Thursday, January 30, 2014

Brown Eyed Girl was PUBLISHED!!

Brown Eyed Girl is published people! Last Friday to be exact...

Not gonna lie...seeing my article pop up on twitter and "retweeted" by other people was a crazy cool experience! :)
Ever since I was in 6th grade, I've wanted to be a published writer.

Not that I wanted being a “writer” to be my only job, because I always had grand ideas of “what I wanted to be when I grew up”. When I was a little child, under the age of 8, I wanted to be a figure skater, gymnast, and a life guard. Yes, all three of them. When I was 8 years old, I fell in love for the first time with this wonderful thing called soccer (or football, depending where you’re from…or really, where I wish I was from…lol). I knew I’d be traveling the world, stadium to stadium, playing in front of millions of people (I still thought at this time women’s soccer had the same audience as men’s soccer...which obviously isn’t true, though the “audience” numbers never mattered to me). I held onto this dream for years and years, except as I got older, I became content with playing in college and perhaps a professional team.

In 6th grade, as stated before, I found a love for writing, and knew one day I would be doing it, but it would always be “for fun”. I guess I was worried that when you start getting paid for your hobbies, at some point, they stop being fun, and start being “work”. I never wanted that for writing or photography (my other favorite hobby).

As I got older, “what I wanted to be when I grew up” changed several times; in high school I wanted to be a police officer (until I blew my knees out playing soccer), when I first started college I wanted to be a nurse, and then eventually I found (or rather embraced) my love for psychology and never looked back. That will be my career and I will love and enjoy it whole-heartedly. But still, amongst all these career path changes, I always harbored that love of writing and my goal was still the same; one day I would be a published author.

I hadn’t stopped writing either. Notebooks full of novels and short stories that I had started and abandoned because they weren’t good enough. Journals full of writings that would never see the eyes of another person because they were too personal and special. I’ve been writing for 15 years without showing a single soul. I always said at one point, I would let someone read them but never did. Last year, nearing my 25th birthday, I decided that life was too short to always be saying “someday”. I needed to start making my dreams happen. Someday was now today.

Starting this blog in November was a footstep toward my goal and away from the insecurities that have always plagued me. The thing is that I write for me and me alone, which means it comes from deep within a vein of my emotions. I write stories because I don’t have another option; they sit stirring in my head, pounding at the gate until I finally let them out and onto paper. I write stories because they’re adventures I wish I had or because real life can be so monotonous and dull. I write because without it, I don’t have a voice. I write because I don’t know how not to. 

Now, this isn’t exactly what I had in mind when I dreamed that dream as a 10 year old girl. But it’s something. It may just be “some website” to most, but for me, it’s exciting. It’s new and fun and terrifying because it’s bolder than I’ve ever been before. It’s not my full dream, but it's definitely a start in the right direction. One day I hope to be walking through a book store and see my name on the spine of a novel on an old wooden shelf. I’m not greedy or so ridiculous enough to see it on a bestseller table in the front of the store, though I wouldn’t decline it if it ever happened. On that shelf amongst the other dreamers is fine with me.

Until then, I will love and enjoy what I’ve always done, in hopes at some point there might be someone else who enjoys it as well. But I don’t do it for them, even though I’m happy that they’ve appreciated it. It will always be for me. For that burning feeling that floods my chest when I press pen to paper and create something physical out of the thoughts or emotions in my mind. Because for those liberating moments, I’m free of everything except my own feelings and imagination. 

I will always write because I don’t know how not to.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Jennifer Lawrence Rules the World

Okay, it's not like I'm the first person to blog about their Jennifer Lawrence love. Hello, every single person in the world loves her. I mean, even Kristen Stewart smiles when she hugs her, and that's saying something.

See what I mean? If she can melt the Ice Queen's heart, she can do anything. But that's not the only reason Jennifer Lawrence rules the world, there are many, many others. Actually, I started making a list and downloading pictures with quotes on them and I HAD to stop myself at 40 pictures, because then I just felt like a creepy stalker kid and I definitely don't want to be that. But she's amazing. I think we can all agree with that and move on. 

I haven't really added to my list of favorite actresses in a long time, I mean, my top 5 has been the same for years and years (Sandra Bullock and Kate Hudson top the list, obviously.) But now Lawrence has really made a mess of things and I'm not even sure of the order or who I should kick out. I mean, it's a big deal guys. BIG. But you what, she's probably the #1 person I'd love to be friends with in real life (and of course Zooey Deschanel, because she's just perfection.) I mean, Jennifer Lawrence is just about the MOST RELATABLE FAMOUS PERSON IN REAL LIFE. And it's because of this that we (I) love her so much. And because she's absolutely hysterical, not to mention a pretty great role model. I'm certain we'd be BFF's because we're the same kind of weird, and that just works like magic, ya know?

So, without further ado, I give you the reasons why Jennifer Lawrence SHOULD BE QUEEN OF EVERYTHING.

1. She's always looks for the silver lining of things. (Eh, eh! See what I did there!)

2. She believes in herself.

 3. She stands up for herself and strives to be a good role model.

 4. She quotes Chic-flicks from the awards stand...and not just any chic flic...Mean Girls.

 5. She always says exactly what's on her mind, without fear of being weird.

6. She's not afraid to let her nerd flag fly.

7. She's humble and she's got a sense of humor about herself.

8. she's funny.

9. She has her priorities straight.

10. She's honest.
11. She's normal, in the very best way possible.

12. Totally normal.

13. She's not afraid to be daring.

14. She has imaginary relationships with famous people, just like we do.

15. She's really funny.

16. She's a great example to women, both "in the industry" and us normal girls.


18. Because nobody looks cooler when they wink than her.

19. She doesn't taker herself too seriously.

20. She embraces her inner kid.

21. She still gets starstruck with famous people.

22. Because she's really, really funny.

23. She loves TV just like us.

24. She loves her mom.

25. She's confident and quirky and knows it, and she's not afraid to let you know it too.

26. Because being able to potty talk on national television takes guts.

27. She's not embarrassed to talk about the real insecurities that plague us women.

28. She's self-deprecating, in a charming sort of way.

29. She likes to be a "regular" person. 

30. She's a good friend and values the importance of her girlfriends and "girls nights".

31. She challanges Kate Moss and and lives to tell the tale! (That's basically a super power in itself)  And believes *skinny* is overrated.

32. She's not prissy. She'll skip a shower in favor of sleep or pee in the woods! I mean, come on!

33. She's witty.

34. She doesn't care what people think about her and she advocates for girls to feel the same way.

35. She vocalizes how much she loves food, as an actress, it seems like this is a rarity. (with humor of course.)

36. She's the kind of person who'd give you crap for something but who can also take it.

37. And basically, if this doesn't win you over, you're a robot because she's the coolest chick around.

Was 37 reasons too many?? Probably, but I don't care. It was hard enough to bring it down to this many to begin with.

Basically, I'm excited that girls have a strong, beautiful, smart, funny, and *healthy* size girl to look up to, someone who cares for and advocates for them to feel good about themselves. Someone who understands what it's like and fights against the stereotypes plaguing young girls. Someone who is legitimately a GOOD role model, as Catniss or her regular superhero-self. Jennifer Lawrence is awesome and could (does) rule the world in my book. And you know what, she's amazing at what she does. Her two Oscar statues (and the fact she's the youngest EVER to be awarded one!) are proof it isn't just an opinion.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Take Control of Your *Literal* Dreams!

Have you ever been having the most amazing dream and suddenly you wake up for no reason at all? Your alarm’s not going off, it’s still dark which means you’re not sleeping in, something just happens, like a flick of a switch, that pulls you from your dream? Like some cruel joke fate plays on you when you’re actually having a good dream, and which of course, never happens when you’re having a nightmare and praying just to wake up.  I know the feeling. 

A couple days ago I had a dream that I ran into Mark Wahlberg in a grocery store, in the produce section to be exact. Obviously I was seriously star struck and spilled some incoherent version of “hey” and he smiled and said “Hi!”, shook my hand and signed the back of my t-shirt…apparently I had nothing better for him to sign, say like, one of the thousands of receipts that are normally shoved into the bottom on my purse. After the autograph, he suggested we take a couple pictures with my phone. And not just any photos, silly photos. That’s definitely MY subconscious, because I don’t take normal or “cute” pictures, I only take ones goofing off. Anywho, during our mini photo session I was ripped out of my dream for some unknown reason, completely distraught that I missed my chance at kissing Mark Wahlberg. And it wasn’t the first time I’ve left a great dream prematurely. It’s so frustrating because it seems like you always get woken up from the good dreams but you can never wake up (as hard as you try!) from the bad ones. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can make your literal dreams happen, you just have to know how

As a psych major, one of the things you learn about is ‘sleep’, and all its glorious processes. From the actual biology of REM & NREM, circadian rhythms and the hormones released while sleeping to the theories of ‘consciousness’ and 'dreaming', to dream interpretations. It's actually one of the most interesting classes because everybody sleeps and everybody dreams (whether you can remember them or not, you do dream), which make it very applicable to your (or your friends') life. Given how much we know about everything, it’s amazing to me that there are still so many unknown things about ‘sleep’.  

“Curiouser and curiouser” as my friend Lewis Carroll would say. But it’s true. Have you ever thought about how strange it is that for 6-9 hours a day, our bodies shut down and we are, for all intensive purposes, basically dead to the world? I mean sure, you wake slightly as you toss and turn, but for the most part, we’re just there, completely shut off from what’s going on around us. Kinda creepy when you think about it isn’t it?

For a long time, no one believe that we had any power over our dreams, and in some ways, that’s still true. But we have a lot more control than you may think. My Professor taught us some really interesting tricks, a sort of easy “how to”, if you’d like to learn how to take more control over your dreams.

How to continue your dream after you’ve woken up:

1. Don’t move. If you wake up from a good dream, and you’d like to return to it, you have to stay in the same position you were in when you were having that dream. So don't move, not even an inch or small movement.

2. Keeping your eyes closed improves the chances that you’ll be able to slide back into your dream.

3. This might seem obvious, but think about the events that happened before, where you left off, sort of like hitting 'rewind', play it back a little without changing anything, and then think where you want the dream to go. Studies show you can manipulate your dreams by visualizing the way you’d like them to end up.

How to take control of your dreams while you’re in them:

Yes, it is possible. It might sound a lot like scenes from Divergent or Inception but it’s true, you really can control your dreams. I've done it on numerous occasions. It’s called “lucid dreaming”, the state of consciousness when the dreamer is aware that he or she is dreaming. Patrick McNamara, PhD who teaches at Boston University School of Medicine and at the Dream Center says to

“consider the fact that the dreamer quite clearly has awareness and self-consciousness. He can discriminate the real from the unreal so he is not insane. The ability to reason and to engage in logical thought is intact. Access to the dreamer’s autobiographical memories is intact. The ability to take on third person perspective is intact so the dreamer can consider, entertain and imagine what another character in the dream is thinking or feeling as well. Indeed whole interactions, dialogues between the dreamer and dream characters can take place just as in waking life.”

Think of the dreamer (you) as both writer and narrator, the author and the protagonist of a story; you are able to create while in the dream as well as play a character amongst the other characters. But how does one go into lucid dreaming? Psychologists are still at debate about that one, but there are several theories. 

1. The first one is easy in that just learning or reading (like you are now) makes you more likely to be able to lucidly dream. Now that the idea is there, you'll be able to access it while you're sleeping.

2. Become more self-aware. For most people, lucidity occurs spontaneously in dreams; you may just suddenly think "Wait, this is a dream" or "I'm dreaming right now!", without realizing what that means or what you can do. According to theory, being self aware helps you to know when you are in a dream state and therefore lucid.

3. Visualization. Before you go to bed, think about what you want to dream of and even how you can "reality check" in your dream so that you know you're lucid.

For me, it's not something I necessarily set out to do, it usually just occurs. But now I know what I'm looking for, when those moments happen, I realize I can manipulate my dreams to go where I want them to go. You might even be doing it without realizing that you're actually doing it, at least, that was the case with me. But just realize it doesn't have to be the thought "okay, I'm dreaming right now", it can be when you have moments in your dreams where your fact checking instances/things to real life (or your memories), those are "lucid dreams", because even while you're in your dream, you're realizing the difference between reality and your dream world.

This is a really good technique for getting over nightmares too. A lot of times we have reoccurring nightmares because they're things we need to address in our waking life, emotions or situations or memories we need to face in order to move on. This is especially prominent in people who have experienced traumatic events or have been exposed to traumatic stress. This is heavily relevant right now due to the amount of soldiers, police officers and first responders involved in war/terror attacks/violence who are now being diagnosed with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). But the therapy technique can be applied to those of us who don't suffer from PTSD but may have reoccurring nightmares. In a study done by Barry Krakow, M.D. et al., published on PsychiatryOnline, they found this type of therapy overwhelmingly effective. They used "imagery rehearsal for treatment of nightmares (rehearsing images of a changed nightmare), a cognitive imagery approach that encourages the user to "change the nightmare any way you wish," according to the model of Neidhardt et al. and then rehearse the "new dream" while awake." If we apply this to our life, we can help ourselves to overcome our nightmares, not just the dream, but the meaning behind the dream that affects us when we're awake too. 

Applying these principles is really all about being self aware; taking time to think about ourselves, who we really are, what we need as individuals from life and our relationships, and accepting and confronting our emotions. We can take back control of our dreams. They are ours and we have the power to either shape them or eradicate them from our minds. 

Besides, since we can't hang out with Mark Wahlberg in real life, we might as well learn how to control our minds so that we can in our dream world, right?!  

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sometime Around Midnight, A Playlist

I read one of the most amazing novels recently, it was called "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" and it was spectacular. Not only the words and the format of the novel (it's entirety is letter after letter from the narrator to an anonymous "friend") but there is a lot of really amazing music referenced through out it. The narrator, Charlie, discovers music as a way to help him cope with life, with bands like The Smiths,The Cure, Fleetwood Mac and David Bowie, all of which, I love.  One of the monumental songs in the book is "Asleep" by The Smiths, one of my favorite songs of theirs, and it was sort of in my head the whole time I was reading.

 That song, as well as "Hurt" by Johnny Cash, "Sometime Around Midnight" by the Airborne Toxic Event and "The Embrace" by (my favorite band) AFI have been swimming in my head for weeks now, and are all deeply personal songs for me. Sad songs are always more beautiful to me, I'm not entirely sure why; maybe it has something to do with their frailty or vulnerability, but they seem to move me more than sugar-coated bubble gum pop (although I've been known to like that as well!).  

Lyrically speaking, I'm drawn to these darker themes. I think everyone experiences these moods now and again, maybe I experience it more than others, I'm not sure. But listening to it (and don't refer to it as "emo" for the love of everything!) doesn't make me feel sadder, it actually does the opposite. Maybe because it makes you feel like you're not alone in the world, like someone out there gets you, gets what you're going through. And that's very comforting to me. Though not every song on this playlist is like this.

The song "It's Time to Begin" by Imagine Dragons is really inspiring, which I think I needed desperately to combat the moodiness and sadness of those other songs. Without making a conscious effort to do so, there seems to be several themes running through this mix, one of which includes the idea of sleeplessness/restlessness. It's funny when you're just picking songs that you're into at the moment, they're like pieces of a puzzle, and until you finish it, you don't realize what the big picture looks like. I guess that's why playlists are so personal. Like I've said, they're basically diary entries, which is kind of a scary thought. 

Nonetheless, hopefully this mix get's me through the week, which is part of the reason why new mixes always come on Monday; I need something for the work/school week!

[Author's note: Clicking on the title of the playlist will bring you to listen to it (for free) on Spotify, if you have an account.]

Sometime Around Midnight

1.It's Time- Imagine Dragons
2. Too Close- Alex Clare
3. Undisclosed Desires- Muse
4. Sometime Around Midnight- The Airborne Toxic Event
5. Hurt- Johnny Cash
6. Rolling in the Deep- Go Radio
7. Losing Touch- The Killers
8. Mexico- Incubus
9. The Embrace- AFI
10. Little Talks- Of Monsters and Men
11. Valentine's Day- Linkin Park
12. Starlight- Muse
13. Stay Away- The Honorary Title
14. Jenny Was a Friend of Mine- The Killers
15. A Deep Slow Panic- AFI
16. Counting Stars- One Republic
17. The Zephyr Song- Red Hot Chili Peppers
18. Stockholm Syndrome- Muse
19. Pardon Me- Incubus
20. The Face Beneath the Waves- AFI
21. Asleep- The Smiths

Friday, January 17, 2014

Living with a Monster

Let me start off by saying that this will be a very one sided view of things. But you know what, I don't care.

Boys suck. It’s like they have no care in the world, they’re just skipping along their merry life without a worry. It must be nice to not have to worry about anything, while in the mean time, I live with a monster. She is a beast; a ravenous, murderous creature who is hell bent on ruining my life. They have no idea what that’s like. It’s not like I’m completely OBLIVIOUS when she takes over, I mean, I HAVE EARS, I CAN HEAR HER. But I can’t stop it and I can’t control her. She is evil. 

She is crazy, the kind of crazy I wouldn’t pass in a dark alley…or even a light alley…or even anywhere. I’d basically just avoid her at all costs. I’d cross the street so I didn’t even have to make eye contact with her, that’s how crazy she is. I do my best to keep her at bay, but you know what, sometimes she just breaks every one of my resolves to contain her. She’s a master at the art of torture. She’s resilient and tenacious and patient as she cuts each and every one of my restraints holding her back. Slowly, ever so slowly, she takes them apart; three weeks goes by without a peep, but I know she’s just silently working away, waiting for the most inopportune moment to strike. I do my best guys, I really do. But she is better. Picking her moment, she explodes to life, like the scene in Alien where the monster harboring deep inside her violently bursts through her rib cage… you know the one. Yup, it’s just like that.

Not only is she homicidal and irrational but she’s also just straight up mean. For a week straight she constantly tells me I’m bloated, that I’m ugly and that my face is covered in pimples so good luck NOT looking like a leper! And she eats everything! Not caring AT ALL what my diet restrictions are. She just wants it and by golly, she’s going to get it! She doesn’t care, it’s not her waist line she’s worried about. She’s going to eat anything and everything she can, but she focuses on the main food groups: chocolate, carbs, fried carbs, sugar, and peanut butter. I think she does it just to spite me.

But really, back to the main point. Guys really have no idea what it’s like. They just don’t. They think that ‘PMS’ is an excuse and they either think it’s total BS or they think it turns us into some mythical creature that they have to avoid for 7 days for fear of their life. They think we over dramatize everything that we’re going through and that it couldn’t possibly be as bad as it seems. Well, let me just ask this, how do you think it would feel to have your body waging a war on itself? To literally have the walls of your organ be continually violently ripping apart. Doesn’t sound like much fun does it? It’s not.

They’ll never know what it’s like to feel like you have no control over your emotions. Why do your hormones never pick to be exquisitely happy?? No, it’s either unaccountable rage or desperate sobbing. They will never know what it’s like to put on your favorite jeans that fit the day before and no longer button because you're bloated. They’ll never experience the dread that comes from planning vacation time around your 7 day stint in Hell, only to have it jump forward 5 days and ruin everything. Have they CAMPED in 100 degree heat when they were basically bleeding out? NO. They will never experience the horror of being 13 and starting your period in the middle of class and have to deal with the repercussions of trying to hide the evidence under a sweatshirt tied around your waist. The embarrassment one feels in their teen years at co-ed swim parties or trying to contain the monster so the cute boy in your college history class doesn’t think you’re a crazy person. They'll never experience feeling like an alien is trying to saw through their uterus with a dull blade, and when that doesn’t work, goes at it with it's sharp teeth until it’s been shredded into pieces. They’ll never experience that specific kind of nausea or eat everything but never stop feeling starving. The truth is, boys just don’t get it. And they never will.

The best we can do is band together. There’s no beating it, all we can do is put on our *period mix* and take a hot shower or grab a box of See's chocolates and maybe a quesadilla from Taco Bell and then watch reruns of Scandal until it passes. Seriously, watching Kerry Washington (i.e. Olivia Pope) destroy the boys will make you feel better. Trust me.  

Monday, January 13, 2014

Run the World, A *Girl Power* Playlist

I’m a product of the 90’s and proud of it. One of the main themes running through the decade was *GIRL POWER*!! Seriously though, girl empowerment may have been made popular by Madonna, but it was definitely propelled into the stratosphere with the likes of the SPICE Girls, Britney, Christina Aguilera, Destiny’s Child, and...ya know, Buffy. Without these girls paving the way, would our generation of women be as strong, independent, and confident as we are?

As soon as the 2000’s hit, independent women were everywhere- in music, television, movies, in CEO offices and becoming politicians. They were topping the Billboard charts with songs about their ‘independent’ attitudes and headlining their own TV series, even formally male dominated genres, like action series'! (shout out to Alias and my girl Jen!). They got us pumped up about being a girl and empowered us to stand up and fight for ourselves.

It was an awesome time to grow up. There are a lot of new comers to the ‘girl power’ scene now, but the ones from the 90’s will always be my favorite! It’s about sticking up for yourself and I think it made the bond between girlfriends even stronger, because obviously you were going to stick up for them too! There’s nothing like having quality *girl time* together. When we were kids it was sleepovers (though I still do that with my besties too!) and as you grew up, it turned into weekend *girls trips* and *girls night outs* or *girls night in-mani/pedis!*. I really do believe that as a gender, we need each other. We need our “girl talk”, those long chats about anything and everything we’re going through in our lives, down to the smallest minute detail. We need our shopping trips for shoes or clothes or make up because we couldn’t possible buy those daring high heels or neon hued pants without first getting the approval of our BFF. (Who else would honestly tell you that that sheath dress doesn’t flatter the curves they love about you the way it needs to?!)  

A girl needs her besties. She just does. It’s a universal truth. Because no one else but your girlfriends understand how you think, how you feel, or your raging hormones that make you want to murder someone while simultaneously making you want to eat fried carbs ravenously and cry while watching Downton Abbey.

And it’s for those moments, that I made this completely awesome *girl power* mix. Because nothing's better than singing and dancing to the great femme fatals of our generation with your best girlfriends. Or because the last thing you want to listen to when you’re PMS’ing is a man complaining about his problems. (I mean, what does HE know about anything!?! It’s not like HIS insides are literally ripping themselves apart for 7 days, making HIM nauseous, irritable, starving, crazy and on the verge of crying constantly!) 

And, come on, like my girl Beyonce says…Who runs the world? Girls!  

[Again, clicking on title of the Playlist will bring it up on Spotify for you to listen to for free! Did I miss any!? Leave 'em in the comments section and I'll add them! :) ]

1. Run the World (Girls)- Beyonce
2. Irreplaceable- Beyonce
3. Single Ladies- Beyonce
4. Overprotected- Britney Spears
5. Stronger- Britney Spears
6. Piece of Me- Britney Spears
7. Work B****- Britney Spears
8. Before he Cheats- Carrie Underwood
9. Fighter- Christina Aguilera
10. Beautiful- Christina Aguilera
11. Lady Marmalade- Moulin Rouge
12. bang bang bang- Christina Perri
13. Like a Boy- Ciara
14. Titanium- David Guetta
15. Independent Women Part I- Destiny's Child
16. Survivor- Destiny's Child
17. Criminal- Fiona Apple
18. What You Waiting For?- Gwen Stefani
19. Hollaback Girl- Gwen Stefani
20.California Gurls- Katy Perry
21. Firework- Katy Perry
22. Wide Awake- Katy Perry
23. Roar- Katy Perry
24. Since U Been Gone- Kelly Clarkson
25. Miss Independent- Kelly Clarkson
26. Stronger- Kelly Clarkson
27. B*- Meredith Brooks
28. Just a Girl- No Doubt
29. It's my Life- No Doubt
30. So What- Pink
31. Perfect- Pink
32. Raise your Glass- Pink
33. Blow Me One Last Kiss- Pink
34. Wannabe- Spice Girls
35. Who Do you Think You Are- Spice Girls
36. We are Never Getting Back Together- Taylor Swift
37. No Scrubs- TLC