Like our natural hair, life is a gift that deserves a celebration.

Let us start speaking, acting, and believing toward the grand purpose that only we know we are here to fulfill. Then, let the world feel our purpose by witnessing the gracefulness in the ways we live.

In 2011 I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease named Takayasu’s Vasculitis.

Forced to put my life on hold at the age of twenty-one, I spent a year and a half on bed rest until boredom and a great desire for rediscovering my life’s purpose overcame my mind. After a lengthy series of tests imposed by the U.S. healthcare system, I was offered financial assistance to supplement my lifestyle as a person suffering from a debilitating chronic illness.

It was at this time that I was forced to make the difficult decision between working and receiving government assistance. I chose to get out of the bed and go back to work.

In 2012, I joined the NaturallyCurly team on a part-time basis as I continued a rigorous treatment plan that consisted of numerous pills, routine appointments with various medical specialists, and an IV infusion throughout each month. As Takayasu’s currently has no cure, the disease requires a keen eye and persistent maintenance in order for its patient to live as normal a life as possible.

Every day, I suffer from many pains that are not visible to the eye and therefore unexplainable to others. Still, that never deterred me from striving to live as fully as everyone else. In fact, my diagnosis encouraged me to center an important of part of my life’s mission by showing other autoimmune, vascular, chronic and invisible illness sufferers that, in fact, it is possible to thrive in this world under circumstances that can otherwise feel crippling, physically and mentally.

I have been blessed with some amazing people with a genuine desire to make a positive difference in the lives of everyone around them.

Robin Sjoblom is one of those people. After what was intended to be a routine hair appointment for a cut and style years ago has blossomed into a warming friendship filled with embrace and sympathy.

With the help of highly esteemed curly hair professionals including the creators of Innersense Organic Beauty and Curly Hair Artistry, master curly hair artist and owner of newly opened Southern Curl, Sjoblom put on her salon’s first annual fundraiser in an effort to help me raise money for my monthly treatment.

We called it #RockYourBlessings.

At the end of the day, our naturally curly, coily, and wavy hair is a God given blessing. Some people dream of the texture we were naturally born with! And truthfully, the movement makes an impact that goes beyond the hair on our head. For many of the community members, it is felt on an emotional, psychological, political, and spiritual level.

Once we learn to accept everything that we cannot control about ourselves, whether it about our physical appearance, family lives, finances, or health, we will start experiencing the meaning of a fuller life by default.

As a result, we will start to witness the beauty of everything and everyone around us. It’s about forming meaningful relationships with whatever or whomever fills us with positivity and love. This year’s fundraiser served this message to its full potential.

Keep up with us

Follow me on Instagram for more curly girl-survivor inspiration @DevriVelazquez

If you are in the Atlanta area, book an appointment with Robin at the Southern Curl salon. See their work on Instagram @SouthernCurlATL

Read Devri’s event recaps for Essence Festival 2016 and CurlFest 2016