Life with an undiagnosed learning disability

Life with an undiagnosed learning disability

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you read something, the simplest thing maybe, and you just have no idea what it’s even talking about?

Or you read something out loud, just to realize that words you said weren’t the words on the page?

Or you read a sentence you wrote, exactly how you have it in your head and even read out loud to yourself, and post it to social media just to realize that some words never actually made it in the post?

Or you say a word(s) or phrase you believed was right, just to find out the word(s) you said is actually similar to the correct word(s) or phrase?

Welcome to my life.

All my life, I’ve struggled to the point of tears because I couldn’t understand words, sentences and passages. In elementary school I was always placed in the reading groups with the easier books to read but even then, I couldn’t read them. I didn’t understand them. I didn’t know what was happening.

In forth grade, the teacher told my mom that word problems in math were hard for me. I couldn’t understand what was being asked from me. I got a little bit of help but it didn’t help long term. She reassured my mom, as did every teacher I had before, that I’d be fine and would grow out of any reading issues I had.

I struggled really hard. I was behind all my peers. I was being pushed along without any teacher recognizing the signs that I needed help academically.

But here’s where the education system failed me.

In fifth-grade, my mom had a meeting with my teacher. It was after I said for the first time out loud, “I don’t get it.” Sitting at the kitchen table in tears because no matter how much my family tried to help, I just couldn’t get it. My mom told my teacher something wasn’t right, refusing to take the excuse, “She’ll grow out of it,” again.

My mom asked my teacher for help who, eloquently, said no. She did tell my mom that I could get tested for an IEP, individualized education program.

An IEP helps a child in public schools to succeed with personalized plans according to their learning habits and learning disabilities, which are diagnosed by therapists and experts.

But she told my mom I shouldn’t get an one because I would always be labeled as my IEP, that it would follow me all throughout my years in school and that’s what would define me as a student. She advised that I’d be fine and will grow out of it. My teacher said it wouldn’t be a good idea to get tested anyways. “It’s not worth it,” the teacher said.

My mom was furious, and I feel like that is a huge understatement to how she actually felt. Refusing to give up on me and unwilling to let me go on struggling, she took matter into her own hands. She did what a mother had to do.

My mom found a learning center 15 minutes away and my grandparents paid for it completely, no questions asked. I never forget how lucky I am.

I got tested on all levels of reading, writing, math, comprehension and critical thinking. My results were just as we thought. I was in fifth grade reading/thinking/comprehending at a pre-K level, if that.

For two years, I went to the learning center 2-3 times a week to improve on all my skills. It was hard, I got frustrated really quickly, I would be exhausted after my sessions but I gained the skills I didn’t have before.

I began to actually understand what I was reading. I learned how to give a summary to someone else about what I read. I learned how to read between the lines and find those context clues. Understanding what was being asked of me in math problems became way easier.

I couldn’t do all those things before I got the help I needed.

By the time I left, I was reading ahead of my grade level. I knew how to write complete sentences. I wasn’t afraid of books or passages anymore.

Image result for learning disability awareness

Even with the help and support I got, I still struggle every single day at 25 years old.

It takes me 30 minutes to write a simple tweet or Facebook status because I over analyze myself and think it doesn’t structurally sound right. I miss use words that are similar to one another because I think that’s the phrase or word I hear. In college, I would read articles 4-5 times to understand the content. I stick with writing in AP style (not only because that’s what journalists use) but because it’s way easier for me to understand its rules than MLA or Chicago style.

I spent over two months writing this exact post because organizing my thoughts and figuring out where sentences flow best is hard for me to determine.

I’ve never been officially diagnosed with a learning disability but through my own research and talking with family friends who have studied learning disabilities, it all makes sense; the way I think, learn and how I comprehend information. I don’t know what I could have, I know something’s not right. I don’t think or process information like everyone else. And it took me until I was 21/22 to finally understand what works best form.

Image result for learning disability awareness

I’ve learned what works best for me all on my own, a lot of trial and error over the years. None of my teachers or professors could ever understand the extra effort I’ve had to put into my work over the last some-odd years.

I’ve had teachers tell me my essays sound like I wrote them the night before when they don’t know I spent two weeks trying to perfect it. I had my mom read my essays during my first year of college because I never thought they were “college standard.” I take twice as long to read anything. Pop quizzes and tests induce so much anxiety because even though I can study for days on end and can know the information, how tests are worded always confuse me.

My favorite story to tell is when one of my professor’s commented on my rehearsal reports for a show I was working, saying it sounded like I spent all my time on the rehearsal summary than the questions or statements towards the production team throughout my report. If only he knew it took me two+ hours to write my reports each night because I never knew if what I was saying would make sense to someone else or if I meant what I was articulating.

I just finished my first week of nursing school. I love it and it’s a lot of reading and studying and application. It’s more work than I was initially anticipating, and I knew what I was getting myself into. All the work I’ve done thus far, I’ve done double, maybe triple, the amount of work work. Literally.

  • I read each page at least twice in my books
  • I’ve done chapter summaries for each chapter I’ve read in my book, consisting of at least 8-10 pages, front and back, in my notebook.
  • I color-code* the highlighting I do in my textbooks to breakup all the passages, examples, information and definitions.
  • I color-code* my notes when I re-write them which differentiates the information I just read so I can understand it.
  • I type up my notes even though I just wrote them out
  • I make flashcards of all the things

*prime example that I thought it was color-coat BUT it’s color-code.

I’m putting in all this effort just to make sure I thoroughly understand the information. I’ve always been insecure about how smart I think I am, mostly because I don’t feel like I’m as smart as my other friends. I have to apply myself more so than anyone I know just to make it. I do more than I even half to. I’m putting my all into my school work, not only because I’m investing in this, but because I want this so badly. I studied hours upon hours for my entrance exam and I passed. I did that on my own.

Image result for actually I can

I’m smart. I’m capable of so many things despite the feeling of not being smart “enough” like all friends. That’s something I continuously work through, reminding myself that I’m enough when it comes to my book smarts. I’m learning to not discredit myself because I sometimes don’t feel up to par with my friends.

I’m enough. I am smart. I’ve worked so hard to finally earn the right to say that about myself, and finally believe it when I say it.

The year I stopped hating my body

The year I stopped hating my body

It’s 2019. I’m allowed to love myself exactly as I am.

So, growing up, the talk of the family during every gathering would be about my weight and my size. It was a hot topic of discussion. And even as an adult, I still can’t avoid it.

“Oh, Zoe, you really should be eating your vegetables.”

“Zoe, why don’t you try something new?”

“C’mon Zoe, look at yourself. Do you wanna be 300 pounds by the time your 20?”

“Oh, Zoe, do I see a VEGETABLE on your plate?”

I’ve heard it all from my family. And going to school as the fat kid wasn’t a grand ol’ time either.

I’d get whale noises shouted at me from across the hall, I’d be told I should lay off the twinkies or that no one would ever want to be with me because I’m fat. I’ve lived through some of my worst nightmares from when I was bullied because I was the fat kid.

Every time I looked at myself in the mirror growing up, I’d hate what I’d see. My stomach bulged out, I had the worst acne, my body was wider than others who were skinnier. The bullying over my body from my peers didn’t end until I left N.H, when there was no one else to make fun of.

I left the constant reminders that I was never the skinny one but those words cut through me like a sharp knife during high school, college and up until now in my mid-twenties. Words hurt, they sting and stick with someone for a long time.

Through all the bullying, I binged ate ice cream and chips and bread; it was as if no one ever fed me. I closet ate so much after everyone in the house would go to sleep. I ate my feelings away. I ate to make myself feel anything than what I was feeling in that present moment. Food made me feel better when I was walking through elementary school and middle alone with hardly any friends to go to.

I was already in a bottomless pit of nothing growing up, what did I have to lose?

I’ve tried all the dieting fads as early as 13 years old. My father and his wife once told my mom that they found an advertisement for diet pills and I should try them. I’ve gained weight, lost weight, gained weight, so on and so forth. I’ve binged, I’ve skipped meals thinking it would make a difference (it didn’t) and I made myself unhappy.

The same cycle just different points of my life.

I’ve always listened to everyone around me, encasing in their negativity and to call it what it is; utter bullshit. It is no one’s fault or doing but my own for the way I am.

And I’ve hated myself for too long and have beaten myself up over not being the deemed “perfect” standard of beauty society makes of women (also read: bullshit.) I’ve let everyone else’s opinions cloud my true perspective toward myself all my life.

Until last year, I didn’t know my body was imbalanced in its hormone production. PCOS is a hormone imbalance and part of that imbalance is the body loving fat and holding onto it, even if you’re trying to lose it, sometimes it will just stick. Yeah, I have a play in how fat I’ve gotten but when your body plays into it as well, it’s a whole new can of worms.

And yeah, my stomach is still too round. I have very large arms. I have a small double chin. I’m fighting to find a perfect balance in a body that’s imbalanced. Blah blah blah. I’m tired of talking about about the negatives! So instead, I’m going to talk about the positives because no one does that NEARLY enough when it comes to fat bodies.

I can keep up in a cardio workout. I can keep up in (beginner) dance classes. I can do a split. I look very nice in flowy dresses. I can handle a lot of weight during strength workouts. I can go for walks and not get out of breath. I look great in space buns. I’ve learned how to do a great smokey eye. I find the good in every single show I see. I’m an extreme extrovert. I have a great soprano range. I have fun all while making a fool out of myself.

But most importantly, I’m a work in progress. I have a long way to go until I end up at a place I want to be at. I’m taking the steps, I’m making the changes. But I’m physically tired of hating myself. I’m tired of blaming everything around me. I’m tired of feeling sorry for myself. I’m tired of explaining myself or why things have happened.

I don’t believe I need to love myself in order for someone else to love me. I do believe that I need to love myself in order for me to love me. Duh.

From this moment on, I’m going to stop hating myself for all that I’m not.

From this moment on, I’m going to let go of all the negative comments, words and actions that have eaten me up inside all these years.

From this moment on, I’m not going to feel like a failure when I get off the wagon in losing weight.

From this moment on, I’m not going to feel bad for the food that I eat.

From this moment on, I don’t care what anyone thinks of my body, my weight or how I look.

25 years is a long time to hate yourself and until recently, like New Year’s recently, I’ve started viewing myself in a new light. I’m seeing myself for who I’m meant to be. Like I said, I have a long way to go to where I want to be, and it’s going to happen, even if it takes a little longer. It’s my journey to live and tell and it’s okay if that journey is not linear. Besides, it’s not supposed to be.

Because no one has to wake up and live my life except me.

I’m letting go of all the, “well if you did this…” comments.

I’m letting go of all the, “we only say this because we love you…” tag lines.

I’m letting go of all the, “You were doing so well!” guilt trips.

I’m letting go of giving other people’s power over my life and how I should view myself. I’m letting go of the need to explain myself when I have nothing to justify. This is me.

I’m done apologizing and justifying my fatness. If you have a problem with me or any fat body you come in contact with, I suggest keeping any comments to yourself. They’re not welcomed and to be honest, if you have comments about anyone’s body, you need to check yourself. Because it’s messed up that you would even have such thoughts.

My name is Zoe. I’m beautiful, inside and out, just the way I am. And I mean that.

Wait for it

Wait for it

On the top of my graduation cap, I put two of my favorite lyrics from the hit-musical, “Hamilton,” not realizing how true they would become to me at this point in my life.

I am the one thing in life I can control…

I’ve always been the one to initiate any and all sort of change that has happened in my life. I made the choice to get out of a major I wasn’t pleased with, I stepped down from a stage manager position because the person in charge made me feel useless, I ended friendships because it was long overdue, I made a lifestyle change because I couldn’t live the way I was any longer. Anytime I’m ready and want to do something on my own terms, I do it and no one can talk me out of it.

Change was coming, I just didn’t know it yet.

I’m not falling behind or running late…

I’m not late in the sense of time, because theatre teaches you one should never be late, but my maturity has never up to the same speed as my peers. I didn’t develop social skills until high school in my late teens, I didn’t figure out study skills until I graduated college, I understood class information and lessons days after it was taught in class. It’s always taken me longer than everyone else, and it still does.

In high school, I knew I wanted to major in theatre in college. Originally, I wanted to major in a performance focused curriculum, but after my first year, I just knew I had to graduate with a theatre degree, regardless of what my focus of study was. I added another major, switched that second major and minor too many times, and I graduated after five years with two degrees in theatre and communications with a minor in journalism.

I thought, “Okay, here we go. I have the skills to get a job!”

After coming home the summer I graduated school, I applied to multiple different places, with absolutely no luck. I began thinking, a small doubt in my mind, that maybe, just maybe, what I’m doing isn’t what I should be doing.

My first change happened: I moved to Buffalo in January 2018.

Two months later I took a job at a call center and six months after that I realized my mental health was spiraling out of control, so I left that job and have been living off my savings since August.

It was time for another change but I need a sign.

I’m willing to wait for it.

And I did but not for too long.

The world works in mysterious ways because before I knew it, I got my sign.

My mom went to a medium where she mentioned my brother and I. She told my mom that I was a healer, I had a healing aura, and that I’m capable of anything. It felt good to be reminded I’m intelligent and capable beyond my own self-doubt and insecurities. Through everything my mom told me, I just kept thinking of the part where the medium said how I was a healer.

I mean, all my friends can attest that I am the mom friend of the group. I take care of people when their sick, I took care of a girl I didn’t even know in college who was too drunk to walk one Saturday night. I am always the DD when my friends and I go out, I put other people’s well-being before my own. I make sure everyone is okay mentally, physically, and emotionally. I always take care of people.

I got the sign. I’m healing, a healer, and that’s where it all began to make sense.

Out of no where at 1 a.m. this past fall, I began feeling my fingers type rapidly in the google search bar, “n-u-r-s-i-n-g p-r-o-g-r-a-m-s i-n -b-u-f-f-a-l-o,” that I didn’t realize what I wrote until my search results appeared.

Nursing was never something I considered. For over 10 years, I had my heart set on being in theatre. It’s what I always knew I was going to do from the time I was in middle school in my first musical. I knew that, I believed that. But I’ve changed drastically over the years, and as I’ve changed, my thoughts, goals and dreams have, too.

I’m not upset over my five years spent at Fredonia. I don’t regret the degrees I studied, the classes I took, the shows I did and the opportunities I earned. Two years out of school with no luck, savings or some sense of security will make you think… a lot.

Maybe, I might not be in the right place. Maybe, I need to take another couple turns down this uneven path I’m walking. Maybe I need to step out of somewhere that’s comfortable to somewhere that is unknown and scary.

…I am the one thing in life I can control.

The most important lesson I’ve learned is that I can’t compare my journey to someone else’s. I’ve learned that just because someone got from point A to point B one way, doesn’t mean the way I get to point B is any less. My story and journey is nothing like I originally thought; and that’s okay.

What does this all mean? Well, after much consideration and long hours of studying, I’m going back to school, sooner than I actually anticipated.

I got accepted into a LPN, Licensed Practical Nursing, program here in Buffalo starting in April. It’s a 1,100 hour, one year program.

I studied my butt off for my entrance exam in December, I found out I passed mid-January and before I knew it, I put my deposit in today, Feb. 5, for an official acceptance into the program.

I’m really excited, more excited than I’ve been about anything I did during my first round of undergrad. If I decided I wanted to do be a nurse when I was 18, I wouldn’t have been ready or mature enough. If gaining entrance into a program didn’t mean anything to me, I wouldn’t have studied as hard as I did, panicking from the doubt about, “what if?” I didn’t pass.

But I got in. This program is going to challenge me and I’ll have to put more time in than the average person because of how I learn and study but I’m doing it. It’s happening.

I’m 25; ready, nervous, excited and determined about becoming a nurse.

In a year, I’ll be an LPN. My goal is to become an RN and then earn my BSN within the next 10 years or so.

When I became a stage manager in college, I had this feeling, something I still can’t fully describe. In that moment during my first show, I knew that stage management was my home in the theatre. I had that same indescribable feeling for nursing; I just know it’s where my career lies ahead for me. I’m listening to my signs, trusting my instincts and understanding these moments that are happening in my life as they happen.

And I’m exactly where I need to be.

Because I waited for it.

25 lessons from 25 years

25 lessons from 25 years

Here’s the thing about having a birthday on December 31; you reflect on your life in more depth than a person who doesn’t have a birthday on the biggest celebration of the year.

I think the reason why is that New Year’s Eve birthday’s can be seen in the duration of a 12-month calendar. Everyone celebrates a birthday every 365 days, but not like we do. Not only is it a New Year for Earth, it’s a new age for those who are born on December 31. I look back on so many things, not just my year as a whole, I look back and think, “how did 24 treat me?” I don’t think of it like, “how did 2018 treat me?”

With that said,

“Her dreams went out the door, when she turned 24,” from the hit “1985” by Bowling for Soup, proved to be true, but 24 just showed me who I’m supposed to be. Age 24 has tested me, gifted me, hated me, loved me and challenged me.

I’ve learned a lot just this year alone but here’s what I’ve learned over the last 25 years.

  1. Don’t take life too seriously: It’s too short to worry about the small things. Is it really going to matter in 15 minutes that someone messed up your order? Or that the line is moving too slow at the grocery store? Are you really going to get somewhere faster by speeding and driving recklessly? Probably not.
  2. Don’t be afraid to cut out toxicity: I’ve let go of people and things that didn’t make me happy anymore. People don’t deserve your support if they don’t support you. Things don’t deserve your time if it doesn’t make you happy. I’ve learned people shouldn’t keep you around just for convenience. You win some, you lose some. Sometimes, it’s just time to let go. And that’s okay.motivational-quotes-its-a-work-in-progress-but-im-getting-there-look-out-world-im-making
  3. Go for it: Do all the things that scare you. Take risks, take the road less traveled. Go down the path where you can’t see the light. Don’t be scared if it’s wrong or right. You’ll never know what you’re capable of if you stay where it’s comfortable.
  4. Do things by yourself: Go shopping by yourself. Take yourself out on a nice walk. Go to that movie you’ve been eager to see. I’m one of the biggest extroverts I’ve ever met, and I love doing all the things by myself. It’s the little things.
  5. Speak your mind: This one can be scary, but if you don’t agree with something, don’t change your opinions to fit the climate. Don’t level to someone else’s thoughts and opinions when yours are just as valid. 
  6. Accept the past: We’ve all been through shit in some way, shape or form. Just because something(s) happened, doesn’t mean that it has to define us. It doesn’t mean we have to stay in that place of darkness, even if we don’t know it at the time. I’m not saying it’s easy getting there or even knowing where to start. But I’ve learned that there is light. There is good. It does get better. I promise.img_1151
  7. Know your worth: No one knows what your good at or capable of than yourself, even if you don’t know it. There are always these expectations of who we should be as individuals that fit us into an unrealistic, intangible box. There are always people, women in particular, who feel the need to belittle each other down. We’re all capable of wonderful things. The only person who needs to believe in you, is yourself. And this point leads me to my next lesson: 
  8. Different is better: Whether that’s in our opinions, style, personality, class, interests or dislikes, it’s always better to be different. We weren’t meant to be the same. No two bodies are the same, no two personalities are the same, nothing about any one of us is the same. That’s good. It’s supposed to be that way. 
  9. Don’t compare yourself to others: This lesson I’ve learned a lot about in 2018. What’s best for someone else, isn’t what’s going to be best for me, or you reading this. We’re all on our own journey, living our own (hopefully best) life. How I plan to get to point B is no less than how someone else gets to the same exact point B. 
  10. Money (sadly) doesn’t grow on trees: I’ve learned that the money I have, the little I do have, needs to be saved. I can’t spend it willy-nilly. The night out with friends will happen again, the movie I really want to see will be On Demand in the next few months, I can live without name-brand products. I plan on *really* saving my money, any penny I can, come 2019.
  11. Take care of your health: It’s so, so important. What I’ve gone through this year aren’t life-threatening conditions, but I’ve learned if I don’t change aspects of my life now, it’s just going to be harder down the road. I’m done letting myself go. My body isn’t going to be in the same shape it is right now 10 years down the road, and if I want to keep up with everything life is going to throw at me, I want to be in the best shape possible.
  12. Be okay being alone: Your own company is the best company. Doing things alone and being alone are two different kinds of alone. Sometimes the peace of being with a good book, watching your favorite tv show or cooking what you love, at your own pace and comfort is so relaxing. 
  13. Other people’s opinions on you is not your problem: I’m a people pleaser. I’ve always been this way. I’ve cared about what people thought about me, how I looked, I’ve been scared to eat around friends and family because of what they might or were thinking about me. Then I thought to myself, why do I care so much? If people have the energy to dislike me or say negative, or even mean, things about me, that’s their problem.
  14. Laugh a lot: It’s honestly the best medicine. Even if no one else is laughing, laugh anyway. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend laughing at things that aren’t funny. That’s obvious.7e88f456df340c13641ba9126980f699
  15. Always be creative: There were a couple times in the last few years where I thought I needed to step back from theatre or singing because I believed I wasn’t good enough to keep something that made me so happy once I was out of college. I was wrong. Keep singing. Keep working at your craft.  Being creative through various art forms is something we need more of in this world.
  16. There’s a difference between a job and career: In 2018 alone I’ve been through I think four different jobs. One was beginning to destroy my mental health, I traveled back and forth for three weeks for theatre (so worth it!), I got a job but left that for something I thought would get me to where I want to go and then left that job after two days because I felt so out of place. I know there’s a feeling people get where they know where they need to be. I felt that and now I’m taking the steps to get out just having a job to now building a foundation for my future career. It’ll take some time, but I’m figuring it out.
  17. Admit when you’re wrong: God, if I had a quarter for every time I was wrong about something, I’d have millions. Sometimes, we’re right. Sometimes, we’re wrong. It’s okay to be wrong. So many fights happen because someone won’t take responsibility for their actions from being either right or wrong. There’s a time and place for admitting when you’re right and especially when you’re wrong.
  18. Know when to listen: Everyone doesn’t want your opinion all the time. Being there for someone, no matter what situation, can be sitting there in silence from all parties. It can mean driving around in continuous circles throughout town just so someone can get out of the house for awhile. Sometimes people need to figure out what’s going on inside their head without the need for a comment or sense of judgement from someone else. Listening is powerful and we don’t do enough of it.
  19. Keep reading: I was never the reading type when I was younger. I’d be found doing anything else but reading. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school I truly appreciated reading for fun. I didn’t do so much reading during college, I did these last few summers. I made a goal to read more books in 2018 but that didn’t happen like I thought it would. Reading books is refreshing, going into a world unlike yours, but reading can also be from a magazine, news article, a Buzzfeed quiz, or learning how to make the perfect omelette. Just keep reading, exercise your mind to the fullest.
  20. “I am a work in progress”: This has been my motivation through every single hardship I’ve experienced. I first learned this from one of my favorite professors in college all the way back in 2012. It was the first day of Intro to Acting as a wee freshman who didn’t know what the hell she was doing but was told she was a work in progress. It stuck with me. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t remind myself of that. Truthfully, I don’t know if I would be even half the person I am, and continue to become, if it wasn’t for that
  21. Love yourself: This isn’t a lesson you learn overnight, in a day, week, month or even in a year. It’s a lifetime of understanding and patience. I’ve heard probably every negative word, phrase, comment and gesture in the last 25 years of my life. A lot of those feelings have stayed with me up until a few years ago. I’ve learned that what people think of me is their own problem. If they’re uncomfortable with the space I take up, it’s their own insecurity. I’m not going to apologize for loving myself exactly as I am; my size, my looks, my personality, my life and my choices. If someone doesn’t like it, oh well.
  22. Learn how to take constructive criticism: Now, I’m not saying you have to like it. During any of my theatre classes in college, giving constructive criticism was second nature. When giving or taking criticism, 9 out of 10 times it’s not even that bad. In anything we do, we want to get better. Listening to what other people have to say, with fresh eyes and new ideas, means what we’re doing is only going to get better. We can only go up with the help from others.
  23. Accept failure: Not everything we do is going to end with a perfect success story. Hell, even if we do succeed, doesn’t mean it was easy to get there. Everything we do have their battles, the uphill climb we weren’t expecting. Sometimes in our pursuit to get something we want or desire, we don’t: the door closes. Life is a series of high and lows and all the in-betweens. It’s okay to not succeed, it’s okay to fail. What’s not okay is if you let the failure define you; that you stop going after what you want in the midst of fearing you’ll fail again. Don’t do that, keep going.
  24. Never be afraid to ask for help: Asking for help doesn’t make you weak or incapable,  it just means you need additional support. It can mean helping someone with their groceries. Maybe you’re asking someone to get something off the top shelf since you’re short. You could be asking for help when you don’t know what decision to make. Maybe you don’t know what to do and you need someone. Help comes in all ways and it should never be looked down upon when someone needs it.large
  25. Everything happens for a reason: I’ve done so many things, have said (and written) a lot of words and have made too many right and wrong decisions. Even when I’ve made, what feels like my worst mistakes, there’s a reason why they happened. Things just don’t happen; there’s a reason behind everything we do and experience, even if we never learn the reason why. If I didn’t make all the decisions I’ve made up until this point in my life, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’m thankful for every great and horrible decision I’ve made, the words I’ve said, the feelings I felt. It’s part of my story, it wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t supposed to. 

Holy shit, I’m a quarter century old guys. I’m closer to 30 than I am to 20 now.

It’s been a wild ride and I’m excited to see how 25 turns out.

“It’s gonna be a Happy New Year.”

Adulting… It’s not a trap

Adulting… It’s not a trap

Here’s what I’ve learned thus far:

Image result for adulting

Adulting is trying to navigate the partly sunny dirt path that never seems to ends.

Being an adult is making huge decisions that will ultimately benefit you ten years down the road more so than the immediate present.

Adulting is trying to figure out what classifies as good health insurance. And for that matter, trying to save money while drowning in student loan debt where the total number you owe, visibly, never seems to change.

It’s also about making memories, taking wild adventures and “see[ing] the world” while having to (presumably) support yourself almost 100% for the first time in your life.

*Cue scream*

I can’t be the only one who is terribly scared of adulting, right?


When I graduated in May, I had this idea of what was going to happen: I would work one last summer at Chautauqua Institution, come back to Ithaca, find a job and save as much as I could just to pay my student loans. Sounds reasonable, right?

But as everyone knows, life doesn’t always work out the way we have it in our heads or what we want to perceive.

I came back in August and applied to some jobs in Ithaca, nothing. I continued to look online for various jobs in and outside the Ithaca area, nothing. My bare savings was running out, my student loan payments were going to begin in December and I had no job to my name.

Something needed to change.

All my college friends were in Buffalo, finding their own personal success in each of their endeavors and I thought, hey, I can do that. I should be doing that. Why aren’t I doing that? Finding success.

So, I did something.

I found myself in Buffalo by the start of the New Year.


It’s been absolutely insane. I threw away over 7 garbage bags full of trash, clothes to donate, things I had no use for in bags to donate and I headed 121 miles west to Buffalo. I have just enough room in my apartment just outside the city, with access to all shops and stores which are only a two minute drive down the road in all directions. If I want to go to the mall (read: LUSH), it’s at most 15 minutes, depending on traffic.

In Ithaca, I would have to drive, at most, 15 minutes to get to the grocery store and over half an hour to get to the gym or post office. If I wanted to go to a larger mall, it would take me almost two hours to head north towards Syracuse. Living closer to things and places is a whole new world.

Image result for living life to the fullest

Now, my main reason for moving to Buffalo was not because my college friends are here or that there are more jobs to apply to, although those were major perks. I was becoming too comfortable in Ithaca.

So many people stay in Ithaca forever, in this bubble of our liberal college-town, with the same annual events, with the same beautiful gorges, with the same people you pass by on your everyday outings. Staying in one place is definitely not a bad thing, but I’ve realized that I can’t live in a place that is always… the same.

Ithaca is a beautiful place to visit and definitely to live in. And I do I have my friends, family and my favorite things to come back to. Trust me, I miss all of my favorite people and places, a lot… Oh, lets be honest, I miss my dog, Jack, the most.

But I don’t want to live in the same.

I’m 24 years old with so much ahead of me. I’ve realized that if I want to better my life, I need to start making the choices in order to do that. I can’t sit in what’s comfortable waiting for the opportunities to magically appear before my eyes. If I want something, I need to get it myself. I can’t live in comfort because it’s safe.

I don’t want to live in what’s safe or comfortable. It’s not a life worth living, being comfortable and never embracing life changes or taking the opportunities that come our way.


If I succeed, I succeed. If I fail, I fail. But at least I tried. I can say I did it. I can say to my future children, “I did this. I found success and I failed and I learned from it all.”

We don’t succeed when we stay safe. We succeed when we do something risky. When we push our own boundaries to the edge to see how far we can actually go is when success presents itself.

The twenty-fourth book of my life is underway, and we’re almost through the second chapter. Right now, nothing can stop me and there’s no challenge that will defeat me.

Book review: January 2018

Book review: January 2018

I plan on reading 20 books within 2018. So, to keep myself on track, I decided to make posts about the books I read during each month. 20 books broken down into 12 months is about two books per month. I’ve found myself sucked into so much technology (i.e Netflix), I want to replace that with books.

Over the years, my appreciation of books and reading has expanded tremendously; I thank my college best friends for that. They brought me to this bookstore down the street from campus on one cold Saturday during the spring semester. Before I knew it, I started grabbing multiple books at a time off the shelves. There wasn’t enough room on the counter for all the books I was getting. Now, I visit every chance I get.

Image result for Between me and you novel

To start us off, I read “Between You and Me” by NYT Bestselling Author, Allison Winn Scotch, published on Jan. 9, 2018. Coming in at 349 pages we follow partners Tatum and Ben on their journey of meeting, falling in love, getting married, having a child and leading success in both of their lives. On it’s own, by what I described, sounds like an ordinary love story, right?

The difference in this story is that we follow Ben recalling their relationship at the end and moving backwards to their first time meeting. Tatum, on the other hand, starts at the very beginning while working our way to the present. If you’re a familiar with musical theatre, it has the same structure as JRB’s, “The Last Five Years.”

When I first read synopses of “Between You and Me,” I thought it was going to be a small copy-cat of this beloved musical. I was very, very wrong.

Every twist and turn is unexpected, the imperfections are more prevalent. There are so many beautiful and tragic moments of doubt, sacrifice, heartache and happiness. The power of love and priorities makes you think; was it only one person in the wrong? When traveling through this journey of Tatum and Ben’s relationship, you don’t necessarily gather all the information in one person’s point of view, which makes you want to keep reading. Sometimes, there were word jumbles but each chapter got you turning the page. There wasn’t a moment I was invested in; 4/5 stars.

Nine days later, I finish my first book. I travel to my college town 45 minutes away to 21 E Main Bookstore in Dunkirk, NY, the bookstore I mentioned before. I thought I would peep in to browse the shelves, see if I could find anything intriguing. Low and behold, there was a book sale happening and, well, I bought another twenty books to my never ending pile on my bookshelf.


But here is where I find my second book, one I’ve wanted to read and dive into since watching this year’s Golden Globe awards. Book number two is “Big Little Lies” by author Liane Moriarty published in July 2014. My copy of the novel comes in at just under 500 pages.Image result for Big Little Lies novel

As I wrapped up January, I haven’t finished “Big Little Lies,” I am roughly an eighth of the way through the book, but this novel will be added to my January and February book log; I will add a more thorough description of it at the end of the month for February’s review.

Here is what I do know:

“Big Little Lies” follows three women, Madeline, Celeste and Jane, who all meet in this town from all walks of life prior to a mysterious murder in town.

Like I said, I haven’t even made a dent into the novel to give more information on the book.

What I can say is that it’s a little difficult to get into; the first chapter takes place in the present and then six months later before the infamous night of the murder is where the second chapter begin.

The novel, written in third person, can be hard to keep track of who’s who when all the main characters are female and all use the pronouns she. It’s a book that needs to be warmed up to, you can’t rush into the novel with this idea that it’s going to be a simple read.

It’s a complex story so, therefore; reading it will be complex. I haven’t read any summaries online, I have not seen the HBO limited series and I am still very new to this journey so anything I’ve said it what I know thus far. And I am excited to keep reading.

New Year, 2018, Reading, Woman, Learning, SittingAnd for my next novel in February after “Big Little Lies”? I’m not too sure which novel I’m going to pick up next as February settles in. I have a couple book series I got when I was at 21 E Main; my entire bookshelf is filled from top to bottom, side to side, with books so the possibilities are endless.

Eight days into 2018

Eight days into 2018

The first few days of 2018 have been absolutely insane. I turned 24, I officially moved to a new city, I saved a man from a fire, I’ve got those “new year goals” underway and I’ve witnessed the environment reach negative 20 degrees Fahrenheit. I know, Happy New Year to me!

To be quite honest, it hasn’t been all that bad. Actually, it’s been really great. I’ll give you a quick synopsis of each point above.

Turning 24


Yeah. 24. I’ve been living on this Earth for over 24 years. I’ve seen and done a lot over these past few years alone and I’m just starting to see where my light is heading. I’m started to fully grasp the direction I should be heading in. It doesn’t mean I understand where exactly this light is heading or why I’m going this way but I feel moving in forward. 2017 made me have so many “Ah-ha” moments, I’ve had some of my largest revelations. After having those moments, I’ve looked at life in a complete different focus and point of view. “Her dreams went out the door when she turned 24,” from the hit song “1985” by Bowling for Soup is quickly proving to be quite accurate. Because the dreams I had at 23 are certainly not the dreams I have going into my 24th year. And I hope those dreams keep changing and happening.

Moving to a new city


I’M IN BUFFALO! On Dec. 30, I packed up almost all my things from my parent’s house in Ithaca, NY, and traveled 121 miles West to Buffalo: “An All America City.” And yes, that is the sign that welcomes those on the New York State Thruway into the city. All my things are slowly and surely settling into place in my apartment. It’s spacious, tons of storage, great water pressure, (literally) seconds away from everything in town and an array of stores that can’t be found in Ithaca. I’ve been living here for almost a week and the things I miss the most are (in this order:) my dog, my family and friends, the local restaurants and Ithaca’s natural beauty. I started the job hunt and I am optimistic that the city will lead me to a job and money in the bank!

Saving a man from a fire


Yes, I did help save a man in a fire. And yes, Wonder Woman captures how I feel looking back on that moment. During the second night of 2018 my mom and I were playing cards at our dining room table when I was about to stare aimlessly outside the window, at what I thought would be my reflection, turned out to be a fire starting on my neighbor’s porch. I yelled out, “FIRE!”, to my mom, running towards the phone to dial 9-1-1. A trembling in my chest lingered as I waited until an operator answered, my mom rushing out to her car to drive across the street (our house sits back ways from the road) to save anyone who was in the house. I ran up to the top of our driveway and just watched. The smell of debris flew through the air, the clouds of smoke filled the sky, and the illuminating light of yellow and orange colors pierced though me. A man is going to see 2018 because my mom and I saved him. An honor of a lifetime.

New Year, new goals


I’m not one for the whole, “New Year, new me” mentality. In actuality, the “new” entails new beginnings, new adventures, new experiences. We should be continuing to change and grow as humans. That’s an inevitable part of life, change, but the change we endure shouldn’t make us into necessarily “new” people. We’re just discovering who we’re meant to be in every moment of our lives. I’m also not prone to keeping goals; I’m ambitious and capable of a lot of things and unfortunately, keeping goals is one I’m just not capable of (yet.) So that’s why, in 2018, I am going to be keeping some goals. I don’t find them out of reach or one’s I won’t be able to keep throughout the next 357 days remaining in 2018.

  • Use a planner every day/week
  • Plan a trip for 2018 and 2019
  • Save $5,500
  • Read at least 20 books
  • Experience more theatre
  • See my student loans under $30,000 (or as close to that as possible)
  • Live a healthier lifestyle
  • Blog more (I bought a domain, I should use it more.)
  • Take a photography class (and pursue photography more in general)
  • Live life with more fulfillment

Negative 20 degree Fahrenheit


Shit was cold. It was crazy insane. Yeah, that’s all I got on the weather. Buffalo weather is really cold and changes almost as much as the weather changes in Ithaca.

So with 2018 settling in on all of us, I hope to find this year with lots of successes, failures, lessons, goals, changes and experiences. From the classic musical written by the late Jonathan Larson, “Rent:” “It’s gonna be a happy New Year.”