Her Voice

When I was 19, I lost my father, the only caretaker I'd known my entire life.

Growing up in Brooklyn, NY in the '80s, it was common for black children to be raised by drug-addicted parents. My mother abandoned my sister and I while succumbing to her addiction to crack cocaine. But my father, he stayed. And that man loved me fiercely for the years we had, while battling his own addiction to heroin. Despite his own pain, he took care of me. Losing him is still the worst pain I've ever felt in my life.

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The question I get asked most when I say I lived in China for over two years is, "Do you speak Chinese?"

The answer is always "no". Though I love the culture, history, some of the food as well as the spiritual side of the country, Chinese is a difficult language to learn. From the different tones and what Chinese characters mean and how to use them, I was never disciplined enough for that be a goal.

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Words by Elise Peterson, as told to Sheriden Chanel:

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When you post a picture to Instagram, there's so much people don't see. And for the past three years, I've gotten good at sharing my life's highlights:

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“I see you've had your little Waiting to Exhale moment."

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Perfection by definition is the condition, state or quality of being free from all flaws or defects. And by example, perfection takes different forms. The perfect body. The perfect career. The perfect man/woman. The perfect life.

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