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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 for details. This is the link to the No Dejah Vu Facebook Page.