Favorite shots from 2015

 

Below are a few of the most memorable photos I’ve taken over the past 365 days. From capturing the resiliency of the human spirit at my job at Penn Rehab, experiencing childhood through my nieces eyes, enjoying year two as a crazy cat lady,crossing off items off my to-do list and watching two of my best friends walk down the aisle- it’s been a year for the books- photo books that is!

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Public Mass Shootings: The Terrorism That Needs to Be Tackled

Originally published on HuffPo Politics on 12/3/2014

Arriving home from work last night, a strange sense of deja vu came across me while putting on the national evening news. Coverage of the San Bernardino shooting showed eerily similar scenes of prior broadcasts. Law enforcement swarming a public area with terrified bystanders running with their hands above their head. Emotionally charged individuals jumbling words during interviews as they await word of the fate of their loved ones turned victims.

Stuffed animals, helium balloons and candles placed outside a building of the newly-minted crime scene. And finally, a flurry of empty promises of action by legislators fueled by the outrage of Americans. Somehow public mass shootings and their aftermath have become as predictable as a Hollywood romantic movie, but are occurring on a more frequent basis than reruns of Law and Order: SVU. Continue reading

Syndication, Thanksgiving and Dino

Somehow it’s the the week of Thanksgiving. Maybe between the flurry of wedding activities for two close friends, the dizzying amount of projects at work the unseasonably warm weather knocked my concept of timing off kilter.

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 4.28.24 PMEarlier this month, I was dumbfounded to find out that my article was syndicated by Yahoo, thanks to YourTango. Over the past year, my writing has been able to be experienced by a whole new audience because of the syndication from YourTango, Yahoo, Thought Catalog and Psych Central. No matter how many times an article of mind gets published, the surge of joy and excitement is still as strong as it was the first time it happened on in my high school paper back in 2006.

IMG_7280 (1)Don’t worry, in the middle of the fall chaos of a full social calendar, Annie still celebrated Halloween. Yes, it was emotionally painful for her and physically painful for my hands, but now I can say that my orange tabby cat was Dino the Dinosaur from The Flintstones. It boggles my mind that this Christmas will mark two years since I’ve had my furry partner in crime.

In addition to everything else, I’ve finally taken the plunge and began writing my book. And to be quite honest- it’s freaking hard. But the words are slowly coming to life and forming some sort of embodiment of what will eventually become my first book. When discouragement creeps into my head, all I have to do is remind myself that Snooki is a New York Times Best Selling Author. That is motivation enough to bang my fingertips against the keyboard until carpal tunnel syndrome sets in.

 

 

Participation Prize: How Childhood Praise Was Affecting My Career

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I am thrilled to share my first ever essay published on Elite Daily. It has been a goal of mine to craft a thoughtful piece that would resonate to the readers of the website! Below is the article, which you can find on Elite Daily! 

Earlier this month, during one of my weekly mental personal training sessions (aka therapy with Dr. R), I was completely agitated and unable to self-soothe. After taking on several new projects at work, I was frustrated and surprised by the feedback I was given. In the past three months, various new responsibilities were added to my position, and they forced me to adapt quickly in order to continue producing high-quality work.

But unlike the projects that I’m versed in producing (usually well before deadline with rave reviews), my execution wasn’t as graceful straight of the bat. But that particular week, not only were people not enthusiastic about my projects, they also offered me some fairly harsh criticisms. Granted, the revisions and feedback are productive as I try to refine new skills. But I found myself questioning why career growth is painful at times, as self-doubt and assumptions of inadequacy gnaw on my brain.

Relaying the situation to Dr. R, it was clear this had nothing to do with my happiness with my job, or relationships with my colleagues. It didn’t take long for me realize what was fueling this emotional tailspin. I recalled articles in The New York Times and The Washington Postabout the Participation Trophy Generation, which is another way of saying Millennials are constantly given praise just for participating in something. And their expectation is routine, detailed feedback.

By the end of my session, the clarity of what was bothering me perked up my mood, but I was left with the horrifying realization I was the one pouring gasoline over the lighter fluid. And it’s all because I was born in the spring of 1989.

Continue reading

World Suicide Prevention Day- Awareness Through Writing

imagesThere’s no secret that I’ve been a huge advocate for mental health awareness over the past several years. My motivation for writing has always been making others feel less alone. This has been the reason I’ve written candidly about my struggles with depression and anxiety, in addition weekly therapy sessions. Also, I’ve shared more recently how my mother’s own mental health struggles impacted my childhood and our relationship. Because of the internet, someone can look for an essay or another voice that can possibly understand their feelings. Through the bravery of other writers, I’ve been rejuvenated and reminded during dark moments that with continued perseverance things will get better.

When I set foot into the counseling center at St. John’s University during the spring semester of my sophomore year, I thought it was a one time deal. A close friend had been suicidal and was checked into a hospital for a nervous breakdown. We were both so alike, and the fears of my own future taking a similar path trumped the preconceived notions I had about therapy.

Over the past seven years since that initial session, I can thank several mixtures of antidepressants, a 2 fantastic therapists and a whole lot of healing for helping me thrive. The free weekly therapy sessions offered throughout my college education saved my life, and is 100% the most important resource that helped me get through my undergraduate degree. Words cannot express the gratitude of the free services, that I would have not been able to pay on a student budget. During my darkest episodes of depression and anxiety, the idea of taking my own life wasn’t farfetched. I am so thankful for the voice inside my heart that kept encouraging me to go to therapy sessions, continue to heal and to find a medication that worked best for me. So many are not that fortunate.

images (1)I’m lucky to have a 3 close friends who have been able support me during episodes of anxiety and depression. They are the ones that have asked if I was okay, or made sure that I was continuously taking my medication. Having those few people in my life that will speak up when they sense something off is priceless.

Below are in the pieces I’ve written about mental health issues over the past several years. In honor of World Suicide Prevention Day, I hope that you read/share/repost this so that someone (or you) can perhaps feel less alone. In raising my voice, I hope it encourages others to raise their own to advocate for their own mental health wellness.

How I’m Surviving In Survival Mode During A Severe Depression Relapse 

The Christmas Cat That Worked Better Than Xanax

The Heartache of Bullying Doesn’t Have an Age Limit

Is Therapy Really Worth It? 7 Questions People Who See a Shrink Are Tired of Hearing

My Family Hid My Mother’s Mental Health Struggles During My Childhood, And I’m Still Dealing With It

Generations Of Dysfunctional Body Image Ends With Me

Throwing Warm and Fuzzy out the Window

Sanity or Self-Esteem?

Moving on From Being Dark and Twisty

What do the Duggars, a Muppet and Gun Control Have in Common? My August Writings!

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Basically my feelings of having 3 news pieces published, an additional 3 syndicated, having an article pitch accepted for a publication I’ve never written all in the past month. Each piece has been different than my usual themes. Editorial based on current events and a stab at humor that is not dark!

Grateful to The Skirt Collective, HuffPost, Muppet Mindset and Your Tango for sharing my work this month!

Ready to see what new adventures and inspiration fall will bring!

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The Article where No One Dies or is Having a Life Crisis

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As a former colleague once said to me when asked what she thought what genre best defined my writings last year, “You write about sick people, and your mental health.”

Grant it my writing often features heavier topics, but since I consider myself a life-experience storyteller, it made sense based on the circumstances going on in my life at the time.

There have been one or two article that I published for HuffPo this year that have more of a humor flare- alright more along the lines of the dark side but in all honestly it the best kind of humor.

Last week after the news broke that his relationship bit the dust, I came up with a top 10 list reasons why Kermit the Frog is the perfect boyfriend. It has been something that I have joked about for years, and many times Kermit has been referenced as my spirit animal.  Continue reading

Joining Team IUD

Originally published on June 23, 2015 on Huffington Post 

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Life is full of situations that are beyond my control, but my reproductive system should not be one of them.

Last Sunday my cervix was not happy with me. Perhaps that is a bit of an understatement. It was throwing a temper tantrum because of what I did to it about 48 hours prior. That’s when I officially became a member of Team IUD — Team Paraguard (Copper IUD) to be exact.

Chances are you stumbled across this blog as you Googled “what is it like getting an IUD” or “does getting an IUD hurt.” At least thats what I did in the weeks leading up before joining Team IUD.

As far as the IUD insertion experience, I’m not going to lie, by no means was this a walk in the park. There were multiple times during the half hour appointment that my wonderful gynecologist offered to stop the procedure because of my pitiful whimpers.

Knowing that this uncomfortableness was exacerbated because of my low tolerance of pain, and that I would never turn to get the procedure done if we stopped now, onward we continued.  Continue reading

Finding My Voice, Baring My Soul, and Pissing People Off

baby-writingOver the past year or so I’ve grown as a writer. I’m learning that part of that means that at times tears will be running down my face as my fingers bang out the words that are pouring out of me. Other times, it leaves me unpopular with others as I refrain from wrapping each essay with a cookie cutter ending.

For years I’ve searched for articles and essays that ring true to my heart. And there have been times where I stumble across pieces of writing that make me feel less alone. That is what drives me to be a writer. My latest piece on Bustle took months working on with the amazing editor Rachel Krantz, but she pushed me to turn in into one of the proudest pieces I have ever written. Feel free to check it out! 

The Privilege of Sharing Weston’s Story

1185909_10153899978620063_58327903_nIn honor of the 2 year transplant anniversary of my buddy Weston Keeton, here are the links of articles and videos that I have been fortunate enough to cover since 2012. When I first met Julie Keeton in 2012, little did I know that a life long friendship would take place. He loved playing with my cameras, touching the buttons on the microphone and watching himself back on the screen

Thank you for everyone that has followed Weston’s story over the years. Although he is now an angel, I will to cover his legacy that continues to impact the lives of so many.

A Legacy of Life: Miracle on 34th Street Remembered 

Paying it Forward for Weston’s 9th birthday

102 Firefighters are Fed for Feed the Fire

The Miracle on 34th Street- One Year Later 

How a Little Boy with a Broken Heart Taught Me How to Feel 

The Real Miracle on 34th Street 

18246_10151202133918598_1753656347_nThe Moving Story of the Real-Life Miracle on 34th Street 

Happy Holidays Story Time- Miracle on 34 Street 

Meet Chickie and Pete’s Newest Employee

Faces of Organ Donation- Weston Keeton

Philadelphia Mummers Raise Awareness for Transplant Family 

Faces of the Family House- The Keeton Family 

Dedicating a Day of Thanks 

Faces of the Family House- Weston Keeton