Guts and Glory

How do you like your new job?

Over the last few months I have been asked that question dozens of times. My response is always some version of “ummm…it’s good” or “I like it” and every time I mutter that vague and generic reply I’m not being entirely honest. Because let’s face it, people don’t REALLY want to hear the whole truth.

The truth is this, the anxiety that I face every single day is burning a hole in my chest. I allow myself to become so entirely focused on how others perceive my articles that I forget to permit myself to have fun. I have very high standards for my content and this week I realized that if I get too rushed I make mistakes. But I don’t always have the luxury to slow down.

Writing has become my work. I have somehow taken something I loved and turned it into a burden.

But, all roads led here…right? Initially when I accepted my position at the newspaper I was expecting to love it instantly but instead I found out a few truths about myself that proved difficult to swallow. I’m not brave, I’m not outgoing and I don’t live loud. I never saw that as a hindrance but in this line of work if you don’t have the guts you don’t get the glory.

Anyone who truly knows me can attest to this; I’m not aggressive, I don’t like conflict and I really hate getting in the way. A good news reporter is never passive, they thrive on controversy and they get inside.

In the last four months I have had to overcome a lot of personality barriers and none of it was easy but I did it; proving to myself that the triumphs that require a deeper emotional push are the victories we learn the most from.

People aren’t always going to like what I have to say; I have become WELL aware of that. People can be SUPER malicious and they will not hesitate to tell you how stupid you are or how you “dropped the ball.” They love to point out any and all mistakes you make, forgetting that you’re just a writer; they don’t even think of you as human. They fail to comprehend that you are not an expert on all things.

THAT is the standard people will hold you to in this business because they don’t care that you can only report what you are told and they don’t care that you have very little power.

I’ve had to swallow my pride. I’ve had to keep on smiling when all I wanted to do was cry. I’ve had to heave myself out of bed in the morning; dreading the work email inbox. I’ve had to endure some of the cruelest comments heard that even a high school bully would be shocked to hear them. You might ask…all for what?

Two words… Positive. Feedback.

For every mean-spirited comment I’ve received, I’ve been given five positive ones. Total strangers have stopped me and told me how refreshing my voice is, that they’re proud of me, that I am talented, that I have a bright future, that I’m hilarious, that they look for my bylines in every edition. People call my mother at her office and tell her how much they have been enjoying my work. I’ve been asked to give speeches, people call me and request that I write their stories; they ask for follow-ups to my columns and they mail me thank you cards.

I could never express to those kind and thoughtful people how much good it does my heart to hear that I’ve “inspired them” or “motivated them” or “entertained them” or “moved them” it’s humbling and incredibly hard to believe.

So, ask me again. How do I like my job?

It’s not a simple answer. I hate it and I love it. Without it I don’t know who or what I’d be, I was never meant to do anything else and I know that good weeks will be followed by awful ones but eventually I hope they will be great weeks followed by boring ones. I’m starting to realize that I’m never really going to be fully comfortable but I also think that if we don’t hold ourselves responsible to a higher standard we’ll never achieve greatness and we wouldn’t be thriving.

I’ve met a lot of interesting people and I’ve done a lot of really cool things; all because of this job. And I have barely scratched the surface of possibilities. And while there are absolutely things I struggle with and will continue to battle I know that I am strong and there is no going back for me. There is only moving forward.

I’m always going to be a little scared, fearful of failing and I may not always have the guts but sometimes I do get the glory.

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Worth Something After All

Worth Something After All

I do truly apologize for my month-long hiatus but hopefully when I tell you what I’m about to, you will understand that I have been busy…

Twelve years old. That’s how old I was when I was first published. Ever since then I have had my parents, brothers, several teachers, professors, relatives and friends all drilling it into me that I should become a professional writer. Even though almost everyone in my life has always told me I have a talent I never really believed them because I was unable to believe in myself.

I was a young girl when I started dreaming about becoming a writer. Of course I had other aspirations too and after I graduated high school I chased down those wild hares but I never succeeded at any of those things because I was never meant to do any of it.

We all have dreams, goals, fantasies…things that we want in life. Some of us will never attain any of it. Some of us will find we are better suited for a different path and new dreams will replace what it was we once thought we wanted. And for some of us those dreams we set out chasing after will come to pass.

If you’ve been following along with me from the beginning or if you know me personally you know that I currently work in a group home for adults with developmental disabilities. I think it is fair to say that, that job brought me back to life at a time when I was so unsure of who I was. Through these amazing people I learned a lot about the kind of person I want to be and I found myself.

Now, I am profoundly saddened that this week is my final week at a job I have come to truly love. As hard as it is for me to say goodbye I am also incredibly excited for my new endeavor. My dream of becoming a professional writer is coming true starting this week. I have been offered and accepted a job as a reporter at the newspaper in my hometown.

Of course I have to be honest and disclose that I am absolutely terrified of failing at this but I also know that if I do not take this risk it is one of the few things in my life that I will end up regretting. So onward I march into this massive entanglement of both self-doubt and self-assurance because deep down I know this is the only thing I was really ever meant to do. When you’re given a talent you cannot let it sit on the shelf. Use it. Let it flourish. Be the best version of yourself; that person you were always meant to be.

I realize that it sounds cliché but trust me when I tell you that your dreams can become reality. As long as you form a plan, work hard to see it through and take the risks necessary. Most things worth obtaining will never come without some effort.

For that I have all of you to thank. It has been one year since I started this blog. I did not know then that it would change my life in the way that it has. At first this all started because I wanted an outlet for my writing. I wanted to polish my skills and in the process I hoped that someone out there who needed some comfort would be listening.

I thought that if I could set a goal to publish at least once a week and then maybe if the opportunity for something bigger presented itself at the very least I would be able to put together a portfolio of my work. Without it, I would have had nothing to show the editor who hired me and it turns out that all of the rambling I did this year was worth something after all.

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Happy Holidays

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The holiday has been fun-filled with family and friends but unfortunately that means I have not had the time to sit down and write anything which means no post this week. However, it also means that I’ve been feeling rejuvenated and inspired and hopefully next week or the week after I’ll have a post for you all. Until then I hope you are enjoying the holiday season to the fullest!! Keep thriving!! I’ll see you next year!! 😘

Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies

When I was a child Christmas seemed so miraculous. The ornaments seemed to sparkle more, the lights seemed just a bit brighter and the music of the season seemed more cheerful. As an adult it is so hard to hold on to that magic that I felt when I was a kid.image

Now, the holidays can be ridiculously hectic. I cannot honestly say that I have ever had a stress free holiday as an adult. It seems as though there are endless potlucks and holiday parties; the cooking never ends. There is so much cleaning to do before you even attempt to put up a tree. And once the tree is up the living room is crowded with boxes and bags and pine needles and you have to clean it all over again. It becomes an endless chore to keep the cat from attacking the glitter off the bulbs and climbing up the trunk.

Once that chore is tackled you have to wrap gifts, which should be an Olympic sport. Every year my flexibility and agility is put to the test; the bigger the box the harder the chore. The tape sticks to my fingernail polish and strips it right off. I feel as though I may need a blood transfusion from the loss of blood due to all my paper-cuts. I can never get through applying ribbons to more than two packages before that damn cat abandons her attacks on the tree and is under my feet ripping ribbons to shreds.

While we’re on the topic can we talk about gift buying these days? My. Goodness. Christmas has become so commercialized but honestly I’m just as guilty because I like buying things for people. The stores are crowded and hot; I can’t tell whether it’s my poor attitude or if people really are far more irritating around the holidays. And I swear every year there are at least a dozen things on my list that I go home without because apparently Band-Aids and wine are both hot commodities during the holiday season; I wonder why…

Keeping the house clean while other people live in it is hilarious. Typically there is round after round of various visitors and you feel pressure to keep the place looking somewhat decent; there is constantly a mess being made while your back is turned and you’re trying to clean up a different mess that you yourself did not make.

I do not mean to sound like a Grinch and really, it isn’t all bad. Christmas can be so beautiful at least it is in my household. The ground outside is blanketed with snow and the trees in the yard glisten. The tree inside is dazzling with twinkle lights and glitter. The stockings my mother knitted are hung up on the fireplace. The presents that survived the feline ambush are wrapped and under the tree. There has been an endless supply of Christmas movies playing on the television. And the delicious scent of cookies baking has been wafting from the kitchen.

My paternal grandmother makes the absolute best sugar cookies. This year she called me up and asked me if I would like to make cookies with her. Since losing my maternal grandmother in September I find myself craving grandmotherly love and I immediately said yes. Especially since she made cookies with all her granddaughters except me the weekend prior when I had to be at work.image

When I allowed my heart to be light and sink into the moment with my grandma it really started to feel like Christmas. I felt a deep appreciation toward my mother and my grandmothers when I realized that they were the ones dealing with all the stress of making Christmas magical for my brothers and me when we were little, especially my mom. And knowing that they loved us enough to endure the chaos every year made the holiday a little bit sweeter for me, almost as sweet as Grandma V’s sugar cookies.image

Whatever your holiday traditions may be and however you and yours spend your time together this holiday season, I hope it is filled with love and laughter. I hope that you do not allow the pressure of gift buying and cooking and cleaning to weigh you down too severely. Afterall Christmas is about so much more than any of that.

To anyone out there who actually tunes in to my little rants every week I appreciate you and I hope your year’s end is magical and special and that you have an even brighter year ahead of you. My gift to all of you this holiday season…image

GRANDMA V’S SUGAR COOKIE RECIPE

3 Cups Flour

1 Cup Sugar

½ tsp. Salt

1 tsp. Baking Soda

1 tsp. Cream of Tartar

1 Cup Butter (softened)

3 Eggs

1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Mix flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and cream of tartar together. Then mix butter into the flour mixture and set it aside. Beat the eggs until they are frothy and then add the vanilla. Pour that mixture over the flour mixture, mixing until well combined. Cover the cookie dough and let it set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

In small handfuls roll out your dough with a rolling-pin coated with flour. Use cookie cutters of your choosing to create your cookies. Bake the cookies at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-12 minutes.

For Frosting-Add cream to powdered sugar until you achieve your desired thickness; don’t add too much cream or the frosting won’t harden. Add almond extract for flavor.image

Voila! Enjoy!

Adele Inspired Winged Eyeliner

Adele Inspired Winged Eyeliner

This makeup look was inspired by Adele’s music video for her new single “Hello” a great song and the video is beautifully shot. Her makeup is so glamorous and I love her signature winged eyeliner. The video is shot in sepia so I can’t be sure which shades are used for her look but I made my own interpretation. This look can be quite complicated for beginners but once you get in a rhythm it’s quite easy to accomplish. Don’t let this technique scare you, just like everything else practice makes perfect; don’t get frustrated just keep trying and eventually you will get the hang of it.

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Step One: This step is optional but if this is your first time doing a winged liner I would highly suggest you use scotch tape until you get the hang of it. Place the tape on the back of your hand first and then peel it off before you apply it to your face. This will make it less sticky and it won’t be so harsh on your face. Place the tape along your lower lash line up toward your brow bone. Be careful not to make the angle too severe.

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Step Two: Using a Sigma E40 Blending Brush apply “Free Spirit” from the Tartelette Palette in windshield wiper motions into the crease from the outside corner to the inner corner concentrating the majority of color on the outside corner. Continue using the Sigma E40 to apply “Natural Beauty” blending from the inner to outer corner again concentrating on that outer corner. Then apply “Power Player” using a Sigma E25 to the outer corner, don’t blend that color further in than the middle of the eye; I apologize I did not get a picture of this step. This brush will give you more precision. Using all three colors will help to give this look some dimension and it makes blending easier.

image Step Three: Using a Morphe M409 Brush apply Maybelline Gel Liner in Blackest Black tight to your lash line. I personally like to start on the inner corner and work my way out; it will be easier and cleaner to do this in one motion. Once you start the wing, place your brush on the point and drag it back inward leaving a slight gap between the two lines making a very small V, you then need to connect that point to the line and fill it in. With this step you can make the liner as thick or as thin as you would prefer. After you’ve gotten the wing how you would like it you can remove the tape very carefully and you should be left with a clean line. imageStep Four: I used Rimmel Lash Accelerator in Black to apply a coat of mascara to my top lashes. Using any lash glue apply a thin layer to false eyelashes. I used Duo Eyelash Adhesive in Clear-White and Ardell Natural Demi Whispies. Adele has very glamorous lashes so you could definitely use something thicker and longer, I went with whispies because it is what I had and they work for all eye shapes. For close-set eyes I would suggest using something that is dramatically longer on the outside corners. After I apply the adhesive I give it about 30 seconds to dry before I apply it to the lid, this will make it tacky instead of runny. Use tweezers to tack down the outer corner first then the inner corner and then tack down the middle last. Give it a few seconds to dry and then use your finger to push your real lashes into your false lashes.  

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Step Five: I then used a Morphe M439 Brush to apply Clinique Makeup Broad Spectrum in Neutral in circular motions to cover the entire face and blended it down the neck. When choosing a foundation it is more important to match your foundation to your neck.

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Step Six: If you are going to use concealer this is when you would apply that. I personally did not use concealer because it makes my makeup look too heavy and I really can’t pull it off.

Step Seven: Adele has a very chiseled contour which is absolutely beautiful. I applied a Smashbox Contour Stick to the hollows of my cheeks, my temples, along my nose and all the way along my jaw line from one ear to the other. I then used a Makeup Geek Angled Stippling Brush to blend it all out. When blending out the cheeks it’s important to blend backward, don’t bring that contour down further than the outer corner of the eye. I then used the E.L.F. Blush Palette in dark, the blushes don’t have individual names but I used the shade in the upper right corner. Apply the blush to the apples of the cheeks and blend it back toward the temples, you can use any blush brush for this step; I used a Sonia Kashuk Brush in No. 113.     

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Step Eight: I then applied my highlight with Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Moonstone (yes, mine is broken it’s so sad) and a Morphe M501 Brush to the tops of the cheeks, the top of the nose and the cupid’s bow.

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Step Nine: I then combined “Dreamer” “Best Friend” and “Power Player” from the Tartelette Palette with a Sigma E30 Brush and applied it tight to the lower lash line. Don’t drop this down too far, by doing so it makes the look too smoky and it gives the illusion of raccoon eyes. After that I applied Rimmel Lash Accelerator to the bottom lashes. Applying mascara to the bottom lashes will even out the look and help your eyes look bigger.  

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Step Ten: I then applied Colour Pop Lippie Stix in Lumiere to my lips. This shade is a really pretty plum. And that completes our Adele inspired look!

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November Monthly Favorites

I know we are now officially one week into December but it’s been so long since I have done a monthly favorites list that I did not want to skip another month. I haven’t been able to write a list because I hadn’t been buying much so I have had very little to talk about but in November I splurged a little and bought myself some new things. So let’s get into my monthly favorites of November.

1-Purity Face Wash by Philosophy-It is very possible that I have mentioned this product before but I’m going to mention it again because this truly is a great product. I used the last of my Purity Face Wash in October and I did not want to spend oodles of money on one product so I bought a face wash made by Simple instead because it saved me some money and I have a few of their products already; which I love. My skin completely freaked out. I had these dry red patches on my cheeks and the texture on my forehead and around my chin was completely different; it got bumpy and stiff. I bit the bullet and spent the money on Purity and in a matter of a week my skin is much improved. It’s clear and soft and silky. Sometimes it pays to spend the extra money ladies.

2-Nail Gloss by Covergirl in the shade “Emerald Blaze”-This color is so pretty; it is an iridescent green with red and gold shimmer. It is the perfect color for the holiday season.

3-E.L.F. Blush Palettes-I don’t absolutely LOVE these palettes but I am mentioning them because I think they are really nice and they have a great price tag. Both palettes have four different shades and they are very, very, very pigmented; I mean it, a little bit goes a long way. They aren’t super blendable so you can’t be heavy-handed with these blushes or you will end up looking clownish. But I think they are a very good quality for the price.

4-Maybelline Gel Eyeliner in Blackest Black-It is really difficult to find gel eyeliner with a good formula and the right consistency. More often than not they are either too dry and flaky or they are too watery and runny and smear very easily. They can be hard to work with and they come out looking more grey than black. But Maybelline’s formulation is soooooo good. It blends easy and it’s nice and creamy during application and it dries to perfection so there is no smudging throughout the day. This product is an absolute must if you ever want to master that perfect Adele winged eyeliner.

5-25 By Adele- Speaking of Adele, I am in love with her new album. It is so beautiful and Adele is the queen of ripping your heart out and making you feel heartbroken when you don’t even have a boyfriend. She’s just that good people. If you haven’t bought it yet I suggest you do because I have not stopped listening to it since the moment I got it.

6-Yeti Rambler Tumbler-Okay, I never thought I would spend $30 on a damn cup but honestly I am so pleased with myself that I did. My oldest brother turned me on to Yeti swearing that I would not regret the purchase and believe me when it comes to outdoor gear, he knows his shit. I bought my Yeti in August and I waited to mention it now because it would make a great Christmas gift for the gents ladies…just saying. To prove I’m not crazy…I left ice water in my vehicle late in August and the outside temperature hit 98 degrees so I’m sure it was even hotter inside the vehicle. It was out there for my entire 13 hour shift at work; when I came out the ice was still frozen and my water was nice and cold. I have no idea how that works but I swear the ice never melted. The tumbler costs that much because it’s worth that much.

7-Marc Jacobs Crossbody-Lastly, I want to give a shout out to my cousin Kelly who gave me this beautiful purse because I was so absolutely in love with my mother’s. I borrow my mom’s all the time and I couldn’t find it anywhere to buy it for myself. My cousin was the one who gave the purse to my mom; she heard me talking about it when the three of us were shopping together last weekend and she mentioned she had one of her own and she gave it to me. I am so in love with this purse and I only mention it because I’m so thankful for my sweet and generous cousin who is more like a big sister to me.

That completes my short little list of favorites for November. I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving. Let me know about the things you have been loving recently but don’t let material items consume you, enjoy them if you can but never let it define you; we can all thrive without them.  

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Little Girl

Once upon a time in a kingdom very near

There lived a spirited little girl with a dream so very clear

Showered by love, she would grow up right

As strong as the sun and as clever as the night

As the years did pass, the child did grow

She looked out into the world with eyes that glittered like the snow

As a young woman with only love in her heart

She stepped out into that world hoping for her adventure to start

But love was elusive and proved uneasy to find

For like an unrelenting storm people were not always so kind

The wicked years would pass her by

Her beautiful heart became heavy and she became shy

The little girl within her grew afraid of the world and everyone in it

She returned to her land feeling unfit

Ashamed and unloved she fell into despair

Turning her back to her fate and all who lingered there

Guarded by her trees her heart healed while she looked into her soul

She knew she needed something to make her feel whole

She was never meant to be loved but her heart was so ample

She spent her days with those in need of care to set an example

Sometimes she felt sadness for the things she would be without

But she knew that her heart would always spread love when she felt any doubt

She had gone looking for love while she had carried it all along

How foolish she felt for being so wrong

She learned the world is vast and there is much evil to fight

But with the love that she carries she must always try to do what is right

That little girl is still within her and her dream is still alive

Maybe one day love will find her but either way she will continue to thrive

People will claim to love her but she will always love them more

For that little girl’s heart is bigger and loving others is what she was born for