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'Empire' Star Grace Gealey on Celebrating Life

The "Empire" star writes about the lessons she's learned from a near-death experience.
‘Empire’ Star Grace Gealey on Celebrating Life
Gilles Toucas

Oh, friends. The time has come. With the adieu of Empire, I too must say goodbye to my ESSENCE.com blog. I can’t tell you how extraordinary it’s been to share with all of you my thoughts, beliefs and some of the things that mean the most to me. Your responses have been positively overwhelming and I’m so glad and grateful that we could all connect in this way. A heartfelt thanks you to each and every one of you.

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With this entry, I wanted to go a little deeper and share something a bit more personal about what ‘goodbye’ has almost meant to me. It’s still quite weird for me to say, but I’ve almost lost my life a number of times. Maybe we all have had a near-death experience… hopefully not, but I certainly have had more than I would have liked to have encountered. Quite possibly while watching Empire you might have noticed, under certain lighting, a very prominent scar through my left eyebrow. That was probably the most recent event, a few years ago, when I was hit dead-on by a Yukon truck (split my forehead to the skull; 15 stitches). My body went into trauma, the bruises were practically black all over my body and the healing process took a few weeks. I couldn’t work, I couldn’t audition; I could barely leave the house. I was living in New York at the time so I didn’t know what to do with myself because I was always on my starving-artist-hustle-grind. But now, everything had come to an abrupt halt and I was forced to spend all of my time, in bed, thinking. Here’s what I discovered:

1. It’s so easy to get whisked away in the hubbub of friends, work and busy-ness, but we need to take the time to be still and become aware of ourselves. The small things. The fact that we’re still breathing. Our ability to move. The presence of love around and in us. Our strengths. Our opportunities. Our journeys. Let us swell with gratitude and allow it to overwhelm us. It isn’t as cliché as we make it; life truly is short. Let’s spend it all lavishly wallowing in gratitude.

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2. We do not know each other’s stories. Living the life I have lived, being raised by deaf parents, assimilating to a different culture and the challenges I have faced over time has given me insight to the fact that each person has their own complex, intricate story and it’s rarely what I suspect it is. We must have compassion and grace for each other. We MUST. Each person slowly walking up the stairs in front of you that is making you late may be healing from a pelvic injury. Each person who cuts you off in the street could be rushing somewhere else to urgently aid a friend in need. Each person you scream at because they are so ‘oblivious’ and haven’t answered your demands, could simply be deaf. We are all we have. Let’s be unwaveringly generous in showering each other with compassion, patience and grace. We need it much more than we think.

3. We aren’t perfect. And I love that about us! But in the same breath, that means that there are always opportunities for us to grow and become even more dope human beings. If you have success, love and people around to share it with, my heart is smiling with you. But with or without that, let us not forget that we aren’t done yet. No matter how old we get, how far we come along, how much success we have or even if we have attained everything we have ever desired, there is still room to ameliorate our hearts, our behaviors, our thoughts and the way that we connect with others. Let’s awake every morning making a conscious effort to listen a little more, fight a little harder, celebrate a little bigger and love ourselves and others a little better.

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We may not know what each day has in store for us. We could be gone tomorrow.  Any minute could truly be our goodbye. But we do have this moment. This time. Today. Right now. It takes way more effort to shell out hate then it does to allow love to flow freely in our lives. After all, it’s what we were born to do.

Celebrating life, life and so much more life with you today in this very moment, 


Follow Grace on Twitter while we all wait for the return of Empire. Read her previous blogs here, here and here.