Life Story:

Gwenael Piaser
Gwenael Piaser

When I think about the New Year and resolutions, I think about shame. I think about how every resolution I want to make is born from being mad at myself, for shaming myself into submission, for holding a measuring stick above my head and noting that I have not reached it yet. I focus my attention on what I haven’t done, what promises I made to myself which I promptly broke. Gym memberships discarded. Vegetables left rotting in refrigerators. Money spent recklessly. Routines and schedules scribbled in Moleskine’s. Writing schedules. Exercise schedules. Food plans. I am a work in progress whose progress is never recognized. And, it never ends. It spins and spins. Perfectionism isn’t a feverish need to be perfect, but is a paralyzing force that stops you from trying, because if it’s not going to be done perfectly, why do it at all?

I find that most of the grandeur in which I approach a life change is fueled by shame. The sequence of events is usually the same. Something will trigger a shameful feeling within me. I will get that sort of tightening in my chest which signifies I have completely gone into feeling ashamed of myself. I will quickly devise a plan which will start the following day and will exterminate this shameful feeling. The plan will be ostentatious, something I am certain I will fail at, but I will craft it without even thinking rationally about this sort of thing. (Shame is not rational, but I will completely forget that.) Shame will be soothed momentarily as I fantasize about myself carrying out this plan. The next day, I might follow my plan. Maybe I’ll stick to it for a week or two, but there will be a constant simmering of panic that will dictate my every move. And, soon enough, I will eschew my plan, convince myself I am rightful in my shame, and fall into a dip of depressive tendencies. Hopelessness. Frustration. That voice which tells me all my pain and suffering lies on the other side of my ability to follow through! Stick it out! Never give up!

The alleviation of shame is not a motivating factor. That’s the thing. That’s the only thing. I keep thinking it is and that’s my issue here. I make these grand plans only to find that I am not particularly motivated by getting rid of an emotion I no longer want to feel. It is not energizing at all. And, it puts me in a position where I am behind on myself already, trying to catch up. When I am fueled by shame, I am trying to outrun it. On the other hand, when I am fueled by love, I am empowered by it.

There is nothing particularly joyous about trying to outrun or escape a feeling. It’s like trying to not be in last place as the only goal. There is nothing triumphant about knocking yourself down long enough that it propels you to change just enough to get you back to normal. I find that shame keeps me down enough to pull me back to where I started in the first place. There is no growth. There is no forward movement. There is just getting back to where I once was before I assumed shame into my identity.

What I’ve started to do when that cheek-burning shame comes creeping back into my mind is I stop it directly in its tracks. I question it, rather than take it as fact. I look deeply into it, rather than take it as this surface-level admonition of my failings. I reveal it, rather than keep it hidden and thus lessening its power over me. And, then I say to myself, “How would I see this differently if I radically loved and accepted myself?” And truly, that changes my entire view of whatever triggered the shame. It’s like being afraid of the dark because you keep assuming there’s something lurking. You are too afraid to see what is creeping about. Then, you shine the light, you look around, and see there was nothing to fear at all. Just an assumption of fear. Just the fear that there is something to fear.

Shame will do that. It will take all manner of reason and rationalization away from you and let you fumble around in the darkness of your fear. It will tell you that you must be good enough. Not great. Not brilliant. Just good enough. Just acceptable enough.

So, as you go into 2015 and you resolve yourself to grand plans, remember to ask yourself whether your resolutions are being dictated by shame in yourself or by love for yourself. Because, you will never be brilliant if you’re too busy trying to extinguish shameful feelings. You can never truly step into the light if you’re too busy avoiding the dark. And, whatever you resolve to bring into 2015 better be that which is fueled by love for yourself. I know that’s what I will do. And, when we can resolve to start our new years with love, we are already beyond what we know we’re capable of. We are stepping into an unknown, a growth, a new frame of mind. Cheers to big things. Cheers to a life fueled by love. TC mark

Life Story:

image - Flickr / Carmen Jost
image – Flickr / Carmen Jost

I never thought I would be the girl to have fallen into relationships where I allowed myself to be lost. I never thought that I’d be the girl to continue to date the wrong guy, despite friends warning me he was bad news. I never thought I would be the girl to fall madly and hopelessly in love with a boy who would end up dropping me like yesterday’s news.

I always thought I’d meet the man of my dreams and be married by 23. I certainly never planned on going to 3 different colleges, setting me back from graduation an entire year. I was convinced I would graduate in 4 years with a double major and a minor, and go on to get two doctorates.

Everyone believed I could do it, I believed I could do it. Even if I had lost my entire identity, I knew that I could count on being good in school. But, I did not count on absolutely hating my first college, or transferring to a community college. I will be honest, I looked down on community colleges, that was where people who had no ambition went. Where people who were not good at school went, where people who were happy with an associates degree went. Those things were not descriptors for me. Yet, that is where I ended up for my second year of college. I definitely never thought I would move across the entire country to attend a school in a state I absolutely hated. I never thought any of these would be elements in my life, this is not what I thought my life would be. Yet here I stand, and I am ok with it, here’s why.

Even though I have lost myself to relationships, been cheated on, emotionally abused, been told “You’re not good enough,” and given my all into something that was not reciprocated, I also learned a lot about myself. When something like that happens, when you are broken down, completely crushed and shattered, you are given two choices. The first, you can remain battered and broken, and play the victim, constantly blaming everyone else for everything that is going wrong in your life. Or, you can pick up those tiny shards of yourself, and slowly piece yourself back together.

I’ve never been one to play the victim, my parents taught me to take responsibility for myself, so I had no choice but to do the latter. In losing myself, I found myself. I came back stronger. I am not the same person I was in those relationships, I am not soft, I refuse to play games, I will confront a significant other when something feels wrong. I know who I am, and I refuse to let a man redefine that, I do not need someone else to define who I am. Will that scare off potential boyfriends? I have no doubt, but I am not interested in a man who cannot handle my strength.

I have always wanted to get married. I have always wanted to skip over the whole dating scene, and just meet that one guy that made me believe in that true old-time, life-long lasting, love. Yet, here I am, 22 and still single. Which, I understand, is still incredibly young when it comes to the grand scheme of everything. However, I always thought I’d be the girl to have that incredible love story they write books about. But, because of those broken pieces I have forced back together into an improved me, I refuse to rush into anything. Which is why I do not see myself getting married by my deadline of being married by age 23. I have been single now for almost three years, I have gotten used to it, I like my space, and not having to let someone know what I am doing and when or why I am doing it. I answer only to myself, which is an amazing and liberating thing. Do I love being single? No, not necessarily. However, I do LOVE the aspects of being single.

It is a funny thing, the dreams people have for themselves, before they get to know the pressures of the world. Before they know what it will actually take to reach those dreams. Before I knew anything about how much money it would take to finish my schooling with multiple degrees. I knew it would take time, a lot of time, but I was fine with that. Like I said, I was good with school. School was that one thing that I could count on having the answers for. But then I grew to be somewhat financially responsible for myself, I found out the approximate amount it would take to get all of those fancy degrees. I do not come from a wealthy family by any means, but because of what we do have, I do not qualify for much aid from the government. Unless I won the lottery, there is no reasonable way for me to pay for that much schooling. Which is why I whittled down to just 1 degree. But, I am 100 percent passionate about that degree, I love everything about it, and I am completely and totally happy with my decision to focus myself to one thing to excel at.

This decision regarding school was also aided in the fact that I have attended three schools in the past five years. I had a professor tell me last semester, “You are truly amazing. Usually students just drop out after transferring one time, yet here you are, doing very well after transferring twice.” I did not know what to say to her, not finishing school was never an option for me. After my first year of college, I was pretty discouraged, so I went to a community college.

At first I was not enthralled with the idea, however it was probably the best thing to happen to me in my college career. The professors I had there were better than the ones I’d had at my fancy university, they knew my name, they took the time to actually teach, and it re-energized me. So, after a year, I moved across the entire country. I transferred to a very small university with a very large agriculture department, with professors that could rival any bigger university. Even though I absolutely abhor the state I am currently in, I know it is only temporary, and this school is really what is best for me. I am graduating in about 6 months, with my one degree, in the one area of study that I am completely enthralled with.

So, this is not the life I saw for myself, at all. I have not met my prince charming, I have had prince pretenders completely strip me of who I thought I was, I have moved away from everything I know to start over in a place where I knew no one, my dreams have changed drastically; my life is nothing like what I thought it would be. But, along my journey, I have rebuilt a better me, discovered what my real dreams were, and learned that all that has happened to me has made me who I am. Even though this is not what I thought my life would be, I have so many doors opening up, and am excited to see where the twists and turns that is life takes me. TC mark

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Life Story:


1. If you hand your phone to a sales associate, and they have to “take it to the back” for any reason, there is a good chance they are looking through your photos at an attempt to see you naked. Sometimes they don’t even bother going to the back, they’ll just check while doing “diagnostic tests”. This sucks, but let’s be honest, if you have that shit on your phone, what are you doing just handing it to a random stranger without moving the photos?

2. Wireless employees make more than you think. The experienced sales associates (“consultants”) made $40,000+ a year. The REAL good ones could push $70,000+, and the store managers in the LOWER volume stores came close to $50,000. Anything above store-level flirted with or exceeded 6-figures.

3. The payment machines you see in the stores are cashed out nightly, and regularly bring in $5,000-$15,000 cash daily. Some stores have 2 of these machines.

4. A regular practice in the wireless industry is to call customers and ask about their last “in-store experience”. The employees in the store actually get rated on this, and it’s part of their commission. The downside is they get paid on the store level, so one obnoxious asshole can affect everyone’s pay.

5. Every wireless employee thinks every customer is an idiot who knows nothing about what their phones are capable of. 99.3% of the time, they’re absolutely right. On the flip side….

7. A good amount of wireless employees (myself included) know a lot less about these devices than you would first believe. Good customer service and sales skills go a long way. Sell the sizzle, not the steak.

8. Wireless accessories are RIDICULOUSLY marked up. That $40 car charger you bought? That cost the company less than a dollar. Naturally, the consultants push these HARD.

9.  Store employees get hit on ALL THE TIME. Seriously, you guys offer up a lot of shit to keep yourselves connected to your Twitter account. And a lot of times, it works.

10. We like to flirt, too, sometimes. Please reference point #1; we may have already seen you naked, so why not, right?

11. You know how you go to access your account and forgot your PIN, so I need 37 ID’s and your first-born son’s left arm to verify your identity? I once personally spent a week helping a lady whose 12-year old son had his identity stolen and had 50+ DIFFERENT ACCOUNTS opened up and $1,000’s of dollars billed on EACH ACCOUNT making calls to the D.R.. We are legitimately trying to protect you when we ask for that shit, so calm down.

12. People threaten violence on wireless employees all the time, and sometimes the violent acts are followed-thru on. In my time in the industry, a T-Mobile employee was set on fire by her ex, an AT&T employee shot and killed. I’ve been threatened with everything from guns to bombs. Funny thing, though……

13. Store Managers, in partnership with their Corporate Security team, have the power to turn off any cell phones on your account permanently and make sure you never get it back. I had to do this twice. So, again, calm your shit.

14. The demo phones in the stores get stolen a TON! Sometimes, the genius thief will return to the store several days later and ask us to activate their new phone on their line. Hey, man, thanks for bringing my phone back, the cops will be here shortly to help you with that!

15. Due to shared stress, store employees become family, and like to have fun. It was not uncommon for me to set alarms on the store’s demo phones to go off right at opening time the next morning on my off-day. Seriously, it could make for a decent reality TV show.

16. Stores that do their job right maintain their inventory meticulously. They count each and every phone in the store, including returns and demo phones, by serial number, WEEKLY. The busy stores have 800-900 serial numbers at any given moment.

17. If you buy a phone at Best Buy, Radio Shack, or the like, don’t try to return it to me. The answer is no. If you are having an issue, we can try to fix it, but if you buy it there, return it there.

18. There are stores that are called “dealers”. They look exactly like corporate-owned stores, down to the dress code. Their policies can be a lot different, and even though you bought our service, there’s very little we can do if they screwed you in some way.

19. It was not terribly uncommon for refurbished phones to not have all their data erased before being sent back to stores. Meaning not only did the employees see your nudes when you traded in your phone, but some other lucky customer (or, for added fun, lucky customer’s child) saw your genitals as well. Enjoy that.

20. The management team in a store will truly do anything they can to help you in any situation, but if you’re an asshole about whatever the situation is, PARTICULARLY if nobody in that store caused said situation, what they can do will become SEVERELY limited. They get paid commission for good customer experience ratings, not for bowing to douche-nozzles. TC mark

Life Story:

I don’t know that I would call myself fat. My body isn’t toned like some of the other girls I know. I have a tiny waist with big hips and thighs. The pear shaped curves that make up my figure used to be a source of humiliation. I would look at myself in the mirror while wondering, “Why do the other girls have little to no curves and look good in everything? Why is this the case with my own sister, and not myself? Why am I different?”

For a very long time, thin was in. If you weren’t considered “skinny,” you weren’t looked at by boys and more often than not you weren’t popular in general. I often received probably innocent but still backhanded compliments such as, “You have such a beautiful face!”

Sometimes, my personality and intelligence were remarked on while my thinner peers were told how stunning they were. I hate to say that it was rough for me as I was growing into a young woman, but it certainly wasn’t easy. Being all brains and witty as hell didn’t help me when I so desperately wanted to fit into the current trends. Usually, this desire led to countless tears in a dressing room. I felt less than others.

Suddenly, in the past two years or so, a shift occurred in the media. Celebrities such as Gabourey Sidibe, Jennifer Lawrence, Iggy Azalea, Nicki Minaj, Jennifer Lopez, Meghan Trainor, and the Kardashians all started to defend their curves. Now, if you have a booty you have “it”. I’m starting to be complimented on my figure and told that i’m beautiful overall. Yet, I don’t feel any better.

I’m proud of pop culture for embracing women with a little more meat on their bones. I could not be more thrilled that these women are being lifted up instead of brought down by society. However, I’m still disappointed that as a whole looks are still above all else. As a young girl, if I didn’t believe that being found attractive was most important, perhaps I wouldn’t have been so distraught over what is now “hot.”

Also, I’m curious about the young girls who are simply thin naturally. I have plenty of friends who are this way. If the standard to be all curves was present when we were in middle school, would they have been in my position? With the height of social media, will they see the huge amount of hate skinny girls are currently getting? I see pictures discrediting naturally slim girls as women in general, saying that a real man would never go for them. That’s not fair. Women should be standing together, not tearing one another down.

How would girls self-esteem would be affected if society let them know that being your own person is something to embrace? Instead of telling them they need to change, I propose letting them know that they are beautiful as is. TC mark

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Life Story:

image - Flickr / Carmen Jost
image – Flickr / Carmen Jost

Some people would say I’m unlucky in love. Others would argue that I’ve just got to kiss a few frogs before I find my prince charming. I would debate both of these sides and simply state I’ve allowed myself to become stuck in the fuckzone, and I don’t see any way out.

You can lie to yourself and claim to be one of those superwomen who “don’t get attached” because “it’s just sex”, but let’s face it… we’re emotionally vulnerable females who expect a lot more from males than they are willing to give.

I’m not saying it’s impossible to have casual sex, but from my experience it’s pretty damn hard not to start to fall at least for the idea of that guy after a few times. I respect those women that are able to emotionally detach themselves from their sexual partners, or turn that lust into love.

I guess I’m naive, but I always hope for at least a text or a friend request the next day when I’ve given someone access to my sacred haven. That’s the problem with sleeping with guys without knowing them as people, they want you for one reason only and you are left utterly disappointed.

It all starts when you have your first one night stand. For me, it was post a long haul of an “almost” relationship where (I can finally admit now) I fell in love for the first time. You can guess how that turned out, and I was left feeling vulnerable and looking for comfort in the arms of others. I didn’t go into that night expecting to find anyone, but alcohol has always been a liquid stimulant of some form of crazy sexual desire within me. I ended up having drunken sex with a person I hardly knew, realising ashamedly what I had done, and going home in tears.

That night flicked some sort of switch in my brain. I didn’t want anything more from that person (which I might add I never got anyway) and I continued to explore the world of casual sex. Of course I was never confident enough to be this way sober, but with a bit of alcohol in my system I was unstoppable. I began to find it easy to attain the men I wanted, going barely a night out without hooking up with a drunken stranger. It was comforting, for a while, to have this power over men. I felt dominant, and enjoyed the rush of fucking someone simply for the pleasure of one night.

But that was the problem. As it became easy for me, I began to gain a reputation of being easy. And just like that – I had smack bang landed myself straight into the fuckzone. Now that I have emerged out the other side of my casual sex rendezvous, I am struggling to attain any male attention that is anything more than just drunken fucking. I suppose you could call it karma, for using and abusing those men during my rampage. But that’s all they expected from me too, right? Sexual double standards, that’s what it is. Guys are respected for climbing the ladder in the number of sexual partners. We girls, on the other hand, are downgraded as cheap sluts the more people we sleep with. Unfair, but that’s life.

So here I am, two years later, still stuck in the fuckzone with no way out. I’m still not over my almost relationship and still developing feelings for people who only see me as a vagina. I’m struggling to shake the slut label I attained and feeling all around pretty miserable about my “romantic” endeavors. Recently, I’ve 1) Held out on sex for a considerable time, only to develop feelings for a guy who went back to his ex after he’d gotten what he wanted, 2) Fucked a guy who’d pursued me for a while and then never spoke to me again 3) Allowed myself to be the booty called girl that has never had a real conversation with that person and 4) Fucked my ex boyfriend who is involved with many other girls. Looking at that, I don’t do myself any favors. But each time I go into these experiences hoping that I can turn sex into a relationship. You’d think by now I would have learnt that doesn’t work, but that’s what the fuckzone does. It tricks you into thinking that men want more from you than sex, that it’s all a part of the budding relationship. FYI ladies, sex does not help you get to know someone.

So to all those women out there like me, just know you aren’t alone. The fuckzone is real, and hopefully we’ll all make it out alive… one day. TC mark

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Life Story:

image - Flickr / Baie.
image – Flickr / Baie.

I don’t understand the hurry to find “the one.”

Too many people go out with intentions of hooking up and one night stands, hoping that they will stumble upon one person who changes them forever. I don’t want to find my one in the midst of a drunken, sloppy hookup.

I don’t want to find my one as his hands slide down my sides trying to pull up my skintight dress in a crowded, hot room. And I definitely don’t want to find my one when I’m embarrassingly searching around the room for my underwear when the morning sun is peeking through the curtains. I want to find my one in the library when I’m studying and he asks if I’m okay when I slam down my International Politics folder.

I want to find my one when we laugh at the same joke and bashfully make eye contact in the middle of class. I want to find my one when I’m sitting indian style in the courtyard lawn reading Harry Potter on a Wednesday in the spring.

I want it to be unexpected because nothing is more beautiful than the unknown. I don’t believe in altering my life in hopes of crossing paths with some boy who may or may not take an interest in me.

Somewhere out there, there is a guy living his normal day-to-day life. And here I am, living my normal day-to-day life. And there will come a time when our day-to-day lives will meet up. And it won’t be something legendary and showy. It may be that we strike up a conversation about the cute dog walking by or chuckling at the small child spurting out their naive wisdom. There won’t be fireworks; there won’t be a moment when time stops, and there most definitely won’t be love at first sight.

We will become friends and find enjoyment in talking to each other. He will be there for me when I am crying over a paper I procrastinated for and I will be there for him when his roommate is driving him mad. And then it will become a norm in which we talk to each other and meet up for lunch every so often. Then, slowly, but surely, love will begin to fill the space between us. We won’t even know it until the one day I notice myself looking into his eyes a split second too long, or when he accidentally touches my hand while walking and gets lost in the thought of holding my hand and having our fingers intertwined. It could be something as simple as when we are watching a movie that I lay my head on his chest that we both know that our day-to-day lives crossed for a reason. Until then, I find absolutely no reason in changing who I am or what I do everyday in desperation to find someone.

I want to go to parties and drink until I’m intoxicated and dance while getting lost in the music. I want to have movie nights with my friends on days where we don’t want to get out of our sweatpants and t-shirts and do our hair. I want to have nights where I stay up too late having meaningful conversations with the people that I will consider my lifelong friends. I want to go to the mall and shop for clothes that I like so I can go home and lay it all out on my bed and feel a sense of accomplishment. I want to do the things that I love and enjoy and want to do without having to worry about checking my phone for a text or missed call.

I don’t want to have the constant fear of losing someone to somebody else. When I am in love, I will know and he will know and there will be no fear of losing each other because even the thought of thinking about it is just ludicrous. I want someone who is so happy to have me that they don’t think of a life in which I am not a part of him.

I want to read and explore and travel and laugh and cry all the while figuring out who I am. I want to get to know my deepest desires, what tastes I like and don’t like, what music puts me in a good mood, what people make me genuinely happy, what clothes look best on me. I want to go out with my friends and make memories that we talk and laugh about years later. I want to make my young years the best years of my life and I don’t see how crying and being heartbroken over boys who in a week will be coming onto the next drunken girl at a party in a revealing outfit could do anything to contribute to my happiness and self-discovery. I want to be a genuinely happy person. I want to be so many things. I want to be healthy and fit, someone who others like to be around because I make them happy, someone who gives good advice and has a good insight on life, a positive person, have a beautiful and loving soul, and someone who loves without fear. I am not at a point in my life in which I can love without fear. There would be too much fear in me. I am too insecure to love at this point because I don’t thoroughly know who I am. But I know who I want to be. TC mark

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Life Story:

Broad City /
Broad City /
I recently spent a week sitting at a colleague’s desk to do her job while she was ill. It was pretty dull, except for my richly decorated immediate surroundings. Here are twenty items (or collections of items) I found while working there:

1. Untitled inspirational message.

This four-paragraph screed alludes casually (in navy blue Comic Sans 12-point) to the reader’s “enemies,” “agonies,” and, in one memorable line, “sufferings sorrows and pains [sic].” How can such a downbeat message be affirmative enough to warrant daily contemplation?

2. Untitled congratulatory certificate.

The company president’s signature is reproduced at the bottom of this longish ivory-colored certificate. The text (Lucida Calligraphy, 12-point in tan) alludes to “loyalty, dedication and contributions” but fails to mention any specific event or achievements. A psychedelic-looking clock is printed in the background.

3. “Certificate of Appreciation in the Category of: Disney Cast Members.”

This certificate reads: “[Name] WINS THE Tigger AWARD FOR ACHIEVEMENT IN: Organizing data and information, it’s a wonderful thing!” in five different fonts. Printed above the text are two illustrations of Milne’s extraordinarily popular tiger.

4. “Certificate of Completion.”

The Certificate of Completion is Spartan. A small clip-art illustration is printed above the bearer’s name and the words “has completed the Project Management Foundations Training” are printed in reserved, almost dignified olive green 18-point Arial. Presumably, the training was mandatory.

5. Photo of four black ladies.


6. Various photos of children.

Or perhaps photos of various children? All the children appear happy.

7. Various lotions, perfume samples, and a lint remover.

These items are stacked on a small shelf.

8. “Just Beautiful!!” poem.

“Just Beautiful” is a seventeen-line free verse poem. Each line begins with a question and then answers itself; my favorite is the anatomically-naïve “What makes me a woman? My heart.”

9. “The Seven Dwarves of Menopause” printout.

The word “menopause” has been struck through in red ink and replaced with the letters “PMS” in the title of this printout. Presumably, my colleague will update it in a few years. A picture of Disney’s beloved Seven Dwarves is accompanied in this printout by the legend “Itchy, Bitchy, Sweaty, Sleepy, Bloated, Forgetful & Psycho.” The serial comma is thoughtlessly omitted, advancing the possibility of an unnamed dwarf. Naturally, this sort of whimsy is printed in navy blue 12-point Comic Sans.


This poem is noteworthy only for the line “Before you wonder ‘What’s up with her?’ ask yourself, ‘What’s up with me?’” The text is printed in black 12-point Times New Roman.

11. “Psalm 23 (For the Work Place)” printout.

This inspiring bit of 12-point Comic Sans sacrilege begs to be reproduced in full:

The Lord is my boss, and I shall not want.
He gives me peace, when chaos is all around me.
He reminds me to pray, before I speak in anger.
He restores my sanity.
He guides my decisions that I might honor Him in all I do.
Even though I face absurd amounts of e-mail, system failures, copier jams, back-ordered supplies, unrealistic deadlines, staff shortages, budget cutbacks, red tape, downsizing, gossiping co-workers and whining customers, I won’t give up, for You are with me. [Note the pronoun shift.]
Your presence, peace and power will see me through.
You raise me up, even when the boss fails to promote me. [I thought He was the boss.]
You claim me as your own, even when the company threatens to let me go.
Your loyalty and love are better than a bonus check.
Your retirement plans beats any 401K [sic], and when it’s all said
and done, I’ll be working for [Y]ou a whole lot longer!
Thanks be to God!

An accompanying (and severely pixilated) illustration depicts a light-skinned black woman with short braids and enormous gold hoops in her ears.


Stern 12-point Times New Roman text in red and blue asks the Lord to “anoint [the reader’s] projects, ideas, and energy” in this touching prayer.

13. Untitled navy blue 12-point Comic Sans inspirational message.

Numerous sailing and soaring metaphors populate the text of this message.


This seven-line poem begins with the words “READ THE FIRST LINE CAREFULLY,” Epimenides be damned. It closely follows “Just Beautiful!!”’s question-and-answer format save for the logically-confounding first line. The font is 12-point Times New Roman, in black with pink highlighting.

15. Small mirror.

A small mirror hangs on a plastic hook next to the computer monitor in this cubicle. I repositioned it so I can see if anyone is sneaking up on me.

16. Numerous office supplies and folders.

There are office supplies and folders everywhere in this cubicle, but they are most concentrated on the far-right side of the desk. All the folders are hand-labeled, and some appear quite old. All are utterly incomprehensible to me. The office supplies include “Wite-Out,” scissors, and a giant eraser.

17. Small boombox.

The office is eerily silent all day save for muted conversations and clicking keys. I’ve never heard anyone use a boombox, or even computer speakers. The boombox is an old, cassette-only model.

18. Anne Geddes calendar.

March’s photo depicts little black babies peeking out of tulip blossoms. All wear shower caps.

19. Fortune cookie fortune.


20. Empty bottle of Prozac.


Life Story:


This is the perfect time to reflect on our success and what we hope to accomplish. As we’ve oftentimes heard, it’s never too late for a new beginning. 2015 can give us the opportunity for a fresh start — if we remind ourselves more often of our resolutions and goals, imagine the results we would see:

1. Focus on becoming a better you.

You can go to the gym like the rest of the world on January 1st,  but that won’t really change who you are. Instead of focusing on the outer shells of people, look within yourself and ask yourself, is this who I want to be? If not, it’s the perfect time to turn over a new leaf and become a better you.

2. Make a difference.

Anyone can change the world, even in the simplest of ways. Simple acts in realms of donations, volunteer work, or helping someone you know in need can go a long way. Sometimes the little things in life mean the world to others. Look around you and appreciate what you have. It’s important to give back in return for all that we receive.   

3. Don’t give up on your life goals.

Write down your goals, and don’t lose sight of them. Send yourself reminders on your cell phone, or write them down in a visible place in your room. This way, you won’t forget your goals as the year goes by.

4. Love everything around you.

Fall in love with everything — people, places, restaurants, seasons, etc. If you learn to love everything, you will be happier person. Instead of focusing on the negative realities of life, focus on the positive things within those realities. Without love, life would cease to exist.

Each year gives us the opportunity to start over and accomplish new things. Be proactive and make 2015 the best year yet! TC mark

Life Story:

image - Flickr / Baie.
image – Flickr / Baie.

I was used. This wasn’t the first time in my life, nor do I believe it will be the last time, but in this moment, it feels like the worst time. Someone I care about used me. Someone I truly believed cared about me lead me down the road of self-deprecation and now I’m sitting here feeling… used.

I’ve spent the last 48 hours trying to come up with the least painful explanation for the actions and decisions that took place just a few days ago, but in the end, I know the answer.

Whenever we’ve been used, we try so desperately to explain everything in a way that hurts the least. But in the end, it’s always the same result. Perhaps it’s the desire to see the best in people, or perhaps it’s the desire that people see the best in us. Either way, the steps always lead to the same destination.

Immediately after being used, perhaps still in a romance or alcohol induced haze, you’re delusional. There’s this big, beautiful ray of hope. The future looks bright and all the pain and heartache you’ve felt before seemingly disappear into oblivion. This is perhaps worsened if the person you find yourself with is someone you care about. This is the moment that seems to make it all worthwhile. It’s the moment they kiss you. Or the moment their hand grazes yours. Or the moment you catch their eye and smile.

If you’re lucky, you’ll move into the part I call, the discussion. This is where ambiguous things are said that in the moment, can lead you to believe in the light at the end of the tunnel, but in the future, upon reflection, are the big, red signs warning you of your impending fall into heartache and self-hatred. It could go along the lines of, “I don’t want to make things confusing”, or “I don’t want you to hate me”. Right now, in your state of mind, these are obvious indicators of someone preparing to take advantage of you, however, in your daze, these could mean a million other things, depending on your situation.

After the discussion, when both parties feel they have had their say and the lines of communication are open, the daze continues. Perhaps you’ll wander hand in hand. Perhaps you’ll embrace, kiss, or hold each other. Either way, these are all further delusions, leading you closer and closer to the moment where your insides crumble inside of you. But in the moment, they feel great.

Now comes the fun part. The deed is done. Whatever that deed may be. After this, things get tricky. Depending on how terrible the user is.

If they’re a true user, they will soon make their exit. This isn’t as awful as it sounds because the inevitable pain is quick, like the tearing off of a Band-Aid. You’ll know right away you were used and can begin the self-hatred and healing process immediately.

However, if they are a user masquerading as a decent human being, they will not leave. They will hold you. They will kiss you and tell you they like you and how incredible you are. Then, you will fall asleep in their embrace. You may even sleep the entire night in their arms; the light at the end of that tunnel glowing ever brighter by the minute.

In the morning, there will be moments where things seem normal and okay. You will feel like perhaps you evaded the crushing feeling this time. But then, you will feel it. Perhaps it will come as the tensing of a muscle; perhaps as the slow move away from the pile of blankets and cuddles you created over night. Either way, it comes and you know it is coming.

Maybe there will be a kiss, or a hug, or both. This only prolongs the pain, that light still trying it’s hardest to flicker bright in the distance. Then, the excuse and the escape. You’re left still glowing from your previous evening’s activities while a part of you is trying desperately to shove down the dark feeling that is slowly rising in your system.

From here, it only gets worse. You might not hear from them. Or even worse, you might, but it will only be their desperate attempt to appease their conscience. You will go over the events in your head until you’ve evaluated every minute of the evening a million times. You will try to convince yourself that you’re reading into things wrong. But you know.

In the end, the feeling is inevitable: You were used.

There’s only one thing left to do and that’s pick yourself up, tell yourself you’re worth it, and promise yourself you won’t let it happen again. I can’t guarantee that it won’t, but at least by telling yourself that it won’t, you’re showing yourself some self-respect. And that’s better than what you’re used to, right? TC mark

For more raw, powerful writing follow Heart Catalog here.

Life Story:

image - Flickr / Paulo Guilherme Neto
image – Flickr / Paulo Guilherme Neto

I’m like most 20-something women. I’ve fallen in and out of love a couple times; loved and lost. But the thing that I like to do a little differently is find them again.

I like to stay friends with my exes.

Now, I’m not saying we hang out or text each other regularly. It’s not the kind of lingering connection that holds hope of future reconciliation or unfinished business. It’s about getting to the other side of heartbreak. A place where you see them from different eyes; eyes no longer distorted by rose-colored glasses.

I see them as a friend, an equal, and more importantly someone who once occupied a large space in my life and heart. I cannot bring myself to cut them off completely; to not approach them with friendliness and understanding. Call it naive, hopelessly romantic, maybe even self defeating… I call it being open-hearted.

These past lovers may have broken me, but the thing about the heart is that it heals. With time we learn to move on. And then we have a choice: cut them out of our lives completely in fear of damaging the scars that delicately formed over the shattered pieces of our heart…or we can be fearless.

This person was once your best friend. You were intimate in every aspect of the word. You saw parts of them that very few have. You shared countless memories and experiences; time that you will never get back.

To me, staying in touch is respecting the relationship you did have and respecting the person you once loved. It’s the kind of love that says you meant more to me than just a relationship; even without that title you are still important to me.

The kind of love where you wish them a happy birthday, share big news, check in on them every once in awhile, and are always wishing them the best.

The kind of love that once was and now is something completely different.

The kind of love that is fearless and open-hearted. TC mark

For more raw, powerful writing follow Heart Catalog here.