UNANSWERED PRAYERS.

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Dayka Robinson, Gwinnett Technical College 2016-3

Last week I had an opportunity to speak to a group of Interior Design students in the Business Practices class at Gwinnett Technical College. This talk was extra special for me not only because it's my first of 2016, but it was only 5 short years ago that I sat in that very same classroom, trying to determine if I really had what it took to become an Interior Designer. To look up & find myself standing in front of them on Wednesday speaking about the trajectory of my career was so full circle. A reminder that I actually came to those classes with everything I needed. I had it all along.

Dayka Robinson, Gwinnett Technical College 2016-2

Dayka Robinson, Gwinnett Technical College 2016-1

I was there to talk about my career & how I use social media in my business but of course I ended up covering a wide swath of info! Talks like that are always fun because they're informal and there's a lot of interaction with people who are so passionate about creating a career they love. One of the things I shared with the students was to be mindful that throughout their journey, their goals will shift, expand and quite possibly completely change shape. What they think they want to do right now may be the exact thing they don't want to do in just a few years. And then I shared how when I was sitting in that very class, my dream was to have my own brick & mortar retail store. I wanted my own studio where I could meet with design clients and sell the vintage furniture pieces that I was custom finishing by hand. I wanted to spend my days surrounded by beautiful furniture that customers could customize to suit their own needs and taking meetings with clients in my private office. I imagined a young, diverse staff and even visualized myself running around the shop with a cordless phone attached to my hip while the sounds of T.I. played over the sound system. OMG, when I tell you I wanted that SO bad???? I tell you no lie. I even picked out the building I wanted and captured a picture of myself sitting on the steps so I could hang it on the walls when my shop opened--I had it all planned out.

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2011: Old times. Old dreams. Old weight. 

And then I started experiencing things I never imagined I'd be a part of and my prayers changed. Fast forward to today and, as I was sharing with the students, the last thing I could imagine having now is my own retail shop & refinishing furniture for resale. I'd seriously be miserable. As I drove home it made me start thinking about unanswered prayers and alllllllllllllllllllll of the things and men (oh dear God, the men!!) that I once wanted sooo bad, only to turn the corner and find myself so grateful & thankful that I didn't get what I thought I once really needed. Do you ever think about that?? All of the things that you used to hope/pray/wish for, only to get a little farther down the road and realize how grateful you are that you didn't get the very thing you'd once thought you might die without? Yikes. My life is littered with them. Being back at the school to share my story was such an honor and yet more than anything, it made me really mindful of how much is waiting for me beyond what I can currently imagine. Garth Brooks truly said it best: "Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers."

So I'd really LOVE to hear about the some of the things you once hoped & wished for...and how glad you are that they didn't happen for you after all! Please share your unanswered prayers below! Let's chat....

(thanks for the pics, Shannon!)

TURNING DOWN A GOOD THING...FOR THE BEST THING.

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Recently I was extended an invitation to participate in a great professional opportunity but as I checked my calendar, I realized said opportunity would overlap with a really important event this summer--my trip to Istanbul. Now this business opportunity is cool. It's relatively high profile and would be a chance to further my career, expand my exposure, build my brand and do something creative & fun. But Istanbul??It's the trip of a lifetime.

Lately when I've faced decisions like this I ask myself 2 questions to help figure out my highest course of action--they serve as an inner compass and never steer me wrong:

"Will this decision take you closer to who you want to be? Will this decision take you closer to where you want to be?" 

As I weighed the decision--one that wouldn't have kept me entirely from the trip but definitely would've made it much less relaxing than I intended--the "right" answer quickly became clear: I needed to turn down the professional opportunity to devote my time & attention to the trip. Because in my heart, traveling to Istanbul is so much more than just a vacation. When I think about that trip, I think about how the experience will change me. About the new people I'll meet and all of the incredible ancient sites I'll see. About the spiritual experiences I'll have. And mostly, about the fact that that trip will take me closer to who I want to be--a woman focused on creating memories, having life changing experiences all across the world, and fully committed to the growth of mySELF.

Is my business important? No doubt. But my work is who I am, while my business is the vehicle through which I work...and there's a big difference between the two. I know that the best way to grow my business is to grow my self (that's no typo), and when realized this was the choice I was being called to make, the right answer immediately became apparent.

 Because sometimes you have to turn down a good thing....to experience the best thing.

ON FRIENDSHIP: THE RAW, REAL, HONEST & NAKED KIND

To have someone who knows all of my stuff. 

The good, the ugly and the secrets I shared so long ago that I forgot they belonged to me.
Who knows about the countless times when I had an opportunity to show up as my higher self but chose not to (or didn't know enough to do better). Who knows all my shadows yet still chooses to love & support me anyhow, it's a kind of love I feel honored to hold.
Who has witnessed the massive emotional & spiritual shifts in my life and doesn't believe in all of the same things that I do but still tries her best to speak to me in "my language" when I need to hear it most. Someone who, at the same time, doesn't care about my shifts and sees it as her job to give me the truth as she sees it. 
Who always says "we" whenever she's actually referring MY life, MY business or the moves I should make--especially with regard to dating--because she feels like if I do it then she's doing it too, never mind the fact that she's been married for almost 11 years ("No...no...that's what we're NOT gonna do. That's O-U-T.").The older I get, the more I understand the joy, peace and acknowledgement that comes from having a deep connection with people. To really be seen. And to be around those in whose eyes I'm always reminded that I am enough. I believe that soul connections are an organic thing that can't be fabricated--either they're there or they're not--and as such, that they should be honored. When someone allows me into their life I always see it as an opportunity to learn more about myself in & through them. And when I feel that pull, I will try to get to know you--to understand your life, hear your stories, learn how you process information--because this is how I make sense of my world!  And the older I get, I realize what a blessing it is to have people with whom I can do that. My preference is raw, real, honest & naked relationships--the kind that hold you down & pull you up, ever pushing you towards your best self. I consider myself lucky that I have more than one.

The quality of friendship or intimacy isn't measured solely in years. I can meet someone new & instantly feel a closeness with them that defies explanation but in a relationship that is intimate and decades old--spanning the crazy high school years, the ignorant college years, the unconscious after-college years and finally the "aware adult years"--I look at my friend's history and see my own. And when I look at the daughter she birthed almost 18 years ago, I see my stories play back before my very eyes. This didn't mean much at 25 but as I've gotten older and been a witness to how difficult it can be to make friends over 30, it's something I appreciate in a brand new way. I have 4 best friends and each of the relationships are so different...but there is only 1 who has known me since 15.

So to my dear friend: I see you, I hear and I love you. Thank you.

36 YEARS OLD.

On February 25th I turned 36 years old.

36!! 
It still sounds so crazy, because I remember being younger and hearing/reading about people being 36 and thinking to myself that they were really old. 

I now know better, of course. ;-)

At the beginning of the month I sent out invitations for a dinner party, to celebrate much the same as last year, only to have a freak 1-day snowstorm hit Atlanta on the same day of my birthday! Luckily the restaurant called to say they were staying open and since there was little to no snow on my side of town, I decided to move forward with my plans and let those who could come, come! So my party of 20 ended up being a party of 12 but we essentially had the space to ourselves which was great. The restaurant ended up closing an hour after we got there (I had to reel myself in on that one), but a few of us ended up going to a nearby bar afterwards and talked & talked until the wee hours of the morning, which made for a very lively finish to my night. And even though nothing went according to plan (including my super cute short jumpsuit I'd planned to wear but had to ditch last minute because snow/freezing weather + shorts= NO) and the vibe was much different than last year, it was good nonetheless. And I was happy.
In recent years I've developed a true fondness for birthday celebrations and have finally woke up to the fact that that there's no shame in organizing your own shindig--the only way to ensure I'll have the birthday I wanna have is to plan it myself!

So I have to tell you...I'm feeling good about 36!
Good things are popping up around every corner and I'm grateful that I positively feel more comfortable in my skin than I ever have before...and more aware and focused on staying mindful that I am enough, right here & now.
That knowledge is probably the best gift I could ever give myself and really, everyone who comes in contact with me. Knowing that I don't serve anyone, least of all myself, by shrinking who I am.
Accepting that there is always a place for people who confidently speak their minds, stand for their truth, and in general, want more...and not because the place of acceptance is some illusive place "out there", but because it's a place of knowing on the inside, where its been all along.

I had a friend turn 30 this week and I was just telling her, "...get ready because your 30s are really good." And of course there have been some rough patches and moments that really sucked but all-in-all, they have been good. Life will never exist without the sucky times--they make the "perfect times" possible, of course--but the last 6 years have been an incredible ride of which I could never have imagined.
And though the story is still unfolding I have to say...so far, so good. 
I'm now actually closer to 40 than I am to 30!!

THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING A PRACTICE

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In the world of spirituality and metaphysics, there is a lot of talk about having a "practice"--the thing that keeps you connected to your Source, whatever you may consider that to be. 

I whole-heartedly believe in the power of a practice, but I admit that it's an area in which I am still growing (read: not as consistent as I'd like to be). But when life gets a little crazy, like it did last week, I'm reminded why it's a belief that I never stray too far from. 
In my spare time, it's rare that you'll find me watching a ton of TV. I have cable, but the channels are so basic that it's almost like I don't have it. There's only one box and it's downstairs in my Living Room, where I'm more likely to watch it if friends come over and want to tune into something special. 
Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead? Haven't even seen 'em. 
DVR? Don't have it. 
I cut the TV out in 2013 when I realized that going to bed with Law & Order and Dateline on my mind wasn't doing me any good. I actually completely turned the tv off for months and just read, and once I noticed how much better my days were getting, I kept it up, making sure to fill my brain with positive & encouraging things every morning and once I settled into bed at night.
So for me, this is a big part of my practice.

But the importance of having a practice for me is less about the day-to-day and more about having a place to turn when the proverbial shit hits the fan. Because it's never IF it hits the fan but WHEN it hits the fan. Sometimes it hits in my business life and sometimes it hits in my personal life....other times it may be both at the same time. Could be as small as my hot water heater going out (like it did this week!) or as big as....well, big. And I don't just mean praying/meditating about a resolution to whatever your situation is--I mean something that keeps you grounded in the truth of your bigger picture. Something that reminds you to focus on your guiding beliefs. It's always interesting to me when I hear people pray for God's will to be done, because from my perspective, it IS always done....the only thing I pray about is the grace to surrender and let go of my attachment to what I want the outcome to be.
And I do this by reminding myself that there's no place that God is not, and that the Universe is always conspiring in my favor, even when it doesn't look like it. It's what I constantly reiterate to myself (and others!) and what I need/want to be reminded of when chaos appears to be all around. To be reminded in the moment that--as David Ault always says--even in the apparent absence of order, there IS order, to the degree that I believe it to be so. 

So how do you develop a practice?
Well first of all, there is no ONE right way. It's a personal, intimate thing and first requires you to figure out what you believe about life. And it should be a reflection of what you want to see in your world. If you want to see yourself with great relationships & a successful business, speak that!! It's as easy as saying something like, "I know that my business is a success and all of my relationships are moving me towards my highest good." Keep in mind that it's often a journey to our "highest good" but if you continuously remind yourself that everything is working together for your good, after awhile that's all you'll see. And conversely, know that if your narrative about your life is that it's always a challenge, nothing ever works out for you, all men are dogs/women are sluts and you're never gonna get there (wherever "there" is for you), then don't be surprised when that's all you see reflected, because what we focus on grows. Developing a practice is like building a muscle--the more you use it the stronger it gets--so when those moments of pure chaos come, you can choose to teach yourself to be silent in the midst of the storm and know that regardless of what it may look like, all is well right now. 
This is true for your finances. And your business. And your relationships. And everything in between.

Because a practice is a very personal thing it will look different on each of us but I would suggest you start with doing it once a day, maybe even twice a day if that feels right (morning & night) . It could be meditating, reading books that keep your mind/spirit centered, prayer or even something that just makes you feel good and gives you strength to face each day with courage & love. My advice? Don't get caught up in the vehicle, but do find SOMETHING to read/do/say daily that reminds you of the truth who you are. Because there is SO MUCH out here trying to remind us of who we've BEEN, who you SHOULD BE going forward and how to live your life now...and 99.989% of it is BS. Remember that when you change your mind, you change your language. And when you change them both, your whole life will change.
There's no trick or gimmick, just me & you, owning the truth of who we are.
And if having a practice can make you do that, I'd say it's something worth having.

DATING...WITH INTENTION (OF COURSE!)


Most of my adult life has NOT been spent dating. 

I've been boo'd up, "talking to someone", or in a bonafide relationship for almost half of my 35 years, so I like to think that I know how to do relationships. With an 8 year run under my belt--longer than a lot of marriages these days--it's safe to say that I'm pretty good at navigating the partnership waters. And I like it. I don't believe the goal of relationships is to get married--commitment takes many forms so I think the goal is to partner and walk alongside someone for as long as you can inspire each other and your souls can grow as a result of being in relationship with the other. If that leads to marriage, fantastic. If not, that's okay too, because you'll always walk away from that space knowing more about yourself, which for me is the most important lesson of all. BUT...if you're clear that marriage is your goal, then I'm all about speaking up and making your expectations very clearly known--'cause you'll never get what you want if you don't first have the courage to ask for it. I tend to be a little more liberal because I love the kind of work that's done in those intimate spaces--deep work that has to do with surrender, vulnerability, trusting ONESELF, and kindness in its most stripped-down form. And I don't think the value of all that work should be minimized just because two people didn't make it to the alter. 
But that's just me.

Dating, on the other hand, is a bit of a different story. 
I know how to navigate the intimate spaces of our lives pretty well but dating??
It's a phenomenon I'm still figuring out.
 I'm 35 but in a way...I'm still getting my bearings in this scene. From my perspective the world of dating is funny, it's kinda like anything goes. There are no rules--yet there ARE rules--and every.damn.thing. is left open to interpretation. As someone who's always looking for clarity in communication, you can probably imagine how confusing these waters can get for me.
If I had to pick the biggest problem plaguing the modern world, it would without a doubt be that mofos don't know how to communicate with each other (and I don't pretend to have cornered the market on this).

We don't always speak up for what we're truly thinking/feeling. 
We say things we don't mean. 
We under-communicate and expect people to fill in the blanks.  
We're lazy and sloppy with our choice of words and then "feel some type of way" when conversations turn to misunderstandings. 

And while this also happens in the context of committed relationships, I think it's a bit easier to work these things out in those spaces because you know (or you SHOULD know) that the person beside you is on your team and you're both working on a common goal. Above all, a committed relationship should be a place of trust & safety.

But when you're dating?? 

Wellllll....it's a little more challenging to navigate because I'm still trying to figure out the basics like if I can trust you to watch my drink while I go to the bathroom
In this context, trust & safety are bridges that are being built as I walk them. 
I've given a lot of thought about what I want this year to look like with regard to my love life.
I'm at an interesting crossroads--I'm not in a rush by any means & I do want a partner, but I'm also looking forward to just having fun, learning more about myself, and learning to surrender control of what the outcomes look like.
So I'm taking a cue from the rest of my life and committing to date with intention.
What does this look like, you ask?? Committing to a plan of deliberate action.
 Always being willing to put myself out there, widen my boundaries (carefully, of course), try some things I've never tried before, honor myself by always telling the truth, be open to possibility and keep repeating this process over & over again until the puzzle pieces fit. And sometimes they'll fit by turning into something very intimate & satisfying. Other times I'll meet someone who is "great, but not great for me", and the rest of those times the only thing I may share with a stranger are a few fleeting text messages. And still, it will all be perfect no matter where the cards lie.

 As I always tell my mother, I'm very clear about one thing:
I want to be with someone who wants to be with me.
There are other things on the list, of course, but that is the foundation of what I expect--someone who desires and chooses me, again and again. Not because they NEED me, but because they want me... which in & of itself is much more powerful.

So here's to a year of great (hot) new people, fun dates and most of all, lots of learning.
Wish me luck, y'all.

ETERNAL GRATITUDE FOR YOU...MY CUP RUNNETH OVER.

This wasn't my planned post for today, but I wanted to send you all a quick note of thanks for your text messages, Facebook comments, emails, Instagram likes/comments, phone calls, blog comments, private Facebook messages and the like.

Truly, I don't think there is a word that can encapsulate my gratitude for the outpouring of love I've received from all of you.
Like, my cup runneth over...for real.
The sheer volume and thoughtfulness of your responses is the personification of a gift that is exceedingly and abundantly more than I could ask or think.  
I am overwhelmed by your support. 
And the stories of challenge and triumph that have been shared. 
And that MY life could be a source of inspiration to ANYONE, which is the greatest blessing of all.
At the end of my post, I talked about what I hoped my words would remind you but make no mistake--everything in that post was really about me standing up, in a very public way, for something I have been trying to build up the courage to acknowledge & accept for along time. And since I have chosen to put a certain part of my life on display because of my business, I think it only makes sense to share my life in a way that displays the wide spectrum of what's going on in my world--the design stuff AND the non-design stuff: my thoughts, experiences, intentions, the God-stuff and...my developing love life. ;-)

In the meantime, I just want to let each of you know this:
That by reaching out with your comments, likes, calls & messages, you have, in effect, stood as a witness to MY story. To my pain but more importantly, my growth. And in this way, you have given ME a gift that is more powerful than I can convey. Because truly, I think I can speak for us all when I say that all we ever really want is for our lives to be seen, heard & acknowledged.

So truly, sincerely & deeply--thank you for being my witnesses.
You have seen me, heard me & acknowledged me.
And in that, you have done more than I could ever ask.

With love & gratitude,
Dayka

I HAVE VITILIGO. THIS IS MY STORY & HOW ITS CHANGED ME.

Watching your body change before your eyes is really fucking tough.

Traumatic would be another good adjective to insert here. I'm not talking about an ailment you were born with and I'm not talking about pregnancy. I'm talking about literally waking up one day and noticing that the skin on the body you've known for almost 30 years is suddenly changing. Then going to a dermatologist who confirms you have something called "Vitiligo" which has no known direct cause, no cure and an unpredictable prognosis. Up until then, I only knew it as the disease that Michael Jackson, the King of Pop claimed to have. When I left that office visit, I realized that I had joined his ranks. What I didn't realize was how much it would change me...for the better.
It's been 7 years since I first noticed the handful of small, discolored spots just below my belly button. They weren't particularly large, and they weren't extremely discolored either--just a trail of 4 small-ish spots that seemed to appear out of the blue. I didn't think much of them--outside of noticing the inconsistency--and kind of filed it away in the back of my mind. It wasn't until many months later, as I took note that they were getting lighter and larger (and after a bit of frantic Googling), that I got a little concerned. When the dermatologist confirmed the diagnosis...I still remember walking out of that office in a fog. I was uncertain of what to expect...and I was devastated.

Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease. It affects the pigment in your skin by causing your immune system to identify your melanin-producing cells as an "invader" and attack, so that the cells either die or stop producing melanin. The bright side is that there's no effect on my practical, day-to-day functioning & it doesn't cause any internal issues other than skin discoloration. The "downside"? Knowing that it's "just skin", yet still having to navigate a psychological forrest of conflicting emotions that are very real. It's like trying to execute a full spin on a teensy tightrope launched 250 feet in the air--it ain't the easiest thing to manage. It is shocking...and frightening...and depressing to see something visibly take hold of your body that you can't control. And then there are those who minimize this experience because they think it's "just a superficial thing"...which is an incredibly dismissive position to take when it's not transforming your body. What many people don't seem to understand is what the effect of something like Vitiligo can do to your mind: it will have you questioning your own beauty & value, reconsidering everything you think you know about yourself--deep stuff. From my perspective, developing Vitiligo as an adult is extremely different than having it as a child. I have, in effect, lived an entire life in one skin--childhood, high school, college & beyond--only to develop a new skin as I approached 30. And of course this is what we're supposed to do in our lives--grow & shed the skin we come to know as a means of expanding more into the people we're purposed to become. But when it's LITERALLY happening before your eyes?? Yikes. It can be a challenge to watch this process unfold and the uncertainty surrounding its progression (not knowing what to expect) used to cause a constant state of anxiety...which did not do much to help my immune system. Those early days were like a merry-go-round I couldn't seem to find my way off of.

For the first few years I was very diligent about staying covered because I was sure that I didn't want anyone to see what was happening to my body. And in those early days it was an easy task--if you didn't see my stomach or the center of my back, you wouldn't have caught a hint of what was taking place. But I pride myself on transparency & felt like a fraud during those years--aware that I wasn't owning my truth yet at the same time, having no idea of how to embrace what was happening. To see it as only a small part of my story and not the entire story. In hindsight and from a renewed perspective, I clearly see how Divine Timing was yet working in the midst of it all. Sometimes I'll catch myself thinking, "I'm grateful this happened in phases--I don't know that I could've emotionally handled losing my pigment any faster than I did.", but then I remember what I know is true--that we are always given the specific wings we need for the individual journey ahead. Because literally & figuratively, inhabiting a new skin changes you. I haven't had 35 years to acclimate to this, I've had 7--and now in year 7, my body doesn't look anything like it did in years 1-3. And I'm not saying that a dis-ease like Vitiligo changes your quality of life forever but yes, it will absolutely change something about your life, especially when it happens to you as an adult. Whether it's for better or for worse is ultimately up to you. In my case, it forced me to let go of how I visually imagined my life would be. And if I'm being honest (which I should be because after all, I AM half naked on the internet!), it forced me to rethink/reexamine who I thought I would be in this life. It's safe to say I considered myself to be attractive. Secure in the knowledge that I was a decent person and just as confident in saying that I wasn't an ugly duckling, either. Yet seeing Vitiligo spread across my body felt suffocating for awhile, being enveloped by something I couldn't control. And by "awhile", I mean years. As you can imagine, hours of perusing pics on Google Images didn't help much in those early stages, either. Because you can get lost in looking at the photos, seeing the possibility of what could happen to your skin without the balance & understanding of the only thing this experience is REALLY requiring of you--to become someone new. In and of itself, Vitiligo makes me different from most people and while different is something we tend to champion when it comes to businesses, personalities, music and fashion, we don't always celebrate "different-ness" when it comes to appearances.

For instance?  Sometimes people just stare uncontrollably.

I know that curiosity can get the best of people and they can't help looking at the white spots trailing down my shoulder or sneaking out along the neckline of my dress, but the blatant staring?Even to this day, it can make me feel like the main attraction in a circus. I really don't think people mean to stare in amazement--I believe we all are inherently good--yet when you're insecure about your own body, seeing people fixate on it just magnifies everything that's already under the surface. But in the end, the feelings that come up for me in those moments speak more to the narrative that I believe about myself, and less about other people and what they may be thinking. Knowing this actually DOES make the stares easier to process because it gives me a sense of power to know that there is a major part of my experience that I CAN control. And that, when it comes to me, nothing is ever true until I believe it to be so. After all--this is my journey, my story and I'm 100% responsible for the meaning that I assign to the events in my life. This fact, I own.

When people say things like "it's not a big deal" or that it "shouldn't really matter", I understand that they're intending & wanting to be supportive but here's the thing--when it's happening to you and it's your body and changing your life, it kinda is a really big fucking deal. I walk a tightrope between knowing that I'm not this skin, yet this skin is the first thing you see when you look at me.  My brown body now has varying shades of white spots across a good portion of it, and unless we're in the dead of winter, it's not like you could look at me and miss them somewhere--on the back of my legs, in the web of my hands, around my ankles & the tops of my feet. It's only seasonally visible on my face (I use Protopic, a topical prescription to control it) but if you know to look, you'll find it. Does it change the way my body functions? I'm grateful that I can say "no". But there's no denying that it has changed how others see me visually and also, how I show up in the world.

It wasn't until recently that I allowed myself time to really mourn my loss and who I thought I would be. And even though it may have been (admittedly) a superficially concocted self-perception, it was mine--MY idea and MY expectations based upon what I thought my life should look like. But the thing about Vitiligo is this: it's different for everyone, so there's no one way to navigate through this process. It's just not that simple. Each of us have to figure out a way to chart a course that feels true based upon the individual situation. Some people just develop one patch of Vitiligo, or only have it on one side of the body. For others like myself, it's non-segmental (bilateral Vitiligo or generalized Vitiligo) which means it appears on both sides of the body and cycles through periods of starting, stopping & expanding. This means that I have to make my way through an acceptance process each time it takes up more real estate on my body. And in other words, I make peace with my new reality each time it needs to be made.

But here's the good part: It gets better.

It gets easier to face and honor what's happening in my body each time because Vitiligo has undoubtedly made me better, stronger. I don't know if I can truthfully say I'm at 100% acceptance but I know this for sure: I'm not where I was 7 years ago (hell--the fact that I'm putting these pics out here on the webs is a testament to this fact!) Those 3 small dots that appeared below my belly button later spread to my back in a year's time. And from there it traveled to my shoulders, my breasts, my stomach and my face. It was dormant until the end of 2012 when I can only imagine that the end of a long relationship helped it to flair up again--a relationship I ended in part, because I knew I needed to sort through this and do the kind of inner work that can only be done when you're alone. I wanted/needed to find my own foundation and not settle for existing off of the confidence that a settled relationship provides. Or even worse--staying with someone because I didn't believe anyone else would want or love me in my new skin. I loved us both enough to know that I deserved more, and so did he. So I set out on my own to find my center and in time, that's exactly what I found.  And time & time again I remind myself, just because my life doesn't look exactly like what I thought it would doesn't mean that I don't have a really good life. 'Cause it is really good (incredible, actually), and I am happy. As they say, there will always be a road that didn't choose us, and for me, the journey I would've had had I NOT developed Vitiligo is that road. What chances would I have taken without this experience & who I would have consequently become without this calling to expand into more?  I'll never know. But I've learned that it's okay to mourn that road that didn't chose me and the secrets it held while simultaneously being excited about the road that I DO have. Yes, it's different, but it's also an incredible opportunity to practice what I believe--that things are always working out for my good, even if I can't see it just yet. And because of this core belief, I'm able to move forward knowing that everything--at the deepest level--is as it should be and that my purpose in this life is not diminished because of Vitiligo but instead made perfect through it. This I know for sure.

Vitiligo has caused me to reexamine my beliefs & values--to be clear about who I say I am and the ways that I am/am not showing up like I intend to. I believe in the power of intention and living in personal integrity, which is to honor yourself by being/doing who & what you say you are. This experience has expanded my faith and reminded me of what I know to be true--that I am not this body, but the essence of Dayka is created in my soul...the untouchable, undefinable, perfect, all-knowing Source on the inside. And I don't mean that in a cheesy way but truly, when we transition out of this life, our bodies remain but our souls--the very essence that makes us who we are--are what leave and THAT is what those who remain mourn over. So I continuously affirm to myself that I am not this body, and that everything I need for my journey on this path is already within. I am not devoid of anything, nothing about my life is a mistake, and how my body was created is intrinsically tied to who I'm supposed to be in this world.  I don't know that I would be so clear about this truth without having journeyed through this experience.

So in the spirit of honesty, transparency & transformation, I wanted to share this part of my life with all of you. To share my story about a life change that started out so heartbreaking but more importantly, became so transformative in my life. Vitiligo led me to a Paleo lifestyle which has done wonders for my health. It's now a little over 2 years later, and I still don't regret ending my relationship--in a challenging time I relied on my intuition and surprisingly, I'm enjoying being single and relishing the beauty & peace of being alone (alone, not lonely, mind you). I have a career I love. My business is doing really well. Some of my closest friends are people I'm sure I've known in another lifetime. I love where I live. And in general, I'm really very happy with me and the work that I've done on myself. Work that may not have taken place without Vitiligo. I've wanted to write this post for awhile and for many reasons, first as a means of celebrating myself and how far I've come. As a means of sharing a huge part of who I am that isn't as well known. And as a means of inspiring and encouraging someone with Vitiligo who may stumble upon these photos via Google, or this blog post one day in despair (like I did many years ago) looking for something to hold on to, needing to hear that it gets better. Well I'll tell you this: it really does get better...but it's because of the work you do on the inside of you, not on the outside.  In so many ways, I never imagined that I would have the life I know today...but in every way, and even because of this experience, it is sweeter. I'm grateful for what I didn't know back then about this journey that lay ahead--it would've seemed insurmountable to the 2007 version of myself.

So the logistics: I have chosen not to wear makeup to cover my depigmentation. I have no issue with anyone who does differently, but the practice for me is about becoming comfortable in my skin and yet staying ever aware that I am not this skin. Will I always feel this way? I can't say with any certainty. But I reserve the right to change my mind later and will do what feels right in the moment. In the meantime, my biggest hope is that I might inspire someone who may be struggling with a challenge or insecurity of any kind--personally or professionally--who finds themselves full of fear and/or doubt. To remind you that God or life--whatever you may believe in--is calling you to be more...to be bigger and better than you are in this moment. And you absolutely can be, if you so choose.  It may take time, but your perspective WILL change if you allow it to.

And yes, someone will still think you're hot. (many "someones", in fact) They'll want to date you...love you for how you look now, and how you'll look 5 years down the road. And yes, people may stare, but only because it's different. Not ugly. Just different...and that's okay. And in time you'll find that when you stop looking for the people who are staring, you won't see them as much anymore. And you'll learn that sometimes, the people who are staring may actually be looking because in you, they see the courage that they're not sure they have themselves. So I remind you that in this way, when you tell the truth of your own story and have the courage to shine your own light, you help light someone else's flame and give them the courage to shine too. And that's something worth celebrating. (Albert Schweitzer)

**All images taken by the amazing Angela Murray Morris, who made me feel incredibly comfortable, supported, and excited about this shoot. Eternal gratitude, love & appreciation for you, friend. Xo** **To Nicole Wylie, Antonio, Telisha Gibson, Brady & Rodney...for--each in your own way--allowing me to use your flame to light my own.**