I had dinner with my good friend, Emily, last night and she was the absolute perfect person to reflect with on the eve of celebrating my fifth year in New York. I was telling her that I used to date from the vantage point of simply dating men based on whether they were OK with my body size. I operated from the belief that men didn’t like plus-size women, so if you showed me any decent amount of attention, I would just date you without any regard to whether we were truly compatible or not.
I shared a little more about my previous dating experiences, and Emily looked me right in the eye and said, “I don’t even know what you are saying right now. I have no idea who that Leah is.”
I replied, “Really??”
She noted, “Leah, you are the most confident person that I know.”
I simply said, “Thank you, friend, because that is NOT the Leah that I brought to New York five years ago…”
For me, coming to New York was like going to the Olympics. As a writer, I believed that there was no better place for me to be than in a city that houses one of one of the largest publishing industries in the world. It just made sense for me to discover a deeper iteration of who I was as a creative person in New York. I officially hung out my virtual shingle for my editorial company, Fresh Eyes, on January 6, and I moved to New York two days later on January 8. Certainly I am BEYOND grateful that I’ve worked on over 100 editorial projects and have successfully created a life that I absolutely LOVE in the process.
But, child, that ain’t why God led me to New York.
A year and a half into my journey here, I found myself in the middle of rural Trinidad bawling my eyes out. I was in a relationship that just wasn’t right for me. I was seriously considering building a life and splitting my time between Brooklyn and Trinidad for a man that I hardly knew. In the midst of my tears, I simply heard God say, “You’re going to be alright, but you need to get on the next plane and go home.”
When I landed at JFK 24 hours later, I was FOREVER changed. Never again would I risk my life, my dreams, my safety, and my well-being to prove that I was worthy and lovable. One of my favorite scriptures is Psalms 139:14, “I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” While I knew and could recite that verse from memory, I didn’t truly believe that God made me perfectly. But it turns out that New York would become the perfect place for me to discover who Leah truly is.
One month after I returned home, I joined my first networking group and every Wednesday morning I began to learn how to be an entrepreneur and know myself as a WOMAN who was worthy of owning a business and creating my own destiny.
One month after that, I met my business coach who has seriously been one of the most generous, selfless, and tough-loving mentors and teachers I’ve had since college.
Three months after that, I landed on a yoga mat for the first time, and began to heal my relationship with my body. After more than 300 classes, there’s no other body that I’d rather be in than my own–and I’m beyond grateful for the amazing community of people I’ve gained and loved in the process of discovering that truth for myself.
Within the last year, I found the absolute perfect church that fills my soul to the rim every week. I jokingly told my pastors a few months ago, “I don’t know how you two perfectly combined New Thought teachings with a Pentecostal-churchy vibe from my childhood, but THANK YOU.” It is the absolute joy of my heart to be in a spiritual community that has given me the tools to heal, grow, and expand every part of who I am.
I came to New York with a lingering sorrow of deeply missing both of my parents on this Earthly plane. But I can look at pictures of my mother now and know that her love for me is EVERYWHERE. And every time I sit down to enjoy a night of jazz, which was one of my dad’s favorite genres of music, I just feel his presence show up and I know that everything is going to be alright.
And I thought I was just coming to New York to become a better writer.
My favorite song from 2018 was Radiohead’s “Everything In Its Right Place.” It has this beautiful, haunting, and dark melody that is just musically brilliant. While some of the song’s lyrics are a bit weird, the refrain simply says,
In its right place
In its right place
New York, thank you for being the RIGHT place for me to LOVE and to HEAL.
Sometimes you need a heartbreak to have a breakthrough.
Sometimes you need to let go of a scared little fat girl and let a voluptuous, confident, beautiful woman shine through and take her place.
Sometimes you need to let go of a story that you are an orphan all alone in this world and let people love you just the way your mother and father would have.
New York, thank you for being the absolute RIGHT place
to cry my eyes out on a Subway,
to walk across the most stupendous bridges in the world,
to listen to jazz until 3 am in the morning,
to eat the most amazing food on the planet,
to meet, love, and enjoy the most amazing human beings I’ve ever encountered, and
to now know, I mean REALLY KNOW, that Leah Lynette Lakins is fearfully, wonderfully, and beautifully made in God’s image, and that she is absolutely amazing, right here and right now.
New York, all I can say right now, is simply, THANK YOU.
Thank you for making me a BETTER WRITER and a BETTER HUMAN BEING.