September 29, 2022: Voice


My voice matters. I came out of the womb with something to say. My parents were typical New Yorkers, and I inherited their inability to sugarcoat or bite my tongue. That never changed, but along the way, I realized the cost of living one’s truth and speaking your mind. The alternative never appealed to me. Whenever I tried to keep my thoughts to myself, especially in a confrontational situation, it felt like I had swallowed a grenade after pulling the pin.

Three years ago, I began writing more and speaking on social media, and one thing continued to plague my mind. Why would anyone want to hear my story? I felt an immense amount of guilt because if I told of something traumatic that happened to me, it somehow competed with the more traumatic stories of others.

That is not the case. Most humans crave connection. Some feel relief by telling their stories, and others feel comfort from hearing them. We are all trying to navigate this crazy world, and it helps when you don’t travel down this road alone. It is not a competition of trauma. The validity of our feelings does not become negated simply because someone else went through something worse.

Today was long, so I will keep this post short and sweet. Don’t silence yourself because you believe your voice should stay in the shadows to shine a light on someone else. There is enough room in this world for every voice, and each one is valid. Say what you need or want to say, and never apologize.


September 28, 2022: Bravery


I used to be brave. During one of my classes in college, a girl looked over at my ankle tattoo and remarked, “Wow, you’re brave!” Up until that point, I had never looked at myself that way. I suppose perception varies, but I was accustomed to living a life full of daring experiences. For example, I traveled to Jamaica by myself for a week. I worked at some very odd part-time jobs while completing my undergraduate degree. I had adventures camping, going to music festivals, and meeting tons of different people from different worlds. I didn’t feel fearless. I just felt like myself.

Yesterday, I discussed with someone about a move they made across the country. As I listened to him talk about the logistics of the move, I began reminiscing about all the times I went through the same process. After college, I moved to Atlanta, where my parents and brother relocated a few years before me. That move didn’t feel scary. When college ends, one assumes they will move somewhere. When I was 25, I met my ex-husband online and moved to Virginia to be with him. This one was scary. Not too long before the move, I purchased my own home in the Atlanta area. I secured a teaching position at a top elementary school. I finished my master’s degree in education.

So, why would I leave everything I had worked for and move to Virginia to be with a man that proved to be less than a stellar human? I thought that I fell in love. Looking back, I didn’t fall in love with him. I fell in love with someone who enabled me to stay on some formulated life schedule I created in my mind. I settled.

With a recently operated on foot, two dogs, two cats, and a truck filled with my life, I made a move to Hampton, Virginia, the armpit of America. I remember how brave I felt. My parents were against it, but they were against any risk-taking they deemed wrong based on their neurotic opinions. I know that I felt brave. I was taking control of my destiny. I never did anything without a complete calculation of cost and benefit. It proved to be the worst mistake in my life. Not the move, but the man. That is a story for another day.

My bravery came to a screeching halt.

Fast forward twenty-one years. I do not feel brave anymore. I feel scared, and I want my bravery back. I want to run toward the fires. I’ll put the protective gear on, but I don’t want to stay entirely safe for the rest of my life. Sometimes those fires surround amazing experiences that I do not want to miss.

From 2002 to 2020, I focused on staying safe because I created three humans who are not responsible for the consequences of my bravery. I became a mom, and in my mind, that meant staying away from all of the fires. I kept them safe. The leaps I took during that time were scary, but I was married. I had a partner in crime, per se. I only took risks if they were highly calculated and were for my husband or children. I followed their desires and their needs. I moved my family across the country in 2013, but that felt like a decision made more for their benefit. Staying in a city full of racism, crappy weather, and a toxic family felt riskier than a journey to Colorado.

Two years ago, I jumped off the tallest cliff in my world. I left my marriage, walked away from my family, ended toxic friendships, and chose myself. That fall temporarily wrecked me, but I have no regrets. I feel myself coming back. This adventure comes with many emotions: freedom, loneliness, fear, exhilaration, pessimism, etc.

I now struggle with the feeling of fear, but I also can’t pinpoint what cliffs I want to jump off. My two younger kids are sixteen and eleven. My responsibilities somewhat limit the opportunities to express my desired bravery. However, I know that I am on the right track because my wanting to run into those fires now feels less like a want and more like a need.