All the Treats, No Tricks

Tomorrow is a week exactly until Halloween. For me, it’s always been a hit or miss type of holiday. More times than I can probably recall, I’ve missed out on the holiday, or at least, ended up unable to fully celebrate or engage in any holiday-related festivities. The first instance I can remember happened in October 1998, at the age of 10. For about a week or at least several days prior to the actual occurrence, I’d been experiencing strange stomach discomfort. At first, my mom and I both assumed it must have been some type of intestinal gas, or something benign of that nature. Though, on or around the 28th of October, the discomfort increased to the point where I inherently knew it wasn’t simply a minor event.


It just so happened that particular evening, my parents were at a meeting at school, so they were unable to be easily reached. In the time before cell phones, without a pay phone, or landline phone, it was nearly impossible to reach them, until my mom called to check in on their way into the grocery store, stopping at a pay phone. Hearing the grave and frantic nature of my and my sister’s voices, our parents rushed home and quickly placed me inside the car and transported me to the ER. Within several hours, in the wee hours of the morning, my appendix was removed, as doctors feared it could soon rupture, given my blood work results and examination. It took me a bit longer than some to recover from the surgery and Halloween soon arrived, with me bed ridden. Early Halloween morning, a nurse entered my room with two stacks of cards, festively decorated. Some, she explained, were from a local elementary school who designed cards for pediatric hospital patients. Therefore, I was one of the recipients. The cards were filled with silly and fun sayings and mantras, colorfully decorated to brighten my spirits, which it did. The other stack of cards came from my 5th grade class at school. Needless to say, though I wasn’t trick-or-treating that year, I certainly felt loved and “treated.”

Several Halloweens following that year, I suffered from minor sniffles and colds, causing me to either skip out on trick-or-treating entirely, or at least shorten my Halloween adventures. Then, as a 20-year-old, I again found myself hospitalized on Halloween. Though at 20, I was certainly way past a typical trick-or-treating age, I still felt disappointed to again be unable to join in the festivities as so many of my fellow 20-year-old college students did. Without disclosing the nature of my hospitalization, it was a holiday within the unit of the hospital that again filled me with love and appreciation. My fellow hospital patients; some children, some teens, and some adults, both male and female, wrote cards to one another and distributed them; trick-or-treating of a different kind, again filled with all treats, as opposed to tricks. The cards were filled with what we liked or admired about one another.

At this point, you may be wondering what prompted this particular post, and to that inquiry, I respond with the outpouring of posts and articles I’ve seen on candy-free Halloweens, or displaying a teal pumpkin outside one’s home, indicating they are “allergy-free.” It’s a concept I’ve come to embrace and one that is a reminder of the candy-free Halloweens filled with inspiring cards and words, as opposed to sweet, edible treats. Though I’m not opposed to candy (I’m a true fan of many!), the candy-free concept is one I feel is a positive one; one where children and adults can both engage in and celebrate, no matter their financial state, because kind words are always free.


So, this Halloween, if you’re feeling pressured to perfect your Halloween candy bowls or party preparations, just remember, sometimes a caring word, thought, card, or acknowledgment can be so much sweeter than the most decadent of candies and/or foods.

Happy Halloween!

Closure by Inquiry

Just over five years ago, I was 23 and employed full-time in a profession I loved, which more or less fell into my lap one day.  One moment, I was unemployed, desperately searching for a career, unaware if my degree would prove fruitful and the next instant, I was helping to impact people’s lives on a daily basis. Battling self-esteem issues the majority of my life, I was still highly critical of myself, but slowly managing to combat these emotions in a more constructive way as time progressed.

Longing for a romantic relationship of some kind, or at least someone to date, I met a guy who intrigued me, but also sent perplexing thoughts through my mind. He was three years my senior, working in a high-level position and for one reason or another, captivated me. Still to this day, I never quite understood what it was about him that stirred such emotions within me. That being said, I was enthralled with him from day one, yet we never could seem to figure each other out. We were never “together” per se and much of our communication was conducted via text message. He and I lived a distance from each other (the suburbs for me, him – the city). Though I had a car, I was desperately fearful of city-driving, hailing from the suburbs my entire life. As an anxious person, driving in the city, or even the mere thought of driving in the city, frightened me beyond words. My fear of driving in the city erroneously translated to him as me not wanting to see him and rather than explain myself, I suppose I allowed him to believe it.

Time passed and he moved away years later, back to his hometown thousands of miles and states away. No words were exchanged, but for years, I still thought of him and wondered if he followed suit. At some points, we would exchange text messages, but never made concrete plans to see each other again, or travel to one another. Still, in the back of my mind, I always wondered what could have been or what it could or may lead to. Perhaps it is the romantic in me, or quite possibly, I read too many novels, but the idea of us somehow “finding each other” after all these years, left me swirling with contentment and contemplation.

Then, roughly two days ago, my fate was more or less sealed when it came to him. Knowing he was living in the midst of the Hurricane currently plaguing portions of the US and outside areas, I fretted and contemplated texting him. My inability to text him at the first thought was my fear of him being in a relationship and not responding to me, or at my worst fear, him exchanging a hurtful message to me. Still, I couldn’t live with me not inquiring after him to learn if he was safe or not. Summoning the minuscule amounts of courage left within me, I bravely tapped out a message to him, reading none another than, “Hey, how have you been?” To me, it was innocent, but friendly, a friend simply inquiring after another friend. There were no romantic implications in that, or so I believed.

A short amount of time later, his number was swiftly deleted from my phone, tears began to fill my eyes and the ruminating and disparaging remarks directed towards me filled my head. “How foolish I felt. How stupid I was, how grossly ashamed I was. I was undeserving, ugly, to be ignored and forgotten of. How idiotic I was to have thought I could have meant something to someone like him.” This disparaging inward monologue transpired within my mind for much of the evening. Instructed to delete his phone number, because he was “dating the woman he intends to marry,” I was filled with shock and an inability to initially comprehend all I read. Sure, I can understand if he is with someone else, it is his right and prerogative, but to have sent me such a hurtful message as that, to me, is unacceptable and not to mention, undeserving. What did I do to deserve such a message, I asked myself? All I merely asked him was how he was. I struggled to come to this conclusion, but when I ultimately did, I decided I was proud of myself for who I am. I’m proud that I was a big enough person to ask after him, because I was concerned about his wellbeing as a person who I believed was living in the storm zone. There was nothing romantic about my inquiry. Therefore, it is him who should be regretful. Him, who should feel guilty because of the language he used and the harsh tone of his words. It is not me to be reprimanded or who should feel ashamed, I’m proud that I am caring, I’m proud that I am brave and I’m also proud that I took the time to speak my truth through this blog post, because if it happened to me, it’s happened to others, as well. So, whenever you feel the urge to berate yourself because of someone else’s words toward you,  remember that the way someone behaves or speaks to you is not a reflection of you, but a reflection of them, as a person.

I’m glad I learned now, rather than later; it is the closure I needed and in the wise words of someone I know, “Beauty is what you feel inside, not what you see the mirror.”

Timeless Summer

Isn’t it hard to believe sometimes that we’re already deep in the midst of the Summer season? Whether you consider the unofficial start of summer as Memorial Day, or the actual start on June 20-21st, Summer is in full-swing. When I was younger and in school, I lived for summer. All year, I would anticipate its arrival, eager to spend the days milling around the house, catching up on movies and TV shows, spending endless amount of time outside, taking walks with friends, shopping at the mall, attending concerts, and of course, traveling somewhere new on family vacation.

Summer quote

Growing up, I was fortunate enough to be able to often choose or help decide on a locale for the family vacation. Since childhood, I’ve loved traveling and being able to visit somewhere new and unfamiliar. Traveling is often where I gain some of my best inspiration and serves as a catalyst for hopes of the future. Though I don’t presently travel nearly as much as I would like to these days, it’s always a joy to me to be able to reflect back on some of my most memorable vacations and summers:

  • Disney World – It’s not hard to understand why Disney World is often at the top of my list when I think back on favorite vacations. I’ll never forget the first time my family and I visited Disney World. I was young, a newly-minted 4-year-old having turned 4 at the beginning of May. It was July of 1992 and not only was it my first visit to Disney World, but it was also my very first plane ride. Having battled through numerous ear infections as a baby and young child, I had tubes in my ears at the time and as a result, ended up at the urgent care clinic once we landed, for yet another ear infection. However, I didn’t let the infection derail our vacation. Upon arriving at the hotel, we quickly unloaded our belongings and finally made our way to the Magic Kingdom. From first glance at Cinderella Castle, I was in complete awe. I recall standing directly in front of the castle transfixed and unable to move. There it was, right before me. Though, given the young child I was, at the time, I couldn’t understand or make sense as to why I wasn’t able to go inside. So for a brief time, I stood there sobbing to my mom, asking why I wasn’t allowed to go inside and though I can’t recall exactly what she said to me, before I knew it, I was happily running along with my sister, Hope, enjoying the rides and park. The next day, it was the character breakfast at the Grand Floridian Hotel. How incredible it was to enjoy a meal with my favorite characters. From the Mickey Mouse Belgian Waffles to posing for photos with Pluto and friends, it’s one experience I’ll never forget. As I grew older, I visited Disney World with my family several other times, including twice with Hope, for Spring Break. The most recent visit, though not so recent anymore, given it was in May 2009, I rode my first upside-down roller coaster – the Rockin’ Roller Coaster. Though I was fearful, it’s one moment in my life where I faced my fears headfirst and never regretted it.
  • The Bahamas – In the summer after 7th grade, my family and I visited the Bahamas. First, we flew into Florida, then transferred onto the smallest plane I’ve ever seen or flew on, onto the island of the Bahamas. We were greeted by a small airport, humidity and an environment I’d never encountered before. From the soda that tasted strangely different, opposite sides of the road we drove on, and the first dilapidated hotel we were supposed to stay in, I wasn’t at all sure at first if I actually wanted to be there. Though, my impressions quickly shifted as we changed our hotel reservations upon seeing one of the newest hotels on the island – Our Lucaya (the name is now changed, but upon it first opening, it was called this). It was a sprawling and beautiful resort, complete with several restaurants, a dance club and various pools and spas. My family and I were in complete awe at the sight of it. As we made ourselves comfortable, Hope and I were eager to visit both the pool and dance club. Though we were very young at the time, we made our way to the dance club and ended up learning the dance – “The Casper Slide,” prior to it even arriving in the United States! Despite enduring one of the worst sunburns I’ve ever received, our Bahamian vacation was one of the best; from bargaining at the straw markets, to dancing at the night clubs, and lounging by the pool, it was the true epitome of a relaxing escape.
  • Arizona/Las Vegas/New Mexico – What an incredible adventure this trip was! Looking back, perhaps this was one of the last times I truly felt carefree and energetic in my life. When we made this trip, I was roughly 16 at the time. I felt comfortable and secure in my life, eager to explore and discover a new climate and area of the United States. Having sang the song “Route 66” numerous times that year in my choir class, I was excited to finally see it up close on this very trip. When the trip first started, we arrived in Phoenix, Arizona at the height of one of the hottest weeks of the year. The town was desolate given it was the middle of the afternoon and the peak of the heat. We quickly learned to take shelter during this time and emerge only when the heat had decreased. Though it was more of a dry heat versus the humid heat we were used to, it was still barely bearable. The environment, however was beautiful. Vibrant sunshine, turquoise, handmade jewelry adorned many of the stores and the store windows, and a desert-like atmosphere. It was unlike anything I’d ever personally encountered and it was breathtaking. One evening, we quickly learned it was monsoon season and ended up spending a large amount of time in the hotel restaurant, chatting and joking around with the restaurant employees. Days later, we hopped into the rental car and made our way to Las Vegas. Much of the trip to Vegas was a whirlwind since at the time, my sister and I were only teenagers and couldn’t do much and we quickly made our way to New Mexico, for the last leg of our trip. It was there when we finally encountered the infamous Route 66. Seeing the sign for the road was surreal in itself, but the best part was being able to encounter a new climate and destination. Our brief time there included some of the best Mexican cuisine I’ve ever enjoyed and a pleasant feeling of the summer warmth in the evening, free of humidity.

Though this is only a sampling of the summer trips/vacations I’ve enjoyed, they are often the ones that stick out most to me. There is a whole world out there I’d love to someday see, but until then, it’s always fun to reflect on pleasant pastimes, especially in the midst of Summer. Wherever you happen to be this Summer season, I hope you’re enjoying yourself and taking in each moment.

Traveling quote

Life in the Air

The other night, more or less out of sheer boredom, I was mindlessly shuffling through the TV channels, looking to see if I could spot any new, intriguing TV shows worthy of setting the DVR for. After combing through several of my go-to channels, including ABC, NBC, CBS, Freeform (formerly ABC Family), Food Network, Hallmark Channel, etc, I stumbled upon Travel Channel. In years past, Travel Channel was filled with TV shows that were both as exciting as they were intriguing. Past favorites included: Food Paradise, Disney World specials, as well as other travel-related series. However, in recent years, I started to distance myself from the channel, as I found it was often filled with reruns.

Much to my surprise, while scrolling through TV shows on the Travel Channel, an innovative TV show title caught my eye: Hello Goodbye. The title alone led me to click onto the description and from there forward, the two 30-minute episodes set to air Monday evening at both 11pm and 11:30pm were set to record, so that I would be able to watch it a more convenient time. Last night, as a prelude to winding down for bed, I decided to take a chance and watch the episodes I recorded. After completing both premiere episodes, I was pleasantly surprised to the point where I am still contemplating it today. The overall concept and the stories that unraveled during the episode were unique, some heartwarming and others simply shocking.

Travel Channel

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the new program, it is a docu-series hosted by Curt Menefee, who wanders through some of the United States’ largest airports (i.e. Chicago’s O’Hare airport is one of them) with a video camera in hand, interviewing numerous travelers, asking them where they are headed and what they are up to next on their journeys. Some of their responses were beyond what I would expect, but were fascinating to hear and watch. Some were meeting family members for the first time in over 45 years, others were bringing their family members to the country for the first time, some were even meeting people for the first time in person after forming relationships/friendships online. One couple even became engaged on the episode, after first meeting in high school and reconnecting 20 years later at their high school reunion!

Hello Goodbye                Hello Goodbye photo

It’s a coincidence a TV show like this is now airing, having said to my mom many times over the year how truly incredible airports are, filled with such stories, insight, and possibilities. Airports connect us from one place to the other, thousands of miles away. There are countless people filling airports each day, each with their own agendas, their own histories, and are en route to continue their stories. The show was filled with such anticipation in knowing this, unaware of who we would meet next. It led me to wonder about my own life; how an airport could lead me to somewhere or someone. There are many places I’d love to visit, someday, some close, some far, but new to me, all the same. The show was a captivating one and provides me with possibility in knowing truly anything is possible if we have the courage and bravery to pursue it.

Travel Quote

If you haven’t yet seen Hello Goodbye, I encourage you to take a look, perhaps you’ll end up being as inspired or intrigued as I was.

Journey Quote

A Tangled Path to Acceptance

Let me ask you this on this Friday morning: how often have you looked back on your life, no matter how positive or not so positive it has been and regretted a choice, thought, or decision you’ve made? To that end, how many times have you thought, if only? If only I had made a different decision or choice – if only I had taken a chance, or maybe, if only I hadn’t taken that chance? It is often easier and even, sadly, a widely-accepted social norm to berate or chastise oneself for the decisions one made or didn’t make.

Instead of focusing on the reasons WHY we made that particular decision or choice, we focus on where it has lead us to, what we have lost, or the ramifications of it. Instead of focusing on what actually drove these past choices, we may ruminate, analyze, or play out scenarios in our head of what our lives might have been like if we’d made different choices or taken different paths. Often times, this only leads us to sadness or regret and as a result, we spend much of our time dwelling in the past, envisioning a life we don’t have instead of relishing in what we DO have and the time we have been given to live it.

On the flip side, there can in fact be positives to reflecting on the past. It can keep us from making future poor decisions or provide us with insight into difficult choices, decisions and other situations within our lives. Self-acceptance has often been something I’ve struggled with in particular through the years and acknowledging where I am at the present time. Being kinder to myself is something I hope and wish to employ at I begin my 28th year on Tuesday, May 3rd.

Begin Again quote

As I said last year on my 27th birthday, for those of you who may recall, birthdays for me are often a chance to set a new goal, a new dream, or maybe the decision to choose to pursue a goal I neglected, but always harbored within me. With that being said, my goal for my 28th year, is to acknowledge I may not have or be living the life I believed I would, but then again, when I envisioned my life, I was a very young, impressionable adolescent or child, unaware of what life could bring or what I could encounter. I didn’t realize that the plans we make for ourselves can and will change as we grow and develop as a person and see more of what life has to offer. Some of these changes will be positive, some of them will be negative, but just because the path I thought I would take is vastly different, does not mean it is the one I will always lead. To get what we aspire to have out of life, we have to start somewhere. This year will be the year I decide to acknowledge what I’ve lost and the choices I made, but instead of ruminating and wallowing in self-pity, will choose to start again and adjust my sails.

After all, there truly is no time limit on when we can achieve our dreams or set new goals; why not start now?

Starting Over quote

Spring Forward in Thoughts

Good Morning, to you and Happy Earth Day! Since I’ve only very recently resumed blogging after a brief hiatus, I neglected to welcome in the new season of Spring (hardly new, now a month into it!). That being said, Spring has always been a season I’ve looked forward to for a multitude of reasons. Living in the suburbs of Philadelphia, we often endure a harsh, frigid winter (or at least, in reason years we have) and so the Spring is always a welcome occurrence in my mind. There is truly nothing better than having the ability to step outside of my house, sans a heavy winter coat and boots and feel the light, Spring breeze tousling my hair and allowing for a cleansing fresh start. The beginning of Spring is also an acknowledgement and reminder of new beginnings. Not only are seasonal flowers and produce blooming and growing, but it’s also the chance to try something new and with that, it leads me to my recent discovery via Twitter, one of my favorite social media platforms.

Spring Quote 2

Having recently read the latest novel by acclaimed author, Debbie Macomber, I decided to check out her Twitter page and see what she’s been up to and if she’s sharing any inspirational words. While on her page, I noticed her “retweeting” several quotes and other motivational tweets by the Twitter name – World Changing Women. Curious as I was, I clicked over onto their page and discovered an entire outpouring of motivational and inspirational quotes, posted multiple times throughout the day. To me, it was just what I was looking for and hoping to see. Immediately, I clicked “follow” and since then, have been actively enjoying their tweets, liking them for further reference.

So, I thought, what better than to share some of my favorite quotes thus far, or at least those that have profoundly resonated with me:

Quotes/Thoughts from “World Changing Women” (Twitter handle: @WomenOfHistory)

“Sometimes what you’re most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free.”

“Worry does nothing but steal your joy and keep you very busy doing nothing.”

“Sometimes it takes sadness to know happiness, noise to appreciate silence and absence to value presence.”

“When you do something out of love, you don’t count the cost.”

“Some people pass through our lives in a shorter time frame than we had hoped to teach us things they never could have taught if they had stayed.”

“The story of your life has many chapters. One bad chapter doesn’t mean it’s the end of the book.”

“Don’t let your fear of the past affect the outlook of your future. Live for what tomorrow has to bring, not what yesterday has taken away.”

“Turn your wounds into wisdom.”

“People who are meant to be together find their way back, they may take a few detours, but they are never lost.”

“Being defeated is often a temporary condition; giving up is what makes it permanent.”

Spring Quote


Scenes from a 17th September

Lately, it seems I’ve been more nostalgic than usual. Most of my nostalgia, I feel, probably stems my desire to make some imperative, much-needed changes within my life. I’ve always been a firm believer in the notion: if you’re unhappy with your present life and feel as though it isn’t “you,” then it is worth it to pursue change. Of course, while I’ve been a believer in this sentiment, it isn’t always the easiest to actually implement or attempt this change. Often times, when attempting change, or trying something different, I’ve become sidetracked, discouraged, or traveled down the path to procrastination. The more I age, the more I realize how important it is to take chances, no matter how frightful they may seem. These fears though, as I’ve come to know, are often fears we’ve created in our minds, building up these changes to unrealistic levels, creating negative outcomes in our minds that would probably never happen. There is so much I aspire to in life, so many ideas, creations and concepts I’d love to work on, so many people and families I’d love to help and yet, my fears have always prevented me from doing it. My own preconceived notions about my abilities, or lack thereof, and chastising myself for not being in the place or in the life I thought I would be as I approach my 28th year has led me to where I am today.

That being said, last night as I watched the latest Hallmark Channel movie on TV (yes, I’ll admit to it, but this movie actually proved to be one of the better ones of the bunch!), it prompted a prolonged nostalgia within me for reasons I can’t really understand, myself. So allow me to reflect a bit, without delving too much into the meanings between the words:

It was September 20, 2005, I was 17, and I still remember what I wore that day, a navy, fitted t-shirt, with white lace adorning the collar, fitted jeans and heeled sandals; my unofficial “beginning of senior year of high school uniform,” for the preceding weeks. I can still remember the way the clothes felt on my body as I slid them over my shrinking body, feeling the fabric skimming over my hip bones and the way the tag on my t-shirt rested on bones of my neck. When I look back, I can still feel myself slamming the backseat car door in the parking garage, angry and afraid, unsure if I wanted to scream or cry, wanting both all the same. The scene is still as clear as day; not a cloud lined the sky, the air was pristine, a temperate breeze filled the town of Princeton, NJ. When the parking lot’s elevator door opened, I marched my way into the building in front of me, unaware it would be home for the time being. Both my parents trailed in the background, as I desperately ran from them. They hurried to catch up, but my feet continued to carry me faster.

The next several hours were a hazy blur; papers being signed, questions asked, numbers recorded, heads nodding, tears shed, and my anger mounting. The numbness lingered through my body that first day and night. Words escaped me and my thoughts were scattered that first afternoon, outside on the lawn with the others, all of our respective blankets adorning the first floor lawn. As I lay on my blanket, I closed my eyes and hoped that when they opened, my life would be my own again.”

“Sometimes, it takes sadness to know happiness, noise to appreciate silence, and absence to value presence.”