Friday, December 31, 2010

30: My Reflection In The Mirror

Dear Kayla Marie,

You are beautiful.

I'm not even talking about full hair and make-up; I am talking about when you glance at the mirror while waiting for the shower to heat up every morning.

Just gorgeous.

What I love more than the smile, the expressive brown eyes or those wickedly sculpted calf muscles is your heart.

Honey, that is the show-stopper.

You see the beauty in everyone, even when they fail to see it in you. You live life with that innate optimism because, yes--everything will be alright. That attitude is contagious, which is probably why a few people just can't get enough of you.


You have experienced some of life's greatest struggles and lived to blog about it.

You have are motivated and disciplined, even when it would feel so good to quit.

You are humble....most days.

You love God and it shows.

You are still learning, loving, laughing and living--and that, dear heart, makes you more than beautiful.

You are a conqueror.

Work It,

29: Someone I Want To Tell Everything To, But Can't

T R&B,

First of all, I want to say how happy I am that we get to see each other every once in awhile. Of all my friends, I think we have the most similar personalities. I happen to think that's great, but others might have different opinions.

Whenever we hang out, I know I am going to laugh until I cry and I know I am going to leave feeling better. To me, that's what defines a great friendship: burdens ought to be lifted from, not added to, and that goes for both parties. You don't get that with everybody who claims to be your friend.

So, yes ma'am, I would tell you everything.....

but I can't because we rarely see each other!

I'm not that upset, because the time we have spent together makes up for the time we don't. Every time I hear that Earth Wind and Fire song, I still bust out laughing....bless her heart!

Call Me Sometime,

28: Someone Who Changed My Life


The only reason I am not crying right now is because I know you won't read this for......oh, another three years.

As a rule, I have never really had work friends. They were just associates--people who I had to deal with forty hours a week and not a second more.

Then you came waltzing into my office with your homemade brownies and your smart mouth...

And you have touched my heart. More importantly, you have changed my life.

In college, one of my favorite professors told me there are some subjects you cannot write about until you have truly healed. In our morning conversations, I have revisited some subjects that once seemed too painful to even think. If I can talk about them, I can write about them. If I can write about them, I am healed. Because of you, I have been able to write these letters, which would have terrified me a year ago. I have a backbone now!

You make me smile when I feel like plucking out my leg hair with tweezers. And HALLELUJAH, you always make sure there is a pot of hot coffee waiting for me every morning. Really, everyone else in the office should thank you too. I'm a real "you know what" without my coffee.

Every morning and every night, I pray for you. At least three times a day, I thank God for you. In my eyes, you have a heart so pure and genuine--trust me, honey, God sees that and I do too. Anyone who doesn't is a complete.....*ahem*......"re-re."

Here's to a new year of more adventures, more laughter and (hopefully) more red velvet cake.

Please? I asked nicely.

Love you,
Kayla Marie (said with a country accent)

27: A Letter To Someone Going Through Hard Times

(Note: I know several people going through hard times, so I am addressing this to all of you.)

Dear Friends,

Depression is like Lake Hefner. From far away, the water appears to be crystal clear. As you move closer, you see the Oklahoma dirt has turned the water reddish-brown; you see the beer cans and cigarette butts floating on top. For a less than average swimmer like me, trying to get from one shore to the other seems like a daunting task...practically impossible.

I know that feeling well.

The night I attempted to take my own life was really just ordinary. Nothing truly heartbreaking or agonizing happened--I was just tired. Tired of failing. Tired of trying. Tired of hurting. I wanted to feel something other than that same numbness I had felt for over four months. More than anything, I wanted to be free.

I do not remember all of the details, but I do remember walking into the kitchen and grabbing the biggest knife I could find. I remember Shayla jumping over the table and tackling me to the ground. Even at that moment, I didn't feel anything but that overwhelming numbness. And then, I felt her tears falling on my face. Somehow, that reached me in a way nothing else had for months. I heard one of my best friends praying for me and the icy shell around my heart started to crack.

I was on the other side of the shore, but I was ready to start swimming again.

That was seven years ago. I won't even begin to tell you that everyday has been sunshine and lollipops, but here's the kicker: it doesn't have to be. Even the bad, difficult, heartbreaking moments of life have a purpose, if only to teach me how to bounce back. I have. You will too.

I know that what you are going through right now seems to have taken all of your energy. You are not living, just existing. That lift of hope in your chest gets smaller and smaller with each passing day. You just want to see some change.

It will happen. That's not something I read about or saw on a television show; I lived it.

After that night, I had to take a step back and look at myself. First of all, I had to be real and realize that in that moment, this was bigger than me. I had to get down on my knees and really get honest with God instead of just skimming the surface. I had to call my dad and let him know that this was more than the blues. I needed help.

Slowly but surely, I reached the other shore.

You know how I knew I could make it? My smile reached my eyes. In previous months, I looked at pictures of myself and noticed how sad my eyes looked even when I was smiling. And all this time later, that smile still reaches my eyes.

Thank you, God.

I used to be embarrassed to talk about this, but I know now that someone needs to hear me say it. So, picture me standing on top of Mt. Kilimanjaro screaming this at the top of my lungs:


I don't care what "it" is; I don't care who told you "it" was impossible. I am telling you, YOU CAN MAKE IT.

Consider this a postcard from Point B.

Be Encouraged,


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

26: A Letter To The Last Person I Kissed


You know me--I don't do mushy. I'd rather sit next to an albino snake in a room full of rats than profess my undying love on a blog.

Nevertheless, you get me. I dig that.


Pursuant to my fifth amendment rights, outlined in the Constitution of the United States, I refuse to write anything else on the grounds that what I say may be self-incriminating.


25: A Letter To Someone I Envy

To The World At Large:

Envy. Such a strong term.

Immediately, I envision someone green with....well, you know. Envy personified is the type of person who will not rest; they become obsessed with seeing others get their comeuppance. That is not me.

On the other hand, there exists within me a desire to do something I have seen hundreds, maybe even thousands of people do in my lifetime....


I am envious of those who possess patience.

I am impatient. I am the cook who turns the stove on high so the water will hurry up and boil. I am the reader who will flip to the last ten pages of a novel if the plot is not moving fast enough. Every piece of technology I own--the Blackberry, laptop, etc.--was purchased for one singular reason: waiting gets on my nerves.

And such is my life. I believe the intimate promises spoken to my heart long before I could interpret them. I know "it shall come to pass;" truly, I do "expect the great." I realize God is not through with me yet....which would be all well and good if I lived in a world by myself.

Life happens for everyone. Though I am happy and I anticipate celebrating each momentous occasion my friends and family experience, there is a small voice that whispers to me just before I go to sleep:

"When is it going to happen for you?"

To me, that is a seed of envy. If allowed to grow, it will wind a gnarling vine around my heart--much like those ugly weeds in my flower bed.

How do I cope? Honestly, I am still learning and it is a daily process. The apostle Paul said in order for us to live like Christ, we must die to ourselves everyday. Every morning, I bid farewell to many things, including envy.

RIP, I guess.

To become consumed, obsessed and focused one event is to miss out on a life well worth living. There is beauty in each day:

--The glittery pink nail polish I'm currently wearing
--A bottle of grapefruit juice when my throat is sore
--The afterglow of a brutal workout
--My nephew, hugging my calves (that's all he can reach)
--Encouraging someone else
--Encouraging myself

I am turning my back to the stove. When the water starts boiling, I'm sure I'll know.


Monday, December 27, 2010

24: The Person I Judged By First Impression

Someone I Judged By First Impression

Dear _______,

I must admit, I do not feel comfortable writing this letter. After all, I am a Christian and the Bible gives pretty explicit instructions in regards to judging others. Yet, there is a small part of me that still has knee-jerk reactions at first meeting and you happen to be one of them.

You come across as judgmental.

To be quite honest, you are just a small part of a larger problem I have, one I struggle to understand on a daily basis. Where do you draw the line between “speaking the truth in love” and just being unnecessarily gruff? I believe there are some people in this world who have been turned away from Christianity because they have encountered some folks who keep it a little too real. For lack of a better reference, they are like the teacher’s pet who takes names while the teacher is out of the classroom. If you so much as blink wrong, they’re telling God.

That hurts me.

I know God is just; one day, I must answer for the things I have done and said in my lifetime. However, I also know God to be so much more—loving, compassionate, a provider, a healer—my very best friend. And you know what I really love about Him? He can take the very worst of us and turn us into something far greater than our finite minds can even fathom.

I say this not to discourage you, but to encourage you. By now, I have seen past that first impression and I know you have within you the same traits as the Father—loving, gentle, compassionate, kind and peaceable. When I see those glimpses of your heart, those are the moments I see the God in you.

Gives you a nice glow too.

Be encouraged and remember we are all still a work in progress. God is not through with any one of us yet. When we are completed…..well, I can only imagine.


23: The Last Person I Made a Pinky Promise To

Dear Kita,

I love the sacred oath that is the pinky promise. Once those two small fingers become intertwined, you know the other person will guard that secret with their life. It is a deposit into the bank of friendship, where there is no overdraft protection; so when you make a withdrawal, you better make sure you can cover it.

Your credit is good.

I wish I could guess just how many text messages we have sent or how many FB messages we have composed. My best estimate is “a whole bunch.” In every conversation, we have shared secrets—our hopes and dreams for the future; storms we are facing at this very moment; past hurts with scars that like to reopen every now and again. I think we feel the same way, for I know I do not share these thoughts with just anyone. My confidante has to be someone with my best interests at heart, and I believe that is you.

So, as we continue to traverse this path, I hope you know you can trust me. I will continue to lift you up in prayer and I know you’ll do the same for me. Though neither one of us knows what the middle chapters look like, we already know the ending: we win.

Your secret is safe with me.

Love You To Life,

22: Someone Who Gave Me My Favorite Memory

Dear Jeanette,

In the past fifteen years, we have shared more than 300 dinners at Chili’s/Chelinos; driven over 15,000 miles (and lived to tell about it) and spent more than a collective year at each other’s homes.

If we’re not sisters, I don’t know what to call it.

Still, you are the one who gave me my favorite memory. I still remember like it was yesterday.

After a week of dealing with kids at Vacation Bible School, I was completely exhausted. I woke up at eight and I had every intention of lounging around all day until I looked at my phone: “I’m in labor.” I jumped out of bed, grabbed my keys and took off for the hospital. I was not going to miss this for the world.

When I got there, I met Maurice for the first time. Bless his heart, he did not say three words the whole time. Of course, what could he say in a room filled to the brim with ALL your friends and family?

The time came. I was sitting out in the hallway because….well, our friendship just doesn’t go that far. I heard a lot of commotion and finally, I heard a cry. At that moment, that little wrinkly sucker grabbed my heart and to this day, he is the light of my life.

Thank you for sharing him with me. As he grows and develops his own little personality, I fall more in love with him each day. In my eyes, he can do no wrong….except that time he kicked me. We’re going to work on that.

I love you all very much.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

21: The Person Who Broke My Heart the Hardest


I confess: I got caught up in the myth.

I believed dating a preacher was the safest investment in my relationship future. They don't lie and they certainly don't break your heart.

You did both.

To be fair, you are human. I don't know many preachers or pastors who can stand on that illusive pedestal. Life just causes it to topple.

But preacher or not, you're an ass.

I am so grateful you were not my first or last chance at love, for I would have been beyond disillusioned. That's one thing you didn't take from me--I STILL believe in love.

I don't care how the last woman treated you, I am not her. And maybe, just maybe, you will learn how to treat the next woman with the respect you failed to show me. Above all else, I pray you get that chip off your shoulder. That arrogance is just a disguise for your insecurities and everyone knows it.

With all due respect, get bent.


20: Someone Who Pesters My Mind, Good Or Bad

Dear ______,

My goodness, you get on my last good nerve.

Three of five days last week, I sat in my office and cried over you. I asked God over and over again to teach me how to deal with you; how to be an encourager even when I felt like choking you.

I know it's not your fault. You are the victim of a society which feels everything is someone else's problem. You have been ignored and scorned--I get that.

Here's what I want you to understand: your yesterdays do not have to determine today. I still recall the first time I realized life is not fair--dear heart, it never will be. There will always be someone who seems to take great pleasure in causing you pain. However, they only have the power over your life you choose to give them. And the wisdom of the old saints is still accurate....

The BEST revenge is living well.

I see in you someone who has the potential to be great. Only God knows who you will be 10, 20, 30 years from now, but I already know you will be a success--if you choose to be. I hope and pray that is your choice.

Miss Kayla loves you. God loves you even more. Hold onto that, even when the storm clouds are hovering over your doorstep.

You will survive.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

19: The Person I Wish I Could Be

K. Marie,

Within you lies the power to change the world.

One thing you must understand is a central tenet of humanity. This rule of life can be traced back thousands and thousands of years.

Get a pencil; you might want to write this down.



Call me crazy, but I think it's good to have a few enemies. The Bible says that God will make your enemies your footstool....consider them your stepping stones to success.

Sometimes, you just have to say what is on your mind.
All the time, you have to stand your ground.

There is no magic formula to turn you into the person you want to be. That witty, confident, assertive woman is bubbling just beneath the surface, waiting to be unlocked and unleashed.

It's your time. Make it happen.


18: A Childhood Friend


I was going to tell you earlier, but for once in my life, I wanted at least one of my friends to be surprised!

It cracks me up when people assume we have just been friends since high school. We go all the way back to Epperly--where you had a white girl jheri curl and I.....

Well, I'm not sure exactly how to describe my hair. "A mess" would be pretty accurate.

I am not at all surprised we have stayed in contact throughout the years. You are my sister in every sense of the word.

But, I owe you an apology as well. I should have been at your wedding.

If I called you right now and said I needed you, there is no doubt in my mind that you would do everything in your power to get here. Yet, I left you hanging on one of the biggest days of your life. All these years later, I still feel really terrible about it.

Envy kept me from being there. At that time, I was going through that twenty-something, melodramatic, "nothing in my world will ever be right" crisis. My mind was singularly focused on my walk down the aisle; anyone else was out of the question. I thought that was the only way I was ever going to be truly happy in this life.

And God, in His infinite wisdom, took my little blueprint for my life and smacked me in the forehead with it.

I missed out on making memories with my lifelong friend because of selfishness and pride. That is one of the few regrets I have in my life.

Nevertheless, here we are. There is no question in my mind what your role is in my life. Our friendship transcends distance, drama, tragedy, time....and a few really awful Mariah Carey albums. Just like the necklaces we shared in the fourth grade, you have a piece of my heart.

Love you, girl.


Monday, December 20, 2010

17: A Letter To The Person I Wish Could Forgive Me


I had to think long and hard about this one. In my rose-colored world, I have not done anything that would warrant a grudge. I pride myself on being the person everyone likes: easygoing, mild mannered, generally agreeable.

Yet, I know I have not been the friend you have needed in the past ten years. I can make all kinds of excuses--I moved, you moved--but the truth of the matter is, I did not know how to handle you.

I feel like I am talking in riddles, so let me make it plain: you make me uncomfortable.

I also harbored a lot of anger in my heart for the way you treated your mother. I wanted to shake some sense into you; make you realize that one day, you'll find yourself begging for the guidance only a mother can give.

Above all else, I hope you have made your peace with her. She really is an awesome woman.

I don't know if I can ever be the kind of friend you need. I love hard and I wear my heart on my sleeve. No amount of time will change that. I am not willing to sacrifice my calm for someone who thrives in chaos.

You'll never be me and that's not what I am asking. I want you to be YOU, not some chemically-altered fabrication.

When that girl comes back, tell her to call me. I miss her.



16: A Letter To Someone Not In My State


My first inclination when I think of you is to laugh. We have had some amazing times.

For the record, I still say Sonic owes us for inventing the Sonic Blast.

I was going to say you need to come visit, but rules are rules....I need to come out to California and see you in your comfort zone. I wish I could come right now. Sand in between my toes is a great cure for the winter blues.

I love how you've changed and yet managed to remain the same. You're more cultured and philosophical; but you are still the same Kourtney who used to stay up until three in the morning downloading CDs for everybody in the dorm.

Your heart is so big. I am glad that has remained constant as well.

Like everyone else, I expect great things from you. I know you are destined for greatness; your humility will make the road to success a lot less bumpy than what others have experienced. I look forward to the day I can tell people: "Oh yeah, I know Kourtney. We've been friends forever!"

And that's the way it will always be.

Your Friend,

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Day 15: The Person I Miss The Most


Girl, girl, girl.....I miss you.

I would just love to hear you sing some of these new songs--your voice would send me right on in! I'd also like to see you handle some of these defiant choir members. You had that "Uncle Glenn personality," meaning you say what you want and dare someone to object. I'd kill for that bravado.

When I watch Tommy Boy, The Wedding Singer, Beetlejuice and The Five Heartbeats, I laugh at all your favorite parts.

My biggest fear when you died is that I would forget you; that your voice, your touch and your scent would just keep fading into the deep recesses of my mind until you just disappeared. Thank God, that has never happened...though I should have known I could NEVER forget you. You wouldn't have it.


More than anything, I am grateful you taught me to be independent. When God gave you your wings, I believe you pinched off a little section and gave it to me.

I'm flying, TD. Thank you.



Day 14: A Letter To Someone I've Drifted Away From


You were my very first best friend. In fact, you will go down in history as being the only mutual best friend Shayla and I had.

I try to explain to my church kids that your "church friends" are lifelong friends. Even when we left St. Luke and went our separate ways, I knew you had my back.

That was solidified on a windy, freezing cold day in February 1999. I was standing in front of Mount Olive in a daze; Tracee's funeral had just ended and nothing seemed real or right. Someone tapped me on my shoulder--it was your mom. You were standing right beside her. Kendra, I will never be able to put into words how much that meant to me. Thank you for being there.

And now, here we are. Grownups. Paying bills, living life and trying to figure out who we are and where we fit in this world. There are still a lot of unknown variables, but one thing I DO know is you will always be my sister-friend. You are a constant and I love you.

When I do come down there, we're going to live it up. We might even have to bust out the dance routine we did at our third grade slumber party.

Scratch that. I'm too old for Hammer pants.

Love Always,

Day 13: A Deceased Person You Wish You Could Talk To

Aunt Cat,

I miss our e-mail conversations. Even your text had that original Altheda flair.

In the days, weeks, months and years since you have been gone, I figured out a thing or two. You were right. About everything. You saved my life.

I want you to know I was so angry with God for about six months after you passed. In my eyes, He took away the closest person I had had to a mother for twelve years.

Even amidst this confession, I can see you rolling your eyes and saying: "Oh honestly, Kayla--you are so dramatic!" At least that much hasn't changed.

After a whole lot of prayer and a really great sermon from our evangelist ("Too Bitter To Be Blessed"), I knew I had to let go of that anger. God just did what He was supposed to do, as painful as it was to all of us who are still here. It was just time for you to go home.

Thank you for opening your heart to me. If I am just half the woman you were, I'll be great.

Your Niece,
Kayla Marie

P.S. You know I'll be expecting that strawberry-banana cake when I get there. Thanks in advance!

Day 12: The Person Who Has Caused You The Most Pain

Dear Me,

You're ugly.

You're fat.

No one will ever want you.

Why bother?

We are our own worst enemies.

The time you have spent comparing yourself to others is time which could have been spent chasing your own dreams. The nights you have spent crying about the "unfairness" of life are moments you could have spent making beautiful memories with those who really love you. You act out of anger; you beat yourself up when things are not perfect.

Who the hell do you think you are?

Since you have been given chance after chance to change your ways, let me make this perfectly clear to you: it's over. I am living life on my terms and I WILL NOT live in fear for a moment longer. You do not control me, for there is a greater power at work in me.

Shots fired.


Day 11: Someone I Don't Talk To As Often As I'd Like

Dear God,

First of all, I love you.

I once heard a minister say our first and last thought of everyday should be to you. I try--there are days when you consume my thoughts morning, noon and night.

Then, there are other days....the majority of days lately, if I'm being honest. I wake up thinking about burdens--the people who have done me wrong; the situations that continually fester in my life. I have an attitude of "just another day."

But it's not just another day--it is a day you have made. A day full of promise, where anything can happen. Good or bad, I already know you'll meet me there. In fact, I know you'll go ahead of me to check out the path. Good fathers do that.

I ask your forgiveness. These burdens--these thorns in my flesh--have prevented me from being truly honest with you. The human side of me is embarrassed and ashamed; but the God in me realizes the only way I am going to move from point A to point Yay is to take all my burdens to you....

And leave them there. That's the hard part for me.

But, all I can do is try. I know you'll be patient with me, as you have done so many times in the past. I know one day, I will look back on this time in my life and realize you were birthing purpose in me and the pain will all be worth it.

I am encouraged.



Friday, December 17, 2010

Day 10: A Letter To Someone I'd Like To Meet

Dear El Debarge......


Dear Toni Morrison,

There is no greater author in this world. I am humbled by your ability to take a simple plot and whirl it into a tapestry of symbolism and interpretation. Each time I pick up The Bluest Eye or Sula, I am caught up in a world so different from my own, yet so familiar....I have lived this life.

Recently, I read an article about dating rules. A (very smart) woman explained how she uses you as a relationship litmus test--any man who thinks Toni Morrison is a musician or an athlete gets kicked to the curb. I feel that way too.

In my eyes, you are more prolific than any "superstar" will ever be. You changed the world with a typewriter, a pen and your mind. Fifty years from now, people will still be debating the significance of Pecola's blue eyes.

Top that, Beyonce.

When I grow up, I want to be just like you.

Your Biggest Fan,


Day 9: A Letter To My Favorite Internet Friend


Who in the world would have guessed I'd find a lifelong sister amidst the foolishness of BHM?

Not me.....I was just trying to figure out how to get my hair to grow!

What I love about you--aside from your killer fashion sense--is your ability to encourage me. I know that sounds selfish, but hear me out.

You and I are so much alike. We give so much of ourselves that, sometimes, there is nothing left. In other words, the encouragers need to be encouraged.

When I am having one of those days, I know I can log onto BHM or FB and fire off a 20-page letter to my East Coast Twin. Nine times out of ten, you're feeling the same way. Ten times out of ten, I feel better. I hope you do too.

Now, I know I've said this for the past three years, but I'm really coming to see you in 2011. I just need two things:

1. A chicken cheesesteak
2. A picture of me running the steps like Rocky....and a promise of no YouTube clips if I fall!

Love you, girl. The best is yet to come.


Day 8: A Letter To My Ex-Boyfriend

Dear _________,

I have no regrets.

You were a season in my life--springtime, if you will. I appreciate Spring, but it's not my favorite season.

Let's face it, we were lukewarm at best. Though I believe there is more to a lasting relationship than passion, there just ought to be a few days when the temperature reaches record-breaking highs.

Clich├ęd as it sounds, I think ours was always destined to be a friendship. That, love, will last a lifetime.

I believe in you.


Day 7: A Letter To A Stranger

To Whom It May Concern,

Hi. Nice to meet you. I'm Kayla; some people call me K and others call me K. Marie. I'll answer to just about anything--except "Shawty." Lord, that grates my nerves.

In your five-second assessment of me, I know you will never be able to know all there is to Kayla Marie. I've been reading that book for twenty-eight years and there are still many concepts for me to grasp.

Still, I hope you see my heart.

I hope you know that everyday, to the best of my abilities, I seek to encourage others. Through a smile, a kind word, a joke or a hug, I feel obligated to show the love of God at work through me.

I hope you take the time to converse with me....I'm not shy.

I hope you see I am happy; or rather, joyful. Like anyone else, I have my share of problems. Unlike everyone else, I believe it's going to get better.

I hope my presence makes you feel at ease. You can tell me anything.

I hope you take the time to get to know me.

If not, oh well. Your loss.



Thursday, December 16, 2010

Letter 6: A Letter To My Sibling

Dear Shayla LaNise,

They say there is no bond in this world stronger than that of twins. It is said to supersede even the relationship of a mother and her child--but we never needed any research to tell us what has been so clear all along.

I could talk about our many adventures or even our......fisticuffs. I would rather spend some time talking about you.

I have seen such a change in you. For the first time, I see you believing in yourself. I see you doing things I have NEVER seen you do. I see your walls coming down and I am moved to tears. Before my eyes, you are becoming the woman God always intended for you to be; I am rejoicing with you.

I will always be your biggest fan, personal advice columnist and audience; thank you for being my psychiatrist, personal comedienne and hairdresser.....

Even though you DID refuse to give me a mohawk. Hater.

What I love and value most about our twinship is that we just are--that is more comforting to me than fuzzy socks at bedtime. People get us, but more importantly, we get ourselves. Best, that is so cool.

I will never take for granted what we have.



Day 5: A Letter To My Dreams

Dear Dreams,

It's been so long. Too long.

I have spent countless hours advising others to follow their dreams while mine remain imprisoned in the deepest folds of my heart.

Let's face it--I'm scared.

I'm scared of being a failure AND I'm scared of being a success. I think I've played out both options in my mind so much, I no longer need the script.

That ain't living.

Even though some of my dreams have been dashed (and others deferred), what I have come to appreciate about my ever-evolving personality is the "bounce back." I can take some blows; I can even handle rejection. What I cannot handle is a life spent wondering why I did not step out on faith when I had the chance.

So, dear dreams, I am here. I am plotting my course and setting sail on a journey sure to be adventurous...a little perilous....the trip of a lifetime.

Lord, give me strength.

Here Goes Everything,

Day 4: A Letter To My Parents (Dad)


Every girl needs an L. Millie in her life.

When I'm wrong, you tell me.
When I'm scared, you protect me.
When I'm right, you encourage me.
When I'm feeling worthless, you inspire me.

My hero.

Sometimes, Shayla and I sit down and try to figure out ways we can give back all you have given us. But trust me, there's not enough money in either of our bank accounts to ever repay all the sacrifice, strength and wisdom you have given us.

And something tells me if we did, you'd give it back. You can be ornery like that.

I don't know how much time we have left together; to be honest, I don't want to know. I just want to spend as much time with you as I can. I want you to know both now and forever, there is no one like L. Mike Woodberry.

I love you and I always will.


Kayla Marie

Day 3: A Letter To My Parents (Mom)

Dear Mom,

They say amputees often talk about this phantom pain; they wake up in the middle of night and feel the urge to scratch a toe that was removed six months ago. That probably seems strange to many people....not to me.

My phantom pain is really more of an ache. When I see a mother shopping with her daughter; when I see them huddled together in a restaurant booth, deep in conversation; when I see a mother reach out and hug her daughter tight, my heart aches. I remember those moments. I long for them.

In my mind's eye, I try to picture what you'd be like today. I think you would have gone natural....or maybe a texturizer. I think you would have retired, bought an SUV (which I'd beg you to trade in for something you could actually drive) and spent your days laughing and shopping with your besties, Aunt Cat and Aunt Lamona. Kind of like "Sex In The City" meets "Girlfriends" with a dash of "Golden Girls."

Maybe that's what all of you are doing up there anyway.

I miss you, but I understand. Even though I have questions that will remain unanswered, I have something better: your legacy. As a wife, mother, professor and even as an oncology patient, you changed lives. You changed my life.

When I speak about the grieving process, I try to explain to people what has become my philosophy on death: God always chooses the right time. On March 17, 1996, I could not see God's timing. Today, I can. Today, I'm grateful.

I love you so much, mommy.....I'll see you afterwhile.

Hope you like the 'fro.


Day 2: A Letter To My Crush

(Note: I should have put this on the first one, but I'm moving slow today. These posts are part of a 30-day challenge to push myself as a writer...and perhaps lay to rest some of the burdens of my past. I intended to post these on FB, but that felt a little impersonal. And then I remembered I had a blog. DUH! Enjoy!)

Dear ******,

I have thought about this for a long time. Should I be coy? Should I go for the cheesy, romantic "I Honestly Love You" kind of letter? Should I just throw caution to the wind, lay all my cards on the table and wait with my fingers crossed behind my back?

I guess you could say this letter is a mixture of all three.

It's no secret how I feel about you. All these years later, I still think you are one of the greatest men I have ever known. I am proud to say I know you and consider you to be a lifelong friend. I still pray for you every night.....and alright, you invade my thoughts a few times a week.

Whether we ever explore the intricacies of a relationship or not, I remain grateful to have experienced this amalgamation of thoughts, emotions, insecurities and actions that really defies logic or explanation. It has colored my idea of relationships in a good way....

--Even as an adult, there's something exhilarating about a "secret" crush.
--Physical attributes change quickly and often; the very heart of the one you love is what makes them eternally beautiful.
--In friendships or relationships, never forget those who stood with you in your lowest moments....and always be prepared to reciprocate.
--There are just some people you always want in your life.

Still, I don't think you can call this a crush anymore. I've moved on with my life; you have too. Now, I can actually hold a conversation with you without feeling faint.

Or actually fainting, which did happen once. True story.

Part of me wants to ask if you know; the other part of me is perfectly satisfied to leave things as is.....

The door is partially open.

Always In My Heart,

Day 1: Letter To My Best Friend

Dear Alonzo (or 'Zo/Professor/AC/SMART MOUTH),

As most people in our age group have begun to understand, you cannot call everyone a friend. In a world where we invite people into our business on a daily basis, very few make the cut. The list for best friend is even shorter, containing just one name: Alonzo D. Cowles Jr.

What can I really say about my best friend? In a relationship that has now spanned two decades, you have been so much more than a friend. You are my encourager when I feel something is beyond my level of expertise; you are my sounding board when an important decision must be made. And let's face it--you buy the best Christmas gifts. *hint hint*

You are and will always be my "secret keeper," the one who knows my most intimate thoughts and always manages to guard them as you would your own. That is, except for the moments you are going to God on my behalf. For this and so much more, I can never begin to repay you. The very best I can do is offer you my unconditional love and friendship for as long as we are here.

Enough of the mush....I know you'll take it and run with it!

Love Always,


Saturday, March 6, 2010

IJBH: Unrated

Just being honest....

.....I was in love; now, I'm not. It was like two jagged pieces of a puzzle.

.....My workout yesterday was so good it was almost orgasmic. There's something incredibly sexual about pushing past your limits; breathing hard and sweating and feeling like your heart is going to stop at any moment; then collapsing on the ground and basking in that after-workout glow.

.....Hmmm. That did sound a lot like sex.

.....I am really feeling my hair right now. I don't know....the way the twists are just falling into place makes me

Maybe it's just that time of the year. The flowers are blooming and the temperature is rising, among other things....

.....That was my last sex-related comment.

.....I am making a commitment to stop putting down my body. It's like Womanhood 101: you learn somewhere along the way to complain about cellulite/stretch marks/etc. If you ever experience a moment of awkward silence among women, start complaining about your body. The conversation will explode.

I say it's time to change all of that.

I love my body.

Everything serves a purpose.

Everything works.

Everything is a gift....the gift that keeps on giving.

.....We give people too much power in our lives. I see so many people posting FB statuses like:

Do you think I should go natural?
What should I do tonight?
What should I have for dinner?

Speaking as the most indecisive person in the world......who cares?!?!?!?! That "great advice" you're getting is based on the other person's frame of reference, which is probably completely different from yours.

People mean well, they really do. But you what opinions are like.....

......I'm serious about skydiving.

......I've been looking into buying a new car. I know car salesmen are just trying to keep their jobs; still, they lay it on pretty thick. I went to a car lot the other day--in fifteen minutes, the salesman complimented my hair, my perfume and my earrings; he offered me a piece of pie and told me his whole life story.


It takes all of that to get an SUV?

......Most people who really know me probably know it's uncomfortable for me to write like this. After all, I'm Kayla Woodberry...and as one of our church musicians pointed out this afternoon, people are looking at me.

But this is a part of me, just like it is for every single person I know.

I get angry.

I get frustrated.

Occasionally, I get sexually frustrated. (Ha!)

I'm a work in love me through the progressions or don't.

.....I still feel like things are going to get better. They don't have to, but they will. I feel it.

Later Days,


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Who am I.....Here Am I.

Something is missing.

Make no mistake about it--I love my life. Slowly but surely, Kayla is becoming.....well, Kayla. Unashamedly and unabashedly apologetic for all of my quirks, faults, flaws and the rest.

And yet, I still feel something is missing.

I'm not one of those people who likes to complain about relationships. I just believe everything will fall into place at the right time.

Like many twenty-somethings, I struggle with envy: I want it all and I want it now (Note: I don't think there's anything wrong with admitting this is a struggle for a *gasp* Christian. God is still working on me).

Some mornings, I exercise just for the escape. I'm just focused on finishing the workout--not bills or perceived failures; not my heart and the insane way it reaches for people who will not care for it as their own.

Sweat helps. A lot.

I guess I'm just a work in progress.

Looking back, I see the growth. Things that would have hurt me, cut me to the core, do not even make me flinch right now. I'm grateful.

I see how my relationship with Christ has aided in changing who I am. The more I stop trying to take the lead, the easier (and more beautiful) the dance of life becomes.

I am resisting the urge to "prove" myself to others.

I Googled myself. I even thought about beefing up my entries.

I'm thinking.

I'm working.

I know I am capable of more and yet.....

I'm content with this season of my life.

The scales are unbalanced.

Somehow, it makes perfect sense to me.

My song half-written--or maybe it's just not ready to be published.



Still encouraged though.