Are We Really Listening?

Earlier this week I received, the advanced reader copy of Kate Murphy’s novel, You’re Not Listening, set to release January 7, 2020, and was immediately struck by the contents of the story. The Houston, Texas-based reporter who in the past has written for The New York Times and The Economist, shows within the first few pages just how convincing and exquisite her story-telling skills are.

What fascinates me about Murphy’s book is that even during the increasingly unavoidable loneliness of today’s digital age, she’s found a way to combat isolation. In this book, Murphy addresses the epidemic through a profoundly personal style of teaching us to be better listeners and connecting with everyone around us. In a way, she urges us to stop talking and start listening.

I have been thinking a lot about this topic, and I want to motivate my readers to get their hands on the book come the new year because I think many of us can use it as a tool for our upcoming New Year resolutions in 2020. Ever since reading the first few chapters, I have changed the way I listen to the people around me. I have become conscious of my subtle cues, and have noticed times where I really am just not listening.

I say that with sadness because no one should feel ignored, and I should know better as I have been in the situation being ignored. It’s disheartening to be on the phone with a friend and hear the radio silence behind every “mhmm” and “yeah” that they mutter out as they go through the motions and “pretend to listen.” Your confidence can be crushed when you are catching up with a friend for drinks, and they keep checking their phone in the middle of your story about what you’ve been up to since you last saw them.

As a psychology student, I have always realized how widely essential listening can be for yourself and the relationships you forge in the future, and I regret to say I’ve ever fallen short when it came to listening to everything someone said. One thing Murphy pointed out is if we are actually listening, there is no need for the subtle cues that show that we are listening. We don’t need to interject with mindless mumbles, but rather when they are done with their point, we should be able to briefly summarize what the person may have said and then add our thoughts and point of view to continue the conversation.

It could be jarring at first, but after reading that chapter of her book, you come to realize just how often you nod your head and interject in addition to how often you may lose your focus on just merely listening when you are going through the motions of proving you are “listening.”

Maybe teachers have always tried to make us good listeners. Perhaps they know what they are saying when they tell us to put our hands down until they are done speaking.

It was in middle school when I heard a teacher interject, “you aren’t listening when you have your hand up, and you’ll have more questions later because of it.” Which is wildly accurate, in school and in life outside of the classroom.

Someone may have said something, and then you replay their statement over and over in your head because you have a question about what they may have said, or you might be formulating a response and all the while you never hear the rest of their story.

There is so much we can learn from just listening, and being an active listener versus a passive listener. Although my friends had always deemed me as a great listener when it came to heading their insecurities and struggles because I would typically ask thought-provoking questions in response to their statements, I know there is more I can do to prove I am a good listener. I have Kate Murphy to thank since she was the one who reminded me just how important it is to really listen to your friends.

How many of my readers have felt ignored or lonely because they feel like there is no one out there to listen to them? Has there ever been a moment where you felt like you couldn’t be your complete, authentic self because you thought, “what’s the point in wasting my breath, they aren’t even listening?” I want you to know you aren’t alone, but that there is so much we can learn by being listeners, and the more that we can do to inspire others to listen, the more we can change the way our future develops.

Last Week of Summer

Well, it is the last week of August, which mean the “-ber” months are upon us; “-ber” meaning September, October, November, otherwise known as the best time of the year. I am ready for the days where morning mist pushes up against my rosy cheeks and causes me to tighten my layered jacket around my shoulders. I am looking forward to afternoons illuminated with a soft, golden light that cascades across the yellowing leaves in Central Park. I have waited all year for this time to great us, but we still have one last week of summer.

As summers go, this one has been relatively eventful and problematic. I officially have a degree, but as of today, I am still sending off my resume to jobs, I have little interest in because I am craving a job that seems to be on pause. I have traveled the most this summer out of many summers before, but I think I have lost chances to win over potential companies because of my travels. However, I did finally cross off Wyoming, Montana, and Oregon off my 50 State Countdown list, but I didn’t get a chance to visit my family or home. The last time I was in Florida was 2018, and I miss watching the sunset fade below the horizon as I dug my pedicured toes into the warm sand.

I anticipated having a job before August was over, but it looks like I will begin autumn the way I began summer; hunting. It is strange to think I have spent the majority of summer in front of this laptop typing away at cover letters and tailoring my resume for the various jobs, a task that seems tedious and boring, however, this summer has flown by regardless of the fact that I have been stationary for a lot of it.

Maybe its because I spent over a month traveling the country, or maybe its because although it has been a trying summer, I have done everything I can to sprinkle in activities that make me happy. I take breaks from applying to read, write, and cook. I have spent afternoons dreaming up new book ideas, autumn activities, and decorating ideas for the apartment. There were happy hour dates, movies on the pier, and picnics in the park. I spent afternoons sipping lemonade with my friends and evenings drinking frozé until our brains froze and our words slurred.

I am excited that autumn has come to an end, but it has been a long time since I had a summer like this, and these memories will always stay with me. I won’t miss the sauna that our apartment transformed into or the stench of the heated trash on the sidewalks, but I’ll miss the laughs fighting over the spot next to the A/C and the neighbors enjoying the brownstone stoops while children laugh and ride their scooters. With this being the last week of summer, I have made my list for the final stretch of the season.

To-Do

  • Purge the remnants of summer’s clutter and ready the apartment for the changing of seasons.
  • Get a meal prepping schedule down, so I can continue to enhance my cooking knowledge before I fall into an “I’m too busy to cook” mentality.
  • Grab a Mister Dips from an icecream truck, and enjoy it while the sun sets over midtown while the vanilla trails down the back of my hand and sprinkles fall to the sidewalk.
  • Take my bags to the Columbus Street Farmers Market, and locally source a summer meal.
  • Enjoy a meal on the patio of a new restaurant before all “outdoor” seating is stored away for the year.
  • Fill out my travel journal, or at least compile all the memories from this summer spent on the road, so I can look forward to what is to come.
  • Make a change to the apartment; paint a wall, put up wallpaper, or just make it a cozy place for the months spent snuggling indoors.
  • Keep up the momentum on job applications and nail a career that I would be proud to grow with.
  • Burn the last remaining “summer scents” and get the pumpkin candles ready.
  • Plan for the apple picking afternoons that are to come in the next month.

Tell me, what is on your final summer to-do list? 

14 August 2017

Holy Hot. 

I honestly cannot believe last month I resigned my lease for my apartment in New York City for another year. That means this is the third August 14th that I have spent living in New York even though every year since moving in has felt like the warmest day of Summer ever.

Yet here I am, always with my window A/C unit blowing into my face because I cannot stand how hot the top floor can get. I switch from either suffering as I feel either sweat drip down the crevasses behind my knees as I crisscross my legs as a makeshift laptop stand when the unit is off or a having a dry mouth and a raspy voice from the partially filtered air being run into the room when it is on.

Regardless, Hannah in 2017 would have never thought that two years from my first moving day would be spent in a courtroom in lower manhattan because I was called into juror duty. My stomach growls for the train ride home to my Upper West Side apartment, so I can eat pulled pork sandwiches that I made in the Instant Pot because it is way too warm to have the oven going for any reason.

I took the featured photo the summer before I moved, July of 2017. My father and I had spent the entire week apartment hunting, and I was feeling the ungodly stress that is “apartment hunting in NYC.” I experienced my first mental breakdown and subsided into tears on the steps leading up to a brownstone on St. Marks in the East Village. I had my heart set on an apartment on 9th Street and was at war with another renter for the same place, mind you, my favorite one was the first one we saw out of 25+ apartments.

I dragged my feet up walk-ups to only be disappointed and nervous that I would lose the one I loved. It all worked out in the end, I landed my first apartment in NYC, and it only set me back 2,785 dollars a month. We celebrated the completion of the ordeal with an afternoon in Central Park; little did I know I would end up living blocks from the location the photo was taken within the next year.

(I also say only as sarcastically as I can: I had friends in the Village paying roughly the same or more, and I had friends in Brooklyn starring at my wide-eyed as I shelled out how much I spent for my first apartment in New York.)

However, as you’ve read, I no longer live in the East Village. I have only visited my old neighborhood once or twice in the past year; weirdly since it was my life for nearly a year. When I did, it felt strange to cross over Broadway from my campus at NYU and head into the more historically grime-y neighborhood. I lived for the rock-n-roll, hardcore scene back then, and the avenue life gave me. As I traveled through life and New York and found out the nightlife was my vice and not my friend, I knew I needed a change.

After looking to move last year, and this year, I still suffered the same mental breakdowns and subsided into tears on the steps leading up to brownstones and the horror of apartment searches. But as always, rent prices rise, and I am still struggling to afford Manhattan.

My current apartment suffers from a four-story walk-up and outdated furnishings. It’s significantly cheaper than my last apartment and comes equipped with slanted and uneven surfaces. It’s “homeier,” as many put it, compared to my previous apartment. But with my partner and I making the leap to save money in Manhattan by sharing a place, I found myself wanting to find something that was “ours”.

I wanted a two-bedroom in the UWS. I wanted it to have exposed brick, and for it to be within budget. I was thinking our combined income gave us more wiggle room, but in turn, I experienced so much more horror with trying to move this year.

I recently went back to look at an older blog post that I recalled giving apartment hunting advice on. It went as follows:

Research before and find the median prices and keep an eye out for what is for sale. // Go in with a price range, but expect to change it. // Breath. Between. Viewing. They may be short, but don’t hold your breath. // Figure what you need and know where you can and cannot compromise // Research the building, there is a difference between 4 complaints and 400. // Brooker fees suck, but sometimes fee-less apartments suck more. // Love the area, you are going to be spending time walking there.// Envision yourself in there, if you can’t, move on. // Have all your paperwork ready or readily available. // Apply when you know and don’t let doubt prolong the situation.

Now having two years under my belt in this concrete cluster, I know some of those tips stand, but there needs to be an explanation with each.

  1. Streeteasy.com is your friend. Use it, filter it as much as you can, but remember the photos always look better online.
  2. Brokers/Real Estate people want to be your friend, but they have no problem rushing you along if they want a sale, so breathe.
  3. You’ll need to know what you are capable of when going into a viewing. Is 5 flights, okay? Can you do with only one drawer in the kitchen? Well, of course, you are capable of walking upstairs, but with 22 lbs of laundry/ this week’s groceries make a difference. Yes, and if you cook, 2 drawers make a HUGE difference.
  4. Research complaints AND your management. I’ve had some nightmares with mine, and I wish I asked more questions in the beginning.
  5. Fees Suck. Period.
  6. Love where you live, know what’s around you, but then spend your year exploring. As much as the Village was sucking in Feb/March, come May when I was packing everything up, there was so much I was missing out on.
  7. Paperwork is important but also measure during viewings. If your couch fit in the door before, it doesn’t mean it will fit in a NYC apartment door.
  8. There will be downfalls of the apartment, weigh the downfalls and figure what you need most.

This past year, my partner and I started looking in March when we had two rents and too much invested after finding the ideal spacial and updated apartment that was around the corner from our current one. it takes a lot to apply and have to not follow through with it, brokers will also hate you, but you need to do what’s best for you––you’re living there, not them. 

Learning to Live Purposefully

After writing my post on Monday, I started to really reflect on the time I spent on my phone. I wanted to know how much time I was spending on social media and how that was impacting my daily life or productivity. To do this, I notice Instagram has a new function that monitors your time spent on the app and will set a reminder notification for when you reach a particular time. I set it to 30 minutes because at the time I had averaged around 40 minutes –– 30 minutes goes by very quickly. 

And that makes me sad. Because I know there is so much more I could be doing with my time, so I am just trying to figure out how I make time and kick the habit.  I still tend to pick up my phone in the morning and scroll through social media, but there is a new voice in the back of my head telling me to be more purposeful with my time.

I feed into the idea and stigma that social media has its pitfalls and lacks its benefits, but at the same time, I worked at a start-up who employed over thirty people with generous salaries that were funded entirely by social media. I understand the power that comes with it because so many of us thrive off of it. I am following influencers who are trying to show positive, real stories. I see how they will post photos of them breaking down, unedited, and raw. They understand so many people look up to them and believe their lives are perfect based on what they put on social media, so they are more open.

I appreciate that. I try and do the same, and be honest while I write my blogs because I believe it’s okay to show weakness as you work to strengthen yourself. I am not someone who assumes everyone’s lives are exactly like their feed, especially since some of my proudest accomplishments are nowhere near my feeds; yet I still can’t get rid of social altogether. In the back of my mind, I eventually want to introduce this blog to the world through my friends and followers. There are a few of you that I have confided in, Hello, and there are some that want to read my account, but I have kept the URL private.

In the future, I know I will open up more. I know I will share this more freely and use social media to reach more and more people, but until then I made a list of things I would love to do daily that could only happen when I start living my life with a purpose.

Mock Day, I want to devote my time to:

Journaling my thoughts

Reading a new book weekly

Learning new skill

Walking and exercising daily

Cooking something yummy 

Blogging as much as I can

Practicing more creative work

 

It isn’t a long list, but ideally, between the time I wake up and the time I go to sleep, I would have done everything on this list. Sometimes it may not be realistic, but I am going to try my best to reintroduce each item to my daily activities because I know that they are habits I need to form. When I lived in London, I was able to journal every day for three months, get out of the flat and explore the city, cook food for myself and my roommate, learned how to use a film camera, and blogged daily –– and I was always with friends and excelling at my studies. I know it is possible.  

At times I have done a combination of all these tasks in a day, but never all together. I partially wonder if my time scrolling inhibits all of them being done. Could my thirty minutes in the morning when I wake up go to reading a chapter or journaling? Yes. Could I wake up at 6:00am instead of 7:00am and get out and walk a loop in Central Park? I should. Are there classes online that I have signed up for, paid for even, that are news skills I would love to have? You better believe it. It will take practice, and I know that, but I don’t need to watch Netflix all night, or I could write posts, exercise, and cook while I watch the latest episode of Big Little Lies. There are little changes to be made to make a tremendous impact on my mental health, liveliness, and happiness.

There is so much I want to do, but I want to know what some activities you would do daily if time weren’t an issue? Leave a comment and let’s try and hold each other accountable! 

 

 

I Wrote a Novel

For my Master’s thesis, I undertook 280+ pages of pure emotion that bleed throughout my first completed fiction piece. I only needed to write a 20-page academic paper to get my degree, but my advisor encouraged me to write a novel because it is what I want to do in life. It was hard, but I did it

Entering February, I only had a 1/4 of my book done and I needed it completed before the end of March. In April, I found myself trying to edit my book, but there was so much more I neede to accomplish, including actually writing that 20-page academic paper.

Although the novel isn’t where I wish I would be, I would love to share my site, some samples of my book, and where you can find it as I start the process of publishing my work. I look forward to blogging more about my process and the steps that are to come in the

Book Synopsis

Elizabeth Calhoun fantasizes about her child’s future, while her daughter, Annabelle, fights for her life after a devastating accident. The traumatizing sight of her daughter in pain spurs Elizabeth to gather her thoughts into letters for Annabelle to read. For two years, Elizabeth fills the letters with stories and advice while imagining a world where her daughter opens them after turning eighteen.

What remains on the page is a mother looking back on vulnerable teenage years, misguided decisions, and serendipitous first loves, all while reexamining who she is as a person. The letters tether the mother and daughter together through a collection of memories that Elizabeth uses to uncover who she is through the words of wisdom she aims to pass along to her daughter.

To face the harrowing details of love, anger, grief, and relationships, Elizabeth must come to terms with her daughter’s altered life journey and meet her darkest temptations. Through the process of Elizabeth’s passage through madness, depression, and pain, this evolving stack of letters collect on her desk and become a refuge that both heals and terrifies a mother.

About the Novel

I conceived the idea of Open When, my first self published novel, while reflecting ways I have tried to help my friends and family through trying times. During my time spent writing, I traveled to Leavenworth, Washinton to experience life in such a unique city. From there the idea of having letter writing tether two lives together inspired the epistolary form of the letters. The entirety of the novel is narrated by Elizabeth, the mother, as she encounters advice that her daughter may need in the future while still maintaining the form we have all come to know within letter writing. The novel had its first reading on May 10th, 2019 during “XE Thesis Symposium” where I presented on the Explorations of Form.

Enchantment Park, Leavenworth, Washington when I was on-site for research 

Sample of the Book

Purchasing a Copy

Within the immediate future, I will revisit the manuscript, initially prepared for my graduate thesis, and prep it for literary agents to manifest it across bookshelves in the future as a way to inspire more to understand life’s most difficult times. In the meantime, Open When is available for purchase on Lulu Publishing.

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Camping in the Shadows of Rainier

I lost cell phone service about an hour outside of Mount Rainier National Park. I was the navigator, so luckily Google Maps pinged my location somehow so we didn’t end up lost, but that meant nothing was distracting me from the road ahead.

We were driving from the West to the east; inland towards the coast. For hundreds of miles, all we saw were sprawling fields, deserts of mesas and rugged terrain up until we made our turn and headed straight into a deep forest––Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

Elk stood and watched oncoming cars enter the national forest. Daylight forced its way through the cloud and tree cover above. I felt the air whip into the vehicle from the sunroof as the tips of the pines swayed and disappeared out of view. I was at peace looking around as the car wound around each hairpin turn and followed the potholed road.

There was a caravan of us, three cars in a line approaching Mount Rainier and the protected land that surrounded it. My eyes were peeled for more animals lurking between the fallen trees and thick brush. Only the occasional camper caught my attention. Off the highway, on the turn-offs, there were the random trucks, cars, and camper vans perched and overlooking a family nestled along the Nisqually River and listening to Berry and Big Creek bustle.

There were so many of them tucked into the cliff faces, starting campfires, and tiptoeing across fallen trunks like a tightrope walker in the circus that I expected all of us to stop and pick a place to set up camp. To me, and my experience with camping, this had to be what everyone was doing.

However, I learned there are campsites, and that doesn’t just mean the place we pick to set up our tent, but rather for Big Creek Campground was a little culdesac of others pitching tents so close that you can hear them chatting around their picnic bench as you are falling asleep.

A few weeks before booking this trip across the country, my partner let me know there was a plan to head out and camp with his family. I had met most of them last year in Germany, so I figured this must be a big deal since half of them were making the transatlantic flight to enjoy the summer on the Pacific.

“Camping” wasn’t something I had ever experienced. I had religiously watched “You’re Invited to Mary-Kate & Ashley’s Camping Party” on VHS. I remembered how they hung the food in the tree so the bear wouldn’t get it, but other than that I severely lacked on what it meant to camp.

The anxiety that began to build made my stomach weak. On our drive, we first approached the cabins where everyone else would be sleeping. It was a quaint log cabin with a hearth and loft sleeping areas. There was a jacuzzi on the porch, running water, and a full kitchen—bigger than the one in our New York apartment might I add.

We arrived around 5:00pm, which meant as the sunlight was slipping away, we needed to make our way to the campsite to make building our home a lot easier. The three of us, myself, my boyfriend, and my boyfriend’s father set back off onto the road and followed the GPS to our campsite. We parked, surveyed the land, and got to work. There was a flat piece of land, a picnic table, and an ominous toilet paper roll hanging from a branch just off the path of our site.

They began pulling tents, sleeping pads and bags, and blankets from the trunk. It went fairly quickly, and I was helping, but in my mind, fearful thoughts were racing.

“Check for Ticks!”

“You didn’t bring any winter clothing? You know it’s going to be freezing!”

“If I were you, I wouldn’t be camping.”

The tent looked cozy when it was filled with blankets, but when I kneeled to place my borrowed hoodie, beanie, and gloves, I felt the forest floor directly beneath my knee and realized all the layers didn’t mean comfortable.

I started to set into a small panic attack. I needed to use the restroom, and I could feel the tears welling up from fear. I thought I looked like a prima donna. Like a snobby girl who had never camped and expected a tent big enough to fit my space heater, cloud mattress, and vanity set. But really this was just new, different than anything I had ever experienced. I felt exposed and overwhelmed and couldn’t control my emotions.

In the toilet, I cried. I felt misunderstood. I didn’t know how to vocalize that I was excited to try something new but also simultaneously terrified for no rational reason. When everything was set up, we headed back to the cabins to join the rest of the family for dinner and smores. Most everyone who planned on camping for one our two nights during the trip decided against it when they saw the look of the cabins. The general consensus was that they were “too old for it” or “it’s supposed to rain.” I was scared they knew something that I didn’t, that I was in for a bad experience, so I started to believe it.

I went inside myself, trying to hide, but also calm myself so I could function with everyone else. I was tired come 8:00pm. The sky was deepening, and I knew the father would want to head back to the camp. I think I realized then that I was feeling these strange tinges of feeling left out. I felt like we would miss out on something; maybe midnight boardgames or last-minute smores; perhaps even a shower at night, or having a light in the bathroom.

I went, I wanted to camp for at least one night. So before we left, we brushed our teeth with the cabin’s running water and changed into sweatpants. The headlights on the car illuminated out tents in the dark and the smoke rising from the campsite next to ours. My partner turned to me, “absolutely no food in the tent, Hannah, I mean it.” I knew he was cautious, but he also knew I had a stash of M&Ms in my seat pocket. I left everything because I had been listening to scary bear encounters on the drive up.

Our tent was unzipped as we said goodnight to his father. I shone my iPhone light onto the ground, so I knew where I was walking and unlaced my shoes outside the tent, so I didn’t track any dirt into the sleeping area. We zipped up and began to lay out the blankets over one another. There was only one sleeping bag for the both of us, so we unzipped it completely to lay on top of.

My partner held onto me tightly as there was nothing but stillness on the air surrounding us. Eventually, we heard his father’s snores, but other than that, there was nothing. It was quiet, and I was able to fall asleep quickly from my anxiety earlier, causing me to be exhausted.

I tossed and turned quite a bit from the cold. I burrowed myself into my partner’s body heat and tried to hogg the blankets. I woke up to the sound of a rooster calling and his father stirring. My neck ached, most likely from how I slept, but it meant I had a hard time looking at anything the next day; however, I survived.

I ended up camping the next night with no anxiety whatsoever. It reminded me of sleepovers with friends, and I was giddy to be cozying up to someone I love. After then, the rainstorms fell over mount Rainer, leaving our tents to drip from the roof. We spent the last two nights in the cabin, while the symphony of snores echoed from the three double beds and twin bedroom upstairs.

At times I missed the quiet. I look forward to camping again because next time it won’t ne something new. I will have already known what to expect, and know how to pack. I will be able to anticipate what we will need and what we can leave behind. A pillow, is 100% somethin gyou should splurge on if I were to give any advice on the topic.

Check out how we got to this point on my previous post about driving across the country!

NYC Bedroom

Sometimes I miss my old room.

There was a quaintness that came to waking up every morning to some exposed brick and the sunlight drenching the white curtains hanging in the window and ivory sheets that cloaked my body. There was an elegance that came with cozying up in my emerald green, crushed velvet chair that sat in the corner and became my nook for writing, reading, and studying.

I am looking forward to making this new bedroom even more exciting, although it is smaller, but a new home for myself in the coming year. As this new place is a work in progress, enjoy some interior inspo from my last place and enjoy a sneak peek to the way I incorporate the past into my new space!

Life as a Master

If money wasn’t an issue, where would I be? 

For months now, I’ve been planning the reboot of my blog. I thought about what I’d write after spending the past months writing my own novel. And any day I became excited about starting over, letting go of my previous dreams and really pushing the other ones I was dreaming up, but I froze. I thought about blog ideas, hundreds of them, but never followed through with a single one.

I looked at my blog nearly every day as I applied to more and more jobs, saying I had blogging experience, which is true, but felt like I had abandoned the first platform I had to produce work I was proud of.

Until the other day while I sat in Central Park in complete isolation. For 30 minutes, only a mother and daughter passed my area, but they turned and walked deeper into the brush. Across the way, I would see tanned faces and colorful shirts flick through the leaves on the sidewalk parallel to the one I rested my feet on, but no one seemed to ever find their way towards me.

I had needed a break that day. I had spent the most part of that afternoon sulking in my jobless stupor, putting myself in a box of being too tired of not having a job, but not working hard enough on trying to fix it. For the first month outside of my grad school graduation, I applied to a few, putting myself out there and looking for something new. The next month I was shooting blanks out into the universe. Applying to jobs I’m overqualified for, attending cold-call interviews, and being unhappy with the results I was staring down.

Except for one; I had a phone interview with a company and job I was perfect for, however, they picked someone else before I even had a shot at interviewing. I was sad, hopeless, and trying to ground myself in some mentality that was telling me I was no good for any job apparently.

The position was an editorial assistant for the psychology and humanities department at a publishing house. If you don’t know, I have my bachelors in psychology, and I just received my Masters in Humanities. For the job, all you needed was a bachelors degree and Microsoft experience— how could I not be a shoo-in for the position? I’ve gone beyond and received my masters, I wrote a book for my thesis, have experience in the editorial world and book industry, yet there I was on Friday receiving an email saying they went with someone else.

So that day, in the thick brush of Central Park, turned to my bench and noticed the plaque behind me. It was a poetic verse: welcoming the world to sit for a moment, enjoy the serenity in the quietness of the breeze, and look for the light.

How sweet it was to sit somewhere and take a moment to forget my stress. Then I thought, what a great memory to purchase. I wondered what it would be like to have a bench here and commemorate my time here. I thought about the unveiling of it, bring my lover, and family to sit and enjoy a space I loved to enjoy. Would I put it near the Zoo? Somewhere I loved to people watch. Or would I put it by the Great Lawn, the area I first found the confidence to run again after my ankle surgery? I know, I would put it in the brush, tucked away for only a few to find, but me to know exactly where it was when I needed quiet time.

Would I follow in the footsteps of this mystery person and write something poetic about nature, or would I devote it to something I loved? I started fantasizing about what I would put it as The Adopt-A-Bench program loaded. Then I realized a bench plaque would set me back 10,000 dollars. As someone hiding out in Central Park trying to avoid my fears of not making enough money in this city, I was sitting on a bench that someone felt comfortable in their income to give more of it away; a lot more.

At first, I was sad. I was immediately reminded that I couldn’t donate a chair unless I score a book advance significant enough to pay off my student loans, supply me with rent, and living wage so I could then afford a silver plaque for people to either admire or never even read–– I’d say a million would be reasonable. I was sad but then thankful to be somewhere that made me happy if it wasn’t for the money.

It had been a while when I last thought about being happy where I was. I remember feeling so uncomfortable in New York when I first moved here. By recognizing that it showed me that my experience in this city is continually evolving. I was happy enough, even in the stress of a job hunt, to commemorate my time here. That was something I never sat and thought about during all of my anxiety.

I spent so much time for so long thinking I didn’t belong; that it was time to move on to another place for another part of my journey. I can write this post and not be sad because I have found a way to make money and have interviews for more job, and even though my hunt is not over, I still am trying; I am always hopeful the situation will turn around. It has taken a moment to remember where I started in New York. I was reminded that at times, I may feel stressed as I try to keep up with the fun and work of the city. But had you asked the Hannah that moved here roughly two years ago if she even considered buying a plaque in Central Park to commemorate her time, she would have said “no way” this place doesn’t deserve it.

Let’s see what “author Hannah” has to say when shes sitting on a couple book deals and a film request (:

Also if you are looking to hire for a position, I am totally available to start ASAP!

Loved You First

In the midst of a proper heartache, I steadied my voice and told the man I once loved that I was glad I loved him first. He was my first love before any heartache. However, there was trepidation in the way he loved me back; I wasn’t his first. He allowed for the past heartaches of ex-girlfriends to dictate how our relationship would play out. Slowly, and in every action, I became them. He was able to predict the future, and therefore “we” would never survive because “they” didn’t.

While I treaded through the heartache, I was always told: “you will fall in love again; the second time will just be different.” That meant nothing to me a few months out from free-falling into a world of depressive attitudes and anxiety-riddled days. I found myself wondering if I imagined it all; if he even loved me like he said. I made myself believe we were great together until I saw him with someone else so quickly.

The thing was, he never truly heard the depth to my words. There was a surface he remained on. He had spurts of being cautionary, however, his impulsivity got the best of him. He moved on immediately, and I took the time to heal. When I said I loved him, I meant it. When he said it, he felt it at the moment and moved on from it. His words held no value.

Now that he is single for more than a month, I am currently loving my new relationship. Recently I was suddenly reminded of my past words. What he never understood was, our relationship would not have lasted had I not loved him first. There was a naiveté in my love. I took him and all his faults and loved him as deeply as I could. I was just being me, and he wondered how it was possible for someone to love in the way I did.

I used to be able to hear echoes of him in the man I currently in a relationship with. I was timid to be with someone again. Part of me worried I was still longing for my ex. I used to think they were so similar, and one day before we were together, I communicated that to my boyfriend. His response was the only thing I needed in order to see how vastly different they were.

Since the breakup, I had several men disrespect me. I was a bit of a mess for the most part until I just took time for myself to fully heal. I had matured, but with that maturity came some faults. Our breakup force fed me anxiety and I am still trying to defend my way through it. My boyfriend is careful. He headed my fears and talked me through them during that moment. My ex would have never been able to do that. He wouldn’t have responded.

I used to sit in silence, craving communication, and all he gave me was self-doubt and insecurities when something felt wrong in the relationship. If my ex ever spoke it was argumentative and accusatory. Had I loved him second, he would have pushed me further down and I would have known to leave. His life and interests came first. If he wanted a new toy, tattoo, or had any time in his day, it went to something other than me. He struggled to strengthen our relationship because there was always an excuse that came first.

It’s the little things that trip me up in my new relationship. He cares, he communicates, and he makes me happy in ways I can’t quite describe. The happiness I remember once feeling towards my ex still lingers in my memory, but the kindness and compassion this new relationship exudes are the reminders that there is someone there that will remind you that you deserve to be heard, cared for, and loved. He shows me he’s thinking of me when we are apart — he picks me up when I am upset — when we are together, he shows me we matter.

Love, and love deeply, but remind yourself you deserve the love you are giving everyone else. 

 

World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health.

With my educational background rooted in psychology, I feel personally connected to this cause. I began this journey with this blog to improve my own mental health as well as impact others. As my personal health declines, my post became less frequent until I reached the point of having too much on my plate that there was no time for me to write.

Now I get paid to write. I head into the office and from 8am to 6pm I am sitting behind this very keyboard somehow finding more time to write than I ever had before. I will admit, occasionally the last thing I want to do after writing for 9 hours, is come home and write, but this is my platform.

This is where I can speak about myself and what is on my mind. This is a safe space for me to talk through my struggles and triumphs and reach out to those that follow my blog. My mental escape was and is this space. It is the therapy I could attend when I was in a new city trying to find my way.

My mental health record has been far from perfect. Occasionally I slip into depressive attitudes: I’m not good enough, I’m not smart enough, I don’t deserve the best. For the past year, I have found myself struggling with anxiety and becoming overwhelmed and instantly shutting down.

However, it is October. For me, thinking positively always brings me back to the surface. October is my favorite month. I am finally in a city with the chilly days greet me in the morning when I step outside. I look in the mirror and feel good enough, smart enough, and that I am deserving of the best.

Talking out my insecurities or destructive thinking has always brought myself to the surface and helped me see a more positive picture. I urge you all to reach out if you ever need a person to speak to. I would not be the person I am today if I did not care in the ways that I do.

Mental health awareness is so important. You are not less than someone else for. The stigma does not exist. Together we need to shed light on days like this to break the idea of a stereotype even surrounding the idea of benefiting your health.