My Dilemma

Hi readers,

I hope you had a nice weekend! I am struggling.

Once again, this year, I was one of the 6 individuals chosen to speak at my school’s annual show. I’m not the keynote like last year (but there isn’t any of those this year anyway!), but my talk is a lot more personal than the one I gave last year.

I am talking about sexual assault. My experience with it and the extensive research I have done about it.

My mother is not happy. We went back and forth about it for days. She said I shouldn’t share something so personal. That this was supposed to be a family secret.

I said, “I’m sorry mom, I can’t do that. It’s because we don’t talk about it that this keeps happening in our family and other faith communities”.

She said she doesn’t agree with me, but supports me.

I hurt. I am proud of myself. I know that while I was going through this in my life, if one woman or man talked about experiencing this, I wouldn’t have felt so ashamed and would have asked for help sooner.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to pull myself out of this event, I know I am one of the main speakers and I will get to have lunch with the school’s Dean if I give a good talk!!! That would be a huge honor for me. If not that, I will still inspire many. I can stop it from happening to others. Or I can help others who have experienced this.

I also know that I am 23. And that it is not my mother’s choice. I was chosen, this is a sign that I need to do this.

Right?

I could really use a hug from “Prince Player” now :((((((

And that shows how anxious and sad I am.

xoxo. S.

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Thoughts From When I Went Home (Wild, Wild, Wild Thoughts)

I am sorry I cannot get that song out of my head!

So hi reader. I am here. I’m sure many of you have been looking for me! My family was too. Which is why I booked tickets to visit them in Houston this past weekend for my dad’s birthday. My brother too.

I was looking forward to it. These past few weeks have been difficult, and I knew being with them would bring some comfort- and it did!

When I landed, I had an appointment with the specialist my doctor recommended. I am feeling better every day, but something is not right.

He holds his chart. “Your levels are still very off. Continue on your B-12. And we will do blood work and re-check next time you come home.”

I look at my mom and roll my eyes when I get in the car. “This isn’t gonna end is it?” I ask her.

She holds the wheel, “It better! You have to have babies one day!”

I put my seatbelt on, “Not like I have to graduate or anything….”

She places her hand on my back “Oh you know you will graduate not matter what. You are tough. I was just thinking I just read this article about how babies born to a mother with Vitamin deficiencies and blood disorders had complications! The mother too!”

“Jesus” I say.

“YEA. That’s why you need to feel better” she says.

I sigh.

When we get home, my dad opens the door and my dog comes running out. Both of them hug me.

“Your lipstick looks like you painted it on” he says as he hugs me.

“Thanks Dad. I’ll tell Sephora you said that” I say. He laughs.

My bother comes out, “Hey Shaz!”

I give him a big hug. Now that I’m a consultant too (unpaid though) I understand him a lot better.

Inside my mom has made my favorite foods prepared for me. I eat and go do homework.

The next morning, I wake up early for a Facetime with my group. I had two group projects and presentations this week. Our client doesn’t show up and it is a disaster. We spend many hours working on our sections of the deliverable. It was okay because that was my family’s “rest day”. But when I have to take a call Sunday for my other group project, on Dad’s birthday, Dad isn’t happy.

“Who keeps calling you on Saturday and Sunday?” my dad asks.

“Um. Both my teams for my group projects” I say.

“On the weekend? In the morning?” he asks.

Dad asks like I enjoy taking 8am calls the morning. I hoped he would sleep in (we are both big sleepers!) so he wouldn’t catch me working on our “family fun day”.

“Yes dad. Grad school is a 7 day job. I don’t learn, I do work” I say.

“I hope these come in handy when you look for a job” he says.

He is very concerned about that (me too!). “It will” I say hugging his arm.

Later in the day we go to his favorite restaurant for a birthday. Mom and I get mojitos and my dad and brother get a whisky. We have a great time. The food is great, we get dad a birthday treat, and we laughed the entire time! I’m surprised my brother and I had no arguments.

Damn, I missed them so much. We open up our fortune cookies at the end. Mine said “You will get what your heart desires”. Yea right. (lol!)

We get an extra fortune cookie. “Hey guys- this is going to be our family fortune!” I say. I open it. It says “This is a good week to spend with your family”.

“There ya go!” my dad says. We all laugh.

When we get home I begin packing for my flight the next day. My dog is following me and watching me.

I get a message from “Prince Player”. We’ve caught up lately.

My mom walks in and sees me typing.

“Do you think you and “Prince Player” would be together if you were still in Chicago?” she asks.

“Um no…” I say.

She raises her eyebrows and walks away.

I look at my dog, “If he didn’t want to be with me then, why would he want to be with me now?” I ask her.

She wags her tail and sits in front of me as I fold clothes.

“You would like him. He’s kind and caring” I tell her scratching her ears.

She pokes me with her nose.

I stare at her. “What?” I ask her.

She pokes me with her nose again. Twice.

“Me?” I ask. She wags her tail and smiles. “Do I like him?” I ask. She wags her tail even harder.

This dog. Is a human I swear.

“Of course I do Peanut” I say.

She licks my face. Because we both know.

Sigh.

And then I leave home on Monday. I say byes to my mom, my brother, and Peanut (who doesn’t leave my side). I go into my Dad’s bedroom where he is sleeping.

“Hey Dad. I’ll see ya later okay” I whisper.

He wakes up and hugs me. “Bye Shaz. It was good you were here”.

My eyes well up. At that moment, the fact I flew down in the middle of midterms season and half of my weekend was spent working didn’t even matter to me.

“Dad. I’ll always be here” I say with a tear in my eye.

He smiles and I am on my way. In the plane I think about my future. Where should I work? Where do I want to live? Who do I want to spend my life with?

I’ve got no answers. So I thank God for the wonderful weekend I had, pray for my success on all my upcoming exams and projects, and watch Rumor Has It 😉

xoxo. S.

 

A Letter Back to Kaiya

Hello friends-

Today we are doing another For the Love of Sass first- I am responding to a letter a reader wrote me in response to the one I wrote her as part of my A Letter to You! series. I recently wrote to Kaiya at Adventures on Quiet Nights. And now she has written me a lovely letter back. You can find it right here To Shaz🙂

Dear Kaiya,

Thank you for your lovely letter! You are so unique with your letters, you write them in a journal and you draw pictures ❤ And it’s pictures of my favorite things! I particularly love the drawing of the latte 🙂 You know how much I love those! $5 out of my pocket every morning for that!

Yes, Kaiya, believe it or not- we still do have midterms in grad school. Times 10. You must be like “what??” Every other week, we have a major test/paper/presentation.This is why you haven’t heard from me lately Kaiya haha! And it’s only about to get busier because the exams/projects worth the highest portion of my grade is in two weeks. 

AH!!!! Because you talked about having a mild case of PTSD in college, I knew you would understand if I took a moment to scream haha 🙂

I’m serious Kaiya. I totally agree with you, graduating college was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done too! But then I met graduate school right. And this weekend, I flew up to Houston to see my dad for his birthday- I wasn’t able to spend as much time with him because both of my groups for the projects FACETIMED me in. And this was on Saturday and Sunday! Then last night, I got home from my flight very late and had to stay up to practice for my presentation that I had this morning 😦 I tell you. Grad school is a 7 day job. 

I am so touched by your kind words 🙂 I can always use motivation 😉 I am glad you guys know that when I am not here, it means I am kicking ass at grad school! And I will have one hell of a story to share when I’m back ❤

Oh and if no one has told you- I’m proud of you! I can understand how hard you worked to get to where you are now and how difficult getting through college was, you are not alone. AND YOU DID IT! And you will keep doing it 🙂 As I say….slay!

xoxo.

Shaz

A Letter to Myka

Today I am writing to our friend Myka at Myka Takes NV. If you are just joining us, please read A Letter to You! Myka was the last one to request a letter and I currently have no more letters to write. I want to write more!! So if you want one, you know what to do 🙂

Dear Myka,

First I must apologize. Out of all the readers I wrote to, I took the longest to write to you! 7 weeks :0 The ending of my first career, Hurricane Harvey, and grad school starting up again just happened in a row! But hey our friend Paul didn’t write me my letter for like months so I forgive myself. LOL!

Also right now, I have intense cramps and I am eating ice cream (I always eat food when I write these letters).

Anyways, let’s cut the crap and talk about the one thing both our blogs have in common…

BOYS. BOYS. BOYS!

I’m sorry Myka you did not give me a topic to work with so I had to choose this one!

I’m afraid dear Myka that I have no boy right now. For once in my life. As you may have read here, I’ve been going through a lot. But last time I read your blog, you do! HOORAY!!! I am so happy for you Myka. I really hope that’s going well 🙂

Now I don’t like to discuss my reader’s personal lives on my blog, so I will leave you alone now Myka. And we can go back to the topic of how I’m very single.

This is my choice. I am waiting. For someone who is right.

I have chosen the “wrong” one way too many times.

So here is what I am hoping for now.

1.) Someone who is honest. This is a given!

2.) Someone who is loyal. This is also a given!

3.) Someone who likes coffee as much as I do- Lattes and macchiattos are a big part of my diet.

4.) Someone who is brilliant. I am very smart. So it’s only fair! I hate when I start talking about my research, and dudes change the subject…

5.) Someone who likes dogs. I have a dog. So if they don’t like dogs, they won’t like my Peanut. Therefore, I won’t like them!

6.) Someone who likes kids. I am a former teacher. I love kids. I understand them. So if they don’t, we will have an issue!

What do you think of my list Myka?? Did I miss anything? I’d say, my demands are not that high.

Anyways, I’ve been following you for a bit Myka- and I love you. We are like blogging twins. We are very raw with our words and we talk about real life issues. That takes guts! When I read your blog, I know that I am not alone. And when you comment on my posts, I for sure know that I am not alone. So thank you for that 🙂 I hope you enjoyed this letter ❤

With love,

Shaz

 

Saturday Conversation With Steven

12345Me: *Sends this pic to Steven. I always send Steven jokes/things relatable to us. And he gives me a response as to how he feels about it*

Steven’s response: U?

Me: Me?

Steven: We

Me: Us!

Steven: Yes!

Despite some cramps, my mental health day is going nice so far 🙂

Happy Saturday!

xoxo. S.

Source of picture: http://www.upworthy.com/millennials-can-totally-relate-to-these-cartoon-characters-navigating-life-in-17-comics?c=ufb0&s=p

Dating After Emotional Abuse (Part 2)

“Look mama! I’m STRONG!” I proudly display my muscles on Facetime.

Her eyes widen. “Why do you keep lifting?” she asks.

“Because I feel so weak. And I want my stamina back” I say.

My mom looks at me sadly. “You know, your aunt went through a lot of heartache before she met your uncle. And look how happy she is now!” she says.

I half smile. Right. Dad’s sister. Everyone says I’m exactly like her. Sigh. I hope when it comes to that I get what she has.

I am overwhelmed by the responses I got for Dating After Emotional Abuse. This is the most liked and read post on my entire blog. I feel like, I just performed, and I got a standing ovation. Really.

In that post, I focused on what emotional abuse looks like. In this one I will explain how I’ve been feeling- 9 months post the event.

Well, I’m still hurt. Everyone I know is in a happy relationship. My friends from Chicago. My brother and his soon to be fiance. Even my on and off again parents, are so happy.

And here I am. Still scared. Still torn.

In my relationships before the abusive one, things would end because of things just weren’t working out with me and whoever I was with. It was sad, but I would tell myself I won. Every time I felt hurt by a guy, I would put myself into my books. Whether it was “C” and his lies. Whether it was waiting for “Prince Player” my freshman year of college. Whether it was “Heart” not asking me to the ball my senior year. Each time I caught myself thinking about them I would open up that Chemistry book, and study my heart out. And look where I am now. At my dream graduate school.

But abuse is different.

I still feel ashamed. That I stayed when I knew something wasn’t right.

I know, I know reader. I left before it got really bad. And for that I am proud. And I feel like I won in that sense.

But I’ve felt lost since then.

And I am still trying to find myself.

This is the longest time I have been single. And it is my favorite season. As much as it would be nice to have a Pumpkin Spice Latte with somebody, I don’t want to. Because, I am way too good at goodbyes.

xoxo. S.

My Not So Mental Health Days

“I thought today was supposed to be your Mental Health Day” by best friend Steven told me as I was caught working yesterday (Saturday).

dd8b3942908f4a6b6bc47e932a4542b5--exhausted-movie-tvIt was reader, it was supposed to be. But grad school. And not feeling well.  I had an early morning meeting with my client today and could not sleep at all last night because I felt nauseous and pain everywhere! And still do.

At least this week was actually WAY better than last week.

On Wednesday, for my Global Health Consulting class, I won an award! After each of our major deliverables (mind you we have one every week), we have to write a reflection. AND I WON “THE BEST REFLECTION” AWARD! The professor began to read my reflection aloud.

Oh god.

I felt myself turn 50 shades of red (this is in no reference to 50 shades of Grey). The moment they began reading my reflection (they didn’t announce who the winner was first! they just began reading it!) I knew it was mine :0 Anything that starts with, “Wait, what?” Yes. That’s my line right there.

I basically wrote about how for being the daughter and sister of consultants, I felt clueless about the class and anxious about our project. But after that deliverable, where we worked every single day including the weekend, we got the highest grade from our Professors out of any team and the best remarks from our client and I could not help but feel proud of the hard work and long hours each of us put into it.

My mom was so proud, she began reading my paper to my father! She said my dad was smiling the entire time 🙂

My Professor later sent me feedback saying he loves my writing style and that I have truly inspired everybody.

And after reading it out loud in class, he gave me a big box of candy as my prize!

I was seriously beaming throughout the week. I may not always be the smartest person in the room, but damn I can write!

Speaking of which, another part of the reason why I had a better week was so many of you wrote to me 🙂 Whether it was in my comments or my emails, you guys blew up my notifications! From my bed, to the bus, to waiting in line for coffee- I was reading each of your comments and you all seriously made my day.

So with that being said, I’d like to do some reader shoutouts!

Myka who said “And lastly, even in this rough time for you, you managed to end your write up with a comment about how hearing from US helps you. You’re a great girl”.

YES MYKA!! And yes readers!!! You guys help me so much.

And may I say, the compliments I get about my writing from my Professors like I did this week- where do they think I have been “practicing”? Right here! And I’m so grateful 🙂

Ana who checked in to see if I was “drinking enough water, eating enough, getting multivitamins in & sleeping enough”. Bless. You. Ana! I have an autoimmune disorder and those are the 4 most important things for me to have to not be sick. Thank you for checking in to make sure I was doing those. With everything going on, sometimes I don’t do all those things! And even my doctor will email me asking, “Hi your blood work is showing X. Are you sure you are taking you meds?” And it’s not good. So thank you Ana 🙂

Myka, Ana, and Kaiya who called that guy that hurt my feelings in the last post- “asshat” (Ana), “insenitive and stupid, “moron” (Kaiya), “that dude needs a lesson in common sense! Jesus!” (Myka)…THANK YOU. When someone hurts me, people tell me to ignore it or let it go. No friends. I have a right to be angry. And you ladies- were angry with me! And you have NO idea how much that meant to me. Bless you ladies.

So there you have it reader. I have yet to get a “Mental Health Day”, but I am gradually building emotional and physical stamina. Steven says “it’s okay” because when he visits Boston next month, “we will have a whole Mental Health Weekend!” How exciting!

Until then, I am slowly moving forward.

xoxo. S.

 

Am In Serious Need of a Mental Health Day

I’ve been back here at grad school for less than a week and a half now. It’s my last year, I should be happy. I’m not. I’m stressed, tired, and overworked. This is how I felt since school started up again last Tuesday. Within just a week of each class beginning, I’ve already had a major paper and presentation due.

Today was a bad day. First, someone said I have “micromanaging qualities”. Oh really? Really? Me? Sweet Shaz that works her butt off when other people don’t? Shaz award winning leader? Do people know what I’m going through? Returning to school with major anxiety after witnessing a natural disaster and injury in the family. And also battling an autoimmune disorder. And still working her ass off. Okay. Fine. I’ll take a break and let other people do the work.

Then, my favorite consulting company I applied for a networking opportunity with rejected me. Okay.

Then, the presentation for my consulting class was today and it went horribly. How can a professor expect us to prepare something in less than a week about a subject that is like another language to us?

Over the course of the week, people have  finally been asking about my family and Hurricane Harvey.

Every day, at least three people have stopped me.

“Omg Shaz! Was your family affected by Hurricane Harvey?” they say.

Um yea. a) You know I live in Houston. b) I posted on social media and you saw this two weeks ago but you didn’t seem to care then.

But I don’t say that.

I say, “Yes. It was sad. Thank you for your concern”.

I have tried to forget about it but it’s not easy when people all of a sudden care and are asking.

And today. A person talked about it in the rudest way. AND I SNAPPED.

Right after my presentation (that went horribly), a guy- a fellow grad student my good friend Susan introduced me to texted me.

I talk about my horrible first few days of school and how I miss my family. He asks where they are.

“Houston” I say.

“OMG” he texts back immediatly.

“What?” I ask.

“Was your family in the Hurricane Harvey area???”

I sigh for the 100th time.

“Yes” I say.

“As a public health specialist, did you do something to save your city?”

Cue the angry emoji. “Well. I cleaned up my dad’s blood after he was injured by debris so I guess somewhat I did” I respond.

“That’s sad!” he says. Yea no effing kidding…

“So are you going to Florida next?” he asks. Um…is he serious. Is he implying something about Hurricane Irma?

“No” I say.

“Well I guess you’re not meant to save the world then. Because you’re not saving them” he says.

EXCUSE ME????

“Then maybe saving the world isn’t at the top of your list” he continues.

What the fuck?? Enough is enough.

“Or maybe. I have PTSD after witnessing a major disaster where I live. And I don’t want to see another one” I say.

He says he didn’t understand that and thanks me for explaining.

Jesus.

Dude could have just said sorry.

I’m done.

I feel dead inside.

I snappchatted my friends saying “It’s only my second week back at school and I already need a mental health day”.

My best friend Steven responded “You know you can always take one”.

Sigh. I could. But tomorrow is Bioststistics, the class I’m retaking 😔 So I gotta wait until the weekend. Which has many socials and group projects. Ugh.

Hoping maybe on Saturday I can take that mental health day.

Hope all of you are well. Your posts and comments give me comfort through this stressful time ❤

With love,

Shaz

My Thoughts Through Hurricane Harvey

I decided to visit Houston for the last two weeks of my summer to spend time with my family. My dad says once I begin a full time job, I won’t be able to fly home as much. Also, it would give me a chance to celebrate my first year of grad school and first ever public health career being done.

But as the news reports came in, it quickly became apparent that this will have to wait. We heard about Hurricane Harvey, we didn’t think it would hit us. But last Friday, early morning, I hear the news loudly. My mom and dad are watching it.

“Get dressed we need to go get supplies” my dad tells me.

I nod. This is important. It looks like the storm will be serious, and even if we are able to stay in our house, there will be flooding and we will need to stay inside for a few days. The grocery store is packed and items were quickly going off shelves. Many aisles have a sign that says “Due to Hurricane Harvey, this item is out of stock. Please be patient as we re-stock”. We get all the necessary items: water, canned goods, toilet paper, paper towels, charcoal, candles, lighters, snacks, milk, eggs, bread. And food for my dog.

We also go to the gas station to get gas for our car. The gas station is also packed. When we get home we sort these items and continue to watch the news. On that Friday and Saturday, nothing happened in our area. There were emergency alerts, but no serious rain. We were able to take a walk outside both days!

That all changed Sunday. Sunday it started pouring like no other. Non-stop. There were leaks in two rooms. There was a bird, sitting by himself who looked injured in the rain. I built him a shoebox nest and moved him to a dry area. The water was up to the middle of my thighs. My mom yelled at me to come inside. We continued to watch the news all day. Our neighbors come by a few hours later. Both our next door neighbors are away on vacation so we go and secure their outdoor belongings with their help.

Monday morning we wake up, and we see no grass and no road. Everything is drenched in a foot of water. We get a call from my Dad’s boss saying his house (very close to us) is flooded. Another colleague of my Dad’s says he just had to evacuate. I look at my family. We begin moving all our necessary items upstairs. We place tape on doors and lots of mats to prevent water from coming in. It works.

Monday night, the neighborhood board lets us know that they will be releasing water from the lake so we should be okay. My family is happy. Still, I have a bad feeling it is not over.

But the next morning we wake up, a lot of the water has been gone and the roads are clear. My dad is happy. We stepped outside briefly to let my dog use the bathroom. And my dad notices all of the debris left behind. He grabs a rake and begins cleaning it up. I tell him maybe we should wait until we know the storm is over.

He just shrugs and continues. I grab my dog who has decided to go swimming in the flood and dry her off. When I hear my dad lightly calling me. “Shaz. Shaz. Shaz.”

My dog runs to my dad. I walk slowly. I see blood.

“I stepped on a nail” my dad says limping.

“Oh my god” I hold his arm and grab the rake.

I see my mom inside the house. “GRAB THE FIRST AID KIT!!!” I yell trying not to cry. There was so much blood I thought I would faint.

My dad walks into the house, leaving a trail of blood. My mom gives me Clorox and asks me to clean it up as she bandages up my dad. She lets me know we will be taking Dad to the Emergency Room.

I feel sick. I quickly wear gloves, clean up, and dispose. Dad is losing color, I grab him a Gatorade. I ask him if he has his wallet, he says yes. The rest of had packed our purses and wallets away into bags in case we needed to evacuate. There was no time to get them. We all get in the car and go.

In between, I was chatting with “Prince Player”. I told him about a dream I had. Where it was the first day of school, and I was late to class, so when I saw him I grabbed his hand and said “Hey” and walked away. He said he can see that happening, but if it was him, he wouldn’t have walked away. Oh my.

I’m shocked he hasn’t asked me about how I was doing with the hurricane… he is one of my greatest friends. I shrug. It’s fine. He doesn’t like me being sad.

We arrive at the ER. Surprisingly, it is not packed and they are able to see my dad quickly. The doctor says we all did the right thing. The nail went into his vein and it was good we bandaged him and brought him in so quickly. He gets a few shots and prescribed antibiotics and pain medications.

We search for a pharmacy that is open. Almost everything is closed due to the hurricane, I finally find one. I get there and there is a long line. Once I arrive to the counter, the receptionist tells me it will be an hour. Sigh. My family and I decide to get food. Again, a struggle to find something that was open. We went in circles and finally found a McDonald’s.

As we drive back to the pharmacy, we feel a flat tire… Oh no. At the pharmacy, we get out and see a piece of glass in the tire. YES DEBRIS AGAIN. My mom calls our insurance who says they will take an hour to get there to help us. It was 8. We got out of the house at 5 and are all physically and emotionally drained.

“Fuck it. We’re gonna change this ourselves” my dad says getting out on his injured foot.

“YOU SIT DOWN” my mom says.

My dad disagrees and has me hold a parking spot for space while he and my brother begin to change the tire. It’s difficult. The parking lot is packed and everytime someone tries to park in that spot, I give them a sad look and motion to the damaged tire. We have no way to get home and my dad is standing on one foot. Uber is down saying they want their drivers and passengers to be safe with the Hurricane happening so they will not be running. Otherwise, I would have gotten one for Dad and my mom and brother could have waited for our insurance.

But finally, after 3 good samaritans stopped by and offered us various types of help, 1 hour later- we were done.

We still had minor damages to the car but were able to drive. My mom and I would take it to the shop the next morning we decided. When we all get home, my dad says he needs a drink. We all pour ourselves one and heat up a pizza.

I’m sad. But I look up at out TV screen, and see some individuals who lost everything they had. Our good friend Aaron once told me never to compare my experiences to someone elses, but it’s so hard here. Our house can be repaired. Our car can be repaired. My dad will hopefully heal soon.

Yet, when I close my eyes. I am devestated. I see debris and blood everywhere. The Dean of my school released a great article about how even being in the path of a natural disaster can cause mental effects. And an injury, can add to that. I see it. It is Saturday, and we are all still sad. I have been running errands for my dad everyday and am helping him get back on his feet. It’s not easy. He is still in pain.

And I turned off the news. I can’t hear about it anymore.

I’m thankful for my friends Susan, Steven, and Sam who checked up on me every single day. And still are checking up on me.

“It’s just an after shock” I told Susan when I couldn’t stop crying Wednesday morning.

“Well don’t forget what Dean G said in his article, it may very well be PTSD. And that is okay” she says.

I sighed. Other friends checked up on me just once, and continued to Snapchat me random updates on their life. When they know I am sad. And don’t want to see what they are eating, vacationing, or watching on TV- I want them to listen. And when I heal we can go back to this. It hasn’t even been 1 week since the disaster. They can give me time. Right? I don’t think 1 week is a lot to ask.

Life must go on I guess. I am healing. Today, the Director of Graduate Students at my school who has been helping with my ADHD accommodations wrote to me.

“Hi Shaz,

I wanted to check in with you and hoping you and your family are well and safe. Please know that I have been thinking of you. Sending hugs and hope your way. Let me know if you need anything at all”.

This. This is all I needed to hear. I love my Boston family.

You know how in “Part of Me”, Katy Perry says “I just want to throw my phone away. Find out who is there for me”. This is how I always felt in Chicago.

Thank goodness Boston and Houston are different.

Especially Houston. I saw a strength in my city this week that I’ve never seen before.

This isn’t the way I imagined going to start my last year of school, but I’m inspired by my city. And thankful that I have shelter and my family. And I pray for everyone who lost theirs. Please do the same.

xoxo. S.

A Letter to Kaiya

Today I am writing to our friend Kaiya at Adventures on Quiet Nights.

for everyone just tuning in please read A Letter to You!

Dear Kaiya,

First I would like to apologize that this letter is delayed. With the incident I wrote about earlier on my blog and Hurricane Harvey (did you hear about this?? There is a hurricane which has now changed into a tropical storm where I live in Texas) things were busy.

But I’m glad to finally sit down and be writing your letter 🙂 You were my first reader that gave me a specific topic to write about, blogging tips! After blogging for 4 years, I am excited to write about this! You asked me to write about this topic because you are a new blogger. This is awesome! Congratulations and welcome to WordPress Kaiya 🙂 You are in for a lot of fun ❤ So with no further ado, here they are!

1.) Be yourself- When I first began writing my blog, a friends asked me why I was doing it. He asked why I could not write in a diary. I can’t write my thoughts in a diary because, when I was battling ADHD, anxiety, and depression- there was no books or articles I could find about a woman like me dealing with those emotions. I don’t want anyone else to go through that. And so, I write for those individuals like me.

One reader told me that. She said “With you telling everyone about your life you are also making other women in the same position not feel alone and that we all feel the same in some way :)”.

That was awesome. There are millions of bloggers. What will you share or write that will make a difference? Be yourself, and write that!

And let me say, you do this well already! I have read all of your posts and I admire your strength 🙂

2.) Build community- Kaiya, when you wrote me your request, you told me as a new blogger you had been wondering “what is the point of blogging?” In public health, we talk about direct effects and indirect effects.

You see, what I mentioned above in the last tip about writing for individuals like me and giving hope, that was my direct effect- something I expected.

An indirect effect is something you do not expect. And let me tell you, this blog gave me the best indirect effect I have ever gotten in my life, a community.

Through some of my saddest times, the people who would make me feel better more than my real life friends- were my blogger friends! Their comments would cheer me up and help me fall asleep at night.

You may not feel it now Kaiya, but trust me within a year or so- you will have one! And it’s going to be awesome.

Now you may be wondering, but wait Shaz, how do I build community?

Simple Kaiya.

Read. Read other blogs. Find them through “Freshly Pressed”, a tag you search for, or a commenter on a blog you follow. And if you like what they’re saying, give them a “like” or comment! Same for anyone who stops by and “likes” or comments on your blog. Visit them back and see what they have to say. If you guys keep in touch for a while, you will become a family 🙂

Like me, Paul, and Chris!

3.) Be consistent- Okay Kaiya I know I am the last person to be writing this. But trust me when I first began blogging, I blogged 4-5 times a week! I had a “special” for each day. With graduate school happening, I do blog once a month (but hey that’s consistent so we’re doing good!).

Some bloggers/readers have described my blog as a TV show. Well how do TV shows work? It happens once a week right? And everyone knows when the show is and gets their snacks and drinks ready to watch it? It doesn’t happen sporadically at different times (I guess if it is off season it does lol!) but you get my idea.

Blog once a day, blog once every few days, blog once a week, blog once a month, whichever pattern suits you. Just keep it consistent 🙂

4.) Accept criticism with a grain of salt- I was not ready for criticism about my blog. Be it from my friends in real life, or my readers on WordPress.  If you like the criticism, acknowledge it and take it. If you don’t, you don’t have to. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

At the end of the day, we blog for ourselves. It is our name attached to our writing. Our hopes, our fears, our dreams.

So own it!

And that’s that Kaiya 🙂 You are the newest addition to the WordPress community from all of my readers so I am honored I was able to write to you! I hope you enjoyed my letter and tips. I look forward to reading more of your work.

Shaz