The Power of Love


With all of the heated aftermath of the Valentines Day massacre still swirling around the atmosphere, I have been seeing multiple different perspectives come forth.  The ones that have stuck with me the most, however, are the ones that demonstrate the power of love, either by its presence or its absence.

One video in particular that stayed with me was of a man who was reading a pre-written speech, filming himself in a bathroom mirror.  He revealed that he, too, might have been a school shooter if he had access to guns, simply because he felt unloved and left out.  His life circumstances sucked, and his experience at school did nothing to build him up, but rather everything to tear down what little he had left.

As a teacher, I see several students like this on a daily basis.  Many of them may not be severe cases; friends that are outside of school, loving families, a super-resilient kid, all of which can be the deciding factor between going haywire and just feeling momentary, normal bouts of sadness.

But there are some kids who don’t have that.  Children with parents who outright ridicule and hate them.  Children with parents who are so wrapped up in their own lives they don’t notice when their children begin retreating inward.  Children who then come to school and, because we as a human race are sensitive to the energy other people put out, have problem after problem there as well.

Even I have found myself naturally avoiding certain students or people because the vibes they give off are so off-putting I feel the need to protect my personal state of being.  Yet it only takes a small bit of light to dispel darkness.  If we keep the need in our minds to SPREAD the positivity after it has been cultivated in our hearts, we can do a lot of good.

The power of positive love is demonstrated most harshly when we look on a life where it has been conspicuously absent.  Babies who do not get cuddled and held simply do not grow and/or are in actual danger of dying.  Senior citizens who don’t get visitors are noticeably more depressed than those who do.  Even a garden, when neglected, is overgrown with weeds.

Love is a powerful force, subtle when it is present, but alarmingly potent when it is absent.  We should make it our mission to make sure that everybody who shares a moment of our lives feels a least a small morsel of love from us.

Whew….just thinking of the amount of effort and presence that would take is exhausting!  But like anything, repetition lends itself to ease. Not to say that there won’t be days when you fail….but consciously thinking about it will dramatically improve the amount of positivity you are able to spread, not to mention the benefits you will feel personally.

And the effort is well worth it.  I am reminded of the power of love each time a student writes me a note, or tells me that I’m they’re favorite teacher, or comes up at the end of class for a hug.  I know that I am not the greatest teacher in the world; my lessons can be boring, my planning is sometimes rushed, and I don’t always give the feedback to my students’ writing like I should.

And yet, I will forever and always be proud of the types of relationships I can have with my students because, being energy-sensitive human beings, they can TELL that I love them.  As much as they drive me nuts, I love being able to spend time with them and make an imprint on their lives.  And they naturally are drawn to that no matter how  terribly long the minutes in my class may seem.

So I turn to you:  What can you do in your life to ensure that you are properly using the power of love?  What are the things that get your positive energy flowing?  How can you harness those awesome vibes and not only hang on to them for yourself but spread them around to the people that you come in contact with?

For me, it’s usually the simple things: smiling a people you pass by (you’d be surprised how often you DON’T do this), putting a bit of extra cheer in your “good morning!” greeting, carrying on a small conversation while walking rather than walking along in silence.  Once you start thinking about ways to spread the love, it’s actually quite easy to interject into your daily life.

In my experience, the more positive you are, the more initial push back you will get from the energy that either is negative or that is used to staying in a neutral state.  I have had many people dislike me or my actions because they didn’t understand where I was coming from (granted, I do have a pretty strong personality, and this may also cause some backlash).  However, once people get past the tsunami force of my presence, they usually appreciate what I can bring to the table.

So you may, in trying to spread positivity and love, may experience some resistance.  I would encourage you to keep loving anyway.  The power of love is a marvelous thing, and you will be surprised at who or what you might influence.

How have you experienced the power of love?  Talk to me in the comments!

Fear: The Coward’s Choice


For those of you who know me well, you know that my life is never boring.  Spending my days with pre-pubescent children and my nights flitting around to football, kickball, trivia, friends’ hangouts, beach walks, and pretty much anything but sitting on my ass watching TV makes for a full and active life.

Usually when I tell people what I’m involved in, they invariably respond with “oh my god, you’re SO busy” or “I could NOT do all of that.”  Which isn’t a lie-the first part, anyways-there is rarely a night where I can just sit and relax.  Yet I wouldn’t have it any other way.  When I observe people around me who aren’t involved in hardly any activities, their life seems so very boring and monotonous-come home, make dinner, watch TV, bed.  Every. Single. Night.

When I invite some people to participate in some of the stuff I’m involved in (mostly the sports), I’m usually hit with “ohhh, I’m not good at sports” or “I just don’t want to commit to an every week thing.”  Yet they keep their daily couch commitment with no hesitation.

If you really break it down, all of their responses are ruled by fear: fear of looking stupid, fear of being bad at something, fear of commitment.  Yet it has been proven time and time again that you have to actively choose against your fear in order to make any headway in this world.

I know I’ve written about it before but holding yourself back solely based on fear is not only stupid (unless it’s the fear of dying keeping you jumping off a building-maybe listen to that fear) but it is SO limiting.  The best decisions that I have made have been spur-of-the-moment, and I have rarely wasted time weighing the pros and cons-I just jumped.

(This, of course, does not apply to what to order for dinner–I WILL make a Venn Diagram if need be).

However, lately I have been realizing that I’ve been holding myself back subconsciously from a couple of different things based on fears that I wasn’t allowing myself to acknowledge.  One of them being taking my writing to the next level: I have several novel and screenplay ideas that I want to see come to fruition, but I have yet to take the first step in actually writing them.  Another area is dating; when I find someone I actually like/talk to for more than a week, I always hold back a part of myself juuuuust in case he doesn’t actually feel the same way.

Yet in both cases, there is no real scenario where I would lose by going balls out.  What happens if I write a book and it never sells?  Or everyone who reads it thinks it’s shitty?  Absolutely nothing.  In fact, it will if nothing else hone my skills AND I can say I’ve written a book–which is totally bad-ass.

As far as dating, what would happen if I completely allowed myself to fall for someone?  If they don’t feel the same way back, the worst that will happen is I feel crappy for a few days or maaaybe weeks and then *poof* I’ll be back to normal.

Those “reasons” are hardly enough to keep me from going for it.  And think of the payoff!  I could write the next national best seller, or have a hand in the next blockbuster movie.  I could find the love of my life and spend the rest of my days ecstatically happy.  Just going for it is the obvious choice.

So many of our fears are lions in our heads in and mice in reality.  Unless there is a real chance that someone will die or that you will lose your livelihood, you should never, ever make your decision based on fear.

Think about this: when you decide on a career, you *usually* decide based on what you enjoy doing.  If this is indeed the case, the probability of enjoying your job is quite high.  However, if you choose your career based on fear-fear of not having enough money, fear of having a ‘lower’ career, fear of going off the beaten family path-you will most likely end up hating your job and consequently most of the hours in your day.

Making a decision based on what negative things COULD happen should never enter into your reality.  Think about what you love.  Think about what makes you happy.  Think about the possibilities of POSITIVITY.

If you’re ever tempted to hold back or shy away from an opportunity or just stay in the status quo simply because of what you’re afraid might happen, take a moment to give yourself a pep talk.  We only live life once, and there may not be a second chance to face your fears.

Go forth with courage, and make it a habit to choose out of love.  Love for yourself, love for the people in your life, love for the joy of living!

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood…let’s live.

#Timesup: A Challenge

“I have to ask, is your ass real?”  “Send me a pic of the magical booty” “I just really want your body” “I just want to see it”.
The above quotes are actual text messages sent to me from men either right out of the gate or after one or two dates.  It’s so common that it didn’t even occur to me to get mad about it until I told one of my friends about the latest guy, and how he wanted to “enjoy each other once or twice and then go our separate ways” after I told him that I didn’t really want to continue seeing him.  I rolled my eyes at the message and shared it for a laugh, but she got pissed.
“What the fuck!  What is wrong with men these days?  Whatever happened to a gentleman??” she fumed.  And her anger slapped me into reality.  These men could care less about me, who I am, or what I’m about.  All they see is I have a pretty face and a Kim Kardashian ass which is all they need to know to kick-start their lust and their bold messages.
The amount of talk surrounding the #metoo movement and Oprah Winfrey’s speech is sorely needed and long overdue.  To be fair, I don’t know of a woman who doesn’t appreciate a good compliment, but the amount of focus on our physical looks is complete bullshit.
I looked up a relevant definition: ob·jec·ti·fi·ca·tionnoun; the action of degrading someone to the status of a mere object.
“A mere Object”.  An OBJECT.  Non-human.  Non-living.  Non-worthy.  Most of all, replaceable.

We women have talked about stuff like this in the comfort of our small, intimate circles for forever.  “Oh my god, I got whistled at again when I walked by the gas station.”  “He totally grabbed my ass when we hugged” “I don’t really feel comfortable, but it’s my job so I can’t really say anything.”   It’s become a rite of passage; when did you first feel like the subject of a man’s desire?

And as much as it pains me to admit it, woman exacerbate the problem.  I can’t even count the amount of times I scroll through Instagram and see booty pics, cleavage shots, and suggestive eye winks staring me in the face.  I myself been guilty of choosing pictures to post solely based on the fact that I know my body looks good.

I don’t think that woman should have to hide their bodies, not by a long shot.  But there is a difference between classily showcasing your hard work and raunchily baring juuuuust enough where men feel confident sliding into your DM’s, knowing that they won’t be rebuffed.

Where has respect for ourselves gone?  I know without a doubt that the reason that so many men take the objectification route is because a lot of the time, it works.  I used to be the girl that thought she had to comply with whatever a man said just so that they would like me.  I found out the hard way, though, that once you give in, they simply move on.

Girls who give in have, sadly, become a dime a dozen.  And it’s not just because the amount of ‘easy’ woman have risen; how can we expect a girl to grow up knowing her worth when the only examples of men she has around her are the root cause of the problem?  When her dad is physically or mentally absent?  When she has 5 other half-siblings from 3 different women? When every other woman around her sees the objectification as status quo or worse, as a badge of honor??

As a gender, we need to give each other the strength to take a stand and demand the respect that any human deserves.  We need to applaud woman who have the courage to post makeup free and truly candid shots where their thighs might be squished or their face might be on their ‘bad side’.  We need to focus our comments more on how amazing their personality is or how awesome it is that they are helping out at home while their mom is recovering or how cool it is that they choose not to drink because it’s healthy.

Even typing out the above paragraph felt cheesy.  “Hurdy hur, I’m telling people to focus on inner beauty, I’m a nerd”.  THAT is how much sexualization has penetrated our inner selves–I can’t even urge my readers to focus on better things without feeling weird about it.  And that is exactly why all of this bullshit HAS to change.

And so, I have a challenge for myself, and a challenge for you:

Stop focusing so much on your body.  I know that you do.  There has not been one day that has gone by in the last 15 years where I have not had a negative thought about my body as a whole or in part.  Not ONE.  Where on earth has this thought pattern gotten me?  A rollercoaster of weight loss and weight gain, and even at my skinniest I never once was satisfied.  Focusing on your health and wellness and FEELING AMAZING should be where your focus is laser-pointed; the physical part will simply naturally follow.

Stop complimenting only the physical.  It’s so easy to do: “Nice boots!” “Omg I LOVE your haircut!” “You look so cute today!”.  These comments never fail to give a little ego boost, to be sure.  Yet how awesome is it if you hear something like “Wow, you are a really awesome mother.” “I really appreciated your help today, you made my morning so much less stressful.”  “I love how patient you are-you inspire me!”.

Stop comparing your body with others’.  This has become widespread with the rise of social media.  This girl’s bum is wayyyy more toned.  This girl’s hair is SO BOUNCY.  This girl’s stomach is so freakin’ flat.  But fast forward 50 years, and we are all going to be in the same state: wrinkled, grey, and playing Parcheesi with our fellow retired neighbors in our Florida condo.  Let’s seriously…SERIOUSLY…stop this bullshit.  It serves zero purpose.

Our bodies and our minds should both be at their healthiest state the majority of the time.  And when our inner self is full of positivity, the negativity from the world seems to have less of a hold on us.  The final step is to share that positivity with others, regardless of what might be thrown our way.  If WE start spreading how awesome we are rather than how sexy we are, the world will take notice.

Be positive.  Be helpful.  Be healthy.  Be YOU.  Inspire others to be the same.  And most of all, know that #timesup will continue to manifest into reality only if we relentlessly show that it is a valid movement.

Let’s do this!


What is Love? (Baby, Don’t Hurt Me)


Currently, it is 10:30am on Christmas morning and I am sitting in my apartment, alone, preparing to write a blog post about love.  #situationalirony (yes, there are different types of irony–go look it up).

I thought that I wouldn’t mind being alone for Christmas–and technically, I’m not.  I just got back from breakfast with a former student and her mom, I’m have Christmas lunch with my friend and HER mom, and I’m eating dinner with on of the girls I met through football—so pretty much the opposite of alone.

But even with my full schedule, I still feel, well, ALONE.  I absolutely love all of my connections that I have made in California, but I nonetheless feel at times like I am sitting on the sidelines and watching people live rather than fully participating in the life that I have envisioned for myself.

Obviously, holidays can suck for single people such as myself simply because of that reason–seemingly every other person is posting adorable pictures with their significant other, or hilarious family moments, or innocent-yet-enviable posts of holiday cheer.  Even though I am very happy with nearly everything in my life just the way it is, I still have felt a twinge of “I want that” with nearly every scroll for the past couple of days.

Which, of course, leads me to contemplate WHY.  Why is this something that I envy?  Why do I feel that rush of impatience?

Especially since I could, with recent events, potentially have that.

This potential comes in the form of a former NFL player who I recently met on Bumble during one of my “lets reinstall this because I’m bored” forays at the car dealership.  I have seen him several times over the past couple of weeks, and on paper, he seems perfect: former glamorous career (Superbowl ring and all), great current job, tall, muscular, plays piano, gentleman, world traveler, loves adventures, and on and on.  The cherry on top?  He is head over heels for me and thinks that I am the hottest, most amazing girl he’s ever dated and can’t wait for any time we spend together.


Or so it SHOULD be.  For some reason unbeknownst to me, I am not quite following his headlong charge in Loveland.  My girlfriends think I’m crazy, and this whole internal waffling back and forth has caused me to do some serious soul-searching and head-scratching over the past couple of days.  Why on EARTH am I not allowing myself to get swept away?  What is wrong with me that I can’t be thanking the universe for sending me the man I’ve always wanted?

After a lot of thinking, I’ve realized that it’s “the spark”.  The magical, elusive, stereotypical flutters that appear in cartoons as floating hearts and romantic comedies as gigantic smiles and last minute airport chases.  In this man, I have everything I would ever want….except, so far, that spark.

I was talking to my friend briefly about it, and she pointed out that I could always grow to love this guy and that my relationship with him would be very safe-and that I want a man who chooses to pursue me.  All very well and good.

But there’s a part of me, deep down, that digs in my heels.  As much as I want to be pursued and adored, I want it to happen with a guy that I ALSO want to pursue and adore.

In my last relationship, I had a gigantic smile stretched across my face every. single. time I was driving down to see him.  The moment I knocked on the door, giant butterflies burst from my chest and flew wildly around from the anticipation of the lock click and hinge creak as the door opened to reveal my favorite person.

And the thing is, on paper, this person was completely wrong for me.  Always busy, focused on his own thing, hardly any time to spend with me, made me question his feelings for the first half of our relationship, never paid a dime over his half when we went on ‘dates’, and overall was kind of a douche in several different aspects of our relationship.

And yet….those damn butterflies.

And so, I find myself being pulled in two completely different directions.  One side of me is shaking its head that I would even CONSIDER leaving someone so seemingly perfect-because realistically, those butterflies still have time to manifest–the relationship is still quite new.  And the other side…the other side is digging in its heels and screaming bloody murder at the thought of settling for anything less than an explosion.

What sucks is, I know that there is no right answer for everyone…there is only the right answer for me.  There are several marriages that are built on solid ground where the only sparks that fly are on the Fourth of July.  And there are other relationships where you can hardly stand next to the couple because they give off so much heat.  Both types seem happy in their own way.

As I approach my 30’s at a seemingly breakneck speed, I feel more and more pressure to chose the path of least resistance.  Stay the course.  Choose safety.  Stay boring.

Yet I’ve always been a stubborn, headstrong, don’t-tell-me-what-the-fuck-to-do type of girl.  And I have an inner voice telling me that the path more trodden is just not my path.

Robert Frost tells us that the road less traveled makes all the difference.  So many people nod sagely at the Greats when they tell us to be daring, be bold, seize the day!  Yet when it comes to actually doing so, throats are cleared, feet shift uncomfortably, and no one actually makes a move.

I refuse to settle for less than the heart pounding, grinning, jump-into-his-arms-and-wrap-my-legs-around-his-waist love.  I have to believe I can find that with someone who also offers the other qualities as well.  Maybe the guy I’m seeing now will call up some butterflies if I give him a chance.  And if at the end of the day I don’t end up finding that?  I suppose I’ll have a lot of fun looking.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

The Infamous Flow


Lately I’ve been perusing the endless possibilities of Bumble.  I’ve been on several dates, none of which (obviously) have manifested into the love of my life, but they’ve mostly all been interesting albeit a let down when it doesn’t move forward, especially because I actually enjoy meeting random people and hearing their perspective on life.

One date in particular, recently, was a bit of a disappointment.  We met on Thursday, had sushi and some wine, talked for HOURS without pause, and in general had an awesome time.  I came home on a high, and excitedly told all my girlfriends what a great time we had had.

A couple of days go by, and no second date invitation seemed to be forthcoming.  Determined to not slip silently into Bumble oblivion, I threw out a message saying what a great time I had had, and if he was free Monday or Tuesday, I’d love to get together again.


Needless to say, I was pretty bummed.  And immediately fell to analyzing anything that could have gone wrong.  Was it because of the holiday weight? (Damn you Christmas Walk cookies!) The zit that had popped up on my face hours prior to the date?  The fact that I seemed TOO interested?  Not interesting enough?  Perhaps because my hair was day-old curls and not fresh ones?  I could go on.

Of course, all craziness aside, it just simply comes down to the fact that he, for whatever reason, was not into me. *womp womp*.  No matter how much I wish I could capture his affection, I can’t.  End of story.

People always tell me to just ‘go with the flow’ and ‘it’ll happen when it’s supposed to happen’.  If you know me at all, you know that this seriously goes against my usual M.O.  I am (most times) a take charge, get-this-shit-done-NOW, no excuses type of person.  Sitting back and allowing love to manifest seems appealing to me; actually waiting for it to happen does not.  When I get an idea in my head, I cannot put it off for later; it must be accomplish ASAP.

Yet, as with all great things, you cannot force amazing things to happen; all you can do is put in the ingredients for success, stir it up a bit, and hope that it works.

For example, in teaching, I cannot walk in to the classroom and expect my students to instantly respect and adore me (as much as they totally should *hair toss*).  I have to come in and show them that I care.  I have to plan lessons that don’t suck.  I have to make sure that I listen when they are struggling.  I have to make class fun yet productive.  All of the ingredients can be carefully portioned out and folded together with a gentle yet masterful hand, and there will still be those days where that one girl in the second row gives you so. much. attitude.  Yet despite those few anomalies, if the ingredients are quality, the product will be amazing 9 times out of 10 IF you don’t open the oven every two seconds to check how it’s doing.

Similarly, I also cannot force myself to have the perfect bikini body, as much as I wish I could snap my fingers and look like Kim Kardashian.  Instead, I need to stick to my diet, exercise, refrain from alcohol (sob), and trust in that process to slowly change my body, however long it takes.  I cannot starve myself for a week and expect miracles.

Likewise, I am now acknowledging (slowly but surely) that I cannot will my perfect person into my life.  I simply have to create a more perfect version of myself, solidify what I want, and allow my vibes to permeate the universe and attract someone when they’re meant to come in to my life.

Which low-key DRIVES ME CRAZY.

But throughout all of my dating shenanigans, I have refused to compromise on what I want in a guy.  Which I haven’t found yet.  And that brings me to my conundrum:  how will I find my person if I don’t make SOME effort, yet why am I wasting my time on dates when I need to be focusing on the goals that I have set for myself?  How can I attract the right person into my life if I spend all my time looking for the person and not actually building myself into the person that my perfect person would love?

Truthfully, I can’t.  I need to take a step back and just….be.  And there are times that I do-I go through cycles, like I think that everyone does.

While ruminating on it, I’ve realized that failing at dating seems a lot less scary than failing at my goals.  Everyone fails at dating.  It’s normal.  It’s accepted.  It’s expected that date after date will turn into a great big nothingness (until the magical moment that it doesn’t).  Yet trying to do things that other people don’t normally do, such a blogging, a podcast, a second side career, writing books…failing that that seems more REAL.  More hurtful.  More in-your-face.

Not trying isn’t scary at all.  It gives you a lot of free time.  Yet one of my Bumble dates made a great observation when he said “the world is our oyster”.  Why wouldn’t I try to gather as many pearls as I can?

So, in the immortal words of Taylor Swift, I’m going “shake it off, shake it off” and turn my focus to what I want to do that will just be the cherry on top of my already full life.  I need to stop the bullshit and simply DO.

And so, dear readers, expect big things in my next year of blogging.  I’ll keep you updated, and you can keep me accountable.

2018—you’re MINE.

What is Family, Anyway?


As I write this blog post I am currently sitting on a plane that is taking me away from one home and towards another.  Every year at Thanksgiving I make the aeriel trek home in order to eat some delicious food, see my family, and eat more delicious food.  I am never disappointed.

Despite the fact that I love my life in California, I am particularly morose this year as I journey back towards the land of sun and sand.  Being together with everyone has reminded me how much we all have grown up (and how much we haven’t) and has made me realize how much I miss out on when I don’t get to see my siblings for a year at a time.

And yet, even with that year of time between being together in person, I experienced nothing but complete settledness.  Even with every single one of us branching out and living lives so completely different from one another, the moment we are back in our childhood house we immediately fall into our relationships with ease.

For those of you who are also able to experience this, how lucky are we?  We are able to grow and expand and experience and fall and succeed yet still have a place of safety and ease on which to land and take a break from everything in our regular lives.

The dictionary definition of family is “all the descendants of a common ancestor”.  However, this succinct phrasing cannot encompass the true meaning of family; having individuals in your life that you simultaneously love, can’t stand, and every other emotion in-between but overall, can’t imagine your life without.  Family means…everything.

FAMILY means acceptance.  There are five total children in my immediate clan, and two of them are married (hint: it’s not me).  Whoever walks into the door of my parents’ house opens a Pandora’s box of personality types, backgrounds, strengths, and issues.  I love so many things about every single person in this eclectic circle, and every single person has a particular way that they can Drive. Me. Up. A. Wall.

Yet, because of the bonds shared since womb-hood, I cannot imagine cutting any of them out of my life.  No matter how annoying, stupid, or irresponsible any of them can be, I accept them whole-heartedly.

The great and unbelievable thing about this is, is it is true in reverse.  I know 100% that I do and say things that drive my family nuts or rub them the wrong way.  There is no possible way to avoid doing so after 28 years of being around the same people.  However, I know that no matter what I say or do short of cold-blooded murder, I will never be cast outside of the fold.  And there is absolutely no better feeling than that.

FAMILY means constructive criticism.  While family may accept your imperfections, they are not averse to putting in their two cents when they feel necessary.  Yet in opposition to most criticism thrown around in the world, these thought-provoking comments or conversations spring out of a place of deep love and desire for the best for whoever is receiving the notes.

This Thanksgiving, I had finally gotten fed up with one of my siblings and had snapped a curt retort.  My grandma simply stated “cool it, you” as she walked past.  Straightforward, short, to the point, yet it completely shook me out of my annoyance and made me realize that my vitriol was not necessary.  Sometimes a simple reminder from people who love you regardless is just the thing you need to change a negative attitude or a habit.

FAMILY means safety.  The reason that I am able to fly so far from the nest of my youth is because I know without the slightest shadow of a doubt that I can always, 100%, rely on my family if I were to need help in any way.  Even with all of the pulls on their attention, if I were to ever get so desperate as to need a place to stay, I would have one.  If I ever need to vent and not worry about sounding like a Negative Nancy, I can call on any number of ears and take advantage.

Anything and everything that might crop up in life does not seem like a big obstacle because I have access to an incredible network of strong individuals that will do anything in their power to make sure that I am ok.  This knowledge is a powerful antidote to any fear or hesitation I might feel over any roadblock I may face.

FAMILY means abnormal normality.  My dad has been known to make up short bizarre songs on the spot.  My brother decides to speak in random accents at unforeseen times.  My sister loves to reference anything I do wrong in her eyes as the act of an “uncultured swine”.  We 100% bust out the Disney songs when we ride in the car, and my voice is usually the loudest one.

All of these quirky, random, non-normal aspects of every single person in the inner circle makes my family, family.  Every single family in the world has their weird, zany, creative, off-the-wall, embarrassing habits that they would rather the outside world not know.  I say, however, that we should embrace that weirdness as OURS.  There is a distinct sense of pride in ownership, and your family deserves that pride as much as your car or your house.

As a teacher, I am privy to the heartbreaking reality that my family situation is rare.  There are too many children and adults that go through life without the love, acceptance, criticism, and sense of belonging that they need in order to thrive.

So for those kids and grown-up kids, who is family, anyway, if it’s not blood?  Thankfully, we can still get all of these benefits from families that we build ourselves.  Actively seek out people that can offer this support to you, and make sure to offer it in return.

So, if you are in possession of this sense of family, cherish it.  If you are not, build it.  Life is better with our people, and I think we could all do a little bit more to make sure our people know how awesome they are.

Because honestly, without the bonds of family, what is life, anyway?




Reasons to Embrace Being Single


Whenever cocktails and girlfriends (or even just the latter) are in the same room, the conversation almost invariable makes a stop on the subject of men, or more accurately, boys.  Specifically, bemoaning the fact that we can’t find any good ones, causing us to be subjected to singledom for eternity (or so it feels).

Couples holding hands seem to pop up everywhere we go.  Pictures of engagement rings fill our Facebook feeds.  Movies like “The Notebook” and shows like “The Bachelor” get shoved in our face.  Everything couple-related becomes glaring reminders of the missing piece in our lives.

Being in a relationship, the right relationship, is an amazing thing.  However, as amazing as a relationship is, we have to remember that there are some damn good things about being single, too.

You can do whatever you want.  This is the most obvious and most touted perk of singles everywhere.  But I feel like very rarely do people actually take advantage of this freedom.  Think about it.  There are truly no limits.

Take travel, for instance.  Do you want to go overseas and experience the exoticism of Asia?  You can!  You have no one else’s schedule to worry about, no one else’s budget, no one else’s preferences for the trip.  If you want to have a super high-end luxury week with spa pampering and endless cocktails by the pool, you can make that happen.  If you want a three week trek through the jungle sleeping in a tent with the native people, you can do that too without worrying about what someone else would want to choose.

Even on a smaller, daily scale, this luxury shouldn’t be taken lightly.  You can eat takeout for dinner if you want.  You can make a four course meal every night.  You can meet up with an old friend at a moment’s notice.  You can stay in bed all day or go out and socialize all night.  It’s truly 100% up to you.

Being single in your 20’s and 30’s is really the only time that you can actually take advantage of this fully.  There are no academic obligations of high school and college.  There are no work obligations that you didn’t fully choose if you have a career you love.  There are no stigmas attached to anything that you might enjoy, because you are now surrounded by adults and not asshole teenagers.

So many people waste singlehood on Netflix and sweatpants on the couch.  There is SO MUCH LIFE to live, and it’s ridiculous to skip out on it because you don’t have someone to experience it with yet.

You can discover yourself.  This is another cliched mantra of the single ones, but it is so true.  In the past, I have been guilty of taking on my boyfriend’s interests and letting my own slide.  However, this really was because I hadn’t solidified my own interests before I got into a serious relationship.

Now that I’ve been on my own for a while, I’ve tried tons of different things and discovered what I love and what I can do without.  Just because something hasn’t been a part of your life up until this point does not mean that it can’t become a part of your life now.  For example, I played no sports in high school (sadly).  Now, I play beach football, turf football, and kickball.  I absolutely love it, and while I am not at the level of athleticism I would prefer to be at, I am getting better with each game that I play.  Had I not ventured out of my comfort zone, I would have never discovered that I actually like to play sports.

So many people don’t try things because they either ‘think’ they won’t like it or because they are simply too snobby to give something new a try because, surprise surprise, they are going to suck at it at first.  We have to stop getting so caught up in being perfect at things all the time.  It is only when we allow ourselves to embrace the possibility of falling that we will be able fly.

You can build yourself.  When you don’t have someone else constantly in your space, you tend to have a lot of time to think–if you don’t crowd out these valuable hours with mindless TV and/or social media and/or other various wastes of time.  If you spend some quiet moments alone reflecting on yourself as a person, both in and out of a relationship, you may come across some things that you don’t like.

This is hard to take.  We all like to think that we are just a little bit more perfect than those around us and if anybody needs to change, it’s the other guy.  But admitting that you have things to work on is arguably more admirable than swimming in self-denial and staying the same, even if you are a decent person to start out with.

In my reflections lately, I’ve noticed that I am a pretty selfish conversation participant.  Whenever someone has something to say, I immediately try to relate to to something similar that has happened in my life.  Not that trying to relate and find common ground is necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes letting that person have their moment in the conversational sun is the more kind and less egotistical choice.  While this is just a small example of something that I feel I need to change personally, there are many other things that we could allow ourselves to get better at if we just acknowledged that some maintenance needs to take place.

Beyond making  cosmetic adjustments to our temple, we can also build on whole new sections.  I have always admired my sisters for being able to play guitar, and a couple months ago I drug out my old acoustic and vowed to spend more time playing.   That lasted for a little while, but it has since faded away as it is not a fully solidified part of me yet.  However, I know that if I really put my mind to it, I can achieve success in that arena, and I plan to make a more concerted effort to make it happen since this is something that I do actually want to add into my life.

Overall, being single is a chance to mold yourself into the person that your future partner will jump at the chance to be with.  So often we admire qualities in other people and desire them in our relationships, but forget we cannot expect roses if we are offering dandelions.

Embrace the freedom.  Embrace the challenge.  Embrace the endless opportunities.  Our years of singlehood will be far less than our years of partnership, so squeeze every last drop out of awesomeness from your solo ventures, and don’t be sad if it takes you a while to find The One.  In fact, take some time to be thankful that they haven’t materialized yet, because you just get a little longer to date yourself.  And lucky for you, you’ll always get the rose.