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Breaking With Tradition: Jesus Isn’t White & Student Activism Should Be Encouraged

Much like political affiliations and whether you prefer Target to Wal-Mart, religious beliefs are very much learned and passed down from generation to generation—a precious heirlooms, though treasured, may not be real.

As the mother of an inquisitive 5-year-old, it is now my time to continue the tradition of gifting my daughter with the same religious foundation that was given to me by a mother who held firm in the belief of training “a child in the way he should go.” Only I’ll upgrade my family’s heirloom with a shiny new gem: Jesus, like Santa Claus, is not a white man. Nor is He a convenient chameleon that morphs into whatever ethnicity, race or gender of the person who seeks Him. My understanding and belief is that He is a feeling that cannot be accurately illustrated despite the centuries-long depictions perpetuated on paraphernalia and stained glass windows in places of worship.

CHURCH OF THE REDEEMER, TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA - 2015/03/15: Jesus on the Road to Emmaus: Beautiful stained glass windows at the Church of the Redeemer in downtown Toronto. (Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)

via Getty Images

My mother, who received the same ideals from her parents, gave my religious beliefs to me, only she didn’t explain to me that the porcelain-skinned brunette on every other page of my Sunday School book was merely an illustration—a single perspective, an image cultivated from the imagination of someone with something to gain from the image, be it money, power, or both.  Overlooking the discrepancy between the imaginative physical concept of Jesus and the interpreted directive of the biblical scripture in Deuteronomy 4:16 (NIV):  “…so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman…”– caused me a great deal of confusion and severed my prayer life and spiritual connection for many years.  My experience with being “churched” in such a way that resulted in my spiritual inadequacy has served as the catalyst for laying all the cards–the ones I hold, at least–on the table and visible for my daughter to see. 

At age five, many children still view parents as the apples of their eye.  The raggedy robe that I don the moment the day’s work ends and my bra hits the floor, is nothing less than queen’s garb to my daughter. That said, wielding the words and recycled beliefs of her father and I as her shield and armor, my little one will go to battle with anyone.  As she is currently enjoying her first fall as a kindergarten student at an Episcopalian school, I keep my phone nearby in anticipation of the day I will receive a call from an insoluble school chaplain telling me that my daughter has started a riot (with Jesus’ birth approaching, I’m expecting that phone call in the upcoming weeks).  I imagine my little one waging war on decades of inaccuracies, misinterpretations and traditions.  She’s been known to upset an entire pre-school class by telling classmates  that McDonald’s fries are poison. Good. Dang, good. But poisonous. Her father–the health and wellness coach–taught her about pesticides and agriculture and that was all she wrote…

So yeah, I’ve practiced my speech, polished up my inflections and rehearsed my facial expressions in preparation of the day that the roles will reverse and I will have to back my daughter’s words up and treat what have become her beliefs as the truth, the gospel and the way. 

There are so many horrid examples of what it looks, feels and sounds like to be accused of hating another individual, group of people or sets of beliefs for simply exercising your right to believe, to love, to think, to have a perspective, to just be. If you tout that #blacklivesmatterthat somehow means you hate law enforcement and any person who does not identify as black. If you support, or better yet, if you do not loudly condemn gay marriage you are unequivocally rejecting Christianity and making reservations for a seat in hell. Similarly, if you teach your child that Jesus is not an image meant to be drawn, duplicated and idolized and can instead be felt in your heart, in music, in a flower growing through a crack in the cement, you may be accused of intentionally teaching your child to hate, to cause disruption and confusion.  

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But alas, the beauty of perception, individuality, freedom of speech and thought, and prayer–much, much prayer–has allowed me to feel at peace with teaching my daughter to question what she is being taught. Question third-hand knowledge and when able, seek the answer for herself. Accepting others’ truth, including the heirloom of truth passed down from generation to generation, is not a pressure she has to suffocate from.

In honor of activism and student activism and not accepting behaviors and traditions because “it’s how it’s been done for years,” I salute the students at the University of Missouri who aren’t afraid to demand change, to confront history and to spark a movement. I salute my daughter, the 5-year-old activist who fearlessly questions “truths” until she finds comfortable resolve. 

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For now, I await that phone call…

 

 

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Andrea
Andrea is a native San Franciscan raised on a heaping dose of colorful truths and beautiful stories. A freelance writer at heart and a public health social worker by trade, she makes the truth look pretty even when it isn't. Her work has been featured on The Guardian, Huffington Post, JETmag.com, Clutch and xojane to name a few.
puzzles-1515717

#30Layers30Days–Not Every Puzzle Is Meant to Be Solved

The next puzzle piece has yet to be created

This is why we wallow in a chronic state of violence, oppression and hatred

There hasn’t been an antidote, a vaccine or legislation

that has rendered us kind, empathetic and gracious

The piece is still missing

And we’re paralyzed and broken

Making me a token hasn’t placated me: IT’S NOT WORKING

“The next puzzle piece” indicates that the last piece was found

But the puzzle is a puzzle because it’s meant to confound

Confusion and defeat are comfortable and addictive

They blind and constrict us, two of the reasons we have yet to locate the pieces that are missing

But it’s American for the wrongdoers, the voluntary blinded and constricted to be absolved

Because not every puzzle is meant to be solved

The next puzzle piece has yet to be created

We’re all waiting on a solution when we each have the power to make it

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This post is Day 11 of a 30-Day Writing Challenge, #30Layers30Days

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Andrea
Andrea is a native San Franciscan raised on a heaping dose of colorful truths and beautiful stories. A freelance writer at heart and a public health social worker by trade, she makes the truth look pretty even when it isn't. Her work has been featured on The Guardian, Huffington Post, JETmag.com, Clutch and xojane to name a few.
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How ‘Being Kara’ Reminds Us that Motherhood is a Game of Survival

Every parent damages his or her child in one-way or another. Even the most successful and well-meaning parents do something to their children that will undoubtedly follow them from childhood into adulthood and possibly a welcoming seat on the therapist’s sofa.

The theme of the latest episode of Being Mary Jane was motherhood and survival. The episode, titled, “Being Kara” shows the character Kara attempting to juggle a budding relationship, an entitled Mary Jane, an annoying ex-husband, a demanding career, and two children, one of whom may have a learning disability. We see Kara struggle to be “every woman” and attempt to bring her best self to every aspect of her life, but she soon realizes that shit is just way too trill.

As a full-time employee, mommy and wife with too much gall and too few psychotropic medications to call it quits on the whole blogger-freelance writer shenanigans, I saw glimpses of my life being played out on television. Kara’s feelings of failure, regret, anxiety and trepidation are shared. Her near breakdown after burning brownies and failing to join the ranks of “together moms” who seemingly care perfectly for their perfect children and bake Pinterest-perfect goods for the school bake sale is simply Thursday ‘round these parts. Only none of my friends bake, leaving me to walk the dirty linoleum floors of the nearest 24-hour Wal-Mart searching for the least sugary cupcakes that can be pawned off as homemade. No one is fooled, but I feel like a better mom for having gone through all of the effort. 

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As I struggle more and more with how I parent, my ability to be a decent role model, and how, without being too abrasive, to teach my daughter valuable life lessons, I wonder what will be the definitive effed up thing(s) I will do or say to eventually be the cause of my daughter’s a) recurring therapy appointment, b) the muse behind her award-winning art, c) the reason my future son-in-law will hate me or d) all of the above.

Being Kara means being a headstrong mommy and an “every woman” who hasn’t quite learned that every hat worn doesn’t complement her outfit. Being a parent means accepting that you will likely be the subject of more than a few of your child’s journal entries. Being Kara, being a parent, being a mother means being a survivor. I survive by unashamedly taking moments for myself.  Kara survives by climaxing and managing her anxiety with prescribed anti-depressants.  We survive. 

So Kara, from one mother to another, you are understood.

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Andrea
Andrea is a native San Franciscan raised on a heaping dose of colorful truths and beautiful stories. A freelance writer at heart and a public health social worker by trade, she makes the truth look pretty even when it isn't. Her work has been featured on The Guardian, Huffington Post, JETmag.com, Clutch and xojane to name a few.
freelance

How Not to Play Yourself as a Freelance Writer Part 2

Last week, I compiled a list of ways freelance writers can avoid playing themselves, and before I knew it, I had enough tips for two blog posts. As it turns out, there are more freelancing pitfalls to look out for than becoming an envy-fueled, byline-blocking spammer who doesn’t have an accountability partner (yikes). So without further ado, here are some additional tips on what not to as a freelance writer if you want to flourish instead of flounder, because it takes way more than a mean pen game.

Trying to do too much: Earlier this year, I was working six days a week, which meant bylines on bylines on bylines, but after a while, I had to ask myself for why? I am by no means rich, wealthy or anywhere near it — I needs my checks — but running myself into the ground trying to keep up with every scandal, news item or hashtag simply isn’t worth it.

Thinking that writing skills = automatic flow of work:

Your words sing, dance and twerk their way off the page, but when it comes to landing a byline, there are more politics involved, like timing, connections, persistence and the list goes on. This is precisely why you shouldn’t (but probably still will) bemoan that writer who lands bylines at that pub you’ve pitched a zillion times, despite the fact that we both know you could’ve written that article 10 times better.

Underestimating the power of your blog:

Not only is a personal blog  a great way to hone skills and work through insecurities about writing, it can also serve as a point of contact for potential clients. Also, prospective freelancers who are looking to write for money can use their posts to pitch paying publications. Trust me — it works, and you’d be surprised at who’s reading your seemingly random musings about home life or your fave polish of the week.

Allowing fear to stop you from pitching:

Honestly, pitching still scares the beejezus out of me, depending on the publication. But most of the rejection that beginning freelance writers dread doesn’t actually happen the way they envision it. Instead of nasty responses telling me I needn’t quit my day job (too late for that), the rejections I’ve received have all come in the form of silence. Writers I know who have received responses are usually told that their idea isn’t a good fit for the publication, and in some cases, they’ve been invited to pitch again. Which brings me to…

Not following up on rejected pitches:

If an editor asks you to pitch them again, do it, and soon. They receive a ton of pitches, so yours must’ve been pretty special to elicit a personal invitation to try again.

Don’t give away too much info for free:

There’s no coincidence why this little gem is last on my list. While I am an advocate of helping other freelance writers and sharing information with pretty much anyone who asks, there’s a limit to how many details I’m willing to part with for free 99. I could write a separate blog post on all the ways I have completely played myself by doing what basically amounted to consulting work because I genuinely enjoy helping others and I thought (wrongly) that I was forging a reciprocal relationship with people who would eventually help me in return. Now that I know better (and have sworn off dealing with leeches), I am making plans to package the info and monetize it in the future.

With that, fellow writers, let’s stop playing ourselves and start with progressing.

Happy freelancing!

 

 

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Kenya
Kenya is a freelance writer and copy editor from Dallas. She is contributor for HelloGiggles and Apartment Therapy. Her work has also been published on JET, xoNecole, Elite Daily and Bustle, to name a few.
bestfriends

Signs You’re Involved in a One-Sided Friendship

The epidemic of one-sided friendships didn’t begin with Girlfriends’ Joan and Toni or Being Mary Jane‘s MJ and Lisa.  If ongoing celebrity Twitter beefs and chart topping songs, “Loyal” and “No New Friends,” are any indication of the state of friendship and the constant balancing act it takes to keep them afloat, then the epidemic of one-sided friendships deserves a hashtag and a spring cleaning, fall season be damned.

Even with the demands of life—especially as adulthood and parenthood have the tendency to seize a great amount of our time—those demands shouldn’t be built-in excuses to suck as a friend.

Because I’m a bit dramatic and have a penchant for remembering great quotes, I like to reference friendship to that of oxygen. Lauryn Hill was quoted in a glossy whose name I can’t recall, stating that people are like oxygen. From my experience friends—the real kind—are like oxygen; much needed to survive.

Friendship, while very subjective, is at its core reciprocal. Although #ByeFelecia has become a hashtag-turned-television series, we who know the ’90s hit movie Friday to be a modern classic, realize the reason Felecia was so often dismissed is because she came around only to receive, never to give.

via GIPHY

So in an effort to begin early spring cleaning, use this list created by Rise by Design Coaching as a litmus test to gauge if it’s time for you to say “bye Felecia” to a few of your friends.  You may even discover that you’re the Felecia amongst your friends. 

Signs You Are Involved in a One-Sided Friendship:

  • Your friend is always asking favors of you, but never returns them
  • You initiate contact most, if not all, of the time
  • Your friend invites other friends to share activities instead of you
  • Your friend always has an excuse as to why they can’t get together
  • Your friend rarely calls you back
  • You take the time to reach out and be there for your friend during hard times, but your friend doesn’t do the same for you.
  • Your friend justifies their lack of thoughtfulness & engagement to “I’m just not that good with keeping in touch”.
  • Well wishes, such as for birthdays or holidays, are not reciprocated
  • Your friend doesn’t follow through with what they say they are going to do
  • They only surface when it’s convenient for them
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Andrea
Andrea is a native San Franciscan raised on a heaping dose of colorful truths and beautiful stories. A freelance writer at heart and a public health social worker by trade, she makes the truth look pretty even when it isn't. Her work has been featured on The Guardian, Huffington Post, JETmag.com, Clutch and xojane to name a few.
BMJ Season 3 Episode 3 (Photo: BET)

How Lamar Odom and ‘Being Mary Jane’ Should Have You Considering an Advance Directive

It has been over two weeks since former Los Angeles Laker Lamar Odom was hospitalized following a reported overdose at a Nevada brothel.

But you knew that already. How could you not? Mainstream media has brought Lamar Odom—man, son, father, two-time NBA champion and 2010-2011 NBA Sixth Man of the Year—and his woes closer to us than most second cousins. Talk of his health and what many people have rationalized as the “curse” that befell Odom the moment he said “I do” to one of the members of “America’s First Family,” has made it to our dinner tables, our water cooler conversations and social media space.

Since reports of Odom’s alleged overdose and the grim prognosis that followed, it has been clear that the real focus is not Odom’s health and well-being and his rise, fall, rise, and fall again story that mirrors so many men and women we encounter daily.  Instead, the epicenter has been the affairs of those on the peripheral of his near death experience. Media has focused on Odom’s wife and the rest of the Kardashian-Jenner clan, Odom’s father and his mottled past, and even former teammate Kobe Bryant. The headlines of Odom’s ordeal have been a regular game of “Where’s Waldo,” Kardashian-style.

But this post is not to lament over mainstream media’s lack of compassion. This post is the silver lining of a medical and mental health situation that resulted in the hospitalization of a man who had been separated from his wife when he was declared comatose and unable to make decisions for himself. Recognize Odom’s health crisis as a learning opportunity and the silver lining of a tragedy that could have been worse.

  In my profession there have been countless times where I have witnessed a comatose, brain dead or otherwise medically incompetent patient’s fate be decided by strangers, unwilling medical agents or family members whose judgment was clouded by guilt, selfishness and pain.   Despite Lamar Odom being nearly divorced from Khloe Kardashian, she is still legally his next of kin and medical decision-maker. This situation is not unique to Lamar and Khloe.  In many regards it was almost repeated on the most recent episode of Being Mary Jane when one of the characters committed suicide…because the black community also falls victim to suicide and mental illness. Had that character’s farewell been botched, or had she avoided death only to fall into a coma, her mother—the mother she hadn’t spoken to for years—would have been the person to decide her fortune. This is often the scenario when individuals do not take the time to educate themselves, evaluate and define “quality of life,” and establish medical advance directives.

If you’re at least 18 years of age and capable of reading this post, then you’re of sound mind and able to decide–in advance–the person or persons you wish to enforce your medical wishes in the event you’re ever incapable of doing so on your own volition.

April 16th is National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), but today I encourage you to define what quality of life looks and feels like to you. Advanced care planning is the best gift you can give yourself and your loved ones.

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For state specific resources and information on how to complete an advance directive please visit NHDD.org.

Follow Un-Edited on Twitter @Un_Edited for more #TruthNoBackspace

Andrea on twitterAndrea on instagramAndrea on email2
Andrea
Andrea is a native San Franciscan raised on a heaping dose of colorful truths and beautiful stories. A freelance writer at heart and a public health social worker by trade, she makes the truth look pretty even when it isn't. Her work has been featured on The Guardian, Huffington Post, JETmag.com, Clutch and xojane to name a few.
freelance writer

How Not to Play Yourself as a Freelance Writer Part 1

Here’s a confession: I don’t have enough writing friends. Believe it or not, pals with whom I can lament over the joys and stresses of freelance writing are a rarity in my life, which leaves me partaking in way too many one-sided conversations with the hubs about bylines, pitches and how I should handle my latest #BBHMM moment when yet another janky client decides they can’t be bothered with paying me.

Since I feel guilty about constantly bombarding him with information he couldn’t care less about and because my constant social media lurking tells me that there are other writers who could actually benefit from this info, I’ve compiled a list of ways that freelance writers can avoid playing themselves. This list comes from some of my mistakes as well as some that I’ve observed from fellow professional scribes, so if you feel slightly embarrassed while reading,  realize that you’re not the only writer who’s engaged in some of this face-palmy behavior.

Refusing to help other writers:

When I first got into freelancing, a businessman referred me to the editor of a small local newspaper who refused to help me. She dismissed me because she was too busy, plus she didn’t already know me from the work she’d done on my college campus as a part of the National Association of Black Journalists. I didn’t get a chance to tell her that while in school, I worked full-time and had a magazine internship, which didn’t leave me much time for NABJ or anything else, but it’s all good because clearly, I dodged a bullet.

Since then, I’ve heard numerous stories about established writers who flatly refuse to help other writers with simple information such as sharing contact info or answering a question about their experience writing for a particular publication. I do realize there are some instances where sharing an editor’s contact info may not be appropriate, but I’m referring to blatant byline blocking, wherein the writer ain’t trying to help because they fear that assisting someone else will hinder their progress. But guess what: Helping another writer get a leg up isn’t going to take away from your opportunities. With all the paid writing jobs I see every single day, there’s enough room for everyone to get a piece of the pie and to be quite honest, one writer’s byline ain’t gon’ stop my hustle.

Spamming other writers on social media:

In my humble opinion, I’m not even on the freelance writer who warrants spamming level (not that any writer does, but lil’ ole me?). Still, that doesn’t stop random bloggers/writers who haven’t even bothered to say hello to me online from sending me links to their work or DMing me to share their posts. It’s pushy, annoying and most importantly ignored by me.  Why not introduce yourself and engage in authentic conversation with folk and develop a relationship first, then naturally work your writing in?

Also, that tit-for-tat business doesn’t work very well either, at least not for me.  I tried that “you share mine, I share yours” arrangement, but that grew old really quick, and it just doesn’t feel genuine. Like, why am I sharing your piece on the horticultural interests of 17th century Spanish aristocracy when that topic doesn’t interest me, the piece is not well-written and/or I only did it because you retweeted my article on Christina Aguilera’s “Hurt” video?

Repeatedly doing business with people or publications that have burned you:

OK, so opinions may vary on whether writers should permanently sever ties with a publication that wronged them, but I’m of the “Oh, hell no, not again,” mindset. In my experience, when given the opportunity to redeem themselves, my list (yes, list) of repeat offender pubs failed miserably. Bottom line is I’ve been there, done that, got multiple burns to prove it and I’m done.

Not having an accountability partner:

God bless Andrea, my writing partner and the other half of Un-Edited. She’s dope as hell, has helped me minimize my writing-related backsliding and holds me to my words (even when I forget them). Honestly, if it wasn’t for her, I would’ve probably beat a hasty, yet regret-filled retreat back to cubicle life by now. If you don’t have a writing accountability partner in your life, I suggest you get one ASAP.

Underestimating the value of your time: So, now it’s my turn to face-palm. I once spent several hours writing and sourcing photos for an article that I earned $15 for just because I thought writing for so-and-so would put me on the map, but it wasn’t worth the hassle. By the time I submitted the story, I was in the hole. You’ve been warned…

Writing strictly for pay: I believe in dabbling in a little bit of everything because you may find that you’re interested in previously unexplored topics that a publication asks you to cover. But don’t let writing to pay the bills become your sole motivation for pitching or targeting certain clients because that’s the fastest route to burn out.

Welp, by now you’re either cringing with embarrassment or feeling aptly prepped to go forth into freelancing.

In between licking your wounds or penning the next greatest pitch, make sure to stop by for How Not to Play Yourself as a Freelance Writer Part 2, coming next week. (Yes, there is more.)

 

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Kenya
Kenya is a freelance writer and copy editor from Dallas. She is contributor for HelloGiggles and Apartment Therapy. Her work has also been published on JET, xoNecole, Elite Daily and Bustle, to name a few.
SAD

Battling the Blues: 7 Ways to Cope With Seasonal Affective Disorder

Many people approach the fall and winter excitedly anticipating the start of cuffing season or finally being able to pair their sexiest knee-high boots with trendy Olivia Pope-inspired coats. Unfortunately, I’m not at all consumed by the notion of cozy, romantic jaunts or flaunting fashionable ensembles that shield my body from the plunging temperatures. Instead, I’m preoccupied with summoning an extra dose of self-compassion to safeguard myself against the toll that Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, has invariably taken on my mind, body and soul every year for the past five years. 

To put it bluntly, SAD is a relentless, punctual bastard who shows up annually on my doorstep, trifling and empty-handed as ever.


Before I became better acquainted with its effects, I mistakenly attributed my annual slump to the inconveniences that seasonal changes bring (because driving in sleet and snow is a b*tch), and I thought that maybe I was traumatized by the unfortunate experience of nursing my first broken heart in the dead of winter (because that is the loneliest of loneliness). Until I was officially diagnosed with depression, those were just two of the reasons I used to try and justify why I felt like the absolute worst version of myself once the seasons started to change.

In reality, SAD is a potentially life-threatening form of depression that is directly linked to changes in the season. According to Psychology Today, SAD affects an estimated 10 million Americans, most of whom are women. While it commonly strikes during the fall and winter, reverse SAD can also take its toll during the summer months. Clearly, it’s not a joke, but neither is the way I handle it. So before seasonal sadness swoops in for its annual roundup, here are seven methods I use to cope with the effects of SAD:

Be proactive. I’ve never been much of a planner but dealing with SAD has forced me to seriously step up my game. Imagine if you threw an annual party and you already knew a particular individual showed up to each gathering like clockwork to act a damn fool. This isn’t Basketball Wives, so you wouldn’t stand around and watch the drama unfold, and thanking SAD for its services and dismissing it isn’t a viable option. Instead, I like to treat SAD like that person who only gained entry to the party because they name-dropped depression at the door. 


When it arrives, I already have a plan of attack: a list of methods that did/did not help me cope in years past, the names of people who’ve agreed in advance to support me when the going gets tough, as well as some cash set aside to finance extra date nights or a quick getaway with the hubby because getting out of the house is essential to my personal self-care routine, especially when I’m depressed.

Pinpoint your triggers and avoid them at all costs. Triggers include literally anything that could potentially offset your SADness. They could range from attending family gatherings where relatives you don’t like will be present, to getting all caught up in mushy holiday commercials that make you feel extra lonesome, not to mention broke. I’m not particularly fond of either activity, so I turn down the invites (anybody who doesn’t like it can stay mad) and I hit up Netflix so I can choose what the hell I watch on TV (eff yo’ sappy Black Friday propaganda).

Be vocal about your feelings. Like the total hater that it is, SAD thrives on isolation. The urge to physically and mentally burrow into a hole with your emotions can be overwhelming, but it’s super important to remain open with a trusted friend or relative, even if you feel like a burden. Depression layers a thick haze over my self-awareness and ability to think clearly, so I tend to use others to gauge my behavior. If I slightly detect that old familiar unsettled feeling, I have no problem asking my husband if there’s any disturbing patterns that he’s observed from me. Sometimes I think I’m OK when it’s clear to him that I’m not.

Watch your diet and ease up on the booze. I know, I know. The season to be jolly beckons, plus Beyoncé warned us to “never drop that alcohol.” But when it comes to SAD, consider coming up with a personalized, liquor-free remix to “7/11.”

Also, keep in mind that you feel what you eat. Overindulging in rich, sugary, fatty meals turn me into a sluggish, anxious mess, which only exacerbates the impact of SAD.  

Get active. To someone dealing with SAD, the word exercise sounds downright offensive. But the endorphins released during a workout are the real deal. They boost your mood and your ability to focus, which will help you think clearly and balanced, unlike the muddled, irrational thoughts depression wants you to accept as the truth. I recently enrolled in a Bikram yoga class that has done wonders for my anxiety in a short period of time, so it’s officially on my list of anti-SAD activities.

Write or vlog it out. Don’t be alarmed—these personal musings are not for the ‘Gram. They’re strictly to help you come face-to-face with your reality. So many people use the mirror solely to check their physical reflection, but they never bother to look past the surface. As horrifying as it sounds, I saved a video of myself from when I was really down and watched it back as soon as I recorded it. It was extremely sobering and almost felt like observing a stranger for whom I had an immense amount of compassion. And who am I kidding—it also made me cringe like hell. But in the end, it motivated me to do whatever I needed to do to stay afloat, because I never want to see myself in that condition again.

Seek therapy. We’re only a couple weeks into the fall, but I already have my therapist on deck because this time of year is when I need that extra bit of support the most. In December 2013, my seasonal mood swings became markedly more pronounced and a heated argument culminated in suicidal thoughts, which ultimately led to my roughest bout with depression to date. I’ve grown stronger since then, but relapses are always in the back of my mind. However, knowing that I have at least one go-to person who provides ego and judgment-free assistance helps me to keep SAD in check. If the thought of speaking to a stranger face-to-face makes you uneasy, consider reaching out to The National Prevention Suicide Lifeline, or Imalive.org, an online network of certified crisis intervention volunteers. In the spirit of Mental Health Awareness Week, don’t hesitate to research and secure resources that help you manage. Because #Iamstigmafree, I realize that my struggle is way too real to go unaddressed because a misguided, uninformed segment of the population believes people with mental illnesses should suffer in silence.

The bottom line is I refuse to allow SAD to come barging into my party simply because my depression insists on handing out invites without my approval. I’m expecting it to arrive any day now. Meanwhile I’m busy hiding my good china, warning my other guests, and preparing myself for its impending foolishness. I may not be able to completely rid my life of the annual SAD visits, but I can make sure that it wipes its feet upon entry, and understands that while I might waver, I won’t back down from the fight of my life.

This post was published on xoNecole.

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Kenya
Kenya is a freelance writer and copy editor from Dallas. She is contributor for HelloGiggles and Apartment Therapy. Her work has also been published on JET, xoNecole, Elite Daily and Bustle, to name a few.
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‘Being Mary Jane’: 10 Lessons I Learned From Season 2

For two seasons, Being Mary Jane has been a guiltless addiction that doesn’t warrant an intervention. Mara Brock Akil’s sensational scripted drama series has upgraded our musical palate with what we consider to be one of the absolute dopest playlists of any television series currently gracing the small screen.   Being Mary Jane has served as the catalyst of some of our best water cooler discussions and Twitter debates, and has even given us some pretty awesome quotes, life lessons and things that make us go “hmm?”

Ahead of the two-hour Season 3 premiere returning to BET on Tuesday, October 20, we present ten lessons from Season 2 that made us either question ourselves and others, reevaluate our choices, or raise a healthy glass of wine toasting to our lives being only half as dysfunctional as Mary Jane’s. Ah, life is good.  And on Tuesday life–scripted life, at least–only gets better.

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Join us on Twitter during the Season 3 premiere of Being Mary Jane as we live-tweet the first episode in between sips of wine and hors d’oeuvres of the moderately cheap and semi-unhealthy variety.

Being Mary Jane  Tuesdays at 10pm ET/PT on BET beginning October 20  

Andrea on twitterAndrea on instagramAndrea on email2
Andrea
Andrea is a native San Franciscan raised on a heaping dose of colorful truths and beautiful stories. A freelance writer at heart and a public health social worker by trade, she makes the truth look pretty even when it isn't. Her work has been featured on The Guardian, Huffington Post, JETmag.com, Clutch and xojane to name a few.
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3 Possible Reasons For Recurrent Pregnancy Loss

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The fall season signifies shorter days and longer nights, falling leaves, apple and pumpkin pies, and for 15-20 percent of American families who suffer the lose of a baby, National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day observed on today, October 15.

Black women are more susceptible to stillbirths, miscarriages, low-birth babies and pre-term labor compared to other women, and are thereby likely to account for a large percentage of the 15-20 percent of families who will remember their loss on October 15.

Causes and reasons for Black women’s increased risk of pregnancy loss include several variables: high levels of stress, access to adequate health care and coverage, and the following health conditions to name a few.

1. Blood Clotting or Antiphospholipid Syndrome(APS)

APS is a syndrome characterized by a combination of symptoms, signs and/or test results.  One sign or symptom of APS is pregnancy-related complications, including first trimester miscarriage and second or third trimester stillbirths. APS affects pregnant women in multiple ways. In some women, APS antibodies can prevent a pregnancy from proper implantation in the womb. In other women diagnosed with APS, blood clots in the placenta can lead to reduced blood and oxygen supplies to the baby. In both cases the pregnancy can result in miscarriage or stillbirth.

Testing for APS is usually done by taking blood samples to check for the three specific APS antibodies.  Once diagnosed with APS, medical treatment usually involves taking low doses of aspirin beginning in the first trimester of pregnancy, or as an early preventative measure, before conception.  In some cases, a doctor may advise that injections of a blood-thinning drug, called heparin, be administered to help prevent blood clotting. Treatment for APS drastically increases the chances of having a healthy pregnancy.

Read the full story on BlackDoctor.org

Andrea on twitterAndrea on instagramAndrea on email2
Andrea
Andrea is a native San Franciscan raised on a heaping dose of colorful truths and beautiful stories. A freelance writer at heart and a public health social worker by trade, she makes the truth look pretty even when it isn't. Her work has been featured on The Guardian, Huffington Post, JETmag.com, Clutch and xojane to name a few.