Friday, May 29, 2015

Free Spirit Fantasy

"If you try to tame her, she will fly away, because pretty little spirits like her never like to be caged." -Nikki Rowe


1. the nonphysical part of a person that is the seat of emotions and character; the soul.

Free Spirit

1. an independent or uninhibited person

I've been referred to as a 'free spirit' quite a few times. I hear the term get tossed around a lot, but I think it's one of those terms that have a different meaning for everyone. While some people believe it to have a negative connotation, I believe otherwise. Everyone is a free spirit in their own sense, as it should be. Life is meant to be lived free. Your soul should feel light and free, not bruised and stifled.

For me, being a free spirit means not being married to any one thing. I am completely open to whatever possibilities life may present me. I am young, single, I am not opposed to leaving my city to explore other areas. I don't have anyone or anything here that would stop me from packing up my suitcase, and leaving. Luckily, I am in a career where I really can be anywhere and everywhere, so long as I have a laptop. And I love that. Nothing in this life is permanent, and once you learn to accept that fact, life will be a lot easier for you.

I think part of the reason free spirits are misunderstood, is because many people can not understand how someone can be so independent. Free spirits don't want to have to rely on anyone, because they fear disappointment or rejection. So before this can happen, they run. While the independence can often be mistaken for arrogance or selfishness, it is quite the opposite. Many people who refer to themselves as free spirits have major or minor pasts that involved quit e a bit of self-destruction. Now, they spend the present focused on self-repair.

When I am not in school, or working, I spend my time off traveling or exploring. At any given time, I can be found living out of a suitcase for months after vacation ends. I love the feeling of leaving, and picking up in a place you've never known. Trying new restaurants, meeting new friends, adventuring up and down roads you've never been on. I love going places where I don't have cell phone service. The sights are for my eyes only. I am seeing them with my own eyes, not the lens of my iPhone or camera. I don't have to check in with anyone, and no one knows what I'm doing at any and every given moment. It's liberating.

I live in a beautiful city. Sometimes, it makes me sad how often that I take it for granted by wishing I was somewhere else. I'm at a point in my life where I'm not ready to plant roots. I'm still moving back and forth between New York and Florida, and when I'm not doing that, I like to go elsewhere. Any time I can, I go as far as I can.

Being free is not trying to be hippie, or any other kind of label. It's exactly the opposite. It's being blind to the 'trends' of what is 'cool' and 'not cool,' and creating your own 'cool.' If you like something, wear it. If you enjoy doing an activity that your friends don't want to do, go alone. If you do what you enjoy without worrying about anyone else, you may meet people who share the same interests along the way. If not, you still spent your day doing something that makes you happy.

I don't like being told what to do. I'm not talking in terms of law or at work. I follow the law, and I love what I do so much, it's almost unfair to the system to call it work. I do what I love, and get a paycheck at the end of the week. I have no complaints about that. My style is very eclectic. I don't think it can really be defined. One day I may dress like a 70 year old grandma, another day I might dress in all black, and another day I will wear a dress and cowboy boots. I have shirts that are ugly, but I love them. If I don't feel like wearing makeup one day, I won't. If you disagree or disapprove of my appearance, I don't mind, because it doesn't your opinion won't affect my decisions. Being free is surrounding yourself with people who make you happy and encourage you to be the best version of yourself that you can be. They accept your flaws, and love who you are regardless.

I'm finally getting to that point in my life where I'm learning to be a little bit selfish, and put myself first. I'm surrounding myself with the people who enjoy my company, and I enjoy theirs. There is no better feeling than having people in your life who accept every quirk, flaw, and unique aspect of your personality. I'm not wasting my time searching for validation, because I have already given it to myself. I've had a lot of loss in the past, that made me extremely protective of the things I love. I guard my family, friends, work life, and happiness with a lot more care than I used to. That's something I'm very proud of. I hope my independence is never mistaken for arrogance. There is nothing shameful about being able to stand on your own two feet, and be comfortable that those feet are your own. Stop measuring your life progress by the checkpoints society tells you you should have hit (college, moving out of your house, work, marriage, babies). Be happy where you are at. Be proud of your accomplishments, because they are entirely your own.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Understanding Depression

I remember being a kid going on vacation with my dad, and crossing the bridges in New York City. Going over the bridges, I was never scared, just curious. Not curious about the length, structure, or the potential of it collapsing into the water. I was curious about why so many people jumped off bridges.

“How could somebody be so unhappy that they want to end their own life?” I asked my dad.

He told me something along the lines of circumstance. So many things have had to have gone wrong in their life that it snowballed into something that was much larger than them. They felt trapped, and desired a quick solution.

I still didn’t understand, but I sympathized. I wasn’t sure why I sympathized with a situation in which I knew nothing about, but I believed that everybody should enjoy their life.

The last time I remember being truly happy, I was eight years old. At eight years old, I didn’t have a phone, I didn’t text, and my parents were still together. At eight years old, my biggest concerns in the world was who was going to take me to basketball practice, and how could I get my mom to let me stay up past 9:30?

I think it’s important for people to remember that depression does not always mean that the sufferer has a bad life, or that they are always sad. For me, I don’t know what external factors causes my depression to rebound like a boomerang, thrashing through my life, whenever I begin to feel the slightest bit settled. It is not something you choose. No human being, regardless of life circumstance would choose mental illness.

It is less about placing blame, and more about finding a solution. We all get to points in our lives that we go through some rough patches. A mental illness is much like any other illness in the sense that it needs to be treated. Why is it that it is so easy to get antibiotics when you have a sore throat, but when someone says they’re feeling blue, so many people try to avoid talking about it? By addressing what may appear ‘uncomfortable,’ we will get comfortable. Life is tough, and it is a lot more bearable when we help each other through it through understanding and compassion. Untreated, depression can be life-threatening.  The world will be a lot brighter for many people when we stop avoiding things we know nothing about. Take the time to learn something new and try to understand somebody else’s circumstance, you’ll become all the better for it.

I am extremely fortunate to have a strong support system in my family and close friends. I am fortunate that when they see me start to slip, they work as a team to pull me out of the darkness.

For me, I have happy moments. I feel as if living with depression means, your equilibrium is set at numb. You are still capable of feeling joy, but it comes in small doses. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the sadness comes in much heavier packages. This packages is dropped on top of the sufferer, leaving them lying on the floor, flat as a pancake. At this, it takes mustering all of your inner strength, plus some borrowed from outside support to slowly rebuild the trust in your limbs. When you manage to do so, you stand up tall, stretch your arms out to the sky and soak up the sun, and the weight breaks you down again. The longer you suffer, the shorter it seems the span is between each cycle.

The important thing I think a person can do for a friend or loved one who has depression is be sympathetic. Never ever blame a bad day on depression. I know it can be aggravating when plans get canceled, or moods are low, but have patience. Don’t wait until you are in the same position to develop sympathy. Depression is not something that can be controlled. No one chooses depression, depression chooses you. Whether it is life circumstances gone awry, or unbalance in brain chemistry, depression is anything but a choice.

Be a friend when you see someone needs them. Listen more. Ask what you can do. Sometimes, all someone suffering with depression needs is patience, love, and understanding.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

For The Mothers

To all of the mothers-
          To the single moms who serve as two parents without ever blinking an eye, to the dads who have taken on the role of a mother, all the while serving as our superhero daddies, to the strong women in our lives who may have never had children, but loved us like their own; This day is for you to show appreciation for all that you have done, and continue to do, without ever asking for anything in return.
I heard someone say that "thank you" is what you say when someone holds the door open for you, or lets you cut in front of them on the highway. "Thank you" to the woman who gave you life, or supported you throughout your life seems almost insulting: a flat, cliche gesture. So what do you say?

The answer is: there are no words. 

Only actions. 

It doesn't matter what your current relationship may be with your mom, call her. If you have a distant relationship, take the initiative to open the lines of communication no matter how difficult it may be. Take that opportunity while you have the option to do so. If you don't talk to your mom as much as you would like, make a promise to yourself to call her more often. She needs you there. She wants you there. Be there.

There are not enough words to express the gratitude you feel for all of the times you were kept up at night with a hurt stomach, and your mom sat by your bed until you fell asleep. The feeling of relief for all of the times you were going through a breakup, and your mom hung on the phone, listening to you cry your heart out for hours at a time. Whether it was falling off a bike, coming home from school early with a sore throat, or a heartbreak, where you swear your world is coming to an end: mom was always there.

No matter what your dream might have been, your mom always seemed to have more faith in your ability than you believed yourself. Although, she encouraged you to be realistic with your dreams to avoid future disappointment, she wholeheartedly supported any endeavor you wished to pursue. Remember: mom has always been, and always will be on your team. She's wearing the team jersey, after all.

Whether you want to admit it or not, growing up you refused her advice. You wanted to be an adult so bad. You insisted her rules were suffocating, you might have even muttered the words "I hate you" on occasion, out of frustration. You swore you couldn't wait until the day you could move out of the house. None of that was true. If you didn't know it then, you know it now.

The truth is sometimes, us kids tend to let our pride get in the way of accepting the truth from someone we know knows best, all the time. It can be frustrating to admit that someone is right all of the time, and that somebody is not you. Mom, we may acknowledge that you have never been wrong in the past, but we will always hang on to that small glimmer of pride that suggests maybe this time we will prove you wrong. Maybe this time we will teach you that we know a little something about life, too. This is not usually the case. There's a reason they say mom know best.

As we get older, we learn to appreciate moms better judgment and her wise advice that she so desperately tried to pass down to us.

The encouragement she provided never halted after high school. If anything, it only got stronger.
Mom is always the first one to step up when you need guidance, encouraging words, a pep talk or three, or that kick in the ass that you need.

Once in college we have the freedom that we so desperately begged for, only now, we don't want it. In the first few weeks of college and living away from home, you encounter all the things your mom warned you about. You take a deep breath, realizing she prepared you for these moments. Only now it's up to you whether you want to listen to her, or you want to give in to your pride egging you on to find out for yourself.


I for one, feel entirely grateful for my mom preparing me for those moments. Because my mom put the trust in me to make my own decisions, I didn't want to let her down. With freedom comes responsibility. I don't want to test the waters. I'm not interested in finding out what happens if I betray someones better judgment. I wanted to prove that: contrary to popular familial beliefs, lectures weren't going "in one ear, and out the other." I was listening, and taking notes the whole time, and college was my chance to prove it.

Mom, I will never take for granted the fact that I have you in my life. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to have your support. I couldn't imagine having anyone else on my side. Although we don't live in the same city anymore, I never feel the distance. Thank you for answering the phone at all hours of the day when I need you. I value your advice in life and my career. To date you have never steered me wrong once. Although you are always right, I can't say that I won't try to make my own decision, just to be sure.

Thank you for all of the times you have been patient with me when no one else was. Thank you for sticking by my side even when it was difficult.

I'm sorry for all the macaroni necklaces. I'm sorry I fell in love with journalism, so macaroni necklaces won't be a thing of the past anytime soon.

Moms, this day is for you, to appreciate all that you do.