Favorite Snapshots of 2016

A few days past 2016, but some of my favorite shots from a year that kept me forcing to find the bright spots in the middle of struggle. 

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When Your Best Friends Gets Married

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When entering your mid-twenties, changes will begin happening throughout your social circle at a rapid-fire pace. Careers will be established, moving trucks will be packed to set forth across the country, and friends will begin to take new last names.

There will be many engagement dinners and wedding receptions where you will be in attendance as just the date of their friend, or because of social courtesy for a co-worker. But then there be the weddings that involve your childhood friends, the group of women who continue to share a deep friendship after surviving puberty.

When the group of women who have known each other since elementary school meet for a weekend brunch, the world may see you as mid-twentysomethings who lead lives full of successful careers, motherhood, and marriage. But to each other a time warp still is in place when you reunite no matter how many weeks or months pass by.

In their faces, you see the eyes of a 16-year-old brimming with tears over her first heartache. You hear the uninhibited giggle of a 15-year-old sharing the first time she went to 3rd base during a sleepover.

1933761_9211215062_2583_nThe voice will always echo the days of when you would drive around in your mother’s car blasting My Chemical Romance, feeling the freedom of a driver’s license that can only be felt at 17-years-old. Your arms have wrapped around each other countless times, providing comfort for every situation from drinking too much at a college party at 20-years-old or sitting numbly trying to process the life threatening illness of a parent too young to be so sick in present day.

And sometimes your group will be in the midst of multiple weddings a month apart, while another is preparing for the birth of her first child several months prior to the nuptials. This means two bridal showers, two bachelorette parties, two rehearsal dinners, two ceremonies, a baby shower, and a christening. Oh – and having to change the last name of two of your two oldest friends in your cell phone for the first time ever.

12027512_10155984686620063_8458987793040532901_nIn the midst of experiencing these life-changing events, you are tasked with coordinating schedules and to-do lists, which seemed harder to do than managing arrivals at Grand Central Station during rush hour. In the mix was dealing with future sister-in-laws and mother in laws that were new to your friends’ lives, but now would be bonded to their future in a more intimate way than we would be.While browsing the home good sections of Macy’s to find the perfect wedding gift in the registry, there may be moments of self-reflection involved. Moments of ‘when me’, that questioned if there will ever be a time in your life where the love of your life will be holding your hand while you wield the registry gun for our own wedding registry? Will there ever be a man that takes your breath away to the point where you are willing to commit your life to being his wife? 

1909751_9210780062_1049_nBut those moments of self-pity and wonder about the future goes away the minute you walk into the room of festivities. Your heart will swell when she steps out from the dressing room of the bridal store, making the choice of her wedding dress.

And when helping her lace up the back of her wedding dress, a sense of deja vu will happen because not so long ago you were doing the same thing while getting ready for the junior prom. When finally sitting down after spending hours setting up for her bridal shower, watching your best friend open each bridal shower gift with glee makes every paper cut from hanging decorations worth it.

The twinkle in her eyes as she unwraps food processors and throw pillows is lit up by all of her future plans to create a home with her future husband. Then on the wedding day, you’re standing up at the altar, waiting, as the doors swing open for her to make the grand entrance. Out of the corner of your eye is her soon-to-be-husband, who was once just a guy your best friend called you about gushing after a first date. He is now just part of your friend group as she is and has already been present for his fair share of best friend moments.

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As she walks down the aisle, the past 15 years scroll through your mind at warp speed.

There is the girl that walked the blocks of your neighborhood after school with knee socks sliding down, and a Jansport backpack tied around her back. Who provided comforted when your crush ended up being a jerk, while rinsing out your retainers in the bathroom

She is the one you cried hysterically with after saying goodbye the night before you both left for college, but the same one who is still able to provide a feeling of home when caught between two worlds. She is the one who will drink with you at the bar without judging when your life is so far from what you imagined post college graduation. And now she is a woman who is about to become a someone’s one, a matriarch of her own family. 

 

Swept off her feetNugget lovingMr and Mrs Devan

 

Then after the post-ceremony group photos are finished and party-bus cocktails are ingested, you will stand proud to witness the first dance of the newly minted Mr. & Mrs. Her eyes are brighter than you ever have seen them before. Although her steps and twirls seem effortless while she’s dancing with her husband, you know it has been a hell of a journey for her. And that her first dance is inspirational. This is her victory dance, her reward for never losing her hope for true love.

Being able to be part of the process of weddings of these girls has given you lessons that will stick with you if there is ever day for it to be your turn to be the bride. But out of all the takeaways from standing beside them on their wedding, one is those important and meaning. When watching your best friends get married, it will take your breath away from how much love and pride swells inside your heart for them.

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Untangling Myself from an Emotional Rock Bottom

Originally published on Elephant Journal on 1/28/2016.

 

RG-Mermaid-2Not being able to see instant gratification from a newly-incorporated healthier lifestyle can snuff out any enthusiasm for sticking with it.

But sometimes we find ourselves in situations where there is no other choice but to stick it out for the long haul, clinging to the promise of an elusive “one day.” The alternative is to continue down a path of self destruction, whether it be emotional, physical or often times both.

A person does not suddenly wake up one morning and find themselves unexpectedly at rock bottom. The trail is paved by half-hearted attempts to integrate new routines that always seem to be sidelined by discouragement, before being forgotten for tried and true habits. The cycle repeats itself indefinitely until the build up of poor choices leads to a derailment of everyday life, serving as a gut-punching S.O.S.

Hitting rock-bottom is similar to sitting on the bottom of a swimming pool and looking straight up to the surface. At the bottom of the swimming pool, there is an awareness of sound and movement whirling above, but nothing is clear enough to be understood. Although a person may be able to avoid the wave-making commotion and chaos transpiring above, it comes at the price of never being able to experience the direct warmth of the sun.

Two years ago, I had realized that years of unresolved feelings and continuous unhealthy choices had navigated me to an emotional rock-bottom. Continue reading

25 Lessons I’ve Learned in the Past 25 Years

After being alive for a quarter of a century, I’ve picked up a few useful pieces of information. The most valuable tidbits being the ones that I have learned the hard way. An activity on my list of 365 things to do in 365 days was to put together a list of 25 life lessons I’ve learned over the past 25 years. Honestly, this was a lot harder than I thought. Most of it is silly, some of isn’t rocket science, but it’s all gems of wisdom I now can share because of personal experience.

  1.                                                                          Cat’s like Spaghettios.                                                                                                                                                             200 (11)
  2. The knowledge gained at your first job will be much more valuable than anything learned during four years at college.   200 (1)      
  3. Interning makes a huge difference when applying to jobs. Skip the wine-tasting elective offered and apply for an internship or two.    200 (9)                                                                                                                                                                 
  4. When you only have $10 for food for an entire week before payday, McDonald’s Dollar Menu is a gift from God.      giphy (3)         
  5. Don’t listen to a nun who wears sneakers and marks your quiz wrong because you put Bill Clinton as an answer to the question ‘name a charismatic leader’ ,even if she lowers your grade.     200 (6)                                                                               
  6. When the car radio-presets are all screwed up, it does not mean a friend played an elaborate prank. Your car battery is about to die, so call a mechanic.         200                                                                                                                                    
  7. Eating seafood that has been marked down to clearance at the local Thriftway is never a good idea.      200 (2)                               
  8. Passion beats talent 95% of the time. A boss would rather have an employee with a great attitude that is teachable, rather than a skilled drone.   200 (8)                                                                                                                                                                     
  9. There’s no long term hurt that can come from going after a dream. The sting of rejection can be soften by the knowledge that at least you tried. And the payoff can be epic.     t8zvc                                                                                         
  10. Facebook stalking can lift up your spirits and make you feel inadequate in a matter of minutes.    facebooktwitter                                       
  11. Being cheap about something will only cost more money in the long run. Like that shitty $40 Ikea bed frame that is now propped against my wall used as a clothesline.          giphy (4)                                                                                                             
  12. It’s really terrifying to see your parents turning into a younger version of your grandparents.4OVLKQc                                                
  13. Friendship takes a lot of work after college.  giphy (5)                                                                                                                             
  14. Siri is not a friend to those of us who talk fast and have a strong ‘Northeast Philadelphia’ accent.    dImyJ                                      
  15. Finding the good bathroom at work is one of the most important things to do during the first week at a new job. bossy2                
  16. Fear of missing out and peer pressure isn’t always that bad. It all depends on the peers doing the pressuring.     I tried clean eating, and exercising because of the fear of missing out on the experience my coworkers were partaking in last year.                                                    giphy (1)                                                                                                                                        
  17. Cinnamon toothpaste is the most useless product created by the dental hygiene world.       200 (4)                                               
  18. Antidepressants only work half way, the user has to be willing to do the other half of the work to feel better.   btiffany                      
  19. Being in the good graces of your office’s administrative assistant, security team, janitor and cafeteria cook is more telling of your reputation than being in the good graces of the CEO.        tumblr_na0lx8bbpk1suzl23o1_500                                                                               
  20. Unit air conditioners get taken out of windows in the winter for a reason. Learning this hard way can result in getting a cold or freezing to death in your sleep.                                    200 (13)                                                                                               
  21. Your parents and/or your family’s way of life does not need to be how you live your life. Even if they tell you otherwise.  giphy (2)
  22. Motherly love can be appreciated at any age. And that doesn’t mean it has to come from your biological mother either.200 (12)   
  23. Never  be a jerk to someone who is apologizing. Even if you don’t accept it, give them the opportunity attempt.       giphy (18)         
  24. A person can actually overdose on vitamins. Especially Niacin, which I decided to take multiple times day to increase my happiness. My face was the color of an apple and I’m lucky my head didn’t explode.                  200_s (4)                                         
  25. Google is the reason why those reference books on my bookshelf at work are covered in dust. And has also encouraged my demand and expectations of instant gratification.200 (10)

101 Things That Happened in the Last 365 Days

Facebook now has a new app that will create a short video clip about the highlights of 2014. To be frank, 2014 can kick rocks. Most of the year was spent dealing with stress, unhappiness and grief. But somewhere in the middle of the emotional roller coaster of the year, I managed to do a whole bunch of cool things. 2014 can only be summed in one cliche, corny phrase- Life Goes On. 

Here’s a 101 memorable things that I did this year. Thank you for reading my ramblings, commenting on my essays, and/or being in my life this year.  I’m still wrapping my mind over some of the shit that went down over the past 365 days, so I won’t even try to guess what 2015 will hold. 

101 Things That Happened in the Last 365 Days

 Participated in a vegan chicken wing eating contest- This was a disaster, no one warned me that seitan expands once it’s wet. But it benefited Philly Roller Girls, so it was for a good cause!

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Participated in a cupcake eating contest.It was my first large amount of sugar after clean eating for 40 days, let’s just say that night I wanted to die

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Went on an upside roller coaster- I actually tried frantically to get off the Batman Coaster but the attendant didn’t hear me so I was stuck going through with it

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Went to Six Flags- We meant to go to Belmont Beach, but the signs for the safari seemed more exciting

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Had an article go viral- I was annoyed about how much online dating sucked, and wrote an article about it one night after work. Apparently people like that kind of thing.

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Got published on Bustle

Got published on Literally Darling

Found out I was a social introvert

Took photos on Citizen Bank Park’s field before a Phillies Game 

Missed a plane transfer

Had my article and face appear on Yahoo.com

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Flew to California

Put my feet in the Pacific Ocean

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Went in a hot tub under the stars at night in California

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Had my face appear on a HuffPo email 

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Continue reading

Snapshots of 2014- Part II

I take a lot of photos. And I mean thousands, each year. Before getting a point and shoot in 2004, I always had a disposable camera around. Now with cell phones, and my DSLR, my photo obsession as grown even more. Here are a few of my favorite personal shots from 2014. Even though it was a tough year, there were many memorable moments!

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Oh There’s Other Places Than Home for the Holidays

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Originally Published on Huffington Post on 12/01/2014

The holiday season and I have not been getting alone in recent years. In fact we’ve been on the outs since junior high. A week before Christmas, my mother had a major heart attack and underwent an emergency quadruple bypass when I was 12. Three years later she suffered another heart attack, followed by a stroke right before Thanksgiving.

In the years that followed, the holiday magic dwindled dramatically as my parents did the bare minimum of celebration. The real Douglas fur that was so large it needed to be cut so that it would fit in the doorway was replaced with a 4 foot artificial tree that sat on our coffee table. With other tensions running deep throughout my family tree, there were no longer gatherings with extended family that once filled up December. The stark contrast of ‘new’ holiday season, usually celebrated amongst my parents and I, made the void of seasons past more noticeable. Continue reading

Throwback Thursday- Songs from the 2000s I Will Never Remove from my iPod

open280My iPod is my pocket-size mood regulator. It’s constantly with me to ensure that no matter what situation I am in, there is a soundtrack to see me through. Even when I was a kid, I was the queen of mix BDs (yes, my generation was slightly after the mix-tap trend). Through wonderful, illegal websites like Kazza, Morpheus and Bear Share- I was able to be introduced to so many songs and artists. Yes, I know that artists suffered loss of profits but because of these sites I was able to deepen my appreciation of music for free. At least kids these days have Youtube.

200_sRight now my iPod is 32g, which gives me a ton of space to load up my eclectic music collection. When I need to relax at night, I organize my iTunes music library and create playlists based moods. When I’m feeling nostalgic, it’s time to turn on one of my ‘time era’ playlists. This includes the early years (90s), middle school drama (2000-2003), teen age angst (2004-2007) and college throwbacks (2008-2011). Each playlist brings back feelings that make the past super vivid. Some songs hold special memories of my favorite nights spent with people that are no longer in my life. Others remind me of the simple days of dancing around in my childhood bedroom, belting at the top of my lungs without the consideration of my parents or neighbors.

In honor of Throwback Thursday this week- here are some of my favorite 2000s songs that I will never delete from my iPod. And I guarantee after reading this list, you will be adding a few of these selections to your own library!  Continue reading

What a Taylor Swift Concert and My Best Friend Moving Across the Country Have In Common

As seen on Huffington Post, Published on 07/20/2013

 

2013-07-20 18.13.21My best friend, Geri, is moving across the country in less than a week. Specifically, she will be 2,692 miles away in her new apartment in San Diego with her boyfriend. I will be here in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where we both grew up and lived for 24 years. Except for the four years I lived in New York City, my best friend has always been less than a half-hour away from me. Even then, she was only an hour and half train ride away. But now, after 13 years of friendship filled with growing pains, heartaches, sleepovers and dinners whenever we wanted, things are going to be switched up a bit.

We were sitting in our favorite Chinese restaurant in Chinatown, a place where she had Chinese food with my family for the first time almost a decade a ago, when she told me the news. I knew that our conversation would be lively that night, initiated by a Facebook message sent earlier that day by her saying that she had something to tell me over dinner that had to be done in person. That afternoon, the possibilities had swirled in my head. Was she engaged to her boyfriend? Is she up for a promotion at work? Do I need to raise bail money?

The phrase “Jim and I are moving to San Diego in July” took me off guard. Continue reading

Moving on From Being Dark and Twisty

Originally seen on Huffington Post, Published on 06/20/2012

GAtumblr_mu0fxzuM701rjj1tzo3_500During a recent conversation with a boy I’m seeing, we were discussing hair colors we previously rocked in our younger years. I made a passing comment that my jet black hair was during my “dark and twisty” phase. Taken right out of the playbook of Meredith Grey, those words resonated with me more than anything during that period.

My dark and twisty period did not occur during my teenage years, when most people go through their “punk rock” or “goth” phase. To me, those phases aren’t really dark and twisty. The only true dark thing about that is the black nail polish and wardrobe bought at Hot Topic. My self-proclaimed “dark and twisty” years took place during college. Except for the period of jet black hair, from the outside I looked the complete opposite of dark or twisted. I held a full roster on the dean’s list, interned at major companies and wrote for my school paper. By surrounding myself with a stellar exterior, it deflected any attention of how rapidly my interior was deteriorating. Continue reading