Melancholy

Depression got the best of me these past two years.

I’ve been hiding in isolation, trying to push away the sadness, drowning myself in work as a distraction.

Long nights of being too physically tired to do anything, but too mentally stimulated to turn my brain off and sleep.

When have I ever been able to turn my brain off, though?

When you’ve been suffering from depression and anxiety your whole life, it doesn’t seem like a plague on a day to day basis. It becomes your “norm” which, in a way, is sometimes worse. Being numb to the joy that the world has to offer and being caught up in a whirlwind of desolation is depressing in itself – it’s being blind to anything except for the negative thoughts swirling around your head.

So how did I cope? I pretended I was just fine, dove straight into the depths of uncertainty, and tried not to give into the negativity that encompassed me. It worked for my fall semester… then wintertime hit and I fell down even harder. I had to drop some classes, quit some clubs, and resort to staying in bed most of the time. But I tried to use this time to heal, to medicate, to lift my spirits as best as I could. And as soon as the sun started shining again and the school year ended, I found myself smiling more genuinely and being Alli once again.

Max was my rock through it all, always by my side and supporting me. I couldn’t have gotten through this past year without his love and compassion towards me and I finally realized what it’s like to love someone with all your heart and have it reciprocated.

I acted and co-wrote a play titled Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, one of the best experiences of my time in college so far. My director, Ray, became a mentor to me and he helped show me a light at the end of the tunnel in a time of darkness, always believing me and encouraging me to be myself through it all. Those rehearsals were what got me out of bed during the day, got me participating in something, and boosted my self-confidence and self-worth.

I’m getting back into the hobbies I once loved before depression made them impossible to do: running, acting, listening to music, hanging out with friends, creating art, writing/blogging, and even working. The switch to participating in these things again is so cathartic.

It’s June now and a recently eye-opening experience showed me how to forgive others, forgive myself, and showed me that I’ve almost shed all the layers of this terrible disease. I’m almost out, and I can’t wait to be back to myself for the first time in a decade or so.

Thank you.

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Seventeen going on eighteen

I love reflecting. Something I constantly do is scroll through the saved notes on my phone remembering the thoughts that circled through my brain at the time I jotted them down. I enjoy seeing where my mindset was at the time I wrote them and then comparing it to how I feel today. I try to write everything down as much as possible so that I can do this often. I also try to keep tangible objects that remind me of memories so that I can conjure up specific feelings and moments to later reflect on. I enjoy seeing growth, change, and a difference in my life (which is surprising, considering how much I hate transitioning through change!). Having evidence that this change has occurred is relieving for me, and helps me evaluate the past non-judgmentally (although I do have some judgment reserved, as I like to laugh and shake my head at some of the things I’ve done).

In 2014, I made a goal to write down a paragraph about each day of the year so that I could later remember specific details with convenience. This proved disastrous; I’m very bad at holding myself accountable for daily tasks (even more so at the age of 16), and the goal ended up seeming like a daily chore rather than something that would provide me with a lot of memories for the future. I somehow made it through three months of doing this every day and it’s something I enjoy looking back on now (mostly because I now have proof of how naive I was at the time). Here are a few *notable* excerpts from my paragraphs:

January 7, 2014: Fell asleep for an hour in chemistry.

January 9, 2014: Chemistry sucks.

January 13, 2014: I hate chemistry.

January 28, 2014: Stayed home from school because I didn’t want to go to chemistry.

January 30, 2014: I sprayed Hugh with perfume hehe.

February 4, 2014: I accidentally cut my mouth on my new toothbrush and it snapped in half within 10 seconds on using it for the first time

February 5, 2014: Wasted my day on Pinterest

This little project that I did also shows present day Alli a lot about how 16-year-old Alli lived her life at the time. A lot of the recordings from my past have led me to evaluate how the certain habits, experiences, and friend groups that I had in my life at the time influenced who I was. Obviously, chemistry wasn’t my favorite subject but this had a lot to do with the teacher, my disinterest in science, my inability to pay attention in class, and the fact that my self care habits were totally distorted. Evidently, my blame fell on chemistry but I was unknowingly depressed and my habits of staying up late, habitually using social media, and failing to put my health first (especially my mental health) was detrimental.

Reflection is interesting (Side note: My friends told me I have to stop using the word “interesting” so frequently because I tend to use it as a conversational response which is not an appropriate use of the word and tends to be interpreted sarcastically) because, if you’re like me, you’re contemplating the past while simultaneously living a present that will be mulled over in the near future. Some might say this is disheartening; I like to view it dialectically by knowing that I’m constantly reflecting and improving yet doing the best I can at the time. For example, 16-year-old Alli was changing and improving herself in ways that bettered herself from the life she was living perhaps three years prior, and living the lifestyle that she was living at the time was the best she could do. Of course, I can look back and think to myself: “I needed to go to bed five hours earlier; I needed to pay attention in Chemistry because it’s useful; I needed to socialize more; I needed to slow down and relax and be mindful.” Or I can view it as:  “I lived an unhealthy lifestyle that somehow worked for me at 16-years-old, and I’m going to use the lessons I’ve learned from this time to better my lifestyle today.” Aha! Dialectics are cool (cool has also been an overused word in my vocabulary since second grade).

Now that I’m done reflecting about the habits of 16-year-old Alli (I’ve written 16-year-old Alli so much in this post that I feel like she’s now a character in a book I’m writing), I’d like to reflect on 2017:

2017 was not a bad year. It was probably the best year yet, but I also say that about every single year except for 2015 because that was a sh*t show. I’m always learning and always growing, and each year provides me with so many opportunities to do so and reflect about them.

January: In January I returned to Clark from winter break (break was not so great because I basically spent the whole vacation working and didn’t give my body or mind any time to rest or recuperate from the fall semester). I reunited with my wonderful roommates (whom I often refer to as “the Boys”) who are basically my second family. Was gifted a deck of tarot cards from Jordan for a belated Christmas gift, which was cool but also dangerous because tarot cards, astrology, palm reading, etc. f*cks with my head so much. I spent the next month trying to convince myself that my tarot cards weren’t going to dictate the rest of my life, and Spencer is still trying to avidly instill this belief in me. Anyways, we later celebrated Jordan’s 21st birthday at Jordan’s Furniture and spent our time laying on comfortable mattresses, leaving notes for employees, and eating at Fudruckers. The Boys then created a D&D campaign with Megan and Mitch (“The Snakes”) and we all began hanging out together more which was wonderful. I tried D&D once and then decided that I’m better at watching them play it than I am engaging in it. Attended the Boston Women’s March at the end of January with Jordan and Megan which was amazing. This was the month Dylan became my roommate and Mitch started sleeping on my floor.

February: Held DJ auditions for our “Gravity get-together.” Trevor was the only one who showed up and we designated him as our DJ and dubbed him “DJ Wedge.”  Brought the Boys back to Maine with me at the end of the month and we hung out in York and Portsmouth. Had an amazing waitress at the Friendly Toast while taking Robyn out to dinner who autographed a postcard for us which we later hung in The Apartment.

March: Traveled from Worcester, to New York, then to Canada during Spring Break (please read the last phrase in James Franco’s voice from Spring Breakers). Stayed at a funky hostel, ate amazing food, learned a lot about myself, and gained a wonderful friend. Also learned about BitCoin from a random dude staying at the hostel. Traveled to NYC with my art class to visit the Met, Guggenheim, and MoMA. Walked from the Met to the MoMA which I later learned from Cassandra is a very long walk but it didn’t seem so bad at the time.

April: Attended my first Spree Day at Clark! Slept for the majority of it, but memorable moments included Megan bringing me pita and getting sesame tofu for dinner with Matt, Spencer, and Rod. Celebrated Megan’s birthday at the end of the month.

May: Finished finals. Headed back to Maine for a month or so to finally relax. Spent the month gearing myself into a wellness based lifestyle and spending time with friends from high school. Started seeing a nutritionist and was diagnosed with Adrenal Fatigue, which prompted a huge turnaround in my life. This was the starting point for my self care journey.

June: Moved into my first real apartment in Worcester and partially became a real adult by beginning to pay for utilities and rent. Shared a room with Megan and thankfully lived in the same building as Cam, Spencer, Jordan, Jenn, Josh, and Alex (H). Started my marketing internship for the Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival and gained two wonderful friendships. Learned so much about the city of Worcester and began to fall in love with my college town. Started running again.

July: Traveled to Cape Cod with Cam, Jordan, and Megan for the 4th of July. Significant memories included: Megan and I’s road trip, spending the afternoon at the beach, seesawing at a weird park near an airport at night, and running to a 4th of July parade in the morning. Mitch and Matt visited Worcester which was lovely. Got concussed for the second time (thanks Matt). Visited Rhode Island while concussed with some wonderful friends. Attended the Worcester Portrait Exchange with Megan and Jenn. Travelled back to Maine for the later part of the month to teach at an art camp and babysit. My visit to Maine prompted a sort of existential crisis where I examined my lifestyle choices and how I wanted to better my decisions in terms of self care (mostly pertaining to nutrition/diet, sleep, mental health).

August: Began working at Tower Hill Botanic Garden which meant I got to spend 15 hours a week surrounded by nature and (for the most part) nice people. Started reading more frequently and became interested in learning new knowledge for my own sake (this was a huge turnaround because high school really burnt me out in terms of wanting to learn new things. Since high school, I’ve felt really exhausted in terms of education). This month, I began focusing on learning things that I felt passionate about for the sake of my interests. Turned 20 and was surprised at midnight on my birthday by my amazing friends singing happy birthday with cake (a huge thank you to Es whom I love dearly!). Not that I didn’t realize it before, but I became increasingly aware of how thankful I am to have such amazing people in my life. This prompted me to be more mindful of my gratitude and I began recording a gratitude journal. At the end of the month, I started my Fall semester and was enrolled in 1.) The Art and Science of Management 2.) Managerial Communications 3.) Intro to Digital Filmmaking and 4.) Gallery Topics. Unfortunately, I got extremely sick during the first week of school which caused me to miss the majority of my classes. This was a huge setback for me in terms of wellness and education and created a brief roadblock for a lot of my goals.

September: Had a very depressing month, but was able to travel to CT to visit my friend Dom before he moves to CA. Had a great visit which allowed me to spend time with my friend and also escape Worcester for a bit which was very much needed.

October: Temporarily moved in with my third floor friends (and Jasper) which was another experience that made me very thankful for having great friends in my life. Spent some time couch surfing as I struggled with anxiety-induced insomnia and depression. Visited the deCordova Sculpture Museum and Gallery later in the month with my mom which was amazing. Their exhibit “Cool Medium” allowed me to reflect on my major and made me very happy with the decision I made to major in Media, Culture, and the Arts. Attended the festival for Rabbit Heart Poetry at the end of the month. Taught classes at a local retirement community for my management class.

November: Travelled to Maine with Matt and Spencer to film a project for my Digital Filmmaking course. We had such a fun time, and it provided a distraction from the turmoil I was facing with my mental health. Spent a lot of time laughing at the beach, played on the same playground I frequented as a kid, spent our evening in Portsmouth, and took Robyn out for breakfast in the morning. We were also unknowingly filming a sort of documentary of our friendship/weekend in the process. Saw Hugh for the first time in a year. Went home for Thanksgiving Break and focused on mindfulness and staying in the present. Had my art curated into a show for my Gallery Topics class.

December: Created a Gingerbread house with Matt, Cam, and Mitch for a contest which we made into “Wynaut’s castle.” Sort of saved Matt’s life by avoiding a car accident (long story). Started watching Are You The One with The Boys. Watched The Room for the first time. Travelled to Reading to see my family. Finished finals. Finally went back to Maine for winter break. Spent Christmas with my close family. Spent New Years with friends in Providence. Found out that I made the Dean’s List for the very first time! And I made First Honors with a GPA of 3.91. This was a massive accomplishment for me because I’ve been struggling with my academics a lot since I came to college. Also, I had such a difficult Fall semester in terms of my personal life so it was great that my hard work and gumption with school work paid off in the end.

Reflection: There were good parts and bad parts to each month, but overall I think this year allowed me to find out more about myself than ever before. I cut out toxic relationships from my life which I never had the confidence to do before. I began meditating and practicing yoga on a daily basis which has been extremely rewarding for my physical and mental health. I began “researching the self” by trying to evaluate my likes and dislikes, my priorities, and my goals. I began making choices for myself instead of others. I focused on relationships with family. I developed amazing friendships. Stating these facts and memories isn’t just me listing all the great times I’ve had. Honestly, this past semester sucked for me. A lot. I was depressed for the majority of it and had a lot of setbacks. But now the year is over and I can reflect on the growth that’s led me to where I am right now. I’m the queen of sugarcoating things: telling people “I’m fine” when I’m not, and slapping a fake smile on my face when I’m feeling like sh*t. But I’ve honestly learned that things get better and that there’s always a bright side to every dark side. Pulling out all the positives from a year that felt so negative allows me say that with confidence.

I don’t typically set resolutions for myself and when I have they’ve been super cliche, unrealistic, and unhealthy. I found a list the other day that I’d written as a middle schooler listing all the ways I wanted to better myself: “Lose weight, grow out my nails, buy new clothes, stop being so awkward, get light brown highlights.” Similar to my daily paragraphs from 2014, I’m glad I found this list because it made me stop in my tracks and evaluate things. First of all, the fact that losing weight, buying new clothes, etc. were my top priorities for the new year is very flawed. Second of all, a trend in these “resolutions” was that they all related to bettering myself for other people. None of them consisted of ways that would help me love myself; they were all things that I thought would make people love and accept me. As cliche as it sounds, if you don’t love yourself, no one else can truly love you. I’ve heard that so many times and didn’t fully grasp it until I began reflecting on it recently.

Let me be frank: I don’t love myself. BUT I have a grasp of the person I am. I accept myself. And I’m growing in ways that will help me understand and love myself. To be honest, the journey of self love started a long time ago but I didn’t realize what it would take to venture through it. I figured all it would take was me saying: “I don’t want to be who I am anymore! That’s it… I love myself! I love who I am! I love my life! I don’t hate myself anymore!” Now I’m realizing that if I want to love myself I need to be someone who I actually love. This means feeling happy when I’m by myself, not just surrounded by friends. This means looking in the mirror and shooting myself some finger guns and saying “damn you look good!” rather than standing in the mirror for two hours pointing out my insecurities and poking and prodding the things about myself that I want to change. This means accepting myself for my flaws and strengths, and if I don’t like something about myself it means either changing it in a healthy way so that I feel happy, or learning to accept it with a healthy attitude. It means viewing myself as my closest friend and treating myself with the love and compassion that I bestow upon others in my life.

With that, my intentions for the new year are not goals or resolutions. They are ideas of how I want to allot my time and energy in ways that will fulfill my goals and interests.

Intentions for 2018

1.) Focus on balanced eating. Right now I’m counting macros which has been unbelievably helpful for me. This means eating a set specific amount of protein/carbs/fat every day depending on your goals/body type. I keep track of my intake in a notebook that also contains awesome recipes.

2.) Tend to and develop friendships that make me feel loved and happy.

3.) Work on saying no and standing up for myself.

4.) Work on being more financially cautious and spend money only on products and memories that are worthwhile and bring me happiness. No more reckless spending!

5.) Engage in the arts by visiting more museums and attending shows and concerts.

6.) Prioritize academics. 

7.) Develop a healthy sleep routine. Sophomore year of college I seriously went to bed at 4 AM every single night (or morning, I guess) and would then go to my morning class running on 3 hours of sleep (this was one of the factors contributing to my Adrenal Fatigue). Let’s just say that’s not a reality anymore, but sleep is always something I’m striving to work on.

8.) Not going out of my way for others who are not willing to do the same for me. This should also be flipped, as in not treating people like sh*t who give me the world.

9.) Try to do things that are scary. One of the biggest things that scares me is starting  conversations, especially with strangers. This is something I’m working on, and I want to challenge myself to do more things that put me out of my comfort zone.

10.) Immerse myself in nature more frequently.

11.) Meditate, exercise, walk, or practice yoga every day. Making each one of these things a priority every day is unrealistic. There is no way I can do all four without making fitness and wellness my #1 priority. Considering I attend college full time and have a slew of other responsibilities to prioritize on a daily basis, I’m just trying to achieve at least one per day and if I do more than one per day then so be it!

12.) Focus on being mindful… not agonizing over the past or worrying about the future. Meditation really helps with this! I struggle with this so much so am really trying to work on it.

13.) Find more artists/musicians/bloggers/authors that speak to my values and interests.

14.) Improve my cooking/baking skills. These were nonexistent a year ago so I’m still improving.

15.) Don’t succumb to peer pressure or an uncomfortable environment. Drinking, etc.!

16.) Accept my physical appearance.

17.) Listen to my body. This means going to bed when I’m tired instead of staying up super late with friends. I also have Raynaud’s (which actually sucks) so it means putting on more layers when I’m cold.

18.) Become more educated. Read the news. Read books. Read articles. Read stories.

19.) Become more active- in the community, in events, in politics, in conversation, in my major, etc. 

20.) Write, draw, or create art every day. I’m taking art classes next semester so this shouldn’t be too difficult, but it’s still a goal.

21.) Drink tea religiously.

22.) Speaking of religiously, practice religion. I’m Catholic, but I don’t practice my religion. I plan on going to church while at school. In addition, I’m also hoping to explore Buddhism and Paganism on my own.

23.) Spend time with family. Accept people as they are and learn to accommodate their personalities. 

24.) Travel more often and say yes to more adventures. 

25.) Know when it’s time to take a break, spend time alone, or go to bed. I guess #17 is tied with this, but I can’t delete it or all the numbers will be messed up. I’ll work on being less lazy a different year.

26.) Practice good hygiene- shower, skincare, nails, haircare. Develop routines. 

27.) Use my camera more often. 

28.) Stay more organized.

29.) Make mental health my #1 priority. Mental health is tied to physical health so both go hand in hand.

30.) Be a good conversationalist. Learn more about others while learning more about myself. Despite how much I talk, I feel really awkward and self-conscious when I do. I want to feel more comfortable in conversation rather than focusing on how uncomfortable I am.

31.) Learn to live without social media/digital connection. Right now I’ve eliminated Snapchat, refrain from posting on Instagram, use Twitter sparingly, and mostly use Facebook for school purposes (clubs, work, talking to friends from school, etc.). I’ve had my phone turned off for the majority of winter break which has helped me detox from it (it’s really weird saying that but it’s true). Deleting the social media apps from my phone and only accessing them through Safari has also been really helpful (Safari makes social media more annoying/slow to use which just makes me just not want to use it in general).

32.) Listen to podcasts/the radio. My Radio Journalism course from last year got me really interested in these mediums so I want to keep up with them.

33.) Surround myself with a positive environment and objects that bring me happiness and good energy. This relates to physical environments for me, although social life is still applicable. I’m planning on redoing my room at home because its current state has a lot of trauma associated with it. At school, I’m moving away from a living situation that was not so great for me and in with the Boys (yay!). During my senior year, I’ll be living with three of my close friends (Zohaib, Mitch, and Megan) so that will be especially positive. Also, crystals, sage, and plants are objects I want to integrate more into my life so I’m hoping this intention will help me do so.

 How I’m Gonna Do it: Okay so that’s 32 intentions. That’s kinda a lot. Thankfully, these are things that I’ve already been working on and want to improve immensely on by the end of 2018. Also, it’s really hard to start big habits out of the blue so when you set a long term goal and create shorter, more reachable goals they end up seeming more realistic. I actually saw an awesome Pinterest post about habits the other day that I’m going to link below. Pinterest is really helpful and inspiring and can help with goals! Also, Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before is on my reading list which I’m really excited about leafing through (it’s about habits). I read her Happiness Project in August and it really stuck with me. This post is probably subconsciously influenced by that book. 

Also, I started a Bullet Journal this week (shout out to Es for introducing me to it!). I bought it in December with Matt and have been putting it off due to my lack of creativity and time during finals. If you like writing lists, jotting down notes, staying organized, being artsy/creative, and planning things then pleeeeaaaseeee go and start a Bullet Journal! They’re the coolest things ever (again, with the word cool… I need more adjectives in my life) and they’re really helpful for managing tasks, setting goals, and planning anything and everything. I’m not completely finished setting mine up yet (still working on the front pages) but basically it’s a customizable planner that you can make with merely a notebook and a pen (or other supplies if you’re more creative than that). The beginning of the journal contains a yearly calendar and index, then front pages with significant modules that will be helpful for your life. For me, my front pages include: favorite quotes, intentions for 2017, a reading/movie/tv list, my travel aspirations, teas to drink for certain purposes, a list of crystals, notes on each astrological sign, tips for when I’m feeling anxious/depressed, and tips for concentration/studying (there’s more but that’s all I can remember at the moment). Everyone’s front pages are different, and I have a lot more than most people but it’s because these will be especially helpful for me to reference throughout the year. After this front section is a monthly calendar. After this calendar, I have a habit tracker (which will track my meditation, yoga, eating, walking, exercising), and then a sleep tracker where I’ll record the # of hours of sleep I get each night. It then transitions into a weekly planner where I’ll be able to write down daily tasks and notes. I will try to make a blog post about Bullet Journals in the near future!

Anyways, that’s pretty much it! One of my goals for winter break was to blog at least once and I’m really glad I decided to do it. My blog used to be my primary outlet for expression and I’ve definitely  missed it. If anyone has any questions or comments then please feel free to comment or message me personally! Have a great start to 2018, everyone! 🙂

**If anyone doesn’t understand the reference of the title it’s from “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” from The Sound of Music.**

 

I’m a Fake Mainer

I’m not really from Maine. Or New Hampshire. Or Boston. I don’t really know where I’m from. When I’m home, my time is spent in the coastal cities that line NH. People who aren’t from the area can’t comprehend that the closest mall is in New Hampshire. That we all go grocery shopping in the next state over. That I rarely travel north of my southern ME town. The number of times I went to Portland for art school (twice a week for four months) was the most I’d ever gone north in my entire life. My family is from Boston. I have a combination of a Maine and Boston accent. Or whatever it is. Some people think I sound Canadian. I grew up going to MA every month. I went to the Sea Dogs twice. I’ve been to Augusta once. I’ve been to Bar Harbor once. I’ve been to Boston more times than I can count. I know the MA highways better than any other roads. All of my friends in elementary school went to preschool together. They had no idea where my Wakefield, MA preschool was. I didn’t understand their Maine references. We have no relatives here. I wish I had cousins nearby like every other person from my hometown. No, we’re not related to that family up North that has the same last name as us. I got asked that a lot in high school. I adapted into my hometown, learned the ins and outs, the back roads, the landmarks. My hometown became the roots I needed. But I was also rooted in Portsmouth, Reading, Boston… the ocean. My childhood was the beach, it was the MA highway, it was downtown Portsmouth. I guess I’m from Maine. But not really. It’s 10 minutes from NH. I shop there, not only because it’s tax free but because it’s closer than any other place in Maine. You’d have to see for yourself.

My relationship status with home: it’s complicated.

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This photo was taken in MA. Shocking.

Regrets

Why didn’t I do my homework over Fall break

Five days of free time that went to waste.

I didn’t even paint and stayed up every night

struggling with my internal fight vs flight.

 

Summer of Self Care

I’m back!
It’s been so long since I posted on my blog, and I think it’s time I used it more frequently. In the past, it was a way for me to reflect on my hectic life and also a way for me to continue writing. Well, it’s been months since my last post and I’ve been feeling disconnected from myself. I do try to write and draw every night, but it’s definitely not enough. I haven’t been holding myself accountable to self care recently and I can definitely feel it affecting me. So, it’s time to get back into my blogging game.

Self care is so so so important. And I truly didn’t understand this until recently. During my sophomore year of college, I was hardly sleeping and wasn’t taking care of myself. I wasn’t eating enough and classes were a struggle because of the little energy I had. I finished off the school year with all A’s and B’s, but also a feeling that I had to get my life together. So, I went home to Maine for a month. And instead of working 30 hour a week, like I usually do when I go home, I gave myself an entire month to take care of myself. I slept a lot. I exercised every day. I completely changed my eating habits. I organized my room. I started seeing a nutritionist. I read books and magazines. I went to the beach. I hung out with friends I hadn’t seen in years (I feel really old saying that). I walked my dog. I ate a lot of gelato. I visited Portsmouth. Basically, I did things for myself that I hadn’t in a very long time. To sum it all up: I had fun and I put myself first.

It was really hard because I was also struggling with being at home. Home, for me, is a place I love but also a place that stimulates a lot of negative memories. It was hard to take care of myself when all I wanted to do was stay up late and ruminate in my thoughts. I cried a lot and I doubted my life path. But in the end, that month at home helped me face my demons. I realized that through the hardship in my life, self care was the only thing that was going to help me. I knew that I couldn’t go into my junior year getting 4 hours of sleep before classes and eating granola bars for every meal.

Seeing a nutritionist truly helped me change my self care habits around. I was told that I had adrenal fatigue, which results from people who are suffering too much emotional, physical, and mental stress. To sum it up, the stress I was putting my body under wasn’t letting it produce necessary hormones which resulted in me feeling chronically tired, constantly achy, losing hair, and feeling uncontrollably stressed.

This diagnosis was a turning point for me, and I knew that the stress I was putting myself through wasn’t just making me feel overwhelmed… it was also causing my body to suffer. I was getting horrible sleep paralysis from not sleeping. I couldn’t focus on anything. I didn’t have any physical or mental energy. Therefore, self care had to be a priority.

After my month at home, I spent the remainder of my summer in Worcester where I completed an internship for a poetry film festival. I spent the summer with my college friends, learned a lot about the city of Worcester, and learned a lot about myself, too. It was definitely not a summer of smooth sailing, but I feel more in tune with myself than ever before. I wrote a lot of poems, did a lot of yoga, had many deep conversations, and made connections with a lot of amazing friends. Oh, and I took two weeks off from my internship to teach an art camp for kids in Maine.

Looking back on this summer, the majority of my memories aren’t positive. But when I think about the wonderful times I did have, they definitely outweigh the hardship. I mean… I went to Cape Cod with my roommates and spent the weekend running and going to the beach. I led an art camp and got to hang out with wonderful kids for two weeks. I completed my first internship. I became a member of Arts Worcester. I started a new job. I painted. I explored Worcester. And, maybe I didn’t learn to fully love myself but I did learn how to take care of myself and put myself first. I’m still on that journey.

I know that since classes started, I haven’t been as active with self care. I’m currently working three jobs and taking four classes. But, the good thing is that I know what I have to do in order to get myself back on track. Getting enough sleep, eating nutritious full meals, spending time by myself, and writing/drawing definitely help. I may not have my life path figured out (I honestly have no idea what I want to do). But I’m very thankful for the lessons I’ve learned recently. It’s definitely helped me stay in tune with myself. Also, I have a lot of wonderful people in my life and a lot to be thankful for.

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Sunset over Wiggly Bridge (York, ME)

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Boating by the harbor (York Harbor, ME)

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Toes in the Cape Cod sand (Chatham, MA)

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Dandelions by the shore (Rye, NH)

March 14, 2017

It feels better to be wrapped in comfort rather than laying in bed night after night in uncertainty- not knowing if you matter but hoping that you do.

Nature is so closely linked to my art because I see myself in it: the rain cries my tears. The flower rooted in the dirt as the wind tosses its body around is me trying to cling on for dear life.

I found myself the most through the rain and cold. The rain drops blended my cries, normalized the tears dripping from my face. The cold numbed my pain, telling me that the ice pressing against my feet was more relevant than the holes in my heart.

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Faith in the Clouds

When I was younger, I thought that heaven was in the clouds. I would gaze up at the sky and felt my grandfather’s presence amongst the infinite celestial sphere. I thought that heaven was close to me and that when my loved ones watched over me, they were just a short distance away.

I’ve always been spiritual, and have believed in spirits and the presence of others since I was little. I grew up in an optimistic family regarding religion and beliefs, and my loved ones always assured me that I was being looked down upon. I don’t know if I necessarily believed in God at a young age, but I hoped (I knew) that there were spirits out there who were guiding me.

Growing up in a Catholic family and attending church and CCD on a weekly basis, taught me about the power of faith. Regardless of not believing in everything I was taught, I knew that because people believed in religion, it was powerful. I saw the impact that religion had on the people I loved. Knowing that my family thought that when someone died they were still with them gave me hope.

I hated CCD during the time I went. I really did. I was exhausted after long days at school, especially when other students were unkind to me. However, going to CCD allowed me to grow up learning about Catholicism and the stories linked to my religion. Not only does my upbringing of a Catholic help me out in my Baroque Art History class, but it allowed me to start feeling the power of faith at a young age.

I remember sitting on the itchy rug in the basement of the Star of the Sea church by the beach, examining my purple boots as the CCD teachers spoke to us. They would ask us to choose someone to pray for, and I most frequently chose my grandfather-my mom’s father- who passed away before I was born. Sometimes I would choose my grandmother, because I knew her husband’s death impacted her on a daily basis. Other times I would choose my parents or my sister, if I thought they were stressed. Kids are attentive, and can see when others are hurting, regardless of if they show it or not. I was always mindful of this.

One time we had a speaker come in to tell us of the spiritual experiences she had felt during her lifetime. For some reason, I can remember these stories so vividly because I was so curious about them. They made me want to ask questions, to wonder why things were as they were. Religion is hard because it’s like the rules in math for me. It’s not creative. You’re taught to accept the things you’re taught. You’re told to believe in stories that were recorded thousands of years ago and to apply them to your beliefs. I had always felt comfort in being spiritual. Having faith made me feel protected. I constantly questioned the biblical stories I heard, but I knew that having faith was important to me regardless.

I considered myself Agnostic for a very long time- sometime between middle school and college when I didn’t go to church for years and disregarded everything I had learned throughout my childhood. I didn’t find a point in being religious anymore, primarily because I was frustrated with how my life was turning out. However, when I attended church a couple of times for communions and funerals during this chunk of time, I felt the power of religion once more. Afterwards, I would just brush it off. But being inside the walls of a church made me feel peaceful and content. Just this year, I felt the need to reconnect with faith again. I felt like I owed it to my upbringing, and especially myself. I couldn’t pretend that how I was brought up wasn’t a part of me anymore.  When I told my dad’s parents, my grandfather urged me: “never lose your faith.”

I believe in science and I believe in religion. A lot of the religious stories I’ve been told (i.e.: the sun dancing) can be disproven by scientific evidence. However, I find comfort in these stories. They make me feel content and hopeful. Maybe the presences I feel during hard times, or the hope that I’m being looked down upon is just me being optimistic, but it’s also given me warmth during the dark times I’ve experienced. My mom has felt the presence of her father multiple times, and has also felt the presence of my great-uncle in nature. Learning this makes me feel at ease, and I recently found a poem I had written as a child about feeling my great-uncle watch over me. It was comforting to know that my experiences as a child were made more positive due to my faith.

When I attended my best friend’s grandmother’s funeral in fifth grade and the church attendees joined in prayer during the end of the mass, the sun streamed through the stained glass-pouring over the church. My mom whispered to me: “isn’t that beautiful? It always happens at the end.” Maybe it’s just a coincidence that it happens, but to me it was powerful and beautiful.

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
C.S. Lewis

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Home

It’s hard to feel at place at home

when your heart is somewhere else.

The peeling wallpaper from when I was a kid

and the familiar ocean smells.

Memories and nostalgia

Rooted in these walls,

But I can’t shake the feeling

That I don’t belong at all.

I uplifted my old roots

and planted new ones far away.

I don’t want to be here anymore

unless for a short stay.

My future isn’t the dark and shadows

that scared me every night,

The scars from my past

only resurface when it’s right.

It’s hard to call my new home home

when they don’t know who I’ve been.

It’s weird to start all over,

and finally live again.

The reason I don’t feel right

in any place- old or new,

Is because the only place that’s home

Is when I’m at home with you.

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Reflection of 2016

In all honesty, I didn’t think this past year would end. Day after day, it seemed as though so many things were going wrong with the world and that unity wasn’t achievable. Logging onto social media just caused me anxiety after seeing posts regarding destruction, hate, and negativity surrounding humankind. It was hard to get by knowing that so many acts of intolerability were being expressed.

I’ve heard so many people discuss how 2016 was never-ending and how it sucked. A lot. And in many ways, I agree. During the 19 years I’ve spent in this world, this was the year I felt most disgusted by the negativity and hostility of other people. News events and stories that went viral were inescapable. Every time I opened my laptop, the CNN notifications would appear on my home screen reminding me of yet another story that I couldn’t bear to witness. Going to the gym served as a stress reliever, but the TV’s on the wall (that I could’t help looking at) broadcasted even more statements that made my insides churn.

Although this year produced many accounts of injustice and unfairness, I think it also brought many people together. Sure, there were many situations that caused conflict (talk about awkward Thanksgivings with families following the election…), but I also watched people back one another up, take stands for their rights, and openly discuss personal events in order to provide insight and information. I watched people publicly admit for the first time to being sexually assaulted–giving courage for others to speak up, as well. I watched people finally accept help, I watched people find common ground by standing up for the same things, I watched people unite as one to promote justice and peace, I watched people put themselves first. Overall, I think this past year allowed many to finally take a stand and realize what matters both personally and for our society as a whole.

I attended a rally following the presidential election this year and felt so much energy and togetherness from all of the people attending. Uniting as one as a community and coming together to express opinions and feelings allowed people of all shapes and sizes from various backgrounds, different upbringings, and with a goal of protesting hate to stand together. I loved seeing people turn a negative situation into one allowing people to come together and stand up for what they believe in. After hearing about so many negative events over the past year, seeing people stand up for their rights and unite as one made me realize that there are so many good people in this world who, albeit the events that have influenced us, have an unwavering love for one another and hope for our futures.

Our society isn’t perfect, but I’ve realized that love exists amongst us all. Putting yourself first and detoxing destructive people from your life is an amazing first step. For me, one of the first steps was unfollowing people from social media whose public opinions (mostly sexist and political) made me feel queasy and sad about the world. Treating yourself and others with kindness and respect, while detoxing people who are negative, is a necessity.

This year I learned how to practice self care, but I had to grow to be comfortable in my own skin. I started 2016 feeling extremely down and not taking care of myself. I wasn’t pleased with my personality, appearance, or where my life was going, I had no friends at home. and was barely getting through each day. I don’t know how the shift occurred, but I slowly began to finally rely on myself and enjoy spending time on my own. Eventually, conversations and relationships with others became more manageable too and I felt like I had gained back my old self–and a better version of it.

This summer I was working up to 70 hours a week at two full time jobs while holding down the Editor-in-Chief position for the Odyssey, and freelance writing. Staying busy helped me feel like I was “doing something with my life,” but I was also losing sight of that self care I had worked so hard on perfecting. I finally learned how to stand up for myself, saying no to commitments I couldn’t handle or to people who made me feel insecure. I then spent more time focusing on the aspects of my life that made me feel content. I’ve been journaling more, holding down connections with true friends, fueling my body with clean food, and exercising on a daily basis. I feel like my life now consists of simpler things that make me feel content, rather than a myriad of high-maintenance commitments that end up draining my energy and make me feel disconnected from myself.

During the upcoming year, I’m hoping to become both physically and emotionally stronger, while focusing on having a healthy mind and body. I’m trying to cut back on screens and time on social-media, and instead spend more energy towards in-person relationships and activities that don’t consist of constant use of technology. I’m also going to attempt to read and create art more frequently–as (unfortunately) I did cut back on these aspects of my life during the past year.

Although 2016 consisted of a lot of turmoil and negativity, I do think it was a year of realization for many (and I’m not just quoting Kylie Jenner…). Moving forward into this new year, the past will be able to serve as an outline for what we should and shouldn’t do in order to stay content. 2017 has been good so far, and I’m hoping it treats everyone well.

“Hope
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…”
Alfred Tennyson

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June 11, 2014

“I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I’m not the best at art, but it’s something I enjoy doing so I put my greatest effort into it.

I wish I had the talent of other students in my school, but I have a passion for it.

If you love doing something, don’t be discouraged if you’re not the best at it. If you love lacrosse but you’re not the best player, stick with it. Practice makes perfect. It took me having art classes every day in order to develop as an artist. I’ve always loved art but I hadn’t mastered the technique. Once you become familiar with something, it will flow more naturally for you.

“I believe that we learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same. In each, it is the performance of a dedicated precise set of acts, physical or intellectual, from which comes shape of achievement, a sense of one’s being, a satisfaction of spirit. One becomes, in some area, an athlete of God. Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.”
― Martha Graham

I know that’s a long quote but it’s very impactful if you feel deeply about what I’m talking about.

Don’t give up”