Oops – Sometimes I Forget To Write

Well, let’s not sugar coat it here – I forgot to write for over a year.


Not exactly my best move. I was finally on a roll with this whole blogging thing, and then I drop off the face of the planet. This post is going to serve as a way for me to welcome myself back into the blogging world. Look for some new posts soon, because I’ve got a lot to write about!

Thanks for sticking around, those of you who did.

Let’s do this…again.

Honestly? I Like New Miley

Photo by: wallpicshd.com

Photo by: wallpicshd.com

Now, before you you start criticizing me, hear me out.

I think Miley was in her prime during her Can’t Be Tamed and Who Owns My Heart days. It was just sexy enough to break her away from her Disney roots, but wasn’t so over the top that we couldn’t have adjusted. Granted, I was one of those people who was shaking my head saying during this transition, going, “I want Hannah Montana back. This is far too sexy for this sweet girl!” Going back and watching those videos, I realized that she was actually doing sexy the right way.

And that reminds me… You guys remember when she “pole danced” during her Party in the U.S.A. performance and how outraged we all were? Go back and watch that video again. I promise you’ll laugh at how blown out of proportion her dancing was, and it’s nothing compared to her exaggerated ideas of what sexy is now.

Now, let’s fast forward to 2013 and talk about We Can’t Stop. When that song debuted, the last music video to air on Miley Cyrus’s Vevo channel was Who Owns My Heart, and man, the difference 3 years makes.

Again, I’ll admit when I first saw Miley’s We Can’t Stop video, I was like who is this, what is this? Why did I subject myself to watching this? Giant dancing teddy bears, pepto bismol blood, and twerking was an interesting way to breakout of her shell. I did like the song, though, and it grew on me the more I heard it. As Wrecking Ball debuted, I thought the song was beautiful but the execution (and her attempt to be artistic) was a little exaggerated…

Then, Adore You came out and I found myself unsurprised, and going, “Really Miley? Is that all you’ve got?”

Change is hard, and is never well received. It’s even harder when you go from sweet, innocent, fresh off your career-making Disney show… to the spiky haired, marijuana smoking, twerk machine that obviously doesn’t give a rat’s @%& about what anyone thinks. It took time for me to realize it, but I respect and envy Miley.

She is doing what she wants with a confidence that I think most females would kill to have. She’s not exactly what I’d call a role model, and I’d be very mad if my future daughter (or son) wanted to be just like Miley. But if my children had half the confidence to be who they wanted to be the way Miley does, I’d feel like I’d done my job right.

I think the sooner we realize that this new Miley is here to stay, the easier it’ll be for us to respect what she’s doing. Miley’s a nut, there is absolutely no question, but she’s a talented singer that has done more in her 21 years than I will ever complete in my entire life. She is doing what she loves, producing music that she’s proud of, and I think she’s taking the time to find herself. It might be the way we wanted her to do it, but it’s not our life – it’s hers.

So I say own it Miley. You’re over exaggerated attempts to be sexy aren’t exactly cute, and I think lighting up on stage is anything but classy, but I have to recognize your talent and you’re ability to work the stage. It’ll be hard to maintain this level of insanity, but when you mellow out (or when we do, rather) I think you’ll finally be respected for the true talent that I know you are.

Go hard Miley, and don’t ever stop doing you.

Apparently, Money CAN Buy You Everything

Let’s set this up for a moment. 16 year old boy steals alcohol from Wal-Mart with a couple of buddies. They get drunk and are going 70 MPH in a 40 MPH zone, and kill 4, injure 9, and a passenger in the car is in the hospital with severe brain damage. The driver, Ethan Couch had a BAC of .24.

How much prison time do you think this boy had to serve? 5 years? 10 years? Try zero.

Now, if that’s not enough to get your blood boiling, let’s talk about why this young, reckless child was given absolutely no prison time for his vehicular manslaughter and DWI charges. Well, for starters, the boy is rich. He comes from a wealthy family that gave him everything he wanted whenever he wanted it. Because of this, the young boy’s lawyers say that Ethan is suffering from what is known as “affluenza.”

Affluenza: a psychological malaise supposedly affecting wealthy young people, symptoms of which include a lack of motivation, feelings of guilt, and a sense of isolation.

For Ethan, the defense is saying that since his parents were wealthy, they never taught him right from wrong, and he never learned that all actions have consequences.

Take a moment and let that set in.

Now, before I continue let me just say that if this spoiled, careless boy does in fact have “affluenza” he does need some sort of treatment. Psychological disorders are no laughing matter, and if he needs help we should give it to him.

That being said, I think this affluenza defense is the biggest load of crap to ever grace the court systems. Granted, Ethan is getting “punishment” – 10 years probation and one to two years of rehab in a very nice facility in California that his parents are paying $500,00 for. Oh yeah, and get this: his lawyers say that taking him from his parents is punishment enough.

I’d like for that man to go to the families that lost someone because of Ethan’s recklessness and say that. I’d like for him to go to the families of those who were injured in his drunken stupor. More than that, I’d like him to face every person who is equally as outraged about this matter as I am.

And, to make matters better (oh the sarcasm), this isn’t the first time this boy has had run ins with the law. When Ethan was 15, his parents let him off the hook after he was ticketed for being found with a passed out, undressed 14 year old girl in his pick up truck in a parking garage.

I think his lawyers are right, he’s suffering from something all right, but I’m not jumping on this affluenza bandwagon. All this little stunt has taught him is that he can literally get away with murder for a vacation in a California rehab facility.

This article that I’ve linked to from Enterprise News let’s you read a little more about Ethan’s defense…most of which are totally making his case worse. Put him in jail, let him get psychological help there. Don’t perpetuate this fantasy that he can do whatever he wants.

This is what America has become, and I’m concerned that mental health is going to be the “boy that cried wolf” in the court room. I hope that makes sense. It seems like more and more often, people who have committed terrible crimes are pleading some kind of mental instability. Whether it’s true or not, I just hope that it doesn’t become a way for people to get away with murder and that mental health becomes a laughing stock. Or worse yet, people who actually need the psychological help aren’t getting it because it’s been used too often in crimes where it’s not entirely true.

Let’s lock up the people who commit crimes, test them in jail for personality and other mental disorders, and go from there. Don’t use mental health and money as a way to keep your messed up children or family members out of trouble. You aren’t helping anyone, and any family that says it’s okay to kill 4 people and injure 10 others probably need to be locked up as well.

My rant is over, now share your thoughts. What do you think should be done about this boy’s punishment? Too lenient, too harsh? What about his parents? Let me know in the comments below.

Some Simple Advice From Your Everyday Newlywed

Photography by Hallman Photography

Photography by Hallman Photography

Over fall break I did something that might seem unusual to the normal college student. During the one week we had off from classes and responsibilities, I got married and went on a honeymoon. It was absolutely wonderful; it was every thing I thought it would be, especially when it came to the point where I could relax with no guilt.

However, this decision to get married didn’t happen over night. I started dating my husband six years ago, and it was not an immediate spark. We spent several years learning about each other, figuring out our flaws and our strengths, what our likes and dislikes were. It wasn’t until we had been dating for three years that I thought we’d have a chance together for the long haul, and during that time we had become more than boyfriend and girlfriend but best friends. It might sound cheesy and cliché, but there is nothing more important than having a relationship that is based on a strong friendship.

After our fifth year of dating, we had “the talk.” We started to discuss our options, where we wanted to go with the relationship, and what our future goals were. That was at the beginning of summer, and by the end of that same summer, July 26, 2012 to be exact, I was nodding my head furiously as my husband asked, “Will you marry me?”

From that moment on we started to change, but in the realizing you’ve made a very grown up decision to spend the rest of you life with each other kind of way. We were beginning to mature together, and it was wonderful. And as the months slipped by we were given plenty of advice on ways to make our marriage last and to get the most from it, but a lot of it I’d heard before. Then I had lunch with my mother-in-law and she gave me advice that isn’t just valuable for a marriage, but valuable for when you are dating as well. Now I want to pass this advice on to anyone in a relationship of any stage:

Photography by Hallman Photography

Photography by Hallman Photography

Make time for each other. This shouldn’t be a surprise, but it’s something that I think people forget as time passes in a relationship. When you start dating you court each other. You get all dressed up to go out on a date, he picks you up, and for that time you’re together you devote all your energy to them. But as you grow in your relationship, and things start to change, that special one-on-one time becomes blurred. For example, when my husband and I moved in together last year, we spent all of our time together and for a while every second mattered. Now that mentality has changed, and although we spend time together every day, we are focused on other things like our phones or the television. We recognized this, and we now spend our time talking over dinner and treating it as a mini-date. No phones, no laptops, no television in the background; it’s just us and I am very thankful for that time each day. It doesn’t have to be dinner. It can be as simple as getting up and having coffee together before school or work, if that’s possible for your relationship, and it truly makes all the difference.

Be each other’s best friend. Don’t be deceived by how it’s a cliché answer, because it’s really more than that. Our relationship together didn’t start off as us being best friends, in fact I’d say when we started dating we knew nothing about each other. Throughout the remainder of our relationship we started to grow and we became best friends over time. This piece of advice doesn’t mean you need to date your best friend, or that you need to instantly become best friends in order for there to be a spark. It just means that when you start to think about your future with them, can you imagine them being there through all your bad days, your good days, and the days you probably shouldn’t have gotten out of bed but you did any way? Can you admit to their flaws but realize that’s what makes you love them more? That “best friend” moment doesn’t have to happen at any given time, but when you realize that’s what you have, it’ll enhance your relationship and remind you that things might not always be picture perfect, but you’ll make it through together.

A Relationship is 80/20. I saved the best for last, because something about this concept completely blew my mind. She told me that a relationship isn’t 50/50, it isn’t all about you or all about your significant other; a relationship should be 80/20. You should always give 80 percent of yourself to your significant other, whatever that means to you, and only expect 20 percent back in return. Take a moment and think about that. When you think of a relationship as something that is give and take, you begin to assume that your significant other owes you something in return. Granted, that’s not always the case, but if a relationship is 50/50, you are implying that your good deeds need to be rewarded by good deeds. What an 80/20 relationship means is that you devote yourself to this person, expecting very little in return because you know it’s the right thing to do. That is what a relationship is, giving as much as you can and expecting little in return, but knowing that they will some day return that favor in their own unique way.

Since that lunch, I have tried to put my mother-in-law’s words to heart. I’ve only been married for two months, but already I’ve seen a difference from pre-marriage to now. Not because the relationship feels any different than before we got married (because I’ll be the first to tell you, chances are you won’t be able to tell a difference – it’ll be like turning one year older). The difference lies in how well we are able to communicate and devote time to one another. I hope that as my relationship continue to grow and change, I remember the words that a wonderful woman gave me and it can be the foundation of my marriage for many years to come.

Photography by Hallman Photography

Photography by Hallman Photography

An Open Letter to the Media

Dear Media Outlets Everywhere,

As a journalism major and a senior in college, I am at the point where I have to really start focusing on my future. I need to find a job, and believe it or not I’d love to find a place in a hectic, unorganized newsroom writing the stories of my city. As crazy as it sounds, the fast-paced world of news reporting actually relaxes me, and the deadlines are something I crave.

But as much as I love the profession I’ve chosen, I’m beginning to wonder if writing for a newspaper is worth it. Why? Because the newsroom is starting to move too fast for my liking.

In the last 10 years or so, the newsroom has developed into this 24-hour, seven day a week competition to discover and deliver the news the fastest. This newfangled newsroom is called “convergent journalism.” Everything is moving to online, which in turn results in the news being posted all day, every day, without regard for anything or anyone.

This means that as soon as big news breaks, there’s a battle royale that erupts in newsrooms around the country. They jump on the story as soon as it breaks, allowing us to receive our news soon after it happens instead of having to wait a day or more. So why is this new convergent journalism approach such a problem?

Well, it wouldn’t be if it meant newsrooms were holding on to the one thing that I valued the most about journalism writing: telling the story accurately. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen articles come out saying, “FBI has identified the killer from today’s events,” and then not even 10 minutes later another headline saying, “Just kidding – FBI declines statements, false information received.”

The media is so caught up in being the first to release information to the public that they begin to publish information that may not be coming from reputable sources, and that concerns me. I understand the importance of releasing breaking news as soon as you have the facts right, but to post something without fact checking is a journalism faux pas.

When you put things in the news that aren’t true, especially when it involves the reputation of an innocent person, it’s even worse. One example of this is when the media had falsely identified the Boston Marathon bombing suspects four times – yes, four – before they finally discovered the true terrorists. Big names in the media caught on to details they heard from various sources and published them without fact checking. The New York Post was hit the hardest, latching on to two false identities and plastering it all over their website.

Another situation that wasn’t as bad, but still clarifies the point was during the Newtown shootings. CNN was the first of many outlets to report that the shooter was Ryan Lanza, the brother of the actual killer Adam Lanza. Even worse is that some sites went to Facebook to link to a profile of the “supposed” Ryan Lanza. Turns out he was in no way related to the Lanza’s that were making headlines, and because of their lack of fact checking, Ryan was harassed via Facebook.

So here is my proposition to the media: slow down. Take a moment to breath, to obtain the facts. It doesn’t matter if you were first to report the breaking news if all your facts are wrong. It takes research and fact checking to create a groundbreaking story, and if you sacrifice your fact checking for hearsay, then what do we have left as journalists?

We should pride ourselves in our ability to weave together eye catching stories that give the facts and truth to our readers. There isn’t anything I love more than being able to write the true stories of amazing events, people and communities. I even find thrill in the investigative work of writing a story that may not have the happiest of endings.

Now, in today’s newsroom, we are at the equivalent of running a full out sprint for an entire race. By the time we look back to see what’s going on, it’s already been published and the damage is done.

Do I think that the media will slow down? Definitely not. The media will continue to find better ways to obtain the news faster than ever before, leaving reporters in situations where they accidentally accuse innocent people. It’s a sad, but honest truth.

I just hope that journalists remember that they are writing the truth; that they are writing non-fiction. When you sacrifice the facts and the truth, we are left with fiction. If readers wanted fiction they’d pick up a book, not a newspaper.


A concerned, aspiring journalist

Emetophobia and Me

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” -Marcus Aurelis

How do I follow that? Those words moved me, reminded me of a valuable lesson I’ve been instilling into my mind for three years. It reminded me that through the anxiety, the panic attacks, and the conflicting emotions (do I run, do I help?) that I had control over my situation. It reminded me to be strong.

I have had emetophobia: the irrational fear of throwing up. Sounds silly right? Well, people obviously think so. There’s nothing worse than telling someone you have a phobia who just doesn’t understand what it’s like. You get a variety of responses.

There’s this one: “No one likes throwing up, so I totally understand where you’re coming from.” And then this one: “Oh, I’m squeamish too!” Lastly, there’s this phrase: “What’s so scary about throwing up? Sure, it’s uncomfortable, but it’s not life threatening.”

Yes, no one likes throwing up, and neither do I, I just really can’t handle the thought.

It’s not a matter of being squeamish because the subject of blood and puke doesn’t make me feel sick – just very anxious.

It’s uncomfortable not just because it’s unpleasant, but because I’m not in control.

This fear of throwing up struck me from all sides. I was personally afraid of getting sick, which meant I did everything I could to avoid putting myself in those kinds of situations. I avoided sick people like the plague and I rarely ate out at restaurants I wasn’t comfortable with in fear of food poisoning. I was also afraid of other people getting sick, which meant that I never went to parties (not that I had a huge urge to attend one anyways) and I avoided going out to places that would possibly put me in an uncomfortable situation. For example, doctors and hospitals were almost completely off limits. I also dreaded finding out that my college roommates caught anything and everything that went around. Being healthy was a mandatory requirement for me.

But the worst part was I spent 19 years of my life not knowing what was causing me the anxiety, the fear and the panic. I spent many stomach flu’s locking myself away in my bedroom with a can of lysol and clorox wipes. I would pick at my food at dinner and anxiously watch the clock, telling myself, “Just 6 more hours and I’ll know I’m okay. I’ll know I won’t have food poisoning.” I stopped babysitting out of fear of young children secretly carrying a super virus that would cripple me for days. I would run away crying with my ears clogged at the sound of a cough. It was that bad.

I knew I feared throwing up and other people throwing up, but I didn’t have a name for it. I felt alone, like I was the only one who understood what I was going through. It started to create problems with my husband (at that time it was boyfriend) and my family members, and it created problems with me attending class and hanging out with friends. I was slowly becoming a recluse and I realized I needed to fix it.

It was the end of my sophomore year in college and I remember admitting to my (now) husband, “I think I have a problem.” He didn’t think it was an issue, and when I brought up possibly seeing a counselor he said it wasn’t necessary and I was fine. But I went anyway. After two visits, all this counselor could tell me is that I had a phobia of some kind, but which one he wasn’t sure, and I was still lost.

That summer, I told my mom that I had seen a counselor over my fear of throwing up. It wasn’t until I told her that I had an answer: emetophobia. I was a textbook case. I had checked off every single item on the check list. I finally had a name, I finally knew I wasn’t alone.

From that point on, I was on a difficult road to facing my fear, to making myself realize I had control. I saw a counselor once a week to help me learn coping mechanisms for my fear and anxiety. I learned that my phobia wasn’t something I couldn’t control and that it was incurable, like diabetes. I struggled, cried, had anxiety and panic, took two steps forward and three steps back, but I finally had a break through.

I was sick with a sinus infection, a bad one at that, and the feeling hit me very quickly. I felt very sick to my stomach. As I walked to the bathroom and leaned against the wall I realized, at that moment, there was nothing I could do. I was going to get sick and I couldn’t change it. That was my lightbulb moment.

As soon as I realized I couldn’t control how I felt, I knew I could control my phobia.

This meant I could go out to Outback, order a meal, and finish the entire plate. This meant I could go to class and not be concerned of who sat there last, or what they might have be carrying on their dirty hands. This meant I was free. At least as free as I could be.

Since then I have been virtually unafraid. I feel normal for the first time in a very long time. I no longer fear going out to eat, I can listen to someone say they were sick with a stomach bug and not immediately run for the door. I can handle the idea that I could possibly get sick at some point in my life, and I would survive it.

I had spent all this time thinking I was controlling my surroundings and avoiding throwing up, but in reality, my phobia controlled me. Now, three years later, I control my phobia and I recognize I can’t control my surroundings. It’s such an uplifting feeling.

So why did I tell you this? Why did I open up my personal life and spread it out on the internet for you to read? It wasn’t for pity, because I don’t want or need it. I’m a stronger person and I barely  notice the phobia anymore.

It wasn’t so that you could censor yourself or treat me differently, because I promise that isn’t going to help me continue to face this fear.

I did it because I want someone to find this, read it, and realize they aren’t alone.

I want someone to find this blog and realize that there’s at least one other person out there who was battling the same problems and suffering through the same anxiety, depression and panic that they are. When you discover that what you are struggling with has a name, has a face, has a group of people behind it? It’s such a weight lifted.

And this goes for every person suffering from a phobia. You are not alone and some where out there at least one person also has the same fears, the same anxieties, the same questions you do. All it takes is trying to find the answers.

Honestly? FarmVille Ruined My Life

Photo by: yareah.com

Photo by: yareah.com

Okay, that’s a bit dramatic. FarmVille didn’t actually ruin my life. In fact, I’d say my life is going pretty well seeing how I’m taking my hardest semester in college to date and I’m dedicated to my school newspaper, internship, and blogging position.

But in the least literal sense of “ruining my life,” that is what FarmVille and all the other wildly addictive free-to-play games have done to me.

In case you are unaware of what free-to-play games are, the name basically explains it all. The only thing that’s confusing is that a lot of the times to really get the most out of your gaming experience, you have to pay real money to purchase in app items.

Please tell me you see where this is going.

All it took was once, you guys. I don’t think you understand how bad purchasing something inside of a game can be. It started with one 99 cent purchase…and the rest is history.

I’m not proud of this. To admit that I am one of those people that contributes to the ridiculous success of games like FarmVille and Candy Crush hurts my soul. I can’t tell you how much money I’ve spent on Candy Crush, unlocking those stupid levels and buying extra lives. The worst part was watching my husband give me this look like, “I can’t believe you bought something with real money.”

You do it once and you can no longer convince yourself it’s a bad idea. I know I am not alone, I’m not the only person who has ever bought something in free-to-play games. If it weren’t for one million other users buying in-app purchases on Candy Crush, they wouldn’t be a multi-million (maybe billion) dollar company. That should make me feel better, but it doesn’t. It just proves that there are at least one million other people, just like me, wasting money on a game that probably cost them way less to make than they are raking in because of the candy crazed players.

So learn from me and my incessant need to spend 99 cents on virtual items that have no bearing on my life.

It’s not worth it. Seriously.

I don’t care how bad you want 5 more lives on Candy Crush, or you really want that limited edition animal on FarmVille 2. Don’t you dare spend one cent on the games. Your life turns into a black hole of being a slave for these companies…metaphorically that is.

So what’s your “Honestly?” secret? It can’t be worse than spending money on a free game, can it?

Photo by: google.play.com

Photo by: google.play.com

Mastering A Lost Art: Napping


“Surely, anyway, a working day of eight or nine hours which is not split by a nap is simply too much for a human being to take, day in, day out, and particularly so in hot weather.” -Tom Hodgkinson

It happened, it finally happened. I spent the last 22 years of my life (seriously it’s been that long) attempting to master the ancient art of napping and I’ve finally done it.

As a infant I never napped. My mom vividly recalls the horrors of my childhood, the hours of mindless circling through the streets of Columbia attempting to lull me to sleep for a reward of about 30 minutes of quiet. As a toddler I napped more frequently, but rarely was it ever without a fight and was never long enough to be qualified an appropriate nap time.

Then as I got older, I found that despite my best efforts, my naps always landed me either one of two options: feeling worse than I did prior to going to sleep or not being able to sleep that night. I would, with deep sadness, tell people, “I wish I could take naps. I guess I’m not a nap person. I just can’t do it.” And then, with deep jealousy, I would listen to them tell me how they can nap with no problems and always sleep perfectly at night and feel refreshed when they wake up.

And then it happened. I don’t remember the exact turning point of my nap dilemma, but it hit me this past week that I’d finally done it. I had been successfully taking naps with no nighttime sleep disruptions and an awake, refreshed feeling. It was like a light from the heaven’s had opened up and shed the highest wisdom upon me. I felt like a new person, like I had seen the previously unseen pleasures of a good, midday nap.

So here is what I’ve noticed about my own personal nap “personality.” Disclaimer: the following items may not produce results for you, they are strictly things that work for me.

My best naps are the ones I “didn’t mean to take.” Notice the quotes. I find that when I “accidentally” take a nap, I can always wake up feeling so refreshed. So far, whenever I tell myself that I need a nap and I do it, I always wake up feeling like I could sleep for the rest of the day. This is why I’ve developed a system that, so far, has worked flawlessly. I recognize I’m tired, so I go to my bed with the intention of doing other things. For example: homework, watching a TV show, playing Plants vs. Zombies 2 on my smart phone… And then if I just happen to drift off to sleep for the next 45 minutes? Well that’s just an added bonus.

Never, ever nap when you feel like you could pass out for the next 12 hours. Why? The reason is simple. Chances are that your originally planned 45 minute to an hour long nap will quickly turn into, “Just 5 more minutes” and before you know it, four hours have gone by. This happened to me recently when I slept on a pull out sleeper sofa and got about 6 hours of sleep. I said I’d just take an hour nap, and then that one hour nap turned in to two and a half hours, and going to sleep later was not exactly easy. I then stayed up two hours past my normal bed time and woke up feeling like I’d slept on that sleeper sofa. So my advice is to always sleep when you know you need a pick-me-up. Sleeping for 30 minutes to an hour is the perfect amount of time to sleep, unless you are sick or know you have no reason to be awake (or sleep that night).

And lastly, listen to your body. You know when you’re tired, so just let yourself go to sleep instead of trying to fight it off. When I try to force myself to nap when I’m not tired enough, I always regret it. Finding that happy medium between just tired enough to sleep but not so tired I could sleep the rest of the day is hard, but chances are, if you listen to what your body is telling you, you’ll make the right decision.

With that I have now given you the insight to my nap success. Honestly, I won’t be offended if you completely discredit everything you’ve read in the last three paragraphs, because what do I know? I just started successfully napping sometime in the past year without realizing it. I understand your skepticism, but let me tell you, sometimes the best teachers are the ones with a fresh new outlook on something.

So on that note, I think I’m going to take a nap. I think I feel a head cold coming on, so why not squash it out with some wonderful zzz’s before studying?

October Shouldn’t Just Be Known For Pink

Think Pink. Photo by www.glamorsized.com

Think Pink. Photo by http://www.glamorsized.com

October is finally here! October means cooler weather, the best football, and of course Halloween. For college students, this also means Fall break is right around the corner, and who doesn’t love some time off from school? Of course, October also has greater purpose, and I don’t think anyone will be surprised when I say that that purpose is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s one of the hardest driven month long fundraising efforts I’ve ever seen, but it’s no surprise why that is. With a women’s chance of breast cancer at 1 in 8 for their lifetime, it’s easy to see why we’d need to raise money for such a prevalent disease.

However, in the midst of the pink, we lose sight of other very important causes that are also celebrated in the month of October. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be the first to tell you that every person should donate for breast cancer awareness, because the personal experiences I’ve had with family and friends is enough to help me stay on board the pink October ship. Heck, I’m even interning at Susan G. Komen Northwest NC! At the same time, I also recognize there are equally as important causes we could be talking about and raising awareness for. So I’ve created a list of five causes that are just as important as breast cancer awareness that are also celebrated during the month of October.

  1. Dwarfism: This is not a nationally recognized awareness campaign, however the Little People of America foundation has worked hard to get October as a time of recognition for their cause. Currently there are 14 states that have accepted October as Dwarfism Awareness Month. On the home page of the LPA website, they have information about buying a bracelet to help support and fund research on dwarfism. The ribbon coloring is green with white lettering.To learn the facts on dwarfism, visit the Did You Know? on the LPA website.
  2. Down syndrome: Unlike dwarfism, down syndrome is nationally recognized during the month of October. On the National Down Syndrome Society website, you can explore ways to donate, get important information on facts and statistics, and also delve into the myths and truths of down syndrome. The biggest event that the NDSS hosts to raise awareness is called The Buddy Walk® which was created in 1995. To find a Buddy Walk® near you, you can visit the Buddy Walk® page on the NDSS website. Down Syndrome’s ribbon colors are navy blue and yellow.
  3. Domestic Violence: The sad truth is that 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence during their lifetime. To put this into perspective, this means you have a greater chance of being abused than you do getting breast cancer. So why isn’t there a bigger push during October to bring awareness to this? The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence is attempting to do their part to bring awareness to the issue not just for the sake of the victims, but for the people that witness the horrific events and for those who are suspicious of abuse. As with Down Syndrome, awareness for domestic violence is nationally recognized.  The ribbon color for domestic violence is purple. Visit the NCADV website for more information on how to give, get valuable resources and facts, and to learn about programs that are helping women and children who are victims of domestic violence find refuge.
  4. SIDS: SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, is a tragic event that strikes children under the age of one. It’s a silent killer and it takes too many beautiful children every year. The worst part is that even after a thorough autopsy, examiners can’t find the cause of death. This syndrome leaves parents feeling empty and without answers. There is so much we still don’t know, and sometimes, all a parent needs is a little support. SIDS awareness month has just been recently recognized during the month of October nationally. The ribbon colors for SIDS is baby blue and pink. For more information on how to donate and information on SIDS you can visit American SIDS Institute, The CJ Foundation for SIDS, and First Candle.
  5. Lupus: As an autoimmune disorder, Lupus attacks the body and the cells that keep us healthy. It lowers our bodies defenses and leads to flares that can last months at a time. The Lupus Foundation of America says that Lupus is “one of the world’s cruelest, most unpredictable, and devastating diseases.” Although they can’t be sure, the Lupus Foundation believes that there are approximately 16,000 new cases each year, with 9 out of 10 cases being women. Lupus is also a nationally recognized in the month of October. The ribbon color is also purple, like domestic violence. For more information, visit the Lupus Foundation of America website.

These are just five of the issues that we can bring awareness to during October. Another very important cause is Bullying Prevention, which dons a royal blue ribbon, and all it took was a little research. So this month as you are wearing your pink ribbons, just take a moment to remember the navy blue and yellow, the purple, the green and white, and the baby blue and pink. Yes, I’ll always think of October as the month to don my pink ribbon lapel pin, but don’t be afraid to do your research and expand your ribbon colors this October. Who knows, it might just save a life.


Another Year, Another Opportunity

I turned 22 on Saturday and despite the efforts of many people telling me that birthday’s get less exciting as you get older, I still stayed up until midnight to ring in my birthday and actually enjoyed the 10 text message spam my sister sent me at 7:30 a.m. that morning. Because let’s face it, no one stops loving their birthday. It’s just as you get older, your priorities shift and other things become more important, such as your significant other, your work priorities, and children.

For me this birthday was special, because it was the last birthday I’d celebrate before I get “older.” Two weeks from September 28 starts my adulthood, which in my mind equals “old.” I can hear all my adult friends scoffing and going, “Please, I’m not old and I’m married!” But just as child views every person who is older than them as old, I view marriage as something “older” people do, so this was almost a celebration of my supposed “youth.” But I digress…

So, in honor of my birthday I decided I would make a list of 11 things that I should try to do, remember, or even do less of as I start the journey in to my 23rd year. I would have done 22 things, but I realized I might be here a while trying to rack my brain, so I took half my age and said why not? Now, without further ado, commence the strange third-person, out-of-body conversation with oneself.

Dear Chelsie,

  1. Make time for yourself. I get you like to hang out with people, and are trying to be involved in as much as you can, but even you need some time to escape. Try as you might to convince me, sitting at school in the communication building on Facebook is not “you time,” so stop trying to justify it. Even if it means watching an episode of “Once Upon A Time” on Hulu in your pj’s at home, find an hour of time for yourself to decompress and not worry about work, school or your internship. Just relax completely guilt free.
  2. Don’t stretch yourself thin. You have this annoying habit of biting off more than you can chew because you like to keep busy, but it’s one thing to keep busy and to over do it. Sometimes it’s hard to admit you’ve taken on too much, but don’t be afraid to take a step back and say I need a break. And then, see point number one if you have any other questions about where to go from here.
  3. Listen more, talk less. There’s a reason you were nick named Little Indian Talk A Lot in kindergarden, and not much as changed since then. Sometimes though, talking isn’t the answer. I’m not saying you don’t listen well, because you are always willing to help a friend in need, but sometimes they just need someone to listen. They don’t need advice, they don’t need an opinion, they just want to talk it out and take time to process.
  4. Stop stressing about finding a job. I get it, it’s your senior year and you’ll be graduating in May. Finding a job after graduation is just the natural process for an up and coming adult, but I’m here to tell you to let it be. You don’t need to secure a job right now because you’re one of the lucky few that has monetary stability that comes with a significant other. Is that an excuse to stop looking? No, because you should find a job on your own. What I’m telling you is to relax and let it happen as it happens. The right job will fall into place, you just have to let go of the anxiety and let life handle the rest.
  5. Let go of your insecurities. This part is going to be hard, because it’s very like you to get hung up on the little things. This year, do your absolute best to not let these things get to you. Look in the mirror and realize you are a very lucky woman and you are doing the best you can, which is all that truly matters. Remember: you are beautiful, no matter what they say. Yes, I did just quote a Christina Aguilera song, but it’s true.
  6. Put yourself first. Listen, there’s nothing wrong with being selfless and doing your best to help everyone out if you can, but sometimes you have to look out for number one. Remember that you can’t always make everyone happy, and you definitely shouldn’t sacrifice your own happiness for someone else. You had quite the summer trying to make someone happy who didn’t deserve your kindness, so learn when enough is enough, and start putting yourself first.
  7. Sell your car. This one’s not that deep, and doesn’t need a lot of explanation. I know you’re thankful for your car because it gets you places but enough’s enough, girl. You’ve done more repairs in the past year that have cost more than the car is probably worth at this point, so as soon as you and your soon-to-be husband are in a place to trash the Volvo, do it.
  8. Learn to change a tire. Point seven leads me to point eight. When your tire blew out last week you were literally stranded because you don’t know how to change a tire. It seems easy enough, but you’re such a klutz, it might be best to learn the proper way to change a tire before attempting to do it from a YouTube video. There might be a time you’re on the road to home without anyone in easy travel distance, and unless you want to trust some creepy guy to do it for you, might be best to learn to change your own dang tire.
  9. Pick up a book and read. You used to love to read! You couldn’t put down the books long enough to study in high school, which was a problem, but you get the point. Now, you barely read, and you don’t take the time attempt to get into a thick story plot. You say you don’t have the attention span, but I think you’re just scared you’ll lose yourself in the book and not feel productive. When that happens, refer to point one and learn to pace yourself. You’re an adult now and you don’t need Mommy to tell you when to put the book down.
  10. Procrastinate less. Stop with the, “I work better under pressure,” excuse. It doesn’t matter what you think, procrastination doesn’t produce your best work. Give yourself a day to sit on your articles and papers, and then a day to review. When you have time to edit, you have time to be objective, and that’s when you produce the best you have to give. And don’t give me the smart response of, “Oh, I”ll get to that tomorrow,” because we’ve all heard that one thousand times. Just do it. Stop procrastinating on your goal to stop procrastinating, it’s not cute it’s cliche.
  11. Go to church. You and Brian have talked about finding a church, so stop resisting. It’s okay to be scared of things you don’t understand, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying to learn. Be proactive, do some searches, and try out a couple of services. You’ll never know what will feel like home until you go, so stop making excuses and go. You know, whether you want to admit or not, it’ll be good for you.