m ready to change my life. The first couple weeks have been emotionally taxing, I have still binged, I have gone all day without eating.
I’m re-learning what I need to to be happy. This is a huge part of my journey, stay tuned!
I’m 24 years old, working as a Case Manager at a homeless shelter in Massachusetts. One question I get asked over and over again is how did I end up doing one of the most exhausting yet rewarding professions.
Did I go to school for social work? Nope. Did I personally overcome addiction or homelessness? Not I. Are you a saint? That’s a negative.
Growing up, my stepmother was the director of a small family shelter in western Massachusetts. I grew up helping cook meals for the women and children that lived there.
When my mom needed to go in on a Saturday to handle a situation with a client, she brought me to tag along and play with the kids there. In my eyes, my mom was the saint!
I grew up and started going on service trips with my church youth group to Washington DC. We volunteered at homeless shelters, food pantries, and soup kitchens.
I learned how to treat one of the most vulnerable populations with dignity, respect, and love. I went for years, and had a wonderful experience.
I went to college, clueless as ever about what I was going to do with my life.
It didn’t even cross my mind that I could pursue a passion that was engrained in me at 10 years old.
I became the philanthropy chair of my sorority and planned events to raise money for different non-profit organizations.
Still, I was focused on pursuing a future in biology, psychology, and higher education. I was lost, but decided to focus on higher education.
I went to Arkansas after getting accepted to a higher education masters program, and interviewed for several graduate assistantship jobs that would keep me afloat. I didn’t get any of them. I decided to take a year and evaluate exactly what I wanted to do next.
I interviewed for a few bachelor’s level higher education jobs, but still didn’t get them. As the summer drew to an end, I was running out of options. I started applying for any and all jobs.
I came across a job at a small non-profit homeless shelter, applied, and scored an interview. I still wasn’t convinced that this was what I wanted, but quite frankly, I needed a job. I walked into the shelter, and my now work best friend invited me to sit down and the supervisor would be out soon for our interview.
I stood, while the case managers ran back and forth, the phone rang non-stop, and the residents repeatedly tried to engage with me and figure out who I was and what I was there for.
I walked into my future supervisor’s office, and instantly I knew that I wanted to work for her.
Halfway through the interview, I asked if we could stop for a minute. My work experience was hardly applicable, but my experiences at my mom’s family shelter and my years of volunteer work did qualify me for the work.
As I left the interview, my future supervisor told me that she wished she had a case management job for me to interview for.
I had a job offer within a few days, and my journey began.
I started as entry level direct care, and worked another part-time job at a local hospital’s adult impatient psychiatric unit.
As I helped others work through their trauma, mental illness, substance use, and homelessness, my mental illnesses manifested. I found myself taking things home, having flashbacks of past trauma, crying constantly, and contemplated self-harm.
The biggest question arose: how could I take care of others if I couldn’t take care of myself?
The unlikely answer was very well. But in doing so, it took a toll on my friendships and relationships. And I couldn’t do it forever.
I gave 110% to my clients and left myself on empty. I was promoted to case manager, and got some of the most difficult clients I had ever worked with.
I called a local therapy office, and did an intake. Making that first appointment was like taking a breath of fresh air. I felt, for the first time in a year that everything would be alright.
And it was.
I started working through my past, present, and future.
I learned how to apply the self-care techniques that I taught my clients every day.
I learned to love myself like I love others.
I learned that I need medication to function like many do without.
I learned to be happy.
Welcome to my journey of happy: becoming happy, embracing what and who makes me happy, and reclaiming happiness when life throws a wrench in the way.