summer sun.

The summer started slowly, like it usually does. Creeping in on my reality in the form of open windows and warm air. But somehow I blinked, and it’s already half gone. My tan is fading, my month-long break from work is over, and I’ve found myself in a new direction professionally and personally. 

It’s the first summer since I officially graduated, and although I feel proud of what I’ve accomplished, I’ve found there’s a nostalgia that comes along with meeting a goal. A lingering sadness. One that comes with knowing we’ve experienced something  for the last time.

In the wake of one chapter ending, I’ve had to fight to rediscover myself outside of my goals. Sometimes it feels lonely and isolating, but I know I’m not alone here – I can’t be the only grown ass adult still trying to pull together what my story will look like.

The funny thing about growth though, is that it doesn’t let us start the next phase until we’ve worked through the last. Try as I might to force myself through life’s tough lessons, they’re always there waiting for me when I least expect them.

So for the first time in, well, ever, I’m choosing to trust myself and my path. I’m no longer afraid of the worst case scenario, for now I know it only breeds growth.

I’ve decided I’m gonna let the yellow gold tint of the summer sun slow me down. Now is a time for gratitude and self love. A reminder that nothing lasts, whether it’s a joyful accomplishment or a heartbreaking loss. This is my story. I’m already writing it.  While this period of change has felt scary, unpredictable, and just straight-up out of my control, it’s also forced me to revisit old fears with a new fervor to triumph.

So bring it on August. I’m ready for the next adventure. Lead me to where I’m meant to go.

⇊ styles thrifted from Moth Oddities + Tandem Vintage 

photos by Bailey Jordan

 

no longer there.

never again

will I sit

alone 

in her presence

diverting my eyes

from her stare

trying to unfeel the burden

avoiding the distance

between us

denying the bond

that we share

and I’m trying

to ignore the sorrow

I’m trying

to unsee her eyes

I’m trying to unsmell

the liquor

that dances out 

as she sighs

the child inside of me

dances

seeing her

reminds me how deeply

she cares

her love

the catalyst

of my existence

her addiction

the incitement

of all my despair

I swallow down

my bitterness

It’s hot resentment

is taking a toll

the teenager inside me is angry

her disease has forever left me  

trying to fill an unending hole

she tells me

she wants for me 

family

she hopes that there will be more

through her tears

as she sits on the carpet

of her empty

lonely

apartment floor

hugging her

upon my departure

not knowing

it’s the last time

I’ll take in the smell of her hair

feeling guilty for

leaving so quickly

feeling relieved

to get out of there

she waves at me

from up on

the balcony

so grateful

for the brief time we shared

4 days later the officer

tells me

through pained eyes

and a sad piercing stare

they found her body naked

but she was no longer there

i got 99 problems but my body ain’t one.

For me, self hate was a habit I built over time. A result of incidences that occurred when I was far too young to decide the type of person I’d someday want to be.

As I grew up, everything around me reinforced the growing shame I felt for my body. My mother’s eating disorder taught me that food was the enemy. The dysmorphic view she had of her body, shaped the way I saw mine.  Before I was even aware of it, my mind kept me constantly tuned into my body’s imperfections. I yearned to look like the thin, beautiful girls that littered my magazines, my TV shows, and my school. It felt like everywhere I looked the images around me made me more aware of how my looks differed from the cultural ideal I was drowning under. I was convinced that if I lost weight I wouldn’t have a care, I’d just be a happy thin person.

Read more…

monday meltdowns.

Last night’s episodes of Girls, Togetherness and the Walking Dead were filled with emotional female meltdowns and I loved every minute of it.

Because you see, I’m 26. My twenties, while fun and filled with good skin and a decent metabolism, have also brought out in me my own fair share of emotionally uncontrollable moments.  My current anxieties include finding my dream job after college, learning to accept my own imperfections, and fending off the anxious energy that comes along with figuring out who I am.

So, while watching my fav Sunday night shows last night, I found myself more engaged than usual as I watched female characters from different generations meltdown in their own way. Each folding under the pressure to be universally happy and content. Letting go and allowing their frustrations and fears to bubble to the surface. And I found it incredibly refreshing.

There was Hannah’s more silent breakdown on Girls, where she threw herself into a new sexual experience, only to find it left her feeling  as empty and alone as before. We’ve all been there, holding onto intimacy with another, hoping it will heal the loneliness inside. It never does.

photo via HBO

photo via HBO

 

Then there was Shoshanna’s tearful realization that she was diluting herself into feeling content in her current life, despite the fact that she’s feeling more alone than ever. Because sometimes when you’re trying to find yourself, it’s easy to loose yourself completely in someone else’s world. Oh, and I would imagine if she was a real person, her Insta and FB would depict only a life of pure bliss and happiness. Yet another lesson to us that no matter how much we portray an illusion of completeness via social media, it doesn’t necessarily mean we’ve figured it all out.

image via HBO

image via HBO

 

Fast forward to Togetherness a half hour later and I found myself engrossed in the realistic portrayal of a car meltdown by Melanie Lynskey’s character Michelle. You know the type, when you find yourself sitting in your car, because it’s the only place you can be alone and you just let all the feels take over for a few minutes. The best part about this one was watching anther female character lift her up. Katie Aselton’s character Anna helped bring her back to reality, lifting her up without discounting her distress.

image via HBO

image via HBO

 

And then there was the meltdown by Amanda Peet’s character Tina, who perfectly portrayed how painful it can be to realize the life you’ve been avoiding is the life you’ve come to yearn for. A reminder that as the years pass, our priorities will undoubtedly change, and sometimes loving someone is not the problem, but staying on the same track together is where the true challenge lies.

image via HBO

image via HBO

 

There was also a pretty awesome speech made by Merritt Wever’s character Denise in the Walking Dead. Unfortunately she was killed off before getting to finish, but her sentiment of not letting fear rule your life was still there. Watching her emotional turmoil as she faced what the world had become, made me that much more confident that I can take some risks this week in a world where I’m less likely to be eaten by a zombie. Or shot in the eye with an arrow for that matter.

So here’s a Monday cheers to meltdowns, and their oh so necessary place in our lives as we all  struggle to figure out whats next and how to get there.

I almost couldn’t ask for more…. well expect for more racial diversity in the casts. I’ll keep holding our for that.

 

while you sit there.

While you sit there, looking smugly past me, chastising me for believing that my experience so far in life has no way been affected by rape culture. It’s then that I slowly disconnect from our conversation. Because in one simple sentence; it’s not real. You’ve discredited my world of experiences as a woman.

The word rape culture scares you. I can see that. When it’s mentioned you grow tense and you shut down all attempts at a two-sided conversation. I didn’t even want to talk about this; in fact I’m not the one that brought it up. But as you roll your eyes and attempt to pull an argument out of me, I’ve already realized there’s no way to make you understand.

Because you can’t know what it’s like to begin seemingly mundane conversations with men and leave them feeling bitterly empty. You’ll never know the dark feeling that consumes a woman when her sexual safety is being put at risk, an unsettling mixture of fear, anxiety, and discomfort.

There’s no way to make you understand what it was like for me when I was 19 and solicited for sex on a sunny afternoon by a middle-aged white man driving a BMW. When he stopped me for directions, smiling politely as he joked about not knowing his way around a college campus, the last thing I expected was for him to offer me money for sex. I can’t remember his face; I was too consumed by the roll of cash on his dashboard and the empty child’s seat in the back. That dark feeling met me then, I felt sick as I watched him eye me through the window suddenly realizing his intent. I was wearing black slacks, a black polo and Crocs, the typical work uniform of a corporate coffee shop employee. Not that it even matters, but see I can’t help but become immediately aware of what I’m wearing when a man makes me feel uncomfortable. Was it me? Did I bring this attention on?

You’ll never know what it was like to come in and out of consciousness on your own bedroom floor as you realize a boy you’ve just met, one whose name you still don’t know, is inside of you. At first you don’t resist because you aren’t sure what is happening, but after many requests for it to end you black out the rest of the night forcefully, not remembering anything else until you wake up laying in your bed later that night. That same sick feeling fills you then, and you wonder if his girlfriend, now his wife, will ever know. You try to remember how much you drank, as if it matters, as if that is an excuse for someone else to enter your body while you are clearly not there.

You’ll never know what it was like when I locked my self in my bedroom one night while a male friend grew angry after I declined his late night advances. His reasoning, “If you are sleeping with him, then why not with me?” resonating in my head. I felt weak in my bed that night, eyes locked on the door as I questioned whether my sexual choices spurred such behavior. Occasionally the knob would turn vigorously, and I’d hear him beg to be let in. That sick feeling found me then, as I wondered if the men I had slept with ever faced such anger and aggression regarding their choice of sexual partners.

You’ll never know how many forceful kisses I’ve had laid upon my lips, how many advancing hands have grasped by thighs, my butt, my breasts. How it feels to be alone with a man and feel his eyes on you. His mind in you.

When you shut me down, and give me no true chance to share my story. When you refuse to even attempt to empathize with a human experience different than your own, that’s when I feel that dark pit again. I feel it now as I write this, because I know being open and raw about my experiences can bring just as much hate as it can understanding.

And so, I’ll sip my drink and avoid your eyes, because the little girl inside of me who is afraid to walk alone at night, who still tried to remain calm and nice and kind during such experiences, that girl just wants to feel safe. After all, I’ve been silenced too many times before you by the voices of men telling me I’m wrong to not realize where this conversation is going.

Tonight you will walk out of this bar, who knows whether or not you’ll bother to tell anyone you are leaving. You will walk alone, I don’t know whether you will take a cab, an Uber or enjoy the night air. But what I do know is that I will have texted my boyfriend my whereabouts and my intent to head home. I will say goodbye to my friend, mostly because I love her but also because I want someone to know I am leaving. I will get in a car with a male Uber driver and sway back and forth between fearing him and feeling crazy for doing so. Again, I’ll text my boyfriend my ETA, ignoring the song on the radio telling me “I know you want it”. And when I exit the car and a man on the corner watches me, smiling drunkenly and turning to walk my way, I will hold my breathe until I have made it in through the door, avoiding eye contact in an effort to avoid ‘encouraging’ a conversation.

But see, just because you can’t quite know what it is to live a life in a female body, doesn’t mean you don’t love the women who love you. Just because you can’t understand how lonely it feels when your own body is taken over by the desires of another, doesn’t mean you aren’t on my side. So the next time you find yourself discussing the violence towards women that still exists today, pause. I don’t expect you to understand, I don’t even expect you to agree, but man do I wish you would believe me when I tell you that it’s there.

winter warmth.

 

It’s that time of year when warm wisps of breath freeze in winter’s icy grasp. Spring’s thaw is still out of reach, but daydreams of romantic florals accented by sleek hardware make winter a bit more bold and spring feel that much closer.

Photos by Haley Roth, Niya DeLa Pena, and Lindsay Babler.

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Processed with VSCOcam with 6 preset

 

Processed with VSCOcam with 6 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with 6 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with 6 preset

Clothing: Border Print Collar Tunic , Say You Love Me Dress , Lena Mini Dress , Zip To It Vegan Leather Mini Skirt

Accessories: Bri Bri Leather Belt , Rebel Rebel Printed Skinny Scarf , Memory Lane Lieutenant Hat , Wild Winds Choker , Riley Layered Bolo

christmas.

Let me preface this, I am not a Christmas curmudgeon. I mean, what’s not to love – presents, cookies, awkward conversations with family. It’s all good stuff.

But Christmas and I, we’ve always had a love/hate relationship. For me, the holiday season comes with unresolved memories of past Christmases gone awry.

It’s hard not to associate this holiday with the anxiety that came each year, as I was picked up by my mother and brought to see my cousins, aunts, and uncles. It was a bittersweet affair. I left my father behind in the empty house, I faced my mother who I likely hadn’t seen in weeks or months, I wondered if she was sober, and then I was immersed into a sea of traditional catholic Christmas ideology at my grandparents home.

It’s hard to explain to people how a tree sitting atop a small mountain of wrapped gifts reminds me of the Christmas my mom spent in the hospital when I was a girl. How I still heard the whispers my family exchanged, despite their hushed efforts, detailing how ill she was. Copious amounts of gifts were sent to me in an effort to make me feel fuller in her absence. And in an adolescent way, they kinda did. I still remember the pajamas from Limited Too I got that year.

It’s even harder to talk about how a heavy snowfall reminds me of the long walk I took alone the Christmas after my mom died. The city park was empty, with nothing piercing the cold air but the sound of my sobs and the crunch of snow beneath my feet.

These are real memories for me and the sadness upon their recollection is admittedly hard to shake when I see the signs of Christmas around me.

But as sad as some of these memories are, the control I now have over the memories I make is exhilarating. I decide what feels right. I have the power to make my own traditions.

Slowly, with time, new things have begun to feel familiar. Gradually they blanket the bad, shielding me from the hurt of Christmases past. Healing the sadness that once consumed me.

Lately? My Christmases are spent taking in the scene that surrounds me now. Tyler waking me up with a warm Christmas grin. Our fur babies prancing across the bed, letting us know our time to sleep is up. The sound of Christmas music playing in our small downtown apartment. The warmth of espresso in my cup, a little baileys poured in for good measure. The quiet of the city. The emptiness around us and how comforting and special it feels.

They’re still there, those sad memories. But with intentional mindfulness I’ve learned to draw myself out of them, refocusing on what is present now. Their resurgence reminding me to say a silent thanks for what Christmas has become.

wreath_halfHere are a few goodies that are keeping me warm, cozy and positive this winter:

  1. Get creative with your lighting. Light up those dark evenings this winter with the ethereal glow of these fairy lights from Urban Outfitters. Target sells ’em too. fireflylights
  2. Upgrade your bath time. Escape from the cold weather in the comfort of your own bath tub with these aromatic bath bombs from Lush Cosmetics. They turn any old bath into a spa like experience. Try adding a Luxury Bath Melt for added moisture.lush
  3. Light some candles. There’s something so comforting to me about this Tobacco & Patchouli scented candle. It reminds me of the earthy smell of my family cabin up north. Cue the winter memories.candle
  4. Learn how to make your favorite warm beverages at home. This Christmas I was lucky enough to be gifted a Nespresso coffee maker and this thing is totally changing my life. I can’t tell you how much more enjoyable having an espresso machine and milk frother at home has made my mornings.  If you’re not a coffee drinker, I’m also a huge fan of cast iron tea pots.
  5. coffeeFind a creative outlet for the excess time spent inside this winter. It’s kinda nerdy, but I am a huge fan of adult coloring books. Not only are they a great pass time, but they really help me decompress when my anxiety gets the best of me. coloring book

recovery feels like…

I’ve discovered there’s a sense of seclusion that only a city can give me.

Especially on days like this. When the sun creeps into my apartment and gently illuminates the world I call home, it’s light embracing the existence of the present moment. Days when I get to sit in my oversized leather chair, the breath of the outside world kissing my skin through the open window.

Recovery feels like this; the ability to be warm and safe within my own body, my own mind. Instead of seeing the laundry on the floor, the bills to be paid and bed to be made, I see the sun. I see the time to accomplish my tasks and dreams. I see the possibility. Within the problems and setbacks, I see potential to learn and grow.

I’ve opened myself up to an entirely new perspective on the world. One in which perfection and success are fleeting, but happiness is not. Therapy and doctor prescribed medication have helped me balance my mental health and critically examine the catalysts behind my anxiety and depressive thoughts. I’m learning to challenge the negative thoughts I experience and to look to my strengths rather than my weaknesses to define who I am.

I’ve finally realized – I get to decide what perspective I use to filter my outlook on the future; Not my parents, not my past, just me.

By sharing my experience publicly, I’ve been gifted with the realization that I am not alone. I’m touched that my experiences are relatable to you. Thank you for your support, your love, your prayers, your well wishes.

The more aware of how transient each present moment is, the more I savor each day. The more I look for ways to create happiness in my life. I’m done waiting. I’m done being fearful. My life has moved forward because I’ve chosen to have hope. To hold on to that subtle feeling of reassurance within me that life will get better.

And so far, it always has.

* * * * *

Are you on a journey of wellness? Here’s a few self-care habits I’ve been practicing regularly to stay grounded, healthy and connected to my true self during recovery.

  1. Yoga

I know it sounds cliché but the more anxious and depressed I get, the less I want to be physically active or take the time to stop and care for myself. I’ve found by taking just 10 minutes to simply stretch, I can refocus on my breathing and slowly begin to come out of a physical slump.

I think of exercise like I do my medication, it is essential to a healthy mind. Yoga has given me something to work towards. Because yoga practitioners have many different abilities and body types, I find that I focus less on weight-loss and more on how my body feels as I complete the pose. My yoga practice feels different everyday, just like my mental health. It’s finally helped me realize that my best self is fluid. Everyday is different and feels different – and that’s ok.

  1. Meditation

Learning to calm my mind when anxiety hits has been essential to my recovery. That said, I know before I had ever attempted it I thought it was a bunch a bull. With my anxiety I could never fully rest my mind. But like anything, it takes time and practice to successfully meditate.

If you’re new to meditation or can’t seem to get yourself to slow down I’d highly suggest starting with either guided meditation or hypnotherapy recordings. They allow you to give up control of the moment and seem to trick you into relaxing. There is a general anxiety disorder hypnotherapy recording available here that I love. It’s great when you need help getting outside of your own mind and only takes about 20 minutes to complete.

  1. Therapy

Therapy sounds so much scarier than it is. Before I go, I always wonder why I made the appointment and even consider canceling. Then I go, an hour flies by, and I leave with a greater understanding of myself.

Therapy is helping me understand the physical cues that occur when my anxiety strikes and how to effectively manage them. I’m learning how to shape my thoughts and change my habits. Not only is it a practical use of my time, its surprisingly rewarding too. A trained professional can help you navigate through the past experiences that may be hindering you today.

  1. Reconnect with loved ones

Seek help and support from those around you. You may feel like a burden to others but you are not. Most people will be open to reconnecting once you recover, some however may not. It’s the relationships that remain that deserve your time and attention.

Don’t be afraid to be honest about your experience and to communicate how much their relationship means to you. If you’re coming out of a tough mental state, it’s likely you havent been the best of friend to yourself, let alone the people who love you.

Once you start talking about your worries out loud, you’ll find how different they sound and feel when they are bounced off someone you trust. Also, don’t be afraid to communicate the limitations of your own situation when you need to. When you have a bad day, be open and honest with your loved ones and take the steps to slow down and get back to a healthier mind frame. When those negative, all-consuming thoughts come, ride them out knowing you are strong and resilient and you will come through this a better person. Seek patience in yourself and in others.wreath_half

12 vintage pieces from Etsy I need in my life right meow.

1. 90s Wool Blanket Jacket // $168.00

90s Wool Blanket Jacket // $168.00

For covering up on rainy mornings, warming up around a bonfire, or just looking effortlessly cool about town.

2.Vintage Tooled Leather Duffle // $297.50

Vintage Tooled Leather Duffle// $297.50

Where do I start? The cherry colored leather? The floral patina? The hidden zipper beneath the worn leather flap?

3. Mid Century Teak Spice Rack with Green Glass Jars // $145.00

vintage spice holder

Mid Century Teak Spice Rack with Green Glass Jars // $145.00

For your spices, your smelling salts, your standard stray knick-knacks.

4.Vintage Perpetual Desk Calendar // $22.09

Vintage Perpetual Desk Calendar // $22.09

Because, let’s be honest, we all forget what the date is from time to time.

5. Vintage Tapestry Bag with Leather Strap // $41

Vintage Tapestry Bag with Leather Strap // $41

Vintage Tapestry Bag with Leather Strap // $41

I foresee a farmer’s market in this bags future.

6. 70s Suede Leather Boho Festival Vest // $39.00

70s Suede Leather Boho Festival Vest // $39.00

70s Suede Leather Boho Festival Vest // $39.00

Because it’s a Suede. Leather. Vest.

From the 70s.

7. Indian Brass Incense Holder // $10.00

Indian Brass Incense Holder // $10.00

Indian Brass Incense Holder // $10.00

For covering up the smell of your cat’s litter box.

8. 90s J.CREW Linen Minimalist Jumpsuit

90s J.CREW Linen Minimalist Jumpsuit

For looking jealousy-inducing chic.

9.Vintage Round Woven Basket // $24.00

Vintage Round Woven Basket // $24.00

Vintage Round Woven Basket // $24.00

There’s something about putting stray doodads in a basket that makes me feel like a successful adult.

10. Pearl and Brass Knick Knack Storage // $70.00

Pearl and Brass Knick Knack Storage // $70.00

Pearl and Brass Knick Knack Storage // $70.00

For more of the previously mentioned doodads.

11. 70s World Globe // $65.00

70s World Globe // $65.00

70s World Globe // $65.00

For plotting future crusades.

12. 70s Tropical Pleated Caftan // $75

70s Tropical Pleated Caftan // $75

70s Tropical Pleated Caftan // $75

For looking too cool for the pool.

Mother’s Day. Or the day that reminds you that your mom is gone.

I woke up and thought I’d be fine. But then, as I drank my coffee and devoured my oatmeal, I overheard Tyler’s voice, full of love and vigor, wishing his mama a Happy Mother’s Day. As they continued their conversation, joking and enjoying the sound of each others voices, my heart seemed to swell. Despite the pain and resentment I had grown used to wearing on mother’s days past, not getting to hear her voice is something I have yet to get used to.

Social media reminds me of all that I’ve lost, giving me a look into the lives of healthy relationships and motherly love. It’s a bit more than this heavy heart can handle.

The weather seems to get it. Overcast and looming with the threat of rain. Sunbeams peak out, hesitant to fully illuminate the world. I too cannot decide which way I will sway.

So mom, where ever you are, know that I forgive you and I wish we could have had more time.

Below is a short diary entry of mine that I found last night: 

May 8, 2011

Mother’s Day.

Today, on Mother’s day, I chose to forgive my mom. I did not send her flowers, a card or candles. We did not go out to brunch, or to the movies, or indulge in any other activity so many mothers and daughters find customary on such a day. However, today we did laugh. And through that laughter I felt something inside me shift. 

Today I realized that the only reason I’m perpetually upset with her is because I choose to be upset. She is who she is and for me to expect to get anything different from her than what she has always been is foolish on my part. I’m done having my own life hindered by her actions, I no longer will put the burden of her choices upon my back. That is her load to carry. My life is mine to direct.