Why You Need To Vote Every Year, Not Just in a Presidential Year

The year 2017 is not a special one when it comes to elections. Wait. What do I mean by special? Special meaning that it’s not a presidential one. In the state of CT, it’s the municipal one.

However, that doesn’t mean that it’s not an unworthy election.

In my one of my journalism classes back in college, my professor told us that the turnout during those off elections is extremely low. I remember seeing a turnout in the teens.

But, it shouldn’t be.

If you’ve met me personally, you’ve heard me talk about all of the work that I’ve done as a journalist in my hometown of Hamden, Connecticut. My work put me in the front lines with some great people in town. Meeting those great people have helped me realize the importance of getting involved in the town, and is the source of my inspiration in doing so.

Why?

Because it truly makes a difference.

Government at both the national and state level is, well let’s face it, a mess. However, with that being said, chances are the things that affect you the most are things that could be changed when you raise your voice to your mayor or first selectman.

I’m talking about potholes. I’m talking about stepping up police patrols. I’m talking about improving parks.

Sure, things are important at the national level. But, they are important at home too.

This is why I am asking you to do me a favor. And, that is on Nov. 7, to get out there and vote.

Since registering to vote in 2012 (ironically during a presidential election), I have made it a point to head out to the polls each and every year. For a couple of years it was hard, considering that I didn’t have a license and had to get my grandmother to take me to polls by bribing her with a cookie.  The only exception was one year when I had a crippling migraine and couldn’t really do much.

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My first ‘I Voted’ sticker! Picture was taken with an iPod touch, how 2012 of me.

Last year, we saw a record turnout for the polls. And, that’s awesome. I am so happy to see the passion that our country had when it came to supporting their candidate of choice.

But, we need to continue that passion when it comes to all elections. We need to elect our mayors and be aware of the issues. Otherwise, by not coming to the polls, your forfeit the right to complain about something, because you could have gotten out there to vote. But, you didn’t.

I’m a journalist, and part of my job is to remain impartial to political parties. However, I am passionate about one thing. And, that is the importance of voting. I will never tell you who to support and vote for. But, I will tell you to vote until I am blue in the face.

So, on Nov. 7, let’s head to the polls once again. You may not be voting for the next president. But you’re going to be voting for the people who control your taxes, the people that control the quality of your roads, and the education that your children receive.

You Don’t Get It

Why aren’t you getting back out there?

Why can’t you just get over it?

It’s not a big deal — just go on a date.

Do you still love him?

 

Everyone seems to have an opinion —

it is something they insert in when not wanted.

But, they didn’t know. . .

 

They didn’t know what it was like —

to have lie about why he couldn’t go there,

to have someone think that they are entitled to your body,

or to have to explain why you’re not ready.

They didn’t see you throw up as he forced your hand.

They didn’t hear you cry as he gave you that ultimatum.

 

You see, no one understands that.

 

Maybe it’s my fault.

Maybe I should have opened my mouth.

Maybe I should have told someone.

 

But, what if they didn’t believe me?

What if I was the weird one, and he was normal?

 

You see why I carried my secret on my back.

 

Years later, I’ve turned into a beast —

locked up in my tower of isolation,

waiting for someone to touch my rose.

 

Despite my longing for light,

I still felt like it would happen —

my body a currency to keep the relationship afloat.

His words still repeating,

why can’t we just have sex,

again and again until I can’t take it anymore.

When I cover my ears,

I can still see those moments in high definition.

I can never escape.

 

Not that I had to explain it to you,

but that’s why I am not going out on dates.

If it were you, you would do the same.

 

Ladies, You Deserve Better

You stare at your phone, clicking the home button a thousand times. You’re waiting for a text — from him.

Who is this, you may ask? He’s the boy that makes you smile — the person that you need almost as if he was your drug, your nicotine. You need him to breathe, to function properly, to do anything without bursting into tears.

However, he holds out on you — he doesn’t call as often as he should, nor does he reply. So, you stare at your phone, and you wonder why. Why isn’t he texting you? Why isn’t he making an effort?

Meanwhile, he’s out there. He’s talking to other girls, maybe he’s with one of those girls right now as you tearfully await his reply. You like him. You want him. You want to be with him. However, he doesn’t — but he doesn’t admit it. So, you’re stuck in this cycle.

Does this sound familiar? Is this a description of your current love life and your current partner?

If you answered yes, then run — as fast as you can.

I went on a Twitter rant the other day about relationships and the toxic cycle that people often head down. I’ve included it below for you all to gain some insight.

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I’ve seen so many friends fall down this rabbit hole. One friend in high school would be that friend who always had to be with her boyfriend, had her wedding planned out to the T, and you had to schedule girl time months in advance when you see her. And, when she’s not with that guy, then she’s glued to her phone, texting him constantly.

Or, you have that friend that is in an inbetweenship — the kind of relationship that has no labels for whatever reason (not ready for commitment, doesn’t want the label).

Basically, girls in this relationship are not seeing the light — and their worth.

The bottom line?

Everyone deserves someone that will treat them fairly. Everyone deserves someone who brings a smile on their face every time they walk in the room. Everyone deserves someone who treats them like they are royalty.

And, if you have to beg, chances are, this is not the relationship that you are meant to be in. You shouldn’t have to lower yourself to those standards and beg a guy to stay. He should want to on his own. 

Every damn human on this planet deserves that. And, it bothers me to no end that no one sees that deserve more than what they are getting — and are afraid to demand that they get it. And, if you ask me, that’s quite upsetting.

So, the next time anyone that you’re dating — no matter what gender you may be — treats you like this, know that you are worth more than that. And, don’t be afraid to walk. Chances are, when you do, you’ll find the perfect person that you rightfully deserve.

Coming Forward and Speaking Out

The Harvey Weinstein scandal caused many women – from actresses to screen writers – to come forward and accuse him of misconduct. As I write this, I am watching CNN, and listening to audio between Weinstein and one of these victims. The audio, just to sum it up, is of a woman stating that she was uncomfortable. Weinstein’s response? ‘Don’t embarrass me, honey.’

Hearing this audio sickens me. Hearing about how many women he did this to sickens me. And, hearing their stories sends chills up my spine.

It is sad that we live in a world where men feel it is okay to grab whomever and whatever they please, and not feel like they did anything wrong. That sense of entitlement further ensures that men could get away with it, as boys will be boys, and women have to deal with that. That mentality is destructive, and leads all involved down a dangerous and lethal path. And, it really needs to end. 

One can never understand the effects that this can have on a victim, that is until you become one. There is still a mentality that women ‘ask’ for it by the clothes they were and the way that they present themselves. That mentality is comical. I mean, do women ask for a man to come up and grab them, just because they are wearing a short skirt? Is an outfit like that basically an open invitation for that?

No.

The only way that it is okay is if a woman had said yes. Anything else? Then it is certainly not okay.

I applaud all of the women that are coming forward to say hey, I’m a victim. Hey, he did this to me. Some of these women include Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Rosanna Arquette. When having this happen to you, women should scream on the top of their damn lungs. Instead, their voices are silenced. 

By those women stepping forward it is a positive step in the right direction to justice. Men like Weinstein deserve their plate of karma for all of his wrongdoings towards all of those women. And, by this scandal making headlines and all of those women coming forward, it helps victims of this feel confident enough to get the justice that they rightfully deserve.

With that being said, coming forward is one step further in getting awareness in regards to assault and rape. Having that in your back pocket will be one step closer to having men like Weinstein punished. We may never live in a world with out assault or rape. But, we will one day live in a world (hopefully) where all who were affected by this wrongdoing will be able to step forward and get justice. I know so — I feel it pulsing through my veins. 

Note: If you are a victim, please raise your voice. Tell someone so they could connect you to all the resources you rightfully need — police, doctors, hospital, etc. 

In Loving Memory

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Today, marks the sixth anniversary of my grandfather’s death. For those who don’t know, my grandfather served as my father figure for my childhood. So, on every anniversary and every birthday, I want to take a moment to talk about the profound influence that he had on me.

My grandfather passed away on Oct. 12, 2011 after a five year battle of Alzheimer’s. If I could take away anything about his fight was his continuous strength. I have no memory of him complaining, nor do I remember him not being happy. This actually was fitting — his name was Sonny.

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My grandfather was one of the most beautiful human beings that I ever had the privilege of knowing. A tribute fitting for him would span the length of novels, but I hope that this suffices.

I’d like to think that I get my sense of humor from my grandfather. I don’t have a single memory of him being grumpy or bitter — he was always laughing and smiling. He made everyone laugh. He always looked to the bright side to things, no matter how dismal they were. He would always say these one liners. “Take it from a dummy” was one of them.

With that being said, my relationship with my grandfather was one of the most special ones that I will have in my entire life. Sorry future husband. I grew up without a father, but I never felt the weight of that absence because of my grandfather. He treated me like I was his own child, spoiling me with anything I could have wanted materialistically and always giving me his undivided attention. He took me everywhere — from the Essex Steam Train and to the Arcade in Mohegan Sun. I never once doubted that I was loved, because he was there for me in ways my own father would not be.

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My grandfather’s generosity spanned to his entire family — my mother, my uncle, my cousins and my grandmother. When he loved, he loved wholeheartedly. He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather, and was always there for loved ones during both highs and lows.

I remember him being at every school concert that he could attend, and when I had both of my childhood surgeries, he was there to take care of me. I remember once when I was seven, and I had fainted. My mom had to rush me to the emergency room with the help of both of my grandparents who stayed with her throughout the night.

Saying goodbye to my grandfather was single handedly one of the hardest things that I had to do. For months, it felt like there was something that was missing in my life. My grandfather died when I was a senior in high school, and I kept on feeling the weight of his absence during the big events such as prom and graduation. Even nowadays as I do things, I still feel it as I wonder what would this event be like if my grandfather were here?

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As I progress and grow through life, my grandfather continues to my inspiration. He is the reason why I devote a thousand percent into everything I do, and to continuously work hard. He is a source of my optimism as I remember his fight with Alzheimer’s, and his never waning jokes. Even as I write this now, I could picture him sitting on his chair, and smiling.

My grandfather’s absence is a heavy weight that takes its toll on my family. I miss him every day. Moving forward, I continue to wonder what things would be like if he were here today. I wonder if he was proud of me as I graduated college and took the oath of office as Arts Commissioner yesterday. I wonder what Christmas would be like if he were still here. I wonder what he would have done when I got my car — I personally think that he would have yelled at me for never keeping it clean.

As I remember my grandfather (and his legacy), I want him to know that I love him and he will always and forever serve as my inspiration. Thank you Grandpa for your existence. I’ll never stop aiming to make you proud. I love you.

Why Mental Health Is Important

Hi I’m Natalie, and I have anxiety. Chances are, if you’re already reading this, you already know that.

It’s Mental Illness Awareness Week, and I wanted to take a few minutes to drive home the importance of mental health.

Because of my experiences with anxiety, it has given me the drive to speak up about the subject. This is one that is extremely important to me. Dealing with a mental illness is a huge struggle — whether you have anxiety, an eating disorder, or depression.

With anxiety, your brain continuously constructs the worst case scenarios, sending your brain into a frenzy of what ifs. While anxiety is the mental illness I continuously struggle with, many others deal with mental illnesses on a daily basis. For example, those who deal with depression often have trouble getting out of bed. Those with anorexia destroy their body in the attempts of staying slim.

However, there is still a stigma floating around about those who deal with mental illness. You know, that if they are feeling upset, then they should stop complaining and just suck it up. That those with anxiety should just stop “worrying so much.” That self care should be the last priority on your list — even if you’re throwing up because of anxiety.

Frankly, those stigmas should go to hell.

But, sadly, they do exist.

This is why every week needs to be Mental Illness Awareness Week. This is why I continuously stand on a soapbox to remind readers that it is okay not to be okay. It is okay to put yourself first, whether it may be avoiding a phone call to get extra self, taking a break to eat, or doing something nice for you.

Mental health is honestly so important, and I feel we as a society often forget that. Sure, we’ve come a long way in terms of awareness and acceptance. But, we still have so much more left to do. We still need to learn to listen. We still need to make mental health care more accessible to those who need it — no matter what their economic status may be.

But, most importantly, we need to get rid of all of the stigmas and speak up for those who struggle with mental illnesses every day. It only takes one voice to do so.

And, as for me, I’ve come a long way in my journey of managing anxiety. I’ve learned to manage it — well, somewhat. I’ve learned to put myself first and not let others tell me otherwise. And I am extremely lucky. Over the past two years, I have developed a cast of characters who have been there for me as methods of support and shoulders to cry on. I thank each and every one of them.

And, for those who struggle with a mental illness, please note this: you are not alone. You can get through this. Why? Because you are strong. And, as long as I am on this earth, you will always have someone to listen.

So, while this week is Mental Illness Awareness Week, let’s try to be more aware every week.

Let There Be Light

Nowadays, I can safely call myself an optimist. You know, someone who sees the light in the situations — awkward scenarios, and life taking unexpected turns that left me thunderstruck. While they were the cause for worry, I always made sure that going in, hey man I try to make the best of that. I try to sit down and come up with a plan to make things better. After all, sometimes it can turn out great? Right?

With that being said, what makes someone an optimist?

To me, someone who considers themselves to be an optimist is someone that always looks to the bright side to things. She is someone who sees the benefits, which outweigh the overall pitfalls. She is also someone who sees the glass as being half full versus half empty.

For example, let’s say you’re asked to work on a Saturday or holiday. Let’s be honest — it sucks working on a Saturday. Looking on the bright side though it’s more cash in your wallet.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about optimism and pessimism. I’ve been surrounded with a lot of pessimists and people that see the downright negative in every single thing that they are surrounded with. Sometimes, I try to be the light in their darkness. Like, if a friend is complaining about something that she frequently complains about, I try to get her to see the positive or ask her what’s good about her day. However, at other times, I just try to shake it off as being an eclipse on my otherwise sunny day.

However, becoming an optimist wasn’t easy. It was the result over a year of therapy. You see, when I first entered therapy, I was as a pessimist through and through. My world at the time was full of darkness, and I wanted nothing more than to poke my heads through the storm clouds and bask in the sunlight.

My therapist taught me how to make my own damn sunlight. She would constantly ask me whenever I would complain about something, well what was good in your day? Eventually, that became a thought I’ve began to ask myself. Sometimes, whenever I would have a bad day, I would go to my journal and write a list of all of the good in my life.

With that being said, I’ve learned that while I am not in control of circumstance, I am in control of how I attack scenarios. Therefore, I try to make the best out of it. I try to smile. I try to think of ways to change it, and remember that everything does happen for a reason. And, I may not know that reason at the time, but hopefully I’ll figure it out.

Most importantly, though, I learned that I can choose to be the light or the darkness. So, I choose to be the light. After all, the sun poking out of the clouds after a lengthy storm is the first sign that it’s over right?

Right. That’s why they call it calm after the storm.