The Beauty of a Daddy Issued Diva 

Father’s Day: A day to celebrate paternal bonds. What if these bonds have been broken, tampered, or never existed to begin with? Fatherless day is a bit more grim. It is not exclusive to those who have lost a parent, but also exists for those whose fathers are very much alive, but are not a part of their life. For the children of fathers who were there… but never really there. For the children of fathers who were around, but also brought a whirlwind of rainclouds and eggshells wherever they were. For the daughters who have never been “daddy’s little girl”, and roll their eyes at anyone who is.

The term “daddy issues” has such a negative connotation. Urban dictionary offers some synonyms; “slut, cougar, attention whore, bitch…” you get the idea. While the population of “daddy issued divas” may be a niche market, it is a population nonetheless. And, like any other population, stereotypes always come out to play. Unfortunately, the daddy issue stereotype is a hard one to be associated with. The second a guy finds out a girl’s dad isn’t in the picture… BAM! She must have some serious daddy issues.


As a believer in Freudian theories, I can’t argue the importance of familial relationships in the development in personality, emotions, and future relationships. What I can argue, though, is that a damaged parental relationships doesn’t always lead to a broken person.

Here are 5 reasons why a Daddy Issued Diva is ultimately a stronger, more well rounded female;


1. We have thick skin:

When the person who played a main role in creating you is the person who tries to break you down, you learn how to take criticism. I would often come home from school and consider myself lucky that I would never have to deal with bullies there– because I learned how to deal with the biggest bully in my own home. Yes, you read that correctly, I considered myself lucky. Call it delusional, call it reframing, but I’ll call it surviving. An empowered daddy issued diva understands that their biggest critic is themselves, so we consider our sources, and simply dust any unnecessary negativity off of our shoulders.

2. We say how we feel:

And we mean what we say. We’ve learned how to deal with our issues by discussing them (…thanks, therapy!). Bottling things up inside only leads to an explosion, and who wants to deal with that? We’ll write letters, draft blog posts, maybe even send a pigeon carrier to let you know how we feel. The trouble comes when these conversations land on deaf ears. But hey, we’re use to that.

3. We know better: 

When your baseline of comparison is an unfortunate one, you learn to raise the bar. We won’t settle for the shady characters of the world– because we’ve dealt with enough in our own home. I would rather be single for the rest of my life then settle for a relationship that is anything like the one my parent’s had. I learned by opposite example, which is a very difficult thing to do. During the worst of times my mom would tell me, “don’t do what I did.” I won’t, and you shouldn’t either. Never, ever ever ever allow anyone to make you feel like you’re not worth love and respect, because you are. 

4. We are appreciative: 

The little things count. Grand gestures are red flags, because we are use to them being distractions from the garbage that lies beneath the surface. You can’t put a price tag on a good relationship. People show their love in many different ways. In fact, receiving gifts is only one of the five love languages. In my experience, someone who only talks this language of love probably doesn’t have much love to give. However, the other four languages, (words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, and physical touch) are appreciated by daddy issued divas tenfold.

5. We are genuine: 

Knowing that we are “daddy issued” makes us vulnerable. In being in this position, the best way to carry on is to be 100% genuine in everything you say and do. My daddy issues are not something that I talk about frequently, but Father’s Day strikes a nerve for me. I cry every time I watch a father-daughter dance, because that type of love is one that I have never felt, or will ever feel. It is not the same sadness experienced by someone whose father has passed on from this world, for they can find some type of solace in their loving memories. My memories are clouded with sadness, criticism, control, insults, and downright anger. But, from darkness comes light. Although I will never be daddy’s little girl, I’ve got a strong family of boss ass women that are now capable of anything.

So, the next time you meet a Daddy Issued Diva, consider yourself lucky. Look at this girl with nothing but respect, because it is more than likely that she has been experienced a life that you never could imagine. To my Daddy Issued Divas out there– stay true to yourself, believe in the beautiful person that you are, and never settle for less than you deserve. And dad, if you happen to see this… I hope your day is mediocre at best.


Lessons Learned from Animals on an African Safari

Albert Einstein once said, “look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.”

If we were to rewind back to the 90’s…

Lil Lauren was adjusting her butterfly hairclips before school, watching Zooventure on Animal Planet. The thought of going on an African safari was a distant dream, but one that has been fueling with desire since I was a little girl. I’ve always loved animals, and wondered what it would be like to experience them in their natural habitat.

My travels have taken me to zoos and aquariums throughout the country– from Omaha’s Henry Doorly to California’s Aquarium of the Pacific. The opportunity to visit a South African National Park was one that I could not possibly pass up!


During my stay at the Black Rhino Lodge, we went out into Pilanesberg National Park for both morning and evening game drives. Whether the sun had just risen or was turning in for the night, mother nature blessed us with some beautiful views and animal action!

Here are some life lessons I learned from these beautiful (and not so attractive) creatures…



Does this mud bath make me look fat…? An African Bush Elephant can weigh up to 13,000 lbs! And yet, a herd of 30+ were walking right along side of our jeep at an inaudible pace. I was surprised to learn how easily an elephant can sneak up on you! While you may not hear an elephant stomping towards you, you can certainly feel their majestic presence.


Before we went out on our first drive, my ranger said – when you get so close to an elephant, you know what a safari is all about. We were a jeep of 10 humans, outnumbered by elephants (and elephant babies!) in the middle of a dirt road. I was a visitor on their turf, as they just went on with their daily business.


The massive stature of an elephant brings upon a sense of awe. You know what they say, speak softly and carry a big stick. Well, elephants walk softy and carry a big… tusk. Humans could learn a thing or two from these bold creatures. Personally, I have a hard time listening to the loudest person in the room. What they have in volume, they often lack in content. While the elephant in the room may be the most apparent, it will not be the loudest.



For 40 minutes, we sat and watched a lioness hunt her pray- a group of zebra (which is called a dazzle.. fun fact!). She must have been stalking this group for quite some time before we arrived. The unsuspecting group trotted across the road, like a traveling buffet. The lioness sat, still, within the shadow, with ears back, hiding her stature.


The lioness sat without movement as the dazzle grazed around her, but she did not pounce. You would think that with this relative closeness, the cat would make her move. But we learned that a hunt is just as dangerous for the predator as it is for the victim. If the lioness were to trip on the rocky surface, she is outnumbered by these powerful zebra that could easily kick her while she’s down (quite literally) to her death. So she waits. And waits, and waits, and waits, until the perfect moment to strike.

And we would have waited with her…. but breakfast was calling our names.



A rhino’s skin can be as thick as 2 inches! But despite their thick skin, they’re sensitive creatures. Rhinos like this guy in the picture love their mud baths, which help protect their skin from the sun and from bug bites (which are just as irritating for animals as they are for humans). If a rhino is walking along and gets scraped by a thorn in the bush, they’ll feel it!


As humans, we build up our metaphorical thick skin over time. This coping mechanism allows us to withstand whatever negativity is thrown our way. Those with thick skin are tough, and can withstand criticism much more effectively than those who take everything to heart. But, we must not allow our skin to become so thick that we are completely callous. Even a rhino can feel the scrape of a thorn on its thick skin.



The Big 5 gets all of hype! In the bush, we learned about the Ugly 5..

  • Hyenas
  • Marabou Stork
  • Vultures
  • Warthogs
  • & The Wildebeest

Now, Hyenas and Vultures are named on this ugly list not only for their appearance, but for their predatory, scavenging ways.


The Wildebeest is something the French would call jolie-laide.. or, so ugly it’s cute. You forget about their awkward statue and patchy facial hair when you see them trotting along side their pal, the impala.


Beauty goes far beyond looks. Don’t let the haters bring you down, Wildebeest. While you may seem a bit disproportionate, or made from “spare parts”, you’re a delightful creature to be around and were put into this world for a reason.


We’re all felt like the Wildebeest at one point or another. Not as beautifully patterned as the Zebra. Not as graceful as the Cheetah. But, when you learn to love its uniqueness, you can see what a beautiful beast the Wildebeest is!



Our ranger, Darrell, spotted this bird in his peripheral while rushing back to the lodge for breakfast. He quickly put the jeep in reverse, and parked us in front of this colorful beauty. Ruffling through his copy of “A Bird Guide”, he opens to the page that exhibits the Lilac Breasted Roller. Although this bird is aesthetically pleasing, its call is quite ugly. In contrast, the melodious calls you often hear, come from the most mundane looking fowl.


Referred to by Darrell as “the most beautiful bird in Africa”, the Lilac Breasted Roller is also a part of Zulu folklore. Before a couple were to be married, they must be tied together by the elongated tale feathers of this bird. If the knot became untied, they were no longer granted permission to be married. It is rumored that this is where the phrase “tying the knot” came from!


Visiting Pilanesberg fulfilled all of my wildest dreams, quite literally!

While this may have been my first time on the African continent, I know it will hardly be the last. As a long time animal lover, I’ve always had much respect for these beautiful creatures. But, this trip has opened my eyes to the world of wildlife preservation. Poaching is a terrible reality, and a deadly crime. Drought is another plague that haunts not only the wildlife, but the humans of this environment. We must not take for granted the luxuries we have access too. What we consider to be every day norms is somebody else’s dream.

Albert Einstein was right.

Looking deep within nature helps us to look deep within ourselves. Every one, and every thing, has a story. Whether or not we are open minded enough to learn their story is up to us.


This year, I crossed Mardi Gras in New Orleans off of my bucket list… 


Any holiday with the word “fat” in the title has to be celebrated to the fullest! I have never been to New Orleans before, and thought this would be the perfect city to kick off another year of adventures. 

Here are my 5 tips on surviving the wild experience of Mardi Gras! 

Keep reading

2016’s 10 lessons from 10 cities

This year, I have jumped around the map quite a bit! Here are the most important pearls of wisdom from each city that I visited in 2016…

1. The key to surviving Mardi Gras is your squad. New Orleans, LA


My first adventure of 2016 was to New Orleans, LA to be part of the Mardi Gras madness. My college roommate and I were overdue for a reunion, and decided to go hard rather than going home. Mardi Gras is just as wild as it is said to be, so if you are going to fully indulge, make sure you’re surrounded by a squad that is just as ready as you are! More on surviving Mardi Gras…

2. Keep in touch with those you meet along the way. London, England


One of my favorite parts about traveling is the eclectic collection of friends I make along the way! Social media makes it easy to keep in touch with the people you’ve met all over the globe. In London, I met up with a friend from Wales that I met in Santa Monica. In New York, I met up with friends from London that I met in Miami. As unlikely as it may seem, you never know when you will cross paths with someone that you’ve met far, far away!

3. Go off the beaten path. Zaanse Schanse, Netherlands


Amsterdam was a tospy turvy city to visit. Its weird ways won my heart through their canals, coffee shops and eroticism. As much fun as I had, touring the land just north of the city was my favorite part of the Netherlands. Visiting the windmills was a unique experience, which made me feel like I have traveled back into the time of Van Gogh. Don’t hesitate to look at the tours offered within a city center- they will offer convenient, cost efficient ways to explore off the beaten path!

4. Thou shall be adaptable and flexible. Dublin, Ireland


My time in Dublin was split between two airbnbs. The first was a luxurious two bedroom apartment, with a balcony, two bathrooms, and hotel quality at home feel. The second one required an uphill battle to the top floor, and 2 hours notice if you wanted to use the hot water. Regardless of what the sleeping arrangements were, it didn’t take away from the fun that Dublin had to offer. From riches to rags, as long as you have good friends and good spirits you’ll have a good time!

5. Celebrate good times…come on! Bird Island, Antigua


I celebrated my quarter of a century birthday this year under the sun in Antigua. If I could relive one day out of this entire year, it would be the one pictured. Momentous occasions, such as a big birthday, should be celebrated! While I wish I could spend every day popping champagne on a catamaran, it is a day that I will look back on for the rest of my life. Another lesson I learned during this year’s adventures is the value of GoPro footage! Going into a trip with ideas in mind makes it easy to create a fun music video, like this one, that we made to the song HandClap!

6. The advice of locals is worth 1000 yelp reviews.  Copenhagen, Denmark


I said it before and I’ll say it again… I love Airbnb. In Copenhagen, I stayed with a group of girls who were excited to give recommendations as soon as we arrived. If it weren’t for them, I would have never ended up checking out Paper Island – aka street food heaven. This artistic haven was one of my favorite spots in the entire city! Aside from my Airbnb hosts, great advice was imparted on me by the manager of a restaurant I stopped in for dinner. He wrote directions on the back of a napkin that led me to the beautiful gardens of Frederiksborg Castle, in the town of Hillerød.

7. Expect the unexpected (without panicking). Budapest, Hungary


Ok, I know I have proclaimed my love for Airbnb more than once in the post, but this year I experienced my very first home sharing hiccup. I arrived to my Budapest apartment in the cloak of night, and followed my host’s instructions to retrieve my key step by step… to no avail. After much back and forth (thank god for portable wifi!), and being scared out of my mind by the fact that there were people in the apartment that I have rented, I learned that I had been double booked. I was lucky to have a travel buddy that helped to keep me calm and laughing at our terrible luck, as we quickly readjusted, finding a hostel to stay for the night.

8. Oktoberfest is the best. Munich, Germany


I regret every year that I have not spent at Oktoberfest in Munich! At first, I thought this was a celebration that revolved around beer. While yes, this is true, I had no idea of the fun and games that take place outside of the beer tents! Growing up, rides were never my thing. In Six Flags, I’d rather go on the safari than go on a roller coaster. However, the spirit of Oktoberfest (and many liters of Spaten) have helped me to face my fears and go on every single ride the festival had to offer. Twice.

9. Be carefree and confident. Savannah, GA


My adventures in the South began with a reunion with my college BFF & cat’s namesake, Jordan. I can go on and on with what I love about Savannah *cough cough, open container laws*, but the highlight of my trip was crashing a 1986 high school reunion. Not only did we mingle with Effingham County’s finest alumni, we left a lasting impression on the dance floor. The memory of this night is 100x greater than times we would have looked back on if we had decided to just go to a bar instead…

10. Solo travel is good for the soul. Charleston, SC


I have such great memories with all of my friends and family that I have traveled with this year, but the experience of traveling alone is incomparable. Traveling alone reminds you what you are capable of. It forces you to make time to put yourself first. After a solo adventure, you are left feeling confident and empowered. In our day to day lives, self-love often falls to the back burner. Don’t neglect to spend some time with the greatest travel buddy there is… yourself!