Learn Facts, Spread Truths

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With the political climate as it is currently, I am constantly seeing posts about who should talk about what topics and who shouldn’t be allowed to speak at all.

The general consensus is that celebrities should not speak up on their political views because they are not “common men.” They do not struggle as we struggle; they do not understand the woes of this country.

Celebrities are people, too. It’s ridiculous that I have to say that out loud, but apparently it needs to be said. They are not monkeys that we keep in a cage and force to perform. They are people who have their own opinions about their life. You are sorely mistaken if you believe that elections don’t affect them; they do.

Many celebrities that we hear from on the daily are voters and US citizens, which gives them the right to vocalize their opinions. We know the true reason behind your anger about this though, don’t we?

Celebrities have power. They have a podium that waits for them to speak up and say influential things. We hate them because they can reach millions upon millions of people. We hate them because what they say overshadows any greatly intelligent thing that you have to say. Their tweet about going to the restroom has more likes than your discussion of charities that you’ve helped.

It’s annoying; I know.

The thing is, they have this privilege, and though they don’t have to use it, it’s better that they do.

You see, they are using their privilege to speak out on issues that they care about. The same way you do when you post a status/talk to people. When it is a cause that you care about and they are on your side, you feel lucky to have them.

Think about how much money celebrities have given and made for charities all over the world. We applaud them for this; some of us thank God for sending them so that our cause would receive help.

There are always two sides to any situation. They don’t have to be on your side; there is no written rule that states that your favorite actor/actress/musician/performer will always side with your views on what the world should do. (In my case, I got ashamed when my favorite actor threw a phone at someone’s head, but ya know.. it’s his life).

I will disagree with celebrities, but I will never ask for their voice to be taken away (and if I have in the past, I was wrong to). If you believe they are ignorant in their views, please post their views and give facts and evidence as to why they are wrong. Don’t use your opinion to fight against theirs, especially if theirs is backed by facts.

Maybe you won’t reach the amount of people that they do, but do so to inform those around you of the lies/ignorance they spread. Again, in order to do this, you must back up your argument with reputable facts, not opinions. If someone finds a false fact (or alternative facts), it can easily ruin any credibility of the argument.

But here’s the big kicker, it doesn’t matter about age or struggles. Some of the most intelligent, well-informed people I know are younger than I am. Some are privileged and some are poor. The important thing to focus on is simply the facts. Do your research: read books, newspapers, and scholarly sources. Read informational gathering documents instead of biasedly spun articles. Sure, they won’t be interesting, but they will be informative. Read history books.

The key is to never stop learning. There are many opinions that I had when I was younger that I see huge flaws in now (some even just a couple years ago). The point is, be open to changing your mind. Don’t worry about what political party you align yourself with; instead focus on learning the truths.

It’s okay to believe in something that doesn’t align with your party’s views. It’s okay to let go and not be aligned with a party. If you really want to make a difference, stop thinking there’s a certain line you must follow and branch out. If you really want to save this country, become well-informed and speak out with facts, not opinions. I know that the opposite is the cool thing to do right now, but don’t fall into that… don’t be oblivious… don’t be naïve. Learn facts and spread truths.

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I rememba…

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Though we all shake our fists up to the heavens about the lives we lost in 2016, in the morning hours of January 25, 2017, my grandmother, Carol Knight—or as we call her “Granny”—passed away.

Though there were no press releases issued or journalists rushing to write her story, to me, she is one of the most important ladies of my lifetime.

We are all lucky to have known someone who cared more about those who surrounded her than she ever cared for herself. A woman who would have given away every material possession she had if she thought it would bring them happiness.

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Liane, Granny, and me

It’s funny the things you remember about a person when you really try. I remember being 5 years old, and Granny setting me up on the washing machine so she could get a direct view of my face to cut my bangs. I remember her scolding me about making fun of her NJ accent when she said “warsher.” I remember climbing up in bed in between her and grandpa on a Sunday morning while they drank coffee and talked about who knows what.

Little memories are grand, aren’t they?

So, who was she? Granny was proper—or at least she liked to pretend she was. She hated the outdoors and couldn’t stand dirt because “it had worms in it.” She was the type to sip a wine cooler and fall asleep snoring, but she would up her street cred by randomly dropping the F-bomb for shock effect. She would jokingly wiggle her pinky finger at you and say that you weren’t worth the whole bird.

She would whisper when she needed to use the restroom, but would loudly sing (to the tune of “Do My Ears Hang Low?”),  “Do my boobs hang low, do they swing to and fro…” She would giggle every time she called bras “Over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders from the maker, “Keeps-em-from-floppin’.”

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Mom and Granny

She was always aware of everyone’s feelings and tried her mightiest to be polite… even if she would call my mother after they left to tell her how much she absolutely hated the new dress she had just gushed about for 30 minutes. Her dry sarcastic wit made us laugh until we cried. She was devoted to her family, and though she was not sentimental, she kept pictures of every child and grandchild she had on her walls.

But overall, she was the kind of Grandma that every child deserves to have. She tried to stuff you with snacks every time you visited, let you stay up watching TV later than your mother wanted you to. She would cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner. She would tell stories of when she watched Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra play, and she would always hug you before you left.

To me, she was someone that will never and could never be forgotten. We worked on crossword puzzles together; we worked on actual puzzles. We went shopping and met for lunch. She listened to me cry about my mother when I was upset, and she wouldn’t always sell me out when I said mean things about my mom. She took me on trips and could always make me laugh. My grandmother, in every way possible, was one of my best friends.fullsizerender-2

Her story is full of twists and turns, tears and laughter, and even though the entire world didn’t mourn her passing, any person that came into contact with her should know how lucky they were to have a woman like my grandmother in their lives. She is a celebrity in her own right and those in her world feel her loss extensively.

Rest in peace, Granny, and wherever you may be, let your shoes always be comfortable and your sweaters always fit. Let it not be too hot for a Yankee like you, and know that every time I fill out a crossword puzzle, I’ll be as brave as you and use a pen… wait. That’s a bit too crazy… maybe one of those eraseable ones? Or a pencil… it has the word “pen” in it, so that counts, right? Love you, Granny, and I’ll miss you always. There’s a little less laughter in the world without you.

Hi-Ho, Neighbor

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Yesterday, I woke up with a sense of dread. I can’t say that I have ever actually felt that before about a new President. Before you start yelling at me about how Hillary Clinton is a criminal (because apparently that’s really all you can shout to make your choice seem legitimate), this post is not going to be bashing Trump. So, please, put down your pitchforks and give it a chance.

It isn’t so much Trump that I’m afraid of; it’s the hate that he has stirred up within our country. It’s the people that blindly follow him without the reasoning of Hillary but because they think he will allow them to do whatever they want to someone who is different than them.

As I got dressed yesterday, I tried to figure out how I could feel better about this… about our country, and I came up with what I’m going to do.

I have always tried to help those less fortunate than me and, in times when I was struggling as well, those around me, but I feel like that really only affects me and the individual people that I touch. I want to start a movement.

We have forgotten how to be a community, how to love one another. We judge those around us; we fear what we do not understand about other people’s culture or way of life. It’s time to remember who we are (or rather should be).

I’ve seen Americans do amazing things. There are times that the world looks toward us because they know that we will help, but recently, we have lost that. There is no sparkle in our eye, no lightness in our hearts.

We’ve become cynical old men yelling at anyone and everyone to get off our lawn.

Why don’t we stop? Now. Let’s do it. One day at a time, let’s begin to turn it around.

I’ll go first. Every day, I will find a way to affect someone else’s life in a positive way. Yesterday, I paid for the person in the car behind me’s Starbucks coffee. Maybe he kept it going; maybe he didn’t.

I have no set plan for what I’m going to do each day, but I will not waver in my resolve.

One of the reasons that people voted for Trump is to “Make America Great Again.” I believe that is something we can all agree that we want… the “again” part is a little debatable, but I digress.

Start small if necessary, just smile at a passerby, compliment their outfit (genuinely), comment something nice on a social media post, or buy a stranger’s coffee. From there, maybe expand your viewpoints: read (something other than the newspaper/magazine), engage with someone different than you in a positive manner, learn about a new culture, have a conversation with someone who walks a different line than you, or just open your mind to allow others to be different from you.

I’m not simply suggesting actions; we need to take some reflection time and really find out who we are as a people. Do we want to be known as our stereotype? As bigots and racists who exude arrogance?

We always talk about how Canadians are so nice, but what’s different about them from us? I would said that it’s their ability to accept others.

We always try to force our views/our culture/“our” language on someone else, whether it be religion, politics, or sports. Why? Why can’t we just allow people to like, feel, worship something different from us?

Muslims, LGBT, POC, Hispanics, Women, etc. all have one thing in common, and not just with each other but with everyone else. They (we) are all human.

Do not lash out at what you do not know, do not understand. Don’t condemn others simply for the actions of a few. I know you’re scared. I know it’s confusing, but it’s unnecessary. Hate only breeds more hate… just ask Emperor Palpatine.

So, America, it’s time for us to step up to the plate. Let people be who they want to be. Let’s learn to be neighbors again. We’re all family, in a way, and though we get on each other’s nerves and do despicable things to one another, it’s not too late.

Next time you see someone in need, don’t look away—act! Help out.

Next time you see someone spouting hate, show them love. “Kill them with kindness.”

You want America to be great again? Then, let’s make it a country that people don’t feel afraid to live in, don’t feel afraid to be themselves in.

Stop making fun of those who are different than you. Find an equal ground. You’d be surprise what an act of kindness can do for someone else’s day, life, etc.

I’m ready to fight to make this country great; who’s with me?

Honesty.

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My social media has been covered up with talks of sexual assault and “locker room talk.” I thought that now would be a good time to address it if I ever were going to in public. I’ve never really talked about my experiences. Not for fear of rejection or embarrassment. I just don’t really like talking to people… and this would kind of force me to.

I have been sexually assaulted. Multiple times. I’ve always thought of myself as lucky because it’s never escalated to a point that I couldn’t get away from. Then I realized: if I feel lucky simply because I haven’t been beaten and raped… possibly murdered, what does that say about our society?

The first time it happened, I was at a bar with friends. I hadn’t been drinking because I was the DD, but I was waiting on my date to come out from the restroom. Someone came up on me from behind, grabbed me, and said, “Mmm.. girl that ass makes me want to do something,” I quickly moved away and the guy went to pursue me further before my date came out of the room. The stranger slipped away when I looked back at my date. I wasn’t sure what to do, but I just moved on with my life. I thought he may have been drunk… or maybe he thought that I was someone else. I was young and foolish.

The next time, I was having a party at my house. Several of my coworkers and friends were over, and we were all having a grand ole time. One of my coworkers had previously flirted with me, but I didn’t really think anything of it. I had no interest in him, and honestly, I didn’t really feel like his interest lay much further than the reaches of a bed. He followed me up to my room when I went to grab something and began kissing me. I pushed him away, but he pulled me close again and shoved his tongue down my throat and began groping me. I shoved him harder and told him to leave. “Luckily” for me, he did.

Another time, couldn’t be explained away by alcohol, because it was coworker at another job a couple years later. He asked me to step outside with him (which wasn’t unusual since there was storage out back). Once we were outside, he pressed me up again the wall, kissed me, and slid his hand down in between my legs. I told him to stop, and he told me that I flirted with the other guys, why wouldn’t I let him do things to me. He kissed me again and began to unbuckle my belt, and I tried to get away. I finally pushed hard enough to break contact and moved quickly away from him. I told him I wanted nothing to do with him or that ever again. I wasn’t sure what to do because out of the times before this, I hadn’t really considered them as someone I could trust and respect. He was supposed to be. That day, he lost my respect, but more than that, I felt disgusted. Disgusted at myself, at him, at the situation entirely. He did apologize the next day, and luckily, he wasn’t a part of my life for much longer.

To this day, I get uncomfortable when a man compliments me for my physical attributes. I can’t help but connect what they say to some of the things that have happened to me.

So, when you talk about Trump’s behavior and what he said as “locker room talk,” you’re being naïve. I have no doubt in my mind that he has actually taken action against women. I have no doubt in my mind that he has done what he was “bantering” about. He’s disgusting.

You can sit here and talk about what Bill Clinton has or hasn’t done or all the terrible things that Hillary might be guilty of, but when you are handed a confession from the horse’s mouth… don’t try to deny that it’s there. And don’t try to make it seem like just because others have done bad things, that it forgives Trump for what he’s done.

It’s not locker room talk. It’s sexual assault. Donald Trump was admitting openly to sexually assaulting women. Maybe he got away with it because he was rich, but that doesn’t mean those women wanted any part of him near them. Fear and intimidation would be enough to keep them quiet.

If you want to sit here and tell me it was 11 years ago, fantastic. I want you to go find a rape victim from 11 years ago. I want you to ask them how they feel about what happened to them. These are not just words that he was saying. He is giving you a window into who he truly is.

He’s that guy in the bar that grabbed my butt. He’s the coworker that followed me to my room. He’s my other coworker who tried to rape me during working hours. He is a disgusting pig who should not be allowed to be President.

Don’t start with the “but Hillary.” This isn’t about her. I’m not supporting her in this post. I am not comparing him to her. This is about him. This is about the fact that there is no limit to this man’s depravity. I hate to even refer to him as a man, as it’s an insult to his gender.

I don’t care if you don’t vote for Hillary Clinton, but if you vote for Donald Trump, you are perpetuating a society that allows rapists like Brock Turner to be set free after serving only 3 months for raping a girl—a case that had two witnesses.

So, tell me again about this locker room banter. Tell me again about how women take things like this too seriously. Tell me again how we are going to explain our decision not only to the world, but to every female who lives, or who has yet to live. These are not just words. He is showing you who he truly is. Don’t be blind to it simply because your hate of the other party’s candidate.

If you vote for Donald Trump, you are telling men all over the country that what they do to women, what has been done to me, is okay because they can still be successful no matter the destruction they reign down upon the women/people around them.

Would You Like Fries with that Hate?

Alright, USA, it’s time for a change. See those fingers you’re pointing? Stop it. See those angry generalizations you’re writing, saying, etc.? Stop it. Do you actually think that only one party will fix what’s wrong with this country? Don’t cling to your party simply because it’s what you’ve always done. Don’t think about the other party’s flaws. Think about it realistically. Can one person/one party get this country back on track? If you’re nodding, stop it. I want you to read this next sentence slowly and think about it for a minute.

Do you want the United States of America to be a better place to live?

To fix this country, everyone—every citizen—has to do their part, and not just by casting a vote.

Don’t argue. Don’t say, “But this..” or “But that…” No.

Going once every two/four years to change the course of this country isn’t going to cut it anymore. That’s not unlike going to the gym and eating a salad once a month and then eating fast food the rest of the month. Your body appreciates that day, but you’re not really doing something to change. You’re doing it to be able to say, “Yeah, I work out, so I don’t really know why I keep gaining weight.” IT’S THE FAST FOOD!

The US is currently on that diet… except our fast food is hate and fear. We like to cover our diet up by pretending that we’re working out(voting), but this country is gaining fat like there’s no tomorrow… and there may not be.

We don’t love anymore. We say we “love” our country, but that’s the same as when we said we “loved” our middle school boyfriend/girlfriend (yes there are exceptions.. move on). And unlike Captain America, when we doodle “USA” on our Trapper Keeper, we don’t mean it.

Instead, we’ve gone to the dark side. We gave the emperor what he wanted. We gave in to the fear and hate, and now it fuels us. Now, it’s all we know. Some people hate Conservatives. Some people hate Liberals.

When people say these words, their disdain drips off of the words like the grease off freshly fried bacon. Our disdain is clogging the arteries of the US, and if we don’t fix that, Uncle Sam is going to need a Triple Bypass soon.

Stop pointing fingers. We’re in this together, and we need to start acting like it. Spewing hate isn’t how we’re going to fix this country. We fix it by setting aside our biases, our judgements, our prejudices and taking the hand of the person next to us.

When you close your eyes and open your hearts, great things can be accomplished. You don’t know if they’re Black, White, Asian, Straight, Gay, Transgender, Male, Female, Old, Young, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, etc. No. You don’t know these things because you’re less blind with your eyes closed. You see them as human. There’s no static, no visual discrepancies, when your eyes are closed. We are no longer seeing what the media and political candidates have been conning us into seeing. We connect with them because we are all one. We are not afraid of them; we do not hate them.

We cannot change this country for the better by fearing someone or something that we don’t understand. We cannot change this country by hating people. If you do not agree with someone, that’s okay. There is nothing wrong with not agreeing with someone, but you should try to realize that their lives have gone down a different path than yours. Their reasoning for believing/doing what they do is because of that.

We cannot change this country for the better by hating people. Hate actions. I hate the violence that goes on in this country. I hate that we cling to our guns and threaten lives. It’s your right to have a gun, and I don’t believe it should be taken away. That fact doesn’t mean that I don’t hate gun violence, that I don’t think we need some serious changes.

We shout at people for “Black Lives Matters” because black people are killing black people, but we shout that because we don’t understand what it really is that they want. It’s education and a better way of life. Poorer neighborhoods have higher crime because life is a struggle and because education is still a luxury. We turn a blind eye to these neighborhoods because we’re not in them, and then we shout that they are animals when they lash out at us.

We shout at Police officers because of the deaths they cause, but we don’t stop to think about those that don’t kill people. Police Officers, good Police Officers, are out there. They are doing the right thing. We cannot latch onto the extreme cases and generalize. These people put their lives on the line every day to try to help serve their communities. Does it give them the right to kill because they’re scared? No, but not all are trigger happy. The majority of these men and women are honorable people. We cannot forget that simply because some have chosen a less honorable path.

We shout at the LGBTQ+ community because their existence disgusts us. How dare they find someone in their life to care about as much as we care about our significant other? How dare they trample on your religion? How dare they use the bathroom? Here’s the thing: they’re not doing it for you or to you. They are living their lives as they see fit… just as you are. If you think they’re in for eternal damnation, well that’s something that they will have to deal with if it comes to be (which I don’t think it will). Making their lives feel like Hell. That’s on you. What’s that famous saying about stones and glass houses?

We shout Muslims because we fear them. That’s what it is, ya know? Fear. We are taught that them and people that look like them are out to kill us like the modern day boogey man. We hate them because they need to escape from a war that we started. I’m not sure if we hate them more because of our prejudices or because they remind us of our mistakes. However, I would eat that handful of Skittles because if I had to sacrifice my life so that thousands upon thousands of innocent men, women, and children could survive… it would be worth it. My life is no more or less important than theirs. We make that argument about abortion, ya know? “What if that unborn child had the cure to cancer?” We don’t think about the possibility that we could be having the next Jim Jones or Jeffrey Dahmer. No. We think the best about that child. Now, what if one of those refugees had the cure to cancer inside their mind waiting to learn and discover it? Is an unborn cluster of cells more important than a living human being? No.

If I could meet every person in this world that has been discriminated against, I would hug them, which is probably nearly every person in this world. Think about a time when you were discriminated against. Remember that feeling? Now, every time you meet a person, know that they, too, have had that feeling—or worse. If we want to make the country.. NAY! the world a better place, it starts by looking in the mirror and changing us first. Put down the burger, America, and let’s go to the gym.

I Stand with You.

Let me preface my blog post by saying that I am pro-cop and pro-black. I do not condone deaths of either side. However, this post is specifically about one side. I will follow with another for the other side.

I’ve been thinking of my American History class recently, specifically the racial clashes from the early-to-mid 1900s. When we would look at the pictures of African American men hanging from trees and being beaten by bystanders while others looked on cheering. We always shook our heads at this horror–shocked by how awful these people were and confused why they thought that this was acceptable.

I remember thinking then about how far we’ve come since then. Don’t get me wrong; I knew there was still racism. I knew that we still had bounds to go, but at least we weren’t brutally murdering people for the color of their skin for the public’s entertainment anymore. I felt ashamed of our past but hopeful for the future.

Now, I wonder what I would have felt if I had been African American. I’m a white female. There’s nothing that I can do to change that. All of my experiences are wrapped around that point, and that’s what, as white people, we need to realize.

We cannot actually put ourselves in the shoes of any other race; we can pretend to understand and voice our opinions about it. However, we cannot understand the fear that they must go through on a daily basis. They know that people hate them simply for the color of their skin, that they instill fear simply because of the color of their skin.

White people will shout out that they too are hated for these reasons. No. We, as a race, have never been treated as second-class citizens. When we get pulled over by the police, there is a sense of aggravation and nervousness in the air… not fear (well unless you actually are doing illegal activities in said vehicle, but then it’s only fear of consequences). We wear hoodies, and people laugh at us for looking disheveled, not menacing.

The point is, we cannot tell African Americans how they should feel because we cannot pretend to know what they go through.As a female, I feel scared when I’m walking alone at night, and I see a man approaching. I don’t like to ever be home alone at night because what if that’s the night someone breaks in? I get propositioned by men, and then death threats following shortly thereafter because I didn’t respond the way they hoped. Those are experiences of a woman. No person, no man, can ever tell me that my fears are not real. They can’t tell me that my experiences mean nothing. Well, they can, but they’d be wrong.

What we can do is stop blaming the victims.

You cannot blame a victim. I don’t care what transpired before. I don’t care if 10 years ago they committed a felony. A victim is still a victim. Why is shooting someone point blank an acceptable practice. Telling the public that an African American man shouldn’t have shifted after the police officer told him not to move  or that he shouldn’t have been reaching for his wallet before they had taken the gun away , is the equivalent of telling a girl that she was asking for rape by wearing revealing clothing or enjoying a night of drinking.  A VICTIM IS STILL A VICTIM.

Stop posting “this is not about race.” It is about race. I don’t care if you don’t believe in it, but there is a race problem in this country. Right now, that problem is boiling over. Instead of fighting against, why don’t we work together to fix it. Stop blaming the victim. Stop only supporting one side of the argument. I know plenty of police that are great men, but there are extreme examples of some that are not. Just as there are extreme examples of African Americas that are not. We cannot judge any movement by the extremists.

Reach out to your congressmen/women. Tell them you want them to figure out a solution. As Trevor Noah said, “This is an American problem.” It’s time we started acting like it.

I’m going to let you finish, but first…

So, I always do my best to avoid most political discussions, especially  on the internet. It’s a rabbit hole that doesn’t lead to any sort of wonderland.

I take pride in being open-minded, and I do my best to, at least, hear out other opinions… even if they are not the same as my own.

I think more political discussions should be thought of as that. Don’t start trashing the other person because they don’t agree with you. If we all agreed, then there would be no need for politics. It’s the nature of the beast.

Over the past week or so, I have been bombarded with various posts about Paris, refugees, and war. What is happening all over the world (to various countries) is absolutely terrible. I cannot even begin to fathom what some of the people are going through. My heart aches for each unnecessary death.

Seeing this destruction, these horrible events unfolding, makes me want to help the countries and the people.

Unfortunately, many of the posts about the world’s situation have not been so kind. (I say world because even a bombing/shooting in any country can affect us all… if you don’t believe that.. just ask Gavrilo Princip.. ya know if he was alive.. Google will suffice)

My faith in humanity is wavering.

One good thing has come from these posts. I have seen a push in discussions about veterans and the homeless. I’m not sure if people just realized they existed, or if they don’t realize that helping people within our country and helping refugees aren’t mutually exclusive.

In many cases, the posts about shutting out refugees have come from the same people who have typed #alllivesmatter. I’m not sure if they’ve simply forgotten that or if they actually just meant #imabutthurtwhiteperson.

All lives do matter, and we have always been the country to stand up and say that. This is not the time to back down.

I know there is fear in the world… in our country, but for most Americans, we cannot even begin to imagine what these people face on a daily basis. A true war has not been waged in our country in over a hundred years.

We may live in fear, but these people, these refugees, live in terror.

If we turn our backs on them, we are letting the terrorists win. We are saying that we are afraid of them.

We talk big, but when push comes to shove, will we back it up?

As American, I have been taught about amazing things that this country has achieved, but there’s the other side of history… of our country. Those sides are the moments that we try to sweep under a rug and pretend they didn’t exist.

Japanese internment camps. Bay of Pigs. Trail of Tears. Vietnam. Slavery.

One thing that these all have in common is that they are all in the past. We’re all human; we’re going to make mistakes.

Let’s not make a mistake now.

Let’s not be bigots or close-minded. Let’s not hate an entire race of people simply because of the extremists within them (would you want people to judge white people based on the KKK? Germans on the Nazis? Russians on Putin? Christians on Westboro Baptist Church)

Let’s remember that we are all human. That even if someone bullies  and scares us that we can still be great. We can face our fears.

We stand in front of a flag that we take to mean freedom and justice. We wave our colors and say that we’re proud to be American. Let’s not let that fall to the wayside.

Let’s show the world why we’re great. We don’t back down to threats.

Instead, we stand up for what’s right. We help those in need. We are good.

We are a country of various religions, ethnicities, and races. Though our culture is constantly changing, we will always be the United States of America.

Let’s make that mean something again.

 

Relationship Goals: The Newest Accessory for Our Lives

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The internet is truly a wonderful thing… for the most part. However, on the flip side, it does opens doors for lies, misinformation, and jealousy.

One bit of this that has frequenting my FB feed more and more is “Relationship goals.”

These are stories and pictures of what we all wish to achieve in our relationships, but sometimes it goes further than that.  We start comparing our relationships to these pictures and stories. They look and feel inferior, and we find ourselves wanting more. Sometimes we push forward; other times, we look elsewhere.

We, as a society, have become quite materialistic; a fact that can been witnessed every time Apple releases a newer version of whatever is out there. People who have perfectly working phones, tablets, watches, etc. will line up in the streets simply to get the next best thing.

Have we become so materialistic that we consider our relationships an accessory to our lives? We are constantly bombarded with information about other couples, better couples. They’re the iPhone upgrade commercials for our relationships. Why continue to be happy with what you have when you can achieve a better level of happiness with someone else?

But then… maybe you don’t. Everyone know that new phones contain glitches that the older ones had worked out. It’s okay, though, a new upgrade will come through in another couple of months; just bide your time.

I’m not saying that it’s unhealthy to continue to build a relationship, to hope to reach a different level of intimacy with the one you’re with. In fact, that is great. The problem arises when we find ourselves wishing for unattainable wants because we read a story or saw a movie or scrolled past a picture on FB, Instagram, or the Twittersphere.

Stop for a moment and realize that you are yearning for one moment in time. A picture can say a thousand words, but it still only captures that one moment. Ever smiled for a camera and then found yourself crying shortly thereafter?

A glimpse into one moment of someone’s life isn’t all encapsulating of the relationship. It’s merely a sentence in their story, and on the internet, your story can become whatever version you want it to be.

The same goes for movies, TV shows, and books.

I’m guilty of it, for sure. I read these books and watch these movies and imagine what life would be like if my prince would sweep me away from this place. I mean, heck, I’d even be happy with half of the love shared between RDJ’s Tony Stark and Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner.

However, this is just another level of accessorizing our lives. As if we didn’t have enough to live up to, now we are expected/expecting to live up to the relationships that have been deemed “relationship goal” worthy.

You know them: Elizabeth and Darcy, Marshall and Lily, Gatsby and Daisy, Aurora and Phillip, Chandler and Monica, Jim and Pam, Zoe and Wash, and the list continues throughout all of history/literature.

But you know what makes these couples great? What makes their relationship so perfect that we can’t help but wish we could be like them?

They’re not real. *gasp*

Unlike our relationships in real life, theirs is built from some of the greatest creative minds sitting in room developing a story-line, a personality, and a relationship. Theirs is written. Ours is lived.

So, we can go on wishing for an impossible goal, or we can toss aside these societal expectations and dreams and find someone real. Someone tangible.

Stop wanting the newest trend in relationships and find someone that you want to know. That you wouldn’t want a predictable storybook ending with. Find someone you want support their dreams and stand next to while they achieve them.

Find someone you want to share adventures with, whether it’s just going grocery shopping or backpacking around Europe together. Every new experience should be cherished; you’re making memories.

Find someone that feels this way for you as well, and I promise you, though there may be fights and crying from time to time, that relationship will be better than all the fictional relationships combined.

Stop accessorizing and start loving again.

All My Troubles Seemed So Far Away

Sadness is a part of life. Sometimes it comes about because you dropped the last piece of your favorite candy on the ground, and sometimes it’s because of a life-changing event.

I’ve heard that it’s not the sadness that is important but, rather, how you handle it.

Everyone’s heard, “This too shall pass” or “No use crying over spilled milk.” People are constantly reminding us that life goes on after this event. That no matter how you feel in this instance, in a few days, months, years, decades things will change for you. (Of course, they’re also implying that this change will be better… but that’s neither here nor there.)

It is important to know that life won’t end simply because you’re sad, but what’s really hard is that life does go on.

In my times of woe, people have told me that I’m strong, and that everything will be better again soon. I know it’s true. I know that one day I’ll be able to look back on these memories and smile, but while I’m sad, every happy memory, every thought, leads to pain and sadness. And, knowing that life is going to continue moving forward while I’m stuck in the sludge—for the lack of a better word—sucks.

Being strong has its perks. You can live your life, and you can enjoy people’s company during the hard times. But, what many people don’t realize is, no matter how strong someone is, they still feel the pain.

Strong people are expected to wade through the sludge and come out on the other side with a brighter disposition and a newfound purpose in the world.

As a strong person myself, I can tell you that, while I’m feeling incredibly sad, I also feel incredibly guilty. I feel selfish and silly for wanting my world to pause while I fall to pieces. I want to step away from life for a bit and pretend that none of what is bringing me down actually exists. I want to become Miss Havisham for a few days, weeks, or months, but as it goes, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

Instead, I force myself to hold it together. I throw myself into projects or busy myself with work. Sure, I still cry. You stumble across a familiar memory that hits you like a bus, shattering every bit of the façade that you have built up.

It’s in those moments that the ugly sobs come. The ones that have been waiting for such a moment to be let out. That’s also when you get the crazy stares from anyone that might be around to witness this. Immediately, you realize that you’ve shown too much, and with a great withdrawal of breath and a few quick wipes of the face, you draw all of this back in and thrust yourself forward.

I cannot say that I’ve ever been clinically depressed. Overall, I’m a very optimistic and happy person, but I have felt depressed. Everyone has. It’s a part of life. I cannot assume to know how people who are depressed feel on a constant basis. A friend once told me that it feels like you’re drowning, which seems to be the easiest definition to understand.

What I can tell you is that you’re not alone. All of those “strong” people that walk among you that seem to have their lives together. They feel it too. They feel the pain and the sadness. They might process it differently, but it’s still there.

The one thing that hurts strong people the most is telling them that they’re strong when they are at their weakest. I’ve been told that so many times. “You’ll make it through this.” “You’re strong.” “Everything will be okay.” Yes, I know all of these things. But stop saying that. In those moments, I don’t want to be strong. I want someone to wrap their arms around me and let me sob into them like I did when my favorite toy was broken when I was a kid. I want to burrow under the covers in my room and fetal-position it for a day or two.

I know I’ll make it through, but in the first few days or so, I don’t want to feel like I have to be a put-together person when something that I cherished has been yanked from my life.

So, if you know someone that is going through a rough time, don’t tell them inspirational idioms and encourage them to do something productive. Let them do what they feel like they need to do. Tell them that you’re there for them. Tell them that it’s okay to cry. Bring over a ton of movies and snacks and veg out with them on the couch.

Sometimes, words aren’t needed. Sometimes, just a familiar presence can ease the pain. Because when your heart aches, there’s nothing better for it than love and acceptance.

Lessons from the Playground

We're all stories in the end, just make it a good one, eh?

They say high school is supposed to prepare you for college and that college should prepare you for life. However, I’ve found that the lessons that I learned at recess in elementary school were much more accurate than what they feed us now.

Let me explain.

  1. You learn of cliques… yes.. there are cliques even at the lovely (and completely unawkward) age of 7. Though you don’t necessarily pay attention to them, you know that there are certain people that you want to spend time with, and then there are the people who throw sticks in your general direction when the teacher isn’t looking. Either way.. you’re learning to base your socializing off of those you treat you better than that… unless they’re throwing sticks with you, then.. well.. it’s a very fine line.
  2. You learn the evils of the gossip mill. There must have been a million grapevines on my playground because if someone whispered everyone heard it; it’s also important to note that this is where you learn how things can get misconstrued. There was once in elementary school when I slugged a boy in the arm (he probably deserved it), and by the time it had made its way to the teacher, there were much more serious implications. Luckily, for me, the boy told the truth about where I had hit him.. for a second there it had turned into an awful game of telephone.
  3. You learn about the unfairness in life. One word. Kickball. You know what I’m talking about. Many of us have stood in that line waiting to hear the captains call our name out, but one by one, the group dwindles. People that didn’t necessarily play as well as you were chosen first because they were friends, and then, it got down to you and that other kid, ya know, the one that didn’t really want to play but they conned him/her into it so there would be an even number. The only thing going on in your head is, “Please don’t pick me last. Please don’t pick me last.”
  • There is a caveat to this one… I’ve found that if you’re actually really good at said sport (or whatever), kids on the playground tend to overlook the fact that you’re female faster than adults do. You peg one kid directly in the head.. and you’re golden. Don’t try that as an adult.. that’s how people get sued.
  1. You learn that having a crush on someone is terrifying. Sure, once you’re an adult it’s scary… you’re wondering, “Is this the one? Will I screw this up? Are they going to dump me? Do they actually like me?” All in one thought process.. (overthinking FTW). However, when you’re young, it’s much worse. Possibly the only thing we have to base our “love life” on are Disney movies. By sending over the “Do you like me? Check: Yes or No” letter, you could be sealing your fate for happily ever after. Girls.. don’t act like you didn’t already start signing his last name in your binder. Playing MASH? You cheated so his name was circled. People worry about being heartbroken now, at least now you know it’ll get better. You’ve had the experience to be able to know that even if you take the risk, it won’t destroy you. But, then again, maybe it was better then.. “loving” without fear. Plus, holding hands with somebody is just so nice. 🙂 Go on now.. go hold hands.
  2. You learn that good friends are a MUST. When I was in 5th grade, I had short hair.. REALLY short hair. I didn’t care.. long hair took effort, and I really was more concerned with enjoying sports than fixing my hair. However, because of this, some of my classmates decided that it would be funny to call me “It.” They said that there was no way to tell if I was male or female, so it fit me better. My best friend at the time and I were in line to get some ice cream, and one of the boys in our class was being especially cruel that day and made some comment about me looking like a boy. My friend.. being the amazing girl she was.. put her arm around me and said, “Well, if she was a boy, I’d choose to date her over you any day.” Right there, ladies and gentleman, is a true friend. It’s not about saving face or what you can do for them, it’s about love, compassion, and trust.
  3. You learn to pick yourself back up. Though maybe the drama you experience now is a bit more serious than it was then. Who cares? If there’s one lesson in life that I’ve always cherished, it’s the one that shows you that no matter how bad it gets, it can always get better. Not to make you start singing the Frozen soundtrack, but let it go. Don’t let anything hold you back from your dreams. Don’t let anyone hold you back from anything. Sure, we’re all going to have baggage… but it’s how you store it that matters. You can choose to lug it around with you, or you can choose to vacuum-seal that junk and put it away. It’s not about getting some place.. it’s about the journey. Don’t let your past hold you back from being happy. Find yourself. Find what makes you happy… and when you find that, never let it go.

So there ya go.. a few lessons from a 90s playground. Go out and live your life! Find your bliss! Kiss someone! Join a nudist colony! Whatever! Do what makes you happy! Because as much as you can want everyone around you to be happy, you’re spending the rest of your life with yourself. If there’s ever a moment where you feel like there is no bouncing back, don’t give up. Sometimes fear holds us back from happiness, sometimes it’s heartache, sometimes we’re just being stubborn/stupid, but don’t let yourself wake up one day and regret what could have been.

Just think:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” –Mark Twain