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Working In Education: How I Feel About Back To School

Working in education has given me an entirely different perspective on the “Back to School” season. Many parents and students dread the back to school season but it’s not like that for me. Yes, I’ll admit that working in education is stressful but there is one thing I know for sure and that’s that I love my job.

I know a lot of people are already back in school but I have a week left of Summer and I’m feeling A LOT. By the end of last year, I was feeling immense burnout. Honestly, I didn’t think I was going to survive another year. I was exhausted. But little did I know, I would end up doing summer school which meant I wasn’t going to get much of a break this year.

Summer school was full of chaos but it was the perfect reminder of why I love my job. It’s because I love my kids. Their excitement to see me and learn new things every day warms my heart. My kiddos are nothing short of spectacular. They truly are some of the smartest, silliest and kindest kids I’ve ever met and they’ve never let their disabilities stop them. Each of them inspire me to be a better person every single day.

So, when people ask me how I feel about back to school, I tell them it makes me sad but excited at the same time. Sad because the summer is ending but excited because I get to see all of my kids again. I’m so thankful that I get to be part of their learning journey. I can’t wait to get back to work and start the new school year.

Working in education has changed the back to school season for me forever. It is a season for new beginnings, continued journeys and so much more for our students. I know it can be daunting but don’t let that keep you from all the wonderful experiences that come with going back to school.

Read NPR’s article Keep An Eye On Your Student’s Mental Health This Back-to-School Season. Really great read

Do you work in education too? Check out my post Back To School Self-Care here on TurningPointCT.org!

To The Friends I’ve Grown Apart From…

friends

I wish someone had told me that getting older and growing up meant that I’d grow apart from the friends I thought I’d have forever. I came across a post recently on Facebook about this very subject. It was a letter written to friends someone had grown apart from but it rang true for me too. So, I wanted to write a letter of my own.

To The Friends I’ve Grown Apart From,

While we may not talk anymore, I’m so thankful for the chapter of my life that you were in. We don’t talk everyday anymore and while that can be really sad, I know that it’s okay. It seems our lives would only intertwine for a short time but I’m still so thankful for it. You taught me so much about life and myself, I don’t think I could ever repay you. You have no idea how much love I still have for you.

We’ve made so many wonderful memories and I will never forget them. I will cherish them for the rest of my life. I see you making new memories with new people and honestly, I couldn’t be happier for you. Some of you have new homes, babies, jobs or even marriages and that’s so amazing. I’m sad but all I want for you is to be who you are supposed to be, to live the life you want.

We don’t pour our hearts out to each other anymore but I am still cheering you on always. Whether we parted on good or bad terms, I am still supporting you from a distance. Thank you for being a part of my journey and loving me through all my difficult times. I am truly grateful.

Sincerely,

An Old Friend

Read Kaitlyn Dinner’s article How Losing Friendships Can Be a Sign of Growth right on Medium’s website!

Check out The TurningPointCT Podcast Friendships to hear about Kailey, Michael and Therell’s friendships over time here on our website!

Bisexual Visibility Is Important Too!

bisexual visibility

September 23 is Bisexual Visibility Day. This day is to recognize and even celebrate the identities of your bisexual friends and family members. Bisexual individuals actually make up more than half of the LGBTQIA+ community unlike what most people think. We must take today to remember the importance of bisexual visibility.

Bisexual Visibility Day is our chance to validate the identities of bisexual individuals because that’s what they need most. They need validation and support. If a bisexual woman marries a man, society considers her a liar because she chose to marry a man over a woman. It’s the same for bisexual men who marry women. But that’s just not how it works guys. You can be attracted to both genders even if you marry someone the opposite of your gender. It doesn’t mean you’re attracted to the other gender any less.

Bisexuality isn’t being a little “gay” or being a little “straight. It’s an identity of its own. That’s why it matters. They deserve the same uplifting encouragement that we offer to their community counterparts. I want you all to take today to appreciate, support and encourage your bisexual friends and family members. Make sure they know that they have your love and support.

How will you show your bisexual friends and family that they matter?

Check out LGBT Great’s post Bisexuality Visibility Day: Proudly Standing Together to learn more about Bi Visibility Day.

Read my post Supporting Your LGBTQIA+ Friends During Pride Month right here on TurningPointCT.org!

My Favorite Shows To Binge-Watch

In honor of Binge Day, I’ve decided to share the shows that I like to binge on the regular. There’s only a handful of shows that I find comfort in that I like to binge. Today, I’ll be sharing my top five favorite shows that I like to binge watch. They’re all over the place but they’re the absolute best (in my opinion anyways)!

Bob’s Burgers

bob's burgers binge

My absolute favorite favorite show to binge watch is Bob’s Burgers. I’m a huge fan. The storylines are relatable for anyone watching, the humor is dry but still magnificent and the characters are just wonderful. For those of you who don’t watch the show, it’s about the Belcher family who own a burger restaurant and have to navigate the world and its obstacles. I feel like I can see a little bit of myself in all of the characters of the show. They each have their quirks and I love it so much. I’ve probably watched this show over a hundred times if I’m being honest. It’s so easy to lose track of time watching this.

Criminal Minds

Now, this one is definitely a weird one BUT I know, I’m not the only one who could binge watch this over and over again. There’s just something about the BAU and all of their cases that drag me in every single time. I can’t get enough. It’s so hard to pick a favorite character but I’d have to pick Dr. Spencer Reid for sure. Each of the characters in the show have their own quirks and they all mesh so well, their relationship as a family versus just a team reminds me that there really are good people out there catching the bad guys (even if the show’s not real – there MUST be good people out there like them)!

Parks & Recreation

parks and rec binge

Now, I know there’s been a heavy debate between whether Parks & Recreation is better than The Office and vice versa. Personally, I don’t think they’re that comparable. There’s two totally different dynamics happening and they’re both equally enjoyable. To each their own though, I will say lately I prefer Parks & Recreation. All of the characters in the show have something different to offer us as the audience. My personal favorite is Ron Swanson, he’s a no bs kind of guy and isn’t afraid to tell it how it is. I think I see a little bit of Ron in myself sometimes (which I don’t think is a bad thing).

Schitt’s Creek

If you haven’t seen Schitt’s Creek yet, definitely get on it because I’m telling you, you’re missing out. Following this high maintenance family through their journey navigating the real, working and difficult world is both relatable and hilarious to watch. David is one of my favorite characters in the series, his energy is everything that I currently embody and I love it. This crazy family is not at all what you’d expect but if you want to know more, you’re going to have to watch it for yourself. I also think there are some important lessons about life sprinkled throughout the show and those matter so much in a world like this.

Ghosts (US Version)

And finally, my current fave to watch over and over is CBS’ series Ghosts. It’s the US version of BBC’s television series Ghosts. It features a young couple who inherit a house full of ghosts but only the wife can see them. Each of the ghosts have features on them that pertain to their death. It just makes you wanna know more about what happened to them. I’ve fallen in love with all of the ghosts and I could watch them over and over again but still never get tired of it. The second season just came out too and I can’t wait to see what kind of shenanigans they get into this time around.

What’re your favorite shows to binge watch?

Check out NBC News’ article What Happens to Your Brain When You Binge-Watch a TV series right on their website!

Read Therell’s post Impractical Jokers: One of My Favorite Shows here on TurningPointCT.org to hear about his favorite show 🙂

Baking It Perfect: National Baker’s Day

baking

On September 23, we celebrate National Baker’s Day. Baking is one of my favorite hobbies so you can imagine how thrilled I was to learn about it. When I’m baking, I feel like nothing in the world can go wrong. I’m truly content when I’m making cupcakes, cakes, cookies and so much more. Now I have a day that’s just for me and my favorite hobby.

Lately, I haven’t had much time to bake and sometimes, that puts a damper on my day. I love to try new recipes and experiment. With baking, I feel like the possibilities for delicious treats are simply never-ending. Over the summer, I decided to try my hand at making my own buttercream frosting and it came out better than I expected.

I made chocolate cupcake batter from scratch and then I thought about what I could do with these chocolate cupcakes. I mean there are so many possibilities. I ended up settling for two different buttercreams. One was an Oreo buttercream and the other was peanut butter buttercream. They both tasted spectacular. I topped the Oreo ones with half an Oreo and the peanut butter ones with a chocolate dipped pretzel. My friends and family were so impressed, some even thought that I had bought them.

Baking is an art to me. It takes so much time, effort, creativity and love to create all of these delicious treats. So, please take the time to appreciate all the wonderful bakers that you have in your life!

Check out my post And The Baker’s Gonna Bake, Bake, Bake here on TurningPointCT.org!

Read Better Homes & Gardens’ post 6 Reasons Baking Is A Therapeutic Form of Self-Care on their website 🙂

Encouragement Matters: You Can Do It!

encouragement you can do it

Today we are celebrating Mayor Belinda LaForce of Arkansas’ National Day of Encouragement. We celebrate this day to remind the people around us that encouragement does matter. It may seem like a very small gesture to encourage someone but small gestures can go a long way. Today is devoted to lifting the spirits of the those around us while making a positive impact at the same time.

Encouraging people is what’s going to keep the world going. With just a few words, we can inspire our friends, family and even coworkers to reach for the stars and chase their dreams. Sometimes, when we want to give up, all we need is to hear the right words. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I was feeling this way growing up. All I wanted was for someone to encourage me not to give up on my dreams.

Because I was lacking encouragement while I was growing up, I made sure to always encourage my friends and family so they didn’t give up on their dreams either. I know my life would be so different if I had a few words of encouragement but I’m also proud of all of the obstacles I’ve faced because they’ve given me the ability to grow.

So, today I want you to remember why encouragement matters. First and foremost, it’s free! It costs absolutely nothing to offer your friends, family and even strangers a few reassuring words. The right words have the ability to remind us to never give up, to keep going. There are so many different ways to encourage the people around us and with that comes so many benefits. Encouragement is self-motivating while teaching us to become better role models.

Take today to encourage the people around you to keep going.

How will you be encouraging the people around you today?

Read We Live Life Young’s article Why We Need To Encourage Others 🙂

Check out TurningPointCT’s post Advice Vs. Encouragement here on the website for a cute comic about encouragement!

Back To School Self-Care

back to school

Summer is almost over and the “Back to School” season is right around the corner. Students are probably getting overwhelmed and planning their back to school self-care routines but what about the teachers? I know you are expecting some self-care tips for all the students out there but this time’s different. As someone who works in education, I know how important self-care can be during the school year. So, today I wanted to share some tips to keep all the young teachers and support staff going through the year.

One of the biggest things I struggle with during the year is asking for help when I’m getting overwhelmed. Working in education, especially Special Education, is no easy task and it’s certainly not always easy to ask for help. Being a teacher, or support staff is a really stressful job. You might feel like you can’t ask for help but I promise that it’s okay. Asking for help has been one of the most difficult and helpful things I’ve ever learned.

Another tip I’d like to share with you is learning to practice mindfulness. This can be as simple as practicing meditation or conscious breathing exercises. Mindfulness might also come in the form of positive affirmations or acknowledging how you’re feeling. For me personally, acknowledging how I’m feeling throughout the day, week and even the year as a whole is a HUGE part of my self-care routine. I never really did that before and it made me feel like I was drowning. Now, I feel so much better about acknowledging my feelings. It allows me to reflect and take action, and it can do the same for you!

The final thing I’d like to share with you is an important one. Learn to set and maintain your boundaries during the school year. I know sometimes that school days can be stressful but don’t take your work or your stress home with you. It won’t do you any good there. I have done this all too often and it is so not worth the consequences that come with it. Your home life after school is for you to relax and take a breath, not for you to stress about work. Leave that stress in the classroom!

Back to school self-care is going to look different for every teacher and staff member out there. But no matter how you do it, remember to keep up with it because it work wonders for your mental health. It’ll keep you from getting burnt out too fast.

What self-care practices are you utilizing for the Back to School season?

Read the National Education Association’s article the Importance of Self-Care As a Teacher to learn why it truly matters.

Check out our Back To School Podcast here on TurningPointCT.org! 🙂

Let Go Of The Life You’ve Planned…

This week, I wanted to share one of my favorite Joseph Campbell quotes about life. It says, “We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” Funny enough, it’s from a one of my favorite Criminal Minds episodes (Season 9, Episode 24 if you’re curious). Little did I know, this quote would teach me something important about life.

This quote isn’t about giving up on what you want. It’s about preparing yourself let go of what you have to make space for the things that are to come. This is something I knew I needed to hear. I spent so much time trying to live the life I planned for myself that I forgot to actually live. I didn’t want to do that anymore and this quote was a good reminder. In my heart, I knew that there was a life waiting for me and I didn’t have to worry.

Sometimes, the life you planned for yourself isn’t the one you need. There’s a life waiting for you out there. One that is full of all the things you’ll need to grow and live a life full of happiness. Don’t be afraid to let go of the things that you have. You have to leave room to grow. Don’t forget that.

“We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

Joseph Campbell

Read Psych Alive’s post Live Your Own Life: How To Create The Life of Your Dreams to figure out where to start!

Check out Kailey’s post Taking My Power Back here on TurningPointCT.org to hear about what she’s doing to make her life a good one!

Adventuring West: My Trip to Wyoming

For those of you who know me personally, you’ll know that I’m not super spontaneous. Especially when it comes to traveling. Personally, I like to plan things out. I want to make sure that I’m always prepared. So, this next part is definitely going to surprise you! About a week and a half ago, I decided to take a trip with a close friend to Cheyenne, Wyoming. My friend is moving there! Adventuring to the West was the BEST spontaneous decision I’ve ever made.

I’ve never really left New England except a few family trips to Virginia Beach and Myrtle Beach a few years ago. So, you can imagine how nervous I was to be going to the West. Oh, and get this, we drove there. It took almost 30 hours but it was so worth it. We drove through 9 different states, 7 of which I’ve never been to so you can imagine my my excitement.

We drove through Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and finally, Wyoming to get to our destination. Of those states, I had never been to Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and for obvious reasons, Wyoming. As an added bonus, I got to visit Colorado while I was there but I’ll tell you more later! Sadly, I don’t remember much, I was sleeping a majority of the ride. Oops!

It was a long 28, almost 29, hours but we made it safely. We spent a good chunk of that first day just sleeping our lives away but it’s only because we were so tired. It wasn’t very exciting. We didn’t go anywhere but we did start to unpack some of their things and start to settle in. We spent most of that weekend just hanging out. By Monday morning, we were definitely ready to start adventuring.

On Monday, we decided to do some small errands. Nothing crazy. We were still trying to get used to all of it. The next day, we ended up taking a trip to the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens. It was absolutely breathtaking and by far, my favorite part of the trip. There are so many beautiful plants there and I absolutely fell in love. I don’t think I could name all of the plants in there if I even wanted to! I’m so glad that I was able to visit because you all know how much I love my plants. I felt like I was right at home with all of that greenery!

The view from the second floor of the inside of the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens!

After the gardens, we walked around Lions Park, which is where the gardens are located. It’s a pretty big park and there’s not much there but it’s absolutely beautiful. I even got to catch some Pokémon (Yes, I still play Pokémon Go. Don’t judge me). We ended up going back to the house for a little while and then got Sonic. The next day, we took a trip to Colorado!

We decided to drive into Fort Collins, Colorado. It was pretty rainy but we figured, why not? We did not have a plan. We were just driving until we found something cool. On our way into Fort Collins, we came across a canyon. We knew that’s where we had to go. Driving into that canyon was so peaceful, I was so glad that we got to go.

A peaceful view I got to see in Bellvue, Colorado

I can go on and on about everything I got to do but I won’t. Because there was something I got to experience on this trip that was unlike anything I felt before. I felt peace. For the first time in my life, I felt like I had no worries. I know there’s always going to be something to worry about but in that moment, there wasn’t.

Adventuring West really put my life into perspective for me. I have always put everyone else first and have never really made what I wanted a priority. This time, I did something I wanted and it was one of the best choices that I could have made. It gave me the chance to really think about what I want out of life and I want so much more out of it. I want to do more of what makes me happy and so should you!

Check out Cheyenne’s website for more Things to Do if you plan on adventuring there!

Read Kailey’s post My Trip To Oregon here on TurningPointCT.org to hear about her adventure in the West!

Stay Active In The Summer!

Summer is one of the best seasons to stay active in! The weather’s great, there’s a little more free time for some of us and it’s just an overall great time to really get out there and adventure! There’s a huge variety of activities that you can do in the summertime! With that being said, I’d love to share some of my favorite summer activities. Some of my favorite activities during this season are hiking, swimming and just really getting out to explore.

Let’s start with hiking. In the last couple of years, I really got into hiking. It kept me active in so many ways and I loved every bit of it. Hiking in the summer can being a little bit crazy because it can get pretty hot and uncomfortable if you don’t dress properly. Through hiking, I’ve seen so many beautiful views and I can’t wait to see more. It’s also helped me to maintain my weight and keep a clear headspace.

Now, swimming is an obvious summer activity! I mean, come on, all the beaches are open and the weather’s amazing. You just can’t pass it up! I mean the water is refreshing on your skin and nothing beats beach hair. Swimming is also a really great way to keep your heartrate up while also improving the strength of your lungs. It’s also a really great way to relieve any stress that you may be having.

Getting out, staying active and exploring in the sun can do wonders for your mental health too! Did you know spending time in the sun helps your body produce more melatonin at night? Producing more melatonin allows you to sleep better and even feel better as a whole. Give it a try if you haven’t!

Check out Smithsonian Magazine’s article How Exercise Boosts the Brain and Improves Mental Health right on their website!

Read Kailey’s post Adventuring Alone here on TurningPointCT.org to see how her adventures are keeping her active!

Your Body Is A Summer Body

I have no doubt that you’ve heard the phrase “summer body”. To most, a “summer body” is a skinny and well-toned body but I’m here to remind you that’s not true. All bodies are summer bodies but we’ve allowed the world around us to dictate what we should look like so we don’t always feel that way.

We can’t keep letting our culture decide whether or not our bodies are ready for the summer. We have grown up in a world where we believe that we aren’t beautiful simply because we’re not thin and don’t wear bikinis to show it all off. I’m here to tell you that that has to stop. Your body IS a summer body!

No worries if you’re still learning to love your body, it took me some time too. When I was overweight, I used to hate the summertime. I couldn’t wear what I wanted because I was so worried about what everyone else had to say. I didn’t have a summer body, so why was I going to show it off in a bikini? That’s the thing. I wasn’t. I let society bully me into believing that my body wasn’t good enough for the summer.

Eventually, I didn’t care anymore. I realized that my body could be a summer body if I wanted it to! I was overweight still but I’d finally decided to buy my first two piece bathing suit. Let me tell you, that was an emotional roller coaster. I was so happy to be wearing something that I felt confident in. For a moment, I thought to myself, why did I ever let someone tell me what I can look like for the summer. I mean, seriously? Why should we let someone else determine what we should look like in the summer, let alone any other season? Truth is, we shouldn’t. It’s not for the world to decide.

So, next time you’re wondering whether your body’s ready for summer, just say yes. It’s not anyone else’s choice to decide what your body should look like or what you should wear. You wanna wear a two piece? Do it. I bet you’ll great. Crop top and shorts but your pudge is showing? Who cares! It’s not their body. Do more of what makes you happy!

Check out SELF’s post Can We All Just Stop With Summer ‘Body Goals’? 🙂

Check out our podcast Body Image Struggles to hear about body image struggles and tips for dealing with negative self-talk!

Summer Self-Care Matters Too!

blue illustrated hello summer facebook post

School’s out and summer is in full swing! Everyone’s so focused on having fun and going out that they forget to take care of themselves. I’m here to remind you that summer self-care is just as important as your regular routine!

I know that taking care of yourself probably isn’t your first thought during the summer but it really should be. I mean, don’t you want to feel good while you’re out doing doing fun things? The answer should be yes. Summer is the best time for self-care, the weather’s warm and there are so many things you can do to take care of yourself.

When I was younger, I didn’t care much about taking care of myself during the summertime, I just wanted to have fun. Now that I’m older, I know how important self-care is especially in the summer. I was going out with friends and going on vacation but it didn’t feel right because I wasn’t feeling good mentally or physically. I did those things anyways because I didn’t want it to keep me from the fun.

Having fun is great but so is feeling mentally and physically good, that’s why you can’t give up your self-care routine just because it’s summertime. Before you go out and do all those fun summer activities, make sure that you take the time to check-in with yourself.

Check out 15 Activities for Your Summer Self-Care Checklist from Mental Health First Aid for some self-care tips for the season!

Read Kailey’s post Getting Out In Nature Is My Self-Care right here on TurningPointCT.org as I’m sure she’ll be in nature all summer!

Supporting Your LGBTQIA+ Friends During Pride Month

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While Pride Month might just seem like a month full of celebration for the LGBTQIA+ community, I promise you that it’s so much more than that. This is the first Pride Month that I’ll be celebrating for myself but prior to this, I’ve always just done my best to support my friends who are LGBTQIA+ during pride. Supporting your friends during Pride Month is critical! Over time, I’ve learned that there are several ways to support your friends during pride. So, I’d like to share a few of them with you.

You can start supporting your friends during Pride Month by educating yourself. If you’re unfamiliar with the LGBTQIA+ community, or maybe know very little about it, then educating yourself on what you don’t know is one of the best ways that you can support them. Take the opportunity to familiarize yourself with the spectrum of sexualities revolving around Pride Month. This is also a chance for you to learn about the history of Pride Month and how it came to be!

Another way that you provide great support to them is by using their proper names and pronouns. I understand that you might have known someone prior to their transition but you’ve gotta respect who they’ve become. The person they used to be might be part of them but that’s not who they are anymore. It’s incredibly disheartening to be invalidated by the lack of respect that people have for your identity. Don’t be disrespectful. I know it will take time but make the effort to learn your friends’ new names and/or pronouns.

My final piece of advice on supporting your LGBTQIA+ friends during Pride Month is that if you’re a straight ally, don’t make pride about you. It’s not about you. It’s a month for your friends to take the opportunity to showcase their pride in who they are! Pride can be difficult sometimes for those who have not yet come out to the world, remind them that it’s okay to be themselves even if it’s in private.

Supporting your friends who are LGBTQIA+ during Pride Month and all year round is important. It’s the best way to remind them that they matter, that they are loved. Support is critical especially when it comes to being an ally.

How are you supporting your friends during Pride Month?

Check out Brittany Wong’s article How To Be A Good Straight Ally To LGBTQ Friends During Pride on Huffpost!

Read my post Pride Month Feels A Little Different This Year right here on TurningPointCT.org! 🙂

Pride Month Feels A Little Different This Year

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This year, celebrating Pride Month is going to be a little different for me. Before I get into that, I want to talk about the importance of pride month. We celebrate Pride Month in June in recognition of the Stonewall Riots that occurred in June of 1969. The Stonewall Riots were a result of several police raids that occurred at the Stonewall Inn — a well known gay bar. After the second raid, members of the LGBT community were fed up. The constant police harassment and discrimination was tiring, so they rioted.

These riots jumpstarted a movement that would change the lives of the LGBTQIA+ community today and for that, I’m thankful. June is for celebrating the voices and cultures of this community as well as the support of equal rights for those in the LGBTQIA+ community. Up until this year, I’ve never actually celebrated Pride Month. I never felt like I could. I was raised in a home where being gay was okay for everyone else but not me.

It would make me feel awful. I just want to be me. Who I love shouldn’t affect how people see me. I decided to write my coming out post last year because I was tired of just pretending I was someone I wasn’t. I wasn’t out to very many people and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity. It took a really long time for me to figure out who I was but now that I have, I’m not letting anyone take that from me. I’m pansexual and I love hearts, not parts and I’m proud of who I am.

So, that’s why this year, Pride Month is going to be different for me. I want people to know that I’m proud of who I am. I don’t care what they have to say about who I love. This month is for people like me to showcase the pride we have in our sexuality as well as the community. I will be celebrating all month as much as I can. I hope to take my brother Dante and his boyfriend to their first pride parade, it would be my first too! I’m so excited to celebrate this month!

How are you planning to celebrate Pride Month?

Read Bustle’s article What The History Of Pride Month Means For Celebrations Today, really great read!

Provincetown Made Me Feel Safe

Like I mentioned, I’m trying to practice more social self-care so I decided to be a little spontaneous for once. Last weekend, a couple of friends, my brother and I took a trip to Provincetown. For those of you who weren’t aware, Provincetown has been a long-standing safe haven for many artists as well as lesbians and gay men. I’ve wanted to visit forever and my friend, Sienna, finally convinced us to go!

Sienna had been there before but this was a first for the rest of us. From the minute we entered the town, we were already feeling so welcomed. I always worry for myself and friends being so openly LGBTQIA+ in a world that can be so unkind. But being here felt different. I didn’t have to worry about anyone making rude comments or making me feel bad. Everyone was so free to just be themselves and I loved every bit of it.

I could tell that even Dante was feeling this way. The people who were there were all so friendly. Everyone was friendly and incredibly kind. Honestly, I didn’t feel like I had to worry about being in danger. Though, I was still cautious but it was hard to feel unsafe in a place that was so bright, happy and welcoming to all.

Provincetown is amazing, I love it and we will be visiting again because there are so many more places to see. We only did a few things but those few things were amazing. We each got two pressed pennies to commemorate our trip and tried some of the best foods. It was all amazing. We even got to enjoy the beach in beautiful weather. I cannot wait to go back!

Want to plan your own trip to Provincetown? Visit their tourism website here! 🙂

Also read my post Coming Out As Pansexual right here on TurningPointCT.org!

How I’ve Been Practicing Social Self-Care

The best breakfast from Muddy Waters on Bank Street

Last week, I shared different types of self-care and how you can practice them. So, this week, I’ve decided to put some time aside to practice a little social self-care. Just to refresh your memory, social self-care is setting time aside to nurture the important relationships in your life. Socializing is great for your mental health and has a variety of benefits. Social self-care is something that I often struggle with because I tend to shut people out when I’m feeling low instead of reaching out. I know I shouldn’t do that but honestly, I can’t help it.

Like I said, I’ve never been great at practicing social self-care. I’m trying to be better about it though, this weekend I took my little brother and two of my closest friends to my favorite breakfast place. It’s called Muddy Waters and it’s on Bank Street in New London, CT. They serve some of the best pastries, coffee and breakfast foods that I’ve ever had. I was incredibly excited to bring them all here because none of them had ever been there before and you can’t visit Bank Street without stopping here!

My friend Charisma & I

Spending the day out with my friends and my brother reminded me that it’s so important to maintain these relationships. I’m often on my own doing little tasks here and there but never taking much of a break. Charisma, Sienna and Dante are proof that taking the time to nourish your relationships can really go a long way. Spending time with them gave me a much needed break from all of the things that have been stressing me out. For a few hours, I had nothing to worry about but whether I was having a good time.

I will be spending more time nourishing the important relationships in my life because without them, I’m not sure what I would do. I never realized how important socializing and getting out with your friends was. I’m so used to drowning in my own misery and being alone that I forgot how wonderful it was to let go and just be with the people I love.

My brother Dante & my friend Sienna

Take care of your relationships and spend more time with your friends! It’s good for them and it’s most certainly good for you!

How are YOU practicing social self-care?

Check out Campus Well’s article Why Social Support Is The Most Overlooked Self-Care Routine on their website!

Read my post Things That Are Actually Self-Care But Seem Rude right here on TurningPointCT.org!

Self-Care Practices You Should Be Practicing

Many people view self-care practices as a luxury versus a priority. Taking care of ourselves should be just as important as anything else. It’s not only about pampering and relaxing. Self-care practices are for promoting better health and general wellbeing. There are self-care practices for every aspect of your life! There are practices to address your physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual health.

Physical Self-Care

Physical self-care is all about your body. It’s about making sure that the physical needs you have are being met. Physical needs can include sleep and diet habits. You should be asking yourself if you’re getting enough sleep or if you’re eating enough. Up until 2020, I really struggled with this. I wasn’t sleeping very much or eating well at all and my depression began to spiral. I was feeling stuck and I knew something had to change. Honestly, I just wanted to feel better. Now I eat better and I make sure to take care of myself though some days are still hard.

Mental Self-Care

Next, we’ll talk about your mental health. Mental health self-care practices involve keeping your brain active and staying healthy mentally. Practices for mental self-care can include doing puzzles, reading a book or even learning about something you’re interested in but it doesn’t stop there. You can practice mental self-care by also practicing self-love, self-gratitude and acceptance of yourself. When you are kinder to yourself, you can cultivate an inner dialogue that is healthier for you in the long run. Practicing self-love and acceptance is one of the best things I’ve ever taught myself to do. I don’t have as many negative thoughts about myself and I’m so much happier with who I am because of it.

Emotional Self-Care

Emotional self-care allows you become better aware of the emotions that you are feeling. It teaches you how to deal with emotions like anger or sadness with healthy coping skills versus trying to bottle it all up. You should be able to freely express and acknowledge the emotions that you feel. When you’re feeling emotions that make you feel uncomfortable, you should try talking to someone you trust. You can even try setting time aside for you to process your emotions and how they make you feel.

Social Self-Care

Believe it or not, socializing is actually great for your mental health. It’s also a critical part of self-care. While it is a critical piece, sometimes life gets crazy and you find yourself neglecting the important relationships in your life. Having close and intimate connections is vital to your overall wellbeing so you should be sure to care for them. The only way to ensure that you are taking care of these relationships is by putting time and effort into them. Unfortunately, remembering to take care of my close relationships is not exactly my strong suit. Before, I used to go weeks without speaking to many of my friends because I was in such a bad place but now I know when I’m feeling that way, that my friends and family are the people I should be reaching out to.

Spiritual Self-Care

Spiritual self-care involves nurturing your spirit. I know a lot of people see the world spiritual and automatically assume it’s about religion but what I’m talking about is not. Nurturing your spirit allows you the ability to develop a deeper sense of meaning, understanding, or connection with the universe and those who inhabit it. Practices for spiritual self-care can include activities such as meditation. I don’t personally practice spiritual self-care but it can certainly be good for you.

Self-care is so important. It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity and we should all be practicing it. Please remember to take care of yourself because someone isn’t always going to be there to do it for you.

Check out Psychology Today‘s post Self-Care: 12 Ways To Take Better Care Of Yourself to learn how to improve your overall wellbeing!

Also read my post Things That Are Actually Self-Care But Seem Rude right here on TurningPointCT.org! 🙂

Things That Are Actually Self-Care But Seem Rude

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Sometimes, there are things we do and choices we make that might seem rude to other people. That’s not the case, it’s a form of self-care! We tend to put others feelings before our own and we should really stop doing that because what we need and want matters too. In fact, those needs and wants should be our first priority. I wanted to share a few things with you and remind you that these things you’re doing aren’t rude or selfish. I’ve shared a few below:

Saying No

It’s okay to say no. In fact, saying no is great for your mental health. It teaches the people around you what your boundaries are and how to respect them. Say no to things that make you unhappy or uncomfortable because you have to remember that what you need is just as important as everything else. When you choose to say yes when you really want to say no, you’re teaching yourself to put others before you. Don’t do that. Take care of you first!

Changing Your Mind

It’s okay to change your mind! Never let anyone make you feel bad for changing your mind. You are allowed to. We are always changing our minds. Think about it this way, when you were little you dreamed of becoming something but maybe that’s changed for you now. When I was younger, I wanted to be an artist and then a teacher. Eventually, I settled on being a nurse but I didn’t end up wanting to do that. Now, I’m working towards being a school psychologist and I’ve never been happier. I changed my mind and that’s okay. As we grow as individuals, we begin to learn what we like and what we don’t so never feel bad about changing your mind!

Setting Healthy Boundaries

Setting healthy boundaries is great for your mental health. It teaches the people around you respect as well as what your limits are. When you make your boundaries clear, people will begin understand what you are and aren’t okay with, and they’ll hopefully adjust their behavior to respect your boundaries. The people who don’t respect your boundaries are ones you should not want in your life. Healthy boundaries can also help you improve your self-esteem and make you more confident. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries, you deserve the same respect you give.

Putting Yourself First

This is a really big one. I struggle with this myself sometimes. Putting yourself first is NOT rude or selfish. It is the best thing that you can do for your mental health. We spend so much time trying to fulfil the needs of everyone around us and we forget about ourselves. I know that I’ve spent a majority of my time people pleasing and I forgot to take care of myself. What we need and want is just as important as what everyone else wants. Always put yourself first, no matter what anyone says.

Taking A Break

Please remind yourself that taking a break is okay. Sometimes, when we’ve got a thousand things to do we forget to take a break. We run ourselves into the ground until we’ve got nothing left to give. It shouldn’t be like that. We shouldn’t have to feel bad for needing to rest. Instead of running ourselves thin, we have to remind ourselves to take a break. We have to recharge and rest, it’s okay if everything doesn’t get done right away. Please know that it’s okay to need a break or rest.

Read The New York Times article Why Self-Care Isn’t Selfish to learn why practicing self-care is important and not selfish right on their website!

Check out Kailey’s post Getting Out In Nature Is My Self-Care here on TurningPointCT.org 🙂

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: My Everyday Battle

Cream Illustrated Cleaner Cleaning Flyer

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is the presence of obsessions and compulsions performed to neutralize the obsessions. Obsessions are repetitive thoughts that can be uncontrollable. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors done in reaction to an obsession. These behaviors or mental acts that have an end goal of reducing stress and anxiety or preventing an unwanted situation. Compulsions are incredibly time-consuming and occur more than one hour a day which creates issues with our day-to-day functioning.

I’ve struggled with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) since I was in middle school. Though, it wasn’t up until last year that I actually spoke to my doctor about it. I knew that things were getting bad when the thoughts I was having wouldn’t stop. My obsessions have to do with neatness, cleanliness and most importantly, order. I do not like when my belongings are out of place or when my room is dirty, it causes me severe panic and anxiety. I know that probably sounds silly to most people but I lose sleep over these things. To avoid the feeling of panic and anxiety, I often find myself cleaning and organizing all the time. It’s something that I have to do.

I clean, reorganize and straighten my room every day because if I don’t, it makes me sick. The thought of my things being out of sorts gives me major anxiety but it doesn’t stop at home. I work with special needs children at my local middle school and you can imagine that things are always out of sorts with them. I find myself constantly organizing cabinets, supplies, student work and so much more everyday simply because I cannot help it. My coworkers are thankful for my habits but there’s more to it than they know. If I ignore my compulsions, I will be eaten alive by my own panic so I’m willing to do whatever it takes to avoid that.

Some days, I can’t go to bed until I know that everything’s clean and organized. Can you imagine losing sleep over a piece of clothing on the ground? Or something out of place on your desk? Well, that’s what OCD’s been like for me. If you know someone who’s struggling with OCD, please do your best to support them. OCD is not an easy disorder to deal with.

Read 7 Ways To Support A Friend With OCD to learn how to support friends who are struggling with it!

Read Rachel’s Journey with OCD right here on TurningPointCT.org! 🙂

My Asian American And Pacific Islander Heritage

We celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month during the month of May. This month is to recognize all the contributions made by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States. The month of May gives me the opportunity to celebrate my own Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage in a way that I couldn’t before.

Many people look at me and they assume I’m just African American. I’m so much more than that. A huge part of my identity is my Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage. My mom’s Filipino, Chinese and Hawaiian. She chose to raise us on those cultures. Everything about these cultures are amazing. I love the food, music and all the little pieces that make up the cultures I grew up on.

This is my mom & our dog, Teddy

Unfortunately, some people don’t believe that I’m Asian or Pacific Islander until they meet my mom because she “looks the part” (at least in their eyes). It was hard for me to be proud of who I was. So many people were telling me that I wasn’t something I knew I was. When I would tell people that I was Hawaiian, Filipino or even just Asian, they’d say “Well, you don’t look Asian” as if that’s how it works.

Although I might not look Asian, I still am and that isn’t for anyone else to decide. I will not allow anyone to take my heritage away from me. Out of my siblings and I, Donovan looks the most Asian. People have mistaken random Asian children in public as my brother (my mom was notorious for this).

Dante, Donovan & I recently

Honestly, I was jealous of my brother because I was tired of people telling me that I was just black. I love every part of who I am but there is more to me than just being African American. I grew up eating Hawaiian and Filipino food, they’re some of my favorite meals to have. When I got older, my mom actually taught me how to make them. Someday, I hope to share those recipes with my own children.

We should share and celebrate everything that each our cultures has to offer. Celebrating this month reminds me that whether I look the part or not, I’m still Asian American and Pacific Islander. I will never allow anyone to tell me who I’m supposed to be. I’m proud of my heritage and I am so thankful that I have so many cultures to pass on.

A photo of me on my birthday in my favorite Hawaiian dress, complete with a lei

How will you be celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year?

Check out NPR’s post about Why Asian American And Pacific Islander Heritage Is Celebrated In May!

Read my post My Race Isn’t For You To Decide here on TurningPointCT.org 🙂

Autism Awareness: Inclusion Matters!

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For those of you who don’t know, April is World Autism Awareness Month. By celebrating, we have the opportunity to provide a better understanding and further the acceptance of individuals with Autism. We can do this in many ways.

Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) references a variety conditions and characteristics that are accompanied with many challenges. Some of these challenges include trouble with speech, repeat behaviors and trouble with social skills. Autism is a spectrum. Individuals with Autism each have their own unique strengths and obstacles to face.

One of the biggest ways we can support individuals with Autism is through inclusion! Now I know some of you are probably wondering what that means! Well, inclusion is when you are being valued, respected and supported by those around you so that’s why its important. It’s all about focusing on the needs of every person. It also means making sure that you are helping each person reach their full potential. Individuals on the spectrum are just like everyone else and they have the same rights to inclusion that we do! Autism isn’t a disability, it’s just a different ability.

The students with Autism in my classroom are some of the sweetest, kindest and brightest kids I know. It breaks my heart when people aren’t willing to include them in certain activities because of their disabilities. They are capable of doing what everyone else can, they may just need a little more support but that’s okay. Inclusion matters because without it, many will be left out and feeling inadequate which could lead to negative feelings towards themselves. They don’t deserve that. Be more inclusive!

For more information on World Autism Awareness Month, check out Autism Speaks!

Also check out Kailey’s post “What is Sensory Overload?” here on TurningPointCT.org! 🙂

The Poet

The Poet she had called him,

For how the words flowed from his soul.

How he’d made the people listen,

How he wanted them to change the world.

In a world full of loathing, 

The Poet tried to make them see.

The world was not a place of hate, 

But rather one of compassion. 

His voice was never quiet, 

His message, loud and clear.

We all could change the world, 

If we looked past the hatred and disgust, 

And at the beauty and endearment the world offered.

The poet failed.

As his word passed through empty halls,

Not reaching a single ear.

He was lost, 

Unsure of the world. 

Until he found you.

Beck and call.

Twist and turn.

Until he found you.

For you had become the poet.

Nothing more and everything else.

Your Expectations Of Me…

We are always trying to live up to everyone else’s expectations of who we are and who we should be, it shouldn’t be like that. What about the ones we have for ourselves? We always forget about what WE need and want when we shouldn’t. What we need has to come first, always.

This is something that has taken me a long time to learn. Now, I want to share with you a quote that I will always keep in the back of my mind. It is “Your expectations of me are not my responsibility to live up to”. And it is absolutely the truth. It’s NOT our responsibility to live up to everyone else’s expectations of who we are and what we should be doing with our lives.

Who we are and what we want to do with our lives is so much more important than what other people have to say about it. Stop trying to fill everyone else’s cup before you fill your own. We have our own hopes and dreams to follow. The expectations we have for ourselves should be our first priority always.

Please remember that it’s not your responsibility to carry all of those expectations on your shoulders. The expectations you have for yourself are what matter most. You have your own life to live and that’s okay, I promise.

Read Psychology Today’s article Letting Go of Expectations Is Good For Your Mental Health right on their website! 🙂

Also check out Kailey’s video Learning To Put Myself First here on TurningPointCT.org!

International Day Of Happiness

Colorful and Lovely Geometric Shape Face Thank You Card

The United Nations General Assembly held the first United Nations conference on Happiness. There they decided that we would celebrate the UN International Day of Happiness on March 20. It was celebrated officially for the first time in 2013!

The world is facing many extraordinary challenges. So, our wellbeing and happiness matters now more than ever. We have to take care of ourselves and each other. When we help others, we have the opportunity to set an example of kindness that will grow throughout the world.

We can improve the lives of human beings around the world in many ways. First and foremost, we can start by recognizing the importance of happiness and well-being as a universal goal and aspiration. Your happiness is an important part of taking care of yourself. Feeling unhappy isn’t something that you should just put up with because your happiness must be a priority.

I used to think that making everyone else happy was important so how I was feeling wasn’t really a big deal. Let me tell you how wrong I was about that one because it absolutely isn’t true. People-pleasing is so exhausting because while we are busy taking care of everyone else, we forget to take care of our own needs. What you need is important too, don’t forget that!

Always remember that YOU and your are a priority too. I know it can be difficult to put yourself first but you have to. If you forget to take care of yourself, you’ll start to drown and I don’t want that for you. So when you are thinking about how you can celebrate the International Day of Happiness, think about taking the day to take care of yourself.

Want to learn more on the International Day of Happiness? Check out their website here!

Be sure to check out Kailey’s video What Makes You Happy? right here on our website!

Turning Red Is Full Of Important Life Lessons

Pixar’s newest movie Turning Red truly showcases the struggle that comes with dealing with strong emotions. It also addresses how these strong emotions can affect the way that we view ourselves. The movie follows thirteen year old Mei Lee and the struggles that come with being a teenager as well as dealing with the emotions that accompany it.

Though, the way that Mei learns to deal with her emotions is not exactly traditional. In fact, it’s very far from it but hey, it works. I won’t get into all the details of the movie (I’ll let you check it out for yourself) but I do want to share some important moments from the movie that I think we could all take a note or two from.

After showing strong emotion after an incredibly embarrassing event, Mei ends up turning into a red panda. She is distraught and horrified by this because she now finds herself to be gross and ugly. Even though it can be hard, she does her best to keep her emotions (and panda) at bay but it isn’t always easy controlling our emotions.

Out of all the important people in Mei’s life, her friends are absolutely the most important. They are the ones who remind her who she really is and what she’s worth. While in her red panda form, she often feels disgusted by herself and feels that nobody will like her. This clearly isn’t the case but that’s how she feels and that’s okay. Her friends love her for who she is and they even tell her that she’ll always be their girl, “panda or no panda”.

Friends like this are important, these are the people you know will always have your back. They’re the ones that will love you, I mean all of you, the good and the bad. I have a few friends like this and I am very thankful for them. I don’t know what I would do without them.

Before the end of the movie, when Mei is really struggling with whether or not to keep her panda, her father shares something important with her. He reminds her that people have all sorts of sides to them and sometimes, those sides are messy and emotional. We aren’t supposed to push the ‘bad’ or difficult parts of ourselves away, we have to make room for them. Live with it.

We have to accept ourselves for who we are. This means taking the good AND bad parts of who we are and making the most out of them. I know this isn’t always easy but the parts of yourself that seem hard to deal with are important. They’re meant to teach you and help you grow.

Read The New York Times’ article Pixar’s ‘Turning Red’ Helps Break A Glass Ceiling, a really wonderful read!

Check out Kailey’s video Things That Did Not Help My Mental Health right here on TurningPointCT.org!

Rock Your Socks Off For World Down Syndrome Day!

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We celebrate World Down Syndrome Day every year on March 21. We celebrate this day on the 21st day of March because it symbolizes the individuality of the triplication of the 21st chromosome which is what causes Down syndrome. This day is to create awareness of Down Syndrome and praise those who are living with Down’s every day.

Today we raise public awareness to create a unified global voice that advocates for the rights, inclusion and well being of people with Down’s. Now, I know you’re wondering why I said Rock Your Socks Off for this special day and there’s a reason for that. You can celebrate today by wearing your brightest, craziest and most colorful mismatched socks!

Your crazy socks will start wonderfully beautiful conversations about Down Syndrome. They are meant to remind people that it’s okay to be a little different. Everyone has their own different colorful and unique abilities. Those abilities deserve to be recognized and talked about. So, if you’ve got em, please rock em!

To brighten your day, enjoy the cutest carpool karaoke below!

Want more information about World Down Syndrome Day? Check out their website here! 🙂

A lot of children and young adults with disabilities often struggle with sensory overload. You can read Kailey’s post What is Sensory Overload? right here on TurningPointCT.org!

Resolves We Should All Have This Year

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This year we are making more time to care for ourselves and letting go of what we don’t need. We have to set boundaries and make expectations for ourselves and others. I know you’re probably looking at this and wondering what resolves even are. Well, resolves are a solution a problem you are having. I often struggle with putting myself first and taking care of my own needs so these are some of the resolves I’ve made that I’d like to share with you.

This year I want you to…

Give yourself the same love that you have always given to others.

I wanted to start off with one that’s really big for me because it’s something that took me a long time to learn. I love loving people but sometimes that can mean neglecting to love yourself. You deserve that love, care and kindness before anyone else gets to experience it. Put yourself first and watch how much you grow. Self-love is the most important kind of love. RuPaul once said, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love someone else?” and she’s right.

Make decisions for yourself and don’t feel bad about it.

This is one I have always struggled with but now I know I have to do what’s best for me. Before, I often wondered how the decisions I make would affect others even if it’s something that could be good for me. I missed out on a lot of opportunities for growth and I’ll never do that again. Sometimes, we have to put everyone else’s feelings aside and worry about how we feel first. At the end of the day, the decisions we make are meant to benefit us, not anyone else.

Make a big deal out of your accomplishments and the things you’re proud of.

Don’t downplay your accomplishments. You deserve to be proud of everything you’re doing. Make a big deal out of the things that are important to you! I am so proud of everything I’m doing and where I am in life so I’m going to make sure I show it off and make a big deal because I deserve it. Even the little things are should be a big deal. Honestly, even if it isn’t a big deal to anyone else, why does that matter? It’s a big deal to you and I think that’s what is most important.

Prioritize your mental health over your desire to please others.

People pleasing can be a really hard habit to break because trust me, I know. I’ve spent most of my life up until now bending over backwards to please the people around me. It is incredibly exhausting and can really drain you mentally. Put your needs first and stop worrying about what other people have to say about it because they aren’t the ones dealing with the consequences of that worry, you are. Try putting yourself first for once and see what that does for you (you won’t regret it)!

Allow yourself to outgrow things and people that are no longer good for you.

I know it’s hard to let people or things go but unfortunately, we’ve outgrown them and we have to let go. My mom used to tell me that if you’re not losing friends then you’re not growing. I know it sounds harsh but she was right because I couldn’t let go of the people who were holding me back and they were keeping me from growing. So, eventually, I learned that it is okay to lose friends because we do outgrow people and that’s not a bad thing. Life is like a book, it has chapters and not every character makes it through all of them.

Initiate conversations about how we feel and expect the same honesty in return.

Finally, this is definitely a big one. Start conversations about how you’re feeling and expect people to reciprocate that with the same honesty. No more bottling up your feelings and keeping them to yourself. If someone has hurt your feelings or upset you in anyway, tell them that and if they can’t reciprocate that or explain why they did then move on. You deserve the same honesty that you give to everyone else and no less.

I hope my resolves have been helpful. What are some you hope to have this year?

Check out Ally’s post Recovery Travels: Austin, Texas to read about what traveling in recovery is like for her!

Self-Harming Shouldn’t Be Treated Like A Joke

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T/W: self-harm and self-harming.

Talking about self-harming is something that I have always avoided because I know what people are going to say. They would say that I was doing it for attention but I wasn’t. In reality, I didn’t want anyone to know. Most of the self-harming I did was a result of my parents split when I was in middle school. Their split took a heavy emotional and physical toll on me and eventually, it just became too much.

I felt like I had no one. I couldn’t talk to my mom about how I felt and the counselor at school could only do so much. Emotionally, I felt so broken. I just wanted the pain I felt to go away and it wasn’t. No matter how hard I tried to make it stop, it just didn’t. I didn’t know what else to do, I needed an escape so I turned to self-harming. This wasn’t my best choice but it did make me forget about how much emotional pain I was dealing with. And that’s what I wanted.

Read Brianna’s post When Someone Made a ‘Funny’ Comment About My Self-Harm Scars on The Mighty

Check out Kailey’s post Quotes I Really Needed To Hear When I Was Struggling right here on TurningPointCT.org!

Check out our Resources – Support By Topic Page for resources like S.A.F.E ALTERNATIVES® and Adolescent Self Injury Foundation (ASIF).

Self-Care Plan: How To Create Your Own!

Welcome back to Self-care Sunday! This week I want to share with you the idea of a Self-care Plan. A self-care plan is a set a of tasks or activities that you should complete daily. Completing these activities will help you improve your physical and emotional well-being. Sticking to your self-care plan will lead to a fulfilling, happier, and healthier life for yourself. A plan like this can be extremely beneficial.

We don’t all need the same things to function and so that also means that we won’t have the same self-care plans. And that’s okay. We each have a special set of physical and emotional needs that are unique to us. The use of a self-care plan allows us to meet those needs with care. It allows you to better manage your stress and anxiety, improve your coping skills, and even put an end to harmful habits.

Creating your own plan can be very beneficial in improving your mental health. This plan is vital in managing your stress and anxiety. Taking the time to practice self-care allows your body to activate it’s parasympathetic nervous system. This nervous system is the one that allows your body and your mind to relax. Using a plan allows you time to rest which is important in maintaining stress and anxiety.

You can create your own plan in just a few steps!

  1. Start by taking a look at all of your current habits (the good AND bad ones). This will help you identify the habits that are most harmful to you so that you can get rid of them.
  2. After this you should take them time to identify your own needs. It’s helpful to compile a list of your emotional, mental, physical and professional needs as a good plan will take care of all these areas.
  3. Next you’ll want to think about what self-care practices will properly support those needs. Remember to make time for these practices so that you can keep up with your plan, this is important.
  4. Finally, get rid of your obstacles and I mean that. I’m talking about those harmful habits, get rid of them. You don’t need them anymore. You can take it one day at a time and try replacing one of your bad habits with a good self-care practice so that you can do better!

I have my own self-care plan in place, it’s not much but it’s what works for me! Saturday and Sunday are the days I practice a majority of my self-care because the during the week is usually hectic for me. These are the days when I have the most free time so I make sure to use these days to take care of me. Remember, self-care plans are different for everyone and that’s okay!

In order for these plans to be beneficial, you have to make sure that you keep up with it so you don’t lose any of your progress. Stick to your plan as best as you can and when things are becoming too overwhelming, remind yourself to rest. You should be caring for yourself like you do everything else because your mental health matters.

Check out Psychology Today’s post The Top 10 Tips For Beating Burnout!

Read Kailey’s video Easy Ways To Practice Self-Care right here on TurningPointCT.org 🙂

My Race Isn’t For You To Decide

All my life I’ve had people tell what I am and what I’m not based on how I look. My race isn’t for anyone else but me to decide. Growing up, a lot of people would assume I was Black, or Indian because that’s how I looked to them. Looking at me, you probably wouldn’t know that I was multiracial. Just because I don’t look it, doesn’t mean that you get to decide what I am.

I often tell people that I’m a “mutt” because I’m not just one nationality and neither are my parents. My mother is English, Irish, Filipino, Hawaiian, Portuguese and Chinese. And my father is African American, West Indian and Dutch (you couldn’t tell that by looking at him though LOL). Honestly, you wouldn’t have known that if I didn’t tell you. To most people, my dad’s just Black and my mom’s just Asian because that’s how they look. Which is what a lot of people do to me.

My dad & my mom

To most people, I am just Black because that’s how I present but I am more than that. I am multiracial and I love each and every part of who I am. Aside from being Black, a huge part of who I am is also being Asian. Like I said, my mother is mostly Asian. She raised my siblings and I on a lot of Asian culture. She definitely cooks some of the best homemade Asian food I’ve ever had. While you can definitely tell my mom is Asian, I don’t really look it (at leas according to most people). In fact, when I tell people that I am, they’re often kind of shocked or don’t even believe me.

Me & my cousin on my last day in Hawaii (we were moving to Connecticut)!

Once in middle school, I actually had someone tell me that being Hawaiian wasn’t even a real thing. I thought they were joking but they very much were not. When I was younger a lot of people would assume that I was Indian or Hispanic because that’s how I looked to them. I hated it. People would say things like, “You have beautiful Indian hair” or “Do you speak Spanish? You look Dominican.” I wasn’t those nationalities, I knew what I was but it still made me feel confused. Why would someone say something like that when it wasn’t true?

Eventually, I realized that it was because of how I looked. I didn’t look like all those nationalities that I listed before. Was I supposed to? Just to be clear, the answer is no. I’m mixed, I wouldn’t look like just any one nationality but I had dark skin and to a lot of people that would make me just Black. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. When I got older, a woman told me that I got hired because I looked like I could speak Spanish. I couldn’t believe it, they didn’t ask me that in the interview nor was it a requirement.

A recent photo of my brothers and I with our mother

It still happens occasionally but I am truly proud to be multiracial. Because of my parents, nobody can place me into one racial category. I am so much more than that. I’m a blend of beautiful cultures and nationalities, I’m proud of that. I know that I may not look like those nationalities to you but they will always be a part of who I am. Nobody gets to tell me that except me. My race isn’t for you to decide.

Read NPR’s post Being Black In America: ‘We Have A Place In This World Too’, really great read!

Check out our Project Assistant Kailey’s post Being Mixed But White-Presenting here on TurningPointCT.org! 🙂

Crazy Plant Lady: A Day In The Leaf

Self-care Sunday is all about plants and what it’s like to be a crazy plant lady! I know that most people hear the phrase “self-care” and think that it means spa stuff but that’s not true! Self-care is all about taking care of yourself, no matter how you choose to do that. There are so many forms of self-care to utilize and it doesn’t stop at the pampering. I’ve previously shared that I like to bake as a form of self-care but one of my top favorite things is taking care of my plants.

For those of you who don’t know I love plants. Honestly, I’m kind of obsessed with them and I am definitely a crazy plant lady. It all began with one plant and because of that plant, my life changed. This plant was a little cactus that a friend had given to me as a gift. It was a cute little prickly thing and I fell in love with it immediately. Having something to take care of made me feel good. Unfortunately, my poor little cactus met its demise after my dog knocked it out of the window.

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Agent Hotchner & Dr. Reid

Plants are a really good form of self-care. Taking care of them creates a routine and gives you a little bit of purpose when you’re feeling down. A plant, much like a person, requires attention, love and care. Taking care of one can teach you a lot about those things. Especially when it comes to yourself. If speaking kindly to plants helps them grow, imagine what speaking kindly to yourself can do.

succulents
Top Row: Agents Alvez, Lewis, Garcia, Callahan & Gideon / Bottom Row: Agents Blake, Simmons & Morgan

Now that I’m older and have my own space, I’ve grown my plant collection bigger than I ever thought it could be. I love my little plants. They give me purpose and have taught me so much about taking care of myself. Nurturing them and being able to watch them all grow is a wonder because I helped them get there. It’s just such an amazing process and I got to be a part of it. Because of these plants, I’ve learned to take better care of myself. They are a reminder that a little love and care can really go a long way because that’s really all it takes.

Agents Prentiss, Rossi & Jareau

Be kind to yourself the way that you are kind to plants and others because you deserve that kind of care too. I want you to water yourself with kind words, love and care because like plants, you need that too. I promise that will help you grow into the wonderful, beautiful person you want to be. You have to remember that it all starts with you.

Want to have your own plants for self-care? Here are 5 Easy Houseplants That Double As Self-care Reminders! 🙂

Check out Psychology Today’s article 11 Ways Plants Enhance Your Mental and Emotional Health.

Read my post How Life Feels Is More Important Than How It Looks right here on TurningPointCT.org! 🙂

Have a great week!

How Life Feels Is More Important Than How It Looks

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Social media and society have made us feel like we have to portray our lives a certain way. We want people to think that we live these exciting, beautiful lives when in reality, we’re kind of struggling to have them. How your life feels is much more important than how it looks. The people who see our lives have no idea how it feels and that matters.

Growing up I tried to portray myself and my life a certain way because I didn’t want people to know how miserable I was. It was exhausting and only made me feel more miserable than I already was. My life was falling apart before my eyes and all I cared about was what people would think if they saw it too. I felt like I was drowning in misery but nobody knew that because that’s not how I portrayed myself to the world. Though my life might have seemed like it was great, I was exhausted trying to keep the show going.

Eventually, I didn’t care what people thought about my life or how it might look to them. It wasn’t their life to live, it was mine. The life I present to the world is raw, authentic and truly me. Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love the adventures I go on, who I spend them with and everything in between. The life I am living, I am living for me and that makes me feel good. And when your life feels good, you give more room for positivity.

I promise you how your life feels is SO much more important than how it looks.

Check out Psychology Today’s article 10 Ways To Make Your Life Better, Starting Today!

Read Kailey’s post Avatar: The Last Airbender – Uncle Iroh’s Best Advice here on TurningPointCT.org!

When You Stop Chasing The Wrong Things…

Natural Style Girl running on the Road HBD Photo Template

Sometimes, we find ourselves chasing after the things that we think we want instead of what we need. When you spend too much time focusing on the wrong things, you tend to lose sight of the things that might be right for you. We have to stop chasing the wrong things if we’re going to grow.

There may be things in your life that you’re chasing that are no longer benefiting you. You have to stop chasing those things so that the things you need to grow have a chance to catch up to you. This also means that you have to be patient.

I know sometimes you don’t want to wait for the right things to find you, but trying to force something to be right isn’t any better. It is much better in the long run to be patient.

“When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.”

Lolly Daskal

You can read The Importance of Being Patient from Forbes, really great read!

You also check out my post Practicing Self-Love On A Bad Day to learn why it’s important to love yourself a little more on the hard days.

Black History Month: Growing Up Black In A White Town

Black History Month is important to me. Being black is part of who I am, it’s not something that’s going away. I’m proud to be black. Growing up, my family never really talked about things like that. I didn’t even learn anything about it until I was old enough to go to school.

For those of you who don’t know me, I grew up in Salem, CT. The easiest way to describe Salem to you is by calling it a farm town because that’s what it was, at least to me. One of the other things that is most noticeable to people about Salem is that the population is mostly white. Now, I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing, but can you imagine growing up in a place where there was nobody that looked like you?

This is my kindergarten class photo. If you haven’t noticed yet, I’m the only child of color in the photo.

The only other people of color I knew in town were my own relatives and a boy named Michael. I was young when we first moved to Salem, so it never really seemed like a big deal to me. When I got to middle school, I began to ask questions. Why were there no other kids that looked like me? I didn’t really have the answer for that, I still don’t. I didn’t know what it really meant to be black or white but I knew I had to “act white” to fit in.

There were so many things I did in middle school that I wish I hadn’t. I wish I had just been myself and loved me for who I was. I straightened my hair everyday. Honestly, I even tried to dress like the girls I went to school with. I thought it might make them like me more but that was never the case. Still, I continued to straighten my hair and wear clothes I didn’t like just to fit in.

Being black in a mostly white town came with more than just physical identity issues. Middle school was around when my parents split up. This now unfortunately put me in the “all black dads leave” category, and I hated it. Some of the kids in my grade at the time actually gave me a really hard time about it. I was miserable. Being black came with so many stereotypes like that. Kids asked me all the time if I liked fried chicken or Kool-Aid because that’s what black people like, according to them. I did love those things but not because of my skin color, just because I liked them.

Growing up in a mostly white town really made me hate the black part of my identity. It made me feel outcasted and different. I wish my parents had taught me to love all of myself. If only they had taught me more about black history and what it meant to be black. That those stereotypes aren’t who I am. I am proud to be black and I am even more proud of the history that comes with it.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” and I have that same dream for all the colored children and young adults in this world.

Read The New York Times’ article Teachers Tackle Black History Month, Under New Restrictions, it’s a really interesting read!

Read The ‘Other’ Aspect of Black History Month here on TurningPointCT.org!

What I Want More Of This Year

Last year, I learned a lot about myself and I never want to lose what I’ve learned. I have always struggled with putting myself and my needs before anyone else. That really has to change. I was lacking a lot in my life last year and now, I want more of those things in my life. So, this year, I am going to be putting me and my needs first. I want more out of life. Here are just a few of the things I’d like more of this year:

Self-Love

My main priority for this year is to give myself more love. I am notorious for being unkind to myself but I’ve been trying to be better. Last year, I was beating myself up for so many things I couldn’t control. I was carrying around so much stress and worry that I began to take it out on myself. It made me feel inadequate, like I was never going to get it right for myself. Eventually, things got better. I was learning to love myself a little more.

Part of growing is learning. Learning to love yourself is a crucial part of that growth. You have to accept yourself for all that you are. That means learning to love the good parts and the ‘bad’ parts. I’m still learning to love those bad parts but I will get there. All I know is that I deserve to feel the love that I give, even if it means that love has to come from me.

Positivity

I’m very much a “the glass is half empty” kind of person. I always have been. Growing up through my parents divorce really did a number on me. My mom was so negative about everything that eventually, I began to feel that way too. Honestly, I didn’t see the point in trying to find the positives in everything because I knew somehow, it would still disappoint me. I watched negativity consume my mom. It made her really mean and unkind sometimes. I don’t want to end up like that.

So, this year I am practicing more positivity and gratitude. When things are becoming difficult, I will do my best to keep my head above water and try to see the good in the situation. Positivity and kindness go hand in hand. Being kinder to myself will allow for more positive thoughts.

Memories

With COVID-19 on the rise, I wasn’t able to make as many good memories as I would have liked. I spent most of the pandemic inside the house worried about what was going on out in the world. This year, I want to make more memories. Good memories. Ones that I’ll be talking about forever. I don’t want go through life only remembering the bad memories. I want the good memories to be so good that I forget the bad ones ever even existed. This world is changing so quickly and I don’t want to miss any of it.

Travel

I have always wanted to travel the world. When I was younger, I used to dream of going to places like Greece or Ireland. There are just some things you can’t experience in the U.S. and the beauty of those countries is one of them. I envy the people who can travel as they please. I want nothing more than to see the world and all of its beautiful treasures.

Growing up, we went on vacations but very rarely outside of New England. I’ve only been to two places outside of New England. Those places were Virginia Beach and Myrtle Beach, two of the best trips I’d ever been on. Just having been to those two places, I know that there’s more to this wonderful world than all I have access to in New England. This year, I want to do more traveling. Even if it’s a state I’ve never been to, at least it’ll be somewhere new.

Self-care

Last but not least, I want more self-care this year. I preach all the time about how important self-care is but I am honestly not the best at practicing it, at least not recently. I have not been taking care of myself as well as I should have been. I’m still learning how to give myself the care that I need but it will take time.

I will be giving myself more self-care this year. That means making more time for me and my needs. There are so many things that I love but don’t make time for. That’s really got to change. I will make time to bake more, read more, pamper myself more and overall, do what makes me happy.

What do YOU want more of this year?

Check out Psychology Today’s article 8 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Life to learn how to move a little closer to happiness!

Read Sasha’s post How Traveling Changed My Life Forever here on TurningPointCT.org! 🙂

Isabela And Her Struggle With Being Perfect

Throughout Encanto, Isabela’s family chooses to call her the “perfect” one. Isabela has one of my favorite gifts in the Madrigal family. She can grow flowers, trees, plants and so much more. She’s constantly creating these beautiful, perfect flowers that she hasn’t realized that she can make so many other beautiful things.

The Madrigal family, especially the Abuela, hold Isabela to incredibly high standards and expectations because she’s so perfect. She feels like she has to be perfect all the time because that’s what her family expects of her. She chooses to put on a brave face but she’s tired of being someone she’s not.

Honestly, we’ve all been in her shoes at some point. We’ve all pushed who we really are to the back of our minds because of the expectations set by those around us. Honestly, we aren’t going to be perfect but that’s the reality of the world we live in. I mean, I can definitely admit I’ve been there.

Growing up, I used to think that because I was a girl that I had to do girly things. You know things like doing my hair, wearing makeup, stupid stereotypical girl stuff. I felt like that’s what was expected of me. Eventually, I was over it. I just wanted to be who I wanted to be. No matter how anyone else felt about it.

I didn’t want to wear makeup or do my hair all the time. Honestly, I just wanted to read, learn and express myself. Unfortunately, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do that if I continued trying to live up to everyone’s expectations of me. You can’t please everyone. In fact, the only person who’s opinion matters is yours.

At one point in the movie, Mirabel goes to apologize to her sister for ruining her special night. This apology is what she and Bruno believe will save their family’s miracle. Instead, they get into an argument because Mirabel doesn’t really know how Isabela is really feeling. She admits that she was only doing the things that she did because it would benefit the family. While expressing her feelings to her sister, Isabela creates a cactus. This is something she’s never done before. She begins to wonder what more she can do with her gift.

Isabela and Mirabel go off on an exciting, eye-opening musical montage where she creates these beautiful, multicolored cactuses and so much more. She begins to realize that she doesn’t want to be pretty and perfect, she just wants to be true to who she really wants to be. She wants to have fun and be able to express herself the way that she wants. There’s so much more to her than just beautiful flowers.

Before the end of the song, Isabela realizes who she really needs to thank. As a proud, big sister Isabela tells Mirabel that she owes all of it to her. Mirabel taught Isabela that it was okay to be imperfect as long as that’s what felt true. A truly beautiful moment that does in fact fix the cracks in their home and makes the candle’s flame burn brighter. Both Isabela and her relationship with Mirabel truly teach us an important lesson.

Isabela teaches us that being perfect comes with its own consequences. Everything Isabela was doing was not for herself but because that’s what her family was expecting of her. Eventually, she got sick of trying to fit into a box she clearly didn’t fit in anymore. There is much more authenticity in being imperfect than being perfect. Be who you want to be, not what they expect you to be.

Her relationship with her sister on the other hand, now that’s definitely a bigger picture lesson. Isabela and Mirabel do not have the best relationship as sisters. Isabela is constantly telling her sister that she’s only getting in the way and not being helpful when she does things that nobody has asked her to. Despite their rocky relationship, Mirabel still cares about her sister and wants her to be able to express herself. Mirabel was the one who reminded Isabela that it was okay not to be perfect all the time.

Sometimes, we just need someone to remind us that it’s okay not to be perfect. Or that it’s okay to not meet everyone’s expectations of you. But sometimes, that someone has to be you. Never force yourself to fit in a box, you will never have the chance to grow. You deserve to be wholeheartedly yourself and nobody should every make you feel otherwise. There is so much more to who we are than what people expect of us. We are made to grow free and blossom, we should not be let anyone or anything keep us from doing that.

What else can YOU do?

Check out Looper’s article about Why Abuela is hardest on Isabela here!

You can also read Kailey’s post Things I Wish People Knew About Mental Health here on TurningPointCT.org!

Why Mirabel Madrigal Is My New Role Model

Yes, I’m starting this week off with another post about Encanto but that’s not a bad thing. The movie is full of wonderful life lessons and characters who remind us of ourselves. One character that stuck out the most to me was the movie’s lead, Mirabel. She’s a true role model for all of us.

At one point or another, we’ve felt the exact same way as she did throughout the movie. She grew up in a home where she felt like she didn’t fit in even though she tried her best to. Mirabel was made to feel unimportant and inadequate by her Abuela because she doesn’t have a gift like the rest of her family. But this is far from the truth, she’s the most important family member of all.

The Abuela was incredibly hard on Mirabel. She constantly made her feel like she wasn’t good enough for not having a gift. She did her best do her part as a member of the Madrigal family but everyone made her feel like she was just getting in the way. Her home then becomes in trouble and she tried to warn everyone but nobody believes her. She felt that saving the miracle would make her a hero.

Eventually she realizes that no matter what she does to save her family and their home, it wasn’t going to be enough. But she knows her worth. She loves her family and everything that it embodies with or without the magic. She was what her family needed all along. Someone to remind them that they were more than the things they could do. Mirabel shows us that she has what it takes to be a hero, magic or not.

Growing up I wish I had someone like Mirabel to show me that it was okay to be imperfect. I felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere. I felt like I tried to be someone I wasn’t. Everyone was so hard on her but that never changed the way she felt about herself and that’s something I truly strive for. To be wholeheartedly me, no matter what anyone has to say. She did what she did and fought for what she believed in because that’s what was right.

Despite our struggles, we can make it out on top. We may not have powers or special abilities but there is something unique about all of us. We have to remind ourselves that we’re enough, especially when we’re feeling low. Even when Mirabel was feeling low and inadequate, she made sure to always remind her family that they were enough. She taught Luisa that it’s okay not to be strong and Isabela that it’s okay to be imperfect. Though she has no real gift, she has the power of love and support and that is magic in itself.

Mirabel Madrigal is my new role model and I wouldn’t change a thing about that.

Here’s the song, All Of You, that Mirabel sings to and with her family at the end of the movie! In the song, Mirabel and her family sing about how they’re more than their magic. How what matters is their whole being, who they are as people. Check it out below! 🙂

Read USA Today’s article What Disney’s ‘Encanto’ teaches us about self-worth and overcoming intergenerational family trauma on their website!

Check out my post Reminding Yourself That You Are Enough here on TuringPointCT.org! 🙂

Ron Swanson Quotes To Live By

I have always loved Ron Swanson from Parks & Recreation. From his wisdom, to his relationships with his coworkers, there’s just something about him that inspires me.

1. “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.”

This is my all time favorite Ron Swanson quote. It’s one that I definitely hold close to my heart. Ron said this to Leslie while she was running for city council. For those who haven’t watched the show, Leslie Knope is the most passionate, hardworking woman in the city of Pawnee but she doesn’t put herself first.

Leslie continued to work at the parks department while she was running her campaign for city office. Ron suggests a sabbatical as he realizes it’s becoming too much for Leslie but she refuses. Eventually, they have a heart to heart and Ron tells her of a time when he took on too much. He then tells her “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.” because he knows how passionate she is. He wants her to put all her energy and passion into her campaign so it can be successful instead of stretching herself thing between both.

We should be putting all of our passion and energy into one thing like Ron said. It’s better than doing two things with half as much energy and passion.

2. “If you don’t believe in love, what’s the point of living?”

Ron states this quote after discussing whether he’d get married again or not. What he’s trying to say is that love is what keeps us going. I know that some people don’t believe in love but for those who do, we know that it’s more than just a word. I am definitely one of those people.

For those who feel the way about love that I do will understand what I’m about to say. Love is what allows us to give meaning to our lives. A life without love is one that’s dull. The ability to love and be loved by someone else is magic alone. Love teaches us about ourselves and the people in our lives. I don’t think that we’d survive without it.

Love is not just about relationships. It is about the the care and affection we choose to give to others. I know that love can be difficult sometimes but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. Love is not always going to be easy. It will hurt you but it will also help you grow. So please, don’t give up on love.

3. “One rage every three months is permitted. Try not to hurt anyone who doesn’t deserve it.”

In this episode, Ron has created The Swanson Pyramid of Greatness. This pyramid has what Ron considers to be every to key to success. While going over it with, he points at a square titled “Rage”. He then says “One rage every three months is permitted. Try not to hurt anyone who doesn’t deserve it.” You can have one big moment of anger when you’re struggling but don’t take it out on the people trying to help you.

I get that sometimes you feel like you have to bottle everything up until it explodes. That doesn’t mean when it finally happens that you can take those feelings out on everyone. Especially if they’re only trying to make things a little better for you. Try not to bottle those emotions up, talk to someone when you need help. I promise whoever it is will do everything that they can to help you feel better.

4. “Don’t start chasing applause and acclaim. That way lies madness.”

During this episode, Leslie is doing everything that she can to save townspeople from themselves with her power in legislation. She worked hard to pass new acts and laws but was driven to the point of quitting. She exclaims this to Ron to which he replies, “You choose a thankless job, you can’t be upset when nobody thanks you. Don’t start chasing applause and acclaim. That way lies madness.”

After hearing this, Leslie realizes that she didn’t want to quit because she didn’t love her job or because she wasn’t passionate about it anymore. She realizes that she was seeking out external affirmation from everyone she was trying to help. While she’s trying to do this for the townspeople, it’s not just about them. She does her job because it’s who she is and she’s passionate about it. She’s not doing it for fame or recognition.

This is definitely one that I think we can all get behind. We don’t do our jobs or the things that we do for other people. We do them because that’s who we are and what we love. And we have to remember that the moment you start doing things for other people’s opinions and approval is the moment you begin to lose yourself. Don’t lose yourself trying to chasing fame and recognition. Stay true to yourself, always.

5. “Live your life how you want, but don’t confuse drama with happiness.”

During a conversation with Donna, Ron is explaining to her that drama isn’t happiness. Donna is used to living a life full of superficial and tumultuous relationships. She finds traditional, stable one on one relationships to be boring.

Ron being in a stable, happy marriage finally sees the world in a different light and just wants to pass that onto Donna. He knows Donna deserves someone who is going to be good to her, not those who bring her drama. Drama might be exciting but it’s not what makes you happy. Ron Swanson is a good friend to everyone.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have struggled with this before. I spent time in a long, unhealthy relationship with someone because I thought the drama and everything was normal. I wasn’t happy but like I said, I just thought it was normal. Over 2 years later, I’ve finally let all the drama go and I’m much happier. Get rid of that unnecessary drama, it is NOT happiness. I promise. You will find it in the right place.

What are some of your favorite Parks & Rec quotes?

Read Why Ron Swanson Is One of the Best TV Characters of the Century—As Explained by Nick Offerman on The Ringer!

Read Kailey’s post 12 More Times “Bojack Horseman” Got Real About Mental Health here on TurningPointCT.org!

Why Good Time Management Skills Matter

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Time management is something that I have always struggled with. I tend to take on more than I can handle at once and time certainly doesn’t help in that matter.

Having good time management skills allows you to give yourself a break when you’re becoming worn down. We need these skills to survive. Without them, we’d find ourselves struggling much more. Poor time management skills can lead to trouble sleeping, increased stress and anxiety but for some it can lead to depression. Developing these skills can allow you to overcome these obstacles and can even lead to a more positive attitude.

Recently, I have really struggled with managing my time. Between two jobs and going back to school, it’s overwhelming but I’m managing as best as I can. My jobs are easy to manage but school can be pretty tough to juggle on top. I find myself trying to deal with everything at once instead of taking the time to work on each task.

I spent last week deciding whether it was more important to get my project done or tasks for work. Honestly, I felt like I had to make a choice. I didn’t think I could manage the time very well (this was me overthinking). It was a struggle trying to balance both. I put my project first, but because of this, I lost a lot of sleep trying to finish up my work tasks. Thankfully, I began this week with a better mind set and a plan, now I feel much better.

The best advice I can give you is to learn to manage your time. Remember to give yourself a break when you need it. Find time in your day to just breathe. You absolutely deserve it. Having good time management skills will get you through life, I promise!

What are you doing to better manage your time?

Read Jessica Schrader’s article Developing Time Management Skills to learn how to find more time in your day!

Check out this post about Time Management here on TurningPointCT!

Don’t Live The Same Year 75 Times…

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“Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life.” This quote by Robin Sharma is one that I’ve held onto since I was in middle school. I’ve held onto it for so long because it continues to remind me that life is all about the experience. I used to go into the new year with the same silly goals and resolutions that never came to fruition. I was living the same life every year and I was okay with that but I was missing out on so many new and wonderful experiences. Something was going to have to change.

In the book of life, all your chapters should be different. Each year should be bringing you brand new experiences and in every day, a new adventure. Your life should be full of wonder, even when you’re not so sure it is. This new year is your chance to write a new chapter. Make new memories, meet new people, explore and remember to do everything in between. This is your story to write!

You just can’t live the same year over and over. Sometimes, you have to take the deep dive into something new and unknown, it’s the only way to gain new experiences. You deserve the chance to experience all the things that the world has to offer to you. Don’t keep them waiting!

“Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life.”

Robin Sharma

How do you plan to make this year different from the last?

Read 4 Mental Health Tips for Creating an Even Better 2022 from Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare!

Check out our newsletter here to read all about our 2021 Reflections and so much more! 🙂

We Need Snow Days, Not Remote Learning Days

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In the last two years, several things have changed about how we run our school systems. Due to COVID-19, many schools had to change their protocols, how their teachers teach and so much more. One of the big things that seems to be affecting a lot of people are snow days.

We spent over a year doing remote learning, which with no doubt, has burned our students out. We finally got back to going to school in person and feeling somewhat normal but it seems remote learning has taken over our snow days.

By the end of 2020, several school districts across the country decided that there would no longer be snow days. Instead, students would have a remote learning day, which meant having to attend school and each class virtually. This also meant sitting for almost 8 hours in front of a computer screen. I mean seriously, how can that be good?

Many students struggled to pay attention because they were distracted by things going on in their home. It was really hard to convey hands on material through a screen. By the time we got back to in-person sessions so many students were falling behind but with time, they improved. The in-person sessions really made a difference.

Personally, I did not enjoy watching my teacher struggle to make our lessons work or watching my students struggle to understand the material because I wasn’t physically there to help them. My students have earned their snow days and so have our staff members.

So what if we have to have a snow day? At least our students and staff are getting a well-deserved break!

Check out Sorry, Kids. Snow Days Are Probably Over. from The New York Times, really great read!

Read Sasha’s post How COVID-19 Has Affected My Life As A High School Student right here on TurningPointCT!

Encanto’s Luisa Pays Homage To Older Sisters

Encanto turned out to be one of the most loved and enjoyed Disney movies of 2021. It is full of many emotional and heart-wrenching family moments that really allow you to connect with the movie. I loved everything about this movie! I have so many favorite things about Encanto. But one of my favorite things was it’s depiction of older sisters and the weight that they carry for their families.

In the song, Surface Pressure, Luisa sings about the weight she’s been carrying for her family. Throughout the song she talks about the pressure she feels both as an older sister and the strongest. It’s very heartbreaking but by the end of the song her younger sister, Mirabel, realizes she’s been carrying too much. This is something that I feel not many younger siblings recognize.

Luisa pays homage to all the older sisters out there that are carrying too much on their shoulders. All the older sisters who feel like they have to carry their family’s burdens. We often find ourselves feeling like we have to carry those burdens alone. Truth is, we don’t. It’s not our job to be strong all the time, sometimes we need a little help. Mirabel is sure to remind her sister of this.

Luisa’s character and her song really resonated with me on a deeper, personal level. I’m the oldest out of my siblings and I feel like I do carry a lot. We carry the weight of our families on our shoulders. As the oldest sibling, I often find myself carrying more weight than I can handle to ensure the well-being of my brothers. You bend and buckle carrying all that pressure but you never break. Because you know that if you do, it’ll affect your siblings.

As older siblings, we don’t want our younger siblings to see us as weak. We want them to know that we’re there for them whenever they need us. We’ll carry their weight for them but it makes you wonder who carries it for us when it gets too heavy?

At the end of the movie, Mirabel reminds Luisa and the rest of their family that they have to realize they’re more than their gifts. She is also sure to remind Luisa that it’s okay to need a little help with the heavy stuff. Asking for help is not something that Luisa is used to doing, which I’ll admit is something I also struggle with. Isabela tells Luisa that she’s so strong but Luisa responds that yeah it might be true but she cries sometimes. Both Mirabel and Isabela then remind her that they cry too and that’s okay!

Their entire dynamic is just one that I don’t feel many movies showcase and I just love everything about it. Luisa reminds me of myself in so many different ways. I find myself bearing so many of our family’s burdens alone because I feel like it’s my responsibility. No matter how heavy the weight of it all got, I kept going because I knew that my family needed me to, much like she did.

My brothers are wonderful at reminding me that I don’t have to do it on my own. They remind me that they’ll always be there when I need them. They make the pressure worth dealing with. For that, I’m thankful.

Here’s Luisa’s song Surface Pressure from the movie Encanto! Enjoy! 🙂

Read more about Lin Manuel Miranda’s song Surface Pressure & how it was inspired by his older sister here!

And you can read my post How My Brothers Saved Me right here on TurningPointCT!

In 2022, You’re Better Off…

There is no doubt that 2021 was a difficult year for a lot of us. For me personally, I learned a lot about myself and I’m finally understanding why I’m better off without somethings. There are so many things that I know now that I am better off without, things that need to be let go.

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You’re better off…

Choosing yourself than trying to convince someone to choose you.

You should not have to convince someone to choose you. Trying to convince someone to choose you shouldn’t be a thing. You are not an option, you are a priority. Your first priority is to always choose you. Commit to loving and trusting yourself above all and never be sorry for it. Even when it seems like choosing yourself might hurt someone else, put yourself first. Sometimes the choices you make that you thought would avoid hurting someone might hurt you more in the long run. You can only determine what’s best for you, not anyone else.

Being unapologetically “too much” than apologizing for being yourself.

Stop apologizing for being who you are. You deserve to be unapologetically yourself without someone telling you that you’re “too much”. You’re not too much, you are you and that’s the best thing you can be. You should never have to apologize for being yourself. And if that’s too much for someone, tell them to find less because you certainly deserve more.

Losing someone than losing yourself.

I don’t mean this is in the sense that someone has passed away but maybe there are friends, relatives or even romantic partners that you don’t want to lose. Sometimes losing those people is better than having to lose yourself. You should not have to lose who you are just to hold onto someone that’s not appreciating you for you. Holding onto who you are and being proud of that is much more important than someone who can’t see how spectacular you are.

Starting over than continuing something that no longer serves you.

It is okay to let go of things that are no longer making a difference for you. Starting over can be scary but I promise you are better off doing that than trying to continue with something that’s not working. Starting over can open so many new doors and opportunities for you. May even give you a chance to try something new and different. Don’t miss out on new things because you’re trying to make something work that clearly isn’t.

Being disappointed by the things you tried and failed than regretting the chances you never took.

It’s okay to feel disappointed when something you wanted to work out didn’t work out. All that matters is that you tried. It is so much better to have tried and failed than to not have tried at all. Those failures are meant to teach you, not discourage you. Having to live a life full of regret is much worse than having a few failures on your lineup. Keep trying!

What do you think you’re better off without in 2022?

Check out The Wall Street Journal’s article Modest New Year’s Resolutions for 2022!

Listen to TurningPointCT’s 2021 Winter Holidays & New Years Podcast right here on the website!

Don’t Be Someone’s Sometimes

Welcome back to 2022’s first Self-Care Sunday! Let’s start the new year off with a reminder. I wanted to remind you don’t be someone’s “sometimes”. This was originally presented as a quote but has become a life lesson for many of us. A lot of us have that one person we always run back to, regardless of how long it’s been. Whether they’ve treated us well or not, we always find ourselves right back with this person. I know that I have definitely been guilty of this. In fact, I spent most of my teenage years being someone’s ‘sometimes’. For me, that doesn’t stop at romantic partners. I was a lot of my friends’ ‘sometimes’.

I’ve had friends who only wanted me around when it was convenient for them and honestly, that hurt more than having a romantic partner who felt that way. I used to drop everything I was doing to help these friends with whatever they needed but they would never have done the same thing for me. How do I know that? Because it’s the absolute truth. I’ve even been with people romantically who only treated me well when it was for their benefit.

I am not someone’s “sometimes”. I am worth so much more than that. I deserve to be someone’s always. Do not bend over backwards for people who would never do the same for you. Please remember your worth and know that you deserve to be more than someone’s “sometimes”, you deserve to be their ALWAYS.

A great read for this week is Kate Burness’ article I Refuse To Be Your ‘Sometimes’ Girl on the Thought Catalog!

Also read our Project Coordinator, Kailey’s post Release Yourself right here on TurningPointCT!

Self-Care During & After The Holidays

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Self-care alone is such a critical part of dealing with mental health. I will continue to stress this to you because without self-care, trying to cope with your mental health would be so hard. Self-care isn’t just face masks or bubble baths, it’s whatever you need it to be.

Self-care is especially important during and even after the holidays. In fact, the holiday season can be physically and emotionally exhausting for some people. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m definitely one of them. I absolutely love the holidays, but I always find myself feeling blue when they’re over.

The holidays can lead to stress and isolation for some people because it’s overwhelming. Having to see all your family at once can be a lot. Figuring out what kind of gifts you’ll be getting your loved ones can create a lot of stress and anxiety. The holiday season in itself can stress you out. While giving gifts and spending time with loved ones is great, it can take a lot out of you. Take a break from the shopping and stress, go ice skating or take a walk through your favorite lighted park. During the holidays please remember that what you want and need matters too!

While the holidays themselves can be stressful and draining, after the holidays can be pretty sucky too. All the cheer you had may have left with holiday season. This can leave you feeling blue and all but cheery. For most, it’s back to reality after the holiday season. People will be returning to work or school after getting used to having time to yourself. Don’t let it get you down. You should try to return to your normal self-care routine and maybe even a little extra to give yourself the boost that you need!

Please remember to take care of yourself this holiday season!

Check out the Health Coach Institute’s article 20 Tips For Holiday Self-Care!

You can read my post about having a split holiday right here on TurningPointCT! 🙂

Having A Split Holiday

As most of you already know, my parents split and got a divorce. This changed the holidays drastically for me. I was no longer sure what to expect around this time of year. I knew that it meant that things would be different. It meant having to have a split holiday. I was going to have spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with my dad and my new family.

I’ll be honest, I hated the idea of having to go somewhere new to celebrate a holiday with people I barely knew. At that point, I also still hadn’t really forgiven my dad for leaving in the first place. And I certainly didn’t I want to meet the people who got to have him instead. It made me hate the holidays but I wanted to spend time with my dad so I sucked it up. Eventually, I got over it and the holidays were more enjoyable. I got to know my step-family and they’ve done nothing but love me and more.

While I do love them, sometimes the holidays are still hard. From the outside, it sounds like having split holidays is cool but it’s really not all it’s cracked up to be. Honestly, it’s exhausting. Every year I have to mentally prepare myself to have two Christmases. For the copious amounts of small talk, awkward silences and having to open presents when nobody else is. Don’t get me wrong, I love both of my families but I just want to enjoy my holiday in one place. Sometimes, I hate having to have a split holiday.

What are the holidays like for you?

Also, check out What The Holidays Really Feel Like For Children Of Divorce from the Thought Catalog!

You can also read TurningPointCT’s post How To Cope With The Holiday Sadness.

Quotes About Grief

Dealing with grief is a lengthy, painful process. You have to remind yourself that taking the time to grieve is okay. Some days may hit you harder than others when it comes to loss, whether it be a person or even an animal. It’s not easy but you have to remember that you won’t feel like that forever.

Over the last two years, I’ve found myself grieving the loss of so many loved ones. It wasn’t easy and some days, I find myself missing them even more. It’s been incredibly difficult but I am making it through as best as I can.

Here are some quotes that have helped me grieve:

“How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

Winnie the Pooh

“No matter how bad your heart is broken, the world doesn’t stop for your grief.”

Faraaz Kazi

“And perhaps there is a limit to the grieving that the human heart can do. As when one adds salt to a tumbler of water, there comes a point where simply no more will be absorbed.”

Sarah Waters

“We bereaved are not alone. We belong to the largest company in all the world–the company of those who have known suffering.”

Helen Keller

“We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.”

Kenji Miyazawa

“Happiness is beneficial for the body, but it is grief that develops the power of the mind.”

Marcel Proust

“Grief is love not wanting to let go.”

Earl A. Grollman

A Little Consideration, A Little Thought…

One of my favorite things in the whole world is Winnie the Pooh. Everything about Winnie the Pooh and his friends has always resonated with me. They’re all so thoughtful and have taught us so many life lessons without us even knowing. Out of all them though, there’s one character who was always so real and raw about how they were feeling. And that’s Eeyore. He taught us so much about a little consideration, a little thought and so much more.

I loved watching Winnie The Pooh when I was younger. Piglet was always my favorite but Eeyore taught me so much more. Things about both myself and life, things that would stick with me forever. One of my favorite Eeyore quotes is “A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.” because it is absolutely true. An act of kindness, no matter how small, can truly change the world.

I remember there was an episode of Winnie The Pooh where Eeyore was incredibly sad and nobody knew why. Eventually, they discovered it was because they’d all forgotten his birthday. Devastated by this discovery, Pooh and Piglet decide to run home and get gifts. Piglet brings a red balloon but pops it on the way. While Pooh brings a pot of honey that he eats on the way to Eeyore’s. Along the way, Owl gives Pooh the idea to turn the pot into a storage for things. Eeyore does not mind either of these mishaps because he realized he’s got a place to keep the popped balloon! Christopher Robin then throws a party for Eeyore and Eeyore is happy.

This episode alone really shows us that a little thought and consideration really does make all the difference. Eeyore knew how much thought and love Pooh and Piglet put into their gifts and he loved them. Despite having forgotten their friend’s birthday, they knew a small kindness was better than none to make up for it.

“A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.”

Eeyore from Winnie The Pooh

Read Thai Nguyen’s post Eeyore: A Pessimist’s Guide to a Beautiful Life on HuffPost. It was a great read!

Please also check out my post Why Teaching Kindness Matters to learn why spreading more kindness is important! 🙂

Positive Self-Love Affirmations

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Positive self-love affirmations can have a huge impact on both our self-esteem and our self-worth. Now, let’s talk about the difference between self-esteem and self-worth. Our self-esteem is often based on how much we like and appreciate ourselves for who we are. On the other hand, self-worth is naturally knowing that we have some sort of value outside of our own abilities.

We know that there is power in finding people or objects that will boost our confidence. We can’t always rely on outside entities to do this for us though. Sometimes, we have to be able to do it for ourselves. Honestly, I think that we should be our own biggest fan. Positive self-love affirmations can really help with this!

Believe it or not, the negative self-talk that we engage in is a learned behavior. The use of positive self-love affirmations can change negative self-talk. I mean this in the sense that it can decrease, and even stop, negative self-talk from happening. These affirmations help us to rewire our brains to accept more positivity.

You can practice self-love affirmations in a variety of ways! A lot of people, including myself, like to practice affirmations verbally to themselves. If you’re not into that, you can even practice it by writing your affirmations down somewhere. Some people even turn their affirmations into mantras for meditations. How you choose to do it is really up to you! It’s all about making YOU feel good!

Here are 3 self-love affirmations that I love:

  1. My being is worthy of love.
  2. I am whole just as I am.
  3. I learn and grow every day.

You can find more positive self-love affirmations here! 🙂

Also check out my post Reminding Yourself That You Are Enough here on TurningPointCT.org!

Practicing Gratitude Everyday

Pink & Green Watercolor Thank You Wish Card

Practicing gratitude and being thankful shouldn’t be limited to just one day a year. We should practice gratitude like everyday is Thanksgiving. Even if we’re just thankful to have gotten out of bed in the morning.

I think we should start by talking about what gratitude means. Gratitude is a thankful recognition of something that someone receives. It teaches us to recognize all of the goodness in our lives. Eventually, people start to realize goodness comes from outside of themselves, at least for the most part.

Being grateful teaches us how to connect with things that are bigger than us. Gratitude allows us to feel more positive emotions and enjoy our good experiences. It even allows us to create stronger relationships with those around us. Practicing gratitude is so important for our mental health. It teaches us to be more appreciative of the things in our lives.

Practicing gratitude is something that I had to learn over time. I was never appreciative of the things in my life. I was only focusing on the negative that I forgot to appreciate the good stuff. Now, I am grateful for everything each day brings me. I know it can be hard to be grateful when you’re having a hard time. It’s even more important to practice gratitude when things are hard because it’ll teach you to appreciate everything else a little more.

You can practice gratitude everyday in so many different ways! One of the best ways that you can do that is by starting a gratitude journal. A gratitude journal allows you to reflect on and record the things you are grateful for on a regular basis. You typically try to write about three things you are grateful for everyday. Gratitude journaling is one of the best ways to practice gratefulness and improve your happiness.

I hope after reading this that you’ll be a little more grateful for the things in your lives (even the small ones). Our world needs less negativity and more positivity. Please practice gratitude, if not for yourself, but for those in your life.

How will you be practicing gratitude?

Learn how to start your own Gratitude Journal here!

You can also check out our podcast about Gratitude right here on TurningPointCT!

Emotional Pain: An Experience

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Emotional pain is pain or hurt that comes from outside non-physical things. Sometimes this emotional hurt is a reaction to the actions or words of other people. Other times, it could be due to regret, grief, or loss. No matter the cause, this pain can become incredibly intense and can affect various parts of your life.

This type of pain has a variety of symptoms. It can come from feelings of loneliness, rage or even shame. It also leads to negative emotions or feelings towards some things or people. This pain also often leads to incredibly severe distress, which can feel even worse than physical pain itself. Emotional pain in itself can lead to unhealthy coping methods which can only worsen how you’re feeling. These methods often involve substance abuse, which can have fatal consequences. On the bright side, there are healthy coping methods for dealing with emotional pain. These methods can include therapy, exercise and even practicing mindfulness.

I’ve dealt with emotional pain practically all my life. A lot of my pain stems from my parents’ divorce, their reactions to it and how I grew up. My parents’ divorce destroyed me emotionally. I was hurt and feeling lost but there was nobody to teach me how to deal with my pain so I just kept it in. Eventually, things began to spiral. The hurt feelings and uncontrollable emotions were beginning to cause me physical distress. I couldn’t sleep, I barely ate, and I was even self-harming. The things I was feeling just hurt me so much emotionally and physically. It was something I never wanted to experience again, but it was something that I would, unfortunately, have to go through again, more than once.

While I do still occasionally deal with it, things have gotten much better. I rely on various coping methods to deal with it. One of the best methods that I’ve chosen was going to therapy. Therapy has been the absolute best thing for me and I wouldn’t change that. My therapist has done so much for me in terms of my pain. It is absolutely exhausting to deal with and work on. It just takes so much energy out of you but it will be so worth it. Eventually, this pain will try to consume you, you can’t let it get to that point. I know addressing pain, especially the emotional kind, can be difficult for some but there are people out there who want to help you. People who want you to get better. Please let them help you, you don’t have to do it by yourself.

What is the kindest thing to do for yourself when you experience this type of pain?

If you get the chance, please check out LiveScience’s article Why does ’emotional pain’ hurt?

Also, check out my post Why Having A Good Therapist Is Important here on TurningPointCT!

Why Dating Yourself Matters

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Have you ever heard the phrase, “you should take yourself on a date”? I know it might sound kind of silly but it’s actually worth trying. Dating yourself isn’t just something you do because you aren’t receiving the affection or attention that you need from your partner or you just got out of a bad relationship and need to show yourself some love. You should be doing this regardless of where you’re at in life or your relationship status.

Dating yourself is a form of self-love AND self-care. This form of self-love and self-care focuses on showing yourself appreciation, love, and respect. By doing this you are teaching yourself metaphorically how to fill your cup before you fill those of others. Self-love is crucial in preserving positive, healthy self-esteem and emotional health. Self-love is so important and also rewarding, which is why I think dating yourself should be a part of your everyday self-care.

Taking yourself on a date can mean anything, it just has to be about you! One of my favorite dates to take myself on is a coffee date. I love pretty much every coffee out there so this is something I really enjoy. Sometimes, I like to go get iced coffee and enjoy my time alone especially when I’m not feeling so great. I take this time alone to reflect on my emotions and how they’re affecting me. I try to remind myself that I will be okay, even if it doesn’t feel that way. This time alone to reflect and appreciate yourself is crucial in maintaining our mental health.

As corny as it sounds, I urge you to take yourself on a date and really spoil yourself. You deserve it. You deserve to feel loved, appreciated and everything in between, even if those feelings have to come from you.

What kind of dates have you taken yourself on? I’d love to hear all about it!

You can learn more about dating yourself here! 🙂

Please also check out my post Reminding Yourself That You Are Enough here on TurningPointCT!

Never Stop Being A Good Person…

People won’t always be kind to you. That’s the unfortunate reality of the world we live in currently. There are always going to be people that are going to hurt you, whether it’s on purpose or not. But that’s okay. Just because you meet a few bad people who are unkind to you, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s no longer any reason to be a good person. Never stop being a good person, it matters.

This is a lesson that I’ve had to teach myself and now I’m hoping that I can teach it to you. I let the bad people in my life dictate how I felt towards others. The number of bad people around me certainly outweighed the good ones and that made me feel like trying to be good wasn’t really worth it. I’ll admit, I was unkind to people who really didn’t deserve it and I wish I could take it back. It was only because I really didn’t feel like being kind would make a difference but I was certainly wrong about that.

Being a good person and being kind is so important if we want our world to flourish. Bad people choose to be bad but you don’t have to. You have to choose being good and spreading kindness. You can’t let those people dictate how you treat others. The way you treat people affects how they view you. So choose goodness and being kind. We need more good people and kindness in the world, and now more than ever.

“Never stop being a good person because of bad people.”

Unknown

If you’d like to learn more, you can read BetterHelp’s article How To Be A Good Person And Why It Matters here!

You can also read Why Teaching Kindness Matters right here on TurningPointCT!

Going To College… Again.

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This past Summer, I finally decided that I was going back to college. It’s been 5 years since I’ve been in school and wow, that’s a long time. I can’t even begin to tell you how nervous I was feeling about going to school again. I was worried I wasn’t going to do well but so far, it’s going pretty great. It’s been a long road but one that’s going to be well worth the trouble. Before I can get into what college is like now, I want to tell you about my real first year.

My first year of college began August of 2015 and came to an end May of the following year. This year was everything but easy. I’m currently pursuing a psychology degree but when I went to college the first time, I was went for nursing. And let me tell you, the nursing program was no joke. I took every possible science, health and psychology class you could think of. I was in class all day and my labs practically all night. It was exhausting and I barely slept. I didn’t feel like I was going to survive the whole year.

While my classes were exhausting, I enjoyed campus life. I stayed on campus in a dorm with the world’s best roommate, who eventually became an even better friend. She made my first year a little more fun. She really got me out of my comfort zone. There were so many new experiences that I had during my first year. I know you’re reading this and you’re probably wondering why I didn’t go back after my first year. While my first year of college was wonderful, there were a lot of things I didn’t share including why I never went back.

In the Spring of my first year of college, I was dealing with not one but two sexual assaults. These assaults broke me. I was afraid to leave my room, I couldn’t walk across campus at night without panicking. I even made up excuses so I didn’t have to go to class. Fortunately, the year was almost over but I couldn’t wait to get back home where I felt safe. After this, I just couldn’t bring myself to go back. I considered commuting but the thought of having to run into this person was too much for me. Honestly, I even thought about going to school that was closer to home but then I thought, well it could happen to me there too.

I couldn’t bring myself to go back because of those assaults so instead I just put it off. Instead, I worked various jobs while avoiding the trauma that needed to be acknowledged over the next few years. Eventually, I began to feel like I wasn’t going to get anywhere in life. I knew that I was going to need more to get ahead but that also meant going back to school if I wanted a degree. Unfortunately, I was beginning to feel like it was too late to go back even though I knew it very much wasn’t.

Those sexual assaults took so much from me, physically and emotionally. They made me feel like I’d never be able to step foot on a college campus again. It took a lot for me to come to terms with what happened. Sometimes I feel like I will never get over it but I keep pushing. I keep going because I know that I need to if I ever truly want to move on from it. I missed out on so much because I let my trauma control me but not any longer. It took everything in me but I did finally go back to school.

I’m currently enrolled in Southern New Hampshire University’s online Undergraduate Psychology program. I have never done online schooling before and was worried that I wouldn’t get much out of it. It’s nothing like going to class physically. Most learning in this program is done at your own pace, which I like. I don’t feel like I have to rush while trying to retain the information provided within lessons.

Going back to school has been one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made. If you think that it’s too late for you to go back, I promise you that it’s not. It is never too late for you to continue your education. You can do anything that you put your mind to. I encourage you to put in the effort to reach your goals even if it might not happen right away. It will happen and you will get to where you need to be.

Read NPR’s In ‘Never Too Late,’ Finally, A Guide For Adults Going To College here!

Listen to our project coordinator, Kailey’s podcast The Struggle Before Getting To My New Major here to learn about one of her struggles in college!

Why Teaching Kindness Matters

In light of World Kindness Day, I want talk about why being kind to yourself, others and the world is important. We celebrate World Kindness Day on November 13. The purpose of celebrating kindness on this day is to show others that kindness will bring us together. We have to teach kindness to each other. Teaching kindness to each other is how we’ll make the world a better place.

Teaching kindness starts with us. We cannot teach others how to be kind if we don’t know how to be kind to ourselves first. Honestly, it can be really difficult to be kind to ourselves, especially when we’re struggling. When we are struggling is when we need kindness the most. Self-kindness allows us to heal from things that we never knew we needed to heal from. Often, I still struggle with being kind to myself. When I’m feeling low, I tend to criticize every thing that I do and make negative comments towards myself which usually doesn’t help.

It took me a really long time but eventually, I learned to teach myself kindness. Being kind to myself has changed a lot for me. It not only has taught me not to be so hard on myself but it’s also taught me how to be a little kinder to others. Now that’s not to say that I was mean to other people but you get what I’m saying. A few kinds words to someone, even if it’s yourself, can make make the world a little better. Think about it like this, if kind words and thoughtfulness can help plants grow, imagine what it could do for you, or someone else.

Kindness should not stop with you. It should be something that everyone can give and experience. We should teach others how to be kind too. I feel like a lot of people don’t understand the impact of kindness itself. I am always sure to teach kindness to my students because sometimes I think that they’re the ones who need it the most. Sometimes people are unkind to them because they have disabilities and that’s not cool. They deserve to know that they are just as loved as everyone else, even if they’re a little different. I know in my heart that showing them kindness will teach them to be kind to others who might be feeling that way.

Showing others kindness is the best way to teach them. When we show kindness to others it shows them that there is still a little bit of good left in the world. Kindness gives us the chance to connect positively with others and create lasting, meaningful relationships. When people are kind we tend to feel more connected and willing to interact with them. Kindness is contagious! Our small acts of kindness might make someone want to pass on that same kindness and that’s great. This is why it’s so important to teach kindness and be kind.

Lastly, being kind to everyone out in the world is absolutely important. There are so many people out there who have not experienced any form of kindness and they certainly need it. You may not know what someoneone is going through and your words can make or break them. Whether it’s a simple hello or an hour long conversation, what you say and how you say it might change someoene’s life. Who knows, you might even save them if that’s the point they’re at. Kind words have no cost and are worth so much more than you know.

Teaching kindness matters because without it we might not survive. People have to know that there is still good in the world. Much like hatred, kindness can be taught and should be. There have been days where all I really needed was kind words I never got. If someoene had taken the time to be kind to me when I was struggling, maybe I wouldn’t have suffered as much. I’ll never really know. But that’s why I choose to be kind when I can because I know how much it hurts to need kind words and not receive them. I will always try to be kind.

How will you teach others kindness?

You can read about World Kindness Day here!

And if you have a chance please read What Would You Do To Make The World A Better Place? here on TurningPointCT.org to learn how being kind to someone might just make a difference! 🙂

Reminding Yourself That You Are Enough

Often we are in situations that might make us feel inadequate. When we are feeling this way it’s absolutely important that we take the time to remind ourselves that we’re enough. It may be difficult but please try to remember that you are enough.

I have been put in these situations more often than I’d like to admit and sometimes, I would forget to remind myself that I was enough. Instead, I let that feeling of inadequacy eat me alive and that’s not good. How we feel about ourselves is so much more important than how others feel about us. If we feel inadequate ourselves, other people might make that feeling worse. We have to remind ourselves of that because we can’t rely on other people to do it for us.

I’ve had people make me feel inadequate for as long as I can remember. Whether it was friends, family or even people I didn’t know. There was always someone out there that made me feel like wasn’t good enough. Growing up I really struggled with feelings of inadequacy. I especially struggled with this after my parents divorced. I had people, my own relatives to be clear, constantly telling me that I wasn’t enough for my dad to stay or that he didn’t love me. Having to hear that constantly broke me into pieces. It made reminding myself that I was enough that much more difficult.

On days when I knew I’d need reassurance that I was good enough, I was just met with more feelings of inadequacy. I would confide in friends about how I was feeling but they’d just tell me that I was being ridiculous. Eventually, I turned to writing. I wrote poetry about these feelings and how I felt like I was always second best or not enough. I wrote a lot of these poems in my creative writing class. Writing absolutely made me feel better but one day, I had decided to share a poem I wrote about how I felt like I wasn’t enough and a girl in my class completely tore me apart.

She told me that how I was feeling was wrong because she claimed she knew my dad didn’t feel that way. How could she have known that? I mean maybe she was right but that doesn’t mean she can tell me how I get to feel. She made me feel so invalidated and only furthered my feelings of inadequacy because now I was feeling like writing wasn’t enough to make me feel better anymore. I knew I needed to do something, I just didn’t know what at the time.

Eventually, I learned that I was the one who needed to reassure myself that I was enough. I was so reliant on whether other people thought I was good enough that I forgot how I felt mattered too. I didn’t take the time to remind myself that I was enough but that’s exactly what I needed.

Sometimes reminding yourself that you are enough can be difficult. This could be because you don’t think what you’re saying is actually true. It will take time for you to really believe that you’re enough and that’s okay. This is a learning process. It’s not going to happen overnight. You have to work through that feeling of inadequacy, even when you think it’ll never go away. Sometimes, even I still struggle with this. When I am having a hard time and I am feeling like I’m not good enough, I stop and remind myself of everything I’m worth because I know that if I don’t that nobody else will.

Please never let anyone make you feel less than what you’re worth because you are enough and you deserve to know that.

How do you remind yourself that you’re enough?

This week I’ve included Psych2Go’s cute video 7 Things To Remember When You Think You’re Not Good Enough 🙂

You also read my post Practicing Self-Love On A Bad Day to learn why self-love is most important on those days when we’re feeling inadequate.

If you get tired…

If you get tired, learn to rest, not quit. This is an important lesson I’ve learned and one I want to pass on to those reading this. I want to start by saying that if you’re reading this, you are not alone in this. We all struggle with this, including me. That’s why I want to take the time to explain to you what this phrase really means.

When our lives are full of hardships and they become too much, we often feel our only option is quitting. That if we quit dealing with all those difficult moments and thoughts, life will be peachy. Yes, sometimes that might be great but quitting shouldn’t be our only option when we’re struggling.

When we decide to quit, we are potentially giving up on the very things that could help us reach our goals, hopes and dreams. I mean really, are these struggles worth quitting on our dreams, or will they get us just a little bit closer? We won’t know if we just quit.

Quitting is easy but you know what isn’t? Trying to keep going. When we become overwhelmed with our hardships, we have to learn to take a break. Not give up. We will overcome our own struggles with time but we have to be patient and willing to rest when it feels like it’s too much.

This lesson is something that I’ve personally taken a long time to learn. Quitting was always easier to me but I didn’t know that meant giving up everything that I worked so hard for. That I wouldn’t reach the goals that I made for myself. I knew that something had to change. Now when I’m feeling tired and ready to quit, I remind myself that I need to rest. Because taking the time to rest is better than giving up.

“If you get tired, learn to rest, not quit.”

Banksy

This week I’d like you to check out this article on why rest is important!

If you are struggling and feel like you’re ready to quit, please reach out to someone or visit our resources page to see what the best option is for you! We care and we want you to be at your very best! 🙂

Why Saying No Is Okay

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Saying no can be incredibly difficult sometimes. This is because we think that saying no might come off as rude or selfish depending on the situation. And we don’t want that. Instead, we tend to put aside our feelings, and sometimes our morals, just to people-please. But I want you to know that saying no is okay.

I’ll be the first to say that I’ve always been a people-pleaser. Honestly, I don’t people-please as much now, but I used to do it all the time before. I never felt like I could say no to people and that got me into a lot of horrible situations. Situations that I really should have stood my ground in. Learning to say no is something that took me a really long time to understand. I’d just say yes to everything until I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I knew that I had to do something about it.

I was going to have to learn to say no. And eventually I would learn that on my own. I would like to pass that lesson onto you. One of our greatest superpowers is saying no, but this is something that we don’t always remember. Sometimes we don’t say no to things that we aren’t interested in because we don’t want to seem rude or even selfish. Saying no actually means you’re aware of your own worth and respect yourself enough to stick up for what you believe in.

Please remember that saying no is okay. Deciding what we’re okay and not okay with is entirely our choice, not anyone else’s. Saying no allows us to set our own boundaries with others. Without this power, people may take advantage of us or treat us like door mats. We absolutely cannot let them. It is absolutely better to say no to things you’re uncomfortable with than to suffer through it for the sake of someone else.

Your thoughts and emotions are more important than trying to please everyone, don’t forget that. Saying no is your right.

I’ve included a link to PsychCentral’s article Saying No (Kindly) And Then Letting Go here! It was a really great read.

Avoiding Something Is Easy

Avoiding something is easy. I mean seriously, it’s less difficult than facing our problems head-on. We always talk about all the things we avoid like crowded areas or traffic but we don’t talk about emotional avoidance as much as we should. I know some of you are reading this and thinking, what the heck is that? Emotional avoidance is when an individual avoids the thoughts and emotions associated with a traumatic or stressful event. Emotional avoidance is most often associated with PTSD. While you might not suffer from PTSD, you might still be practicing emotional avoidance.

It’s no secret that I’ve struggled with emotional avoidance practically my whole life. I guess it’s just easier to avoid those traumatic feelings and events than to address them. Unfortunately, I do still struggle with this but I’m trying to do better. Addressing our trauma is the only way that we’ll get over it. I’ve never been good at this and tend to just avoid everything.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve avoided a lot of things in my life. Things that were both big and small because avoiding something is easy. One of the biggest and most significant things I’ve ever avoided in my life was talking to my dad about how I felt when he left. Honestly, I’ve always wanted to talk about it with him, I just never did. Now that I’m older, I’ve forgiven him. I don’t care as much but part of me still wants that conversation.

My parents didn’t have a perfect marriage, anyone on the outside could see that. My mom and dad argued a lot. I just thought that was normal. I could tell that they were unhappy. They never really seemed all that happy to me when we were growing up anyways. I began to realize that people grow apart and that’s okay. But what I didn’t understand is how you could grow apart from your children. I mean seriously, is that a thing that happens? I didn’t get it.

My dad and I on my 2nd birthday, May 1999.

My mom always put my aunt, her children, and their problems above us. I always felt like I was on the backburner. Even after my dad left and it was just us, I still felt like I was there. She was so worried about her feelings that she never took the time to ask us about ours. In fact, she spent the majority of my childhood telling me that it was my fault that my dad left. That she never wanted children but he did and then he didn’t want us anymore.

I was heartbroken. Have you ever had someone tell you, a child, that your being is the reason that someone left you? I can tell you right now that it is one of the worst feelings I’ve ever felt. I knew that this couldn’t be true but part of me still wondered if maybe she was right. Honestly, I should have just talked to my dad about it but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Instead, I let that awful feeling eat me alive for years on end. I felt like it was never going to go away. That feeling drowned me out sometimes. It’s the only thing that bounced around in my head. Did my dad really leave because of us – because of me? It couldn’t be but I was beginning to believe it.

My brother Donovan and I with our dad.

Eventually, my dad remarried and that was great. I was happy for him but what I couldn’t wrap my head around was this. My dad called me the night before his wedding to let me know that he was getting married, I wasn’t upset that it was last-minute knowledge but that he didn’t include my siblings and me. Seriously, we didn’t even know this woman and in less than 24 hours, she’d be my step-mom. I just didn’t know what to say or how to feel. Honestly, I was still trying to figure out why he just left us.

I’ll admit that I was jealous. My dad had a new family, a new home and so many new adventures on the horizon but what we had was nothing. That horrible feeling only seemed to be getting louder every day. When it finally became too much for me, I decided to write about those feelings. I mostly wrote poetry, but it helped. Eventually, I forgave my dad. Not so much for him but for me, because I needed that closure.

To this day, I’ve still avoided talking to my dad about everything. I know that I should but it took me a really long time to forgive him and I worry that talking about it might bring a lot of those bad feelings back. My dad’s always been my best friend and when he left, it felt like he took my heart with him. I know that I’ll have this conversation with him when I’m ready but until then, I will take the time to think about what I might say to him when I do.

This is one of my favorite moments. My dad got to give me my diploma at my high school graduation in 2015.

Are you feeling inspired to write? If so, I’ve included a link to the list of journal prompts for you here, happy writing! 🙂

Is there something that you’ve been avoiding and need someone to talk to about it? Visit our resources page for more information on who to talk to!

Practicing Self-Love On A Bad Day

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Tough situations and long, exhausting days can leave you feeling like you are undeserving of self-love, which is why it’s so important to practice self-love intentionally. Especially on your bad days.

Here are some signs that you might need to be practicing a little more self-love:

  • Yo’u’ve had a tough day and you’re feeling unworthy, unlovable, and less than good enough
  • Work has been overwhelming and you feel unappreciated and overworked
  • Social media has left you feeling jealous and sad
  • You’ve been arguing with a loved one and you feel unheard and lonely

If any of that sounds eerily familiar to you, then it sounds like you might need to be practicing a little more self-love.

I suppose we should start off by talking about what self-love is. I feel as though a lot of people don’t really know what that is and that’s okay. We’re going to talk about it together!

Self-love is allowing yourself kindness, understanding, and compassion. It’s all about valuing your own wants and needs as a priority. Self-love is knowing your worth. When you genuinely love yourself, you accept your strengths and weaknesses without giving yourself a hard time about it. You love yourself for all that you are and encourage growth instead.

I’ll admit, practicing self-love isn’t easy but it’s necessary. I had no idea how important it was until I hit what felt like rock bottom. We often feel like we are undeserving of self-love but that’s when we need it the most. That’s why it’s so important to practice self-love, especially on your bad days.

When you have a bad day, it can be really difficult to show yourself the self-love you need. You may find yourself bottling up your emotions or even beating yourself up over mistakes you might have made. Feeling this way can lead to negative emotions and negative language towards yourself, which isn’t great. Our bad days are when we need self-love the most.

Practicing self-love allows you to be more compassionate towards yourself when you’re struggling. It also gives you the opportunity to learn and grow as a person, rather than giving yourself a hard time. Self-love can help you move on in a more sincere and positive way.

Read Psychology Today’s The Power of Self-Love and Self-Compassion here.

Bonus self-care treat! Learn how to make a Positivity Jar with our Project Coordinator, Kailey! 🙂

Who Makes You Happy?

We always talk about the things or even places that make us happy but we never talk about the people that make us happy. What’s up with that? Those wonderful people in your lives deserve to know that they’re having a positive impact on you. They’re important too!

The things we say about and do for ourselves are an important part of managing our mental health. But you know what’s just as important? The people we surround ourselves with. The people that make us happy and feel good about ourselves are a critical part of how we manage our mental health. I say critical because these are the people that remind us that we are loved, worthy, and full of untapped potential. They keep us afloat when we feel like we’re drowning. Often, they’re our light at the end of the tunnel.

While we’re on the topic of who makes us happy, I want to take this time to talk about all of the people that make me happy. I have a lot of wonderful people in my life but there are a few who definitely deserve some recognition. These people are my siblings, my co-workers, my honey, and of course, one of my closest (and oldest) friends.

My brothers Donovan and Dante have always made me happy. Although it might not always seem that way, I promise it’s the truth. My brothers are the ones I hold close to my heart. Honestly, I’d say they actually are a piece of my heart, or at least it feels that way. Loving them and knowing that they love me back makes me happy. They are the ones that I know will be there for me when nobody else is. Donovan and Dante are the best brothers that anyone could ask for. They’re honest, kind and so full of love to give.

I am SO proud of the young men that they’re becoming, even if they don’t see it themselves yet. Their accomplishments (even the little ones) make me happy too. I will continue to cheer them on from the sidelines, I’m their biggest fan and I always will be. I know that they’re certainly mine. They’re the first people I want to tell good news to because I know they’ll be the most excited about it. I hope that I’m part of their happiness too!

My younger brothers, Dante & Donovan 🥰

My coworkers at the school are absolutely a cause for my happiness. These are the people I spend most of my week with. This is the first job I’ve been at where my coworkers have actually turned into what feels like family. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some pretty great coworkers but nothing like this. I spend my whole workday with these people, so we obviously need to make sure that we work well together. And guess what? We absolutely do. I know that I can rely on these people to pick me up when I’m feeling down. I just want them to know I appreciate every single one of them, even on the hard days. My teacher is wonderful. She’s loud, crazy, fun and so full of energy, she really keeps us going sometimes.

While I love my teacher, it’s my coworkers who have stolen my heart. Cassie, who I’ve found a fantastic best friend in, was a blessing. All year long we were full of laughs, hugs, tears and so much more. I miss you more than you know but I am so proud of you for stepping out of your comfort zone! But now, Jen keeps me going on long days with laughs and conversations about the most random things. Even Mr. G, who indulges me with Swedish meatball pizza and what I consider some of the best dad jokes! Of everyone, I am especially thankful for Ciara and Dwayne who continue to encourage me to be the very best version of myself. I appreciate everything that you’ve both done and continue to do for me.

Some of the best coworkers I’ve ever had ❤️

Last but certainly not least, Kailey. I can’t even tell you how happy I am to still have her in my life. Kailey was one of the first friends I made in middle school when I moved back to Salem (Connecticut) and we just never looked back. She is absolutely one of the people who makes me happy because she ALWAYS reminds me that it’s okay to feel the way that I’m feeling and that there’s nothing wrong with having a bad day.

Kailey is the one who encouraged me to apply for this job and I’m so glad that I did. This job has been a blessing. At first, I felt like I wasn’t going to be able to do it but here I am doing it! Plus, she continues to assure me every day that I’m doing a great job. She’s always believed in me, no matter what it was that we were doing. Almost 10 years later, it feels like nothing’s changed for us. We talk almost every day about everything and anything. She’s honestly a rock for me. I’d fall apart without her for sure. I know in my heart that anyone would be lucky to have her in their lives.

Kailey & I at our 8th grade graduation, June 2011 (left) and us on my birthday, May 2021 (right). Almost 10 years later!

These people are so important to me and I will always make sure that they know it. They’re such an important part of my life and who I am, they’ve helped shape me into a better person. They continue to inspire me in different ways every day. Please remember to appreciate all the wonderful people in your life. ❤️

Who makes you happy? I’d love to hear all about them and what they’ve done for you!

If you have some time, read The Conversation’s article on happiness here! 🙂

Are you struggling or just need someone to talk to? You can check out all of TurningPointCT’s Resources to see what’s right for you!

When In Doubt, Paint Your Nails

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Welcome back to Self-care Sunday! This week I want to talk about pampering! Pampering yourself is one of the best forms of self-care because it’s your chance to really take care of you. I never made time for self-care and pampering before but it’s now a vital part of my routine. Without it, I know I would absolutely fall apart. I love pampering myself and I do it in more ways than one. Pampering is different for everyone and that’s okay because it’s supposed to be all about YOU!

For me, pampering means sitting down to paint my nails, taking a bubble bath, or even just taking a nap. I love all of those things but painting my nails is one of my favorite things to do. As silly as it sounds, I change my nail color every two weeks. That might sound ridiculous to some people because it’s quite a bit of work but I love doing it. I love starting over, filing my nails, and painting a fresh coat of new color on my nails.

Bare nails just aren’t for me. I need a little touch of color to look at every once in a while. While I love painting my nails, I’m also incredibly impatient so I lean towards “quick dry” polishes. Let me tell you, they are absolutely FANTASTIC. Some of the best brands include Sally Hansen and Maybelline. Sally Hansen’s Insta-Dri polish is in my top 5, the colors are beautiful and it dries in minutes. Although Sally Hansen is fantastic, Maybelline has a line of polishes called Fast Gel, these are great for when you want a quick gel manicure. These two are my absolute favorites, I think I’ll always want to buy them.

I know that painting your nails may not be for everyone but there are other ways to pamper yourself! It could be as simple as lighting a candle and sitting down with a good book. Or it could be treating yourself to a massage. The possibilities for pampering are totally endless! Pampering is whatever you want it to be. As long as it is something that brings you joy, then who cares what it is? You are allowed to do things for YOU, everyone else has to come second sometimes. NEVER let anyone make you feel guilty for taking the time to take care of yourself, you deserve that time.

What are some things that you consider to be pampering? I’d love to hear about it!

Coming Out As Pansexual

I knew from a young age that I wasn’t straight. I liked boys and girls the same, I just wanted someone to love me for me. We never talked about homosexuality at home and when we did, it was never really anything good. They never directly stated that fact but a part of me knew that homosexuality was bothersome to my mom. Though, she used to say that my dad was the one bothered by homosexuality (this is not even remotely true). She eventually admitted that she wouldn’t want her children to be homosexuals because it’s a hard life to live but that doesn’t make it okay to say to your child. I knew coming out would not be easy.

Was it okay that I liked girls? This question raced through my head all the time. It never really felt like it was. I didn’t come out to anyone until I was in high school. I never really had to come out to my friends, they all just sort of knew. Obviously, I did eventually tell them that I was bisexual (at the time) and they were incredibly supportive. I felt accepted and free to be myself. Unfortunately, at home was a different story. I came out to my mom and she didn’t take me seriously, she pretty much told me it was a phase and that I’d be over it soon. At this point, coming out to my family just wasn’t something I planned to try ever again.

I wish I could be as open about my sexuality with my family as I am with my friends. I know that someday I’ll be able to be totally myself with them but right now is not the time and that’s okay. I’m happy with the people that do know and accept me just the way that I am.

I originally came out as bisexual but currently identify as pansexual. Now, I know that a lot of people confuse this with bisexuality but they’re not the same. This sexuality means that you have an attraction to one or more genders, often men and women. Bisexuality relies on gender (and that’s not a bad thing) while pansexuality does not. Pansexuality is an attraction to people regardless of gender, this includes those who are transgender, non-binary, and so much more.

Up until last year, I identified as bisexual but I felt constricted by this label. Eventually, I ended up admitting this to my brother Dante and that’s when he began to teach me about all of these sexualities that I’d never heard of before. I was glad to hear that there was more than gay, lesbian, or bisexual to identify as. I told him about how being bisexual didn’t feel right to me. This is when he explained to me that I was actually pansexual. Then it all began to click for me.

I’m going to be real with you, I’ve been head over heels for a handful of women, even been with two, but there’s one woman I’ll always love. And that’s Nicole. She was actually one of the first people that I came out to as pansexual. Instead of invalidating me, she just asked questions about what she didn’t understand. This is the first time I really felt free to be myself. We spent what felt like almost an hour just talking about what it meant to be pansexual. It was nice to explain to someone how I was feeling and have someone actually understand what I meant.

I knew when I first met Nicole that I was pretty much in love. She was kind, passionate, and just so different from anyone I’d ever met before. I knew that I needed her to be a part of my life. Though I didn’t actually tell her about my crush on her until about two years ago but I think it’s safe to say it certainly wasn’t an issue. We always joke that we’re married and part of me thinks that maybe someday we will be (never say never *wink*). I just know that she will always be someone that makes me feel safe and I couldn’t ask for anyone better than her.

For me, being pansexual means that it’s all about your soul. I know that in my heart that if you have a good soul, I know that you’ll be good for me. Honestly, I’ve never really cared about gender because that’s not what’s important. What’s important is that you’re beautiful on the inside. I want someone who has a kind heart, a spectacular personality, and everything in between.

Coming out as pansexual has brought me so much happiness. As much as I dislike labels, I’m glad that there’s one for me. I will always love people for who they are because it’s about hearts, not parts. As a pansexual woman, I am free to love whoever I want regardless of what they identify as. I am no less valid than someone who’s bisexual. Many people in today’s society have a problem with pansexuality because it has a slight overlap with bisexuality, which in their eyes means that they’re the same even though they’re not.

All sexualities are okay and valid. You are still so loved regardless of how you identify. Please never let anyone make you feel like you are anything less than great because of your sexuality.

Coming out isn’t an easy thing for most people to do but you know what, it’s so worth it to be able to live an authentic life as YOU!

I’ve included an article that details the difference between Bisexuality & Pansexuality here!

You can also read about National Coming Out Day here on TurningPointCT 🙂

And The Baker’s Gonna Bake, Bake, Bake!

Happy Self-care Sunday everyone! I hope that you’ve all had a great week and a restful weekend. Self-care is such an important part of maintaining your mental health. I often found myself putting other people and their needs before my own, and that really takes a toll on your mental health. You have to remember to take care of YOU too.

Gluten-free chocolate chip coconut scones, yum! 🙂

There are so many different forms of self-care that people practice. One of my favorite personal forms of self-care is baking. I’ve loved baking since I was a little girl, my dad used to bake a lot when I was growing up. The warm, delicious aromas of fresh baked goods has always been soothing to me. If I was having a bad day, the smell of fresh brownies being baked would always turn my day around.

When I was old enough to bake on my own, I baked as often as I could. It was mostly simple treats like cupcakes or brownies but I absolutely loved it. I must have baked something at least once a week, it was just my way of relaxing. Baking gave me a a chance to just focus on myself and what I was making, plus my family always enjoyed the treats I made.

These are my ‘famous’ tres leche cupcakes, my friends and family always ask me to make these!

In the last few years, I’ve learned to make so many new things. Things that I never thought I’d be making. I’ve made so many different kinds of breads, scones, muffins and more! I could list everything I’ve ever made but that’s just so many! I amaze myself every single time I try a new recipe and it comes out better than expected.

This is my favorite form of self-care because it’s something that genuinely brings me joy when I am having a hard time. I think I’ll always love baking, I mean how could you not?

Two fresh loaves of homemade brioche bread, this is definitely one of my favorite bread recipes to make!

What’s your favorite thing to bake? 🙂

There are far better things ahead…

I absolutely love this quote because it reminds you that you need to let go of the past and look forward to the future with hope. We can’t be afraid to leave our pasts behind because the best is yet to come.

I have struggled for a long time with leaving my past behind because I knew I’d have to move on if I let go of it. That’s just not something I was ever good at up until recently. I’ve held onto so many bad memories, trauma, toxic people and it all just began to weigh me down. I couldn’t take it anymore.

Letting go isn’t easy but it’s so worth it in the end. Don’t hold onto all that awful stuff, there are far better things ahead waiting for you. You just have to get there!

“There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

C.S. Lewis

Keep going!

I’m The Proud Sister of A Transgender Teen

I’m the proud sister of a transgender teen boy. That transgender teen boy is my little brother Dante.

Dante decided to come out as transgender in March of 2020. He has always struggled with his gender identity. I remember that he would tell our mom how uncomfortable he felt in his body but she just brushed him off. He never enjoyed playing with dolls or dressing up, he just always wanted to be one of the boys. He knew he wasn’t meant to be a girl. And sure enough, he was right.

This is my brother Dante proudly posing with his transgender pride flag 🙂

If you asked me a year ago how I felt about having a transgender sibling, I wouldn’t know what to tell you. The whole thing was completely new to me but it has absolutely changed my life in more ways than one. Dante has taught me so much about not only himself and what he’s been through but also about myself.

Being the sibling of someone who is transgender is not easy but absolutely worth it to me. I am fighting battles for him that I know he may not be able to fight on his own and that’s okay. I will always fight for him. He needs to know that there will always be someone in his corner, even if it’s just me.

People constantly misgender him when we are in public. Sometimes, Dante is too shy to correct them so I know that I need to step up and say something when he feels like can’t. I don’t always catch it right away and later find myself feeling bad. He often reminds me that it’s okay if I don’t say anything because he knows I would have if I heard it but I still feel bad because I know it bothers him. He doesn’t deserve to feel that way.

I don’t want my brother living in a world where people are unkind to him or don’t respect his pronouns. He absolutely deserves to live in a world where he can be free to be whoever he wants. My brother has grown into a wonderful young man. It’s the happiest I’ve ever seen him in my whole life. He doesn’t care what other people think because at the end of the day, he knows who he is and that’s all that really matters.

Dante is proud of the person he’s become and he shouldn’t have to hide that. He inspires me to be a better person. I want to become a better advocate and make the world a safer place for trans teens like him to exist in. My brother is almost every part of the reason that I am who I am today.

I’m the proud sister of a transgender teen and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I will always fight for my brother and his right to live freely.

I love you, Dante.

You can also check out Ariane Thornton-Mason’s article about having a transgender sibling here.

Under Turning Point CT’s Support by Topic, you can find a list of LGBTQIA+ resources, feel free to take a peek!

Bullying Isn’t Cool

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Bullying affects people of all ages. It can take a toll on your mental health. Eventually, it becomes too much for some people. Bullying also deals heavy consequences. Consequences that may never turn around. Bullying isn’t cool and I’ll stand by that.

I’m no stranger to the world of bullying. Unfortunately, I’ve always been on the receiving end of said bullying. I’ve dealt with bullying almost all my life. From middle school to high school, and even a few times in my adult life. It does not leave you feeling great at all. Honestly, it leaves you feeling broken and like you’re just not doing something right. You wonder what you did to deserve the things happening to you.

The worst of the bullying I ever got was definitely in high school. For weeks, I dealt with relentless bullying my freshman year of high school. This girl and her friends bullying me were in the senior class at the time. They made my life an absolute hell. At first, it was all verbal. They just called me names and said rude things to me. Then they started throwing sharpened pencils at me on the bus. Eventually, they even got their friends to bother me during the day too. As a result, I was miserable and it really wasn’t helping the current state of my mental health. Because of these people, I was mortified about having to ride the bus to school. The thought of it made me sick to my stomach.

The whole situation made me feel like I was stuck. There was nobody else for me to turn to. Nobody was listening to me. I was dealing with it all on my own. And slowly falling apart in the process. I decided to tell the principal what was happening. Though, telling the principal really only made things worse for me. Eventually, the things they said to me got way meaner. Then, everyone in the senior class started calling me a “snitch” everyday. In the end, I was running out of options.

Finally, I decided to reach out to my family. One of my cousins knew the mother of the girl picking on me. Apparently, she had a conversation and let her mother know what she was doing. Then the next day, the girl who was giving me a hard time, walked up to me after we got off the bus and apologized. I had been waiting for that stuff to stop for weeks. I knew I should have felt better but I didn’t. “I’m sorry” didn’t mean anything to me. After that, the bullying subsided for a while and things got a little better but I still haven’t forgiven those people or even the ones who wouldn’t help me.

I dealt with that bullying for weeks before someone stood up for me. Honestly, I just wish someone had stood up for me and kept it from going as far as it did. We shouldn’t just standby and let people get picked on. We have to stick up for them when they can’t. Bullying isn’t cool. We should be taking steps to prevent and stop bullying from happening to other people. We have to do better.

You can read more about National Bullying Prevention Month here!

Why Having A Good Therapist Is Important

TW: self-harm, suicide. I’ve seen a counselor or therapist for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, I saw a plethora of school counselors until I was finally able to get my own outside therapist. I love my current therapist but without these counselors, I honestly don’t think I would have survived. These counselors went the extra mile for me and made sure that I was always taken care of in terms of my mental health.

At only 12 years old, I was really starting to struggle after my parents separated. I wasn’t eating very much, I couldn’t sleep and I was self-harming almost every day. I felt like I wanted to die. My whole world was falling apart and it felt like there was nothing I could do to fix it. I felt like I didn’t have anyone to open up to about what I was struggling with until I finally decided to open up to my cousin about what was going on. She didn’t say much about it or even make me feel better but she told my mom and that’s when everything changed for me.

I came home from school one afternoon and when I walked in my mom looked so broken. Like someone had just ripped her heart out. My heart started to race and I became incredibly anxious and panicked about what was about to happen. I couldn’t even get any words to come out of my mouth. After a long silence, she finally said “Why couldn’t you tell me?”. This hurt a lot because I had already told her so many times before that I was having a hard time and she just didn’t believe me. It took someone else telling her about what was going on to finally get her to realize that I needed help. Help that she couldn’t give me. This is when she decided to contact the school about me seeing someone.

When I was in sixth grade, I started seeing Mr. Guarino, the counselor at school. I was still in middle school at the time but I can honestly tell you that this man changed my life. I saw Mr. Guarino once a week for pretty much the rest of my middle school career. He was awesome. For the first time in my life, I felt heard and acknowledged. Like someone actually wanted to know how I was feeling and make sure that I was going to be okay. I saw him every week until eighth grade when I was finally feeling okay again. He helped me with so much. We talked about how I felt about my dad leaving and how I felt abandoned by everyone else, including my mom. He talked to me about whatever I wanted and that alone meant so much to me.

While things might have been okay by the end of eighth grade, I was beginning to feel myself going into that dark hole again. Things were really hard. With graduation and a transition to high school, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I felt like I was drowning again. But the thing that hurt me most was my dad. I invited him to my eighth-grade graduation and he didn’t even show up. I looked for his face in the crowd, only to find that he was nowhere to be found in the crowd. Instead, he taped a graduation card to the front door of our apartment. I was devastated.

At this point, I knew counseling was my only option but I couldn’t see anyone until I went back to school in the Fall because my mom wouldn’t get me a therapist, nor was there anyone to take me to and from it. It was a long summer and we had also just moved back to my hometown but I was able to see the counselor at the high school. This is where Mr. Auriantal came in. My freshman year of high school was difficult. Not only was I at a new school, struggling internally with my own trauma but my dad worked at my school.

There were so many bottled-up feelings about my parents’ divorce. I was really struggling but Mr. Auriantal certainly saved me from myself. I saw him twice a week during my freshman year. My freshman year was one of my hardest school years. I was having an anxiety attack almost every day. My palms would start to sweat, my throat would get tight and I felt like I was being suffocated. The anxiety attacks began to fade after I started seeing Mr. Auriantal. I looked forward to these days the most because this was my chance to unload everything that was bothering me. We talked a lot about my dad and how that entire situation affected me. It felt good to tell someone how I was feeling. This man has always been my savior and even to this day, he continues to check on me.

Now that I’ve introduced you to the counselors that helped, I’d love to tell you about my therapist, Jessie. This woman has done more for me than she’ll ever know. I’ve been seeing Jessie since 2017, that’s 4 years total so far. Can you believe that? She was the first therapist that I ever reached out to on my own. I’m so thankful that I chose her and never once second-guessed it. I knew she was the right choice for me from the first email she ever sent me.

Jessie has gone to great lengths to help me address my trauma, emotions and so much more. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without her. She makes sure that I hold myself accountable for the things that I can control and not to beat myself up for what I can’t. Jessie has allowed me to view my mental health in a completely different light. My mental health should be a priority, not something I’m constantly sticking on the back burner. She has allowed me to discuss things that I never knew I’d be able to fully heal from. While I may be in a good place now, Jessie and I still have plenty of work to do.

A good therapist is an important part of the healing process. Without them, I feel like there’s nobody holding you accountable for anything. They’re also a really great support system when you are lacking that with friends and family. They will always be there for you when you need them, and they’ll always be honest with you. Honestly, I have no idea what I would have done without the counselors or my therapist. They’ve all been such a great support system for me. This is exactly why I’ll always say that when you are struggling with your mental health, having a good therapist is important.

Want to know if you have a good therapist? Read this article about the signs of a good therapist!

You can also check out TurningPointCT’s resources here! 🙂

Face Masks For Self-Care

Happy Self-care Sunday! One of my favorite self-care things to do is face masks! I love face masks because they’re a great way to unwind while also refreshing your pores and keeping your skin clean!

My favorite mask right now is Formula 10.0.6’s “Pores Be Pure” mask! It’s a mud mask that’s got strawberry, rosemary and yarrow in it. The strawberry and rosemary helps to eliminate any impurities on your skin while the yarrow clarifies your skin! I use this mask 3 times a week and it really helps me de-stress!

What are some of your favorite self-care things to do?

How My Brothers Saved Me

My brothers saved me from myself and the reality of our world.

CW, TW: talk of suicide and self-harm.

For as long as I can remember, my brothers have always been my strength. They are both my rock and even sometimes, my best friend. I remember the day that each of them came home from the hospital. I was so excited to be a big sister! They were so little and I was still so young. I just knew that I had to protect them, no matter the cost.

Growing up, life at home wasn’t always easy but I knew I had to be strong for them. After my parents divorced, I knew it would be hard especially for them because they didn’t understand what was happening. But I understood. I never wanted them to feel the way that I was feeling. As their oldest sibling, I knew I had to make sure they felt safe and secure with me. I wanted them to know that they had someone to rely on because, at the time, I didn’t.

This is a photo that my best friend happened to catch of my two brothers and I (this was pre-transition for Dante).

If you’ve seen my story, you’ll know that my parents divorced when I was about 12 years old. I remember that day like it was yesterday. Donovan was only about 3 and Dante was still just a baby. In one day, I watched my whole world fall apart. I felt broken but I knew I couldn’t let them see that. I knew I wouldn’t be able to explain that feeling to them. Even when I felt like I was drowning, I always made sure that they were okay first.

After my dad left, my mom wasn’t home much. She worked and went out with friends, it was her way of coping. I mean, who was I to try to stop her when I knew she was hurting too? While I wanted to let her deal with her pain, I was still mad at her. I was 12 years old and I had to take care of my siblings. I loved them but I was already dealing with my own demons and now I had two little humans to take care of now. Most people my age wanted to be a kid but at this age, I’ve forgiven her because I knew that was the only way I was going to heal on my own.

After my parents split up, I struggled for a really long time. I can’t even begin to imagine how Dante and Donovan were feeling about the whole thing. Unfortunately, I fell into a really deep depression. School became too overwhelming for me, I found myself really struggling to get out of bed in the morning. I couldn’t handle having to go there and pretend like everything was okay when I felt so broken. I already had to hide how I was feeling at home because I couldn’t let my brothers see me be weak. Someone had to be strong for them.

Despite everything going on, my brothers gave me peace. They made me feel safe and they didn’t even know it. Knowing that they had me to count on gave me peace of mind. That was more than enough for me. I spent so much of my time taking care of them that I never stopped to take care of myself. But they did. They took care of me in ways I don’t think they’ll ever fully understand, even now.

I lived through days where I genuinely wanted to die. There were so many times that I considered ending my life because the life I was living just wasn’t worth the pain I felt. And when I wasn’t having suicidal thoughts, I was cutting myself. I used to cut my arms, my legs, my hips. Anywhere that would hurt enough to make everything else go away. I was in this horrible cycle of suicidal thoughts and self-harm. I felt like I wasn’t enough. Not for myself or my parents. But for Donovan and Dante? I was enough. More than enough for them. I was their big sister, their biggest fan, their best friend and so much more.

They will never truly know how much they’ve done for me. They don’t know that I was lying awake at night wondering whether I should be alive, that they were the reason I wanted to keep going. That their sweet, innocent little faces always made me wonder, “why would anyone want to leave you?” How everything they’ve ever said to me has stuck with me my whole life. They just don’t know how much of an impact they’ve had on me as an adult. I could never leave them, not ever.

Donovan and Dante are the best brothers that anyone could ask for. I truly mean that. I am so thankful to have the relationship that I do with them because I know a lot of people don’t have that. I’m lucky to be their big sister and I will never take them for granted. They might be a pain in my behind sometimes but I know they have good intentions. My brothers are the ones who protect me and my heart from harm. My brothers saved me and they continue to save me every day.

Thank you Donovan and Dante for reminding me what I’m worth and making me feel whole. Without you, I would not be who I am today. I love you both more than words.


Here’s a really cool article that talks about siblings under stress. It’s a really good read!

If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety or depression, there is help out there. Check out some of our resources here.

It’s Okay To Ask For Help!

My parents split up when I was about 12 years old. After my dad left, I really started to struggle with depression, and soon after came its atrocious best friend, anxiety. I was so overwhelmed that I constantly felt like I was drowning. It all really started to control my life. I spent hours in bed, not feeling like I was enough and like I was a burden. I hated having to go to school and pretend like everything was okay like my life wasn’t falling to pieces. It took me a long time to learn that it was okay to ask for help. Can you imagine being 12 years old and trying to hide the world of hurt you were feeling from everyone? It wasn’t easy. I fought like hell to get to where I am today, and I am so proud of myself for not giving up.

dominique with her siblings
This is a photo of my siblings and me when we were younger. They are practically my children!

While I am a fighter, I still struggle with my depression and anxiety on occasion. I try my best not to let it get the best of me because it’s nothing but a big ol’ heartbreak dealing with it and sometimes it’s hard. Depression’s almost like a person who’s constantly in your shadow, just following you around. It tugs on you, and it begs you to shut down for a little while so that it can take over and flood your mind with thoughts of loneliness, not feeling good enough, and sometimes, unfortunately, suicide.

Anxiety’s no better. It looms over you like a dark cloud and makes you feel trapped. Trust me, I’ve been there, I’ve been through the tears and sadness, the physical and emotional scarring, even the suffering and the pain. Sometimes I felt like my anxiety was suffocating me. Your depression and anxiety want to see you suffer and that’s not okay. They want you to give up. It’s just simply not worth it. It’s not worth giving everything up or not trying to be better. You shouldn’t have to miss out on all the wonderful things you know that you can and will accomplish. And it’s certainly not worth taking your life over. 

We must learn to reach out when we are struggling, even when we feel like nobody might listen. We don’t have to take on the world alone, it is okay to ask for help sometimes. It’s not easy dealing with both depression and anxiety. Especially by yourself. If you’re anything like me, you’ll know how hard asking for help can be when you’re used to depending on just yourself. It is okay to put your pride aside and say, “Hey, I really need some help”. Someone will be there to listen. Someone will take the time out of their day to check on you. Just know that there is somebody out there who feels a little better knowing that you’re in the world.

If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety or depression, there is help out there. Check out some of our resources here.

If you’d like to learn a little bit more about how to cope with anxiety and depression, you can check out this article.