An Introduction

Recently, a dear friend  of mine, Jam Gamble – aka Slayer of the Mic, sent me a reminder via IG saying “WHY ON EARTH ARE WE STRUGGLING TO INTRODUCE OURSELVES?”

Oh does she know me well!

I can talk, a lot. But when it comes to introducing me I pause and I feel awkward and I struggle to find what I want to say. I usually end up giving a very surface, stock answer.  Usually how I’m a mom, and a teacher…  things I’m very proud of but not exactly what I want to say.  It’s part of it but I always stop short.

But I’m changing this and this is the intro I will  proudly use going forward.  So here I go.

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“My name is Shivonne Lewis and I am a tattooed teacher, bipolar single mama of 2. I’m not sure some days how I’ll do it but I’m always figuring it out with grace and confidence.

I am a mental health advocate.  Because it’s 2019 and not “getting it” or having a frame of reference for it or believing in it are not excuses. It’s time to fucking figure it out. Check your bias and figure it out.

I’m a mental health advocate because I have Bipolar Disorder Type I not because I am Bipolar. My disorder doesn’t define who I am. It’s caused me to act outside of my moral values, do to some things that may seem harmful and shameful. It became larger than what I could handle but it isn’t me.

I’m a mental health advocate because the supports and systems in place are shockingly bad. Like so bad.

I’m a mental health advocate because I want women, young women to see that you can have a disorder and manage it with support and have a great life. You can have a career, a house, kids if you want to. It doesn’t get to take away your life goals and dreams!

Oh yeah, I’m not blonde anymore 😉

Because it’s Impossible to Not Feel Joy when You Eat Popcorn!

When I started this post my intention was to recount a heart felt reflection of this time a year ago. To give insight to the haunting feelings that I was struggling with.

But I’ve changed my mind.

I don’t want to focus on that. I don’t want to get stuck there. In that darkness. I’d rather share the small everyday things that have been bringing me joy and some of the lessons that have gone along with it.

My Family:
It goes without saying my kids. They are affectionate, strong willed, stubborn and funny. I’m excited for the world of possibilities that lay ahead for them.  But family is also my extended family. My parents, siblings, nieces, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparent(s). I’ve come to understand that the expectations I’ve placed on family aren’t always realistic and I need to love and value them for who they are.

 

Friends that are Family:

I use to think that to be truly loved you measured this by a great number of people surrounding you. I’ve since learned the difference between friends that are family, friends that are for fun, family that are friends, friends that are circumstantial and friends that are acquaintances. All have their place and some people start as one, change or blur the lines.

I have developed a network of people that fiercely love me for me. As I love them. We check in when we know we are struggling, include in family moments, parent one anothers children, have fun self-care days, send each other funny memes or inspirational quotes. We laugh – we laugh a lot. We act silly, sometimes inappropriately.

We love each other fiercely.

Oh and a nice side effect to losing friendships – the space it’s opened for new ones ❤

Recently a friend brought me her leftover popcorn because she knew how much I loved it. I ate it my bed with the biggest smile on my face!

Food is NOT the Enemy:

Okay I’ll admit this is one I still struggle with.  All.the.time.

But I’m getting better.

Food is feeding your body. Food is treating yourself. Food is time spent with friends and family. Food is celebration. Food is not something to restrict and then binge on. It’s not out to get me.

So I’m reclaiming it. I try new recipes. I say yes when friends invite me for Nachos, I drink the champagne and I have ice cream and coffee for lunch (like I just did now).

Scout Fluffy:

I was not prepared for how much I would love this dog.

I knew I would appreciate the companionship. The opportunity to walk more. The running buddy (which training starts soon for her). I knew it would be a lot of work to train a puppy – it is.  I knew it would be expensive.  But I did not know that she could fill my heart with as much happiness as she does.

 

Myself:

“I’m bent, but I’m not broken
I’m stronger than I feel
I’m made of flesh and bone
Not made of steel” – Miranda Lambert

“I paint my lips red, I turn my own head
Don’t need nobody’s help, zipping up my own dress
Pay my own tab, with my own cash, unattached” -Lady Antebellum

I’ve learned to love my time alone.  I turn the music loud, I dance, I clean. I get my nails done and buy myself pretty things.

I decorate my skin with meaningful tattoos that tell my story.

I meditate. Often. I journal and colour.  I appreciate nature and look for small simple signs.

I walk down the stairs each morning and I smile because the beauty that surrounds me is mine.

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The Real Secret to Joy is Finding Your Own Version of Eating Popcorn in Bed:

Also known as do what makes you happy, unapologetically.

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