All About T

“One Is Not Born a Woman, But Becomes One…”

“There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.” — Michelle Obama

Happy International Women’s Day to all the fearless, kindhearted young girls and women who work hard to empower others and inspire change! No matter who you are, where you are in life or who you are with, never forget how strong, capable, beautiful and important you are. You deserve better and you definitely deserve to know you are worth more than what you believe.

Acclaimed French writer and novelist, Simone de Beauvoir’s words are inspiring as she shares, “One is not born a woman, but becomes one.” It is hard to be a grown-up, but it is even harder to be a women in today’s world. Left, right and center, women are taken advantage of by those in power, hurt by those who choose to lie, and left behind due to a society’s insecurity. de Bouvier made note that while we are not born anything in this life, we only come into our own when we meet with circumstances that arm us through stronger knowledge of the world around us and the relationships we form. Everything we are at this moment is the upshot of the choices we make, whether good or bad. We don’t just create our own values and morals based on what we feel empowers us — we create our identities and who we are at this very instant in existence.

I have known women who have been cheated on, I have seen women who have been disrespected in the workplace, and I have seen women struggle to get where they want to be. But what is holding you back? If things are horrible and circumstances point to desolation, heartbreak and a continuous stream of failure, what makes you think you deserve the life you are leading right now? You are your own person and no one can take that away from you. Be bold for change and know you are worth more than you give yourself credit for.

While women should be celebrated every day and honored with respect by each and every one of us, today is the one day we take out as a familial unit in the world to celebrate women and the amazing progress, change and impact we have each made in this world. When speaking from the heart, I can say I’ve been blessed in my life with an abundance of inspiring female role models, from my two grandmothers, my mother and sister, to my amazing friends and remarkable team of Womanistas.

Some are mistaken and think today is just for women, but it’s quite the contrary. Though we honor women, the bright, intellectual male is also one who understands that an equal society benefits both men and women, and that toxic ideas of masculinity and sexism hurt all of us. I have seen a positive attitude of feminism from my father every day who raises my sister and I to be strong-willed and defiant in the face of adversity, and in past instances with my best friend, who held his mother, sister and grandmother to great reverence. The support from these two intellectual men alone and how they honor the women in their life with such love, respect and trust raises hope that as a society, we can and will do better when it comes to gender disparity. 

As a society when we work together, we enhance each other and open up dialogue for positive attitudes and increased action. So here’s to the strong women: may we know them, may we be them, and may we raise them. Amen. 

“A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman.” — Melinda Gates

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Top: H&M
Jacket: “Neelam Jacket” by Wilfred Free from Aritiza
Jewelry: Dogeared
Lipstick: Bobbi Brown, Luxe Lip Color in “Red Berry”
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Reflections in the ‘Bend’

During a very serene and introspective moment last week in snowy old South Bend, I had the opportunity to reflect on my life in a quiet, barren city. As previously mentioned on his birthday, the winter season tends to be a hard one for me. Where do all the memories go when a relationship breaks? Why is it easier for some and not others? More importantly, how did he manage to forget in an instant? I wish he could tell me. Incessant thoughts worth six years are cast into words as nothing, yet become immense distractions that keep you wide awake wondering where it all went wrong.

This month has been interesting and in some ways, emotional. I don’t really know what to say except there are aching moments when I miss him still and it gets hard knowing in this great big place, he sleeps soundly without a single toss and turn. While I had been up north that week to meet up with family, I got a chance to walk the lone chilly sidewalks and really catch a glimpse of my place in this great big world—or in this case, state.

While watching It’s A Wonderful Life tonight (also known as, one of my all-time favorite films), I thought back to that moment in South Bend as I walked beautifully dusted sidewalks. If I never loved who I did and the way I did, I don’t think I could be who I am today, where I am today. In every understanding of my own life, I can proudly say now that I am content with myself and who I am because in every ounce of pain felt from these past six years and more so in these last two, I know who I am and my purpose in this world now. We don’t always get the dream house, but we get pretty close. And if I happen to tread a Kathleen Kelly kind of life sans Joe Fox (“I am a lone reed”), that’s alright because it’s better to be alone than in a relationship that makes you feel alone. Relationships have shown me that you don’t need a significant other to lead a significant life. As long as you are content with yourself and are true to that person you see in a window’s reflection, you are never completely alone.

Call it a holiday miracle or what you will, but those wintry streets opened my eyes and made me realize I have never felt more at home than I am when I am in Indiana. I have always loved this state and continue to, even though sometimes and especially in the past two years, memories sneak up and cast a shadow of doubt on my worth. These thoughts force you into a train of thinking falsified by fear and doubt, and make you think you don’t belong anywhere, especially where your heart feels more at peace. But those thoughts are nothing compared to what you truly feel deep down in your gut and the world you build for yourself. As I’ve lived my hardest in these past two years by working off my gut, living my truth and driving forth from passion, I don’t think I’ve ever belonged more in one place than I do today. Whether in Indy or South Bend, Goshen or Muncie, my soul in some odd way just feels a consistent concord no matter where I am in Indiana.

While work has given me immense strength and has been a helpful toll in fulfilling voids felt by loss, I have learned so much more about my heart and its honesty than I ever imagined. Every moment lived through this beating chest has taught me how important every step I take is to my life and the lives of others. I have been through rough patches along this path, but have learned every good thing you do with your whole heart, every ounce of love you put forth, it all makes a difference no matter how hard it is to see at first. While he might be moving on and is happier than can be, I have come to accept that nothing is ever conceived in vain even if things go awry. I have loved with my whole heart and still do, and I will not regret that even as I walk lonely sidewalks in a hushed city.

Tonight I count my blessings for that which I had, that which I have, that which I will receive and that which God has prepared me for. These past few years have proven to me that living an honest life built off love, passion and self-trust is a great way to understand your worth and reiterate that no heart is ever broken in vain. It might have been hard to understand during those months of crying to sleep and trying so hard to fathom why something so internal, so deep within you, a piece of your identity, could be shattered almost instantly as if there was no barrier to begin with. But over the course of time, if that broken heart was sincere and truthful, it grows stronger and allows you to see right through who you are to help you figure out your purpose and meaning.

I miss him. I love him. Some nights will be hard. Some days in northern Indiana will be harder, but I have come to accept that now because God doesn’t give you what you can’t handle.

“All you take with you is that which you’ve given away.”

#HBD: 6 Wishes

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Winter tends to be a hard season for me. While I have been blessed in this past year to really dive deep into work and solidify my career as a writer—my utmost desired passion—things start to slow down as the new year approaches and memories start to creep in. Most times and in the tune of Talking Heads, these memories can’t wait though. As I skate through this season with my head held up, time gains on me and creates thin ice along the way, revealing memories that have lain dormant for months. Yet, lately they have begun to push at the door of my reality and send me in a tailspin that takes nights of mourning into my pillow to just get over. But letting that grief out doesn’t work, and it’s as if all that progress from months ago and just letting go has been lost all thanks to a season that beams as bright as it twinkles.

It’s a season governed by reclusiveness, where activities are fed to dormancy and our life becomes still, indwelling and most often silent. Like many others though, I think a lot during this season about my life, the people in it and the people who are no longer with us. Since the start of winter, I have stilled my soul, quieted my mind to the important bits that matter to my living, but every time I come up for air from this abyss, I find myself hitting a slope deeper into darkness all because I think about him.

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“When you stumble, keep faith…”

insta_thesocialI have Muslim family living in the U.S., along with Hispanic, Black and gay friends spread across the country, and have been blessed with amazing people who shower my family with nothing but love and respect.

But last night my heart broke into a million pieces watching the election results as the U.S. elected Trump as President of the United States. Trembling at what my family and friends will be enduring in the next four years, the president-elect is a man who speaks to violence, homophobia, xenophobia, racism, sexism, inequality and more importantly of how I was raised, is not the ‘type’ of guy who is supposed to win anything. This election was more about moral decency and ethics than politics, yet no one noticed. And no one who voted Trump actually ever came out boasting about policy. Instead they have a desire to abuse others, hang journalists from trees and this leader stays silent. As it goes, the softest hearts who feel they have so much to lose are the easiest to manipulate from fear.

Last night proved compassion is no longer the basis of morality. It’s easier to be disinterested in others if it means we don’t get hurt. We don’t feel pain. We don’t have to understand what it’s like to be not privileged or in such a case, white. Trump is the person we tell our kids not to be, yet here we are. A few years ago, my best friend and love told me, “Never be afraid to speak up for yourself and your loved ones.” He knew I was this way and always will be. And I am going to make it my mission to always work hard and care deeply for those I truly believe in because the world doesn’t need hate. It’s hard going at it on our own every day, diving into the unknown than to pander to hateful rhetoric and sentiment.

The results have shown us that while we have a divided nation here, no vote for Clinton was cast in vain. Every one who cast a ballot for integrity, morality and the good of loving our neighbors did a great service to each other as a way of showing our support to those who have been degraded by a man who prides himself on how much money he has and how women are easily up for grabs.

But it also shows the silent majority who doesn’t speak up against hateful rhetoric, whether a Trump supporter or someone of the 200 million that didn’t vote (the right to vote is a beautiful thing…), are ones to fear the most. Fork-tongue. Two-face. People who dictate their life based on consternation. These are people I know and have unfortunately come across in the last 24 hours who disbelieve sexual assault, racism, Islamophobia and lately, the KKK. How can you pass such a horrible and inexcusable group of people as a joke and not take them seriously? This is arrogance. This is privilege. Perhaps you are not blessed with people of different faiths, backgrounds and cultures to better understand the world around you. Maybe your heart is not big enough to comprehend the life outside your own.

How can one relate to Trump when his ideals run alongside Hitler’s own disdain for minorities prior to the Holocaust? As a world and a nation that is incredibly divided, we have a moral obligation to be kind to each other and most of all, defend the rights of those who are unfairly treated. I learned friends and acquaintances make up who you are in every facet. Through this knowledge, the circles we create are a direct reflection of who we are at the end of the day. This election was never about policy, it has long been about everything Trump wanted to make it about and of course, millions fell victim to his monstrous rhetoric. Honestly, if you can’t stand up against hate and mask it only as “change” because you want something different, what is left of your integrity? That is an invalid argument on all accounts.

Between the Bible, Quran and Torah, we were taught to love thy neighbor, stand up for others and speak out on injustice. But what is done is done, and every action in life serves a reaction that we may or may not be ready for. Now is the time I pray we practice patience, tolerance and show how big our hearts are to those that repeal such understanding because love overpowers hate. Always.

“That’s not love. That’s torture.”

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“All for someone who lies to you, who, uh disregards you? Who ultimately cannot love you.
Can you possibly hate yourself that much?”

I had a chance earlier this week to binge-watch the fourth season of Masters of Sex and came across some very articulate wisdom that hit on the psychology of our relationships and choices. This particular ounce of dialogue from the show really resonated with me and hit on points that I never really considered in my relationships I’ve come to know and understand.

It made me think about the others I know too. Particularly a dolt like woman, who retreats into her own insecurities and self-doubt with a Machiavellian-type individual in a very naïve and diffident manner. The one who pours herself into every facet of fixing something that is so horribly broken by running away, sweeping it under the rug and all because of her (and the unfound man‘s) own childish fear of repeating history or not fitting the wholesome mold society has laid out for them as the quintessential trophy couple—with their trophy bairn. Or, the picture-perfect life they mused over during a quick, fleeting moment of happiness as ankle-biters, while each caught in their own updraft.

I’m talking about the ones who try to fix their broken marriage by having a child or heading on vacation, getting a new job, haircut, or even moving across town, etc. They can do it all to escape the reality, but is it enough? It’s not. It’s also a testament to their own integrity, their self-worth, and their personal truth.

While listening to this dialogue based on psychology and a profound sociological depth, it gave me my own epiphany about relationships, and everything that has happened in the last year. In the show, Alice (Judy Greer) has a husband Dan (Josh Charles) who constantly cheats on her—most times with the same person. He’s been doing it for years, saying the marriage is over, the relationship is done, they don’t see “eye-to-eye,” and the usual a Machiavellian-type will come up with. Most recently, Dan cheated with Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan), returning to her after some time and telling her that he and Alice were kaput again. Of course, as it is, Virginia believes Dan and the two carry on. But without spoiling the new season, Dan has his own insecurities and doubts, and Virginia and him are always at a crossroads. As are Virginia and Bill.

In this particular dialogue (photo attached above), Alice and Bill Masters (Michael Sheen, seen famously in Frost/Nixon—what a wonderful play that is too!) talk about their respective relationships. Alice, exhibiting her own low self-esteem tells Bill that Dan will always come back to her because that’s what love is. However, Bill realizes through her own low self-value and beggary attitude that this is not love. Drawing parallels to his own relationship with Virginia, someone who continues to lie to Bill because she doesn’t know how to sort out her feelings in their committed relationship—an obligation to their work, which was a marriage of sorts—that enough is enough. Where do you draw the line on upholding your own integrity?

This understanding and psychology points to the fact that in this world, we could date or marry someone, stay with them for a decade or so, have a baby a decade later (“[He] desperately wants to work out between us” and “do whatever he has to to save our marriage”), move to half a dozen homes within those years and things will still be what they are. (more…)

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location: elkhart, indiana

“Time takes all and gives all.”
Giordano Bruno

Denying the truth doesn’t change the facts about life and the circumstances we find ourselves in. You can learn a lot from your past and the choices you made when you aren’t so busy denying each and every one of them. But in life we have a horrible thing called “fear” and fear often permeates through every choice we make because of our incessant need to not be alone, to not live out a history, or live an ideal that promises happiness if we compromise ourselves. Yet, that is not how life works. Cowards always avoid difficulty and choose denial to steer through situations that are less than what they perceived for themselves. Such spineless attitudes that stem from a rose-colored perception is a sign of disbelief and broken faith. God help those who cannot help themselves.

Image Credit: Martinsky on Tumblr

A Reminder

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Just going to keep this here as a reminder that waiting can be a blessing in hindsight. Whether it’s waiting for a heart to heal, a love to mend, a path to look clearer, a purpose to be understood—waiting often feels like torture and seems impossible to endure because we want things to happen on our own schedule. We have become such self-serving individuals that we don’t realize life doesn’t happen on our terms. God doesn’t operate on our schedules and expecting He will just hinders our faith in Him, ourselves and the circumstances that make up this world we create.

If Psalm 18:30 says God’s ways are “perfect,” then it’s essential to trust whatever happens because His timing is faultless. A lot of bad things happen and a lot of bad people get away with hurting others, but waiting can bring its own set of benefits for the pain caused or for the ones who have inflicted the pain. I know this because I have waited for a lot of things in life. And while God has blessed and showered me with good things, it’s hard some days to wonder about that little organ that is the heart and the engine running that is the brain. Will the heart ever heal itself? Will we ever be OK with it having been broken over and over by someone or something we love (or loved)? Could we ever just stop thinking of all the hurt that we feel deep down inside? I don’t know.

But I do know that time goes by quickly (or at least it did this year) and when we surround ourselves with love, positivity and good people, good work, it’s a sign of better things on the horizon. Our choices are our own and whatever we decide to make in order to aid our own emotional and mental well-being, God is there every step of the way reassuring us through signs and karma that all that waiting will one day mean something we never could have possibly imagined.

{Originally posted on Instagram / photo from Pinterest}

Goshen Getaways

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With summer school over, I’ve had more time to explore a lot of the beauty around this great state. One place I’ve been finding myself visiting a lot more thanks to the places my father’s work sends him and a good friend who lives in the Terrace Park area recommends is Goshen’s Fidler Pond.

It’s seriously gorgeous and kind of reminds me of the pond by my parents’ house back home, except bigger and much cleaner. When I visit this quaint little city, I make it my goal to always park my car at this beautiful park that most people would have to drive about 20 miles out to get, and head out on a long, hearty run around its one-and-a-half-mile trail. This 80-acre pond has become my little oasis away from the hustle and bustle of a busy, metropolitan life. Plus, it’s an incredibly quiet area and I love that. While everyone I know is taking a weekend off and heading to Lake Wawasee and indulging in the sandbars, I’ve found in recent months this little gem introduced to me by a good friend is a spot that will forever be my own.

Originally a gravel pit, Fidler Pond with its gorgeous crystal clear waters and sweet swing benches opened just three years ago and has attracted the masses of the north for its alluring features like biking, canoeing and kayaking. But the trail is something I am most enamored by. With its scenic atmosphere and attractive crushed-stone surface that stretches around an amazingly deep pond, there’s nothing more exhilarating and fun than that speedy sprint, hearing the steady thump of my footsteps echoing amid the quiet routine of nature. Running has been my thing this summer, so much so that a friend has asked if I wanted to take part in a city marathon but we will see. I’ve been keeping fit, but not enough for a marathon–at least not just yet.

That said, running has really helped me feel better in terms of heartache, especially in these last few months and this location has been my favorite run path so far. Of course, I have plenty of run paths by my place down south that have been so helpful in sweating off the grief. But when up here and might I add more often now, I feel like I’ve not only had a chance to relax and enjoy nature in this immaculate mileau, but I have been able to process the pain more efficiently.

Might sound odd, but running in a similar way to writing, has helped me to really understand myself better as I get a chance to navigate through pain and hurt, and of course the heartache. To add to it, running at Fidler Pond in all its tranquility gives me a good break away from the sadness and void felt. It’s as if the sweat is another way for my body to cry as silly as that might sound. Running at this remarkable little pond has given me purpose and helped to restore an introspective equilibrium that provides a charge in my own life, while pitting my strengths against my hurt.

In addition to running, I also love eating! I guess you can call it a fine balance. In keeping with my love for this city and these Goshen getaways (see more here!) I have been charmed by in recent weeks, tune in on Monday at The Hudsucker for my restaurant guide to some of my favorite eateries in this sweet city’s downtown.