Small Great Things

Recently, I received a text message from an estranged family member that rocked me to my core.  Who it was from and what it said isn’t important, what is important is that the reason that it rocked me to my core was because the words had such blatant racism and hate that it made me physically sick to my stomach. Then, a less than a week later someone I follow on Instagram posted a racial photo, the caption was laughing emojis.  I thought about it for a few minutes while I was internally raging and then decided to post a comment that read “what about this is funny”?  The reply was bogus and I called her out on it saying that the post was rude and racist.  It was removed shortly thereafter and I no longer follow this account.

If you’re a reader of this blog you know that I live in Key West, FL; one of the most diverse and accepting communities in the United States and racism and hatred is not tolerated here.  They say when you move to South Florida your blood thins and you can no longer tolerate the frozen temperatures of the north (and by that I mean anything under 70 degrees!).  For me, my blood isn’t the only thing that has thinned, my patience for ignorance has thinned as well.  After I received that message I called my best friend in tears and shock.  How could someone who I am related to think this way and further more what gave them the right to insert their hatred into my day?  After a pep talk she told me about a book she read over the summer by Jodi Picoult called Small Great Things and suggested I read it because it gave some interesting perspective into the world of privilege and racism.  I downloaded it to my kindle and couldn’t put it down.

jodi picoult

The Washington Post pretty much sums up my thoughts on the book:

SMALL GREAT THINGS is the most important novel Jodi Picoult has ever written. Frank, uncomfortably introspective and right on the day’s headlines, it will challenge her readers…The difficult self-awareness is what sustains this book…forcing engaged readers to meditate on their own beliefs and actions along with these characters….It’s also exciting to have a high-profile writer like Picoult take an earnest risk to expand our cultural conversation about race and prejudice.

Anytime I read a book highlighting ensues; normally it’s for my own perusal but I feel compelled to share them with my readers because each highlight really made me stop and think.

My highlights:

I am, indeed, the sum of all the experiences and relationships throughout my life.  I can trace every belief, behavior, thought and characteristic I possess back to something or someone in my past.  But I’m not defined by those things, I’m defined by the impact I have on the lives of other people.

Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outrages as those who are – Benjamin Franklin

…really to make her see with her own eyes how love has nothing to do with what you’re looking at, and everything to do with who’s looking.

I understand the need people have to put a certain face on for the rest of the world.

Corinne is one of those people for whom life is just the space between crises.

Anger, it turns out, is a renewable source of fuel.

I spent a year being dulled at all my bright edges, which devastated Mama.

I sat with my hands in my lap, because I knew that sometimes when people spoke it wasn’t because they had something important to say.  It was because they had a powerful need for someone to listen.

And yet, in spite of the fact that he’s grown up with every privilege possible, nothing is ever quite good enough.

If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

…the first freedom you lose in prison is privacy, the second is dignity.

It is amazing how you can look in a mirror your whole life and think you are seeing yourself clearly.  And then one day, you peel off a filmy gray layer of hypocrisy, and you realize you’ve never truly seen yourself at all.

What if the reason I have been so quick to dismiss the racial elements of Ruth’s case is not because our legal system can’t bear that load, but because I was born into a family where black jokes were as much of a holiday tradition as my grandmother’s bone china and sausage stuffing?

That was the start.  It was so much easier to hate them, than to hate myself.

How many exceptions do there have to be before you start to realize that maybe the truths you’ve been told aren’t actually true?

Freedom is the fragile neck of a daffodil, after the longest of winters.  It’s the sound of your voice, without anyone drowning you out.  It’s having the grace to say yes and more important the right to say no.  At the heart of freedom, hope beats: a pulse of possibility.

People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love. -Nelson Mandela

…there is nothing more selfish than trying to change someone’s mind because they don’t think like you.  Just because something is different does not mean it should not be respected.

I am an avid reader and this book is the best I’ve read this year.  It challenged me in so many ways and really made me take a harder look at the reality of the world we live in.  While I know that I myself cannot end the hatred and racism that is experienced daily what I can do is work to eradicate it from my own world in small great ways.  As my guru Gabby Bernstein says, “peace begins with me”.  I’d encourage anyone and everyone to pick up this book and put it on your reading list and if you see something say something.  Choose to be kind.   Choose love.  No excuses.

8 Things I’m Thankful For On This Thanksgiving Morning…

It’s Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday season.  The time of year when friends and family gather near and far to create memories and build their traditions.  Today marks the 4th Thanksgiving in a row I’ve spent in Key West and I can’t help but to take a few minutes to reflect on the things that I am most thankful for…

Sunshine – I honestly cannot tell you what a difference the sun makes in my life.  This weather has been absolutely amazing.  I’ve been spending at least an hour outside every morning reading and enjoying the stillness of the morning.  I’ve also taken to moving my mobile office outside to soak up some vitamin D while I work.

Vitamin D

My Parents – about a year ago I started working with a sales coach.  The first project that she had me work on was a vision board.  I’m happy to announce that as of today, except for the fact that I’m not Oprah or Richard Branson and don’t own a home in Maryland or New Hampshire (yet), every single thing has happened that I put on that vision board.  Including spending Thanksgiving with my family.  My mom and dad just arrived yesterday to spend their first island Thanksgiving with Ed and I!

One of the things I’m looking forward to the most is watching the Thanksgiving Day parade with my dad.

My Family – I never really knew just how lucky I was/ am to have the family and support system that I have until I got older.  When you are younger you assume that everyone’s life is just like yours.  Good or bad, that’s rarely the case.  So thank you for loving and supporting me.  And thank you Katie and Jamie for giving me the most beautiful, happy, little niece.

Ed – I’m thankful for him everyday for so many things.  It’s pretty cool finding your person.  Even cooler when their name starts with the same two letters yours ends with… #kweedwin

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My Job – I’m thankful that I have a job that provides me with the opportunity to help people purchase their dream home.  Whether a first time home buyer or a snowbird looking for a vacation rental, I love helping people find their perfect place in paradise.  I also love that it allows me the flexibility that I desire to be able to be involved in my community.

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My Friends – When I was back in my hometown in Maryland this fall one of my friends told me that she prays her daughter has the group of friends she did in school.  I really thought about that statement.  I have a solid group of friends from each stage in my life and I’m so very thankful for them.  I made a solid group of friends in Queen Anne’s County, Maryland, some of those friendships dating back 25 years.

This Blog – Although my writing may be sparse I love having this blog as an outlet.  Writing is when I feel my best.  It’s when I feel the most confident which is very odd because it’s also where most of my vulnerability lies.

Happy Hour – This one is self explanatory, eh?

happy hour gif

 

Of course this is just a short list but an important one.  Finding things to be thankful for each day makes the world seem like a better place, to me anyways.  Happy Thanksgiving, cheers!

My (not so) Perfect Life

Recently I traveled to the Dominican Republic to celebrate my homegirl’s birthday and bachelorette party.  The 4 days prior to the trip I had been in Orlando for the Florida Realtors conference and I meticulously packed for the trip because I knew I was leaving directly from Orlando and meeting the girls in Miami.  There are two items that I never leave home without when I am traveling:  my sister Ashlee’s thumbprint necklace and my kindle.  When I was packing my jewelry for the trip I noticed that the clasp to my necklace was broken so I decided not to take it this trip for fear of losing it.  So there I am, just myself and my kindle and a carry on, ready for our next adventure.

The Florida Realtors Conference was awesome.  Mind blowing and numbing actually.  It’s so much information that when I got back to my hotel room I was even more happy to have my Kindle with me because it was a welcome distraction from the information overload.  The last night in Orlando was awesome and of course the night I decided 3 martinis and a few glasses of wine would be a fun last hoorah!

KT FL Realtor

My flight for Miami was the next morning at 7am.  I left my hotel room at 4:30am, made it through the Uber ride without projectile vomiting, security, and the Starbucks line only to settle in at my gate and realize I forgot my kindle.

Dun. Dun. Dun…

I’m not a book snob by any means.  In fact, there’s nothing I love more than to curl up with a good old book.  The smells and feels of a book are all part of the experience but there is something to be said about having a practically weightless device full of thousands of books in your palm at any given moment.  So without my kindle, once I got to the Miami airport I perused the book store and picked up Sophie Kinsella’s latest read, My (not so) Perfect Life.

Sophie Kinsella

I was initially attracted to the green cover and the pop of pink.  I had read Sophie Kinsella avidly in my early 20’s (I mean, didn’t everyone read the Shopaholic series?) so I knew her style of writing would be the perfect beach read for the Dominican.  Little did I expect this “sparkling, witty novel about social media… and the stories we tell ourselves” would lead to some humbling highlighting and extra epiphanies that week.

Sophie Kinsella’s latest novel is about a girl named Katie having a quarter life crisis while living in the city of London and pretending she has it all.  I guess it hit home for me because I went through a quarter life crisis (more on that later).  Hell, some people might think I just rolled that quarter life crisis right into a third life crisis and are wondering if I’m ever going to come to grips with reality.  (Newsflash, my reality is awesome, most of the time.)  The other reason that it hit home is because from this little 2×4 mile island I see how social media has effected & affected our society, everything has rose colored glasses.

I thought back to a few months ago when I posted a photo of myself and my boyfriend on Instagram and someone commented under it “you are living my dream life” or something along those lines.  It got me thinking, why am I living their dream life instead of them?  I guess from my social media feed it could seem like I have it all but there’s a saying, if we all threw our problems in a pile, and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.  And this is so true.

Everyone has and is fighting a different battle, even those who seem to have it all.   My contributions to the problem pile would likely be cancer, drug addiction, debt, divorce, anxiety, death and dozens more.  The point is that we’ve taken sugar coating things to the next level.  Living in Key West I cannot tell you how many people I see putting on a show for their Snapchat story or posing for the perfect Instagram photo.  It’s honestly funny sometimes,  picture this:  8 girls pay about $1000 to come to Key West for a weekend of bachelorette festivities.  At dinner every one of the girls is on their phone texting people who aren’t with them.  Then one girl says, ok, guys let’s take a group pic.  5 minutes of primping ensues, girls who were scowling at their phone 2 seconds before have a fake ass smile plastered across their face as they tilt their neck up and check out, snap the pic, approve by all 8.  One person doesn’t like it, retake, ok approved, now we can all post the same picture to let everyone that I’ve been texting the whole time how much fun we are having…

Admit it, you’ve done it.  I have too I’m sure.  But the fact that it has become the new normal is a little disturbing.  Does everything have to be documented?  Is it even possible to go out to dinner without taking a photo of the food you ordered (#doitforthegram #foodporn #blessed)?

This shit is intimidating and it makes others feel like everyone else’s life is perfect except for their own.  Why do you think those no make up photo challenges are so successful on Instagram?  Because it makes people relatable and normal.  Only freaks of nature look Instagram worthy when they first wake up.  Not that I wouldn’t want to be one of those freaks, just two days ago I had just gotten out of bed and was getting coffee and Ed, my boyfriend, said to me “What’s up Hagrid?”…

hagrid gif

I busted out laughing because it was funny and true.  I was looking a little Hagridish.  Maybe I should have snapped a pic and used it as my no make up photo, eh, there’s always tomorrow…

I guess the moral of the story is that life isn’t perfect and that’s ok.  Shit happens to everyone despite what is being posted on social media and if you find your self comparing your journey to others remember the saying, “if we all threw our problems in a pile…”

Things are good and life is good, I’m trying to be more present and instead of taking a photo or posting about a positive experience I’m trying to stay in the moment and appreciate it for what it is.  I’m working very hard to not to compare my journey to others, to stay in my lane, and to keep shoveling sunshine.

Happy Monday, cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

U-G-L-Y You Ain’t Got No Alibi!

It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything and I thought, this is the perfect opportunity to post. Enjoy…

Last night I was on Facebook and noticed a post that my friend Gary had made that featured an article that had been shared a few times by friends of mine on my news feed. I laughed out loud for obvious reasons but then I noticed the hash tags that followed it and broke into a smile that lasted the rest of the night.

Gary

#mrbatestoldyou, that’s the kicker…

You see Mr. Bates was my 6th grade home room teacher and one of my favorites.  I went to middle school in a little rural town called Centreville on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.  Population: 100.  Just kidding.  But it did feel like that sometimes growing up, if you are from a small town yourself you get my drift.  My middle school had what were called “pods”, which was really just small wings for each grade that spun off around a central office/ gymnasium/ library. I can still see Mr. Bates classroom in the corner of the A pod, right next to Mrs. Jenkins-Moore’s classroom (who had the cleanest chalkboard around) and across from my orange locker.

That little ol’ facebook post brough back so many memories.  So while I’m feeling all nostalgic I thought I’d reflect on a few of my memories from that era of life and lessons learned from Mr. Bates:

  1. The United States military format for the date is dd mmm yyyy. I still use this when I date my paperwork to this day.
  2. Call me Ishmael. Mr. Bates read this story out loud to our class and it was my first introduction to Moby Dick and classic literature.
  3. Helen Keller is the shit. We had to write a paper and I don’t remember the topic but I remember the subject I picked. I chose Helen Keller. I remember getting a book on her from the library (shout out to Mrs. Laird our school librarian) and being fascinated by her life; it was the first time I ever read a book in a day.
  4. Jujubees, polyester, and Saturday Night Fever. I’ve always considered myself a bit of an old soul but when I was in the 6th grade I was OBSESSED with the 70’s. I listened to the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack on my Discman/ boom box on repeat while dancing around in my polyester dresses and jelly shoes.
  5. The Washington Cathedral in DC.
  6. U-G-L-Y You ain’t got no alibi, you UGLY.

ugly cheer

 

I have other memories of that year too; 1996, how is that 21 years ago?!  I remember it was the year Kurt Cobain died but I didn’t know who he was or how monumental his suicide would be to the music world at the time.  It was the year of Mia Hamm and the US Women’s Soccer team.  Mr. Wilmer was my bus driver and Kicking Kiwi Kool-Aid was my drink of choice.  It was the year that Dolly the sheep was cloned and I went to my first drive-in movie at the Bengies theatre in Essex, MD.  We saw Nutty Professor and you could hear the laughter streaming out of everyone’s cars during this infamous scene.

Anyways, I remember when my class (2002 represent!) was going through the middle school we had a pretty bad reputation.  There were some tough kids in my class, in fact I think we were the only grade to ever lose recess for a year and I’m sure I never formally said thank you for the impact you had on my life.  Probably because I didn’t know what that impact was at the time.  So thanks Mr. Bates; for the memories, the lessons, and the smiles. You were a great teacher and I’m happy our paths crossed, even if I was only 12 at the time.

Cheers!

Final Thoughts on 2016

2016, was it really that bad?

It’s that time of year, when my news feed is flooded with everyone ranting about how much the year sucked.  I just saw a meme the other day that said “Don’t blame 2016, your life sucked last year too” and it made me laugh out loud.

It made me laugh because it’s the truth.  When you stop and think about it, isn’t it typically the same people every year talking trash about how much the year sucked.  Over the past year I’ve done my best to weed these people out of my social media realm but they still sneak in there every once in a while.  (Side Note:  Can you imagine what their TimeHop looks like?  #DebbieDowner!)

newgirl

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  Where attention goes energy flows.  If you are spending the last days/ week of the year focusing on all of the shitty things that have happened you are going to manifest a shitty year.  BUT!  If you focus on all of the awesome things that have happened over the year you will manifest an awesome year.

Even if you had the shittiest, most f’ed up year you can find one good thing to focus on.  If you need help check out this video and remember that Panda Bears are no longer endangered.

If you’re still having trouble then try this:  2016 = 1 year.  Break that year down into 12 months, then break those twelve months down into days.  Somewhere, over the past 365 days something good has happened in the world.  It may not have been to you personally but it has happened.  Find that good thing and focus on it.  Break the days down into hours if you have to.  And then the hours into minutes.  You can find one minute of happiness in a year.  And when you do, obsess over it.  It will manifest and grow.

peter-pan

And then you will start thinking about all of the other good things that have happened and before you know it you will just be walking around talking about how you’re gonna make 2017 your bitch.

For me 2016 has been great.  Just like any other year it’s had its ups and downs.  I’ve lost family members, and gained new ones.  Some of my best friends got engaged, others got married.  Some had babies, others made babies and are still cooking them for 2017 debut.  I traveled to new places and met new faces.  I cried a lot, laughed even more, and loved even harder than I thought I could.

So today, on this last day of 2016.  I challenge you to find a minute of happiness to focus on.  That minute will multiply, I promise.

I look forward to seeing all of the successes and awesomeness that 2017 has in store.  Happiest New Year!  Cheers!

leo-cheers