A Simple Hello.

If you’ve made your way over to the blog portion of my website, welcome! I’m excited that you’ve chosen to read what I have to say.

My name is Morgan Bailee Boggess, but you can call me Bailee. I know, I’m one of those complicated people who just has to go by their middle name. I’m 23 years old and live in Lexington, Kentucky with my fiance Jake and our dog Heidi – who is the most adorable Yorkshire Terrier you will ever see in your life.

I’ve been a writer my entire life. I started out writing poetry in elementary school and have continued ever since. I have written short stories, a secret unpublished book, and many thought pieces that I hope to post on here for you all to read. My writing career officially started in March when I became a staff writer for adoption.com. This position was the best I could have asked for when starting out as a freelancer, as I get to write about a topic that is very personal to me and educate others at the same time. I hope to be branching out to more places soon, but all good things come in due time.

Starting this blog was a big jump into unknown territory for me. I’m usually pretty private about my personal writing but, what good does staying silent do? I have things the world needs to know and I’ve got people wiling to listen. Perfect combination!

A Walk Through the Woods came about a few weeks ago when I was hopelessly lost in the middle of the forest at Cumberland Falls State Park in Corbin, KY. My friend and I came to a creek and – lo and behold – was a rickety, toppled over old bridge that we had to walk across to continue our journey to nowhere. Naturally, I was terrified and struggled to walk over the death trap looming in front of me. I got to the middle and froze. Panic ensued; I felt like I was going to tumble into the creek and end up in the emergency room before the day was over. My best friend was encouraging me to just walk the few feet I had left to be on level ground. After some careful analysis of the remainder of the bridge and thought on whether I had life insurance or not, I tiptoed as quickly as I could to the other side. Thank God, I made it out.

In that moment, I was completely afraid and vulnerable. Nothing else mattered but the fact that I had to face a fear that I really didn’t want to. I was stuck. Fear has been something that has always been debilitating for me. My collection of irrational fears and anxieties could make a receipt longer than your monthly run to CVS. I am constantly on the lookout for things that scare me and, quite frankly, that moment on the bridge made me think twice about that. Why am I constantly freaked out by so many things in my environment?

I believe fear is a quality that is instilled in us from a young age, especially for girls. Young women are constantly being silenced and having their words devalued by the world. However, being someone who has experienced this for many years, I have come to learn that silence (as mentioned earlier) doesn’t do anyone any good. When I took the final step and crossed that bridge, it made me realize that I hadn’t stayed silent like I had so many times before. Yes, I voiced concern about the dilapidated state of the bridge (as anyone would), but I made it out.

Let me reiterate that – I made it out.

My writing journey today has manifested itself closely to that of my experience on the bridge in the middle of the woods. I am tired of staying silent. I am tired of letting my fear control what I can and can’t say about the world, just like it tried to do before I stepped over the last wooden plank onto the trail. I am tired of expressing myself behind closed doors; I will do this no more. My open door comes in many forms, one of which includes typing on a keyboard on an overpriced MacBook. I will write as I breathe and breathe as I stand confidently on level ground.

So, welcome to my walk through the woods. I hope you’ll take this journey into unknown territory with me and, by the end of it, are able to speak your voice to the world like you deserve to.

3 Things Betty White Taught Me

Our world got a little darker on New Year’s Eve in 2021 with the passing of Betty White. Even if you have never watched Golden Girls, The Proposal, or the famous SNL episode she hosted, along with many of her other television and movie appearances, she has undoubtedly touched your life in some way. Although I wasn’t an avid follower of hers, I, along with the rest of the world, felt a pang of sadness when I saw the news of her death.

To reflect on her life and legacy, here are three things that Betty White taught me.

1. Always thank your friends.

Cliche, I know.

We’ve all heard the popular phrase “Thank you for being a friend.” I bet you sang that in your head, right? It’s a catchy theme song to a TV show that brings nostalgia for so many of us: Golden Girls. However, this jingle is so much more than just giving us a song to sing. It’s about thanking those in your life that provide you solace and joy. Our friends are the ones that get us through some of the darkest moments in our life, sometimes in ways that our families and partners cannot.

After all, a good friend will last you a lifetime. For the past decade almost, I have been fortunate to have two best friends that have saved my life in more ways than one. Between late-night conversations about heartbreak, disappointment, and sadness and celebrating life accomplishments, my friends have been there for me through it all. Saying “thank you” only scrapes the surface of what my friends deserve.

Friendship takes time and energy if it’s going to work. You can luck into something great, but it doesn’t last if you don’t give it proper appreciation.

Betty White

2. Pour your energy and time into your passions.

For decades, Betty White had a passion for helping animals in need. In her death, many companies are running campaigns to donate to animal shelters across the country in honor of her dedication to them. White’s love for animals came from her parents and family, who even during the Great Depression cared for animals that had been abandoned by their owners. Her passion for animals was so great that she was even awarded an honorary zookeeper title by the  Los Angeles chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers.

From her passions, Betty teaches us to never stop pouring our energy and time into our passions. Although we live in a society that pushes us to constantly strive towards a better career, education, and status, ignoring our passions can have a detrimental effect on our mental health. If there’s one thing I learned in the past two years, it’s to not give up doing the things that I enjoyed for the sake of making an hourly wage. Make time for your passions, even if it’s only 15 minutes a day.

“Everybody needs a passion. That’s what keeps life interesting. If you live without passion, you can go through life without leaving any footprints.”

From Betty White’s book, If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won’t) (2011)

3. Stay in touch with your youthful, childlike side.

Besides her fabulous acting skills, Betty White is also famous for her funny, youthful livelihood that she brought into everything she did. Living to almost 100 years old, she had plenty of time to share her wisdom about how to stay positive and cheerful through challenging times. She encouraged people to continually not take themselves too seriously, to laugh when possbile, and to always attempt to have an uplifting attitude.

Learning to stay in touch with my inner child and youthful side has helped me make immense changes in the way I view happiness. Finding joy in the little things, like we did when we were younger, is the key to changing our pessimistic habits into uplifting ones. Incorporate humor into the way you think about the world, always trying to keep a smile on your face.

“It’s your outlook on life that counts. If you don’t take yourself too seriously, pretty soon you can find humor in our everyday lives. And sometimes it can be a lifesaver.”

Betty White to the Chicago Trubine, 2011

As you go about the rest of your day, be sure to remember the ways that Betty White taught us to bring more joy into our lives. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from White about getting older:

“However, if one is lucky enough to be blessed with good health, growing older shouldn’t be something to complain about. It’s not a surprise, we knew it was coming—make the most of it. So you may not be as fast on your feet, and the image in your mirror may be a little disappointing, but if you are still functioning and not in pain, gratitude should be the name of the game.”

Betty White, from her memoir If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won’t) (2011)

The Well of Acceptance

She stood next to the well, barefoot, and uncertain of her future. As she contemplated her next move, she played with the torn hem of her garment. It served merely as a distraction from the fact that she was alone, abandoned because she had made – naturally – mistake after mistake. 

The men had entered her life like a revolving door. One after another, they came and went faster than she could even recognize. Eventually, each scenario had become a blur of bronzed and pastel faces. How could she forgive herself for the shame she had brought to herself, her family, and her community? How was she supposed to pick up and carry on when all that was left of her had been sacrificed to the second husband? (Or was it the first?) 

Lost in her thoughts, she recognizes that she has accomplished her goal: avoiding the townspeople. More than anything, though, she wishes that she did not have to arbitrarily sneak like a vulture under night’s cloak. It’s almost like she can hear their thoughts, read their minds. 

She wishes she could walk freely among the people of her home, but instead, here she was, wandering the backroads and wallowing in her misfortune. She was an outcast among the rest. 

Suddenly, her melancholy trance is broken as she looks up to see the face of an unfamiliar man, who seems to be a Jew. As a Samaritan, it is not customary for them to speak. Yet, he speaks to her. 

The simple act of being spoken to almost takes her breath away. It had been so long since she had been spoken to casually that she had nearly forgotten how to speak. But, little did she know that this was no casual conversation. She was, in fact, speaking with the Messiah, Jesus himself. 

The “woman at the well” is regarded as a prodigal figure in scripture, one of the few that Jesus briefly encounters that has a prolific impact on a commoner’s perspective of God. And while she was not bestowed with a name, she has forever impacted the way that we look at theology. 

Her story teaches us so much more than simply believing in God’s grace and compassion. Perhaps the most important lesson is that our sins do not faze God, as demonstrated by Jesus’ behavior towards the Samaritan woman. He stood with an outcast, defying the social norm and expectations. In turn, she acted upon her curiosity for his behavior, leading to the life-changing moment when she realized she was speaking with the Messiah. She, an “outcast,” engaging with the one true son of God. . He stood with an outcast, defying the social norm and expectations. In turn, she acted upon her curiosity for his behavior, leading to the life-changing moment when she realized she was speaking with the Messiah. She, an “outcast,” engaging with the one, true son of God. 

Because of this, she, too, defied the odds. But, this causes for a time of reflection. Before meeting Jesus as she stood at the well, was she wallowing in her misfortune by loitering there? Or, was she simply reacting the way many of us do to feelings of being an outcast, being rejected by our peers, and processing our traumatic pasts? 

2,000 years later and we still find ourselves standing at the well, playing with the torn hem of our dresses as we attempt to forget the mistakes that have branded our history. Yet, when push comes to shove, we have to realize that our sins do not define who we are. The mistakes we’ve made, the regrets we hold, and the feeble thoughts that hold us back are only temporary. While it is our job to repent for our sins and seek forgiveness, we should seek comfort knowing that we have already been forgiven. No one is too out of reach for God; no one is abandoned; no one is forgotten. He will not throw us aside as an outcast because of what we have done so long as we believe in Him.  

The story of the woman at the well has perpetuated into the membrane of almost every tumultuous situation I have encountered throughout my life. As I have experienced grief, pain, regret, remorse, and shame for more reasons than one, she pops into the forefront of my brain as a reminder that I have nothing to be ashamed of. Because I have faith and trust in God, I know that no matter how low I feel or how misshapen my plan becomes, there is purpose in what I am doing. 

Six months ago, I would have been terrified to write this, let alone publish it for the world to read. However, I promised myself that 2022 would be an intentional year – one filled with actions that have thought behind them, not just passion projects that stem from a long history of attempting to fill a void that can never be filled. 

Therefore, this year I am choosing to be unapologetically fulfilled by God’s plan and purpose for my life. I am letting the story of the Samaritan woman remind me to live a life full of redemption, love, and most of all – acceptance. 

New Beginnings

Today was the first morning that I was able to rise when I wanted and take some time for myself in a very long time. As I made my cup of coffee, I realized that, for once, I didn’t have to worry about squeezing in a deadline or making up work that I hadn’t had time to finish during the week. For once, I was able to be.

After graduating with my Master’s in Social Work on Friday, an enormous weight has lifted off my shoulders — as it has for many December graduates. Along with my classmates, I navigated a graduate degree during a pandemic, which was no easy feat. Between working as a freelance writer and editor, running a small online clothing business, completing all the requirements for a practicum (around 250 unpaid hours per semester) and class assignments, moving, planning a wedding, losing family members, and so much more, I realized that I have slowly started to neglect the things that were central to who I was.

In my home, there’s piles of laundry that haven’t been folded, a half-decorated Christmas tree with unwrapped presents underneath, a few dirty dishes laying around, and wilting Golden Pythos plant. Half-finished projects litter my planner, while stacks of books line my floor after being pushed aside for “more important” things.

Even though I made a huge decision to quit my job in Alzheimer’s research (which I loved) to pursue my childhood dream of being a writer, was completing a degree in a subject that I am extremely passionate about, and had found immense success in more than one area in my life, there was still something missing.

Much of what I had grown accustomed to in my daily routine was a blur of constant shuffling between spaces, whether that be the tabs on my computer or across the state. I had lost the sense of not only who I was, but where I had planned to go. I’ve spent so much time trying to meet the needs of what I thought everyone was expecting of me, without realizing that none of their opinions mattered unless I was happy with what I was doing and was comfortable in my own skin and home.

At 25, there’s this illusion that you should know exactly where your life is going; that you should be a homeowner, have a successful career, have a financial plan, etc. Feeding into that lie was the worst mistake I’ve made in my young adulthood. It’s only led to more stress that caused me mental strife, which could have been completely avoided.

Learning to find peace in the present moment is something that I’m learning to do each day. I still find myself worrying about what other people think, especially regarding my career. I’m slowly learning that you don’t have to have the “perfect job with benefits” to be successful, much less happy.

Would I trade the past two years for anything? Absolutely not.

Do I wish that I had spent more time taking care of myself and listening to my heart? Yes.

Now, as I move to a new chapter in my life and navigate the average (and not-so-average) challenges of being an adult, I want to take more time to spend with myself and the ones I love. It’s my goal to continue pursuing my writing, but starting to write for myself as well as writing for other people. I want to travel. I want to learn the stories of my ancestors and more about my cultural background.

There will be no more self-sacrifice where it is not needed.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past two years, it’s that the time we have on earth is short. At the end of the day, we should be proud of what we did rather than dreaming about the “what ifs.”

As you spend your Sunday preparing for the upcoming week and holiday season, I encourage you to think about the things that you’ve forgotten about. Whether it’s reminding yourself to take a deep breath when you’re stressed, or making a phone call to that person you haven’t talked to in a while, or finishing that passion project that you’ve been putting off, just do it. Don’t sacrifice the part of yourself that makes you happy to fulfill the needs of what you think others want.

Reality Check

Today is September 21st (almost 22nd), 2020. We are around eight months into a global pandemic that has caused our world to shift and uprooted the way we live our lives. After around six months of working remotely, continuing to work as an essential worker, being furloghed, or attempting to gain unemployment, we are reaching a boiling point. Cases continue to rise and people continue to die (yet some people still refuse to wear a mask, get tested when exposed, or practice the multitude of other safety measures put in place — but that’s a different point for another day).

We are frustrated, exhausted, and apprehensive when we turn on the news. As it seems, politicians have lost their minds and no longer serve the people they supposedly represent. Fake news floods our Facebook feeds, leaving us to rumiante over what is or isn’t true.

Money is tight, work is demanding, and — damn it, where can you buy a can of lysol?

It’s go, go, go; adapt, adapt, adapt; don’t forget your mask or to wash your hands; meet that deadline; fork over the extra money for some unforseen expense. Yet, these are all tangble things; we can manifest a mask, produce money, and change our plans.

I haven’t even touched on the racial injustices and discrimination happening in the world.

But wait — where’s the recognition for the untangible? Why aren’t we talking about the effects this sudden change in our lives has had on our mental health?

The anxiety, depression, fatigue, lack of motivation, and plain ole’ stress we are experiencing is chalked up to this pandemic. But is it really a result of the coronavirus, or are the things we’re experiencing coming from a deeper place; from constantly being on-the-go and always trying to be better, do better, go higher.

So, what does this say about how society pushes us to live our life? VOLUMES.

It’s time for a reality check.

A false narrative is being presented to us day-in and day-out. Social media, which is both a blessing and a curse, has turned into a place where we begin to compare our lives to others in a very unhealthy way. Friends are getting married and having children, starting new businesses, changing careers, going to graduate school, travelling (which is questoinable), and living their best life. The worst is looking at people on Facebook or Instagram who paint this picture of a pristine lifestyle and knowing that some of it is, to be frank, a bunch of malarky.

And while this mirage has been paraded to us for a good chunk of time now, it’s even more disasterous considering the circumstances. Looking from the outside-in at other’s lives is a dangerous road to go down, but is one that we’re all guilty of. Falling prey to the idea that this is the time to make a career change or drastic alteration to your life something else that’s easy to do. On top of it all, feeling the pressure to stay at home trying to stay safe, and still keep some sort of normalcy is tiring and frustrating and it’s time that we recognized that.

There is no golden rule saying that hustling all the time is a requirement. Nor is there one that says you must lead a “perfect” and “normal” life right now — or ever.

Here are some important lessons I’ve learned since the world turned upside-down.

Stop trying to compare yourself to others.

Realize that everyone is operating at a different pace right now.

Be kind, extending the same grace you give others to yourself.

Pause when you need to. Don’t be afraid to cancel plans, take a little longer to text back, or to say no.

Gaining some weight from eating at home all the time is not a bad thing. Be nice to your body. It may be difficult, but it’s worth it.

Putting yourself as a priority right now is nothing to be ashamed of. If you’re in a dark place, take the appropriate measures to get to a space where you feel better. Coming from someone who’s had to do a lot of self-care in the past eight months, being happy and trying to find the positive in a situation is a lot better than being down in the dumps all the time.

Instead of trying to rush to become what you think everyone expects of you and what it seems everyone else is doing, just be you! Live your life and create an environment that you florish in, whether that’s on the couch binge-watching Netflix, discovering a new hobby, or whatever else may tickle your fancy.

At the end of the day, all we want is to be happy. No matter what that looks like for you, it’s possible. Forget about what the world says and do what you need to do, making this reality check one that counts.

Stay safe, happy, and healthy y’all. I’ll be back soon with more insights about the world.