Taking the Time

In light of my past vacation I wanted to write about time. Time, our time, does not go on forever. We only have so many trips around the sun so, it’s important to make every rotation matter.

My trip was scheduled for two weeks after my spring break…genius! At first, I was stressed and didn’t want to go, and then I thought “fu*k it!” We only get one life and we have no way of knowing when our time is up. Some get many years some get few, and if I end up being one of the people who don’t get the time I deserve, I want there to have been life in my years.

There are some obligations in life that we just have to fill. Like working whether we like it or not. That being said where there’s a will there’s a way. When an opportunity to experience something new or do something that makes you happy presents itself, go for it! There will be other ways to make up the work your missing, or the vacation days your taking.

We spend so much of our lives working and worrying that we forget to take the limited time we were given and use it to be alive. I find so many of the people I know are just going through the motions. Something we can all practice is not letting life get in the way of living.  Life provides us with so many opportunities to fill our moments with joy and excitement so, we better take life up on the possibilities while we’re here.

Complete your work ahead of your vacation to make it stress free. Take a day off and worry about it later. We are so busy progressing that we forget to sit back once in a while and enjoy the progress we have made. The western world has put us in this rat race mindset making us think we constantly need more, that we need to put all our hours into work. Work through lunch, work past dinner, go in extra early, stay late. No. Refuse to give your life away to just anything. Make the moments count towards something.

One day we will wake up and look back on our lives, at all the opportunities we missed, and all the chances we didn’t take. Or, we will smile at all the things we were lucky enough to have the chance to do, and we will laugh at the memories we made with the people who matter most. We will have made an imprint on the world even if it was just footprints on a white sand beach.

Put good energy into the world, and make your rotations matter.

xS

Sunflower Town

My life comes in two parts, and my soul comes with baggage.

I call it BC. AC.

Before Cole after Cole.

Before Cole:

Life was as simple as it could be in a water tower town. My two brothers and I? We grew up good on love and sunshine. We drank iced tea in the summers and hot chocolate in the winters. We had all you could dream of as a kid, bikes, scooters, baseball bats. We played all kinds of sports from street hockey to horseback riding. Our lives were out of a home life magazine for the most part. My mom stayed at home with us our entire childhood, my dad worked as a State Trooper. My mom is a soft woman with hands that heal. My dad is a rough and tough man with hands worn from providing for us. We had everything we needed and whatever we wanted. Around the holidays we would send out christmas cards and, for thanksgiving we would visit with every side of the family we could. In the summers we would spend every waking moment in bare feet and bathing suits by the lake and when it wasn’t summer…we were waiting for it. A Picket fence family with a little bit of closed-door drama but nothing other families don’t deal with.

Then everything went black and, closed-door drama shifted into a town wide tragedy.

After Cole:

February gets its reputation truthfully,  cold, bitter, and miserable.  But, the morning I woke up to the blood curdling screams of my mother, crying over my baby brother, it was sunny and still. The water in the lake behind my house was a sheet of glass…as if it was frozen in fear. My brother had committed suicide and it was as if nature knew. There were no sounds from the outside world. A chilling silence behind the screams of terror in the room above mine. I called the first person I could think of, my high school english teacher. She couldn’t understand me through the phone as I tried to get the words out that, my life has just become the same tragedy I have watched repeat in my home town over and over again. She gave me the strength, for a moment, to breathe.

The moments after were a flood of flashing lights and blaring sirens. Men with black boots quietly wadded though my house as if walking on shattered glass, tip toeing around broken people. My mother had to be torn from my brother’s body. We were shuffled into the downstairs bedroom, that belonged to my other brother Jake, as they put Coles body in the ambulance. All I could think in my head was how ugly it was. How ugly the world became in a matter of minutes. The ambulance drove away with my brother and my innocence.

Throughout the day family and close friends quietly snuck through the front door brining enough food to feed an army. It was a good thing because, an army sure came. I can’t even re-call the amount of people who showed up to the house that day but all I knew was the support system around us, could swallow us whole. But still, even with all the love in the room everything was ugly. The room was quiet beyond a few whispers here and there. Emotion was either out of control or completely withdrawn.

The funeral was held that Friday. It was raining and dark out. The world was no longer in fear…it was crying. It was the first funeral I had ever been too and looking back now I should have drug the time on for a million more years because, even now after all this time, I am not ready to let go of the last moment I saw him or all the moments before that. If I could have climbed in the casket that day and been buried with him I would have. I said my final goodbyes but couldn’t stay to watch the casket close, that was the last time I saw my little brother’s face.

It was not the last time I thought of him.

Everyday from that day on I have thought of him.

I watched the middle school Cole attended, and the high school I went to, erupt in both love and sadness. Sadness derived from love is the strangest emotion to feel. It’s so bittersweet. Theres so much good that gets overshadowed by pain. Still, to this day I see support of my brother and posts about missing him and they all describe a sad love.

The thing we forget to tell people about suicide is it’s so much deeper than just you being gone. It’s every moment of the day you left, engraved in the hearts of your loved ones. It’s all the missed moments spotted from the sidelines…they should have been here..they would have loved that. It’s the haunting of the loss. It’s not understanding the definition of, “a mothers love” until you see it ripped from her. It’s the memories that are tattooed all over town. The time goes by, but the memories never fade and, while we become good at masking it and coping with it, the pain never fades either.

Loss is ugly. Remembering loss is ugly. Being reminded of loss is ugly. There are beautiful moments in celebrating the past of the person you lost, but not nearly as many as if they were here. When people leave the world feels it. Suicide doesn’t end the pain, it gives the pain a way to spread with no way to stop it.

To be truthful I know he’s still here. Cole shows up everywhere I go, on road signs that clearly spell out his name, in his favorite songs that come on the radio in all the moments after I almost crash my car. The forces above us, whatever they may be, bring him near to me all the time. Even though I may never know whats up head, I know what’s gone lingers to watch me grow.

 

Put good energy into the world, have a heart that heals, and find strength in the sunflowers.

xoxo s

Self Care is for YOU

In the spirit of my last post about the importance of mental health I wanted to write about self care. Many people think “self-care” and, assume pedicures and spa days. While I am no stranger to a deluxe pedicure or a 20 minute face mask, it is important to remember self-care is not always as glamorous as a fancy 19 year old’s Instagram posts make it out to be.

Self care can come up in a variety of ways and is considered anything you do for YOU. Sometimes locking ourselves away so we can have a loud ugly cry in private, and not break down in the line at Walmart, is what we have to do to self-care. Remembering to eat or taking it a step further and making your favorite meal can result in a much more fulfilled day. Sometimes the most we can do for ourselves is just take a shower. Washing off the day, climbing into bed and just taking a deep breath is one of the best forms, in my opinion, of self care.

We tend to get caught up in the way the media portrays self-care and think to care about ourselves, we need to shove a whole Acai bowl down our throats. This is not the case. Just because your yoga teacher eats a banana when she’s sad and buys $100 yoga mats it doesn’t mean that, that is what will improve your life.

Self care is all about YOU. You need to have some kind of understanding about who you are as a person in order to help calm your own life or, excite it if that’s your style. Jumping on the bandwagon of Sunday morning yoga class and an afternoon brunch with the girls is not going to help you, if that is not how you function. We all move about this life in different ways, taking time for ourselves to do the things we like or need is very important to living a productive healthy life. Every now and then it’s good to take a step back from the world and put a little effort into yourself. 

Put good energy into the world, and put good energy into yourself.

xS

Stand Up, Speak Up, Wake Up

Good health is not just the absence of physical disease, it is the state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being. It aids in determining how we, as individuals, handle stress, enjoy life, and make choices. You will not have a healthy body if it’s not accompanied by a healthy mind. When we are free of depression, anxiety, addictions, or stress, we are more capable to live a much fuller, more enjoyable life. Unfortunately, we live in a world tainted with brokenness, volatility of human emotion, and imperfection. While positive mental health is strongly encouraged, it is not always granted.

Here in Mays Landing, New Jersey, we’ve woken up to the tragic phone calls and group texts. We’ve attended the candlelight vigils. We’ve attended the grief counseling. But each time we watch a little piece of the community drift away, it only gets harder every time we lose one of our own. Here in this community, we are doing more than lending an ear. We are hosting a charity event called The Wake Up @ Lake Lenape. The event is directed towards continuing the conversation about mental health and suicide that is already circling our community. Here in Atlantic County we have faced tragedy and have felt the deep loss of suicide. Together, we have struggled and together, we must continue to rebuild. Not only is this event meant to spread positive mental health, it is an event taking place to show others that there are people who care. This community cares.

Regardless of who you are, and whether you have known it or not, every one of you has been touched by mental illness in some way. Whether it was a brother, sister, friend, co-worker, mom, dad, neighbor, the list goes on. Facing a loss of any form is difficult, but facing one you never saw coming is torturous. The truth is, you never know when you might lose out on a life the way so many have. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. On average, there are 123 suicides per day. These individuals are blinded by hopelessness and isolation. Just because a suicidal person may not be asking for help, doesn’t mean that help isn’t wanted. Even though you may not be going through a mental disorder yourself, it doesn’t mean that the person beside you isn’t…but what can you do? A lot more than you think.

It starts by taking part in the conversation and helping bring forth change. Speaking up and freely talking about suicide and mental health creates a culture where people can get help without shame. It encourages others to ask for help, knowing that there are people who are willing to lend a listening ear. Being silent and turning a blind eye does not help you or anyone around you. There is no set “program” for good mental health, but increasing the range of choices available for those who need it, increases the chance for more people to adopt and maintain positive mental lifestyles.

You can say “not me” but you should do everything in your power to prevent yourself from saying “why me?” So, for the new year I invite you to spread the mental health message and join the fight against suicide by following The Wake Up Project and if you can, attending the event. If not for you, then for the people in your life you love the most.

And if you are going through something, and you happen to stumble upon this little post, know that we care. Mistakes and defeat are all a part of life’s wild journey. These feelings of self-loathing, despair, or anger are temporary, and you will get through it. Choose to fight through the darkness and the sadness. We are here for you, and whenever you feel like wanting to give up, know that there is so much life worth fighting for. Just because you can’t see it now, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Above all else, stay. Stay because nobody else could ever play your part. You have a purpose and soon enough, you will find it.

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Support the cause and the event by following @thewakeupp on Instagram!

 Visit www.thewakeupp.com for more details

 This special post was written with love. Together, with Sophia Cuerquis.

Put good energy into the world,

download

xoxo S

Mama’s Mac

So, I see this all the time… boxed mac and cheese. I know all college kids are supposed to flourish on ramen and easy mac but the truth is, you don’t. So, I think we should all leave fake powdered cheese and uncooked pasta in 2017 with whatever other bad habits and crappy people you decided to leave there.

Something me and my mom love to do is cook together. Now I know Mac and Cheese is not the healthiest choice. In fact, you’re only supposed to have a lipstick size severing of cheese a day! But, none of us have ever listened to that, except my vegan pals, and none of us are going to. Don’t let me ruin your new years diet but next time you reach for that  powdered cheese nasty-ness, think of this recipe and how much better life could be.

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Lets get down to it.

Here’s what you’ll need :

  • 1 pound elbow pasta
  • 4 cups cheddar cheese
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 cups velveeta cheese
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground mustard
  • salt & pepper as needed
  • 3/4 cup of breadcrumbs

What to do:

Boil the pasta.

Mix up the cheeses, milk, ground mustard, salt, and pepper in a sauce pan.

Put your now cooked pasta in a glass dish and pour your cheese mixture in and stir.

Once all the pasta is coated in cheese sprinkle your breadcrumbs on.

Put in the oven bake at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes

EAT!!

This a great dish to make on a cold day, like today since we are in the first blizzard of 2018. It also heats up great at night for a midnight snack!! That is if you have power. Stay warm.

Put good energy into the world, and good food into your body.

xS

Asking For Help

I’ve recently found myself in a complicated situation. When I went to ask for help from someone I care for, I realized I had no idea how to ask. I wanted desperately to tell this person that I needed them, but I was both unsure and unconfident about where to begin. I knew if I said I needed help they wouldn’t hesitate to be by my side, but I couldn’t gather the courage. What I’ve learned about myself is I’m extremely deflective of all my pain like many others.

When I am unable to handle something completely alone I often feel incompetent or weak. Nobody finds comfort in these feelings. I frequently forget that many people have empathy for me and would do their best to help me in any way they can. Even in the darkest moments of my life I have never asked for help.

Being capable of handling a situation yourself and being confident that you can ask for help is so important. Often, we deflect our feelings and downplay the most difficult things in our lives because we don’t know what else to do. We become fearful that others will be uncomfortable or reject us in our time of need, causing us to become increasingly more vulnerable.

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What we forget is that most of the people in our lives love and care for us more than we know. People have a hard time showing their true feelings just like they have a hard time asking for help. Many of us wouldn’t hesitate to bend over backwards to help someone we care for, so why don’t we have the same faith in those that care for us?

Put good energy into the world, and put confidence in your people.

xS

Let Go

Sometimes in life we get stuck in the same old routines because it’s safe. It’s natural for people to hold onto things they no longer want or need just because they are familiar. The thing about life is that it’s constantly shifting all around us. When we don’t shift with it, we risk getting caught up in old patterns that send us in circles. We shouldn’t fear letting something go that can’t fit in our life anymore.

In many situations, negative things are just not meant to be held onto so tightly. The point is to learn from them and then, let them go. Whether we’re holding onto a physical object, a bad habit, or a person that no longer allows you to grow, letting go is a long difficult process. It requires the utmost of strength and courage to allow a piece of your life to slip away but, it’s important to muster up that power when an aspect of our lives is no longer benefiting us.

Breaking out of patterns that don’t contribute positively to our lives is necessary to become a well-rounded person. So, we should always do our best to try new things and make our life a bit more interesting. Life is full of opportunities and sometimes we don’t take them because we are scared to shake things up. When life comes full circle and we discover an aspect that no longer fits in with who we are, we can make one of two choices, we can take a new path…or we can round the bend again.

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It may take a few trips around the sun to figure out what things in life are worth holding onto and what things to let pass but, once you clear out the clutter, form good habits, and find the perfect people your life will brighten immensely. Now that’s not to say the bad things in our life don’t serve a purpose, just that the purpose has a time limit and we shouldn’t extend it if it doesn’t benefit us.  As long as it takes, always push for the positive.

Put good energy into the world, and push for the positive.

xS

 

Staying Motivated

Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of our busy lives the “To Do” list can become a little overwhelming. The days and weeks all begin to run together and the next thing you know, you’ve missed two deadlines and you’re coming up on a third. In my first semester of college I have spent many days standing in awe at the mess I have made of my calendar. Too much to do in too little time and all I want to do in these moments is nap it off. It came as shock but napping it off proved to be less effective than I was hoping. I woke up even more stressed because now I had less time in an already time crunched situation.

Here’s how I managed to motivate myself:

Every day I set an alarm at a reasonable time. I’m not taking over the world so I don’t need to be up at 6am. Some people like the morning so 6am might be a great time for them… I am not one of these people.

In this hour before class I make my bed. It is such a small thing to do but it’s the first accomplishment of the day which sets the stage for more accomplishments. Then, I check my calendar which I set up at the start of each month. For me being able to see the whole month rather than the week makes it easier to plan out my days. Its nice to, “see the big picture”, as they say. After seeing what the day holds I make my “To Do” list.

The “To Do” list is helpful to see how your day will play out. I am always sure to make time for myself in these lists. One hour is always for a breather which I normally spin into a nap… a nap that’s not an “escape your life” nap.

Going to class is obviously on the list along with studying. The motivation comes in during the day because if I get x, y, and z done I get nap time! Then I do some more required tasks and I’ll have dinner with my friends… if I don’t finish my work I have to eat without them.

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I always knock out my day with the gym which is not required per say but totally necessary. Going to the gym is good for me because of my anxiety and also helps me sleep at night. Feeling accomplished at the end of the day helps me get ready for another day of success and it’s said it only takes 30 days to make or break a habit. So, 30 days of being motivated means a habit of motivating myself.

Everyone has different ways to help them stay focused it’s a matter of figuring out what kind of reward to dangle in front of yourself. For me it’s napping, friends, and the gym. For other people it might be alone time or a walk outside maybe even online shopping! Once you figure out how to get yourself in gear it’s best to stay there.

Put good energy into the world, and put good energy into yourself.

xS

When the Waves of Anxiety Hit

As someone who suffers from anxiety I can tell you first hand that a “wave of anxiety” feels more like a tsunami sometimes than your average rolling beach waves. Anxiety can come in many forms and be triggered by a multitude of things. One moment can set you off into a downward spiral even if it doesn’t seem like that big of an issue. Worrying about every little detail in life gets tiring and you end up making situations worse in your head than they really are. When these tsunamis hit don’t spiral!

Learning to cope with anxiety is a long and treacherous road but sometimes this road is best run, or walked on a slight incline, on a treadmill! The thing about anxiety is that it’s all this built up energy you have been holding inside and when you let it all go it hits too hard too fast. Nobody can withstand all these emotions consuming them at once. So what I do to help ease the waves are to get all the energy out of my body prior to the meltdown.

Going to the gym requires dedication and a lot of time but having a place to go and de-stress is important to live a healthy life. I have found that it’s extremely difficult to “lose it” when you have nothing left to lose. Running out your work frustrations or family issues can seem daunting but trust me it helps. There’s nothing to focus on when you’re pushing your body to its physical limits except your physical limits. Getting in the gym clears your mind and gives you one centered spot to place your attention. After you’ve run it all out, lifted it all out, or wall sat your way into exhaustion your energy will not be so pent-up inside you. This leaves you with a little ripple of anxiety rather than a wave.

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Anxiety is different for everyone making it difficult to cope with. There’s no, “one size fits all” solution when it comes to calming your thoughts but,  giving every option a try can only increase your chances of finding that magical fix for at least some moments of zen.

Put good energy into the world, and turn anxiety waves into ripples.

xS

11:11

Forty-nine minutes Till Midnight 

It’s that time…the wishing number on our clock. Eleven eleven I wish. Eleven eleven I wish I never met you. I recently found a song on apple music called “11:11” and the lyrics depict a distraught state of mind because the singer hates someone they once loved. It’s a song that many of us can instantly connect to but you can’t find peace in its words.

That song aside I think its true that people come into our lives for a purpose. Sometimes that purpose requires them to stay and teach you for the entirety of their time here on earth. Other times they will float into our lives and, what often will feel twice as quickly, fly right back out. While long-lasting friendships and relationships are extremely important to help us through this chaotic world many times we need people to be lessons in our lives. Wether we ruin the relationship ourselves or they hurt us in a way that changes us forever in each person, we can learn.

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In each person we can learn…if we choose to. It’s a matter of putting ourselves out there and communicating with each other. It’s not always going to be a pleasant conversation but at least we are talking. There will always be times when we regret some things we have said but, in the end the things we regret the most are the things we never got the chance to say.

While learning right from wrong through experiences is very important it is what we do with our new-found knowledge that really counts for us in the long run. We can let the loss of a person, in any matter, completely ruin us but we can’t forget that Rome was built on ruins. Like Rome we can build our lives up to be as beautiful and intricate as the city itself even after devastation. In each person we can also be the teacher. Choosing to have a positive impact on someone’s life can bring us not only closer to each other but, closer to that happiness we have all been pursuing.

So it’s eleven-eleven and my wish is that as I go through life I am always appreciative of the people in it. That I take the good with the bad and value every experience. That I take my relationships with others and grow with them, and when I don’t my wish is that I am able to understand why.

Put good energy into the world, and appreciate what the world gives you.

xS