A Fashionista Halloween

It’s been a minute since I’ve updated and I can think of no better day to do it!

As mentioned in blogs past, I love Halloween; its historical origins and even some of the modern day fun of watching my nieces and nephews get all dressed up for trick or treating for the first time.

Last year, being pressed for time to think up and execute a costume, I ended up selling out and bought something from one of those over priced pop up costume stores. Last Halloween held its own excitement as it was the night my brother proposed to his fiance (she said yes!) and it was thrilling to be part of the night.

As someone who usually puts loads of thought and creativity into my costume, having to buy something I would wear for one night and then probably toss was annoying. I’m also someone who is extremely fond of shopping small (farmer’s markets and local businesses are where I try to spend my money versus bigger corporations or chain stores). I can usually construct something out of clothes I already have, borrowing or buying small accessories here and there to create a complete look. I actively try not to visit the chain stores for things, preferring to thrift or borrow from friends or family.

This year, I started early with my planning and ideas. I wanted to go as a fortune teller. A friend of mine pointed me in the direction of a vintage shop called Fashionista that was conveniently located right near where I worked. He had rented costumes from them for a play he put on, and the shop has a great system: you paid for the cost of the costume up front, then upon returning it, you get 2/3 of the money back.

Genius!

I went down to the shop on a lunch break. It was quiet in the store, still a few weeks til Halloween, and the staff could not have been more helpful (or more fun!).

We immediately started putting things together, and I ended up with a kick ass costume and a great experience I would not have gotten at a chain store.

The amazing ladies hooked me up with earrings, a necklace, the scarf, and this amazing red dress. I provided the make up, black shirt and dress underneath.

I got TONS of compliments at party I attended, and felt awesome and fun all night!

Returning everything was just as easy. I walked down on my break with all the items they had rented to me, had them checked and accounted for and gave them back.

The total I gave them was $126.00 and the amount I got back was $81, meaning it cost me all of $45, which I probably would have spent on some cheaply made costume that I would end up tossing. All of the make up I used was my day to day make up, with the addition of some temporary tattoos I got for $2. (*Life hack: scotch tape takes temporary tattoos clean off!*) 

Fashionista is also a Vintage store where you can purchase fabulous vintage fashions. Their staff is incredibly friendly and helpful and I will definitely visit them again for all my costume and vintage needs!

 

Happy Halloween!

Feminism and Stay at Home Moms

Recently  I attended the second birthday of my nephew. This kid, along with my other niece and nephew, are my favorite kids in the world. I don’t have any children of my own, and my future as a parent is uncertain. I love these kids more than anything, and feel honored that I get to be a part of their lives and watch them grow into themselves.  There’s a great sense of duty attached to the title “Auntie Tine” (pronounced ‘Teen’) and I take my role in their lives seriously. I also love that my nephew associates me with getting pizza. I’m completely on board with it.

I also love my close relationships with their parents, particularly their mothers. I respect my girl friends and their husbands so much, and stand in awe of them as they navigate parenthood. I love when they share with me what they are learning and how they handle the challenges of creating and then raising tiny humans.

The day of the party was beautiful, full of doting family members and friends. My bestie Kai is a brilliant and creative party thrower; she adorned the back patio with beautiful decorations. Pictures from our wee man’s last year and his day care accomplishments were proudly displayed. There was great food and good conversations abound. To my delight and surprise,  friends of Kai’s, (Molly and Brian) that I hadn’t seen in about 5 years attended, having recently moved back to the East Coast. It was a wonderful day of celebrating and reconnecting.

As I was talking to Molly and catching up, I asked her what she was doing with her days. She confessed, rather uncomfortably, that she was staying home with her son full time.

I have noticed this before in other friends, and even family members who have made a similar decision. There’s a sense of trepidation for women (and men!) when they reveal that they are staying home to raise their children.There’s a hesitation before answering, “So what are you doing?” and feeling as though they need to explain their choice in detail. It was as though she was bracing for a judgement that I would dole out about her choice. It’s an unfortunate fact, especially when it comes to parenting and raising a family, people tend to like to insert their two cents. It’s not always valuable, and it is also very apparently causing increased anxiety that most new parents don’t really need.

As a feminist, one of my deepest beliefs is that women have the power to make decisions for themselves. This includes whether or not they wish to stay home or go back to work after having a child. It also includes whether or not they wish to become a parent at all! The beauty of feminism is that it’s not exclusive. Feminism is about equality, and respecting other people and their ability to make the best choices for themselves.

My response to Molly was thus: “That’s amazing. It’s so great that you’re able to be there for him everyday. It must be magical getting to see what each new day brings, and see how he is growing. You’re working hard everyday to keep him alive and thriving, and that is no small task. I really respect what you’re doing!”

She immediately relaxed and laughed. “Yes, exactly! Thank you!”

We went on to talk about why she feels nervous telling people she stays home with her child instead of working, and how/why people still tend to respond negatively to stay at home mothers. Molly is a talented illustrator, and spoke excitedly about a commission she recently finished. She spoke of wanting to do more, of how her and another mother in her neighborhood were going to give each other hour long breaks watching each others little ones during the day so they could work on various projects. We talked about feminism and how it applies to stay at home mothers as well as women who don’t want to be mothers. The foundation of feminism makes it so that it can encompass all these values, and provide support and encouragement to them.

We all bring things to the table that are valuable; whether you’re a stay at home mother, or someone who does not want to have children. There doesn’t need to be a great divide.

As a society, I think we need to take these moments to encourage parents in the way they make decisions for their families. Whether someone is a parent who stayed home or chose to go back to work, or those who don’t have the luxury of staying home with their children, or someone who doesn’t wish to be a parent, there needs to be support and understanding for people’s circumstances.

Conversations like the one I had with Molly make me even more excited to begin classes for my masters degree in Women and Gender Studies. I’m starting in January, and I’ve never looked forward to school like this before. All challenges will be accepted.

 

 

 

The Evolution of My Space Over Time.

Last year I moved into my first apartment. I had lived home for all of my 20’s and in moving out was fulfilling a prophecy I set for myself when I was 18: Before marriage or any kind of serious relationship, I would live on my own, financially independent, and single but open to love’s possibilities.

I noticed that many of the things I wanted for my 20’s are now emerging in my 30’s. My sense of direction and intuitive feelings are stronger and surer than ever.

July marked 1 year in my tiny apartment and I took the time to appreciate the process my little corner of the world has under gone in the last year.

A tiny (500 sq ft-ish?), 3rd floor apartment with a fire escape has become a cozy haven of my collected life. In the year since moving in, I have thrown things away once thought too precious to lose, moved things around, all the time playing with the space I had. It was a great lesson in gratitude, looking around and seeing not things, but people I associated with them.

I see my friend Kim and my family members who helped me move in that first day. I see Jonathan, who helped me carry my couch up the two flights of stairs, who patiently pivoted and maneuvered it down the narrow hallway and through my slender door frame. I see his sister, my best friend, Kai, in my measuring cups, my tea wreath, the shark shaped bottle opener, and of course in the photos that adorn the walls. My generous parents are apparent throughout as well, in my pots and pans, in my assembled furniture. I especially see my dad in my air conditioner, that he brought from home and carried up the stairs for me during the summer months so I wouldn’t be uncomfortable in the heat. I would not have made it through my first year without their love, and don’t know what to do with all the gratitude I feel toward them. It leaves me at a complete loss to do anything except accept their love and try to give it back to them as much as I can.

I look around and see the various lovely memories of gifts and moments, and I am filled with a sense of peace. After all, that’s what home should be

There’s also some nights I would rather forget. Nights of existential thoughts, loneliness, wanting, feelings of inadequacy, and emptiness. There were tears on those nights and headaches the next morning. Gratefully, those nights were few and far between.

I ultimately look back on a year of joy with people entering my doorway and leaving me with lovely memories and imprinting my space with their individual good vibes.  I wouldn’t change anything, lest I obscure the lessons that have been received.

My mind has changed many times over the course of the year and I’ve given in to it’s special fluidity; sometimes preferring the couch here or there, moving my bed to this wall instead of that one. Creativity flourished as I figured out ways to utilize the space, making it seem more open and welcoming and less cluttered. A sense of pride established itself with every creative solution I found, in anything from hanging a light to designing the space. It’s still a continuing process that brings me joy with each new adjustment.

More than anything is the feeling of independence that I treasure in this experience. Coming home to just myself is something I always felt was important; to get good with being alone before coming home to someone else. Learning to meet one’s needs and care for oneself can later play a greater role in meeting the needs of another, and caring for them.

As my favorite idol has always said, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else, CAN I GET AN AMEN?” – RuPaul.

And so, as I enter the second year of this lease, I take into account all that has transpired with a firm belief that this year will be better than the last, and that the goals I have set for myself will blossom into beautiful fruition. To quote the beloved Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Look at where you are, look at where you started.”

This life is quite enough.

 

 

Not Throwing Away My Shot

“I prob’ly shouldn’t brag, but dag, I amaze and astonish

The problem is I got a lot of brains but no polish

I gotta holler just to be heard

With every word I drop knowledge”- My Shot, Hamilton, the Musical (lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda

I’ve been listening to this soundtrack since December, and today I heard and felt this song with renewed vigor.

Recently, I’ve been stepping  up with my knowledge and experiences from the Rape Crisis Center and applying them to where I currently work.

I gave a presentation to a group of students at the University I work for. Even though I work as an Assistant, I spoke up when our school revealed the frightening truth that sexual assault and harassment was, in fact, a problem our community was facing.

The moment I got up in front of the students, (only about 12-15) what had become low burning embers were suddenly doused in gasoline. The fire inside me roared out as I explained to them how to handle disclosures of sexual assault, either on campus or out in the world after their time here is ended. The truth, the stats, the real life experiences all came flooding out of me.

They noticed. They noticed because you can’t hide real passion.

Still, I continued to deny that this was what I wanted to do in life.

When asked by my boss “Is this what you want to do?” I froze up, clammed up, and quickly said, “No, I can’t go back to that.” Claiming burnout, I  had left Rape Crisis for what’s now my current job.

While I claimed it was the work itself that burned me out, it was in fact just the toxic work environment created and sustained by one person.

I realized this at dinner last night, when I met up with two of the women I use to work with at the Center. We talked about everything from her grand kids to my new job and the wonders to come with the Spring season. We talked of the various challenges we experienced, reminisced, and praised the positive changes that have occurred in the last few years.

At one point, one of them brought up something that was said to me by the Executive Director, our boss at the time. It was something I had blocked out, but upon hearing it again, felt a flush of anger, shame and frustration.

At the time these words were spoken, I was a Community Educator; my job was going into schools to teach prevention programming, trying to do what I could within my power to teach students about body safety, and how to come forward if someone ever touched them inappropriately. I taught students from age 3 up to age 18, and assisted in running support groups at the college level. I was TREM trained and I was trying to do the good that I could for my corner of the world.

The words of my former Director rang in my ears as my friend spoke them out loud:

“Do you really think these kids care what you’re saying? Do you think they’re actually paying attention? They don’t care.”

It hurt. Deeply.

I’ve always prided myself on being a strong minded individual, sometimes to the fault of being downright stubborn (divisive, intransigent, Thank you Lin-Manuel Miranda for inadvertently teaching me these words).  My dad use to praise my ability to not be bothered by people who didn’t like me. My mother always complained I was a “thick headed child” because when I believed something, I believed it with my whole heart and mind. Happy to report, I’m now the adult version of both these things.

But in that moment, and the many similar moments I experienced under that leadership, I eventually couldn’t stop the poison seeping in.  I let it beat me into submission. I let it cloud over my passion and my love for what I did. I let it win. My dad noticed I was coming home angry and sad more nights than not. I felt helpless, like what I was doing didn’t matter.

I lost hope.

By the time this person was let go, it didn’t matter. I had already checked out and had begun applying for Administrative jobs elsewhere, ready to do anything else. Two years worth of words similar to that above sentence had been loosed; they had done their damage.

I hadn’t thought of those words in a long time. The mind is an amazing thing. It has the ability to block things out, to protect and heal itself. I had nearly forgotten, buying into my own lie that the work had been too much for me, when in truth,  I could’ve kept going long past my two year tenure.

I have been going along, in a cloud of uncertainty for the past 2 years, trying to pick a path and figure out my next move, saying things that made sense to people who were acquainted with me. As someone who reads all the time and loves recommending books to people, Library Science made sense to my brain. Books and reading are my peace; they bring me joy and clarity and burn my fire for learning.

Then today, I passed an acquaintance on my way into work. In our general conversation, he kindly inquired if I had begun pursuing my Library Science dream.

My favorite poet Hafiz once wrote: “This place where you are right now, God circled on a map for you.”

And so it was in that moment, when I couldn’t truthfully burst forth with passion about pursuing it. I fumbled some words about uncertainty, and we parted ways.

When I got  back to my desk, I thought about that conversation. I thought about last night. It all came at once.

It always does with me. Nothing ever happens slowly but surely. It happens all at once.

So I messaged my friend Alisha, and the conversation went something like this:

Me: Hey

A: Yo

Me: I’m trying to figure my life out. I’m online looking at Women’s Studies at SCSU.

A: Oh yeah? Please tell me more about your interests…

Me: I am interested in helping people. And understanding all the things. I am thinking…women’s studies and then going on to become a social worker. And working to help people recovering from DV and SA. (domestic violence and sexual assault).

A: How will WMS better prepare you for these goals?

Me:  In order to help people, I need to have a stronger understanding of gender, race, culture and advocacy here in the US and around the world, on a level higher than what I already know. WMS will teach me what I need to know to be a strong advocate for for human rights and equality. In being at the rape crisis center, I’ve laid the ground work, but now I need to build upon and polish the skills I have.

this comes about for 2 reasons: One, last night when I was out with Cindy from RCCM, she reminded me of one of the reasons I left / despaired at the center: She reminded me of the day my boss at the time said: “Do you think what you’re saying matters? These kids don’t care about your message, they’re not listening.”  I hate to admit it, but I let that resonate, I let it cloud my mind and my mission and over all I let it break my heart.

 Now, being here at Work, I did a presentation for students who were not only grateful for the information, and who listened, but who saw my passion and love for teaching them what to do and how to handle disclosures.

I almost feel like I’m getting a reboot.  An hour ago, I passed a student who asked me how the library science thing was going and I realized how lost I felt. Books and reading will always be my love, my peaceful place. But I’m here for more than that. And I’m realizing it. 

 I want to kick ass in this life. I want to do good things for people. I want to be hopeful and helpful. I need to start somewhere, and that place feels like WMS. I’m smart and empathetic, and hopeful and in that is the power of the Sun. If I’m going to help humanity, especially women, I need to know more.

A:  🙂

A: I see your enthusiasm

and you have some experience behind you that you are already drawing from while thinking about moving forward which is great
wms is about inspiration and collaboration and bringing a diverse community together to learn how to co-exist by understanding why people are the way they are, how they became that way and how we can work together to teach others how to respect it.

you will learn so much in wms but you won’t come away with any kind of technical, marketable trade skill. as long as you are ok with that then yes you should apply. 

a lot of people ask, why women’s studies? what are you going to do with that because they can’t see a physical end goal coming from it, like a specific job or skill, but if you really know who you are and what you can offer and with the knowledge of how some communities are the way they are, you would be invaluable. 

the trick after that would be getting employers to realize your value

if you are aware that that is what you will be doing then and not working toward some kind of skill certification then DO IT!

Me: ❤  I want to do it
A: Please ask more questions
Me: Like what?
A: Anything
Me: Okay, let’s definitely get together so we can talk more about this. I can’t even tell you how relieved I feel making this decision- like I’m not lying to myself anymore.
Relief washed over me. Fear dissipated. The weight and anxiety I’ve been carrying around about what to do with myself, my time, my talents, and purpose finally makes sense. And it had to happen this way. Sometimes you have to step away from something and get some perspective, give your mind a rest so you can come back to it with fresh eyes and a fresh mind, having grown in the time away.
I’m here. I’m ready. I’ve never been so excited.  The tools are at my disposal. Everything has happened for a reason.
Peace, love, and understanding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Think Dirty and Read Labels!

In the past few years, I’ve become mindful of my body and the things I’m putting in it and on it.

From reading food labels in the grocery store (and trying to eat healthier) to reading the labels on my lotions and body care items, I tend to spend a little extra each month to make sure that any food items or hygiene products that I’m using won’t cause long term health problems.

It started back a few years ago when the aluminum in women’s deodorant was being linked to breast cancer. That was all I need to hear before I started looking at the aluminum free selections in the store and veering away from brands like Secret and Dove.

Then I got savvy with my food. I began questioning myself every time I went to the grocery store. Where was it coming from? Who was growing it? What did genetically modified mean? I did a little digging around and found that GMO’s were not for me. It woke me up to the disparaging state of our food industry and the gross injustices that products labeled “organic” or as I like to think of it, “not fucked with” are twice the price of items that were grown honestly and who’s path can be easily traced from the farm to the store.

Further I saw how outrageously overpriced healthy foods were and how terribly under priced everything processed or manufactured was. When I moved to New Haven, I began to buy my produce directly from CT farmers at the Wooster St. Farmer’s market. It was the most secure grocery shopping I had ever done. I knew where it came from and I knew how long it would last and I wasn’t spending a fortune. Win Win.

Lastly, I’ve been trying to get a handle on what I’m using on my hair and skin. Perfumes, cosmetics, hair products. I recently downloaded the app, Think Dirty, and took it to my bathroom shelves. The app is designed to scan a product’s bar code, and then report back the toxicity  and the long term health risks of what you’re using. Its amazing how careless people can be when it comes to putting things on their skin. We tend to take for granted that our skin absorbs whatever we put on it. I cringe at the thought now, thinking about how topical things still have to get processed through our internal organs and how damaging all those unchecked labels can be to our overall, long term health. Some of the products I was using were “dirty” either in carcinogenicity, developmental & reproductive toxicity, or in immunotoxicities. Health problems that were a mystery were actually being caused by what I was putting on my skin, and ceasing to use certain products has remedied those issues.

Though I thought I was being so careful reading labels, I was still surprised at how much product I threw out. Sunscreen, lotions, eye shadows and even one bottle of hair product that I thought was totally safe, were disposed of.

So what remains on my shelf? What labels were safe and good and checked out well with the Think Dirty App? Granted, the items that I use might not work for you (for instance, I have naturally curly hair, so I use a lot of curly hair products) and maybe your skin type is different from mine (lovely combination skin that can’t make up its mind whether to be dry or greasy). But I urge you to READ THE LABELS of what you’re buying. It’s not hard to find an equivalent to whatever you’re already using. It might be more expensive, but so is poor healthy. I feel a personal level of responsibility to take care of myself as best I can in the age of information. Plus, bonus- if you’re unsure what you replace your toxic items with, Think Dirty will provide you with alternatives.

So here’s a compiled list of what I’ve found to be safe so far:

Shea Moisture – I frequently use their soaps, scrubs and occasionally their hair products. I love this line, and I love that they are so much more than a company. Some of the proceeds from their products even go to various causes combating poverty, empowering women through educational grants, building schools, and even matching employees charitable giving.

Everyone 3-in-1 Lavender & Aloe Lotion (EO Products)–  One of the best buys I made was this lotion. I use it for my face and body. The product commitment and the certifications of their products is wonderful – the label reads Organic, Non-GMO, No synthetic fragrances, cruelty free, gluten free.  I encourage you to read up on the company here.

Burt’s Bees Rhubarb Lip Shimmer – I love it when I find a good red lip color. I was sad to have to part with my favorite red lipstick because it scored so poorly on the app, but I was happy to see that my beloved Burt’s Bees checked out just fine.

Other great lines of natural/ handmade products I’ve encountered over the last year are Lush Cosmetics and Ava Anderson. I’ll actually be making a trip to Lush this weekend in honor of Valentine’s Day.

treatyoself

Here’s to reading labels, and creating healthy regiments!

 

 

Thank you for the music

I first heard David Bowie while watching the film “Detroit Rock City” well before I should have ( I was 10 or 11, and it’s definitely rated R). I was being babysat by older cousins who let me watch it. In one of the scenes, I heard a song in the background of a scene that stuck in my head.

That song was “Rebel Rebel” by David Bowie.

I managed to acquire the soundtrack, which opened me up to bands like KISS (obviously), Van Halen, Black Sabbath, The Runaways, Thin Lizzy, The Donnas, and David Bowie.

It opened a door to a world of music that helped me through those formative teen years of angst and feeling like an outcast. Anyone who has listened to Bowie’s music knows, there’s no one better to make you feel like you’re not alone.

I soon after purchased the album “Best of Bowie” which I listened to to the point of scratching it to high hell and having to buy it digitally. The hours spent driving around between the ages of 17 and 21 with that CD as my soundtrack are immeasurable, and irreplaceable. Even to this day my favorite getting ready song is “Rebel Rebel”.  Listening to David Bowie gives one a sense of the infinite, of something so much more than what we are.  There’s no other way to describe it. Just as he proclaimed:

“I always had a repulsive need to be something more than human. I felt very puny as a human. I thought, “F**k that. I want to be a superhuman.”

Listening to him makes you feel that superhuman quality, and inspires a sense of personal freedom and expression in the listener.

So this morning, when I opened my social media and saw an onslaught of salutes, I instantly teared up. I texted my best friend, the biggest David Bowie fan I know, who confirmed that most devastating truth that he had passed away.

Immediately, my thoughts and heart went out to his family. It’s devastating to lose someone, and he was someone’s person.

I then thought about how much his music had impacted me. How he put something out that resonated deeply not just with me, but with people all over the world.

My best friend and I exchanged texts of sadness. I put on that CD as I got ready for the day. I topped off my professional work look with a line of green glittery eye liner. Today called for something a bit more fabulous, hopeful I wouldn’t cry it off during the day.

Anyone who doesn’t believe in the power of being true to oneself and the transcendence of that into artistic expression need not look any further than David Bowie’s music. He serves as a shining reminder to be who we are and not to water ourselves down. One of my favorite quotes of his was when he said:

“I’m just an individual who doesn’t feel that I need to have somebody qualify my work in any particular way. I’m working for me.”

And:

“All my big mistakes are when I try to second-guess or please an audience. My work is always stronger when I get very selfish about it.” (Quotes via this Huffington Post article).

As someone who has long been fearful of sharing my writing (the stuff in the actual journals, not what’s written here) for fear of rejection, I think it time to mull over these words.

The grace and honesty that David Bowie has exuded over the years is a testament to his art and has touched countless lives throughout the world through that medium. I raise my words and my glass to his legacy and I am inspired to live as he did: true to myself  through to the end.

 

 

Surrender and Release

Oh, 2015, your symphony is nearly complete and it’s been a beautiful year.

This year has given me so much to be grateful for. Friendships grew stronger this year while others fell away, leaving behind traces of experience that I carry with me. There was tragedy as well as laughter. There were celebrations of love and devotion that make me believe in magic and enchantment, something that I was quietly beginning to grow cold about.

There were books- SO MANY BOOKS and new ideas, tattooing words and ideas all over my brain and giving me new perspectives and familiar feelings of the strings being tugged on my heart.

belle book

There was music, art, and theatre. Strutting down the runway (hallway) of my place of work with RuPaul’s “Born Naked” blasting in my headphones, later replaced by the genius that is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s brain child, ‘Hamilton.’

I had the privilege of seeing someone who is now a friend, perform his original works of spoken word poetry, which inspired me and allowed me to see him in a kaleidoscope of dimensions. I might even read some of my own work at his next show.

I feel lucky and grateful for everything that has happened; the good, the bad, the ugly. I’m grateful for all the new relationships that blossomed this year, professionally and personally, and for the relationships that continue to sustain,  defying the passage of time and busy schedules.

What is the good without the bad? The greatest misfortune of this year came when an active member of the family suffered a stroke, leaving most of the left side of his body weak. In the wake of even such distress as this, there were things to be immensely grateful for: that when it struck, he was in public, and someone saw it and called 9-1-1, which meant he got treatment in the best possible window of time. There is hope he will regain most of his left side through therapy. It’ll be a long road, but one littered with hope, perseverance, and unconditional love.

I’m standing on the precipice of turning 30 in May and instead of fearing it, I want to welcome it with a big warm hug.

Let Me Explain...

2016 is going to be the year of adventure and release. If you know me, you know that I’m a control freak, lovable in her blunders to try and control everything in her life, but who always manages to throw up her hands smiling and say, “I plan, God Laughs.”  At least we have a sense of humor about it.

I’ve grown tired of trying to control everything that happens in my life. 2016 will finally be the time to let go.

don't act surprised, you guys - Copy

Looking back at my 20’s, I spent the enormity of my time wanting to be accepted and liked, to the point of compromising myself, diluting my dreams for the sake of “security and safety”, and repeating the same old habits on command. This year, when a friend’s fiancé made jokes in poor taste at my expense, I put him in his place: out of my good graces. I didn’t flinch. I didn’t worry about being called a bitch. I didn’t care anymore. I was done putting up with people who drain my energy. It wasn’t worth my time.

What up

2015 has been a year of change. I pulled myself from my comfort zone, into my own apartment, into a new job, into new relationships and I want to see where it’s all leading to.  I wrote more new material and I cannot wait to lock myself up for a week long break, turn off my phone and write and revise even more.

I’ve always been an actively social being, but I feel this quiet retreat coming, and I am welcoming it.

It’s time to rest my mouth and let my mind work the pen in my hand to deliver the messages that reside in my heart.

Talk Less

I looked back to last year’s post and was happy to see that I was right: this was the year of manifestation. The year all the things I wanted were going to fall into place and I made it happen. The treasures, adventures and lessons of 2016 are only going to take me further, and I am striving to be open or more welcoming to them.

There’s one lesson that I am especially excited about taking into the new year and that is this: be open to love’s possibilities,  and stop selling myself short.  I’m already short. If I keep selling at this rate, there’ll be nothing left of me.

In a recent pep talk to myself, I channeled my inner Latrice Royale.

5 G's

Going forward, I cannot let the ghosts of relationships past lurk over my shoulder when I see new loving approaching, whispering my short comings and failures nefariously into my ear.  While its important to acknowledge that those relationships are part of my story, I cannot allow them to keep me from trying again. My biggest worry in my relationships is history repeating itself. I know my history. I also know what I’m looking for in love, and it’s not a laundry list of specifics. It’s more of a cumulative feeling that being with that person emits: a sense of safety, trust, tons of laughter and humor, and a space where both of us can rise and fall, be ourselves and know it’s okay. And if it doesn’t work out, it’s okay.

It’s time to untie the knots tied around my heart that have been cutting off its circulation. To quote Whitman (again):

“Sometimes with one I love, I fill myself with rage, for fear I effuse unreturn’d love;
But now I think there is no unreturn’d love—the pay is certain, one way or another;”

In 2016, I’ll be giving love like:

Hercules Flower Girl - Copy

The final manifestation for 2015 was applying for my passport. Now that I’ve done it, I’m kicking myself for waiting so long.  I’ve spent hours on Pinterest planning trips I want to take,  now that I can see the world. Sobering fact: most places I want to visit are either tied to an amazing local bookstore or place of literary importance.

With a trip on the calendar for Scotland this coming May, I can hardly contain myself. There’s so much else I want to do and see. The travel bug has already bitten hard, and I’m already shifting my priorities to make sure that I can afford to travel. First things first (after Scotland): the Northern Lights.  If there’s anything in this world I find magical and enchanting, its the Northern Lights. I want to see them, maybe even sleep beneath them; just lay on my back and stare at the sky. I found a place to go, on Prince Edward Island off the coast of northern Canada, and I just can’t wait.

Lets Just Go

I don’t have it all figured out. I still have so many unanswered questions about where my life is going and where I’m going to end up. This year was an incredible boost, and I’m looking forward to keeping the momentum going.

I’m going to quote Whitman one more time, because Song of Myself was the last poem I reveled in, and it perfectly applies.

“Long have you timidly waded
Holding a plank by the shore,
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,
To jump off in the midst of the sea,
Rise again, nod to me, shout,
And laughingly dash with your hair.”- Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

Peace, love, and immense joy to everyone, everywhere.

❤ JJ