Unapologetically, Pam: Introduction


adjective  |  un·apol·o·get·ic


It all started with a simple question: what if...?

Internally, I've always been a cautious person. Never wanting to step on any toes, never wanting to disappoint the people I love. Scared to make a mistake, never wanting to seem less than invincible.

I've often put others before myself, which can be a good thing. But when it's against your own moral standing or your physical/emotional/spiritual well-being, that's when it's no longer a healthy self-sacrifice. At the expense of myself, I've kept quiet about things that needed to be said out loud. I held those secrets in darkness and in return, they held power over me. And I did that because I thought it was the right thing to do, to sacrifice me to protect the people I love. 

The truth, good or bad, always comes to the light. And over the last few years, that's exactly what has happened. The good, the bad, the ugly...the mess, the hurt, the shame...all of it has come to the light. In the process, I lost everything...every part of the foundation that made me Pam (or so I thought). No longer a wife, no longer a student, no longer a church leader (and those were my 3 biggest defining things: marriage, school, and church). On top of that, I lost 2 jobs, spent a few months being homeless & sleeping in movie theaters, lost friends, lost a lot of money...All of it, gone within a few years of living in Chicago.

It was like a hurricane came through my life. In the aftermath, there I was in the midst of the wreckage, naked and ashamed, with all of those secrets - abuse, mental health issues, trauma, fear - all of it, out in the open. And for the first time in many years, I had to think about me. No one else, no more protecting others, no more lies...

And that's when I started to think what if...

What if I became all of who I am, without regret or shame? What if I embraced every part of me, every part of my life that is both beautiful and tragic? What if I looked in the mirror and I loved every inch of me, mind, body, and soul? What if I was okay with not being right all the time or not having the answer to every question? What if I wasn't afraid to talk about finding love again? What if I accepted the fact that I'm human, with raw, extreme emotions? And what if I didn't repress those emotions in some false sense of righteousness, what if I let you see that part of me? What if I decided to live free of darkness? What if I shared what I've learned?

What if I became myself, unapologetically?

Hello...my name is Pam and I've decided to live an unapologetic life. Now, this doesn't mean I never say I'm sorry...I do all the time. However, what I won't apologize for is becoming all that the Creator has made me to be. No regret. No shame. No fear. I am a beautifully complex being and so are you. Why don't we embrace that together?

With that being said, I've re-branded! I thought about waiting to announce this in 2016, but I was like, Nah...why not now??!

I've upgraded from The Scholarly Woman into Unapologetically Pam. I'm still a scholar and a woman, but I hope to share much more under my new persona, unapologetically of course. Here you'll find posts about fashion, dating/relationships, divorce, food, fitness, weight loss and more! All of my old posts are still here on the blog, so take a look around and stay tuned for what's to come. Also, I got a YouTube channel (yay!!) where I'll also post videos on these things. Hit the follow/subscribe button on my YouTube, blog, and other social media accounts to stay updated on all things Unapologetically Pam (links in the menu).

Welcome to my world. Welcome to the unapologetic life.
#loveyourself #embraceyourself #becomeyourself

What I Learned This Christmas

We made it to Day 5 of BLOGmas!! Woooo!! Not gonna lie, I almost didn't post anything today. Trying to come up with content every day, staying on top of the editing game, and promoting yourself is not for the faint-hearted. Daily blogging/vlogging is extremely difficult and I have a new level of understanding and respect for the YouTubers/Bloggers that I follow regularly.

Today's post is a bit more of a reflective one. This time last year, my life looked very different. In fact these last few years in Chicago have completely turned my world upside down. I have loved and lost. I've given my everything to different endeavors, both in love and in life, only to lose it all in the end. I've nearly gone bankrupt (still trying to come back from that now, so pray for me). I've had some scary health battles. I've lost friends. I've been hurt. And I'm sure I've hurt others on this journey, even unintentionally.

I've felt smaller than I ever thought humanly possible. I've been in positions where I've been made to choose between people that I love and ultimately I lost myself in that process. I've been isolated, confused, broken...BROKE. All of that in the course of a few short years in Chicago.

So, what have I learned this Christmas?

Well...I've learned that you heal. Your heart heals. Your mind mends.

You keep putting one foot in front of the other until you learn to walk with stability again.

You find hope in the most unexpected of places.

This Christmas, I've been reminded that community is so incredibly important. And if you look around, you'll find people that you left behind in your pursuits who still believe in you, still love you without conditions, and still support you no matter how near or far you are from them. I've re-connected with some old friends and I still plan to keep reaching out to more. I've spent Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve with incredible people and my incredible boyfriend, which has been lovely. Also, this year, I'm more in tune with my family than I have been this whole time in the big city, which feels amazing.

More than anything, I've learned that freedom is both beautiful and terrifying. The freedom to choose for yourself, to love yourself, to be yourself, unapologetically, is heartbreaking and liberating. And on this journey of life, I hope that I continue to become myself.

This Christmas, I hope you laugh, even if life isn't perfect. I hope your home smells like cookies and honey-glazed ham. Mine does!

I hope you feel joy. Happiness is more of an emotion, one that comes and goes. But joy...joy is something spiritual, something God-given. And that's what I hope you feel this holiday season.

No filters, no makeup. Just me ♥

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart to everyone who has helped me celebrate BLOGmas! This has been a wonderful adventure and I've talked to people from all over the world because of this (whattup Germany & Poland!!). My goal is to blog/vlog more in 2016. I hope to bring you along on the journey to becoming myself ♥


A Few of My Favorite Things ♥

Hi friends! Welcome back to BLOGmas, day 4! I can't believe 5 Days of Blogmas is almost over! If you haven't checked out my previous posts, be sure to do ittttt cause they're awesome.

Today I wanted to get a bit more intimate by sharing some of my favorite things.

One of the things I'm most grateful for in life is my room. Having been homeless at the beginning of 2014, my heart is filled with thankfulness at this space that I get to call my own. And I do my best to make it feel warm and welcoming.

The walls in my room are red and orange. There is a beautiful canvas of the Chicago skyline along with some of my favorite pictures on the wall. The addition of a string of lights makes this such a peaceful setting to fall asleep. 

Here's a closeup of my photo wall. It's filled with adventures that I don't want to forget.

This is what I call my "Happy Corner." I loooove having candles burning in my room. My favorite scents are savory/sweet - this one is banana nut bread (omg so gooood).

I also love having fresh flowers in my room. They just add an extra pop of brightness that makes me happy. These are from my man. He likes to surprise me with flowers (insert heart eye emoji here).

Alright, let's move outta my room and on to some more things I am LOVING right now.

First, movies!

These are my go-to's right now. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is one of those feel-good movies. The music is triumphant and the scenery is gorgeous. It makes you want to get out there and find the extraordinary in life. The Holiday is just a classic. Kate Winslet's voice makes me want to swoon. I fan-girl over her pretty hard. This is a romantic comedy that will make you feel all the feels and laugh too. Ugh, I LOVE it! The Other Woman is my guilty pleasure out of the bunch. I love Nicki Minaj in this, I think she's hilarious. Also, this movie really makes me want to have a night out on the town with my girlfriends. It's a fun movie about commitment and friendship. I can't get enough of Cameron Diaz! And last but certainly not least, The Princess and the Frog. Disney just does it right, man. I can literally have this movie on repeat in the background of my life. Tiana is beautiful, the characters are so fun, I love the music, the story, and it makes me nostalgic for New Orleans. 

I very much enjoy writing and nothing beats sitting down with a cup of tea, a snack, and putting a pen to paper. This journal is from Marshall's. I highly recommend you check out the journal selection there (Marshall's/T.J. Maxx/Ross) because they're super cute, affordable, and unique.

 Finally, I just had to share these sunnies in my favorites...cause, I mean, come on. They're dope! I got these on Hollywood Blvd which makes me feel extra fancy, too.

I hope you enjoyed this little favorites post! Stay tuned for Day 5 tomorrow. Eeeeek!!

*big hugs*

Get Up, Get Fit!

Hello blogosphere! Happy BLOGmas Day 3!

If you've been following me for a while, you know I've been on a weight loss journey now for going on 5 years. In 2014, I hit my goal weight and officially lost 100 lbs! More on that here.

Since then, my weight has fluctuated a bit as I've been sick throughout much of 2015. (Speaking of that, I'm considering doing a post on coping with chronic illness. Maybe that'll be in the new year). BUT the fluctuation has only been between 15 and 20 lbs, so I'm not too bummed about it. Plus, I've been keeping in shape - exercising when I can and eating as healthy as possible. I'm very happy with the way I look right now!

Because my post for yesterday's BLOGmas was one on healthy food (check it out here), today I wanted to do one on exercise.

Where do you work out?

I love to work out at home. In fact, if spending too much time or money at the gym is an issue for you, I highly recommend it. For some people, working out at home is not ideal because you feel there's a lack of accountability or you may feel that you're more motivated when you're around others. I fully support you! Do you, get healthy! But I actually enjoy the serenity of working out at home.

What kind of exercises do you do?

I like to combine yoga with strength training at home. Most often, I'll begin with some classic yoga stretches/poses and then move on to using free weights. I try to do reps of at least 20-30 for each arm exercise, 60 reps for crunches, and 20 squats.

Another common exercise for me is to get outside and walk/run! Luckily, we're having a pretty mild winter this year, so it's not too cold for a run. I'll walk/jog/run for 15-20 minutes then come inside and do some high intensity cardio - jump squats, jumping jacks, some tae-bo moves. Anything to keep my heart pumping.

If you walk/run outside, I recommend using the environment as workout tools. See some park benches? They're great for elevated push-ups. Or sometimes I like to sprint between benches and time myself. That way, I can track my progress.

At the quiet little park near my home - a.k.a. my outdoor gym

And always, always, always stretch before and after your workout. This is one of the reasons I love doing yoga & pilates. They both concentrate on breathing into a stretch or position to create long, lean limbs. They're great for cooling down after a workout.

Any tips that you'd recommend?

1) Do you have access to YouTube? If so, there are HUNDREDS of free full-length workout videos. If you do a quick search, you'll find a lot of inspiration on there.

2) Also, if you have a cable system like Xfinity, check to see if you have access to sports and fitness on demand. I've done lots of workouts on there that I recommend - belly dancing, Bollywood dance, yoga, strength training, pilates, you name it! Xfinity is great for that.

3) If accountability is an issue for you in working out at home, find a buddy who wants to get fit with you! Call them over to do an at-home workout on Xfinity or YouTube. Or go on a walk/run together.

4) You can also post your fitness photos on your social media. You'll be surprised at the number of people who will cheer you on in your journey. I know I was surprised. And having your support over the last 5 years has helped me to stay accountable.

These are all options if you want to save money (or don't want to put in the effort) at the gym.

Final thoughts?

Just get out there and try. Seriously. Some exercise is better than none at all. Maybe you take baby steps at first. Crawl before you walk, ya know? That's okay. Find what works for you. More than anything - DON'T STOP. It may take years before you see crazy amazing progress (hello 5 years!), but it's worth it.

That's all, folks! See you tomorrow for Day 4!!


Good Eats (At Home!)

Hello my darlings! Happy BLOGmas Day 2!

In my weight loss journey, people often ask me what I eat regularly. I've never done a post dedicated to my go-to meals. So, for today, I figured I'd share some typical meals that I eat at home. I know the holidays are coming up and we're all going to gain some weight (workout post coming tomorrow though, so eat up!). In the meantime, here are some healthy meals you can have at home (or draw inspiration from) in between your feast days (or just on regular days, like after New Years lol).

Disclaimer: I ain't no chef...so...ya know.


This is a very common breakfast for me. In fact, this is my go-to more often than not.

Honey strawberry Greek yogurt, granola, strawberries & kiwi with a drizzle of honey. Plus a chai tea!

The Greek yogurt provides some good probiotics for digestive health, the granola gives me some fiber, as well as the fruit. The drizzle of honey is for good luck (at least in my mind) and sweetness.

This next one is another typical breakfast of mine. I make this when I have a few extra minutes to spare and I feel like cooking a little bit.

Eggs, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and Greek yogurt with raspberries. Plus an iced chai.

And finally, this is for when I have a bit more spare time, usually on the weekend. Pro tip: sriracha is amazing on EVERYTHING.

Scrambled eggs with spinach & sriracha, sausages, toast, and a mimosa!


Alright, on to some lunch favorites! Basically, I always eat salads at home for lunch lol. It's what I love and it's healthy. 

Spinach & kale, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and meatballs. I don't usually have tea with lunch, but this day I did. It's lemon zinger tea.

Right now my favorite dressing is a combination of Greek dressing with ranch. Sounds crazy, but just try it. It's so goooood.

Spinach & kale, tomatoes, and chicken sausage.


For dinner, I usually have something I find comforting. Here's two yummy examples.

Butter chicken, steamed rice, with baked pita bread. And also, for whatever reason, I'm having iced tea. I promise I don't always drink tea lollllll.

Chicken apple sausage, baked brussell sprouts (with olive oil, salt & pepper), and a baked sweet potato.

"Fooood, glorious fooooood. Eat right through the menu!" lol!

That's it! I hope perhaps you found some of this to be useful or helpful. See you tomorrow for Day 3 of BLOGmas!!


Places #2

Welcome to Blogmas!!

I am very excited to be doing 5 Days of Blogmas all the way through Christmas Eve. I'm gonna share with you guys some of the things I love, starting with another installment of places!

Places #2 - Christkindl Market

Every year in Chicago, a wonderful open-air market inspired by the Christkindlesmarkt in Germany (which dates back to the 16th century!) takes place in Chicago. The Daley Plaza is set up like a little European village in the winter with international and local food, drinks, trinkets, and more.

We decided to begin our night of festivities by listening to the Christmas Carolers at Millenium Park. They put us right in the mood for Christmas cheer.

We then ventured over to Vapiano for a quick bite to eat. Vapiano is one of my all-time favorite places to grub here in Chi-Town, so perhaps I'll do a full places post on that in the future. Just know that we ate our fill of salad, pasta, and pizza before heading to the main event.


They have the yummiest mulled wine at the market! I made a beeline for this as soon as we got there.

My handsome lover, DeMico.

We love the Christkindl Market!!

Seriously...the best. And only $3 at the Market!!

I absolutely love the Christkindl Market and I've been every year since I've been living in Chicago. If you haven't been yet this year, it closes on Christmas Eve at 8 p.m. Get there!!

Since we were in such good cheer, we decided to see Krampus to end our night of Christmas festivities.

Our before-the-movie scared faces lol

I gotta say - while I'm not into scary movies, this movie was awesome! It was mostly funny rather than terrifying though, so that's why I loved it. DeMico and I plan to show this to our kids someday lol. Go see it!

That's it! Happy Blogmas Day 1!!


Places #1

Hey blog lovers!

I'm starting a new segment called "places" on le blog. There are so many places (restaurants, museums, coffee shops, etc) here in Chicagoland that I absolutely adore and I realized that I've never really shared any of those. I always take photos of my food/adventures (because the two go hand in hand, duh!) so I figured, why not start to share them here? So, here goes!

Places #1 - "Chill Bubble Tea"

DeMico and I ventured out to Skokie recently and found this cute little bubble tea spot in the Village Crossing mall area (7154 Carpenter Road). We absolutely love bubble tea, so when we saw this place, we had to jump in.

First thing that caught my eye: the decor. The wallpaper was a beautiful pastel color with words serving as the design - "peace" "chill"  "drink"  "think" all added to the atmosphere.

But I was mostly obsessed with their swing seats! Yes, these swings are there for your sitting enjoyment. They don't swing back and forth, but how cool is this? And there are flowers in the handles. I was in love!

The bubble tea itself was just as good as the swings! I tried the purple oreo and DeMico got the milk tea. Both were amazing, but I have to say, mine won the night!

We enjoyed our time in Skokie together and Chill Bubble Tea was a great way to end the evening. Bonus: the music was BUMPING! The radio was jammin' out all of the latest hip-hop tunes. They even had some old school stuff in there, which was dope. We will definitely be back to "Chill" yo!

Side note: I loved my makeup and outfit for our date night. So here are some extra photos.

I went for a dark blue smoky eye look. I'm no makeup guru, so I was quite pleased with how this turned out.

I also added a slight cat eye to complete the eyes and plum lips. This was a great fall combo!

Denim - thrifted
Crop Top - Wet Seal
Leggings - Local Boutique
Purse - Target (super old)

And I just had to add this one in because I look like a 90's dream! lol
Thanks for reading my first installment of "Places" !!! 

I'll see you soon.


Seasons (I'll Be Seeing You)

You came like rain in the Spring
bringing forth new life.
You led me into Summer
blazing with new light.
We walked into warm ocean breezes
careful not to get too lost in the waves.
Your Love was hot, it burned like fire.
Purifying, terrifying ablaze.

And for a moment,
as I followed Your breeze,
I was free to love the seasons...

Summer's freedom soon turned into caution
as You whispered scornful winds to my ears.
But I saw beauty in the coming change.
I saw there was nothing to fear.

Then Fall came and (over night to You it seemed),
I fell in love with Her colors.
You warned Me this view was only temporary,
but I stood in awe of Her glory.

Your Love turned cold as temperatures dropped
and I could do nothing for You.

I carried Fall with Me into the Winter
and You greeted me with desolate wind & bitter cold.
Together, We looked for You through the snowfall
but You were too far to behold.

Shivering under the cold of Winter's knife,
I called for You in the darkness.
From afar, You looked at Me through frozen eyes and
turned away in sadness.

Your breeze was conditioned on the temperature of Your own gust.
You failed to see the purity of Fall's colorful leaves.
But with wide open eyes, I saw the innocence, the hope.
Your jealous wind pushed Me to see...

I carried the wind of my own freedom.


Spring will soon come with Love's sweet showers
to see new flowers take root.
Summer will blaze and turn to beautiful Fall,

Maybe then again, that's where I'll be seeing You.

By My Side: The Back Story

I am very excited to share that DeMico and I have been writing some original music. For those of you who know me, you know I've been singing all of my life. But this collaboration is dear to my heart, not only because it's with the man that I love, but because the story behind it is amazing.

I come from a family of song writers and musicians. My entire family is very gifted at it, in fact. And I always felt like the oddball. I struggled to form melodies. And even though I blog and journal and write a lot, song lyrics for whatever reason have always been difficult for me. So, I stayed away from song writing. I thought perhaps it just wasn't a gift that I had. I figured, "Who cares? Someone else can write the songs and I can just sing it." I've been doing that most of my life.

The creative process of writing a song has always been quite baffling to me. I tried to write music with several people, but it just didn't work out. When the process of actually composing a song would start, I could contribute a word or two. I could ask questions about the vision...but overall, I had no idea what I was doing. Honestly, I felt inadequate.

Then one day, DeMico and I got together to work on some music. He pulled out his guitar and asked me, "What do you think of this?" And he just started playing. His melodies moved me in a way I'd never felt before. And as he was playing, vocal melodies were coming to my mind...I knew something special was there. So we continued to write together on and off.

On April 9, 2015, DeMico was driving me home from church. I was quiet in the car because I was exhausted, physically, mentally...and spiritually. I felt burnt out with school, church, work...life. On top of that, I have a chronic illness that I've been praying for healing from since I was young. And I was having a flare-up, right in the middle of everything: Easter, my comprehensive exams for school, graduation looming around the corner, uncertainty about the future. I was frustrated with God...it felt like God was so distant from me. It felt like God wasn't answering any of my questions: "Why won't You heal me?" "What am I supposed to do after graduation?" "Why won't anyone call me for an interview?" "How am I going to survive once school is done?" "Where am I supposed to go from here?"

That night, there was a huge thunderstorm in Chicago. Lightning was flashing over Lake Michigan. It matched everything I was feeling inside. Suddenly, DeMico asked me if I would like to pull over and watch the storm on the beach. I was like, "No, take me home." (lol). But, he was persistent and I said fine, 5 minutes. We went and parked on the beach and watched the storm in silence. DeMico reached for my hand and said, "Isn't this beautiful? Storms are supposed to be scary, but instead it's one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen." He went on to tell me, "I know you're in a storm right now and there are so many questions you have. But instead of just thinking about the storm being over, I think you should embrace it. Look around you and see that there's beauty in the storm. God's here. I'm here. We're both by your side."

His words were poetic. But more than that, they meant something to me. So I asked him if we could write a song. He was like, "Right now?? Okay!" He reached into the backseat and pulled his acoustic out of its case. He had to adjust the seat and lay the acoustic flat in his lap in order to play in the car. I pulled out my notebook and wrote down what he had said to me. And immediately I saw a potential song. I asked him to start playing something, anything. He said, "Okay...well, here's something I was working on earlier today. Let me know if you like it..." And the rest was history. The entire song, melodies, lyrics, and all were written in about an hour in the front seat of his car in the middle of a thunderstorm. We recorded it right then and there, too. Also in his car. So here is the final product:

He unlocks something in me that I can't quite explain. And that's fine, because perhaps it doesn't need to be explained. It just is. When I'm with him and he starts strumming a guitar melody, vocal melodies that I never knew were there start to float through my mind. His music reminds me of people and places that I've been...dreams that I've had and forgotten. He unlocks the pieces of my musical heart.

All of this time, I thought I just didn't have the gift. But instead, I had it all along...I was just waiting for him.

Story Time: I'M ALIVE! (barely)

By far the best question I've gotten from dedicated blog readers over the last couple months has been: "WHERE YOU BEEN AT??" My response: "ON TOUR GETTIN' MONEY." (Did you get the Drake reference there? Yes? No? *insert insane-looking smiley emoji here*)

First, thank you for your concern. I know it's been a while since I've posted. We are long overdue for a little update. At first, I thought I'd write this super emotional post about how hard the summer has been, all the struggles I've had, and all the health issues I've faced. I was going to talk about fighting the good fight, staying in the race even when you're tired, and how to have faith when all seems hopeless (and still is hopeless)...

But then I decided, nah, let's deflect with humor. I'm good at that! So here's the short story of my summer - the good, the bad & the ugly:

1) I graduated!! Woooo!!! Many thanks to my bff Ashley for coming to Chicago and being with me that week. You have NO idea how much I need some girl time. And she finally got to meet DeMico!! They hit it off immediately.

2) My skin disease had an intense flare-up (and is still flaring up). I don't want to take the medication for it though, because the side effects to me are worse than the actual flare up. While the healing process would be quicker, I'd spend probably about 3 weeks in bed. So instead, I'm waiting for it to clear up on its own. It's now been 4 months. Is it wise? Meh...idk!

3) I had to take out a major loan to pay for bills over the summer. Bummer! BUT it helped me get through some much harder times to come.

4) One bright, calm summer night at a local burger joint...I bit into a nice, juicy chesseburger and lo and behold, MY TOOTH FELL OUT. Like, literally, just popped out of my mouth. I haven't had a tooth fall out since I was like 5. I literally just sat there looking at the tooth for like 10 minutes while DeMico kept asking, "Are you okay? Are you okay? PAM! Are you okay?" I'm sure he thought I was about to lose my mind in the restaurant and was plotting an escape plan for us in case I needed to be carried out from a panic attack lol.

5) That led to the most impromptu, most insanely unplanned dental surgery EVER. Not to get into the specifics, but basically, my tooth fell out on a Monday. I was at the dentist on a Friday. I found out all of these major issues that needed immediate surgery, which was scheduled for the following Monday. I left the dental office in more pain than I was before. I was on emergency meds all weekend and POW, just like that, I was in surgery Monday morning.

6) RECOVERY WAS THE WORST. Like, seriously. It took me about 3 weeks to be able to move my jaw normally and another 2 weeks to be able to eat normally. Pain, pain, pain. Nausea. Headaches. All of it. Dental surgery is laaaame.

7) Because of all the jaw issues, I ended up only eating ice cream and cake (doctor's orders!) for 5 weeks. Needless to say, I gained 15 pounds.

8) Those headaches I mentioned turned into migraines real quick. So, I was having painfully, blinding, I-can-only-lay-in-bed-in-the-dark-to-make-it-go-away migraines. While recovering from surgery still. While only eating cake and ice cream. The best right?

9) On top of it all, I was dealing with a lot of personal issues with finances, family, and even leadership. Those were the things that I think gave me the most anxiety when I would try to sleep at night. I found myself lying awake for hours on end, no matter how tired I was, just worrying. That was probably the hardest part of the summer. Being sick and not having resources is probably the worst thing ever.

So, where am I now?

I recovered finally and got to a semi-normal place of health (I've lost 5 of those 15 lbs I gained). Started working out again and cut out all sweets from my diet (I miss you, cake and ice cream!). In terms of finances, I'm still on the struggle bus. I'm applying for jobs, I've had lots of interviews. But, I keep hearing the same thing: "You're brilliant, but you're not the right fit for this job." OR "You're brilliant, but I think you're overqualified for this position." And I'm like, ugggh brilliance is nothing without resource! LOL (but the kind of lol where you're dying on the inside actually). I still have a lot of anxiety, but I also still have faith. I don't know what September looks like for me and that scares me, honestly. I'd love to get to a place where faith outweighs anxiety and then anxiety goes away altogether. Either that or I'll quit and move to Santa Monica and beach bum it for the rest of my life. KIDDING (not kidding).

Seriously though, I wanted to write this blog post not only to give you a short update, but also to be vulnerable. It's scary to be transparent when you're in a season of waiting. But, I wanted to write about it because I feel like we often only share the good in our lives, you know? Like, we all go through trials, but then we only share when we're #WINNING on social media or blogs. We wait until we're out of the storm to talk about the rain because now we see the sun shining. I didn't want to wait until then. I'm still in the storm. Life is still hard. But while I'm not #winning right now, I know the One who always wins. And I trust in Him. But trusting is hard. When my comeback story is all set up, I'd love to share that with you too. In the mean time, this is where I am. It's been a hard summer. Your prayers are appreciated. And if you've had a hard summer, I'd love to hear about it and pray with you also.

Eventually, we'll all be #winning again together. I just know it!


She was always unreachable.
She was perfect.
Everything I was not.

They asked me, "Who are you?"
I say, "I am no one."
I wanted to be her.
An unachievable beauty.

A nameless face with perfect lips
Beautiful eyes
Pearly white teeth...
A slender waist
And curves to kill.

They asked, "Who do you want to be?"
I envied her.
And I hated me.
I say, "I am no one."
I can't be her.
Unobtainable. Unachievable.

I can't live like this.
Yet, I cannot die.
Where to turn? Where to run?

I look up.
He looks back.
He whispers, "Beauty...
Created perfect in Me,
In every way...
That is who you are."

I weep.
I want to believe.
They asked, "Who are you?"
My lips move to say, "I am no one."
But my heart no longer trusts that.
Instead, I pause...
"I'll know soon enough."

I wipe tear-stained eyes.
I look straight ahead.
Into a mirror.
A reflection. My reflection.
Can it be?
I lean in for a better look.
Beautiful lips. Teeth. Eyes.
A slender waist.
Curves to kill.

I cry.
She is me.
Reachable. Achievable. Obtainable.
Untameable. Unshakable.

Then one day when they asked me, "Who do you want to be?"
Finally, I said, "Myself."

I Hope You Made Some Mistakes...

All I saw was the word, "CONGRATULATIONS" and I started to cry. It is official. I will graduate with my Master's in Modern European History on May 5th, 2015 and I am now a professional historian!

It is unreasonable to think that this little country girl who never really left Arkansas would decide to study French history. In fact, I had a professional historian once tell me that he was uncertain of how I could succeed in this field, but that he had high hopes that I would.

That professor's concerns were valid. I had my work cut out for me. I had to overcome some obstacles that other French historians probably didn't have. I had very little French background & only a moderate understanding of Europe and it's history. Furthermore, I'm a first generation college student and the first in my family to obtain a Master's. And when I think about the fact that I temporarily dropped out of school at the end of Fall 2013 due to homelessness and divorce...it is unreasonable that I'm graduating with my Master's in May 2015, as planned when I entered the program.

Aside from the grace of God, I couldn't really begin to tell you how I made it here. In fact, as I sat there, crying and looking at the email from my exam committee affirming my degree completion, I just asked myself, "How? How did I get here? How did I complete all of my coursework? How did I pass every class, every paper, every test? How?" I answered my own question with a laugh and said, “It was mostly just trial and error.” I shrugged it off and attempted to come up with some deeper meaning behind graduation.

But the more I thought about what it means for me to graduate... or really, for anyone to graduate period, the more I realized that there is so much validity to the “trial and error” that I thought was trivial.

At Loyola University Chicago, one of the things that I love about the school's mission is the simple promise that our pledge, our goal as students, faculty, staff, administrators, and alumni, is to "prepare people to lead extraordinary lives." I certainly feel that my time at Loyola has been a huge part of my life preparation. But, I don’t want to just honor the destination of “extraordinary” without also honoring the journey it took to get to this present moment.

In my three years of graduate school, I saw a lot of personal, professional, and academic growth. I've talked a lot about that growth here on my blog. So much of it came by way of mistakes, by trial and error. Academically, it came by having a professor sit down with me and kindly tell me that, “my writing needed 'some' work…” followed by a grueling two-hour session of line-by-line edits. That semester, I turned in four drafts of that paper before this professor said to me, “Finally, you get it! Whatever formula you used this time, keep it for future papers.” I don’t think I’ve ever jumped for joy so much in a school elevator than I did after that meeting. Luckily, I stopped celebrating right before someone else joined me on the way down to the lobby.

Professionally, my trial and error came by losing a job, quitting another one, and spending some time really praying and thinking about what I want to do for the rest of my life. I don't have it all figured out yet, but I'm really grateful for the skills I’ve learned that will help me sort out my life post-graduation.

Personally, I found a lot of joy through trial and error. I let go of some relationships to find better ones. I learned to appreciate my imperfections, to gain perspective from my mistakes. To work hard for success…to think about how I can improve when I wasn’t so successful, and to celebrate the wins whenever I was successful.

In this way, when I look in the mirror, I don’t see a perfect person. I don’t see someone who is graduating without a few scars. I see someone who has tried and failed at times. When I think about the people I know who are graduating this year, from high school, undergrad, or grad school, I don’t see perfection. Instead, I see resilience. I see friends and families from diverse backgrounds and life circumstances who, by trial and error, successes and failures, have reached a momentous occasion of triumph in their lives. We made it. We are graduating. We are more prepared now to be the best versions of ourselves than ever before.

So, in short, I hope you made some mistakes on this journey. I realize that’s probably not the type of encouragement you would expect to hear, but it’s the truth. I hope that life wasn’t perfect, that sometimes things were difficult. For, it is in those times that we feel the weakest that we often find out how strong we are. I hope that this journey to getting your degree wasn’t always easy and that amidst the highs and lows, you never let your successes get to your head or your failures get to your heart. I hope that you saw trial and error in and out of the classroom. And I hope that you grew from each experience, whether it was a win or a loss.

I hope that you made some mistakes…that you fought through the trial and errors to be one step closer to that extraordinary life ahead.

Cheers to the Class of 2015!

"A Sustainable Environment without Sustainable People?" A Letter to Loyola University

Dear Loyola University Chicago,

I am writing you this letter because I left the University Senate meeting today feeling a bit bewildered by the conversations that took place. Particularly, I feel that every time we have a discussion on diversity in this body, the atmosphere becomes divisive. There is generally a sense in the air from certain members that we already do enough in this regard, and any suggestion to further diversity initiatives on campus becomes a hot issue of debate. This happened last year when we were discussing the need for a chief diversity officer and this year now in our discussion of a required course on diversity for undergraduate students.

Yet, my confusion really came to a head when the discussion on environmental sustainability began with little to no arguments against it. There was a sense of, “Absolutely, climate control is an important issue that all of our students, faculty, administrators, and staff should be aware of in order to continue our Jesuit mission.” Why is that? Why is it that we can discuss a sustainable planet with such calmness, and yet become so contentious when we’re discussing sustainable institutional practices for such a key issue as diversity?

Why do we not question a campus-wide discussion on climate control, but we have consistent rebuttals on diversity? Why does environmental sustainability seem to garner such support and enthusiasm from this body, but every diversity conversation seems bleak and heavy?

Today our presenter highlighted climate control as “necessary” for our students to go out and change the world. Why do we not have this same emphasis on matters of diversity and inclusion?

I thought perhaps these feelings were limited to the University Senate, until it was mentioned that all students are required to take a science course on environmental sustainability…and yet, at the mention of doing a required course on diversity, so many of the opinions expressed today suggested that it is unnecessary because diversity is talked about in a lot of the core courses anyway. This is where I was especially perplexed. Why is this? What message are we sending to our students and the world about what’s important to us? We can say that we are progressive because we are participating in a popular conversation that’s happening in the world about climate control. Yet, there’s little to no discussion happening campus-wide about minority teens being shot in the streets around the country, the hanging of a black man in Mississippi in 2015, the attack on Islam in this country, the video of young white Greeks proudly singing about n*ggers not being permitted into their fraternity, the debates across the country on same-sex marriage, the conversation that is still happening about wage inequality and gender discrimination…how can we sit back, or rest on our Jesuit name, without making a conscious effort, from the top down, from administrators to students, to say, “Hey, issues of diversity are important and necessary for us to discuss in order for our graduates to really go forth and set the world on fire?”

To this point, I feel that as a university, diversity is not clearly defined or clearly emphasized. In our public comments on climate control, one student mentioned with urgency that, “We need to be carbon neutral by a date. We want a firm commitment from this body on this issue.” I thought to myself, man, these students are speaking with such passion on this issue. And yet, I rarely hear such urgency, such direct resolve about issues of diversity here on campus. I believe the answer is more than just the need for a change in curriculum, but in the way we talk about diversity as an institution. For example, why does environmental awareness seem to permeate our university mindset (greener buildings, recycling, an office of sustainability, etc. which, in my opinion, are such visual things), but we leave diversity to linger on the outskirts, hoping that through a few public lectures or a belief that within our core curriculum, somewhere within any given course, diversity will be discussed in passing? This goes for diversity within staff and faculty as well. Diversity seems to be limited to an employee handbook or by the presence of a single minority faculty member within any given department.

I know that there is no direct way of answering these questions, but I did not want to let the moment pass by without voicing my frustrations about what I call “the diversity issue” that we have here on campus. Also, as a disclaimer, I am absolutely for the initiatives we are taking as an institution to create a more sustainable environment. I just hope that along with it, we are empowering sustainable people as well.

Thank you for your time and I hope you have a great weekend.


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