I came across this senior year of college pic of myself recently and I’ve kept it on my nightstand for an occasional chuckle.
Yes, my pants are too big ( I was really petite back then and did my best! 😂) and yes, I remember where I was – in a friend’s dorm room, enjoying a surprise party thrown for me.
I look like I’m singing cause I was. But can I really sing? Sadly not.
I had fun trying, though, with whatever that song was and with a little Salt n Pepa, too.)
I look like I was acting silly cause I was. And guess what?
Beneath my sometimes reserved, often inspirational and occasionally feisty demeanor lies a girl who is still fun at heart and able to laugh at myself and with others.
I was 21 in this pic and considered grown. (Ha!)
What I’d tell that young girl from my now full-fledged adult state is actually what I exemplify in this photo: to always find joy in the small moments and sing (and dance) through the rest.
That girl didn’t always get it right and neither do I; but both versions of me have been, and remain, grateful for love, laughter, grace, life lessons and the journey itself – gifts that never age or go out of style.
I challenge you to dig up a few of your own funny pics from the past and reflect on your treasured (or silly) moments from yesterday. May you be inspired to embrace new dreams, cut yourself and others some slack, and create more meaningful memories.
Four years ago today (July 11, 2014), I took an entire (brand new) bottle of pills in an attempt to take my life.
Mental illness is real. I thank GOD for keeping me! I’m so grateful and happy to be on the right side of the grass today! I’m grateful to have life and breath!
In that moment, I couldn’t see that joy was on the other side of my current circumstance. Had I been successful, I would have missed my oldest daughter’s graduation, her prom and sending her off to college. I would have missed our funny FaceTime conversations and silly texts. I would have missed being here for her during the moments she needed her mommy.
My youngest daughter wouldn’t have been born. My family and the rest of the world would have missed out on this precious little girl and all the joy that she brings. I wouldn’t have experienced waking up to both my girls and watching them rest peacefully beside me or in my bosom. I would have missed their giggles, hugs and their sweet kisses.
All of my new friendships wouldn’t exist. All of the trips I’ve taken and new experiences I’ve had in the last four years would have never occurred. (Aruba, St. Maarten, The Bahamas, Cabo, Dominican Republic and Jamaica) WOW! All of that could have never happened….
BUT GOD (and therapy)! Lots and lots of therapy! Then and now.
July is Black Mental Health Awareness Month. If you are struggling with something, you don’t have to do it alone. I can offer you a hotline number (1-800-273-8255); but I’d rather extend my hand to help you through. Like someone did for me.
I understand and I’m here.
We can pray, talk, cry together, laugh, I can listen; and if you are in the Richmond, Virginia area, I can accompany you to therapy, a hospital, a meeting – whatever!
Listen to me – You are NOT crazy! You are NOT weak! You’re just having a difficult time right now, but you can get through it. With help. I know because I’ve lived it.
Please know that:
Your life has purpose (even if you don’t know what that purpose is right now).
This is NOT the end. Just a season. It will pass. It gets better.
Most importantly, please know that…
You. Are. Not. Alone.
YOU – are not alone.
Just reach out. If not to me, reach out to SOMEONE. I did.
Choose life, because no matter how bad it seems right now, it DOES get better. I PROMISE! But you gotta be here and be willing to do the work.
I’m here and I care. xo
Quelina “Que” Jones is a Richmond-based writer and speaker who focuses on women’s empowerment through transparency. She believes that the first step to living your best life today is exposing and healing the pain of the past. She uses her own experiences to inspire other women to heal from the inside out. Connect with her here: Website: quelinaj.com; Instagram: quelinaj; Facebook: Quelina Jones
Were you one of those kids who believed that ghosts or monsters lurked in your bedroom closet, waiting until the lights were out and you were trying to sleep to make their presence known? (See my raised hand.)
Or, maybe you were the young adult with the world before you, yet you were so anxious about making wrong decisions that you opted more often than not to play it safe and make choices that were safe. (Hand still partially raised.)
Or, could it be that now, as a full-fledged adult, you view your age, weight, finances, personality or other personal circumstances as reasons for staying in a holding pattern or coasting through each day? (Hand NOT raised.)
It took me a while, but after living for a bit and surviving a couple of life’s major “D’s” – death of loved ones and divorce – I’ve come to realize that life’s not meant to be expansive and enjoyed only after you’ve conquered your challenges; instead, while you’re wading (sometimes knee-deep) through them, you could be growing, learning, laughing, loving and even thriving in your inner soul.
Watching my now-deceased older sister find enjoyment in simple things after surviving a double lung transplant in 2011 taught me to value each breath, each opportunity to connect with loved ones, and indeed, each day.
Experiencing the death of important relationships and the snuffing out of their accompanying dreams taught me to value myself, flaws and all, because even if no one else is around, I have to live with and love me.
Pushing through all kinds of highs and lows with others shook me and shaped me into a more empathetic, peaceful and purposeful person – someone filled with more resilience, hope, deeper faith and joy for simple blessings than I otherwise might have possessed.
While my experiences have been uniquely my own, the benefits they’ve yielded are universally possible.
What has hampered you or broken your heart? What has made you press pause and enter a journey of self-examination or sacrifice? What has led to tears that have filled God’s bottle with your name on it, yet also grew a garden of unexpected supporters and mentors to surround you?
Consider those consequences as the gems for your journey. Allow them to fuel your steps forward and foster more hope and heartiness where needed.
Fear comes to us all, yet fear can’t take up residence unless we grant permission.
When it pays a visit, greet it with these behaviors:
Acknowledge the emotion’s presence, then try to assess why you’re afraid.
Envision your worst-case scenario. If the thing you’re fearing were to happen, how would you survive? (Your faith, your Plan B, support from family or friends, or all of the above? )
Envision your best-case scenario and how this outcome would empower and elevate you. If this were to happen, how would you stay centered while sustaining the success?
Remind yourself that whatever comes, you are strong enough, smart enough and loved enough to fall down and get up, or to stand and wait, or to rise and forge a new path – whatever is required.
Remember that by some accounts, FEAR is simply “False Evidence Appearing Real.” You have all within you to overtake whatever is causing you to stumble or spin your wheels.
Embrace the five suggestions outlined above and execute them routinely – one moment, one hour, one day at a time. Refresh and repeat as necessary.
Invest attention and intention in yourself, and before you know it, you’ll find yourself shedding your cocoon and soaring, in your solely special way.
You’ll be living life “untapped,” in a space where regrets are few, life lessons are abundant, and grace is more than sufficient.