Welcome to my new blog! Creating something like this space has been on my mind for a long time, but it’s never come into fruition until now. It’s amazing what had to transpire in my life to make this idea come to reality. In the past, I’ve often envisioned big things in my life that I thought I wanted and imagined achieving my way there. I would set goals and always find myself falling short of them, with no lack of effort or enthusiasm on my part. I found myself waiting for some kind of aha! moment where God would show me what I was meant to be doing as my purpose on this earth. I would pray about it during church, read articles and books on finding my purpose, ask friends and family what they thought, etc. In this case, my breakthrough came after my breakdown. Yep, you heard that right. I had a full on breakdown in February of 2020 and it changed my life forever.
Starting a blog with this picture of me seems so appropriate. I took this selfie of myself at the county fair the day my life started to spin out of control. As a six on the enneagram, I am the committed, security-oriented type. I’m the loyalist. My basic desire is for security and emotional support. When I did everything to love my people, thinking love could save them, thinking love could heal them, and it didn’t work, my life started to spin out of control. Like Atlas with his burden, I tried to hold my world and the hurting people in it on my back, until one day I couldn’t hold it up anymore. And I dropped it, and I cried, and I sought help. And I came to the painful and beautiful realization that other peoples’ burdens weren’t for me to carry. Other people can’t heal on my love alone. I needed to learn to put my own oxygen mask on first before being there for others. I needed to investigate why I felt so invested in hurting for people. I needed to step back and figure out how to love myself, care for myself, and develop healthier strategies for being.
Therapy was scary and amazing. The only reason I stayed the first day was because the secretary who greeted me on the first day was wearing rainbow eyeshadow. Her voice was so soothing and kind and she seemed genuinely happy to see me. She spoke to me with more love than I had spoken to myself in a long time. I was intrigued. The first day I only stayed because I was listening to the stories people were telling about their lives, and I was concerned for their wellbeing. I wanted to make sure they would show up the next day and be ok. So I came back a second day, and then a third day, and by the fourth day I had truly committed to being there to help myself for once, and not to be looking out for someone else like I always seem to do. I learned so many tools for mindfulness that have rewired my brain. I met people I never would’ve thought to befriend in regular life settings, but I grew to love them through our group. I learned to set healthy boundaries, and not just out of love for myself, but out of love for other people who need to learn to heal for themselves.
On the last day of group therapy, it was surreal. It was during the infancy of the pandemic, and though I had been doing so well leading up to the end of my treatment, I started to panic. At one point, the secretary burst through the doors, and told us we needed to sit socially distanced six feet apart in the room so she could take a picture and send it to the hospital administration, proving that we were being safe. They had taken our temperatures on the way in, and I just found out the day before that I would now be “homeschooling” my children and that school was cancelled until further notice. It seemed like the ultimate test of my strength, right out of counseling. I was getting ready to ditch because I was having an anxiety attack, but I wanted to keep in touch with the people in my class. I wrote a little note with my phone number to a couple people and passed it to them. Ultimately, the group therapist encouraged me to stay. I did, and one of the incredibly strong women I met passed me a note before our session was over. She had said that I was a different woman from the time I stepped in the door on my first day, and that she was proud of me. And she told me I had a dope soul.
It’s amazing what kindness can do for someone, because I absorbed that compliment like I was waiting for it for my whole life. I felt such a strong attachment to what she had said, that a couple weeks later I decided to check if the URL was available. It was. It seemed serendipitous that I would start my journey to healing using the sweet words that this woman had spoken to me.
My plans for this space? I hope to use it to speak encouragement into other peoples’ lives like was so healing for me. I’m not a pastor, a psychologist, a therapist, reiki master, or any kind of professional at uplifting souls, but I’m an average gal who seeks to love and be loved. If you can read this and any of this resonates with you, I hope you know you’re not alone. You are loved, you are worthy, and you deserve to be happy. I’m glad you’re here.
The funny thing about this pandemic is that so much that seemed to matter to me before I could care less about now. It used to bother me that our house was a mess all the time and (I feel silly admitting this) that it was hard to “stage” a cute Instagram photo. It used to bug me that I don’t look like an “it girl” because I don’t enjoy high end fashion and I’m always shopping the clearance rack. I always felt like I didn’t fit in to the “cool girls club” and I felt like it was hard to forge a space that felt meaningful in the blogging industry. I’ve owned another blog, Justina’s Gems, for eight years, and while I’ve always enjoyed writing about the things that made me feel pretty, it doesn’t really feel important to me anymore. But I love to write, and I love to connect with people. I didn’t want to give up a blog that’s been my livelihood for eight years, so I decided to pivot. I stopped caring about what everyone else was doing and forged my own path. I turned away from the aesthetic that everyone else seemed to love of the light and bright perfect filters and faked perfection. I took my site apart and rebuilt it from the ground up by myself. I didn’t search for inspiration. I wanted it to look and feel like something I loved and a true reflection of who I am now. I decided that finding beauty in the mundane and practicing mindfulness resonated with me and was a step in the right direction on my journey to find myself.
One of my hidden talents is that I love to tell my friends what type of retail therapy they should be engaging in. 😂I do plenty of that on my other blog. But I also wanted to dig deeper, and being on this journey of self-love right now is the closest I’ve ever felt to finding my purpose. I don’t know what that means for me right now or for my future, but I feel called to write about it, share, and connect with other people who are trying to become the women they were always meant to be. And to do that, it was on my heart to create a new space, so “Dope Soul Girl” was born.
I’ll leave you with something I embedded into the footer of my other blog last night, as a finishing touch to my hard work put into building it from the heart. These words flowed out of me, and they express what I hope to explore here.
I wish you the courage to be vulnerable, the self-love to recognize your beauty whether you look in your heart or in the mirror, the peace to be content with you have, and the curiosity to pursue the dreams that live in your soul.