Self-Care Journaling

I have always advocated journaling. I wasn’t the girl who owned all the fuzzy journals that had locks or the Girl Tech, password-protected journal, but later on in life, I started actively journaling. While living in London, I wrote every day for the three months I was abroad. When I moved back to the States, I sat and read my journal like it was a book illustrating the memories that I make have forgotten about. Because I proactively wrote, my journal locked in all of the thoughts and experiences that I had, and while reflecting on that I made it my mission to journal more.

For my last semester in undergrad, I filled a small book. When I moved home for six months I had the thickest journal I had ever owned and I nearly filled it. But then I felt like it held too many painful memories so I stopped and moved onto a new book for New York. For a graduation gift, my roommate in London gifted me with a journal that looked like an old book. I was always looking forward to filling it, but I lost my passion for journaling. As I have discussed here before, the experiences and thoughts I had here weren’t ones that I wanted to look back on and remember.

Every time I sat down to write I would write the line, “this time will be different.” Or I would say “I want to start over.” Then when December 2017 came around I said I wanted to be better. I started really writing, but it was still just one entry per month. By the summer of 2018, I had somehow collected 20+ journals that I was itching to fill but I lost the passion and the habits I had formed and I felt stuck. As a Christmas gift, David bought me a personalized journal. It was leatherbound and had my initials and last name engraved into it.

I took to it and wrote as frequently as I could, but then the days became infrequent, slowly the size of the page became daunting and filled a page a month like I had before. I would see it and regret never writing in it, but at the same time I would say “this time will be different” or “I want to start over.” I couldn’t find my grove at all until I watched Katy Bellotte’s video on her journaling.

I have always wanted to find more creative ways to express my artistic interest and this version of Scrapbook journaling has revolutionized the way I fill a page. From December 2018-2019, I filled less than a fourth of the journal. Now I have only a few pages left in this book before I move on to my next journal.

I hope the photos of my journal inspire you to write out your thoughts and feelings!

 

IMG_7831IMG_8463IMG_9883

Fresh Start for February

When I set out to layout my goals for the year, I had a hard time finding what my focus would be. There was so much I wanted for myself, my career, and future that at times my list was growing without any focus and was quickly becoming a daunting and overwhelming list. But then I sat down and saw how there were roughly 12 overarching themes to everything I wanted, and then I saw how I could use each month to focus on the goals I set. 

January was all about getting organized—and that is precisely what I did. I knew throwing myself straight into focusing on routines or the typical “gym-daily” mentality would set me up for failure, just like in years past. My Unbound Planner has helped me visualize what it is I want and how I will execute it, but it took the first few weeks of January to get everything settled and organized. (If you still are in the market for a new planner, and love goals, I have recommended this one after sifting through the saturated market of agendas).

I have finally reached a rhythm where I know what needs to be done daily, weekly, and monthly to really maximize my time. But I know things will change in the coming months, which is why in February I have decided to Prioritize Health. 

I knew once I got a bit more organized, the next thing I really wanted to get started on was focusing on my mental, physical, and emotional health. There is a lot that goes into upheaving your life into a new schedule, especially while you are planning on having a significant life change when it comes to starting a new job, so I knew I needed to quickly prioritize myself.

At times, it would be hard to encourage myself to get out of the house and do anything but stare at my computer screen for hours on end. When you are in that mindset, you lose sight of yourself and what can be crucial. There’s a lot that goes into getting out and getting exercise when you think there’s a cover letter you should be writing or jobs to be hunting. When that happens, everything else falls to the side, and negative thoughts, emotions, and actions come into play.

Activities you found fun or enjoyable fall even lower in the priority ranking that they were previously. Who has time to read, when the most you can think about is your expenses collecting in your bank account? Who has the money to enjoy a Friday night movie when the tickets are close to 30 dollars, and you know that would be a good amount of groceries at Trader Joes?

In the past, during my more trying times, I lost myself. When I first moved here, I was a completely different person, and she is entirely unrecognizable now to who I am today. But it was her actions and her depths that have me really reminding myself that I need to take care of “me” first. 

Firstly, putting me first isn’t a selfish thing, and its taken me twenty-five years to really hone in on that. I have come to realize that its okay to say no, and not seek out these melodramatic experiences or friendships. I have learned that negative things happen when I put myself second. I think illogically. I hurt bonds, or worse, I make awful friendships. My health declines, I eat poorly, I don’t get outside, and I practice worse habits.

Now, as I stare down a daunting task of things to complete in the coming month, I thought I would share them along with you here. Every month I have twenty Monthly Goals and Tasks. Two of those tasks are set for me by my planner, “review your yearly goals & last month’s progress” and “add repeating monthly goals.” I have eleven, yes, eleven goals I plan on repeating monthly:

  1. Finish two books
  2. Write 8 blog posts 
  3. Plan an adventure 
  4. Send a letter 
  5. Earn a new career certification 
  6. Reflection writing piece
  7. Practice a new self-care routine  
  8. Learn something new 
  9. Write one chapter
  10. Reward yourself
  11. Plan a big date with David 

That leaves seven goals or tasks to set for the month. From my daunting list of goals, I took the ones that fit best with my theme and set them as goals I wanted to accomplish during the different months. There were only two significant goals in January, whereas February has four.

  • Have a job that best suits my interests  (Ranked #1 Overall) 
  • Under 30 min on Social Media daily (Ranked #13) 
  • Complete Whole 30 Challenge (Ranked #15) 
  • Have Recipes Organized (Ranked #9) 

I felt that these four goals really played to prioritizing health in February. Having an income and a job (outside of my freelance hustle) is really important for my mental health wellbeing. Limiting my social media engagement and screen time will allow myself to spend more time on myself, and those tasks I previously mentioned tend to get forgotten (like reading two books a month). I know I wanted to partake in some sort of healthy living, diet fad, to really get my body in better shape, because I know when I am physically feeling my best, then my emotional and mental health is right there with it. And lastly, I have hundreds of recipes that live on my computer in screenshots, links to websites, poorly taken photos, and scribbled down papers. I know when they all live in one place, I will finally have an easier time finding what it is I would like to meal prep for the week.

That leaves just three goals that I will set for the month after reflecting on the previous month’s wins, and what I can expect for the next month. I purposefully didn’t set all 20 in January, because who knows how I will be feeling in October. Maybe there will be more pressing tasks, such as how I found a fellowship to apply for in January that I hadn’t noticed until the second week into the month. For February, I want to continue with my health goal by trying to reach 10,000-20,000 steps daily. I believe that will have me out there getting active and not sitting on the couch if I don’t find a job on February 1st. I also want to set the goal of learning more about my body and taking care of it because I know certain foods don’t sit well with me, and I need to take better care of my ankle. And for the last goal, I want to reread You’re Not Listening by Kate Murphy. While I worked at Celadon Books, this was the first book I was gifted, and it had always stayed on my mind. The first time I read it, it was a skim read for an assignment at work, but not I want to take the time and apply those skills mothing forward—so what better month than a month dedicated to a fresh start.

I took a photo of my February goal breakdown looks like! Hopefully, it will be an inspiration to you all as well. You can see there are still a few blanks of goals and tasks to do, but thats something I learned from January, you are always going to find new major tasks to complete, so I repositioned my twenty goals to wither be priorities or Ideas this month to consider.

IMG_2104 2.JPG

Happy February! 

New York, Unfocused

There’s a chill in the air. Everyone is bustling past, clenching their hoods tighter around their necks, or hunkering under scaffolding and billowing umbrellas. It’s wet outside. The rain pours down heavier and heavier until the fronts of your jeans are soaked, and droplets run down your jacket sleeves. Puddles are collecting on the street. Cars whip past spraying a wall of water onto unsuspecting pedestrians who focus more on looking down and getting home vs. what lies ahead. It’s dark outside. The streetlights shine out and illuminate the falling mist and low hanging fog. You can see who is home and what apartments are empty; you can see just how New York is getting by during the rainstorm.

While I stood, and when I walked, I watched the city come in and out of focus. I walked out of the house with just a raincoat and a pair of Docs (well and other clothes as well). My hair was platted into two separate dutch braids that follow my skull and curve down by either ear. I have my hood up, but no umbrella—part of me knew it was raining, but the other part didn’t know how much it was. For most of my walk from 80th street to Lincoln Center, it rained hard, but I had stepped out of the house wearing my glasses.

Why that last sentence is so important is because wearing glasses during a rainstorm is almost as bad as driving during one with no windshield wipers. The droplets form on the glass and streak down when they become too heavy. You could have big drops, little drops, and sized drops in between, but there is never anything to help wipe it all away. So when I leave the house with glasses on when it’s raining, they immediately go into my pocket—leaving me in this unfocused world that feels intimately alienating.

At this point, I love to be outside without my contacts on. There are no faces until they are right next to me. There are no signs, ads, or stores to distract me. There were just lights everywhere. The Apple Store on 67th and Broadway looked like a sun, the Hotel Empire sign glowed like a red halo over the skyscrapers.

I didn’t need any street signs, I knew where I was going. So I walked along and allowed the city that so famously catches everyone’s eye, fall to the background of everything else that lingered within in it. I paid more attention to the people around me because part of me wanted to see the face that was once a blur. I looked more at how the buildings reflected in the puddle like a mirror putting a scene into focus. I noticed the way the lights blurred when the cars drove past, and how the city seemed to calm down once you couldn’t see everything that was happening around you.

New Year, New York

In case you missed it across your social media channels, newsstands, television, or ads,  its January 2, 2020 –– yes, a new year. But, I am sure it is impossible to miss the beginning of a new decade, so thus begins our daily struggle of writing 2019 on our homework assignments, journal entries, checks, and contracts and trying to scribble it out and make it look like it always said 2020

I have spent the most part of December 31st and January 1st listing my goals for 2020 because something I have learned in 2019 is that I love list almost as much as I love ticking off the boxes after I complete a task on said list. As each year passes, I learn more and more about my personality and I will always appreciate that growth. It’s the little character-building experiments that I have encountered in the last year, in the last decade, and the last twenty years that have shaped and molded me into the person I am on January 2, 2020. I won’t ever take that for granted as I look to the future. 

Right now, I’ll be cliché and say that this year will bring a “new me.” In the coming days, I will turn 25, so yes, I will be a completely different person no longer in her early twenties, but rather mid-twenties. But I have experienced some incredible highs and the deepest lows in 2019, and like 2018, I am leaving the hardships, anger, sadness, and grief in 2019 and doing everything I can to begin the new year in New York on a decisive lead –– forming a new outlook on what is to come.

There are many goals this year that “2019 Hannah” would never expect to see, one being that nearly 8 months after graduating my Master’s Degree from NYU, I am still finessing job boards, LinkedIn postings, and emailing everyone I have ever known as I look for more jobs to throw my resume at. The destitution, depression, and distress that comes hand-and-hand with being a tennant in New York City looking for work can be soul-crushing and leave you in a state of desperation. And instead of hanging my head the way Hannah 2019 did in June, July, August, etc. I am going to try and be a new me for Hannah 2021’s sake.

I don’t want to see a repeat of goals from 2019 and 2020 repeat on 2021’s list. I want to check off all my boxes this year, and “2019 Hannah” never pushed herself to do that until October. Until I sat down and said “enough,” and at that moment is when I was given an opportunity, and it taught me more than any goal in the past it. takes. more. than. effort.

I can’t just wish these goals into the universe and expect them to come back to me complete. I can’t work on my dreams for part of the day and spend the rest of my time watching others complete theirs. I won’t. Starting here with this blog. I can write my goals into existence, but it’s going to take more than effort to combat any lackadaisical “I’ll do it some other day” to manifest the goals that are sealed off for a 12/31/2020 due date. It was in 2019 that I formulated plans, found my interests, and began on the trail that leads me to 2020 with the desire to do better for my past self and future me.

With that in mind, I thought I would share the twelve main goals I have for 2020:

  1. Pitch Open When.
  2. Take a Mini-monthly Trip.
  3. Preform a Digital/Social Media Cleanse.
  4. Journal and Write Daily.
  5. Get Life Organized.
  6. Read More Purposefully.
  7. Learn A New Skill.
  8. Relaunch Blog.
  9. Organize Finances.
  10. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle.
  11. Write a New Book.
  12. Plan my Career Path.*

While I have all of that ahead of me in the coming year, I am looking forward to sharing my progress on my blog, because the lingering goal that hangs over all of these goals is documentation –– I want to remember.

There is nothing wrong with “2019 Hannah”, thats not why I am here saying I am looking forward to a “new me”. Sure, old Hannah could have used a kick in the butt, but she was busy this past decade moving to four different cities, earning four different degrees, experiencing new cultures, falling in love, learning about heartache, and surviving –– what more could you expect out of her? 

Because all of that and more has happened in the past decade, I know there is going to be so much to experience in the next ten years, so what better time than starting to really focus in on the things that matter most and begin checking the boxes off one by one! So, goal number 8, let’s get this thing going.

*If you want to ever read more about how I have broken these goals down into smaller projects, daily habits, and weekly and monthly goals, I would be happy to share that with you on another post!

 

Ghosts of Halloween Past

It’s dark. The sun has set and the sky black. The street lights glow, illuminating the sky around them with a honey-colored tint while casting shadow dances on the asphalt below. The lights hum a low pitched noise that is muffled under scuffling sneakers and distant screams. In the screams, you can hear laughter and fear muddle together tonight, this night of IMG_7778 2Halloween. 

For as long as I can remember, Halloween has been my favorite holiday. I love the idea of dressing up, endless sweets, and spooky things. For one night, I felt like I could be anything I wanted to be. I loved changing my persona, acting in character, and wowing my audience. I loved dressing in the scariest costumes I could find when I was old enough to enjoy the fright of the evening

Up until I entered high school, I loved getting home, putting on my costume, chowing down my dinner, to then meet up with friends and go trick-or-treating. That means it has been ten years since the last time I remembered what it felt like to walk up to another home and have strangers drop sweets in a goody bag.  I experienced trick-or-treating again on the 27th in Bronx, New York. It was an event catered toward children, but the adults let me join in on the fun. There’s a rush that comes with never knowing what treats you’ll get or the impression you will make.

As I got older, and trick-or-treating was swapped with parties and bar crawls, I found myself paying even more attention to the persona I put on. The costumes were stripped away, and my street clothes became the background to my smoky, and gory makeup. I wore colored contacts to draw even more attention to the depths of my new stoic character. Painted my lips blood red and my face ghostly white (yes, whiter than my already porcelain skin). I loved, still love, becoming something else for one night, or weekend of the year.

I hope my costumes become an inspiration for others in more years to come! Here as some of my more recent looks that focus mostly on the makeup and not the clothes.

And a video, for one of my interactive outfits.

 

 

Black Rum Spiced Pumpkin Cake

I like to think this recipe is a good stepping stone between people who like to bake, but haven’t yet stepped out of their comfort zone and away from the box desserts.

Sometimes, you are just craving a warm brownie, or are responsible for making a birthday cake for a friend, so you turn down the baking aisle at the store and stare down all the options that are out there. Do you want a chocolate cake, a dark chocolate cake, a german chocolate cake, a devil’s food cake, or vanilla? Do you want cookies, muffins, cake, or bread?

With so many options, it’s hard not to cut corners and pick up a premade mix that typically just requires a few eggs, oil, and some water. Sometimes you can fix them up, make them fancy, and no one knows the difference. Other times, it tastes like a box cake.

I want to say that’s okay, but sometimes it’s nice impressing your friends, and not letting them know you didn’t spend hours whipping up the batter.

So, this is a recipe that adds a little flavor to your typical, boxed vanilla cake mix. And it’s perfect for this time of the year! As far as cakes go, this an easy, and fun way to disguise the fact that part of it came from a box, and spicing up those pumpkin spice, boxed cakes vibes.

IMG_4872
IMG_8306

Recipe:

Cake:

1/2 cup chopped pecans

15 ounces can pumpkin

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup canola oil

4 large eggs

1/4 cup water

1 package yellow cake mix

2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

GLAZE:

1 cup of sugar

1/2 cup butter, cubed

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 cup rum

IMG_6059.JPG

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a bundt pan; roughly 10 inches. Sprinkle pecans onto the bottom of the pan.
  2. In a large bowl, beat pumpkin, sugar, oil, eggs, and water until well blended. In another bowl, whisk cake mix and spices; gradually beat into pumpkin mixture until well combined. Transfer to the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then remove the cake from the pan and onto a wire rack.
  4. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, butter, cinnamon, and cloves; cook and stir over medium heat until butter is melted. Remove from heat. Stir in rum; cook and stir 2-3 minutes longer or until sugar is dissolved.
  5. Gradually brush glaze onto warm cake, about 1/4 cup at a time, allowing the glaze to soak into the cake before adding more. Cool completely. This takes a long time, and there seems to be a lot, but it is worth it!
  6. Serve with some homemade vanilla icecream and enjoy.

IMG_4234

A Love Letter to London

A man named Harrison once believed I was in love with him, but what he never understood was he is the one person who reminded me of my love for London––he was the strongest tether to the feeling I still struggle to describe even today. 

My love never belonged to Harrison; hopefully, he knows that by now as any kind of romantic feelings towards each other have washed away with time. He was a man that I met through a dating app. We must have matched around the 27th of September, roughly eight days into my study abroad trip.

To this day, I still don’t understand how we matched. He lived in Portsmouth, and I lived in London, around 80 miles of rolling hills stood between us, but somehow he slipped into my 5-mile parameter and caught my attention.

Now, imagine spending nearly three-months of your study abroad time consistently talking to one man as you learn to love yourself—like really fall into the person you‘ve dreamt of being. We never met in person, but towards the end of my time in England, I knew I should goodbye. Before my flight took off in December, I had a few more texts left on my burner phone, so I drafted him a message and said my final farewell. His reply sent me into tears.

“Fu** me that went fast! I will definitely be keeping in touch and it’s nice to know you thought of me before you go back. Have a safe flight home and have a good Christmas IF I don’t speak to you before xx”

You are right Harrison, those three months did go by too fast. Saying goodbye to him, meant I finally was saying goodbye to London, and that was never something I could draft in a 160 character text message.

I sat at Heathrow airport, two hours before my flight, bawling into my chest as I sat on the leather seats and I stared down the departure board waiting for my gate to appear on the board. I wiped away tears on my emerald peacoat and shifted my legs as feelings of anxiety and nervousness overcame me.

I had spent the Uber ride to the airport sucking down tears, as I was sharing it with a roommate of mine I barely got to know over our three-month stint living abroad. At six o’clock in the morning, it was hard to know how much my anxiety and emotional state was due to sleep deprivation versus pure sadness, but I came to know just how depressing leaving London would be.

***

Now that I am older, and four years removed from my time in London, I now know I don’t need to hang on a physical being to feel the pull England has on me since the beginning. There was happiness hidden in every Sunday roast, pint of cider, “mind the gap” painted pavement, and brightly-colored townhomes.

Before London, my past seemed to mimick feelings similar to asphyxiation. I felt like I struggled for air under the pressure of not feeling whole––not feeling like myself. I felt out of place for so much of my young years that it was hard to feel like I wasn’t drowning in a skin that wasn’t mine. London allowed me to exhale then inhale with new beginnings for the first time.

Much like the days of my stay fell to the past, the green leaves on the trees in Notting Hill slowly faded into the colors amber, orange, and scarlet until they fell gracefully and collected at the bottom of the tree trunks. They painted the pavement with colors under the dazzling street lights, and every day I returned to my flat, I was entranced. I did not mind that this love was solely a one-way street. I could not overlook the happiness loving London brought me, thus teaching me how to love myself. 

I have only returned to London once since leaving that faithful day in December; that trip was three months later in March. That’s right, I lasted 13 weeks before getting on yet another transatlantic flight back to London. I was only there for a week, but that was enough to remind me that the city wasn’t going anywhere, and my love would continue to ignite in my chest like an ember refusing to submit itself to the ash surrounding it.

So, instead of saying goodbye in March, I knew that I will always feel the love I have for the city. The coordinates from the photo above hang around my neck with the words “Bloom & Inspire” engraved into the gold. For me, that spot in Regent’s Park, in London, was my time to shed everything that felt wrong hanging off my body and rebloom into the dreams that have always inspired me. This blog would have never exsitied had it not been for London, so I keep the city with me in my heart and feel the warmth of my time there until I visit there again.

There are very few cities that I have had such a tremendous effect on my life, like London, but I am looking forward to talking more about the growth I experienced in the town, no matter how short or long my experience there may have been. At times I can feel brokenhearted, as I leave so much of myself behind when I move on to another chapter. But, I am forever indebted to these cities and I wonder will ever be my home once more.

 

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

It may not be lost entirely, partially because I am doing everything I can to revive the sweet satisfaction of sending and receiving letters through the post, but it is an activity of our past that today’s technological advances continue to bury.

I love that I can pick up the phone and listen, see, and talk to my loved ones all over the world, but there is something so romantic about the act of grabbing a greeting card at the local shop, sealing an envelope with a kiss, and marking an envelope with the address of a loved one.

There’s a delay of satisfaction as days or a week goes by until they receive it in the mail which prompts a smile as the last thing they expected in their bundle of bills was their name written in familiar handwriting.

In May, I attended Book Con and had a chance to talk to a few volunteers at the Thinking of You Week Booth. They had set up a card shop where large rotating, greeting card stands surrounded tables filled with stickers and markers. People filled every table as they spent time scribbling long notes, detailing sketches, confessing their innermost thoughts, or telling someone how much they miss them.

Because a letter literally translates into showing someone you are thinking of them and it makes the recipient’s dopamine sing sweet serenades of satisfaction. And that is precisely what this week is dedicated to, showing your loved ones you are thinking of them.

There is something about a freshly sharpened pencil pressing into a crisp card —there’s something about watching the way the ink bleeds onto the page that makes your thoughts come to the surface. I find it so exciting to sit down and write to a lover, friend, or family member. I love the way you can personalize a simple birthday wish or holiday greeting and know that theyTOYW_Badge_Undated.jpg will read the letter and feel the warmth in your words.

The group at Thinking of You Week celebrates sending a card and delivering a smile. On their website, you can find thier mission, “Thinking of You Week is an international movement to celebrate the joy of sending and receiving hand-written notes and greeting cards. Between September 23-29, 2019, help us create a wave of happiness across the globe by letting people know that we’re “Thinking Of You”. Thinking of You Week is all about the personal touch!” 

I encourage all of the you to take a moment to write your loved ones this week and remind them how much they mean to you. It’s a small, but a grand gesture to spread positivity throughout the world. I love writing letters, but something I will always love more is receiving them — I love the reminder of how pure my relationship is with someone and having a little memento from them to look back on in years to come.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

On Monday, my partner and I adventured two hours south of New York City to experience first-hand the eclectic atmosphere of Philadelphia.

Among our stops were Reading Terminal Market, The Rodin Museum, The Rocky Steps, South Street, and Elfreth’s Alley. Along the way, we ate donuts stuffed with maple frosting, Wiz with (or A Steak Sandwich with cheese wiz drizzled over the onions), and drank at Paddy’s Tavern; the inspiration for the bar in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

In the future, I will definitely write more about my favorite spots, but for now, enjoy the photo gallery of our stops!

International Literacy Day

“International Literacy Day, celebrated annually on 8 September, is an opportunity for Governments, civil society and stakeholders to highlight improvements in world literacy rates, and reflect on the world’s remaining literacy challenges.”– UN.org

Literacy and Multilingualism is the theme of 2019 where the UN urges the peoples of the world to express solidarity with the linguistic diversity that is present in education and the development of literacy to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The reason why today is so essential is that literacy is for everyone, everywhere. My ability to read and write allows me to have this platform to express myself. I can pick up a book and get lost in another world that is unlike my own. I can pursue a career that I enjoy as well as further my future with the enrichment of my ancestors and diverse cultures.

I couldn’t imagine a world where I lack a way to communicate with the various cohorts I keep. I love my growing library and world of knowledge I have learned through the skills of literacy, but I understand how crucial maintaining diversity in our education systems is.

I keep a copy of Other-Wordly: words both strange and lovely from around the world on my coffee table to remind me how diverse languages can be and how some languages have words for feelings that the English language cannot sum up in a single phrase. I open it on occasions to familiarize myself not only with words but with emotions that I will then include in my writing.

Knowing there is a word like ‘querencia‘ which is a noun rooted in the Spanish language that means a place from which one’s strength is drawn, where one feels at home; the place where you are your most authentic self, means I not only am educating myself on new vocabulary from a language that was for a lot of my friends, their first language, but it’s reminding me about the places that I feel my most authentic self. 

I feel most at home with a blanket wrapped around my shoulder. I feel at home in the arms of my partner or with my toes dug into the warm sand. I feel most at home in Florida, London, Boulder, and New York City. I feel most at home with the crisp autumn air, crunching leaves, and an abundance of pumpkins.

The first time I truly felt like my authentic self, I couldn’t describe it. Still to this day when I recount my time in London, I say I “fell into what I wanted to be” “I changed into the person I felt like I have always was” because after feeling different for so long, it was great to feel the strength I always had at my core finally radiating a golden hue.

My native language isn’t going anywhere, but even if English is something many people know, that doesn’t mean we erase the languages that are so important to the histories of others. I’ve always appreciated that there is no national language of the United States because I never understood why others would say “you’re in America, speak English” to someone speaking a foreign language to their own. Irradicating someone’s culture isn’t necessary, but encouraging language diversity, education, and literacy are essential.

I urge my readers and followers to pick up a book today. I want you to read a page, a chapter, or the entire thing. I want to know what book you choose, what you learned from your moments reading, and how it made you feel.

I urge my readers to write something today for yourself. Write down your grocery list on paper, an encouraging quote on a Post-it note to place on your computer screen, or a letter to a loved one.

I want my readers and followers to take from the gift of literacy and do something positive with it today. Happy International Literacy Day!