If Hope Was A Color



Nah, nah, you heard me right the first time
Tatas, boobs, jugs, rag, squeezer pleasers, hooters, Thelma and Louise, attention felons
and “One day, ‘dose mosquito bites will turn into juicy, juicy melons”

Breast cancer.

You see it’s not so funny when that’s added into the picture.


Do the math.

I was 16 — 2 lumps, 1 breast.
I mean 10 years ago it was about training bras but now it’s about padded ones
and the underwire just isn’t enough to support me.

The numbers don’t add up
If you divide the chest, subtract the lumps, you’ll see what I wanted to be..

When I was little
I used to put pink ribbon in my hair.
I would pretend to be a ballerina and let the pink ribbon engulf my body
As I danced freely — from all constraints.

Now pink ribbon gives me night terrors.

Because it’s like a grumbling monster that grew the balls to cuddle up next to me that October night.

Hug me, caress me, stress me,
Enough for my uncomfortability,
But I wasn’t strong enough to put up a fight.

So I lift my arms
Pat left, pat right.

Feel for lumps and bumps because it might be breast cancer
I felt something and hoped.

“Oh maybe it’s nothing”
But my thoughts lingered.
My fear and blissful ignorance held hands and strolled quietly..

and I asked God’s forgiveness for whatever I had done wrong
Made promises I didn’t know that I could keep,

Hoping he would take it away
But I don’t think he heard me.

So I prayed louder and harder


His response was silent…
and I was there.

Living on sincere hopes and prayers.
But if hope was a color I would see it in pink with red splashes and purple polka dots
Not as something scary,
But as something beautiful beyond comprehension
Not to mention
…worth fighting for.

So here’s to the warriors who wrap themselves in pink sashes and don’t allow the fear to overcome them.

Here’s to the mamas, sisters, aunties, and cousins who fight like real women
Because 1 in 8 will be diagnosed with breast cancer.

1 in every 8 will develop breast cancer
What if that one was your mother?
Would it force your eyelids open?
Or your sister?
Would it divulge the words you haven’t spoken?
What if that one was your daughter?
Because I’ve seen cancer slaughter daughters and I just wasn’t ready to put on the armor…

1 in every 8 women will develop breast cancer
And I was almost one of them.



**Evanston, IL native, Bryanna Adams is a senior at Marist College, studying criminal justice, communications, and women’s studies. She’s a sucker for long walks on the beach, deep dish pizza, and social justice discourse. To keep up with her shenanigans, visit: bchrisrenee.blogspot.com

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I need to get a few things out of the way. I am young. I am white. I am straight. And I am male. The world has virtually been designed for people like me to succeed. I cannot—and do not—claim to know the difficulties of people who fall into various marginalized groups. Yet, I am going to write about them.

In a recent interview with Slate Magazine, Jonathan Franzen, perhaps our country’s foremost literary voice, said that he would never venture to write a novel about race. He said that it was “dangerous” to presume that his “good intentions [were] enough to embark on a work of imagination about Black America.” Like me, Franzen is straight, white, and male. He believes there is something paradoxical about reaping the benefits of white privilege and then exploiting the struggles of people unlike him in his writing.

I hope this long-winded disclaimer will, instead, act as a preface for this article. I am going to write empirically about three interviews I conducted with homeless people while doing research for my senior thesis. The numbers vary, but the marginalized groups remain the same. People of different races and members of the LGBTQ community create a large portion of the homeless population, despite the fact that they make up only a small amount of the general U.S. population. Women do tend be homeless less often than men, but if they do become homeless, they are exposed to a drastically higher risk of disease, physical assault, and sexual assault than homeless men.

The idea which guides me is this: it is precisely people unlike me that have the highest risk of homelessness. So, in writing about these people, I have to consider the line that divides compassion and exploitation.



The Lunch Box is a one-room soup kitchen in Poughkeepsie, New York. It has six long cafeteria-style tables, a small kitchen, and several milk cartons against the back wall—some full of paperback books, others offering an assortment of nearly-rotten fruit and vegetables. It was almost Thanksgiving when I went. On the walls, cardboard pilgrims smiled next to cardboard turkeys. Red and green Christmas garlands added a tinge of off-season color. There were roughly forty people in the room. A few were white, some younger than I expected. But, most were older, black men.

I had mentally rehearsed my elevator-pitch to a mechanical degree. Be quick. Be direct. Do not offend.

My name is Derek. I’m a student at Marist College and I’m working on a senior thesis about local homelessness. Would you be open to answering a few questions?


Homeless families consist of 33 percent of the total U.S. homeless population.

The first person I spoke to was a 43-year-old woman. She said that her husband, a roofer, herniated two discs in his back and got laid off because of the injury.

“How long have you been homeless for?” I asked her.

“Not long at all,” she said. “It’s only been a couple weeks. We haven’t slept on the streets or anything yet. We just got evicted from our house and we’ve been staying in the shelter since then.”

She said that she had two kids, both of whom were staying with their grandparents. She added that there wasn’t enough room for her and her husband to stay there as well.

“What do you think is the hardest part about being homeless?” I asked.

“Oh, I really couldn’t say. Like I said, it’s only been a few days.”

“As somewhat of an outside observer then, do you feel like Dutchess County is doing enough to help the homeless?”

“Well, that’s a tough question too,” she said. “I don’t know if I feel comfortable answering it. I can tell you that my husband and I have found ways to get food and we’ve also had some help from my parents. I guess it’s finding a job that’s really the hardest part.”

She went on to say that she had been offered a job as a taxi driver in Poughkeepsie, but she couldn’t afford the $43 fee needed to upgrade her driver’s license from a Class D to a Class C.

Her husband came over midway through the interview, looking quizzical, but stern. I explained why I was there and asked if he wanted to be interviewed as well. He declined and said that he and his wife should leave.


37 percent of homeless people in America are black.

The second person I spoke to was a 31-year-old black man. He said he had been born into poverty and had lived in Poughkeepsie his entire life.

“How long have you been homeless?” I asked.

“About four years now.”

“How did you become homeless?”

“I think a few things made it happen. First, a lot of it has to do with drugs.”

Without being prompted, he said he had gone from pot to coke to heroin.

“But, I only became homeless after my mom died a few years ago,” he added. “My dad kicked me out because I couldn’t get clean. But, I think it’s this city too.”

“What do you mean?”

“I know it’s my fault [that I’m homeless], but the city doesn’t give a fuck about us. There’s nothing really proactive to help people before they become homeless. Then, once you do, it’s almost impossible to get back on your feet. I’ve heard that Poughkeepsie is better than most places. They’ve got a lot more shelters and stuff, but I’m telling you, it’s impossible.”

“What’s the hardest part about being homeless?”

“I think it’s boredom. I try to find things to do most days, but it gets so boring.”

This answer stood out to me. Most people I spoke to that night said sleeping in the cold or constantly looking for food were the most difficult parts.

“There was one time when I didn’t talk to anyone for like two weeks,” he said. “It was before I really knew about shelters or places like this. But, I went so long without even having a conversation with someone. I think that was the hardest part.”


One in five homeless people in America suffer from mental illness.

The last man I approached was sitting by himself. He was white, boasted a beard that covered his Adam’s apple, and, at sixty-two-years-old, he was the oldest person I interviewed all night.

I quickly felt that his answers and mannerisms were consistent with someone experiencing mental health issues. He spoke tirelessly, but without direction. Throughout our conversation—nearly half an hour long—he often made claims which undercut previous ones.

“How did you become homeless?” I asked.

“I became homeless after my parents were forced to leave the coven [an organization of witches],” he said. “My parents went against the superiors and they kicked us out. After that, we didn’t have a place to live.”

“How long have you been homeless?”

“On and off for thirty years.”



**Derek Rose is currently a Master of Fine Arts candidate in creative writing at Columbia University. He likes sitcoms without laugh tracks, movies without climaxes, and books about antiheroes. He grew up in Stillwater, New York—a town so small it doesn’t have any street lights. His fiction has appeared in the Atticus Review, Sink Hollow, Potluck Magazine, and Crab Fat Literary Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter (@Derekrose21) and Instagram (@Derekrose212). Check out more of his writing at https://derekroseblog.wordpress.com/.

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Like Endless Rain Into A Paper Cup

When I was thirteen I accidentally traveled back in time to the 60s. That’s sort of what it felt like, anyway. Up until then I considered myself a pretty “vanilla” teenaged girl. Shy, easily influenced, brainy, and desperate to blend in with the other girls in my class. I was in my room one night after school VERY busy listening to my new Jonas Brothers CD when my parents called me into the living room.

“We’re gonna watch a movie, come sit with us?” my dad asked. He phrased the sentence as if I was being given an option. By his tone, I knew I had no option. I reluctantly plopped down in my sofa crease and prepared myself for two hours of apathy. (Movies have never been my cup of tea. I think it’s an attention-span thing.) The movie was called “Across the Universe,” and I could tell from the graphic designs on the DVD Menu alone that this wasn’t like the usual genre of movie my parents gravitate towards. (Them being English Literature teachers, I’ve seen every movie adaptation of every Jane Austen book known to man.)

I was shocked, blown away. I can see how I may be coming off as dramatic when I say this, but no amount of mental training could have prepared me for this moment in my life. “Across the Universe” was turbulent, rebellious, artistically beautiful, exciting and romantic, but above all, what struck me most was the soundtrack. All Beatles songs. I can’t accurately explain how much that movie hit me in all the right places. And thus, my obsession with the 1960s began.

It started with The Beatles (appropriately) but then it evolved to the whole of “The British Invasion.” The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Hollies, The Who. Then I furthered my education to American bands: The Beach Boys, The Byrds, The Stooges etc. By the time I was a Sophomore in high school I was an extremely advanced rock n’ roll historian. If my friends knew the extent of my love for elderly rock stars sixty years older than me, they probably would have had me admitted to the most heavily guarded psych-ward in California. Very few of my high school buddies got the chance to visit my house. I never invited anybody over for fear that they would see my poster-covered walls and think I was a serial killer or stalker. You think I’m exaggerating.

I had the four walls of my room painted the exact same colors as the jackets The Beatles were wearing on the Sgt. Pepper album cover. Blue, pink, orange and lime green. (So chic.) Then, those walls were plastered with countless posters of mods and rockers all looking down at me while I slept. Joy Division, Patti Smith and The Velvet Underground chillin’ on my ceiling. My furniture ranged from all things psychedelic to all things grunge. In 11th grade I made a shrine to Andy Warhol in the corner of my room, complete with candles, incense and a painting of Edie Sedgwick my friend made for me. In 11th grade I painted brick walls just above my vanity, in honor of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, of course. And let’s not forget about the Amy Winehouse collage I’ve had behind my door since her Back to Black album came out in 2006. It was an acid-tripping, heavy metal, glitter-covered, flannel-ridden nightmare. And simultaneously, my paradise.


I was a little self-conscious about my hobby. Only because it was hard to find people who could relate. While I was discovering Frank Zappa, some of my closest friends were making the transition from The Black Eyed Peas to LMFAO. (NOT that I look down on people who enjoy LMFAO, I’m just saying we were definitely on different wavelengths.) But overall, I think I received more respect for marching to the beat of my own drum. I never once felt that I was outcasted for following my joy. I had managed to trick people into thinking I was cool just because of the music I listened to.

In a way, I am eternally grateful to the artists who have managed to captivate my imagination. Now that I’m a young adult it is so obvious to me how much Debbie Harry has affected my fashion sense, or how Bowie has inspired my love of all things eccentric and bizarre. I’ve realized that every passion and every experience (whether fabricated in my mind or a physical event) is just another Jenga block on the tower of my identity. If I were to remove one, the tower would crumble and I wouldn’t be me. I am composed of every work of art I love.

Now, Oscar Wilde wasn’t a rockstar but he has made some pretty punk rock comments in his time. One of my favourites being: “Art is the most intense mode of individualism the world has known.” There are very few statements that I agree with more. The art you love defines you just as much as the people that you love. The Beatles didn’t make me who I am, their work allowed my soul to express itself the way it had always been meant to be expressed. If I were alive in another era, I would have found the same outlet with Beethoven, William Blake or Robert Frost. Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and had I not sat down to watch “Across the Universe” that night, who knows how I would have developed? Sometimes it’s best to do what your parents ask you to.


** Emma Tice is a Marist College student form Anaheim, California. Upon her graduation this May, she will have a major in Media Studies and Production and a Creative Writing minor.

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“Hop on,” the nurse instructed as she pointed to the scale.

I was going in for an annual checkup and hadn’t thought, until that moment, to weigh myself for the past two months.

“Okay, let me just take my shoes off.”

“No need—they don’t really make that much of a difference.”


Wary, the shoes remained and I stepped onto the dingy metal contraption.

The nurse must’ve seen my panicked, widened-eye look, because she immediately took back her previous statement:

“Don’t worry, clothes and shoes add at least five pounds to your weight.”

If she was going to lie, couldn’t she have made it a little less obvious?

As I sat in the examining room, waiting for the doctor to make his entrance, I recalled all of the things I did to contribute to my not drastic, but significant enough weight gain.

I turned 22: I ate and drank…and drank and drank.

I vacationed in New Orleans: I ate gorged on jambalaya.

I was stressed about my life after graduating from college: I ate more.

I realized I wouldn’t see some of my friends after graduation: I drank more…I swear, I’m not an alcoholic.

My asthma was flaring up: I stopped working out.

That’s me eating a crepe that contained peanut butter, bananas, walnuts, Nutella, marshmallows, and bacon. I ate the entire thing.

As I waited, I remembered the first time I was consciously insecure of how I looked. Samantha, who lived across the street from me had invited me and my next-door-neighbor, Molly, to go swimming with her in her pool. Being new to the neighborhood, I jumped at the opportunity to hang out with actual friends who had thought of me and wanted to see me. Thrilled, while rocking a magenta and orange two-piece, I skirted across the street to my swimming pool friend date. Molly was already there and started talking about American Girl Dolls with me, Samantha greeted me with a skeptical look.

“How much do you guys weigh?” her arms folded across her small waist.

I looked down to my stomach and noticed that instead of the slim, tan skin that Samantha had, I had pasty pudge sticking out from the line where my bathing suit met my body. We went around the circle: Molly was 72 pounds, Samantha was 72 pounds, and suddenly it was my turn to reveal my weight:

“74 pounds.” I heard myself squeak.

But I lied/guessed. I actually had no idea what I weighed. Why? Well, because I was nine-years-old…I wasn’t supposed to know or care about my weight. Molly, Samantha, and I jumped in the pool and swam for the rest of the afternoon and when I went home, I immediately ran to my parents bathroom to see how much I actually weighed: 80 pounds. I haven’t worn a two-piece bathing suit since.

From that point on, my insecurities, regarding weight, flourished with each passing year.

I was eleven when I started crossing my legs to make my thighs look smaller when I sat down.

Thirteen when I realized that sucking in my stomach fat made me look thinner.

Fifteen when I discovered wearing baggy t-shirts hid my curves and made my breasts less prominent.

Seventeen when I vowed to never wear a tube-top again after noticing that my strapless prom dress accentuated the small piece of fat between my chest and armpits.

Nineteen when I stepped on the scale and reached my heaviest weight: 164 pounds.

After reaching my heaviest point, I had an epiphany: I wasn’t living (Metaphorically, of course. Scientifically, I was very much alive.) My insecurities were holding me back from not only being confident, but feeling worthy of anything: nice clothes, enjoying a meal, friendship, romance. I wanted to change. Over the course of the following year I lost 17 pounds and believe it or not, I started to gain a bit of self-worth back. I wasn’t in jaw-dropping shape, but for the first time I was healthy.

My weight loss coincided with the start of mainstream media embracing “full-figured women.” It was weird to read the latest news and see headlines about Aerie refusing to airbrush its models, but to know my peers still held a much more traditional standard of beauty.

After hearing about a romantic escapade my Barbie of housemate went on, my friend and I started talking about what type of men are drawn to us versus our housemate.

“I don’t get it. Why are so many people so into her?” I honestly questioned

I was met with a scoff and all-knowing look.

“Oh, Michalyn, you know guys don’t go for girls like us.”

I physically felt my heart drop from my chest into my stomach as I sat there watching and listening to her explain to me the type of girl guys “go for:” blonde, blue-eyed, sun-kissed…thin.

I was none of those.

“That’s all they care about.”

2nd pictures
This (on the left) is what my body looked like when I was told people wouldn’t find me attractive.

Within seconds, I was the nineteen year old ashamed to be seen in public because of my weight; I was the fat-girl picked last in gym class; I was the girl with long, frizzy brown hair; the girl with glasses, braces, and un-groomed, thick, Middle Eastern eyebrows sitting alone in the back corner of the classroom; I was the girl sucking in her stomach fat while crossing her legs to conceal her meaty thighs; I was the nine-year-old girl who lied about her weight to fit in with her friends.

At 20 years old, I lost any semblance of self-love I had fought so hard for because of one uncalled-for comment by another insecure 20-year-old “friend.”

I was hurt and accepted that I would be a fat, ugly, spinster with 50 cats, despite hating cats. I gave up on trying; I gave up caring; I gave up on hoping for the future; I gave up.

But, I (Let’s be real, mostly my parents) didn’t want my pathetic self and lack luster future to miss out on the coveted American-college-kid experience of studying abroad.

My “unappealing” body and I packed up and moved to London for four months, leaving behind peers who picked friends based on who had which Louis Vuitton bag (Can we just take a moment to appreciate that I spelled Louis Vuitton correctly?) and saw me for who I was on the outside: a woman who didn’t bother wearing makeup to a class that started before 2:00 pm.

For those of you who have never heard me fawn over my love for London, I have argued (on multiple occasions) that London, not Disney World, is the happiest place on earth. And let me tell you, it’s not just because of the townhouses, flawless public transportation, vast history at every turn you make, and pretty men with pretty accents (although all of this certainly helped me love it even more.)

In London, I was away from a place where I had years of unpleasant memories of an unhappy, pudgy girl and unrewarding friendships that did nothing but strengthen a sense of self-pity. I made friends who celebrated me; friends who praised my fat thighs, big boobs, and “hourglass frame;” friends who encouraged intellect and humor; friends who encouraged me to show my personality; friends who reminded me that I was, in fact, beautiful and worthy of respect even though I wasn’t a size two.

And it felt incredible.

3rd Picture
Some beautiful ladies who made me feel beautiful.

The truly magical thing, though, was the response I got when I returned from my mini adventure. I was greeted with a parade of curiosity:

“Did you lose weight?”

The truth is, I actually gained weight—there’s a lot of food to consume in Europe, believe it or not. I did look better, though, I’ll be the first to admit it. But it wasn’t because I lost weight, it was because, for the first time in my memory, I was genuinely happy.

So, here’s the moral of the story, folks: as I sat in the waiting room, having just learned of my minor weight gain, I finally understood that my weight will always fluctuate. I’ll have periods of time where I look thin, I’ll have periods when I look, well, not thin, and that’s okay. But what is not okay is attributing my state-of-mind to my weight.

In that waiting room, I decided that I will no longer push things off for, “when I lose weight.” If I want to wear a crop top, I’ll wear that crop top; if I want to wear a mini-skirt, I’ll wear the goddamn skirt; if I’m feeling like wearing a bikini, I’m gonna do it. Why? I want girls to look at me and see a woman who is confident, who demands respect, and knows her own self-worth. No nine-year-old girl should feel pressured to lie about her weight to her friends and if my embracing my imperfect, curvy, fluctuating body can help achieve that, then I’m in.

Plus, I’ve kinda grown to love my big butt…and I cannot lie about that.

4th Picture
My hips also don’t lie.



**Michalyn Curran is a recent college graduate and aspiring writer working for Kirschenbaum Productions. Her blog, Begrudgingly Optimistic, explores the complexities of being positive in an increasingly negative world. While it is most often a challenge to stay optimistic while living in the heart of NYC and striving for recognition in a cutthroat industry, it IS possible with a little bit of effort and a forgiving sense of humor. To read more of her writings, visit her site at: begrudginglyoptimistic.com 

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What Do We Mean When We Say “Self-Love?”

Therapists like myself spend a lot of time talking about self-love. But if you’re like many of my patients, you might not know what self-love means exactly. Many people mistakenly believe that self-love is the same as narcissism, or having a big ego. It’s not. So, what do we mean when we say “self-love”? Self-love means having a high regard for your own wellbeing and happiness. Self-love means taking care of your own needs and not sacrificing your wellbeing to please others. Self-love means not settling for less than you deserve.

Loving yourself doesn’t mean you think you’re the smartest, most talented, and most beautiful person in the world. Instead, when you love yourself you accept your so-called weaknesses, appreciate these so-called shortcomings as something that makes you who you are. When you love yourself you have compassion for yourself. You take care of yourself like you’d take care of a friend in distress. You treat yourself kindly. You don’t nitpick and criticize yourself. For many, especially those of us who grew up in households that lacked love or in which love waxed and waned, loving yourself will take work. Self-love is a practice and it’s a skill that takes work.

Self-love isn’t about instant gratification. A new pair of shoes or eating an entire pizza might make you feel good in the moment (or taste delicious), but the feeling isn’t lasting–and could be damaging in the long run. Self-love means giving yourself what your body, brain, and soul needs for the marathon that is life. It isn’t hedonism and it isn’t chasing a physical or emotional high. The practice of self-love is the practice of nourishing yourself.

Self-love means taking care of your needs. If your needs were neglected when you were a child, it’s important that you develop the ability to recognize what you need and to meet your own needs. If you were sent the message as a kid that you didn’t actually need what you asked for, or you where always ignored when you asked, you likely didn’t learn how to meet your own needs and may even have trouble recognizing what your needs are. Whether it’s food, comfort, exercise, or something as simple as a long, hot shower, self-love for those who missed out on consistent love and care as children can mean starting with the basics. Self-love means you care for yourself the way a loving parent should.

When self-love isn’t something that comes easily to you, or something that you’re used to, there can be a learning curve. You need to explore what makes you feel cared for. Is it taking a long yoga class? Bubble baths? Curling up with a good book? Try different things. Keep track of what works and what doesn’t.

Self-love means self-respect. Boundaries are essential when it comes to self-respect. Learn what your boundaries are, express them to the people in your life, call people out when they step over your boundaries, and remove people from your life who consistently disrespect your boundaries.

Self-love means you don’t compare yourself to others. Looking to other people for an idea of what you should be like, look like, or act like is always a path toward self-hate. For those of us who struggle with self-love and self-esteem, it can feel like we’re surrounded by people who make us feel inferior. A good remedy for this is to spend time doing what you’re good at and what makes you feel good about yourself.

self-love 2

The more you feel capable of, the easier loving yourself will be; it’s hard to feel good about yourself when you feel incapable. When we surround ourselves with people who treat us like we’re incapable––or we were raised by parents who were critical and constantly told us that we weren’t good enough—we internalize that message. Self-love can mean not letting people do things for you. Push yourself a little. Remind yourself that you’re capable. You can take care of yourself. You can do this.

Self-love is an important skill to learn and practice not only because it means our day-to-day happiness, but also because it affects our relationships. Self-love determines the quality of our romantic partners. The person you’re with is dependent on what you think you deserve. If you lack love for yourself, you’ll settle for a partner who doesn’t treat you well.

When we lack love in our childhoods, we often fall into the trap of relying on our adult romantic partners to parent us. We rely on them to take care of us, to do things for us that we don’t feel capable of, and we rely on them to love us the way a parent should––love that’s not tied to results or reciprocity. But that’s not how a healthy relationship works. Our partners aren’t our parents. They can’t, and shouldn’t, do everything for us, take care of our every need, and love us no matter what. That’s what we need to provide for ourselves. We need to take care of our own needs and love ourselves no matter what. We need to be there for ourselves, to stand by ourselves through the ups and down, because if we don’t love ourselves like this, we will fall apart when our romantic relationships break down.

Learning to love oneself isn’t easy. At first, self-love may feel uncomfortable. It may even feel indulgent. But, keep at it. Loving yourself doesn’t mean you’re selfish or self-centered. On the contrary, the more you love yourself, the more you’ll have of yourself to give to others. But you can’t spread your love, smarts, talent, and kindness around to the people in your life if you neglect the person who should be most important to you: you.

**Dr. Andrea Brant is a marriage and family therapist in Santa Monica, California who is an expert in treating a full range of emotional issues, including anger & aggression, anxiety & trauma, aging, relationships, work-life balance, workplace, and women’s issues. In her workshops, patient sessions and presentations, Dr. Brandt reveals positive paths to emotional health that teach you how to reinvent and empower yourself. To learn more about her seminars and workshops, go to mindfulangerworkshop.com for details.

AB office 1

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Finding Self-Love and Compassion Through Yoga

Have you ever had one of those years where you look back and say to yourself, “How the fuck did I ever make it through that?” Well that’s pretty much where I am right now. I have spent the past year doing some pretty intensive trauma work with my therapist. When I walked into her office a year ago, I thought maybe she would just give some new healthy coping skills to use and then I would be on my merry way and life would be great. I didn’t realize that in order to “fix” my problems, we would have to address my childhood.

I was severely sexually abused from the time I was about 5 years old until I was 11. I never really thought that those early experiences had anything to do with my current “issues” though. So, at 27 years old, I went to see a therapist because I felt like it really wasn’t appropriate for me to still be cutting myself. I mean, after all, I am a mom, a wife, and a highly successful professional. But for whatever reason, despite the slew of healthy coping skills that I had learned over the years, despite being a recovering alcoholic with several years of AA sobriety, and despite rapidly approaching 30, I still really struggled with self-injury.

I’ll never forget my first session with my therapist. The very last question she asked me was if I had any history of trauma or abuse. I slowly nodded my head yes. I was so offended that she had asked that, especially since I had worked hard in that session to keep it all together and look like I was pretty much “normal.” After a couple of months of seeing her weekly and reading a few Brené Brown books, I decided that maybe I was ready to delve into the memories of my childhood trauma.

During the past year, I have recounted the worst memories of my life with her – many of them several times. I have struggled with flashbacks and nightmares, and some of the most intense anxiety I have ever experienced. However, I have also found amazing strength and hope. And for the first time ever, I finally feel like I truly love and respect myself for what I have been through and who I am today.

In the beginning of our trauma work, my therapist suggested that we incorporate restorative yoga and breathwork to help alleviate the PTSD symptoms that I was experiencing. I was a little bit hesitant, but felt immediate relief after our first yoga session. At the time, I had no idea the important role yoga would play in my life.

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My therapist would always tell me to show myself compassion in the days following a difficult trauma session. I didn’t really understand what it meant to “show yourself compassion.” All I knew was that drinking, drugging, and self-injury didn’t fall into that category of showing compassion. What does self-compassion look like? Well, according to my shrink, it looks like treating yourself the way you would treat a friend who were going through a similar situation. Ok, now I’m an egotistical alcoholic and friendship has never really been my strong suit, so we need to break that down a little more.

I can tell you that showing myself compassion when I am having a difficult day has been quite the process. It started with Starbucks. Every time I had a bad day, Starbucks was the solution. Then I realized that while I enjoy my $5 latte, it doesn’t really change the way I feel. Next I tried shopping. Maybe if I bought myself a new shirt, I would feel better. This actually backfired. I spent most of my teenage years struggling with anorexia and body image issues, and I still get very discouraged when I go shopping and can’t find anything flattering to buy. After a few yoga sessions with my therapist, I realized that maybe I was putting my efforts of self-compassion in the wrong places. Perhaps, instead of buying myself expensive coffees and new clothes, I needed to take time to just be present with myself during those moments of despair.

Restorative yoga became a part of every trauma session with my therapist – starting and ending in poses supported by blankets and bolsters, weighed down with sandbags for grounding. I began practicing these poses at home when my anxiety would creep up to those high numbers. Any time I felt dysregulated, instead of reaching for a razorblade, I started gravitating towards a restorative child’s pose, restorative bridge pose, etc. Instead of blaring bands like Chevelle and Disturbed, I turned on soft classical music to slow my heart rate and my mind down. Finally, after months of just practicing yoga with my therapist or at home by myself, I signed up for my very first yoga class.


Every time I go another 50 days without cutting, I celebrate. For making it 150 days without cutting, I decided to celebrate by going to a yoga class at a local studio. It was a beginners’ class that focused on the foundations of yoga. It was my first time doing anything other than restorative yoga. I was instantly hooked. I loved the way that practicing yoga made me feel – quieting my mind, but also energizing my body. I began going to yoga classes weekly.

“This is it,” I thought, “This is what it’s like to show yourself love and compassion!” Finding things that make you feel good, things that you are passionate about, and taking the time to do those things for yourself. I had never really had a “hobby” before. I had never had something that truly made me feel good about myself. I am not super athletic and I certainly don’t workout or run. But I could practice yoga and feel successful.

I’ve spent virtually my entire life feeling like I am not good enough, like I am not important, like I’m not even worthy of living. I never realized how much my abusive past impacted my personality and my struggles with self-love. I mean, at 27 years old, I didn’t even know what it meant to show myself compassion! To be fair though, I had never really had anyone show me compassion. My childhood was rough, to say the least. However, I’m currently 246 days without cutting, over four years sober, and going to a variety of yoga classes almost daily. I take time for myself when I need it now. Every time I step onto my yoga mat, I think of the little girl that I used to be, the one that he hurt for so many years, and I dedicate my practice to her. Through yoga, I celebrate the person that I am today, my successes and failures; I celebrate my growth and the progress that I have made. Trauma work is, by far, the most difficult thing that I have ever done. However, without it, I would have never been introduced to yoga; and yoga has truly transformed my life. Because of yoga, I am able to love who I am.


***After spending most of her life struggling to overcome a traumatic childhood, alcoholism, and self-injury, the Courageous Yoga Chick decided to reach out to a therapist for help. After a year of working through memories of sexual abuse, she decided to find meaning in her suffering. She created a blog designed to provide hope and strength to anyone struggling with anxiety, depression, self-injury, and/or PTSD. She wanted to use her experiences as a survivor of severe childhood sexual abuse to help others. The Courageous Yoga Chick’s writing showcases how she has learned to thrive with Complex PTSD through incorporating yoga into her life.

Read more of her writings HERE!

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10 Ways to “Brave Up:” How to Rise Up, Speak Up, and Stand Up Boldly for Yourself

Kathy Cipriano Image

When I was immersed in my 18-year corporate life, I struggled inwardly to feel successful, valued and to make what I felt was a positive contribution in the world. Back then, I thought I was brave, but I wasn’t. Not by a long shot. I was afraid all the time, and I didn’t muster the courage to speak up and stand up for myself, or for others. I didn’t have the strength to take on that which was wrong and unfair, glaring me right in the face. I was afraid of not being liked if I showed my true feelings. And I was deeply afraid that I never really knew enough to “belong” there in a powerful way (the old impostor syndrome played big tricks with my head).

Now that I’m in my own business and have chosen a direction that feels right to me, I’ve seen that thousands (dare I say millions) of people aren’t brave enough in their lives either, to be who they really are, or make the impact they long to. I’ve worked with so many mid- to high-level professional men and women who have faced all forms of trauma, abuse, challenge, crisis, hardship and suffering in their lives and work, yet haven’t figured out the way to muster the bravery to step beyond that hardship, and honor why they came to this planet at this time.

To me, it has often felt like my female clients and course members are “bloodied, wounded soldiers on the battlefield,” and I’m desperately asking, “Where’s the Red Cross?” When that realization hit me hard this year, I finally took critical action to build my own form of the “Red Cross.” (I launched a new Coach Certification training program to share what I’ve found to be helpful in transforming challenge and hardship into growth.) The truth is that I continue to see over and over again that each and every one of needs to rise up even higher, to speak up more boldly, and stand up courageously for ourselves and for others, and when we do, it changes everything.

Here are 10 critical ways that people can “brave up” today – address and move through their fears, revise their feeling of unworthiness, and overcome their concerns about being rejected, isolated and hated if they reveal and honor who they really are.

The 10 Ways You Can Brave Up Today:

See Bravely

It’s time to stop seeing yourself in the old, habitual, small way. Tell yourself a new story that makes you the hero of your life, not the loser. Understand what and who has formed and influenced you from the past, but know that those influences are from the past and don’t have to continue to hold you down. You can shape your future differently, right now. Pull yourself up by the bootstraps, move beyond your current challenges and hardships, and embrace all that you are to start stepping up towards your highest visions. And don’t let your over-attachment to “authenticity” keep you from becoming a stronger version of yourself.

Tip: Understand the dominant way you take action towards a goal, and what you need to motivate you to move forward, and start leveraging your dominant style more fully. Stop pretending to be someone you’re not. Forget that. Just recognize who you are at your core and honor it.

Speak Bravely

So many of the women I’ve worked with are afraid to communicate powerfully, authoritatively and confidently. They’ve either been culturally trained not to, or they’ve had damaging experiences in life that taught them they’d be punished if they speak bravely about themselves. We don’t come out of the womb afraid to speak up for ourselves – it’s a learned behavior.


Learn to recognize your many amazing talents and gifts, and share them with confidence.

Yes, some people will be put off when you do this. Too bad. Those who are confident, strong and successful will appreciate your bravery.  Stop hiding your talents, and stop worrying that you’re bragging when you shine your light. (Read this for tips to communicate more confidently.)

Ask Bravely

Another way people hold themselves back and sabotage their own growth is to remain vague and muddy about what they really want. They waffle back and forth between their fantasies and dreams, running to and fro towards this shiny thing and that, but never do anything. It’s time to identify exactly what you want — from yourself, your life, others and your work — ask for it and get it. In fact, demand it, but in an open, compassionate and flexible way that will be appreciated and respected. Don’t take “no” for an answer about what makes your life worth living.

Tip: Figure out the one biggest goal for your life that will make your life worth living, and do something powerful about it today. (Here’s a way to fuel your energy to start something “stupid” today.)

Connect Bravely

Networking is one thing, but truly connecting, from your spirit and your soul, with inspiring, enlivening people whom you admire and who wish to support and assist you, is a completely different matter (and a life-changer). Learn new ways to connect, network, find inspiring role models, mentors, and supporters who will help you become a braver version of yourself, and make a true difference in your life and work.

Tip: One first, practical step is to start offering heartfelt recommendations on LinkedIn to people you love, respect and admire, and ask for their recommendations as well. Here’s some specific language to help you engage with others, and ask for help.

Serve Bravely

Stop waiting for the world to serve you. Understand that it’s what you put out in the world — how you serve, support, uplift and assist others and support the greater good of all with your talents that brings true abundance, prosperity, happiness, meaning and purpose. Where and how can you serve others with your amazing gifts and talents?

Tip: Brainstorm three new ways you can leverage your fantastic talents in ways that will be juicy and exciting to you. What causes do you care about? What situations do you want to change? What stand do you want to take in the world? Find a way to do it, even if you’re stuck in a job you hate, or employer you want to leave. Do it today. (For inspiration, here are 9 core behaviors of people who positively impact the world.)

Protect Bravely

As the tragedies of this week have reinforced, none of us are invulnerable – we all can be hurt, diminished and cast away in this life. But we can’t live in fear. We need to soldier on, living the lives that matter most to us.

To do that, you need to protect yourself, your dreams and your highest visions with fierce commitment and very strong, well-developed boundaries. And you need to protect and support other men and women who are part of your global family. Stop allowing mistreatment and abuse into your life, and take a brave stand against it. Realize that you are a co-contributor of all that is around you. If you hate, hate will spread. If you love, love will spread and grow. Fiercely protect your spirit and your dreams and stand up for others, and for love, forgiveness and compassion in this world. Don’t become a hater just because hating is what we’re seeing a million times a day, every day – in the headlines, in the political arena, and on the global stage.

Tip: Where are your boundaries being violated, either at work or in your personal life?  Where do you feel beleaguered, put upon and taken advantage of? That’s the place to start. Have a bold conversation with the one person you need to tell, “Enough!”

Heal Bravely

Life hurts (sometimes a lot), and can injure us badly. Every one of us has experienced some degree of trauma, pain, suffering, sadness, isolation and self-hatred. What can we do about it? We can learn how to heal ourselves. It’s possible for all of us. But only when we take different steps, with new, expansive mindsets, practices and commitments — and helpers — than we’ve ever experienced before. Right now, for instance, I’m working on my own healing process by taking beloved Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön’s course The Heart of the Matter, and it’s already shifting my healing in a big way.

Tip: Sit with yourself quietly for an hour this weekend, and bring to mind (I know it’s hard) the one thing that pains you the most about your life, and about your past and your present. What hurts you to think about? What takes your breath away because it’s so hard to face? That’s the very thing that needs healing today. Reach out to a therapeutic provider, friend or a mentor who has experience with this type of pain, and ask for help to feel it fully, process it, then heal through it.

Stretch Bravely

Humans are happiest and most fulfilled when they are growing towards their highest potential. But that requires seeking and stretching, every day. We need to get out of the tight box we’ve trapped ourselves in, and learn how to seek – to allow ourselves to long for new experiences, sensations and learnings and “try them on” so we can explore and expand, even amidst what we believe are the tight constraints of our present lives.

Tip: What’s the new direction you’re longing to stretch to, but you feel too scared to move? Understand that you will feel scared – that’s the reality. Get used to it and get comfortable with it. It’s a sign that you’re growing. In fact, the more you grow, the more “scared” is not something you give attention or credence to, when it comes to expanding beyond where you are today. Scared is the feeling that all brave, impactful and hopeful people feel, every day. Take the step and stretch.

Challenge Bravely

I was so very saddened this week after I posted this piece on the Stanford rape case, and hundreds of women privately told me and the interviewee Cheryl Hunter that they agreed with the article, but only a tiny handful of women had the courage to post their opinions publicly. That’s a terribly sad state of affairs. Women so often fail to bravely challenge the status quo. They fail to say “no” publicly to what is intolerable. They fail to do what’s necessary to risk, and say what needs to be said, with power and authority.

Learn how to challenge — in an effective, constructive and life-giving way — what’s feels wrong to you, in your life and work. Challenge and revise what no longer works. And learn how to take on the haters without becoming a hater yourself. Only when we bravely challenge what is wrong, unjust, and hateful in the world, can we transform it.

Tip: What do you need to challenge today? What in your life is wrong, unfair, and unjust that you’ve been an accomplice too because you haven’t said a thing. Challenge it this week.

Love Bravely

Finally, we all deeply desire love — to be honored, cherished, respected and nurtured (at both work and home), and to give abundant love in return. But to be loved and share love, we have to love ourselves without fail, with bravery, acceptance and forgiveness. And we need to heal and transform that which is unloving and unrelenting. Learn how to love yourself more bravely by exposing and exploring what’s hidden, secret, and “shameful,” and say “no” to behavior and treatment that tears down love.


**Kathy Caprino, M.A., is an internationally-recognized women’s career success and work-life expert, leadership consultant, speaker, and trainer dedicated to the advancement of women in business.  A featured contributor on women’s careers, business and leadership for Forbes, Huffington Post, and LinkedIn, she is also the author of Breakdown, Breakthrough: The Professional Woman’s Guide to Claiming a Life of Passion, Power, and Purpose.  A champion for working women, Kathy is a former corporate Vice President, a trained psychotherapist, specialized career and executive coach, and sought-after writer and speaker on women’s issues.  She is the Founder and President of Ellia Communications, Inc. and The Amazing Career Project, supporting women to build successful, rewarding careers of significance.

Read the original published article HERE!


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In Time of Tragedy….Keep them Close by Letting Go

The nature of tragedy is that it is out of our control. Ultimately so is just about everything. The nature of parenting is the desire to maintain control. The irony is that in order to best handle times of tragedy and to best maintain influence over our children, we first need to let go of that desire to control.

CandlesInstead we tell them what to think and feel, what to say and do. Everything around us tells us that if we do this, take that, wear this and buy that, we will be happy. Rewards and punishments are the way we control and tell them how to be. This method raises our children to focus externally (what will happen to me if…? Or what will I get if…?). They often don’t know how to handle themselves without those external controls. Most of us have lost sight of what we already know — if we could trust ourselves to just listen.

In order to stay calm, do our best work, and have the greatest influence on those around us, we must stop trying to control others. Nobody likes a dictator. Children are no exception. In working with parents all over the world, I find that nothing is harder for parents to do than let go of control.

When tragedy strikes, we try to protect our children from worry and fear. When my daughter was four she was afraid of fire. One Sunday the house next door burned to the ground. My first instinct was to close the door of the room she was in to insure she did not see the fire. Immediately, I realized the futility, and so I carried her to the window to watch. She wanted to get as close as I would allow. She was mesmerized and asked lots of questions over days and months that I answered honestly. The experience helped her through and over her fear, to know it was not the end of the world. It helped her to feel less afraid.

Often our experience of tragedy comes from how those around us deal with it. My father died suddenly in the middle of the night when I was eleven. With all best intentions, my uncle hushed my crying with, “Now, now, Bonnie, none of that.” My mother remained stoic without a tear. She later had a nervous breakdown, and I learned the consequences of stuffing my feelings around tragedy. This is not the way I chose to bring up my children.

Letting go means trusting that our children are strong, capable and resilient. Resilience comes from experiencing all that we have inside us and getting to the other side of big intense feelings — not by denial, belittling, toughening up, or keeping secrets. Our children are capable of understanding truth. They don’t need details they cannot yet understand to feel assured by a parent’s willingness to tell the truth.

For children, tragedy is personal — losing a parent, friend, pet. A terrorist attack or mass deaths will not hit home unless they fear it will happen to them. Imagined tragedy can be as strong — a parent’s death, thunderstorms, a monster attack, a bad guy getting in the house. Whatever it is, children do better when they come face to face with the fear, have a parent’s calm support and understanding, and get through it — sometimes years later. The more calm and centered we are, the more we understand that we have no control of our children’s futures, fears and experiences. The more we understand our role as their guides along their own journeys, the more we can allow them experiences rich with feeling, often unpleasant, to be better prepared for the hard world.

Trusting a child’s capabilities is hard for a parent who was not trusted as a child—a child who was told to listen to someone else, who was ruled by the carrot or the stick, or who was sheltered from the knocks of life. We lack trust in our children to the degree we worry and fear for their safety and healthy development and to the degree we fear lack of control over them.

Trust is like a constant flow of antioxidants into your children’s veins—trust that your child knows right from wrong; trust that expression of his feelings will never hurt anyone (but bottled up emotions can), trust that he can make good decisions and wants to succeed; trust that sometimes he knows better than you what is right for him, and trust that he will make mistakes, sometimes big ones, which he will learn from when he has your trust that it was indeed a mistake.

Model honesty
Be honest with your children. Don’t try to hide or deny what you know they have been touched by. Keep TV news off in front of young children but do not dismiss or belittle anything they ask or express. Fears will only expand when you dismiss a worried child with, “There’s nothing to worry about.” When your child asks questions or exhibits concerning behavior at a time of stress in the world or in your family, talking about it with facts and assurances will help.

Grow and develop along with your children
If you have used reward and punishment methods to control your young child, your influence and limits will be ignored in the teen years. Influence and limits will remain strong when you give your children more and more responsibilities and freedom to make their own choices and direct their own lives. This requires connection and trust.

Letting go of control and parenting with acceptance, understanding, support, and guidance keeps your influence primary. Control turns them away to find authority among their peers. Your influence and values will always be their rock when life throws the unexpected their way.


*Bonnie Harris is the director of Connective Parenting. She counsels and teaches parents internationally with the mission of encouraging connection between parents and their children (something Gayle lacked as a child). Her two books are When Your Kids Push Your Buttons andConfident Parents, Remarkable Kids: 8 Principles for Raising Kids You’ll Love to Live With.


Read the original blog publication HERE!

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Finding ‘Fine’ Again



I saw an old friend yesterday. We met for a drink at a bar in Korea town where we always liked to frequent.

“How are you doing?” she asked with that slightly condescending tone stinking just enough of pity.

“I’m fine,” I replied casually, tossing back a shot of soju—Korean rice whiskey. It’s smooth, so very dangerous.

“You’re so strong.” She shook her head in wonder. Eyes wide with what I suppose was sympathy.

“I can’t even imagine what it must have been like…”

I had no response. All the words I’d planned to say had dried on my tongue.

I’m fine.

I’m fine.

Don’t worry. I’m fine

And yet—on the inside, nothing was “fine.” Sometimes it felt like it never would be ever again.

In November of 2015, three days before my 28th birthday, while on my way home from that same Korean bar, stumbling from too many shots of soju, I was intercepted by a group of men, taken to the basement of a house a few blocks from my Crown Heights apartment and violently raped by one, and then another, and then another…

“Girl, you’re so fine—” They’d said to me on the street trying to get my attention.

But everything that was, died in that basement bedroom… or so it seemed.

Everyone said it was a miracle, a blessing that I survived and got out of that situation alive. How did I do it, you ask? I’m about to get real. (Trigger warning)

I got out by pretending—by getting aggressive. For a brief moment I took my power back, pure survival instinct kicked in. Because looking back on it—I can’t really believe I did what I did.

“So is anyone else going to fuck me?” I snapped, challenging them, throwing them off their guards. “Because if not, I’m going home.”

As steadily as I could, I stood from the mattress, adjusting my clothes and grabbing my bag.

“I’m going home.” I stated, and moved past the men who had been tormenting me the past hour.

It was like they didn’t even know what to do—my behavior had completely confused them. Were they expecting tears? Was I supposed to beg? I will never know why it happened the way it did, but I walked out of that basement of nightmares on my own two feet.

It wasn’t until I was out on the street, walking at a fast pace through the crisp November night, that shock and terror set it. I was intensively frightened and disoriented, and I just took off, not even paying attention to where I was going. I remember walking and walking, and feeling like I’d never get home.

This all took place within a three-block radius of where I’d lived for three years, mind you. That’s how out of my head I was—I was lost in my own neighborhood, the place I thought I knew like the back of my hand. It was at this time I also discovered they had taken my phone, my wallet and my keys (including my car key, which led to my adorable VW Beetle getting stolen and burnt to a crisp after a high speed chase through Long Island—but that’s a story for another day).

I didn’t know how I was going to get home. When I momentarily came out of my shock, I realized I’d wandered so far in the wrong direction, I was on a street I’d never even heard of. I saw a cab and begged him to help me out. Luckily he got me back to my place and with incessant buzzing I was able to wake my roommate from the downstairs lobby.

“Hello? Who is it?” A groggy voice came over the speaker—at this point it was past 3am.

“Kelly let me in, let me in! Let me in! Please!”

A savior. A blessing. I’d never wanted a roommate in my 1 bedroom apartment (necessity had led to that) but at this moment I’d never been happier. If she hadn’t been there, I would have been in a lot more trouble.

Inside I was able to call the police and my mom who lives in Dallas Fort Worth, and that set off a whirlwind of gritty, miserable events and experiences.

The attack itself had been surreal; it was like I’d stepped outside myself. But now harsh reality had hit and I was dealing with the fallout under the biting neon lights of the emergency room and the SVU detective’s office. The whole experience left me reeling, shaken to the core—in shock and struggling with the early signs of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).

I was not fine. I couldn’t event fathom feeling stable or normal again; like the person I’d been before was completely and utterly lost to me.

But I suppose… somehow, through all of it there was something guiding me—some positive energy or “bigger reason” why this had happened. I’m not a particularly religious person, but I had to believe it was more than just chaos. It also helped that I have wonderful friends and family who supported me and showed their love in many ways, from helping out with expenses, to just making me laugh, to even tweeting out about my cause when I was fighting with the banks (another story for another day that involved checks getting re-cashed and money stolen).

Anyway—through this intense darkness, there was this thin ray of light, almost invisible at first but getting slightly bigger week to week. As corny as it probably is, I literally visualized it as a light at the end of a tunnel, and I just moved towards it step by step, sometimes even less then that, sometimes tiny centimeter by centimeter. Sometimes I even moved backwards, but that light was always there. In the distance.

I cocooned myself, leaving the cruel city to stay with my mom in Texas for a few months. I was surrounded by family, but mostly I just liked being by myself. When I was with others I had to put on a mask and pretend like I was ok. Not that they all expected me to be ok, but I’m the type who doesn’t express her more intense emotions very well. And my family, though very supportive, are not of the “lovey-dovey, talk about feelings” variety.

Still, this break was good for me—the demons seemed farther behind me than before, and at last I felt that I had come to the end of the tunnel, ready to step out into the sun. I decided it was time to come back to New York.

I was returning to a better situation, many friends who were eager to see me, and a new apartment far enough from my old place that I’d never have to return to that area—never have to walk down those streets littered with bad memories ever again.

But I can’t say it’s been easy.

After the whirlwind of moving, my mom flew back to Fort Worth and again I was on my own, for the first time since the night I had been attacked. Every day is a struggle and the Post Traumatic Stress has reared its ugly head more intensely than before. I get scared and startled easily—something I’d never experienced before—and my anxiety is off the charts. I have intrusive thoughts, visual flashbacks, every day.

But the nightmares have stopped. And I do feel like I stepped out into the daylight. That darkness is still right behind me, just over my shoulder, and sometimes (more often than I’d like) it reaches out a slippery tendril and coils its way around me.

Regardless…it is behind me. And every breath I take, every waking moment, propels me away from it and into that light.

Since this trauma happened, I’ve been determined to make something of it, to turn it around, to find a way to channel it and maybe—possibly—help others who have experienced something similar.

For a long time I wasn’t ready. I still may not be; I don’t really know. But I’m a big believer of “Fake it till you make it.” So for now, I’m going to keep pretending I’m Fine, and wait for the day I finally am.

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Much like The Doctor, I am not good with “goodbyes”, for this will be my last post as I prepare to venture into other unknown territories. Look At Us Now, Mother! was not the first film project I worked for, but it certainly was a new experience; never had I worked on a documentary or as a writer for a films’ website and it truly was an amazing time. I also have a different type of appreciation for this position that I did not have working in film before…it is a personal venture that I began and finished (at least my contribution, not the film).

There are so many projects that I’ve begun in my life that I have never completed and purposefully avoid on a daily basis: paintings, poems, books (both in development and on my reading list), organizing projects that I’ve been perpetually ignoring, sculptures…legitimate projects that I have began and wait patiently to complete themselves. It could be a side effect of laziness, but I like to think of it as a symptom of my millennial-ness; we are the generation of instant gratification. Its factual existence was recently expressed to me while at work one day when an older woman (Baby Boomer era) passionately expressed her opinions regarding the new New York City that’s taken over.


Whereas I love any opportunity to wax poetic about how great NYC used to be, this is not that time. I am consciously putting this aside to focus on a statement that came from said Baby Boomer, when we proceeded to discuss politics and the approaching presidential election the tone of the conversation took a much darker turn. The problem is that a majority of the voters in the US are Millennials, and the majority of Millennials do not vote (ironically enough these are also the ones who complain the loudest). Baby Boomers vote the most and are technically the most (respectively) entitled generation, whereas Millennials are the most self-serving. This is a bad combination but the math is simple: self-entitlement breeds self-serving. And it was brought to a head when the Baby Boomer said quite plainly: I’m just grateful I’m old, I’m going to die soon. I feel bad for your generation, you’re young and you’re going to be here for a while.
There are few things that have gripped me to the point of silence in this life, but that certainly made the cut. How does anyone respond to that? I didn’t and the conversation ended, a heavy irritation growing more dense every time I repeat to my java-loving parents: you can compost coffee filters.

This conversation happened weeks ago and it still looms over my head like an ominous little cloud of joy-zapping electricity. I have spent the better part of my twenties trying to evolve out of the self-centered mind-frame (and some would argue a bit too much), but is it enough? Which is why I am moving forward in life. Unsure of the road ahead of me but perhaps that is a good thing, rather than having a plan in hand at all times. Sometimes it is better to operate by idea.

I began working at Kirschenbaum Productions because I truly believed in Look At Us Now, Mother! and the purpose behind it, to bring to light the pains of overcoming projected insecurity for the greater good is what drives societal development. It takes a remarkable amount of strength and grit to confront an unpleasant history/truth/issue and it’s this mission that inspires me to embark on my own journey now. I do not know what the future holds for me or my generation, but if there’s anything I can do to save the world I will find it some where. Somewhere, where it is my purpose and not the purpose of others. This is not the first project that I’ve seen through, and it’s certainly not the end for the Kirschenbaum Team, but it’s definitely the first time I’m fully acknowledging the feeling of satisfaction.

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