Not Home For Christmas

Bruce Springsteen is singing “Santa Clause is Coming to Town.” Darleen Love is rocking out to “Christmas.” Those are my Mom’s favorite songs during the holidays. My Dad ALWAYS tries to save the wrapping paper when he opens his gifts and makes delicious pancakes ( with peanut butter) for all of us. After Christmas morning, my sister Jean and I, head over to Michelle’s house to chat. These are things that I have done for years. I won’t get to experience those fun traditions this year. I can’t go home to Buffalo, NY for the holidays. Like most people who move further away from their hometown, we always don’t get that familiar Christmas we loved.

Being away from your hometown friends and family is hard during the holiday season. It can be sad and lonely. How do you cope with being away from your loved ones during this time? I realize these are not the ideal options but they can make your holiday more merry and bright this year.

Video chatting

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Whether you use Skype or another program, technology has really helped us reach out to the ones we love and miss. If you can’t physically be with them, at least we can see them and talk to them through our screens.

Send the Cards & Gifts Out on Time!

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Send your love across the country or the world. Make sure they know how much you care, and miss them. Even a simple card with a thoughtful message is the perfect recipe to make the ones you miss and love you smile.

There is Holiday Fun in your Own Backyard

Every city has something special and fun to experience during the Christmas season. See what is in your neighborhood! Make new positive holiday memories this year.

Christmas is a State of Mind not a just a Date on a Calendar

I may not be going to see my family this holiday but I did book a flight for a different date. My friends and parents will still be there. My childhood room will still be available to me when I arrive in March. Celebrating the return trip to your hometown never has a timestamp or an expiration date.

Give Back to Your Local Community

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There are a lot of people who don’t have a family to visit or basic needs like food and shelter. Volunteering at a shelter, working a soup kitchen, or driving for Meals on Wheels can give you good feels during the Christmas season.

Make Friends ( or Pets) your 2nd Family

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Just because you don’t have your family present on Christmas today doesn’t mean you have to be a “scrooge.” You have friends that are sticking around just like you. You are not the only person who doesn’t want to be all alone on Christmas. Link up and create happy holiday memories with your fellow Christmas stragglers.

JUST BE NICE!

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It’s Christmas time. Say hi to a stranger, smile, or have a conversation with someone who looks like they need to talk. This is a lonely time for people who have nobody. It is the least you can do.

I hope everyone enjoys their holiday season. Not everyone gets to go home every year but you are not alone. Find your left behind Christmas warriors and gather together! Cheers and Happy Holiday’s!

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Halloween: It’s for Adults too!

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I know this is just my opinion, but I love Halloween. I’m always surprised when people don’t enjoy the holiday. There are Ghouls, ghosts, witches, skeletons, tricks, and treats! What’s not to like? Here are a few reasons why Halloween isn’t just for the tator tots anymore!


You can play pretend and dress up like you use to when you were a kid. You can be whatever you want on Halloween! How fun is that?! Let’s face it, it’s not every day you can rock a gorilla suit while handing out bananas to random people or be your favorite Disney Princess. Hell, go and get political with Donald trump if you please! It’s fun to be something you normally aren’t.

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Halloween makes you feel youthful. This is a good thing. We as adults, have so many stresses in our daily lives. We have bills to pay, children to care for, and have real problems we have to deal with every day. Halloween is just one of those days we can kick back, enjoy the moment, and dress as a kick ass Game of Thrones character. Leave the work for Monday. Enjoy your holiday party or trick or treating with the kids!

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The Halloween craft sessions are fantastic. Who doesn’t love decorating with scary spiders, gravestones, ghosts, and CARVING PUMPKINS. For me at least, doing crafts and art is very therapeutic. Plus, a carved pumpkin also doubles as really cool candle holders.

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You can get candy AND alcohol when adults trick or treat! I mean, no explanation needed!

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FINALLY, what other day can you actually say the sentence, “I kissed Prince charming and danced with Wario last night!”

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Don’t be a Halloween Hater. Join the rest of the Princess Peaches and superheros on the streets and parties on Halloween!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE! STAY SAFE!

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Afraid to See the Similarities

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It’s 2015 and we can’t figure out how to get along. Is that too much to ask? The turmoil with race relations, violence, or inequality fills the news and breaks most of our hearts on the daily. I’ve seen racism. I seen it online and on the news.  I’ve also seen it before my own eyes.  You never want to believe you’ll witness it but then it rears its ugly head when you least expect it. Years ago, a friend of mine got charged double at the club we were going to just because of her skin color. We asked for our money back and took our business elsewhere. Wouldn’t it be nice if the world wasn’t such a depressing place at times?

I want to believe that even the nastiest person can one day see beyond the bigotry and realize they were wrong, even it’s just for a moment. It seems you can’t ask too much of them but I’d try. The people who are cruel to others, spout bigotry like Niagara Falls, and hurt others for their pleasure all feel that they are different from those they oppress or put down. I couldn’t agree less. We are all the same whether some individuals like it or not. We feel joy, sadness, fear, love, and every other emotion.

This point brings me to this great documentary I discovered around 2011 called “Life in a Day.” It’s wonderful. What happened was, the film director and YouTube asked everyone to film their lives on July 24, 2010. Anyone who wanted to participate was allowed to be a part of the global project. When people sent in the videos, the producers created a powerful film about how we really all aren’t that different after all (despite what some people think.) They focused on the one day to show we all eat, sleep, fear, dream, love, and work.   The film displayed a powerful message that we are very similar on the inside.

They spoke about love at one point. They asked everyone to film, “What do you love?” Some loved a person. Some loved their fancy car. Others loved a single word. One guy even loved his fridge! Love came in all shapes, sizes, and appliances. The one story that really stood out was the woman in a rural tribe in Africa. There was also another was a woman in the United States. Do you know what they had in common? They both loved her kids. Whether you reside in a mud hut or a city apartment, we’re similar when you look at our hearts and discover what it values. Motherhood and unconditional love for their child shined through and though.

When it came to fear, the kids mostly feared monsters no matter their location. Adults feared death and being alone. God was universally feared as well. There were multiple answers that were exactly the same in different locations around the globe. Economic backgrounds had nothing to do with their fears. Well, there was the boy who was afraid of tigers.  That’s legit. All kidding aside,  why is it so hard for some to relate to other who appears different from you? We all get scared. You’d think that would be something to pull us together and help us relate.

The final lesson in this movie really gave me “all the feels.” At the end of the movie, a woman was in a car on a rainy night. She waited all day for something to happen but nothing did. She was disappointed at first. She wanted to be a part of something big and have a purpose in life. When she started to think about it more, she realized something very important. Life isn’t always a big gesture. Sometimes, it just peaks its head from over the hill. She learned that a normal day is a part of most of our daily lives. Regardless of the boring day we may have, we need appreciate every breath on this earth you have because it’s short. There are big lessons in small packages.

With that said, why do some waste their energy spreading negativity towards people they don’t understand? You may find out that the person you judged has more similarities rather then differences compared to you. This movie showed me that in 2011. We can learn a lot from people who challenge your perception and mind-set on “who they are” based off a physical appearance. Be more open to someone you’ve never spoken to and learn about them. You may make a new friend.

Remember, we all are connected. Appreciate the differences that make us all individually special 🙂

The Things You Never Want to Realize

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This past weekend was interesting.  As great and fun as it was, I discovered something about myself.  I wasn’t thrilled about about the discovery.  It had always been there but I didn’t want to face my truth.

I realized that deep down inside, I was a sad person.  I always thought I was happy.  Did I just fake it until I made it for years? I never liked people seeing me crack and break down.  I always hid it until it was too late.    Halloween proved to me that I need to work on my insides so I can be that happy person I know I can be all the time ( without BS-ing it.)  ADMITTING “I AM NOT OK,” IS OK.  IT’S OK NOT TO BE OK.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  If you need to fix things, fix them.  Nobody is perfect.  You can be a mess. You can be sad and you can fix it through self-discovery.

As I processed my feelings, I thought of ways to fight the gloomy rain clouds over myself.  How would I fix this? Saturday, I realized what I had to do.  I went back to the basics.  I asked myself a simple question.  That question was, “WHAT MAKES ME HAPPY?” This is such a simple and wonderful question.  However simple or complex the answer is,  it’s your personal path to fulfilling the life you are meant to live. You can stop dwelling on the crap and look forward to the beautiful things that fill your life.  Nobody’s life should be full of doom and gloom.  There is so much to grateful for everyday.  Take a minute and think about all the good you present to the world by doing the things you love the most.

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Why are Music Festivals so Popular?

This past weekend, I went to ACL.  Before I start getting into depth about this wonderful event, you may be asking, “What is ACL?”

ACL stands for Austin City Limits.  It’s a festival held in Zilker Park in Austin, TX.  The festival was inspired by the popular PBS series also called by the same name.  If there were no ACL Live, there would be no ACL festival.  The festival began in 2002. It’s a great time and you should definitely try to attend it one year. Like Christmas, ACL takes forever to get here and is over like a flash in a pan.  The weekend was so amazing. There were a lot of Buffalo friends in town and we all had a ball.  As I was there, listening to all the great music, I thought about what makes music festivals so popular.  Why are people drawn to them like moths to a flame?  What makes 75,000 people want to hang out with each other in a muddy field?

All the Music for the AMAZING Price-tag:  

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This is the obvious reason.  Where else can you see OutKast, Lana Del Rey, Pearl Jam, Eminem, Icona Pop, Iggy Azelia, Foster the People, The Replacements, Fitz and the Tantrums, and many more for the mere price of $220 over three days?  It’s a great deal.  SO much bang for your buck.

All the Feels:  

I’m going to start pouring on the cheese now.  The first day of any festival you stroll through those gates with this incredibly happy feeling of bliss and euphoria.  It’s like your floating on clouds.  Music makes people feel alive.  Music makes people escape their worries.  Music makes people happy! Watching you favorite band perform your favorite song is so powerful and really can bring out an emotional response.  You can’t describe the feeling you get but when it hits you, there is nothing like it.  The fact that you can do this for 2 or three days is such a wonderful break from reality.

Music is Universal & Unites Everyone: 

OutKast said something SO perfect on Friday night. Andres 3000 said, “we don’t make music for just black people.  We just don’t make music for white people.  We don’t just make music for Hispanic people…We make music for everybody.”  After that moment, he went into the song, “The Whole World.”  Festivals give an outlet for all different types of people to come together and unit on the common bond of loving music.  As you look around any festival, you’ll see every demographic and race.  It’s really a beautiful thing to see all these different types of people coming together and enjoying each other company because they love the same music.  Music is a beautiful and universal language. Everyone understands it.

As long as I am alive, I will love festivals.  If you need to find me at one of these in my old age , I’ll be in the seating only zone with my fold up chair.  I may not be able to be in the front row, but I will enjoy the music from afar!

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The Journey That Began on October 4, 2013

One year ago today, my mother and I rolled into Alana & Jeremiah’s driveway.  My new life in Texas began.  The year has flown by and I’m so happy I took my leap of faith to the state where everything is bigger!

Before I began this momentous journey, I remember conversations with my parents.  They thought I was crazy.  Here were some of the questions or statements I heard from them…

 

  1. Mom : “ I can’t believe I have a daughter moving to Texas.”
  2. Dad: “Do don’t have a job yet! How are you going to support yourself?”
  3. Mom: “Are you going to take Dale? Please take him.”
  4. Dad: “You better not take Dale to Texas with you. Peanuts will be lonely. I will miss him too”
  5. Dad: “You are going to be so far away! How will I be able to give you all my wise and FREE advice??”
  6. Mom: “Of course I’ll drive down to Texas with you! It will be a fun mother/daughter road trip!” (BTW- That road trip was amazing!)

I miss my parents (and my Dad’s free advice a lot.)  It is hard to be away from my family.  Most of the family lives in Buffalo or the New York City area. I always miss my friends from home.  They were the people who really knew my weird ways.  Despite those facts, it was one of the best decisions I have made for myself.  Some people are happy where they grew up, some are not.  Some want more then what they were birthed into.  I wanted more and I got more.

So, what did I want that home couldn’t give me?

Jobs: 

Texas has a lot of jobs.  It probably has to do with the fact that they don’t tax she sh*t out of business like NYS. Texas is booming in job growth. When I moved here, I interviewed at so many places that I never would have dreamed interviewing at in NY. I went through a string of eh and ugh jobs for about 6 months here.  In February, I finally found the job I wanted to keep for the long haul and I couldn’t be happier.

The Weather:

I was freezing.  No more winters for me!  I narrowly escaped the coldest winter ever. People ask me, “aren’t you hot there?!” YES and I love it.  I never have to dig my car out of snow ever again. It’s so sunny here too. I’m obsessed with 300 days of sun.  I’m in heaven! #Hallelujah

The Chance to Start Over:

I lost a lot of confidence over the years.  I wasn’t happy.  I didn’t think was capable of anything great. I would do all I could to kick ass and I’d fail time and time again.  I needed a change.  I tried so hard for years to make it work and I did not feel that where I was would allow me to be successful.  It was time for something different.  I needed to go where I knew little to no people and nobody knew my past.  I needed to transform my confidence to prove I COULD be successful.  Being here has given me so much confidence that I can take on so much more than I ever thought possible.  I’m grateful for all the tears, anxious thoughts, and the perseverance to move through those dark days in the beginning of my stay here in Austin.  I had to be strong because I wanted to be successful and happy here.  I achieved that.  I know I can do so much more now.  I’m so grateful for the second chance.

The move from Buffalo to the South West was a huge one for me.  It is scary going into the unknown, not knowing what the hell will happen to you.  As scary as it was, it has been such a rewarding experience to try something so out of the box.  Don’t be afraid to go after what you want.  If this once cowardly lioness can overcome so much, I know you can too.

Festival People…

With ACL around the bend, I started to think about the different people you see a festival.  With the over 70,000 people that are about to embark on Zilker in the next 2 weeks, I wanted to give you the low down about some of characters and personalities you may run into…

The Lovers:

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I know you’ve seen ‘em.  Whether it’s a fast paced up tempo band or a slow jam, these two can’t keep their hand off each other.  Usually they place themselves in the middle of the crowded group actually trying to watch the show.  They will make out for minutes at a time.  Watch out for the flying saliva and their grabby hands!

The Over-did-it guy/girl:

They came to party HARD like Andrew W.K. and boy did they rage on into the day! They partied so much that you notice them wandering around in a drunken stuper.  They look pretty dirty because they probably toppled over at some point during the day into the dirt. They miss the bands they wanted to see all day becasuse they chugged too many 13 dollars beers. They eventually end up passed out on in a random patch of grass.  Earlier in the day, you over heard them screaming, “pearl jammmm is soon…YESSSS!”  Welp, obviously that’s not going to happen.

The Bragger:

They’ve seen every show of all the bands before they hit the trendy festival circuit.  They go to all the after shows and have traveled to at least 7 festivals alone this summer.  You can identify then by their incessant bragging about how they saw them “before they were big” and their 10 wristbands from previous festivals from the year.  The wristbands look dirty and all you want to do is cut them off.  A very possible sentence out of their mouth sounds something like…” oh I saw (insert band name here) at (insert festival name here) and they were SO much better than right now!”

The Parent-Child Group:

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This is an interesting combo.  While I admire their idea to expose their children to quality music, a festival is probably not the safest place for kids under the age of 10.  When I go to festivals, I see a lot of people under the influence, lack of shady/cool areas, extremely loud noises, and I’m afraid they’re going to get lost in a sea of people!!! It’s not well suited for small kids. They always look like they are having fun but I would have probably opted for the babysitter option.

The Schedule Nazi:

I am guilty of this.  I love festivals because I can organize my days by all the bands I want to see at specific times.  I think it’s amazing.  We are the people constantly checking the times and trying to figure what time is the best time to go check out Lana so we don’t get trapped all the way in the back! Yes, we’re annoying., but you need us.  In the organized mess of the festival, you need one person like this to keep people on track!

The Fashionista:

They are trendy and look pretty flawless for an outdoor show all day.  They usually rocking crop tops, high-waist jeans, floral crowns, neon, rocking the boho style, and midi-boots.  They look like they are ready for their close-up with the photographers or working on their fashion blogs. They travel in packs and love takings pics.  You can also ALWAYS trust them to take a good picture of you.  They are pros.

The Tall Person:

I’m sorry tall people.  I don’t mean to pick on you.  It’s not your fault you are so tall and I’m so short.  I always get trapped behind you and I can never see.  I’ll always be jealous that you never have anyone blocking your view.

The Concert Photographer:

They always get the best views of the show.  They got in for free.  AND …They get to skip the major crowds and get up close and personal with your favorite bands. They never get shoved and tossed like a rag doll.  I’m jealous of you concert photogs. You are the chosen ones! Oh, you are so lucky!!!

The Weed Guy:

(If you DO NOT like to smoke, he is NOT your cup to tea.)  In my opinion, this person isn’t the worst person to be next to in a crowd if you want a puff puff pass.  If you become show friends for that brief hour, you’ll find he’s probably laid back, into the organic lifestyle, most likely friendly, and he just might offer you a bit of his stuff.  These people are cool in my book.

HAVE FUN! BE SAFE! BE A NICE CONCERT GO-ER! 🙂

Stress and Anxiety: The Struggle is Real

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As adults, life is stressful. Stuff happens, plans fail, and people let you down. People handle stress well, terrible, or they handle it well with the help of meds. I am the third option. I love those little pills. God bless them! My story is no different from any other person who deals with the stresses of a real anxiety problem. It’s scary and frustrating to know that there are times you cannot control your emotions.

As a younger kid, I noticed I was different from others. A lot of things make sense now. I was in Kindergarten and asked to be student of the week. That required a photograph. I was willing to be the student of the week but I refused the picture. At one of my birthday parties, the kids sang me happy birthday and I burst into tears. In first grade, I wouldn’t show my face at the school play. I played the sun because I could cover up my face and not look at the audience. I’m sure these were the first signs of me being an anxious and stress filled person.

In my high school and adult life, I dealt with test anxiety, nervousness around my classmates and peers, and other problems dealing with simple things. I felt like something was wrong with me. Simple issues didn’t seem like a big deal to most individuals but I literally could not handle it. Problems at work would put me in bad situations. I’d feel my heart race and I would not be able to think. I would just go blank. It was a scary part of my life. Years later, I finally saw a doctor. It’s something I should have done it much sooner.

I was diagnosed with anxiety and got medicine. There are a lot of positives to the meds. They calm me down and I can figure out how to problem solve basic and complex issues without having a nervous breakdown. I’m actually ALMOST a relaxed person. I don’t show signs of it on the outside anymore. I just hide it REALLY well (or at least better than I use to.) I’m always going to be a nervous person. I accept that and try to handle my stress the best I can. I am proud of how far I’ve come since my younger days. It was a really scary time and I’m glad I can manage more responsibly now.

A lot of people struggle with anxiety and excessive worrying like me. The number one thing NOT to tell a person with anxiety is “why don’t you calm down. Just RELAX.” You think we want to be in a state of panic and fear over getting lost in a new city (or insert simple issue here???) Ask them if they want to talk about what is bothering them.  They can express why they are upset or struggling. If they are a very close friend, ask them if they saw a doctor about their problem. If they haven’t, they may need them. It helped me. I also combat the anxiety by exercising on a regular basis. It gets all the nervousness out. Endorphins come from being active and exercising. Endorphins make you happy. Cutting out coffee and other caffeinated products in the morning also really decreased my anxious thoughts. Another good suggestion is for a person to take up a hobby. A hobby a person enjoys can cure nervousness. I like to write and do artsy-fartsy type projects. You need to find your personal calming activity whether it’s art or even singing at the top of our lungs at karaoke! Just let the anxiety out. You’ll feel so much better afterwards! Even a simple walk with your favorite music is great medication.

If you feel like you’re life is spiraling out of control, and simple problems seem like WWIII, get help. Go talk to someone. There are a lot of doctors who can help you get to that place where you can finally relax. Living like your life is spiraling out of control is not the way to exist. You can do it. You can be the relaxed person you always imagined yourself to be.

Oh this Thing Called Love…

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(If anyone knows me well enough, you know that I am a pretty private person with my love life.  To write this is a pretty big deal ( at least to me,) and part of my healing process.  I don’t love sharing my feelings to the whole world.  I also try to not let any guy get me too upset in public.  I think it’s the best this for me to finally let this go and just write about it.  Here we go…)

Since I’ve been in Austin, I was talking to a certain guy.  This was until recently where I was told, ” I don’t think I could ever be in love with you.” We had been talking for about 6 months. Now that I really analyze our dating situation, I should have let that ship sail out to sea months earlier.  I had a really tough time coping with the break up for a bit.  I made a fool out of myself asking him (after one too many beverages,) ” why do you feel that way” and ” I think you’re making a huge mistake.”  He responded with ” I may be making a mistake but I just don’t feel the way you do anymore. I’m sorry. I do hope we can be friends again sometime.  I’d hate to never see you again”  I never truly grasped the concept of “not feeling the same way for you” until recently when I was cast back into the dating ocean of Austin again.

I like to think I am a “date-able” person.  I meet people all the time.  They’re nice, fun, have good jobs, and seem like “good catches.”  But here’s my “catch” , I’m just not that into them.  Like my ex-man friend’s feelings for me, I don’t feel what they feel for me.  It’s a terrible realization.  I finally understand what he said to me that sad early AM time during SXSW week. You can want to like a person romantically but if you don’t feel that way, it will never reach that point. It’s depressing but true.

So, Here is the million dollar question…How do you win the game of L-O-V-E ?

The answer is pretty simple.  All you do is get back on that horse! Go out with your friends and have fun dammit.  Nobody is going to want to hang out with a miserable person.  (It will never give off a great first impression anyway.)  It’s just a break up, not WWIII.  I truly believe there IS someone for every person.  I’m going to forget the bad and just live it up. There’s no need to cry over spilled milk when there’s a whole fridge full of it in front of me.

Cheers!