quarantine thoughts | 2020

I think quarantine might be killing me. I’ve been wrong before; so I have a strong suspicion I might be wrong about this, but I can’t be too sure.

You don’t realize how busy your life is until you are forced to put everything on hold. Your job, education, social life —everything you have gotten familiar with this entire time— forced to halt indefinitely. It’s petrifying, the amount of things we humans have grown accustomed to day in and day out, taken away from us in an instant with little warning. Are you scared? You should be.

And even when it seems like the whole world is crashing down, there is still so much hope. Us humans don’t like to admit to the good. Good things don’t sell. Terror, torture, and fear— that’s the good shit. We’re addicted to suffering. We may be mostly ignorant to that fact, but the truth prevails each and every time.

You know what’s cool? Having a parade for a ninety-two year old veteran who couldn’t spend his birthday with anyone during quarantine. A community actively got together to celebrate this man’s life without any rhyme or reason. They didn’t get anything out of it except satisfaction of making a man smile.

An anonymous donor from Iowa purchased $82,000 worth of gift cards to help Madison County residents suffering financiallyduring the pandemic.

People are spending time sewing masks to donate to local nursing homes. Large cities are noticing clean air and water for the first time in many moons. Schools are providing free lunches to kids in their communities. It’s hard to appreciate the good while the bad can be so deafening, but it’s out there. You just have to look for it.

I don’t know when this will end. I won’t sit here and pretend like I haven’t cried because I miss my family and my life and everything I’ve planned for in the upcoming future. I’m not naive enough to think that I won’t cry again. I will not wake up every day with a smile on my face. I won’t do these things because I’m not a positive person— in fact, I’m very positive. I’m very positive that I am human and things are bound to bother me.

I will say that when this does end, I will appreciate traffic a little more. I’ll be more thankful for my morning Starbucks run. I’ll smile more at strangers, and try not to curse them out when they give me weird looks. I’ll spend a little more time on myself and my goals— and I’ll do my best to be content when things don’t go my way.

I’ll be a better human, and in the end if that’s all I am— I’ll be okay with it.

.

acceptance | 2020

I’ve had too much time to think within the past few hours; which is good or bad depending on how much of a glass-half-full type you are.

My mind has been wandering a lot, mostly about the past year or so.

At the start of my move, I was college-bound, driven for a change and hungry for a world different than the one I was born into. I wanted city living, as close as I could get to bright lights and busy streets. I yearned for creative friends, big ideas, a degree I promised so many I would earn. I had a million and one ideas for my future, and not a single one has been obtained a year and a half later.

I don’t intend to sound ungrateful. Let’s be clear– I am so lucky. I am a lot of things, but I am not short on love and support. I come with a lot of emotional baggage and the love I met here has far surpassed my wildest dreams. If there is one thing I know, it is how loved I am.

Which is wonderful, but it is not complete.

I have lost a lot.

When I lost my housing and my loan and the ability to receive an education, I also lost my need for creation and self-love that I had worked so tirelessly on. It wasn’t much, but it was mine. And in a blink it was gone as fast as it came. It seems as though the rest of my complaints have formed from the snowball effect that is a downward spiral– being broke, lost, and worried about what comes next.

I’m lucky enough to have a support system and a job that makes it easy for me to pay my bills and afford Starbucks if I want, but between the nine to fives and the commute and the traffic, I lost any sense of who I was meant to be in this world.


This isn’t an article about a girl who needs saving. I don’t need to be saved. I am not a victim to anyone or anything but myself.

People go through shit, you know? Lots of terrible, ungodly shit that no one can explain. But they manage. Somehow I think I can manage, too.

I have a tendency to complain about not being who I want to be in this world, but lack motivation and drive to do the things I wish to do. I love makeup, but I don’t practice. I love fashion, yet choose to wear sweatpants daily. I love to read and write, yet haven’t touched this fucking app in months. It isn’t anyone’s fault but my own. I could chalk it up to depression or busyness but that’s a horrid excuse for my laziness and unwillingness to be a better me.

People make time for the things they love. People make time for their passions. I choose not to, for reasons beyond my own comprehension. It is my fault that I am not better.


Being alone has allowed me to fester in every thought I have buried deep within me by distraction for the last several months. An unhealthy coping mechanism for sure, but not uncommon. I can take comfort knowing I am not the first nor last human being on planet Earth to do this. But the commonplace of it all doesn’t excuse or make it ok.

I want to be better. I want to find my passions and run with them. I want to become Leah again, and not some shell of a girl I once was. I want to travel and be spontaneous and make friends without acknowledging every insecurity I have. I am worthy of a good life just like everyone else. I can have all of these things if I want to. But I need to want to.


I hope one year from now I can look back on this and smirk about the growth I have made and be proud of the woman I have learned to be. Life itself is a work-in-progress and I am allowed to make mistakes.

What I am not allowed to do is stay stagnant. I can go up and that’s fine, I can go down and that’s fine, but I need to go.

I just need to go.

2009

The decade ends in less than one week.

I’m trying to wrap my head around all of the crazy, beautiful, tragic things that have happened within the past ten years.

I lost my dad to suicide. I graduated. I moved…twice. I got engaged…then I broke it off. I met some incredible, exquisite people. Life handed me so much heartbreak and I sewed it into a big, warm blanket to wrap myself in.

I remember ending 2009 in such sadness. After losing my dad earlier in the year, I couldn’t fathom how life could get any brighter. I remember the years that followed his passing were some of the darkest I think I’ll ever have. The thought of making it another ten years wasn’t plausible. Laughable, actually.

I turned twenty-three yesterday.

I’m pleasantly surprised.

When you think there’s nothing left to give, you muster up the last minuscule amount of energy and make it happen because that’s what you’re supposed to do. You manage because your potential outweighs the demons that hinder your ability to fight.

Maybe I didn’t accomplish as much as some, but I lived.

I think that counts for something.

i am a lot of things…

I am not a failure.

Of course not. I’m just a college drop out, a procrastinator, and a crier.

Each day I beg the universe for a change and that’s my most toxic trait– expecting the life I want to be handed to me as if I’m owed anything. Don’t get me wrong, I love my life. I have a great support system, a roof over my head, a job that treats me well. I have food in my belly and a shower to use and a crazy cat that cuddles with me. I wake up each day in certainty that I am taken care of. That’s more than what some people could ever imagine having.

And with all of that knowledge and all of those gifts from this universe, I’m still ungrateful. I can say I’m grateful all I want, and it’s half true– I do appreciate what I have. But there is still so much I have taken for granted and continue to take for granted regardless of recognizing my own issues. The majority of “problems” in my life stem from my decisions and the mistakes I continually make. I bitch and moan about being overweight, but I don’t go to the gym. I get upset about my career when I don’t make an effort to explore my passions. I stress about money when I could be working more overtime or cutting out unnecessary expenses. I run out of excuses faster than I run out of underwear; which for the record, is alarming fast.

Each Sunday my phone tells me how much I’ve used social media. It’s both impressive and revolting. I complain that there’s not enough time in the day, but I sure as fuck make time to see drama unfold on Facebook and look to see if Sally is having a boy or a girl even though we haven’t seen each other since senior year of high school.

I am my own worst enemy; because as much as I know I need to improve, I lack the capabilities of giving credit where credit is due.

I’m a college drop out, a procrastinator, and a crier.

I am also a lover, an empath, and a fighter.

I like to make people smile. I appreciate a good compliment. Last Thursday I told the cashier at Marshall’s she was the prettiest girl I’d ever seen. It was genuine though– I don’t do inauthenticity.

I am bad at a whole lot, but at least I’m good at it.

Moral of the story?

I am a lot of things. I am human, I am unbalanced, I am who I am.

I am not a failure.

today I dropped out of college // final blog post | 2019

Today I dropped out of college.

It was over as soon as it started, and that rush of defeat stings more than I thought it would.

I didn’t want to drop out. I didn’t want to put my academics on hold. This was never supposed to be in the cards for me. I was destined for internships and the dean’s list and scholarships.

Except I wasn’t.

Financially, it was not feasible. Private loan companies wouldn’t approve me on my own and the government harshly decided I made too much last year to qualify for aid. I’d have owed thousands by mid August, a goal so unattainable its almost laughable.

Today I dropped out of college.

I love writing. I love media. I love scrolling and reading and liking. I love how vast social media can be and how helpful it has been in so many circumstances. But I know deep, deep down that maybe this path wasn’t meant for me; at least not yet. I have a lot of growing to do. I have a lot I need to figure out. I can’t pursue something 100% if mind and my wallet aren’t ready. One day they will be. Maybe today is not the day, but who’s to say tomorrow won’t be?

Today I dropped out of college.

I hate how dirty that feels to type out, as if my worth is based off of a thirty-thousand dollar piece of paper. I hate how the art of comparison has made it difficult to focus on myself while my peers move forward in life post-grad. I hate that I can’t be part of the social norm. Most of all, I hate that I’m allowing myself to think that way. I preach and preach and preach about everyone growing at their own pace, but fail to accept the same advice for myself.

So what’s the plan?

I find a better job. I work towards saving money and paying off accumulating debt. I accept that everything happens for a reason, and it’s important to note good things take time. But mostly, I learn to accept dropping out of college does not make me dumb, or a failure, or anything else. It doesn’t define me. It doesn’t need to be permanent.

This will likely be my last blog post for awhile. Writing has been a passion of mine since my father passed, but I have some growing to do before I continue to influence the internet with the stories I tell and the words I piece and sew together. I love writing and I always will. And just like college, I’ll come back to it one day.

Thanks for reading and being a part of me and my passion. The support I’ve received for this blog has brought me so much happiness over the past few years.

Until next time,

Leah

overwhelmed & underestimated|2019

When I was small I used to play out scenarios in my head of “what-if” situations and stress over the imaginary outcomes for hours. Sometimes I wonder if this early indication of anxiety is something I was genetically predisposed to or something that just worsened over time.

Don’t get me wrong– I’ve come a long way. I used to be scared of meaningless tasks, like walking into a room full of people or placing an order at a restaurant. I loathe the worrying. The constant go-go-go in my mind makes life feel exhausting. If I didn’t spend the greater portion of my day worrying about what came next, I might actually enjoy what’s right in front of me.

When people think of the word anxiety, they likely think about minor worry or nervousness. Rarely do they think of the intense headaches, fatigue, shaking, crying, and frequent panic attacks. I’m not weak, I just have a lot of intense feelings and thoughts that lack a positive outlet.

I care deeply about everything even if I don’t initially show it. I have so much love for a lot of things and I have a difficult time expressing myself thanks to my friend Fear. I love a lot and I don’t want to lose the things that allow me to be myself.

I don’t like being cynical, but I do like to be honest with myself about my fears and their control over my daily life. I won’t pretend like I’m not perpetually scared of the what-ifs– I definitely am. What’s scarier than the what-ifs? Missing out on good things because Fear has me by the throat.

The anxiety might never go away, but neither will my desire to be better.

halfway there | 2019

Eight months ago I walked onto a new campus without a clue about anyone or anything.

It was the best decision I ever made.

Don’t get me wrong– there were days I hated every second of it. On more than one occasion I found myself up at odd hours in the early morning; crying and wishing that the feeling of loneliness would dissipate as soon as possible.

I learned a thing or two in the process and I hope someone can take from my ignorance.

  1. It’s going to be hard. University classes are a lot different than community college courses. It’s easy to walk onto campus with a big ass ego and assume you’ll be fine just by showing up. That couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s a reason why college kids are so burnt out. Give yourself ample time to prepare for the week and allow yourself to make mistakes. No one knows what they’re doing. Give it your all, do what you can, and at least you can say you tried.
  2. There’s a lot of assholes out there. Quite a few of them can be found on college campuses– don’t let their jadedness steer you away from the good that can be found. I know its disheartening, but there’s assholes everywhere. If you know a few, be kinder. If you don’t, boy do I have some news for you…
  3. Having fun doesn’t necessarily mean you need to spend every weekend in a random dirty frat basement surrounded by Chads and Brads. If that’s what you’re into, party up. If not, that’s plenty ok. Find what you like and run with it.
  4. Not every professor has your best interest in mind. It’s hard having had such a good connection with former professors only to be heavily disappointed by people that look at you as a paycheck instead of a person. These types of professors will drain the hell out of you. Keep filling yourself up.
  5. You will fail tests. Hell, you might even fail a class. You’ll be late some days, you’ll skip entirely, you’ll lose sight of what’s important because life gets in the way. That’s ok. We’re all on different paths to success and we’re growing at various rates. Remind yourself that nothing in life is perfect nor linear. Get up, do what you have to do, and own every bit of success and failure that comes your way. In the very least, you’re doing the damn thing and that’s more than what some people can say.

I have no idea what’s in store for me next year or what experiences the next few months will gift me. All I know is that the same rules apply– do what you’re capable of, love every second of it, and remind yourself that there’s more to life than a bad grade and a shitty day.

 

killin’ it with Crohn’s— a journey with Renee Taylor | 2019

“As long as I keep looking for positivity, I’m pretty sure I’ll find it. The world isn’t that terrible after all.”

After months of excruciating hardship, Renee Taylor baffles over one thousand Instagram followers with her ability to shine light on a bleak situation she certainly didn’t ask to be a part of.

In May 2018, Renee entered the hospital with complaints of massive, painful bumps on her shins and left with an unexpected Crohn’s disease diagnoses. Erythema nodosum, a symptom of Crohn’s, were the bumps that left Renee unable to walk. Within a month of the diagnoses; Renee lost twenty-five pounds– unable to eat anything without experiencing extreme digestive issues.

Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory problem that primarily affects the digestive tract, isn’t all that common– only about 200,000 cases occur in the US per year.

“The hardest thing that comes from this disease is the loss of normalcy. I understand there is no true normalcy to this life that we live, but it’s simple things like not being able to work out or shower because I can’t stand on my own,” she explains. “I’m a very independent person, so losing that independence is very hard for me.”

Looking at Renee, standing 5’3 with sunshine seeping from her aura, you’d never initially know there was anything wrong. The idea that someone so seemingly healthy can be going through their own personal hell is a reality check to all who witness her daily struggle.

“I wish people knew that Crohn’s isn’t just a stomach problem. Running to the bathroom is the least of my worries when it comes to the terrible symptoms I experience. The inability to walk, mouth sores, skin rashes…the list goes on. It hurts when people try to relate by saying they have stomach issues. I know they mean well, but sometimes I just want to say ‘you don’t fully understand!'”

Renee’s treatment includes weekly injections of Humira, a TNF blocker that helps reduce inflammation and eases the debilitating pain of Crohn’s.

“When I’m not experiencing a flare-up, I live completely ‘normal.’ I can eat what I want, exercise, I don’t have to go to bed by 5 p.m…things you don’t really think about. There are times it’s hard for me to keep myself going, getting up, and walking on my own. It becomes a matter of picking and choosing what I get done that day. Sometimes I simply don’t have the strength or energy.”

Despite the daily pain Renee experiences, she continues to shine light on the silence of Crohn’s disease with her Instagram, @killinitwithcrohns, where she openly expresses her struggles and educates her following about the disease.

“You can find positivity when you’re looking for it.”

If you are searching for the epitome of something special, look no further– Renee is your girl. We could all learn a thing or two from her– and maybe we should. It’s easy to take the small things for granted when we are healthy and happy.

If you’d like to follow Renee on her journey, she’s available on Instagram @killinitwithcrohns.

the five worst things about social media | 2019

Like most youngins’, I find myself scrolling through Instagram and Facebook far more often than I would like to admit. It’s easy to get lost in the sea of filtered vacation photos, selfies, and righteous life-changing announcements from all two-thousand of your Facebook friends, including but not limited to:

That girl you met once at the bar

Your middle school lab partner

A former coworker you haven’t seen since you quit your job in 2010

That guy you’ve never met but has 200 mutual friends

It’s nearly impossible to focus on the good in your own life when the flowery, super-fucking-cool, undoubtedly awesome, magical lives of others are blasted on every platform you’re part of.

This is why I compiled a list of the top five worst things about social media:

  1. Unrealistic expectations

No average person has a life that revolves around nonstop vacations, parties, and trips from around the world. If they do? Good for them. If you don’t? Good for you, too. Comparison is the root of evil. Enjoy whatever path you’re on. You will forget, (I know I do!) you will be envious, you will get upset– that’s life. Find the pause and remind yourself every day if you have to. You don’t need constant sun-kissed beach trips and expensive lifestyles to be happy.

2. Competition

I know people that obsess over the amount of ‘likes’ they get on a photo because they truly believe their worth is defined by a bullshit construct. Please; for love of everything good and pure, find your worth in anything other than Instagram likes and Twitter favorites. You are better than that.

3. Followers

Unless you’re running a business, creating a brand, or promoting your craft, why does it matter if you have one-thousand followers or fifteen? Does it really make a difference?

4. The need to impress others

The only people you should care about impressing are potential employers, customers, or the audience for your art. Why does it matter if Amy from freshman year thinks you’re cool? It doesn’t.

5. The influence ads have on your wallet and mind

You don’t fucking need Gucci slides and Yves Saint Laurent handbags just because everyone else does. But hey, if that makes you truly happy– you do you boo. No judgement from me. Just make sure you’re buying it for you and not because you feel the need to impress others.

Moral of the story?

Find happiness in other areas of your life, not social media. Be kind to others. Understand you are worth more than a Facebook like and Instagram follower.

Thank you for coming to my Ted talk,

Leah

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