Why Mental Health IS the Priority for 2023: Being mentally present and available

#mentalhealthmatters has over a billion tags on TikTok and several million on Instagram, but as I search the hashtag I see a wide variety of content, much of it glossing over what mental health truly is. 

And that makes sense because there are several components of mental health and not a lot of them are fully understood. Even I, as a licensed therapist – sometimes struggle to truly define mental health. 

For 2023 my goal for this blog is to focus on a Healthy Me. Holistically healthy – not just physical health, or grooming activities that we mistakenly label as self care (which they could be, but that’s a topic that will be covered in another blog), or emotionally healthy – but literally healthy in mind, body and spirit. And my goal is to take you along with me. Are you ready?

So why is mental health FIRST, LaVonia? I’m glad you asked. 

Mental health is defined as “a state of well being in which an individual realizes her (or his) own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to (her) community.” (MentalHealth.gov). Mental health encompasses your emotional, psychological and social well-being – all topics that we will go into great detail over the next several months. 

If our mental health isn’t priority, then nothing else will be permanent. If we can’t learn to take care of our cognitive (where thinking starts and actions begin), then nothing else will line up. 

As a woman thinketh so is she. Proverbs 23:7. Even if you don’t love Jesus, you can find the truth in this statement. Our thoughts drive our actions. “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can – said The Little Engine that could. That’ll preach so let’s let it. 

I want to take literary creativity and add a ‘so’ in this mantra. 

I think – SO – I can. So modifies what comes before and connects what comes after. 

I think – I have the cognitive ability and the mental capacity. My head is clear from distractions, my focus is concentrated on my purpose or task. I am walking in understanding, I am in control of the thoughts that I allow to stay and occupy my headspace and I am capable of dispelling those thoughts that aren’t welcome. I choose which thoughts I allow to drive my mental train. 

If this is true – (then) So – 

I can – I am capable. I am present. I am accountable. I can accomplish what I set my mind to do. I don’t doubt my abilities or allow insecurities or fear of failure to stop me from trying because I already have thought it through, and I see myself succeeding. 

It starts with thinking. I have to first think that I am capable, believe that I am capable (emotions which we will talk about in the next blog) and then act accordingly (alignment of thoughts, beliefs and actions.)

Over the next several weeks, we are going to dive deep. We’ll define each component of the health triangle (mental, physical and social well-being) and then we will dive into how to heal each one of these areas to become holistically healthy. I’ma be honest and let you know that the physical component will be approached from a therapeutic mentality too, so be mindful (see what I did there J) of that. There are so many programs and information about dieting, exercise and nutrition that I won’t even attempt to go down that road, but I will talk to you about how your mental health may be hindering or helping your physical health.

 I’m going to give you some clinical terminology, but also practical implications. We are going to spend the first few months of 2023 clearing our thinking, re-establishing our beliefs and aligning our actions. And then we are going to watch the latter of 2023 be the healthiest version of ourselves – beyond what we could even imagine. 

You ready to get started?

New Year: Same Me. Why it’s ok to not change with the new year.

New Year – Better Me.


New Year. 

New Me. 

Or…Better Me?

While the message of this rhyme is powerful, some of the sentiment may be a bit misplaced. Why do we seek to change every new year, like as if at the stroke of midnight – all of the bad decisions, calories and heartbreak of the old year is gone and the new year wipes it all out. 

And this can be intoxicating to believe. That we just get a ‘do-over’. But I want to challenge that notion this year. 

What if we didn’t seek to change, but to improve? What are the things that you loved about your last year, where are the areas that you grew, developed, learned? What are the lessons that you learned and the experiences that actually changed your life? 

Don’t we want to hold on to those? 

What if I told you that you don’t need a ‘new year, new me’ mindset you simply need dedication to the things that are working and to release the things that aren’t. 

Motivation isn’t always the problem – we are all looking for inspiration and what could be more inspirational than a brand new set of 365 days? 

What if I told you that the new year will automatically change, but you won’t. Not unless you do the work. So let’s commit this year, to actually doing the work. 

Not looking for a magic pill, a fad diet, the next best thing that will get us there quicker… let’s put on our big girl panties and big boy draws and let’s get to work. 

Let’s reflect on the person that survived in 2022 – honor her – pay homage to him; and let’s become the best version of ourselves, instead of seeking to be someone else. 

Over the next few weeks, we will practically discuss how to do this – how to take our lessons from 2022, and every other year for that matter – and discipline ourselves this year to become better. 

Journey with me and let’s watch our lives become so great that they make our dreams jealous. 

Are you with me? 

Who Are You, Really?


Really, like who are you?

Many of us have gotten this question over the year, we’ve even asked ourselves this same question, but we typically stop short of actually answering the question – instead we describe what we’ve done, what we have, what we are currently doing, but that’s not who you are. Not really.

If you play football – that’s what you do – but who are you if you get injured?

If you are a crypto investor – that’s your career – but who are you when/if it crashes?

If you are a mother – that’s one of your roles – but did you not exist until you had children?

If you are an influencer – that’s your impact – but what if you have a post that flops?

I could go on and on but I think you get the point – if we define ourselves by what we do or what we have, then our identity is constantly up for grabs – to the next trend, fad or at the mercies of the things that influence us.

But what if we were able to clearly define who we are – not based on what we do or have, but based on the true essence of ourselves? That’s the game changer because no matter what the circumstances, my identity is secure.

This weekend I attended Author Advantage Live 2022 with Self Publishing School and I was inspired to write my own Identity Mission Statement by Pedro, one of the speakers and coaches of the program.

I’ll be sharing the link to mine below – but first I want to encourage you to write your own.

Before you get started, here are a few things to remember:

  • There is NO wrong way to do this. It’s yours, take ownership.
  • Get away from what you do or have done and talk about who you are and who you want to become.
  • It’s ok (actually favorable) if you feel you still need to grow into some of the characteristics that you place in your mission statement
  • Focus on characteristics, not just roles. If you include a role – clearly define what that role means to you, not a universal definition.
  • Hold space for yourself. This isn’t a one and done process and definitely can evolve as you become more yourself.

So let’s get started! Ready to write your Identity Mission Statement? Check out my post on Instagram as well, for more direction…

Today marks the 2 year anniversary of my divorce. And I’m GRATEFUL.

Sounds crazy, right? Why would someone willfully and giddily celebrate being divorce? When your marriage was hell and you begged for the last 2 years of it for God to change something – to the point that you were in so much emotional pain that you didn’t even care what the result was as long as it was different from what you were currently experiencing – then you would understand why today is a day to celebrate.

Divorce is a separation of a soul tie that was meant to last forever. And it hurts. I have commented before that divorce in some ways is harder than the death of a spouse. Why? How?

Because in death, the person isn’t choosing to be apart – but in divorce, it’s a conscious decision to still be on this earth and make a choice that is different from the one that you made on the altar. It’s a choice that one day I said ‘let no man put asunder’ and now it’s today when I realize that I was that man or woman.

I don’t believe that I serve a God that caused the pain of my divorce – I believe that choices made and a life that was unyielded to the Holy Spirit was the culprit – but I truly believe that God employed it. God put my pain on his payroll and said, ‘Watch what beauty I can make out of these ashes’… and what a beautiful masterpiece He has created.

Out of my pain, out of my heartache, out of my ashes – God birthed a ministry that has changed and encouraged hundreds of women and I know that He is preparing the harvest for thousands more. Through my obedience of growing from the pain, of harnessing it and allowing it to be molded into a fire deep in my belly – God has given me a desire and wisdom to reach those women that feel like they’ve been forgotten by God, failed by God, faithful only to be disappointed by God and now are fearful of ‘what’s next’.

I am their ambassador. I am a light pointing to The Light.

I am a beacon of hope crying out: You are not alone. This will not be the end of your love story.

God has confirmed in life-changing ways my purpose and ministry. God has sent women to be encouraged, inspired, empowered to take their power back.

Recently, God used a DM to show me how far He’s brought me. I was contacted by a woman that inquired for advice on a very personal level – and my first response was not out of bitterness or anger – but compassion. It’s never about the man – it’s always about the woman that I can save from the same heartache that I had to heal. God gave me wisdom and I give Him glory. She’s walking free and my fire is reignited and purpose is even more secure.

As I remarked on my 1 year divorce anniversary – I pray for the man that I married and I pray for the man that I divorced. I pray that God will reconcile the two in Him and I pray that he allows God to heal the places that are bleeding on others. Hurt people hurt people – and he’s hurting. Healing is available, even if he never asks. But I pray that he does. I have no hell to send my ex to or heaven to give him – but I know I serve a Gracious and Just God and I’d much rather he receives the former than the latter.

The pain that I experienced at my ex-husband’s hands is FAR OUTWEIGHED by the glory that God is getting out of my open ones. I’m free, I’m healed, I’m healthy, I’m whole.

And I am grateful.

You are (STILL) Worthy

Have you ever thought – I’ve gone too far? I’ve done too much? I’ve done too little? I don’t even know HOW to find my way out of this? Well, you aren’t alone.
What happens when we’ve gone through so much or brought so much upon ourselves that seemingly our value is diminished?

Can this even happen?

The Answer: No. Periodt.

A while back when I led the Singles ministry at my previous church home in Houston, Texas we hosted a Singles Brunch. As one of the icebreakers, we played the “Penny Game.” Everyone was given a penny and instructed to recant something interesting that happened to them in the
year on the penny. As I was passing out the pennies, someone made a comment that their penny was rusty, and they asked to trade it for a new, shiny one. At that moment God dropped into my spirit, “Just because it’s rusty doesn’t make it any less valuable. It just needs to be cleaned up.” That’ll preach – so let’s let it.

You may be this penny. You may have to work a little bit harder or dig a bit deeper to uncover the value, but it’s still there waiting to be rediscovered. Just like this young lady who forgot the value of her penny because of the rust, many people can’t see your value because you are covered in “gunk”. Some of it derives from self-inflicted pain because of relationships, disobedience, and sin. Others may have imposed some of it on you through abuse, neglect, or molestation. Whatever the source, it causes people to miss your true value because they can’t see the clean copy.

Thanks be to God, that He doesn’t see the gunk but recognizes our true value; He sees the Blood of Jesus. All we need to do is be soaked in the alcohol of the Word (Ephesians 5:6).

Although your value was always there, after a bit of heart surgery – man let’s keep it all the way real – some of us just need to repeat after David and say ‘create in me a new heart’, because this one been out of order. Now it can now be seen by the naked eye. Remember your value can never be diminished because God states your worth trading His Son’s life for yours, and no amount of gunk can cover that up.

I am reminded of the story of the adulterous wife in Hosea. God continued to tell Hosea to go back to get his wife. As many times as she left him, he was instructed to go back and retrieve her Hosea 3:1-3. This book shows a direct relationship with God and His chosen people, showing us
that as long as we return to Him, He will always return to us, and He is able to restore all of the shine that has always been ours.

The Prodigal Son is another story about perceived tarnished value. The son was at the end of his rope and planned to go back to offer himself as a servant to his father, because he believed that his value as a son had been diminished. But what happened? While he was still a far way off, his father ran to him, kissed him and clothed him back into his birthright. This is an amazing story of redemption. It illustrates that in God’s eyes, we are seen the way He created us and not by the things of the world we have allowed to define or defile us. Because He has sealed us with His Spirit and we are now in covenant with Him (Ephesians 1:11-14), He is not swayed by how “dirty” we have become in the world. He is waiting to make our scarlet sins white as snow (Isaiah 1:18( . Our Father’s love is truly amazing. But the struggle we often face is coming back to our right mind like the Prodigal Son and asking our Father to take us back. But I assure you, just as his father welcomed him before he could say a word, your heavenly Father stands at the door and knocks waiting to wash you in His Word.

Will you answer? Speak over yourself what your Father spoke in the beginning. Habakkuk 3:17 states He will rejoice over you with singing. You don’t need a new penny. You just need your shine restored.

*Adapted from NOT Another Singles Book copyright 2020* Purchase your copy here!

Scripture References:

24 Jeremiah 31:3
25 Romans 12:1

26 Psalm 51:2,7
27 Hosea 3:1
28 Hosea 12:6

Trauma Bonds – when I love the things & people that don’t love me…

Trauma Bonding in 3 minutes…

Whew Trauma Bonds… this is such a vicious cycle that many people like to throw the term around without truly understanding it.

The thing about a trauma bond is that recognizing it so hard once you’re in it. To be love bombed is literally intoxicating, so much so that you will accept 2 months of amazing behavior and then stick around for another 2 years of awful behavior trying to get that loving feeling back.

Your dopamine levels are overloaded and you become addicted. So you will stay through lies, dependency, criticism, manipulation and gaslighting to try to get that ‘first high’ feeling again.

I’m not gonna give you butterflies with this one: if you are in a trauma bond it is HELL to break it, but it’s also HELL to stay in it too. But you CAN get out – I did! And I want you to know and believe without a shadow of a doubt that freedom is available to you as well.

Until you know you need help, you won’t ask for it. And until the idea of a better future shakes you from the reality that you have been settling for in your present time – you will stay stagnant and stuck in your norm – even if it’s dysfunctional.

But there’s hope. Today is the day that you start to take a step towards the new you. The healed, healthy, WHOLE you. This is the first step.

If while reading this, you saw your current state in this cycle – let today be the day that changed it all. Book a free discovery call with me and let’s journey together.


Let’s try this one again! So, full transparency moment: I struggle with consistency…

Hey Boothangs! Last year, I started a series of emails that I didn’t finish after getting COVID, then using that as an excuse to not press in and through even after I healed completely. So, this is where I am. And this is what I need from you. If you’re willing, keep reading.

Let’s try this one again! So, full transparency moment: I struggle with consistency. As much as I want to put an ‘ED’ on the struggle, that just wouldn’t be where I am honestly. It’s where I want to be, where I will be, where I visualize and WILL be in the near future, but it’s just not where I am right now. I truly believe in working as if you are already in the season that you are praying for while still being open and transparent about where you currently are.

Here I am – naked (vulnerable, open, honest, baring it all) and willing to let go of the shame that the enemy would want me to hide in. I don’t have it all together, and while I know that most people would say at the end of this sentence that ‘none of us do’, that’s not what I’m doing here. I’m not deflecting it, normalizing it, or looking at other’s shortcomings to make myself feel better in this moment.

This isn’t about you. It’s about me.
This is where I am, and I want it to be clear that this is not where I plan to stay. I realized at the beginning of this year that I wasn’t afraid of failing – I was afraid of succeeding. My prayers weren’t ‘God what if this doesn’t work’, my whispers were, ‘God what happens when it does?’.
I’ve always known I was called, I’ve always known that God would turn every heartache, pain and trauma into a platform of His glory, restoration, redemption and triumph for THE ENTIRE WORLD to see – and that scared the obedience out of me…(you’ll get that on the way home).
So here’s where I need your help. I’m done playing small, I’m done walking in partial victory and partial power because the weight of my calling scares even me. So I’m working, I’m looking at my inconsistencies and insecurities full frontal and saying, ‘Not today, not tomorrow, not EVER again. ‘
No more excuses, no more reasons to not give it my all. So I want you, yes you reading this to be my accountability partner. The more people, the more power. John Maxwell and Napoleon Hill state that the best way to ensure you accomplish a goal is to announce it to the world, then allow them to hold you accountable to getting it accomplished. If you don’t announce it, it’s easy to pretend that wasn’t the goal or make excuses for not showing up and playing full out.

So here it is: over the next few weeks, I am going to share with you my vision and goals for 2022, halfway through the year – and I want you to hold me accountable to seeing them all come to fruition by the time the ball drops. And here’s the thing – if I don’t accomplish something, it won’t be from inconsistency or insecurity – it will be because I’ve allowed God room to have His ways in my plans. But as far as it is up to me…

I’m ready Lord, send me.

Can I count on your support? Your accountability? Your cheerleading? Your tough love when I need it? Let me know, Friend.

12 Days of Singlemas

On the first day of Singlemas, my Boothang gave to me…

For the next 12 days I’ll be sharing tips, strategies and topics that are relevant to all Singles, no matter where you fall on the spectrum of boo-dom.

Journey with me!

On the 1st day of Singlemas, my Boothang gave to me – a Table for 1 😉

Tips on eating out Alone.

Would love to hear your feedback and want to challenge you to take yourself out this holiday season and share your experience…

Have you taken yourself  on a date recently?

watch full Vlog on YouTube channel here

I lost everything… too

Continuing with Job’s wife’s story (if you missed blog 1 in the series, please read below to catch up before reading this one for context), this part 2 is intimate. And I’m sure many can relate.

So we’re back. In the first blog, we acknowledged that Job’s wife (and why doesn’t she have a name?) was under the covenant of Job so her life was spared as a result of her connection.

As I was re-reading Job 1-2 a few things stuck out to me that I want to highlight to you. In chapter 1, Job consistently covered and prayed for his family. He prayed for his sons and daughters that if they had sinned, they would be covered. I find it interesting that Job’s wife is not mentioned in the prayers. We would assume that she was included, but she isn’t mentioned.

In chapter 1 verses 13-19, havoc strikes. Satan is given permission to touch everything but Job himself and that joker gets to work. One right after the other, a servant escapes disaster and comes to share that all the oxen, sheep, camels were gone. Destroyed and all the servants killed with them. Then comes the biggest blow – his children, the very ones that Job was praying and covering daily. They were another casualty in satan’s test. Wow. It stings to word it like that, right. That death can hit so close to home, and it’s meant to test our relationship and devotion to God. While I don’t think that we serve a God that is casual with our lives, I am certain that many situations that we face give us the opportunity to prove where our trust lies, in people – things or in God and His sovereignty.

Where was Job’s wife during this time? Read verses 13-19 again, but instead of the servant telling Job that everything he had worked for, covered and prayed over, that he cherished was gone – imagine that the servant is speaking to Job AND HIS WIFE. It’s unlikely that she wasn’t in the presence of her husband when the bad reports were coming in.

Job’s wife lost her cattle, oxen, camel, sheep, livelihood.


Every blow that Job was dealt, she was holding the same hand. Imagine for a second being met with disaster after disaster, and then to get the news that all of your children have been killed and only a servant was spared just to share the bad news.

I want us to take a moment to reflect here, cause in the next blog we will dig into some of what she must have been feeling. But, I want you to take a moment and just reflect.

Have you ever been in this situation? Have you lost something or someone important in your life, but your pain is overlooked? Have you had a dream or prayer completely upended and never got the opportunity to mourn its death?

Job’s wife lost everything along with Job, yet her pain and sorrow doesn’t get to take up space, because she is still expected to carry on, she still has duties, she still has to hold it together.

So many of us, especially during this time of year, feel this. And we feel this hard. The Holidays are hard for so many people yet, it’s a time of celebration and light and love and gifts and sparkles, and sometimes it feels like our pain doesn’t get to take up space. We are expected to enjoy cocoa and matching pajamas and Hallmark movies, but when do we get to acknowledge that we thought this holiday would be different? That we thought this would be the year that we were introducing our fiancé to the family? Or this Christmas our marriage would be restored, yet you just signed the divorce papers? Insert your ‘I thought this year’ story here… you get to take up space here. You get to mourn here. You get to not hold it together here. You get to take your mask off here. And be seen.

If this is you, I want to encourage you today. It’s ok not to be ok. It’s ok to mourn, and it’s ok if you don’t do it ‘well’, or in such a manner that others consider to be acceptable, especially others that didn’t face the loss that you did.

Her pain was real. Her pain was unimaginable. Yet her pain was unmentioned.

Keep journeying, next blog – let’s evaluate the way her mourning surfaces and what we can learn from it.

I’m hurting, too… Job’s Wife’s Untold Truth

Suffering In Silence – New Blog Series – Blog 1 of 5

During this holiday season, I want to share a short mini blog-series about suffering in seeming silence, and what it looks like to suffer alone with no one noticing. This topic is relevant to Singles and especially during the holiday season, but I believe that many others will find yourself relating to the content that follows.

Let’s journey together…

In the book of Job, the scene opens up with the highlights of his accomplishments and character. Job was a wonder and he consistently gave all glory to God for his blessings. Job’s IG highlight reel actually matched his real lift, which we all know to be a rare occasion. Job had faith, family and favor.

Then ‘it’ happened. Tragedy. Not because of his actions, but seemingly because of his faithfulness. Because of his hope in God, Job was tested by the enemy to really see if the life he was living of devotion was simply due to all his ‘stuff’ or if it was rooted in his Savior. If you’re unfamiliar with the story – satan asked God (and was given permission) to test Job by wreaking havoc and heartache in every area of his life, short of taking his and his wife’s life (Job 1-2). But stop there… that’s where we want to hang this series – on his wife. In Job 1:12 & 2:6, God gives satan the boundary of sparing only Job’s life, not his wife. So why wasn’t she included in the suffering? Why was her life spared?

The Bible doesn’t say, but I believe it’s because God had a boundary of protection around her due to her covenant with Job. Remember, our enemy knows The Word probably better than many of us (ouch), and he actually has experienced it first hand. So he remembers that in the garden when God joined Adam and Eve, He proclaimed it an unbreakable covenant, the two should become one. So, I’d wager to believe that when God said ‘but spare Job’s life’, his wife was included in that directive. This is another powerful incentive to take marriage mindedness as a serious commitment, and not just something of convenience that we can get out of, if it doesn’t work out.

I needed to take this moment to set the stage for the rest of this series, because this is where we will focus the next 4 blogs…on Job’s wife.

I recently heard a pastor state – ‘aren’t you glad that your worst mistakes aren’t broadcast for the entire world to judge and use as examples?’ That hit home.

Remember, we are reading the Bible, but they were ‘living the Bible’. Completely different experience, right? Think about those uncertain times in your life, those long nights, those lonely days, those crying until nothing else is coming out weeks, those ‘I’ll just figure it out on my own’ attempts, those months of heartache, those times when you were too afraid to pray because you didn’t even know WHAT to pray…those times when the outcome was so uncertain, the times when your faith did fail. Remember those?

Maybe you don’t have to think so far back. Maybe you are in one of those times now…well, there’s hope. Let’s journey together through Job’s wife’s story and find encouragement in an unlikely place.

Reflective Questions:

Have you ever thought about the wife? What was your initial judgement (if you don’t like this word, let’s use analysis 😉) of her throughout the scripture?

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