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Dear Annette,

As I write this to you, my mind returns to my childhood. The best mornings began with making mud pies that I would leave to bake under the Louisiana sun and evenings were spent pulling honeysuckle from trees. There were other days I wish I could forget. But there’s one day and one conversation with you that I most remember.

We sat outside in secondhand lawn chairs that’d been beaten by the rain. The sun had mercy on us as you shared dreams of being a country music singer and owning a restaurant. You told me how your…


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Retrace the steps of my life and a pattern of decision-making guided by imposter syndrome quickly becomes apparent. The pattern would likely form a maze outlined with reactions of disbelief at my own accomplishments and constant fear of missing the mark. My brain registered moments of success as happenstance. My skills and hard work weren’t part of the equation.

Over the years, I realized that imposter syndrome was a misfitting description of my beliefs. Instead, I call it my fear of influence. My fear of influence was not fear of being influenced by something or someone. …


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Have you ever kept a secret so long that the lines between reality and public perception became too blurry to tell apart? I have. So it’s only fair that I adhere to a millennial stereotype by sharing my secret with a couple thousand strangers on the internet.

My secret isn’t a salacious story of lovers and adventure. It’s a subtle type of secret that millions keep to themselves every day because health and wellness battles are often invisible or easier to disguise. My secret is that over the last four months, I’ve been mostly stuck in bed and barely able…


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Eyes wide open during closing hours. Something is different tonight.

My eyes find focus in a corner of the living room, fixated on my collection of plants. 16 to be exact.

My plants look so dead. Withering, neglected. And that’s so unlike me. I care deeply about my plant family. Staring at the green and brown congregation, I realize I can’t rest until I fix my fixation. I start with the plant that looks most disconnected from its once joyful existence.

I begin to water it, but quickly bring myself to a halt.

Looking around, I notice something new. I…


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Once upon a time in the great state of Texas and before Covid-19, I found myself staying on the grounds of one of the most beautiful mansions I’d ever seen. Set apart from the rest of the street and nestled between lush greenery, stepping onto the grounds behind the gated entry was like walking into another world. I felt like Alice in an unexpected wonderland.

I’d found myself here thanks to Airbnb. My chosen stay was listed as a small and lovely home, but what wasn’t listed was that my quaint resting place was an extension of this mansion hideaway.


Climate change impacts how the disease spreads, and racism affects how Black women are treated

An elderly Black woman as a patient at the hospital.
An elderly Black woman as a patient at the hospital.
Photo: ER Productions Limited/Getty Images

Ask me about my last visit to the emergency room as a Black woman, and I can tell you the story of how I left the hospital more traumatized and in worse shape than when I arrived seeking help. Similar stories could be told by countless women of color around the world.

As the coronavirus pandemic throws seemingly countless inequities into light, much of the world is witnessing the overlap in the fight for health, climate, gender, and racial justice. …


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Going to the hospital during a pandemic was a fear of mine that I never wanted to manifest into reality. But it happened after I woke up around 5 a.m. with the feeling of my heart pounding out my chest as if it wanted to escape. My heartbeat was creating rhythmic drumming so loud, I could have sworn it was filling the room. My stomach tightened with fear as I felt tidal waves of nausea and dizziness before the room went black.

When I woke up, I called on the most reliable man I know. He helped me to calm…


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Two days ago, I had the worst nightmare I’d experienced in years. It was so horrific that repeating what emerged from my own mind felt too sadistic for the words to come out without an obvious tremble in my voice. It’s that same tremble you feel before giving an important presentation or introducing yourself on a first date, both of which have presented their own special levels of terror in my world.

When I was young, I was so afraid of my nightmares that I tried to avoid sleeping. When I finally dozed off and entered the dream realm, I…


Disclaimer: The only reason my wonderful mother is not front and center in this photo is that she declined to take pictures until she was in “the right mood.” I was instructed to find something and make it work… And on that note: Happy Mother’s Day!

The relationship between me, my mom, and our hair could rival the depths of unexplored oceans. Hours of laughter, tears, and words that often go unsaid have been intricately braided, flat ironed, washed, and curled into every strand of hair on my head since I was a youngin’. My mom was a cosmetologist. She’d also been a cheerleader who made her way to performing in Superbowl 19 before I rudely interrupted what sounded like a rather fun life (sorry, Mom).

My personality developed with stark contrast. I don’t smile as much as she does. I hated cheerleading and quit after…


Photo by Matteo Vistocco on Unsplash

Recently, I challenged myself to create a Love List as part of my mental decluttering process. It was a challenge because the goal was to match 50 things I love and appreciate with 50 habits and thoughts that need to be released from my life [emphasized in italics in the list below].

I quickly learned that gratitude don’t come easy, and we must practice regularly. We instinctively have more negative thoughts because negative thinking provides the caution we need to avoid dangers. …

Princella Talley

Heart of an artist. Soul of an activist. Public Voices fellow of the OpEd Project and the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

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