Halloween Tradition

Tomorrow is Halloween and honestly one of my favorite holiday.  As a kid, you can dress up and get free candy, it was almost better than Christmas! I have grown out of the trick-or-treating stage of my life, unfortunately, but now I can use Halloween to explore more of my heritage and culture.  I know it sounds weird but it’s when I can really be Irish. The mass immigration of Irish (and Scottish) immigrants brought the tradition overseas.  They celebrated Samhain Night which was a festival of the harvest and it symbolized the end of the season and the beginning of the winter.  On the night of the 31st however, Sam Hain opens the portal to the other world of fairies (and I don’t mean cute fries with pink dresses that give you cookies, read some Irish lore and you’ll see what fairies really are) and the dead.  Masks were used to scare away evil spirits.  The Irish carved turnips and potatoes to light the way of travelers and scare evil spirits and keep them from entering their home.   When the tradition was brought over to the United States, they started using pumpkins.  .

Every year my family and I carve pumpkins, at least I used to.  Two years ago I began to carve turnips and potatoes because pumpkins take forever, the insides are gross and I wanted to follow tradition, the tradition that my family would have followed in Ireland.  They are so easy and so much fun! So last year I branched out a bit from traditions and not only carved turnips but rutabagas, parsnips, various gourds and kiwis!  This year I only did turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, radishes and brussels sprouts.  I couldn’t find any good Kiwis.

Everything turned out perfect! The turnips were huge, I could fit a candle in them and watch the flames flicker through the holes I carved. Brussels Sprouts are a little difficult but completely worth it, looking like little aliens or ghouls with distorted faces, the ones that hide under your bed. 

I’ve never done radishes but decided to carve them into little skulls, which I’m going to keep out until the 2nd of November for Día de Los Muertos.  I’m not Mexican and Puerto Ricans don’t celebrate this holiday, but I just love the idea of celebrating loved ones who have passed away in that fashion, large floats and decorations and picture and memories all around the home and cemetery.  It’s so beautiful. 

I do have to warn you, if you ever decide to carve a rutabaga, first of all they are very hard to gut.  I just use one of those tools that you can scoop melon out with, it takes for ever and they smell AWFUL, but look really cool.  Also, I definitely don’t recommend potatoes and I have no idea how the Irish pulled that one off!  They turn brown and smell and are all around disgusting after about an hour or two.

I love being able to explore my culture and where my family came from.  I’m so proud of who I am because I am an American.  I’m an American because I’m this massive mix of different cultures, beliefs and nationalities and can be inspiried to follow so many interesting traditions.  This is just one very fun way I can share my culture with everyone else.  Parents who bring their kids up to our door will always comment on how neat all of the different carvings look and I can tell them, these ideas come from the original Irish celebration of Halloween.  I love being able to share my culture and my heritage because, especially in the States, we are all a mix of something and that is a beautiful thing.

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Rainbow

The other day I was driving to my night class and I saw the most beautiful thing. Off to my left was a small rainbow, the only thing was that there had been no rain. The sky was full of clouds, not the gloomy dark clouds that make the day drag by, the kind of clouds that are a fluffy cotton white and reach across the sky to eat the rest of the blue.

It was only a small sliver of rainbow that peeked out of the clouds and when I looked over to my left here was a matching piece. It was just one of those things that was so simply beautiful it takes you by surprise.

As I looked out my car window, other sped by (keep in mind I was already going 5 over) and bet they didn’t even stop to notice what was in front of them. They sped by the clean white clouds outline in gold sunshine, a good so brilliant you can’t even begin to put a price on it and they sped by the two tiny rainbow slivers, the rainbow slivers that had appeared before us just to remind us of the natural beauty of the world, a beauty that has almost has been forgotten.

Every day miracles of nature and miracles of people are overlooked, from a sliver of a rainbow to a smile. Notice these miracles and soak in how beautiful the world is every single day.

October

This month is Domestic Abuse Awareness month.  The entire month of October, all 31 days are supposed to bring awareness to the danger, pain, suffering, fear and death caused by domestic abuse.  What do we hear about it?  Very little.

There are stickers and car magnets for most causes, there are Facebook messages with the theme of the month.  You always hear about Cancer and Autism and Heart Disease and things like that, which are wonderful causes to support.  Most people in my family have had cancer or heart disease or have been taken by either of those so you know I’m defiantly in full support mode year round and even more so during their specific awareness months.

To me these diseases differ from domestic abuse because cancer, heart disease, autism, other illness, for the most part are out of our control.  We can take preventative measure such as not smoking or getting regular check ups or things like that, but we still don’t know if that will help the individual.  People who smoke all their life might not get cancer or it might take their life.

I’m not saying the fight for a cure and awareness should ever end, but domestic abuse we can do more to attempt to stop it since the cure is here, it is us.  Abuse can be verbal or physical, the victims could be children, men or women.  The man could be the abuser or the woman could.  MEN aren’t the only ones who abuse others, gender doesn’t define who can abuse people.

Everyone needs to play a part in creating awareness of horrible things that go on in the world.  One voice can change everything.  The reason we have such wonderful campaigns for cancer and autism is because people spoke up, people said something, people banded together, people just like YOU did this!  You have a voice so use it.  I know I don’t have many people who follow my blogs currently, but just tell someone you love or a friend this is domestic abuse awareness month.  I’m sure you’ve all heard that if one person tells 2 people and those 2 people tell 2 more and it goes on and on and look how many lives you’ve just impacted.

Use your voice and spread the word.  There are men, women and children who are hearing word that cut through them like knives, destroying their soul, every word feeling like a physical blow.  There are men, women and children who feel fists land on their body, inflicting immense pain.  Some aren’t luck enough to survive and be saved, they are killed.  The worst part of this is that all of this is that the victims are being hurt by the ones they love, people who they are supposed to be able to trust more than anyone in the world, they are being mentally and physically destroyed by their family and no one should ever have to go through that pain.

A New Plague

I just watch a video someone shared on Facebook of this young girl named Amanda Todd who had just committed suicide because of bullying.  In her video she explained her entire story, how everything started with cyber bullying and then she was physically assaulted which lead to her first suicide attempt.  Over the summer she overdose and was brought back once again, but this last time she succeeded in taking her life.

I honestly don’t even know what to say about this, honestly if you are so pathetic you feel you have to bully someone or physically assault someone, I don’t even have words to describe how I feel or describe what kind of person you are.  Amanda, in her video she said her first suicide attempt she drank bleach and survived, but for 6 months after that, people were posting picture on Facebook of bleach saying things like “maybe she should try another kind and do it better this time” and saying they hope she dies.  Whoever said that is honestly the lowest person on the Earth.  How could you ever say that to someone, how are you that cold and heartless that you say that to a person, a living, breathing person.  She was a beautiful, young girl who had a beautiful singing voice and people were saying I hope you die?  I don’t even understand how anyone say that to someone else.

With everything that’s changed in the world, the increase in technology and accessibility to everything, it is so important for the family to become involved. I’m 21 and I’m not a parent or even close to being one, but I can tell you from my experience, my family monitored most thing in my life up until a certain age.  Now I didn’t have things like Facebook or Twitter or anything like that, my computer was about 2 feet deep and made the dial-up noise when you turned it on.  Sometime I feel like, this is just from what I’ve seen with other families, parents are afraid of their kids hating them and would rather be their friends, but if somethings going on with your kid, get involved, check their Facebook to see if your kid is being bullied so they don’t become another victim, talk to them, be with them.  Even things like having a family night or just keeping the family connected to each other is important, just knowing that there is support at home of people who love them and connect with them can make a world of difference.

If you’re a friend and you see them start to change or know something is going on but they asked you not to tell anyone, tell someone.  I would much rather have my friend be mad at me and alive than thank me for not telling anyone and have them commit suicide.  It’s going to be so hard to do, but saving your friend’s life is beyond worth it.

Friends and family are the most important thing that can prevent or solve problems like this.  I’ve never been bullied nor have I ever bullied someone, but I have gone through and still going through problems she explained in her video, anxiety, depression, cutting and I also starved myself.  I’ve done that and it’s hard for me to admit it, but I’ve cut myself and felt like there is no hope.  I’ve starved myself too.  I got down to about 800 calories a day and most of that was juice, not because of weight but because it was something I could control when I felt my life was just spinning out of control.  I never told anyone until after, after I had done all of this and found a way to come out of it.  I’m so thankful to my friends and family, they never knew what was going on, but they were just such a strong, positive force in my life it made me want to live.  When you’re friends abandon you, that’s really hard, even if you have the most amazing family in the entire world, once a peer abandons you, one who you thought you could trust, it’s devastating because you feel secure that your family can’t and won’t reject you because they’re your family, but friends are different.  That’s the outside world, outside of your safe family bubble saying something is wrong with you and you are not worth being around, and that’s hard to deal with, I know from experience.

Of course I’m not trying to say anything about her family or saying her parent weren’t there or were bad parents.  I’m sure they did everything they could to save their daughter and my heart goes out to them.  I hope that some way they can get through this and remember their daughter and all of the beautiful moments with their her, maybe even turn what happened into a moment of light, spreading awareness of bullying like so many other parents who have lost children to this epidemic have done.

I thought about what I would say to her parents if I ever met them and I have no idea.  I think I’d just look into their eyes and start to cry because I know what it’s like to lose family, but not my baby girl due to bullying, due to the fact that multiple people said things so awful, it lead her to commit suicide.  I can’t even begin to imagine what that pain feels like and I feel so sorry for them.  I just wish there is something I could do for any parent, grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle who have lost members of their family to bullying or suicide in general.

This is a new disease that has become a plague in our society and need to be recognized.  You can’t just look at this and remember Amanda’s death for a certain amount of time, any suicide has to be in our memory constantly and talked about and remembered or this will only escalate and get worse.  These tragedies tend to fade away after a certain period of time and that can’t happen.  Tell anyone, friends, family and loved one about what is going on in our society and make sure they know that you are a safe person who will never judge them or hate them or leave them and you are always there to talk to.

This is not just a problem for one family, it is a problem for all of us and we all need to help our children, whether it’s our own kid, a neighbor, a family member.  Life is so easy to take away, so we have to fight for it and fight to make sure no one ever feels that suicide is an answer and that no one ever causes those feelings in someone else by bullying them.  This needs to stop now.

Burn For Me

“When there is desire, there is gonna be a flame

when there is flame someone’s bound to get burned

but just because it burns, doesn’t you’re gonna die

you gotta get up, and try, try, try”

This is a song by P!nk just released and I like current songs of whatever genre, but I just love these lyrics.  I think they’re so beautiful and poetic and true and the video is just gorgeous, and this is just something rare to find in current music.

Maybe I just feel this way because it’s so easy to relate to this right now.

With my boyfriend, it’s complicated, there are complications between us because we were raised so differently but those aren’t the real complications, it’s the world, it’s the lines in the sand, it’s fear.  It gets really rough sometimes, the stress we both go through, for so many different reasons and then combined with the normal differences that every couple faces, everything just gets amplified.

Me and him, we’re like fire and gasoline, we create these burning, explosive, wonderfully bright flames that have yet to even dim.  Since our first kiss, it was amazing, every time he holds my hand, every time I see him smile, every time I look into his beautiful brown eyes, every time I’m within eye sight of him, the entire world ignites.

We’re like fire and gasoline in explosively, destructive ways too, like our fight the other day.  It was the worst fight we’ve ever been in and it was bad.  We weren’t just burned, we were both almost incinerated in the blaze.  Then it just stopped, everything stopped, the wind, the noise, the world, it all just stopped.  He took my hand, after we had both yelled, screamed, said awful things and cried, he took my hand and the world stopped and we fixed it.  Our burns healed, or at least started to, and now we’re stronger and once again explode into our brilliantly colorful fire and not just any fire, a fire of blues, oranges, reds, purples and greens that dances across the world leaving smoldering embers everywhere we touch that others to only wish they could experience.

I’m going to make some big changes in my life, for him, for us.  Once I get everything in place, then I’m going to be excited until I get scared again and he’s there to pick me up and be all my support when everything else crumbles under the weight of our lives.

I don’t expect most things that happen in my life, but this, feeling something where I feel so weak and so strong all at once, it’s so scary and so exciting.  I never want to leave this fire and I will burn for him for the rest of my life because no flame would ever destroy us, only be one moment in time where we become stronger, and nothing could put this flame out, we will burn for each other forever.

Humming In The Phone

It’s really funny how someone can impact your life and you have never met them once, the quietly, sung melody of an unknown song hummed over a phone can shape your entire day.

I work at an insurance brokerage, we do both commercial and personal lines so we do have customers die and have to deal with their homeowners or health or something like that.  It actually happens quite a bit and its very sad each time, at least for me, not a sadness like I knew them, most I’ve never even spoken to before but knowing if they have kids or a spouse, that’s what’s sad.

Today I overheard my boss talking about how one woman died.  She managed a school district that we held the insurance for and I felt like crying.  This really upset me and I have never even met this woman in my entire life, ever.  I’ve only talked to her on the phone.

You’d be surprised, or maybe you won’t, at the number of people who call up and scream at the receptionist when something goes wrong, like I have the power to change anything, and if the person they want isn’t available, they get madder and demand I interrupt the phone call or meeting or, I don’t know, teleport them back to the office with my amazing mind powers!  It’s really awful and makes me feel awful after getting yelled at by someone I don’t even know, so never yell at the receptionist if they’re nice because they didn’t do anything but try to help and just remember, especially if you have a business, you just got one bad review, so never burn bridges with anyone, no matter how small they are.

Anyway, tthe woman who passed away, she was wonderful.  She was one of the few customers that I got really excited about when their name popped up on the caller ID.  One of these people who was always happy and cheerful, always asking how you’re doing and seem to actually mean it, not just ask because that’s what you do.  Sometimes I’d have to run back to see if my boss was in his office before I transfered the call and then when I’d get back to the phone, I’d take it off hold I’d hear her humming.  Sometimes I’d just take it off hold and listen to her, she just sounded so happy and had a beautiful voice, it was something you just didn’t want to stop because it was just so simply beautiful.

Just talking to her, you knew she was just full of pure joy and happiness, someone who was almost bursting at the seams and the rays of light just shone through, even over a telephone and it was just contagious!  She must have given so much to everyone around her, and I don’t mean in objects or money, but just being around them with that type of joy and happiness?  That’s a person who was loved and gave more than she could even imagine to the people around her.

She woke up one morning with a pain in her stomach and went to the doctor and found out she had stage 4 liver cancer and passed away shortly after her visit.  She was only 53.  It’s just awful how such a beautiful person could have something like that happen to them while there are awful people everywhere, murders, rapists, vicious, violent people.  She was just so young.

I’m sure her life was full of love of friends and family.  I will always hope that even though she was taken so young, that her life was everything she wanted it to be and she was happy because that’s what she always seemed like.

It’s so funny to me, a single person who I never had the chance to meet impacted my life, brought me so much happiness just by giving kindness.  Whoever thought that a minute or two of humming into the phone could impact anyone?