family gathering for a group hug

What’s In A Name? Understanding Generational Stuff to Redefine Your True Self.

In the Black community, often times it is FOE. Blood is thicker than water. M.O.B. *wait maybe not that but you get my drift* lol. In fact, Black Twitter has confirmed that we indeed did all grew up in the same household because there are just certain things you know to do.

For instance, you just know to speak when you walk into a room. You just knew to take the meat out the freezer and clean up before your parents got off work. You just knew Saturday mornings involved waking up early to some good ol’ gospel or old school music, and that meant it was time to clean. And you just knew how far to take it cause your Mama ain’t one of your lil friends.

Well, recently, as I’ve been doing a lot of reflection, I find myself questioning the concept of family and all things associated with it. Including how some of the things “we just know to do” influences how we define ourselves and what we represent. I remember the first time someone said “Oh he’s a (*insert last name*). They’re known for x-y-z”. Or, “Oh she’s a (*insert last name*). They’re involved in x-y-z”. As a result, young me would just associate folks from said family with whatever their family was known for, and move accordingly when interacting with them.

What’s In A Name

Growing up the family matriarchs told me that my name is everything. They’d say, “they can take anything from you, but the one thing they can’t take is your name, so don’t mess it up”. To young me that just meant do right by others. Being in the counseling field and doing my own personal work, I have learned that a family name is much more than that. It reflects your way of feeling, thinking, and overall being as well.

Every family has their own collective family identity reflected in and through their name. This identity for a lot of Black families includes living off survival. Living off generational trauma. Living off “what happens in this house stays in this house”. And within each family, every member has their own individual identity that inadvertently has upheld some aspect of the family identity.

The intersection between the collective family identity and one’s individual identity shows just how impactful our family identity is on who we are. INITIALLY. And I say initially because things don’t have to stay the way they’ve always been because “that’s just what we do as a family”.

healing family through connection
Photo by August de Richelieu on

Dismantle the Dysfunction

There are many barriers to even starting to know what’s behind a family name. It is not uncommon knowledge that many Black families lost their names and identities during slavery, leaving many families to hit the reset button on who they are. And let’s not get on the “we don’t talk about that” culture in the Black community that has been on epidemic levels for generations. And the sometimes impossible access to resources to even begin to know.

It is an honest struggle to know what’s behind a name to even start to effectively understand family stuff to create change in one’s life. Nonetheless, dismantling the dysfunction associated with a name can be one of the most freeing experiences. And it has to start somewhere.

The Power of the Know

One of my favorite shows to watch, Finding My Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr. on PBS, shows this. On this show, he provides participants with enthralling stories and connections of who they are & where they come from. He also provides insights into ways of being and thinking that participants notice in their present lives.

I’ve personally embarked on this journey as well. Searching websites to learn about family connections. Reading different documents. Asking questions about family that provides helpful insight on one front, and sometimes frustrating insight on another.

It is no easy task for sure. It can also be an emotionally painful journey to embark on too. But, what I have learned is that there is so much power in knowing what’s behind a name. And there’s even more power in redefining that name to align with who you desire to be.

I mean how cool is it really to learn that the strength and assertiveness you long for stems back 4 generations, and thus is a possibility for you to embody? To know that you can place generational burdens back where they belong and walk in your true authentic self?

So Where Do I Start?

I’m glad you asked. Redefining your name starts with what you know about self. If you don’t know go to therapy. Use journal prompts. Find self-discovery questions on Beyonce’s innaets. Start somewhere.

Then, explore what you know and witnessed in your family. Talk to the family that don’t care to maintain the hush hush in the family. Go to the state archives and see what you can learn through whatever preserved documents they do have (cause again systemic oppression ensured documents on Black folks were absent and inaccurate but make due with what you can find).

And put your puzzle together.

Learning what’s behind a family name, dismantling dysfunction, and redefining the name is a necessary task to walking in one’s authentic self. It reveals context of certain family patterns. It provides insight into how ways of thinking became family core values, and maybe even your core values. And most importantly it positions you to consider what you’d like to continue, create, or challenge in your own life.

It’s time we take our names back & walk in the greatness that is our birth right. And if you need help, check out Legacy of Love Counseling & Wellness for services and resources that can support you along your journey.


I’ll Be Home for the Holidays

The holiday season is known for its good times and good cheer. The quality family time. The good, traditional food of Thanksgiving and Christmas. In the case of my family, Grandma’s famous 7-layer, straight-from-scratch, made 2 nights before so the flavor can set in chocolate cake and the sweetest honey baked ham. But for a community often operating under the radar, the holidays can be quite the opposite of a good time and good cheer. The holidays can be an even more stressful time of year for people living with eating and body image concerns.

On any given day, living with eating and body image concerns can be akin to living with an evil elf. The negative thoughts and sneaky dialogue about what to wear, what to eat, how much to eat, and about what others might think can run rampant and consume a lot of physical and mental energy. Add the “Girl you done put on a lil weight since the last time I seen you” or the side comments about what’s on your plate to the internal conversations you already have, and here we are Bah-hum-buggin’. The holly ain’t meeting the jolly and staying away from the festivities seems like the way to go.

smiling black woman reading book and drinking hot coffee
Photo by Any Lane on

If you are someone who struggles during the holiday season, know that you are not alone. Although eating disorders are uncommon[1] and Black women are least likely to be diagnosed with an eating disorder[2], about 28.8 million people are affected by an eating disorder[3]. This does not take into account the number of people who struggle with body image concerns. Nonetheless, this holiday season doesn’t have to be like the nightmare before Christmas.

Go into this holiday season with a plan. One that can help you cope with your thoughts about yourself, comments from family members, and your love-hate relationship with food and body. Check out our Coping Through The Holidays webinar to gather your holiday gear to help you make it through this holiday season. Learn strategies that can make going home for the holidays one to remember for all the better reasons.

[1] Streigel-Moore, R.H., Dohm, F.A., Kraemer, H.C., Taylor, C.B., Daniels, S., Crawford, P.B., & Schreiber, G.B. (2003). Eating disorders in white and black men. American Journal of Psychiatry, 160(7), 1326-1331.



Body Image & When It Is Okay To Comment On It

body image; black woman; monochrome photography of woman wearing swimsuit
Photo by Jennifer Enujiugha on

The best time to comment on someone’s body image is umm … NEVER.

That’s it. That’s the time. However, we live in a society where people feel a little entitled to be able to do so. In fact, it’s so common for people to comment on the body image of others that it can either be blatantly out in the open or under the guise of concern from family members, doctors, strangers, and Lord knows who else.

If you’re the person who does this …. STOP IT! Especially if you’re feigning care.

Moving along.

Black Folks Have Poor Eating & Body Image Too!

Addressing the overall topic of mental health is still very taboo in Black communities. And, much like having conversations about one’s overall mental health is still pretty fresh in our communities, having conversations about the impact that body image concerns & disordered relationships with food have on the soul are pretty non-existent as well. In fact, many people still believe that these are White folks problems, when in fact Black women and men have eating disorders and body image concerns as well.

Sticks & Stones May Break My Bones But Words Are Sure To Hurt Me (If You’re Not Careful)

Black folks are notorious for using humor in ALL the situations, appropriate or not. I’m even guilty of using humor in the most inappropriate ways at times myself. Humor has been one of our most important saving graces, developed from years of turmoil experienced in this USofA. I ain’t mad at it. As I’ve gotten older, & since working with women who have significant body image issues, I have learned, however, that there is value of being mindful of the words being used to offer compliments or criticism to others. Be it now or later, hearing someone make disparaging comments about your body, in humor or in an effort to “show you they care”, can have long term effects.

Prime example. I have always been in a body crazy, curvy, wavy, not so itty bitty waisted body. One day, while in middle school, a guy walked by & mentioned how my bra was too big for my boobs in front of the whole class. Talk about somebody was SHAME. I’m almost 2 decades removed from middle school and can still remember what was said and how I felt. Now the emotions definitely aren’t the same now, and my confidence has grown significantly over time. It goes to show true what the late great Dr. Maya Angelou once said about people may not remember exactly what you said but they damn sure will remember how you make them feel.

And words, helpful or harmful, definitely lead to feels.

Maybe It’s More Than Meets the Eye

Lastly, we never truly know what people are going through that may be contributing to any change they experience, including with their bodies. Maybe its an underlying health condition, or a long history of body image struggles that may perpetuate other maladaptive behaviors; or, God thought to wrap them in different gift paper than you. YOU DON’T KNOW.

So, in the essence of truly learning to MYOB – MIND YOUR OWN BODY – let’s normalize not making comments on bodies that don’t belong to us. HMMMK!

so covid-19 has you with yourself. now what?

the value of embracing yourself in the midst of vulnerable and uncertain times

2020 has been one heck of a year. From the death of the G.O.A.T, Kobe Bryant and his daughter, to the whole world being shut down due to the coronavirus, and the US seeing the highest unemployment rates it has ever witnessed in the history of America. Four months in, and 2020 has been on one.

We all had plans to do great things in 2020. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us all to abruptly stop life and all plans that we may have had. No travel. No visiting that old friend. No Sunday Service. This pandemic has snatched everybody’s wigs, lashes, and toupees if you will, forcing us all to embrace our un-manicured natural, meanwhile providing Mother Earth with space to heal, breathe, and manifest her natural self in all her glorious wonder. We have learned many lessons in such a short amount of time from this pandemic including that consumerism is an addiction, and that mothers really can work from home. And, we’ve been forced to actually be social via social media platforms in order to feed our natural desires to stay in touch with our people.

At the start, 2020 had many people ready to see with clearer vision. Unfortunately for us, COVID 19 overheard our conversations about “perfect vision”, and said “BET!”. It came in like a revered ancestor, sitting us all down, forcing us to think about the choices we’ve been making with our lives, revealing that many of us were not as prepared for this part of life as we thought. It has us sitting in our rooms, literally, alone with the parts of ourselves we often use the hustle and bustle of every day life to hide from.

This pandemic has left us exposed and vulnerable – two things that many of us avoid due to the discomfort that comes along with those emotional experiences. Fact of the matter is, however, these emotional experiences are inevitable. COVID 19 simply, without warning, and without our permission, removed the smoke and mirrors, leaving each of us with our own painful thoughts, memories, and experiences.

When dealing with emotional experiences that we deem wrong or painful, such as feeling vulnerable and exposed, we often cope by engaging in behaviors such as being self-critical, using alcohol and drugs, engaging in unhealthy distractions such as staying on social media longer than we plan to, or by engaging in other behaviors that may take us further away from the feelings we don’t want to experience. The urge to avoid things that hurt or feel uncomfortable is a knee-jerk reaction for many of us, and being in uncertain times, like now, has exacerbated the need to avoid, deflect, and distract to get through.

In staying true to 2020, however, now is also as good a time as any to continue to strive for that clear vision. To work on becoming your own boss. To go through that clutter to make room for the things that actually matter to you in the present. As uncomfortable, disappointing, and painful as life has been in the past, or even right now, it is still your life to decide how it shall proceed. It is still your responsibility to heal from those painful things to ensure that you have the quality of life that you desire to have.

When this pandemic began, I too found myself recalling painful memories, experiencing increased anxiety, and struggling with maintaining some type of normalcy in my life. One thing I have learned,however, is there is so much power in exploring these moments without judgment. It opens up new lessons about life. It helps you to identify new areas of growth and resilience within yourself. And it frees up mental space so that you can better focus on what matters in the here and now.

Embracing and exploring your vulnerable side, especially now, creates the opportunity for you to have a freedom you may not have the chance to be intentional about creating once we all go back to the hustle and bustle as we knew it. So during this time, when those painful thoughts begin to rear their ugly little heads, be kind to yourself. Show yourself some grace and compassion, and explore these moments with curiousity. Follow Mother Nature’s lead, and allow this moment of uncertainty and vulnerability to refresh, restore, and renew you to higher heights. The vision doesn’t have to stop with the pandemic. Embrace the uncertainty and let the now be the fresh start you’ve been praying, wishing, and hoping for.