Saturday, December 13, 2014

Toys For Tots Fundraiser Year 6!

***NOTE: THIS POST WILL REMAIN AT THE TOP OF THE BLOG UNTIL I'M DONE WITH THE FUNDRAISER. Scroll down for new posts. :D ****


 
It's Toys for Tots time! For the SIXTH YEAR in a row!  :) WE HAVE ABOUT THREE WEEKS AGAIN THIS YEAR. Next year I'll be starting earlier, again, hopefully. Life needs to stop sucking so much but that's irrelevant currently. ON TO THE TOYS FOR TOTS GOODNESS!

Every year I donate some toys to Toys for Tots. I pick and choose other things to donate to as well through out the year. I don't think I can make a big dent of change in the world but I can do little things to make things a little better for other people. Be it with toys during the holidays, money for food, donating clothing, etc. I bitch about things that I wish I could fix but really, all that bitching does nothing if you're not willing to step up and do something to help make it better. So, I do what I can when I can to help out. It makes me feel good to know I've done something good and I help out with a lot of different things.

In 2009, I got an idea to do a Blogger Toys for Tots Fundraiser. I got the idea damn late it the year though so there wasn't much time to work with for Toys for Tots. I did it again in 2010 , in 2011 in 2012  and last year in 2013 as well. And now I'm doing it again this year. Don't know what that is? Let me inform you before I get on with the rest of the post.

Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, an IRS recognized 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity is the fund raising, funding and support organization for the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program. The Foundation was created at the behest of the U. S. Marine Corps and provides support in accordance with a Memorandum of Understanding with the Commander, Marine Forces Reserve, who directs the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program. The Foundation has supported Toys for Tots since 1991.

The mission of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.

Like I said, I donate something every year. Sometimes in toys and sometimes in money. Sometimes more and sometimes less. Sometimes I don't have much money to spare but I do a little bit anyway because I know even if I'm hurting a little, some little kid and their family is hurting more. I prefer doing toys, though. I like going in to a store and picking out toys that I know will make some little kids happy. I never see the kids who get these but I always wonder if they liked what they got or if they were just happy for something, anything.

In 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and last year in 2013, I did a Fundraiser for Toys for Tots on my blog. The results were far better than I had expected in 2009 and they were amazing in 2010 and surprised me yet again in 2011, 2012 & 2013. I was beyond touched at all of the help and support I got. I got so many people who donated little amounts and it all added up to so many toys that I went and purchased. I take plenty of pictures and get it well documented on the blog because it's important to me (and lots of you!) to get pictures to show that I was doing as I said I would. I had so much fun going to get the toys in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 & 2013. This year, I'm doing it again. :)


The final results from 2009: Here
The final results from 2010: Here

The final results from 2011: Here 
The final results from 2012: Here
The final results from 2013: Here


If you want to see more posts with more details and pictures, then just click here or go to the Toys for Tots tab at the top of the blog on the tabs section.


On the right side of this blog on the side section above my profile, you will find that there is a PayPal donation button there. There's also a Toys For Tots tab up above that.  The email address you can paypal donations to is amorousrocker [at] gmail [dot] com. Easy peasy, eh? :)



If you want to donate money to help buy toys for Toys for Tots, just use that or CLICK HERE.

I will take all the money that gets donated and go buy toys. For proof that I'm doing what I say I'll be doing with the donations, there will yet again be pictures of the toys as I buy them and pictures of all those said toys being loaded into the car and more upon being delivered to a Toys for Tots location once I'm done with the fundraiser.

I know with the economy being what it is, things are rough for a lot of people (myself and my boyfriend included) BUT if you can spare $5 that would be enough. With $5 I can buy an action figure, toy cars, Legos, a stuffed animal, various kinds of dolls, PlayDoh sets and various other things. $5 will buy a toy and in some cases more than one toy. I can get 8 or 9 Hot Wheels cars on $10 so no amount would be too small. If 15 people donate 5 dollars, I have $75 and that will buy quite a few toys to brighten a child's day. You can do something to help and leave all the work up to me.

Like I said, I know life financially sucks for a lot of people right now. If you can give just a little bit though, you'll be making someone happy and doing something good. It's not that big of a deal to let go of $3 or $5 to a great and very worthy cause.

And yes, I know Christmas isn't about the toys and other presents but imagine being 7 and not looking forward to waking up Christmas morning because Santa couldn't bring you anything this year. It's a bummer.

If you want, please feel free to post about this on your blog with links and send people over. I would appreciate that quite a bit. If you do pimp this post out on your blog, email me after you do so with the post link so I can include you in a post that's to come later on. Also feel free to tweet about it or post it on Facebook. A few dollars from a lot of different people goes a long way. :)

This post will stay at the top of the blog for quite a while. Actually, it will be up at the top until the time I'm done with the fundraiser. The cut off date to take donations via paypal will be December 10th. I'll go shopping and deliver the toys by the 13th. I know that there isn't a lot of time for this (as I touched on previously) this year but any amount is better than nothing at all in my opinion.

There's also a tab Toys for Tots at the top of the blog if you want to go check out all the previous posts and pictures from the previous two years.



The tab just has pretty much what this post has plus links to the posts I did last year including all of the pictures as well as a donation link.



Happy Tuesday!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Toys For Tots & The Great Online Cookie Exchange!

Before I get to the cookie recipe I'm sharing today....

Just a reminder that TOMORROW is the FINAL DAY to donate to my Toys for Tots Fundraiser, if you haven't already but want to. No amount is too small, even $5 will help make a difference! :)

Now, on to my contribution to the Great Online Cookie Exchange! BIG THANKS to Jz for putting together and organizing this awesome recipe fest each year. 

Chocolate Chip Gingerbread Cookies


Ingredients

2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
1 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup granulated sugar (for rolling dough)
Preparation

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger in a small bowl and set aside. Beat the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until well blended, about two minutes. Add the egg and molasses and beat until light in color and well blended, another minute or so. Add the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Roll the dough into 1 tablespoon-size balls and roll each ball in the granulated sugar. Place the balls on cookie sheets (12 per sheet). Bake for 10 minutes – the cookies will look puffed up and have cracks, which is the way they should look; they will deflate as they cool. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheets for 5 minutes, then move to cooling racks. 


Don't forget to visit the other Cookie Exchange participants!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I miss her.

It's been 5 months since my friend's suicide.

Tomorrow would be her 30th birthday so I've been thinking about her a lot the last few days. There won't ever be a Whirlyball party or a super nerdy Cosplay party or any other event or conversation again. No baking her any birthday cupcakes. No card. Nothing. No goofy banter. No random talks. No weird little messages. Just nothing. The random conversations and dumb little jokes is what I miss the most.

I miss her sassy little smile and her wit and the weird things we used to joke about. I haven't been bothered by it much lately but significant dates and events of deceased loved ones are always tough. Especially the first ones you go through after they're gone. And then I think about how awful her family must feel, how much they must be hurting with her being gone and I feel terrible for them. I know how I feel and can't even fathom how they must feel. I haven't deleted my friend from my facebook yet so I've seen every time a family member posts how much they miss her. It was one of them posting something this evening about her birthday coming up tomorrow that set me off tonight.

I feel like I should be fine by now, that I should be passed the tears and the hurt. And mostly I am but there's still some part of me that hurts so much when I think about or am reminded of her. Though it doesn't happen every time. Sometimes I will see or hear something that reminds me of her and I just smile. When it hurts though, it's this raw space that feels like a wound that just won't heal. Then I go through all the emotions again. Crying because I'm sad and miss her. Angry because she would still be here if she hadn't pulled a trigger. Guilty for getting angry because I so completely understand that mental illness is a bitch. Then I'm sad again and overwhelmed because it's so much to feel and it always rushes over you quickly. Like a sucker punch that hits you hard in multiple places simultaneously.

Suicide is hard. If it's something you humor the idea of or think about at all, please reach out and get help. You might feel like no one cares but if you're gone, you'll leave behind people like me. People that will miss you more than you might think possible. People that will cry for you. People that will be left with memories and pictures. People that will wish they could hug you and laugh with you and plan with you and celebrate birthdays with you and have the dumbest most pointless conversations in the world with you. People that will wish they could say things to you that they didn't get to say because they didn't realize that last time was their last chance. People that will feel pain so raw and so deep that it will reduce them to a sobbing aching mess sometimes.

No matter how alone you feel or how much you're hurting, it can get better. Not even just for those people that you'll be leaving behind but for yourself. You're worth it and you're not beyond fixing. You aren't broken. You aren't ruined. There's no shame in not being able to overcome things on your own. We all need help sometimes and that's nothing to be embarrassed about or ashamed of.

And as I've stated in previous posts, that's said as someone who has been there and someone that still struggles sometimes.

If you're struggling in any way, talk to someone. That first step, that decision to reach out for help and making yourself do it is the scariest part. Talk to a teacher, a friend, a coworker, a parent, a sibling, an aunt, your partner, a professional, anyone you feel safe and comfortable talking to. You can email me if you can't or don't want to talk to someone you know. Call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) and talk to them. If you'd rather chat online, 7 Cups Of Tea is a free, confidential online one-on-one or group chat with a real people there to listen and help you.

It can get better.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Much to her surprise. I'm not a lesbian.

One of my new coworkers was surprised to find out I have a boyfriend. Not because I'm hideous looking or because I'm a horrible person. She assumed I'm a lesbian. The logic (and I use that word incredibly loosely) behind her theory was very special.

Her: "You like sports, like a lot. Like you seem to know baseball and hockey better than the guys here do. And plus you drink scotch and that's a total man thing. Plus you listen to metal music and like muscle cars and you're into shooting archery. And you dislike shopping and don't like chick flicks. And you don't seem feminine really very much. Plus your Nike's look like they're men's Nike's. I mean not like you're manly but you're not girly at all and seem pretty tomboyish like you'd be better off being like in a guy's body, you know? So I really thought you were a lesbian." 

Just.... really? A person's interests, dislikes and personality in general does NOT indicate what they're sexuality is. Also, I did at length explain why her assumption was stupid, offensive and horribly problematic. I'm pretty sure she hates me now but I think I'll be able to live with myself. Also, quite happy in my current womanly body and definitely do not wish I were a man. Getting erections at random times and no longer having boobs anymore? No thanks, I'm fine here because this works for me and I'm good with who I am. I'm a big fan of doing what works for you, what makes you comfortable and what makes you happy. As long as you're not hurting yourself, hurting others or doing something that could cause potential harm. 

I have never understood why things have to be sectioned off as "boy things" and "girls things." I think that's partly because I grew up as a girl that had little interest in the "girl things" I was supposed to like and much more interest in the "boy things" that weren't for me. Gender binary can go die in a fire now, thanks.

Growing up, I liked LEGO's and Ghostbusters. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Batman were idols of mine. I liked sports. I liked music. I liked painting. I had an obsession the trains (that still exists to this day.) I loved books. I liked building things with my hands and science sets were rad, too. I liked the color purple. I loved art. I loved monster trucks. I liked playing outside and getting dirty. I liked hanging out on the garage floor with my grandpa while he worked on cars. I liked doing crafts. I was fascinated with pirates and dragons instead of the princesses I was supposed to be interested in. I pretended to be a Ghostbuster, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle or Batman in whatever made up fantasy game I was playing with siblings or friends. I loved stuffed animals. It's not like I didn't like "girl things" just on some kind of principle because there were things considered as "girl things" I did like. I remember being a kid and wondering why it was weird for girls to want to play with Tonka trucks or why boys weren't supposed to want an Easy Bake Oven. It always made sense to me that you should like what you like as long as it makes you happy but that's not what society told you back then. It's largely still not what it tells you today, sadly. 

Bless my parents, they didn't try to push stuff off on me that I didn't care for. They stopped buying me dolls and other "girl things" and just let me have the things I was interested in instead of the things I was supposed to be interested in. Sometimes those were "girls things" and sometimes they were "boy things." I called them toys and hobbies. I know, weird.

So hearing my cw explain to me why she just assumed I was a lesbian brought me back to that. I do love sports and have since I was a little kid. I was also an athlete growing up and happened to play all of my favorite sports at one time or another. I'd hope I'd have a pretty good understanding of the games given the time spent playing and the even longer amount of time spent watching. Girls like sports, too. I swear it's not some trick and no, we're not all trying to impress the mens by liking sports and showing off our sports knowledge. Some of us (and there are a lot of us, I can direct you to tons of avid sports fans on Twitter that identify as female) just really enjoy sports, k.

I get that because of movies and television there are things considered as "man drinks." Men drink beer. Men drink scotch. Men drink whiskey. If it's a brown liquor, men put that in a glass and knock that right back. SO DO WOMEN. I'm not the only woman I know who can enjoy a nice glass of whiskey. 

And yes, I wear men's Nike's because it's really fucking hard to find women's running shoes I like that aren't doused in colors I hate. If I'm paying $70+ for some shoes, I'm going to LOVE the way they look as much as I love the way they feel on my feet. 

I'm not listing out why every example she used to come to a conclusion about my sexuality because no matter what else was used as an example, it's not indicative to how I identify my sexual orientation. 

I'm bisexual so don't think I'm ranting because she assumed I was a lesbian and OHMYGOSH HOW DARE SHE. But really, how dare she drop her jaw and let her eyes fly open in surprise at the mention of my boyfriend that she assumed I didn't have because I'm like a totally masculine tomboy brochick who obviously wishes she were a guy so obviously I like girls? Because every dude on the planet only wants women and if you're not a heterosexual female it's apparently because you wish you were a man but you're in deep denial or some such bullshit. I digress. I'm mainly irritated this way of thinking is STILL so prevalent in today's society. I know I'm not alone in thinking you should like what you like, as long as you're not doing harm to yourself or others, as long as it makes you happy.

 Aside from assigning things as appropriate based on your gender, another issue I have is assuming because a person's personality doesn't fit the mold here then they obviously belong there. I'm not girly enough so obviously I'm not heterosexual. I'm not but that's not an indicator to make a judgement off of. Being an "ultra feminine" woman  is not a sign of being heterosexual anymore than being a woman who is "tomboyish" is a sign of a women being gay. 

All of these silly preconceived notions about how people should be this way or should be that way or vice versa are really insane. You really can feel like there's something wrong with you when so many people and so much of what you see around you is telling you the way you are isn't right. That can be horribly confusing and quite damaging to a person.

There's no set way to be. There are no guidelines that say if you like these things and act this way then you go here in this box. But if you act this way and like these things, please go here instead. If everyone were meant to be the same way, we would be. We're not, so it shouldn't be so difficult of a concept for people to grasp or accept.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

It Can Get Better....

**Trigger warning: suicide**

My mom's birthday was yesterday. I realized last night that I had several more people to get birthday cards for in the next few months. My sister's birthday is next month, my dad's is in December, my youngest brother's is in January and I have a small handful of friends and a couple coworkers all with birthdays coming up in the next few months. I got the clever idea that I should make a quick list so as not to forget anyone and then go buy all the cards I need for the next few months all at once so I don't have to run to the store in the name of birthday cards nine times over the next few months. I also wouldn't have to worry about having to run out last minute in case I ended up losing track of the days and then remembering, "hey I need to send so-and-so a card because they're birthday is two days away!"

So I got my list together, double checked to make sure I wasn't forgetting anyone I planned on sending one to and then set off to get what I needed.

I love sending cards and letters. I'm one of those weird people that still enjoys hand writing out letters and thank you notes and sending them off in the mail. I almost always write an extra little note inside of cards I send because there's almost always something missing that I want said in whatever card I find. 

Sometimes, I hate looking through cards, though. Sometimes, I'm looking through cards looking for a specific one. In this instance, the birthday card for my sister. Then it springs to mind that, hey, Amanda's birthday is the same day as my sisters is! I think for a second I need to get her one too and then I remember that no, no I don't need to get her one because she's been dead since she killed herself this passed June. And then I'm standing in Hallmark with tears rushing down my face while I stand in front of a row of cards that I can't really see anymore. I'm sad and I'm crying and I'm trying to stop and I feel so grateful I have on a hat that covers half of my face and relieved the ladies in that store leave you alone unless you need their help and angry at myself for breaking down in public and sad again all because I can't buy my friend a birthday card because she's gone. 

So I leave without getting anything because I can't stop crying and I don't like to cry in public. I don't like to cry in front of people I know. Mostly I don't want to make a scene and don't want to explain to strangers why I'm standing in Hallmark with tears rushing down my face and I needed quiet and solitude to get myself calmed down again. So I sit in my car for 10 minutes. I think about just driving the four minutes back to my apartment but I'm stubborn and want to get what I came out for. I feel like I'm letting myself down if I go home, letting my emotions and anxieties chase me back home without completing a task. I don't want to let these things rule me, so I don't. I'm fine. So, I let myself finish crying until it doesn't feel like there's a gaping hole in the my stomach. I open my door and splash my face with water from a bottled water I had with me. I turn on some loud rock music and I take some long, deep, calming breaths and then I'm fine again. I go back in, get an odd look from the lady at the counter and I smile and she does a strange little head bow and smiles at me as I get back to buying cards. 

Suicide is hard. Death is hard enough on it's own but suicide makes something hard and makes it even harder to cope with. You're in denial because no, no, no, my friend/loved one is fine and would never do that. Even if they weren't fine, this can't be right because they wouldn't kill themselves. They have friends, they have families, they seem happy and content with life. Or they're struggling but they have family and friends and people that care about them, people that love them, people that would do anything within their power to move the whole fucking Earth to make things better or at least more bearable. There's no way they would do that. You'd know, you'd be able to tell, right? Right? Wrong. 

You wonder why they would've done this. You don't understand. Amanda didn't leave any kind of note explaining anything. From what I've come to understand, most whom commit suicide don't leave any kind of thought out note explaining or saying goodbye. The hardest part with reaching acceptance of their death is accepting that you'll just have to accept that they're gone without understanding why they took their life.

I cried a lot in June after Amanda's death. News of her suicide came just a few hours after I'd gotten home from celebrating my birthday and Father's Day with my family and boyfriend. I was having a party the following weekend that she was going to attend. I struggled a lot the first few weeks. Then I cried less. Then I didn't cry at all. Then the realization I wouldn't need to buy her a birthday card and wouldn't have to worry about getting her a gift for the awesome birthday party that was planned months in advance was the first time I'd cried over her death since the first week in September.

I don't know if she thought death would be easier. I don't know if she couldn't bear the thought of living life anymore after the events that lead up to her taking her life. I don't know if she was thinking her kids would be better off. I don't know if she just panicked. I don't know if thought and planning went into it. I don't know if she was just that depressed. I don't know if any of the things that I've turned over in my head after her death were thoughts she had or not. 

I do know that suicide isn't the answer. I'm not just speaking as someone that has lost someone to suicide, or someone that has lost two people she cared deeply for to suicide but also as someone who has thought about it and fought through depression more than once. 

I stood on a bridge once when I was 17 and thought about climbing the rails and jumping. I stood there, running my hands over the cold metal and looking down into the waters below me and thought I could just climb over, jump and nothing would hurt anymore. I've always loved bodies of water; they're calming to me. I leaned over the railing, listening to waves crashing and water churning and I felt like pushing myself over it and letting myself drown would be the most fitting way for me to go. I remember thinking it like it was the most logical thing in the world because at the time, I was a mess and just didn't want to live anymore. I was about to climb the rail when a cop car pulled up and the officer got out slowly, calling out to me. I remember how slowly he approached me, how soothing he sounded and how angry I instantly became because I knew he was ruining everything for me. It was late at night and he was curious why a young girl was out so late, by herself, hanging out on the bridge. I knew he knew what I was thinking of doing and he stood there with me, asking me if my family knew where I was at this hour. He made a few jokes and told me I needed to get on home. He followed me as I left. He followed me and made sure I actually went back home. I cried myself to sleep that night because I was so angry and sad and hurt. I cried until I couldn't breath anymore, my face buried in a pillow, my fists clenched and punching the mattress. 

I decided then I couldn't commit suicide. Not because I suddenly wanted to live but because I couldn't do that to my family. I couldn't hurt them that way and I resented them for that. So, my depression got worse, I started drinking more and doing drugs a lot more. I smoked weed and took Xanax I got from a coworker as often as I could. I moved out and moved in with a friend who was a drug addict himself. We had neighbors who were big partiers. I did more drugs. I drank way more. I didn't want to kill myself anymore because I spent so much time high so I wouldn't hurt anymore. Until I came down, felt worse and wanted to die all over again. It was the worst cycle in the world.

I contemplated suicide occasionally still but then I'd just get high or take a few drinks from a bottle and I'd feel "better" again and then I wouldn't think about how I wanted to die anymore. Then one day, I met this guy. He was waiting in an office with me to do a job interview and I remember we were sitting there together, not saying much at all, then he suddenly looked at me and asked, "so why are you so sad?" I remember blinking at this guy a half dozen times trying to figure out what his deal was. He shrugged and said, "I'm a mess, I guess I recognize it in others." I just shrugged. Then this guy starts telling me that he applied for this job because he was starting over. He told me he had been really depressed and had tried to kill himself. He told me he had tried to jump off of a bridge but had figured it wrong and ended up landing wrong, breaking both of his legs instead. He was recovered and it would be the first job he'd had in a while because of that. He waited for me to talk. I just stared at him, goosebumps on my skin, not really capable of saying anything even if I had wanted to. This kid jumped from the same bridge I had only months ago contemplated hurling myself over. I've never believed in coincidences but I couldn't figure this out. We both ended up getting hired and we started working together a week later. He only worked there for six weeks but in that six weeks, he talked to me a lot about suicide and depression. It took me about a month to realize I didn't really want to die anymore. Not just because I didn't want to hurt my family but for a ton of other reasons. I don't even remember his name. I wish I could because I wish I could tell him thank you for saving me from myself. It sounds cliche but I was planning on trying again. I was trying to figure out ways I could do something to where it seemed like an accident and not suicide. My family would still be hurt but it wouldn't be as bad as losing someone to suicide. In the weeks I worked with that guy, he spent a lot of time talking at me, even though I often didn't say anything back to him at all. Then one night, I remember getting high with my then boyfriend and then sobbing into his shirt because I didn't want to die. I remember telling him everything and all he did was hold me while I ugly sobbed and came undone. I stopped thinking I'd be better off dead. Unfortunately it took quite a while longer to stop using drugs to get me through the day. It took years before I stopped abusing substances to make myself feel "better" but I got there, eventually. 

That was the first period of my life where I very seriously considered suicide a viable option and unfortunately, it wasn't the last. However, I'm still here and suicide is not something I entertain the idea of anymore. Currently, I'm struggling with issues that I'm not really ready to openly talk about here yet. I'm not ashamed of them and I'm not too scared to discuss them. I'm just not ready to put it all out there. I feel like when I understand it all better, I'll be more willing to discuss it in a more open venue.

Some days I think about the periods in my life where I thought I should just kill myself and I'd like to punch that silly girl. I'd also like to hug her and let her know how much strength she really had despite how pathetic and weak she thought she was. 

It can get better. Some days, it will suck. Some days, it feels like everything is wrong. Like nothing you do is right. Like nothing is moving forward in a better direction. Those days happen and you can't beat yourself up over them. You can't get stuck in those days.

No matter how alone you feel or how much you feel like absolutely no one in the world could possibly care or understand what you're going through, you are not alone. There are people out there who will understand or at least try to understand. There are people out there who will offer you empathy and support because they genuinely want you to feel better. Those people could be friends, family members, professional health care workers, a trusted co-worker, someone in an online support group or a stranger on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Hell, you can email me and I'll talk to you. Just talk to someone. Suffering in silence doesn't help. You deserve better than that. You're worth more than that. 

Getting help doesn't make you weak. You don't have to be ashamed or afraid. You're not wrong. You're not broken. You're not beyond repair. Your mental illness and issues do not define who you are as a person. Whatever you're facing, it can get better.

Friday, October 24, 2014

You are not entitled to your partner's body.

Recently, a discussion occurred between myself, another female and two males. I decided I wanted to blog about it and they were all fine with it as long as I didn't use their real names or give any specific details about where we were and such. I can easily do that.

Trigger warning for rape and assault.

The four of us were hanging out together and Britney* was pretty out of it and obviously either very tired or not feeling well. Thomas* asked her what was wrong and she Britney replied that she had barely gotten any sleep last night. She has a minor addiction to binge watching Netflix, even on nights where she has to be up early the next day. Eric* and I gave her a hard time about not getting enough sleep and made jokes about her binge watching. She exclaimed, "Oh my gosh guys, I wasn't binge watching any shows last night! Damian* (her boyfriend) kept me up late last night because he wanted sex. Twice."

Eric shook his head and told her she should say no once in a while when she knows she needs to get more than a few hours of sleep.

Britney rolled her eyes and said, "well, telling him no doesn't work. I do that a lot but he just does what he wants anyway."

Before I could even get my mouth open, Thomas was already speaking.

"Britney, that's not cool. That's wrong. He needs to listen when you tell him no."

Britney: "No, it's fine. I mean I say no and try to push him away but he keeps trying and will start kissing on me and touching me so I give in and do it anyway."

Thomas: "Nope. That's wrong. He shouldn't do that."

Britney: *rolls her eyes* "Like you've never done something like that before."

Thomas: "No. Never. When my wife says no or indicates that she doesn't want sex, that's it. The end. Stopped and done. Right then and there."

Britney: *rolls eyes* "Well, aren't you the saint. But I'm sure Eric knows what I mean."

Eric: "No, I don't rape women and that's what your boyfriend is doing to you. Every time he doesn't stop when you tell him to, he's doing something wrong. I stop when I'm told to stop. It sucks sometimes and obviously it can get frustrating but no means no. No doesn't mean you get to do it anyway because you're in a relationship with someone."

At this point, I want to hug both of them for being fantastic. Although I realized at her next eye roll that it wasn't setting in with her that what her boyfriend does IS wrong.

Britney: "You guys don't get it. Ashly, I'm sure you've had this happen before?"

Me: "My boyfriend understands no. He never pushes or whines or gets angry when I say no. He understands no means no. And other guys I've seriously dated haven't ever forced themselves on me either. I've had a couple guys that tried to push once I said no but I always managed to fend them off, get myself away from them and then never saw them again. If you say no and then someone forces themselves on you anyway, that's rape."

Britney: "It's not rape. He's my boyfriend."

Me: "It IS rape. He needs to stop when you say no. It doesn't matter why you say no. It doesn't matter why you're declining sex. No is no is no. It's that simple. As soon as he starts kissing and touching you after you've said no and tried to push him away, he's in the wrong. He's not respecting you and doesn't care about what you want."

Thomas: "Exactly. He cares about what he wants over what you want. He sees you as a thing that belongs to him to do with what he wants when he wants with no regard to what you want. That's wrong. That's abuse."

Me: "Being in a relationship with someone does NOT entitle them to your body any and every time they want access. It doesn't entitle you access to their body any and every time you want it. You can say no to someone you're dating and they should be able to stop and respect your wishes. It doesn't matter how bad he wants it, if you say no, it means no."

Eric: "Exactly. He isn't allowed to pressure you into doing something you don't want to do. He shouldn't take it personally. It's not like you don't want him, you just don't want sex sometimes and there's nothing wrong with that. I'm not going to tell you to break up with him but you need to explain this to him. You need to tell him he doesn't have that power over you. And if he can't respect that and learn to stop when you say stop without pressuring you, pushing you, or doing what he wants anyway, you need to get the hell out of that relationship."

Britney sat there quietly, staring at us all. Then she was crying which led to sobbing. She said she didn't understand because she was always taught that if men wanted sex, you gave it to them, even if you didn't feel like it. That people still have this mentality is infuriating to me. 

YOU ARE NEVER ENTITLED TO SEX. NEVER.

You did something nice? Cool. 

You purchased a gift for no reason? Cool. 

You helped them out of a jam? Cool.

You remembered to take out the trash every time it needed to go for a month? Cool.

You planned an elaborate night out? Cool.

YOU'RE STILL NOT ENTITLED TO ANOTHER PERSON'S BODY. 

Spending money, buying things, doing chores, being in a relationship? None of that means you're guaranteed sex whenever you want it. If your partner says no, it means no. 

You don't get to pout, whine, pressure, guilt, manipulate, threaten or force them into sex anyway. That's abuse and that's wrong wrong wrong.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Words.

You can turn the same words over in your head a hundred times, repeating them like a mantra, hoping one more time will make them sink in. If you say them to yourself enough times, you'll adjust to them, accept their truth and begin digesting what they really mean.

But sometimes, it takes speaking those words out loud to make them glow bright and real.

Even though the biggest part of you understands the reality of the situations you find yourself in, there's always some part holding on to hope, holding on to the idea that it's not real. Maybe you're just having a nightmare that feels like it has gone on forever but then you'll wake up and order is restored and everything is alright again. Not perfect because life never is.

Words are rarely ever "just words" without meaning. They're representative of thoughts, feelings, emotions, memories and events. Even words said without thought aren't entirely without meaning.

No matter how many times you've said these words over to yourself, trying to force them to stick, sometimes it takes saying them to another person to make the realization sink in. To make it real. It takes hearing the noise leaving your lips for that blow to come followed by that wave of clarity that lets you know you're not just stuck in a nightmare.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

"You can't do that!"

People that tell you all the things you can't do are often the same people who wouldn't dare step outside their own comfort zone of security. Sometimes, it's not about them thinking you really couldn't achieve the thing you want to achieve but the thought of doing something beyond a comfortable realm just throws them off. It doesn't even have to involve them, some people just don't like things that seem like they might be a risk or too challenging. Taking a risk is scary and change is really rough for some people. 

I don't personally want someone to tell me "yes Ashly" all of the time and I certainly don't mind when someone points out what they perceive as a flaw or a problem in something I want to do or in an idea I have. There's a difference between being critical in a helpful sense and being critical in an un-supportive way. Communication is important in so many aspects of life and it bothers me how often people in general don't communicate with each other enough in constructive, positive ways. It's possible to be supportive without just going along with everything because being supportive sometimes means pointing out why something might not work and getting that person to think through everything. 

Maybe they're concerned about your safety. That's always something to take into account. Sometimes people don't always take their safety into consideration. I have an impulsive nature and often I just think about how fun and exciting something will be long before the thought of safety enters my mind. I've gotten better about that, though. I also have a boyfriend, family members & a couple close friends who are always on the ready to point out safety concerns with things that I think I might want to try. Sometimes it's not an adventurous fun thing you're trying to do because there are plenty of things where safety needs to be factored in and thought over. If someone is discouraging you from something with reasonable concerns for your safety, listen.

Maybe they think you're wasting your time. It's your time to "waste" so go ahead if it's something you really want to pursue. Just don't forget that no matter how good of an idea you think you have, it is possible that it could lead to a dead end and turn out to be a waste of time. Though I always looks at things as if I learned something valuable in a pursuit that didn't work out, it wasn't really an entire waste of my time.

Maybe they think your pursuit is stupid. They're entitled to their opinion and for me, it's always worth listening to someone else's input as long as they're being respectful because maybe they'll point out something that I hadn't thought of yet.

Maybe they really don't believe in you. In that case, you should probably look at that person and figure out why you're listening to them in the first place. 

Instead of just listening to the "oh, you can't do that" and the "yeah, I think that's a bad idea for you" or etc, stop and ask them why they feel that way. There has to be a reason and you should hear that reason. Maybe it will offer a fresh point of view and put things into a fresh perspective for you. Ask and listen. 
If there isn't a major safety, moral or legal concern involving whatever your goal is, why are they trying to discourage it? Listen even if there isn't a sensible reason behind their discouragement because that's telling, too. 

Just remember, you're responsible for your actions and you're responsible for the things that occur because of those actions. So if you fuck something up, own it. If you fail, own it and don't let a failure discourage you from trying something else. If you try and decide it's not for you, accept that and move on. If you mess up, learn from it, fix what needs fixing and remember what not to do next time. Take the time to think things out, too. There are pros and cons of everything. Sometimes it's tough to do that but never let yourself get discouraged by other people telling you what you can and can't handle, what you can and can't do.

Monday, August 18, 2014

25 Happy Things

The last couple months have been fairly rough going. I haven't been overly negative despite everything though I feel like I haven't put enough focus on things that make me happy and the majority of my most recent blogs have been about sad and/or unpleasant things. So, it's always good to remind yourself of things that make you happy and I haven't done this post in a while so it's definitely overdue.

25 Happy Things


1.) Laying in bed listening to a thunderstorm and watching the rain and lightning through the balcony doors.
2.) Raspberry lemonade green tea.
3.) Dallas Stars hockey isn't too far away.
4.) The Alzheimer's Walk is only 19 days away. 
5.) Supportive friends.
6.) Loud music.
7.) S'mores.
8.) A boyfriend that can always make you laugh, even when you don't think you have any laughter left in you.
9.) Books. Stacks of them, just waiting to be read.
10.) Playing with your best friend's puppy.
11.) Fingerpainting.
12.) Dancing around the apartment.
13.) Guardians of the Galaxy. 
14.) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle mugs.
15.) New pillows that are so comfy you don't know how you ever functioned without them.
16.) Swimming.
17.) Creating new dishes in the kitchen.
18.) Ice cream.
19.) Board game nights.
20.) Playing baseball in the park.
21.) Nature photography walks.
22.) Sleeping in late, even if "late" is only 7 AM.
23.) New Batman socks.
24.) Sketch books and colored pencils.
25.) Shiny new kitchen tools.

That's 25 things that make me happy. What are some of your happy things? I'm happy it didn't take too long to come up with the list. Which is great because I have to leave for work in two minutes. ;) 

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Cartoons don't make you gay, Alzheimer's, water balloons, Rainbow Dash & more.

Co-worker: "Does it make me gay that I like watching that Powerpuff Girls cartoon?"

Me: "Are you gay?"

Co-worker: "Nope."

Me: "Then no because the only thing that makes you gay is fucking being gay. Not a cartoon. Not a band. Not a style of dress. Not the way you might want to do your hair. Not something you saw on tv. Not a love for musicals. Not any other stereotypical thing you can think of. Not even a gay man giving you a high five and passing it on. Nothing will turn you gay."

This lead to a rather short debate followed by my co-worker stomping off calling me a "fucking poophead" because he's 26 and that's just the way an adult should behave.

Also, the whole thinking that if a masculine human likes something perceived as being girlie that makes them some degree of gay? Drives me insane but that's another rant for another day.
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Just because I don't want children doesn't mean I hate children. I don't think you should ship yours off to Siberia. I won't stop hanging out with you if you have kids. I'm not judging you negatively for having children and I'd never go off on a rant to a parent about the benefits of not having children. So why so many people with kids feel a need to get defensive and tell me why my decision and feelings on the subject are all wrong just because they don't agree or understand, I will never fully comprehend. It's nothing personal against you or your kids so cool it.

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I told one person at work that I dig My Little Pony. Anyone that knows me really shouldn't be too surprised by that honestly. So for my birthday (one month ago today) several of my co-workers got me various MLP toys. Which didn't suck because most of it was Rainbow Dash and of course, that's my favorite little pony. Brave, bold, loyal, tomboyish, goofy and kind hearted with a pet tortoise and badass rainbow mane? Heck yeah.

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I love going to festivals but why must there be so many in July and August that I want to go to? Festivals are more fun when it's not 103 degrees or more and humid on top of it. It's a scientific fact. Well, not really. It's more like common sense that you'll have more fun at an outdoor event if you're not worried about dying or melting or heat stroke or walking around in a puddle of sweat. Damn you, Texas. (Love you anyway.)

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I'm doing the Walk To End Alzheimer's again this year. If you feel so inclined and would like to support me in the walk with a donation, my page is here. Even $5 helps and the money goes toward Alzheimer's care, support and research.

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I'm having a water balloon fight on Saturday in the park with some friends. We're going to play baseball first then have the water balloon fight. Another friend not involved with this said he felt like my life mantra must be, "growing old is mandatory but growing up is optional." I don't have this "life mantra" that he speaks of but if I ever did, that one seems pretty fitting. Or that was his passive aggressive way of calling me immature. I'm fine with it either way. ;)

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

I just need to get this out.

Sometimes you find yourself in a bad place without realizing immediately how you got there. Which seems like a weird thing for a moderately self-aware person. Shouldn't you realize that you're on a decline? That you're slipping further away from the people and things that make your life a bearable and better place? Maybe it should be easier to see but that's not the way it always is. Sometimes people are really good at hiding it. Sometimes people don't even realize it's happening until they're at the bottom looking up, perplexed at how they didn't notice they were sliding downward before then. 

Three weeks ago, my friend Amanda was involved in a murder/suicide. In light of that, I learned a month prior she had tried to commit suicide. I knew she was struggling and I knew she wasn't in a good place. I didn't know how bad it was. I didn't know the depth of the negative emotions she was feeling. As someone who has been in a bad place more than a couple times, I never hesitate to ask if someone is okay when I notice something is amiss. You can't do more than ask and offer support. You can't push someone to let you help them when they just smile and tell you they'll be fine, they're just stressed from XYZ. That life isn't great but they're okay. They promise they're okay. They'll promise if they really need someone, they'll reach out to you. It's an incredibly frustrating feeling to watch someone you care about be in pain, physically or emotionally, and not be able to help them through it. All you can do is trust that when they say they'll reach out if they truly need it, that they will. And you can hope they mean it and feel a little better as they smile at you and thank you and promise you they won't suffer in silence. You can let a little of the uneasiness go as they put an arm around your shoulder or hug you and you can feel a little more secure that everything is going to be okay.

I'll never know why my friend did what she did and I'll never know why her ex did the things he did. I've refused to speculate about any of the "maybes" and "what ifs" because I wasn't there and couldn't possibly know what happened. The only thing I know for certain is what the ultimate outcome was and that's that two people died senselessly and needlessly leaving behind a lot of confusion, sorrow, anger and pain for their loved ones to deal with. 

I could barely get through that first week without crying every time I thought of her. I couldn't avoid learning some of the specific details of it so I had nightmares of my friend laying in a pool of her own blood with her big eyes staring lifelessly into nothing several times. I cried for the two young kids she left behind. I cried for her family for the raw agony they displayed. I cried until my body hurt because it hurt and because I was confused and angry. 

My boyfriend and I had a joint birthday party the week after she died. We went to her funeral the morning of the party and I was a wreck. She was supposed to attend the party that night and yet there I was, sitting in a church, looking at pictures of her cycle through on a wall. Pictures of her and her kids. Pictures of her looking so happy. Doing things she loved doing. Being the kind-hearted person she was. Being the girl I met at a mutual friend's party years and got along with immediately. The first time I met her we spent the rest of the time there hanging out, laughing and joking like we'd seen each other many times before. I don't often connect with people like that and it didn't matter how much time went by between times of seeing each other, it was always like we'd just seen each other last week. I remember sitting there watching pictures and notes scroll by on the wall and wanting to cry because I was supposed to see her later that night, not see pictures of her and mourn her death. 

The first hour or so of the party that night, I felt like I was just going through motions and not really in it at all. One of my friends came in, came into the kitchen and hugged me so tightly for much longer than he normally does and I almost lost it then. He said, "I know this sucks and I know you're sad but everyone here is happy to see you and happy to be spending time with you and would do anything to stop you from hurting if they could. That's got to make you feel a little better." He was right and then I did cry a little because him saying that brought the warmest feeling I'd felt all week. I decided then not to let my pain and grief run things but there were a few times where I'd look around the apartment full of talking, smiling, laughing people and I wished so hard that she'd walk in and I'd realize it was all just a bad dream. Of course, that's completely unrealistic and I knew that even as I was thinking it but it's hard not to wish things like that when you're dealing with the death of someone you cared about.

I know better than to feel guilt and blame myself in situations like this. I had a good friend commit suicide years ago when I lived in California. I felt a lot of guilt over that at first but I realized placing blame on myself for someone else's actions was just bad for me. It didn't bring them back and it only added to all the negative feelings I already felt. I've learned that you can't blame the things you didn't do or blame yourself in any way in situations like this. A friend of a mutual friend went on a tirade about how we were all the blame for her death because none of us did enough. He didn't share my feelings on blame and that made me sad for him. It's easy to look at something after the fact and find ways where you could have done more but who's to say that one more time would have been the time that made the difference? You have no way of knowing one way or another. You're only hurting yourself even more during a time where you're already hurting enough without rubbing salt in your own wounds.

I wish she would have said more. I wish I had known she had tried to kill herself a month prior to the murder/suicide happening. I understand why her family kept that private and understand why she wouldn't have told anyone about it. I wish she wouldn't have stayed in an abusive relationship for so long before finally deciding to leave. I wish she would have asked me or anyone else for help. I wish she could have found the peace she was always searching for. I wish a lot of things had been different because then maybe my friend and her ex would both still be alive but I don't blame myself in any way.

You can offer to help someone all you want but that doesn't mean they'll ever take it. You can care and worry until it hurts, until it wears on you physically and mentally, you can do everything in your power but you can't make a person let you in or accept that they can't do it on their own. Sometimes, they will. Sometimes, you'll offer and they'll let down their defenses. They'll open up and let you see that raw vulnerability and you'll be there as they travel back up. It'll be hard and it'll hurt but they'll get there.

Sometimes, they won't ever do anything they say they will because even when it's being offered, sometimes it's just too hard to accept the help people are offering. It's such a silly notion because on paper it seems so easy. You're struggling and slipping further into a darkness that's stealing away the light from your life. People notice and offer you the help you need because you're losing the fight on your own and having another person or two or four to help you through it would make things easier. So you ask for help and those people do what they can to offer their support and do whatever they need for you. It's different than people who suffer on in silence without no one noticing and not being able to say anything on your own. You've got people noticing and you've admitted things suck a little and you're not dealing with it well. On paper, it's easy. On paper, it's so black and white and simple that it makes no sense for this to fail.

Mental illness isn't just black and white and simple. It's not neat and easy. It's one thing to know people are there for you but to be able to reach out and admit that you're really not okay and don't think you can make it back up on your own? It's hard. So hard. There are so many reasons why someone might not reach out when help is being offered to them. It's easy for people to say, "here, just tell me what's wrong and we'll fix it!" when they're not the person sitting there trying to figure out what's wrong and feeling like there's something deeply wrong with them for feeling the way they do. It's hard to ask for help when you feel so broken and wrong that you feel like nothing anyone could possibly say or do would ever make you feel any better. It's hard to see that things could get better when they're bad. Especially if it's been bad for so long. Sometimes you think you should be able to fix your own problems and assume that if you can't even figure out how to fix yourself, no one else will either. Sometimes you don't want to admit to anyone else how bad you really feel. It's tough to open yourself up that way and to be that vulnerable to other people. What if they react poorly? Maybe they'll judge or laugh? Maybe they'll brush it off because maybe it's really not as bad as it seems? What if they treat me differently? What if they think I'm lying? Maybe they'll be indifferent? What if they don't care as much as I thought they would? What if they can't help me? Maybe they'll think I'm just crazy?

So many things keep people from reaching out. It's hard to see that there's any light left when you're so far down. No matter how many people tell you they're there for you, it's not always easy to believe them and not always easy to let go and ask for help. You know that even if you can't open yourself up to friends and family members, there are hotlines and professionals you can reach out to for help.Sometimes even reaching out to a stranger is terrifying. Admitting there's something wrong and admitting you might need help to yourself is one of the hardest things to do. Reaching out to get that help no matter who you're thinking about reaching out to is tough and scary as hell. A lot of people don't realize how much strength and courage it takes for a lot of people to speak up, to say something is wrong, to admit to themselves and others that they need help.

There's still such a stigma deeply rooted here and that alone makes it even harder for so many to seek out help. If I could, I'd help everyone see that it's never too late for them. It sounds so cliche but it's true. As long as you're living and breathing, it's not too late to say something. It's not too late to get help and get back to a better place. It might take a while and it will be hard and it will hurt and it will suck for a while more but it can get better. It will get better.

 I miss her and it still hurts. I wish she would've felt like she had another option. That things could have gotten better. That it wasn't too late. It doesn't always work that way, unfortunately. Sometimes, mental illness wins out and it's crushing. I know she'll never see this but I'm not really writing it for her. I talked to the boyfriend a little about how I was feeling but I didn't talk much. Talking about the way I'm feeling isn't easy for me. Writing my feelings has always been a hundred times easier than speaking them, even if it's someone I trust and love, it's hard to verbalize my emotions and the way I'm feeling. I've written some in a pen and paper journal but I wanted to blog about mental illness again and this all just kind of spilled out in the process. I thought about deleting a lot of this but I figure, if it spilled out, I needed to get it out, so I'll leave it as is. I'll always miss her and it'll probably always hurt a little bit in that aching kind of way that hits you when you think of someone you've lost but that's just a part of living life.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Death and the ugly side of curiosity.

On June 15th, long after I got home from celebrating my birthday and Father's Day with my family, I was laying in bed thinking about what time I needed to be up in the morning. My boyfriend walked in with his phone clutched in his hands and it was one of those moments you just knew something wasn't right. I asked what was wrong and he just handed me his phone and laid down next to me wrapping an arm around me. I read the words on the screen but I couldn't make sense of them. So I read them again. And then a third time. Then I read the names three more times because I was in shock. My friend and her ex had been found dead in what had been the home they shared together up until a few weeks ago when she had begun moving out.

I sat there staring at the words on the screen trying to make sense of it. It was Sunday night. She had been fine Friday. We were having a party on the 21st that she was coming to and was excited about. Instead, my Saturday started by going to her memorial service. That wasn't the way I was supposed to see her that day but that's how it worked out.

Her death made the local news. I went into work the morning after I found out and told my boss what happened so he would understand the mood I was in. He offered to let me go back home and have the morning off. I declined. I needed the distraction and needed to keep focused on something else. Anything else. My co-workers there that day found out from my boss and were supportive and respectful.

As the days passed and a few more details emerged, some of my co-workers and acquaintances decided to start speculating about what may have happened. The death was a murder-suicide so there are so many things left unanswered and unknown. I know people like to talk and speculate about things like this so I avoided news stories and tons of things posted on Facebook and Twitter. I asked my co-workers not to talk about it in front of me.

I learned a new lesson about death. One of the worst things about a friend's death getting media coverage is so many people want to talk to you about it. They'll give you space at first but then they'll get curious and they'll want to talk to you. Because you knew them and maybe you know something that's not mentioned. They'll offer their opinion on what they think happened, an opinion that's based on nothing. Or worse they'll try to pry details out of you like you're just a vault of secrets. Most don't even care that you're hurting, that you're grieving. Their own curiosity is more important than how you're feeling. Some will even get annoyed when you refuse to discuss it. How dare you put your pain ahead of their curiosity! The story was on the news and in the paper so how could I not want to discuss every tantalizing detail?

To them, it's a news story and they're emotionally detached from it. It's something to solve and try to figure out. It's interesting despite the circumstances being unpleasant. So they ask questions and offer scenarios and opinions and want to discuss the whole ordeal with you because you have a better grasp of things and more knowledge of what's going on. It's not because they care, it's just human nature to be curious. Discussing the details and listening to speculation is really the last thing I want to do. To me, I'm sad. I'm angry. I'm confused. I feel lost. I'm aching to understand, to make some form of sense of why this happened not because I'm curious but because if I could just understand, I could cope better. I'll never know more than I know now. I'll never know how things played out and I'll never know why this happened. It's crushing in a way that sudden deaths usually are. I don't find the mystery of all the unknowns interesting; I find them heartbreaking and feel them like heavy rocks weighing me down.

I've had countless people attempt to pry for more details after I've said I don't want to discuss what was on the news. I've had many more offer opinions that I didn't ask for despite me saying I didn't want to discuss it. I've had people try to tell me how I'm supposed to feel and think about my friend because they saw the story.

I understand curiosity, I really do. I'm a very curious person myself. However, I also understand being a decent, respectful human being and understand putting a person's feelings ahead of my own. I've been on the other side of a situation similar to this. Prying and offering speculation to a person directly affected never even crossed my mind. Support was all that I offered because I wanted to help, not do something to make things worse or make them feel worse than they already did. Explaining that concept to people has been exhausting. And it's mostly co-workers, acquaintances and friends of friends. It baffles me that someone would be annoyed or angered by a grieving person not wanting to discuss or speculate about the death of someone they cared about. It's confusing and enraging that a few have even acted like I owe it to them to discuss it.

Unexpected death is hard enough to deal with without having to deal with people you know and others you hardly know pushing you for details and/or offering their opinions on the situation because they saw this here and read that there and that lead them to this conclusion because. I appreciate everyone that's offered their support and respected my wishes to not discuss things. I appreciate that so much more now than I did a week ago because so many people just don't understand or don't care enough not to pry and push.

It's not hard to be decent and respectful. It's not hard to think of how someone else is feeling in a situation where they've lost someone they cared for unexpectedly. Especially when they're telling you how they're feeling and telling you that you're overstepping. It's not difficult to be kind and put their pain ahead of your own desire to feed your curiosity, your desire to know. At least it shouldn't be.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Death Of A Loved One.

“That was the thing. You never got used to it, the idea of someone being gone. Just when you think it's reconciled, accepted, someone points it out to you, and it just hits you all over again, that shocking.” -Sarah Dessen

Today marks the third year since my grandfather passed away. I didn't think I'd cry today because the days leading up to it, I was fine, unlike the previous two years. I thought that meant I must finally be okay with it. I know I'll always miss him but I thought maybe I was finally to a point where I wouldn't cry over it anymore. I woke up this morning and I heard thunder and pouring rain. That seemed fitting and comforting because the sound of a storm always comforts me. I laid in bed and thought of thunderstorms that happened while at my grandparents house and how sometimes, they'd let us go out and play in the rain if it wasn't a dangerous storm. I smiled and got up to start my day. I felt the familiar dull ache I always feel in my chest when I think of him being gone but still, I didn't think I'd cry. 

I hate to cry and I rarely do it. It's not that it makes me feel weak or silly or anything like that and I don't actively try to prevent it from happening. It just takes a lot to bring me to tears. I used to feel bad about that because I felt like something was wrong with me. I've moved passed that. If it happens, I let it happen. I just dislike feeling that vulnerable, that open, even if I'm by myself. I also never feel better after I cry. I know so many people that talk about how cathartic crying is but I don't feel that. I always feel worse and I'm not sure why. 

So today when I heard a song that's about a man singing about his pain and grief over losing the man he loved and respected and trying to cope with that, I didn't try to stop the tears that spilled from my eyes and streamed down my face. I was happy I was in line at the bank drive-thru at the time and not back at the shop because crying in front of people is awkward. I didn't try to stop myself from crying again when I was putting my groceries in my car after work and I happened to look up and oddly see an older gentleman who looked a lot like my grandfather. As much as I hate crying and even though it doesn't really ever make me feel better, holding it in is much worse.

I think too many people get caught up in trying to move on and file away their sad feelings into a place where they can't bother them anymore. Maybe that works for them. That's all you can do, be honest with yourself and find what works for you and do it. Myself, I can't always focus on the good things and sometimes, I need to be sad about something. It's okay to get sad once in a while over losing someone you love, no matter how many years have passed. You can't let that grief and sadness consume you because it will act like a wildfire in dry brush, it was spread quickly and overwhelm you. It will swallow you whole and won't think twice about it. There's a balance and sometimes it's a very delicate line. 

People always say that time will heal all wounds. That time passing is all that really helps you move on from losing someone you love. In part, that's true. It doesn't happen over night. It never happens as quickly as we like it to. It took me a year before I could change the phone contacts in my cell phone from "grandma and grandpa" to just "grandma." It took me even long to stop referring to it as "grandma and grandpa's" house when I'd say that's where I was going. He died June 9th (which unfortunately also happens to be one of my brother's birthdays) and Father's Day in 2011 happened 10 days later. That year, seeing all the "grandfather" cards out for Father's Day felt like a harsh kick to the gut and I ended up leaving Target a sobbing mess because it hurt to much to think about him being gone. A year later, it was a weird realization that I wouldn't need a Father's Day card for him because holy damn it had been a whole year already. I read some anyway and remember getting sad because I'd never need another card for him again. I'd never get another hug after he read whatever sweet but cheesy thing that card said. Sometimes, it's weird things that set you off. Time does make it easier because those things that felt gut wrenching the first few months on up to the first year didn't sting as sharply. You don't cry as easily. You still miss them but the mass that's made up of all the pain and grief is smaller, duller, not as bright, not as sharp.

It's good to focus on the happy things and the good memories you have of someone and I'm lucky to have a lot of good memories and things to laugh and smile about. Sharing stories and memories helps. It brings you closer to the other people who loved the one you loved. You bond in a way that you don't bond with anyone else because you're sharing thoughts and feelings that they truly understand. It's good to remember the positives but it doesn't fully take away the pain of losing them, doesn't help the ache you feel inside when you miss them and doesn't fix the piece of you that feels like it's gone now. I've come to realize that just because the wound of losing a loved one is healed doesn't mean it never hurts you anymore. You just get better at living with it.

“It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things.” -Lemony Snicket

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Life can be annoying but don't let that get you down...

There are some things in life that are simple little mistakes I'll probably always make and little life annoyances that will always occur from time to time. 


Or trying to open the front door to my apartment with the mail key or better yet, the bulky key to my car on a day where I'm tired, quite stressed or just distracted.

My face or scalp starting to itch just as soon as I get a fresh coat of paint applied to my fingernails.

Or as I'm not so patiently sitting in the floor or on the couch, forgetting my nails are still not completely dry  and grabbing my phone when a notification goes off. This will undoubtedly smudge my polish leaving me to decide whether to leave it or start over on that nail and fix it. (Unless it's really noticeable to the point that it will bother me, I leave it, because I don't care that much.)

Putting away groceries and then BOOM, I remember that other thing I definitely needed to forget but forgot.

Sometimes, I forget to put the juice back in the refrigerator and don't realize it until I'm back home from work much later that day.

I've put my keys somewhere other than where they usually go when I've got a lot of things in my hands when I come in and now I just don't know if I'll EVER SEE THEM AGAIN.

Forgetting to stop by the store for some item I want or need on the way home from work.

I set my alarm for 5 PM instead of 5 AM and wake up after 6 AM in a panic with very little time to get ready. (On these days, I'm especially thankful I live 5 miles from my job.)


These are just a few examples of little mistakes and small annoyances that occur in life. These things can be quite inconvenient and downright annoying. I could get angry or let myself become filled with annoyance and become grouchy for a short amount of time. (Or a long one if a lot of them happen in a short span of time.) However, I don't focus on things like that and let them have that kind of power over me. I don't see a reason why a little annoyance should ruin my mood or wreck my day. This is definitely easier said than done, at first. It's like anything else though; once you make it a habit, it's no problem at all. 

"Shit happens" is something I've heard adults say since I was a little kid. I didn't understand it then but I get it now. Sometimes, shit happens. 

I think a lot of people get too caught up in the little things when it comes to what they let get under their skin. Sometimes, if you've had a bad day and a lot of things have gone wrong, it's hard not to let the little things just get to you. They're the annoying little ants trying to take away the little crumbs of happiness and peace you have left after a trying day and it's hard not to blow up and want to smash them with a hammer as if they're these large, terrible things coming at you. For me, I've learned to just breathe and try to keep things in perspective. I've made a habit of stopping, taking some deep breaths, really thinking about what the annoying this is and then deciding how I'm going to react and handle it. Usually, it's just something to laugh off and let go of. These things are like papers being stuffed into a binder. If you hold on to them, seething and remembering them and holding on letting them continue to be a part of you, you're going to get to full and then everything is going to come spilling out in a big mess or in short spurts of little explosions. 

So, as trite as it sounds, I don't sweat the small annoying stuff or minor errors I make because they don't really matter in the long run. You can't control everything that happens to you and you can't even always stop yourself from doing something stupid or doing something annoying. You can control how you react and how you let it bother you, though. Letting something so trivial steal any bit of happiness isn't worth it. So when I do something that doesn't really hurt anything or cause any real issues, I just laugh it off because I'm not going to remember tomorrow anyway so I'm not going to let it bother me now.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Toys for Tots Fundraiser #5, Final Post.

I have done this fundraiser in 2009, 2010, 20112012 and again last year in 2013 making it the 5th year in a row. I almost didn't do the fundraiser last year because I didn't have a computer at the time and was working so much I rarely had any free time at all. Then I decided pretty last minute that I didn't want to skip doing it. That even if I only managed to raise $50, it would be something to add to what I was going to buy on my own anyway. So I threw a post up on the blog using my phone (which is quite a bit more tricky than it sounds since the blogger app for my android was a giant pain in the ass many updates ago) and decided to see what I could get. 

In just two weeks, I raised a total of $720 to go shopping with. This of course included my own donation and a very awesome $100 gift card to buy toys off Amazon from a very wonderful lady overseas. I was a bit overwhelmed because given the lack of notice, I didn't expect much but you wonderful people as well as a couple coworkers and some of my amazing friends and family members came through spectacularly, as always.

If you want to see final results of the fundraiser from years passed, you can check all of those out here:

The final results from 2009: Here
The final results from 2010: Here
The final results from 2011: Here 
The final results from 2012: Here


Now, on to some pictures from 2013. As I said, I didn't have a computer to use in December and haven't had one until this month when my boyfriend finally got ours fixed and running again. So I do apologize for the delay in getting this post done. Although I did e-mail pictures to those who request I do so as well as posted a few to Twitter and to my blog's facebook page so there aren't many people that donated that haven't seen the pictures yet but still, posting this is necessary. Right? Right.

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If you want to see the full album (22 pictures) then just click here to take a look at the Toys for Tots 2013 Flickr page to view the rest of them. 

I want to say thank you to those of you who donated. Whether it was $2, $10, $25, $50 or more; it doesn't matter. I appreciate it and I know the families that benefit from Toys for Tots doing what they do appreciate it, too. I have so much fun being able to do this. I've donated to Toys for Tots since I was a little kid and my mom let us each buy a couple toys of our choosing to give to them and kept doing so for as long as I can remember.  So blame her for getting me started into this one. ;) Doing it on such a large scale the last few years has been so awesome. I couldn't do it without all of your help so thank you. I also want to say thank you to everyone who posted on their blogs, tweeted links and otherwise badgered told their friends and readers alike about what I had going on in hopes of getting more donations. To everyone who donated or helped in some way... thanks so much! You're wonderful and I heart you. :) Until next time!