#IrmaGherd: My Dealings With a Super Storm

tumblr_inline_n094750FY41qid2nwGrowing up in Florida, hurricanes have always been a part of my life. Growing up in the Bradenton/Sarasota area, hurricanes have always tended to avoid us at the last minute (I personally like the legends of being on ancient Native American burial grounds protecting us). Hurricane Charley in 2004 was the only time I have ever felt as scared as I did about Irma, but I was 12 and it was a completely different experience. I’ve grown from being scared of losing my snow globes and American Girl dolls, to being scared of losing a roof over my head. So let’s go through my Irma timeline, as a way to cope for myself—selfishly, from start to finish. Through this storm I have experienced and witnessed the good, the bad, and the ugly.

 

Sunday, September 3, 2017:

I requested this day off work right before my restaurant closed so I could help my friend Kaitlyn move into the open unit in my crappy lil house. Her house mom (long story) said to her to watch Irma closely because she told her our house was frail and if it’s coming here then Kaitlyn needs to go to their house from the storm. I remember I said “its almost 100 years old, so think of all it has survived.” I then text my dad:

Me: do we have any idea where Irma is going?

Dad: -insert nondescript generic photo hurricane path too early to really know a thing- And it looks like after Friday it may take a turn North but its too early to tell for sure.

Me: Hopefully it doesn’t come this way. Bc idk if my house would sustain a storm to this level.

I’m fine on Monday, nothing phases me of this storm. I hang out with my friends and we have a traumatic Sonic adventure. I know I’m scheduled to begin house sitting and pet sitting for my bosses the next morning so I go to bed.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017:

I wake up seeing posts all over on Facebook about places that don’t have water and how this storm could take out Florida. I still am remaining calm. I go to my bosses’ apartment and get situated. We talk about the storm a bit and I mention I’m going to go on a hunt to find water later just to be safe. They tell me to contact them if the storm becomes bad and they leave for Ireland. I then proceed to enjoy some puppy cuddles and decide to change to Bay News 9 to watch the weather reports on Irma. I get nervous. Two hours later I’m trying to find water and go to multiple stores including peculiar stores like Staples that people sometimes don’t realize sell water. Nothing. In Kmart, customers have bought every storage bin, every cooler, and every kind of water they sell. I’ve already been informed Publix, Walmart, and Winn Dixie are out. I start to panic. I have an anxiety attack in the parking lot and then go see my friend Sarah to make a hurricane prep list.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017:

This was the last night I slept. I found water this day, I felt secure, and the weatherman was saying it shouldn’t be bad for where I live. I was worried about my friends who were in a more direct line of the storms projected path, but it was also too soon to really tell. I calmed some of my out of state friends explaining to them that nothing bad will happen, and I hung out with some doggos. I had an excellent Benadryl nap, and life was fine.

Thursday, September 7, 2017:

My family decided that maybe staying home wasn’t the best idea, but we weren’t entirely sure yet. We spent the day hurricane proofing my parents neighbors yard since she lives part time in Illinois and did a little bit of work here and there on their house. At this point in time, I started watching the news around the clock and I stopped sleeping. I wanted to see every path update when it happened, and for anyone who follows storms, you know that the different paths are released at a staggered time that doesn’t really allow you to sleep. My squashed anxiety over hurricanes was back. I let my boss know we might be evacuating to Tampa but weren’t sure yet, but the animals would be fine to come with me because it was just a precautionary measure.

Friday, September 8, 2017:

I’m growing more nervous over the storm, but life will be okay. We are going to go to Tampa. My mom helps me pack my records up and some of the more important things I wouldn’t want to be destroyed at my apartment. We moved my TV and my piano away from windows just in case. I moved my plants away from windows just in case. I want us to get on the road that night, I had my car packed up with my hurricane food, my bottled fluids, and I had my backup batteries for my phone charged. I had clothes to last me a week. I had Orange Baby and my baby blanket packed up. I go to my parents’ house and my dad is saying he isn’t sure if he will go with because he still has too much to do. I push through the pain and finish their yard. Mind you, I still have a slight break remaining in my almost healed broken foot. I’m in excruciating pain but I don’t care. I want my family to stick together. I want us to get out of there. I don’t trust my house, I don’t trust the island, and I don’t want to deal with a storm alone.

Saturday, September 9, 2017:

The track that is released this morning terrifies me. My calm and collected weatherman, Denis Phillips is now worried for the area that is my home. When he’s worried, I’m worried. I wait until 7:20 in the morning before I finally decide it was late enough to call my mom. It’s coming right for us and it’s going to be intense. I’m in tears. The news is saying how it’s too late to leave. The whole state is virtually dry of gas. My dad calls me back a few minutes later and tells me I have to call my boss’s dad and have him take the animals because we needed to go far away and we didn’t know how long we would be gone. I’m no longer calling the shots in this scenario. He tells me I need to meet him at my apartment and that he’s on his way and has two suitcases for me. I can’t get ahold of my boss’s dad. So I call my boss. I’m trying to stay calm but calm was gone. I was scared. My dad didn’t think either of us would have a home after this storm passed. He told me we were going to try and make it to our house in Jersey. I can barely breathe; I’m overcome by fear and crippling anxiety. I get to the apartment and he tells me I need to pack as much of my apartment as possible. I had to pack smart. What can’t be replaced and what will I need to start my life over. Clothes are the most important he told me. Because I might need to interview for jobs, have clothes for jobs, and have clothes for an indefinite amount of time to wear. Then he tells me he’ll see me later. I whimper. In this moment of panic, I didn’t understand and comprehend that he also needed to go do the same thing I was doing in this moment. I realize this now, but in that moment I wanted my dad to hold my hand through the scariest time of my life. I’m almost done packing and my best friend since middle school and downstairs neighbor texted me to tell me that she’s evac packing as well and whoever finishes first to go to the others place. When I finished and we hugged in her living room, it felt like there was a possibility we could be hugging for the last time. I hadn’t told anyone yet, but if I lost everything, and I mean everything, I wasn’t coming home. I went and situated the animals I was pet sitting with there new temporary furry caregivers, and I went to my parents home to get the ball rolling in motion. We were already evacuating after the point where the news said it was too late. The house still had so much left to be done and my dad said that my mom and I should just go—he won’t be far behind. Panic. No. Don’t panic. Mom can’t see after dark so I agree. My mom and I go. We hit the traffic we have been seeing about on the news all week. My dad leaves over an hour after we did, it might have been close to two hours. Somehow he makes it beyond us in Ocala. We had difficulty finding gas, as did everyone, but we manage to all meet up at the same gas station. It’s sunset. We still have over six hours to go to get to our destination in South Carolina. Because of my mom’s night blindness, we ended up needing to find a place to stay after a bit more on the road. Thank God, and I mean really, the big guy upstairs is working for us here, we were right by the summer camp I used to work with. One phone call to my beloved camp mom, Miss. Sarah, and we had a place to safely stay for the night. True Christianity, a phone call late after dark, and I have a place to stay. I don’t sleep still, my third night of not sleeping, but I pray hard.

Sunday, September 10, 2017:

We wake up before dawn, we clean our room we stayed in at camp, and we leave a donation out of gratitude. As soon as the sun is up, we continue our journey to South Carolina. We have to drive through some of the worst weather I have ever driven through on our way out of the state in Jacksonville. They were being hit hard with a nor’easter that morning and a mix of the outer bits of this ginormous storm was already hitting the northern part of Florida. We are literally being chased out of Florida. The second we cross over the Florida/Georgia line, my heart nearly stops. I can breathe. We make it out of Georgia and into South Carolina. I finally have my appetite back… well somewhat, but enough that I finally can eat something. We make it to the cattle farm we are staying at until further notice and I feel relieved but I’m still obsessively checking all social media. I have so many loved ones who are waiting out the storm in boarded up homes or in shelters. I’m still so worried. We see new tracks. It’s looking like it might not be as bad as we thought, but anyone who knows storms, knows that these storms can change whenever and you should never feel false safety until it has fully passed. I’m safely out of the state, I know I will get some tropical storm level weather the following day in the area of South Carolina I am staying in, but I can live with that. I continue to pray that everyone is okay. I end up needing medicinal assistance to sleep that night, but before bed I text one of my oldest friends who’s family stayed on the island for the storm, it hasn’t been that bad. I fall asleep feeling hope.

Monday, September 11, 2017:

It’s my dad’s birthday; we wake up with word from most of our friends and family telling us how the storm wasn’t as bad as it could have been. How there still isn’t power but it should be fine all around. We wont know about my parents’ house for a little bit longer because the island is still closed. I’ve been awake for a couple hours now, I’m checking Snapchat to see the videos and the photos of the storm, and I see one from one of my downstairs neighbor. There is a tree collapsed on our home. I run and show my mom and then I cry. My home. My first house. Has a tree in it. I don’t know the severity of damage. I just know a tree fell. My dad says he’s going to drive home right then and there to try and get however much of my stuff as he can out of my home. I talk him out of this. The storm is still active and it’s his birthday. I want us to stay together as a family. I had to hold myself together to make sure he didn’t feel compelled to leave. Sarah calls me to tell me there’s a tree in our house but it looks like my unit could be fine to get my stuff out. I call Kaitlyn to let her know we have a tree in our house but that we can’t get upstairs until further notice. I break my six-week sobriety over lunch because: tree in my house. I consider not going home. We finally get word that my parents’ house is fine. My coworker who lies behind them had her son go and walk our property as well and send us photos and videos of how it looks. Before I fall asleep, I finally get word that my basically sister and her family down in Naples are okay. The worry I had all day for them is relieved. I sleep without medications.

Tuesday-Friday, September 12-15, 2017:

There isn’t a lot I can do at this point. My family every day monitors gas levels on our drive home and traffic. We need to make sure we can make it home in one go of things without getting stranded anywhere from running out of gas. So we decide to make the best of this. Our host family is by far the most amazing host family we could ever have. I get to go out on a 4wheeler and meet over forty cows. We bond. We enjoy country living. Nothing more we can do than make lemonade from lemons. Newberry, South Carolina stole a piece of all of our hearts.

Saturday, September 16, 2017 – Present:

I have to get a storage unit; I have to move all of my stuff out of my second story apartment that hasn’t been inspected for safety; I have to start over. Since doing all of this, I have gotten barely any to basically none shifts at my job. Literally starting over. I have no money. I have no home. I feel humbled and I feel broken. But I’m trying to remind myself every day that something good will come eventually. I have my family. I have my life. And I was able to get my belongings out of my apartment. I had amazing friends help me all throughout the week even though there are definitely better more exciting things they would have rather had done. I have cried, a lot. So many tears have shed. I have had countless mental breakdowns. I overcame losing my job that was my primary income and having to make the best of my secondary income and managed to stay up on of all of my bills without losing my house. Despite overcoming this major set back, a storm takes out my home. I have to fight with my landlord to get us our security deposits back. I have to face reality that I won’t be able to live alone anymore and that I don’t have anyone set in stone that can be my roommate. To say I feel like I hit rock bottom is an understatement. I have to believe everything is going to end up better than it was before even. I know this could have all been way worse. My heart breaks for all of the islands in the Caribbean. My heart breaks for the Collier and Lee county areas where I spent my college years because they took more damage than we did. But I can’t help but selfishly still ask why me. Why did I have to lose my home? Why do I have to find a new job so I can maybe have a shred of hope in finding a new home? Why do natural disasters have to happen in general?

I’m not writing this in hopes of gaining sympathy or anything like that. I’m writing this because I firmly believe that putting your feelings out there will help relieve your worries. I don’t have a therapist to talk to anymore, so that leaves my blog I share with my best friend. Everyone experienced this traumatic super storm differently. Everyone handles the storm aftermath of exhaustion differently. I think this storm broke everyone a little bit, and I think it’s healthy for us to talk about how it broke us. It’s important to be able to say, “hey, I’m going to be okay, but right now I don’t feel so okay.”

To anyone who extended your graciousness to me and my family before, during, and after this storm. From the bottom of my heart: thank you. Your goodness will forever hold a special place in my heart.
For my Caribbean neighbors and my fellow hurricane season effected states, I hope and pray that from here on out we get cut a break from these storms. I know it might not happen, but I still hope and pray.

Stay safe and stay dry my friends.

alex

 

Advertisements

DAY 88/365

tumblr_inline_nb3h740cQe1snulowHi, Hello, Sorry. It’s been a minute. Whitney and I are crazy complicatedly busy. I’ve been moving, she has clinicals and a job and a puppy. Bear with us! (Rarrrr -that’s a bear growl thing…old camp jokes-). We love you, we miss you, we love our blog, we really do try! Moving on! We are just about one quarter (a little over 24%) of the way through the year 2017, and I decided I wanted to revisit my goals for the year. Not to change them or anything, just to have  a little status update on any progress I’m making. So, to refresh everyone’s memory, this is from my New Years Post:

Here we go… Like Whitney said. I may or may not achieve these.
(I’m okay with that.)

  1. Continue to learn as much as possible at my job to strengthen my resume.

  2. Continue to work towards (and maybe even obtain??) moving out on my own.

  3. Ride my new bicycle as regularly as possible.

  4. Clean out those clothes I hold on to hoping I’ll one day wear again when they aren’t even age appropriate anymore.

  5. Stop worrying so much what other people think about me.

  6. (I’m stealing one of Whitney’s and putting it in quotes because plagiarism scares me. Sorry!) “more self love, less self hate”

  7. Cut back to only 2 alarms instead of 3 in the morning.

So lets take a look at this.

  1. I got moved from one department to another department at my job, and I have definitely been learning something new all the time. I’ve began working on skills that make my resume look better. So I’d say I’m on the right track for this one.
  2. I moved out of my parents house!!!!! Check!
  3. Well… oh my gosh, I am so sorry Max and Sarah… I have only ridden my bike twice.
  4. I’ve cleaned out HUGE bags full of clothes, but still have more I need to purge. Especially with moving. So we will consider this on the right track.
  5. Lol. I’m cute for thinking I will fully obtain this goal. Don’t get me wrong, I have no shame in my game. I proudly fly my crazy train flag. But I still will always worry that someone isn’t really my friend, hates me on the DL, or will be secretly talking about me behind my back. I’m going to keep trying on this one though.
  6. This is a huge work in progress. I’m my own worst nightmare when it comes to criticism of myself.
  7. Welllll, as of this morning, I just had to add a 4th emergency in case I fall back to sleep alarm. So… baby steps.

Where are you at 88 days into the year? Have you been making progress? Or are you falling under the theory of January… February… oh and March, too… are simply trial months of the year? Let me know! I’d love to hear in the comments below. No shame in our game, right?

 

Peace&Blessings

alex

I Have High Functioning Anxiety/Panic Disorder

tumblr_inline_namymk27nv1snulowI’ve probably started typing and then deleted this post more times than I can even keep track of. It’s easy for me to click “share” on Facebook when someone posts a link to someone else’s post about their mental illness, but it’s a completely different story when I share my experience. I’m not trying to get a lot of shares, I’m not trying to gain support (I have a wonderful support system as is), and I’m not trying to make a point. I’m writing this more so for myself. It’s a lifestyle blog, this is part of my lifestyle. This will definitely be my most vulnerable post I have ever written.

It’s something I deal with every single moment of every single day of my life. You wouldn’t necessarily be able to tell by looking at me, hence the high functioning. But it’s there, constantly. While I face feeling anxious about pretty much everything, social situations are my biggest challenge I face. I over analyze, I blame myself for everything, and I assume people don’t want to be around me. If anyone, even my best friend, takes more than two minutes to respond to a text message, my throats begins to feel tight. I know, this doesn’t sound high functioning. It is. While I am feeling this way at all times, through behavioral therapy and determination I have reached a point where I am relatively successful of having my logical part of my brain silence the anxiety. Except, having the volume turned down doesn’t mean it goes away. Telling me to “stop overthinking” or “stop stressing” or “who cares let it go” is fine and dandy. Believe me, I appreciate your efforts in saying what you think will help. However, I need you to understand that what you’re saying means nothing. Anxiety and stress are two totally different concepts. I can be having a high anxiety day without any added stress just like I can have high stress days while having a relatively low anxiety day. Stress is something brought on by an outside source. Anxiety is never ending.

I remember my first panic attack like it happened yesterday. I was a senior in high school and we had a math test. My schedule had become much busier my senior year between IB, the drama program, and my part time job. I suffered a gnarly burn at work which complicated life, I was sick for almost a full semester, and I was going through major social circle changes. Despite all of this, I felt like I was still doing okay in school, nothing amazing, but okay. We were sitting down for the test, I don’t remember what the concepts were but I remember feeling like I had a good grasp on it, and then when the test actually began my mind went blank, I could no longer breathe, and then my vision blacked out. I never wrote down a single answer. It felt beyond trivial and teen angst filled to talk to my teacher after class and try and explain what happened, how I didn’t even know what happened. She responded instantly “You had a panic attack. Has this happened before?” While hearing her then explain to me what she believed I was going to was terrifying, because she said it would probably happen again, it was comforting to hear an explanation for the terrifying event I just experienced.

They would continue to happen periodically, some were worse and some weren’t as bad, throughout the rest of the year and my first two years of college. My parents began noticing areas I didn’t function as well with. I had crippling anxiety when it came time for me to get rid of anything I ever owned. ANYTHING. I couldn’t get rid of my 6th grade math assignment because what if one day I needed that again? You never know! (You do know. You won’t need it. But I couldn’t process that at the time.) My mom and dad finally decided that I should see somebody about all of this. Beginning in my junior year of college, I began seeing a therapist about once a week. It was weird at first. I didn’t feel like there was any huge trauma (I mean, there was, but I had the anxiety before that) I should be discussing that could be causing people to be concerned about my anxieties. I knew I didn’t want to be medicated, so eventually I figured out how to make this work. I learned a lot about myself. I learned that while the list of mental illnesses she began listing off over time seemed ridiculous, they were actually common and very intertwined with each other. Everything related back to how my brain responded to having Anxiety/Panic Disorder. We began working on ways to cope and self soothe. That term always sounds funny to me when used for reasons other than babies, but it’s what I had to learn how to do. Counting helps. You count to ten while inhaling slowly. You count down from ten while exhaling slowly. You repeat as many times as you need to before you’re calm. It’s easy to type out what to do. It’s harder to do it when you actively cannot breathe. Therapy helped. I was embarrassed for the longest time about going to therapy. I felt like it was something I should be ashamed of. I outgrew that. I think everyone should go to therapy at some point in their life because you learn a lot about yourself.

I don’t go to therapy anymore. I haven’t been to therapy since 2013. I still have some really bad days. Some of those really bad days actually last for a couple weeks where anything and everything makes me anxious. “Why didn’t my parents add an emoji? Are they mad at me? Quick think through everything you have said and done in the last 48 hours. Where did you mess up.” That’s what anxiety is like. I’m constantly replaying the last 48 hours, sometimes even the last week, of interactions I had with people to make sure I didn’t do something wrong. You wouldn’t think that by looking at me. I’m usually just sitting there, often times with the subtle curve of the corner of my mouth. I’m usually fidgeting, it keeps my mind from spinning into hyperspeed. The constant tucking of my hair behind my ears, the flicking of my fingers, the repeated opening and closing of the same three apps on my phone.

It’s hard for me to make friends sometimes, because I’m afraid of the no texting back. But I have the logic part of my brain. That gets louder all the time. Telling my anxiety to hush. Reminding me that it’s not always about me or something I did. Maybe mom or dad are busy and didn’t think to add a smiley face or maybe it’s because every message doesn’t need an emoji (like, wow, I don’t use emojis all the time, why should everyone else have to?). Sometimes people get busy and don’t answer texts, or life gets stressful and they stop answering texts. Do you know who does both of those things all the time? Me. You know what helps my anxiety the most? Talking about it. I used to be ashamed to talk about it because that’s what you’re supposed to do with mental illness. Keep it quiet. Don’t let anyone know. Keep up the charade that you’re “normal”. The stigma surrounding mental illness is something that absolutely needs to be stopped. I’m taking my step in doing my part by stopping it. This is my journey through anxiety/panic disorder. It’s not over, it never will be over, but I get better at coping with it every single day and I’m willing to be there are a handful of you out there who had absolutely no idea that I deal with this nonstop.

I’ve shared my story, now share yours. Feel welcome to leave comments below linking me to a post you’ve written about your own mental illness. Feel welcome to leave comments below sharing with me your story. Speak freely about what you face daily and stop the stigma. I have a mental illness but I’m functioning completely fine and I’m happy.

 

Peace & Blessings,

alex

 

P.S. check out or blog shop linked over in the side bar/menu to get your own Peace & Blessings gear. (or any other gear!)

Becoming an Aunt Changed My Life

 

tumblr_inline_n9qe50rjfH1snulowThere isn’t anything that hurts me more than when someone tries to tell me Layla isn’t actually my niece, or now that Carter is born and thriving through his earlier months… that he isn’t really my nephew. I’m not blood related to them, this is true; and I have never tried to claim being blood related. I’m referred to as their aunt, and I see them both as my blood relative and I love them both more than I love myself. I would do absolutely anything and everything to protect these tiny tiny humans. Furthermore, I would do anything and everything to be there for their mother, who has been in my life since I was 8 years old.

I met Layla when she was three months old, and it killed me that I didn’t get to meet her sooner, but at the same time, I didn’t really know how much I loved her until I first laid eyes on her. Then the moment Sarah asked me if I wanted to hold her, and I had this little bundle of joy in my arms with her eyes staring up at me, I wanted to cry. I was in love instantly. I no longer just viewed her as another adorable baby like I had in the past with all the babies I babysat growing up. I knew I wanted to be as actively involved in this child’s life as her mom would let me. Thankfully, her mom is more than welcoming to having me around and I made it a goal to try and go see her at least once every other week if not more. Before I knew it, my phone was filling up with photos of her as she grew and I was organizing them in an album dedicated just to her. Before I knew it, I started having to budget out an allotted amount of money I was allowed to use towards buying her presents and clothing. I started planning out everything I wanted to get her for her first birthday because nothing was too much for this innocent little angel.

My love for this family grew even bigger when I found out Sarah was pregnant again, before Layla was even a year old. Then everything got even more exciting when Sarah found out she was having a boy. As soon as I knew it was a boy I started going out and buying baby boy clothing in all sizes to prepare for the baby shower. I, in all honesty, cried the day Sarah told me she wanted me to visit her in the hospital when Carter is born. For me it’s an incredibly honor to be welcomed into her kids lives so heavily because these are the most important part of her life, they are her whole life. The day Carter was born, the universe aligned perfectly, it was his actual due date which almost never happens, and it was on a day I always work the dinner shift… but this particular Monday, my restaurant had to close for maintenance. I couldn’t contain my excitement, I could barely sleep the night Sarah went into labor, and as soon as I got the go ahead to come to the hospital I was getting a food order from Sarah (let’s face it, no mommy who just gave birth should be required to eat hospital food… as if) and making my way to the hospital to do what I didn’t get to do with Layla. Meet Carter on his first day in this world out of his mommy’s belly.

Magical is an understatement, awesome in the truest sense of the word would describe it nicely, I was overjoyed when he was passed into my arms. This tiny, fragile, and perfect in every imaginable way, baby boy who I cannot wait to continue to get to know as his personality forma more and more each day… and to be a part of his life.

I look forward to the years to come in how I will get to spend more time with each of them. I want to make sure I stay a positive influence in their life. On days that I feel like nothing matters, thinking about Layla smiling or Carter’s toothless grin, makes everything in the world seem more bearable.

Sarah has been in my life for a long time, and even though she and I drifted apart from time to time due to us going to different High Schools and then me moving away fro college, I’m glad we’ve always stayed in touch. I’m even gladder I’m back in our hometown and I can see her all the time. You never realize how much you miss having someone in your life until they aren’t and then they come back into your life and you’re asking yourself how you have made it this long without them. Thank you for letting me be your beautiful children’s aunt, even if I’m not blood, even thought they have their blood related aunt and uncles who are perfect in every way, thank you for letting them have another as well. It has seriously changed my life for the better.

alex

2017 pt. II

Hi. Hello. Happy New Year as well!

tumblr_inline_nbahviK6Jl1snulowRegardless of having no actual obligations to post anything specific to this blog, because Whitney did a 2017 goals of sorts post, I feel ever so inclined to partake as well. Spoiler alert: I am terrible at sticking to any resolutions or goals (I typically do birthday resolutions) primarily because my priorities are constantly changing. I appreciate Whitney’s interpretation of me somehow keeping this blog “Active” even though I would hardly consider my postings active at all… more so few and far between. What can I say, life decided to life at me.

I spent the better part of 2016 going out, hanging out, staying out til the sun came up, and to put it quite frankly: getting drunk. I had never really partied much before and I finally decided to get that need to have fun out of my system and by September I decided I was ready to grow up and put my degree to use. I made applying for jobs in the legal field my priority. I was not going to get stuck in the serving cycle of not leaving because the money was too good to give up. God blessed me with two interviews for the three firms I submitted resumes to and I got the job at the second interview. This all took place over the course of a couple weeks and by October I was getting settled into an office. So now, with that taken care of, I feel as though setting some basic goals for this coming year is much more achievable.

Here we go… Like Whitney said. I may or may not achieve these.
(I’m okay with that.)

  1. Continue to learn as much as possible at my job to strengthen my resume.
  2. Continue to work towards (and maybe even obtain??) moving out on my own.
  3. Ride my new bicycle as regularly as possible.
  4. Clean out those clothes I hold on to hoping I’ll one day wear again when they aren’t even age appropriate anymore.
  5. Stop worrying so much what other people think about me.
  6. (I’m stealing one of Whitney’s and putting it in quotes because plagiarism scares me. Sorry!) “more self love, less self hate”
  7. Cut back to only 2 alarms instead of 3 in the morning.

Personally, I feel people tend to set unrealistic expectations with New Years Resolutions and then they beat themselves up for not obtaining them, or breaking them early on. I’m gonna work on this all year. Come December 31st I might realized I completely forgot about some of them, but hey, life isn’t over. I’m gonna keep focusing on my priorities as they adapt to where I’m at in life. The important part is to be happy with where you are, not with where you’ve been.

 

Peace and blessings.

alex

Wait It’s Christmas Already?!

tumblr_inline_nyihtj1jWr1t78dpp_500On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me… nothing… because I’m single and don’t have a true love and if I weren’t I probably gave them no indication of what I want for Christmas. Bet I’m not alone here, either. It’s tricky being in your mid twenties with friends constantly texting you asking what you want for Christmas this year. You tell them you’ll give it some thought. Before you know it, a couple months have passed, you haven’t gotten back to them, and you realize wow when life is in limbo you don’t give much thought to what you want other people to buy you. If you are anything like me, which I know a lot of you will fall under this category. Asking people for gifts is incredibly awkward. I am always eternally thankful and full of blessed feelings whenever anyone buys or makes me a present, small or large, but there will always be a part of me that has a twinge of guilt because maybe I didn’t get them something or maybe I feel their gift is more extravagant even if it isn’t really. Or sometimes I’m just aware of their financial status at the moment and feel bad that they spent money on me even though they wanted to and I do the same as well. I love giving gifts, and I do love receiving them, I’m just incredibly awkward at the latter task. So here we go. A simple guide to buying gifts for someone in their mid-twenties–more specifically someone with similar interests and likes to me.

  1. Art – I love art, even though being in limbo means most of it goes undisplayed in a closet downstairs or leaned up against my walls around my room until I’m allowed to hang things up again. The cool part about buying or making art for someone like me, it doesn’t have to be expensive. There are artists I will pretty much love anything by (See: mabgraves or any print you can find by Dali) but I also like being exposed to anything aesthetically intriguing or pleasing. One of the coolest ways to buy art for an art lover while on a budget is going to thrift stores. You can find killer deals on beautiful pieces that are already framed!

  2. Cactus Anything – Okay this is totally me specific, so replace this title to make it applicable to others with “niche interest”. If you’ve met me, you know I love cactus ANYTHING. My room is full of clothing, plushes, figurines, art, and even salt and pepper shakers that are cactuses. Find your friends version of cactus in their life and you run with that.

  3. Music – Similarly to the art section up there (wow, because you know, music is art too so that makes sense… anyways) I love when people buy me music. I have a baby vinyl collection I started two years ago and love to see it flourish and grow. Best part about buying music for someone, most people are rather open to being exposed to something new. Even better part? Old used vinyl is far better quality than new presses (okay this is depending really on specifically when the pressing took place) and you can typically get used vinyl and thrift shops or record shops for quite the steal! If you are looking to spend good money on a significant other potentially, vnyl is a great monthly subscription box for someone looking to kickstart a vinyl collection. I sadly had to “pause” mine for a multitude of reasons.

  4. Clothes – Alright, remember when we were little and clothes were the drag gift that came with all the siq kewl toyz Santa brought you? Not so much anymore. It is the most practical gift and the struggle is real so none of us like spending money on clothes despite needing or wanting new clothes. Just make sure you either know the person’s sizes or keep that receipt since no store seems to be universal with the fit.

  5. Beauty/Spa Products – Lush literally ANYTHING will make pretty much any girl happy and even a large amount of guys happy because boy do you feel pampered whenever you use any of their products. However, another great gift is always buying some form of face masks or scrubs. Similarly to the music section, buying a significant other a subscription for a certain amount of time for the multitude of beauty boxes/skin care boxes is always a great way to express serious gratitude for their existence.

  6. DIY – I somehow missed the memo in regards to me vs pretty much all of my friends where I have little to none crafting skills of any sorts, but all of my friends are so talented whether it be knitting/crocheting (*cough* my co-owner and best friend), painting, baking, etc. So, personally, I LOVE when any of my friends gifts me something that is handmade.

  7. Books – I usually suggest people check with me before buying a book, just because I do own a lot of books and would hate for you to spend money on something I already own, however when it comes to reading, it is kind of like music and art–I’m always excited for new options!

Maybe this helps, maybe it doesn’t. What is important to remember with this upcoming gift giving holiday season (Christmas for me in this case) is that the actual present really isn’t what matters. Not at all. There doesn’t even need to be a present. It’s about spending time with loved ones (family and/or friends who are like family) and being joyous. If a gift is involved and it isn’t something you necessarily wanted or even like, who cares? Someone thought about you and loved you enough to get you something. Be gracious this season. Remember you are blessed. And always say thank you. Have a cozy holiday season for those who have a real winter, and for those Floridians out there, wow let’s hope we get some more cold fronts amiright?

Peace and blessings.

alex

Gotta Catch ‘Em All… Seriously.

oddishEarlier this month, Niantic released an augmented reality (or simply put, AR) game for iPhones and Androids called Pokémon GO and it has basically taken over everyone’s lives. During the first few days of its release, the news was going on and on about how it was currently the most used app (even beating out tinder… Catching ‘Em all is more important than getting dat bootay). I was hesitant at first. I never played any of the previous Pokémon video games (ask my sister, my video game skills are pitiful). I watched the show and movies and collected the cards (though I never learned how to play the card game) and would watch over the shoulders of my sister and friends as the played the video games rather than embarrassing myself. After working a Sunday dinner shift and watching children play all through dinner, I was intrigued. The next morning, (July 11th) I decided to download it before work and see what he fuss was about. Between the two hours of playing before work around my island and then the one hour after work before getting to the bar for Monday Babe Date, I had already reached level 5 and I didn’t even pick my team immediately because I was still pretty confused about what I was doing.

Thankfully while getting Sarah to download the app (surprisingly it is the only app her phone somewhat likes) a friend of ours from the bar showed up, he was much ahead of us, of course, because there wasn’t a delay in him downloading the app. We began our drunken crash course in the app including helping me pick a team. I saw the utter disappointment in his Valor eyes as I picked Mystic because one thing I gathered from Facebook was that most of my tight knit friends were Mystic (Whitney, however, is Instinct). This is when my Pokémon Trainer journey truly began. I was ready. What would follow is the next two weeks (and counting) of running all over downtown until the sun comes up setting out to catch ‘em all. So here I am, almost at level 20, with tips the most important necessity for those with goals of being a Pokémon Master. Your backpack. I’m not talking about the backpack in the game that I THANKFULLY upgraded space wise finally. I’m talking about a real life backpack. I went through a few phases of Pokémon hunting. Using my purse to hold my stuff like I always do and getting annoyed by it flopping all over as I ran, overalls which worked great because of endless pockets but I only own one pair, and then finally I landed on carrying a backpack (I prefer one with side pockets). So here we go…

What Every Pokémon Trainer Needs In Their Backpack:
1.      Phone charging battery (this is why I like side pockets because I can have my batter there with my phone plugged in if I don’t have pockets in my clothes)
2.      Backup phone charging battery
3.      Phone cord
4.      Backup phone cord
5.      Snacks of your choice
6.      Insect repellent… It a buggy time of year here in Florida
7.      Sunscreen if you are going out during the day time
8.      Always have your wallet including your photo ID with you in case of emergencies
9.      Aleve (or whatever headache medicine you prefer)
10.     Beverages! I typically like water and having one Capri-Sun as well

Happy trails in your Pokémon GO adventures. If you are one of those judging all your friends for playing, get a life and let people have fun. Regardless of if it is sad that it has taken an AR app for me to do it, I’ve walked more (outside of working since I’m a server) in the past two weeks than I have since I stopped working at camp. Regardless of the reason, it’s important to get out and move. If you are someone hesitant and unsure if you’d enjoy the app, download it, I’m willing to bet you’ll have fun.

P.S. My favorite Pokémon is Oddish but I mainly enjoy catching water Pokémon!

alex

My Honest Opinion- Liquid Lipstick

 Are My Lips Ultra Kissable or What?tumblr_inline_muenoomNw41qdlkyg

Alright… let’s start off with a DISCLAIMER: I am not good at make up. I know next to nothing about make up. I don’t maintain my eyebrows. I don’t really wear anything except for lipstick. If I’m feeling fancy I wear BB cream (truth I’d wear it every day if I bought wipes to remove my make up but I keep forgetting). This will be reviewing lipstick only including pictures so do not judge the lack of full face.

If anyone knows me, they know that in this calendar year, I have taken to wearing lipstick essentially every day and you’ll rarely catch me without lipstick on. My collection has gone from 6 that all pretty much looked the same, to 51. See below (not pictured is Unicorn Tears by Too Faced because when I took my collection photo it was the day before Unicorn Tears came in the mail). I personally prefer liquid lippies over bullets or sticks simply because I manage to control liquid better, you can manipulate how it goes on, and blend it with other colors easier.

IMG_6347
Ever growing collection

By popular request from a few individuals, and in honor of National Kissing Day being this week I decided to review the liquid lippie brands I like to use, even if I have only tested the kiss proof level of one formula. (Disclaimer: leaving out one brand that I own because I don’t use it ever so why would I review it?). Feel free to just scroll to the specific lippies you are curious about. I’m looking at Wet n’ Wild Color Icon Metallic, NYX Liquid Suede, NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream, Colourpop: Ultra Satin, Ultra Matte, Ultra Metallic, & Jeffree Star Velour lip.

I will be rating using a 1-5 kisses scale, 1 being the lowest 5 being the highest. I will be looking at the following categories: Applicator, transfer, feel, lasting ability, and cost.

Wet n’ Wild Color Icon Metallic
First we will be looking at an impulsive purchase for the summer line by Wet n’ Wild, metallics! I own all 6 of them. Metallics are super in right now and they are the best way to make your face POP. One thing I love about these is that it has a curved slant at the end of the wand allowing it to form to you lip with ease, however the actual handle is a little bit on the short side. I don’t have problems with it because I have baby hands but if I had a normal proportionate hand for being 5’9” it might suck some. Unfortunately, it is not the best when it comes to transferring. It typically will come off on your cup or straw, rather intensely. One of the downsides with metallic lippies is that you cant put a setting powder over them because it would take from the shine. I do find with these, if you have the time and patience, I like to use four coats, blotting in between, and then I have the best results. It is a stickier feel, similar to MAC Plushglass, which I don’t like. It definitely doesn’t last long at all however, it’s not one I can comfortable wear to my five hour shift without having a good lippie underneath it to make up for the fade. Cost is $2.99 and I purchased them between Kmart and Walgreens.

IMG_6384
Indigo Your Own Way

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 4.16.12 PM

The next two focal points are by the brand NYX. NYX has many liquid lippies and so far I have only used two of them, besides swatching Lip Lingerie on my hand at Ulta.

NYX Liquid Suede
NYX Liquid Suede is one of the newer launches by NYX and I personally love it. I own 4 of this formula. I have two photos representing this one because I like to wear it two different ways. The first being applied very very thin where I just dot a few spots on my lips and then I spread it out smoothly with my finger. Then there is the normal way of applying it fully; I typically will just do one layer because the pigment is strong enough. The wand is long given the larger tube, even though I love that Wet n’ Wild had a slanted end, I equally love that the liquid suede wand has a long and flat sponge compared to the standard wand sponge. When I apply this lipstick thin, I find it doesn’t transfer very much, however if I apply it fully I am that girl that pisses off the bar back by adding lip prints very pigmented all over the glasses. The feel is smooth and barely noticeable when I apply it in a think layer, but somewhat stick and heavy if I apply it fully. Despite the fact that the color transfers over in masses, when applied fully, the lip color lasts for just about my entire five-hour work shift. Unfortunately, applying it thin with my finger takes a toll on how long it lasts for. Cost for this one is $6.99 and I have purchased the four I have between Super Target and Ulta.

IMG_6385
thin: Foiled Again
IMG_6386
fully: Foiled Again

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 4.17.03 PM

NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream
Another winner, in my opinion, by NYX is the Soft Matte Lip Cream. This was my first introduction to NYX and it was love at first application. I currently own 6. I do usually two coats but in the photo below it is only one coat. When I apply it for best effect, I let the first coat fully dry. It doesn’t go on instantly matte and takes about a minute to dry to a matte finish. Then I blot and add the second coat. If you blot before it dries, it messes the pigment up. The applicator is a standard wand applicator like you would get with almost any lip gloss in the land. The length is mid to short however the actual handle is about an inch and a half long? I’m bad at eyeballing measurements to be honest. But it fits comfortable in my baby hands. I have gone out drinking all night long with this lippie on with no angry glares from the bar back, so it’s safe to say, the transfer isn’t real! When you apply it the texture is almost mousey which feels like pillows on your lips and then it dries to be soft, light, and smooth. I find it to last better than most, its one I’m rather comfortable wearing to work. However it does fade in the center sometimes so I usually carry a lightly tinted balm in my apron at work to touch up around the final hour of my shift that I’ll actually have customers. Cost is $5.99 and I have purchased it at Ulta, Super Target, and CVS.

IMG_6387
Cannes

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 4.17.35 PM

I’m going to be focusing on the brand Colourpop for the next three lippies, because they have three very different formulas for liquid lips. All I love. Thanks Chloe for introducing me (will post her insta/twitter/snap handle at the bottom) to this brand and telling me repeatedly to buy it.

Ultra Satin Lip
Colourpop not that long ago in February launched their Ultra Satin Lip. I own 7 of them so far. It can be applied thinly or fully and both are magical. With the exception of going to work with their lavender grey, Marshmallow, I almost always wear it fully because the pigment is fierce and perfect. But grey lips don’t sell food as effectively so I tweak it for that. The applicator is a standard in my opinion, has a longer length, and a perfect size handle even for those with normal sized hands. There is some transfer if you don’t blot in my opinion, but its very minimal and mainly around the inner points of your lips because that area has the hardest time to dry especially with a formula like this, which doesn’t dry matte. I love the way the Ultra Satin feels on my lips because it isn’t a matte finish but primarily appears matte-like. It is the opposite of drying and it feels smooth. I find all of Coloupops products to be long lasting and they do very mildly stain your lips (but it comes off when I dab oil on it and then wipe it off) so even when it starts to fade a bit in the center you can’t tell as much. However it takes hours for it to reach this point. Cost is $6.00 and you can only buy Colourpop on their website, because of this, I find it better to wait until you have 5 lippies you want because when you spend $30.00 you get free shipping!

IMG_6388
The Rabbit

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 4.18.06 PM

Ultra Matte Lip
The largest collection of liquid lippies Colourpop offers and the most popular formula they have is their Ultra Matte Lip. I own 6 of this formula so far. The applicator is the same as the above so I’m not really going to discuss this again. Transfer does not exist with this formula and it is magical. The feel is what you would expect with a matte finish. There is some dryness that occurs but I have yet to experience any cracking as a result of the dryness and I have worn it for rather extended time periods, drinking alcohol, eating food, talking frequently, with no cracking occurring. It’s smooth and light. You wouldn’t want to put more than one coat on however because I do find that makes it sticky and no longer a good experience. This has lasted for at least 7 hours for me however I have never worn it for longer than that time before having to PRY it off with lots of oil and scrubbing. Others have told me that they have worn it for 9-hour shifts and had no issues. Costs is $6.00 and please see above for my tidbit about purchasing Colourpop lippies!

IMG_6395
Scrooge

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 4.19.29 PM.png

Ultra Metallic Lip
For summer this year, on June 23rd, Colourpop launched their limited quantity Ultra Metallic Lip that sold out the same day. They came out with 4 shades; I have purchased 1 and possibly will stick with just that one. They have restocked twice already and every time they seem to sell out rather quickly (currently there is only one color available from their restock that took place this week. Metallics are HOT right now I’m telling you!). Colourpop is universal with their applicator so I don’t feel the need to discuss this just like in the previous section, go see the first Colourpop review up there ^. The Metallic doesn’t transfer much in my opinion but it does transfer the most of the three formulas. It mainly leaves a colorless lip print that has glitter in it from my experience. The feel and texture once applied is a little bit stickier than I prefer but not as sticky as the Wet n’ Wild Metallic. A lot of people have posted complaining about how the tube is half empty, and I would like to address this. I got mine from the first restock as opposed to the initial launch and I have not experience this at all. The consistency is a thick mouse allowing you to not feel all the glitter bits that make it metallic. I think this is why some people think its half empty. Instead of shaking it like Colourpop recommends for their other lippies, I find swirling the wand in the tube works best. The lippie itself lasts on your lips forever. I eat, I drink, I lick my lips, and its still just chilling on my lips no big deal, shiny as ever. Costs is $6.00 and as previously mentioned, see first Colourpop review for information about purchasing.

IMG_6403
3-Way

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 4.20.00 PM

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick
What Myspace fanatic didn’t idolize Jeffree Star and his flawless make up capabilities? No one. He recently came out with his official line of liquid lips with a formula of his own. It sells out all the time and we are left waiting (im)patiently for a restock. I own 1. He has a great slant at the end of the doe foot applicator and it forms to your lip like a memory foam pillow. The actual handle is a little bit tiny making it a bit more awkward to hold if you don’t have much dexterity with your fingertips. I haven’t personally experience any transfer from this lippie but it hasn’t had the official test run of going on a Monday bar date after work. So I have no bar back responses yet. Just a lot of prancing around my house like a pretty bad ass princess because that’s what this color does. The feel is weightless and nondrying despite being matte in finish. It’s the most runny liquid lip I have ever used but it’s so pigmented it takes only one coat and then dries in just about 30 seconds. I usually prance in this around my house for about 6 hours and then eventually take it off because its time for bed or something but it does take some work to get it off given that its such a potent formula! I can only imagine how long it can last! Cost is $18.00 and you can only buy it at Jeffree Star’s website and shipping was $5.95 for standard shipping. You have to spend $100.00 to get free shipping

image1
Androgyny

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 4.20.34 PM

Instagrams: @wetnwildbeauty
@nyxcosmetics
@colourpopcosmetics
@jeffreestarcosmetics
oh and @GoForChlo (insta/snap/twitter)

I hope your lips stay as kissable as mine, even if, like me, you are not actually kissing anyone!

alex

Help! It’s been raining all day and I don’t know what to do!

rain totoro
It’s that time of year again for my fellow Floridians… Drum roll please…. HURRICANE SEASON! Yes indeed it is officially here as I sit in my room after work on a Monday instead of going to the bar I go to every Monday listening to the wind and the rain of Tropical Storm Colin, the remnants at least since the worst of it was earlier in the day. Tomorrow everything should be back to normal in the evening time. I’m still damp from getting wet while getting mop supplies ready and taking trash out at work. This has me wondering what to do with myself when my island is flooded, the winds are terrible, and I have to go over three bridges just to get to the bar I like to drink at. Obviously I stay home most nights so this isn’t something I’ve never done, but Monday’s are my babe date nights at the bar with one of my best girlfriends. With that I bring you the most important list Floridians will need this summer (okay maybe it isn’t THAT important but humor me).

What you need to have to survive a tropical storm/hurricane this season:

1. Wine/alcohol – I am feeling very unprepared right now with the lacking bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (send help!)

2. iPad/any tablet – it is important to have something portable that holds a charge well and can even be charged in a car if necessary because depending on the severity of the storm you could loose power. Now days you can even get a data only plan for tablets.

3. Flashlights – even if you don’t lose power, you don’t always want to turn on lights just to get a glass of water and it can be creepy to walk around in the dark when the wind is howling.

4. Netflix – currently binge watching a Grey’s Anatomy re-watch.

5. Books – if the power goes out then you can’t Netflix and that means you need entertainment. Hello books!

6. Bottled water – now is the time of year every home in Florida should keep a case of bottled water just in case.

7. SNAAAAACKS – I have no motivation to cook right now because storm sounds make me lazy and someone please send snacks (and the above lacking wine. Thank you,)

8. Adult coloring books and coloring utensils – something about coloring relaxes everyone and it also passes the time nicely.

9. Friends – if you’re going to be trapped inside, might as well do it with others as well. I’m super alone right now, parents don’t count.

10. Stuffed animal (or stuffed cactus in my case) – whatever, call me five, but storms freak me out sometimes.

Stay safe this summer and stay prepared. I’m going to go change out of my wet clothes now and take a warm shower.

alex

Why Deleting My Tinder App Was The Best… Like… Ever

image1First and foremost… holy cow I am so sorry for it being a light year (I’m being dramatic) since I last posted anything. I know Whitney somewhat touched on the inactivity in her last post (that was her breaking our lull) however I still wanted to personally apologize as well. Welcome back our cozy comrades. Life gets the best of you sometimes, whether it is nursing school and night shifts, or waitressing while trying to get your mortgage license. (Key word: trying.) On top of that, we have home lives, pets, friends, and cactuses to tend to. (So man cactuses, so little time.) To sum it up… oops, very sorry, on to the important topics… like, Tinder! (Or as I always liked calling it “Tindahh”)

We all know about it, but we don’t all use it. Tinder. I’ve had the app essentially since it gained popularity. This is supposedly a dating app, but we all know most people use it to try and hook up. I’ve even met some pretty decent people on the app. Unfortunately, it is barely a dating app. The way Tinder tends to go down, you see someone cute, you swipe right, you get a match notification (quite often… I’m pretty sure guys swipe right way more than girls? I could be wrong; this could just be the group of guys I know), you talk for a few, and then you either meet or you stop talking all together. My personal favorite, however, was when I would see people I knew in real life. I always swiped right because I thought it was funny. Then I realized, this is quote frankly the shallowest concept. I’m no longer even considering this app as a way to meet people, I was typically just drunk and wanting to see if I could find people I already knew. Then I started meeting people the old fashioned way. In person, randomly, out and about… you know, organically.

Naturally being a girl in her early twenties, most of my fabulous ideas form over drinks with a friend. Let me relay this conversation for you. It’s short and sweet, I promise.

 

Sarah: “I think I should delete Tinder.”

Me: “meh if you want.”

Me: “I’ll do it.”

-I proceed to go to the page with said app and hold it down then click the little ‘x’-

Sarah: “Oh wow. You’re actually doing this right now.”

 

Thus ended my Tinder lifestyle. Granted, I did not actually delete my account, too time consuming for the in the moment situation I was in. Granted, Sarah backed out of deleting her Tinder and that it was mainly just an idea, but I finally did it. I had done it before, sure. Before it was always because I temporarily needed more space on my phone as opposed to doing it because I was done. About a week later I had a moment where we were talking about people from Tinder and I went to check my app to see how old they were and then I remembered. The app was gone. The best part is, I don’t care. I am so excited. I actually have a tiny belief that there could be hope for dating out there still. My confidence for talking to guys I never met or even ones I have met but only briefly is much higher. Not sure why, but it is. Plus, the added bonus to deleting tinder: you no longer get terrible conversation starters like the following (taken from the brilliant Instagram account @tindernightmares) “are you a sea lion because I can sea you lion in my bed later” “Happy Easter Jade. Would love to fertilise your eggs.” “You look like you could suck a good d!” and lastly “Wanna play Barbie? I’ll play Ken and you can be the box I come in”. Peace out Tinder. I’m no longer swiping right.

*above is a picture that accurately demonstrates how free I feel without this so called dating app*

I so solemnly swear that I’ll at least try and make an effort to post more often.

alex