‘Tis The Season To Be Thankful

This semester, I set blogging goals for the enrichment of my posts and myself. Call it a social experiment or me vying to spice up my normal routine, but I fully enjoyed the new aspect I added to my posting process. For those who aren’t familiar with my new process, it was to cease going on site visits alone. Last year, I relished in my solo hours put into the development of each post since, as an introvert, spending time alone came naturally. But I wanted to try something different and out of my comfort zone. This new, scary, and uncharted territory was my new addition to my posts and I feel like it thoroughly improved my overall blogging aesthetic. I wrote differently, my pictures felt different, and most of all I will always have the memories shared with each of my participants. So this post is for all of you (you know who you are!) whom I begged, pestered, and ultimately dragged this semester. In the essence of the holiday season, I want to take some time to thank all of you who helped, supported, and guided me to where I am now. Without you, I would have nothing, I would be nowhere, and I wouldn’t be who I am; I can’t imagine a world like that, so I refuse to.

This all began with a beautiful woman named Brianna. She was the first person to tell me that my photos were actually worth being seen and she was my connection to this amazing student blogging “epidemic.” My Bri-Bri was the first willing participant to go on site visits with me. In fact, most of my first posts were created with her and whatever I learned on those trips, we learned together. So I thank you for always being there for me not only as a sister but as a peer, colleague, friend, and so much more. I was born into a world with you in it and I can’t imagine my life without the one driving force that shaped, guided, and advised me to be the person I am today. We don’t say it often so I won’t say it now but I will say “… Not possible.”

a picture of brianna in a quiet park

Image Credit: Sabrina Vasquez

I would like to shed some much needed light on this duo. These true gladiators came out on the Friday before Halloween to a site visit with me. It was midnight and we had to weave through drunk costumed people in order to arrive to the site but it was all worth it. I wouldn’t trade that night for anything. It, unexpectedly, resulted in the best photos I would get this entire semester. Thank you for coming with me regardless of your understandable lethargy and aching need to be home after a long week of work. I appreciate both of your presence on that very peculiar night. Randy, thank you for listening to my random architectural gibberish. I began to run off on a tangent about the exposed structure and all you said was “Hmm… Never noticed that.” Amanda, like always, you kept the experience fun and enjoyable. Thank you for making work less tedious (especially on a crazy night in Manhattan) and making me very proud of this new process.

A photo of amanda and randy on a busy Manhattan street

Image Credit: Sabrina Vasquez

To the Agent 99 to my 86, the Detective Stabler to my Benson, Burton Gustor to my Shawn Spencer, thank you for all your feedback and support this semester. It seems rather preposterous knowing that we’ve only known each other for a short four months. We mutually learned from each other throughout our editing process. There was never a time that I felt that you didn’t have my back; whether it was a quick text at 12 o’clock in the morning or a casual conversation in the hallway. It was lovely getting to know you these past months and I couldn’t be any more thankful for the time that we had together. May our professional collaborations continue to thrive as well as our friendship.

To my personal TMNT, who loves pizza just about as much as skateboarding much alike Michelangelo, but has a kindred heart and spirit similar to the persona of Donatello. Thank you for agreeing to come with me on one of my site visits. On each of my visits, I had to say at least three annoying historical or architectural facts about the site; you were one of the few to mutually geek out with me. I thank you for your time and interest in what I do; it gives me the inspiration to continue working on tuning my craft. Your input has been nothing but insightful and I am deeply grateful for all your encouragement. I said this once before, but you really are a wise person, and never think anything different. Your ability to perceive and analyze is inspiring all in itself; anyone who knows a fragment of what I know about you would see just how truly amazing you are. Thank you for always supporting me, regardless of if it was for a post, project, or just about anything; it gives me the determination I need to do the plethora of tasks I do on the daily. Thank you for all that you are.

World, I introduce you to my grandmother. Everyone I know has heard a story or two about her. I don’t know how it happens but my stories and experiences always make a beeline back to this woman. Class after class, I bring her into a project at least three times every semester. I never cared what my professors, bosses, and peers would think of me discussing my grandmother so much because she was the root of it all for me; the one constant that never changed over the years. I voluntarily owe my entire existence to my Nana because I am here due to all her support, love, sacrifices, and wisdom. She gave me my very first camera and taught me everything that she knew. A force to be reckoned with, this woman is the source of all my sarcasm and wit. She deserves more than everything I could possibly ever give her. If I’m ever -so lucky in life to be able to inspire anyone, even an eighth of how much she has inspired me, I would have fulfilled my life’s expectations. To Dennis/Mom/Nana, I also offer the grandest appreciation; I am forever indebted to your love and everything similar.

a picture of dolores in the glow of a sunset

Image Credit: Brianna Vasquez

To my very first friend at City Tech, thank you for your time contributed to one of my posts and being the greatest friend anyone could ask for. You don’t only push me intellectually but you also make me want to be better and continue to enrich myself academically and personally. You know me; all my antics and imperfections and you still are a great friend to me. I hope you know how much I appreciate you and our friendship since you just GET me so well. Only you understand when I say “Sorry, I’m a toucher” or when I make that dumb timid face and you force me to do something that I don’t want to do, but we both know will ultimately help me. Thank you for being there for me throughout all the crazy twist and turns in the years of us knowing each other; honestly, I don’t know where I would be without you. So, thank you… Thank you for being you.

To my baby sis, you make me proud every day! I’ll never forget our outing; I don’t think I have laughed any harder on any site visit, by far. With a sweet face and sarcastic tongue almost comparable to mine’s, I can’t picture the last ten years or so without you. I have watched you grow into the person that you are today and I couldn’t be any more invested in the enrichment of your future. You already know that I love you with all my being has to offer; and it may not seem like it, because I’m so busy at times, but I’ll always be there for you. Thank you for allowing me to schlep you around lower Manhattan on a hot summer day and for all the years of our friendship turned sisterhood. May I continue to see you grow, and may I continue to annoy you every day; it’s my life’s commitment.

The Buzz Team
To the ladies of The Buzz, thank you for being the best damn all-female team that I have ever worked with in my entire life. I take pride and honor, every single chance I get, to have worked with all of you. You’ve made work a beautiful environment and being around you all has only added to my repertoire. This has to be the closest I have ever felt to a work family and I have to admit that it is the best feeling I have ever had about work. Thank you for showing me how great women can click with each other. You all have set the bar so high and I hope that I can be so lucky to feel this way about a work environment again in my lifetime. Sam, you inspire us all to be more organized and involved. Neffi, you give us all the love and uplifting insight we need to continue to flourish in our semester. Robine, you always have something really deep to say that leaves us thinking, trying to fully analyze what you said. Pebbles, you motivate us all to try to really depict our posts and make it so literal for our readers. Cherishe, you always have the gumption to say those things that are on everyone’s minds; you influence us all to be hard-working and to not get entangled in webs of self-made excuses. Thank you, ladies… Thank you for being the greatest role model of how women can not only work together but work EFFECTIVELY together.

Lastly, it is my greatest honor to thank all those who read, share, or comment on my posts. Each of my posts had you all in mind and I will continually try to find better methods to reach you more in depth. When I first started blogging, I had a motto: It was to “make New Yorkers fall in love with New York again.” I hope I was able to do that and more with my posts. You allowed me to learn more about myself and for that I am infinitely grateful. The more you learned about New York, the more I did as well. I can honestly say that the more I posted, the more I fell in love with New York, myself, which I didn’t think was possible. Thank you for reading; I can’t wait to see the new adventures we’ll take in the future.

O Holy Night

It was dusk on a clear Saturday night when my grandmother and I decided to venture to Midtown Manhattan in the hopes of taking some nice photographs and having a fun time in the city. We had ridden the C train for over twenty stops and we were more than ready to be dazzled by some beautiful architecture, amazing music, and wonderful art. As we walked the few avenues necessary to get to the renowned St. Patrick’s Cathedral, we started to see more and more people than expected. Droves of tourists and fellow New Yorkers crowded the sidewalks until the bustling walkway spread in to the street. The streets were closed off and a plethora of families, friends, and tourists alike, roamed the city’s streets. We persisted and kept walking until reaching what seemed to be an amoeba of people. It swayed from side to side, people attaching themselves to the moving cell and exiting through dendrites of people attempting to cross a busy street. We tried our best to steer clear of the human amoeba before getting sucked into the abyss of people. I latched onto my grandmother’s hood,scared to lose her in the crowd (since it has happened on many occasions). The last thing I saw before my vision was almost completely shut off from my surroundings was the glowing awning of Radio City Music Hall. Instantly, I found a reason for the large crowd; they were all there to see the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller! Soon we were spat out of the organism and began trying to figure out a plan to reach our destination. We walked a severely crowded block before my grandmother left me to find an officer halfway into the street. She tenderly tapped on his shoulder and asked him for the fastest route to our destination, which was to walk back a few avenues and down a few streets over, in the hopes that we’d reach a clearer avenue.

outside view of saint patrick's cathedral

A ten minute walk turned into a forty-five minute fiasco. I asked my grandmother if she was still willing to walk as far as we had to, in order to actually get to the cathedral and to my dismay she was more persistent than I was. I, on the other hand, was ready to go home and label the visit as a failed attempt. Instead of my desires to ultimately give up, we continued walking down streets until we reached a clearing on the sidewalks. After practically a hour of walking around in circles we finally reached the cathedral. It was breathtaking and created such a cultural contrast. Christmas lights, high energy of commerce, and other tourist attractions invaded the sidewalks and streets. But deep in the midst of all that confusion was something so stark and beautiful.

The nave of saint patrick's cathedralThe ceiling structure of the saint patrick's cathedral

The crowds gathered around the decorated storefronts, leaving St. Patrick’s Cathedral as a more reserved area. Although it was relatively crowded inside, the crowd felt different. Believers filled the space, saying prayers and cleansing their souls. They treated the cathedral like the closest thing to the pope that they could possibly achieve; their need for the sanctuary screaming from the organ pipes that played beautiful music throughout the entire structure. It was loud enough to “move” you but low enough for one to actually enjoy it. My grandmother and I broke apart and explored the cathedral separately for some time; taking in the surrounding by ourselves before conversing the beauty amongst each other. Our differing photographic styles really shined in this aspect as we found different things interesting and took photographs in contrasting manners.

Statue of Mother Teresa

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”- Mother Teresa                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Image Credit: Dolores Greene

carved statues in a wall of the saint patrick's cathedral

According to NPS.gov (National Park Service), Robert C. Broderick, author of “Historic Churches of the United States(1958)”, informed his readers of the history of the beloved cathedral. Apparently, the first Catholic priest of New York City, Jesuit martyr St. Isaac Jogues, came to Manhattan in the hopes of saving the souls of those who were here before the new settlement; his goal was to convert the Mohawk Indians. He carried out his work, eventually launching the first Catholic church in New York City, it was called St. Peter’s Cathedral and opened in 1785.

carved depiction of Jesus in a wall of the saint patrick's cathedralA nativity scene at saint patrick's cathedral

The growth of the congregation demanded a bigger cathedral to be built, so in 1810 the site of the St. Patrick’s Cathedral was purchased. By the time of 1850 the plan to build was placed. Archbishop, John Hughes, and architect, James Renwick, began to create plans and proposals for the project. Construction began in 1858 and was completed in 1906. The process took so long since construction had to halt production when the Civil War took place; as resources ran low, the Cathedral had to wait to be completed.

view of the nave in saint patrick's cathedralpew and nave of the saint patrick's cathedral

As the years went on, the Neo-Gothic Cathedral has seen multiple restorations and additions. A major addition being the various organs that breathed life into the Cathedral. As stated by Saint Patrick’s Cathedral’s website, the first organ system was by George Jardine and Sons in 1879. Only one year later the system was upgraded by J.H. & C.S. Odell. The organ pipes were then renovated over three times, thereafter.

Organ pipes at saint patrick's cathedral

Although the site visit had its respective road blocks and other difficulties, I’m glad we endured the long travel since it was well worth a visit regardless of my failure to piece together simple New York tourist spots. I feel like I didn’t only learn about the architecture of a 19th century cathedral, but I also was immersed in a culture; a culture with deep roots and beliefs.

votive candles in a row

Love vs. Valentines Day

Today I would like to write about a very sensitive topic that effects everyone in every generation. This very sensitive topic that I will be discussing is VALENTINES DAY, or The “DAY” of “LOVE”.  Ever since I was a young child I noticed how much emphasis people would put on Valentine’s Day. School girls would base their whole relationship status on whether or not they received a gift from their special guy. Young men would come to school with the biggest teddy bears that they could find, in hopes of outshining other guy’s gifts. Valentine’s Day was always a competition surrounding who gave the best gift, and who received the best gift. In my eyes, Valentine’s Day was more about who could spend the most money on their significant other, rather than finding ways to express their love truly. Valentine’s Day has become a day to obsess over because it symbolizes the celebration of Love and affection. However the commemoration of Love should not be celebrated once a year, but all year around.

One of the major reasons that people are so obsessed with Valentine’s Day is that everyone is searching for love. Everyone thinks that once they find that perfect person to love them, all will be right with the world. Unfortunately this assumption isn’t true. Love comes with just as much complications as anything else in life, if not MORE. Don’t get me wrong, Love is definitely a beautiful part of life. However finding love and keeping love isn’t always accurately portrayed in the media. Love , real love that is, is a complex necessity of life, which is powerful enough to initiate a major catastrophe, but also end a prolonged war.  Love is also a very dangerous force that can be used for positive, as well as negative purposes.

This obsession with love dates back to the early ages of Greek Mythology. In Greek mythology there was a God named Eros who was known as “The God of Love”. Eros was said to be responsible for helping populate the world. He was also alleged to be the “United power of love who brought harmony to conflict”. Eros was depicted as either an extremely handsome man, or a child holding a bow and arrow. The God of Love’s outward appearance was eventually adapted to the modern day version of Cupid. Cupid is now known as the “Love Doctor” who goes around shooting people with arrows, so that they can fall in love. Be that as it may, I’ve noticed that Cupid’s legacy is more prominent in February, than any other month. Why is Love known to be celebrated on one special day, in one special month? Love is a universal phenomenon that has the power to control minds, and alter lives for the better (or worse). Love should be celebrated at all times, and not just on one specific day. The beauty of Love should not be confined, it should be expressed on a daily basis.

Please DO NOT misinterpret what I’m saying, Valentine’s Day is a very important day. Yes, your significant other, or love interest should buy you a gift, and make you feel special. However when you’re in a relationship, you should always feel special. The person that you are spending your time with, should make it their business to make you happy, and vice versa. I just feel that people put too much emphasis on Valentine’s Day, instead of expressing their love regularly. Valentine’s Day is a day, that two people enhance the way they express their love for one another. However if you are single on Valentine’s Day, you should not feel left out of the festivities. There are various places that have single mixers, and parties for people looking for love. If you’re too modest to go to a singles mixer, or you just want to be alone, be your own valentine! Practice self-love and spend the day pampering yourself. Go out, explore the earth, find a new restaurant, and don’t forget to order dessert. Get your nails and hair done! Treat yourself!!  No one knows what you like better than you!! Once your figure out how to love yourself, then you can truly love someone else.  In life the little things matter the most, and Love shouldn’t be based on fancy gifts, given on special holidays. Love should be given all the time, and shown through all that we do. Our actions, words, choices and decisions in life should all express the love we feel for one another, and most importantly how we love ourselves.

The Finish Line

Good Morning!!! Today marks several finish lines for me.
(1) It’s the official last day of my semester,
(2) it also marks the beautiful finish to my first successful semester with The Buzz Blog!
When I first started, I had no idea where to really begin and how to organize my thoughts into things that would make sense to you guys reading it.
You can kind of compare the way my creative brain works to that last minute of popcorn popping in the microwave. You think it’s done and then there’s that solo *POP* out of nowhere and you’re like “Oh! I guess it’s not done” lol. That’s how my ideas work, I think I’m all settled and decided and then I’m like “Oh wait what about this instead?! Let’s change the whole thing and start over”.

Throughout this process of improving and growing, I have learned so much about channeling the message, and even when it feels like it is about to gear off a bit, finding a way to make the underlying message clear. I hope that you have taken away whatever message was meant for you, in that moment, while reading my posts. Namaste!

So last week I told you guys to keep pushing for your goals (Be a GOALDigger!), and to keep striving for the things that help you define success and happiness in your lives. There’s no greater feeling than living your best life, or at least knowing you’re on your way there. In my group dynamics class, which focuses on leading groups: from support groups, educational groups, self- help groups, etc, I was asked to create an icebreaker that promotes and challenges self actualization. I want to share the icebreaker with you because all of the things that I’ve talked about in this blog this semester from self love, to self care, to self discovery, they all really focus on how much you know about you, and how in tune you are with yourself and your feelings.

The icebreaker is named The “I Know Me” Checklist and it’s actually not a checklist, but a sentence completion exercise (Don’t ask..a checklist is going down a list so it works). It is 12 sentences meant to be answered in the morning, or maybe at the beginning of your week to take time to do some self reflection, encourage yourself, and also goal setting. Positive self talk is one of the driving factors of happiness and well being. As human beings we’re constantly talking to ourselves whether it’s actually outloud, or the things we are thinking internally, and this dialogue directly affects our confidence and self-esteem.
So why not make it as positive as it can be??

list of sentence completion activity

Credit: Neffi

When you get the chance, check out the “checklist” and go through it yourself now if you can, completing the sentences with the first (positive) response that comes to mind.
Or save it for tonight before bed, whenever you can be clear to enter a free cognitive space. Reflect on the thoughts and feelings it brings to light.
How does the answers make you feel? Think differently?

Please feel free to go through this checklist or even create your own to use as motivation and a reality check for you. Maybe you have a moment where you just need to feel better about yourself. Maybe you need to realign and figure out what your next steps are and what your goals are. Maybe you just need to create a mantra and routine. Exercises like these are beneficial to your relationship with YOU.
There’s no one on earth we spend more time with than ourselves.
I don’t know about you but I need that relationship to be A1!
Like the quote in the picture says:
“A negative mind cannot produce a positive life. Speak your happiness into existence!”

Happy holidays and Happy winter break to you all!
With Lotsssss of Loveeeeee,
maybe too much love,
like overwhelming “Grandma get off my cheeks I’m grown now” love,


Photo Credits:
Left Photo
Middle Photo
Right Photo


Virtues from Motherhood: A promise for 2018

With 2018 just two weeks away I want to devote my last blog of the semester to a promise. A promise to smile more and laugh louder, a promise to stop and breathe life in a little longer and a promise to be a little kinder to ourselves in 2018. The last two years have been ones of great change and endurance and reshaping who I want to be as a woman. I have learned that the relationship I have with myself is by far the most important one there is and I need to protect and preserve that before I can do for others. Here are the promises I am making to myself for 2018….

  • Learn your limits: Sometimes you just need to say no and put yourself first, and that’s okay. You can’t please everyone all the time and you can’t neglect your own well-being for the benefit of others. Take a minute to take stock of your limits and don’t be afraid to put your foot down and protect them, people who can’t respect your limits, don’t respect you.
  • Be kinder to yourself: Everyone fails sometimes, everyone has a bad day and everyone is going to make a mistake. Don’t beat yourself up over this, own up to it, clean up the mess and keep going with your head held high. Your mistakes don’t define you, how you handle it does. Be kinder to yourself when you have a bad day, take a breather and do better tomorrow.
  • Aim high: Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Set goals for yourself and go for them, anyone who tries to stop you is threatened by your ambitions. If you want to go back to school, go, if you want to double major, go for it, if you want to change careers and start over, do it. Remember this is your life and you hold the reins.
  • Ask for help: Nobody likes to admit they can’t do something but every now and then we need a helping hand. It might be with a work project or it might just be a shoulder to cry on, either way know when to ask. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak or inferior it means you knew yourself well enough to know you were starting to sink.

As I look back on 2017 I think of all the goals I set last year. While some of them have collected dust this year other ones have blossomed. I think the goal I most achieved this year is self-care. I was finally able to admit I needed help and I got it; and I’m on the mend, yesterday, today and going forward. I still have so much time to grow and meet my goals but my main one right now, is making sure I live my best life, every single day.

I wish all my readers a happy and health holiday season, I’ll see you in the New Year!

Joy to the world!

Good Afternoon City Tech! For City Tech Freshman I want to say that, I hope finals went well for you, congrats on making it this far I know it’s hard but it goes to show that you’re capable of doing big things, just being here is a massive achievement. I also want to remind you that as students you have rights within the CUNY system. In the end if you feel as if you haven’t been graded fairly you can always speak to your professor and if they’re not responding then you may go to the Department Chair.

On a better note, the holidays are almost here and as the year is coming to an end I’d like to send warm wishes to everyone. I would love to send a massive shoutout to everyone at The Buzz for their love, devotion and support, this group gave me something worth wild, a community of strong and intelligent woman who do not fear to speak their minds. Today’s post is a short one but a meaningful one. Brianna and Sabrina, you both brought of enthusiasm and light into the table and you both helped me get through this semester and reminded me to breathe and calm down. I’d also would love to send a shout out to Professor Genevieve Hitchings! Although you were my professor last semester, you kept in contact. When I needed help you were the first person I can think of to email, ladies and gentleman she’s a prime example that professor’s do care for your wellbeing and will help you if you ever need assistance is your academics or if you just need someone to hear you out, that goes to you freshman! don’t be afraid to speak up! 

Illustrator: Gennessy Palma

Brotherships Pt.1


And thus, the interviews return! Please welcome my


Pebbles: So, what are your names?
Erikson: Erikson Calungsod


Raphael: Galactic Superstar President Superstar McAwesomeville… It’s a reference. Look it up. Just kidding. It’s Raphael Calungsod.


Pebbles: Are you guys planning to go to college? 
Raphael: No! (Spins a tale of future of being a bum) I’m just kidding. I’m applying to currently. 
Pebbles: And what are you guys planning on majoring in in college?
Raphael: Erikson? 
Erikson: Uh… Computer Science.
Pebbles: Kay…
EriksonCos its cool.
Raphael: A BFA. Hopefully. Something that involves digital art. Hopefully. 


Pebbles: What’s your dream job? 
Erikson: Make pretty cool games! 
Pebbles: Like what? Do you have an example? 
Erikson: Hyperlight Drifter, Old Mans Journey… 
Raphael: So… Aesthetic indie games. 
Erikson: Yeah.
Pebbles: (To Raphael) So, what about you?
Raphael: Anything beautiful! It doesn’t matter— movies, games, a show, who knows. Just— 
Erikson: OR! Or to be a fighter pilot because… 
Pebbles: (To Erikson) Wait! You want to be a legit fighter pilot? 
Erikson: (Indistinguishable explanation)
Pebbles: OH! OH! (Laughing) I thought you wanted to be— I thought you aspiring to be a plane. Like not the pilot, but the legit plane!
Erikson: NO! (Chuckles)
Raphael: (Laughing) F-22!


PebblesOkay, so in the fields you want to work in, do you a place for women in that? 
Raphael: Oh, hell ye! [The arts] is an industry run by women! 
Erikson: What do you mean? All the males are stupid… Its kinda— 
Raphael: No! Most of the STEM fields are usually male dominated. Its ridiculous. 
Erikson: No, but its mostly, like, computers… 
Raphael: Yeah, still mostly male-dominated. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs…
Pebbles: But, Erikson, Do you think that women belong on those fields or they can achieve greatness there? 
Erikson: Yea! 


Pebbles: Why?
Erikson: Because they’re people
Pebbles: Okay… That’s a pretty valid answer. 
Raphael: (Laughs) Valid. Valid. 


Pebbles: So, who is your hero? Who do you look up to…?


Today’s art is kind of different! Because both my brothers are artists, I decided I’d give you all a taste of their artistic flavors!
If you want to see more, these links will take you to Erikson’s work and this to Raphael’s socials. 

My final post for the semester will be the second half of this interview! I wish you all the best for all your finals! 


Artwork by 3/5 Calungsod Kiddos:
Pebbles, Raphael, Erikson


My Internal Fight at My Grandmother’s Funeral

Young girl dressed in black reading bible

A few weeks ago my grandmother closed her eyes one last time and left the physical confines of her body. After we lost her I began to wonder what I could possibly say at her funeral that would express my feelings for her. As I brainstormed things that I could possibly say about her, nothing seemed to flow well enough for me. I decided that I shouldn’t speak at her funeral, and I should stick to completing the tasks of creating her photo collage, writing her eulogy, and her obituary before the service. After completing these tasks to the best of my ability, I felt a deep sense of dissatisfaction. Although I had already done so much to contribute to the funeral service, I  felt like I hadn’t done enough.

The day of the funeral came and I felt so much anxiety about whether or not I should go up and say something to honor my grandmother. Internally my body was saying “Cherishe you are going up to read a scripture. You don’t need to speak. Let someone else talk.” However, when it was time for the words of tribute part of the program, only two people got up to speak on my grandmother’s behalf. I was in shock because the church where the service was being held was so full that people in the back had to stand through the service. So imagine my shock when the audience was asked to share their experiences and not many stood up to utter a word. I decided at that moment that if these people weren’t going to talk about my grandma, I was going to go up their and speak on her behalf. Before I knew it I walked up there, and said my piece about my grandma while staring into the faces of all those who she had helped, but who were reluctant to speak about her character.  I stood up there next to my grandmother’s casket and shared an intimate moment that we both experienced together during my childhood.  

The moment that I shared with the audience was “The Chicken Story” which was my favorite memory of my grandmother. This story dates back to when I was around four, and I decided that I wanted a chicken for a pet. I decided to go into my aunt’s fridge one day while my grandmother was babysitting me and take out an egg. I took the egg and placed it in a box so that it could warm up and my egg would hatch into a baby chicken. My grandma watched me do this and allowed my imagination to run wild, instead of scolding me about playing with food. The next day my grandmother told me that the egg that I tried so diligently to warm up so that it could hatch was discovered by my aunt. Apparently my aunt had picked up the box that I was using to warm my egg, and the egg fell out and splattered on the floor. When my grandma told me this story we laughed so hard, and afterwards she didn’t scold me. She encouraged my imagination and pushed me to keep dreaming.

This moment was so special to me because it allowed me to try, fail, and then learn from my mistake. I thought that this story was so appropriate and after I shared it , I felt a weight come off my chest. In that moment that I decided to speak on my grandmother’s behalf I had done my last task to honor my grandmother’s legacy. Although I doubted my ability to speak about her character in a way that others would understand, I found a way out of no way.

On that day I learned what I was capable of when I put my mind to it, and I would like to say to other people that we are much more than we think we are. We often doubt our ability to be great, and what we have to learn is that we are so much more , and we are capable of so much more. My advice to anyone who has been in a position or is currently going through an internal fight with themselves is, don’t doubt yourself.  Have confidence in your ability to succeed at all that you put your mind to, and then go out and live your best life! If I let fear and uncertainty stop me, I would have never been able to honor my grandmother. Don’t let an amazing opportunity pass you by because you are fighting yourself. Relax, breathe, and allow yourself be exactly who you are and show your greatness to the world.

GOAL Digger

person passed out with crowd looking in concernLive photo of me on City Tech campus lol. Just kidding, but that’s how I’ve been feeling. These past two weeks have felt like I’m walking down the street, but the wind gusts are so strong that I’m not even getting anywhere. As soon as I finished one paper or project, the next was due right after it. I’ve also been dealing with some personal things and probably have been the most overwhelmed that I’ve ever been in my life.

But I push on.

I push on because I know what I am working towards and I know the things you want most, do not come easy. I am a GOAL digger.

mug that reads goal digger on table with office supplies

I’m sure you’re familiar with the label “GOLD digger”, used to describe someone who seems to be using others for financial gain and opportunity. You could just call them ambitious, or someone who is able to strategically match themselves with partners who can contribute to their lives… but hey I don’t make the definitions lol.

A “GOAL digger” in my own definition is someone who too is ambitious and clear of the things they want. Goal diggers have dreams, goals and aspirations for independence, success, and their version of happiness. They “dig in” and do the work to become the person they strive to be.

Being a “GOAL digger” is all mindset really. It’s the basic of setting goals for your life and doing what it takes to achieve them. Whether they are goals set in your education, your career, your personal life, or some other area. You are setting goals for whatever it is you desire that will define success to you. Tackling obstacles and burdens that may get in your way, being determined, persevering, sometimes a little suffering with blood, sweat, and tears.

A GOAL digger never stops working towards their goals.
What have you done to get better today?
Think of every single move you made in the last 24 hours.
Was everything geared at taking steps towards your goals?
Do you have a clear idea as to what your goal really is?
You need to do an honest self evaluation of where you are right now.
Then you can focus on shaping (or re-shaping) the path.
Then once you have your eye on THAT prize don’t lose sight of it.
Fight for it! Because us goal diggers, we don’t give up.

So as I finish up this post and will then have to re-direct my focus to the 3 finals I have the rest of this week, I’m not panicking, I’m actually celebrating. I celebrate because that means this semester is practically over and I’m one step closer to my goal.woman holding out hands excited and quote picSo continue to be the GOAL digger that you are, whether you’re goals are big or small, short term or long term, doesn’t matter. Sometimes my goal is simply to NOT finish the entire party size bag of Lays’s chips on my own. Lol just saying no shame.There’s a reason you want to accomplish these things, so respect that desire and do something about it. Set them, write them down, stick to them, and the reward is all yours.

Love ya, Neffi
quote picture




Did You Get My Message?

By Robine Jean-Pierre

You send a message to a friend, eagerly awaiting a reply. Hours go by and you don’t hear any word from him, until later in the day when you see him in person. He doesn’t bring it up, and this forces you to ask, “Did you get my message?” to which he responds, “What message?”

With instant messaging apps like Messenger and WhatsApp, a message typically goes through three stages while traveling from sender to recipient: sent, delivered, and read. In this scenario, the problem could have occurred at any of these stages. Maybe you were in a tunnel on the train and the message never sent because you lost signal. Maybe it was never delivered because your friend’s phone was on airplane mode. Or maybe it was never read because he overlooked a notification, or did not have his phone close by.

Communication, whether inside or outside the digital world, is complicated. The more steps there are between you and your recipient, the more garbled your message can become—just like a classic game of “Telephone.” It starts with a thought, and depending on your articulation skills (or the lack thereof, as many of us would readily admit), your own mouth might betray you. How many times have you said, “In my head it sounded right, but it didn’t come out how I wanted it to”? Furthermore, the words you deliver have to go through the eyes or ears of your recipient, and they will often be interpreted according to that person’s bias, preconceived notions, hearing, mood, etc.  

I have learned the hard way that intention is not enough when it comes to effective communication. “Meaning well” does not always guarantee that the person you are talking to will understand you. I doubt technology will ever equip us with the means to read each other’s minds, but we can take measures to prevent painful or awkward errors in communication. What are some things you can do before expressing a thought, or responding to someone else’s?

One step that works 99% of the time is to pause. (It’s interesting how people tend to use the word “pause” only in the humorous way, to bring attention to provocative innuendo or double entendre.) Pausing is an important part of any conversation, not just for dramatic or comedic effect. Pause before you say something (so you can think it through first), after you say something (so you can consider the gravity or validity of what you just said), and definitely before responding to someone else. If it’s a text message, proofread before you send your own, and reread the other person’s message a few times.

Pausing before responding to someone else is one way you can ensure you are using logic, rather than emotion or whim, to formulate an answer. My fiancé Angel’s brother, Andre, said something once that stuck with me. To paraphrase: “When someone says something to you that triggers your emotions, the closer to home it hits, the longer you should wait before responding.” In the same vein, Angel likes to remind me that “emotions are indicators, not dictators.” They can make you aware of how something has affected you, but they do not have to influence or determine your decisions. Letting them air out for even a few seconds can keep you from lashing out or saying things you don’t really mean. In this way you can “respond” rather than “react” (another point Angel likes to make).

Another important thing to go along with pausing is to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. If you know someone well enough, you can read a text message in his/her tone of voice, and this might help you contextualize whatever he/she said. The words “I can’t stand you” in a text message might initially be a slap in the face, unless you recall that your friend tends to say this all the time in a joking manner towards the people he/she loves. On the other hand, your friend might have genuinely meant it in a serious, irritated tone; if so, instead of flaring up and getting offended, ask yourself, “What might he be going through right now?” or “What did I do to make her upset?” If the answer is “nothing,” then “don’t take it personally” is valid advice because, nine times out of ten, you are not the problem; the person has acted out for reasons that have very little to do with you. You do not have to excuse or justify the person’s behavior, but you can choose not to make it about you; be gentle, understanding, and proceed with caution.

Here are some other tips which I hope you find helpful, especially when it comes to texting:

  • Study how someone uses or reacts to certain words; one word can have a totally different meaning to you than it does to someone else
  • Take advantage of punctuation, abbreviations, emojis, GIFs, or stickers to add a tone to otherwise bland, vague or harsh sentences (“We can talk about this later” vs. “LOL, we can talk about this later :P”)
  • If you cannot meet in person, send video clips, voice notes, or make a phone/video call if this will get your tone across better than just text
  • Be very unassuming, even if it means being redundant; ask questions like “What did you mean by that?” “Can you elaborate?” or “Do you understand what I mean?”

Overall, weigh your words because they hold a lot of power, whether they are spoken, written, or typed. If disposing of words as freely as the air you breathe has never gotten you into conflict, then by all means, do what works for you; but for those of us who have been on either end of a misunderstanding, being more careful about how we verbalize our views can save a lot of trouble.