Leavenworth, Washington

This travel post is going to be a little different than the ones I have posted in the past because Leavenworth wasn’t just a city I passed through, it was a moment of immortalization in my memories.

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Before last year, this town never existed on my travel bucket lists or must-see cities. It just sort of appeared on my radar and stumbled into my life, but now it holds so much of my heart and fond memories. Around this time last year, I was tucking into my thesis depression and searching far and wide for a location that made sense for my novel. Then the trifecta appeared — my love for small towns, random generators, and my boyfriend’s suggestions — that had me researching this town nestled into the Cascade Mountains that replicated Bavarian life in the Pacific Northwest.

I was getting stressed about the little nuances that came with naming characters and deciding their unbiased background that I was using a random name and school generators. Usually they would give 10 options at a time, so I always picked option five. I told myself I couldn’t write about a “David” or The University of Washington. I said I wasn’t going to write my book about a love interest because I thought it was cliché. Then option five was the “University of Washington” and trust me, I thought about lying and doing it again, but something was telling me to just look into it.

Then I started to research small towns in Washington. I had just come home from spending a week in Spokane, not a small town at all, and didn’t know where to look. I thought about Forks, WA, where Twilight was set, but then nothing about the town intrigued me except for the fact that they have vampire tours now. So no, I didn’t want a town clinging to its defined claim to fame necessarily; I wanted something whose charm influenced the way people perceived it. So I asked David.

He suggested I look into Leavenworth. I saw the way the European facades contrasted with the mountainscape and found what I loved so much about Europe in America. I was sold by that, but worried, who was it that live in this tourist-attraction, Disney like town? I was searching for places that weren’t shopping for replica old-time photo booths and every t-shirt variety possible with the same city, just written in different fonts. And then David found it, Mailbox Peak, the ending of my story lied in those peaks, so I knew it had to be in Leavenworth, but I needed to go to Leavenworth and see the town for myself.

I remember getting into the rental car and immediately thinking about how I wanted to document every feeling and thought I was experiencing, so I took photos to try and capture them all. I flip through them all and hear the way. Delicate plays through the speakers as Seattle’s cityscape appeared through the mist and clouds. There were videos about how the sleet splatted on the windshield as we started to drive into the mountains. Or when the sleet turned to massive flakes that coated everything around us until even the tire tread marks blended into the white wonderland around us.

Into town, you heard the laughter of children as they slide down the small hill in city-center. Some buildings had a Bavarian-style on the outside or a sasquatch mascot wearing lederhosen inside, but most had both. It’s a quaint town with charm, locally-owned businesses, and places to explore. But something I don’t know if I could ever clearly describe was the silence that came from the way the snow soundproofed the town. We were there in February when the activities surrounding Christmas had died down, and Spring Breakers weren’t ready to slide into their boots and traverse the slopes.

We came up to the creek, trudging through shin-high snowdrifts until the silence turned into a bubbling of icy water flowed in front of us. I could feel how my jeans were slowly absorbing the snow that clumped onto my legs, but I never wanted to leave. The snow just fell around us delicately, clinging and spotting our hair and furry hoods. IMG_0373.jpeg

We explored even more of the parks, where young adults made makeshift snowboard ramps out of ledges and stairways. We stopped to warm up at Hewett Brewing Beer and Pizza where serves up some spectacular varieties and piping hot pepperoni pizza. So many locals came in just for some crowlers (can growlers to go) and pizzas for the family.

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When we left the restaurant, we headed into the main square where a horse-drawn carriage contrasted against the Dodge pick-up trucks and Toyota Camrys. There were Christmas lights clinging to all of the trees, gazebo, and buildings.

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Then I went into one of my favorite stores, A book for All Seasons where hopefully one day they will stock my book! I hope to go back soon to give more advice-based feedback around the town, but until then, its 100% worth just walking around the snowy days or stopping in for Octoberfest during autumn.

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06 January 2018

This week, New York was quiet. Businesses closed their doors, travelers avoided the streets, and lovers stayed in their beds as nothing but the wind howled past the skyscrapers, brownstones, and buildings that huddled next to one another. The sight was peaceful to look down on from the second floor of my apartment. Individual snowflakes crystalized on the window pane. Piles of snow collected on the grates of the various fire escapes as the street, sidewalk, and cars were blanketed by the snow falling freely in the city. For a while, no footprints carved their way through the pillowy perfection and New York was a stunning sight to see.

The white was crisp, washing my face in a light that woke me in the morning. I reached out and divided the curtains, exposing the way the snow fell and remembered the beauty that came with winter. As I lied there, listening to crackling wood-wick candles and smelling the way they filled the room with a rich cinnamon and pine fragrance, I sat sipping my herbal tea. I felt the heat through the glass, escaping into my palms as I pursed my lips and blew away the steam. I caught a glimpse of the way the emerald green armchair in my room glistened. I felt the comfort of the blanket enclosed my shoulders and hugged me as I cuddled up in the pillows behind me. I dreamt of mornings like those, mornings of bliss and peace, but never did I imagine I would find those mornings with you.

Now, you are the light that wakes me up each morning. I lie and listen to the steadiness in your voice that greets my soft hazel eyes as they open. I catch a glimpse of your love lingering behind your blue-green eyes as they meet mine. I smell the way your t-shirt clings to the fresh citrus, spice, and musk of the Bearglove scent as I nuzzle closer into your arms. I feel the way your warmth drapes my body in nothing but comfort and relaxation. Never did I think I would wake up to steaming scrambled eggs, peanut butter toast, and tea being carried in on a platter by the man I met on the 6th of January after a snowstorm kept me from meeting him sooner. And at that moment I think about how happy I am to have you as a lover.

I knew when we started talking, I’d never catch a pause when it came to finding the conversation to hold with you. Because with you, the words flow out of me as you constantly push me to think deeper, with more meaning, and thoughtfully. When I caught a glimpse of you, I noticed how brightly my smile shone, and it means the world to me that the light has only brightened over the years.

Today is the 3rd January 6th that I have spent by your side and I wouldn’t change a thing. It was on this day, that I learned of how much greatness someone could bring my life after what felt like a never-ending cycle of misfortune and bad luck. Since then, you remind me how much effort and care goes into a partnership and I will always cherish the laughs, frustrations, and sleepy Monday mornings with you by my side. So, what are you doing tomorrow?

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.

 

 

A Lick of Golden Sunlight

It’s the way shimmering golden flecks dance on the world around you––the reflection of light, illuminating the spot you stand upon. Have you seen the way the sun shines down upon you? 

It’s a harmony of chords, being plucked and strummed delicately like a song you never knew you had waited your entire life to hear. A song that speaks the soft truths that resonate with feelings you’ve never spoken out loud, but are nonetheless surprised to hear. And I hear you. 

It’s home. It’s a glowing ember that survives the night and leaves a trail of heat even as the sunrise drenches it in the morning light. It’s the soft fleece that covers your shivering body until the warmth returns to your fingers and toes. It’s delicate, but it is a haven. 

I can feel it on my lips—smooth, tender, and soft. It’s like waiting for a piece of milk chocolate to melt in your mouth. It’s the silky notes of creamy flavors that soak into every tastebud. The feelings blend and are never fleeting.  

I can see it grow like a tendril sprouting from the fertile soil that was turned over for the new season. My feet fumble through the rocky surfaces, but they always carry me back to these moments. 

I heard a song yesterday evening that could only be described as a lick of golden sunlight filling my mind with nothing but inspiration. Her voice is light and airy, floating into my consciousness, bringing tears to my eyes. It’s so different from any other song I had ever felt emotionally attached to. It’s so essential for me to make that distinction. This is so different, and that is the best thing I discovered this week. 

I heard the song and felt my fingers itching for my keyboard and pen. I found myself getting lost in the curves of my handwriting, and the rhythmic sound of my typing. For once, I remember what I cherish and how I love to express those feelings through prose. Those impressions are the most powerful, brooding, and intense emotions to capture––like the gaze of a barn cat enjoying the sunlight on a warm winter day, the image is unforgettable.

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.

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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.

 

Living in a World With Octobers

As the temperatures drop into the low sixties, and New Yorkers and tourists alike step out on the streets in light sweaters and zipped up jacket, I step out and feel overcome by the gratitude of living in a world where there are Octobers. And this October will be mine.

When I think back to October 2018, I see a smitten young girl trying her best to navigate toxic friendships, a new 9-5 job, a budding relationship, evening classes, and autumn activities. When the 20th rolled around, I wondered where all the days went and felt like I hadn’t spent my days loving everything that is to come with the changing of seasons.

I was struggling, at times to stay afloat in my creatively, demanding job while I was drowning under readings, research assignments, essays, and thesis pitches. It wasn’t until the second or third week in October when I even considered what I was going to be for Halloween, now that I had someone to finally have a couple’s costume with.

I felt stress more than I ever felt gratitude for my favorite time of the year, last year. So, this past week, I decided this October was going to be different. Sure my part-time job (oh yeah, I finally nailed down a job in a publishing house!) and my freelance editing gig is leaving me less financially stable compared to last year, but I am finding a way to do everything that I want to do to enjoy October.

I’ve applied my berry, matte lipstick, cooked pumpkin-rich treat, cracked out the autumnal decor, and enjoyed a few Halloween themed books, movies, and television shows–-and yes, it is only October 2nd. 

I have bought up all the seasonal beers, snacks, and treats. I have looked up all the spooky sights the City has to offer. I have lit candles to throw scents of fresh apples, spicy pumpkins, decadent desserts, and musky woods. And I have done all of this because I want to thoroughly enjoy my favorite time of the year.

I stressed most of the summer, and I don’t need to bring those feelings of self-doubt, fear, and anxiety into the autumn because I want to look forward to my events.

As of the 2nd, I am planning for road trips spent leaf-peeping, afternoons spent apple picking, evenings spent at haunted houses, and nights spent cozied under a blanket scaring my sock off during silly horror movies.

Do you have a time that makes you feel utterly at peace?

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.

Finding Your Light: The Action

A while back I started a series I never followed through with, until today, of course. I talked a little bit about the self-doubt I had been feeling at the time and how it had surpassed a similar doubt I had a few years prior to then. I described the way it flooded my bloodstream with toxic feelings at such force, and I wanted to talk about how I was combating the negative energy. Partially because I wanted to feel strong.

I mentioned that I was starting this multi-part series to invite others to gain insight towards mental health by providing personal experiences that I hoped, in turn, would promote more people to gain an understanding of the significance of mental health. I wanted to make sure individuals knew that you are not alone, there are so many resources out there to better yourself. 

Not too many knew that in 2017, I became crippled under the weight of fear and ached every time I tried to pull myself back up. So I wasn’t heading my own advice, I was isolating myself. I struggled, still struggle, daily with the events surrounding the changes in my life, but the struggle I initially wrote about is gone.

When I first wrote Finding Your Light: The Onset I had no idea what was to come within the next month –– the hole I found myself in July 2018 was a pothole compared to the fault line that eroded my sanity come August 2018. But, I wasn’t wrong in July to discuss my hard times, but what I should have done was listen to my own advice.

When I was at my darkest time, I wrote only one post, and you can feel the pain seeping through the words. I remember having a friend reach out to me the day I posted it. They had read it and wondered if I needed anyone to talk to, but I shook off my issues. I didn’t take my advice to not let the demon consume my happiness, but instead I allowed him thrive in for way too long.

Because of that, my light shattered more, but that seemed impossible. What happens when you drop an already broken piece of glass?  It explodes into more and more fine and fragmented pieces that I, in turn, amounted myself to because I felt like I was a fine mist of dust allowing something invisible to the eye, something such as wind, to take control.

I was sick, mentally and physically, but weakened to nothing past a sleeping vessel that struggled to ever feel rested. I abused myself and my health, and I let insignificant people define my worth. I let depression linger behind my sullen, hazel eyes that were tinged red from the evenings spent overthinking and manifesting fear. 

But I took action, finally, because I needed conversation. I needed a distant bystander who could talk to me and listen. It helped to see a therapist for a few weeks until she tried to take control of the therapy session. I wanted to talk about the flames because I needed help putting them out, but she was too busy trying to forge through the ashes that were lying where objects once were. The dust wasn’t me, but the wind oxygenating the flickering flame emitted an unbearable flame.

The conversations for awhile validated me. They told me the pain wasn’t insanity, and that I could find something better. It reminded me about who I was when I was younger. I knew I struggled with self-confidence. It was almost typical for me to feel down about myself. I had a great friend group, a supportive family, and a bright future, so why was I manifesting on this low time when I should be thankful for all the highs?

The second the therapy would no longer help, was when I gained the confidence back in myself to really believe in who I was and the journey I was on. I was a grad student, thriving in class, and making friendships that were going to matter. Hell Yeah, Hannah, keep kicking butt! I was writing again, for schoolwork, but I was creative again.

But being thankful wasn’t enough because I was still grateful for a handful of the wrong things. I was thankful for toxic relationships, honestly up until the end of 2018. I couldn’t hold on to those people, and I needed to learn to let go. I was thankful for my freedom, both financially and parentally, but I wasn’t following a life destined to be thankful for.

Sometimes I think back to what fun I used to have with some people in the East Village, but leaving it all behind showed me how to bring the happiness back. I wrote a bit about that journey in Relationships After Heartache when I referred to the saga as the “August downfall.” But I learned in isolation I could focus on myself. I wasn’t worried about saying the right thing to someone, striking up the best conversation, or ordering my favorite drink. I wasn’t concerned with making an impression, telling the funniest joke, and worrying about what my friends were saying behind my back. I just was me, alone in my apartment, crying when I needed to but mostly doing the things that strengthened me.

The reason this time was different was because of the way the negative thoughts strained me into a thick pulp without any sustenance. Sometimes I still struggle to let go of the toxic relationships, hoping they just lie in a grave, so I don’t have to deal with goodbyes, but I have learned how to walk away. Because walking away from the sadness was the one thing that brought happiness back?

My sadness in July? I buried it in 2017, looking my anxiety and depression, literally in the eye and forgiving the demon forever reintroducing it in my life. I told him that I am no longer mad, and that is why this time was different. The past showed me that I can stand up and turn away from something I don’t want to be apart of, and I think so many of us can struggle with that part.

I think we worry about the action when it comes to rekindling our light. We fear that it won’t fix anything, but this time was different because I reignited my light in the most mature way compared to the past. I learned I could find even more strength if I just gave myself a chance, so give yourself a chance.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, I urge more to feel comfortable asking for help. Bearing the weight of your friends in times of need is not meant for everyone. If you are in a space in your life where you can be there for others, I hope you utilize your gift as I have in the past. If you personally cannot handle that role, help yourself, and help others to seek personal help. There is nothing shameful for wanting help. Hug more and remind those in your life that you love them, it will make a significant impact on your well being.

 

 

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.