Category Archives: life

Out of the Darkness


I have already registered for this year’s Out of the Darkness Walk.

From my page:

Join Me in Supporting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

I’m walking in the Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Walk to fight suicide and support AFSP’s bold goal to reduce the suicide rate 20% by 2025.

Please help me reach my goal by clicking the “Donate” button on this page. All donations are 100% tax deductible and benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), funding research, education, advocacy, and support for those affected by suicide.

Thank you for your support!

https://afsp.donordrive.com/participant/1904888

Where’s the Love?


hearts-bannerFebruary is not only the month of Valentine’s Day, but it is also my anniversary month. This year my husband and I have been married 12 years.

I can say this, marriage is not for the faint of heart. It’s not always a bed of roses. In our case, we’ve been experiencing more thorns as of late. One thing we do agree on is that we’ve got to make changes for the betterment of our daughter. We argue a lot, and that’s taking a toll on her. We’ve somewhat come to an agreement that we need to speak with a family therapist. This will be beneficial for everyone as my husband does not have the understanding or coping skills to deal with living with someone with mental illness. Even more so, he has some of his own issues that he needs to work through. Mix both of those things, and the environment our daughter is living in is not as healthy as it could be. And that’s the goal – improving the environment for her.

This February I will be meditating a lot on what makes a healthy family. I wouldn’t consider my upbringing to be a model example. I consider myself somewhat of an expert of knowing what is not healthy, but I’m not an expert at not making the same mistakes. That’s the goal – knowing what a healthy family is and striving toward that. It’s in all of our best interests, for love, for family, for life.

Holiday Blessings


imbolc-blessingsI woke up very early on this Imbolc morning. I didn’t mean to, it just happens that way sometimes. I did some yoga, then meditated quite a bit. One of the things that kept coming to mind is how much I miss my friend Okey J. Napier, Jr. He would’ve been celebrating this holiday, too, if his life had not been cut short back in July of 2018. To honor him, I’ve been dancing around to Celtic music all while reliving the times we had together. I like to think that he’s in the Summerlands, dancing right along with me.

This Imbolc, I’m going to focus on the transformative power of creativity. This evening, I will light a few candles, then write freestyle poetry, penning whatever comes to mind in the moment. I might even do what I used to do as a teenager – get myself into a trance-like state, then write just to see what my altered mindset has to say.

One thing that I will thinking about is the seeds that I plant, figuratively speaking. What seeds will I plant this season based on the harvest I want to reap this year. Since New Year’s Eve, a theme that has resonated with me is that of independence. Not being free from others, but being independent in the sense of focusing on myself as the source of my happiness. Some questions that I will ask myself tonight – what does happiness look like to me? What can I do now to ensure my happiness throughout 2019? What goals do I have? When do I expect to reap those rewards?

I’ll post again after the holiday to share my thoughts on these topics so I can share the journey with all of you.

Have a blessed Imbolc, y’all!

MLK and Mental Illness


mlk-dream-bannerI went to church yesterday. As is usual with most Unitarian Universalist churches, the day was spent in reflection of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Those of us who are caucasian pinned pink ribbons to our tops, a reminder for the day that people are treated differently because of their skin tone and that as caucasians, we have a duty to acknowledge our ancestors’ history and challenge injustice whenever we witness it. I had planned to pen an elaborate post regarding my thoughts on the service.

Then I had a mental health episode. It was a rough night, and I struggled with old coping mechanisms such as self-injury and alcohol. This is not the life that I want to lead, and I recommit myself to my overall health – including my spiritual and mental health.

Today I began to wonder, what would Dr. King say about how we treat the mentally ill in this country. I found this blog and wasn’t surprised to learn that Dr. King himself often battled with depression. People who are challenged with mental illness tend to be some of the most self-reflective and empathetic people you will ever meet. It’s not lost on me that someone like MLK who spent his life thinking deeply about injustice would struggle with the psychological impact of such a dreary reality.

There is still a stigma against the mentally ill. I could never compare this to the experience that African Americans have had in this society. Yet I’m compelled to call out injustice wherever I see it, for mental illness is something that does not discriminate based on the color of your skin. If we know that mental illness is stigmatize, and that racial minorities are discriminated against, one would shudder at the injustice of mental illness within those communities. Unfortunately, culturally speaking, some groups balk even more at the thought of mental health treatment. My husband is from India and there’s a long history of denying the need for therapy and that one should fix things on their own, which is a damaging and dangerous perspective. Damaging because it belittles those of us who seek help. Dangerous because it suggests a path that almost always fails.

We need to speak out in all of our communities that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, rather it’s something that many of us will experience at some point in our lives, just like MLK did. There is no weakness in asking for help as it is true strength and courage that allows you to recognize that you can’t do it alone. Growing up, we’re not taught to deal with these issues, so we need to learn from those who can help us. Regardless of our backgrounds, there is a counselor that can meet our needs.

If you need any support in exploring these issues, please reach out to me. I’m listening.

2018 Reflections


2019-clock

In many ways 2018 was one of my best years – I was promoted, got a raise, started doing a job that I love, lost 92 pounds, improved my health to the point that I’ve been able to stop certain medications, and overall am happy with my position in life.

In some ways, though, 2018 was one of the worst years in recent history. In July, the world lost an amazing human being. My friend, my spiritual mentor, my colleague, my soul brother, Okey J. Napier, Jr. Although it has been five months since he passed to the Summerlands, I find it difficult to comprehend a life without him in it. The thought is still so surreal to me that I have kept a copy of his obituary in my e-mail, reminding myself everyday that yes, he is gone. For whatever reason, I feel that I have to do this because emotionally I’m not ready to accept it yet, but must keep myself grounded in the reality of his passing.

I take comfort in the fact that my faith has helped me through this unthinkable time. You see, I don’t believe that death is the end, but merely another path in the journey of existence. Okey still exists, just not in physical form, not on this plane, in this realm. But he’s still here, just not in the way I’m used to. I still talk to him, and I know that he can hear me. It saddens me deeply that I cannot reciprocate, that my earthly body is limited in this way. Not that I don’t believe that we can interact with spirits – I most certainly believe that…I sometimes pause to recognize something, knowing it’s a message from that realm. I wholeheartedly believe that he’s at peace and with his beloved Granny.

But I’m selfish. It’s not enough for me. At least not now. I miss our talks. We would often chat online or have Skype conversations to talk about everything from life to religion to our writing projects. I miss going to his place whenever I would visit Huntington. We would talk for hours over cups of coffee, often glowing over our nostalgia for the good old days when we were both students at Marshall University, ready to take on the world for the good fight in LGBT rights. He would make me laugh with his stories and humble me with his expressed respect for my knowledge and talent. These are memories that will forever live in my heart.

I recently went back to Huntington to visit family for the holidays. It was a good trip, but noticeably hollow in the fact that it was the first time since his memorial that I went to the area and didn’t spend time with him. For my own emotional well-being, I paid tribute to our connection by doing what we would normally do – I went to Starbucks at Pullman Square, had a big cup of coffee, and reflected on life, the issues of the day, and imagined what Okey would have to say about it all. As the tears ran down my face, I tried my hardest to smile as I thought about him. I’m not there yet. One day I will be able to express happiness for all that was. I guess right now, I’m still grieving.

Over the past few months, all I can think of is one of the last things that I said to him during my visit in June. We were discussing the Egyptian Goddess Bast, the cat Goddess of Joy. He had asked me my opinion on how things were going in life, and I told him that by Bast, to enjoy means to live IN joy – that’s what is meant for us.

In honor of him, I’m going to do my best to live up to that.

A Call to My Tribe


heart-triquerta

I will not settle. I will not take orders. I am NOT defined by what others expect of me. I will not create myself in someone else’s image. I trust my own moral compass to guide my actions. I create my own happiness. I am grateful for all that I have. I embrace diversity as a path to enrichment. I accept the challenge to find the positive, to learn the lesson, in even the most negative situations. I am constantly becoming a more perfect ME, forever in progress.

Life is not without suffering. I have a unique opportunity to transform my own suffering into a bridge of understanding. Understanding only blossoms when the soil is rich with learning. The only constant in life is change. There is only meaning in change when we are self aware, when we learn. Through the awareness of my own experience, I continue to learn so that I continue to be a conduit for healing, touching the lives of people who have also suffered, comforting them through storytelling.