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Monday, December 5, 2016

#LOLOSLOVELIFE: The Prince Charming Syndrome

#LOLOSLOVELIFE: The Prince Charming Syndrome

Sometimes I wish a Prince Charming would come and save me. He'd see beyond my heartbreak, messy life, negative bank account, and broken dreams. His love would restore my faith in the male sex. His strong arms would embrace my bulging frame, fat from antidepressants, and emotional eating. His eyes would see me for the radiant, beautiful, smart, loving, Godly woman I am. In him I would find a safe harbor, a trusting confidant, a friend, a lover like no other. When he leans in to kiss me, I feel desired. My sense of femininity is renewed through his passion for me. Then, just like those movies I grew up watching, Prince Charming would whisk me away to his castle. It's a place with no worry, strife, disappointment, or despair. All of my friends who comforted me in the wilderness would be there cheering for us.

I grew up watching romantic fantasies like this play out over and over again in Disney movies. Snow White, Cinderella, Little Mermaid, all women in distress who are saved by a handsome Prince Charming. My favorite tale is Cinderella. I still find myself applauding and cheering when Prince Charming comes and makes things right in her life. Girls nowadays have much stronger, independent heroines like Merida from Brave, and Mulan. These woman did not need a man to save them, they went out and did the saving themselves.


When I was young Disney taught me that men save women. My Southern upbringing only reinforced it. My mother and aunts would say, "Get yourself a good man with a good job and money." When I reached my mid-twenties they would say, "Don't you want to get married?"  When are you going to have kids?" 

And, my favorite comment, "Get you a man that loves you more than you love yourself." WTF. It was if I was not complete as a woman because I had not found a man to love me.

As a single, childless, damaged thirty-something woman I can see now I've been searching for someone to complete me forever. It all started when my father left........

I never knew my biological father. The story is he knocked up my mom when she was 19 and then wanted nothing to do with either of us. My mother rarely had anything to kind to say about him either. He was a womanizer, player, tempter, a dog. But, the comment that shaped how I view men the most is, "He didn't want you." That abandonment has played on my psyche since I learned that my own blood discarded me. I have longed for acceptance from men.

In my adolescence, I found the most joy playing with baseball with my male cousins, or being the comforter to all the guys in high school. Due to the Navy, my stepfather was never around when I was little. He gave us money, a house, prestige, opportunities but in my formative years he never gave me the type of fatherly love I so craved. He was distant, and cold. And, when I think back to my childhood, I can remembering fearing him, forced hugs, and awkward I love yous.

In my twenties the Tomboy in me gave way to a curvy, sexy woman. I fell in love for the first time, and in the arms of a beautiful bald, chocolate man, a void in me was filled. Mr. G.Q. loved me in a way no other man had. He listened to what I had to say. He played videos games with me. He taught me what it meant to make love. He rooted for me tirelessly, and whenever I was in need he was always there. I couldn't get enough. I fully expected us to live happily ever after. I thought that marriage would make me feel whole, complete, saved just like Cinderella. But the marriage never came. He cheated. I moved out, and went searching for the next man to make my fairy tale a reality.  I chased marriage with all I had. I stayed in relationships way too long, stayed when I should have moved on, and endured more than I should have. ....

Now in my thirties.. I've let go of the illusion of a Prince Charming... my heart just can't take that fairy tale anymore. I think it's time I do my own saving..... I want to love myself on in the valley and the peak. I want to know comfort in my own arms, and more importantly I've found a love greater than any man can give. When I realized that God loved me in spite of my bad deeds, ugliness, and mistakes it freed me from a desire to be saved by a man. What heartache has taught me is that man will fail you. He will piss you off. He will lie. He will cheat. He will use you. But, God's love is constant, enduring, and everlasting. In my darkest days, when the tears wouldn't stop flowing, it was God who rocked me to sleep. When everyone leaves, God is the still voice leading me through. So now my prayer is not for a man to save me..... It's not for a man to whisk me away from my pain or hardship. My desire now is for a man who try his best to love me flaws and all. I want a man who will laugh at my quirky humor. I want a man who loves like Corinthians says: patient, kind, slow to anger, never holding grudges... And in my pursuit of God's love I'm hoping he heals the hole of abandonment I've endured for far too long... to allow me to be the kind of partner I want to receive.

So farewell Prince Charming.... and the dream of happily ever after..... and hello to a realistic love....



 


Thursday, December 1, 2016

#FineFellasFriday: Kedrick Harris "Why Do You Fight?"

#FineFellasFriday: Kedrick Harris "Why Do You Fight?"



My first question for cage fighter Kedrick Harris was, "Why do you fight?" Why would you willing sign up to be beaten, hit, kicked, or worse in a steel cage? Why do you fight Kedrick Harris? What motivates you to fight?

I guess that question could be asked of any of us. Why do any of us fight? We fight to live. We fight to love. We fight for our country. We fight for a cause. We fight to overcome life's challenges. We all fight for something. Meeting Kedrick made me ask myself the same question. What am I fighting for? For Kedrick the answer to that question is deep, poignant and inspiring.

Over the course of an hour, I learned that Kedrick fights to inspire. He fights to be a leader. He fights in honor of his brother, Brandon Whittington, a 23-year old who was shot and killed before seeing Harris realize his dreams.

Harris met me at a Starbucks in Chesapeake days before his first title match for the Spartyk Fighting League in October. It was a beautiful fall day with a clear blue sky, light breeze, and sunshine. Kedrick was days awat from his first championship bout, pivotal fight in his career. But compared to the fights Kedrick has faced in his life a steel cage match is nothing. His toughest battle, was conquering the anger and sadness that nearly consumed him when his brother was killed.


"In the beginning, I was angry. I was angry at the world," Harris said. Kedrick's brother was shot and killed in a car robbery just days before his 23rd birthday.

"I was so sad, because I couldn't do anything." After mourning the loss of his brother, Harris wanted to do something with his anger, find a way to channel it into something positive. So at 19 years old Harris enlisted in the Army just like his brother once had. The life of service took him to a tour in Afghanistan, and Iraq as a diesel mechanic. Harris says it was in serving his country that he found meaning for his life, and came to peace with his brother's murder.

"I learned to live with it," Harris said. "I still think about it everyday. I think about our inside jokes too," Harris said remembering his brother. "Now it is what it is. I cherish his memories that we made, and I hope to make more memories like that with my son."

After serving nearly four years in the army, Kedrick worked as a contractor until his position was cut. He tried working as in waste management. While it paid the bills, it didn't fulfill him the way the Army did. It was in that moment, Kedrick decided instead of punching a time clock he'd chase his dream of being a cage fighter.

"I have always been a fan of cage fighting, and I thought it was a cool guy thing to do," Harris said. "So I said I'm going to give it a try."

Harris contacted a promoter and started training. It didn't take long for him to land his first match at the Ted Constant Center in 2014. Harris doesn't remember much about his first fight but he does remember the high he felt. A locked steel cage, adrenaline pumping through your veins, your opponent staring back at you; cage fighting was a roller coaster of emotions.
The mixture of nerves, fear, excitement, and anticipation was intoxicating. Instead of going back to a regular 9 to 5, Harris decided to make cage fighting his career.  With the help of family and friends Harris has continued to book fighting gigs. Since his first fight, Harris has raked up quite a record. He is currently 4-1.

 Harris ultimately lost his championship title in October to a former training partner, Ryan Nugent. But, he's still grinding and preparing for his next fight.

"I train constantly so I'm always ready to fight," Harris said. In time he's hoping that his career will inspire others to chase their wildest dreams.

" I want to be part of the barbershop talk," Harris. "I want to be what they talk about."

Kedrick's life is a testament to the power of never giving up. When he lost his brother. He refused to let the pain stunt him. When depression and Bipolar Disorder drug him down, he fought even harder to overcome. It's a beautiful testimony to never giving up on life, yourself or your dreams. Whatever match comes next whether it is inside or outside of the steel cage, I know Kedrick is going to give all he has. He has children now, a growing fan base, and platform to show others that they can fight too.

That's is what  being a Good Girl Chronicles #FINEFELLA is all about; using what you have to dream big and motivate others.

Thank you Kedrick Harris and Nile Owens for letting me tell this story.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

50 Fabulous Things About Me

50 Fabulous Things About Me : LOLO SLAYS
This is going to seem a little vain, and trust me I had a hard time writing 50 fabulous things about myself. Like a lot of women I struggle with insecurity. Sometimes I believe what the world says about me; that I'm lazy, crazy cause I struggle with depression, slutty cause I've made mistakes in love. On the days I remember what God says about me, I can carry my head held high. But, I am human and sometimes the judgment of the world, the guilt of my past gets to me.  On one particularly low day, I confided in a friend about my sadness and depression.


"I am nothing. No job, no man, no family.... I am nothing," I proclaimed. I could feel the hot tears streaming down my face I as heard myself say those words out loud. " I have ruined everything."


"None of those things have anything to do with who you are Lauren," my friend said. "Your value doesn't come from what you are right now, what you are wearing, what you own or don't own, or who is taking care of you. It what you chose to do with what you've got."

He's right. My friend has read my blog about my family's abandonment, my suicide attempts, heartbreak, mental illness, and homelessness.


"I want you to write me a blog that list 50 things that give you value as a human being. It can be anything with your imagination."


One a super low, depressing night this was a hard challenge, but here it what I came up with.



  1. I am a good writer.
  2. I am great public speaker
  3. I am a good, trusting friend
  4. I have a compassionate heart.
  5. I have the strength to forgive
  6. I have the ability to affirm others with my words
  7. I am a comforter
  8. I am patient
  9. I am kind
  10. I am good at applying makeup
  11. I am a good sales person
  12. I know tons about social media
  13. I can talk to anyone
  14. I make friends easy
  15. I am fast thinker and quick on my feet
  16. I am a good planner (ok I'm reaching here)
  17. I am a born leader
  18. I am ambitious and driven
  19. I am  hard work
  20. I work well under pressure
  21. I am good at memorizing things (I sometimes have photographic memory)
  22. I am wifey material (YASS BOO)
  23. I am highly intelligent ( I graduated cum laude from VCU
  24. I can dance.. well at least I think I can
  25. I am funny (note picture of modeling a blonde wig. I have a pink one too.
  26. I am a good big sister
  27. I once won "Most Likely to Replace Oprah" in a college superlative
  28. I can multitask
  29. I was once a television news reporter, production assistant, director, web producer --I've paid my dues.
  30. I am a fighter. (No matter what you say about me... I always get back up.
  31. I am sensitive
  32. I am an encourager
  33. I think of others before myself
  34. I like to help others and volunteer
  35. I am good with kids
  36. I can speak some Spanish
  37. I used to play the clarinet 
  38. I once worked three jobs and kept a B+ average in college
  39. I have the ability to take care of myself. I was independent for a long time before my depression got bad
  40. I can see the good in others
  41. I have an eclectic sense of fashion
  42. I have a quirky, unique personality
  43. I am a free spirit
  44. I take up for others
  45. I am accepting of diversity
  46. I have a diverse set of friends
  47. I have a nice radio/tv voice (I'm reaching again.... lol)
  48. I know that God is able and in control
  49. I am a conqueror
  50. I am beautifully and wonderfully made.....






While difficult this challenge made me reach down deep within myself... and remember I am beautiful, I am human, I am a woman of grace. Thanks for the challenge friend. Whenever I get down or  when the world's judgment becomes too much I'll take a look at this list... and remember I can do all things through who Christ who strengthens me. #IAMTHATIAM


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

#WomenWhoSlayWednesday: Dejah Jones "I Wish I Knew You" Part Two

#WomenWhoSlayWednesday: Dejah Jones "I Wish I Knew You"

This week's #WomenWhoSlay is dedicated to Dejah Jones, a 14-year-old Newport News teen who took her own life this year after intense bullying.  earlier this year. This is a continuation of a series about Dejah. I had the opportunity to hear Dejah's  story from her loved ones. I hope by sharing it with you, I do my part in educating others about the dangers of bullying. Read Part One here


After meeting Dejah's family at a Newport News Public School board meeting, they invited me to share my story. I had shared with Dejah's family that I was a suicide attempt survivor and I wanted to help them in any way I could. When they invited me to speak at her event it restored a sense of purpose in me. I felt if Dejah's family saw value in my suicide survival story maybe others would too. It encouraged me in so many ways. I graciously accepted.



Shortly before Dejah's event her grandmother sent me an email to iron out some details. Her words let me know that God brought me through my storm of depression for a reason. And, I believe that reason is to share with other there is always hope.


"You are a testimony to many that there is a better day," Dejah's grandmother wrote. "I wish Dejah would have known you."


Those words leapt out of the computer screen into my heart. I could feel tears welling up in my eyes as I read and reread her email.


"I wish I would have known her too," I responded.


I sat there in my front of my computer screen imagining if I had known Dejah. What would I have said? What words would I have used to comfort her from the bullies at school? How would I make her understand that it does get better?



I know exactly what I would have said. I would have embraced young Dejah, and told her I felt her
pain. As far back as middle school, I was taunted, teased, was even sexually assaulted on a school bus. Kids joked me until I cried. Two boys cornered me on a school bus and felt me up. No one did anything. When I told on the bullies, they called me a tattle tale and the bullying intensified. I still wear the scars of relentless bullying. 

I told my parents every cruel thing they said about me. I wrote my feelings down in a journal. I cried myself to sleep. I dreamt of running away to escape the pain. I know your sorrow Dejah.  The deepest scars I carry from those years of bullying is a continuous struggle of insecurity. I know your pain Dejah I do.

But, bullying is so much more intense this day and age. With the advent of social media, bullying has gone viral. It is pushing our children to depression, and worse suicide. This is why I feel so compelled to keep telling Dejah's story to as many people that will listen.


Dejah Day 2016
Dejah's family held her celebration in the picturesque River Farm Park in Newport News, Virginia. It was a gorgeous day; clear blue sky, a sweltering sun, and plush green grass as far as the eye could see. Dejah's family and friends were taking cover from the intense summer sun under a picnic shelter.

 Pictures of Dejah in happier times decorated the entrance of the shelter. I walked up to the welcome booth, and for some reason I was nervous. I've given dozens of speeches as a television reporter.  I wasn't speaking as a reporter, or a motivational speaker. I was speak as a suicide attempt survivor, an overcomer of depression, a mental health advocate. It felt so much more personal.

It was my second speech on my mental health, and I wanted to be sensitive to Dejah's loved ones who were still mourning.

Me and Dejah's Aunt
Before I was called to speak I had time to connect with Dejah's family. I took funny pictures on Snap Chat with her aunt. I laughed with some of her younger relatives. I met the first responding officers who were called when Dejah passed away. I hugged her grandmother. I broke bread with Dejah's Pastor. It was the kind of access I never would have been granted as a reporter. It felt authentic, raw, and it felt like family.

I felt at home in their midst. Dejah's family did not know of the rifts in my own family. That day with them felt so warm and loving. I may have been there for them, but in so many ways they were there for me there.  I wish Dejah could have been there, surrounded by people who loved her. But, I know she was there in spirit.

When it came time for me to speak, I needed no script. It was just me about 10 children, and a dozens of adults staring back at me. I shared with them how depression pushed me to the lowest moment in my life. I spoke of the suicide attempts, the despair, the sadness and how God dug down deep and pulled me from the darkness. I spoke of the so called friends who left, the lovers who stopped called, and the t.v. industry that abandoned me.


What I remember most about sharing my story with them was the power I felt in voice.



"I am a survivor."




"I am hope."



"I am worthy."



Looking into the crowd of faces, some people looked shocked, some looked sad, some simply nodded. I'm sure many wondered how a woman with so much going for her lost her way. That is the struggle of depression and mental illness. After, I was done talking so many of Dejah's friends and family hugged me, prayed for me, and thanked me for sharing my story.


"You have a powerful testimony," they said. "You are an inspiration."



I responded, "God is good. God is good."



Speaking at Dejah Day was a huge part of my healing. It strengthened my voice as a public speaker, and inspired me to keep sharing my mental health journey. I also decided that day to tell Dejah's story to show others the dangers of bullying and to bring awareness to suicide.

Dejah I didn't get to know you on Earth, but I'm committed to telling people the beautiful spirit you are.



"I wish I knew you...."

Dejah's family started a non-profit called No Dejah Vu, which seeks to educate school and teens about the effect of bullying. Go to www.nodejahvu.org for details. This is the link to the No Dejah Vu Facebook Page.









T

Sunday, October 23, 2016

#MakeUpMonday: Ulta My MakeUp Haven & 5 Services You Didn't Know You Needed

#MakeUpMonday: Ulta My MakeUp Haven & 5 Services You Didn't Know You Needed

I've worked a lot of retail jobs in my day: Bath & Body Works, CATO, Navy Exchange, Express. That's just to name a few. The main thing I learned from each of those jobs was that people will remember how you make them feel far more than what they paid for an item. Let me explain. When I worked at Bath & Body Works in Richmond, we received a lot of training. Corporate seemed to be at our store constantly. Managers were always sharing sales numbers, and figures with associates and their expectations. I didn't mind it one bit. It made me feel like my performance was tied to the company's success, and I didn't take that lightly.  One of the things BBW stressed a lot was making each customer feel special. Bath & Body Works figures showed at the time that 70% of customers who felt the product on them bought it. I don't think it was just the good bath products either. At Bath & Body Works in Short Pump we were taught to make trying out a product an experience. If I gave you a hand massage with a new scrub, I would not only tell you the benefits but I'd take time to learn about you. Do you have kids? Why are shopping today? Is for your someone else? I sold a lot Bath & Body Works that way, but more importantly I made connections.

The funny thing is I learned the same thing as a journalist. I was always taught at Virginia Commonwealth University, National Association of Black Journalists and the Poynter Institute that people remember how you make them feel when they watch a news story.

 Why did I start this makeup blog with all this detail? The Ulta that I frequent is the master of making customers feel welcome and warm. Associates like Jasmine, Catherine, Melissa, Amina, and Alexis do more than sell product, they make you feel special. And, you can't get that everywhere. That is why this week I am featuring their amazing store for

#MakeUpMonday. Here are the Top 5 Ulta Services You Didn't Know You Needed. 

Gosh I adore her. She slays in makeup and in life
Me & Catherine
1. Ulta Salon Services: Umm did you know Ulta has a salon? Don't worry I didn't realize the value of until this summer. The salon is in the back of the Ulta. You can get a color, trim, relaxer, eye brow wax, or a simple shampoo. They seriously have an amazing list of services. I am fond of stylists Melissa, and Catherine. Catherine waxed my eyebrows a few weeks back. A threading technician had jacked them up and Catherine shaped them up nicely. I thought the price was fair and she was hilarious. She didn't know it but her humor was just what I needed that day.

Melissa is warm, inviting and super talented. She does black and white hair. That's a gift honey. I've been told by the ladies that it is best to book an appointment in advance. You can call them. The number to the Ulta Greenbrier store that I adore is 757 424 0236 .  Click here for the list of services that the Ulta salon offers.

2. Dermalogica Service: I totally had no clue what this was until I started shopping at Ulta frequently. If you go to Ulta there is a space there where you can get facials, microdermabrasions, and skin treatments. At the Greenbrier location in Chesapeake Alexis, the licensed esthetician can do your make up, tell you the best products for your skin, and give you a super amazing treatment. The station is tucked away in the back, but it's totally worth the venture. You can get a 10 minute face lift for as low as 10 bucks. Once I stack some paper I'm totally doing it.

Alexis at Ulta
3. Benefits Brow Bar: Eyebrows are totally the thing lately. Something about having a bold, thick brow is super sexy these days. I see a lot of companies promoting their brow gels and brow liners. One of the cosmetic lines I'm loving for brows lately is Benefits Cosmetics. They recently rolled out a brand new brow line and it's amazing. I tried out their Ka-Brow eyebrow gel and fell in love. I mean the gel comes with its own brush. Well did you know in a lot of Ulta Beautys there is a Benefits Specialist that will wax your brows? Yas HUNTY! From what I gather they specialize in brows. You have to make an appointment because the Benefits section is super popular, but it's worth it. You can ask questions about the product and get a killer wax. It's a must do chick.

The time I discovered the power of 'Better Than Sex' Mascara
4. Ultamate Rewards: If you follow this blog then you know I'm all about saving money. I sign up for every free customer card and app to save dough. Ulta has an incredible reward card. Every time you make a purchase you get points.  If you spend $450 at the store in a calendar year you become Platinum. FANCY RIGHT.  Ulta will send you special coupons, money off purchases, and trial sizes of a product. Because of my Ultamate Rewards I've tried out Buxom lip creams, Better Than Sex Mascara by Too Faced, and so much more. I've also saved a ton of money on makeup. If you love makeup you're silly not to do this so go get one now. If you are a #makeupfiend like me sign up for the app so you can get savings on the go, and check your emails constantly for sales. You can slay for less. Trust me.

5.  Best MAKEUP ADVICE & Bonding : Like I said at the beginning of this blog the best retailers make their customers feel special. Ulta Beauty excels at this. Every time I shop at Ulta in Greenbrier I feel like I'm reuniting with some old girlfriends. We talk about the new products I've tried. I show them new makeup looks I'm experimenting with. They share with me the best deals, show me how to use products, and we catch up on life. I love bonding with sales associates. And, I'm here to tell you most associates at the Ulta store in Greenbrier love it too. They are always complimenting the ladies, providing a comforting ear, and reminding them that make up enhances beauty it doesn't define it. I LOVE THAT.

Thank you Ulta Beauty in Greenbrier for being fabulous and helping me find my sexy again.



These girls have done so much for me. On days where I had nothing to do but wander the streets cause I had no where to go they let me play in makeup. They offered a comforting ear, and then showed me how to cover my depression scars and sadness with concealer and love. I adore you all. Thank you for loving me in the valley and trust me dolls Lolo is coming out. This little blog is the least I can do to return the love you have shown me.




Friday, October 21, 2016

#FineFellasFriday: Mr. Optimism & Jeff Byrd, Men Who Are Motivators Part 1

#FineFellasFriday: Mr. Optimism & Jeff Byrd, Men Who Are Motivators

Sorry I've been M.I.A lately. My life is literally a Lifetime movie so it's been difficult to  update the blog. When my first book Good Girl Chronicles drops you are going to be beyond shocked at the things that have happened in my life lately. LIKE BEYOND SHOCKED.

For example an old man that let me stay with him in Suffolk, a man I call 'The Hustler', pretty much stole my MacBook charger, threatened to assault me, and admitted to housing prostitutes. Yes this is a true story. More on that another time.

This week Good Girl Chronicles honors two amazing men who have motivated me to keep moving forward, keep chasing God's love, and keep dreaming big. Thank you Mr. Optimism and Jeff Byrd. I am a better person because of your friendship.


Me during my reporting days

Mr. Optimism: I am not using this #FineFellas real name because he never likes to take credit. Whenever I try to give him kudos he says, "The glory be to God." That's just his way. So instead I call this #FineFellas Mr. Optimism because I have literally never seen this man curse or lash out in anger. He is the definition of #ironsharpensiron in Proverbs, the scripture that taught me about friendship. "Iron sharpens iron so one person sharpens another."

I met Mr. Optimism at my last television job in Hampton Roads, Virginia. He is hands down one of the best photographers I've ever worked with. His work ethic, skill with the camera, and sharp eye makes him a reporter's dream.  Whenever I was assigned to work with Mr. Optimism I always knew our video was going to be framed well, lit to the Gods, and like me he'd strive hard to tell a compelling story. I am totally a better story-teller, because of him.

In television, the best reporters and photographers work together to craft a story. Mr. Optimism was one of the best. He always told me the shots he was getting for a story, asked if I needed anything else, and even listened to me read my scripts to check for errors. If you're a television reporter then you know a hard working photographer can make your story.

Before, reporting in Hampton Roads, I was a reporter for an ABC affiliate in Lynchburg, Virginia. The news was very different there. Some days I'd be reporting on the school system, a cute dog, or a car accident, but seldom was it horrific crime. Lynchburg is one of those southern cities where everyone knows everyone and for the most part it's safe to walk downtown alone at night. Hampton Roads on the other hand is a booming, metropolitan, mixing pot of military families, sailors, veterans, white, black, poor, rich.  It's a melting pot. Reporting in Hampton Roads requires a lot of reporters. You have to be quick on your feet for breaking news, strong hearted to face the ugliness of crime, and unafraid to ask the tough questions. There are long weeks, 10 hours days, no lunch breaks, and challenging stories.

Like a lot of new reporters, I started out on nights and weekends when I came to Hampton Roads. I saw my fair share of blood, tears, tragedy, violence, and crime. It wore on me spiritually and mentally. Somehow Mr. Optimism was able to handle the toughness of working nights as a new photographer with ease. I now know it's because he knows who his Heavenly Father is.

Whenever I worked with Mr. Optimism I always knew we were going to tell a compelling story, have a laugh, and somehow endure the tragedies we often had to report on. I could write a novel about all of the tough stories we worked on together and how with his calm demeanor always put me at ease. I could talk for hours about the funny moments we had in the live truck waiting for interviews, cutting video, or eating dinner. Reporters live in live trucks trust me. Mr. Optimism made work fun, and he challenged me to be better. He taught me about the beauty of photography and NPPA, something I knew nothing about before coming to Hampton Roads.

But, more than that Mr. Optimism showed me what it meant to be a real friend. Towards the end of my television career, the ugliness of news was getting the better of me. I was battling insomnia, skipping meals, and beating myself up for every mistake I made. One day, Mr. Optimism turned to me and said, "Lauren, when are you going to learn? You don't work for man. Work to glorify God."

We were sitting in the Panera parking lot waiting for our interview subject to call us back. "You don't understand. I'm trying so hard to be a good reporter, but it's never enough," I replied.

"Man will always fail you, Lauren. Always. That is why you work for God. He is always proud when we work hard," said Mr. Optimism. Such sage wisdom. I wish I would have listened, but I didn't. My depression slowly started to consume my brain with negative thoughts, and I continued to burn myself out trying to impress my news bosses. I later left the television station, after my first suicide attempt in 2014. But, I never forgot Mr. Optimism.

Live Truck Life
FAST FOWARD to JANUARY 2016 Recovering from a depressive episode is hard. It takes a lot of support, love, therapy, and time to beat mental illness. In January of 2016, I started to piece my life back together after the worse depressive episode of my life. I was on a new anti-depressant, watching Joel Osteen, reconnecting with friends, making amends, and looking for work.

Something in my spirit told me to call Mr. Optimism. I'm glad I did. It was just like old times. We talked about the news business. He shared with me that he decided to leave the news to tell stories for an organization called 'Moving Works' (check them out their work is amazing www.movingworks.org). Then I shared with him the depression that almost killed me, the widening rifts in my family, and my desire to know God again. He encouraged me to read Colossians, but I couldn't connect with it. Then he said, read the Book of John. If you're a fan of this blog you know the Book of John changed my life. I found the story of the Samaritan woman a.k.a. the woman at the well. I learned that Jesus came to earth to save God's children and teach them that God's love is like an everlasting water. I learned that I praise a God that is graceful, forgiving, and redeeming. It lit a new fire into my life.

Mr. Optimism is super busy sharing God's gospel in his own way with Moving Works, but we still talk. I love that no matter how much time has passed we can pick up where we left off. We laugh, sometimes I cry, and we always pray. It's the kind of friendship I didn't know I needed. We talked yesterday in fact. To hear his voice was so comforting. I know in Mr. Optimism I have a friend who wants to listens, doesn't judge, and loves me as I am. I was overjoyed to tell him that God is doing a major work in me. I finished the Book of John, and everyday I'm growing close to Christ. 
 

 
 

 
I always took selfies before my newsroom
live shots #vanity
 
Like always he offered the best advice, scripture that was right on time, and reminded me that it's ok to stumble.

Thank you Mr. Optimism for taking the time to sharpen me in ways I never knew possible. I never thought the cool photog from my TV station would be my best friend in Christ. I adore you. #ironsharpensiron #keepslaying boo I'm rooting for you.



Sunday, October 9, 2016

#MakeUpMondays: Top 5 Services Sephora Services You Didn’t Know You Needed

I’ve been a #makeupblogger for six months, and I’m learning a lot about how to save money on beauty products. One of the best ways, in my opinion, is to know where to get the best deals. I primarily shop at Ulta and Sephora. Each store has major ways to save dough. This week I am focusing on Sephora.

No shade but I haven’t always loved Sephora. Before I became a makeup blogger I always thought it was one of those stores for glamorous, pretty, rich chicks. I am cute, thick, and broke as a joke so I never thought Sephora was for me. That was until I met an amazing makeup artist named Caleb. I met him at the mall and he overhead me ragging on Sephora.
Caleb, and I at Sephora. He is joker I ... ME!
Sephora Greenbrier Mall, Chesapeake, Virginia

“The girls there are so mean", I said. "Every time I visit,they act like they are God’s gift to makeup.” 

I’ve had bad experiences with several Sephoras: one in Richmond, two in Hampton Roads. It left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

“What Sephora have you been too?” Caleb responded. “Trust me, my Sephora is not like that. Come in and I’ll take care of you.”

Another Fabulous Sephora visit with Caleb. He did my eyeshadow and mascara.

Thus began my love affair with Caleb and Sephora. Like he promised, Caleb took care of me. Being the makeup God that he is; Caleb beat my face, showed me the best skin care products, and did I mention he has the most interesting life EVER? He’s kind of a big deal. 

I love going to Sephora, getting Caleb’s advice, and hearing about his crazy, beautiful life. He’s literally the only reason I shop at the Sephora in Greenbrier Mall in Chesapeake, Virginia. Ask about him. He teaches me technique, helps me save money, and is all around fabulous. I adore you boo. This week’s #MakeUpMonday is dedicated to Caleb and his amazing Sephora coworkers.


‘Top 5 Sephora Services You Didn’t Know You Needed’

  *Samples, Samples, Samples:Makeup is expensive, and I hate returning items so I love this Sephora perk. If you are interested in trying out a new foundation, fragrance, primer, or eye cream Sephora is the place to go. Here’s the trick: YOU HAVE TO ASK!  Let the associate know you aren’t quite ready to buy, but want to try it out. They will give you a sample that usually will last three to five days. They even label it so you remember the product line.

I love this perk. I discovered that I love Urban Decay All Nighter Foundation, Becca highlighters are worth the investment, and the best primers for my skin type.  The last time I went in, an associated named Vanna gave me a sample of Peter Thomas Ross primer that is supposed to minimize smile lines. I tried it this weekend so far so good.

A Sephora associate told me the company actually loves giving out samples. It cuts down on customer returns, so ask away.

*Free Beauty Advice: Have you ever noticed that all the peeps in Sephora have beat makeup? Well there’s a reason for that. The associate I talked to says Sephora associates have to go through lengthy makeup training . They learn product lines, technique, and one on one customer service. Most Sephora associates are makeup fiends too so they can tell you if a product is worth buying. My favorite Sephora associate, Caleb, is bold when he wears makeup, and his courage has inspired me to try new things. I’ve done several #makeupmondays about Caleb. That’s because he teaches me so much. So go to a Sephora near you, make friends with an associate, and get the goods on beauty.

  Free Mini MakeOvers: What a great service. Have you ever wondered how to do a smokey eye, the best blush, or contouring? Then, go in for a 15 minute makeover. Sephora offers customers mini makeovers with no pressure to buy. Just don’t go in there expecting them to beat your whole face for free. I mean really! They have to make a living. The makeovers focus on one technique or trick. Walk-ins welcome.


* *Custom Makeovers: If you have a big event or need a dolled up face for prom get a Custom Makeover. This is a 45 minute makeover and there is a $50 minimum purchase or a $50 gift card purchase. I’ve seen Caleb do several of these makeovers. They are amazing. You will walk out feeling like a brand new woman. If you want a personal one-on-one makeup consultation that is complimentary with a minimum $125 purchase. 

   *Makeup 101: If you really want to learn some stellar makeup techniques consider a Sephora that offers makeup classes. I recently discovered that free-standing Sephoras like the ones you see in malls offer professional makeup classes. You can sign up online or in store. This is more in-depth than the makeovers done inside the store. They teach good skin care, the best products lines for you, and technique. I must warn you these classes fill up fast. One of these days I’m going to get into one. Check it out at Sephora.com 
I It's also worth mentioning that Sephora has something called a Color IQ, Fragrance IQ, and Skincare IQ. It's basically a program that matches you with the best foudation, fragrance, and skin care based on you. It's super cool and actually works. Ask an associate about it.

There you have it, the ‘Top 5 Sephora Services You Didn’t Know You Needed’ Have you learned any cool tricks of the trade? Email me at teamgoodgirl84@gmail.com I’d love to share them with my followers.

Love You, Love God More
Lauren Hope




Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Truth About Me: The Face of Homelessness: Part Two


The Face of Homelessness



They say, “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” Well I’m about to burst out of this season of homelessness like a roaring lion. And, when I do I plan to live differently. One of the main ways I want to live different is helping my brother man if I can. There are so many nights when all I want is for someone to listen to me, comfort me, hug me, feed me a meal, and treat me like a human. I am blessed to say I met some incredible people strangers, people I met at bars, new Christians, and Buddhists who have done that for me without asking anything in return. Sadly, there wer many nights I walked the streets and met so many who had no one to call. A mother stopped me in the Wawa parking lot one night, and asked for a ride to church providing her shelter. I had two dollars, a stick of gum, and enough gas to get me to my office. It broke my heart to say no. I passed by veterans on the side of the road just begging for a chance to work. A gay man told me his family kicked him out when they learned his orientation. All he wanted was a few dollars for something to eat. It broke my heart that I couldn’t give. In the hospital I met women who were selling their bodies for sex to ruthless pimps. I could go on forever about my homeless, broken, hurt, angry, and tragic people I’ve met in my season of homelessness.

It is humbling me everyday. It is making me thankful for what I have, and it is pushing me harder to make my own way.






The Truth About Me: The Face of Homelessness Part One

The Truth About Me: Homeless, Frustrated, Broken, but Faithful
The Face of Homeless

I was so blind back then. I thought homelessness had a certain face. It was the face of the begging mother in the Wawa parking lot. It was the face of the dirty, grungy man who stood in 100 degree temperatures on the side of the road. It was the gay teen working the streets, because his family kicked him out. You see them everyday. You drive by them in your BMW's, you roll your eyes when they hold their hands out, and when you go back to  your safe homes you forget about them. I am here to tell you these are the not the only faces of homelessness, and if you aren’t careful one day the face of homelessness could be you.

We live in a world where nothing is guaranteed. We could lose our jobs to outsourcing or downsizing. We could lose our pensions in the stock market. We could work 40 hours a week and still be broke. We go to the college and somehow are still not be able to get a job in our profession. You could be wearing Jordan’s in one minute and be on food stamps the next. That is the America we live in. I saw it first hand as a television reporter, and even more so when I became homeless myself this year.

Yes, I Lauren Hope AKA Lauren Compton is homeless. My parents sit in a safe home in Virginia Beach. They have 4 cars, together they make over $100,000, and they want for nothing. Yet their oldest child is homeless. I have begged my family in Texas, Kentucky, and Mississippi to intervene. I am not saying this to be malice or petty. These are the facts of my life. I hide the dysfunction, the emotional abuse, and worse in my family in the name of saving their reputation. As I sit here typing this I do not know where I’ll be staying tomorrow, so I’m sorry family I will hide this no longer. We won’t pretend our family is perfect. We won’t pretend we don’t have flaws. And, I am done
pretending that I’m OK. What follows is the brief synopsis of how I became homeless, how depression destroyed my family, and how with faith I’m fighting to get my life back.


My parents took over my life in December of 2015. They demanded I move in with them because my depression was slowly killing me. They watched my spirit die and my ambition to live sliver away. I know it killed them to see their usually over achieving daughter falling apart this way. They couldn’t understand. I walked out of my high powered television job at a number one station in Virginia. I told Lyric (my ex) to continue fucking his mistress, a married woman, cause I wouldn’t stand for being second fiddle any longer. I cut off my fake friends, stopped calling television people, and I secluded myself in a world of misery. I tried cutting, pulling my hair, hanging, overdose and worse. I survived those suicide attempts, and I know now God has a higher purpose for me. I have apologized profusely to my parents even gotten on my knees and prayed.  They called me a bible thumper, told me to stop blogging, said I was a whore for dating, and worse. As much as I love my family, loving them was draining me.

My mother threatened to beat me, set me on fire, and slander 
my name if I ever told. Her behavior terrified me, and finally I couldn’t take it anymore. I called police, non-profits, anyone who would listen. May 23, 2016 I left my parent's Virginia Beach home at the advisement of a crisis interventionist. I didn’t know where I was going to sleep, eat or pray but anywhere was better than my parent’s home. I made a choice that day, and I stand by it even now.

This is the Sparknotes version of how mental illness is slowly ruining my already dysfunctional family. This summer has been the hardest few months of my life. I’ve jumped from couch to couch, bed to bed, hotel to hotel. I’ve made bad choices, trusted bad people, and been lead down bad paths. I humbled myself before my so called friends and they publicly used my pain to embarrass me on social media. I have trusted friends when they said they could help only to be humiliated over a roll of toilet paper. I am a former journalist and Cum Laude graduate, but I've slept in my Volkswagen Beetle more nights than I’d like to admit. My parents repossessed my car, ( a car they gifted to me) then told police I stole it. I have been hospitalized five times this year due to fear of blood clots and anxiety attacks. My parents slandered me to protect their cushy jobs.  My spirit is growing weary. I can no longer carry the weight of this homelessness, the shame it brings, and the judgement it sparks. In writing this I am releasing myself, from this pain. I am trusting my Heavenly Father to break me from these chains of restless nights, foreign beds, and a beggar’s life.

If you want to help you can donate to my GoFundMe at www.gofundme.com/teamgoodgirl or Venmo (LaurenHope84)


Friday, September 30, 2016

#FineFellasFriday: A Love Letter to My #BlackBrothas, Lolo Hears You

This entry is dedicated to a man who knows my pain like it's his own: Apollo 
Apollo and on a Good Girl Chronicles photo shoot
#FineFellasFriday: An Love Letter to My Strong, Fine,
 Black Brothas
I want you to know, I hear you

Dear #blackbrotha,

I hear you boo. You feel you have to be so tough in this world. You see men just like you shot in the street sometimes at the hands of brothas like you, sometimes at the hands of people wearing a badge. You are shouting, you are pleading, “Don’t shoot.” But, you feel no one is listening. You turn on the television and see another black man down. Boo, I am sorry. I don’t know how to comfort you. 

If I could shoulder your pain, absorb it, and endure it so you didn’t have to I would. That’s what a good girl does. We comfort, we love, we sharpen like Proverbs, and prepare you to head out to a hard, cold world. I want to be your Ruth.



Stereotypes say you are aggressive, resisting arrest, you are a danger to those in the line of duty. They say this even when your hands are up, even when they don’t find a weapon, even when you die for no cause. My heart aches for you boo. I want to hold you, press your head against my heart, and tell you love you back through the heartache of injustice like Brandi did for Tre in ‘Boyz in the Hood’. I want to be the Janet in your Poetic Justice, the calm in your storm.




I am perplexed at the current state of things. We are Americans. Our ancestors were Queens and Kings. Our royal lines were torn apart on the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Yet our people endured, rebelled like Nat Turner, survived the ugliness of slavery, escaped like Sojourner Truth, and fought back like Malcom X. Our bloodline is full of warriors, conquerors, Martin Luther Kings, Rosa Parks, and Barack Obamas. They fought, they marched, and they told our story. It’s not an easy one to tell, but it the story of us. We are conquerors, we are survivors, we are Davids admist Goliaths. In 2016 we are seeing too many of our black men dying, on the way home from the corner store, selling cigarettes or being mistaken for a suspect. All too often the deaths are at the hands of an officer. I know you are angry. I am too. I’m a strong, educated, black woman and I can’t wrap my arms around this. But, 
I want to wrap them around you.


I hear you black brotha I do. You are crying out for someone to hear you, see you, let you live under the American flag that says we’re all created equal. The red, white, and blue is for you too honey. It contains the freedoms our ancestors fought for: the right to vote, protest, a right to have a say in this melting pot we call America. I can’t love away the pain, the hurt, disappointment, or anger. 

I can only say this, “I hear you. Keep crying out black brotha. Keep marching. Keep protesting until they hear you too. Stand tall, be brave until they open their eyes and see you bleed red just like them too. You are a father, a brother, a businessman, an uncle, a brother with a dream, you are human. Your voice, your march, your resistance to the status quo has power. I hear you black brotha. I do! You don’t need to lift your hands to fight. Fight with your words. You don’t need to bear arms to avenge. The mightiest warriors slay when they shine a light on injustice without inflicting more pain. Let’s make the world see the brokenness you are feeling. I believe in telling your story, we all can be set free from these tragedies of police shootings, black deaths, and human loss.  This isn’t just civil rights, it’s human rights.

Know this black brotha we sistas are dying too. Sandra Bland taught us that. We are mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, jilted lovers in formation; we are broken, and hurt just like you. We have pain too. I hear you black brotha. I can’t make the hurt disappear, but I hope in this letter you see…. I hear you…. I feel you… I understand you. I love you.

Remember this black brothas, God gave Moses a voice when he stuttered. He helped David slay a giant with a slingshot. He brought back everything the enemy took from Job, and God sent His only begotten son to a broken woman at well in the book of John, and showed her grace. That woman is me. I love you, but God loves you more. Keep using your voice. Ask God to guide and lead you in these difficult times.  Hold your head up high in these difficult times, and remember even when the world doesn’t see you…. God does. I do. You are more than a conqueror. By faith you are mighty. You are an overcomer.

John 15:18 says, “If the world hates you, remember they first hated me.” Even our Savior was tested, betrayed, hurt, lied about, and hated. Let that bring you the strength to exhale, let go of the anger, and keep using your voice to effect real change. I hear you. I see you, and YOUR LIFE MATTERS.



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