Cause everything’s different this time

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So first off, I wanted to say thank you.

I have received so much support in the past few months from family, friends, sisters, and acquaintances with my various writing projects/blogging endeavors. When I write I’m hoping just to express my sentiments, thoughts, beliefs, reflections on my life and the fact it’s being so well received, shared, and supported gives me an immense amount of joy.

Summer thus far has been very, very busy for me. I’m juggling 2 jobs, writing for Swirl Nation/ The Tempest, starting my editorial internship (Curbside Splendor)- guest blogging (Mixed Root Stories-coming soon) and still adding more to the bucket- believe it or not.

Spring was very exhausting for me in all aspects of my life and I told myself when summer came around I would be not be lounging but attacking it. I figure I can sit back and enjoy mimosa’s when I graduate in December-but until then I’m going to make the most of my time-even if that means being busy 24/7.

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If you follow my snapchat’s you have seen I’ve recently taken up biking for the summer- AND I LOVE IT. I was not here last summer for this magical Chicago season I here so much about and I’m loving our weather. Outside of the occasional rain shower that disrupts my allergies, it’s gorgeous. Summer/Fall has become my favorite time period here and I really am enjoying the lens of Chicago from a bike.

It sounds cheesy but everything is so beautiful looking from the ground up- and it’s a nice start to my day in the AM/ end of my evening when I leave work. If you have the chance to bike in your area I highly encourage it- it’s a nice way to observe your surroundings and give yourself a little workout.

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I’m building back my strength mentally, physically, and spiritually which I’m also loving as I’m diving into reading, coloring, and really getting a better understanding of other ways to express myself.

What I’m really loving about this “moment” as my lovely Courtney calls it is that I did something different with my break-up energy I hadn’t before…and that’s used it tap into my inner badass. I told myself fine, it didn’t work out and I can be sad about that-and I have been, but I’m not going to live in those feelings and let them consume me.

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In the past, I swam in my sadness- and it manifested in my body, spirit, and overall energy that made me a crabby pants. I told myself NO this time around. You’re going to be busy, get s*** done, take chances, explore Chicago and hustle the crap out of your writing. I’m kind of in love with my busy right now. I’m developing deeper/new friendships with fellow classmates, working outside of my comfort zones, and really working to enhance all aspects of my career so when I graduate in December I’m gonna be guns blazing.

Courtney calls it channeling my “Inner Beyonce” which originally was inspired by many of my girlfriends I saw kicking ass in education, work outs, and just their own creative endeavors- Being BOLD-UNAPOLOGETIC-and FEARLESS in their selves I find so admirable

S/O to (Ashley/Marta/Tanisha- Veronica G./Jasmine/ Anali-Kylie/Daisy/Negesti)

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It’s barely the start of June and I cannot wait to share (crossed fingers) what could be the biggest game changer/collab/partnernship I could have at this point in my career- and if I get to make that leap- sky is officially the limit.

Thank you for supporting me and here’s to seeing some of you in Chicago in the next few months, in NOLA come August- or everywhere in between (Skype/Snapchat).tumblr_n05g1eyhZV1s0xjvpo1_500

What I’m listening to right now: Chance the Rapper’s ‘Coloring Book’ & Fifth Harmony’s 7/27

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White picket fences aren’t for everyone

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When you think “traditional woman” in the better sense of the word, what comes to mind? White picket fence? Mom? Caregiver? Housewife? A beautiful woman with a perfect red lip and apron to greet her hardworking husband back at the door from a long day at the office? The Betty to his Don Draper so to speak.

Even though over the years we millenlials have rearranged and transformed the historical stereotypes of the past from gender norms in clothing, to sexuality, are men still yearning for the Betty Crocker figure of yesteryears? As progressive as we are in this generation, it’s not too far fetched- even for my feminist loving self that in relationships men believe there are still roles to play and eventually we will settle into them.

If we as women buck and shake the system we aren’t viewed as game changers- instead we are stuck into a pile of burning flames that says we will be “Cat ladies” for the remainder of our lives. Those of us who choose to stick to our guns, values, beliefs, and view that a woman’s role is far more than a servant for the man are chastised and challenged with the notion of “Why?

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One of the most meaningful conversations I ever had in my life came from a man who has known for the better part of over ten years. A man I have come to call brother, family, confidant, and friend since I had a permit in high school to the moment we celebrated me turning eighteen and crossing the club threshold together. In this conversation we had a really deep, personal, heart to heart in which we talked about the future of our adult lives and what we wanted.

In what I will forever remember now as one of the times I became the most livid I have ever been at a person in my entire life I recount his reaction when I told him I was 90% sure I didn’t want to have children and that marriage was not on my “Must-Do,” life experience list. Coming from a traditional Puerto Rican upbringing he engaged in an argument with me that went from berating and belittling me to ending with “Good Luck finding a man who won’t want children or marriage, I hope you find someone to accommodate that.”

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Why would this be relevant now? Why not just let it roll off my back? For the life of me why would words so crude and condescending matter at this point in my life? Well all things come full circle and in light of being thrust back into the zoo that comes with being single…not wanting to get married or have children played an integral part of my break-up.

Now amongst the many things I am doing in this post break-up reflection period, you’re probably wondering why this is running across my brain. I probably should be eating ice cream and watching bad romantic comedies…which I’m not saying I haven’t done or won’t eventually get around to, but this is the first relationship I’ve had where life values I chose to vocalize — marriage and children weren’t integral to my life plan — really made an impact on me.

Can I say hand to bible that they will never happen? Of course not because I don’t know the future. Who knows if for the right man I won’t want to get married in 3 months and start popping out children left and right? I’m not saying it’s not possible. But it’s not a priority for me right now… and that’s okay. If we were living in the 1950’s I would have been married at eighteen or nineteen and have been well on my way to my third child now. However; we live in a day and age that allows a woman possibilities and choice and that’s not something I will act apologetic for.

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As I get older of course my choices and beliefs could change on this and I have to be conscious of how I am expressing these beliefs I have going into future relationships. Some men may be on board with the ambiguity of it, other’s may want a more finite answer about where I see myself in the midst of a familiar future. That is fair, we all have our standards and expectations going into a relationship and sharing our lives with someone.

A relationship after all is an investment you make financially, physically, and emotionally. Your taking up stock in someone the moment you allow for a constructed future that includes both people’s dreams. I’m happy that I had a boyfriend who didn’t guilt or shame me about what I wanted even if after awhile he decided that was not something he could live with in the relationship. I respect that, just like he respected that at this point in my life that’s not a need or desire I plan to fulfill.

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In a world where throwback thursday and nostaglia for the past runs as rapid as tweets, you’d think that it wouldn’t be as jarring to a man to hear that getting married or having children isn’t my top priority right now.

To be honest with it’s never been on my dream list, even at 25 where many woman are in this phase of “What is next?”

For me my career has always been a driving focus for my life. I have always set out to establish myself first and let the rest fall in line afterwards. I’m aware I don’t physically don’t have my entire life to have children but there are other options available to me like adoption if I changed my mind. Look at women like Sandra Bullock and Charlize Theron who have established families for themselves void of marriage or a relationship.Granted we aren’t all celebrities who can adopt children from exotic places, but they are few of many women who are forging their own path and doing it alone with no tears running down their face.

So here’s to being untraditional and proud of where I’m at at this point in my life and not being guilted to feel otherwise because that doesn’t live up to someone’s personal expectations and notions of who I should be or what I should want because I am woman.

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Speaking My Truth 24/7

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My oh My what a year 2016 has been. To be honest this whole 2nd year of grad school has had me feeling like I’m on a merry-go-round waiting for the stop.

I came into this second year of school invigorated and ready to take on the year and tackle what came my way. Instead to be frank I got my ass kicked every which way. Yup I said it. I admittedly got beat down and for once stayed down.

School was challenging, my home life felt stressful, friendships were falling out, my past relationship almost incomprehensibly hard to deal with and then I chose to add on to all that by getting a second job hostessing.

I burned out quick and bright our first semester and told myself I would get my footing and come back swinging this next semester, but while I stood tall, it felt like my hands were filled with lead.

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I gave up on myself. I think that’s the first time probably since I was 21 that I can say that honestly. I did not conquer my second year of grad school, I survived it. I had a few shining moments- this isn’t like a woe is me post. I can recognize my blessings and lessons learned and I had a many from working with amazing professors to new writing opportunities and having the love and support from friends and family near and far wanting me to succeed.

With 2 weeks till the end of the semester and a summer in Chicago beckoning to be explored I am finding my footing again. It’s hard though. Getting back up after getting knocked down time and time again is hard. The one thing I can say about 25 year old me versus 21 year old me is that I was able to clearly communicate and articulate my emotions and thoughts to my loved ones- even if for my best friend that meant calling every day to vent about my stresses. My wonderful best friend going through her own year of grad school and would still take the time to listen to me and talk me down.

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My fellow co-hort member Courtney and best friend who kept me motivated and provided small acts of kindness like a journal to write my feelings down and making me get up and have breakfast with her the morning after my break-up.

My Mom who sent me inspirational verses and texts just to remind me of my faith and that even if I was losing hope in myself and my purpose that there was a master plan for my life.

My baby sister who I can say with upmost confidence is more of a friend than we were growing up and just provided funny things to keep me smiling whether it was inside jokes, pop culture references or pics of my precious nephew.

Speaking the truth is hard. It’s scary. It was blindingly overwhelming at some points where I was sleeping in, not working out, binge eating, and throwing in the towel- literally  I was running on ‘E’ at every point in my life. I lost my motivation and inspiration. Social Media of course could paint a different picture, but sometimes seeing fellow friends, writers, and sister’s succeeding and pushing forth was really what helped propel me forward.

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Now I’m finding a good stride in my writing and an outlet in which to express my voice and perspective in a way that excites me. New collaborations, my internship, blogging…I’m really figuring out as a writer how I want my art to be communicated to the larger world. I realize now what I have to say- and that’s my truth.

I may have not excelled the way I envisioned I would, but my triumph came in recognizing my flaws and choosing to strengthen them rather in than wallow in them. To choose grace over guilt, and to let go of parts of my life that I frankly couldn’t hold on to anymore. There’s beauty in the breaking and in letting go and I’m looking forward this next chapter of my life.

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“Mark my words, that’s all that I have”

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My Oh My so much has occurred since the last time I blogged on here. In my second year, second semester of graduate school I finally feel like I’ve gotten back to my happy place of writing and generating material. And material that doesn’t just limit itself to my Fiction, but I’ve tapped into my Non-Fiction side in sharing some of my experiences on EliteDaily.com

I was first selected to be a contributing writer for them in late December and couldn’t really ask for anymore from the experience than what it has provided me thus far and that’s a whole can of LEARNING. Learning for me, my readers, and my loved ones in terms of the exposure this has given my writing.

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First of all let me say I want to thank everyone who has read and supported my latest writings with EliteDaily.com, when I say it meant the world that you shared, commented, and took the time to read it means alot. From acquaintances, sisters, Greek life, and family, the support was amazing. It’s nice to have that because I will never be able to sit here and tell you graduate school has been nothing less than how I describe undergrad–a big learning experience.

For those of you who know my undergraduate experience you’re familiar with my many lessons on personal growth, strength, and really being a Phoenix to myself after many blunders that occurred over the years. Grad life is no more glamorous, and don’t let me being in Chicago fool you. While I’d love to tell you all the lessons learned thus far- what I really want to say  is that being in Chicago puts me at a different disadvantage sometimes for support with loved ones. I do have the support of an amazing writing community and staff, and close friends here in Chicago, but there’s nothing like home. So thank you everyone.

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It was certainly a big surprise getting published because I spent the better part of January getting rejection after rejection. That was part of the reason I didn’t publicize being a contributor for the site because I was amassing too many rejections and not a single promising article that I could boast on. Being a contributing writer does not equal a ton of articles- it’s getting the opportunity to submit articles and seeing if the editors like any. Writing for a specific platform like EliteDaily requires me to alter some of my writing and voice to suit their style and readership so needless to say I did not hit that on the 1rst, 2nd, or even 3rd try.

In accordance with those rejections what I chose to write about varied from general materials to personal stories which you got a good blend of from both articles published. One was pretty general and the other was highly personal. To be honest with you, I had been so used to seeing the “Rejection” sign under an article I got to a point where I was writing just to write and had even forgotten I submitted some material altogether. Not the best idea I know–that was a lesson to take forward. To keep my drafts I submit so if they are published I will know what I wrote and what is edited/formatted for the published content on the site.

The other was learning my boundaries and the boundaries of others with the specificity of things I wrote. It’s easy to forget at times that others aren’t as comfortable being in the public eye as I am, so checking with whomever I choose to write on is important and will save me a many headaches. Writing about anything and everything has always been a way I express myself. Whether it was a diary, myspace blog, or facebook post of this blog, I have left an extensive scrapbook of my thoughts over the internet. I didn’t choose the writer life, it chose me. I firmly believe that is what God has me on this earth to do.

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Whether that’s through my Fiction (currently in-progress) or Non-Fiction like EliteDaily.com where I can share my experiences on a larger platform, or blogging where you just get more of my reflections. I have no doubt of what I want I’m here to do. I did for a bit, I had a professor who truly made me question my existence as a writer, and I had interesting journey finding my way back to my roots. I am once again writing a many articles to submit and hoping something catches the attention of the editors once again to publish. I plan to diversify my topics because there’s far more important things I have to say that doesn’t limit itself to my love life, even on a platform like EliteDaily.

I don’t take the opportunity lightly and I hope to keep the traction going shake up the literary community by sharing my experiences, as I have always done and always will  do. Is it easy? No. Are there days I want to shut my brain off? Hell Yeah. Am I going to give up? Never.

*I promise to blog more, it’s really my favorite. Grad school is just all consuming right now.

If you want to keep up with what I get published on EliteDaily.com here’s my profile with what will soon have mannyyyyyy articles. (Fingers Crossed)

http://elitedaily.com/users/djohnson/

 

Social Media Dating Shame- Why you should OWN how you met your partner

So it’s 2016. We are GEN-Y and have revolutionized the art of dating. Some could say it’s to our own detriment, others could praise us for our bold and direct way at being able to explicitly state what we want, who we want, and how we want it. In the booming age of technology finding your significant other has become more accessible. This accessibility has helped long distance relationships flourish, broken the barriers between country wide communication, and introduced a plethora of options for who you want to make your significant other. Whether you met through Tinder, SoulSwipe, DM’s in Instagram, Facebook, or even through Snapchat (it’s possible, met my current boyfriend on it through a mutual friend) the time for social media date shame is over.

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There are many people who feel that surge of embarrassment or creeping fear of judgment when admitting to friends, family members or strangers how their relationship bloomed. That stir in the stomach that somehow meeting someone or seeking the company of another person in a world filled with billions of people through your own volition reflects something wrong with you. Not everyone can boast with pride about choosing to explore this avenue of dating because to some it’s “desperate,” or a “last ditch attempt” at dating. Choosing to use a form of social media to contact someone your interested in is short of anything other than bold and courageous. There is a fearlessness you have to acquire when contacting a complete stranger using only bits and pieces of things you may or may not know about them to even communicate with them.

If you’re on Instagram you can only piece together the image of someone’s life by what they choose to post on their page whether that’s pictures, selfies, quotes, food etc. You contact someone through a DM hoping that not only will they take you seriously since DM’s have become notorious for hook-ups and that they at minimum respond. In dating specific apps like Tinder/SoulSwipe etc. you build a dating profile in hopes that someone your contacting or who contacts you is even a fraction of someone you could hope to date. You engage in conversation praying that you’re not being “catfished” or there not going to propose something sleazy like “Netflix & Chill,” for your first date. Dating on social media is hard and time-consuming, many good phone batteries have perished to the extensive editing, clicking, and checking as one does throughout the day just waiting for that connection we hope translates into reality if we get to meet.

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You run through the hoops, jump the hurdles, establish each other isn’t a psycho-killer or murderer and embark on a relationship. A relationship that may have the basis of social media but grows to be just like everyone else’s- a relationship or partnership in which you grow, learn, love, and enjoy the company of another person. We all just want to be wanted and loved, so why apologize for that? Why be ashamed that your roots are tied to social media? If your happy with that person no one should tease you, make fun of you, or you make you feel otherwise about how you obtained your happiness. Let’s face it, the time of the classic “meet-que,” of our favorite romantic comedies is few and far between. Not impossible, but I’m pretty sure I’d be old and gray still waiting for that perfect to guy to reach out and grab the same book as me at my local bookshop with the belief we’re going to fall in love.

In the old days people met “organically,” through mutual friends, and now the odds of meeting a potential partner or dating has increased exponentially with the explosion of social media and dating apps. So why be ashamed? We are the generation of innovation, communication, and revolution, so why feel fear in admitting your relationship bloomed from an app? Be fearless, Be bold, and say it loud and proud knowing not only that your not alone in your social media dating endeavor, but we salute your bravery to put yourself out there.

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