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Just Breathe

When I was younger and would go through typical teenage drama or issues, it was very hard for me to see past it. I would carry the stress of it like a backpack and constantly worry whether the circumstances would ever change or if I’d have to live my life standing in it like quicksand until it completely devoured me. I can recall one day after school (I believe I was in the 10th grade) I was sitting on the kitchen counter, with my arms wrapped around my knees and my chin resting atop them…gazing out of the window.  My mom burst through the door that attached the kitchen to the garage and filled her lungs with a deep breath that she immediately released. To put it nicely, she looked quite disheveled. She was working two jobs at the time and grinding tirelessly to maintain a mortgage, three kids and saving the world. That’s how I viewed it…she was a super hero. She took one look at me, motioned for me to get my feet off of her counter, dropped her workbag and walked over to me. We locked eyes as she approached.

My mom’s eyes were always her grace and weapon. There is the kindest sparkle in them with a hint of innocence and strength that can wrap around you and make you feel untouchable. But hunny, I warn you, do not get that woman mad! Lol! One look, which my sister and I knew very well, was an immediate death sentence! That look could call armies to attention! But as she walked up and tears lined the base of my eyes, she cupped her hands around my chin. Never asking what the problem was, she asked intently, “Are you still breathing?” My mother’s theory was simple. As long as you are alive, you can beat Goliath, conquer the world or spread your arms and fly across the sea. In other words, accomplish the impossible. Sometimes we let heartbreak, being different, suffering abuse etc., cloud our thoughts so much that we can’t find our way out and would rather give up. You can’t! The only way to win is to keep fighting. The only way to keep fighting is to Just Breathe. Never allow a situation to make you question if you have a purpose on this earth. That is your purpose! Figure out what you were created for and chase it relentlessly! My mom gave me key advice that I have carried with me to this day and while it is okay to cry and sit in the darkness for a while, in order to heal, eventually you will have to stand back up, take a deep breath and start feeling around for the light switch.

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78 Responses
  1. Anna W.

    What would we do without the love of a parent or mentor? In times of terrible struggle my dad, in his Italian accent, would tell me “Anna, you’ll be Fine”. Prior to the word fine he would take a deep breath and stretch out the word. In his eyes he believed it for me until I could believe it too. He has passed now, my best friend/my dad but I will always be comforted by his words and breathe. Stay strong, Darnell..and thanks for your thoughts💕Anna W.

    1. Tiffany

      I know exactly how you feel! I have struggled with anxiety and carrying the same backpack for years!! I’ve dealt with the loss of my mom at age 61 she was my best friend, its been 7 yrs and I’m still feeling stuck to her last breath. Darnell you are a ray of hope and strength!! I’m hoping something will change, I just need a BIG boost, to move on!!
      Im going to keep reminding myself im still breathing!!

      1. Your Mom is a wise woman. Your are beautiful inside and out Darnell. I have been watching you conquer things for quite some time now. Each time, you always bounce back. My rule of thumb for me, Jordan and Taylor is that You have 3 days to ride the pity wagon. After that, you have to man up get gangsta lol and deal with the issue at hand. You are going to be fine. Having Cree adds to your super power as a Mom because you draw strength from knowing you have a child and it makes your grind one of precision. I love seeing you–DO YOU! You are classy no matter how your dressed. You kill it with the “Tomboy” look. Keep moving forward. Keep up the good work. God is good. “He will never leave you or forsake you. ” 🙏🏽🙏🏽

        1. Kimmy!! You have been filling me with wise words since I was in high school and they’re as appreciated now as they were back then. Thank you for always being an amazing support! Love you! Xoxo

      2. Hi Tiffany! I know what you mean…I struggle with anxiety from time to time as well. I tell this to a lot of girls but what I’ve found to be most helpful is my War Room. You should look it up and make one! Xoxo

    2. I lived this very moment that you elegantly wrote about as a girl growing up in Brooklyn feeling worthless! However my mom , my Hero, she’s gone to be with the Lord now! And as I begin to get older I realize as a Primadonna I have to fight for the woman I want and need to become! Thank you! Thank you for sharing and look forward to connecting in 2017! Stay awesomely Fabulous…

    3. Brianna Nicole

      Darnell, your mother was also my own. She exuded a strength that could conquer anything thrown her way. Today I’m just as thankful as you are. My mom would say something similar “But Did you Die?” Lol. So I know when your mother asked if you were still breathing, just like mine, she was building that strength within you. Isn’t it amazing?

  2. Anna, I’ll tell you what one does without a parent or mentor because I grew up without that type of support: you over achieve. You place unrealistic goals on your shoulders with hopes that if you accomplish them you will obtain the love and support you dream of. But if you don’t achieve them, you will wallow in self-pity so great you wonder why you should even live. I’ve suffered from depression since childhood due to parents who were unable to nurture us because of ptsd. You all are fortunate to have parental figures who put you first. I had to learn everything I know from reading books.

    1. I’m sorry to hear that Carmen but it takes a very strong, level-headed individual to recognize where their issues originated. Most of us live out our lives in denial as opposed to picking up a book in order to better ourselves. I commend you! XOXO

  3. Ashley P

    Amazing piece Darnell. Very inspirational piece. I grew up with a single mom and my sister so we always fed off of each others strength. My mom was always the one who told us stay possible, keep faith🙏🏽❤ and things will work out.

    Cant wait to see more posts from you💕

    God bless you and your beautiful baby girl

  4. Myriam Charles, MSW

    You are strong. You are resilient. You are fearless. You are…Woman. We often don’t know our strength until we are battered (mentally, emotionally, at times physically) and are forced to go into attack/survival mode. What scares us mothers the most…is the effect it will cause on our babies. They little eyes that are watching our every move and every decision. But when the fire within us is lit, we become the Queen of the jungle, the protector, the “Mama Bear”. You are going through a journey that most women are going through, have gone through, or will go through. It’s great to see that you are embracing what comes….trust in the process….you will be so grateful later.

  5. Cynthia Nobela

    I have been following Darnell Nicole everywhere because to me she is such a brave lady.I was a teenager last year my self but Darnell really gives me strength ❤️❤️❤️

  6. Demi

    First, I will start by saying I am extremely excited about the launching of your site. I am indeed a fan!

    Your message was on time. I am currently dealing with a situation that is getting the best of me. I pray continuously that it does not alter my demeanor or allow me to lose site of who I truly am and the purpose that I serve. At times it is so easy to give up, especially when your back is against the wall and challenges are being launched at you like a dart game. From now on though, I will remember to JUST BREATHE.

    I am over letting negative energy consume me. I miss being the resilient, happy person that I used to be. In the past, no one could do no wrong. I do not plan to go back to that blind young woman, but I am ready to see the beauty of life through the good and the bad. I am determined to get my old self back. That ball of fire… That ray of sunshine…. That person of extreme passion…

    I cannot wait for you to post more. Hopefully you brush up on daily issues that us women face. It will help many of us that feel alone realize that we are INDEED not alone. Love you D.


  7. Kenya

    Your strength is commendable. You got up dusted yourself off and now you’re here. I pray nothing but happiness for you and your beautiful daughter. I’m sure you’ll have a lasting impression on her life as your mom had on yours. Just breath, I love it!

  8. Kendy

    The power of a mother! I promise there’s nothing like it. I’m not a mother but I love the thought of being one and having the same connection you all have or even the one I have with mine! Just Breathe ❤ words to live by. Thank you for sharing with us!

  9. Beverly

    The message is heartfelt. But when you’re trying to connect with people use less sophisticated words. You truly are the only WAG that I respect. You will do great things. Because there is something special about you. And the world see’s it. Keep kicking ass.

    1. Hi Beverly! I respect your opinion but one thing I vowed to never do upon entering this industry is change the core of who I am. I’m a writer first and foremost…my writings will always include a combo of slang and intellectually stimulating verbiage. It’s just who I am! 🙂 Thanks for the support!! XOXO

  10. Kween Kai

    This statement at the end could’ve have come at a better time. “while it is okay to cry and sit in the darkness for a while, in order to heal, eventually you will have to stand back up, take a deep breathe and start feeling around for the light switch.” My friends and family get so upset because I prefer to do just that while I’m dealing with a breakup, a job that is a pure hell hole for me, and just all the other word life has to throw at me. Watching WAGS Miami was so easy to connect to you and your story. My mom says the same thing “Just Breath” it’s gone be ok… sometime it’s hard to see the light when darkness seems to be much better and easier place to live. I thank you for your for this blog entry and because of my family, friends, this, and you I know I will continue to fight, move forward and not look back. I wish you not but greatness Darnell

    With Love,
    Kween Kai

  11. Amanda Blackwell

    Darnell I respect you so much and I’m so Happy for you. This is your destiny, this blog is a foot print to the beginning of Wonderful things for you❤ Thanks for sharing, your biggest supporter always…. #BlackGirlMagic✨✨✨✨

  12. Louise Sharpy

    Powerful words. I had to fight back tears. Both happy, and sad I watched your show, I wanted to punch him. Lol -but you had so much strength and grace, thru it. I loved it. Having lupus, being a single mom. Your strength really got me feeling good !! I feel for my daughter just as your mom did for you, and you for yours. Keep fighting. Just breath says it all 💕I also have to say, I think you are so pretty. Really. Thanks for writing this, it helps so many

  13. Sabrena

    Love it!!! I too at times have to remember to Just Breathe!! I have been going thru a breakup after 9 years and still haven’t fully detached. But I’m realizing there is more to life then that one relationship. I’m looking forward to the future. And I’m so happy you’re following thru with you website and clothing line. I can’t wait to purchase a long enough maxi dress!!

  14. La Shawnda Cornett

    Dee keep your head up and keep breathing, you are an inspiration to many. I love you drive and your strength. Your mother is a wise women and raised a smart, beautiful, intelligent, strong women in you. God Bless you in your next journey. Love you Mama Shawnda ❤️💋

  15. Janae

    God always know what you need and when you need it! Reading that is certainly what I needed. I’ve bee going through similar things as you have and I’ve been bearing myself up and carrying a weight! But I watched the entire season of WAGS Miami on demand (my mommy duties caused me to miss a few episodes) and admired your resilience and strength. I know that things won’t get better over night but I thank you for showing that there is ALWAYS a light at the end of the tunnel. And before you can truly love anyone else you have to love yourself. God is my strength and my daughter is the most important person to me! She’s my motivation and she’s who has really saved me, but Thank you also for sharing such inspiration. I am fearfully and wonderfully made and all I have to do is “Just Breathe”!
    Thanks Darnell I needed that and I wish you and your baby girl the best.

  16. Lindiwe

    #DearDarnell…I admire your strength & courage. Thank you for being such an inspiration to so many women. I’m glad that you’re blog and apparrel is coming along great. I can’t wait to see your next post & see what’s next. God bless you & your family.❤

  17. Christi

    Great words of wisdom from your mama, and it appears you take her advice. You got this and the world is yours. Now that you know your breathing, make those moments that take your breath away. The irony right?? But true!

  18. Shawn

    As I sat in my funk and read this. it helped me tremendously! Thank you for sharing. I truly believe that God speaks to us in different ways. Thanks!

  19. C. Franklin

    This was very encouraging. Thank you for allowing us to see God in you. God bless you honey in all that you are and all that you do.


  20. Kiki

    Omg I needed this so much. I’m so inspired by you. You’re not just strong but you are graceful in your strength. Amazing woman. I can’t wait to meet you (Speaking it into existence lol).

  21. Xy

    I needed this right now. I watched your journey and I admire your strength. You have encouraged me to continue to push forward and to not look back. You are truly beautiful
    inside and out. Thank you for sharing a piece of you with us.

  22. LaDale Lamb

    We are proud of you Dee, keep up the good work. My bayou folks would say “ya dead? Nah wipe those tears and get it together.” Thanks for sharing, I am looking forward to watching more of your success unfold we are survivors and oh so proud of you!!!

  23. Nia I

    Amazing, authentic,and inspiring. Your mental fortitude was evident on the show and further validated in this opening blog. I admire what you embody as a woman!I just want to commend you for taking this step to share your life with us and chase your dreams.I pray that as God placed those dreams and desires in your heart he sees you through every step of the way!

    Continue to breathe girl and approach 2017 with a kingdom perspective.

  24. Eboni

    Darnell you are definitely an inspiration. So different than the average female in your position. I love and admire that. I have had my troubles and still going through them but reading this post really makes me understand that someone else out there has gone thru what I went thru and made it. I will continue to read your blogs and support you because I feel that you are real and genuine. Keep being you! Nothing but blessings coming your way.

  25. Shanice

    This is what I needed at this very moment. I tend to care too much about everything and let my anger and emotions take control sometimes I really do need to just breathe and let go of things. Thanks ❤️

  26. Freya

    My mom was always working and trying to keep the lights onare dinner and take care of the 3 of us never letting her eyes give away how tired she was and how emotionally and physically drained she was. Its because of her that with my son i was able to do the same. Even when times were really hard I always made sure he had everything he needed and kept a smile on my face.

  27. Jessy

    Hi, I’m looking for every thing you raise in your redemption, you’re a woman to admire because she’s proven to be strong and fighter, and you do not let yourself be defeated by any difficulty. I appreciate you for your beauty and the way I am. Hair so divine that you have Greetings from Colombia where you have many admirers.

  28. Midalia

    Dear Darnell,

    I’m just so happy for you. When you were going through the break-up, my relationship was coming to an end and to see you cry and be human for every woman watching to see and to relate to was so empowering for me. I remember crying with you, and then thinking how right you had it. I didn’t want to keep living the way I was living either. Thank you for keeping it real for us! March forth and continue to adjust those sails according to God’s will. Blessings to you and your baby girl.

  29. Ora wint

    Darnell you’re such an inspiration . Sometimes God put us in certain situation because he wants to use us. You’re touching so many people lives . You’re pure, have a heart of Gold and I fell In love with your personality from watching the show . Your mom is a wise lady. Keep her advice on the tablet of your heart . I believe that God has so much in store for you. the enemy don’t attack people of the world/ that doesn’t know God . Obviously God has such great plans for this life of yours so Satan is/ was trying to place your foot on sinking sand. But still you rise ! I cried every episode you cried , because I was in a similar situation only that I have no kids . I felt your pain. You’ll be great and sometimes it is necessary to go through certain situations in order to be all God called you to be . There’s no testimony with out a test. Blessings and guidance through everything you do in this life. Rooting for you!

  30. Monica

    Darnell, it’s funny , I’m 21 years old soon to be 22 on the 19th and my mother is a single mother and told me the same thing “are you still breathing” . I went through ONE breakup and I am so young, still in college. I allowed it to take over my mind to the point where I lost myself. I didn’t know who to talk to , so I spoke to the wrong girls and also began being judged in school due to whatever my ex was saying or picturing me as. I was known as the crazy obsessed girl and so I isolated myself because of that. No one saw my side. I can literally write a book on what I have gone through and what I am still now going through. I’m working on self love and basically deactivated all of my social media through the process. I go to school that is not so diverse, so everyone ends up knowing your business. I wish I went to a hbcu but it’s too late, maybe for medical school it can work out. My point of this comment is that I lost a lot of my humbleness as well as myself overall. I let one breakup allow me to feel like it’s the end of the world and yes I’m still healing years later because I never motivated myself to get better and I also continued trying to speak to him only because I felt like nobody without him. I’m finally focusing on me and realizing that I’m still so young and I have my whole life ahead of me. I wasn’t married , didn’t have children, etc. It could have been worse but it’s not because I’m alive and breathing. And Lord knows there is way worse I can go through in life. I don’t watch reality tv much but when I watched the wags show , you were my favorite. I wish to be as strong as you and you are so pretty! I wish I can go on and on but thank you.

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