mental health · Wellness

Quit Apologizing for Your Authenticity

I have this bad habit. Actually, it goes so far back into my childhood that character flaw would probably be a better term for it.

When describing it to friends, I sometimes refer to it as insecurity, or a need to people-please. However, these are not fully accurate.

Mental health: authenticity, self love, vulnerability

It is more that I have this deeply rooted fear of the repercussions of being…myself. I’ve always been quirky and a little different. Try as I might to blend in, I have never been skilled at the ways of normalcy. Instead, at a young age, I adopted sympathy toward those uncomfortable with or confused by my perspectives.

I have never confidently had a differing opinion with someone without feeling the need to apologize for the way I think. Any time I make a new decision for myself that makes a ripple in the stagnant Alabama waters of “acceptable,” I shrink and preface my explanation for my decision with “I know it is totally weird and makes no sense, but…”

In high school, during our political science course, we learned about ideologies. We took numerous quizzes to learn our own ideologies and how they inform our opinions about common political topics. My happy butt landed a few squares away from Gandi. Pretty cool, right?

Wrong. So wrong.

Lunchtime discussions turned sour over the revelation of my left-wing dot on the ideology grid, and I soon learned that I was “a bleeding heart,” “a communist,” “a proponent of baby murder,” and a “tree hugger.” I felt…really sorry. I had made my classmates and friends (gross, 17 year old Lona, these were definitely NOT friends) not just uncomfortable, but angry over my unusual result. There I went skipping my little liberal pebbles across the body of embraced traditional conservative ideals.

This is just one of many examples of times I wish I’d just owned it. Just owned who I am and what I am because over the course of the following two years, I tried to change. I tried to believe in the Republican platform. I tried not to be a problem kid. I really did, but ya know what?

That’s just not who I am, nor the way I think. In the last year I realized that I don’t owe anyone an explanation for my opinions. How empowering.

Mental health: authenticity, self love, vulnerability

Last month I turned 25. I felt old. I dyed my hair for the first time to cover my seventeen gray hairs. I also felt this kind of cool new sensation of not being as sorry about who I am. I had a realization that I’ve got 25 years of life experience that show me exactly who I am, and exactly what are my values, and exactly what is my purpose in life.

Mental health: authenticity, self love, vulnerability

The sweet part? I’m not sorry ’bout it. If it makes you uncomfortable, cool. Me too. Byeeee.

Y’all (not sorry for it–it’s the best contraction) I’ve spent too much time trying not to make waves and apologizing for what I am (or who I am not).

Here is the abridged list of what I’m not sorry for:

-My ideology

-My views on gender roles

-Marrying an immigrant

-Caring more about the environment than convenience, and thinking this is our responsibility as tenants on Earth

-Not consuming animal products

-Not purchasing anything tested on animals

-Condemning dog and cat breeding for profit

-Not subscribing to whatever this overly contoured, pore-less, freckle-less current makeup trend is

-My fascination with true crime (if you agree, listen to My Favorite Murder podcast)

-My belief that plastic straws suck, just like close-minded people

-Finding books more entertaining than movies

-Thinking brains are sexier than cleavage or junk in the trunk

-Living in Alabama, as backwards as this place can be

Phew. That was both exhilarating and mortifying to type.

It feels liberating to accept who I am, but it is not as simple as typing up a list. The challenge is putting my self acceptance to practice because the truth is that in these parts, I am sort of the minority in much of my thinking. It can be quite intimidating to own, but I’m done apologizing for it.

Mental health: authenticity, self love, vulnerability

What’s one way you are unapologetically you?

mental health · relationships · Wellness

The Simple Magic of DOING Something

My nephew, Logan, is ten years old, and in his own words…he’s “AWESOME.”

I have four nieces and two nephews, each uniquely gifted. Veronica is an amazing actor and singer. Bryce is extremely tech-savvy. Aislynn is athletic. Kali is an incredible artist. Dayla is not quite three, so we are still learning what gift she possesses. For now it is the gift of a large, commanding personality and amazing style.

Logan was blessed with the gift of humor. Collectively as a family, we have been blessed with the gift of experiencing Logan’s humor. He is goofy and has the best facial expressions, one-liners, and quick-witted remarks. He can also be quite the charmer.

The other week, Logan was upset because Veronica and Kali were invited to see the new Spiderman movie with friends, and the invitation was not extended to Aislynn and him. He and Aislynn were beside themselves. My sister decided that perhaps a walk to my house would cheer them up and distract them from the tragedy of not getting to go to the movies with the teenagers.

I see Logan bouncing up my driveway and run out to greet him. The first thing he says is not “Hi, Aunt Loni!” Nor is it, “Hello!” Or, “Good evening!” Or any other common greetings.

He says: “Veronica and Kali decided to go to the movies instead of coming to see you. Not me and Aisy though, we CHOSE YOU, Loni. We chose to come see you instead of going to see a movie.”

Sure, I knew the real deal because my sister had called me half an hour prior from her backyard whispering, “ I think they are about to conspire against me over this stupid movie!”

But with his icy blue eyes and toothy grin, I couldn’t help but have my socks knocked off by Logan’s charm.

Recently, my little comedian charmed me in a different, humbling way.

It was a Friday night. My sister, Steph, had surgery for a herniated disc that day, and my mom had her three up at the hospital to visit her. Kali was at a slumber party. I had Logan and Dayla while my sis, Bri, and her hubby were out for dinner.

When my sis and bro-in-law first left for the evening, Dayla was finishing up dinner, and Logan was watching a cartoon. Eventually, Dayla migrated over, and the two were entranced by some obscure show. I figured I’d let them watch a few episodes because Bri is typically pretty strict with TV time, so I thought a Friday night novelty was called for.

Besides, I wasn’t feeling very “there.” As in, life has recently been throwing all sorts of unexpected craziness in my direction, and how could I possibly be actively engaged with my niece and nephew’s company when there was so much unproductive worrying I could be doing instead? So I sat on the couch beside them, and I stewed and daydreamed of worst possible scenarios. I was in the same room as them, on the same couch even, yet I was nowhere near them.

At some point, I mentally checked-in to think that we were nearing the threshold of enough TV viewing for one sitting and decided that after this episode, we’d come up with a new activity. Well, new for them. I’d still stew and worry.

Mid anxious thought, Logan loudly asks, “Hey Loni, do you want to DO something??”

“Sure, Bud,” I reply. “What would you like to DO?”

He opts for coloring a neat hardbound mythical monsters coloring book Steph gave him. He gets all set up at the kitchen table, excitedly coloring the next monster on the page after reading about its magical powers.

I get Dayla going with some colored pencils and her new sticker book. Then I take my seat and resume my worrying. I was in the same room as them, at the same table even, yet I was nowhere near them.

“Hey Loni….” Logan calls out to me while still coloring. “You could come sit beside me and color some of the monsters I haven’t started on yet,” he sweetly offers.

I sit by him. Anxiety floods me as I try and figure out what colors to use on this serpent snake whose mystical powers “aren’t that impressive” according to Logan. I settle on a navy and a gold. I’m coloring and fretting over how small some of the details are, and I pretty much deem the snake a failure when Logan exclaims, “Whoah, Loni! How did you learn to color so lightly like that? It looks awesome!”

Truth be told, his compliment made me feel better.

We move on to a new page. This one has a huge spider with a sugar skull design on its back. Logan decides we need to conquer this bad boy together. We decide to go with bright colors on the eyes, nose, and mouth of the sugar skull, as well as on the legs. We color the body black to make the colors pop.

As we work, we discuss which colors need to go where. We talk about how we wouldn’t want to run into this spider in the nighttime. We are coloring. We are talking. And I am not stewing. I am not worrying. We are sitting beside each other, DOING an activity together. Logan’s excitement grows as we complete the spider.

My sister calls to let me know she is on her way home and in the background Logan yells towards the phone, “We are having SO much fun!” Dayla mimics her brother, “SO much fun!”

When Bri walks in the door, Logan immediately takes her by the arm over to the table to admire the spider. “Didn’t Logan do an awesome job?” I ask.

“No, WE did an awesome job,” he corrects me.

Before I leave, Logan gives me the biggest hug and whispers to me that he had the best night with me. A few weeks later, he is still showing off the spider to his cousins.

Logan is my goofy, comedian nephew, yet that night he taught me a valuable lesson about life.

The time I spent at that table coloring with Logan, I felt alive. I was present. I showed up for that moment. You know what is really crazy?

My life quality did not diminish from abandoning my worries and concerns. If anything, it improved.

My stress levels did not increase because I neglected my worries and concerns. If anything, they fell.

Life is not meant to be spent inside one’s head. Life is meant to be lived. Living shouldn’t be overthought. To begin living, just DO something. Anything. Take action, and do. When you simply DO something and dedicate your entire focus to this action, the magic of living begins.

Being present and in the moment


Culture · Events · mental health · music · relationships · Travel · Wellness

Life Lately, Bonnaroo 2017, and a Summer Vibes Playlist



What a sight for sore eyes this screen is. I have missed my blog. I have missed you, dear friends. All of it.

Yet every time I have sat down to post, I have been overwhelmed with anxiety, which is not a feeling I typically associate with this blog. I planned to take a week off for Bonnaroo, only to hop directly back on the blog train to tell you all about my wild adventures and hear about some of yours from while I was away from my little blog community.

Then last week happened.

Last week was just a continuous stream of weird, unfavorable events for my family. Some of these events are laughable, and some are quite serious. There are some major health problems plaguing a couple of family members, which means I’ve been “ON” more constantly, and really trying to help out with my nieces and nephews, since it is summer break for them.

In light of some of the bad things going on, I have enjoyed being around my family so much over the past week and a half. Last night, I spent an awesome few hours with my youngest niece, who is almost three years old. We ate strawberries, tried on sparkly jewelry, and played hide and seek until sundown!

The caveat to this refreshing time spent with family is that when I finally have a few quiet moments to myself at night…I am exhausted and a little disoriented because my routine has been let go with abandon. I’ve not just been absent from [W]IT GIRL, but from social media in general. I’ll sometimes go nine hours without touching my phone because I’ve been so engaged in everything from handling a damaged AC unit (4 days, no AC, 90 degree weather), to prepping for my nephew’s birthday party, to helping care for my sister’s ill pup. In a way, unplugging has been rejuvenating. But also, it has interfered with a blog routine that has been manageable, successful, and fulfilling.

Cue anxiety—you see, normally I pour myself into each post, and it is planned, edited, and ready to go days prior to when it is to be posted. Bonnaroo obviously got in the way of my usual weekend workflow; however, when I would sit down to catch up, I’d find myself exhausted, concerned about giving you less than my best.

[W]IT GIRL started over two years ago as a way to play with concepts I was picking up from my Technical Writing courses during undergrad. Over time I’d held onto it hoping to one day turn it into something valuable. 2017 has been my year to create quality, authentic content, and the notion that perhaps creating content while exhausted would take away from the progress I’ve made over the past half of a year opened the flood gates for waves of anxiety.

After much internal deliberation, I decided that while I should not let exhaustion rob my blog of quality content, exhaustion does not make my writing any less authentic. If anything, it makes it more authentic.

So here I am. I’m not as caffeinated as I’d prefer, but I am showing up, and sometimes that’s the beginning and end of everything.


Let’s talk Bonnaroo.

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival

As I mentioned in my previous post, I first attended Bonnaroo in 2011 and then again in 2012. Those were two of the most magical experiences of my life, and I truly believe seeing Radio Head live and witnessing Thom York’s sweet moves up close impacted who I am today. These glorious memories had me pretty pumped to return to the farm!

Five years later, Bonnaroo is a different crowd. A little younger than I recall. Yes, I am a good bit older than when I first attended; however, I did not see any of the older hippies who hop festivals as a lifestyle. I have vivid memories of such individuals from my first trips to Bonnaroo. This time around, it definitely gave off a more trendy Coachella vibe, but Benny had nothing to compare it to, and I wasn’t about to let the difference throw a wrench my good time, so we just went with it.

We arrived early Thursday afternoon and set up our campsite. Each morning we’d chill at the campsite for a few hours before trekking into Centeroo for the music and activities.

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival

img_6151Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival

There were only a couple of acts Thursday that I recognized, so we really set out to explore and discover awesome artists. We got mighty close for The Orwells. I was so pumped to get Benny in such a good spot for our first set, only to immediately regret this moments into their first song. I failed to realize that The Orwells have a rather rowdy following who “dance” in an aggressive matter with little attention to their surroundings. We immediately backtracked our way to higher ground, safe from the mosh pit.

My sunglasses were the only casualty. We are thankful for their sacrifice. Could have been a limb or a phalange or a face instead. Jesus took the wheel on that one.

Bonnaroo Music and Arts FestivalBonnaroo Music and Arts FestivalBonnaroo Music and Arts Festivalimg_6169Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festivalimg_6187

Throughout the course of the weekend, Benny and I had a blast being moved by the incredible talent that swept Bonnaroo stages. A few of my favorite acts were Glass Animals, Tove Lo, Tegan and Sara, Chance the Rapper, and Lorde. And that’s the condensed list.

My freckles came out to play. We gained Chaco tan lines. We walked until our feet were numb. We came back sun-kissed, sleepy, and free-spirited. ‘Twas a good time, most definitely.



Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival

I’m not sure when I’ll next return to the farm, but I urge you, [W]IT GIRLS, go see some live music this summer. Make it a priority. And when you do, don’t film it all on your phone. Be there. Be enchanted. Be present.

You can shop my adorable off-the-shoulder swimsuit here. I received so many compliments on it!

Last, but certainly not least…..I’m gifting you a Summer Vibes playlist that is Bonnaroo 2017 inspired, since it is OFFICALLY SUMMER!!

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festivalxx-Lona

mental health · relationships · Wellness

5 Mantras for Confidence

Within me is the strengthto handle theobstacles I face-4.png

Do you want to know what I find to be one of the most beautiful things?

A lady with confidence.

There is something so powerful about a woman who is comfortable in her skin and able to communicate with poise and dignity.

Y’all, it give me chills! That’s one of the whole reasons I started [W]IT GIRL: I wanted to create a platform through which young women could grow into well-rounded, confident ladies who take the world head on.

Some people are innately born with confidence. Others gain it with age and maturity. And still others struggle to find this enigmatic characteristic. I fall into the last category, although I will say age has helped. I strive to make my fellow [W]IT GIRLS feel confident in themselves and the work they do; I find community is huge in boosting one’s confidence.

One of my favorite ways to manifest confidence is mantras.

One million years ago during a yoga class, my teacher introduced me to the concept of a mantra. At the time I found the notion a little strange and voodoo-y. Joke was on me.

A mantra is a word or phrase you repeat to yourself or aloud (often in a meditation practice). Typically mantras are positive and uplifting; the idea is that as you vocalize these pure thoughts and ideas repeatedly, you realize them. Mantras manifest your dreams. Think of it as a pep talk.

I often write mantras repeatedly, or I’ve even made mantra cards and kept them in my purse for easy access. When I need a boost of confidence or feel overwhelmed, I choose a mantra and give myself one minute to repeat it as many times as I can while doing some deep breathing. Mantras can be great mechanisms for coping with stress or frustration, as well.

Today I’m sharing with you 5 mantras to manifest confidence.


5Oh, sweet [W]IT GIRL, you are enough. You have enough. Everything you need is within. Don’t let anyone steal your self-worth.



God places you exactly where you are meant. Any obstacle you face or pain you experience is temporary and preparing you for bigger, for better.



You are the light. You are the positivity. Inhale and expand. Exhale and let go of that which no longer serves you.



Acceptance is crucial to finding inner peace. Fight for the things you can change. Accept the things you cannot.



[W]IT GIRLS, you attract what you radiate.


So go forth, radiate confidence.



mental health · relationships · Wellness

From the Heart: Success is a Choice

Howdy, friends!

I’m currently sitting on my patio, enjoying the refreshing breeze and winding down from a long day….and a rather long weekend, as strange as that is to say.


Today I am going to be a bit vulnerable and share something from the heart with you all. We did a lot of learning this weekend at the Benitez household, and while it might not have been fun in the moment, I’m so thankful that we were able to grow from our experience.

Friday marked two weeks since closing on our new home, and to give ourselves some credit, we’ve made a lot happen in two weeks! We went into the weekend with big plans for getting more done, and while we did accomplish our goals, we learned (or relearned) an important lesson along the way, best put by Alex Noble:

“Success is a process, a quality of mind and way of being, an outgoing affirmation of life.”

Our goals this weekend included purchasing a lawn mower, mowing our yard, pulling weeds from our front planter, and cleaning up our mudroom and patio a bit from much of the mud tracked in, on, and around the house by our furbabes.

Backtrack to Thursday evening, one of our commodes began leaking dirty water. The positive side to this incident was that I hated the commode and intended on replacing it eventually. The downside to this incident is that our weekend was already chock full with the aforementioned plans. There was no wiggle room in our schedules or our budget to deal with this problem over the weekend. We removed the toilet, covered the plumbing opening, and started the weekend with less than stellar attitudes.

Friday was extremely stormy. There are some patches along our backyard that have sparse to no grass coverage, so you can imagine precipitation brings lots of mud to these patches. Piper and Rooney are not known to let a little rain halt their antics, so they embraced the muddy patches and rolled every square inch of their doggo bodies in the mud. They encouraged the sweet foster puppy we were dog-sitting to do the same, and she was easily influenced. Seeing the white vinyl of our house covered in red clay-like mud from the pups hopping up to peer into the windows was a little stressful, as was the sight of our mudroom living up to its name.

Saturday came with some sunshine, which was great for all of the yard work we had planned. We got up early and felt the pinch of a new lawnmower on our bank account, which is still recovering from us becoming homeowners. Tense, yet anxious to be productive, we returned home, where our teamwork quickly fell to the wayside.

I am a planner by nature. I think of things in steps with small boxes to check along the way. Benny is a big picture viewer. He sees the desired result and reverse engineers his way through things.

We get home, and while I planned our course of action, Benny plowed ahead to trying to get our concrete patio spic and span. At first, I resisted his method before somewhat resentfully caving and trying to help him. He became slightly obsessive over getting mud off the patio, while all I could think about was how more rain was in the forecast, and how the mudroom was where we were supposed to start, according to my plan.

We reached a whopping fifteen minutes before I lost my patience and temper and we split directions in tasking. The silly part is that we were both so stuck in trying to reach our goal, which was to improve our home, that logic totally fled our thought processes.

You see, first, “Success is a process.” We were so engrossed in the outcome that we did not think that perhaps addressing the muddy patches in the lawn was the first step to solving the muddy patio. We can’t prevent rain, which creates mud. We could sow some grass into the barren patches to reduce mud though, ultimately eliminating the bulk of our frustration with the patio and mudroom. We failed to trust or appreciate the process.

Second, “Success is…a quality of mind and way of being.” We both approached this weekend with anything but successful mindsets. The leaky toilet threw a wrench (cheap pun) in our plans, and the downpour on Friday didn’t improve our mindsets. We woke up Saturday tense and cranky, and we acted according to our crappy attitudes. We totally let circumstances dictate our behavior. Success was nowhere to be seen.

Third, “Success is….an outgoing affirmation of life.” While I love to get caught up in the notion that life is comprised of all the enjoyable moments, truthfully half of life is not joy. At least not to start. I assert that a solid half of life is unpleasant, annoying, mundane, and/or painful. I believe these fractions can change based on mindset and a person’s self-grown aptitude to react and accept circumstances that are not automatically enjoyable. I think that the sooner we learn to accept and thrive in the parts of life that are not easy, pretty, clean….the sooner we will find success. Life is life—good, bad, ugly, messy, breathtaking, inspiring…all of it. We did not own the messiness of the weekend, and we didn’t stop to give it the consideration that perhaps, it was just one annoying moment in a lifetime of moments.

We left the weekend in better spirits, both acknowledging that we didn’t act in a way conducive to success as homeowners, spouses, or individuals. I don’t think it is a coincidence that this lesson came with our seven-month wedding anniversary (today).


I’m glad we’ve recognized the lesson learned from last weekend, and I hope this little musing resides with you as well. Enjoy each form through which success grows and moves you, friends.


Happy Monday!



empowering · inspirational · lessons learned · mental health · reflection · thoughtful · values · Wellness

The Importance of Self Restoration


Good morning and happy Monday!

I hope everyone had a great weekend! Mine was nothing particularly notable–a lot of couch snoozing and cuddling my furbabies. I attended the Greater Huntsville Humane Society Dog Ball on Friday night, which was a really great experience. As I mentioned on Friday, I am quite passionate about animals, so count me in for any benefit event geared towards giving stray and abandoned animals a second chance!


Last night, I got to see two of my nieces perform in Lion King Jr., and it gave me such joy to see them onstage! Following their show, we had family dinner for the first time since the holidays. It felt so good to spend time with everyone.


Real talk, the past month has been hard for me. It’s been a period of adjustment on many levels, however primarily, on the career front. Coping with sudden changes can be challenging, but I have a go to system for restoring my wellbeing. As I mentioned in my introversion post, introverts require time to go inward to recharge and rebalance after extended outward interaction.

My weekend was very much a recharge from the past month of environmental changes, I’d say. I thought I’d share some actions I take to keep my balance during periods of adjustment. While these feel essential to my wellness, I do know just from being married to an extrovert that such restoration is beneficial to even the most outgoing personalities, as well.

Here are the steps I take to restore my energy reserves:

  1. I scrap my lists. I live life by list. Lists are my tool for organizing my workload and managing my time. For me, lists go hand in hand with productivity. However, this also means that any unmarked items remaining on my list at the end of a day, week, or grocery run eat at me. When I am recharging my batteries, I have to scrap my lists. At first it never fails, I fight myself because I feel lazy. I give myself permission to be still. It feels unproductive, but it is actually the most productive thing in the world, long term.
  2. I balance my thoughts. Much like balancing a check book, my mind needs balancing.  It is important for me to let all the thoughts that cycle through my mind during the week to settle. I try not to judge them or analyze them. Much like sediment in a pool of water, some of the thoughts will sink to the bottom. Some will float on the surface. I wait until my thoughts settle, and then I deal with the ones floating on the surface.
  3. I spend time doing what matters most to me. During the week, and especially during a time of adjustment, I power through in order to get done what I feel has to be done. A lot of the time, this means sacrificing doing the things I enjoy. This past weekend I gave myself permission to enjoy everything from sleeping in late to watching my favorite show to the best thing ever….spending time with my whole family! It is important not to deprive yourself of the things that really matter to you in order to be productive. What is all the hard work worth in that case?


There you have it. Those are the three things I did over the weekend to invite some self restoration into my chaotic being. I feel really refreshed today and ready to accomplish whatever this crazy week send my way!

What are steps you take towards recharging your batteries?