Open Letter: To Love

“The best love is the kind that awakens the soul; that makes us reach for more, that plants the fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds. That’s what I hope to give you forever.”

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Dear Love,

I sometimes wonder how the word “we” came to define the two of us. It would have been so easy to become nothing more than friendly strangers, and moving to make another lovely soul happy or miserable. But isn’t it amazing how we stopped at each other a little longer, how our hearts beat a second faster, and now we make something so ordinary as everyday to be a miracle called love?

Love is defined in so many ways; we say it is kind, forgiving, understanding, selfless, etc. I believe those are just the attributes and qualities, not the pure definition. Love is a feeling inside your heart when you feel that you are whole with that person in your life. When times get bitter and you have ups and downs, you hold on to that person because you know it was meant to be. Love may not be perfect, but it feels as so. Love is that feeling you have when you realize a connection is truly going in the right direction and bettering the both of you in a remarkable way. Love is also when your boyfriend remembers to put the toilet seat back down, but we’re working on that. That’s just love, though. Love has its good and bad sides. Love can mangle your very being, but that’s true love– it buffs and polishes. Our friction in relationships can sometimes be a part of the cleansing process, and in the end, creating a beautiful shine. It helps you realize that sometimes we receive healing, while sometimes we are the healer. Sometimes we lead, sometimes we follow. Sometimes we hide, sometimes we seek. Sometimes we are rescued, sometimes we are the rescuer.

Love is an ever developing feeling that never stops evolving because we never stop living. To love someone, it’s not just a straight line. It’s in the moments where you look at your partner and find yourself realizing the extent of your emotions time and time again. It’s that chill to your bones first look when you fall in love, and in that earth-shattering moment you realize you’ve found the person you don’t want to live without. You want to imagine the day when nothing else matters but their hand you’re holding, their eyes watching you fall asleep and their smile waking you up every morning. Love is when you make requests and not demands, you’re understanding and not condemning, you give invitations and not ultimatums. Our love is when I bring out the best in you, and you guard my heart and bring out the best in me.

I have all I ever wish to have. I have love.

You are the man I love.
You are the man who hasn’t given up.
You are the man who taught me true love is everything.
You are the man in whose arms I find comfort.
You are the man who made love a reality.
You are the man who makes me laugh eternally.
You are the man who  shares in my joys.
You are the man that pushes me to be and do my best.
You are the man who wipes tears away.
You are the man that is my best friend.
You are the man who chases after me when I run.
You are the man that sacrifices for me.
You are the man who dreams with me.
You are the man that stays.
You are the man that loves me honestly and entirely.
You are the man that is not perfect, but right.
You are the man who creates a life inside of me.
You are the man waiting at the end of the aisle.
You are the man that is forever.
I am a woman in love with a man.
You are the man I love.
Love,
Your Better Half #ForLife

Good Fellas

“I don’t want the ‘perfect gentleman’ because perfect doesn’t exist. But introduce me a man that encourages me to grow, respects me as his equal & gives me mind-blowing sex – then I’m good.”

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A few days ago I had an interesting conversation with one of my girlfriends (mind you, majority of our conversations are nothing less than intriguing and comical). Our talked ranged from our next career moves, buying homes, me having a baby… to then us realizing how it has been at least 15 years since the start of our friendship, but it seems like just yesterday we were these 11 year old girls without a care in the world. We couldn’t help but to laugh at how our pre-teen selves thought we had the slightest idea of what we wanted out of life. I even had a box that I entitled, “My Life.” This box (which I’m sure is somewhere in my parents’ house) had clippings of the type of house I wanted, car my husband and I would each have, career, names of my children, etc. I even had a list of mandatory characteristics for my mate, which closely resembled those of Prince Charming and the various men I had seen in romance films. What tickled us the most from all of this, was that while most of the things we desired had drastically changed, for a long time, we refused to let go of this idea of Prince Charming or the ‘perfect guy.’ Big mistake.

As women, we have this obsession over fictional men and it has to stop. There’s this ongoing battle of the good guy vs. bad guy. But what does a good guy look like? I asked this question to my girlfriend and she ran off a list of unrealistic ideal qualities. In the very next breath, I asked her what type of guy turns her on. Surprisingly, this list was slightly opposite of the things she had previously mentioned, but far more realistic. That got me to thinking– maybe we should change the way that we define good men.

Instead of looking for Prince Charming (because he doesn’t exist, ladies), here is what I see the greatest characteristics of a good man being:

  • Responsive– When men typically find themselves in uncomfortable situations, especially in relationships, they often become unresponsive or defensive and allow their emotions to lead their decisions. A good man will channel these emotions and is ok when things become uncomfortable. He doesn’t need to be in control of the situation and doesn’t attempt to distract us from the issue. He listens and responds. He’s mature enough to be patient and thoughtful, and doesn’t just react, he RESPONDS. Remember, communication is key.
  • Growth– A good man knows that in order to make a relationship grow, they have to be willing to grow too. They ask questions and are open to practicing and experimenting with ways to make a relationship better. They refuse to allow setbacks to be deal-breakers. There isn’t just one path to success and a true good man understands this. There is always more than one way to get what you need in a relationship and for both parties to be happy.
  • Self Aware–  I for one, believe that anyone can change. When it comes to men, I’ve never believed that a woman can change a man, but that instead, a woman can be the reason a man changes– it just takes that special woman. I see so many men make the same mistakes over and over, and become frustrated in their inability to change. They say they want to settle down, but then their behavior says different. Good men are honest with themselves about what it is they want. Awareness in a relationship is all about seeing the truth in our behavior and not listening to excuses or accepting denial.
  • Purpose– Good men set their goals on finding a purpose, not on money or having a “bad bitch.” And everything they do, takes them one step closer to reaching their purpose. Their relationships are worth investing in because they support a much bigger goal. Good men are building a life– not just reaching for the next small ego boost.
  • Get it done– Good men aren’t all talk. When they talk about something, they make it happen. They have power because they don’t allow obstacles to stand in their way. A good man knows that big change comes from small shifts. He is comfortable with progress and small successes, and doesn’t rush the process– nothing happens overnight.

Overall, my definition of a good man is simply a work in progress, but is someone who is willing to put in the work. I have a good man, and if you have a good man– you should thank him.

Women vs. Women

“Other women are not my competition; I stand with them, not against them.”

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After years of experiencing all kinds of female friendships and encounters, both good and bad, I’ve asked myself one question over and over again– why do women hate each other? We are so cruel to each other, dishing out snarky remarks, icy side glances and back-handed compliments, while the guys carry on with their seemingly bottomless supply of kinship and bromance, but we women seem locked in an eternal arch-rivalry. I’m sure if we surveyed a random group of women, most females, no matter how old they are will tell you that they’ve survived at least one type of mean girl in their past. Whether it was a situation that dealt with putting someone down, being dismissed, ignored or even socially tormented, they all seem to boil down to one thing- hatred, and I just don’t understand it.

I am a feminist and I do not hate other women, but I too am guilty of judging women more harshly than men when I dislike them, though I’m not entirely sure why. I truly believe that women gain far more by standing together and working together, than by struggling against one another. As women we should be allies to each other, not taught to hate and compete with each other.

It wasn’t until more recently that I got a full dose of hatred. I was being called a slew of terrible names that were completely unfitting and unjustifiable. The sad part of it all, is that all the hatred and anger came from another woman (and her various aliases). I don’t think that a man has ever verbally assaulted me (or at least not to this degree), but this woman was and at least up until Sunday, still is. It was showing me that jealous women will go out of their way to bring you down. And we think of jealousy and competition as a phenomenon of high school mean girls, but unfortunately, I see it more now with women than I ever did in high school. It’s not sexism, racism, or ageism… it’s just mean. There is no reason for this unnecessary anger except for fear, jealousy and competition.

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Honestly, I think the hatred for other women comes from within. Once a woman hates herself, life, or something about herself, it’s easy for her to hate another woman. Think about it. How many times have you heard, “Who does she think she is?” “She’s not all that anyway?” “Why is she so full of herself?” Could it possibly be that their dislike for this woman is solely based on the fact that she has something other women feel they do not? And let’s keep it real, that something is usually a lifestyle, a relationship or a specific man. Other women will hate, for no reason other than the fact that this woman has something that they feel is out of reach for them.

More often than not, a loving, devoted and amazing man in another woman’s life will cause jealousy on fire in some other women. We engage in this female competition and see male attention as the holy grail of our existence, so we compete with other women for our own self-esteem. We put ourselves in this pretty girl pecking order and when another woman is chosen over us or living the life we want, it makes us feel bad about ourselves, so we call her a slut, a bitch, stupid, ugly and pretend that she is somehow less of a person than we are. We begin to dislike this woman for no logical reason at all and resort to making negative assumptions about her, and perceive her as a sexual rival. If your value as a human being is measured by where you fall on the “hotness” scale, or if you are desired over another woman, your insecurity is going to overshadow any possibility of compassion towards other women, especially if you feel she is more attractive, intelligent and successful than you. It is impossible to stop your hatred for someone that you feel takes away from your perceived value as a human. And life is unfair to start with. So we don’t all have the same opportunities. We’re not all born with stunning looks, and we’re not all given the requisite knowledge to live happy, fulfilling lives and to enjoy enriching and fulfilling intimate relationships and marriages, but that shouldn’t mean we resort to hate.

It is my belief that until we can figure out how to think of ourselves as more than competitors, an assortment of body parts of varying degrees of attractiveness, or these trophies that are waiting to be chosen by men, girl-hate will remain one of the last challenges facing women today and we will continue to encounter a trail of hateful and angry women. Instead, we should be empowering each other; protecting each other against the man-world, and not being so hateful towards one another. Honestly, until we start treating each other with respect, love and support– how can we expect men to do the same? This women-vs-women hatred needs to stop, we are only sabotaging ourselves.

the good, the bad, Meet the UGLY

“He’s moved on, your turn.”

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I received such positive feedback from my previous blog post, which is always a fabulous and appreciative feeling. One email came in from a slightly younger female who said, “Wow, you have the perfect relationship.” I couldn’t help but to laugh before responding to her. I wanted to make it clear to her that perfect is the furthest thing from what my relationship is, but at the same time, I don’t believe ‘perfection’ exists.

I pride myself on my blog being a compilation of open and honest personal essays about my life, and those in my life. It wouldn’t be fair to my readers if I only wrote about the good and proud moments. So it’s time I allow you to meet the ugly.

Brace yourselves…….

As much as I love my man and he’s a dream come true, things did not start off that way. Like most men, he tried to have his cake and eat it too. For those of you who are unfamiliar with that saying, it basically means he thought he would be able to deal with multiple women at a time and it not come to surface. Unfortunately for him and fortunately for myself and the other women involved, that was not the case. After a few months of his shenanigans, the whistle was blown on his charade. Due to the fact that I had been down a similar road before, it took nothing for me to walk away from him and the situation. I would never again allow someone to treat me as an option, and that included him. After a few weeks of me ignoring and avoiding him, we ran into each other. I tried my hardest to stay clear of him that night, but he was determined to talk to me. I eventually agreed to have a conversation with him and after which, I decided to give him another chance– making it clear that if he wanted to be with me, it would be with me and only me.

After about a month into our now committed relationship, he drops one of the biggest bombs on me– one of the other females he was seeing from before, was claiming to be pregnant. It felt as if my heart had literally dropped to my stomach. This was a situation I never wanted myself to be in. I never wanted to be with someone who had children outside of our own. Needless to say, I had a decision to make. I could say “fuck it” and exit his life once again, or I could stick through whatever came of this. And as much as I wanted to turn and walk out of his life, I couldn’t. My love for him had already grown and I wasn’t ready to throw it all down the drain. So I dried my eyes and vowed to stand by his side.

Little did I know, the baby mama drama was awaiting me…..

Definition: A Baby’s Mama is a woman who has a kid(s) for the guy she had intimate relations with. For one reason or another, there is no other committment on the guy’s part and she has been demoted from “possible girlfriend material” to “Baby Mama”. This demotion doesn’t sit well with her and she tries to keep other women away from the man by using scare tactics on them in the hope that once they are gone, he will want her.

The main issue is that this girl refuses to come to terms with the fact that she and him were NEVER in a relationship. For some psychotic reason, she has convinced herself that they were this happy couple and he is abandoning her, which of course is completely false. She was just another girl he happened to be having intimate relations with (along with the others) and because they were irresponsible (not in love), a child was conceived. I definitely blame him for a large part of her craziness, though. He fully admits that he may have used the ‘love’ word in times of intimacy or to get what he wanted, but it wasn’t how he truly felt and that was definitely a jerk move.

Over the last several months, throughout all of her disrespect and caused drama, I have tried to handle the situation in the best way I know how. Part of me does feel sorry for her because I, myself would never want to be having a baby with someone who doesn’t want to be with me in the slightest way. I know pain and I’m sure that hurts. That being said, I try to maintain a cool head and act as mature and logically as possible. I remind myself to take the high road because I know she won’t. She would rather concern herself with the details & status of our relationship, and her failed attempts to sabotage it, then with the preparation of being a mother.

I think what angers me the most from all of this, is not her attacks on me, because I can handle myself, but her attacks on the character of my boyfriend. He has all intentions on being there for this baby emotionally, physically and financially (of course after we get a paternity test; we aren’t stupid), but she treats the situation like a packaged deal– if he doesn’t embrace her, then he’s not embracing the child. That is unfair to both him and the child. Yes, it’s understandable that she wants someone to share her happy times throughout all of this with, but that is what her friends and family are for. The sooner she realizes his only obligation is to this baby, the sooner everything can run smoothly.

No matter what, I’m going to continue to stand by his side and be there every step and plane ride of the way. I told him we were in this together and I mean it with all of my heart. The day he becomes a father is the day I become a stepmother (it still puts a bad taste in my mouth). And even though he constantly tells me, “Morgan, we don’t respond to people beneath us and she is beneath you,” I still feel like the only step that can be taken next is for her and I to hash it out. It is clear that we will never care for one another, but the situation is what it is. She will have to learn to respect our relationship and my role as the woman he shares his life and makes all major decisions with. We are both going to be permanent parts of his life– me by choice and desire, her by baby default. Even more so, our children will one day be siblings, so at some point the adults have to start acting like adults.

I’ve put on my big girl pants and now it’s time she puts on hers.

Reach for the Stars

“Sometimes you fall in love with the most unexpected person, at the most unexpected time.”

unnamedLove has always been something that I am extremely passionate about. I was lucky enough to grow-up in a household with both of my parents and witness the beauty of true love, day after day. Even in my adolescent mind, I believed there was nothing more magical. I vowed to myself that I would one day be so fortunate to experience what my parents were living.

When it came to dating, I was definitely considered a late bloomer. My passion for love, didn’t blind me enough to rush it. I was willing to wait as long as possible for that special someone who would give me the ‘butterflies’ I heard so much of. And once I went away to college, I found that person. Yes, for years, that relationship took pieces of my soul and destroyed me, but the toxicity of that romance only temporarily discouraged me and actually provided me with the lessons on love that I needed.

I learned what I really wanted from a relationship– someone smart and kind who wanted to be with me and only me. I wanted someone I could build a life with. I wanted passion, inside jokes, daydreams about a future life, traveling, sex all day, and morning when we call off work and decide to spend the entire day in bed. I wanted a man I could make dinner for, who cares how my day was, who lays his head in my lap while we watch TV, or holds my hand while we walk down the street. I wanted someone I could fight with, without the heart wrenching terror that every disagreement means the end. I wanted to be able to be quiet together, a man that I can surprise with the perfect thing– whether it be a blow job or a romantic boat ride. I wanted someone who would leave me alone when I’m in a bad mood, but not for too long. I wanted someone who is as complicated and game as I am, who is willing to accept any baggage that comes with me, as I am willing to accept any that comes with them. I learned that I didn’t want a perfect relationship, just a work in progress that everyone is committed to improving each day. I wanted love. Words of love, acts of love and commitment to love.

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I am proud and happy to say, I have finally been blessed with all of these things.

Next month will be exactly one year since I met the love of my life. When I think about his initial approach and numerous attempts thereafter to peak my interest, I can’t help but to smile and slightly chuckle. I will be the first (and I’m sure he’ll be the second) to admit that never in a million years would I have thought we would be at the point we’ve reached. But now, I can’t imagine a day going by, without us sharing our lives together.

This man has helped me realize that there is a difference between being in love when it’s unrequited and loving someone who loves you back. I value myself in showing the people I love that I love them, to meet their needs and soothe their fears and cheer for their successes. And for once in my life, I am blessed with a man who does the same for me.

For years I chased love and then I gave up the hope for it entirely. Two years since then, he has helped me bring that part of myself back to life and realize how very, very much I want it. He has helped me remember that I love sex, crave affection, and am a hell of a person to date. I’m loyal, I’m empathic, understanding, forgiving, and there is simply nothing I wouldn’t do for the people I love. Him reminding me of all of this, I am eternally grateful.

While our road to love started off rocky and has been far from easy, it is everything I’ve imagined and more. I am fortunate enough to live my life having the person I would go through hell and high-water for, show and tell me how much they love and adore me. To wake up some mornings still looking like yesterday, but his first words spoken to me are that “you’re beautiful.” To sit and plan out our future together, talk about having a family and facing any obstacles thrown our way, together. To be reminded with a comforting tone and soft touch that regardless of disagreements we are never enemies and always partners. To have someone who makes life decisions with you, rather than for or without you.

All in all… I’m glad that he never gave up his pursuit, regardless of how many times I turned him down. I’m glad that I eventually agreed to a date and that he didn’t leave when I kept him almost 2 hours waiting. I’m glad that my family loves him and his family loves me. I’m glad that he loves me and all of my imperfections and knows how so very much I love him. I’m glad that I’m here, he’s here and we’re here together.

My belief in love has been restored and it looks like I’m going to get my happy ending after all.

Dating: Hookups|Lovers|Relationships

“Don’t say you love me, unless you mean it. Because I might do something crazy like believe it.”

 

I’ve been AWOL from the blog world for quite some time. There is nothing in particular that made me stop blogging, other than life. Things happen, life becomes overwhelming (in both pleasant and not so pleasant ways) and before you know it, a year and a half has passed. Now that I feel as though I finally have a grip on things, I decided it was time for my epic return. Okay, maybe not epic, but hey, I’m back.

For those of you who have been following my blog since the beginning, you know that I’ve been known for writing relationship/love/sex posts and often sharing personal stories around these topics– well, I’m pleased to say things have not changed.

Today’s post is centered around dating……..

When I use the term “dating,” I tend to use it fairly loosely. In my opinion, there are many degrees of dating, including: hookups, lovers, and relationships. Hookups are nothing more than a booty call, which is capable of happening at any hour; not restricted to just late nights & early mornings. Lovers, a concept I have been thinking about a lot lately and one that has become fairly popular, is very similar to hookups, but a little more intimate. Having a lover simply means that you enjoy having sex with each other and rather than just parting ways after, there is an added bonus of some quality companionship. Relationships, however, that’s the real deal. A relationship is when you and your guy have mutually stated that the two of you are in a committed, monogamous relationship with one another. And yes, even in your 20s you need to have that “are we boyfriend and girlfriend” conversation. I think one of the biggest mistakes we make as women, is that we don’t clarify our role in a male’s life, slide our hearts into situations and decide to assign ourselves our own titles.

For the most part, dating in your 20s is mostly exploratory. Dating during this stage in your life involves a lot of juggling, a lot of rejection, a lot of confusion and a lot of hurt feelings. I was once told that men in their 20s tend to “date” multiple women at a time because they are testing out who is the best fit for them. When you’re looking for an outfit that complements you best, you try on several before committing to one. Well, this is similar to the male’s thought process before deciding to get into a relationship. At first listen, I found this to be completely ridiculous. After giving it much thought, though, I somewhat understand. We all complain about wasted time when relationships end, but maybe if we explored our options more, we would choose better mates and not feel so much regret down the line. Where I believe men go wrong with this particular dating method, is that many of them don’t make it clear that they are dating other women, when becoming involved with a female and that causes major issues when she is ultimately rejected, especially if she had already convinced herself they were in a relationship, rather than just hooking up or lovers.

After I had the conversation with my friend, I started to look at dating like a science experiment: you combine different chemicals hoping for a reaction, but sometimes it doesn’t happen– and that’s okay. Not everyone you date is going to be headed on a linear trajectory towards marriage or a monogamous long-term commitment. And that is okay. You can still appreciate people and experiences for what they were. Yes, rejection sucks and sometimes it really, really hurts, especially when someone else is chosen over you. However, this is all a by-product of dating. You will never be able to find the right person if you never reject or get rejected by the ones who aren’t right for you. Besides, do you want to be with someone who isn’t into you 100%? No, you deserve better.

I say all this to say, ladies– dating is just that…DATING. Stop confusing hookups with lovers, and lovers with relationships. Stop claiming men who have not committed themselves to you. Stop turning to hatred when a man rejects you and chooses someone that is a better fit for their life. Stop always playing victim and crying that a home was wrecked, which never existed. Stop confusing things said during passionate, sexual moments between you and your lover, with real life promises and desires. Stop ignoring the fact that you are more sensitive than you like to think, you get attached easily, and casual sex may not be for you. And when a situation does end, stop resorting to childish & pathetic antics, such as: the infamous ‘keep a man baby trap’- which NEVER works & only hurts an innocent child; dramatic scenes in public– which aren’t very becoming and only show you in a negative light; and fighting– which could leave you severely hurt.

From having feelings for people to being rejected, emotions and situations will present themselves and catch you off-guard. But remember how a person rejects you is on them, and no, they don’t always go with the best method. But how you confused your role in their life is on you & you can’t complain about a situation you put yourself in.

All in all, remain an advocate for love, even if it doesn’t currently benefit you. Dating all comes down to eventually finding someone whose flaws work with your own. Someone who will not only appreciate your imperfections, but revels in them. I think that’s called love and love is tricky, so be patient.

New Year, Same Me

“Do not believe in anything because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything because it is spoken by many. Do not believe in anything because it is written in religious books. Do not believe in anything on the authority of your teachers. Do not believe in traditions just because they have been handed down. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”

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I’ve been so busy over the last couple of months that I haven’t had the opportunity to reflect over 2013 (or blog). For as long as I can remember, I would set New Year resolutions at the end of a year. Last year, in an inspired moment, I made New Year intentions. However, by January 1st things were already not going anywhere close to how I had planned. Despite the rocky start, 2013 turned out to be an absolutely amazing year. Yes, there were a few (read: a lot) bumps in the road, which made me question choices I was making, but I needed those bumps to occur to finally reach the path and pace I’m at now.

With January 2014 being a mere 4 days away, I’m starting the year with cautious optimism. Wait, I retract that statement, I’m starting the year with complete optimism– go hard or go home, right? I do not plan on making a dozen resolutions only to forget about them by the first week of February. So, I’m making one choice and that is to just hit play.

What I want most out of 2014 is tweaks, that in change give me a slightly better life and perhaps offers me the chance to do the same for others. I do have actionable goals dancing around in my beautiful mind, but they’re a) rather boring and b) rather personal. Instead, I am going to share a few mantras I’m using this new year. Because I’ve already pressed play on living the life I want, I’ve been using these since the latter part of 2013, and they’ve been unquestionably valuable. They feel right. They feel relevant. They feel “now.”

1. Metanoia

2013 will forever be remembered as the year I unlearned everything I was taught & finally felt free. Metanoia is the journey of changing one’s mind, heart, self, and/or way of life. I discovered that being comfortable with yourself, beliefs, desires, actions and thoughts are all paths on this journey that leads to happiness. I’ve practiced metanoia for several months now and it works. I am generally happier and when I am happy it only brings about more happiness.

2. Just start. The journey will change (you).

This is a big one. For too long I stayed in a job and entertained a relationship that brought me nothing but conscious misery. I was so afraid of starting over in both instances, that I allowed fear to takeover my life. Then one day, I just did it and let go of them both! I didn’t know how I was going to survive being without either, but I learned along the way. Now I’m in a career that brings me so much joy and my romantic life has never been so wonderful [blushes]. My journey changed for the better, changed me for the better and all I had to do was start.

3. I am beautiful.

Say it with me, I am beautiful! I am including this here for a reason. Yes, I wouldn’t mind if I gained some pounds (no error, I said gain). Yes, I would love larger breasts. Yes, I want my curls to stop being so rebellious. That is all fine. But I must know that I am beautiful regardless of any of that. I am a beautiful full stop. We all are. Remember, someone’s inability or unwillingness to see your worth or beauty does not decrease the value of either.

With all of that being said, 2013 was about taking first steps. It was about ironing out the emotional wrinkles. Unearthing the obstacles I put in my way and finding that I am stronger than I made myself out to be. 2014 is about continuing to work on this amazing person 2013 helped me become. To do everything in my life with soul, creativity and love.