One Lovely Blog Award

Holy crap! A perfect stranger nominated me for my first ever blogger award! Huge thanks to Silent Screamer for the nod!

lovely blog

The Rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you
  2. Share 7 facts about yourself
  3. Nominate 15 bloggers and inform them of the nomination

Seven Facts About Me:

  1. I have been watching Pittsburgh Penguins hockey since 1999 and once rode in an elevator with hockey great and team owner, Mario Lemieux.
  2. I am fascinated with Tudor history and have a ton of ridiculous, useless knowledge associated with the time period.
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  3. My day job is working in an office for a salvage auto auction. Basically we sell cars that were totaled in accidents. Never a dull moment.
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  4. Most people are shocked to find out I have three tattoos. I’ve been told on multiple occasions, “I’d never in a million years think that you’d have a tattoo.” Still trying to figure out what that means.
  5. A great uncle on my mom’s side has traced our family history all the way back to the 1500’s in Austria-Hungary (present day Czechoslovakia).
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  6. I have never owned a video game. My playing experience is limited to Pac Man on a friend’s Sega system and and my sister’s Super Mario on Game Boy in the mid-nineties.
  7. I cannot snap my fingers. Yup. Can’t do it. It makes no sound.

And here are my nominations. I’ve only been blogging for a little over six months, so I’m sure many of you with hundreds or thousands of followers are beyond awards like this but you all inspire me!

  1. A Blog to Listen Quietly To
  2. Damn, Girl, Get Your Shit Together!
  3. Kelsey Schmitt
  4. lifesfinewhine
  5. shechosenow
  6. Love Travelling
  7. Margaritarded
  8. The Cat’s Write
  9. RebeccaKLxo
  10. Streaming Thru America
  11. The Little Mermaid
  12. The Nerdy Lion
  13. Endastories
  14. Susie Murphy Writes
  15. Lonely Blue Boy

 

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Please Don’t Give up on Your Anxiety

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It’s been a couple of months since I’ve written an anxiety-themed post. This is probably because, for the most part, my own anxiety has been relatively well controlled lately, something I still have trouble believing.

But I know there are people out there who are still caught in the throes of anxiety. I know there are still people who are terrified as soon as their alarm goes off in the morning, people who sit in their cars and cry during their lunch breaks, who are overwhelmed with treatment and medication options, who want to accomplish SO MUCH . . . if only they didn’t feel like their heart was going to explode every other minute. Because I’ve been there. I have experienced every single one of these symptoms listed in the last sentence. And I’ve read paragraphs like the one prior to this one and thought, “What if I never get there? What if I never feel better?” I have lain awake at night for hours wondering, terrified . . . what if I spend the rest of my life in a constant state of fear and anxiety?

Questions like these led me into depression on several occasions in my life. The anxiety was so overwhelming, so debilitating, that I couldn’t see living life any other way. And those thoughts left me so unbelievably sad that I ended up depressed. I tried therapists, Zoloft,  yoga, Paxil, meditation, Prozac, self-help books, Celexa, deep breathing, Lexapro – nothing worked for longer than a year or two at best. Somehow I always ended up back where I started – in a crying heap on the floor, terrified of every coming second in my life, wondering what I was doing wrong and if I would ever crawl out of this hole.

Over the years I read stories about celebrities and everyday people who somehow managed to conquer their anxiety, usually with one or several of the methods mentioned above. But these success stories only made me feel worse – what was I doing wrong? Why couldn’t I accomplish what they did? What if I wasn’t fixable?

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My answer didn’t come until February of 2017 when I started EMDR therapy, which I blogged about here. This has has been the single most effective form of therapy I’ve ever tried and it has allowed me to focus on things in my life that I’ve always wanted to do, but couldn’t because of my anxiety.

Although I strongly recommend EMDR therapy, this post isn’t claiming that it’s going to work for everyone. But now that I’ve found something that works for me, I want to encourage people to not give up. Keep working, keep fighting, keep trying until you find what works for you. I know it’s frustrating and infuriating. I know it feels hopeless and overwhelming. I know you feel like a freak and a failure because I’ve been there. But I promise you – there is another side to this. You will find something that works for you. It may be a medication you haven’t tried before. It may be a new therapist or meditation or Zumba or aromatherapy or acupuncture. Just please don’t give up.

I don’t have all the answers. I’m not cured. But I am so much better than where I was even two years ago it’s unbelievable. I never in a million years would have thought I could write a blog like this from such a positive place. I never thought I’d have this much hope. I never thought anyone would come to me for advice or that I’d feel confident enough to give it.

There is no “one size fits all” way to handle (or maybe even overcome) anxiety. Annoyingly, it takes years of trial and error to find what works for you — and it may not be one singular thing that helps, but a combination of various things. I spent most of my life being terrified that I’d never find any answers. And part of me is still really nervous that this is all just a temporary thing and one day the rug is going to get pulled out from under me and I’ll find myself back at square one.

But for now, things are better than they’ve been in a long time. I encourage, I beg, I plead with you to hope for and work towards a future when you’ll feel the same. Because it IS possible!

I leave you with a list of things that have helped me make significant progress in my ongoing battle with anxiety:

  1. EMDR Therapy (for a full description, read this post)
  2. Buspar: Of all the medications I’ve tried, it’s been the most effective with the least amount of side effects. I think it’s a relatively uncommon anxiety drug because some doctors don’t seem to know much about it, but it’s been the only one I can tolerate after years of yo-yo-ing with other medications.
  3. Limiting my caffeine intake: I know, I know. It’s TOUGH. While I’ve never been much of a coffee drinker, I do enjoy the occasional mocha, Chai tea latte, or unsweetened iced tea. But the fact of the matter is that my daily caffeine intake, however small, was contributing to the racing heart, shaky hands, and out of control thoughts. I cut back to only enjoy the aforementioned beverages on the weekends, and it REALLY made a difference.
  4. A Diffuser: I’ve been reading about the benefits of essential oils for a few years, and now that diffusers are wildly popular, I asked for one for Christmas. Mine is cute and compact and I use it almost every night. Not only do the soothing scents of lavender, orange, and frankincense lull me to sleep, but I honestly believe that they really help me wake up feeling more relaxed and energized.
  5. A Happy Light: Various therapists have suggested getting one of these over the years, but I seriously doubted its effectiveness. But living in Pittsburgh for thirty-three years makes one desperate for any type of sunlight, even if it’s artificial, so I bought this one on Amazon. I use it for about 10-15 minutes every morning while I’m eating my breakfast, and honestly, I noticed a difference within a matter of days. It really cuts down on my irritability and gives me a bit more energy, especially in the ugly winter months.
  6. Be extremely disciplined with news and social media. Being informed and educated is important, but learn to recognize when too much bad news is getting to you and set limits.
    Do the same for social media – don’t spend your time or energy arguing with strangers or posting negative memes. Spend that energy sharing positive stuff instead!

I hope this gives all my fellow anxiety battlers hope to keep on keeping on!

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Ninety Years of Family History

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Last weekend I attended a surprise birthday party for two of my great uncles – Uncle Bobby and his brother Bernie turned 90 and 70, respectively, within a few weeks of each other this March. The brothers are the oldest and youngest in my Gram’s family of ten children, and although my Gram passed way in 2015 at the age of 82, it was good to see that several of her siblings are still thriving, as is the extended family of cousins, aunts, and uncles that span generations.

Both sets of my maternal great-grandparents came to the US from Czechoslovakia in the early twentieth century. Hard-to-pronounce last names, a dizzying array of extended relatives, ethnic foods like bobalki, stuffed cabbagepierogi, and ceregy have been staples in my life for as long as I can remember. And from the time I was little, my grandparents always told stories about their childhood that I remember even now. The prospect of starting my own family someday makes me realize just how important our family’s history and heritage is, and it’s events like this surprise party that make me thankful for our big, crazy, Slavish clan.

Some of my favorite stories from my Gram’s family include the ones from when she was growing up. The family lived in a small house a few minutes from where I live now, and is still occupied by one of the siblings. The basement had a dirt floor with dozens of canning jars lining the walls, full of vegetables from the garden my mom’s grandparents maintained. Behind the house was a giant, hilly field that they called Kennywood dump after the trolley park (now amusement park), world famous Kennywood. I remember a story about how one of my Gram’s brothers, taking a stroll one day, pulled a sword from the dirt of the field, only to find out that it was a relic from the Revolutionary War which blazed through our area centuries before. I remember my Gram telling me that in another nearby field where our high school now stands, gypsies used to bring their caravans through every year to hawk their wares. One year, the gypsies spotted my Gram’s oldest sister, a young girl with long black hair and dark complexion. They offered to buy her from my great-grandparents because of her appearance – which they of course refused. I also remember my Gram telling me how, during the Great Depression, they all had to wear hand-me-down clothing, which included clothes made of burlap sacks and pants held up by rope. I remember the stories about them going to school, where my Gram would meet my Pap when they were thirteen years old.

By the time my mom was a teenager, the family had grown like wildfire. Most of the siblings had multiple children of their own, making holidays, birthdays, and weddings huge, crowded, loud, and fun events. My mom has to have about fifty first cousins, and I seriously have no idea how she keeps them all straight. Although many of these family members are now spread out in different cities and states, plenty still live close to where it all started, and we all pick up where we left off each time there’s a big get together.

I love events like this, mostly because they now only happen every few years as kids grow up, move away, and unfortunately, the older generation passes on. Sometimes I think that family traditions and big get togethers are a thing of the past, but attending a birthday party like this one made me realize we can still keep the traditions and heritage alive as long as we all keep in touch and never forget the stories that our grandparents and great aunts and uncles told us.

My favorite part of the day was when ninety-year-old Uncle Bobby made his rounds to say his good-byes as the party was breaking up. Since he lived most of his life in Florida, I’ve only met him a handful of times. But after hugging my mom and thanking her for coming, he turned to me to do the same. I hugged him tightly, telling him happy birthday and thinking about how cool it was that he was still sharp enough to remember all of us and healthy enough to walk around unassisted. He held my hands in his and asked in a soft voice, “Is everything going well for you?”

“Yes,” I answered honestly with a smile. In that second I thought about how many things have come together for me over the last year and a half  – I finally feel comfortable in my home and my job, I’m married to a guy who’s just as weird as me, I’m getting my anxiety  under control, and I’m writing like crazy. “Yes,” I affirmed. “Finally.”

Uncle Bobby squeezed my hands and nodded. “Well, sometimes it take a while to get to where you’re going.”

I felt myself choking up, so I just nodded and thought about how amazing it was that our family connection was still strong despite the years and miles that have separated us most of our lives. This was my grandma’s oldest brother, a man who has seen nine decades of family and world history, and I was his great-niece, someone just trying to make her place in the world.

“The important thing is that you don’t give up,” He said, his eyes – my Gram’s eyes – unwavering.

“I won’t,” I promised him.

My great-grandparents never gave up on building the life they wanted. I won’t either.

Hlavach

My Gram and her nine siblings (plus one other unidentified kid we don’t recognize. I guess when you’ve got ten kids, what’s another who wanders over)?
We think my Gram is the one in the middle row with the chin-length hair and the rounded collar.
In no particular order – Bobby, Doshie, Florie, Joan, Evie, Millie, Niecie, Ronnie, Jackie, and Bernie.

It’s Women’s History Month!

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As a female blogger, I would be remiss if I didn’t write a piece in honor of Women’s History Month. (I admit I totally couldn’t get the writing juices flowing in time for International Women’s Day. I blame the dark and depressing winter that Just. Won’t. Go. Away).
But now I’ve compiled a list of ten women from the past and present who I admire for a number of reasons. In no particular order . . .

Queen Elizabeth I: You’ve seen her portraits a million times. But do you know her story? She was the daughter of Henry VIII, a man so obsessed with producing a male heir that he married six women! Despite Henry’s efforts, a healthy son was not to be, and Elizabeth inherited the throne anyway. Her forty-five year reign was one of the most successful monarchies England has ever seen. Elizabeth was a bad ass woman centuries before it was cool. She slayed her role as queen, despite an entire kingdom of naysayers and endless pressure from, like, everybody to marry – which she never did.
A true icon of the age that carries her namesake, Elizabeth was a force to be reckoned with.

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Catherine of Aragon (Catalina of Spain): The first of Henry VIII’s six wives, Catherine was originally married to Henry’s older brother Arthur. Arthur died unexpectedly after the two had only been married for a few months, but Catherine believed with every fiber of her being that she had only one purpose– to be Queen of England. Catherine refused to be sent to a convent after she was widowed. Instead she remained vigilant, willing to do whatever was necessary to step into her role as queen. Years after Arthur’s death, Catherine fulfilled her destiny and married Henry VIII.
Sadly, as Catherine did not provide a son, Henry annulled their marriage in 1533. Through she was eventually sent to a convent to live out the rest of her days in isolation, Catherine maintained that she was the true Queen of England and refused to acknowledge Henry’s new wife as such. Her unwavering beliefs showed incredible strength during what must have been a lonely and heartbreaking journey.

Interested in learning more about Catherine’s story? Read about what some historians call “The greatest lie in history”

Joan of Arc: I’m not religious at all, so this one may come as a surprise. But the fact is that Joan died for what she believed in – at the tender age of (approximately) nineteen. Anybody who puts their lives at risk for the greater good earns serious kudos from me. Some believe that Joan was on a crusade to unveil the truth behind women’s importance in Catholicism (think Kathleen McGowan’s The Book of Love). And if any of these theories are remotely true, it makes her an even bigger bad ass in my book.

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Ashley Graham: As a curvy girl myself, I admire anybody with as much self-confidence and drive as this woman, regardless of size. Not only has Ashley shattered the taboo that comes along with being “plus sized,” but she is a body-positive advocate for all women, whether you’re a size 2 or 20. And if her stunning magazine covers and beauty campaigns aren’t enough, she is also an incredibly successful businesswoman. Ashley designs jeans, lingerie, and swimsuits and has had incredible success in each of these ventures. She is truly someone to admire, not just for her looks, but her personality and ambition.

Kate Winslet: I first fell in love with Kate when I saw Titanic at age twelve. Not only did she end up becoming my first “girl crush” because of her stunning beauty and voluptuous body, but her talent was apparent from the get go. She is another woman who is driven to success and is not afraid to take control of any situation, especially when it comes to her career. Despite losing her first love to cancer at an early age, going through multiple divorces, and being ridiculed by Hollywood for her appearance, she has always come out on top. Her confidence and focus make her an awesome role model for any woman.

Michelle Obama: Sigh. What can I say about the gorgeous and groundbreaking FLOTUS? I admire Michelle for so many reasons – the least of which is her ability to carry herself with dignity and respect while balancing it with humor and empathy. Her muscular 5’11” frame and sometimes no-nonsense expression certainly has the ability to intimidate, but her strong physique is balanced by her undeniable beauty and femininity. Talk about a “girl who can do both” – Michelle managed to raise two beautiful girls, raise awareness for poverty, nutrition, and physical health, and became a fashion icon during her eight years in the White House – all while dealing with the tumultuous life that comes with being under the magnifying glass that is the Presidency. My favorite thing about Michelle has to be how she maintained such a high level of class during her time as FLOTUS. Regardless of the scrutiny or insults thrown her way, she handled herself and her family with dignity.

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J.K. Rowling: Need I say more? This woman is the single most successful writer – EVER. So not only do I admire her from a creative standpoint, but also because of who she was before and after that success. Jo lost her mom, endured an ugly marriage, struggled to survive as a single parent, and battled depression before penning Harry Potter. And after her little ship came in, she never forgot where she came from. She has given so much money to charity that that she was dropped from Forbes “billionaire” list and downgraded to a millionaire. Her earnings and philanthropic ways are only the beginning. Jo has somehow maintained a relatively private life for herself and her children, wanting to make their childhood as normal as possible. She is another no-nonsense woman who is not afraid to speak her mind or defend herself or anyone who needs it. She is kind, giving, and caring, but has such a way with words that if someone pisses her off – Look. Out. I see you, Jo. Droppin’ mikes and shit.

Need a cry or some inspiration? Watch Jo’s Harvard Commencement Speech I cry Every. Time.

Oprah Winfrey: Now I’m not endorsing her for president or anything, but Oprah’s contributions to the (broadcasting) world are undeniable. For a little girl raised by a single mother who was fired from her first reporting job, her success is astounding in every aspect of the word. In addition to her wildly popular talk show, she has founded non-profits, a magazine, a book club, a food line, and a freaking TV network. Talk about an entrepreneur! Oprah is a prime example of someone more than capable of landing on your feet and slaying every aspect of life regardless of the opinions of others.

Jennifer Weiner: Another female writer that I couldn’t leave out. Jen’s book Good in Bed was one of the first fabulous “chick lit” books I read in my early twenties, and it made me realize that not only were there girls “out there” like me (chubby, awkward), but I could write books like this too! Jen is an inspiration in so many ways – as a writer and as a woman. She holds nothing back and refuses to conform to society in her private life or in the publishing world. If there were an equivalent of Ashley Graham for the writing world, Jennifer Weiner would certainly be it.

Malala Yousafzai: I hope to God this woman needs no introduction. But just in case you don’t know, Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban when she was fifteen years old for being an advocate for girls’ education in Pakistan. She miraculously survived, and continues to work towards providing all young people access to education. The only thing that may overshadow Malala’s incredible work is her amazing spirit. She is not afraid of the Taliban. She does not fear for her life. She harbors no anger towards the men who attempted to kill her.  She is fearless in the face of not only terrorism, but hate and prejudice. I think there is something the entire world can learn from this young woman. I think a spirit like hers graces this earth once in a great while, and we should all consider ourselves lucky to get to share the planet with her.

Who are the women you admire?

Memories of Spring

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Like most Pittsburghers, I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of spring. I cannot wait for warmer, sunnier weather, flower buds poking up through the newly green grass, trading sweaters for Capri pants and sandals, and driving with the windows down. I have such cabin fever I’m actually looking forward to giving my house a good spring cleaning, if only it means I can open up the windows and let the fresh air permeate the house.

I’ve loved spring for as long as I can remember. I love how it represents rebirth and renewal and how glorious and clean and bright the world seems after months of gray and cold.  The season has also brought many personal milestones to me over the years, and I always find myself reminiscing about these whenever the weather turns brighter.

Spring was the season of my senior prom, the one and only time I attended, with a guy who I almost didn’t get to go with. It was a beautiful, memorable night – dancing to Aerosmith’s Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing in my blue, beaded dress, flinging my white heels over my shoulder as I curled up in a corner of the room with my date, then making out with him in the squashed back seat of my friend’s Chevy Lumina.

It’s the season when I started my very first full time job as a receptionist. Eleven years ago I nervously took my place at the front desk, timid and uncertain in my brand new dress clothes, wondering if my co-workers would be patient and kind and if I’d be able to hang with the big boys and girls of the real world.

I started my current job in March of 2014, a breath of fresh air after several years of bouncing from one unpleasant place to the next. Every year when it comes time for my review, I thank my lucky stars that I finally ended up in an environment where I can be myself and prosper.

On March 22nd, 2008 I went on a blind date and met my husband.  Our mutual friends who had set us up made stuffed peppers at their apartment, then we headed to a dive bar where cheap beers loosened our tongues and inhibitions. I huddled in the tiny bathroom with my friend K, nodding shyly as she asked in an excited voice whether or not I liked my date. In a clever plot devised earlier in the day by our friends, J drove me home that night and I told him about how I’d always wanted a tattoo but didn’t have one yet. When he pulled up to my driveway, I leaned over and kissed him, long and sweet.

Five years later, J and I closed on our very first home together that April. We signed the papers, were presented with keys, and drove right over to the old house with bare walls and 1980’s curtains. Those first few weeks were spent cleaning and painting, trying to acclimate our dog to the hardwood floors, and stocking up the fridge with more than just ketchup and beer. Every spring we try to tackle something on our “to do” list – building a fence for the backyard, replacing scraggly bushes with a pretty little Japanese Maple tree, fixing the shifting brick on the porch, or remodeling the bathroom. Any time I find myself frustrated with the amount of work we still have to do in the house, I think about how many changes we’ve already made in just a few years.

This spring, J and I will renew our passports in preparation for our trip to London in October. I’m ridiculously excited for the trip, but also very much looking forward to what spring 2018 brings our way.

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F@#$%*G Millennials, Part 1

I first heard the term “millennial” back in 2007. I was attending a Christmas party hosted by my first full time employer, and to welcome me and a handful of other new, young employees to the company, our HR manager gave a speech about millennials. Millennials, he read, were a generation of selfish, relatively clueless and consumer-driven youngsters who were brought up with the misconception that they were “special.” He followed this description by stating that the company was lucky that me and the other new hires, while born in the millennial generation, were exceptions to these undesirable traits. I was thankful that we weren’t viewed in such a negative perspective on that particular night, but over the last several years, my generation has endured quite the thrashing from most everybody else, and, to be blunt, I’ve had quite enough.

For the past decade and a half, our generation has been constantly hearing about how coddled we were growing up and how blissfully unaware we are about the “real world.” They talk about how easy we had it as kids and mock those of us who indulge in self-care. They accuse us of being weak or thin-skinned and don’t hesitate to second guess how we would have survived the struggles of generations who came before us.

Let me stop here and say that I am fully aware that every generation has its struggles. In the eighties there was the AIDs crisis, in the sixties and seventies it was Vietnam and the Civil Rights movement, before that, WWII and the Depression. And those eras produced some bad asses. But those of us born between approximately 1982 and 2004 have had our fair share of struggles and life-altering circumstances that we’ve had to overcome and have molded us into who we are today.

For one, we were children and teenagers when the twin towers fell out of the sky. If you know how scary it was to watch 9/11 unfold as an adult, imagine watching it at age sixteen. Or eleven. Or eight. Imagine living in a world where adults always had the answers and could always keep you safe, and then one day, that bubble bursts as you watch, wide-eyed and shaking at a TV in your science class. I was sixteen years old on that terrible day, and that morning robbed an entire generation of a gradual ascent into adulthood. The proverbial rug was pulled out from under us just like it was from our grandparents when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor sixty years previous.

Growing up in a world wrought with terrorism was just the beginning. I was thirteen years old when two teenagers stormed Columbine High School and murdered twelve people. From then on, it was considered normal for students to walk through metal detectors every morning or find bomb threats scrawled on bathroom mirrors. The term “school shooting” became as familiar to us as the lyrics of the pop songs blaring from the radios.

Add this violent new world to the already tumultuous years of peer pressure from drugs, alcohol, and sex. Normal teenage dalliances? Maybe. I’ve heard stories from my parents’ generation about how smoking weed, dropping acid, sleeping around, and drinking and driving weren’t really a big deal back then. But add bad batches of drugs, binge drinking, and STDs into the mix, what used to be thought of as fairly normal rights of passage morphed into life threatening risks.

And in the background were the all the other negative tidbits – parents who divorced at a rate of 50%; an education suffering from budget cuts;  air, food, and water poisoned with chemicals and pesticides; and peers being diagnosed with serious new illnesses like life-threatening allergies, juvenile cancer, and autism.

All things considered, do you blame us for needing “safe places” where we could laugh, have fun, make friends and feel loved? Do you still think we’re so coddled and sheltered? Do you understand why, after high school, we sought to pursue our dreams and change the world once we had graduated?

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In Spite of it All

Because although our childhood and teenager years were wrought with over-inflated angst thanks to the aforementioned events, we still somehow managed to have a pretty encouraging outlook on the world once we received our high school diplomas.

Despite the terrorism, both foreign and domestic, despite the decades old text books, eliminated arts and music programs, lead paint covering our toys, and broken homes, our generation was constantly reassured that we could do anything we wanted when we grew up. We were told we could spur change, pursue our dreams and passions, and if we went to college and stayed there, we’d make a bunch of money doing those very things!

And then the “real world” crafted by previous generations slapped us in the face. The degrees that we studied so hard for and cost us tens of thousands of dollars were practically worthless, considering approximately eight zillion other people had pursued the same major. The entry-level jobs in that field started at a measly twelve dollars an hour, an even bigger slap in the face considering the interest rates of the student loans and the cost of having shelter, food, and reliable transportation. Those of us who went back to our parents’ homes to try to re-establish some type of starting point in life were called boomerang kids, and by doing so you were also labeled as lazy, irresponsible, immature moochers.  On the flip side, those of us who immediately moved into our own apartment or house, were considered selfish, outlandish, and accused of having no idea how to prioritize life.

The older generation is constantly reminding us that they started their lives with nothing and worked their way up at an employer over the course of many years. This is all fine and good, and I absolutely believe in the positive effects of humble beginnings. But the generations before us weren’t saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in student debt and sky-high interest rates. And while inflation has been a constant, wages have not risen to keep up with it. And everyone seems to ignore the fact that we entered “the real world” in the middle of the biggest recession since the Great Depression.

Us millennials are constantly being told that we want too much too soon and that we have no sense of priorities or how to handle a budget. But the same people telling us these things are the same people who refuse to acknowledge that it is next to impossible to live on less than $15.00 an hour, especially if you have a degree (and the debt that comes with it). Furthermore, how exactly were we supposed to learn how to budget or project expenses when life skills are no longer taught in schools? The same generation who cut and changed school curriculums are the same people complaining that we don’t know how to balance a check book, cook basic meals, or sew a button.

I don’t want this to be all about blaming other generations for obstacles or stereotypes millennials encounter. But one of the most infuriating things about all of our criticisms is that we had absolutely no part in many of the things we are criticized for.

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Someone to Blame?

One of the biggest examples of the pointless “blame game” is the dreaded and much talked about “participation trophies.” I loathe the term as much as the next millennial, but I had to tackle the subject, as it represents perfectly the dynamic between millennials and older generations.

At some point when we were kids, somebody (our parents or grandparents), thought it would be a great idea to give every kid who ever played baseball or tap danced a trophy, regardless of if they ever won a game or talent show. Like any normal child, we accepted the trophies happily, excited to have something shiny with our names on it to display in our bedrooms.

For years, these trophies were manufactured, distributed, and displayed by children and parents alike, whether it was to reminisce about a dance recital or mark a milestone “first” basketball season. But at some point, the trophies started causing controversy. Shouldn’t kids be taught the value of losing as well as winning? Shouldn’t we give the kids something to strive for instead of settling? Shouldn’t we try to toughen them up now so they aren’t disappointed when the state championship game or the job interview only goes to one team or candidate? Aren’t these kids getting a little spoiled?

Again, the most infuriating thing about all of these questions is the fact that they are being asked by the very people who conjured up the idea in the first place!

No child of my generation ever asked for a participation trophy. It was not within our young consciousness to conjure up such a notion. So please. Of all of the things that get on our nerves the most, stop talking about the damn participation trophies. You cannot complain about something that you invented and gave us. The same goes for the abysmal state of the job market, the economy, the education system, our government, and the environment, to name a few.

And now that my frustration has reached its peak, I’m going to use that last paragraph as opportunity to close on this first part of the blog. Because despite the fact that we’ve inherited a broken world, us millennials are still doing our damnedest to try and change it.

Coming up in Part 2 of F@#$%*G Millennials:

~ Why are the same people who are telling us that we need to work harder for charge also telling us that change is impossible?
~ What kind of positive traits do millennials have? (Hint: there are a lot)!
~ If millennials’ knowledge and use of technology is such a terrible thing, why is the older generation always asking for our help with it?
~ Is this generational gap really so much worse than the gaps between previous generations? Or are we all more aware of said gap because of the Internet and social media?

god & guns

columbine-bullying

I’ve been agonizing about writing this blog for over a week.

When the news broke that yet another school shooting had claimed the lives of dozens of innocent people, it didn’t take long for news headlines and Facebook posts to flood the internet with arguments about why gun control won’t work, and how anybody who thinks that it will is a “special kind of stupid,” or a “libtard.” None of these immature or inaccurate accusations really hurt my feelings anymore, but there is one that makes my blood boil every time I see it – the one that suggests that school shootings happen because God isn’t allowed in schools anymore.

For eleven days, I agonized over writing this blog in the appropriate fashion. I didn’t want to be accusatory, I didn’t want to be emotional, and I didn’t want to be offensive. I agonized about marring my mostly upbeat, quirky blog with such a dark subject. I agonized about losing one of my few dozen followers. But you know what? I don’t care.

Why should I care about offending someone who is constantly telling the left to toughen up? Why should I care about hurting the feelings of someone who thinks it’s okay to mock the disabled and sexually assault women? Why should I concern myself with being politically correct towards those who abhor the very term? Why should I consider the feelings of those who love weapons more than their children?

I don’t care anymore. If there are people out there who are not sickened by the slaughter of innocent human lives, the words in this blog will not affect them.

dumb ass shirt

Questions Without Answers

I made a vow to myself in early 2017 to not get into arguments with strangers on Facebook anymore, and I’m proud to say that for the most part I have kept that promise. There have been a few occasions where something on social media sticks in my craw, but instead of being impulsive and lashing out right away, I’ve managed to gather my thoughts and feelings, do some research, assemble said thoughts and feelings in a constructive manner, and write about the subject in my blog. But this time, the anger has not subsided. If anything, my blood has gone from simmering to boiling over in the last week and a half.

The notion that mass shootings are a result of a godless society or a lack of religion in schools is completely invalid for a number of reasons, the first and most obvious being that mass shootings have taken place inside churches.

So I have a few questions for people whose thought process echoes that of the t-shirt I have pictured above –

Were the people in those churches not praying enough? In the right way? To the right god? Isn’t God everywhere, for everyone, even if that person is a skeptic, a non-believer, or a worshipper of another type of god?

Do you not think that the victims of these attacks prayed for their safety on a daily basis? Do you not think that the parents of these children prayed nightly for their kids to return home? Do you not think that the victims, as their friends lay dying, didn’t pray for God to spare them?

If you believe that massacres happen because of a godless society, do you mean to infer that the victims of these massacres were godless people? And even if they were, does an atheist or agnostic person have less of right to live than someone who is devoutly or moderately religious? Don’t most religions preach that all lives are valuable?

And do we, as humans, doubt our intelligence and problem-solving skills so much that we are content to shrug our shoulders and leave it “in God’s hands?”

Logic

Let’s look at this on a less controversial level  — (although, to quote a local radio personality, what kind of world are we living in where it is controversial to talk about preventing the slaughter of innocent people?)

If you were diagnosed with cancer, sure, you’d pray. But you would also seek treatment, become more health conscious, and follow the advice of your doctors. If you were applying for a new job or a promotion, you might ask God to grant you the opportunity, but you’d also write a great cover letter and give an impressive interview. If the roof of your home was leaking, you might ask God to keep your family and possessions safe. But you would also make repairs or contact a professional to correct the issue.

So why is it different when it comes to gun violence?

And if these “thoughts and prayers” actually worked, would we need them repeatedly, month after month, year after year?

If you believe in the power of prayer, that’s great. I’m not here to question your faith or criticize you for appealing to a higher power during life’s trials and tribulations. But these scenarios remind me of a story I stumbled upon years ago. I think it’s appropriate to paraphrase here –

A man was trapped in his house while flood waters outside were rising fast. Having no transportation of his own, he began to pray for God to save him. A few minutes later, his neighbor stopped by with his pickup truck and offered him a ride to safety. The man refused, stating that he trusted God to look after him. The neighbor sped away.

The man continued to pray, but as the waters rose he had to move to the roof. A boat floated by, and its occupants tried to coax the man to join them. Again he refused, saying that God would save him.

As the dry spot of the roof grew smaller and smaller, the man began to pray harder than ever before. He eventually saw a helicopter hovering overhead, and the rescuers sent down a ladder, encouraging the man to climb up. Again, the main refused, confident in his beliefs.

The water eventually engulfed the house and the man drowned. When he got to heaven, he asked God why he didn’t save him. God explained that he had sent the man three opportunities to be rescued, but he had refused each one of them. And God asked, “What else could I possibly do for you?”

I’m not sure whether or not I believe in God. I don’t have all the answers. One person or belief system can’t fix everything either. But whether or not you believe in a higher power or not, it is undeniable that we have been given tools and opportunities to solve these problems, just like the man in the story. Let’s do whatever it takes to put change into action.

 

The cover photo for this piece is a photo from the Columbine Memorial in Littleton, CO. Neither this image or the t-shirt image are mine but belong to the original photographer/creator.