January 2021 – June 2021
😊 Thanks for reading!
January 2021 – June 2021
😊 Thanks for reading!
Happy pride month!
As we hit June, I’m focusing on being thankful for how great this year has been so far. One source of my happiness is my girlfriend, so here’s a photo dump of only a small portion of amazing memories that she has given me in 2021:
I love you, baby.
Thanks for reading.
Well. Here’s the thing. Did I meet all of my goals for 2020? Honestly? No. Not all of them. However, I’m not going to be hard on myself about that. 2020 was a fuck of a year. I did what I could, and it wasn’t a total loss, but I’m not quite where I expected to be when I set these goals in the beginning of last year. I’m still unsure what to expect for 2021, but I’m hoping a vaccine starts to show us a world returning to normal. I’m proud of the work I’ve done to adjust during this pandemic, so I have high hopes for this new year. Here are my goals for 2021:
1. I’m happy to report that in both 2019 and 2020, I set and achieved – actually surpassed – my goal of reading at least one book per month. I have no problem believing that this will be a goal that I can reach again this year, and I already have a long list of what I’d like to read.
2. My writing goal from last year went so/so, but I’d like to keep this as a priority for going into the next year. My big goal for 2020 was to finish the rough draft of a book.. and I got 1/4 of the way done. I fell off heavily from my blog, but I was ably to rally at the end of the year and back date a bunch of posts. (I’m still working on a few!) I don’t think it’s realistic for me to write one post a week without drawing my attention away from other projects, so I’m making the goal of one blog post per month for 2021. I’m hoping I also spend time writing the book I was working on, a new one, maybe a collection of essays or even poems, etc. I’m going to open my mind up to whatever creative process fuels my motivation.
3. My finances were actually doing better as a result of the pandemic – a combination of canceled trips and stimulus checks resulted in this. However, I did just move into a new house and spent a ton on Christmas presents, so I wouldn’t say it’s in a fantastic spot at this point. I’d definitely like this to be a focus for myself for 2021, although I already know I have many expenses coming up. Budging and not overspending will be key, and hopefully I’m able to at least cut my debt in half.
4. I’m not thrilled about it, but I gained a ton of weight in quarantine. I’m serious when I say a lot – I gained over 30 pounds in two months when I started working from home. I tried to lose some prior to my cousin’s wedding last August, and I got maybe 10 of those 30 pounds off .. but roughly 5 have been gained back. So.. I’m 25 pounds heavier than I want to be, and I would like that to change. I still have tons of clothes in my closet that I haven’t been able to wear since gaining this pandemic weight, and I want feel as good as I did about my body pre-COVID. So.. 25 pounds need to come off.
5. I want to get vaccinated, and I want to be able to travel again! Assuming everything will be safe, I want to go to new places, plan spontaneous trips, explore new cities, and have some genuine adventure.
One of my other goals from last year was to get move involved with activism or human rights, and 2020 didn’t give me much of a choice. I feel very fortunate to have attended BLM protests and vigils, and I’m still doing a lot of education for myself on this area. I’d still like to keep this a main focus in my life. I also wanted to maintain a life where I only allow good energy into my life, and I feel as though I’ve successfully adapted this as a regular practice into my life.
I’m overall very happy with where I am and looking forward to what is in store for me this upcoming 12 months. Cheers to leaving the past where it belongs and keeping a positive and healthy mindset for 2021.
Thanks for reading!
Well, 2020 has really been a fuck of a year.. so here’s some thoughts on that.
What’s crazy is that the year actually started out really well. I got to do several fun things in the first couple of months, I was making progress on all of my goals, and I had tons of vacations planned. So when COVID hit, a lot of things changed. I had to cancel trip upon trip – pretty much all of plans that I had for the spring. I started working from home, and what we thought would be two weeks to two months is now going on month number nine.
At first, the trips being canceled was the biggest downside for me. I was actually enjoying working from home and spending time with my girlfriend, and I was thankful for everything I had amidst a really tough time in the world. I was doing different projects and writing and overall had a decent experience the first several months.
After the days started to all blend together, my mental health started to take a toll. Work was slow, and I was home alone for most of the day with just myself and the dogs. My socialization had decreased in this crazy way, and the most interactions I was having regularly was literally on Animal Crossings. I often felt the weight of the walls closing in on me, and I did my best to find distractions and breaks in the day, but it was hard. I then went through a break-up, which was difficult because I thought I was going to lose the person that I was closest to on top of everything else I was battling in my head. I was mostly afraid of being more alone than I already felt. Although there was a lot to work through as we transitioned from relationship to friendship, I’m so thankful that I didn’t lose her during that time.
There was a three or four month period after that where I was on and off active with my depression. It came in waves, and sometimes I let it consume me. It didn’t take long for me to get so sick of being sad all the time, especially in contrast to how happy I was after first moving to Arizona. So basically, I decided to put in the work.
It wasn’t easy at all. There was a lot of work to do. A lot of reflection, internal dialogue, perspective shifting, and inner-demon battling. But I opened up in therapy and was honest about where I was at. I opened up to my best friend and my girlfriend-turned-roommate as best as I could. I focused on things that made me feel like myself. I set goals, and did everything I could to stick to them. I worked on setting up healthy habits in this “new normal” and getting back into a daily routine. I found ways to bring myself joy, and was able to better focus my mindset in a way that serviced me rather than hindered me.
After working on myself and feeling like I was just about back to a good and healthy mental state, I met someone new. I honestly wasn’t sure at that moment if I was ready to jump into something romantic again, feeling like the weight of my break-up and mental health struggle were not that far in my past. However, I remembered something that one of my best friend’s had told me, “Why wait to feel happiness?” This new person made me insanely happy. She’s absolutely amazing, and she is not worth missing out on. We’ve been letting things progress naturally, but I’m so thankful that I was able to put the work in on myself and keep myself open to new love. The way that she makes me feel could not have been more worth it, and I’m so happy to be the best version of myself for her (and me!).
As I go into this new year, I’m actually insanely happy and grateful. I feel so lucky and fortunate for all the friendships and love that I have harvested in my life. I feel surrounded by people who are genuine and authentic and care about me genuinely. I’m proud of myself for having the emotional intelligence to understand how to best care for myself. I’m thankful I was able to put in the work to get to where I am today. And I’m cautiously hopeful for what 2021 could bring me.
Thanks for reading.
I’m 28, y’all.
It’s been a whirlwind of a year, full of things I could never have anticipated. But at the end of the day, I’m grateful for everything I have and happy with where I am.
More happy years to come.
Thanks for reading!
I’ve already done some traveling during covid, but I had to go back east again for my cousin’s wedding. If I’m gonna fly all the way home, I usually make a whole trip out of it, since I don’t go home super often. After the wedding (which was SO fun), I spent some time with friends down the shore and in Philly, and also spent plenty of time with my family.
Here’s some pics from the trips:
I mentioned before that I’ve flown both American Airlines and Delta, and that Delta was far superior during times of covid. That statement still stands, as they are still doing their best to social distance the plane and boarding procedures. American Airlines is still operating as normal, which is why I feel much safer flying Delta these days. Not sure that I’ll be flying again until the holidays, but happy to answer any questions on this that anyone might have in order to stay safe.
Thanks for reading!
IT’S PRIDE MONTH!! And since I have so much pride apparel, I thought I would do a part 2 to my Selfie Book post and continue this series. So here are all the rainbow related pictures of myself that I could find on my phone from this June:
Thanks for reading!
Yes, more tattoos! Always more tattoos.
The first tattoo I actually got back in March, JUST before COVID really hit. It was a Friday the 13th, and we weren’t even sure if parlor’s would be open as a result of the pandemic. Things hadn’t completely hit AZ super hard just yet, so they did operate as normal. I thought maybe there wouldn’t be a big turn out, but a decent amount of people did show up. Anyway, I’ve always visually loved maps, but this tattoo took on even more of a meaning now. The world is just one place, even though people break us down into continents, countries, states, etc. But really, we’re all just people on one planet – no matter where you are on the map. COVID really proved that, affecting the entire world as one. Not that I got this tattoo because of COVID, but the theme just kinda fit.
The second tattoos is actually a transformation of my original tattoo into a bigger meaning. My first tattoo was for my Pop-Pop who had passed, but I had other relatives who had passed since then. I wanted to find a way to incorporate everyone – living or not – into the tattoo, without having a list of some sort. When I was in college, I took a creative writing class where I wrote a poem about my grandparents. I used tree imagery as the idea of foundation, and the poem was printed for several of my family members. I also made a tree drawing for my Grams where I wrote her and my Pop-Pop’s name in the trunk, their kids’ names in the branches, and the grandkids’ names in the leaves. Since this tree metaphor was reoccurring, I decided to turn the tattoo into an overarching theme of family. The tattoo artist is awesome for working with me, and I love the way it turned out.
So, since one of these tattoos is a reform, I guess this brings my total up to 13! More to come of course, especially since there’s another Friday the 13th this fall.
Thanks for reading!
I’ve always been a big fan of puzzles, even long before quarantine started. Luckily my love for 1,000 piece jigsaws had piled up when covid hit, so I had plenty of puzzles to work through. I still have plenty left to put together (though I am definitely taking my time, as there’s no end to this fuckery of a year), but here’s some pictures of my accomplishments:
More to come as I continue on with my puzzle endeavors.
Thanks for reading!
Full disclosure: After buying Animal Crossing: New Horizons, this now takes up maybe 50% of my waking hours. When I first got it, it was probably more like 80% or some days even 90%. It’s the best game and I love it so much and if you have a switch, it’s worth it, hunny – get it!!
I played Animal crossings as a kid, but it was on my friend’s gaming system so I only played a little bit here and there. Playing the new version has been amazing – it’s what I remember plus so many cool new features. I’ve had such a blast fixing up my town, earning and setting up my house, and collecting all the fruits and flowers. I’ve visited some islands of my friends, and also strangers from Facebook groups and Reddit threads. There’s a lot of things that I learned from doing some google searching, and things that I wish I had found out a lot earlier in playing the game. Here are 10 quick tips that everyone who is playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons should know:
1. Shake trees from the front while holding your net! You can find furniture, bells, and tree branches that will fall from the trees when you shake them. However, this puts you at risk of course for a wasps nest to fall and sting you. If you are holding the net and shake the tree from the front, you will turn to face the wasps when the nest falls. You can then use the net to catch the wasp before it stings you and sell it for a decent price at the shop. Shaking your trees daily to catch wasps and collect the items that fall can really pay off!
2. Bury the bells you dig up each day, but change the amount first! When you dig up the bells from the glowing spot in the ground and bury them back in the whole, a money tree will grow. However, if you change the amount before burying it in the glowing hole, you can harvest more bells when the money tree blossoms. I usually bury 10,000 bells each day, so the tree will give me a 30,000 harvest in the end. I’m sure you can do even larger amounts if you have the bells in your pocket when you go to plant them. This will only work once per day obviously, as you can only bury the money in the glowing hole in the ground that shows once daily.
3. Don’t break rocks if you don’t have to! If you continue to hit them again and again, you will continue to gain materials that jump out. But if you break it, you only get one. You can break the rock if you are on an island that is not yours, or also if you do not like the location of the rock on your own island. But new rocks will only grow once per day, so do this with caution. Also, make sure to harvest the rock completely before you break it! (I learned this lesson the hard way unfortunately.)
4. Visit other islands as much as possible! By using Nook Miles Tickets or visiting the islands and trading with your friends, you can acquire things that cannot me found on your own island. This includes different breeds of flowers, trees, and fruit. Using a Nook Miles Ticket will also allow you to gain extra resources and materials when you run out from your island.
5. Collect fruit from other islands, then bury them to plant a tree! You only need to start with even one piece of fruit from a friend to plant a tree and eventually end up with an orchard. If you use a Nook Miles Ticket and find yourself on an island with foreign fruit, make sure to bring back either the fruit or the entire tree. I have all 6 fruits on my island, which comes in handy often for crafting or re-organizing my island.
6. Save your cross-bred flowers! You will have flowers sprout each day when existing and blooming flowers of the same kind are planted close to each other, and you should save anything that is not able to be store bought. Aside from red, yellow and white (and in one case, orange), you cannot buy any other color flowers from the shop. Don’t get rid of any cross-bred flowers too quickly, because it may be difficult to get them back.
7. Be careful of building bridges before unlocking terraforming! Once you unlock the Island Designer app and can change up the layout of your island, you may regret some bridges and inclines that were build prior to access to this tool. I’ve had to demolish two bridges since unlocking the app, which both cost 98,000 bells to build. I’m not saying not to build anything, because it can make navigating the island that much easier. But choose carefully to avoid having to demolish things that you worked hard for.
8. Save Nook Miles for Island Designer permits! When you’re ready to use the terraforming feature via the newly unlocked app, you will need to buy permits to add new capabilities. These cost Nook Miles, but will be delivered to your phone immediately. waterscaping and cliffscaping each cost 6,000 Nook Miles, and different path patterns cost 2,000 Nook Miles each. You’ll want to have access to everything as soon as the app is unlocked, so I recommend saving up as much as possible beforehand.
9. Utilize your catalog! If you are lucky enough to have friends that also play Animal Crossings, you can visit each others’ islands to have catalog and trading parties! Trading is self explanatory, but cataloging is a little more intricate. If your friend drops an item that you do not have, you can pick the item up and drop it again to add it to your catalog. Your catalog exists at the Nook kiosk at Resident Services, and shows everything that you’ve ever owned. Because you picked the item up for even a second, it gets added to this catalog. Having catalog parties is a great way to give your friends access to your inventory without giving away all your stuff, and vise versa! After the party, you can buy anything they have that you liked for yourself. Note: You can only purchase 5 catalog items per day, which includes special daily items.
10. Some catalog items are customizable! Many of the DIY items that you can craft are able to be customized, but many of your other items can be customized as well. You should check anything that you come across for custom options, as it may help you to better decorate. Some of these items include the magazine, director’s chair, loom, ironing board/set, and many accent items as well on things like the mugs, corkboards, record box, etc. Double check what you can make your own!
Let me know if you want to come visit my island!!
Thanks for reading.
What’s on everyone’s minds these days? FOOD!!
I’m no master chef, but I do love cooking and I think I’m decent at it most of the time. I’ve done some new things while in quarantine, so I thought I’d share some of what I’ve made. Here’s some recipes/descriptions of the food I’ve made so far in quarantine:
1. Rosemary Focaccia Bread: My best friend insisted that I make this dish after she perfected it on her own, and it was well worth it. It didn’t take super long, but I had never worked with yeast before so this was a new trick for me. I still was able to get success in 3 loafs that my girlfriend and I ate dipped in different balsamic vinegars and oil. Here is the recipe link: https://ourbestbites.com/rosemary-focaccia/.
2. Beef and Brocolli with White Rice: This was given to me by a co-worker after she walked by with it in the office and filled up all of our noses with something delightful. There are a good amount of ingredients to make this, but you can easily double what the recipe calls for to get leftovers and make the effort last. It’s so delicious and hella worth it. Follow the recipe via Tasty here: https://tasty.co/recipe/easy-beef-and-broccoli. I’ve had several other people try this out after I posted it on my Insta story and no one has been disappointed yet.
3. Eggplant Sandwiches: No formal recipe here! I used to make this sandwich back when I worked in a pizza shop; it’s basically an eggplant parm sandwich without the tomato sauce. (You are welcome to add that to yours, I’m just not a fan.) First I used the Air Fryer to make breaded eggplant slices, then added the slices and cheese to a roll and popped it in the oven to make it a grinder. I’ve been big into sandwiches a lot during quarantine, so when I run out of eggplant to use, I usually make a BLT. (Except without the T, and add C (Cheese) and A (Avocado)).
4. Fried Tofu: My girlfriend, who is vegan, turned me onto this. (For best results, use a tofu press beforehand and use extra firm tofu.) You simply chop up the tofu bite size pieces and cook either using an air fryer or with oil in a skillet. Once mostly crispy, add in a sauce for flavor. We typically use a hot salsa, but a variety of condiments could be used for flavor here! Cook more once sauce has been added until tofu pieces are crispy on all sides. I usually serve with rice and veggies.
5. Chile Rellenos: This is a long process that my girlfriend taught me, but the payoff is worth it for special occasions. I made this on Easter, and enjoyed the leftovers for three more days after. You first have to sear and blister the peppers to remove the outer layer of skin and remove the seeds from the inside. You then stuff the peppers with cheese and can fasten it back together with toothpicks if needed. You then bread the peppers with flour and prepared whisked egg, and fry. Make sure to remove all the toothpicks once they cool off!
Bonus Air fryer dessert: Apple Crumbles: This is technically a vegan recipe, since it’s basically just deconstructed apple pie. I cut up apples and toss them in oil before then tossing them in brown sugar, cinnamon, and oats. I then air fry them and enjoy warm. Super simple and quick but incredibly delicious!
One more in the Quarantine Diaries tomorrow to wrap up the series!
Thanks for reading.
It’s easy for romance to get lost during the quarantine, especially since most days are probably spent with you and your partner both looking at the TV, computers, or your phones. I’ve found that it’s really important for me to still feel close to my girlfriend during the quarantine, so I’ve made sure that our relationship is a priority for us both. Part of this included me planning a few of what I call “at-home dates”. No, we didn’t leave the house. But I went out of my way to make things special and different during a time of monotony. I’ve only done two dates so far (roughly one per month), and I’d like to continue this and have a few more coming up if I can get creative again. Here’s what we’ve done so far:
Date 1: So around 3 PM, I told Vanessa to go to her room and I would pick her up for our date at 5 PM. We hadn’t had any real reason to dressed up in a while, so we decided to go a little fancy. I set up a nice little picnic area out back with decorations, pillow and lights where we would eat dinner, and cooked while she was sequestered in her room. After I picked her up, we went and had a lovely dinner outside. I made sure that we didn’t use our phones and really just took a nice pause to connect. After dinner we had tickets for a show, which was one of the digital drag shows. Raja was performing, and I had set up the computer area to be a fancy at-home theater. We drank some wine while watching the show, and once it was over we changed into our pajamas and continued to get drunk while on the couch watching Drag Race. It was seriously such a fun night from start to finish and was a great way to do something new while still at home.
Date 2: This date was definitely not as full-out as the first one, but I still told Vanessa to go to her room for a bit to get dressed up while I cooked. It was a bit more casual this time, so it wasn’t quite as fancy as the first date. I set up a nice space for us to have dinner outside, and we again focused on each other rather than our electronic devices. We also shared a hookah at table after, which I had recently ordered on Amazon so it was fun to use my new toy. We then went inside to watch a movie and snuggle up on the couch together.
We are all trying to stay sane during this weird time – so don’t let your relationship fall by the wayside! Offer to cook a special dinner one night, find new ways to connect, or have full out dates like I did. But either way, make sure to keep love a priority.
More to come in the “Quarantine Diaries” series tomorrow!
Thanks for reading.
My biggest disappointment during COVID was the canceling of all my plans – specifically, DragCon. DragCon is legit my favorite time of year, and I’m still not done being sad that we can’t partake this year. So to help cheer me up, next up in the “Quarantine Diaries“, let’s talk DRAG!
There’s been many ways that you can get your fix of drag during this quarantine besides just binging every episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race. First of all, there’s been tons of queens going live on Instagram. This includes both queens from the current season, like Jan and Nicki Doll, and some of the classic favorites like Ongina and Jujubee. There’s also been tons of digital shows that were hosted over the past couple and upcoming months from several platforms.
First there is the Digital Drag Fest via StageIt, where you can find many of your favorite queens from the show and others doing 30 minute shows for roughly $10 each. You can also use the platform to tip the performers, and most of them give virtual meet and greets as a prize to the top tippers. Some of the virtual shows we have seen include:
JUJUBEE – “Live From Boston”
ALASKA – “The Quarantine Cabaret”
RAJA – “Socialite Distancing”
SHARON NEEDLES – “Call Me On My Ouija Board”
MANILA LUZON – “At Home With The Luzons”
BENDELA CREME – “Terminally Detained”
ALASKA – “Snatch Game Series: Mae West & Lady Bunny”
SHARON NEEDLES – “Snatch Game Series: Michelle Visage”
Our favorite show so far has been Raja’s, simply because she was the most raw and effortless. Juju also put on a great show, and I laughed a ton during Alaska’s sets. Manila and Dela also had wonderful shows prepared, but my girlfriend and I were slightly disappointed by Sharon’s show. While we love Sharon and her creativity, her songs were a little on the low-energy side and it wasn’t the most engaging. Still, we had a great time at all of the shows and will continue to look for more upcoming events.
The “Werq The World” tour that the queens typically follow after the seasons of the show air has obviously been postponed for now, so they have taken things virtually. There’s been two shows, and what’s great is that these shows have benefited out-of-work drag queens and local performers. The first show raised over $30,000 and the second was almost just as much. Both shows were hosted by Lady Bunny and Bianca Del Rio, who were hilarious and certainly delivered the comedy I was expecting. The first event was featured queens such as, Kameron Michaels, Gigi Goode, Miss Vanjie, Yvie Oddly, Plastique Tiara, and more. Each queen either had a live or pre-recorded number to show off for the show. The second virtual event is the “Battle Royale”, which has queens going head-to-head for an ultimate showdown. Battling queens include Alyssa Edwards vs. Plastic, Vanjie vs. Yvie, Asia O’Hara vs. Brooke Lynn Hytes, and more.
Lastly, since DragCon 2020 had to be canceled for the year, they still are giving a livestream event for “DragCon Live” on YouTube. It definitely won’t be the same, but at least it’s something to have in place for that weekend.
Support the queens, in whatever way you can!!
Thanks for reading!
So, I’ve been working from home for over a month now. There’s been good days and bad days of course, as I’m sure everyone can relate to. And I’ve been doing lots of lazy activities to occupy my time. Here’s some projects that I’ve gotten into while being stuck at home for so long:
So this is what the first month of quarantine has brought me to so far. My work has no indication of opening offices back up at this time until further notice, so I’m sure there will be more things for me to get into as time goes on.
More to come in the “Quarantine Diaries” Series!
Thanks for reading.
My girlfriend got a soap making kit for her birthday, and it’s led to a mini business venture for us. The kit came with a goat soap base and some natural exfoliants to add, such as rose buds and chamomile. Vanessa also had several different essential oils to create a variety of fragrances, so our first batch came out really well! We sent some to her family and friends to test, and we quickly learned that people would gladly pay for these soaps. So, we decided to sell the next batch! We added in a new honey soap base as well, which was a big hit. We pretty much sold them all in a matter of days, and we learned to get some marketing and business materials together.
Our most recent batch turned out awesome. We had gotten some new ideas from DIY/craft resources to add in some natural exfoliants that we could find around the house, such as coffee and Himalayan salt. We also added new essential oils that included male and unisex fragrances (because the first batch was pretty feminine overall).
We now have our original soaps – though we are using a shea butter base moving forward, because this is vegan friendly. The natural exfoliants include rose buds, rose petals, chamomile, marigold, jasmine, and ultra blue lavender. Soothing fragrances include eucalyptus, lavender, rose, tea tree, and lemongrass. I’ve used these myself, and they are awesome. We also have other exfoliants and fragrances to use for future batches (such as peppermint and orange), because we are hoping to create many unique varieties.
To make sure we were as inclusive as possible, our honey batch was geared towards a more gender neutral audience. Most of the fragrances are unisex, but we also have two male scents included as well. These include cedarwood and frankincense for men, along with sandalwood, patchouli, juniper berry and litsea cubeca that are unisex. The honey base is extremely moisturizing, and we added some Himalayan salt for extra exfoliating.
We also used the vegan shea butter base to create coffee and cinnamon soap – both of which are natural exfoliants and smell amazing. This is also unisex and full of tons of vitamins that are great for moisturizing skin.
All soaps are handmade, and we are excited to try out new ideas, materials, and methods in the future. Generally, soaps cost $5 each for those local to the Tucson area (or 2 for $8), but we are also able to ship any soap for $10 each (or 2 for $15).
You can find all our soaps on Instagram @head2toe_soap, where I update the availability daily. You can also buy them directly on Etsy at head2toesoap.etsy.com. Feel free to reach out to Vanessa or myself in any way for more information, questions, or requests.
Thanks for reading!
I’ve been using these guided journals for over a year now, that focus on doing one thing every day. I bought the first one for myself; it was actually a Christmas gift for someone else, but I wanted one too, so I bought two. The second was actually a gift that I received when I was moving. The first one is titled Do One Thing Every Day That Makes You Happy, and the second is Do One Thing Every Day That Inspires You. These are from ROBIE LLC books, and I know they were available at Target at one point in time, but I’m sure you can find these and others Amazon as well.
In 2019, I was really focused on getting to a place where I was truly happy with my life. I had big dreams to go somewhere new, meet new people, and open my heart up to new experiences. I decided on my move to Arizona in the very beginning of 2019, and decided that my goal was purely to get to a place where I was happy. Physically, mentally, emotionally, all of the above. That’s not to say that I was miserable or depressed – I just knew there was more out there for me.
“Do one thing every day that makes you happy.” It’s not a crazy concept. Focusing on happiness is so important, and I was thankful to have this daily reminder. Not every single day and page in the journal was relevant to me, but I did always have something to be happy about or thankful for.
Now that I’ve gotten to a place where I am really really happy, I’m focusing this year on my creativity. I have so many goals and aspirations for 2020, and it feels like there’s nothing in my way. I’m diving deep into my writing, getting back into some photography with my new Polaroid, and happy to take on any fun side project. My big focus for the year is to write the manuscript for a book, so I love having this daily reminder to keep myself inspired.
Some days the journal has me do some writing; some days I get to doodle a little bit. But mostly, the journal keeps me focused. Life can get busy, but I don’t want my creativity to be hindered. Inspiration can come from lots of places – I just have to be willing to find it. And I have no trouble believing that I can complete all of my creative goals this year.
I definitely recommend having some sort of a daily reminder to push you in the direction you want to go. Maybe it’s a journal of happiness or inspiration, or maybe it’s something different. Whatever works for you, get something daily that reminds you of your goals. Then, don’t be afraid to go after exactly what you want – whatever it is. Life is waiting for you.
Thanks for reading.
Odyssey Storytelling brings together people of all aspects of life to connect through sharing stories. This community showcases monthly events, where several storytellers share their experiences to an audience through story. Each show has a theme, and is held in downtown Tucson at The Sea Of Glass Center for the Arts. I got to participate in the January show as one of the storytellers!
We got to write our own bios, which were all posted online and included in the programs: “Gina Finio is 27 years old and originally from the Philadelphia, PA area. She graduated from a PA university that you’ve probably never heard of and has worked in Human Resources ever since. She turned her love for cactus into a cross-country move this summer, relocating from Allentown, PA to Tucson. Her dog Ducky is the most important thing in her life and is also her longest lasting relationship. Her hobbies include binge watching or auditioning for reality television, finishing jigsaw puzzles with her girlfriend and then putting it back in the box like a savage, and spending way too much money on crop tops that she will never stop wearing no matter how old she gets. Follow her weird life on social media @ginafinio or read her blog if you feel like it at www.ginafinio.com.” If you’re interested in reading the bios of my fellow storytellers, the picture to the left should show everyone from the show.
The theme of the night was Hindsight: “Stories from the shoulda – coulda – woulda club. They say hindsight is 20/20. If you knew then what you know now . . . how would your life be different? Would you make the same choices or would you take a different path? Are our lives predetermined by fate or do we exercise free will? Or, is it some odd combination of the two?”
The story that I told was basically my coming out story, which honestly is one that I’m not a big fan of. I didn’t have a bad experience or anything, but if I could go back and do things differently, I certainly would. It’s not about the act of actually coming out, but more the way that I did it. Hindsight has allowed me to recognize this now, which is basically what my story was about. It was also something that I was holding onto in a way that I didn’t like, and by being able to joke about it, I was able to find some closure.
The energy that I felt coming off of the stage was like nothing I’ve ever experienced! It was a lot of highs, and I was truly really proud of myself. People kept coming up to me after the show, saying that they could relate in someway – which was incredible! Whether it was through myself or a family member type of figure – it was crazy to see people feel so connected to my experience. The crowd was amazing, extremely open, diverse, and accepting.
I hope to be able to do another story sometime soon, but I want to make sure it’s something I hold just as close to my heart is this one. I don’t want to tell a story just for the sake of telling it; I want it to be really meaningful. But I DEFINITELY would like to do it again.
You can listen to all the stories from the Hindsight show via The Odyssey Storytelling Podcast. The recording was released on Friday, January 31st: January 2020: Hindsight. My story begins around minute 47:47. You can also find more information for Odyssey Storytelling and their upcoming events by visiting OdysseyStorytelling.com.
Thanks for reading!
Happy new year and new decade everyone! It’s the roaring twenties and everyone is looking for a fresh start. Sorry to be one of those “resolutions” people, but I believe in checking in with yourself and going after what you want. Last year, I made some goals to relocate myself and find happiness, and I’m happy to report that I did just that. While last year was mainly focused on my happiness, I’m able to focus this year on my inspiration. Here are some goals I’m looking forward to achieving this year:
Each year is a gift! Take the opportunity to reflect with yourself on what you really want out of life. Then head out there and go get it!
Thanks for reading!
Well, I’ve gotten some new ink. My tattoo total is up to 12 now, but of course I’m far from done. I absolutely love the tattoos I’ve gotten in the past month or two, so I had to share:
1. Mountains: A while ago, my sister got a tattoo of a simple line in the shape of a wave (similar to those wave rings you’ve probably seen on Instagram). I really liked the look and placement, although the beach and ocean does not mean the same to me as it does for my sister. Instead I took her inspiration and turned it into a mountainscape. I’ve always been drawn to mountains, and it’s part of the reason that I loved Tucson so much. Living in a town where you’re surrounded by beautiful mountains has been amazing, and I hope to always have a good mountain view in my life.
2. That’s Amore: When my sister turned 18, I went with her to a parlor to purchase her first tattoo. We actually got coordinating tatts, where she has a lock and I have the key. When our cousin turned 18 this year, my sister extended the tradition down. Growing up, my cousin and my grams would sing the song “That’s Amore” before my cousin was fully able to read. Instead, Grams drew pictures for the moon, sky, a pizza pie, and then wrote the words “that’s amore”. My cousin, my sister and I all got the lyrics “that’s amore” in my grams’ handwriting, and it turned out absolutely adorable on everyone. Since my sister and cousin are on the east coast and I’m out in AZ, I wasn’t able to get tatted with them, but the sentiment still stands.
3. Rainbow Dots: I’ve wanted something “gay” related for a long time, but I wasn’t ready to get a full on rainbow tattooed on myself. I thought about maybe just “BI” or something else subtle, but couldn’t find anything that I loved. My friend then sent me a tattoo she found on Instagram that had a line of dots in rainbow colors. It was so simple and beautiful, and I also loved the nod to R.O.Y.G.B.I.V. from my art days. This tattoos is so elegant and discrete, yet creative and unique and I absolutely am obsessed with it.
As always, more tattoos to come I’m sure!
Thanks for reading.
My birthday was October 1st, so I am officially 27!It’s really crazy to think about where my life was at even just a year ago. A LOT of things have changed for me – for the better! I’ve been reflecting on how different my life is and all the progress I’ve made to be living the happiest life possible.
Throughout all of my twenties, I definitely had a good sense of who I was. I’ve always been myself. but there was definitely a period of time where I was making some questionable decisions. I was trying to figure some things out for myself in my adult life, and I was exploring what it is that makes me happy. As a result of looking for certain answers, I found myself in several different situations and relationships that were not the healthiest.
This time last year, I had just gotten out of a very unhealthy relationship. I felt as though I had someone else’s world on my shoulders, and I was ten feet under water and drowning fast. I felt responsible for this person, but it was affecting my ability to be happy in so many areas of my life. Even though I was able to end this relationship this time last year, there was still a falling out after, which led to a difficult start to my 26th year. Sometimes, you have to learn that certain things truly belong in the past in order for you to move on and into a healthy head-space. (Support from family and friends definitely helps as well.)
I was also trying, at this time last year, to figure out how to be more open about my sexuality, which was very hindering when I was in a heterosexual relationship. I wanted to live authentically, but I felt held back in so many ways. I have been open with myself about my sexuality as well as those very close to me for many years, but this time last year I was not fully “out” to everyone in my life. I was able to find a way to really date the way I want to during my 26th year, and to create healthy dynamics from the beginning with anyone I spent time with. I was reminded that you can set your own parameters and create a positive space and mindset for yourself in really anything that you do. This journey to openness also included coming out to my family, which truthfully didn’t exactly go the way I really wanted it to in retrospect. But regardless of how I got here, I can now be completely living my truth at this point and not filtering my life for those around me. And that’s huge.
Looking back at what my life was like over a year ago, I was being held back from all aspects – including my career. I had been considering transferring to a new office across the country since I had started this new job at the age of 25, but the idea originally put a lot of guilt on my shoulders. Once I was out of that relationship, I was able to see more clearly that I wasn’t physically in the place that I wanted to be. Around the new year, just three months into my 26th year, I started to put my plan into place. I talked to my work and my family about the move and by the end of June, I was in my new apartment and new office in Tucson. I really did love the time I spent in Allentown, but I felt that I had already gotten everything there that I needed to. I knew there was so much more out there for me than what I was surrounding myself with. Knowing there were things out there waiting for me, I got my ass out to Arizona.
As I started thinking about getting out of PA, there was so much toxic energy that I realized I would be leaving behind me. It felt good to move on from all the strange dynamics, situations, and toxicity that I hadn’t even realized was overwhelming me. I was involved in friendships and relationships that were not the healthiest for anyone involved, and the best thing I could do for everyone was leave it all behind and start new. And truthfully, it felt amazing! There were things I was still holding onto, holding out for, dealing with, holding onto hope for, or even just involved in that weren’t good for me. It wasn’t making me happy in a good way, and it was nice to know I was putting a lot of that behind me with this move and allowing myself to actually grow without confines.
Coming to Arizona, I really felt that I was in a good mindset and free of things that had previously held me down. I’m in a relationship now that’s been so amazing and I’ve been really enjoying our time together. I feel confident in what we have as a result of who we are at this point in our lives, and I take Vanessa for who she is and what she gives to me. It’s amazing to be in a healthy relationship where we have mutual respect and love and so much support for each other. It’s also been absolutely wonderful to openly date a woman for the first time. It’s not just something my friends know about – I can post on social media and refer to her as my “girlfriend” and it’s been a really incredible feeling. I feel very free, open, and authentically myself.
Going into year 27, I feel more who I want to be, and less who I used to be, or who I thought I was supposed to be. I’m realizing that all of my experiences are pieces of my identity, but I have the ability to create myself and who I am today. Even if you’ve been doing something every single day for years, you have the control to say ‘ya know what, that’s going to be who I was and no longer who I am.’ You can say ‘I used to do this, and now I don’t.’ People can change. I used to live in PA, and now I don’t. I used to get involved in unhealthy relationships with men, and now I don’t. I used to hide certain parts of myself, and now I don’t. That’s something I’ve really realized in moving to AZ; starting anew allowed me to have complete control over what I surrounded myself with and how I spend my time. It doesn’t matter who you’ve been, it matters who you are. You can always create your own narrative.
Being in this new place, I feel so good. I feel more confident in my everyday life, more successful at work, and more comfortable in my relationship than I ever have before. It’s really wild for me to see the progress I made within the past year. Going into year 27, EVERYTHING is different. For so long, I felt like I was trying to get out or get away from something, and I finally feel like now, I can just LIVE.
Be aware of who you are versus who you’ve been. Reflect on what you have versus what you’ve had. Know what you want versus what you’ve wanted. This helps you to create the best version of yourself possible, right now, today.
“If you don’t like your life, then you should go and change it.” – The Dirty Heads, Vacation
Thanks for reading!
I’m a big fan of tattoos and already have several small ones, and now I have added tattoos #8 and #9.
These were both tattoos that I had been thinking about for a very long time. The first one, actually, I almost got done in college and didn’t because of last minute plans that got changed. Now almost 6 years later, I finally got it done.
There are two songs titled “Gravity” that hold a lot of weight to me for different reasons. One is by John Mayer, and the other by Sara Bareilles. The idea of “gravity” allows you to be pulled towards different directions, and can have forces working against you. You may feel a magnetic connection to something and can easily be swayed as a result of it’s pull. We can allow ourselves to be influenced, or we can stop it from keeping us down. Gravity is also what can keep us grounded, and keep our heads out of the clouds. I got the word “gravity” tattooed behind by left ear, as a reminder to be in control of my life and to keep myself grounded. (This was also written in my mom’s handwriting.)
My other tattoo is on my upper/inner right forearm. This tattoo is of the Libra constellation, depicted by flowers. I always resonated with being a Libra, but the idea of “balance” is something I can’t always connect with. Balance is something I strive for, but rarely achieve, so I didn’t want to get the Libra scale as my tattoo. Instead, there are two flowers, whose blossoms represent the stars in the constellation. This shows that despite expectations, we will bloom where we are planted, but we will grow how we want to.
I’m super super super happy with all of my tattoos and look forward for more to come!
Thanks for reading.
Wow. You all really showed up for my last post, huh? I mean, I post links to this blog all the time and I’ve never gotten the buzz that I did last week. A whopping ten people felt compelled to click and read what I had to say about JVN, but over one hundred of you wanted to get the details once it got super personal. I guess everyone wants in on the spilled T.
Let me just say that my parents are very understanding and open-minded people, and I never for one second thought that this was going to be an issue in my family. Truthfully, I was very much under the impression that they probably already knew. I had been playing with the idea of “coming out”, not even knowing if I felt the need to. This never felt like some deep dark secret to me, so I didn’t feel like I had to make some grand announcement.
Well, apparently that’s what I did last week.
When I wrote that post, I wasn’t thinking about who would read it – I know what my stats usually looked like, and there’s not often a lot of traffic. If anything, I thought it would just be helpful for me to write this out and maybe to collect my thoughts and figure out what I wanted exactly. Looking back, I’m regretful that I made that post public before talking to my parents. I think I was just trying to figure things out for myself, and I didn’t think it all the way through. Sitting someone down and telling them about my sexuality didn’t seem like the right thing for me personally to do, but maybe it’s also about who is on the other end of that conversation as well. I certainly didn’t mean for all these conversations to be had without me there.
That being said, I’ve had wonderful conversations with my parents and I feel really good about where things are right now. There was a lot of open dialogue that I knew would be there whenever I was ready to have it. And of course, there was a lot of love that will always be there to make me wildly uncomfortable when directly pointed my way.
So to anyone reaching out to my family members asking if they “are okay”, yeah they’re fucking great, thanks for asking.
To anyone who has reached out to me directly, thank you so much and please know that I really appreciated your words. It was very validating to hear from other bisexuals, and having that support means a lot.
I’ll try not to get on my soapbox about this, but it’s annoying that I had to “come out”. It’s annoying that the default is set to ‘straight’. It’s annoying that I have to tell everyone if it’s different. And it’s annoying that once I do, it’s a hot topic of conversation. I know I’m not a very private person, and I don’t really have secrets of my own. But being bisexual somehow by default gave me this secret that I never even wanted to keep in the first place. I will admit that while I usually love having all of the attention on me, I think I would do things just a little bit differently if I was given a second chance.
This whole experience was truly more than I signed up for. Without meaning to, I made myself feel exposed, uncomfortable, and embarrassed. But now, I also feel relieved, supported, and content. I’m out! And I’m totally done paying my gay dues for now.
Thanks for reading.
Hi, I’m Gina and I am bisexual – this may or may not be the first time you are hearing this, but it is most definitely not the first time I have said this.
I’ve known that I was attracted to both men and women from a very young age, even if I didn’t have the terminology for it. I spent most of my youth under the presumption that people are either gay or straight, and there weren’t really any other options. I always liked boys and never had any trouble feeling comfortable around them, so in my head that meant I must be straight. Sure, when I was alone I spent time finding Tumblr videos of girls kissing, but I was kissing boys in real life, so come on I must be straight, right????
If you get super super technical, the first person I ever kissed was a girl. I don’t really consider this my “first kiss”, because we were just little girls playing stupid games and it wasn’t anything meaningful – I may not have even been 10 years old yet. In middle school I started kissing boys and having boyfriends, and I was always a little ahead of my friends in terms of “experience”.
In high school, I had a female friend who I got super close with, got drunk for the first time with, and had my first lesbian experience with. The experience itself was very PG, but this was the first time where I was kissing a girl who was kissing me back and it was intentional – even if heavily influenced by alcohol. After my straight guy friends learned about this, there was a lot of encouragement whenever we were drinking for me to make out with the other girls. I happily obliged of course, but I continued to date guys exclusively. By the end of high school, I had probably kissed just as many girls as I had guys, but I only had experience past that with the guys, and I had never been romantically involved with a girl.
This didn’t change much as I entered college and I continued to be involved with men romantically, but fantasizing about women in my alone time. I was still under the impression that I was straight, I just figured I was more sexually open than most people. I believed myself to be more open in general than most, so I didn’t put too much extra thought into my sexuality as a whole.
Enter the world of Tinder. Tinder became a thing sometime while I was still in college and it was common on my campus. As I set up my profile to start swiping, I was faced with filling out some preferences:
Are you interested in:
Both? OMG. BOTH?! IS THAT AN OPTION?! CAN I DO THAT?!
That’s when things clicked for me. That’s when I stopped thinking that I had to be on one side or the other, either gay or straight, and maybe I could actually sit somewhere on the fence.
I clicked both, and started swiping on both men and women.
For a while, this was just an internal thought. I hadn’t fully identified with the word “bisexual” yet, even if I had rolled it around in my head a few times. Even though I was matching with and talking to girls on Tinder, I wasn’t meeting up with any of them in real life and was instead still spending my time involved with men. I even started dating someone towards the end of college, and I would think to myself, “I’ll explore girls more if/when we break up.” In my head, I had put my sexuality on hold (even though I was still swiping and talking with girls here and there when my boyfriend was being a dick).
By the time we broke up, I was sure that this was something I wanted to explore. I had had plenty of experiences with men, and I wanted to bring my female experiences up to par. I started hooking up with a girl that I had a crush on who was sort of in my friend group and identified as a lesbian. When our friends first got wind that we were a thing, they asked me if I was a lesbian also. This was the first time I said the words out loud: “Nope, I’m bi.”
* Insert fireworks and celebration sound effects here *
Since then, I’ve dated both men and women openly and happily. I spent over a year in a relationship with a man, and now that I am single again I would like to focus more on being with women. I believe my sexuality will always be fluid and I will always pride myself in having an open mind and an open heart.
That’s as much of a “coming out” story as I have so far. My friends have kind of organically learned about it over the past several years as I told them about my involvement with different people. I’m open about it with new people I meet and become involved with. My coworkers all know I am openly bisexual and I even indicated this in my voluntary demographics.
However, I never had that serious sit down with my parents (if you’re reading this – sorry, Mom and Dad!) where I look them in the eye and tell this deep dark secret that I’ve been hiding for years and wait to see if I still have their approval. It’s not like that for me – it wasn’t something I was ever “hiding”, it was something I was still figuring out. I also don’t need anyone’s approval about it, not that I think anyone would really have an issue. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about telling them in some way that was maybe more casual, but it’s been hard for me to conceptualize the right words. There’s a lot of stigma that comes with the word “bisexual” (watch the Hulu show, The Bisexual), and I think this could be potentially difficult to navigate with my parents. That being said, I want to be open and honest with my family. I would also feel bad if they were to learn about it from someone that wasn’t me, making them feel sad that I wasn’t the one to tell them. Maybe I’m dealing with having some feelings of guilt or something, that’s for my therapist to figure out. The point is that I have gotten to a place now where I would like them to know.
So, instead of coming out in some formal way, I’ve been passive aggressively reposting outwardly bisexual things to my Instagram story and allowing my family to view them. Not kidding – my parents both have Instagrams and see everything that I post and I’ve just been making it semi/extremely obvious:
Am I being too subtle?
So yeah, that’s my experience so far. To be honest, I feel pretty good about it overall. And I’m excited about what is to come in the future.
Thanks for reading!
One of my best friends has a cousin who started designing a modern and unique clothing brand after a college project took off via Instagram. What started out as an assignment was developed into a street-wear brand that highlights individuality and uniqueness.
For 150 days, CO$T launched Project one/one, which involved auctioning off hoodies and shirts via Instagram. Each design was entirely unique, featuring portraits of cultural icons printed on a variety of colors that were dyed on by hand. The icons included artists, musicians, comedians and more. No design was ever repeated, making every single item a one of a kind. The piece was posted on Instagram, and followers were then able to comment their bid. At midnight, the highest bidder would win the item to receive via mail.
Truthfully, it wasn’t easy to win. I got close several times on some pieces that I really, really, really wanted to cop, but I was out bid within literal seconds of the midnight deadline. I was outbid by 32 seconds on a Snoop Dogg release, and I was unfortunately in Vegas for an amazing Marilyn Monroe release and wasn’t able to be on my phone at the right time. Other pieces I wanted but missed out on included Cardi B, Fetty Wop, John Lennon, and more. My friend Rachel was able to cop a John Mayer TShirt! They also did a dope SuperBowl series when the Eagles played the Patriots, a tribute series to Mac Miller, and they’ve been involved in many charity projects as well.
On Valentine’s Day, CO$T did a special release where they dropped a set of twin hoodies that were dyed in Valentine’s Day style. If my memory services me correctly, this was done via their Insta story, and there was a static price that they made for each hoodie. The first to claim either of the pair would immediately get it. I was able to cop the second of the set, which was extremely exciting since this was my first CO$T win. It was very simple to exchange information with them via Instagram in order to get this delivered, and it was very timely. So on top of the dope designs, the solid customer service was also there.
After the one/one project had ended, CO$T did a series of 7 sweatshirts of CO$T x Matchbox. These sweatshirts were really my style, since I’m a huge fan of a good crewneck, and they were really unique. Each sweatshirt was a pairing of two bold colors, one of them taking up the entirely of a sleeve with a $ design accenting the other. Once I saw the release with my college colors, maroon and gold (hey Kutztown) I definitely wanted make that mine. Since I had already known how to play the game by this point, I was able to cop it.
Even though there are no more one/one releases, CO$T still will do time-sensitive releases from time to time on their Instagram. There are also some promotional items here and there, and that’s when I was able to get my latest cop – the Starry Night sweatshirt. It’s another crew neck so naturally it caught my attention – but I also loved the splatter pattern and the gold highlights. It was on sale and promotes on their Insta, so I was able to cop it immediately once seeing the post. Since I’m a friend of the family and I’m assuming Cole knows who I am, he sent me a really sweet personal note with my package thanking me for supporting the brand (it’s the little things).
To cop some of CO$T Project’s dope pieces, go straight to their website at costprojects.com and head to “projects”. Since they are always creating and releasing new things, and sometimes still do auctions / promotions via Instagram, I highly recommend following them @cost_projects. When they are working on new releases, you can sometimes see the process via their insta story, and links to any pieces you see are available in their feed as well. Highly recommending heading over and checking them out ASAP.
Thanks for reading.
I absolutely love therapy and have no problem in the least bit talking about the fact that I regularly attend. Therapy was a decision that I made for myself, because it’s not healthy for me to keep certain things bottled up. There were periods of my life where I felt stagnant or stuck, and I wanted help moving forward.
My first experience with therapy was in college. I had gone through some upsetting situations while I was in a sorority, and I was feeling extremely depressed. I reached out to the program at my university that connected you with a counselor on campus, and I attended weekly sessions for one semester. My therapist was an older gentleman who was extremely kind and open-minded. I had a great experience with him, but after one semester, he unfortunately had to move on to other students.
Last year, I decided therapy was something I wanted to do again. I was feeling extremely anxious for a variety of reasons and I recognized patterns in my behavior that resembled when I felt depressed before. I want to be someone that takes my mental health seriously, and knowing that I am someone who likes to talk, I knew therapy was something I had serious interest in.
So, to begin my search for a therapist, I went to PsychologyToday.com. It only took a few quick google searches to end up there, since they have a “find a therapist” tool. You can put in your location as well as other preferences such as gender, certifications, insurance, and other filters. Using this search, I came up with a list of 8 or so counselors that seemed decent enough based on their websites/descriptions/pictures. I sent them all emails, and based on who had availability and took my insurance, I set up some phone screenings to talk to them. I had heard that finding a therapist you like could take a while, so I thought this extra step might help. I talked to maybe 3 or 4 therapists on the phone and based on those conversations, found the woman I wanted to move forward with.
My experience with my therapist has been amazing, as she is very focused on what I want and how I would like to use my time. I am not someone who likes being tied to a set schedule, so at the end of each session is when I book the next one. I typically try to go every week, but depending on what is going on it may be more like every other. My therapist is also wonderful about allowing me to talk about what I would like, so the time truly feels like “mine”. In my first session, she let me know that I am the driver of all conversation and that we can use the time however I would like. When I was going through a break-up, that took up a lot of our discussion time because it was topical in my life at that moment. After a couple of weeks, I told her, “I think I’m done using my time to talk about him, I want to start talking about me.” And that was that, which was exactly what I needed. There’s always things she has for me to talk about if I don’t come in with something to discuss, but it’s nice to know that I am in control.
There are a lot of benefits of going to therapy when you have the right therapist. It really is time that is focused completely on you, and it’s important to take that time for yourself. Your therapist, in theory, is a non-biased person in your life that you don’t have to see everyday, so it’s different than talking with your friends or family. You can be completely honest and know that everything in confidential. It’s healthy for me to speak about what is going on in my life and in my head, and I’ve had a really wonderful experience overall.
A lot of the people who know I go to therapy also currently or previously attend therapy sessions, and some have asked me how they could start the process. Basically, we all need a little help to get by and no one should be afraid to reach out. Take care of yourself!
Thanks for reading.
I saw this homemade music video once that a group of celebrities had made, and I got the idea that I could recreate what they did. Their music video was simple – it was just themselves joking around in several different rooms, cutting the video up and piecing it together so that it jumps around but still coincides with the music. It looked like they had recorded themselves in about 3 different rooms, so it didn’t seem super complicated. The first time I tried this out was with my sister and my cousin while we were in a hotel room in Italy, and I had way too much fun with it. Since then, I have created a few different music videos both alone and with friends. For your viewing pleasure, the links can be found here:
Live While We’re Young – One Direction
Featuring my sister and my cousin while we were in a hotel room in Italy
We Can’t Stop – Miley Cyrus
The result of a lot of alcohol and some friends locked together in a college house
The Nicest Thing – Kate Nash
Made by myself when I was feeling weird
Pop Danthology – Daniel Kim
Made with a group of girls that I probably won’t ever talk to again
Shake It Off – Taylor Swift
The end of a party with the people who were willing to do this with us
All Night Longer – Sammy Adams
Another group of girls locked together overnight with alcohol
Across The Ocean – Zircon
Made after taking a road trip across the country with my two best friends
Desperado – Rihanna
Created when I was alone and feeling weirdly emotional
Thanks for reading!
Basically half of my summer has been taken over by weddings and its festivities. Two bachelorette parties down, two weddings, and three more to go before 2019 hits.
As somebody who doesn’t really envision marriage in my future, this is an interesting time for me. I do love weddings, and I will gladly tear up a dance floor after they say “I do”. However, I just don’t really see myself as a wife. I’ve always felt this way, despite being told over and over again that I will change my mind. (Insert humongous eye roll here.) That being said, I did spend a lot of time thinking about the way I would want things at my wedding, even though I don’t even necessarily picture myself having one. I think a lot of these thoughts are ones that as women, we are programmed to have ideas about. Who would be our bridesmaids? What colors would we pick? What kind of dress would we want to wear? But a wedding does not make the marriage, it’s just the celebration.
And weddings are expensive. Even as a bridesmaid, I shelled out a decent amount of money for my friend’s big day (and bachelorette party of course). This can really add up.. between bridal showers, day-of expenses, and not to mention the additional gift of money that is expected inside a card as well. Unless the bride is someone that I am super close with, I’ll gladly skip out on a bridal shower to save some change.
I had two close friends get engaged this year, which of course led to their bachelorette parties. I was in one of these weddings, and the bridal party flew out to Vegas to celebrate the last fling before the ring. It was a small party, so traveling was in scope, and it was many of the girls’ first times to LV. We truly had a blast, but my bank account was really feeling that trip hard when I got home. The other bachelorette party I attended was in Ocean City Maryland, and I hardly knew anyone going into the weekend. This can definitely provide you with some awkward situations as you start to get to know everyone, but it’s best to just remember what you have in common – the bride. It’s also fun to buy into the “let loose” atmosphere and the penis shaped decorations.
It was very easy for me to feel a little lost throughout these processes. It’s not like I am against marriage in any way – my parents are celebrating 30 years of happy marriage this fall. I’ve seen my loved ones spend their entire lives with someone and never regret a single thing. I think marriage is a wonderful foundation for a family, and I don’t fault anyone for wanting this out of life. That being said, I often feel “different” for not wanting the same things as everyone else. Yes, I have some preferences for wedding choices in my head, but I don’t see myself walking down an isle someday. So in the midst of the “when it’s your turn…” and the “I’m next” comments, it’s safe to say I felt a little broken. Like maybe there is something wrong in my head for not wanting all this, too. I feel very reminded of those who may be disappointed by my decisions, and it’s often a lot to swallow. That being said, nothing stopped me or will stop me from having fun at the celebrations.
Weddings are basically just a big party about love, which is why I enjoy them. Everyone has the chance to get all dressed up for a special occasion. Pictures always turn out nice, and it’s usually a good chance to catch up with far away loved ones. It’s also a great atmosphere for all involved, with reminders of love everywhere. I definitely found it moving to see someone’s special day come together. The ones who matter most get highlighted during the ceremony and reception, and everyone else gets a chance to share in that love. It’s easy to get caught up in it all, because love can be truly intoxicating.
Like I said, three weddings to go!
Thanks for reading.
It’s very natural for things to get busy and life to get in the way of certain activities that we enjoy. For me, I’ve really let yoga fall to the wayside. I used to go to a local studio to practice meditation and yoga on a weekly basis, but the class schedule has changed and no longer allows me to comfortably fit this into my normal week.
Since then, I’ve been trying to find some time to fit yoga in on my own. Lucky for me, I have a beautiful office with enough space to pull a mat out during my lunch break and plenty of space at home on my kitchen floor as well. Taking the time for yourself, in whatever way possible, is extremely important. Even fitting in 20-30 minutes somewhere in your day – 10 if you have to – to do something that makes you happy or rejuvenates you internally can have a major impact on your well-being.
For your viewing pleasure, here are some pictures of my home/office yoga activities:
Thanks for reading.
As my most recent tattoo fully heals and I prepare myself for my next design, I decided to write out the current list of my tattoos. I got my first one when I was 18 and the most recent just a month ago, but I am far from done. I am always working to design new tattoos and figure out what to get next. So, here’s what I got so far:
Rest with Life: My dad agreed to take me (and pay for) my first tattoo on my 18th birthday as long as I got something that he was okay with. He didn’t want me to get a tattoo that I would regret or wouldn’t like later in life. I settled on a simple text tattoo to honor the passing of my Pop-Pop, since my first couple ideas were shot down by my dad. Truthfully, if I had been able to get what I had really wanted, I’d probably still love it. But instead, this is honestly my least favorite tattoo. It’s too simple, too boring, doesn’t represent me and doesn’t hold the true meaning that I wanted it to. I have plans to cover this and turn it into something else. When I was in college, I took a creative writing class where I wrote a poem about my family using tree imagery. Recently after, I did a drawing of a tree for my Grams, where I put her and my Pop-Pop’s name in the trunk, their children in the branches, and their grandchildren in the leaves. Since my tattoo was originally family-driven, and this particular image holds a lot of significance, I intend to work up a tree design to re-create that space on my upper right back into something that means more to me.
Dove: This one is a simple dove with the script written underneath it; “Let it go”, tattooed on my left side above my ribs. I got this tattoo when I was on senior week – but don’t worry, I was completely sober. I actually had designed the tattoo prior to the trip with intent to get it done one morning on the boardwalk. The tattoo itself for me symbolized letting go of anger and not letting things affect you negatively. At the time, I perceived a lot of anger around me and I did not want to live being suffocated by it. I think this held a lot of significance for me at the time that I got it done and I appreciate the message and reminder that I send to myself.
Cross: A lot of tattoos I have seen revolve around things like scripture and other religious aspects and I wanted to tie my faith into my tattoos somehow. I found a simple cross drawing which I made even simpler to represent my Christian faith. Even though I grew up Catholic, I identify as a Christian (non-denominationally). I believe in a God-type figure and I believe that a man named Jesus walked the Earth – but I also believe that religion is man-made. I believe that religion should be a form of love and belonging, in whatever form that takes, to promote just being a good person overall. So yeah, this is my religious tattoo, located the back of my right ankle.
Marilyn Signature: If you don’t already know that I love Marilyn Monroe more than life than we probably aren’t friends. If you don’t already know that I have Marilyn Monroe’s signature tattooed on my ass cheek, then we definitely aren’t friends. I got this in college for no reason other than my undying and unconditional love for Marilyn. I have full intention in getting more into why I love Marilyn Monroe in other posts, don’t worry.
Key: I have a skeleton key tattooed on the back of my neck, and my little sister has the lock tattooed on her ribs inside a heart. We planned this out for a long time with the date of Julia’s 18th birthday in mind. I actually sketched out the key and lock design myself, and we sent lots of pictures back and forth before landing on the final design. This tattoo might have been one that hurt the most, but it was also the shortest by a long-shot that I had to sit for. Pen to skin, only took about 3 minutes.
Moon: This tattoo also has a counter part – my best friend, Sarah. Just like the tattoo with my sister, Sarah and I sent lots of pictures back and forth and had tons of discussions before settling on what we truly wanted. One of my other best friends, Kelly (www.kellyoharadesign.com) helps me design any of my tattoos that I don’t design myself. I sent Kelly an image I had found with a long list of things I wanted changed and that’s how we got to the design that is tattooed on my left arm on the opposite side of my elbow. Sarah’s design is much simpler, just a circle with some rays to represent the Sun, tattooed in a small spot on her ankle.
Succulents: Kelly played a LARGE part in creating this tattoo – taking over 4 different pictures I sent her, making changes, and combining them into one design with 4 little images of plants for me. It honestly turned out so cute and perfect, and once I had the design it only took me about 2 days to get it tattooed on my right thigh. This tattoo holds a lot of meaning for me regarding being on my own, growing as an individual, and what I am able to influence and create. On the surface level, I’m also obsessed with cacti, succulents, and other plants.So, I have some work still to do. I need to start working on the re-creation I want for my first tattoo. I’m also working on a Libra constellation sort of tattoo, and for a long time I have wanted the word “Gravity” tattooed behind my ear against my hairline. Plus there’s always new ideas and designs flying around so like I said, more to come.
Thanks for reading!
If you know me at all, then you know my extreme love for Marilyn Monroe. From my Marilyn wall in college to my tattoo of her signature, I can’t get enough of her.
I’ve seen or own a version of most pictures that exist from her, since there is a finite amount. However, I still love to find new ones that I haven’t seen before, or different versions and adaptations. I was sent an article by a coworker of A Rare Look At Marilyn Monroe, and there were a couple of photos in there that really caught my eye.
Marilyn could not take a bad picture. Every time that camera flashed, she looked flawless in the lenses. At every size, in any style, at any time. Some of my favorite pictures of Marilyn, however, are not the glamorous shots that she is known for. Her beauty and uniqueness shows even in her “normal” or more “every day” type photos. These are the ones that remind me that she truly was someone special.
It’s true that Marilyn stands for a Hollywood glamour and sex movement that could never be forgotten, but I love to see her classic beauty reside in simple places as well. Whether Marilyn is posing for the camera or the picture is candid, no one can deny her charisma through photographs. She has the ability to evoke emotion in every move, expression, and look in her eyes. And our eyes gravitate towards her no matter what.I also just love so much that she can look absolutely stunning, perfect, and intriguing in a simple picture where she is standing next to some bears eating garbage. She’s amazing.
More to come. Thanks for reading.
A Rare Look at Marilyn Monroe, today.com
I bought a yoga block. I still need some time to expose myself to new exercises to include the yoga block, but so far I’ve found it can be great to help or further challenge your practice.
Laying flat on my back, I place my feet flat on the floor so that my knees are pointed upwards. Then I place the yoga block on its smallest height under the small of my back so that it sits directly under my tailbone. This provides a very small stretch, and a good position to take several deep breaths. After a minute, I move the block beneath me onto it’s side, making it’s height slightly higher. You can either have your arms at your side, or raised above your head on the ground. More deep breaths as the stretch settles in across my back. Then finally, I flip the block to it’s tallest height, putting me into a small back bend. This is a reverse table-top position, and it feels amazing. I have also challenged myself to then remove the block, and hold my body lifted in place.
The yoga block has also helped with stretching. If you are not super flexible, the block can help to bridge gaps that would normally be strenuous. For example, when you reach towards the ground in forward fold, you can place the block between your hands and the floor, allowing you to feel the stretch at your own pace without pushing your limits. In my case, I am already relatively flexible, but the block helps me to stretch further. One example is when I am sitting down on the mat with my legs straight and leaning forward. I do not have trouble reaching my toes, and can actually pull my feet off of the ground a bit to challenge the backs of my legs. By putting the yoga block to sit at the bottom of my feet, I can reach past my toes to grab the block and further my stretch. This can really help to improve flexibility, because you are able to control the amount you are stretching your body, so you challenge yourself at the pace that feels good.
After doing some quick online research for stretches and exercises, I have ordered a second yoga block so that I can continue to explore different practices.
Looking forward to more challenges in the future! Thanks for reading.
I grew up as a dancer, so for a long time, I thought of yoga more like ‘relaxed stretching.’ It felt great for my body, but it wasn’t until recently that I discovered the addition of the mind. I’ve been going to a great yoga class every Wednesday called Urban Yoga, and so far I’ve had an amazing experience and have learned a lot. I’ve been trying to use more of the yoga language and get further into the balanced mindset. I’m no expert, but I found myself with some free time the other day and decided to do some on my own.
I will admit that I’m not great at meditation. It’s hard for me to sit still and silence my thoughts completely. Even still, I started out my yoga practice by trying to meditate. I opened up my yoga mat, put a pillow down for under my head, and laid down in savasana (this is just a fancy way to say that I laid on my back with my palms up – see right). I closed my eyes and thought one word: RELAX. I breathed in, breathed out, and told myself to relax.
I had heard a concept from Rosie O’Donnell regarding strengthening your meditation that I tried to follow here. As you meditate, you attempt to remove all thoughts from your brain. Experienced meditaters can accomplish this easily, but for the rest of us, we may clear our brain for a moment, and then something will pop back in: Oh, I need to finish the laundry tonight… Rosie says to recognize that as a thought. You imagine pulling that thought from your brain the same way you would pull a leaf from a tree. You pull your thought, and then you imagine letting that leaf travel into a flowing river. It flows down the river and floats away. And then your mind is clear. And then you get another thought: What am I having for dinner tonight… and you recognize the thought, pull it, release it, and let it float away. The goal is to stay present in the moment.
After about 5 minutes, I sat up and did some light stretching. By beginning with a meditation, I felt like I had warmed up my brain. So next I began to warm up my body. I folded forward to grab my toes and stretch my legs and lower back. I rolled my shoulders and twisted my neck. I rolled my ankles and wrists, and pulled my arms from side to side. Once warmed up, I moved to a tabletop position.
From there I did several rounds of cat-cow, which is great for your back. You start in tabletop (aka on your hands and knees with a flat back) and make sure that your hips and shoulders are stacked over your knees and hands. Begin to drop your navel, arch your back, and look up. Cat. Then you drop your gaze, push into your hands, and slowly invert the spine one vertebrae at a time. Cow. Then you repeat cat-cow-cat-cow, inhaling as your chest opens and exhaling as you contract. I continued with the cat-cow pointer series, where you reach your arm forward and lift your opposite leg. I held each side for 30 seconds, stretching higher for the last 10. Next, I turned this into a small exercise, and drew the lifted arm and leg into my chest to contact, and then extended my limbs back out again. 10 times each side, then I collapsed into child’s pose.
Next was tree pose, one of my favorites. As a Libra, I love balance. I positioned my foot on my thigh and held my palms together at my chest. I first held each side for 30 seconds, but I realized that this was not challenging enough, so I did a second round of a minute each. I felt very grounded and stable, and was proud at the ease of holding this pose for a full minute. There were moments of shaking, but I was able to feel adequate in this pose, which felt good for both my body and my mind.
Finally, sun-salutations. One of the reasons I like this exercise is that it’s basically choreography for a small little yoga routine. The sun-salutation is a series of poses performed in a sequence to create a flow of movement.* You start in mountain pose, and lift your arms above your head, then collapse into forward fold. A quick half lift, then palms are pressed firmly on the ground and feet step back into plank. Release and lift the chest, tilting the head back into cobra. After holding for a moment, I first fold into child’s pose, but you could also lift right into downward dog and hold for a moment again. Walk the feet to the hands to forward fold, and lift back up into mountain pose, and pulling the palms together into the chest. I did two sets on each side, reminding myself to breathe and feel each movement.
All of the above took me about 20 minutes total, and I ended this self-session by getting back into savasana for another quick meditation. I again focused on relaxation as well as cooling down. When I decided that enough time had gone by, I pulled my palms together to my chest one last time. I put the throw pillow back on the couch, rolled up my mat, and stored it back in the corner.
It’s nice to have enough experience at this point to have created a small routine for myself. This was roughly 20-25 minutes long and is filled with the poses and exercises that make me feel good and energized. When I attend Urban Yoga on Wednesdays with an awesome instructor, I am able to engage my mind and spirit as well as the body. This is something that I will have to work on more as I practice on my own time (meditation as well), but I am proud of the level I am at today.
Namaste. Thanks for reading.
The Sun Salutation, or Surya Namaskara, is a series of poses performed in a sequence to create a flow of movement, according to yogaoutlet.com
People are often too nervous to make a big change in their life, hung up on the idea of things happening when the timing is right.
Reality: the timing will never be right. Do it now.
I’m a big believer in the idea of “everything happens for a reason”. I believe in fate. I believe that things have a way of working themselves out the way that they are supposed to.
These ideas have allowed me to throw the idea of “timing” out the window, and just go for it.
When I first graduated college, I moved back home – which was not my intended plan. I had been looking forward to getting my own place. I was used to the freedoms of college, and going back home was an adjustment. I spent the summer looking for a job to start my career, searching for something where I could commute from home. I went to countless interviews and had many maybes… but nothing followed through. After 3 months, I was beginning to get discouraged. My friend told me of a job opening at her dad’s company, which was located close to my college – a little over an hour away from home. I got the job, and immediately started looking for apartments.
The first month was a rough transition, where I was living out of my car and trying to figure out where to live. I felt like an inconvenience, rotating between sleeping on my friend’s couch and staying with my boyfriend at the time. I knew we were going to break up any day, and I wanted a space to start fresh. Next thing I knew, I was signing a lease for my apartment in Allentown, saying goodbye to the boyfriend, and saying hello to a little puppy named Ducky.
When all the dust had settled, I realized that everything played out exactly the way it was supposed to.
Over the next six months, my job started taking over all my time. I had to be in the office by 6:30 to catch folks leaving on the 3rd shift, and I was expected to stay past 5 to greet the folks on 2nd shift. With the half hour commute, I would get home by 6, and be asleep half an hour later. There were many other frustrations at work, and I was beginning to dread going back every day. My whole life was work and sleep, and I absolutely hated it. When people at work stopped being nice to me and started to ignore me, I knew I had to get out of there. I started applying to other jobs, went on an interview, and was offered a new position.
Truthfully, I was scared to take it. I didn’t know what was the right thing to do, and I was nervous to pull the trigger. Yes, I hated my job, but I had put in a lot of effort with this company – I even moved to a new city. I thought about it, I talked about it with my friends and family, and I decided that taking the job was the right decision.
It was a Thursday morning, I was at my job, and I was getting ready to quit. I walked outside to make a call to accept the new job, but all the managers were in a meeting, so someone took a message for me. I went back inside into a meeting with my boss, only to find out that I was being let go. I was getting all my PTO paid out, I wouldn’t have to work the two weeks of notice like I had planned, and I’d never have to see my horrible boss ever again. Great, byeeeeee! I packed up my desk and left. As I got into my car, the new company called me back, and my offer was officially accepted.
Talk about timing.
The next year and a half was a blast. I had an active social life, I was killing it at work, and I was having a ton of fun. During that time I also met my boyfriend Ryan, which had its own way of showing me that things work out they way they should. Regardless, I truly loved my job, and I had goals of moving up in the company.
But, all good things must come to an end. The company was making arbitrary decisions, and was making promises to people and then not following through. I had an unstable coworker inappropriately scream at me, and the situation was not handled properly. To top it all off, the company could no longer afford to give me my bonus nor my increase that had been promised to me months and months ago. I really loved my boss, but I looked at her and said, “You’re joking, right?”
I knew this company was never going to give me what I deserved, even though I was a large asset to my department. I took a half day, and spent the afternoon applying to other jobs. Cut to a phone interview the next day, and a face to face interview the next week. Less than 24 hours later, I had a job offer that was going to pay me more than double what I was currently making. It was an awesome position, a great company, and an amazing opportunity.
I wasn’t afraid to take it.
There were reasons not to. I had a ton of friends at work, I had a chance at a promotion, and I had made a great name for myself. However, there were a lot of glaring reasons to say yes and go for it. And I knew that it was the right thing to do. I had worked hard and I put that energy out into the universe. So even if my company wasn’t going to reward me, the universe did.
After I had put in my two weeks, my friend at work asked me if I was scared to leave. I answered, “Nope.”
My new job is amazing, and the transition was an easy one. The job is much more geared towards what I studied in college, and I’ve gotten positive feedback so far about my work. And of course, the money helps.
This narrative is about my career, but I am a big believer in all aspects of my life that fate will work everything out. I believe that the energy you put out into the world is the energy that you get back. Things might not always be great, and there will always be challenges. But if you are positive and keep moving forward, life will reward you with an opportunity.
And if a great opportunity lands at your feet, don’t be afraid to take it.
What are you waiting for? Take the chance.
Thanks for reading.
80% of the people I have reported to in the workplace have been women. This includes every position I have had, from my high school jobs to my college internships to my career. Most of my bosses have been women.
I come from a hardworking family with two parents who worked full-time. My mom took her maternity leave to have my sister and I, and then got right back to her job, working as one of the 11% of civil engineers that are women.* And yet, she still managed to have a life AND be involved with the PTA. The women there would give her patronizing remarks when she was unable to make meetings in the middle of the day because of having a career. “Oh… you have to work?” Really? Not to judge these women, but my mom is a project engineer managing teams across a multinational company with a masters degree from Penn State who also is able to balance being an active mom, so who are they to speak?
All that being said, it’s no surprise that I take pride in the fact that I have mainly reported to women. I have had the opportunity to work for some amazing, powerful women, (and one awful one) and I am very thankful.
My first job, however, I worked for a man. In high school, I worked at a pizza place called Bella Roma, which was/still is owned by a man named Ray. To put it frankly, he was a sexist pig. Only girls were allowed to work behind the counter and wait tables, and only boys were hired to be delivery drivers. He made inappropriate remarks about women who came into his shop. You could see it and hear it in the way he treated and talked to people. Luckily for me, he was only in the restaurant during one of my shifts each week so I didn’t have to deal with anything first hand, but the stories were passed around. He was a douche.
I worked there for a year and then I started my long line of working for women. My hometown job included working for my friends’ mom, and my college campus job had me reporting to one of the female graduate students. It wasn’t until I started my internships that I noticed the amount of women in the workforce around me.
Maybe it’s my industry. I was a Communications major with minors in PR and Professional Writing, and my experience has been in HR, PR and Marketing. I had four internships while I was in college, all of which I reported directly to women. Three of these internships were within small businesses, and, this next part is noteworthy, ALL THREE OF THOSE BUSINESSES WERE OWNED BY WOMEN. These women were boss ladies, bad bitches, and I wanted to be like them. They were rough around the edges, intimidating, hardworking, and determined with something to prove. I was given mentors at these internships as well, also women. I was inspired by the attitude they had and the image of themselves they they projected into the world. Say what you want, but women get shit done, and done well. Today, almost 40% of all businesses are owned and operated by women.*
My first job out of college, I worked for an awful woman named Heather, who was the HR Director for a small manufacturing firm. When I first started, I heard rumors that she wasn’t well liked, but she was so nice to me in the beginning that I figured they were just saying those things because she was a dominant female. As I got to know her more, I realized that she didn’t make a whole lot of sense most of the time. She wasn’t great at managing people. She was no where to be found for 90% of the time, and the other 10% she would micromanage so much that it was hard to do our jobs. One time, she told me that instead of teaching me the new way she wanted things done, she had been giving me a look periodically to see if I could figure out this own my own. Sorry I didn’t pick up on your telepathic signals, Heather. I could continue on about the strange things she used to do, but my point here is that I didn’t see her as a good boss. She was off-putting and manic and hypocritical and backwards. She didn’t know how to handle people, but then again, neither did most of this organization. I worked there for less than a year before I was begging another company to take me.
After that, I did a complete 180 and started working for a wonderful individual named Cheryl. You can put Cheryl on the top of the boss lady list. Professionally, she helped build a branch from scratch and was running the HR department for her home office and several other offices in the region. Meanwhile, she was dealing with a mother battling cancer, a husband having multiple surgeries on his airwaves, and a daughter in and out of the ER with asthma issues. As if all that wasn’t enough, she also fought against the daily prejudice of having an interracial family (a beautiful one) and fought against stereotypes of women in leadership. I was continuously inspired by her strength and prosperity, and the fact that she was a baller breadwinner for her family. Over 40% of moms today are the sole or primary source of income in U.S. households.* Cheryl also was a phenomenal manager. She cared about us on both a personal and a professional level, cared about our growth, and cared about us overall being happy. The year she was my boss, she won HR Manager of the year across a national company, and soon after I left the company, she was promoted to Regional Manager. To put it simply, she dominates.
When I interviewed to leave that company, it was with a man named Glenn. Upon accepting the offer, I learned that Glenn is who I would be reporting to. Truly, my immediate thought was, Wow, this is the first time I’ll be reporting to a man since Ray. I wondered if the differences would be noticeable or noteworthy between working for a man versus a woman. I was unsure of how my experience had shaped me or catered to me in my career. I wouldn’t say I was nervous, but certainly curious.
However, it was obvious from my interview experience that working for Glenn was going to be a much better situation than the man I worked for when I was 17. True to my expectations, Glenn has been a great leader who is extremely knowledgeable and a great teacher. He’s also managing a team of over 40 individuals while juggling a daughter at home with health issues. I’ve clearly been fortunate to work for several admirable leaders. Lucky for Glenn, we are now adding leadership to our department, and his team of 40+ will be broken up into four teams with four separate leaders. As we make this switch, I will no longer be on Glenn’s team, but will now be reporting to a woman named Michelle.
What I’ve learned about great leaders and managers, is that they are also great people. They are professional and experienced, yet level-headed and caring. They are advisors, mentors and confidants. They multi-task, they prioritize, and they execute. They are the kind of people that you want to surround yourself with. And in my case, they have mostly been women. This should be celebrated! But we have a long way to go.
Almost 52% of professional-level jobs are owned by women*, and yet only 15% of executive officers are female.* Not to mention the prevailing wage-gap issue – despite the spotlight that has been put on it, women still make about 78 cents to the man’s dollar.* I won’t even get into the workplace harassment issues that the media has highlighted, but let’s just recognize the amount of mountains that women have to climb.
So I say, keep climbing! Inspire and empower the women around you. Celebrate their successes, and learn from them to create your own. Collaborate. Nominate. Share knowledge and information. Acknowledge accomplishments and milestones. Break boundaries and tear down stereotypes.
I want to thank the women who have inspired me. From my mom, to my previous bosses, to my mentors, to my friends – you all dominate everyday. As leading women in your industries, you are constantly knocking down walls and paving a greater way for the women who come after us. I hope to pass along the gifts that I have been given from you to other strong women with powerful potential.
Who run the world.*
Thanks for reading.
*11% of civil engineers are women, according to bls.gov. *30% of all businesses are owned and operated by women, over 40% of moms today are the sole or primary source of income in U.S. households, and the pay gap across all occupations is 77.5%, according to resourcefulmanager.com *Almost 52% of professional-level jobs are owned by women and 15% of executive officers are female, according to americanprogess.com *Who run the world? Girls. According to Beyoncé.
For a long time, I was convinced that I would never need this surgery because my wisdom teeth actually had grown in and fit in my mouth comfortably. A couple years later, my dentist told me that because of the lack of space around those teeth, my toothbrush was not cleaning them effectively enough to keep cavities away, and that this would continue over time. So, he recommended that I have them removed. Even after getting a consult with an oral surgeon, I instinctively pushed this off for several months. THEN, a piece of the tooth broke off (probably from the cavities – gross, I know…) and the remainder of the tooth was sharp and jabbing into my gums. So it’s no surprise that two weeks later I found myself in the surgeon’s chair.
Let me start off by saying that the surgery went well and was relatively easy – I didn’t even need stitches! That being said, going into the surgery, I was a nervous wreck. I wasn’t crazy about the idea of being put to sleep, I’ve never had surgery of any kind, and honestly I’ve had very minimal medical issues. Still, I probably should have been more chill about the whole thing.
I was already feeling uneasy this week leading up the the surgery, and I woke up playing a list of worst case scenarios over and over in my head. I was strangely sensitive all morning and my anxiety levels were high. (Quick shout out to my amazing boyfriend Ryan for doing what he could to put me at ease.❤) Those levels were further increased by two sets of strangers in the waiting room making small talk about the details of their children’s procedures. Phrases such as, “root canal” and “synthetic stitching” had me praying that they would either leave or just shut the fuck up.
By the time I was in the surgeon’s chair, I was doing everything I could to not go into a full blown panic. I told the doctor I was nervous as she put three little monitors on me, one on each side of my collar bone and one on my left side. I wasn’t even hooked up to the IV yet, and I was getting more nervous by the second. She then put the blood pressure cuff around my arm and as I felt it getting tighter and tighter, I started to panic that it wouldn’t stop and it would just keep squeezing my arm until it injured me. Contrary to the mania in my head, the machine did stop tightening, but honestly it was extremely uncomfortable and was taking an awful long time to release. The doctor was looking at the machine and said that she was going to change the cuff. She manually released it and put the new one on, saying, “Don’t worry – this one is brand new!” Oh thank you so much, you’re just making me feel so much better about this whole thing! (No, actually she was really nice and the machine took my blood pressure correctly that time). After she took all my vitals, she left the room without taking the cuff off my arm like I expected her to. A minute or two went by and the cuff started to tighten again, putting me back into a small panic. My mind started racing. Wasn’t she supposed to take this off of me? Is this supposed to be taking my BP again? Should it be this tight? I complained to Ryan that it was hurting me and he kept reassuring me that everything was okay, but I was feeling more anxious by the second. My eyes started to well up, so I shifted my gaze upwards and tried to blink it away. In one hour, it’ll be done. In just one hour, it’ll be over. When the doctor came back in, I was given laughing gas and the instructions to breathe in my nose and out my mouth. The blood pressure cuff started to tighten again.
Me: Is that going to keep happening every two minutes?
Doctor: Every five minutes, but yes. You doing okay?
No, not really.
Me: Yeah, it’s just a little tight.
Doctor: Okay, Ryan now do you want to go back into the waiting room now or do you want to wait until after we do the IV?
Ryan: I —
Me: He probably wants to stay.
Doctor: Ryan, do you want to come hold her hand?
Me: Yeah, he does.
Once I had Ryan’s hand in mine, I closed my eyes and the doctor took my arm. She wrapped something around me above my elbow to get a good vein for the IV, but that made me really internally freak the fuck out. I could feel my legs shaking and they had to remind me to keep breathing or else the laughing gas wouldn’t work. (Ryan has informed me post-surgery that I actually did, in fact, stop breathing for a second.) I forced myself to breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth, but my exhales came out shaky.
It’s not even like the needle itself was painful, it was everything else that really freaked me out. The weird IV bag, the things hooked up to my collar bone, the blood pressure cuff. Everything made me nervous and anxious and scared. I couldn’t control my breathing or stop my body from shaking. It was scary to not be able to calm myself down, especially after Ryan had been told to make his way back to the waiting room. Luckily, that meant that the IV was in, and after a few minutes of panic that it wouldn’t have any affect on me, I guess I finally fell asleep.
Let me just remind you again that this was just a normal wisdom teeth surgery – and an easy one at that. I usually don’t have any problems going to a medical appointment, but then again, I’ve never had to be “hooked up” to anything. I pray that I don’t find myself with any serious complications in the future, because I don’t know if I could handle it. To anyone who has been put through surgeries, procedures, or any other scary medical experiences, please know that you are a stronger human than I am! Respect.
Anyway, waking up from surgery was fairly easy. It was much less dramatic than I was picturing, and there was no “David After Dentist” camera opp. (By the way – no, I am not high on pain pills as I am writing this or anything like that.) Truly, the worst part of the entire procedure was being so ridiculously in my head about it.
So yeah, that’s how my first surgery experience went. Thanks for reading.
I am starting this blog because I want to find a way to connect more with my writing. I don’t have a theme, I am not promoting anything, and really my only purpose is self fulfillment. What I write here will be the random, genuine, and original ideas that are floating around inside my head. Like it says above, I don’t really care if you read this or not. I’m writing for me.
I’ve been living downtown in Allentown, PA for over 2 years now. My office is located just 6 blocks from my apartment, so I am able to walk to work. Even on rainy days like today, this has been a tremendous improvement in my life. The work/life balance that is available within my position has allowed me time to focus on things I enjoy, rather than just work, work, work and nothing else. I’ve been reading more, going to a yoga class, and I even did some “feng shui” around the apartment.
I’m finding the importance of doing things for yourself in order to get the best balance out of life. I surround myself with things that I love and people who love me, and I’ve found that I am happy.
More to come! Thanks for reading.