Inspired: Letter to Kanye West

I wrote an email to Kanye West and I’m not sure he’ll ever read it. When I get inspired by someone, no matter how famous or not they are, I have to write to them. I feel the burning in my heart and the passion. I know they may never read it, but I have to put it out there just in case. I’ve never had luck with reaching back, not surprisingly, but that’s okay! I got it out on paper, or the screen, so I’m happy to share with others too. I recently listened to Kanye West’s Jimmy Kimmel Interview. If you haven’t listened yet, do it. It’s awesome. Obviously everyone has their own interpretations of things but I felt he spoke to me on another level with everything he said. I’m not going to share the full email I wrote him, but I did share the story of my dad, of course, and I want to share it because I was able to paint our story in a new way. It’s kind of beautiful. What happens in the story of course never changes but the landscape of how to look at it changes with every new perspective someone can give me from it. Isn’t life beautiful like that. It’s also a reminder to form your own happy story about your life, or else no matter what happens in life, you’ll turn it into a bad one instead of a good one. 🙂


Kanye West.

I don’t know if you’ll ever read this, but I was listening to your interview on YouTube with Jimmy Kimmel and you mentioned that someone emailed you about committing suicide and you read it. SO.. since I might only get one shot at having this dialogue with you it might be long. And in case you only read this first part the most important thing I want to say is thank you for being the voice that a lot of people are afraid to have. I want to share what I took from what you said and I hope that you do read this and that you know that you really touched my heart.

My dad died this year from opioid addiction. At the end of the interview you said “I don’t know anyone who has f**ked up as much as I have and still be successful so I want to prove that you can get fat you can say the wrong things you can piss off a whole city…”. My dad relapsed when I was 13 and it was really hard because we were best friends and when I say that I mean it. We hung out together more than I hung out with friends and he was the one that took me to go bra shopping, learn how to do makeup, Britney Spears concerts etc. I never would’ve known in my first 13 years he had this struggle because he did so much for me and took me everywhere with him. When he was at the methadone clinic everyday, I didn’t think twice about it. He told me he was sick but this made him feel better and he’d be ok. Ever since his relapsed he struggled. From 13 to 16 he was in and out of jail, switching from crack cocaine to heroin to eventually doctor prescribed pain meds. At 17 he was arrested for a really big crime he did under the influence. I graduated high school and it killed him to not be there. He kept a binder full of my awards LAMINATED and showed it off to his friends like I won an Emmy before he went to prison. Then I went to college and that was tough because I didn’t relate to the kids there. I really wanted him to be there. When I graduated it really crushed him because he missed those 4 years of my life and another milestone. As his pride and joy and the reason for me going to college, he hated he couldn’t be there. In  October of 2015, a few months after my graduation he was released. We both romanticized it. We wanted to take over the world. We wanted to spend every day together. But after 5 years, no way to get a job, and a lot of bills to catch up on, he became severely depressed. He couldn’t get a job with his record and his health condition. He had to be in the streets to make money. He was so scared of ‘messing up’ that I think it really drove him to relapse. I would too if I felt the weight he did on his shoulders. I loved him everyday and we still had that friendship, but he learned to hate himself instead of feel the love I had for him. He only lived for 2 years after he got out. He overdosed 6 times and survived. I’d call the hospital to talk to him afterwards just to tell him I loved him and he’d refuse the phone calls because he thought he was failing me. The love was there but the possibility of being ‘normal’ wasn’t.The last phone call we had, that I recorded and you can listen to on my website, he says he’s sorry he failed me as a father and he hates himself, but he felt like he was the luckiest guy in the world to be on this planet… My dad was 53. He wanted to die every single day. And he told me that. And for a best friend who you care the most about and would give up your entire world for to tell you they no longer want to be on this earth… that’s the hardest thing in the world to hear. And you just cant save people. I wish I could’ve prevented it. I wish I could go back to his childhood, coming to America and being bullied, growing up around the wrong crowd. I wish I could show him the way people remember him now. That he is so loved and has so much to live for.  So when you talked about being strong after being hated, that spoke to me. Because I saw my dad feel so hated and looked down upon by society that I wish everyone felt strength in people telling them they aren’t good enough. To me my dad was successful and I really wish he is looking down, seeing what I’m doing, know it’s because of him and for him, and feel as successful as he was. 



Collateral Beauty | California Friend


I called a Lyft to pick me up at my apartment on March 23rd. We started chatting and he told me that he was here from California. As any New Englander would do, we joked about why anyone would move here from California with this kind of weather (even though we all know why… we’re the best.) My Lyft driver said quietly, “My sister has cancer.”

Suddenly my vulnerable heart and his connected in silence.

We talked about his fears for his sister, how the two of them were adopted by Jewish parents, and how tough of a year it’s been.

It felt like fate that of all days and all the Lyft drivers I could’ve gotten I was in the car with someone who needed to be open as intensely as I did.

Finally, I explained, I’m going to celebrate my dads birthday for the first time at a cemetery today.

Again the beautiful silence.

Then he says, “I lost my mom in October too. Cancer. She didn’t want treatment.”

The pain my new friend was going through but the strength he showed, it was admirable. It made me feel like everything was okay, and I think it made him feel the same.

I learned a lot from my friend. His sister is extremely strong and optimistic. He is here in Massachusetts, just the two of them, supporting one another. His mom was amazing. Very strong but also very stubborn.

I showed my friend the book that I am writing for my dad. As tears welled and my throat clenched, he suddenly said, “I feel stupid. I didn’t save or record any of the memories I had with my mom.”

Wiping tears from his eyes, I explained, “the best thing you can do is to keep her spirit alive because that is what’ll always carry on. Opening up to me and allowing me to open up, too, is what makes your mom look down on you and smile with pride.”

It’s hard to open up to strangers, especially about losing a loved one, but when you do, sometimes, beautiful things can happen. Strangers have parallels in their lives that you wouldn’t believe. When two people who are going through struggle connect, they become connected.

My friend made my visit to my dad a lot easier. When I sat down with my dad I had a full heart. Inspired, and happy that we could be vulnerable and open. People who are struggling don’t want sympathy or advice. They want to feel a human connection, hope, and understanding.

Sharing your story will be inspiring. Feel great about sharing memories of someone who is no longer with you. It may be tough, but do it for their soul. Do it for the person who’s listening who might be losing their loved one.


Growing Up with Heroin


I was told by someone that they wanted to understand what growing up around heroin was like for me and today I woke up with the greatest amount of anxiety I have felt in so long. During these moments of weakness I felt it’d be best to explain what I’m feeling. Please, if you haven’t dealt with addiction and come here to treat me as though I look for sympathy or to criticize me for being weak, you don’t know me at all and I want you to leave. This is something I’m writing to those who can relate to what I am feeling right now and not for you to judge.

I woke up with a feeling that was painfully unclear where it was coming from. I couldn’t tell if I felt it in my heart, in my bones, or in my entire body rushing through my veins and into my brain. It felt a bit like panic. I felt like I couldn’t keep my own head on my shoulders and I still am having that feeling now. I am shaking beyond the normal amount I shake and I have taken more deep breaths than I do during my nightly meditation. When I touch my skin it feels unreal. It feels like I’m dreaming a bit. I feel like I can’t hold a conversation. I feel like I can’t sleep but I can’t bare to stay awake. I feel like everything around me is gone and I’m alone yet everyone is looking at me.


I couldn’t put my finger on what it was that made me feel this way. I didn’t have a nightmare which I have very often. And things in my life are going fairly well.


Then I stepped into the crisp air of fall and I almost burst out into tears. I was brought back to more than ten years ago. The month of October was the month my dad had been released from prison the first time, the time when my grandma would only have 3 more weeks to live and I felt alone and scared. My dad was released and I felt I had my dad back. Sober, muscular and refreshed.

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My dad and I the day he was released in 2006, three weeks before my grandma passed away.

It didn’t last long as a week after my dad was home, after he had tried making up for lost time and bought me a new wardrobe. I remember sitting at my computer that day when I picked up my phone and my mom told me that my grandma had died. I cried and with my eyes full of tears I was by myself thinking of how painful it was to hear the words that I had been scared of hearing for the past year and a half when I found out my grandma had cancer.

At my grandma’s funeral I remember the leaves were finally falling off of the trees. It was sunny but the air was crisp just like today. It stung more than the anxiety and depression. Is it just me, or is anxiety and depression a feeling of nothingness and everything at the same time. Two very conflicting feelings attacking each other inside of your soul and bringing a numbness to our mind?

My dad showed up to the funeral an hour late and in a distressed condition. My grandma, Anna, was his best friend in the entire world and he had missed out on 9 months of her last breaths in prison. I hadn’t seen my dad for the next two days and I could hardly swallow that he had relapsed and I would experience the frightening sight of burnt spoons in the bathroom and sporadic bursts of anger throughout the house. But when he finally came home in his Outback, it wasn’t the same.

This time my dad wouldn’t speak. He walked like a zombie into the house with his pants falling to his ankles. On my way to school as I walked past his car I glanced inside to see two needles in the trunk.

My first time seeing heroin.

I felt I had lost my dad again but this time he wasn’t paranoid and angry. Now he was soleless. He was gone and yet he stood right in front of me. I was no longer his daughter. I was just another human that couldn’t give his body what it needed.

It was the second time I had seen him transform into something that he wasn’t but it was the first time I felt that I had experienced wanting to not be alive. The unexplainable paranoia and anger when my dad was doing crack cocaine was scary but seeing my dad lifeless and zombie-like was like seeing someone’s life be sucked out of them. It’s like in the movies when they tell you, you shouldn’t bring back the dead because they’ll be a different person. My dad was someone I didn’t recognize and I had never felt so alone.


I guess when I first felt the crisp air this fall my mind took me back to this moment. I’m certain of it because I haven’t had this clear of a revision of this memory since. Just like 11 years ago,  I’ll get through this too.


So what’s it like for me to grow up around heroin? It’s the spark that reminds me that I can love harder, survive anything, accept everything, and still keep going. It’s the reminder that there is a feeling of real pain, that feeling so down you are numb is the most unique feeling that sometimes feels quite safe. It’s almost like the opposite of love. You’re filled with something that you can’t explain. It’s taught me that we’ll all feel or be alone at some points in our lives even if we have everyone around us. It’s okay to feel alone and sad and confused, as long as you make it through. It’s a reminder of how lucky I am to have a relationship so strong with my dad. It made me passionate and relentless. It made me kind and appreciative. It made me understand that life can be unfair but sometimes the most unfair things in life are what make life so beautiful.


I can’t say that I’m happy I am feeling this anxiety today but it’s a familiar feeling that brought me back to the weakest time in my life. I may have a cry but not because I am weak, because I am so proud of myself for making it through what seemed impossible to get through. I’m proud to have this familiar feeling come back and to know that nothing will ever defeat me. Not my own body, not another human, not my own weaknesses.

There was nothing bad about growing up around heroin because my dad is my best friend in the whole universe and I am the most appreciative person for it. Everyday my dad struggles with the disease I know that he is trying to fight to be in my life and that is the most beautiful thing anyone can live for.

If you grew up with heroin tell me if you agree:

  1. We love harder than anyone in the world.
  2. We don’t take things for granted.
  3. We know that life isn’t fair. We know anxiety and depression.
  4. We understand the concept of losing someone more than once.
  5. We push people away who make us feel that we aren’t independent.
  6. We believe in loyalty but know to what extent loyalty jeopardizes our safety.
  7. We know pain.
  8. We’ve seen things we didn’t want to see but makes us strong.
  9. We live deliberately. We stick up for what is right because we know the consequences of not.
  10. We are healers in some way or another.

The Eyes of Honesty: Saying Sorry For Addiction

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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.


The Blessing of Life: Being Born Sick


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.

Make Each Month Impactful

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Are you excited and on track each month towards some type of goal or mission so that you are making the most impactful life?  Sometimes life can become mundane if we do the same thing over and over again and expect to wake up one day and be the best versions of ourselves. That’s why to keep it continually better, we must find new ways to challenge ourselves. This doesn’t mean we have to change the way we live or start brand new. It can mean trying something new, doing something differently, or building a new habit.

Here I’m recapping what I challenged myself to for May. This is the first of the series called #missionofthemonth! Be sure to check out each months missions and share yours in the comments below!

After you check out my months missions below, be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom to learn how to begin your months missions, too!

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!

Thanks for reading along. Please, if you do do this challenge, tag it with missionofthemonth or tag me. I’d love to hear what you’re doing to make your life more impactful. We all deserve to feel great every year, every month, every day and sometimes in the most mundane of days it has to come within!

My Inspiration: Kehlani

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We all have people who inspire us dearly. Most of my inspirations come from music and people in my day to day life. I love people that express themselves freely and creatively. What do you love and admire? Who is your favorite artist and why? Let me know in the comments below!

Today I’m sharing my inspiration, Kehlani. She’s an up and coming artist and she cares passionately about human beings. She is young, talented, and extremely caring. Check out Kehlani’s Instagram. If there is any natural disaster or large issue that she can speak on she is the first to give a helping hand and offer up all her resources. The Rising Hope Curations Playlist I made for her is below. You can follow it on Spotify.

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 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!


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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.






Never Forget Where You Come From

“So much of what is best in us is bound up in our love of family, that it remains the measure of our stability because it measures our sense of loyalty”

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I come from a mother and father that engrained compassion and love so strongly into my whole being that it shines through and touches those around me. I love so deeply and I care so much about creating meaning in every situation. I work extremely hard and don’t turn any challenge away. I am proud of who I am and I know how I deserve to be treated. I owe that to them.

My parents are both struggling so hard in life and yet they always seem to find a way to make it through. Although I am so scared every day that I will lose them, to the point that sometimes I push them away, I still feel a love and bond with them even when we go weeks without talking.

No matter what my dad and mom are going through they fight through the darkness and always find a way to find the light by me. Ask anyone who knows my parent’s sickness and they will tell you that I am what keeps them alive. It’s a hard thing to swallow as I am trying to keep improving myself and knowing that I can’t help everyone. It’s overwhelming to know that you simply being is what drives people to carry on. I don’t think I deserve the honor but I think there is a purpose for my parent’s strength.

1/19 7:58AM “It was so good to hear from You. You make me want to do good and do something good with myself. I adore you, there is no better anything about anyone than You . God Bless, Daddy”

On my way to DC for a business trip, I was talking to someone at the airport and the last thing he said to me was you should never forget where you come from. It wasn’t the first time I heard this, but it was a quick reminder that I have a true, meaningful story of where I come from. If only he knew how purposeful my life feels because of who my parents are and how they raised me. I wrote a blog post on my favorite things about my parents you can check out.



No matter where you end up: in riches or rags, in fame or alone, find fulfillment in who you were raised to be. That’ll always be the testament of your stability. 


Why I smile at Strangers

Do you make a conscious effort to smile at the people you walk by everyday or even give acknowledgment to the life around you? Think about the interactions you’ve had today. The people who made your coffee, the person who opened the door for you. The first person you talked to today. How did each person make you feel? Sometimes we are so wrapped up in our day (or our phones) we don’t feel it’s possible to look up and simply make an effort to show you see the people around us. Think about how many people you’ve interacted with today or if you were caught up in work or social media.

As I walk down the street and there is only me and one other person. I put away my phone and from about 10 feet away I smile. The woman looks like she has a lot on her mind. She glances at me, looks away, and at about 5 feet she looks back at me and smiles back. And those are those kinds of smiles that make me feel alive. It is not a smile that comes from someone giving a compliment. It is not a smile that comes from doing anything particularly special. It is a smile that comes from accepting one another. It is her and I not caring how late we may be to work, not focusing on the stresses of our lives, not caring about our differences. When we are mindful of each other that can be the start to change someones day. Whether you are receiving the smile or giving it.

Because we smiled at each other we walked past each other with positive thoughts on our mind of how strangers can be nice. When she was out of site, I thought of how she might’ve been having a really bad day but she took that one moment to smile at me.

One summer day I was walking down Somerset Street, passed the Suffolk University dorms when a man and I smiled at eachother as we began crossing the road to oposite sides. At the sidewalk island we began chatting! He asked how my day was going and I said great. He said he worked at the State House and I told him how I was in my last semester of undergrad. We talked about the beautiful weather and then he pulled banana chips out of his bag! He began eating them while we were standing their and I told him how delicious they looked. He held them out and said have some! There we were two strangers, sharing a snack, in the middle of a traffic divider, all because of a simple smile. 

You might be missing out on kindness because you are too busy and everyone is in your way. The destination isn’t the greatest part of life it’s enjoying the journey to get there so maybe it’s time to slow down and smile at a stranger.

Reunited with my dad after 5 years in Prison

My dad is free and I was able to see him for the first time in 5 years outside of prison walls. I received the phone call from my grandpa.

“Dads lawyer called, he said ‘congratulations, your son will be released tomorrow’.” I couldn’t contain my excitement, and the whole situation didn’t even feel real. I felt as though there was no way it could be real. I immediately left work and rushed to the liquor store to buy the best, most affordable wine I could. Then I rushed over to my dads lawyers office and hugged him for a solid 5 minutes.

It still hadn’t hit me that he would be free in one more day. The anticipation was killing me. I had to work my typical 12 hour day that day (Thursday) but my mind was wandering the whole time. At 8:45PM the host at the restaurant called me outside and it was time to see my dad again.

It didn’t feel real but his hug was so comforting. In Russian he told me how much he loved me and we went inside and I introduced him to every single person who I worked with. Walking inside felt the realist like, wow I have worked here for 3 years and my dad is here for the first time right now. We had a great night talking and catching up and the next day we explored Boston together.

My dad has freedom now. It is a new start. When I look at my dad I do not have anything but love and appreciation for him. I do not ever hold it above his head that he has been absent for the five years because I feel so lucky that he is still alive. I do not blame him for missing things such as my high school and college graduation because I know that he needed these five years to become sober. He was given another chance and when I look at him I want him to be strong.

My dad has to be strong and I know I have no control over that. It is up to him to choose to stay sober but I will be supporting him on every step of that journey. I wouldn’t be where I am today without his support and love and the least I can do is love and support him back. If something were to happen I would not have any regrets. I can only control myself and I can only hope that my dads see the way I live and how happy I am and want to do the same.

So far things are going great. My dad is sober. He is no longer locked away. I no longer have to pay $50 to answer his phone calls and they will not be cut off at 20 minutes. I get to call him first. I am the luckiest girl in the world and I know that. I took a path of staying sober and I can’t imagine if I used my parents sickness as an excuse for my own because if I did I would not be sharing this beautiful reunion with my dad the same way.