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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Out of The Darkness: Suicide Prevention Month

Norfolk Out of the Darkness Walk:  I Walk to Be a Ray of Hope

I’ve been speaking publicly about surviving suicide for over a year now, and it’s still not something I am comfortable with. I am sad that depression took me to a place where my life didn’t feel worth living. I can still remember the numbness, and darkness I felt during my first attempt. And, a part of me feels that when I tell some people I am a suicide attempt survivor there is some pity, and in turn some guilt and shame in me.

On the flip side, speaking about what lead me to attempt suicide is liberating. I can see myself further removed from that pain, and I am proud of my recovery. I am also starting to discover that sharing my story has done more for others than I ever imagined. In a world where suicide is taboo to speak about people tell me my story lets them know they are not alone and has encouraged them to get help. That is why I speak up, and I am always seeking opportunities to spread a message of hope.

When I heard that a suicide prevention walk called “Out of the Darkness” was happening in Norfolk, I wanted to help. So I sent the organizer an email expecting to given a task of passing our fliers, spreading awareness or coming to a volunteer drive. Then Eric Peterson, a man who lost a teen daughter to suicide, asked if I would like to share my story at the walk. Eric had heard me speak at another suicide prevention conference for mental health professionals. I was honored and something he wrote in his response email confirmed to me once again that my story has value, and as hard as it is sometimes I must keep sharing.

“I am sad everyday that my daughter Sarah is not longer a part of my life here, but there is nothing I can do to change that. I am out here working to prevent suicide because I believe in you, and others who struggle. Everyday you stay alive brings meanings to this work in which I am involved in,” said Eric.

And Eric is right. He and his family are on the front lines of teaching people about depression and suicide prevention. I see him and his wife often at events promoting good mental health. They are trainers, advocates, facilitators, warriors for the cause. They remind me that suicide doesn't just affect one person. They are using their pain for the purpose of helping others. I am constantly in awe of their passion and drive.

I gladly accepted the opportunity to speak at the Norfolk Out of the Darkness Walk. And for days Eric's words stayed in my heart.

“Everyday you stay alive brings meaning to this work.” It reminded me of the value of life and not just any life, my life. Everyday I choose to live in spite of my circumstances, and my major depression is a victory. I want to be a voice for those living with a mental illness. I want to show people suffering in silence that they really are NOT alone and with the right resources, there is a way out of the darkness.

The Norfolk Out of the Darkness walk.is part of the e American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. On their website they state the mission of these walks is not just about raising funds which is definitely important, but also about showing the world that when people work together they can make big change.

I want to change the discussion around suicide and show people resources to help themselves or others. There are a number of Out of the Darkness walks in Hampton Roads. Suffolk, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Newport News are all hosting walks. I’d love your support monetarily or by walking with me.

I will be speaking at the Norfolk walk on October 14 at 10:00 a.m. Suicide is the 10 leading cause of death in the United States, and AFSP is dedicated to reducing the suicide rate by 20% by 2025, a big part of that I believe is awareness. Out of the Darkness Walks are in all 50 states, to find one near you go to www.asfp.org








Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Hungry for Mississippi Morning

The sunlight creeps through my grandmother's bedroom blinds, and gently kisses my face. I rub my eyes, stretch, and rose from my great mother’s waterbed. I would often find myself floating on her waterbed when nightmares kept me awake or I just needed extra comfort.

 The aroma of fresh buttermilk biscuits and coffee are swirling through the house. It's seeping from underneath my great grandmother's bedroom door. She is a second mother to all us kids, cousins, and neighborhood kids. We all called her ‘mother’, and often ran to her when moms, the women who carried us for nine months, weren’t giving us what we wanted.

 There is a sizzle, a crack, and pop. I know that's bacon cooking on my Mother’s old black, burnt frying pan. This is a Mississippi morning, and where some of my fondest food memories live.
After lingering in the bedroom for a while, my senses overwhelmed with the breakfast that is cooking down the hall, I wake up and start following the aroma.  My cousins are anxiously sitting at the table, and Mother is at the stove smiling. Her caramel life-worn face shoots me a smile. I'm only eight, but she pours me a cup of coffee. I go to the pantry and reach for the generic creamer, and sugar. I've tasted a lot of different coffees since those Mississippi mornings, but this coffee will forever be my favorite. When the biscuits finish baking, Mother brings the piping hot pan to the table. Me, my cousin, and young uncle are eagerly waiting for our turn to pick a soft, moist biscuit from the pan. No KFC, Church's Chicken, or any fast food joint can lay a finger on Mother’s biscuits. We pour this rich, thick maple molasses that came in large mason jars on our plates. It’s so rich and thick it takes what seems like forever to seep from the jar to the plate. With our hands we dip the biscuits in the syrup. This was the kind of food that fed more than your stomach. It fed something deep inside of you, something intangible. It’s like I could taste the love and attention Mother cooked into the meal. At the old circular table surrounded by my kinfolk I felt part of something, part of something lasting.


I've been thinking about these early Mississippi mornings a lot lately. I'm riding another weight roller coaster, and after way too many highs on the scale, I'm starting to wonder how I ever got here. Some nights I’ll lay on the couch, miserable, homesick, and alone. Then I feel a hunger rising in my stomach, punching, kicking, and demanding for something to fill the emptiness inside of me. It compels me to venture to the kitchen, and stand in front of the refrigerator. What I am really hungry for? I grab a coke, a few cookies, and head back to the couch. After my late night snack is consumed, my stomach is happy, but something else is still empty.

The sugary mix of caffeine and chocolate are not filling the loneliness or take me back to those mornings where I felt so whole and complete.  Growing up, food was not just about nutrition or fueling the body. Food brought my family together, it comforted us, and it was love. I've carried these feelings about food from childhood.  I realize now that sometimes when I overate I'm really trying to fill my soul with the same warm feelings I got on those Mississippi morning.
When I can't fix anything in my world at least I can fix a good meal for myself. The food cure doesn't fix the problem, but for those few seconds I'm lost in a haze, trying desperately to feed the little emptiness in my heart.

Our family is so far away. I’m living in the mountains trying to start my adult life. My sweet, warm Mother is now in a nursing home with little memory of those post sunrise meals. She has lost her youngest child, my aunt, and it’s caused a rift in the family that can’t seem to be healed.


My cousin and young uncle can barely relate anymore. The last time I went down South, I sat at that table where we had those sweet, rich, fat inducing breakfasts. I’m hungry for that feeling again. But, as I sit there in a house my Mother can’t call home anymore—I know no meal can fix where life has taken us or transport me back to those days that started with the feeling of sun on my face, and the smell of a family that loved deeply.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

#LOLOS LOVE LIFE: The Boston Bear

For the past three years I’ve been lied to, hustled, lusted after, used, but rarely have I been admired by a man. They called me a bitch, crazy, ugly, and so much worse. So when I heard that a guy in another department at my job had a crush on me I didn’t really know what to make of it, and it made me wonder if I was really worth of someone’s admiration again.


When I met the Boston Bear I remember thinking he had kind, inviting eyes. Nothing about the encounter suggested anything romantic. We exchanged names. I explained I was fairly new to the company, and after that I didn’t see him again. Weeks later one of Boston Bear’s coworkers stopped me in the back office.


“So what do you think of the Boston Bear?,” he asked.


“What do you mean? I met him like once. He seems nice,” I replied.


“Well he thinks you’re really pretty.”


Pretty, I thought.  I couldn’t help but wonder if Boston Bear needed his eyes fixed. My work uniform makes me looking like I’m carrying an extra 15 pounds on my already voluptuous frame, and since we can’t wear bright makeup, more often than not I look rather plain. Nonetheless, the compliment felt nice. Pretty was one of those words I always wanted to hear from the opposite sex when I was younger. I didn’t see much of the Boston Bear anymore since we worked in different departments, but his co-workers never missed the chance to tell me I needed to give Boston Bear a shot.


“He’s a super sweet guy. You should reach out to him,” they would say.

Love was the last thing on my mind. For the past year, I’ve been struggling to escape a life of homelessness, and despair. So many days I felt broken, less than, and hopeless. A part of me had given up on finding love again. But, I took a leap of faith and sent the Boston Bear a Facebook message. I was touched the Boston Bear read my blog, praised me for my strength in adversity, and didn’t flinch when I shared the heartbreak I had endured or the depression that nearly killed me. The turning point came when the Boston Bear heard I had no way to get to work because my driver's license was suspended. For weeks, he'd take me home, and take me work. On those trips down 264-W on the 40 minute trek to my house, I fell in love with the Boston Bear’s northern accent, his love for his city, and his welcoming brown eyes. One night home, he put his hand on my knee, and I felt flutters in my stomach. I found myself taken back when he opened the car door for me, carried my work bags, and greeted me everyday with, “Hello beautiful.”
When your new boo is a Patriots Fan- you just go with it

The Boston Bear and I have been dating for two months now. He is one of the most selfless people I know. He is kind, patient, hard-working, funny, affectionate, and an amazing listener; so many of the things I prayed for in a partner.


When I was homeless, it was hard to feel safe with a man. Most wanted me physically or were enamored with the little celebrity I had as a television reporter. I thought every man was out to get something from me, and I was always waiting for them to disappoint me.

The Boston Bear didn’t pressure me for sex, or immediately ask to Netflix and Chill. He read my blogs about my suicide attempts and didn’t run. He laid awake with me for hours sharing pieces of himself and his history that few know. He holds my hand in my public, and blow kisses to me from across the room, and he believes in my dreams. He encourages my speaking career, gushes me about to his family and friends. And, when he holds me I feel home, a feeling I’ve wanted for a really long time.

To my Boston Bear….. Thank you for sharing your life and heart with me. Here is to new beginnings. May we grow as lovers, partners, and friends. May we build each other up on hard days. I want to be your harbor in the storm, your biggest cheerleader, and best friend. Thank you for giving me the type of love every good girl deserves. I can’t wait to see all your dreams come true.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

#MakeupMonday: Lolo's Summer Loves

Hey Team Good Girl. This is a long overdue #MakeupMonday. If you’re a follower of this blog you know I’ve been busy surviving. Thankfully, shelter is no longer an issue, and I'm working again. Interestingly enough even in my homelessness I always liked to look put together. Every morning when I was living in a shelter I’d get up 30 minutes early to apply some foundation and eyeliner. Even though I had no real place of my own, and several nights the places we stayed did not have showers, putting on makeup made me feel good. That is indeed the power of makeup. I’m on a tight budget so I don’t get to splurge on makeup as much as I would like, but I’ve found some inexpensive staples that are helping me get by this summer.

Foundation: Maybeline Fit Line: A great Mac Studio Fix Dupe ! I am a MAC Cosmetics girl through and through. I love thick, heavy foundation. MAC Studio Fix is my go to foundation summer, winter, fall, and spring. But, at $30 a pop I can’t really afford it right now. I searched the internet for MAC dupes or foundations that are comparable and I have fallen in love with Maybeline Fit Me. It has a smooth, dewy finish, blends great, has an SPF, and has darker shades specifically formulated for women of darker shades. Ulta sells this for $7.99.

Tarte Eyeshadow Palettes - Even as a bargain makeup shopper there are a few things I like to splurge for when I can. I recently had a few extra bucks and I sprung for a new eye Tarte Cosmetics eye palette. I was looking for something with neutral tones to wear everyday, and stumbled upon this beautiful palette called ‘Don’t Quit You Daydream’. This eye palette is everything. This palette comes with seven eye shadows and a highlighter. They colors are amazing and great for everyday wear. I have fallen in love with Tarte because they are environmentally conscience.These eye shadows are made from Amazonian clay. Another bonus, when you buy a Tarte palette it comes with a demo card that shows you how to do one or two looks with the palette. It is currently sold at Ulta and on Tarte.com for $29. This is my third Tarte palette and I fall more in love with this line every time I buy one. The shadows last a long time, and usually come with both matte and shimmery shades. Totally worth the investment.



Tone Baby Tone! Why oh why didn’t anyone tell me the benefits of user toner in your beauty
regimen back in the day? The lovely ladies at Ulta have told me that toners hydrate your face and helps better set your makeup so now it’s a staple in a beauty regimen. My favorite is by Mario Badescue. This toner has rose water, aloe, and herbs. It smells so good I’ve been known to use it on my body on a hot day, and my hair. The 4 oz bottle is just $7 a bottle. This hydrating mists smell sooooo good, and does the trick. I put it on before I moisturize and after makeup to help set it. I highly recommend.

If you all have any drug store brands that are amazing or find a good dupe please email me I’d love to hear about it. I can be reached at teamgoodgirl84@gmail.com I have a friend who works for ArBonne Comestics so I may be doing a blog on that soon.


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Why Nice Guys Are Finishing Last in Love


There are a lot of reasons why nice guys finish last. I know because I am a nice girl, a goody two shoes if you will. It wasn’t until I learned my worth and started to love myself that I really starting winning in love and life.
 
I’ve been a self proclaimed good girl my entire life which makes me a magnet for self-deprecating nice guys. Don’t get me wrong, nice guys are amazing. I’ve dated some douche bag playboys and nice guys are refreshing. But, honestly most of the men I’ve dated and given my heart to weren’t your typical nice guys. One was a bad boy from the Bronx, another a suave bald headed man who took my breathe away at first glance, an over confident technology geek, and a sometimes arrogant Navy Corpsman. All of these men exhibit something some “nice guys” seems to be lacking: confidence.

I have had so many nice guys cry on my shoulder about always being friendzoned, never being good enough, and women only wanting pretty boys. I’m here to tell you--- we don’t need muscles, games, good looks, or roses--- but almost all of us want a confident man.
 
Some reasons I think “Nice Guys” are losing in LOVE
 
1.They can’t let go of the past hurt, rejection or loss: I recently met a “nice guy” during a really rough patch in my life. He was kind, and generous when I needed it most. He literally offered me shelter, food, and a kind ear. He showered me with compliments, and seemed instantly enamored. We inevidently got to talk about about love, and how he often felt passed over. He seemed slightly bitter about the women who loved and left, and broke his heart. As kind as he was his bitterness made me friendzone instantly. Even though I was in a vulnerable state his bitterness was a turn off. It made me defensive and wary of opening my heart up to him.

When you speak to a woman about your past particularly in the early stages of a relationship how you talk about it and whether you've made peace with your past speaks volumes. No one wants a 'Bitter Betty'. We want to hear if the experiences made you bitter or better. If you are still bad mouthing your baby mama, or harping over women who have hurt you, it makes us want to run for the hills. It says to us you are still dealing with some residual hurt, and many times that scares us rom giving you a chance.
 
One of my best friend male friends is one the nicest men you would ever want to meet. As much as I love him I often hear him recalling love from more than a decade ago, regretful, and sad. Sometimes I want to shake him and say, "Dude let that shit go! It's in the past." He always seems so fragile and delicate about it I never have the nerve to tell him, his past is keeping him from his future.


 No offense nice guys, but how is anyone going to love you if you’re holding onto hurt, failed relationships, and anger from the past? When women hear these things they are HUGE red flags. They tell us that you are not emotionally ready to give you heart to someone. I don’t believe there is space in your heart for anger, bitterness, and love too. It isn’t until we let go of the past that we open doors for the future.
 
2. Find Your Own Swag ! What is the sexiest thing about a person? While physical attributes are important, the most attractive thing a person can wear is confidence. There is nothing that drives me more crazy than a confident man with swagger. A man who knows his value, what he wants his life, and knows what he has to offer is the shit. Every man I’ve said, “I love you,” to had this trait. They were all confident in who they were. Confidence is electric. People want to be around confidence.

My first adult relationship with was with a computer tech at the community college I attended. At first glance he was not my type physically. Every time I came to the computer lab, he’d greet me with “Hello beautiful, so when are you going to let me take you out?” I’d usually roll my eyes, get my computer pass from him and find a cubicle far away. One night I let him walk me to my car, and he charmed his way to a first date. He told me with confidence I wouldn’t regret the date him and if I gave him a chance he’d make me feel like the most special girl in the world. I rolled my eyes.
 
Jay walked around like he owned the joint wherever he went. He walked with his head up, complimented himself, and always believed that anything was within his reach. After a while, I saw what he saw in himself; a strong, confident, sexy man with drive. GOD I love confident men. I was wildly attracted to him when I saw what he was seeing. Not to mention he did exactly as he said, every date with him I felt like the most beautiful, special girl in the world. He was never afraid to hold my hand, kiss me in public, and remind me of my beauty makeup or not.
 
3. Fear of Rejection: Fear holds so many nice guys back.  Asking someone out can be scary. Trust me I’ve done it. You are a bottle of nerves. Will they say, yes? Do they like me? Sometimes we place our self worth on whether a person accepts a date or not. If that person says no, you think to yourself it must say something about you. You are not attractive enough. You are not cool enough. Those thoughts tear you down, and it prevents so many nice guys from going for it. Love and dating is all about risks, but I encourage you to not to put too much stock in rejection. Don’t let that be a reflection of who are you. I’ve been friendzoned A LOT, but it never makes me stop trying to find love. Love is all about chances… but you can’t be too afraid to try. You miss every shot you don't take.
 
4. Know Your Worth - When you know who you are, what you have to offer, and why that is valuable pursuing love is amazing. I recently read Jennifer Lopez’ memoir ‘True Love’. In it Jlo chronicles the year she did her first world tour, and her divorce from Marc Anthony. Turns out Jlo discovered that through all her relationships she was seeking love and validation from the men she dated rather than herself. In the end she realizes the truest love of all is the love we have for ourselves. PREACH SISTA! I know exactly how she feels. After my last breakup, I was so empty. I was constantly seeking affection and love in all the wrong places and all the wrong ways. It wasn’t until I connected with Christ again, and starting falling in love with me that I learned that the love I have to give is amazing. It is making me more careful about who I share my heart with and fierceless in life and love.

I am a child of the most high God, beautiful, favored, smart, funny, charming, a go-getter, a lover of Christ, a passionate friend. And when God says the time is right I’m going to be an amazing partner. Because I am finding my worth, I can see all around me people are seeing it too. Men are asking me out ( quality men too) , opportunities are coming my way, and the joy I feel is incredible. I want that for all my nice guys too.


 Ask yourself --- who are you? AND do you love who you see in the mirror? If you can't answer those questions, dating needs to take a back seat. Do some soul searching, prayer, reflection, and love who you are before attempting to love someone else. 

I challenge you NICE GUYS - if you are hurting from the past-- deal with it, move on, and let go. The liberation will allow you to welcome love into your life. I challenge you NICE guys to LOVE YOU FIRST. You can’t love anyone else to you LOVE YOU! It is so true.