How I finished 2017: Highs and Lows From Last Year

"It’s a new year, can you believe it?" How many times has someone asked you that already? LOL. Well before it gets too deep into 2018, I wanted to recap some of the major moments and things that went down in 2017. I disappeared for a while. I needed to step away from the blog for a variety of reasons, but I'm back with a plan. 

Yearly reviews can be kind of daunting, I’m so grateful for the connections I've made via Instagram, and this blog has helped me catalog some of the highlights without even knowing it. If you missed any milestone, you can find them recapped for you here along with the highs and lows.

So here it is, my year in a nutshell; to start lets talk about what went well.

I traveled!

I went 6 years without a passport, but the moment I got one I was ready to go wherever someone wanted to take me! Since I got my passport in November of 2016, I've been to 4 different countries. That's 4 more than I'd been to in years. I saw some U.S. states I'd never been to as well. I went to Kyoto, Cabo, Boston, and a few other places. I finally did something I'd talk about doing for years. 

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I started a non-profit

Hurricane Harvey spread a lot of sorrow in Houston, but I tried to do what I can to help people recover. I found purpose in helping Harvey victims, so I started a disaster relief non-profit. We are small - we can't help everyone yet, but I am confident that every little bit helps. We raised over $2000 in donations in a matter of weeks, we were able to feed FIVE families during Thanksgiving, and we held a toy drive that helped us donate toys to 12 families and over 24 kids. We are still planning what we're going to do in 2018, but I'm optimistic about the future of Relief Exchange. You can keep up with what we're doing on Facebook (@HurricaneHarveyReliefExchange) and on Instagram (@reliefexchange). If you're interest in donating to Hurricane Harvey victims, email me about donations.

It was an exhausting few months, but I made my way through it. 

I organized the Houston edition of Unity in Color

Sometimes you just have to reach out to someone to make something happen. That's what I did with DJ and creator of the photo series: Jasmine Solano. I came across a stunning photo of women in varying colors of gold one day, and had to know more about it. As I researched the photo, I saw that it was part of a series created to celebrate the power in diversity. 

"We wear yellow and gold as a nod to earlier feminist movements and ancient symbols of the divine feminine, while acknowledging that inclusive and intersectional feminism is our standard today.  In this special artistic photography series, we represent the unity in our strength of diversity. We encourage you to connect and get involved."

Jasmine made this series accessible to everyone - no one needed to audition, no terrible application process, no barrier to participation. It was refreshing. She working closely with us to produce the shoot. She gave me her phone number, and even called to check on us! It was really a special project. 

Unity in Color has been produced in multiple US and international cities including:

Houston, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, Denver, Oakland, San Francisco, Port-of-Spain Trinidad, Atlanta, Honolulu, Austin, Berlin, and more. 

You can produce an event in your own city by applying here: https://www.unityincolor.org/

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I worked on my mental health

Truthfully, I kept talking about mental health on my blog, but I was woefully neglecting mine. I couldn't focus on daily tasks at home or at work. I was spending days doing nothing at all. I was crying in ways I never had before. I was pondering the unspeakable. I was getting deeper and deeper into debt but spending more and more just so I could feel better. I needed to make a change, and I needed help to do it. 

Persistent prodding from my partner is what finally made me get out of my own head and get to a doctor. I needed to talk to someone, and I made the decision to go on medicine. I am still navigating all of it, including a rather big diagnosis I wasn't ready for. But I started to acknowledge that I deserved better. It's still a long road, but at least I am on it. I hope you feel free to do the same for yourself in 2018. 

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I started having fun on Instagram again, thanks to Beyoncé. (LoL)

Since I started blogging and using Instagram as my main source of traffic, I've been weeping about numbers, likes, engagement, algorithms, followers. Then finally, once I noticed Instagram wasn't going to stop messing with the formula, I threw my hands up in the air and decided to DO WHAT I WANT TO DO. Then it was fun again. I started downloading apps, and teaching myself some light video editing. I made silly videos that made me LAUGH. I got to talk one-on-one with people I hadn't connected with before. It was light-hearted, fun, and enlightening. I wasn't meant to be a style blogger. I wasn't meant to be an activist. I enjoy both, but all I am meant to be is me. So thanks Instagram for giving me the space to do that. And for giving me the space to keep my blog an open space for discourse and discussion. 

So yes, those were some of the things that really went my way in 2017, but success can't be celebrated without evaluating some of the lows along the way. 

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Hurricane Harvey

I don't even know where to start with this one. There aren't adequate words available to talk about this hurricane season. We can postulate about climate change, party politics, race relations and more. I am glad those conversations are happening - even during a natural disaster. The truth is, though, conversation doesn't do enough to pull someone out of the flood waters. Taking action to make sure communities of color receive the same chance at recovery as other communities is a start. There's a difference between talking about it and working on it. During the active flood event, I was in Austin working with Counter Balance ATX and other volunteers to run dispatch for rescue workers - workers pulling dead bodies out of the water and rescuing entire families from roofs.

Afterwards, with the help of a few wonderfully dedicated volunteers, I spent an entire week collecting and distributing supplies to over-crowded shelters and exhausted families. I drove around my home town and saw complete and utter destruction. Through all of this, somehow, no one in my immediate family incurred any damage of that magnitude. Still, when the first rain came to Houston after the storm, I sat in front of my window and wept. I wept myself in an anxiety attack. I thought about all the other people doing the same. Water had become our greatest fear. Shortly after, I entered therapy. I needed it, and so many more did. Three months later, I still see the need. I visited a family that was living in a tarp on their own land. There are people in Rockport, Beaumont, and elsewhere living in mold infested homes because FEMA denied them. We may not be in the headlines anymore, but Houston is still hurting. Most of us will never be the same again. I went quiet on here after Harvey because nothing made sense anymore. Blogging didn't feel like it even mattered, and I was busy trying to figure out what the hell I was doing starting a non-profit. 

2017, like 2016 was one of those years where I think a lot of people were waiting for it to end. It just feels like its been one bad thing after another from hurricanes to shootings and other crazy things in-between. This year, I want us to appreciate 2018, no matter what "Lows" we might experience. If you have the chance to learn something new, help someone, spread knowledge, advocate for others who can't do it for themselves, or simply find joy in ANY part of the new year, I want you to remember that when the year is coming to a close.

I hope Thoughts Caught In My Fro was a source of light for youin 2017 and can continue to be in 2018 no matter how dark things get. You always have in internet sister here with you, and I hope you can come to me to learn, vent, or whatever it is you want to do here (except get buckwild). 

Thanks again for following along and for all the magic you bring to me on a daily basis. I’m forever grateful.

Tune in to see what I have in store for 2018. 

Happy New Year!!!!