At times, the road we choose can be extremely lonely, even if we’re not the only ones walking it. I was really starting to feel all the stress and pressure of the bar, school, and work, and I started to feel so alone—the second loneliest time I’ve ever felt in my life, and that's saying something if you know me. I mean, I could feel my head pulsating, and I was listening to classical music to keep me calm.
Obviously, I’m not the only one under these stresses right now. I’ve got friends in class me with me, going through the same things. But then again, we’ve all had different experiences in law school, so there’s not necessarily anyone who REALLY knows what I’m going through. It doesn’t help that my family doesn’t understand—I mean, they’re supportive in their own crazy way, and I love them, but they just have no clue. Thankfully, I have a few friends who are extremely supportive and they help me escape the madness every now and then.
There is however one person, who I knew would know exactly what I’m going through, who I could confide in, and who could give me the reassurance I needed to restore my faith and confidence in myself. She knows my ups and struggles in law school. She knows how hard I work. She also knows how to talk to me like a human being. So I went to talk to her today, and suddenly all that negative energy just melted away. I mean, I still can’t help but worry, but it’s not the kind of worry that will not hinder my performance.
The thing is, we’re never really alone unless we let ourselves be. I could have kept everything to myself, try to let this episode of panic subside on its own, but this time I knew I couldn’t. For those of you not in law school, or who haven’t been to law school, it’s totally normal to have mental breakdowns every now and then, leading up to the bar. Normally my “moments” take care of themselves, or I do something to take care of it somehow; but this time was a little different.
I think I just have a lot more on my plate at the moment, and I could feel myself burning out, but I was desperately trying to fight it. I can’t burn out now. It’s way too early to start burning out. I can’t burn out until after August 1st! After that, I can burn out in the Swiss Alps, on a lake in Italy, or on some centuries old cobblestone road in France. I don’t care.
So just remember, when you feel alone, know that you’re not and find the one person who knows exactly what you’re going through. That’s what “Love, Justine” was created for—a place for you to know that you are NEVER alone. Also, have at least one or two people in your life who help you escape, even for just an hour or two. When I get together with these friends, we do not talk about school—at least not in detail. We talk about guys, love, relationships, people, history, faith, happy things, human things, whatever. And of course, just take care of yourself. Know yourself. Know what works for you. This week, classical music worked for me. Next week, I may go horseback riding.
Have faith, and choose to be great :).
BIG LOVE & HUGS
I thought I was going to finally end my blood draught, when I met the minimum iron level after the re-prick. I've been deferred the last 5-6 times I've tried to donate blood for a low iron level, or my vein being too small. One time, they missed my vein, and had to dig around in my arm to find my vein, because they're not allowed to re-stick you. Needless to say, that was not very comfortable.
Today, after they checked my iron level twice, because the first time I was .9 below the minim level of 12.5, I finally met the minimum level--I was right on point at 12.5. So I was super excited, because it's been at least a year and a half since I have last been able to donate.
I got on the table, and was so excited. I braced myself for the initial pain, and was ready. I don't know why, but I used to be fearless about needles. I loved getting shots as a kid. However, I've been finding that the older I get, the more nervous I get. Maybe it's just because I've had a few problems when it comes to donating...and the fact that the needles they use for blood donation are way bigger. Anyways, after they stuck me, the blood was flowing out slowly, so they babysat it, turning the needle every now and then to try to get a better flow. After ten minutes, they decided to stop, because apparently you have to fill the bag up in 20 minutes, or the blood will start clotting. Now, I have a very vivid imagination, so I don't usually like to look at the needle inside my arm, but sometimes I can't help but take a peek. After the nurse unwrapped and untaped my arm, I took a peek at the needle that was still in my arm, and it did not look pretty. It looked like the needle was poking up inside my arm--very disturbing. I don't know how it wasn't poking out through my arm. Freaky. I was already bruising, too, and my arm was both in pain and numb.
The worst part about this, is that I asked if they were able to use at least the blood that they did draw. Unfortunately, they have to throw away the blood they took. Before today, I was annoyed that I haven't been able to donate in a while, but this is worse. And I may not have filled the bag, but it sure looked like there as plenty of blood in that bag.
I greatly look forward to the day I will once more be able to save three lives with a pint of my blood.
For the rest of you, here are some tips to keep in mind if you are planning on donating blood:
I’ve discovered the most brilliant show EVER. I’ve never been huge on the food programs on television. When I watch them, I just get immensely hungry, and disappointed by whatever my next meal is actually going to be; or I feel gross and bloated just from looking at all the fatty and grotesque amount of foods being displayed on my television.
The other night though, I discovered “The Supersizers Go…” a British program, which follows restaurant critic Giles Coren, and writer and comedian Sue Perkins, as they travel through time and spend a week at a time, living and eating through different eras in history. The program is HILARIOUS. I can’t tell you how much I laughed out loud and even uncontrollably whilst watching these two time travel. They’re both really funny, and Sue is like the British Ellen Degeneres. And when I say that they live and eat through these different eras, I mean, they dress, behave, take up gender roles, common cultural activities, and entertain as they did through these periods. It’s marvelous. It’s brilliant. It’s even educational. It’s lessons on history, culture, lifestyles, as well as health and fitness. Each week, Giles and Sue get a fitness and health test done before they begin their week, and again at the end of their week to see what their period diet has done to them.
I have to say I never realized how common oysters are in British cuisine. Oysters existed in Britain even before tea did. Although, it does make sense since Britain is essentially an island. For fitness and health reasons, I probably wouldn’t have minded the food rationing days of wartime. In fact, I’m thinking maybe we should go back to some sort of food rationing program, just for health and fitness purposes, minus the powdered eggs and spam. While some people might think that drinking ales and wines all day long would be a magnificent idea, I couldn’t imagine not being able to drink water during the Restoration period—during that period the water was undrinkable. I would not have survived that period. I’d either die early of starvation from not being able to ingest any of the period delicacies, or I’d die of alcohol poisoning. I probably would have preferred eating as a regular civilian in Ancient Rome, too, as opposed to an aristocrat, because I’m not sure I could even go near testicles, womb, or door mice. In fact, through many of the eras before the 19th century, I’d probably be really thin, because I couldn’t handle the many animal delicacies—although, I wouldn’t have minded eating like Marie Antoinette. The 1970’s proved the importance of being active throughout the day. My favorite is the 1970’s alarm clock that brews tea while you sleep, so that you have hot tea ready for you as soon as you wake up. I think we need to bring that back! I also love the live frogs jumping out of the pie just for fun and entertainment during the Elizabethan era. That certainly would be entertaining, if you thought you were receiving a pie, and then frogs started jumping out of it. I must say, I have a whole new respect for chefs, whose cooking begins with the skinning, deboning, and de-organing of animals. It’s quite a job!
The funny thing, is that after traveling through all these different time periods, the general lesson about health and fitness, is what we all know—what you eat and what you physically do matters! It matters not just for your physique, but also for your hygiene, your mood, and your life expectancy rate.
Tune into the first two seasons on Hulu, and travel with these two through wartime (WWII), the Restoration period (1660’s), the Victorian era, the 1970’s, Shakespearean times (aka the Elizabethan era), the Regency years (1789-1821), the 1980’s, Medieval Times, the 50’s, the French Revolution, the 1920’s, and Ancient Rome. It’s fantastic, it really is! Giles and Sue are a riot!
BIG LOVE & HUGS
Trauma is something that takes time to deal with, and I’m not entirely sure that it ever completely leaves you. On top of that, trauma affects everyone differently, and everyone deals with it differently. I hate thinking that many children tonight are going to go to bed with nightmares already stirring in their heads. I hate thinking that many children are going to be afraid to go to school. Nobody should be afraid to go to school. School should be a safe haven for children. I love school. I went to preschool when I was 2 and I’ll be 25 when I finish law school this coming spring. If I could, I would probably even spend an extra year or two studying abroad somewhere. School is fantastic.
Anyhow, I wanted to try to help the parents out, who are struggling with trying to talk to their young children about the events that happened today in Newtown, Connecticut; but also just for anyone dealing with trauma in general. I’ve had to deal with quite the traumatic experience, and though I wasn’t a young child when I went through that I experience, I think my experiences with coping afterwards may be able to help some of you out. After all, we learn from sharing—sharing our experiences, our mistakes, our triumphs, etc. Just remember, I’m not a psychiatrist, but I’m speaking from my own experience.
Initially, someone suffering from trauma may sort of shut down from shock. They may not want to talk. Talking is important, but you have to let it come naturally. So if your child, or whoever suffered the trauma, is not talking, don’t force it. Just make sure he or she knows that the communication lines are open.
We all want to protect our children and our loved ones. If we could, we would build an invisible shield around them to repel all the evil in the world. We can’t though. So when someone suffering from trauma tries to talk to you, and tells you that he or she is scared, confused, or whatever it is they’re feeling, don’t just say, “It’s okay, everything’s going to be okay.” Ask that person why she is scared. What are her fears? There’s probably not just one answer. Just listen. Don’t try to fix their fears and confusion for them. By asking the questions, you are helping them. Children aren’t as good with verbal communication, so you might have to help them out a little more with talking about what’s on their mind. If they ask you questions, be kindly honest. Don’t fluff, but don’t be rough. And if “I don’t know” is your most honest answer, then simply say, “I don’t know.” Also, reassure them that they are in fact safe—that you are there for them, and looking out for them.
I think one of the hardest questions to answer is “Why did this happen?” I imagine a lot of children and parents are asking this question tonight. I’m not sure if there’s a right way to answer this question, or any way. I imagine though, if I was a kid, I’d want to hear what I’m not always so patient to hear now—probably because I already know its truth, and sometimes when you’re down you don’t want to be told what you already know. If I was a kid today, asking my mom why a man shot and killed twenty children, I’d want to hear that bad things happen, and we don’t always know why, but we have to learn from them and make tomorrow better so that today and yesterday were not wasted. I think one of the things that really helped me, was when my dad said to me, “Now from this experience, promise me you’ll help those who can’t help themselves.” Basically, he was telling me to turn a negative into an exponential positive. Of course, I was much older than the children affected today, but it was helpful, and maybe you can find a different version of that message to tell your child.
I’m also a strong believer in therapy for anyone who is a direct witness/victim of trauma, like the children at Sandy Hook—physically harmed or unharmed—or even a child who witnesses abuse between his parents, even though he’s never touched. There’s something different about talking to someone in complete confidence, someone who knows how to listen, how to ask the right questions, and really just someone who is not prone to react overprotectively.
Some parents get uncomfortable confronting their child’s pain—that’s why we fluff our answers—but you have to suck it up. You have to keep those communication lines open, and be there when they need you. It’s one of the best things you can do for your child and yourself, if you really want your child to feel safe, and to feel peace. If you try to gloss over it, or shush their fears away, you’ll risk closing up the communication lines. Just remember, you don’t have to force communication—if they feel and know the communication lines are open, they will come to you. If they’re not talking, then every now and then ask them how they’re doing to remind them that the communication lines are open.
While you’re being supermom, superdad, or super-sibling/cousin/friend, remember to be normal. One of my biggest fears was people treating me differently, or like I might shatter any second. I didn't want that. I'm not sure that young children can understand that, but don't give them a chance to have more fears than they may already have. You don’t want to walk on eggshells, and you don’t want your child to feel fragile or different. You want your child to get back to normal, and happy, as quickly as possible. Of course, you can’t rush anything; but you can remind them of how awesome they are. Remind them how strong they are. Remind them that their strength is necessary for sharing their awesome. It sounds cheesy, but sometimes people need a little help remembering how to stand up.
As times goes on, I think the thing that most people forget is that when someone suffers from a traumatic experience, after they are all smiles again and all seems better, different things could trigger all kinds of emotions—whether it’s fear, tears, or anger. Sometimes things that seem normal, or used to be normal, may cause a different kind of reaction. So don’t be quick to judge or ignore. Don’t smother either, but just try to be understanding of what you might not be able to understand. As time goes on, remember that even if a person blocks out certain memories, memories can have an odd way of coming back to us. So again, remember to keep the communication lines open. If your child asks a question seemingly out of the blue, maybe it’s not so out of the blue.
I could go on, but I think these are some good basics for communicating with someone healing from trauma. If you would like to have a one-on-one chat about dealing with trauma, please feel free to contact me through the contact section of this site.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
Speechless. I’m absolutely speechless. I got home from a long final, and turned on the news to something extraordinarily devastating. My heart was pounding in disbelief that 20 young children had been killed in a school massacre. I wish I could reach out and hug every child near and far from me
The shooter was 20. TWENTY!! He was still a child himself. What could set a person off like that to go and take so many innocent lives? The first thing that came to my mind was mental illness.
I know people are going to start speculating, and if in fact the shooter was mentally ill, people are going to wonder what could have been done to prevent this? What wasn’t done, and should have been done?
Whether or not this is applicable to this particular situation, the thing about mental illness is that it’s not always obvious. A few years ago, when I was twenty-one and twenty-two, I watched someone who was at the time very close to me, literally lose his mind—he was twenty-two and twenty-three then. I didn’t know it at the time, and I didn’t even officially know it until, actually, this last spring. Around April or May of this past year, I was told that he was in fact diagnosed with schizophrenia that year that I last saw him, which was in 2010.
No one who knew him would have known or guessed it. However, something triggered his schizophrenia to slowly combust into a violent nightmare. In his case, the thing that triggered it was an overload of stress from work. In retrospect, there were signs; but the signs were not blatantly apparent, especially not to someone who has never known anyone with such an illness. However, the stress definitely caused it to explode to an infinite degree. He became extremely paranoid, moody, and violent.
There’s a certain stigma that goes along with mental illness. I think sometimes we expect the mentally ill to carry certain physical traits. We expect to know a mentally ill person when we see one. But the truth is, or as I’ve learned, there are people out there who come off as totally normal on the outside, but on the inside their wires are all tangled and mixed up. In fact, what at first might feel like mere character flaws, are actually the “signs.”
There are also those with mental deficiencies, who are completely harmless, and I’ve met those people, and I’ve loved them like my own brother and sister. They are angels with immaculate hearts. So what causes someone to become violent as the result of a mental illness?
Well, in the case of the person I once knew, I believe he was predisposed to violence. He grew up in an extremely abusive household. On top of that, his family history tends to show that mental illness may have run in his family. I’m not sure that anyone in his family has ever been tested for schizophrenia, but now knowing that he is schizophrenic, and knowing what I know about his family, it all makes sense.
It’s very sad and scary watching someone lose their mind, especially when they become violent. And at first, you don’t realize what’s happening. When I look back, I think it should have been obvious what was happening—but it wasn’t.
At least in my situation, I think I kind of panicked as I scrambled to find ways to make him happy—reverse what was happening. I couldn’t though, and things only got worse.
Eventually, for my own safety, I had to leave. I prayed and hoped his family would step in. Clearly, they have done as much as to get him to see a doctor. More than that, though? I don’t know.
I hope they’re doing everything they can to keep him from hurting others, because I can’t tell you how often I pray that I won’t one day turn on the news to find that he has stepped into the shoes of those like the shooter in today’s news.
I don't know what the best way is to prevent a mentally ill person, prone to violence, from committing violent acts. We know there are mental institutions, and medications, but is that enough? Is there more?
What I’ve told young students in my T.A.L.K. program is to just be very aware of people—what they say and what they do. Of course, you don’t need to obsess over every word and move a person makes, but just be careful. Look out for yourself and your friends. We have to take care of each other. We just do. As my friends and I used to say when we were kids, "We're all brothers and sisters in God's eyes." More importantly, if something seems off, talk to someone. Talking to someone, may save someone else’s life or your own.
My heart and prayers go out to the children and families of Sandy Hook Elementary school.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
Anyone catch that “New Girl” episode when Jess is PMSing and then Winston gets the “menzies”, too? That entire episode is pretty much how I feel about PMS--it's hilarious. PMS crying is the most hilarious, because you’re sitting there overly emotional, knowing that you’re being ridiculous, yet you can’t help yourself--like drunk girl crying, but more hilarious. Everything makes you want to cry—good things, bad things, sad things, mad things, rad things, and even stupid romantic stuff that would never normally make you cry.
Well, here are some ways to help make this time of a month little easier on you, and make sure to read through to the bottom to find out the secret to minimizing that overall yucky feeling you have to live with for a week.
a. Sex & The City (episodes and first movie),
b. Pride & Prejudice,
c. Spice World,
e. Big Bang Theory,
f. Boy Meets World.
a. Happy songs—include Gabe Dixon,
b. Dance songs—include Ellie Goulding,
c. Girl power songs---include Spice Girls, duh,
d. Inspirational songs—include Needtobreathe,
e. Angry songs—include Miranda Lambert “Mama’s Broken Heart” …it will make you feel better, I promise :)
f. Mariah Carey Christmas songs.
a. Massive amounts of water for practical matters and especially if you're bloated,
b. Wine—not cheap…aged and delicious,
c. Hot chocolate,
d. Herbal teas (ginger tea will help with cramps--it's good for soothing your stomach in general).
a. Lots of varieties of fruit,
b. Justin’s hazelnut chocolate spread,
c. A box of treats from Babycakes NYC,
d. Lots of colorful salads,
e. Ice cream,
f. At least one steak dinner, unless you’re vegetarian of course.
*The ultimate secret* -- Magnesium supplements. These help with bloating, and reduce that “yucky” feeling that makes you feel fat and gross all week. I read about in SELF Magazine or Fit Sugar, and have been taking one a day for almost 2 months now—I give it two-thumbs up.
Despite the fact that I’m always saying how much I hate running, every now and then I get the urge to give my cross-trainers a break and strap on my running shoes. Yesterday I got one of those urges and it hasn’t left.
I was really surprised, actually. Usually when I decide to jump on the treadmill after a VERY long break, over a year in this case, I struggle at first. This time though, it felt like I hadn’t ever stopped running. Not to mention, I felt like a champion—totally empowered. In fact, today, after I warmed up with a 15-minute straight run, I did a half-hour HIIT on the treadmill. It was awesome—thanks to my regular fitness regiment, I’m sure! Yes, I actually enjoyed running.
Staying in shape is so important. It goes beyond wanting to fit into the Roberto Cavalli dress you’ve been lusting after, to really just making the most out of your life and getting to enjoy it—being happy.
You also have to enjoy your workouts, if you want to make the most out of it. Find workouts that kick your ass and give you a sense of self-empowerment. Additionally, fitness is as much mental, as it is physical. Having a healthy mental fitness while you physically train yourself, translates into other areas of your life. How you speak to yourself, matters. Maintain a well-rounded healthy lifestyle, and you’ll find yourself not only taking on challenges without so much as blink, but also constantly finding new ways to challenge yourself.
The point is, get in shape, stay in shape, and be unstoppable. Not to mention, by taking care of your fitness and health, you save yourself avoidable trips to the doctor’s office, and hundreds of dollars on antibiotics and whatnot. If you want to do it all, and have it all, you’re going to have to ;).
BIG LOVE & HUGS
Things to keep in mind while we’re all feasting and giving thanks tomorrow :).
1) Start your day like any other day—get in a good workout and a healthy breakfast with protein. This will rev up your metabolism, and keep you fuller longer so you don’t start the munching marathon as soon as you roll out of bed ;).
2) Drink lots of water all day—it’s important to stay hydrated, and give your stomach time to realize “holiday” does not equate “food hoarding” with your stomach as the storage closet. I mean, if your family is anything like my family, Thanksgiving dinner is just the cherry on top—we have Thanksgiving DAY. So drinking plenty of water will help you keep yourself from mindlessly munching without end.
3) Take a lap around the house about every hour.
4) Limit your alcoholic intake—I know, I know…with football on, it sounds ludicrous, but trust me…trust your gut ;).
5) At the dinner table fill half your plate with veggies—and no not half a plate of mashed potatoes—one-quarter of your plate with carbs, and one-quarter of your plate with meat.
6) Pie time? Have 1/3 of a normal slice.
7) Love BIG <3
Happy Thanksgiving y’all! I’m so grateful for everyone who has ever taken the time to stop by this site, and/or joined in and helped with any of our events.
BIG LOVE & BIG HUGS
I don’t believe in stressing out for exams, because I think stressing out just makes you do worse—plus, it’s no bueno for your health. And while some people say they work better under pressure, I still think there’s a difference between pressure and excessive stress. So, I’m going to share with you my test day regiment, plus a few things to keep in mind leading up to test day—or any big day really.
On the day of the test
Wake up: first, drink a glass of water. Then get in at least 30 minutes of exercise—it’s good to get your adrenalin and endorphins going. Exercise wakes you up, energizes you, and puts you in a happy mindset.
Eat a healthy breakfast with protein: it’s not fun trying to contain the volume on a grumbling stomach in a silent room; but you don’t want to eat so much that you’re fighting your brain from going into a food coma during your test.
Tune out EVERYONE: It’s really annoying listening to everyone’s stress and feeling their negative vibes creeping in on you. I like to put in my earphones for as long as possible, and play music that’s not going to distract me during the test by getting stuck in my head. Sometimes it helps to find one song that brings you to a perfect level of oomph, and just have it on repeat. That way by the time it’s test time, you’ve heard it so many times that if it does get stuck in your head, it becomes white noise. Of course, this is something I do for myself, and may not work for everyone. So feel free to try it out if you need help finding your own way to get into the proper test taking kick ass zone
*Important note: Get good sleep at least the two nights before your test, if you can’t get good sleep the whole week before. If you feel it absolutely necessary to pull an all nighter, do it the night before, and get good sleep two nights before the test. For example, if your test is on a Saturday, get good sleep Thursday night, and then pull an all nighter Friday night instead of the other way around because you don’t want to crash during your test. Crashing from lack of sleep tends to hit you two days after instead of the very next day, at least in my experience.
Leading up to test day
It’s important to maintain your health and fitness. Just 30 minutes of exercise a day makes all the difference in your energy level, which you’ll need plenty of whether you’re taking a 3-hour test, or a 3 day test (ahem, CA Bar!). Fatty, unclean foods also make you feel sluggish, so make sure you’re nourishing your body with plenty of nutrients.
Also, stay organized. If you’ve got multiple tests you’re preparing for, create a schedule of subjects and practice tests to do, as well as when to squeeze in a workout, meals, and even your shower. Yes, even your shower. It sounds crazy, but organization and time-management is half the battle.
Lastly, stay hydrated—drink lots of water and STAY AWAY from energy drinks. Energy drinks are cans of disgusting poison. I do not condone them.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
Art Speaks -- Artists Against Bullying & Abuse
Our first ever ART SPEAKS event was today, and it turned out INCREDIBLY!!! O my gah, I can’t even tell you how happy I am. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU A MILLION STARS TO EVERYONE WHO CAME!!! Not only is the cause so important to me, it was also SO MUCH FUN!!!! LOVE YOU GINORMOUS!!!
I don’t think that when Diana and I first got together and started planning this out, that we really knew what we were getting into. We just knew what we wanted to do. We knew we wanted to bring our peers and the community together, through art, and for a cause against bullying and abuse. However, everyone’s support and response to the event was so warm and touching made it even more magical, I feel like I’m glowing on the inside.
For me personally, domestic violence is an issue that doesn’t get as much attention as it should, and so I do my best to find different ways to shed light on the subject. Along with the display of art for today's event, we had a slideshow looping throughout the event, which displayed statistics, facts, warning signs, resources, etc. I also left my brochures out for people to take, as well as a short story print out of my own past abusive relationship. It’s amazing how in sharing my own story with others, I often realize that I’m not the only person in the room who knows the pains of an abusive hand and tongue. The more amazing part though, is being able to bond with complete strangers over a common pain—or at least someone who knows someone who has been through what I’ve been through. And not much even has to be said. It’s a beautiful thing, really. It’s also important to me to open myself up as a friend in this way, because I know how scary it is, and how alone a person can feel when they have no idea what to do—whether they are the person in the abusive situation, or standing on the outskirts looking in on a loved one’s pain. I NEVER want anyone to feel like they are alone.
Auctioning the art was a success, so thank you to everyone who donated items—they were great pieces!. I’m looking forward to finalizing everything, and presenting a check to the Good Shepherd Shelter. Thank you to Christine for making a beautiful spread of food for us. Thank you to my friends (and new friends!) who came to help set up, and those who came just to show their support. Thank you to Channel 3 for coming to cover our event. And a big thanks to everyone for painting on our “canvas guest books.” Diana and I each took home one as a keepsake, and mine will forever hang on my wall as a brilliant memory—they are truly marvelous!
Don’t forget to be MAGNIFICENT!
BIG LOVE & HUGS