I grew up in Chester, South Carolina, population just over 5,000. I made my way to Stanford University, where I earned my B.A in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, with a focus in Creative Writing.
Though I was ecstatic to be accepted into my dream school – a goal I had worked towards since I was five – I couldn’t escape the grief that had driven me towards this purpose: witnessing and experiencing addiction, the loss of a parent, abuse, poverty, and hopelessness. All of these moments were present as I celebrated one of my proudest achievements, not to mention my fear of failure, and the sense of betrayal I felt around leaving my family in pursuit of a “future” where people who looked like us would hardly be present.
Through my own experiences of complex trauma and loss, I began weaving a path that made healing possible, merging lessons and traditions from my hometown with practices I learned while away from home. My journey led me to earn an M.A. from the University of Chicago in Religious Studies and then spend two years at a Buddhist chaplaincy training at Upaya Zen Center.
In 2018, I deepened my Buddhist practice by receiving Jukai – a lay ordination ceremony predicated upon the formal acceptance of Zen Buddhist precepts.
I have served as a lay ordained Zen Buddhist end-of-life caregiver and birth doula by day, and a writer, sex and grief coach in the evening. In all aspects of my career, I seek to uncover the ways that we experience grief–in our relationship with ourselves and others, at the beginning and end of life, in the daily experiences of systemic injustice–and how we can use that grief to inform rather than drive us.
Today, I call Los Angeles home. I’m the author of the Grieving While Black: An Anti-Racist Take on Oppression and Sorrow (North Atlantic Books).