I Am Not Where I Was A Year Ago

I don’t mean that as a Cliché. When you read that, don’t think, “New year, new me”; because that’s not what I am saying at all. This time last year so much had happened to me that I couldn’t comprehend it. I was stuck in a position where I couldn’t learn or grow from all the disasters that were made. Everyone around me was telling me that I was going to be okay, or that I needed to find peace, I just couldn’t.

This time last year, I had been thrown out of my home twice, assaulted, gained thirty pounds, and found no motivation to get help. Only once in my life did I ever feel so low as I did in that moment. I was sixteen years old, and my friend Hannah was telling me, “If you can’t help yourself, then nobody can help you.” Little did I know that four years later her and her family would be helping me get on my feet again.  Upon moving in with her family, her parents were able to give me some sort of hope. I was considering dropping out, and was struggling to find a job. It was her parents, and a man who works at the community college, that sat me down and was able to persuade me otherwise.  With their help and a few honorable mentions, within two months of being in their home, I was going back to therapy, and trying to work out whatever mess it was that I needed to work out.

A year ago, I had zero boundaries, I struggled with decision making. For the past two years, I was involved with a toxic relationship. Many of my friends would say it was more than toxic, it was abusive. However, I believe, to this day, that I was not healthy for him, just as he was not healthy for me. When we finally ended things, moving on was a whole new chapter. I went from always being in a relationship to finally being alone. I had no idea who I was without someone else telling me who I was.

Therapy started to show me who I could become if I just let go, and had a ‘redo’. Which is exactly what I did in May of 2017. All of that hate was released following the weekend of Easter. I had been so obsessed with always trying to make things right, that I couldn’t let myself see that the things that happened are just exactly that. My family, has struggled with the fact that I changed my name. My response to them has always been, “I changed my name, because I vowed to make myself come first. I changed my name, because I had so much hate in my life, that I needed to be able to let go. By changing my name, I have let go. I see the bigger picture and I see that there can be so much room to grow, if it’s allowed.”

When I say, “where I was a year ago, is not where I am today” it’s because I truly believe that. My first year in college, I was able to feel emotions I had never felt before. I was able to accomplish things I never thought I would ever do. I stopped being apologetic for things I no longer felt the need to feel sorry for, and I stopped validating my actions. I decided to not think twice, and just go with my first gut instinct. For the first time, I finally felt what it meant to be confident, sexy and beautiful. I don’t say anything to feel pity, because I am proud of who I am, and who I was. To want pity would mean that I would loathe, or find what has happened to me to be discouraging. In the past year, I have had so many great people come into my life and show me what it means to be family, and to be friends. I have changed for the better, and that’s all I could ever ask of myself.

 

-S.B

P.S: Among the many moral changes, I also stopped wearing bras and I will never put on something so tight and wired ever again.

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Queen City Underground Tour: Review

IMG_2651            On December 23rd, 2017 Brandon and I went on a tour, in our local city. Cincinnati is known for baseball, a football team that cannot win, and goetta.  The city was and still is very rich and history, and for someone who has lived thirty minutes out of it, I knew hardly anything about it. Brandon has worked in the city now, for almost six month, I started working in it starting September of 2017. While, Brandon works directly in the city, I work in a little district, about 319 Acres, called Over the Rhine.

Over the Rhine in the past decade has been on an incline. However, it was like it is today. As a child, I was always told that I was not allowed to walk the streets, and that Downtown Cincinnati was not safe because of that particular district. Growing up, when crossing the river to enter the city, my family would immediately lock the car doors and roll up the windows. It was because of those childhood moments, that when I finally started to go on little adventures, Downtown Cincinnati wIMG_2662.JPGas never one of them. Brandon and I in the past year have gone to major cities, at most four hours’ worth of travel, but had not experienced what was only thirty minutes away from us. Most people today above the age of forty would still say that Over the Rhine is still highly unsafe, however, those my age (twenties) would know better. Over the Rhine has gone from a place that you could not travel at night to a booming area with lots to do.

Working in Over the Rhine, my manager knew that I did not know much about the area. When people would ask me where to go, or eat, I would have to refer them to someone else. I could answer questions about Northern Kentucky, but when it came to Cincinnati, I truly did not have a clue. I’ve never spent a day just walking around Vine Street or even going to Washington Park, which is less than a block away from my work. Honestly, I was lucky that I knew that the Music Hall was directly across the street from me. My manager, for Christmas, got Brandon and I two tickets to the “Queen City Underground Tour”.

IMG_2654.JPG        This tour was phenomenal. I went from a woman who didn’t have a clue to a person who is now able to give an in-depth history of the location.  On top of that, we were able to see local restaurants, and places that have made a name for themselves in the city. Our tour guides, where so theatrical, and polite. You could tell that they really enjoyed what they did and were able to answer any questions you had about Over the Rhine. Which really was a booming city, before Prohibition and the Great Depression. It was only after those eras that the area started to struggle.        The Underground Tour is $25.00 a person, and about 2 hours long. The tour takes you up and down Vine Street, which is the Hub of Over the Rhine. The tour guides tell stories of the first theatres, and pubs that ran the city. You also get to view the first underground crypt, as well as the most prominent underground tunnel; which was called the Coffman Brewery. This tour is about half and half when it comes to being outside, however we got to experience this in twenty-degree weather and I have zero complaints. The tour guides kept us moving and on our toes, so we weren’t cold very long.

If you are ever in the Cincinnati area, and want to experience a historical tour like no other. I would highly suggest this one. We loved this tour so much, that we are super excited to be going back for another tour, Queen City is Haunted. We will be able to enjoy that one however in May of 2018.

Recipe: Buttery Pecan Cookies

1 Cup of softened butter

1 teaspoon of maple syrup

3/4 cup of sugar

2 1/2 cups of flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

an egg

1 small bag of pecans.

 

1.) In a mixing bowl, add the butter (softened) and sugar together. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy.

2.) Add in the (1) egg and maple syrup.

3.) In the same mixing bowl, continue mix the flour, baking powder, and salt.

The mixture at this point should seem like dough.

4.) kneed the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap. Then place dough into the fridge for 1 hour.

One hour later….

5.) Preheat oven to 375 degrees

6.) Roll it thin with a rolling pin, into shapes.

7.) Cookies go in until bottoms are a tad golden brown.

 

  • S.B

 

 

My Christmas Traditions.

One thing I have been thankful for is that my family was rich with tradition. Growing up, during December, we had a special thing going on (almost) weekly. Christmas was my mother’s and my grandmother’s favorite time of the year. My grandmother would start putting up her Christmas village in November. Her Christmas village, as a child and even as an adult, was the most fascinating time of the year. This year, to my dismay, she is only putting up one table (her village typically is over five tables). Below I have listed my holiday traditions, that I have been doing since I was seven years old.

25 days of Christmas – Starting the first of December, I would receive a candy box, that would have chocolate hidden behind the numbers. Every day after dinner, I would search for the correct number (day in the month) and I would pop open the door and a small piece of chocolate would be there.

Kathy Treats – Last year I made a blog post all about Kathy Treats and how to make them. Everyone knew it was Christmas season when my aunt would bring home, salted pretzels, M & M’s and Hershey Kisses. This year, I did not shop early enough for the Hershey Kisses, they go into stores starting in November, and they stop selling the last week of November. They are impossible to find in December. Instead this year, I will probably find white chocolate melts, and do it that way.

St. Nick’s Day and Ornament giving – On St. Nick’s Morning, we would receive an ornament to place on the tree. This ornament would be specific to the year you had. The year I learned to play guitar, I got a guitar ornament and the year I learned how to drive, I got a steering wheel. The ornament would have my name on it and the year that it happened.

Christmas Eve – On Christmas Eve, we would get to open one gift. Which was always fresh new Pajamas to wear on Christmas Day.

Santa’s Hat – on Christmas day the person to hand out the gifts would be the person wearing Santa’s Hat. It was always really important to me, because I came from a huge family, and I was considered one of the youngest.

Tis the season to be merry.

  • S.B

Speak Love: Donation Post

In the next coming months, I will be able to make a greater impact in my community, specifically with my college. As many people know I am part of the movement called, Speak Love. Which is an all-inclusive group that focuses on love and accepting one another no matter what our walk of life is. Nick Jackson, who started Speak Love, is also my friend and mentor who has helped me through this journey with setting up the Gateway Branch. Although, we primarily focus on suicide prevention speeches at high schools and colleges, we would be taking a new route with Gateway.

Not only will we be focusing on suicide prevention, we would also be focusing on poverty within education. Many of the volunteers for Speak Love understand what it’s like to only have a few bucks in our pockets, trying to make ends meet. Hopefully, through donations we would be able to donate the little things that mean a big thing. These times would include socks, diapers, pencils, notebooks, ext. However, we cannot make this part possible if we do not have people willing to donate the items.

Which is why I am now asking those who read this blog to donate to this cause. Every penny counts and I know that Speak Love and Gateway would be grateful knowing that there are people out there willing to donate. Below is the link if you can do so.

 

With much love and respect,

 

  • B

 

https://www.gofundme.com/gatewayspeaklove

 

Speak Love – TIE

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Click the photo to see what exactly went on at Gateway today!

If you haven’t already make sure to subscribe to the YouTube Channel to receive more updates on Speak Love and it’s journey to Gateway!

 

  • S.B

The next chapter

As most people know, I have been house jumping for almost two years now. Straight out of high school I ended up house jumping at few different friends’ houses and had quite a few jobs to keep me afloat. Earlier this year Brandon and I decided that we would try and find an apartment of our own, and thus we would be roommates. It seemed far-fetched at the time, mainly because I had struggled to get approved by multiple different apartments. And at first, it was hard. Brandon and I started looking at a dozen different apartments, most were weeded out due to issues with pet policies or distance. However, after searching for nearly five months we ended up directly down the road to where we had currently lived. In August, we got approved at the apartment of our dreams. It had everything we were looking for, including some bonuses.

We have spent nearly two weeks in our new home, and everything is slowly but surely coming together. Our family has grown as well. We started out with just Alfred, the guinea pig, then in early August Brandon adopted a bearded dragon, named Glaurung. About three weeks ago, we needed up adopting a kitten, and her name is Nala. I never thought I would be anything but a dog person, yet here I am, taking care of a reptile and a kitten. All the animals get along, except for Alfred and Glaurung. It’s not that they are aggressive towards each other, it is just that, for a short period of time their cages were next to each other and that ended up causing some sort of conflict between them. Glaurung’s crickets that would make noise, Alfred getting up at 2 am and making all sorts of noises with his cage. That’s okay though, because Nala gets along with both Glaurung and Alfred.

On other notes, Brandon continues to work on his book, and I am still getting my poetry together and making notes about what the poems mean to me. Hopefully by Christmas or New Year’s I will have a rough draft of what I would like my first poem book to look like. I don’t really know when Brandon’s first book will be finished, but I know he’s also working on short stories and some other creative writings.

I still would like to continue to blog about new food places that Brandon and I go to, we just haven’t been able to get out of Northern Kentucky since we have moved into our new home. Financing our money is now a huge priority. However, hopefully soon we will be able to eat somewhere awesome and I can write about it. There are so many restaurants that I haven’t been to that I would love to write about, maybe even ones I have been to, that I just haven’t talked about.

Brandon and I, for the first time in five years, did not make it to comic-con. Rent is due this week, and therefore we had to make some budgeting cuts. We were both super upset, because so many people and vendors we love were going. However, there is always next year. It will always be a tradition, just like hosting Friendsgiving and Friendsmas. Which we do plan to host again this year. Which will also be documented just as the Christmas Recipes will be.

I am also a part of a really cool organization called Speak Love, which is an all inclusive group that focuses on loving and respecting one another, no matter our walk of life. I’ve known about the group for about five years now, and every year I go to the Anthony Munoz Conference, however Nick (who started Speak Love and is my mentor) came to me and told me that he thought I would enjoy volunteering with the group. He was right, I am not trying to start a branch at Gateway, so more students can be a part of it. Speak Love means so much to me right now, just because I struggled so much to find peace in my heart and now I feel like I have that.

All our friends are doing well as well. New chapters in their lives have begun and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of all of them. I don’t want to spill the beans on them, because a lot of our mutual friends have a more private profile, but I can tell you that Hypha is doing great (Also I know she reads this blog faithfully, so if I don’t at least mention her I know I am going to be in for it). Everyone in my life seems to be doing well, Phoebe started school a few weeks ago, and although I told her Kindergarten doesn’t last forever, that there are other grades that come after that, she still says she loves school. My grandparents are enjoying the traveling lifestyle, which I’m so happy that they are doing. My grandparents have done so much for all their grandchildren (especially me) the last five years, and now that all of us are all grown up, it’s time that they start thinking about themselves.

That’s about it with my life right now. Not really traveling, but still writing. Still (trying) to do well in school, although it’s hard with being a part-time worker and having other stresses. But I’m learning to cope with those stresses a lot better, through therapy. I am happy for all of my friends with their lives and how they are living. Overall, after a year of drought, I’m finally getting some rain, so now I’m just going to wait and see how many plants grow.

Until next time,

S.B