We create these broken families.

I’m not a parent, but I am the big sister of a kid whose dad walked out on him when he was a baby so I got used to him accidentally calling me mom.

I was twelve and a half when he was born. It was a few weeks before Thanksgiving of 1999. He looked like an alien, all yellow and pallid and big-headed. I didn’t get why people called newborns cute and it was weird to know that he was an attempt-to-save-the-marriage baby so I think I probably looked at him differently.

nanyo3As soon as he could start laughing though, he was mine. He was all belly laugh, all heart. All climb-in-your-lap-and-kiss-your-cheek-when-he-wanted-something smooth. He was rambunctious and brave, all adventure and love.  Continue reading “We create these broken families.”

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Quit your bullshit around money.

I want to reframe this whole Obama-getting-paid-$400k-from-an-evil-bank thing. I’ll start with a story, and then I’ll tell you why I think people’s outrage is crap.

My mom’s family was very well-to-do. My great-grandfather started a coal company in Chicago when he emigrated from Germany; that company turned into an oil company. My grandfather, not wanting to go into the family business, became a renowned cardiovascular surgeon in NYC. My mom grew up on the upper east side; my grandparent’s apartment was on 5th avenue overlooking Central Park. My grandmother (my mom’s actual mom, not her step-mom I was named after) was very high-society – lots of dinner parties and posturing to impress the “right” people. She was also a raging alcoholic, manipulative, and mean. Continue reading “Quit your bullshit around money.”

One year in NYC: on getting kicked in the back in Times Square and the beautiful conundrum that is this city.

There’s not a whole lot that can better describe my last year in New York City than the following particular 24-hour stretch.

On Sunday, October 9, 2016, I ended up at a private Alicia Keys concert in Times Square with a handful – a several thousand person handful – of my closest friends.

Alicia

Every screen was lit up Alicia – she had bought out the entire place to film a concert special for BET, promoting her new album.

To close out her set – which had included Q-Tip, Questlove, John Mayer and Nas, among others – on comes Jay-Z and they, in Times Square, every screen lit up with them switching out with classic, black and white photos of the New York City skyline, performed Empire State of Mind. Continue reading “One year in NYC: on getting kicked in the back in Times Square and the beautiful conundrum that is this city.”

On heartbreak.

heartbreakA few caveats before we go into this:
1) I’m fine. I’m not writing this from a place of current pain. It’s just something I’ve wanted to put on ‘paper’ for a while.
2) To the person who was involved, we are absolutely good. Life is an amazing teacher and I’m grateful for all of it.

My mom says there have been two times in my life when she wasn’t sure I was going to make it.

The first was my type 1 diabetes diagnosis at 10. After being inexplicably ill for months, I almost slipped into a coma and spent several days in the intensive care unit being stabilized, an IV inserted into my jugular because the rest of my veins would collapse with any attempt to place a needle.

The second was the summer of 2015 when my entire being broke in a way I didn’t know was possible.

Every morning, for six and a half weeks, I opened my eyes feeling like I never slept. Without respite, the memory of why crashed over me. Unwillingly, tears started sliding down the side of my face as I pushed myself out of bed. Waves of grief hit me in the shower; in their most overwhelming I curled up in the bottom of the tub, water washing over my body. Continue reading “On heartbreak.”

It’s just sex.

There tend to be two ways that young women are taught to think about sex. I’d argue that neither is correct. They are:

  1. Don’t. Protect your virtue. I mean… it’s your decision. Obviously. But *shrug* do you REALLY want to be known as *that* girl? Do you want people to talk? I mean, I’m just saying, but it’s not very lady-like. You can have your fun but, you know, be careful. Men only want one thing anyway.
  2. Free love! You live in the age of women’s empowerment, honey! Don’t let anyone try to slut shame you! Do you! Need some condoms?

I wish someone had told me about the middle ground. I wish someone had ever had a sex-positive conversation with me that leaned less on the act or the societal expectations and more on the energy sex requires.

Stop, get your mind out of the gutter.

I don’t mean physical energy. Step your workout game up. I mean your spirit. Continue reading “It’s just sex.”

13 months without health insurance: a pre-existing condition nightmare

By now, you’ve heard that two nights ago, while the country slept, the Senate voted against measures that would keep key provisions of the Affordable Care Act in place. I believe this is short-sighted and dangerous, potentially leading to millions of Americans losing their healthcare coverage. I chose to write to my local congressional representative, and I encourage you to do the same.

Dear Congressman Donovan,

I’m sure you and your staff are being flooded with opinions on the Senates recent vote regarding the Affordable Care Act, so let me go ahead and add to the pile. I have lived in your district since February of last year, moving from Atlanta, GA to take a job. I’m lucky to be in a place now where I have wonderful healthcare provided by my employer and I am tremendously grateful for it. But for 13 months, before the Affordable Care Act and its provisions about coverage for people with pre-existing conditions was in place, I didn’t have health insurance. No amount of money could have gotten me coverage, because I have type 1 diabetes. Continue reading “13 months without health insurance: a pre-existing condition nightmare”

Listen to your gut.

I have a few friends coming up against big life decisions soon and while I can’t offer specific advice, I can offer this –

Don’t listen to your head. Don’t listen to your heart. Listen to your gut.

Your head is going to try to steer you toward what looks best on paper, or looks best to your ego, but isn’t necessarily the best for you.

Your heart is going to operate from whatever prevailing emotion has taken root at the time. No matter how resilient and brave your heart is, it has a tendency to make judgments based on whatever it’s feeling in the moment.

Your gut has been observing everything that you stopped consciously paying attention to eons ago. It knows how your heart tends to sway you, how far you need to be pushed, and how much you need to be protected. It knows the facts and weighs them, but doesn’t let you put more stock in them than necessary. It’s wise and old, neither brash nor unfeeling.

So go sit with it and listen. Get really quiet, wherever you can best do it. For me, it’s next to the ocean. For you, it might be in the mountains, or walking your dog. Watching your kids play or sitting next to your grandmother as she reads. Painting or practicing yoga. But give yourself that space to really listen, and when you get your answer, don’t second guess.

When fear kicks in, that’s your brain and neural pathways trying to protect you from what you’ve never experienced. A new path is an unknown, so your brain thinks you’re going to get hurt and uses fear as a way to protect you.

Keep listening to your gut, it won’t lead you wrong.

On the shitshow that is police and mental health issues.

Over the past few days, my world has been both directly and indirectly involved with situations where police were woefully unable to properly deal with mental health situations, one resulting in police brutality.

I’m pretty livid. I’m processing and my way of processing is writing, so here we go. This isn’t going to be well put together. But I need to get it out.

I share this because we need to keep being aware that these situations are happening, and are happening close to home. Continue reading “On the shitshow that is police and mental health issues.”

2017: Voice

Since 2010, in lieu of New Year’s resolutions, I have chosen words to guide me for the year. In the start they were broader things like healthcare, money, relationships. Recently they’ve become more focused – realignment, growth, purpose. And with each word chosen, the universe delivered.

People generally love this idea. They ask me how I choose my word.

It takes months. It requires me to listen a lot. To observe what’s popping up in my life. To figure out what feels best in my gut. And to accept, without knowing specifics, that this word is going to be present in my life for a full twelve months.

They tell me I’m so lucky to actually get my words delivered upon.

They don’t realize how much self work it takes. That it takes bravery going into the year knowing that you’re going to be knocked on your ass to learn the lessons you’ve just asked for.  Continue reading “2017: Voice”

On abuse, and why this election is several kicks in the gut.

My little brother is 17. He’s tall and skinny, a track runner, with thick, dirty-blonde hair in the old Bieber side-sweep and bright blue eyes. He’s in high school in the deep south and is the picture of preppy, constantly decked out in Vineyard Vines and Polo.

When he was about eight years old, I was helping him clean out his email inbox when we stumbled across a message he had written to his “girlfriend” (I know, I know). I don’t remember the wording exactly, but it was something along the lines of,

*Girl’s name*, don’t talk to me. You will NOT say hi to me in class. You will NOT act like you’re my girlfriend when we’re at school. You can when we’re not at school. But you will not talk to me in public. You’re lucky to be my girlfriend, so you’re GOING to listen to me. Continue reading “On abuse, and why this election is several kicks in the gut.”