OVERCOMING THE IMPOSSIBLE: MAINTAINING A RELATIONSHIP DURING COVID

Hey friends,

It’s been a while since I’ve written and being honest, I needed to find my way back. Life has been a roller-coaster and I’ve been dealing with a whirl-wind of emotions.

This post is kind of just going to relieve some stress and anxiety I have been feeling. I was wide awake at 3am the other morning, staring at the ceiling, trying to fall asleep. I’ve been restless. My sleep schedule seems non-existent these days. With everything going on in the world right now it seems difficult to get back on track. I am trying my absolute best to maintain a positive light.

Apologizing in advance if this post seems all over. I am just going to write some thoughts. I have found myself giving people countless chances, finding it in my heart to forgive even if every fiber in my body is telling me not to. Giving people multiple chances to change requires trusting they will make those changes. I’ve allowed this numerous times in my life especially over the course of the last 2 years. I try my best to be a good person. However, some people should be forgiven not because they deserve it, but because you deserve peace. Some people do have the ability to change. Others not so much. Being a kind person who is forgiving can be a downfall. People can see this as a weakness and assume because you are giving them another chance, they can make the same mistake twice.

I have been feeling drained and numb all at once. The emotions I feel overcome me as I try to make sense of my world. Something I’ve wanted and tried to salvage has come to an end and I am trying my best to be okay with it. At first I thought the greatest acts of love were forgiveness and sacrifice. As cliche as it may sound it’s like the saying goes, “If you love someone let them go, if they return it was meant to be.”

I’ve been taken for a fool. I give so many chances and the other person does not understand what it took for me to give them that next chance. I’m disappointed in myself honestly. The signs are always there and we can choose to see or ignore them.

Forgiveness is tough. You may not want to, but you can when you’re ready. It takes time. It’s hard being the bigger person sometimes. We may have too much pride to do so.

I just want to breathe again. I have felt suffocated for so long. I just need to trust the process and remind myself that things will get better. If something does not work out as planned, there’s most likely a reason. I should not force things. I should not blame myself for that.

I choose myself. I choose to move forward. I choose to leave the baggage behind. I choose to fight for me. I choose to fight for my happiness.


I’m writing this post to make sense of my world right now. I am somehow coming together and shattering at the same time. One door closes and another opens. You can forgive others and find the strength to move forward despite the pain they may have caused you, but it’s going to hurt. Sometimes our heart and mind are at war. You know what you need to do, but what you feel in your heart holds you back.

I’m unsure of how I have let things get so messy. COVID has really impacted my relationship and every other aspect of my life. My relationship has been put through the ringer. As I navigate the waters, I have come to learn that the little things are in fact the big things. When you are living with someone, you really learn the ins and outs of the other person. You learn their pet peeves and what makes them tick. When the little things are overlooked or not even considered as significant, this can cause issues.

You can give your absolute everything to someone and they may not see how drained you have been with working through the hard stuff. COVID has really tested my relationship as I’m sure it has done to others too.

Sometimes it’s best to walk away. You may love them and still do, but sometimes you need to take some time for yourself to recuperate. Your health and well-being are the most important and if they are compromised, you need to just keep moving forward.

It makes me emotional because I’ve thought about how things were in the beginning and as time progresses, things get tough. Somehow the person you once knew is no longer there. It upsets me because it feels like as soon as one thing in life pieces together, something else falls apart.

But I pray.

I’m done feeling guilty and sorry for myself. I am tired of making excuses.

I hope COVID comes to an end soon because it has taken a lot from me. Screw you, COVID. You will not take anything more from me.

Until next time blogger friends,

Ms. Dakota

This Is Your Daily Reminder To Take Care Of Yourself

For the longest time, I have allowed other’s opinions of me sway my decision making. I have allowed them to dictate to me how I should live my life. Well, I say no more. I have let my wants and needs be pushed to the side because I was listening to everything other people had to say. Self-care has become so important to me over these last 2-3 years. If I’m being completely honest, I still care too much about what others think and I wish I didn’t. I wish I was one of those types of people who did not worry about everyone else. I should be concerned about Dakota. I will be 25 this year. That’s crazy to say, but life is flying by. As I grow older, I have become more in tune with what truly makes my heart happy.

I have let my health go down hill. I have not been listening to my physical, mental, or emotional health. I have felt like I have been making myself sick trying to take everything on at once.

As depressing as this may sound, at the end of the day you need to take care of yourself. It’s like the saying goes, “You cannot pour from an empty cup.” You cannot help others unless you are taking care of yourself first. Most of the time I want to throw my phone away and let go of all the baggage. Let go of the one thing keeping me connected to those people who make me feel less than. Who is going to take care of me god forbid I burn myself out?

I have decided to listen to my body, my heart, my mind, and soul. I want to do what makes me happy. I decide to put myself first. I have worn myself out trying to help others. My 20s should be about enjoying life before the responsibilities really slap me in my face. And I feel like I am not enjoying my 20s. I am always stressed, always overwhelmed, always feel like I’m somehow failing at something no matter how hard I try, or I’m always worried about something.

Who is going to take care of me? I’ve been doing lots of thinking about helping others. You should still maintain kindness and compassion for those around you. But there comes a time where you have to draw a line. Many people confuse kindness for weakness and this is not the case. I have tried helping others to the best of my ability. But, I’ve been taken advantage of to a certain extent and so I say, NO MORE. I am finally putting myself first and it feels pretty good to say.

I’ve been at war-with my former self and the person I still wish to be. Life can be so overwhelming sometimes. I have fought silent battles, big ones others had no idea about. I’ve cried silently to sleep and have felt like a failure with so many things.

But now, I take back control of my life. I’m tired of worrying more about others feelings and opinions instead of my own. I should listen to my instincts and mine only. I have come this far. I am sick of allowing others to have so much power over me because it does not matter what you do in this life, someone will always have something to say. What truly matters is how you view yourself.

I guess in simpler terms what I’m trying to say is take care of yourself. Follow your heart and believe in your abilities. Do not be so hard on yourself. You have come this far and you have only scratched the surface. Be proud of how far you have come. Your body has carried you through far worse. So whatever you are dealing with now, you can certainly get through it. Do not feel guilty of taking breaks when you so desperately need it. Burning yourself out trying to please everyone else will get you nowhere.

Live YOUR life because before you know it, 10 years will have passed you by and you realize you are bitter because you did not do what you wanted when you were younger. It is easy to put things off until tomorrow because we think we will have more time. But the truth is, life is too short and time can be taken away from us in the blink of an eye.

I want to live a full and happy life. So yes, I take my life back. I am doing what makes me happy. Others will still have opinions of me and judge who I’ve been or what I choose to do in this life, but I am strong. I will make it through. And if I fail at least I know I tried my very best. That’s what truly matters.

Until next time friends,

Ms. Dakota

Be Your OWN Biggest Fan

“I think there should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives.” ~Auggie, Wonder


I strongly believe in this statement. Some of us just want to hear, “I’m proud of you and everything you have accomplished.” We want to feel acknowledged and appreciated. We work hard and it would make us feel good if someone noticed that. I find myself often searching for this sense of approval from those around me.

I’m still learning everyday how to work on this, how to be secure with myself. Although it would make me feel good to hear someone acknowledge my efforts or how much I’ve done, one should be secure enough with themselves to know that they do not need the approval. Others can sometimes give us the approval we are searching for. Or they may not. They may disregard all of our efforts which causes us to continue searching for approval we may never receive. Almost like Gatsby in The Great Gatsby. He consistently searched for the approval, validation, and acceptance from Daisy, which he never received.

We should not place our self-worth in the hands of others. One should be secure with themselves that approval should not determine their level of self-acceptance. It is common for one to ask friends and families for their opinions on certain matters. However, you only get one life, so you need to live for you. Sometimes those people may have your best interests at heart, and maybe they do not.

I should take my own advice more often, but I also care too much about what others think. I want to be accepted by most. However, I’ve come to learn that the only important thing that matters is how you view yourself. No matter what you do, people will always have opinions about your actions. Therefore, we should only surround ourselves with people who do have our best interests at heart. They acknowledge our improvements and offer healthy criticisms when needed.

Especially during the pandemic, it is CRUCIAL to surround yourself with positivity and remain consistent with improving yourself whether it be reading or writing more, exercising more often, meditating, etc. It is easy to get lost down the rabbit hole and become overwhelmed with everything. But if we continue to work on ourselves and surround ourselves with likeminded and positive people, we will prosper.

Even if we are applauded or acknowledged as Auggie mentions in the movie Wonder, we should still not lose sight of ourselves, our goals, or the direction we are headed. Moments are fleeting. We are acknowledged for a brief moment and yes, it makes us feel wonderful. But in reality, people will forget that great thing you did a couple days thereafter. The point here is, without getting too depressing, embrace the acknowledgment, but never lose yourself while searching for that approval.

Life is too short. That has been evident throughout this entire pandemic. We can be here one day and gone the next. Don’t mean to be depressing here, but it’s the truth. We should work towards our goals, make memories with those closest to us, and cherish our loved ones.

But bringing it back to the main point of my post here, never let the approval or non-approval influence how you view yourself. Yes, it would make us feel worthy to be acknowledged for our hard work. But we should work hard regardless to reach our goals not because we want that approval.

And with that, I end this post on the following note, you are worthy. You are doing amazing things and you are noticed. Even when you aren’t, be your own biggest fan. Celebrate those victories, whether big or small. Keep crushing those goals. Do something today that future you will be proud of! Make yourself happy!

Until next time friends,

Dakota 🙂

The Future Is Unpredictable, Live For Right Now

Hey guys. I’m back again with a post. I’m sitting here at work, bored and hungry, and figured why not put up a blog post to use my time productively? It seems like I’ve been getting the bulk of my writing done at work. But whatever, I’m not complaining. Writing gets done when it gets done.

I opened my Instagram up for the first time after not having it for like 6 months. I needed a break. I’ve grown apart from social media and only use it now to keep in contact with loved ones or to share my work with the writing community. I really feel like social media is too heavily relied on and many people take it too seriously. I get it. We live in a time where social media is how people communicate, it’s how people grow their business, cool. I can understand that. But, what I do not understand is why people are so caught up in their phones. There are so many other ways we can spend our time like moving our bodies or feeding our brains.


We can be here today and gone tomorrow. Life is flying right on by. I came across an Instagram story recently and found out someone I knew from my high school years had passed. It’s devastating to think about because she was my age. We often take time for granted because we think we will have more of it. We are wrong. We should spend more time with our loved ones and use our time wisely. Imagine what you could do with the time you waste scrolling through social media? I’ll admit that I’ve done this and I’m not trying to come off as a hypocrite for doing so. However, I wanted to put up this post and explain why I’ve changed and how I’ve matured. I used to spend lots of time on Snapchat or Instagram or Facebook. I thought putting your every move on social media was the new cool, whether it was posting your meal, or the day you had at the gym, etc.

The last 2 years or so have been a whirlwind and over the course of them, I’ve done lots of self-reflecting on my past mistakes, who and what I want to become, and the goals I still wish to achieve. I’ve lost many people over the years. People I loved and deeply cared for. I’ve lost family members, friends, and people I thought would be around for much longer. I believe in the value of a moment and creating memories with those closest to you. I don’t care for materialistic items or how much money one has. I care about creating life long memories. I’m not trying to get too depressing here, as this is meant to be an uplifting post, but when we all go to the afterlife, wherever that is for you based on your beliefs, what do we take with us? The memories or all the cars, purses, jewelry, etc. that we bought?


I’ve put my faith in people and have been let down. I’ve been vulnerable and loved people as best I could. I’ve been beaten, bruised, and defeated. I’ve faced countless adversities and have had people turn their backs on me. But I managed to rise through it all. I overcame my adversities. I am a fighter. This is how I was raised. To go in for that last round even when you don’t think you can.

I’ve held grudges. I have let years go by without talking to people over something they did during our childhoods. I’ve spent months even years not speaking to friends over minor arguments we had. We are human. We feel things. I feel things very deeply and that could be a good and bad thing.

But if there is anything we can learn from 2020, it’s this. The future is unpredictable. We can be here today and gone tomorrow. So I leave you with this.

Cherish your loved ones. Hug them. Let them know you love them. Be kinder. Don’t hold grudges. Forgive people so you can allow yourself to find peace. Work towards your goals. Use your time wisely. Call your parents often (I moved out at 22 and still call my parents everyday). Check in on your loved ones, especially during the pandemic. Do lots of self-reflection. Meditate. Focus on your health & well-being physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and financially. Life is too short to be unhappy. I know this sounds like a total cliche, but it’s the best I’ve got right now. Tomorrow is unknown. Do your best today. Live in the now. Plan for the future yes, but live for right now.

I am still learning. I am improving. I am evolving. No one is perfect. I still struggle with doing some of the things I’ve mentioned above. But if you try to do and be better, this is what counts.

Well friends, that is it for this post. I hope you all enjoy the rest of your week!

Until next time,

Dakota 🙂

Back From My 2-Month Hiatus: Self-Reflection During The Pandemic

Hi there! Well, it’s been a while since I’ve last posted. 2 months total, I believe. What can I say? Life is busy. School demands lots of my time. I needed to take a break from my non-essential work and focus my time & energy where it was most needed. Okay, I know what you’re thinking. You think your blog is “non-essential?” I know I have my followers and I appreciate you guys more than you know, I really do. Thank you for the support through it all. You guys are the best, especially the writing community on twitter. One of the best groups on social media, hands down. I’m sorry I’ve been absent. But this post will explain a little more of what I’ve been up to the past few months in quarantine.

So I live in Charleston, SC and everything pretty much opened back up. We have to wear masks of course, but it’s been pretty laidback. People are extremely happy to get out of the house again. I know I am. I’ve gone back to a gym routine and I’ve been spending as much time as I can with my pup, taking him on walks & doggy play dates. (He needs to get out of the house too, he’s a breed that loves to be outside.) He is a German Shorthaired Pointer and for those who do not know, those are hunting dogs. DJ is super hyper, playful, loves to jump, chase squirrels, frogs, and bark at birds.


It is safe to say many of us have gone through various obstacles and things have just been rough to say the least. Almost like we feel like giving up. This pandemic has led to a whirlwind of emotions. It has been a full-time job trying to maintain overall health & wellbeing. At first, I was content with staying home. I felt like it would give me a break, allow me the chance to spend more time with family, and just unwind a bit by taking time to do self-care. Well, how quickly that all fell apart. I started to realize I was more stressed out, I felt like a bird locked up in a cage who just wanted to be set free. I missed interaction with friends and just enjoying the outside world. We often take everything for granted and realize how fortunate we were when it is taken away from us. My fiancé and I quickly learned we needed space from one another. My pup even realized things changed because he was in the house more. My fiancé works from home & I go to school online. So you can only imagine what it was like being around each other 24-7. I think other couples can agree they have felt the same.

When quarantine first started, I made a promise to myself to do everything I always felt I didn’t have time for. I would learn American sign language, read & write more, and just learn a new set of skills like maybe another language, etc. But motivation has quickly fizzled out. Some days I’m productive and others I can barely roll out of bed. This is okay. Our bodies and minds need rest. We don’t want to take on too much at once. I think that is my issue. I try to do everything at once and I burn myself out. I’m still learning how to pace myself.

Although I’ve been facing my own obstacles, I’ve done my absolute best to check in on friends and family to make sure their mental health was okay. But I cannot say they did the same for me which is extremely disappointing. It is always those closest to us that let us down the most. There have been days during this pandemic that I have felt absolutely defeated and hopeless. I do, however, want to thank those closest to me who have reached out and checked on me. That is what true friendship is all about. I’ve made sure to call my parents everyday since they live up in NY.

I think of it this way, “not receiving a message is also a message.” It is totally understandable this pandemic has impacted many people across the country, but taking 2 seconds out of your day to text a loved one to see how they’re holding up really goes a long way. I give people the benefit of the doubt and come up with so many ways to defend them, thinking of why they could possibly ignore or not send a text. But there is no way to explain or defend someone who is just being a crappy human being.

This leads me to my next point. You can be civil. You can try and maintain relationships with people. You can communicate until you’re blue in the face. And somehow it is never enough. I’ve learned over time that I’ve been watering many dead plants and by that I mean, I’ve been trying to salvage one sided relationships with people. I believe in any relationship whether romantic or a friendship, it is a TWO-WAY street. It takes two to tangle. One hand washes the other. Okay, you get my point. With this said, toxic is toxic. It has hurt me to cut so many people off, but it is for my health and well being. And you know what else? I do not owe anyone explanations for my decisions. They are entirely my own and I am justified in making them.


I’m still learning. I’m still evolving. Growth is an ongoing process. I am not perfect. I try my best. I learn from my mistakes. I try to be the best version of myself that I can be.

My fiancé and I talk about this often. He always asks me, “how come you do not try to be more social and make friends?” He means this in the kindest way possible, don’t get me wrong. However, here is my explanation. I am at a point in my life where I am very selective with my time, energy, and my selection of “friends.” I’ve had to cut off family members for the sake of saving my sanity. So I have absolutely no issue with admitting that yes, I do not have many friends, but that is how I choose to live my life. I choose to have few in my corner. I would rather sit with 3 genuine and sincere friends than at a table with 100+ people who I do not even know the names of. My fiancé is very personable. So am I. But it takes a lot for me to consider someone my friend.

Especially during this pandemic, I have learned a lot about people. I have seen who is truly there for you and who is not. I have gone months without talking to some of my closest friends. I’ve spoken to others almost everyday. Like I said, it takes two to tangle. Therefore, I’m done reaching out to those who do not even see if I’m okay. I do not waste my time nor should I have to. The crazy thing is once you stop reaching out, it is the same people who have the nerve to say you don’t reach out or talk to them anymore. Yes, because of YOUR actions.

It has taken me a lot of time, energy, patience, and emotional roller-coasters full of tears, yelling, and depression to get to where I am today. I have worked hard to get to where I am now. I have gone through the wreckage to reach the level of peace and tranquility I try to maintain in my life. And when people disrupt that balance, they can no longer be a part of my life.

These are very trying times. I’ve found myself to be a ball of stress in a constant state of panic and anxiety. But I have found ways to cope. I go to the gym. I write. I spend time with those I love. I’m trying to be better. But it is a process. I cannot expect everything to be how I want by tomorrow. Things take time. But the harder we work towards something, the more we appreciate it when we get it.

I will end this post on the following note, it is not about the destination, but about the journey. I hope everyone is staying safe during these times and finding ways to stay productive. I know it is hard some days, but I promise, if you get up and go do something like exercise or take a walk, you will feel a whole lot better.

Not sure when my next post will be since life is hectic at the moment, but I will try and write again sometime soon!

Until next time,

Ms. Dakota 🙂

How To Write A Powerful Resume & Cover Letter To Stand Out From The Crowd

2020 has been an eventful year so far. We are living through a pandemic and considering the unprecedented times, many people are either unemployed or have lost their jobs which is heartbreaking. Hopefully, things return to normal soon and when they do–people can return to work.

Aside from running my blog and writing stories, I also enjoy resume writing. I have written numerous resumes with cover letters for several family members and friends. I wanted to write a post about what I think many people should know: how to write a resume and make yourself stand out from the big pile of other applications an employer will be sorting through. This post was requested by followers on Twitter. I also believe it can be considered a necessary read when people are able to return to work and are searching for new jobs.

I will provide you with the necessary steps you need to write an outstanding resume.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

How To Structure Your Resume: Beginning To End

  • OUTLINE. List your employment and education from the last 10 years. Write down the jobs you held with 2-3 sentences about what your job entailed and what your duties/responsibilities were.
  • STYLE. The standard format should be size 12 font and Times New Roman. However, if you want to be creative, you can choose a font that is similar to Times New Roman, still professional, and easy to read. The style of your resume is entirely your preference.
  • HEADLINE. At the top of your resume should be your headline. Your headline should include your full name, address, current phone number, if providing more than one number, identify if it is a cell/business phone, etc., current email, LinkedIn, or other important social links you want to provide.
  • EMAIL. Your email should also be professional. Refrain from emails that are too long. I would always recommend first initial, middle initial, last name, or however you see fit. However, if your email has a nickname with numbers after for instance, this is not necessarily appropriate.
  • LENGTH. A resume should be 1-2 pages max, However, I would recommend trying to contain everything in one page. If you have 2 pages consider having the resume printed double-sided.
  • PAST TENSE. Your resume should be written in past tense. When detailing a current position, you can use present tense.
  • USE ACTION VERBS. For example, supervised, managed, etc.
  • SHORT AND SWEET. You always have to remember that your resume should be read in 30 seconds or less. You have 30 seconds to sell yourself.
Photo by Peter Olexa on Pexels.com

What To Do If You Lack Job Experience:

Begin With Highlighting Your Education

If you have held few jobs, 5 or less for instance, you should consider beginning your resume by highlighting your education.

  • EDUCATION. When highlighting your education these are the areas you should cover: name of university or program, license or certificate acquired, your GPA, classes you took, clubs you participated in, or other essential information you believe will help you land the job.
  • NO WHITE SPACE. You do not want white space anywhere in your resume. Fill that space in with content.
  • Include a SKILLS & ACCOMPLISHMENTS section. This is where you can highlight any awards or certificates you have acquired as it pertains to the job. It provides more detail on who you are, what you enjoy, and your work ethic.
  • VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCE. This section of your resume allows the employer/company to see that aside from your daily activities you have also participated in other groups/organizations, etc. Therefore, you are depicting yourself as a well-rounded individual who is community oriented.
  • REFERENCES. If you want to go the extra mile, I recommend including your references already listed. It shows you are prepared and planning ahead.

How To Write A Cover Letter In 7 Simple Steps

Your cover letter is your chance to be personal, really highlight why you want the job, why you are the right candidate, and really leave a lasting impression on the employer reading your application, which could possibly lead to a phone call for an interview.

  • When you have the name of the person you will be interviewing with or the name of the company, you want to address the letter to them. It makes it more personal. Go this extra mile.
  • Format the letter properly with name/address of company, your address and information, along with the date.
  • You should highlight who you are and why you want the job in 2 paragraphs or less.
  • QUALITY OVER QUANTITY.
  • You should cover the following: note any background information you know abut the company or position being applied for, why you are qualified, how your past experience is relevant, and why you are the right candidate for the job.
  • Always ensure your information is up-to-date especially your email and phone number.
  • Ensure you SIGN the letter.
Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

I hope this post can help my followers with building a powerful resume and cover letter to land the job they want.

Last but not least, CONFIDENCE. You can always sell yourself on paper, but if you are called in for an interview, confidence is of the utmost importance. If you would like to see a follow-up post describing what you should do the day of the interview, feel free to connect with me on twitter to let me know!

As always, please feel free to comment below, email me: msdakotawrites@gmail.com, or tweet me: @msdakotawrites on twitter. I would be delighted to hear about your experiences with creating a resume!

Until next time,

Dakota 🙂

Public Speaking Skills You Need When Presenting Your Work to An Audience

Hey everyone! I am super excited to publish this type of post. I wanted to highlight something different for this Monday afternoon–public speaking skills in relation to presenting your work to an audience. I have never queried before, but perhaps some of these tips could help you when trying to “sell” your work to someone, convincing them why they should represent you and give your work a chance.

My freshman year of college I took a speech communications course and I do not regret that decision. As most college students, I did not know what I wanted to major in. Therefore, my first year consisted of taking a bunch of liberal arts classes until I figured out what I wanted to do.

My speech professor highlighted essential skills one would need not only for public speaking, but for life in general. I know public speaking is feared by many people, but this skill is extremely crucial in the work field. Whether you are an employee or a boss chances are you are going to speak in front of an audience at one point or another. Now for me I can honestly say I do not fear speaking in public. I may have pre-speech jitters and butterflies in my stomach, but as soon as I begin speaking, I am locked in.

In this blog post, I highlight some tips that I think are necessary when speaking to an audience. I have been present for so many speeches before. Some were astounding, others not so much.

Let us begin with the first step which is—engaging your audience with what you are about to present, that moment where you either make or break it, will determine if the audience chooses to listen. Not only is it frightening as is with speaking in front of hundreds if not more people, but when you can see people speaking over you and not listening, this can be hurtful as well. Even if people are being rude, the speech still needs to get done. So, in this post I provide helpful pointers to get you over the hump of being fearful of public speaking.

The first recommendation I will make is: CAPTIVATE YOUR AUDIENCE. Keep in mind people will lose interest or become bored after a long period of time has passed. Keep your speech short and sweet.

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

What To Do Prior To Giving A Speech

  • OUTLINE your work. Ensure you cover all the talking points. I would recommend using bullet points with the main idea and include 2-3 sentences to describe those main points.
  • My professor would tell us stories about some disasters she witnessed when people used flashcards when giving their speech. She spoke to us one class about a work conference she had gone to. The CEO of the company had to give a speech. Unfortunately, during the speech the flashcards had fallen on the floor and because he relied too heavily on the flashcards, they fell out of order, and he did not know where he left off or how to continue. Therefore, I say when you are about to give a speech, type out your words. Also—be prepared to improvise. You could prepare your speech word for word, but you must anticipate distractions or other things that may put a dent in your plan.
  • When typing out your speech, I would recommend making it double spaced and using a simple and easy to read font.

What To Do During Your Speech

  • ESTABLISH YOUR PRESENCE in front of all those people. Body language also plays a key role while speaking in public. Stand tall, shoulders back, and do not slouch.
  • EYE CONTACT is so incredibly important I cannot stress this enough. Make sure you are engaging with your audience by keeping them involved. Your speech should be like having a normal conversation with your friend.
  • DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT read directly, word for word from your paper. This is such a turn-off for many people. It is boring, uninteresting, and mundane to say the very least.
  • SPEAK LOUDLY. Do not use a hushed tone or speak down into the paper. Speak OUT, as my professor would say. When you raise your head instead of looking down, your voice then projects out into the audience.
  • PACE YOURSELF. Do not rush. But also, do not speak too slowly. This is something people must establish on their own—is finding their pace.
  • When I am giving a speech or speaking to a large crowd of people, I like to ask questions in the beginning to engage my audience almost immediately. Ask them a question or two which is related to the content you are going to be speaking about. If you are not going to begin with questions, I would then recommend using a catchy opening line.
  • SHORT AND SWEET. This is also crucial to consider. It is quite simple to make a speech longer than it needs to be. But, quality over quantity is what people should consider. As long as you can get your point across in one page or less, you can have more of an impact, rather than reading a 10-page speech others will not engage completely with.
  • Do not ramble. Cover the main points. People will become uninterested if they cannot relate to or engage with the content being covered.
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What To Do As Your Speech Nears The End

  • SUMMARIZE the main points you covered to refresh the memory of the audience. Depending on the length of your speech, they could have easily forgotten point #1 as you just finished covering point #10.
  • You need to go out with a bang. Make your audience remember you. The closing line can really influence how your audience views your content. You want a powerful ending to your speech which either leaves your audience wanting more, asking questions, or just thinking about the content in general.
  • Take the time to ASK QUESTIONS at the end. Allow your audience to really engage with you by allowing them to either provide comments/feedback, etc. This allows your audience to believe you care about what they have to say as well.

Public speaking should not be something to fear. We learn as we go. Each time you give a speech, you will take away with you something you could improve on. If you think about it, we are all ‘public speakers.’ We speak to our family in the living room, we talk to our significant others about how much writing we did in one day, or we converse with our parents about life. If you think about giving a speech as just speaking normally to a family member or friend, you will do just fine.

As always, I hope this post can help at least one person. If you use any of these tips, feel free to tell me about your experience. You can comment on this post, email me: msdakotawrites@gmail.com, or tweet me @msdakotawrites on twitter. I would love to hear about your experiences.

Warmly,

Dakota 😊

The 7 Tools You Need To Overcome The Fear Of Writing Non-Fiction

Hey there! Glad you guys are here. This post is one I thoroughly enjoyed writing. Hope you guys enjoy!

Whenever I ask other writers what genre they prefer when given the choice between fiction and non-fiction, they always seem to choose fiction, without hesitation. I wonder why this is. The realm of fiction allows one to explore their imagination and create a world much different than reality. Writers who write fiction look forward to forming these creations which could be described as ‘escaping the mundane realities of the world we live in,’ at least how I like to describe it.

I love both fiction & non-fiction, but I always preferred non-fiction. My love for non-fiction really began when I took a non-fiction workshop during undergrad. The entire semester we studied how to write in this genre and we edited a piece we would present on the final day of class. When I read my piece to the class, I could see the power my words had. I do not recall what exactly I wrote about, but I received applause by both my professor and the other students. That is when I really began writing more pieces about my life and experiences.

Now you must be thinking why someone would want to read about the life or experiences of another if they are not a well-known author or celebrity and even then, the material may be uninteresting or boring. If you look at my blog, you will quickly realize that most of the pieces I have submitted are creative non-fiction. Here is why. I have dealt with certain traumas in my life and writing about them allows me to heal, to forgive, and to find peace. When I write non-fiction, I enjoy bringing light to issues people may not necessarily think of.

I wanted to give you all the inside scoop on how to tackle this genre without fear. Buckle up because you are in for an interesting ride.

Writers tend to think unless they have dealt with a severe trauma or have an experience others would want to read about, you have no reason to write in this genre. You are wrong. It is like that saying, if you write, you are a writer. You do not need that stamp of approval from being published to claim you are a writer. Same applies for non-fiction. You can literally take any topic or experience from your life and create something worth reading. The thing that requires the most time for me is determining the topic and how I want to approach it. But once I have the topic, it is quite easy for me to begin writing. Below I will highlight some helpful tips to get you started.

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  • #1: Choose a topic to write about. When writing non-fiction, you have to write your story in such a way that even if the reader has the slightest doubt in their mind they would not relate to your work, you have to give them a reason to. Not to be cliché here but think of writing a piece about a horrible break-up you endured. This probably would not be something I would write, but I am merely using it as an example. This is a general topic an audience would gravitate to because 9 times out of 10, other people have endured this as well. You must evoke some sort of emotion and allow the reader to relate to you in some way, shape, or form.

  • #2: Next step I usually do is make list. I list everything associated with that topic. The main idea, how I felt, what I saw, what I heard, what I smelled, what I touched, who was involved, the outcome, so on and so forth.

  • #3: Next step once you have your topic picked out and your list made is to decide which perspective you want to tackle. Most of my pieces are told in 1st person which most people assume is what writing non-fiction entails. However, I like to experiment with other POV’s. For instance, I wrote a piece about an illness my cousin was diagnosed with. To properly tell the story, I interviewed several people to get all the information I needed. I interviewed my cousin, her mother, her father, her grandmother, and I included my POV. Each person told their part of the story. However, other pieces I have written have been stories about my life but told in 3rd person. ‘She felt this, she did that.,’ etc. Writing non-fiction should not mean rejecting certain aspects of writing. If anything, non-fiction can offer you the same amount of flexibility if you have the right tools.

  • #4: Writing a piece of non-fiction can also allow you the opportunity to fill in some blanks with a made-up scenario. So, going back to that break-up example. Let us say you wanted to write about your brother’s break-up with his girlfriend and how it led him down a rabbit hole. If he did not provide you with the information, you can do with this as you will. You knew the topic would be about the break-up and your brother’s depression. However, you could be creative by forming your own reasoning for their separation by filling in the blanks of what you think happened. I read an article once in my ‘how to write non-fiction,’ course textbook from college. A professor had written about the same things I am currently writing about. He said, you are not always going to have the facts or information you need for each aspect of your work. This is when you take the information you do have and put your own spin on it.

  • #5: Non-fiction requires lots of ‘show don’t tell.’ It is quite simple for writers to get wrapped up in a description of how the character felt. However, these are the opportunities when writers must really allow readers to put themselves in the main character’s shoes. ‘Show’ them what happened on that day your dad finally left the house and your mom struggled to make ends meet. ‘Show’ them the look on your grandmother’s face as she laid in the hospital bed clinging to her last breath. You get the idea. I do not want to get too depressing here.

  • #6: As I mentioned previously, evoking emotion is the most important thing you can do. Whether you are aiming to make your readers understand your pain, or your happiness, or the overwhelming feeling you encountered when you took a full course load of college classes, emotion is the driving force for this genre, in my opinion.  

  • #7: I believe writing non-fiction is like layering a sandwich. Now hold on. You probably think I sound crazy but hear me out. The first slice of bread is your opening, your one shot at drawing in the readers. I have asked several writers and most of the responses were the same. “I don’t like reading non-fiction because I don’t enjoy reading about someone else’s experiences.” My first response to that would be, if you are a true writer, you read when you are not writing, and you read anything and everything to learn as much as you can. I think to improve in writing fiction, one should also read non-fiction. The middle of the piece is the most important, layering on the ham and cheese, etc. This is the core of the piece when readers want to know what the MC endured and why, etc. That last slice of bread seals the deal. You want to close out the piece leaving the readers either wanting more or scratching their heads asking questions. I am that type of writer who will draw you in with a great opening and leave you unstable with the last line I write. I want to make sure my readers know what I am feeling. This is my strategy.

Writers tend to think non-fiction is daunting and they do not enjoy it. But I believe if writers took the chance to understand what it takes to write in this genre, if you’re just willing to put in the time and give it a chance, you can learn to enjoy writing it.

There is not much to it. This is my process and I hope this post really sheds some light on how overlooked this genre is. If I can inspire more writers to consider writing in this genre, I will feel extremely accomplished.

As always, feel free to comment on this post, email me: msdakotawrites@gmail.com, or tweet me @msdakotawrites on twitter. I always love to hear how this post has helped you or any other feedback you wish to provide.

Until next time,

Dakota 😊

Poison Disguised As Family: Part IV

Part IV: Carolina

I know my kids blame me for many things and probably think I am the worst mom. But what they do not know is what I dealt with in my own childhood and why I am so emotionally disconnected from the world.

I watched my mother get abused up until the very last beating my mother accepted, when she finally kicked my father out of the house. None of my siblings wanted to maintain contact him, but I was the only one to send him handwritten letters. They thought I was all foolish and maybe I was. I guess that is my issue. I have a big heart and I am too forgiving. I expect everyone to have the same temperament as me. I always wanted things to change. I wanted a normal family and I wanted to find healthy ways to process my emotions.

I hope I did not mess up my kids. I really tried my best. I always searched for a healthy relationship in everyone I have dated. I knew that I wanted something different than what I grew up watching, but history repeated itself.


I met him at a party. It was a set up by mutual friends and they swore he was a good guy. They told me to give him a chance and so I did. What a mistake that was. He promised me the world. But don’t they all? They appear to be pleasant, kind, and want everyone to believe the absolute best of them. Behind closed doors, they are a monster.

When I found out I was pregnant with my son, I thought he would change. It started off with a push or shove here and there. He would never apologize either. He would just carry on with conversation like he did not do anything. I would let it go because I was taught to forgive people even when they hurt you. He would yell and I could not handle it. It would make me flash back to when my dad would come home drunk and hit my mother. My mom went through a crippling depression I did not think she would overcome. We all helped her to put food on the table since my dad left. I started working at a young age to make sure my family was cared for.


When we got together and spoke about marriage, everyone thought I was insane. The smart people saw right through his act, but most did not. He would never hit me for real. He did not want to give people a reason to assume what was happening.

He did not even propose. We kind of just stumbled into marriage. We were together for 2 years and then one day we just both found ourselves in the courthouse. Nothing extravagant. I thought my life would go a completely different route. Now you are probably asking, why would you get married if you were miserable? When kids are involved, you just feel stuck, like there is no way out. I had so many expectations for what I wanted, and I feel disappointed in myself that nothing went as planned.

We did not plan for children. We stumbled into that too. He lived a double life. He would come off as the kindest person in public when we would go out which was rare. He would put his arm around me, or make me laugh, or show his affection. As soon as we stepped foot into the house again, it was downhill fast. He would yell about everything. His food being cold, how the house was dirty, how the kids left their toys everywhere, how the puppy was not potty trained. Even the dog feared him and would run underneath the bed. I do not know what caused his switch to flip. I wanted so badly for him to be good. Therefore, I stayed because I kept thinking he would change, and I stood for so long and now my kids are messed up because of my selfish decision.

I blame myself because I should have left a long time ago. When my mom died, he came with me to the funeral. But even when my mother was dying, he had the audacity to say that it would be much better that she passed away so I would not need to take care of her. He said that as I hovered over her casket. He was selfish, he wanted all my time. I could not even care for my own mother. I should have left then.

My son entered the world healthy and well and that is all I could ask for, even though his father was not even in the delivery room. He never hit the kids, but he found a way to torture us. My son, Cam, was a good kid. He did not do drugs, he got into sports to stay busy and put off time from coming home, he took care of his little sister Brooke, had excellent grades, and had a promising career in basketball. But he always found something wrong to start fights with him.


My family did not know what it meant to have a normal holiday dinner. I wanted my kids to enjoy the holidays, but it was impossible. Each year they just expected chaos or no one to show up which happened often. My sister, Lori, refuses to come visit. She comes to pick up my kids here and there, but she refuses to walk in the house. She told me countless times she does not want to be around my husband or bring my nieces and nephews around him.

“I refuse to subject my kids to that type of toxicity like you choose to do. That man will never see my kids.” She would say.

Those words she expressed to me one day over coffee are embedded in my brain. When our mother died, she did not take it well either. We were both really close to her and when she finally passed, we both lost a piece of ourselves. Our mom did not like him either. She knew the red flags were there, but I did not listen. I wanted to see the good in him, but as time went on that would slim down to nearly nothing.

When he lost his job, the home life went awry. He would drink every day, at the bar, at home, at his buddy’s house. He would blame us for everything. When Brooke was born, I thought maybe having a daughter would bring some light back into his life, give him a reason to change. Silly me.


I wanted my kids to have a shot at a normal life and I know I could not undo everything I let happen in the past. But if I take that step forward, hopefully they would see how I was trying to make a change.

Every year Lori would make an excuse as to why she could not attend our Thanksgiving dinner. She did not plainly say she would not come, but she would make these excuses because she never knew when he was lurking over my shoulder. I appreciated her doing this, but it would not stop his yelling anyway.

This year she said my niece Chelsea had the flu. My kids would always want to go over to Lori’s house, and I could understand why. My sister and I found a way to speak in code about these things.


After I took the last set of verbal abuse from him, I felt a fire form in my belly. Like I had had enough, and I was going to make the change my kids needed me to make. After all, mothers put their children first and I did not want to keep overlooking their cry for help.

This year I would go to Lori’s house. I would drive with my kids and we would finally have the family dinner we so desperately wanted. I packed all 3 of our bags, Chopper’s belongings, and I waited for them to get home. Luckily for us their father was at the bar, so it was the perfect time to leave. Today Cam had picked Brooke up from school and they would be taking the bus home together. They came through the door and saw the bags waiting in the front hall.

“Mom, what’s happening?” Cam asked worriedly.

“No time to explain, I want to make sure we leave before he gets back. Please grab your things and Brooke’s. I will explain in the car.”

I had two bags slung over my shoulder and I held Chopper’s leash in my left hand. I packed as much as I could, the essentials anyway. I did not bother to lock the door. He would not care, or he would be too drunk to realize.

“Buckle up,” I told the kids.

“Mom, please tell me what is going on. Why are we leaving and where are we going?” Cam asked again.

“We are going to stay with your Aunt Lori. We are going to spend Thanksgiving there and until I save enough money for our own place, we will be living there. Your dad will not be joining us.”

There was silence, but through the rearview mirror, I could see my kids looking at each other anxiously, wondering what we were getting ourselves into.

There was silence for most of the drive. I turned on the radio and we just drove along to the sound of The Beatles roaring through the speakers. Cam held Brooke’s hand in his. Chopper was sleeping soundly in the middle seat.

I gripped the steering wheel tightly and drove into the unknown. But this, this was the first step I needed to take moving forward and it felt so damn good.  

Poison Disguised As Family: Part III

Part III: Aunt Lori

My sister always had a horrendous track record with men. Not saying I am perfect, but my sister just knows how to pick them.

When we were younger, she would pick out the worst of the worst. The men who walked around like the whole world needed to bow before them and that women should be submissive. I always found this strange because we both grew up in a household where we were subjected to abuse. Our mother wanted better for us. But it’s crazy how history can repeat itself for several generations unless someone puts a stop to it. I am much stronger than my sister because I do not accept anything less than I deserve. My husband knows not to cross me. I do not play around. I refuse to make the same mistakes my mother did. But it is hard ya know when kids are involved? You feel stuck. Like you must stay. My sister never left the situation she was in and let it fester. The day that man yelled at my kids, like he had the right, was the same day I said I would never subject my children to that level of toxicity.

I told my sister directly that I would not go visit her unless her husband was not home. That man starts fights with everyone. I could walk through the door and he will have something to say. I am not the type to surround myself with negativity. My whole childhood was surrounded by it. The day my father left, there was a shift in the house. My oldest brother became the man of the house. My mother did the best she could considering the circumstances she was in. But I was thankful for the courage she was able to muster up to kick him out of the house. We made it out. Although the physical and emotional trauma we endured will always be there with us, weighing us down, we have no other choice but to keep moving forward. Our pasts would try to hold us back, always lingering in the darkness, waiting to make another appearance. I can say I have made progress. I wish I could say the same about my sister, Carolina.

Like the saying goes, the red flags are always there. How can you tell that someone will mistreat you and turn into the biggest piece of crap when you first meet them? He gave her attention and he made her feel loved, or so my sister says. I remember when they first met. Something was off, but I could not place what it was. It was the way he carried himself like the world owed him something. He was hard to please, but my sister fell for that type. I do not understand the attraction. The day I found out she was pregnant with my nephew; I knew she would never be able to leave now even if she wanted to. Do not get me wrong, I love my niece and nephew, but she really messed up there. She gave him another reason to have control over her.

I allow Cam and Brooke to come over whenever they want. Cam has me on speed dial and he calls me up whenever he needs a break from his life. I’ll drive the 4 hours to go pick them up on weekends. I did not want to live close enough to my sister and that man. I needed to be a good distance away. He was drunk all the time so he would not be able to drive anyway, or at least I would hope not. Carolina, was always tied to that house.

Thanksgiving was approaching. This was the toughest time of year for my family. Our mother has been gone about 5 years and the pain of her not being present still eats away at us. Most of my family members, including our 3 brothers have moved away. They did their best protecting Carolina from herself, but they got tired of that too. They had their own families to care for now and once Mom passed, they could not stay in town. Our city carried too much baggage and they wanted to start over. I stood behind because I knew without me, Carolina would go downhill fast.


I was in my living room, just wrapping up dinner with my family, when Carolina called.

“Hey Lor, how are things?” She asked.

I knew where the convo was headed before she even had to ask. My sister knew the deal. She was always welcome with her family over at my house for the holiday, but she refused to leave that house. She refused to leave him behind.

“I wanted to see what your plans for Thanksgiving were.” She continued.

“Car, I’m sorry to give you the news, but Chelsea has the flu, so we are staying over here. But you can come with the kids, you are always welcome. You know that.”

Silence. A sigh. A long pause.

“I hope she feels better.” My sister said.

I always knew when my sister was about to cry. And she always knew when I was lying. She did not dispute the matter.

“Well, I am making all this food, so if you change your mind, just let me know.”

“I will,” I responded. “I love you and give the kids hugs and kisses for me.”

I hung up.

I knew Cam would not leave his mom or sister behind. He was the best big brother. Even at 15, he took the responsibility of caring for them. I admired him for this. He had to grow up fast. Poor kid, barely had a childhood.

I know for certain, wherever our mother is right now, she is terribly disappointed in my sister for making the same mistake she did and for letting it go on this long.