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Merit and I were both home sick last week. There were hours where we didn't feel like doing anything, and hours where we want to do something...but not too much.

We were playing "rescue" at one point, where I was supposed to have an imaginary kitty cat stuck in an imaginary tree and Merit was going to rescue my kitty cat for me. So, I started fake crying and said, "I am so sad that my kitty cat is stuck in the tree. What do I do, Merit?"

She looked me straight in the eye and said, "Touching."

In other words, you get through your sadness by connecting. Connecting with others.

I have been on a downward slope lately. Feeling isolated and disconnected and a bit sad. Working from home has it perks. While I am connecting with incredible people online, and my work is taking off, I am not getting enough social stimulation with people in "real" life. Being face-to-face is very different from being screen-to-screen.

It's hard to reach out when you are feeling a bit lonely. It takes a bit of courage to meet up, to be invited, to be included in someone's day.

Merit reminded me in the most beautiful way that even if something takes a bit of courage, the answer is usually pretty simple.

So, who wants to grab lunch or coffee in the coming months?

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Updated: Aug 30, 2022

The other night, I was cuddling with Merit in her bed before she went to sleep. We were being silly and she was making me laugh. It was one of those moments that gratitude washes over you.

"Merit, you are one of my best friends."

Immediately she responded, "No mamma! I am my own best friend."

"Oh, yes, of course. You are right! You are. That is so wonderful, Merit."

She looked at me with concern, "Mamma, will you be your own best friend?"

Gut punch.

She must have caught on to the levels of stress I have been carrying around. I certainly haven't been taking care of myself the way that I know I need to or want to in regards to my work in the world. It was the slap in the face reminder that I needed which led me to a very important talk with my publisher and editor.

I've been pushed to meet deadlines I am not ready for. The book just isn't where I want it to be at this point in the revision process - so Merit's reminder led me to ask for more time. As a result, my book will not be published until January 2023.

I also decided to stop a working contract that wasn't serving me in the best way possible. It was a great job, just not what I am wanting right now.

It's always hard to ask for what I want. Often I feel like a failure when I do make these shifts. Not only that, it means that I am diving into the unknown again. But since I've made these decisions, I feel connected again. I feel like myself again. And new opportunities are showing up.

Are you your own best friend? If you aren't, Merit says you should be. It's one of the few "shoulds" I will be paying more attention to from now on.

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I've struggled these last few days. My life has been on an immense high for a while now. There have been a lot of amazing things happening for myself and my family. Clare and I have worked really hard over the years to create the life that we want and we feel like we have been living in the middle of our hopes and dreams. It's surreal.

With that though, there comes doubts and fears. I've been sitting with it this week - this feeling of stuckness - and it hit me like a ton of bricks as I was walking outside to take in some fresh air. From deep down, I felt a wave of emotion. Tears emerged. There it was, that quiet but strong whispered to me, "I don't deserve this."

No one wants to hear that. But we can't not acknowledge it. We all have it.

We all have it because it has been embedded into our beings by society, religion, and our culture. For is embedded even further.

I was being interviewed yesterday by a student at The Reflector about my experiences coming out in Starkville and my thoughts on how I think things have changed over the years. This student, a freshman, was a prime example of how things have changed. She felt safe enough to have our conversation at a busy coffeeshop at a table that was wedged between two others that were just a foot away from us.

I won't lie, I hesitated to speak too loudly.

When I realized my insecurity, I thought about what it was like to come out in 2004. There was very little representation on campus. I knew two people who were out and proud. One of them was beaten to death a few years later. I haven't talked about that before because it hurts too much.

So often, my issues around being too vocal are a matter of safety for me. And when I am vocal (like with my book launch) and things go well - God, it is so hard to let the love in. It has been harder than I thought it would be.

I don't need to be told that I am worthy or that I deserve the world. I know that deep down. I just have to work through the thoughts and fears that well up every so often. I have to honest about them - that they are there and that they need a voice so they can move on.

I am aware that things are different in 2022 than they were in 2004. The unwavering response to my book launch is how I know it - the majority of those who have contributed have been FROM STARKVILLE (my hometown). The most profound thing for me has been that I actually asked for help. It has been a very vulnerable position to be in. That's a long way from where I started.

Also, I have a wife. I have a child. Things I never dreamed I would have in 2004.

As I continued talking to this student she asked me another question, "What would you tell LGBTQ+ students today that would be helpful?"

I thought long and hard about that one.

My answer surprised me. As an LGBTQ+ community we have worked so hard to gather further representation and support for equal rights. Lets remember that you can still be fired for being gay in many states, Mississippi is one of them. There are many other laws that are being written that are making it harder for our community to feel safe. We make up 10% of the worlds population.

We all just want to feel safe.

My answer was, "Rest. Be yourself. We've come so far. Lets ask our allies to do the work for us now."

What we need now is further representation - our voices and our stories need to be heard and listened to. More than that, we need true allies. Allies who speak up for us when we aren't listening. Thank you for being an ally by supporting my story. There are so many other stories that need to be told and so much more work for us all to do, together.

I am letting the love in y'all - you have all so touched my heart ever so deeply for the support. Thank you.

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