Struggling to Fit in While Multi-racial

Growing up as more than race can be hard. You are constantly made to feel like an outsider. Stuck sitting in your shade of awkward gray. You get teased, or berated for being whatever mix you are. In public, people ask you the golden question,

“What are you?”

Which doesn’t lessen the feeling of being strange.

I struggled growing up Black and Mexican. I often felt like I was never enough to fit in with either group. I got teased and left out since they considered me unlike them. I was made fun of. I even got bullied just because I looked different.

I felt alone.

Girl with head down on elbows looking saddened
Photo by Pixabay on

In an effort to prove I fit in with either group, I sometimes made a fool of myself. Tried to mold myself in an attempt to fit into the box of ‘what was expected’.

As I got older, I eventually gravitated towards friends that accepted me for myself. Surrounded myself with people that didn’t make me feel like I was some kind of freak for not fitting into a single box. I also grew into creating my own identity. I came to see myself as not a collection of halves but a doubled whole.

Even though I reached this new found discovery, it doesn’t mean I haven’t had my moments of doubt and uncertainty. It’s a constant battle to assure yourself that you are amazing just as you are.

black women own the conversation logo

I got the opportunity to be a part of the “Love” episode of Black Women Own the Conversation. and I was a bit apprehensive at first. Even though I shouldn’t have, I had an overwhelming sense of imposter syndrome.

I mean, growing up, I was seen as not being black enough so often it made me feel like I wasn’t. So when this opportunity came, I felt a little like who was I to be in a room with these women?

But I reminded myself that I should never doubt my place in that room. I have every right to claim both sides without feeling like my right is diminished or less than others.

So when the day came, I went to the appointed place and waited with the other women to enter the filming area. Everyone seemed nice enough and I felt a sense of sisterhood being there. We were eventually called to and seated in the studio. The cameras began rolling as topics centered on love directed the flow of the conversation.

However, the tone suddenly changed when it came to the topic of interracial dating. These women’s thoughts centered on feeling like the mixing of races is ‘taking away blackness’ and a form of hating your own race.

There was a brief reprieve when it came to Winnie Harlow stating that no matter the race, good or bad depends on the person but the air was tense. The popular sayings of ‘black love should stay black love,’ and ‘if they can’t use your comb don’t take them home,’ reared their heads along with others.

I felt hurt.

I felt isolated.

In this room that I just felt a sense of sisterhood, I once again felt like my younger self, like I wasn’t seen as enough.

Despite that, this time I wanted to stand up in honor of my younger self that didn’t have the strength and confidence to do it. I also wanted to stand up for any other mixed person who may run across this conversation and feel like I was feeling.

I gathered my courage, stood up, and pushed through my hurt to let these women and anyone who thought like them to see how their viewpoints hurt and discounts those like me.

I asserted that despite not fitting into the box of what is expected for a Black or Mexican woman, I AM ENOUGH! (You can watch the full “Love” episode of Black Women Own the Conversation here. My part is around 19 minutes.)

Taking that stand was one of the hardest things for me to do and I cried heavily at the release of my pent up pain and hurt from not only their words but what I still held onto from the past.

After the filming was over, some of the women congratulated me for speaking my truth. I felt raw for exposing my truth like that but glad I did. One woman told me she never considered Black mixing with another minority!

When I got home, I told my parents about my experience. My mom told me teary eyed that she never wanted things to be hard for me, she just loved my dad. My father said he was proud that I spoke up.

My best friend said she was proud of me too. I told them all I was embarrassed I cried! However, they all reassured me that I shouldn’t be embarrassed because I was expressing my heartfelt emotions.

A full year later I found out that I was considered part of an Emmy win for the series! Which goes to show you that you should always speak your truth, no matter how hard it may be.

IG post of Emmy win for Black Women Own The Conversation

To my fellow biracial/mixed people, You are ENOUGH, no matter what others may say. You have a right to claim whatever you are mixed with without having to discount it. You have nothing to prove to anyone and no one has a right to make you feel like you are anything less. Even though you may not fit into the box or look that is expected, your personal Venn diagram is wonderful and beautiful.

©JustTalkingShep 2020

How to Stop Being An Impulse Buyer

I have to make a confession which I feel is one of the first steps toward recovery.

I am an impulse buyer.

I buy things on a whim. I buy things based on emotions. I buy things just to buy them.

It becomes especially troublesome with Amazon prime. It’s like Christmas every two days. At one point I would order things and forget what it was I ordered so it truly was a surprise when I received the box! I’ve had to adopt strategies to cull this habit of mine.

  • Put Items into Lists
  • Cart Jail
  • Reward for Goals Met
  • Do the Math
  • Set Budgets
  • Save it For Birthday and Christmas Presents
  • Look for Alternatives to Buying


Put the items I want in labeled lists so I have the satisfaction of having them where I can see them BUT I am not buying it. I have several lists in different categories, books, clothing, jewelry, etc.


I place things in my cart BUT I do not buy it. If I still want it a week from now then I must truly want it. Most times I just end up adding the item to one of my lists or to my ‘save for later’.


Rather than buying things just to buy them, I buy for a purpose. The item is a reward for something. I made it through my workout week, I didn’t continue a bad habit. The purchase is a prize.


Consider how much I had to work to pay for whatever it is I want. For example, a $200 purchase? That’s about two days worth of work. It makes me consider if it is really worth it. It also makes me think about what work has to be done to make up for that purchase.


I use the Mint app to create budgets so I get a big red notification when I go offer a set budget. It’s like a glaring reminder that I am not doing what I need to be doing. It also serves as a visual to see just how much I am spending versus what I am making.


Rather than focus on making the purchase, I save the things I want as suggestions of what to get me for my birthday or Christmas. So it no longer becomes an impulse buy but a true gift from someone else!


Rather than buy new clothes at a high value, see if you can find similar or better at clothing consignment or thrift stores. Check out places like Facebook Marketplace, Craig’s List, OfferUp App, or Posh Mark to see if someone is selling an item you want cheaper than it would be to buy new.

Consider crafting or making something yourself. You never know, you might discover a new talent or business calling!

All in all, being an impulse buyer can put a big strain on your finances. If your impulse is based on emotions, consider a different way to heal from or work through an emotion.

Impulse buying can give you great satisfaction but the consequences often offset that pleasure. Give these tips a try if you are looking to do better!

©JustTalkingShep 2019

Wealthy Rush to Aid Notre Dame, Why Not Others?

It is sad to see that a historical landmark like Notre Dame has been damaged and ravaged by fire. The cathedral has stood for hundreds of years, inspired countless artists, and stories like The Hunchback of Notre Dame. While the bell towers were saved, the roof and spire toppled and crumbled down.

Many entities are rushing to rebuild the burnt Cathedral and funds for that construction have come from a multitude of France’s and some of the world’s richest. Within two days nearly one billion has been raised for the cathedral.

This begs the question and draws attention to the fact that the wealthy can indeed become a force for good if they so chose, so why don’t they?

There is so much strife and need for aid throughout the world we live in today. It seems more value is placed into the restoration of a building rather than bettering and improving the lives of people in need.

This is quite ironic, considering that it was a cathedral that burned down. A building dedicated to religion and the ideals that come with it.

One of the main of which is to love one another and help others. So in that regard, wouldn’t these same wealthy people who have been watching idly by as the world suffers have given these funds to help?

The way society is set up today is quite troubling. The mentality that a building holds more significance than people and countries in need is troubling.

Moreover, if the fire is covered by insurance than the donations may not be needed. If that is the case, rather than allow them to return to the pockets of the wealthy, why not use those funds to help those in need?

The world could use more of a joint and unified effort to make it a better place. We are more connected than ever before and have the resources to communicate regardless of any language barrier.

Rather than remain so engrossed in our own worlds and interests, we should also consider what others are going through. We never know when we will be the one who needs the sympathetic ear or aid in our struggles.

Notre Dame Cathedral

©JustTalkingShep 2019

Are Braces or Invisalign Better?

Through the twisted hands of fate, I ended up having to use both braces and Invisalign in my lifetime. I had braces as a kid and the aligners as an adult.

Why both you ask?

Because I got the braces before my wisdom teeth grew in. So yes my teeth got straightened, but it all came undone when my wisdom teeth pushed to make room for themselves.

My Experience With:


Shep as a kid with braces

Getting my braces was one of the most painful experiences I have had to date. It basically feels like your mouth got hit by a truck.

You will definitely have difficulty eating initially. Opening and closing your mouth will be taxing. I couldn’t even manage to eat a single fry without whimpering in pain.

Eventually, this feeling abates and you get used to the heaviness of metal on your teeth.

The wires would cut into my gums though, which prompted the recommendation of placing wax on the wires and brackets to prevent it. The wax wouldn’t stay on them and ended up dislodging into my mouth. Gross.

What is even worse is that every few months or so I would have to go back into my dental office to get the braces tightened. Once again I ended up in pain with soreness in my mouth.

Furthermore, you are limited in what you can eat, chewy candy, hard candy, gum, popcorn, and regular corn, forget about it. You’re going to have a bad time if you try.

Nearer to the time when my braces were supposed to come off I had to put on rubber bands. They were secured on the brackets on my teeth and crisscrossed over my front teeth.

This added additional heaviness and pain until I eventually got used to it. Once my braces finally came off it was like my teeth were strangers to me.

You get so used to what they look like with those square brackets on that you forget what they looked like without them!

I had to put on retainers afterward to maintain my results. BUT my wisdom teeth grew in which rendered the retainers null and void.


Shep seen wearing Invisalign

Eventually, my teeth shifted and the correction that the braces accomplished became misaligned. I had a consultation and was told that the misalignment was causing me to favor one side of my mouth which was wearing those teeth down.

So I then decided to give Invisalign a try. These ‘invisible retainers’ were supposed to be unnoticeable and less invasive.

After making the impressions and awaiting the rendered treatment plan of aligners, I began the journey to correction. Unfortunately, I had to have small brackets placed on my teeth so the aligners would be secure and flush with my teeth and it would help with the movement.

Hence my quotation on ‘invisible,’ the small chip like brackets were definitely not invisible.

I was required to be quite disciplined since the only time I was supposed to take off my aligners was while I ate. I had a routine. Take off aligner, eat, brush and floss teeth, then put them on again.

It made me really stop and think about whether eating a chip or two was worth it to go through the fanfare to eat it. There was some soreness as I changed aligners every two weeks or so but it was nothing compared to my soreness from braces.

I finished my treatment and now I have retainers that I have to put on every night.

How Are They Alike? 

Both involve some level of pain, although the level varies between the two. There is also a certain level of restriction when it comes to eating for both as well.

On the plus side, both will probably have you lose some amount of weight when you initially get them because you have to get used to them. Time becomes a factor in treatment for both. Retainers are also a given if you have either corrective treatment.

How Do They Differ? 

In my opinion, braces were more painful than Invisalign. You are more restricted in food choices with braces as well. Invisalign requires a greater level of discipline since it is up to you to keep the tray on for the suggested number of hours.

While not completely invisible, Invisalign is still less noticeable than braces. Be sure you DO NOT drink any colored beverages/properly brush your teeth or the tray will become discolored.

Braces make brushing more difficult, it is harder to floss through the wires. There is a greater likelihood of braces leaving a mark, I still have a scar from the wires on the sides of my inner cheeks.

I also had to have my braces on longer than I did my Invisalign. However, I already had some corrective work before the Invisalign so that may have been a factor as well.

Bottom Line:

If you can be disciplined and responsible enough to wear your trays like you are supposed to and maintain your treatment schedule, then Invisalign may be for you. It offers less noticeable corrective treatment since they are essentially clear.

However, braces offer greater impact in corrective shifting of your teeth. They require less responsibility since they are always on.

Braces also offer the opportunity to individualize with your choice in medium, traditional or ceramic along with bracket colors. I had traditional braces but now they have something called lingual braces which are like braces on the inner portion of your mouth!

Not sure how that works or feels but that may be an option as well. I enjoyed Invisalign better since it was less painful but I feel like the braces corrected my teeth better. 

Shep with smiling with her corrected teeth

©JustTalkingShep 2019

A Childish Gambino Film: Guava Island Review

“Guava Island” is a unique narrative by Childish Gambino that seems like a mix between legend, fairytale, movie and musical. It centers around a couple and their struggle to survive and thrive. The film starts with an origin story in which seven Gods created what they termed as the ‘dueling truths’ love and war.

They then chose to shelter humans from these forces on an island in the center of the world called Guava. The island was a paradise until man’s greed and distrust spread across it.

It is from there that the story picks up with Rihanna’s character of Kofi going into the details of her relationship with Gambino’s character Deni. They knew each other as children and flourished into adulthood as a couple.

Kofi explains how she always wanted to leave the island but Deni wanted to stay and write a song that would unite the people and remind them of the magic Guava possessed. To reach his goals Deni works as a musician, continually coming up with tunes and songs and becoming well known on the island for his talents.

beach shoreline with the tide
Photo by Fabian Wiktor on

There is, of course, the Gambino brand of eccentricity that both intrigues and makes you slightly uncomfortable all the while. He is able to incorporate his songs into the narrative in a unique and original way that doesn’t seem to detract from the action. I greatly appreciated this, since most musicals tend to have characters break into song on contrived and unrealistic terms.

At one point Gambino’s character of Deni reprimands one of his coworkers who has high hopes of going to America. He corrects his thinking that America offers freedom by bringing to his attention that any freedom won by making someone else richer isn’t really freedom. Deni instead states that anywhere this dynamic is taking place can be considered America. Hence his reasoning for breaking into the song “This is America”.

There is a moment where Deni meets the antagonist of the story named Red but before he comes face to face with Red, Deni is forced to wear a name tag. This we come to realize is a form of labeling since we come to find that Red already knew Deni’s name. This highlights the concept that labels help give others power over you.

In the meeting with Red, Deni is threatened not to hold a festival he is planning for the people of the island. Red argues that such an event would detract from the work he wants the people to do. Deni holds the festival despite the warning which results in his death.

But despite Red’s efforts to kill Deni to maintain control, the next morning he finds the opposite. The whole island has joined in defiance against Red with Deni’s funeral procession. So regardless of the festival being cut short, the work still didn’t get done.

black and white image of a guitar propped against a door
Photo by Jessica Lewis on

There are several ideas in the film that give it meaning. One of the major ones seems to be the concept that one person can cause change. Music is more of a moving force than we tend to give it credit for.

America is often romanticized as a place where dreams can come true but it is just as corrupted as other places. Throughout the tale, Kofi tells Deni that ‘practice is perfection.’

However, Deni ends up losing his instrument which he has practiced so much with but still manages to create the ‘perfect’ song for her.

Thus perfection isn’t always what you think it may be or look like. Labels are a way for others to gain or maintain power over another. And finally, a united people are more powerful than the oppressive forces that may be at work.

All together “Guava Island” was a visually entertaining film. I applaud Childish Gambino for the unique delivery of his artistry. I would highly recommend giving it a watch/listen.


©JustTalkingShep 2019

What Are the Basics in Harmoniously Living With Someone?

There are some universal things that I feel both parties in a relationship must bring to the table for a cohabitation to truly flourish and last.

These basics center on the ability to care for yourself. It is crucial you know how to do so before trying to shirk the responsibility onto your partner. It isn’t fair and sets the dynamic between each person at an imbalance.

Granted if you have the funds to outsource these responsibilities to someone else (outside of the relationship) that is great. Otherwise, continue reading below. 


  • You should know how to wash, dry, and iron your own clothes. That applies whether you are male or female. Don’t expect all of it to fall on one person.
  • The responsibility could even be alternated between the two people. DON’T be the partner who is helpless to do your own clothes. No one likes feeling like a maid.


  • Chores like doing the dishes, sweeping and mopping floors, cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming, dusting, etc. Should fall to both partners equally.
  • Contrary to popular belief, there isn’t the handicap that you are ‘horrible’ at a certain chore. Don’t worry, practice will make you better at it.
  • Women, don’t be fooled by some men who purposefully do a bad job so you get frustrated and do it yourself. It is a game that they play sometimes. Keep your patience and they’ll get the hang of it.


  • That doesn’t mean know how to order out or ‘make cereal.’ That means know how to at least make one meal per time of day. A breakfast dish, lunch dish, and dinner dish.
  • You don’t have to be a professional chef but at least know how to cook rice, eggs, and to cut veggies. Not everyone eats meat but if you do, know how to clean/cook at least one type. There are so many resources online, especially with YouTube. There is no excuse to be helpless and inept.

Self Awareness

  • This encompasses the ability to communicate and process your emotions and feelings. Recognize your love language, the method by which you prefer someone expresses their love for you.
  • Having the self-awareness to know when you may need help from a therapist and not being ashamed to admit that. Knowing how to calm yourself when you are angry. Understanding what can better your mood when you are annoyed or downtrodden.
  • It isn’t fair to expect someone else to do these things when you can’t even do it for yourself.

These basics are critical in living harmoniously with someone. It is a mood killer when you feel like you have to be a parent/maid to your partner. No one wants to feel like they are caring for a child before they even have one.

Furthermore, it isn’t right to expect your partner to understand how to navigate your emotions, moods, and past traumas if you don’t even know how to yourself.

Altogether, these basics should create a greater balance between both partners and a greater sense of equality. Regardless of gender, there are some things that you should be able to do for yourself in order to prosper as a person. One partner may be better at a certain task than the other but that doesn’t excuse them from doing the task at all.

Equality is the recipe for harmony and peace.

©JustTalkingShep 2019

Family: A Big Part of My Culture

I am multiracial so the house I grew up in was influenced by more than one culture. My Mexican culture placed a high emphasis on family. The family is considered the foundation when it comes to life.

Your family is expected to support and always be there for you. In turn, it is your duty to consider the family in what you do.

You are expected to respect your elders and remember where you come from. It is also understood that at times you may have to make sacrifices in order to benefit the family as a unit.

There is a heavy sense of responsibility, loyalty, and duty.

When it comes to relationships romantic or otherwise, at times this emphasis on the family just wasn’t understood. “Why can’t you come to hang out with us? Just sneak out!,” would at times come from friends.

However, I would explain that I just couldn’t. Partially from fear of getting in trouble but as I grew older I realized it was out of respect for my parents. Something that was ingrained in me since childhood and is a part of my culture.

I have come to notice that there are many international cultures outside of the United States that places a greater weight on the family unit, respect for your elders, and the idea of sacrifice for the whole.

In China and India for example, there are families that live together with multiple generations. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen in the United States but the instances are fewer and far between.


Since family is such a big part of my culture, if I allow you to be around them or try to incorporate you with them, that means you are important. I want you to be a part of my culture which shaped me and influenced the person I have become.

Yes, growing up it was annoying to feel such a big sense of duty and responsibility. Having American friends that just didn’t seem to understand.

However, at the end of the day, I enjoy having a defined culture, it is a part of what makes me unique.

©JustTalkingShep 2019

Why I Don’t Want To Be Your Everything

In relationships, we often consider it to be romantic when someone considers you their everything. We think, I mean so much to them, I feel important. Which can feel great initially but become taxing and draining as time goes on.

When you are literally everything to someone, you have so many roles to play. Some of which come in any healthy relationship like a lover, supporter, confidante and at times best friend.

However, when you are your partner’s only best friend or friend at all or have to take on the role of therapist, maid, chef, sole caretaker for the kids, among others, it becomes unhealthy and too much.

No one should have to face the pressures of taking on so many roles. Consider it as you being a worker in an office that not only has to do their regular work duties but has to ensure the office remains clean, answer all the phones, great all customers coming in, as well as cook lunch for everyone in the department.

Wouldn’t you run out of an interview if they brought up all those roles for you to play while only getting paid for one title?

woman holding her face in her hands while sitting at a computer surrounded by doodles of books, friends, and family in the background

You set unrealistic expectations and a bar that no one could meet without sacrificing their own well being and needs to meet all you want. And even then, some roles you are demanding be filled would suffer in quality while trying to meet other roles.

To continue my earlier example, you can’t cook a five-star quality meal while having to clean the office, answer phones, customers, and fulfill your other duties.It’s not healthy to give your whole self away to appease someone else. You end up with nothing left to maintain and keep your own sanity and peace.

Even when it comes to children, although we try to be nearly everything for them in order to help them grow and prosper we still outsource roles to others. Allow them to go to the playground to make friends to play with. Let them go to school to learn from teachers. We can’t be everything for them either.

If someone is demanding that you be their literal everything or say that you are their everything, correct them. It’s not healthy for you to expect everything you need from me or for me to expect that from you. Or while I appreciate you consider me to be a major force in your life, I can’t be the only one.

At the end of the day, I don’t want to be your everything because then I have nothing left for myself.

©JustTalkingShep 2019

Why You Shouldn’t Treat Your Partner Like A Project

For a vast majority of women, we tend to view the men in our lives like projects. On the one hand it is understandable because of our innate creative capacity.

I mean, we have the power to create and bring forth life! However, when it comes to the men we are dating we need to move away from the idea that we have to ‘work’ on them.

When we think like this, we tend to invest way more into them than we should. Rather than continue to build and advance ourselves, we sacrifice for his benefit.

We help him get into that school or maintain the home so he can go out and thrive. Meanwhile we have this sense of righteousness because we are helping build him up.

Understand that there is a difference between standing next to someone as a supportive partner and sacrificing only for their benefit.

When you take on this self-sacrificing role you tend to have built up resentment and unhealthy expectations of him. You think, I didn’t go to school so he could, I didn’t pursue that exotic job because he needed me.

You end up embittered because you feel like you gave up so much with little in return because he isn’t making as big of sacrifices as you. The key here is that, in most cases he didn’t ask you to do it.

You took it upon yourself.

Furthermore, when you look at a man like this you become less inclined to leave a less than ideal relationship. Since you invested so much into building him up into greatness, you don’t want to leave your investment behind.

What’s more, you end up thinking “I’ll be damned if another woman gets to reap on what I built.”

This was the premise behind Tyler Perry’s Acrimony. She spent years solely doing everything that benefited her man’s dream.

He was her project and when she finally let him go and he suddenly reached the level she invested towards she felt enraged that another woman got what she felt was due to her.

A man isn’t a project. It isn’t your job to make a man be great by forgetting yourself in the process. Never forget to make yourself a priority.

Don’t build someone up at your expense. Instead be supportive of your partner but still be true to your dreams and passions as well. Be with someone who supports you in your pursuits as much as you do theirs.

A man should never feel like a project to you but an equal partner.

©JustTalkingShep 2019

Good People Learned Bad Behavior

When it comes to relationships, we can try our best to be good to someone but not realize that our definition of ‘good’ can be tainted. We can express learned toxic behaviors that we came to believe were positive when in fact they were not.

You can hope to be wonderful to someone but not realize that at the same time you are exhibiting the bad things that come from past relationships.

You want to be loving but since you learned in a past relationship that to be loving you have to constantly ask where someone is or be in complete contact at every moment of the day you do that. Not realizing that the behavior wasn’t healthy or okay. But that’s the bad habit you learned thinking that it was positive when really it was negative.

Woman and man sitting at a cafe, the man's back is to the camera but the woman can be seen facing him looking distraught

So two people can come together who at the core aren’t bad or toxic people but because they both learned bad toxic behavior from past relationships they consider that to be normal. They then create a maelstrom of bad behavior while simultaneously trying to be good to each other.

It’s a recipe for disaster.

When you come out of a relationship you need to stop and consider what behaviors both your partner and yourself exhibited that were healthy versus what wasn’t. You don’t want to bring past learned negativity into the new relationship. The negativity that may not be your own but your previous partner’s.

You know how you can adopt a person’s speech pattern or certain mannerisms by hanging around them for a long time? It’s something like that.

For example, if your former partner made a big deal about knowing where you are all the time you may have adopted that mentality. They wanted to know where you were so you wanted to know where they were too.

It may not be something you cared about but they made it a priority so you made it one too. You then establish that as the baseline of the norm and since it became a habit and something you became accustomed to, you bring that into a new relationship. Not stopping to consider whether that is something healthy or not. And not realizing that it wasn’t even something you truly cared about but something you LEARNED to care about.

You discover more about yourself from relationships you have whether they be romantic or not. Some people can bring the worst out of you and others the best.

When the worst is brought out, study your triggers. Study what can be said to really get you going. saddened, hurt, annoyed or bring out your anger.

Decipher whether it is something truly important to you or something you learned to give importance to from others. If it is truly important to you, understand your ‘why’ that way you understand yourself better and can articulate your feelings.

Become better than your worst self.

©JustTalkingShep 2019