Today we’d like to introduce you to Gabreelynn Daniels.
Hi Gabreelynn, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I once heard that when you have a story, you must tell it. We all have our own stories, and each individual has something to offer this world. My character to give back to the community was developed at birth. I was not supposed to live, not supposed to survive, and certainly not supposed to thrive. My grand entrance into this world was something you could only imagine from a television show. I was born in my mother’s bed in her sixth month of pregnancy in Inglewood, California. I weighed 2lbs, had no lungs, was still in the sac, and later the doctors found out that I had two holes in my heart; as a result I have undergone five heart surgeries, four open-heart. My last surgery took place in December 2014 and I received an artificial mechanical heart valve. As you can probably imagine, my life is full of medical challenges. The challenges that I faced from my medical condition did not restrict me from growing up as a regular child. I was taught how to be self-sufficient and not to use my condition as an excuse or a crutch.
By learning this, I gained an appreciation for life because my family taught me to give back. Since God chose to give me life, it is my duty to give back to others this great gift He gave me. I started my blog in the spring of 2015 while I was recovering from my fourth open-heart surgery. I had just completed my first semester of graduate school and wasn’t supposed to return to class for spring semester – but I did anyway. During that time, I was instructed not to work since that was my compromise with my cardiologist and my mom. The agreement was to attend classes and come straight home to rest. Everyone who knows me knows that I’m always busy! My calendar is filled to the brim months in advance and you must be penciled in. You can imagine how it felt when I was asked to slow down and allow my body to heal. I had to remind myself that rest is essential and necessary when it comes to healing and making a full recovery. Yet being home was really isolating for me, especially seeing my friends out and about via social media. During that time writing became my solace. Writing has always been my outlet for creative expression – whether it is sharing my travel experiences, poetry, short stories, or journaling. I found that using my voice in this way was empowering. Blogging in particular was fun and though I’ve had blogs in the past, this one felt different. I was ready to share my story with the world and my time recovering birthed Thee Heart of the Matter!
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
In the beginning, things were extremely easy. Blogging was an opportunity to showcase my creativity, share my experience recovering, discuss my #TwentySomethinStruggles, my poetry, my time in graduate school, and highlight my travels without worrying about engaging with an audience. As time went on and influencer culture grew bigger, my perspective shifted. I became interested in monetizing my blog and ultimately desired to turn my writing into a side hustle. In 2018, I decided to take the leap of faith and create an Instagram account in hopes of building a platform to discuss Mental Health, Lifestyle, and Travel. At that point, I revamped my website and was gaining momentum online. I had an audience and hoped that it would continue to grow in time. One day, I went to publish a post and my website was gone! I was crushed! My years of hard work were stripped away within the matter of minutes. Although I was extremely disappointed, I took it as a sign. God was telling me it was time for a fresh start. Since then, I’ve continued my journey by posting content on both IG and my website and enrolling in blogger courses to gain as much knowledge as possible. I’m still a novice in the Blogger Industry but I believe my message and content are making an impact on people’s lives.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
In May 2014, I earned my Bachelor of Science in Child Development, Minor in French from California State University, Dominguez Hills. In May 2017, I earned my Masters of Arts in Counseling, emphasis on Community Mental Health, from Loyola Marymount University. For the past three years, I’ve worked at a youth homeless shelter in Hollywood in a dual role as a Case Manager and Mental Health Therapist. Presently, I’m in the home stretch of obtaining hours of clinical experience and will sit for the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination by the end of the year in hopes of becoming a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor. I work with Transitional Aged Youth ages 18-24 providing case management services geared towards obtaining education, employment, and long-term housing, individual and group therapy, conduct Biopsychosocial assessments, and spearheads a Women’s Empowerment Group for the young women onsite. When I first started working at the agency, I was the only Black therapist and I specifically chose that agency to provide representation for the Black youth in this particular role. Often times I would hear the youth talk about wanting therapy but would shy away from it because they didn’t want to “talk to the White man/White lady.” Here, I am the example, the familiarity, and have the ability to destigmatize mental health for a predominately Black and Brown population. I aim to make therapy an enjoyable experience for all of my clients and provide a safe space for them to share their stories.
My primary areas of expertise include abuse, anxiety disorders, depression, forgiveness, gender dysphoria, identity issues, mood disorders, relationship issues, self-care, self-esteem, shame and guilt, sexual abuse/assault, suicide/suicidal ideation, and trauma. I work directly with clients who are connected to the Department of Mental Health, former foster youth, human trafficking survivors, and the LGBTQIA+ community. I’m known for being a leader but not in the traditional sense. Although I do have great leadership skills and abilities, many people have told me that I’m a source of inspiration and a role model. People look up to me for my resilience, my focus, and my pure heart. I’m the person who’s always encouraging others and uplifting them with positive affirmations. I’ve been told that I’m a Quiet Storm and can provide a calming presence in the midst of chaos. As a professional I’m relatable, but I don’t play! Lastly, I’m known for my faith. My mother instilled in me many great values and keeping God first as the head of my life is the value I cherish most!
I’m most proud of my tenacious spirit. I’ve defied odds from the moment I came out of my mother’s womb and by the grace of God I’m still here! I know that I have a purpose to fulfill and I believe my purpose is to help and heal others. I believe what sets me apart from others is my life story. The trajectory of my life is far from normal, but I’ve also faced adversity in other ways such as growing up in a single-parent home being raised by my mother, being Black in America and a dark-skinned girl at that and navigating life with my condition. Thankfully growing up, the children at my school embraced me and never treated me differently. In spite of having a lifelong medical condition, I’ve persevered and handled each curveball that life threw my way with grace. I’ve pushed through and never complained despite not having a “normal” life.
What was your favorite childhood memory?
My favorite childhood memory would be my birthday parties. My mom threw me the most epic birthday parties and I had a huge party every year. The one that sticks out the most was my eighth birthday sleepover. I attended a Christian School and we had two of the same classes. I handed out my invites to both third-grade classes, the kids from my neighborhood and the kids from my church. You know, you usually over-invite just in case. Well… everyone showed up! My mom couldn’t believe it and of course, I was in heaven! Our house was so packed; girls were lined up in their sleeping bags, sleeping peacefully in the hallway, the living room, and beyond. I’ll never forget it!
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.theeheartofthematter.com
- Instagram: @theeheartofthematter
- Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/Thee-Heart-of-The-Matter
- Other: tiktok.com/@theeheartofthematter
My main photo & personality shot was taken by one of my best friend’s Whitney. She’s an amazing photographer, storyteller, and filmmaker! Check her out on IG @bywhitlauren and TikTok @becomingwhit. My graduation photoshoot photo was taken by my cousin Sahmia Ase. She’s an amazing photography and visual storyteller! Check her out on IG @sahmiaasephotography and www.sahmiaase.org