The Eyes of Honesty

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Last year I wrote a blog post about my dads eyes when he was high and how the eyes never did seem to lie to me, even when he did. Now I want to share the truth that my dad give to me and still continues to give to me. Let me take you back to a time I remember vividly from when I was 16 and first opening up to my dad about my feelings.

My dad was never afraid to say sorry when he was sober and I think that is what made my heart grow two sizes when I was going through all of this. I knew he was in agony emotionally. How can you not be? Your life is crumbling below your feet and you want to hold on but you can’t and in your mind that’s your own fault and you begin to eternalize that. So to be able to let the words, “sorry,” come out while looking into my eyes is bringing all those emotions to life. That is ownership. My dad was taking ownership in what he thought was the shattering of my life. Truthfully, it didn’t ruin my life, it gave my life meaning. Especially on this day.

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My dad came into my room, my sanctuary that kept me protected from the life I had outside of those pink walls,  and sat on my bed next to me. He held my hands in his and shaking he looked up into my eyes.

“I’m so sorry” he spoke with what I can imagine felt like a spiked rock in his throat.

I can’t find the words to describe the way he looked at me. But it was something like a life or death thing. Like if he could run around the whole planet to show how sorry he was, he would’ve. It was as if every bad thing he had ever done, had been put into his words and he was trying to get rid of all of them with his eyes. What I guess I’m trying to say is it was the most sincere sorry I’ll ever hear in my life. And it puts the phrase, “Apologies don’t mean anything if you keep doing what you’re sorry for” to shame. Because that apology meant everything to me.

It wasn’t about if he would relapse again because I knew it wasn’t an empty promise at all. It was a sorry from the heart begging to be set free but knowing it wasn’t that simple.

When my dad said this to me, I began tearing up. I could tell he was choking up and the thought of my dad, the toughest Russian I know, crying made me crumble inside.

I’m not sure what I said right then but I’m sure it was along the lines of what I still say to this day. I love you, you’re my best friend and nothing will ever change that.

One of my favorite things about my dad is the interest he takes in my life to the minuscule detail. It never has bothered me because I find it really cute that a tough burly man loves the dainty details of a teenage girl. When I had my first boyfriend, he’d not only ask if I was treated well. He’d ask what we talk about, how happy I am and what makes me smile most. Once when I went on vacation and came back he was like Leanna did he give you a kiss when you came back? He better have missed you! I was like, dad! NO! But he was like C’mon, Leanna. And I bashfully said yes. It was embarrassing but it was sweet that he asked.

As my dad and I were sitting on the bed, I told him I kept a journal and wrote about my feelings when he was high. He asked to read them. My heart sank as I walked over to my Windows XP, and opened my Xanga account (what would be today’s Tumblr). It was my private account that I kept my day to day musings of a 13 year old living with the stress of other kids being mean, liking boys, worrying about being liked, and dealing with addiction.

There were posts about real suicidal thoughts in there and I mustered up the courage to talk about them to the man that created me. If you’re curious exactly what they said, I wrote a post about them a bit here.

I read them and it was no longer a spiked rock in our throats it was full on sobs. We cried together and absorbed our pain and in all that pain we found strength. We grew together even more than before.

After we both found tranquility in our comfort, my dad asked me, “Leanna, please print these out for me? I want to have them.”

I printed them out and my dad came to me a few days later. He read them at his Alanon meeting and told me the whole room went silent, “So silent you could hear a pin drop”. He said he could feel the way the words resonated with the group. My truths, my deepest feelings that I wrote for myself, were used in resonation and that is when I decided that I’d use my words and my feelings and my dads love to heal the world.

On a sober mind, my dad is honest, gentle, and caring. He is the most sincere man I know. My dad gave me the truth of my meaning that day. That we were put into this situation to help others with genuine honesty.

Yesterday my dad texted me “Sometimes I wonder what if but than I would not have the most perfect daughter in the whole wide world. I love you my BabySo.”

It hasn’t been an easy few months for my dad and I, but there isn’t a day that I give up hope. I don’t rely on change, but I cheer him on. I’ll always hold on to his sorry and sobriety. Because I know it’s still in his heart, fighting to come out.

 

Are all Drug Addicts Failures?

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I recently listened to a TED talk called, “A kinder gentler philosophy of success,” by Alain de Botton. He talked about our modern ideas of success and failure. He talked about our governments ideal view of meritocracy and what stuck with me was the hidden validation that meritocracy is associated with.

Meritocracy Governance by elites who deserve to wield power because they possess education and skills. On one hand this is great. It means that people that work hard, are charismatic, and who try really, really hard will get ahead in life and therefore be successful. They deserve to be successful because of their merit. But then when we look at the other end of the spectrum this means we also believe that people who can’t work as hard, who may have made mistakes in their lives are unsuccessful and deserve to be unsuccessful. But as compassionate people who understand that we all have hardships and mental and physical ailments, merit is a dangerous way to judge success.

Success is favored by prosperity of wealth and job status in our society, and when we’re on a path where that path doesn’t look attainable, it’s very easy to spiral continually downward. And then society looks down upon us. And instead of reminding ourselves that we are good people who have more to be proud of than a status, we look down on ourselves just as harshly if not more harshly than society does to us. And something to pay close attention to is not to blame ‘society’. It’s each and every one of us. Whether it’s consciously or not, it should be our duty to stop asking others what they do, or judge them by what car they drive. We have to take the blame for ourselves.

Once someone is looked down upon and adapts the psychology that they can’t be successful and aren’t successful, we begin to have self-doubt, a lack of confidence, and sometimes more severe mental stresses including depression.

So what is success? Sometimes we can go through our whole lives without realizing what success is to us because we’re too worried about what success is to society. We are told we’re in school to get an education, but why? To get a job, have a family, and to one day retire and live comfortably. So first of all we can rule out this form of success in relation to happiness right away because you must know at least one person who is well on their way to that lifestyle but they aren’t happy. Second of all, education is so much more than to get a job but we don’t realize that till later in life. Third of all, this is so broad a vision that it’s literally impossible to feel this success. You’ll be chasing it till the day you die because we aren’t to the point in technology where we can view our lives from a third-person view and say, yeah I’m successful as I review it from a different perspective. We live out everyday and every moment and everyday we’re getting closer to that house, that job, that family… it won’t be enough.You should have your own vision of success and it should be as specific to you as you can make it. Step away from what people expect and really think about it. Sometimes it can be something that you can accomplish everyday and eventually all those little successes turn into a lifetime of happiness.

Let me tell you about my altered (shortened) view of success and then I’ll get into if drug addicts can be successful. As most of you know I work in marketing remotely for a fitness company called Sworkit. We are a fitness app rated in highest regards by ACSM and we were given the largest tech deal by Shark Tank in February of 2016. We only have 6 people on our team but we have 24 million downloads. I live decently. I have a beautiful apartment and I have a wonderful education that I’m very fortunate to have.

So am I successful to you? Now do I consider myself successful? I feel successful when I am talking to someone that has never heard of the app and they tell me that this could really help them to exercise because they are cautious about working out in front of other people. I feel successful when someone tells me they lost weight using the app and they continue to check in with me to share their progress because they know I care. I feel successful when I make someone on my team’s life easier by taking on a project and taking it off their shoulders.

If you think success stops from the day one of getting your dream job you’re going to be in for a consequently up and down rollercoaster of a ride in life. Next you’ll chase that promotion and the next one and the next.

Notice how I correlated success with my career instantly? You probably didn’t even think twice about that did you? Because that is what we’re taught to believe. Success is your career. I also listened to another amazing TED talk by David Brooks. He asked the question, are you living for your resume or your eulogy (seeking connection, community, and love)? So what are you living for? Have you thought of this? Have you found the balance of what you’re living for? If you haven’t rethink your view of success. Think of other ways in which success is possible.

My long-term die-hard vision of success is to tell my family’s story. It’d be a successful life to tell how my dad and mom taught me to always be kind, to not judge others, to hold myself responsible for every action I take, and to get through any hardship that comes my way and to do it with honesty. I want to help people to see a different side of addiction and to never let my dad’s disease live in vain. I also want to raise a family and carry on the love my family has given to me to my kids.

I want to tell the true beauty of living with two parents that love you harder than anything in life all while struggling with addiction, mental and physical diseases, and a lifetime of hardships. My parents are unfairly judged by society as unsuccessful.

My parents are the most successful people you’ll ever meet.

They have filled my heart and my whole being with so much love and have sacrificed every last ounce of their being to love me. Even on my darkest days and even if I did something horrific I know they’d go to battle for me.

I think any parent would agree that for their child to feel the love that I feel from them, it’d be the greatest success of their lives.

Yes drug addicts can be successful. Maybe my dad will never be a 6-figure doctor and maybe he’s not on the cover of the newspaper for something to brag about, but there’s nothing you can do or say to take away that my dad is the most loving parent who would walk across the planet if I said I needed him. He deserves to feel that success. He might not ever be looked at by society by this success, but it’s the most important one we’re all living for as parents.

I’ve mourned the loss of a loved one who isn’t dead yet.

I’ve mourned the loss of a loved one who isn’t dead yet. That’s the norm when you love someone who is struggling with addiction. We watch them, sometimes literally, die and come back to life.  I’ve felt that I’ve lost my best friend and it hasn’t even happened yet and at times I feel so guilty for that feeling because it hasn’t actually happened yet. And at times I am in a disillusion that one day it won’t feel that way again. One day he’ll be sober, 100% healthy, and back to his old self. But the truth is addiction goes much further than a physical change that ends once sobriety is reached. Truthfully, the emotional drain that follows sobriety can be as daunting to relationships and well-being as the addiction itself. Self-doubt, self-hatred, disappointment, depression, anxiety, social pressure, and failure are just a few emotional tolls addiction can take.

So what is my job in this role that I have as a daughter of addiction? Truthfully there are days where I want to give up everything I have to ‘fix’ it. I think about if my job, my life, and my separation I’ve created from it is worth feeling as though I am betraying the most sacred thing to me — family. Some days the answer is truthfully, yes. I love so deeply and I care so much that to know that at the end of every day I’m not contributing to helping my loved one and I’m spending my time improving my life isn’t good enough for me. But then again, one of my biggest life philosophies is that we need to be our own strength and that you can never believe that someone else will save us, improve us, or change us. So how, as children of addiction, do we express love and support without being completely present and involved in the suffering so that it begins to take a toll on our own lives?

I hope that as I continue to blog, children of addiction understand that some days are harder than others. The balance of support and distance is possible and there are ways to show love and support without letting it take over your life. You have all the potential in the world to become anything you want to be and more. At the end of the day that’s what our parents want and sometimes we question that. No matter what your situation is, I’m always here to talk. Whether you’re a parent or a child of addiction please go to my website and send me an email.

Cocaine, Alcohol, and Drugs: How, When, and Why Should I talk about it with My Friends

When you are around people who are drinking and smoking, you think it’s the norm. That’s what all the students are doing. It’s okay that I’m doing it too. I fit in. It’s not even a matter of peer pressure at that point. It’s just what you believe to be true for kids your age so you participate. You don’t have to experience peer pressure to do what you think is the norm. The truth is, there are kids that are at the library on weekends and there are people that want to change the world and don’t need to party to make their week feel complete. There’s a bit (a lot) of truth behind FOMO. The fear of missing out is a captivating feeling and once we’re in the middle of all the action, we don’t want to miss it.  In High School, I considered myself lucky to be in a relationship for most of the years and distance myself from that fear of missing out because I had everything I felt I needed close to my heart. It didn’t mean I didn’t have any friends, either. I still consider everyone from my high school a friend and if anyone were to reach out to me, we’d most likely have a long conversation on just about anything. I loved that balance. I was involved in student groups, loved my teachers, and loved seeing friends in school. It wasn’t completely as romantic as it sounds as my relationship was toxic but at the time and even now, I never regret it.

In college, it wasn’t the case. I did attend parties. Not being in student groups due to the hours I worked at the restaurant and at the health club, I was surrounded by conversations that made me feel angry, jaded, and confused. My dad was in prison and my mom and grandpa were relying on me. And I would hear people talk about their education like they deserved it and didn’t need to work for it. I also heard people talk about substances like they were just a casual thing to do. At that point in my life, I felt that I was surrounded by privileged people who only knew how to make choices based on what made them feel good at the moment. Nothing hurt more than hearing people talk about cocaine, and seeing it for the first time in a college made my heart fall to my stomach. I couldn’t believe that the very drug that I saw my dad’s life go from working middle class to prison and helpless was the drug that kids were doing as a recreational activity, just in a different form.

It’s twisted to me that just because I had seen the awful effects of crack cocaine on a person who I love more than anything may be the only reason why I find it so wrong. Would I agree with my peers that cocaine is a casual activity that places me at an elite level if it weren’t for my experiences? Luckily I’ll never have to find out and I’ll never feel the peer pressure to do it because I saw my dad with a loaded pistol standing over me while I was sleeping. Waking me up and telling me to follow him into the attic because someone was up there spying on him.

As I really try to understand how to help with prevention I’m always going to have to take into account the experiences that students are having. If you grow up without the experiences like I had, it will just seem like a fun party activity. It will seem as innocent as drinking because ‘there’s no worse drug than alcohol.’ Now that I can share these experiences and tell you that there will always be a point where it’s no longer fun, I will make it my job to do so. If not for you, for someone else. When my dad first did heroin he did it with a friend, just as something to try. As for my dad’s friend– he never touched it again. For my dad, it detained him. It infiltrated his veins and crawled right into his brain. It captured him as a prisoner and would never let go. He couldn’t stop himself from that point forward. And to think, it was just a social activity they were trying out after a day at work.

Now I am watching my dad suffer. Every time my mom or grandpa calls me I think it’s going to be the day my dad has died. Because now it’s not just addiction we have to worry about. His body organs are failing him and even worse, his mind and soul. He is beginning to not believe in himself and he has a disillusion that his life no longer has meaning. He can barely walk. He can barely tolerate himself. He needs help and I spend at least 5 seconds out of every minute wishing I could save him, but the truth is I can’t just do that. I’ll always support him and in complete love and despair of the disease, I’ll remind my peers and students of all walks of life to consider the next time your friend is having fun or your having fun with friends to ask when it is going to stop.

When are you going to finally say, “I think I want to stop spending my weekends doing this.” And if you know that this isn’t your life forever, do your friends know that too? Start with the conversation about how this isn’t always going to be what you want to do. It’s hard. I’ve had the conversation before and to be honest, it’s usually going to be taken harshly or the wrong way. Of course, you don’t want to tell friends that eventually, if this goes on forever, it can become a problem. But until you look at it that way, it’ll always just seem okay. You go out to bars on the weekend, you’re surrounded by people doing the same, and you have a good time at that moment. How uncool of you to point out that it could eventually  become a lifestyle, and not just ‘a social activity.’ You owe it to yourself and them to talk about it. Especially, when you start talking about harder drugs, the conversation is more detrimental. You can cross dangerous territory if you’re not setting expectations and boundaries of how much fun is too much and when you’ll draw the line.  Maybe they’ll hate what you’re saying, but maybe you’ll save someone from their outlook and even more-so, their life. Is it really that funny that you have that staple friend that does too much cocaine? It absolutely won’t be when they’re no longer able to be your friend without it.

Have you ever had a friend that is mad at someone so you get mad at them too? You hold onto the grudge because that’s the impression you’re left with about that person. But then all of a sudden, your friend is back to being friends with that other person again and you suddenly feel a strange feeling. You were angry and upset in place for someone else. And now you’re left on your own to erase those feelings because your friend has forgiven that person. That’s what friends are for, right? But when it comes to addiction the same thing happens here in a more toxic way. You and your friend do whatever it is together. It’s a bond, it brings you together, and you know you can rely on that person to back you up. Once someone from that friendship decides it isn’t for them anymore the other friend suddenly feels betrayed and confused. You really do owe it to your friend to tell them that you’re not going to be mad at that person forever and that you’re just blowing off steam just as much as you owe it to your friend to say something about your recreational activities.

There’s no better time to tell a friend you’re worried about them than the first time you get that feeling. It really sucks. It’s not your place. But eventually, if it does get worse, it may be too late. I really wish that my dad’s friend and him had a conversation like that. It may have not changed his choices, but what if it could for your friend?

 

One of the hardest parts about having this conversation is looking hypocritical right? I mean, I go out and have drinks and even after this conversation maybe I continue to do so. So now my friends think I’m being judgemental and not even taking responsibility for myself. Don’t use this as your reasoning. Even if you become who you didn’t want your friend to become, now they know that this isn’t what you wanted and they may be the one to save you because you’ve opened up that conversation. I think this is one of the few cases where words speak louder than actions and do as I say not as I do tie together and make sense. We’re all hypocrites. It’s what keeps me from blogging 90% of the time. Sometimes I feel like a walking paradox. But I will be a walking contradiction before I let that fear of being labeled as a hypocrite force me to bury a friend.

 

The Blessing of Life

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After I watched the very emotional clip of the Jimmy Kimmel Show about his son’s heart condition I realized the necessity to reflect on the blessing of my life more often. If you haven’t watched it please do. As I listened to him explain how his son was born completely fine and suddenly was surrounded by nurses and doctors only to find out there was a hole in his heart, it completely made me feel a sense of gratitude for being human. It’s not something we take for granted necessarily, but rather something we don’t really assess until something bad happens. We as humans have to have so much for us working in order for us to be healthy. There are so many things that could go wrong and so many parts of our bodies that we can’t even comprehend and somehow they all come together and make us a human.

As I took a moment to appreciate every single part of my being I thought it’d be an important time to share that with you all. I’m not trying to make a statement that we should always be conscious of our being because life truly is busy but instead, I’d like to invite you to in this moment think of how crazy it is that we are living, breathing, and sustaining life. We get stressed out, have anxiety, and have all gotten our feelings hurt before. We can teach ourselves to turn off that social part of our brain when we need to that tells us to respond to the pressures of society such as fitting in, having a good job, or making a lot of money. Instead, we train ourselves to remember that we are human. We are living. And we are lucky for just that. There are so many things happening inside of our body to make that happen and for us to not at least once remember that in good health is a devastatingly tragic regret we may have if one day our health does fail us.

When I was born, I had a tumor attached to my aorta. At under 4 lbs, I was sent to Boston Children’s Hospital all the way from Oregon. With a touch of two fingers on my tiny stomach, Dr. Murray Feingold immediately knew what was wrong and called for immediate surgery. With the tumor so close to a major artery it was never fully taken out but at nearly 25 years old, I am a very happy, healthy, and very very lucky patient. It’s nothing to be sorry about, I was quite too young to remember, of course. I can’t imagine what my parents were going through. I imagine it was toughest for them.

IMG_9197.JPGI have a scar that runs across my whole stomach and one year that never fully developed. I’m so lucky to look in the mirror and be reminded that I have a functioning body and that it needs to be appreciated. After watching this video, it was an extra reminder. Every Christmas I spend my day at Boston Children’s Hospital because as an important holiday for family, I want to be a spirit among those that have to spend that day in a place that reminds me that we aren’t all so lucky to be safe at home with our loved ones knowing they are healthy.

I have recently been thinking of how we never grew up learning much about our health. And our body. And the importance of being a human and how that works. Before we learn to tell time and understand that we run on a 24 hour day, shouldn’t we know what happens in our bodies in each second of every minute? It’s quite a lot, starting with a heartbeat. Isn’t important that from the day we are beginning our education we understand how precious each breath is?

As I digress I want to come back and just feel so aware that I don’t want to take my health for granted. Sometimes a job or a life situation makes us forget that our health determines every single other part of our life. Even if you hate your legs or don’t like the hair you were born with, at least have the self-love that you’re breathing and reading this, and sometimes that’s enough to be thankful for.

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In the amazing words of Jimmy Kimmel, “no parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life.” I’m not quite sure how my parents were ever able to fly me out across the coast and get me to see the best doctor in the country without any money at all, really. I guess that’s a testament to their ceaseless, relentless love for me. I’m ending my night feeling covered in love and very thankful for my body.

Please email me on my website if you feel worried about your health or someone else’s or if you just want to talk. I’d love to hear your story.

May Challenge: Missions for the month

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It’s officially May in 2 hours and I’m so excited. I’m feeling super motivated to get out into the world and start spreading confidence, happiness, and joy to anyone who needs it in their lives. We all deserve it. Life’s too short to be mean to others and in order to be supportive instead of mean, you have to have the confidence and a soul burning with passion for making it happen. Confidence is not something you have or don’t have. It’s a feeling we get. I’m going to list out my goals for the month of May before I get too far ahead of myself talking about confidence. That’ll come at a later date.

Around every start of the month, I make challenges or missions for myself to follow. Usually, I have two or three that I voice out loud or hint at in social posts, but I’ve never formally shared on my blog what those goals look like and why I choose each one. I thought it’d be nice to write out my thoughts to either confuse you completely or inspire you to do the same. Have you ever met someone and you didn’t know their intentions, life goals, or drive? That always is something I look for in people. What are their overarching passions and why? I suppose I’m supposed to stay a bit mysterious or what not, but I personally love to see passion missions and goals shine through. I typically write as my brain comes up with things, so sorry if this is tough to follow along. Welcome to my sporadic thoughts.

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Challenges Accepted for May

  1. Don’t wear black and share what fashion means to me: I wanted a fun challenge. I love seeing bright, vibrant outfits that are full of life and color. I want to do not wear one single black outfit this month. I think it’s really easy to snug into a black outfit and I’m pretty notorious for wearing all black, especially in the cold weather. Now that the weather is starting to look a little more promising, I think it’s going to be fun to eliminate black from my wardrobe for a while and see what I come up with. It doesn’t count for gym clothes though because I’m about to invest in my first pair of LuluLemons and they are going to be black and I’ll be too excited not to wear them. I am hoping they make my butt look like the peach emoji especially as I kickstart my gym challenge, too. I am also hoping this goal transcribes into my social media and blogging mission to get back into consistently writing and posting. A very long time ago, I found a safe and fun community on Youtube where I’d watch hauls and makeup tutorials for hours. When I started doing my own videos I loved it so much! It was a super big secret that I kept from people at my school because I thought they’d make fun of me and I was embarrassed. Well… look at where that is today. I think that it’s safe to say that nowadays it’s impossible not to have all your close ones looking at what you’re posting and which communities you’re a part of. And the truth be told, sometimes the friends that are closest to you are the least supportive. They’ll be the first ones to ask “Why are you even doing this?” Well to heck with that negativity. I’m going to start posting more of my fashion on social and blog. It used to make me happy. The only thing that is very important to me about it is that I only want to influence people to be happy, confident, and do whatever they want to do. I don’t want to encourage people’s buying choice. I want to inspire people to find what works for them, feel confident when they know what works for them, and not feel pressured to compare themselves to what I have or what others have. Another big thing I want to stress as I continue to share more fashion is the importance of shopping and being financially comfortable. I like to stay completely open about what I spend on shopping and encourage others to make smart purchases. I used to use shopping as therapy and spend a lot of money. I think that clothes shopping should only be an accessory to your confidence. The more money you spend on clothing doesn’t mean you’ll be any more confident or happier in the long term. I’ll share what I’m wearing because I love to, and I hope that you can take away more than a recommendation of what to buy and instead become more aware of how your fashion makes or breaks your confidence.
  2. Share more of what I do at my job: My job is absolutely amazing. I work for the fitness app Sworkit that I fell in love with about 2 years ago while I was working out at the gym. I opened the app put on their amazing rap playlist and did the best ab routine of my life. I was determined to get ahold of someone from the company and be of any service I could. Long story short- two years later I am on the team with 5 amazing people doing things I never would have thought I’d do as my career and I absolutely love it. I have the opportunity to work remotely, travel for the job, instruct group exercise classes, learn new skills every day, and make huge contributions to the success of this amazing exercise app. We’re a small team. We are like a family. And we all truly care about health on a different level than any other company I have ever seen. I guess it shows most through our own personal goals to stay healthy and to have healthy families. Family is important to each one of us on the team and we’re a family fitness app. Starting this month I am beginning to study for my ACSM personal training certification and as I go through the journey of learning so many cool new things, I’m happy to share it.
  3. Speak at an AA Meeting: My passion for drug addiction prevention thus far has been sharing my story on my blog and to people I see daily. Sometimes we forget that in order to make an impact we have to start outside of the digital world. It’s absolutely long past due that I hit the ground running and start getting involved with the issues I care about face-to-face. I am here for parents that are suffering from addiction because as a product of addiction I have absorbed that helpless feeling at times from my parents. I am so lucky my parents love me and took care of me and continue to support me. I know it’s why I am where I am today. I can’t take any credit. I also know that some parents are struggling with the balance of addiction and parenting more than my parents did and I want to be there for them as they attend these meetings and are truly trying to get better in order to be there for their kids. I know I can be a reminder to them that yes, saying I love you and being supportive can be enough to give them a bright future. I am a college graduate completely financially independent with parents that have struggled their whole lives with addiction. Sometimes there were times I felt alone or scared but there was never a day I didn’t know they loved me. Love goes a long way. I’ll tell them all of this and more in a meeting and I hope they leave feeling a little less weight on their shoulders and go home and tell their children how much they love them no matter what.
  4. Spend more time at the gym/working out: Freshman year of college I hadn’t ever had a gym membership. In the following years of college, I spent about 2 hours a day at the gym. I went from being nervous of how to use equipment to confident in my workouts. Moreso I found joy in going to what I think of as an adult jungle gym. Seriously- I’m moving my body, listening to my favorite music, and improving my health all in one big area. Does that not sound magical to you? There seems to be some pressure on how to use the gym or how to act in exercise classes like yoga or cycling that scares people away but really it’s just a place to improve yourself and that’s why everyone is there. Even sometimes when I hadn’t gone to the gym in a while I’m intimidated a bit. Once you lock in on your mission to improve life it gets less intimidating. Anway, it’s something that I love to do and I haven’t been doing it a lot lately. I’ve been exhausting myself with other projects that I convinced myself were more important. Well, no longer will that happen! I’m very excited to listen to my favorite Sworkit Rap Playlist at the gym and move my body more.

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How do I decide what my goals for the month are?

Okay, so there you have it. I don’t really ever set a certain amount. Sometimes I have one challenge to start or complete by the end of the month and sometimes I have more. Sometimes the goals are super specific and sometimes they are really broad. It’s really just about improving my life one month at a time in ways that I’ve assessed I can improve on it. This isn’t an activity that you need to sit down for. It’s something I just do as I fall asleep at night and as I decide how my day has impacted my overall happiness. One secret to my happiness is knowing that happiness is something you have to create and each experience in your day can affect the quality of your overall happiness. An example is if you continually let someone mistreat you day-to-day one day you’ll wake up and it’ll feel like at some point you just became unhappy, but if you analyze it more often and more closely, you can pinpoint the problem and fix it right away. Our quality of happiness is determined by small experiences that we don’t even realize have an affect on us. The assessment can be as simple as asking yourself these questions.

Questions to ask yourself to determine your month’s goals

  1. What can I think about that’ll make me really happy about my future?
  2. What can I think about that will make me really uncomfortable and unsettling?
  3. What can I think about that’ll comfort me and make me feel okay to go to bed?

I usually do those three questions every night in that order subconsciously.  The first takeaway from this is that I actually am thinking about what I will think about. Wow, that sounds intense but it is different than what makes you happy. Thinking about things that make me happy is going to have different results than if I begin to think about what to think about to make me actually feel happy. For example what makes me happy? Dogs, family, bubble baths. What can I think about that makes me happy? Having people know my passion as soon as they meet me and going to bed with that feeling you get after going to the gym that day. Second, the order is important

The unscientific science of the ‘goal’ questions

The first takeaway from this is that I actually am thinking about what I will think about. Wow, that sounds intense but it is different than what makes you happy. Thinking about things that make me happy is going to have different results than if I begin to think about what to think about to make me actually feel happy. For example what makes me happy? Dogs, family, bubble baths. What can I think about that makes me happy? Having people know my passion as soon as they meet me and going to bed with that feeling you get after going to the gym that day.

Second takeaway- the order is important. Start with what makes you happy because it’ll get your mind going. We love thinking of our future and the good things that can come. I then move onto thoughts that make me so uncomfortable my stomach begins to turn. Yes, I have those thoughts and I have things in my life that are very hard to bear the thought of that are out of my control. It’s normal to worry. I get myself through these thoughts with the most basic plan of actions even if it’s as simple as reminding myself that it’ll be okay or that I need to make a change and that I have a nights rest before I need to make it happen. I end my night with the calm thoughts that ease my mind. Usually, for me, this is thinking of my loved ones and the people I had talked to within my day.  Thinking about the love that surrounds me and the people who I care about. It’ll be much easier to fall asleep with these general conversations in your mind that don’t require much thinking. This step is more about reflecting.

Sometimes this process goes on 2-4 times before I actually fall asleep but it’s a great secret of mine to becoming more confident and happy. A balance of these three questions is a great way to determine your missions for the month. I hope that if you try this it works for you and I’d love to hear if it does.

Love you my hero!

If you read this whole thing you’re my hero. That’d make my day. Everything I write is from the heart. For my career, I will write for SEO but for my passion, I’ll write with raw emotion, thoughts, and love.

Also, I’d like to give a disclaimer as I am writing this post, I’m just going to start adding random photos in here. The words are certainly more important than the images in this case, but I need something to brighten up all these words and quite frankly there’s been a long struggle to find photos that truly express the topics I write about.

Meeting My Favorite Artist Kehlani in Boston Tonight

kehlani boston

I’m so excited that I’m meeting Kehlani tonight! She is coming to Royale in Boston and I went all out and got a VIP ticket because how many times will you get to meet your favorite artist in the world?! Probably not often! I’m not sure if I’ll ever go VIP again, but for Kehlani it was a no-brainer. It’s funny because normally when you find an artist you love, you’ve listened to his or her music first. It’s funny because I first heard her interview on “On the Come Up,” on HotNewHipHop. and instantly fell in love. Watch it below.

I was hooked to hearing her story when I found out she was only 19, was super down to earth, and knowing that she wanted to be a dancer. Hearing more about her story and where she came from, it struck a cord in my heart. We’ve had a really similar story, although I can’t compare mine to hers at all. On a very broad level, she’s had a hard upbringing with parents in and out of her life but always with the unconditional love and from that I believe is where her passion towards life comes. Just the other day she tweeted about being over passionate and it’s true for me too.

Here’s a post that I wrote last year in September when I first heard Kehlani on the radio and had a total geeky-fan moment!

 

O-M-G. HOT 97 has been playing Kehlani and same with JAM’N 945 and I’d like to take a moment to brag and boast about how obsessed with her I have been.
➡️ First of all, how did I find out about her music?
I found Kehlani while watching interviews on On The Come Up by HotNewHipHop.com last April!
➡️ Why did I fall in love with Kehlani?
How real she is. In the interview she is like 18 and has already been through so much and keeps it so real. She knows she’s young and has to learn but she is also so humble for how much talent she has and how far she had me even at that age.
➡️ What are my top favorite things about her?
❤️1. Obviously her music. Her style of storytelling and meaningful lyrics are rare plus she has a beautiful voice. I love how she admits she can’t rap despite people assuming so by all her tattoos. She’s r&b and I love it.
❤️2. She has always been loyal to her crew. She was once in a band and on a talent show she was asked to go forward but solo and she declined without hesitation. It’s all or nothing.
❤️3. Her and I have had similar experiences in life and similar to me, she loves her parents and appreciates life for everything it has to offer, even the negatives. She doesn’t regret anything and she has a positive outlook on everything.
❤️4. She uses social media to encourage people to do the right things and promotes happiness and kindness always.
❤️5. Her style is OG and I love it. She can wear whatever and pull it off with confidence. She keeps everything interesting and embraces her creativity.
➡️ What are my top favorite songs? In this order:
🎵 1. Unconditional (My dad has always shown unconditional love even with everything going on. That’s a true man who loves his daughter, and that’s why I show most people I meet love) 
🎵 2. Down For You
🎵 3. Be Alright
🎵 4. Yet
🎵 5. The Letter (Note: I recently played this in the car with my dad and almost started crying)
🎵 6. You Should Be Here
🎵 7. Jealous
🎵 8. How That Taste
🎵 9. Alive
🎵 10. Bright

Of course this was before the release of her new album, SSS, Sweet Sexy Savage. Now I have a whole new selection of songs that I love that you should check out for yourself. Her music isn’t just about success, like a lot of artists are sticking to. She tells a real story. She’s a human and expresses human experience in her music that we can all relate to. Sometimes I’m having a bad day and I instantly start playing her song in my head, 24/7. It’s okay to not be okay. This playlist below is one that I curated in honor of Kehlani. I can’t wait to meet you tonight! I can’t imagine the weirdness for artists when someone is so excited to meet them and you don’t know them but they think they know you. I hope to just be able to say thank you for your realness and relation I feel towards you. Eminem sort of got me through my anger and confusion and heartbreak as a child and now I can reflect on things with your music, Kehlani!

 

kehlani boston

LISTEN TO THE KEHLANI INSPIRED PLAYLIST HERE

 

I love your silliness and light heartedness and how your so open about constantly changing. Yes, we’re young! So of course we’re living and learning. Passionate people fall down fast. When they are down, they’re down and you remind me that that’s okay, and quite honestly that keeps me up.

 

 

 

 

You should be here @kehlanimusic #kehlani #youshouldbehere #songsfromscratch #howthattaste #FWU

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