Autumn’s got me daydreaming

Here in Wisconsin, autumn is in full-force. The temperatures have dipped, the sun shines a bit dimmer and sinks earlier than we’re used to, and most mornings call for a cozy sweatshirt and cup of pumpkin or mint-flavored coffee (or any other autumn-inspired beverage).

A hot caramel macchiato on a cold Wisconsin autumn day.

As a lover of summer and all that it brings, autumn in Wisconsin usually has me daydreaming for a bit more sunshine, more 80-degree days, and maybe a new adventure altogether. While drinking coffee with hazelnut coffee creamer (because I’m the type of girl who loves creamer more than the actual coffee), my mind usually wanders to my next adventure.

Usually with daydreams, it’s go big or go home. Why would our brains limit us when the possibilities are endless in our dreams? The thrill behind daydreams is to dream up the “what ifs.”

What if you had an extra $10,000 to spend on your dream trip? Places like Earnest make fulfilling your dreams possible with low-interest personal loans to assist you in making those dreams a reality.

For me, I’ve been dreaming of taking a trip back to the East Coast. After my move from New Jersey back to Wisconsin, I’ve already felt the itch to return to New York. As a millennial who embraces technology, there are so many options that make traveling more affordable and easier than it’s ever been.

Autumn is ideal for a trip to NYC. Southwest offers cheap flights, so I’d hop on a plane from the Milwaukee to LaGuardia airport.

One of the coolest recent technological advancements is Airbnb, an app on your phone where you can browse and book stays in rooms, apartments, or houses for your trips. Communication with the host of your accommodation is done through the app, and prices can often be more affordable than you’d find for traditional hotels. Airbnb can be a great option not only if you’re looking to save money, but also if you’re looking for a more unique travel experience.

My Airbnb would be close to one of my favorite places in Manhattan: Central Park. I love the blend of city and nature, the ponds throughout the park, and it’s perfect for people-watching.

Central Park in panorama.

After a walk through Central Park, it’s only natural that I’d need some pizza to satisfy my hunger. Luckily New York is a place where I have many options for a slice at $1 a pop (or $3 if I wanted to splurge). Then I’d venture down to the perfect place for me: a dessert shop called Becky Bites NYC. Of course, why wouldn’t I go there? Founder of the shop, Becky Rosenthal, has created a heavenly place with cream-cheese inspired treats that are just too good to pass up.
My sweet tooth satisfied, and with my extra travel money still burning holes in my pockets, shopping seems like an obvious way to spend part of my day in the city. The largest department store in the world, Macy’s Herald Square, seems like a wise choice. But I wouldn’t be shopping just for the sake of shopping: I’d be on the hunt for the perfect dress for a night out in Manhattan.

After finding the winning dress, my day in the city wouldn’t be complete without some spectacular views. So I’d head over to 230 Fifth, a heated rooftop bar with a view that’ll blow you away. I’d make sure to make it to the rooftop early enough to see the sunset over the beautiful city. 

The view from the 230 Fifth rooftop bar. Photo credit: Rikki Helvey.

Running around Manhattan all day gives you an appetite, so I’m sure while I’m soaking in the view, I’d have to enjoy one of the options from the bar’s food menu. As a vegetarian, sometimes my options at restaurants can be limited, and sometimes limited to only items from the appetizer menu. But at 230 Fifth, the vegetarian ravioli or Asian vegetarian noodles would be perfect entrees for me (mainly because I’m forever obsessed with pasta).

Nighttime calls for something I haven’t done in NYC since I was 13: seeing a Broadway show. With shows like Anastasia, Wicked, and Hamilton onstage currently, you can’t go wrong. There’s just something magical about Broadway.

My night complete, I’d return to my Airbnb to sleep off the event-filled day I’d had, and definitely sleep in. My second day would involve plenty of museums, which is always one of my favorite things to do whenever I travel. The Museum of Natural History is one of my favorites, so I’d start there, but I’d want to venture out and explore museums I haven’t seen yet, like the Met and the Guggenheim.

American Museum of Natural History.

Of course throughout the day I’d indulge in some mandatory NYC bagels, and probably more pizza. In a city like New York, your food options are basically endless. Foods like bagels and pizza are not only delicious–they’re also convenient for when you’re on the go, which is a given if you’re in New York. After all the running around, I’d go back to my Airbnb earlier and relax for the night.

On my last full day in NYC, I’d take a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, another one of my favorite New York sights.

The view from the Brooklyn Bridge.

I’d make sure to bring a good book and find a bench in Brooklyn Bridge Park, which offers beautiful views of the Lower Manhattan skyline.

View of Lower Manhattan from Brooklyn Bridge Park.

The next day I’d fly back to Wisconsin, promising that I’ll return to New York as soon as I could (which would be feasible with the leftover money from the extra $10,000 to go towards the trip). No matter how many times I visit New York, I’m already planning what I’ll see next time I’m there. For now, I’ll keep dreaming.

If you had $10,000 to put towards your dream trip, where would you go?

 

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A Letter to Myself (To My College Self)

college-1

Impromptu college photo shoots were the best.

Dear college me,

Remember high school freshman orientation when your principal said, “These are the best four years of your life”? He was clearly wrong. The best four years of your life are your college years.

I speak from a place far, far away—I come from the future. Great Scott!

part high quality future great back

Go figure, I just had to throw in a Back to the Future reference.). But since future me has been in the “real world” for a few years now, I can say from experience that so far, the college years were some of the best years of my life.

Sure, I know right now you’re probably reading this while procrastinating on a paper you should be writing for Honors, or Spanish, or Creative Nonfiction…or maybe all three. Right now you’re probably panicking about how busy you are, how there never seems like there’s enough time in the day to get all these papers done. You wish that the coffee shop on campus was open 24 hours (and just an FYI: you will miss those delicious coffees more than you can even imagine).

I’m probably being a bad influence right now, but keep procrastinating for a little longer and let me school you with some knowledge. Just kidding. But I do want to fill you in on what I wish I would have known during college:

1. It’s okay to stress out. What you’re doing right now? It’s normal. You’re a college student. You are an Honors student. You’re double-majoring. You’re writing for the college newspaper. You have a lot on your mind, and that’s perfectly okay. Taking steps to reduce stress, as long as it’s healthy, is always a good idea. It’ll be a few years before you heed my advice, but let me just tell you now: Yoga does wonders. Honestly. You’ll thank me later.

2. Enjoy the adventures. Throughout your college years, you will have opportunities to travel to new places around the country, and for the first time, you’ll finally set foot outside the United States, traveling to Greece.

college-2

Ending college with a bang at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece.

Trust me: Right now, that will be the opportunity of a lifetime, and it will forever be one of the most beautiful places you’ve ever seen. Take it all in, take tons of photos, breathe, close your eyes, and appreciate the beauty of the world around you. You’ll remember these moments for years to come.

3. Life post-college is just as confusing/stressful/complicated/weird as college life is. No, even in your mid-20s, you still won’t have life “figured out.” Will we ever have it figured out? Who knows. But what I do know is that life will take you to places you never thought you’d end up (like New Jersey and New York City).

college-3

Sunset at the most beautiful beach in Ocean City, New Jersey.

college-4

Walking along the Brooklyn Bridge to catch the New York City Marathon.

Your life will probably always be unpredictable, but isn’t that what makes life thrilling?

4. As a millennial, you and millions of other college grads around the country will deal with paying back student loans. 20-somethings everywhere are in the same boat as you are, so you don’t need to feel alone. Even though the idea of student debt is daunting, places like Earnest exist to help students refinance your loans. They also help students understand finances better, which is obviously important for all of us. Adulting outside of college is tricky, but finding the right resources to help you will only help you out in the long run, so no worries.

5. There is no timeline for chasing after your dreams. You may compare yourself to others around you, and in case you were wondering, you’ll compare yourself even more once you’re out of college, unfortunately. Social media plays into it because we only post what we want others to see. You’ll see people living lives that you’re slightly jealous of. You’ll wonder what you’re doing wrong. The answer: Nothing. You’re walking along the path that’s right for you. You’re taking steps towards where you want to be physically, mentally, and emotionally. Just know that comparing yourself to others is natural, but the path you are on is uniquely yours.

6. You are capable. I know you, and I know that voice of insecurity. Even if you don’t believe me right now, just know that you are capable of success, in whichever way that may be. You are capable of finding peace. You are capable of finding day-to-day happiness. You are capable of finding security—security in your identity, in your present life, in your future. Just know that right now where I am in life, I am on that journey towards achieving all of those things. Yes, there will be dark times that you may feel you won’t emotionally survive. But somehow, you will. The journey only continues, and you will walk on.

7. It’s okay to love yourself. Your college years will be the most inspiring years of your life (at least they have been so far), so please take advantage of these years. Relish in those moments of confidence, inspiration, and self love. Loving yourself isn’t vain—loving yourself is crucial to living with yourself. After some rocky years post-college, I know that. I live that. So I just want you to love yourself and be proud of it.

I’m sure right now it’s nearly midnight, so you should probably get back to the papers you’re procrastinating on. I know you might be a little bundle of nerves, but honestly, I think that’s just a part of the college experience. To be honest, I’m slightly jealous of you. Life outside of college is another world entirely, and even though I don’t miss the stress of college, I miss the atmosphere. So breathe it in, write in one of those fancy journals until your hand cramps up, drink too much coffee, and always say yes to movie nights with your friends down the hall. You’ll never, ever regret it. Just know that I love you. I always have, and I always will.

Love,

Future Me

college-5

All we can do sometimes is laugh our way through life.

Female Expectations: What’s up with that?

Men and women have always had different expectations in society. That’s the way history has played out, and continues to play out today. As women gained more equality, doors were opened to more opportunities.

Source: heragenda.com

Source: heragenda.com

Despite the advances women have made, there is obviously more changes that need to happen. One of the many expectations that needs to change is the idea of “having it all.”

What does that mean?

It appears that the phrase could have derived from author and Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown’s 1982 book entitled “Having It All: Love, Success, Sex, Money…Even if You’re Starting With Nothing.”

The title wasn’t Brown’s idea, and she actually hated the title. But it appears that society has ran with this idea that women should chase after “having it all.”

The first thing I want to note is that “having it all” is a phrase not directed at the population at large. It is specified to women, and women only.

Why?

I’m honestly not sure. I’m assuming because society believes that men already have it all. So someone concocted this idea that no women “have it all.” Thus, society needed to dish out advice to women on how they too can “have it all.”

But first, society needs to define what they believe all women in 2015 must have in order to truly “have it all” and have succeeded in life:

1.

Source: hercampus.com

Source: hercampus.com

College degree.

2.

Source: davisvision.com

Source: davisvision.com

Career.

3.

Source: playbuzz.com

Source: playbuzz.com

Marriage.

4.

Source: mothersniche.com

Source: mothersniche.com

Kids.

Are there women who do in fact want everything on this list? Of course.

But does every single woman on the face of the planet want all of these things?

Source: memecrunch.com

Source: memecrunch.com

The problem with the phrase “having it all” assumes that all women, all over the planet, have the exact same list of dreams they hope to accomplish in life in order to feel like they’ve “made it.” This isn’t the case. We are human beings. We are not one size fits all. We aren’t robots.

I believe that just like men, women should feel free to live their lives as they please (as long as they’re not hurting anyone or committing crimes, of course). We don’t see articles about men struggling to “have it all,” yet throughout the years, there have been many magazine covers like this:

Source: washingtonpost.com

Source: washingtonpost.com

Source: content.time.com

Source: content.time.com

Source: content.time.com

Source: content.time.com

All of these magazine covers are debating about what’s “right” for women’s lives. These in-depth articles explore “nontraditional” decisions some women make. These articles dissect the statistics of how many women aren’t having kids, what happens when women have a career and kids, and explores the reasons for women parenting the way that they do.

Do magazines study and write extensive articles like this about men? No. Men have never been involved in these repetitive discussions that seem to be never-ending.

My question about these debates on women’s lives?

Source: troll.me

Source: troll.me

Honestly, why does any of this matter? Should it?

My theory is that the media and society make it appear like it matters because women are still consistently judged by absolutely everyone. It’s a fact of being a woman in the world.

Our appearances, life choices, goals, dreams, and opinions are all dissected, picked apart, debated, questioned, and judged. We are judged by the media, society, our teachers, our families, churches, doctors, and strangers. We cannot escape judgement.

The problem with this is that society has made it impossible for women to “have it all” because society has a specific opinion on what “it all” is. If you haven’t checked every box on their list, then you don’t have it all according to society.

When there is a trend of women making decisions different from society’s expectations of them, like opting out of parenthood, for example, the media and society freak out like the world is coming to an end.

Source: searchbuzz.co

Source: searchbuzz.co

“Oh my gosh, why are less women having kids?!?’

“What’s wrong with these women?”

“How can we change their minds?”

“Are women who don’t have kids selfish?”

Women still have narrow expectations in society today, even in America. When we travel our own paths and make our own choices, there is an absolute frenzy from, well, everyone. Women are still expected to check every item off the list of the “To Do List of Every Woman on the Planet,” and when women don’t, there are debates about why not.

Newsflash: It doesn’t matter.

If women aren’t hurting anyone, who cares if some women don’t have kids?

Or don’t get married?

Or don’t go to college?

Or don’t have a perfect career?

Women are human beings, too, and not all women have the same brain, the same values, or even the same interests. Shocking, I know. Women are (GASP!) free to make choices. Just like not all men have the same ambitions in life, neither do women.

This idea of women “having it all” seems to give women the message that they can never have “it all” because it’s impossible. Evidently they are saying, “It’s possible for men to have a college degree, get married, have kids, and have a career, but women, you just can’t do that. Sorry!” It’s the assumption that all women everywhere want all of these things, and that it’s automatically an impossibility.

My version of “having it all” may differ from another woman’s version of it. Also, I don’t even believe in the phrase “having it all” because I believe that the phrase is just agenda pushing. It’s pushing the message that women are set up to fail and that they should be fighting their entire lives to achieve “it all.” It’s just forcing women to continue being “good girls” and following what society expects from them. Men are judged slightly for not achieving these things as well, but not even close to the degree women are judged. Women are judged so harshly it’s fulled worldwide debates.

As everyone continues to debate if women can “have it all” (or if “having it all” should even be discussed anymore), I hope that more people start coming around to the idea that women can make individual choices and that the only thing that should matter is that women are happy and fulfilling their own personal dreams.

Someday (Letter Three)

Someday, this will be a memory. Someday you'll be okay.

Someday, this will be just a memory. Someday, you’ll be okay.

This is my third letter to myself. I know, I write letters to myself a lot. But writing in itself is cathartic, and this letter-writing technique has proven to be just what I needed.

Letter One

Letter Two

———————————————————————————————————

Dear Me,

Maybe one day I’ll stop writing you letters.  Right now, I haven’t yet said enough. It’s crucial to communicate with you.

Today is one of those beautiful “good” days. Your thoughts are clear, and you feel in control.

I cannot, however, explain why your negative thoughts surrounded you a couple of days ago. They swarmed like bees, stinging you again and again. They made their way into your mouth, down your throat, and suffocated you. You collapsed, succumbing to these thoughts instead of controlling them. That day, your negativity controlled you.

At this point in time, I still cannot pinpoint what causes these turbulent meltdowns. Thankfully, they are rare. The clear days seem to outweigh the ones clouded with questions, judgments, and labels.

That most recent dark day was darker than usual. The negative thoughts surrounded and stung so quickly, it made more sense to stay still, hoping they’d just move on. Swatting them away would only make them more aggressive. But on this particular day, they were relentless. You had no defense to guard yourself from the attack.

No matter how painful those thoughts stung, and no matter how unexpected it was, one thing is certain:

You made it. You made it to a day in which you feel in control. Do you know what that means?

It means that someday, you’ll be in control. Someday, your realistic thoughts will outweigh the negatives. Someday, these thoughts that drive you to a meltdown will no longer matter. They won’t sting. They will roll away to the back of your mind, and slowly fade.

For now, you are stronger than I ever thought you would be. You have been fighting against those negative thoughts with all of your being. Instead of surrendering to the questions, obsessions, the insecurities, you are challenging them all. This is a strength you didn’t possess four years ago.

This strength takes work. Every day. You work every day to treat yourself with respect. To be realistic. You know that the dark days don’t happen often anymore, but they aren’t over for good.

That’s okay. I mean it.

Acceptance is the most difficult part of moving on. I don’t mean acceptance of the situation. That may never happen. It’s my belief that while you can acknowledge what happened to your relationship (an arson set fire to it), you may never “accept” it. Maybe you will. That remains to be seen.

What I mean by acceptance is your acceptance of your mistakes and emotions. I want you to accept your occasional meltdowns. The bad days. The missteps. They happen. I want you to accept that just like perfection doesn’t exist anywhere in the world, you aren’t perfect, either. Expecting perfection from yourself is setting yourself up for disappointment.

I also ask that you strive to be patient. You are coping in a healthy way this time around, but please don’t beat yourself up on the dark days. Accept them as a part of the process, and know that these days will become significantly fewer in time.

Trust me, it’s okay.

I want you to accept yourself because someday, you will be okay.

Someday, none of those negative thoughts will even be thoughts anymore.

Someday, you won’t have meltdowns over this. They will be memories that shaped you.

Someday, you will be apathetic about this time period of your life. You will no longer hate him, or her, or yourself. You will understand that this was just a part of your life, but you won’t be angry forever about this.

Someday, you won’t blame yourself. For now, please, even on your darkest days, STOP.

No matter how confused you are, no matter what dark corners of your mind those negative thoughts drive you to, just know that it never was your fault. You couldn’t have done anything to prevent it, you aren’t the one who caused him to hurt you, and you did not deserve it. Please, no more “Why me” or “What’s wrong with me” or “What did I do.”

“Why me?” It could have happened to anyone. Honestly, it’s just a shitty reality in life.

“What’s wrong with me?” Nothing. At least, speaking in the terms of this situation, nothing. Do you have flaws? Yes. Does everyone have flaws? Yes. Did your flaws drive him to sleep with someone else behind your back? No. Hell-to-the-no.

“What did I do?” Nothing. In terms of what I know you mean, you did nothing to deserve someone to lie to you and betray the relationship you thought you had.

Every thought you have should help you, not hurt you. Obsessing hurts, anger hurts, insecurity hurts, negative self-talk hurts. While I know that it feels impossible on the dark days, but you have to just stamp out these behaviors. There’s no other way around it. I will not allow you to accept these behaviors, because they cause you pain.

Ask yourself, “Is this helping or hurting me?” If it’s an obsession, angry or negative thought, or an insecurity, it will automatically be hurting you. In these times, it’s crucial to pull away and distract your mind.

Just know that I love you, I’m proud of you, and you are amazing for your strength right now. You have progressed so much, and you are coping with this better than I ever could have imagined.

You’ll be okay someday.

Love,

Me

In honor of International Women’s Day (Why I’m a feminist)

Source: patheos.com

Source: patheos.com

Today, March 8th, is International Women’s Day. I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, and I decided that today would be the perfect time.

In 2015, we live in a generation of opposing viewpoints. Feminists speaking out on one end, and politicians or anti-feminists trying to take our society backwards on the other.

In America, we live in a society with many opportunities that women in other countries do not have. However, even we do not have full equality. This is a disappointment as a female American citizen living in the 21st century.

I believe that I should not have any reasons to be a feminist other than I believe in equality. But in this society, we are expected to have reasons for being a feminist. As if we should justify, qualify our opinions.

I am a feminist because I am. It’s as simple as that. But I am a feminist not for myself. I’m a feminist for women who don’t have a voice.

We need feminism because society has created fear of the word. We need feminism because feminism is viewed as a debatable issue rather than an obvious right. We need feminism because when celebrities announce they are feminists, it’s called “coming out,” as if they’ve been hiding a dark secret.

We need feminism because there are anti-feminists. There are people who minimize women’s issues as “feminist bitching.”

Voicing the belief in equal rights doesn’t make us bitches. It makes us human beings.

While I do not belive I need to divulge any reasons as to why I identify as a feminist, I do feel it necessary to express my need for feminism.

I need feminism because without it, my country may never have given women the right to vote.

I need feminism because I earn less than men.

I need feminism because advertisers tell me every day what I should look like.

I need feminism because advertisers give me different rules every day.

I need feminism because rape against women is debated by mostly male politicians.

I need feminism because women are told how to avoid being a victim of rape, while men are told how to pick up hoes.

I need feminism because women on the red carpet are asked, “What are you wearing?” before asking about the fucking movie.

I need feminism because Meghan Trainor shames women who are skinny, degrading them to “stick figure silicone Barbie dolls” (and gives poor excuses for doing so).

I need feminism because about 24 million women and men suffer from eating disorders in America. I’m willing to bet that society’s fucked up beauty standards and obsession with our bodies has something to do with that.

I need feminism when colleges allow rapists to return to school, which is horrifying and traumatic for the victims.

I need feminism because my ex-boyfriend told me I was weak.

I need feminism because women don’t need rules.

I need feminism because I don’t need marriage. If I want it, I can choose it.

I need feminism because I want control over my own body.

I need feminism because it is my choice whether or not to have kids–not society’s.

I need feminism because women are advised to travel in pairs or groups for our own safety.

I need feminism because women are told we can do anything we want–as long as we get married, have the right amount of kids (no one knows the exact number, but it’s constantly changing), and work the right amount (this is constantly changing too).

I need feminism because women’s choices are not viewed as CHOICES. They are viewed as right or wrong, and open for debate.

I need feminism because I am told I’m pretty more than I am told I’m smart.

I need feminism because some people believe rape victims were “asking for it.”

I need feminism because when I was a teenager, I read a Christian book that blamed rape victims. Their hypothesis: if women wear sexy clothes, men cannot help themselves.

I need feminism because control over women’s bodies and “blurring” the lines between rough sex and sexual assault are not only glorified, but books and music about this topic sells billions of dollars (Robin Thicke or 50 Shades, anyone?)

I need feminism because when a male celebrity’s naked photos are leaked, the situation is “funny.” When the same situation happens to a female celebrity, some call her a “whore,” and blame her for taking the photos in the first place.

I need feminism because some men use their drunkenness as an excuse to verbally or sexually harass me in bars.

I need feminism because a drunk man once offered me money to kiss him. While I had a boyfriend. After I had already rejected his flirtations (true story).

I need feminism because if I reject a guy for a date after he comes off too aggressive, his friend calls me a “bitch” and a “cunt” on Facebook (also true story).

I need feminism because there are many names used to shame women: slut, whore, cunt, bitch, skank, sleaze, easy, loose, open-for-business.

I need feminism because men are applauded for the types of behaviors that give women the names listed above.

I need feminism because I believe in body autonomy. My body is mine, no matter what our government, society, or some religions would like me to believe.

I need feminism because little girls are still learning that their looks matter. But there are young girls standing up to voice how much more important their education is than being pretty.

I need feminism because we should be celebrating women and voicing our hopes for equality every day of the year.

I need feminism because there are movements created with the purpose to tear down the progress feminists have made in this country. Movements that are blatantly sexist against women and have a disturbing number of followers.

I need feminism because Elliot Rodger is, to my horror, viewed by some “Red Pill” anti-women activists as a “hero.” Rodger wrote a disturbing manifesto before going on a shooting rampage, killing six people and wounding 14 others.

I need feminism because with the internet, it’s easier for men to harrass me online.

I need feminism because I’m not a bitch for having a voice.

We live in country  where we value “freedom,” yet it doesn’t exist for everyone. Feminism has evolved and been beneficial for women’s rights, but we’re not done. In my lifetime, I hope to see even more changes towards equality. The fight isn’t over. We can’t be afraid to stand up, speak out, and fight back against the ones dragging us down.

People who don’t get it

As writers, we often come across people who don’t “get it.” I’ve written poems to the people who don’t understand art.

Writing is an art that isn’t black and white (thankfully). We can interpret a piece in a million different ways. We can use our life experiences to relate to someone’s work.

However, if we’re the author and someone is misunderstanding our work and blaming us, how should we feel?

Is the problem us, them, or neither party?

Recently I wrote a post about “fire safety,” but it was a metaphor. Do I need to say what the metaphor is?

My assumption is that readers can figure it out.

Right?

That’s my hope, after all.

My hopes were dashed today when I received some rude tweets from someone who clearly didn’t “get it.”

Here’s how it went down:

Her: Did you really sit in your house while it was on fire?

Me: Hahaha, no, it’s a metaphor.

Her: Oh good cause I thought you were really a dumbass.

Source: imgarcade.com She did.

Source: imgarcade.com
She did.

Me: Yeah no. It’s quite clearly not about a real fire. It’s an obvious metaphor…

Her: Well it’s clearly not if I had to ask.

Me: Nah, it’s pretty clear. Maybe you just didn’t get the metaphor?

Her: I guess it’s just not that good.

Source: hellogiggles.com

Source: hellogiggles.com

Me: Well then you don’t have to read it. #thanks #ByeFelicia 🙂

For real, that actually went down.

If I had to give some advice to people out there wondering how to critique a writer’s work, here are some helpful tips:

Rule #1: Don’t call the author a dumbass. I know it’s shocking, but calling anyone a dumbass may come off as rude.

Rule #2: Don’t continue to insult the author. You may come off as hostile.

Rule #3: If you don’t understand the author’s intentions, remember that you didn’t have to read or even reach out.

Rule #4: Be prepared for the author to be offended. The author may not even feel inclined to be overly kind to you. Who would be cheerful after someone just called her a dumbass?

My conclusions from this little Twitter exchange?

Source: memegenerator.net

Source: memegenerator.net

No matter how long you’ve been writing, no matter how educated in the writing field you are, you will have haters. It’s just life. And like T-Swizzle, it’s better to just shake it off (or write a snarky post about it). Whichever works for you. Using whatever inspiration you can find to motivate your writing is something that will help your writing evolve. So maybe we need haters?

 

 

 

 

Learning to breathe

Bought this today. I already keep a journal, but this one will be for my three daily positives and my thoughts.

Bought this today. I already keep a journal, but this one will be for my three daily positives and my thoughts.

Today is my first day learning how to breathe.

In counseling, I learned about deep breathing and visualization. When dealing with anxiety, learning how to control your breathing is crucial. If you’re stressed, you can think of the most relaxing place you have been, and close your eyes while envisioning this place. The sights, sounds, and feelings.

Here is mine:

Greece is my favorite place I've been so far. Tranquil, colorful, and a dream.

Greece is my favorite place I’ve been so far. Tranquil, colorful, and a dream.

Three times a day (or more, if I need it), I am practicing deep breathing and relaxing visualizations. I’m combining this with journaling my thoughts and three daily positives. The breathing is especially important if I catch myself in negative thoughts and when I feel the anxiety building.

I also learned about how the thought process works:

Source: weplay.co

Source: weplay.co

Or, in other words:

Situation—->Thought—->Feeling—->Behavior—->Thought

During the thought process, it’s never the situation itself that causes our feelings and behaviors. It is our thoughts about the situation that cause our feelings and behaviors. We go through hundreds of situations every day, and we have automatic thoughts about those situations. Those in turn affect our feelings, thus affecting how we react to the situations that happen in our daily lives.

Today was Day One of learning how to breathe. My first two sessions of deep breathing during the day were before I had any stress. I thought, “Maybe I don’t need to worry. It’s already working. I don’t have any negative thoughts. I’m cured!”

But then, the flashes of negativity struck, dragging my body down that familiar path. I could sense I was inching towards that vicious cycle of anxiety. Panic. It can be like a black hole once it sucks you in. Once you’re in the middle of it, there’s no one helping you out. You’re on your own.

I caught myself before I fell. I immediately sat down, closed my eyes, and mentally traveled back to Greece. I could hear the splashing of the sea, hear the laughter of tourists, see the green water and the rocks at the bottom.

I had climbed safely out of the negative darkness on my own. My thoughts, in that instance, did not get the best of me.

I know this will take practice. Day One was a good day. But not all days will be this simple. I may not catch my negative thoughts the moment they occur. The questions, insecurities, and irrational thoughts happen so suddenly that it takes only seconds for them to manifest into an emotional meltdown.

Night will always be the most difficult. For some reason, the time when my body and mind decompress is when the demons come out to play. As I lay my head to the pillow, the little devils are there, gnawing at my shoulders, face, and ears with their pointy, yellow teeth. Shaking them off has proven easier said than done. They latch onto my skin with their claws, hanging onto me all day. At night they awake to play their tormented games.

I can’t breathe with the demons hanging onto me. Shaking them off only allows them to latch on more forcefully, choking me, slashing at my throat. It puts them on the defense. They attack me, beat me to the ground until I can’t fight back.

Instead of fighting against the demons, I have to let them go. Replace them with other thoughts. When the demons follow behind me, I have visions to distract me, to show them that they are not wanted.

Every day won’t be like Day One. Learning to breathe isn’t automatic. It is a process. I am practicing, and soon, it will come naturally. The oxygen is slowly seeping back into my lungs. The oxygen is clean, safe. For so long I have been inhaling toxins, and now I am riding my body of the harmful chemicals that used to permeate my life.

Having a plan keeps the demons (mostly) hiding out. They’ll come back to taunt me, but I’m armed and ready for them. I know I’m stronger than they are.

I’m stronger than I’ve ever given myself credit for. Finally, I’m beginning to see it. There will days of doubt, of weakness, and of depression. But I know that I’ve clawed my way out of every hole I’ve been thrown into. Nothing will make sense now, but it will in the future. For now, I have to just learn to breathe.

 

 

A letter to myself: take two

You'll be okay. I promise.

You’ll be okay. I promise.

Dear Me,

You feel bipolar. This morning you woke up refreshed, giddy, assured. Tonight, you’re a mess. Dark, desperate, insecure.

You will feel bipolar for many months. Trust me. Just when you think it’s over, it’s not. Your bliss will be shattered by stabbing pain that chokes you.

The thoughts are evil voices in your head. Sick obsessions that you have to shake off but can’t. You can’t communicate with the little devils. You shouldn’t answer their questions, even though you formulate your answers:

“Yes, she’s prettier.”

“No, I wish I hadn’t met him.”

“Yes, I’m sure they’re dating already.”

“No, she can have him. I’m done.”

“Yes, I’ll be okay someday.”

“No, I’m done with relationships.”

You fear falling asleep and recalling the nightmares when you wake up. But you have to admit, the dream of punching him in the face was worth remembering.

Emotional stability is a thing of the past. You latched onto it briefly, and here you are, back to daily uncertainty. A briefcase full of emotions that seem to appear out of nowhere.

The questions you ask yourself everyday are crushing. Your thoughts are eating you alive. Without positive thoughts, you’ll waste away.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry that no matter how thick your armor, you cannot shield yourself from the pain. Time does nothing but dull the wounds, scar the cuts, yellow the bruises. It can never be erased. You will carry it with you for the rest of your life.

And that terrifies you. You are scared that you’re the girl who needs fixing. The girl who’s broken. The girl who’s fucked up. Yes, that is maybe what you are right now.

You’re in recovery. You experience triggers every day, and right now, your reactions are negative. Music, movies, and television shows centered around relationships are intolerable. It must be anti-love or avoid the theme altogether. You almost gag at any mention of his too-common first name. Discussions of relationships in general give you snarky thoughts.

Recovery is torture. It’s a jagged path of glass. Every day you stumble along it, walking until you have to crawl. Your whole body is bloodied, and even then, it’s not over. The cuts that begin healing will reopen. Over and over.

Not only do you not believe in love (romantic love), but you also believe it to be a joke. A sick joke. Maybe a trick. Bigger than just a lie. An over two-year long April Fools.

You feel duped. Scammed. The girl who believed she won the lottery, if she only mail in a payment of $500. You wait for the big money, and while everyone is telling you it’s a scam, you don’t believe it.

Yes, you were tricked. Scammed. The butt of the joke.

I’m sorry. I know you look in the mirror and feel like a joke, but you’re not. You didn’t deserve it.

One day, your thoughts will evolve. You’ll learn to replace every “Why?” with “Who cares?” Every “What did I do?” with “It wasn’t my fault.” Every “I’m not good enough” with “I’m good enough for myself.”

One day, you won’t roll your eyes. One day, you won’t be haunted. Yes, it will take months, but it is in your future.

I know most of your thoughts are centered around “her.” You can’t help wondering what she had to make him sleep with her, to lie to you, and to keep him running back to her for more.

Newsflash: it doesn’t matter. None of it.

What does matter?

You.

Your smile, your body, your mind, your future, your emotional well-being, your physical well-being, your self-worth. All the aspects encompassing your relationship with yourself matter. Currently, all of those things are in jeopardy. And you know it.

You are rebuilding, learning, stumbling. You feel like a stranger trapped in your own body. You are ashamed and confused. You feel like a teenager having the classic “Who am I?” crisis.

Embrace that crisis. The past two and a half years, you forgot about you. Embrace this twisted but necessary opportunity to get to know yourself again.

Someday, you may meet someone. But please, keep your armor on. Wear your mask. At the FIRST sign of bullshit, RUN. The days of being nice are over.

Don’t, under any circumstances, feel obligated to be nice to someone who gives you bad vibes. Too much kindness is a sign that you are weak, and you cannot allow anyone to take advantage of you.

“His” words mean nothing. “I love you,” “I want to marry you,” “I’m not seeing anyone,” and “You’re the most beautiful girl in the world” was all code for “I’m a liar.” Yes, it’s a slap in the face, and he scammed you. No, that does not make you an idiot. Or gullible.

You trusted him. A mistake, yes. But if you do meet someone who could possibly be worth your time, don’t trust him immediately. I’m sorry to be a bitch, but after the fire you escaped, trust is no longer given. It is earned. This means you are a realist, a skeptic, and cautious until he has proven to be respectful, worth your time, honest, and kind. Those qualities are things you’ve neglected to search for in the past. Now, you won’t.

All that matters is you. Not her, not him. Thoughts of them are only keeping you prisoner. I know you can’t forget, and you never will. But as every second ticks by, you are one second closer to being “okay.” To being “moved on.” To hopefully being “happy.” And I mean genuine, self-accepting, contented happy. The happiness that only grows from a healthy relationship with oneself.

Right now, make that your mission. Allow positive thoughts to enter your mind because bullying yourself will only drive you further into darkness. Please.

Just know that you deserve to BE. You deserve to be confident. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to love your body, your mind, and your flaws. You deserve to be surrounded by people who mean what they say, appreciate you, and truly love you. You deserve to one day live without fear of being hurt, mistreated, or used.

Most importantly, you deserve to look in the mirror with pride in who you see. You deserve to live with yourself not as a stranger trapped in this body, but proud of it. You deserve to accept who you are, and accept that you will be okay someday.

Source: livefrommyheart.wordpress.com

Source: livefrommyheart.wordpress.com

You matter.

Love,

Me

Your True Colors Are Beautiful Like A Rainbow (Never Be Afraid To Be You)

Here is a great post from a fellow Wisconsinite and blogger, Miranda Miller. Check out her blog, The Wallflower Chronicles. I know I can relate to this post, especially in recent times.

The Wallflower Chronicles

Dont-be-afraid-to-show-who-you-really-are-because

I’ve come to realize something throughout my years of schooling: I don’t have to be afraid of being me! And I’m still learning that to this day. It’s one of the many lessons I’m still trying to figure out the twists and turns to.

The reason why I decided to write about this is because after spending time with myself, and taking some alone time, I’ve really realized that the only opinion I should care about…is my own. I don’t know why I rely on the approval of others so much; that’s just unhealthy.

The approval of others is good from time to time, but, ultimately, it’s YOUR opinion that decides who YOU become.

cropped-10411975_1507578006131990_8547956193154020165_n.jpg

The quote that had helped me realize that I don’t have to be afraid of being me was a quote I’ve heard many times from the amazing Broadway Star, Sierra Boggess: “You are enough. You are…

View original post 360 more words

Who cares about beauty? (We’re so much more than that)

Source: huffingtonpost.com

Source: huffingtonpost.com

While discussing women’s education and why it’s significant, a third grade student said, “Girls need to learn, too. It’s not just about our looks. We’re so much more that.”

Smart kid. This is the type of thinking I wish the media would adopt.

From birth, little girls are dressed in frilly pink dresses. The first compliment we hear in life is that we are pretty, cute, precious, sweet, or angelic.

We are taught how to apply makeup, and the media pushes their definitions of “beauty” in our faces throughout our entire lives. As girls, and later as women, we are taught that our beauty comes first.

Photography student Hannah Altman, currently attending Point Park University in Pittsburgh, recently did a photo series depicting the dangerous and impossible standards of female beauty. Through photographs of women splattered with glitter to represent blood, tears, and vomit, Altman shows how negatively “beauty” affects women if the fascination with it becomes an obsession.

Source: huffingtonpost.com

Source: huffingtonpost.com

From birth, our outward appearance is obsessed over so much that many of us internalize these values. We must be pretty first, and that is more significant than being smart. Our appearances win dates, not our brains.

The first comments we usually hear from peers relate to our looks.

“You’re pretty!”

“I love your makeup!”

“You have beautiful hair!”

“Your teeth are so white!”

The leading phrase regurgitated during those breakup pep talks our friends give is almost always the well-meaning “You’re a pretty girl. Guys will be lining up for you.”

Our bodies are what most guys notice first, and are the subject of the first comments they whisper in our ears (or send in random Facebook messages).

Compliments are usually meant to bring us up. But when the first things we hear are related to beauty, we are expected to believe that looks are the most significant part of us.

According to the media and society, it’s about WHAT we are, not WHO we are.

If you want to argue that men struggle with this pressure too, I beg to differ.

Most of us don’t ever hear men meet and say things like this to each other:

“Your hair is so hot!”

“Your muscles look great!”

“You’re so tall!”

“I wish I had your chest!”

When men go through breakups, they don’t usually hear from their friends, “You’re a hot guy, bro. Girls are gonna be lining up for you.” More often, they tell each other to just get laid. It comes back to women being beautiful objects.

As we age, we strive to look as if we AREN’T aging. Diets, lotions, makeup, even surgeries, all marketed almost 100% for women to stay “beautiful.”

Why does it matter?

Seriously, think about it. The compliments, the pep talks, the ideas men have about us, the consumption in which we partake for society’s perception of beauty.

Beauty: who cares?

No matter what dresses we are paraded in as kids, no matter how many compliments we are fed, no matter how many pep talks we hear, no matter how many products we purchase, none of that makes us any less empty.

Beauty means nothing when we break it down. Sure, it means trillions of dollars to companies all over the world marketing their narrow idea of “beauty” to female consumers.

But to us?

In terms of substance to our lives, it means nothing.

The idea that we are THINGS could mean eating disorders, depression, anxiety, body dysmorphia, and other dangerous obsessions with our bodies.

That’s what obsession with beauty gives us. Impossible standards, unhealthy and neurotic obsessions, and the false belief that our beauty matters.

No amount of foundation will assist me in publishing a novel I haven’t yet written.

No amount of starvation for the perfect weight could erase painful memories.

I would risk seven, 14, 21, even 28 years’ bad luck to smash every mirror I own. To prove to myself that what I see means nothing.

Source: tvtropes.org

Source: tvtropes.org

Who cares what I look like? As long as my clothes are appropriate for the occasion, nothing else should matter.

Yet to this society, it does.

I am what people see. The first compliment out of anyone’s mouth is, while well-meaning, related to looks.

“You are pretty.”

So what?

Beauty doesn’t hire me. Beauty doesn’t erase the last train wreck relationship. Hell, beauty can’t keep a guy faithful to me.

However, my definition of beauty has nothing to do with a human’s physical appearance.

By my definition, beauty is art. Nature. Poetry. Music. Film. Books. Mediums of inspiration.

Physical beauty is shallow, and for many women, only leads to dark journeys from which they don’t always escape alive.

Generation after generation has been devoted to defining what is “beautiful,” and it’s an easy way to rip women apart. Women haven’t been able to decide for themselves what is beautiful; it has been dictated to them.

My reflection in the mirror is not WHAT I am. I am not a what. I am more than what I see. That is not who I am.

Source: nairaland.com

Source: nairaland.com

I am more than my looks. I am so much more than that.