Ever So Honored

Ever So Honored

Well, I am feeling every-so-honored. My friend and former colleague (as well as general all around badass) Tracey Carl, liked a Facebook post I penned in response to two infuriating articles I read today about women. She featured the status on a stellar female-oriented blog she authors alongside other fantastic women I know. 

Here is a link to the post about my status: http://bit.ly/1hfrgBH. Also, please go take a look at this empowering blog she and a few of my other friend and former colleagues write for, Breaking Ass and Kicking Glass. You will not be disappointed.

Thanks ALL 🙂

 

Cheers to 2014

As I sit here I am crouched on the floor of the New Orleans airport. I have three hours to waste which is great, because I am very much looking forward to sitting at the bar and downing a Bloody Mary. However due to my own sense of messed up righteousness I must at least wait until 11am. So, I’m going to write. This makes me nervous because it has been a while. I am about to spill on here, which is a healthy binge for me, but all of you who have a subscription to this thing, sorry for the novel. Also, just so I can let it rest, keep in mind I am writing this on an iPad and am therefore exempt from all typo judgements. Insert “Sent From my iPad” here. Yay, thanks.

Good God this month, and year for that matter, has been a weird one. It has turned from 2013-2014. I have turned 26. I have celebrated a year dating anniversary with my former best friend. I am also celebrating my 7th month in New York City. I survived being unemployed for 4 months – 2 of them in New York. I have heard people tell me “no” for the last 7 months and my morale is still relatively high considering. I saw my first Broadway play. I went to Italy and despite the panic attack on the plane ride there, I made it and even made it back. Surprise. I got a job. For all it is worth, I got a small raise this month. I have learned to live away from my family which sucks and is difficult but rewarding in its own way. I have learned how to stay connected and when to cut ties.

Also, this weekend my grandmother passed away. This is why I am in New Orleans. I have a tribute to her I will post here. This month though particularly as I reflect, has felt like I’ve been hit by the wave we call life. I am more aware of it. I do feel older. I’ve learned so much in just this year. It wasn’t easy to come by, I’ve cried more this year than I believe I ever have — this includes happy tears and sad ones, anxious tears and mad ones… I truly just let them flow. I have pointlessly worried, now I realize that. I have learned how to cope with heart burn and indigestion. I’ve learned how to rock a bod that does not look like a magazine cover, and wear less makeup. I kind of have just learned to do whatever the hell I want. No, I’m kidding -sort of. There has been some of that, but not really. I’ve learned how to play this year, because for the last few years I had forgotten to keep that playful side of me. I’ve learned how to borrow money, and spend money. I’ve learned how to pay it back. I’ve learned how to be sober… I’ve been off adderall for six months, which deserves a blog post of its own. I’ve learned how to stop smoking.

Let me just tell you this time last year I was in Oklahoma City with a failing company, and lost sense of direction. I was parking in the church parking lot by my house and calling distant friends to cope with a breakup and new life options while drinking box wine and smoking cigarettes. I am not claiming my direction has improved all that much but at least I am somewhere else. This time last year I was terrified. Truly terrified of where my life was going.

Then, I developed a fear of just about everything when I moved to New York. It’s funny now, the way my legs almost would start shaking when I was riding on the elevator to the 44th floor of the place I was staying. I was like what happens when this thing drops? If i jump when it hits the ground will I live? I was scared of earthquakes, fires, terrorists, floods, robbers, carbon monoxide, you name it I wasted time thinking about it. Somehow my brain slipped into crazy survivor mode. I was so distracted by it I am surprised I didn’t get hit by a bus because I wasn’t paying attention crossing the street. But, however crazy it was… I moved to New York knowing about two people — making friends… losing friends… all of the above. I was here chasing a dream of writing, and a boy. Oh, I was also scared of tunnels, subways tracks, escalators… you name it. This is all new for me, because in the past I was fearless. Nothing mattered really enough for me to be scared. I had a naive grasp of life and became aware of it this year, and now I am coping with it. I see how truly fragile we all are. So that is really what the problem was. I worked through most of it… Still trying to get past this fear of flying… But baby steps. I feel string, even though it hurt a bit to get here. It’s like I jumped with a leap of faith, and now I’m landing.

The news of my grandmother really hit me hard. You think you are prepared for something but when a death happens, it just creates this hole you weren’t expecting. It’s hard to be sad… noone wants to be around you and vice versa. It’s hard to see your family sad and know you cant do anything about it. The only thing I could think of after I heard the news was about how short life is. The only reason we continue as race is because we keep passing the torch, but in the end we all start as dust, exist as dust, and end as dust. It’s sort of a troubling thought that could easily lead you to thinking nothing matters. But my patient, kind and wise boyfriend told me I was like eating a gourmet meal and concerning myself about when it was over instead of focusing on how it tastes. Thank God he said that. He is right. But it’s hard when you have so much you want to do. I want to solve world peace damnit. I am 26 and can barely find matching sox… How am I ever going to leave a verse. I haven’t even started with what I want to do. Well, I have sort of started, but I feel like other people already were more along in the process you now? I guess that is what everyone says.

That bring said, I have to think about the strides I have made this year and what I have learned. I have learned to call out my emotions for what they are, and how to manage feeling guilty or anxious for no reason at all. I’ve learned patience, and how to be in the moment. I’ve learned that to satisfy this huger I have for life and a career… That it won’t happen over night, and that I can’t really control where I end up. I would’ve never known that I would be in New York this time last year. If someone (a soothsayer obviously) would’ve told me that I was going to be here, I would’ve told them that liars go to hell. Okay, I probably just would have thought they were nuts and asked for my money back.

I am learning to trust this process. To forgive and to move on. I’m learning how to understand and sympathize. I’m learning how to not just give, but to accept. I’m learning how to float, and to only fight the stream of ordinary when it’s advantageous and not just for the hell of it.

I am extremely grateful for this year and for everyone who has gotten me through it. Thank you a million times. I am so lucky. Here is to another year, and more lessons :). Here is to new life and to this Bloody Mary I’m about to drink.

Happy Veteran’s Day

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On a day like this, I usually try not to think about it. I don’t like to get into war. I don’t like to think about how many men and women have died in its zealous shadow. More than that, I don’t like to think about the cause that propelled them to care enough to sacrifice their own lives. Because it had to have been horrible. People had to have been suppressed somewhere in the world, for them to have been there — for the US to become involved. Of course that is not the only reason we invade places, but I like to think it’s the reason why citizens become soldiers, to help other people. Veteran’s Day makes me feel like one extremely selfish person. Not to mention cowardly. It is a travesty how many loved ones have been lost. There are no words to describe the feeling of gratitude that someone has toward a person who has protected them. If not for actual protection, at least for the feeling of having it.

Although I have considered it in multiple points of my life, I have never been in the armed services. However, my grandpa, Papa Nick, was. He was a Marine. I wear his Marine bracelet proudly. I found his bracelet shortly after my aunt passed away, and I was digging through the family things she left behind. I never met my grandpa. Actually that’s a lie. He died very shortly after I was born from lung cancer, but according to my mom he used to take me and my sister (we are twins) when we were wee little things, and he would hold us, one in each arm, and take us into his bedroom and nap with us. I like to think he told us all the secrets he learned, that he told me how to dig deep and be brave. He told me the only kind of guy he would accept to be my husband, and promised me he wouldn’t let anything harm us. It is so odd how even now I feel him. I feel him all the time. When I was little I used to think about him watching over me when I was going through something hard, and I would hold out my hand, and I swear I could feel him hold my hand back. 

This grew into writing letters. I write my grandfather letters all the time. I used to do so more when I was younger. I would write him and then rip up the letter into a million pieces and say a prayer and then throw it out the window — to the wind and to his spirit. At the time I didn’t realize I was littering. Now, I don’t rip them up and throw them to the wind. Later on, my great-grandfather, Raymond Atherton, on my step-dad’s side (who has turned into a wise, grandfather-like figure) would pass away, and eventually I started writing letters to both of them. My “grandad” as we called him, was alive long enough for me to know him. I will never forget his hugs and his smile. He laughed so much. He helped coach me through those tough years of adolescence. He hugged me without any questions and set the bar for father-figures in my family. 

They were both World War II veterans. I know that Ray was in the Navy, and I heard him only tell positive stories from his time at war, although my great-grandmother tells me his experience was all but positive. I see him as so wise and kind, I can’t imagine him at war. He must have hated it. 

My Papa Nick flew a Corsair fighter plane. In a picture he has next to it, the plane has a giant pelican caricature flexing his muscles with a fighter jacket on. Next to it was written, “The Ragin’ Cajun,” his nick-name. I wear his Marine bracelet every day. But I think about it the most when I fly. I might not be flying the plane, but I like to thing my grandpa is up there behind the wheel ensuring I land safely. 

To the men and women who have dedicated their lives to fighting for the United States of America and everything it symbolizes. I don’t deserve to wear this bracelet, but it reminds me every day of the price people pay for the freedoms we have. I extend to you a thank you. Thank you for your time, and your bravery. Thank you for your sacrifice.

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Thoughts To Live By

It’s hard to navigate yourself sometimes. Lately, I keep running into turmoil in my relationships. This happens every so often, and hating turmoil the way I do, every time it happens it throws me off balance. Not to mention it just hurts. So, to help keep me calm and inspired I’m collecting the things that motivate me here. These things remind me why I am who I am and of what I can do for other people, even when it’s sometimes challenging. Fights, misunderstandings, lost friendships or relationships of any kind, hurt. You can take the angry approach, or you can collect yourself and remember that in the scheme of things, the petty things just don’t matter. It’s exhausting, but for me at least, it helps so much to collect yourself. Sometimes, I just need a reminder.

1) There are always enough seats at the table. Always, for anyone. Don’t compete, instead encourage. The more lights that shine, the better.

2) Be the peacekeeper.

3) If someone is jealous of something you have or do or just of you in general, they will find any way they can to hate you or pick on you. They will find a way and reason to not like you and there is nothing you can do about it. There is no winning there, so stay yourself. The only people who want to take from your cup are the ones who want to fill theirs. Because they, for whatever reason have deemed theirs empty, and they see yours as more full. Let them take, knowing they will continue to take until something changes their mind to not want it anymore. Hopefully at some point, they will leave you alone, get bored, or move on.

4) Keep the faith.

5) As crazy as it sounds, What would Maya Angelou do if she felt this way or was in this situation? Or Hilary, how would she handle it? What kind of respect and grace would she show?

6) Do not let someone else’s negativity alter your positivity.

7) Give, more than anything else you do.

8) Rise above it.

9) Sometimes, your idea of strong is so different than their idea of strong. Remember the greats who succeeded with a strength similar to yours. And remember you would still be as strong, if you were in the street homeless. Your hope and kindness and love is your strength. No other material things add real value to your life. You are what is inside of you.

10) Water erodes rock, and when needed, creates it’s own path.

11) Remember almost all problems involve ego. Check it. There is no such thing as too humble. I need to humble myself as often as it takes and remember when I don’t, God will through situations. I have to remind myself of this, all the time.

12) Be non-threatening and kind, and if they look at you as a threat anyways, you know it’s their issue. Most of the time it stems from somewhere in them you have no power to reach.

13) There is always time, especially for healing.

14) You’re not done yet. This tiff or the next won’t end you, just try and find your peace.

15) Write it down. Thank you. I feel so much better and will continue to add to this as I think of things.

16) Most of the time, someone is mad at you because they feel like you took from them. Whether you did or didn’t, or whether it was intentional or not… They probably haven’t gotten to that thought process yet, and just feel wronged and are reacting to that feeling. Keep that in mind instead of getting angry. Realize the the person is probably hurt and feeling wronged and that is behind their actions toward you.

17) When you’re 80, this won’t matter, just like when you were 10… Those fights didn’t matter like you thought they would.

18) Life is too short for bullshit. That is a direct quote from my mother, and it was told to me in another emotional struggle I was going through in college. I believe to date it is my favorite saying. I come to it probably weekly and use it to help me make a choice on whether or not to let something upset me. I love it because it is so direct and true. It’s such a raw and beautiful way to sift what matters from what doesn’t. The bullshit, all of it, life is too short for it. My mother has told me so many wonderful things, most of which are on this list, but I still think this one takes the cake. Don’t put up with it, if it’s bullshit.

My First 9/11 in New York City

This is a cross post, originally posted on Twenty Something NYC.

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Although not too many people are talking about it, the days leading up to today were somewhat stressful, especially when you remember what happened in Boston. People are so conscious of the rise in anxiety; the news wasn’t even talking about it. I don’t know if it’s always like this, or if this year things were different, but there is a tension in crowded areas—then again, maybe it’s just me.

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The presence of police could be felt this week since Saturday. The subways are usually somewhere you will spot police, but this was different. On Sunday I saw one officer step onto my subway train. He was dressed head-to-toe in gear. I saw his hand-sanitizer dangling from his belt. Compared to everything else he was warding off, I remembered in New York we all have to ward off colds as well—even our boys in blue. His demeanor nice, but his eyes quickly darting underneath seats and toward large bags. He stayed on for one stop and then got off at Times Square. A little boy sitting next to me who was probably 5 years old looked at his mom standing in front of him, “did you see that mommy?” She replied, “did I see what?” He answered back quietly, “The police man… that was cool.” She knew why he was there, and he was too young to understand.

It’s a scary thing when you move here. My first week here back in June, I remember talking to my friend about how lonely it was. I had no friends here yet, and in typical twentysomething drama I was telling her how scared I was that something was going to happen to me, like getting run over or being pushed onto the subway tracks. She was like, “isn’t your first fear an attack? That was my first fear when I moved here.” She lives in L.A., and my response was like well yeah, actually that came across my mind too.

A week or so after that happened, the NYPD started running tests on the subway system. They were trying different ways to see our vulnerabilities if someone were to attack the system with poisonous gas. I saw the report on the six o’clock news. At first it freaked me out until a girl my age came on the TV and said she was happy they were doing the tests, because we need to know what to do in case something happens. She made the point that that was the only way to prepare ourselves.
It’s not just police on the lookout; the residents here too are taking extra caution. Everyone is looking around, scouting you out. I walked on a train this morning with a man who was facing the entrance and visually scanning everyone who walked through. Then you had another guy on the other end, scanning the guy scanning the people. It was a little much, but I felt a sense of pride and safety. We’re all looking out for each other here. Although I haven’t even been here that long, that so far has been very apparent.

It wasn’t too long ago, about 3 weeks ago, that I took my parents to the September 11th memorial. We took a tour guided by two men who had both been personally affected by the attack. One of them a firefighter, and the other an employee who was late to work that day. They both looked about retirement age, and there they were, volunteering their weekends to tell my family and me about this horrible tragedy they experienced first hand. I heard their stories, and I saw their loved ones’ pictures. I heard about the lives lost and wanted to thank them a million times over for continuing to tell their story. A little over a decade ago, I imagine they thought that something very different would be capitalizing their time at this stage in their lives.

I talked to a few people at my office, and one of them I asked if I should take the subway or not. I’ve heard of people not taking it on 9/11. He said, like the majority of people here would probably say, that he still takes it. To keep going, to trust, and pray. He then went into his recount of the attacks, and how, long after watching the coverage of the events that day, he realized that his office in Times Square might be a target that day. He said it took him a while to think about his safety, because everyone at his office was glued to the TV witnessing the chaos happening just a few blocks south of them. He said people were crying. They were all in shock. Without thinking, I flashed back to my memory of the crying. I remember on the night of the attacks I sat in my room and prayed for the victims and the families. I was in Texas, far, far away from those hurting so deeply… but we felt it. We all felt it. I remember watching George W. Bush’s speech. In my childhood my family knew the Bush family because of some work my dad had done with the Texas Rangers. I flashed back to those memories of him, and then back to the screen and remember feeling so incredibly sick that someone I knew or even met was going into history this way.

I can’t even begin to tell you how inspiring New York City is. This place is magical. It remains strong in its character and its diversity. Its American spirit hasn’t faded, just like the memory of 9/11 will never fade to those who experienced it.

In New York, it’s hard to walk around the city and not feel grateful to be here. By here I mean the city, but also, the United States. It’s only my opinion, but I think our society’s freedoms and our recognition that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are fundamental and essential makes us the luckiest people on the planet.

It was announced today that a UN probe found 8 massacres have occurred in Syria in the past year and a half with thousands of civilians killed in the bloodshed. If you compare the headline to 9/11 reporting on our thousands lost, you are left with an eerie feeling. It is a travesty what we do to one another for power. And although we have a memorial today to turn to in order to honor our loved ones lost, I feel for all those families who have lost someone because of a terrorist attack and have no where to reflect the lives of loved ones.

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For more images, see BuzzFeed’s report or this special report I saw on Upworthy.