Happy New Year: Reflecting on the Year and the Year Ahead

Hello everyone! It’s New Years Eve! Unfortunately, I’ve been feeling under the weather for a couple days recently, so I’ll mostly be spending the day relaxing and trying to recover. I hope everyone is enjoying the day though! 

The most important event for me this year was the start of my blog. I started my blog in March, which seems like just yesterday, and now we are heading into a new year. I’m excited to see what the new year has in store for my blog, and for my life in general! Wishing you all a quick Happy New Year! Enjoy the last day of the year reminiscing on the blessings of the year, but also be prepared to move forward to bigger and better adventures life has to offer during 2020! Until next time!

That Christmas Feeling and the Reason for the Season

Photos in collage taken from Unplash

Oh where has all the time gone! It’s that time of year again, but it feels like just yesterday I was bringing in the new year with my family! I love this time of year! I love the decorations I see around my neighborhood. I love the feeling I get, the warmth, the cheerfulness. Sometimes I wish the kindness and cheerfulness in the atmosphere could last all year long. 

When I was a child, Christmas was all about presents. I loved getting gifts, and the moment my siblings and I opened our presents we were off to our separate worlds to play with our new toys. There were times, however, when my family did more than just focus on the presents! We would have fun putting up Christmas decorations around the house together, and painting our front door. To capture memories, my mom often wanted to record my siblings and I opening our Christmas presents. I remember us being annoyed having to wait for our mom to setup the camera before we could open our gifts! Sometimes she had to replace the batteries and the wait would be long! Now that my siblings and I are older, we laugh whenever we reminisce on those moments, and we recently enjoyed watching some of those recordings. Also, whenever we got snow my parents would take us outside to play, my father making sure to take lots pictures during the fun. My siblings and I love looking back at those photos.

As my siblings and I have grown older, Christmas has become much more about spending quality time with each other, and less about the gifts, although we still enjoy getting presents! The spirit of the season is what is most important. Reminiscing on the the events of the year, looking forward to making more memories, and spreading cheer is what this time of year is all about. As we celebrate the Christmas season and slowly reach the end of this year, here is a reminder to cherish what you have and spread cheer and positivity every day of the year! An early Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

Warnings from a Stranger

Picture taken from Pixabay

How do you feel about random strangers starting conversations with you while you’re outdoors? I suppose it depends on where you live. If you’re from a small town, you’re probably used to knowing everyone in your neighborhood, and you probably welcome new neighbors with open arms. If you live in a large city, even some of your neighbors might be strangers to you, and you may not feel comfortable talking to random strangers on the street. It might also depend on your personality and how comfortable you are with meeting new people. I’ve mentioned before that I’m generally nervous around people I don’t know. I like being polite, however, so I’m always willing to give acknowledgement and a polite smile whenever I catch a stranger’s eye. I suppose this must be a welcoming sign since strangers start conversations with me often. There is one particular interaction with a stranger that really stood out to me, one that I will never forget. 

I was in college during the time, and had class on that particular day. During my lunch break, I decided to go to Burger King to get something to eat (not the healthiest choice! I know). I often ate lunch with some of my classmates during my time in college, but was expecting to eat lunch alone that day. That was until an older woman walked in, ordered her meal, and asked to join me. The restaurant was full at the time, and there was an empty seat in front of me, so I wasn’t surprised. I also didn’t mind, and I told the lady so. When she sat down, she immediately started opening up to me. 

“I’m just visiting”, she said. 

The lady lived in another state (I live in the U.S.) and she was just visiting to attend a funeral. Her daughter’s funeral. Her daughter had been suffering from from kidney failure, and was on dialysis for a long time. 

“Make sure you always drink enough water”, the lady told me. 

Towards the end, we sat in comfortable silence for a few minutes. Then the lady wished me a good day and left. By the time the lady left, I had long since finished my meal, but I stayed in the restaurant until the lady was ready to leave. She seemed to need someone to vent to, and I was more than happy to lend a listening ear. By the time the lady left, she seemed to have gotten her feelings off of her chest. Little did she know, though, that she helped me as well. 

I have a serious love for all things fruit flavored. Whenever my sweet tooth starts throwing a fit, drinking some juice and smoothies, and eating yogurts and popsicles are my favorites ways to soothe it! My family often reminded to make sure I’m drinking enough water. They often shared concern about the health of my kidneys. My father always told me he didn’t want me to end up on dialysis. It’s a very unpleasant experience he’d say. Ironically, I met a woman who who gave me the same warning, and whose daughter suffered the very same fate my family was trying to protect me from. 

Since that day, I’ve started trying to take those warnings seriously. My efforts aren’t perfect. Changing my habits is definitely difficult, but right now I am very proud of the changes I’ve managed to make. I’ve cut back on sugar a lot. My family still gives me reminders to drink enough water now and again, but they notice my efforts. Life has a funny way of giving you advice, answers, or inspiration. You never know where-or who-they will come from.

My Complicated Relationship with Social Media

Picture taken from Pixabay

My first social media account was a MySpace account. I hesitated creating one at first, because of all the horror stories I had heard about social media. Curiosity eventually got the best of me though, and I finally made my first social media account. I immediately started searching for the accounts of everyone I knew, family current friends, old friends, old teachers, you name it. If the person had a MySpace page, I found it. It didn’t take long for me to become addicted, and soon interacting with people I knew only wasn’t enough for me. In fact, there was very little interaction between me and my friends on MySpace, especially since I didn’t need social media to interact with a good amount of them. I eventually decided to broaden my horizons. I start accepting friend requests from people I didn’t know, and I enjoyed the extra attention I started getting once I did. I felt excitement build up every time I saw a new notification.

MySpace started to take up a lot of my time. Every time I went out I had to make sure to take at least one good photo to post on MySpace. When I switched to Facebook there wasn’t much change, except for my privacy settings. I decided to only interact with people I knew. Getting a flood of notifications was important to me, so I started putting up posts on Facebook that would probably help me get some attention, and started to feel a little bitter whenever I wasn’t receiving any. I was always wondering why people wouldn’t respond to my comments or messages, and why my pics or status updates weren’t getting enough likes. Some self reflection forced me to eventually realize that I was building an unhealthy relationship with social media. I felt like I was turning into a different person, and I didn’t like who I was becoming. To fix my problem, I made the decision to temporarily disable my Facebook account, and I was happy I did. I felt instant relief, and was able to focus on all the things in my life that mattered most.

Social media has obvious pros. However, from time being wasted through scrolling to cyber bullying to the pressure to build a large following and gain a lot of likes, the obvious cons of social media are hard to ignore. There has been an effort to deal with some of those cons by some social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Facebook and Instagram added new features that help users manage their screen time on the platforms. Instagram also started hiding likes in some countries. Users are able to see the amount of likes their own content has received, but not the amount likes on the content of other users. This has been distressing to some Instagram influencers, but I believe the feature might be a step in the right direction.

After some time off of social media, I created numerous accounts this year to help promote my blog. My interactions on these accounts remind me of my days on MySpace and why I enjoyed the experience. However, I realize now the importance of protecting my time and mental health. I love spending time on social media, but I don’t want to miss out on what’s going on around me IRL.

Turner Syndrome and My Mental Health: A Second Helping

In a previous post, I mentioned that I have a condition called Turner Syndrome. For those unfamiliar with the condition, it is a genetic disorder when a girl is born with one of her X chromosomes partially or fully missing (boys generally have an x and y chromosome, while girls generally have two X chromosomes). 

The biggest issues with Turner Syndrome is that many girls with the condition are generally infertile, and can’t go through puberty on their own. They usually need hormone replacements. Turner Syndrome can lead to a host of other complications as well. Those complications can include problems with the heart, kidneys, bones, and thyroid gland. Complications vary from girl to girl. Each girl’s experience with the condition varies, and their symptoms can range from mild to severe. 

Girls with Turner syndrome can be diagnosed at any stage in life (before birth, at birth, during infancy, during their teenage, or during their adult years). Generally, the more severe the symptoms, the earlier a girl with Turner syndrome will be diagnosed. Most fetuses with the condition actually have symptoms that are so severe they never make it to term. Turner syndrome is a rare disorder that occurs in around 1 in 2,000 to 2,500 live female births. Around 99 of pregnancies where the fetus has Turner syndrome end in miscarriage.

I suppose that makes me a bit of a miracle baby, or so I like to think at times. I struggled with low self esteem growing up. I always saw nothing but my flaws, and the bullying and I went through during my time in school didn’t help. There was also the fact that I had disabilities and was very dependent on my family. I felt like a burden to them. No matter how hard I tried, I could never fully shake off those feelings, and I hated that. There would be times when someone would say or do something that would make me happy, or I would be doing an activity that would make me happy, but by the time I look around I’m back to feeling low. There would also be times when there was a reason I was down, and other times when I just couldn’t explain why I was feeling depressed. When I was a teen, I kept thinking that one day I will let those feelings go when I finally became an adult. I am now a fully grown adult, and still struggle a bit with these issues. I have learned that what I was going through was not just a phase, or something that I was easily going to get through.

Thankfully, I have a very supportive family. My family has been incredibly patient with me, and extremely supportive. To me, they have been like my therapists. They listen to my concerns, and even encourage me to open up. They never make me feel ashamed of my concerns or feelings when I do share them, and they never make me feel ashamed of my struggles. They also never make me feel like a burden. They are always making sure that I know I’m loved, and that I have a purpose and place in my family and in the world. Considering that I was blessed to be a part of the small one percent of fetuses so h Turner Syndrome to make it to term, I can’t help but to feel they are right. 

My mental health journey is still ongoing. I’m still finding myself, still growing. I’m still struggling with my self esteem. I don’t know why I was part of that small 1 percent, but I do know that I am willing to continue fighting through this crazy journey called “life” to find out.  After all, if there is one thing I know, it’s this: we are all here for a reason.

Note: My inspiration for this post was fellow blogger and disability advocate Amanda Gene, who is also very lucky to be alive today. Give her blog visit and read her story here.

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Falling for Autumn

Picture taken fro pixabay.com

Fall is around the corner! It’s the season of colorful leaves and pumpkin spice flavored lattes and sweets, and the beginning of of a new school year for children and college students (in fact, today is the first day back to school for some children!)! If I had to pick a favorite season I would have to say winter. There’s a special type of “warmth” surrounding that time of year. However, there is also something special about the fall season too, especially for my family. 

In a previous post, I mentioned that my favorite holiday might be Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a holiday that is celebrated in the U.S., Canada, some Caribbean islands, and Liberia, albeit on different dates. In the U.S., Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. There is a debate and controversy over the true origins of the American version of thanksgiving, but one thing is for certain: thanksgiving celebrations, otherwise known as harvest festivals, have been around since ancient times, and many different countries and faiths have their own versions of the celebration (Germany’s Erntedankfest and Japan’s Labor Thanksgiving Day for example)

Thanksgiving is even more special to my family than Christmas. On Christmas Day we’re usually too wrapped up in our gifts to pay attention to each other! That was especially the case when my siblings and I were children! During the thanksgiving holiday, we spend a lot of our time with each other, and I’m not just talking about when we gather to eat thanksgiving dinner. From the food shopping to preparing the thanksgiving meal, everything is done together, and we always enjoy every minute. 

When the meal is finally ready and we gather around the table, we all take turns saying what are grateful for. We aren’t usually overly affectionate with one another, especially with words or touch (although we always show our love for each other through our actions), but we get very sentimental when saying what we are grateful for. In that moment, we hold nothing back on saying how much we appreciate each other. We also spend time reminiscing on all the good times we’ve had together so far, and talking about our plans to create many more wonderful memories. By the end of the day, we are generally very exhausted, but happy.

In short, fall is the bonding season for us, and I always look forward to this time of year! That’s what makes fall special to me! Welcome to the Fall season everyone! I hope you all enjoy the season this year as much as I know I will!  

Remember Me

“I was here, I lived, I loved
I was here, I did, I’ve done everything that I wanted
And it was more than I thought it would be
I will leave my mark so everyone will know I was here”

Beyoncé “I Was Here”
Image taken from Pixabay

I listen to the news a lot. I like to stay in the know on what’s going on in the world around me. It’s a habit I picked up from my parents. However, there are times when I’ve had my fill. There’s always a never ending amount of heartbreaking stories in the news, and there’s only so much of those stories I can take. On occasion though, there are times when I come across really funny or heartwarming stories. One that I remember in particular is a story about a pay it forward train in a restaurant. One day, after paying for his own bill, a man paid for the meals of another set of customers, a mother and daughter. The mother never got a chance to know who made the kind gesture, but the mother decided to follow the anonymous kind stranger’s example and pay it forward. The recipients of that mother’s generosity decided to do the same. This continued until the pay it forward gesture had been repeated several times by several customers. 

It is part of human nature for us to feel the need to leave some footprints in the sand, something that we will be remembered by. We all want to leave a legacy, and we all have our different ways of accomplishing this. We also have different ideas of how we want to be remembered. Some decide to become world leaders, others try to become celebrities, and there are also those who choose to go the infamous route, committing crimes to gain fame.

Many monuments have always been built in honor of rulers or leaders, and you can find many of their faces on currency. Celebrities get similar treatment, with one example being the Hollywood walk of fame in the U.S. Also, many cities, towns, and streets are often named after famous people. The infamous have many books written about them, and many movies made about their lives to tell their stories. 

You don’t have to be famous to make an impact, however. Everyone’s actions leave behind footprints. We all impact each other, and we have the power to choose the type of impression we leave on others. Simple actions are all it takes to leave a mark. A listening ear, a hug, or a simple kind greeting can mean the world to someone. After all, fame doesn’t always lead to happiness, and there are many famous people whose works are lost in history. Fame also doesn’t last forever. Many stars eventually fall into obscurity. Beauty and fame, along with many other things, eventually fade, but a loving heart never does. Kindness is not affected by time, and it is infectious. One kind act can lead to another until it starts a chain like the one from the restaurant. The name of the person who started the chain may never be known and may get lost with time, but their deed, and the effect it had on someone, can live on forever.

I love writing and I run a blog. I’ve gotten good grades through my time in school, especially in college. I’m also a very hard worker. All of these are important facts about me. My most important attribute though is my desire to treat everyone how I would like to be treated. I want to be a person that shows kindness and compassion and spreads them, and that is how I want to be remembered. 

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Relaxation and Summer Vibes

Photo by chopstix00 from free images.com

My Dad and I started watching a new show while we ate breakfast yesterday. The show is called Hanna, and it’s an Amazon original. The show takes place in Europe, and it’s about an extraordinary girl named Hanna who is being chased by the CIA. Throughout the show, she tries to figure out why the government wants her, and the truth about who she is. It is definitely an interesting show, and it reminded me of the Netflix original Stranger Things, and a little of the Bourne movie series. 

My Dad and I got hooked on the show, and by the time we looked around, we had spent hours watching several episodes. My Dad felt horrible about the amount of time we “wasted”. He doesn’t usually binge on shows. He believes it’s not healthy, and that there are more constructive activities one could be doing with his or her time. After each episode we watched, my Dad kept saying “This is the last one”. I laughed as the next episode came on. Despite his worry about wasting time, my Dad and I definitely enjoyed ourselves as we laughed at some scenes of the show, and jumped and held our breath at others. My Dad said he usually doesn’t get time to enjoy himself like that. He’s always working very hard. Now that summer has rolled around again though, he can relax a little. 

Summer officially began on June 21. My Dad was so excited, and talked with me about the plans he had for the family. He was definitely ready for a break! Our relaxation and tv time on Sunday was just the beginning of our Summer fun. When my Dad told me about his concerns on wasting time while we watched Hanna, I told him that it’s not bad to slow down every once in a while. Besides, he deserved it. To be honest though, I also felt a like I was wasting time a little. My talk with my Dad made me think about my blog, and I felt bad spending time way from working on it. I work hard on my blog just about every day. Writing posts is only one part of the journey. A blogger also has to work on promotion and networking, website customization, etc. Needless to say, it’s not easy work (you know what I’m talking about fellow bloggers)! My blog isn’t the only activity that gets this kind of attention from me. I’m this way with just about every task and job I am given. I think I inherited that trait from my Dad! My siblings are always reminding him that it’s ok to take a break from time to time, and they tend to do the same with me! They are right. There’s nothing wrong with dropping everything once in a while to rejuvenate yourself, and I was reminded of this while watching Hanna with my Dad. I told him my thoughts, and he agreed. We were definitely happy for the break! 

I don’t have specific plans for the summer, only that I plan on enjoying myself and time with my loved ones! I also definitely plan on getting some relaxation time in too! I hope all of you enjoy your summer as well, and remember to get some rest and relaxation too! 

Collaboration Post: Mirror Mirror on the Wall

I am so excited to be collaborating with Nadine from Home of Understanding! We both started blogging just this year, and our blogs cover very similar topics. She’s incredibly creative and full of ideas! Her blog is amazing and you should definitely read her other posts! Give her a visit here. Nadine offered the idea of collaborating after we visited each other’s blogs, and I jumped on the opportunity! She told me she’s been thinking of writing about body image issues for a while, and mentioned the idea of writing about what often goes through a person’s mind as he or she looks at him/herself through a mirror. We both agreed it’s an amazing idea, and started working on the project right away! For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with developing a positive self image. There have been many times when I’ve looked in the mirror and saw so many things I would like to change. For this collaboration, we are exploring the voice of self loathing, or “the devil”, that we often hear in our heads when judging ourselves, and the “angel”, whose uplifting voice is often ignored. Our goal through this project is to help our readers realize that you are perfect the way you are. Don’t listen to your inner ”devil” thoughts. Focus on the voice of the “angel”, and embrace your unique beauty. 

The voice of the “Devil”:

There are so many flaws to point out. When are you going to lose all that weight? Maybe you can skip a meal today. Look at all those blemishes on your face. You shouldn’t go outside without makeup. Your chest and rear end are so small. Maybe you should consider implants. Your nose is a funny shape. You should consider getting that fixed too. You also need to work on getting in control of the pimples on your thighs and the hair on your arms. Plus, it would be nice if you could do something about that curved back of yours. That’s not attractive. Beauty is important to a woman, and can get her far. Don’t hesitate to do what’s needed for you to be considered beautiful. 

Can you relate to those words? Do you find yourself saying similar comments about your appearance whenever you look into the mirror? Visit Nadine’s Post,  Body Image – A Dialogue to read what the “angel” has to say.

Five Facts about Body Image Issues and Mental Health

– The term for when someone obsesses over perceived flaws in his or her appearance is called Body Dysmorphia. It is considered an official psychological disorder. Bjornsson, Andri S, et al.

– Body Dysmorphia was called dysmorphophobia when it was first documented. The name was changed to Body Dysmorphia in 1987, the same year it was recognized as an official  psychological condition. 17 Scarey Body Dysmorphic Disorder Statistics

– Before television was introduced in the country of Fiji in the 1990s there were no documented cases of eating disorders. Sixty five teenage girls were followed for three years for a study during the introduction of television in the country. Around twelve percent of the girls developed eating disorder symptoms 1 month into the study, and around 29% developed symptoms after 3 years. The Body Project: Facilitator Fact Sheet

– In the United States, around 2.5% in males, and in 2.2 % of females, have BDD. Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)

– In the United States, January is Mental Wellness Month, May is Mental Health Month, and the first week of October is Mental Illness Awareness Week. World Mental Health Day is October 10. Who We Are.

Sources

“17 Scarey Body Dysmorphic Disorder Statistics.” HRF, 4 Sept. 2014, healthresearchfunding.org/scarey-body-dysmorphic-disorder-statistics/.

Bjornsson, Andri S, et al. “Body Dysmorphic Disorder.” Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, Les Laboratoires Servier, June 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3181960/.

“Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD).” Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA, adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/body-dysmorphic-disorder-bdd.

“The Body Project: Facilitator Fact Sheet.” Http://Www.bodyprojectsupport.org/, www.bodyprojectsupport.org/assets/pdf/materials/facilitator_fact_sheet.pdf.

“Who We Are.” Minding Your Mind, mindingyourmind.org/news-events/mental-health-awareness-calendar