A Helpful Green Thumb

Emotionally draining, that’s how I would describe the last few weeks of my life. Not necessarily in a bad way but still draining none the less. I woke up this morning feeling slightly depressed and after moping around for the first couple of hours after waking up, I decided to try and snap myself out of my funk.

I had a few materials left over from a wedding project I had completed over the weekend and decided to put them to use in hopes of making myself feel better. I had a left over Rosemary plant, a mason jar, rocks, and potting soil. I layered the bottom of the mason jar with the small rock and then poured in some potting soil over the top . Next, I removed the Rosemary plant from its container gently shaking loose the roots. I then placed the plant inside the jar and packed it in using more potting soil. I added little bit of water and presto! Not only did I have a cute Rosemary plant but I also felt so much better.

I am unsure of when during the process the smile had appeared but either way, I am grateful for it. As I look at this little plant sitting on my bedroom window sill I can’t help but feel the warm feeling of joy in the pit of my chest. With just the small action of re-potting this tiny herb, it had instantly given back so much more. Just another way of  Life reminding us to simply try to find joy in all of its simplicities.

 

Contending With Honesty

My relationship with honesty has always been irregular.

As a kid, I would make up stories even about the most typical parts of my life. I had my reasons, though. It wasn’t because I loved lying. I used to hate to think about it as lying. I chose to think of it as storytelling. I told stories to fit in with the crowd. I used to think that all the kids I met had cool lives. I wanted a cool life too and so I would spruce up certain things about mine just to make me feel like I was like them.

I did eventually grow out of it. It was exhausting, not only portraying someone that you’re not, but it was hard to realize that others would in turn read me wrong. I felt like no one really knew me, let alone understood me, and how could they? I wasn’t giving anyone the real version of me. As I got into high school being honest soon started to become my new addiction. So much so, that I became brutally honest. That began a totally new battle. Instead of before when my battle with honesty seemed more internal, now it was starting to become a more physical battle with others.

I became explosive with my honesty. If I was feeling a certain way about something, I was letting you know whether you wanted to listen or not. There was no sugar coating anything. What for? To add confusion? To allow someone to believe that things were one way when in reality it wasn’t, or to soften the blow? I felt as though that was all wasting time and why do that? Arguments with people would ensue, be it with friends or family. Then that too started to become exhausting.

It wasn’t until my 20’s, once I moved away from home and began to really look into my self, that I began looking at life and how to handle it differently. Soul searching provided me with a different view on how to approach certain aspects of life, especially that of being honest. I learned that it was important to share your thoughts and your true feelings with others so that there would less confusion and more understanding. It was OK to be brutal but just as easily OK to soften the blows, and that there was a time and place. Yet, since then I have come to understand that I now have a new hill to climb. I now struggle with the patience that must be had when it comes to others and their understanding of honesty.

To me, I see honesty as a privilege that we should be allowed to have. It should be our prerogative, as human beings, to want to express it as well as be able to receive it. The thing is, people only see life and everything about it, from their own perspective. Human beings are so self absorbed in their own lives and feelings towards it, that they tend to forget that others that they are sharing this existence with my have a different spin on what they share as the same situation. That’s how feelings get dismissed and how lives become discounted and discredited.

Take, for instance, a “break up” (if we could even call it that) I had about 4 years ago. A good friend of mine and I were becoming reacquainted again after my move back from CA. We began going on dates here and there, which later then turned into midnight escapades. It was fun but only until I started realizing that he was falling hard and I, simply put, just wanted to have fun. I was honest and explained that him and I were on two different planes in life and although everything was fine, I simply did not see him “in that way” and felt that it would only be right to end what was going on. It was difficult for me to do because I knew of how he felt for me. Who wants to break someone’s heart? Yet, I couldn’t lead him on or waste his time nor mine. His reaction wasn’t good. He hated me of course and called me every name in the book. He went on to talk shit about me to all his friends, spewing all sorts of negativity to anyone who would listen. I was in shock. I knew he was going to be upset, but to the point that he had spoken so ill of me? I was in shock because I hadn’t understood what he had wanted me to do. Had he wanted me to lie to him and put up a charade all so his ego’s needs could be met? It took so much patience to not lash out the way I wanted to about that situation and that’s only one example. I see it everyday with the people I come in contact with , the battles we all have with honesty and all the internal and external struggles it comes with. So are battles with honesty that irregular then? Or is it actually more common than we considering human beings and how we think, which is in mainly an introspectively self absorbed way.

I place a high value on honesty when it comes to terms with myself and others. I choose to be a woman of integrity and want for my character to always be able to be described as open, honest, and approachable. I want to be receptive because if I want to be heard, I too need to listen in order to understand.

I guess maybe these aren’t even battles with honesty at all. It’s just learning life.

3 Days In

I have officially been 32 for three days now and although I have always known that I would love my 30’s, I didn’t think I was going to do so as much I do.

I feel powerful and assertive. I am truly comfortable in my own skin. I love that even though I may not know exactly what I want in all aspects of my life, I do know exactly what I want (or don’t want) right now.

“Do I want to pick up that work shift tonight? Nope. Do I want to date seriously right now? Nope. Do I feel like going on a random adventure to wherever the heck I want? Hell Yes! Am I going to wait around for others in order to realize my dreams? Nope.”

I’m not concerned about others and their role in my life as I once to be. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I care about those that are in my life. I am nice to strangers. I love and cherish humanity. All I’m saying is that I cannot and will not place my life and my potential level of happiness in their hands.

Most of my early to mid 20’s were lived thinking that I knew so much when in actuality I knew nothing at all. Not only that but I was constantly making decisions based on other’s wants and needs instead of my own. Back then I had  no clue what I truly wanted. Once I was humbled and began to realize all of this, I was opened to a deeper sense of self-discovery. My late 20’s was the beginning stage of my core self-discovery, because let us be real, life is ultimately about self-discovery. I discovered my core “self” and what it needed and wanted. These past couple of years of entering and beginning my 30’s has been a time of implementation.  I have been working on better decision making, and when I say “better” I mean better for myself, as well as taking steps towards goals I have always wanted to keep for myself.

Now I can say that my ways have changed just like the taste buds on a tongue’s pallet. My inner child lives on but its thinking has gotten a bit more wise; a bit more acquired. I look forward to all the happiness I’m going to be bringing upon myself. I’ve got this new zest to life and it’s slowly awakening my life’s purpose.

Keepin’On

There is an internal battle I’m having between what I am and what I want to turn “this” into. The problem is, I don’t really know what I am and I’m not too sure what I want to turn “this” into.

What is “this”? It’s my writing.

I have so many ideas swimming around constantly in my head and lately I’ve taken so much time off of writing that now my brain feels as if it is over flowing with topics and ideas to write about. Yet as I sit here and try to put something together, it all falls onto the paper as a jumbled mess. It’s almost as if my ideas have been puttied together and I don’t seem to have a clue as to how to pull them back apart. Everything from short stories, to novels, to comedy skits, to movie plots and story lines. I even have a fictional character whom I’d love to make into it’s own “thing”; its own entity.

I’m not sure if those that read this will understand what I’m currently feeling. I would suspect that most won’t and will look at this as a sort of “yammering on” type of blog piece but I’m sure there will be a handful that can understand my current struggle. If I were someone else giving me advice, I would say to me that time will disclose what path to take. I would say to not worry so much about where you’re headed but more on the “right now” since it is the present that is gifting you the experience for whatever ends up being your mission later.

It’s good advice if I do say so myself. It’s a great reminder that everything has a “season and a reason”. For now I’ll have to settle for simply sifting out my  thoughts while making sure to just keep on writing them all down.

 

Welcome Back

Death always has a way of stirring up thoughts and emotions that one sometimes ignores.

My grandmother almost died last week. The little firecracker put a real scare into everyone. All seven of her kids flew to Colombia to be by her side. A couple days later she made almost a full recovery. As full of a recovery that an 86 year old lady who just happened to catch a bad case of pneumonia could. She also had blood clots forming in her lungs which is what made the doctors question how much longer the little lady had to live.

The scare reunited the family together. For a week they all stayed by her side, laughing, crying, reminiscing over the good and bad times they have shared together. For me, my grandmother’s close to death experience made me think long and hard about all of the sacrifices this woman had to make in life raising 8 children, losing one of them, all while married to a husband who hadn’t loved her as much as he should have. It made me think about my life and how I never wanted to sacrifice my entire existence to please others instead of pleasing myself.

I hadn’t realized how unhappy I had recently become until a few things happened that triggered a shut down. When I say I shut down I mean I shut down. Other than getting up for work and robotically moving throughout my workday, I couldn’t muster up any energy to do anything else. No writing. No painting. No socializing. All I wanted was to come home, crawl into my bed and get lost in a world of Netflix and YouTube videos. The night would end and the next day would start, the same routine all over again. I was depressed and I hadn’t even realized it until an argument was had with the guy I was seeing which really placed things into perspective for me,  which was then followed by the news of my grandmother’s declining health.

I decided to take certain matters of mine into my own hands. I made a firm decision to walk away from a situation that wasn’t working for me. It’s been a few days and I can’t say I regret doing so. I hadn’t realized how stressed out I was before, and now that changes have been made it is like my days are a little brighter and I go about my life like a summer breeze, cool and calm. I feel like I am almost back to being me again. Even as I sit here and write this I wonder how I could let such outside forces really determine whether or not I have time to do the things I love to do. I blame myself for giving so much of me that I had no energy to then give to myself. It is a lesson I learned before but I guess I had forgotten about. I will not forget again. I will not lose myself or lose the energy to do for myself to simply make others happy.

Hi Me.

Welcome Back!

 

Yes We Are And This Is Why

I was apart of a very interesting conversation not too long ago which included my boyfriend and one of his good friends.  They were speaking of the best method to clean car headlights.

“Bro, all you have to do is spray your headlights with OFF bug spray and bam! They’re clean!”

“Yeah, you told me that but when I looked it up it said that it doesn’t last very long. It’s a short term fix. I’m just going to buy the special kit and clean them. I can clean yours too babe.” My boyfriend smiles, turning his attention from his friend to where I was sitting.

“Awe, I appreciate that! But don’t worry, I can just do it.” The statement spilled from my lips without a second’s thought. It has always been natural for me to do things on my own. For one thing, I’ve never liked to burden others with tedious duties, especially if it’s something I could easily just do my self. Plus, I’ve always been one to just take care of things on my own. Not so much because I want to but because I’ve been conditioned to. My boyfriend’s friend, who I just met a couple months ago, wouldn’t have a clue as to the reasoning of my reaction though and he quickly starts to lay it on thick…

“Lord.. all you women now-a-days are so independent! Can’t you girls just let us do things for you? I mean, it’s because we actually like to do things for you. It’s how we show that we care, seriously…”

He is not the only man to feel this way. I feel as though the majority of men see women as wanting to be Miss. Independent, yet to be honest, I don’t think it is so much of us wanting to be independent as it is that we have been conditioned to be this way.

My generation is the generation of the baby boomer parents. Baby boomers are the generation to have really started a new trend in parenting, instilling different values and ways of life. Whether you were married and then divorced, raising children that way, or never married to begin with and having children out of wedlock, one of the major lessons taught, be it beaten into you or subconsciously taught, was the lesson of being independent. Doing for yourself so you would never have to solely depend on others. This lesson being especially directed towards females. Men were always raised as being the “men of the house”. Families have always depended on men to bring home food, to help build and maintain shelter and order. Men were always looked as the bosses, the ones who truly ran the household. It has only been in the last 50 years or so that women have begun a new sort of revolution with what they wanted their contributions to be. More freedom to choose what, where, when, and who when it came to decisions to be made in their lives. Even women who have been in a loving marriage for decades will say that they wish a sort of different life for their daughters, one with more leeway to do what they want to do and without having to depend on anyone other than themselves.

My parents divorced when I was 4 years old. At that time, my mother had depended on my father so much that she didn’t even know to fill out a personal check on her own. She had been so utterly dependent on my father that when they split up, she felt as if she had been thrown into a world she knew nothing of. It was a struggle for her to get back on her feet and succeed as a single mother of two young girls. Her mantra always was, “Do for yourself. Depend on no man. You are all you need.” and as a kid, watching and observing, I took this in and applied it to my life. Before I knew it, it was my life.

I am no extreme feminist by any means. Yet, I do understand the thoughts behind those that are, just as I understand the frustrations plaguing men when it comes to the evolution of women and the roles men now play in their lives. But as it is a struggle for men to adapt to a woman’s newly found independence, it is also a struggle for women to find a middle ground with wanting to be independent while also allowing room for someone else to help take care of you. It is a small battle that presents itself regularly in life. One that I don’t ever see being won by either party but one that can be a bit more manageable.

For me it is a struggle to let go of the reigns a bit and allow for someone else to take on  more than what I am used to giving up. I have to remind myself that yes, although I am very independent, I also have to allow others who love me to do things for me, not because I can’t do them myself but because for them, it’s a way to show that they care. It takes effort and awareness to be able to allow for this to happen but it’s a challenge worth accepting if it means bringing a bit of joy into someone else’s life. I hope that for the women who read this post it allows for you to take a step back, however slight that step may be, in order to allow someone else to do for you. Allow them to care for you in ways that they would like to express. Give them that chance to express. I also hope that for the men who read this you may now understand that maybe it isn’t so much that we hate your help. It is that we have grown into independence and truly know nothing else.

Bottoms Up. Lights Out

It was like I had suddenly woken up from a century long slumber. When I say suddenly, I mean suddenly. It was like a loud mental crack back into reality. My eyes took a while to open for they felt to me as if they were swollen shut and to be quite honest my body felt like a sack of cement. My eyes roamed around but nothing to me looked at all familiar. My surroundings seemed and felt odd. I simply felt completely out of place. I slowly tried to sit up but could only prop myself up onto my elbows, I was feeling extremely groggy. I looked around the room,  a pale blue color covered the walls surrounding me. I was in some sort of hotel room it felt like. The area of the room that I was in was covered in very tacky beach decor with shells and flamingos dancing all over the place. I was on a hard couch and directly in front of me stood a balcony with its doors completely open. The white sheer curtains danced in the breeze and if it wasn’t for the fact that fear was slowly gripping me around my throat, it all would have seemed almost peaceful. I was definitely in a hotel room but who’s? I could faintly hear the ocean roaring in the distance, seagulls adding to nature’s acoustics. The sudden voices coming from behind me made me jerk around to see who and where it was coming from. 

This was my initial reaction to waking up in an unknown place with absolutely no memory of how I got there. Although I had tried to forget about this, it all came rushing back when I was watching the news today.

A good looking couple from California have made headlines after being caught drugging and raping unsuspecting women. The pair would hit the streets in search of victims, charming them, drugging them, and then leading them back to their private office to have their way with them. Over 1,000 videos were found on both of the suspect’s phones allowing authorities to believe that there are many more victims than just the two that have come forward.  The two suspects deny any such allegations and are currently out on bail.

These two were not the couple that drugged and raped me, but they might as well be.

I will never forget the duo who charmed me into inviting them to hang out with my co-workers and I one evening after work. It was about 10 pm and I had just finished my night shift at the restaurant. I had decided to wait for my co-workers at a local bar right in between our place of employment and where I lived. I sat alone at a table for six. The bar was busy with tourists. By this time most seemed drunk and those that weren’t yet would be soon getting there. The live band playing had a crowd on the dance floor and I was soaking up the good vibes while I waited. It wasn’t long before I was approached by a pretty girl and her boyfriend. They were visiting from Ohio, a quick getaway for the couple who wanted a break from their hectic family life. They were both beautiful people. She had shoulder length  shiny, black hair and ice blue eyes. He reminded me of a golden boy, with a gorgeous sun kissed tan, light brown eyes, and short golden locks that framed his face. When she approached me initially she asked if I mined if the two  could sit down at the table with me until my friends arrived and of course, me not wanting to be rude, said yes.

From that point on the entire night was anything but normal. Looking back on it, I should have suspected that something was about to go terribly wrong because of the fact that things weren’t panning out as they normally would have. Back then though, a switch of scene and people added a much needed excitement to my life. I, however, was not prepared for, nor wanted, the kind of excitement that was getting ready to present itself.

As we waited for my friends to get out of work, this girl and I were chatting away. She asked me what it was like living in a touristy spot and about my tattoos. I asked her what sort of hectic life her and her boyfriend were trying to vacation away from. We chatted and it seemed natural. I was pleased to have found company while I waited. Her boyfriend offered to buy us a round of beers. I ordered a Miller Light but for some reason I was not in the mood for too much drinking, so I babysat that bottle until my co-worker’s arrival. Introductions were barely made when the couple asked if there was a strip club in the area. They were looking to spice up their last night out on the beach,

“What a more perfect way to end our vacation than with some ass and titties!” He shouted, overly excited. She seemed a bit embarrassed by his question but there was a slight flicker in her eyes that gave way to her also wanting in on this type of fun. One of my co-workers mentioned the low quality strip joint located right before the bridge before heading out on the island and offered to drive us all if the couple paid for his beers, and just like that, we all ended up piling into his SUV driving out to Fantasy’s.

At this point, I was only one beer in and not really wanting to head to the strip joint. I had been there a coupe times with friends before and it wasn’t anything to write home about. It was small and dingy. The girls are a reminder of sadness and instead of enticing a good time all they stir up in you in an overwhelming feeling of loneliness and pity. I wasn’t motivated but I also didn’t want to go home. I wanted a night out with friends and if that meant heading to Fantasy’s for  bit then I would suck it up and go.  It wasn’t more than 15 mins after arriving at the strip joint that things took a turn, which would then land me in this couple’s hotel room, naked, vulnerable, and with no sense of what had happened to me.

We arrived and immediately everyone headed towards the bar to get their first drink, everyone but me that is. I still wasn’t in the mood to have a drink, which for everyone who knows me that’s not in my normal character. I am not sure why I wasn’t in the mood to drink that night. I’d like to think that maybe my subconscious knew that there was something dangerous lurking right around the corner. No matter the reason, I didn’t heed the warning. My friends questioned why I wasn’t drinking and I remember telling them, “Not yet. In a bit I’ll order something..” I felt like I just wanted to be alert for a little longer. I really wish I would have stood my ground when the couple approached me with a shot.

“Cheers! To the three of us! Here’s is to unexpected new friends and a wild night!” That was his speech and although I found it a bit out there, I took my glass and clinked it with theirs.

“Bottoms up!” She said and from that point on, my night a blur, then ended with lights out.

The rest of the evening I can only recall in small bits and pieces. I do not remember leaving the strip club although I was told that we stayed there for about 45 mins. A co-worker informed me that I didn’t want to leave and had even given a wad of cash to one of the dancing girls after she told me a story about her and her kid “just trying to survive.” My memory only holds a picture of the club and then all of the sudden, we are back at the same bar we had all previously met up at. I vaguely remember feeling extremely tired and wanting to go home. I was told that at this point I had told the others that I was going to the bathroom and that I had gotten up to leave stumbling on my way out and never returning. For my friends, it was not unusual for me to disappear like that. I have always hated good-byes and so when I am ready to go home I make my way out using one excuse or another and simply disappearing. What was unusual for them was the fact that I seemed overly intoxicated even though I had only had a beer and a shot. That was not normal for me. I’ve always been known to handle my alcohol so that did raise  few eyebrows, but not enough for anyone to assume that something was wrong.

A couple minuets after me leaving for the “bathroom” the new couple said their good-byes and disappeared into the night.

I have no idea how things transpired from here on out. Considering I have no memory of even leaving my friends behind at the bar, I for sure have no clue how it was that I ran into this couple while on my journey home. My next snapshot of the night is of me in their hotel room standing out on the balcony but barely able to hold myself up. The next snapshot is of me sitting on the bed and the girl playing with my hair. After that? Nothing.

I woke up the next morning feeling like I had been hit by a semi-truck. It took me a few seconds to muster up the energy to sit up and look around and that’s when I discovered the severity of my situation. I was completely naked  barely wrapped up in only a thin bed sheet. I was laying on the couch and when I looked around the room that’s when I saw the couple, each laying on the bed sprawled out and also naked. At that very moment I was overwhelmed with many emotions, embarrassment, violated, bewilderment, sadness, guilt. But before being able to fully ingest all that I was feeling, all I wanted to do was to get out.  I quickly got up and quietly gathered my things. I grabbed my purse, my clothes, my phone and snuck into their bathroom to get dressed. It wasn’t until I put  my shoes on that I felt dread. My work shoes were severely scuffed, the soles of both shoes peeling away  the tops as if I had been dragged.

I left their bathroom and headed towards the door not once looking back. It was as if I just couldn’t bring myself to see the reality of my situation. I exited the room and soon realized I was only two blocks away from my home. I walked the two blocks in a fog. I felt bruised all over. My arms had bruises running from underneath my armpits all the way down to my wrists. My legs felt like lead. I felt soreness on both sides of my rib cage.

Once I arrived at my apartment, completely drained, I collapsed on my bed and slept for hours. It wasn’t until I woke up at almost 5 pm that I really was able to dissect the situation and try to understand what had happened to me. My body felt like a sack of bruised potatoes and that immediately brought tears to my eyes because with how I felt, how could I not remember what had happened to me? I immediately headed to my local walk-in clinic and after explaining what I had gone through got tested on any possible STD out there. The sorrow in the physician’s eyes should have been comforting but instead it made me feel ten times worse. It was at this point, when sitting on the medical table getting swabbed and blood work done, that I looked down and saw on my left wrist a beaded pink bracelet. It was the same bracelet that the girl had on the night before and here I was wearing it, undeniable proof as to what transpired the night before. I still have the bracelet to this day. I’m not sure why I kept it but it is put away in a jewelry box, a small reminder to always stay on alert.

Once I arrived back home from the clinic I messaged my sister and told her somewhat of what happened. I kept out the part of me waking up naked and seeing the couple sprawled out on the bed, also bare. My mother still doesn’t know. I’m sure that soon she will read this and her heart will be broken into a billion little pieces. I was also seriously dating someone at the time and although I did tell him what happened, I also left out the details of how I woke up and what I believed really happened. Do I think they would have negatively judged me? Not really, but I do believe that in their mind I maybe asked for it by putting myself in the situation when befriending the strange couple.

Now that this incident is over a year old, I am ready to talk honestly about the situation and what happened to me where as before I had no strength to do so. The level of guilt and embarrassment one feels when something like this happens to you is something no one is really prepared to talk about. It is almost as if one would rather sew up the lips than to ever utter a detail, and the feeling of reliving it all over again through speech is terrifying.

When I came across the news headline of the couple in California who were going around doing what was done to me to others, ice ran through my veins. All of the emotions I had bottled up and stored away came rushing back and my heart truly went out to the women affected by such trauma.

Sadly, our cases aren’t unique or seldom. What happened to us happens everyday to countless women and men alike. I feel as though one of the biggest mistakes we commit as a society is to cover up any situation that doesn’t seem ideal. We don’t really talk about the dangers that lurk around every corner and if we do, we speak of it as though it could never happen to us, making it that much more difficult to speak about when it does. One shouldn’t feel embarrassed or guilty after going through something like this and it is society that makes us feel this way. Being honest and speaking up over such monumental occurrences is what will allow for healing as well as encouraging awareness. We as a society need to become more aware. We need to start standing up for one another in being protective not only of ourselves but of those around you. Together we are a single unit. When will we start to realize that if one of us hurts, society as a whole hurts? It’s time we become more available to those who need a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, without the judgment and give only support needed to overcome the unpleasantries that life sometimes has in store for us.