Life is a crazy roller coaster isn't it? It has the most amazing highs and sometimes the deepest lows, but it's all in how you perceive the peaks and valleys that determine your level of strength.
NYC - Birthday Trip
August 29th, 2017
So I took my best friend LauraAnn to New York City at the end of August to help celebrate my birthday. It was an awesome trip. We laughed hysterically, walked our asses off, and ate some of the most amazing food. Seeing the city through her eyes really brought me such joy. We arrived at JFK on a Tuesday morning, after hours of traveling and being up since the crack of dawn, We got our Uber, and took off on our journey into the city. To say the car ride was "typical" NYC traffic isn't an understatement, but the funniest part was my best friend's white knuckling the arm rests as we weaved in and out of traffic, honked the horn, and yelled at people. I was completely fine as I know this is typical, but this was her VERY FIRST authentic NYC experience, and it was golden. She kept saying she was going to die. LOL
We finally got to our hotel, check in and oh no.. our room wasn't ready. So we found food at this awesome Irish pub (Mean Fiddler) around the corner from our Time Square hotel and had the best $20 burger I've ever eaten (still don't know if it was $20 worth LOL) to say we were exhausted is a complete understatement. LOL We hung out in the lobby of the Edison Hotel for a few hours until our room was ready and chatted up the security staff. Met and awesome guy named Jonathan, and true to LauraAnn fashion, everyone knew our names before we left to our room.
Let me start by saying the hotel is gorgeous. It's older, but well taken care of, and the higher floors have been renovated and are gorgeous. However, we were on a floor that was not upgraded yet, and when I tell you it looked like the hallway from the movie, "The Shining", I'm not joking! I was expecting to see the creepy twins any moment around the corner, or the "REDRUM" in blood.
LOL However, our room was clean, comfortable, and cold. The three "C"s was all I really needed at that moment. Took the worlds best shower, and passed the hell out. We had to be up around 4ish (it was 2ish at this time) to get ready for our Broadway show. (Phantom of the Opera).
When we woke up from our nap, and got ready for the show, we realized it was raining. I, of course, freaked out because we didn't have an umbrella, and had to walk a few blocks to the theater. Luckily, the Edison offered free umbrellas to all room guests in each room. I thought that was super cool. We headed out to the show, climbed the 5 flights of stairs to our seats and settled in to enjoy. I have to tell you, it was one of the most amazing shows I've seen, and although I had seen the movie, there's something magical about sitting in the theater and seeing it performed live. It was beautiful. From the theater we headed to a hole in the wall Italian joint, and enjoyed a great late night meal. Listening to the sounds of the city was like a drug for me. That is my happy place. I laughed every time a cop car went by with it's sirens blaring because LauraAnn would jump and have this startled deer in the headlights look on her face. It was awesome. We were both pretty tired from the day still and decided to call it a night.
August 30th, 2017 - My Birthday!
My Birthday was magical! We woke up and immediately headed to Battery Park, and saw the East Coast Memorial on our way to Castle Clinton to purchase our ferry tickets for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We met a nice guy on the ferry named Jose, he's a part time photographer, and we chatted a bit, once he found out it was my birthday, he gave me a few of his prints and signed them for me. He was super sweet.
I've been to the Statue of Liberty a few times before, but I've never been to Ellis Island. I think I was the most excited about this because I've had family come in through this island, and its apart of my heritage and history. Walking those halls, LauraAnn and I both were overtaken by emotions. The immigration that our ancestors took part in was long, grueling, and tedious, but they did it to provide their children and generations to come a better life. They left high ranking jobs in their countries of origins to come here, and be treated as second or third class citizens. But they worked hard, and rose up, and I'm proud to have their blood flowing through my veins.
Once we docked, and got off the ferry, we noticed some incredible street performers doing this great show, once of the many reasons I love the city! Always something entertaining! I'm pretty sure Laura loved it!
From there we grabbed an Uber and were on our way to the Empire State Building! Grabbed a little lunch and headed up to see the amazing views. It's changed a lot over the years, and the magic for me has worn off, but again, watching my friend enjoy it brought me happiness. I can remember the first time I went up to the 86th floor. I was 7 years old, and it was Christmas time. My mom brought me into the city, and I instantly fell in love. I called my dad from a pay phone before going up to tell him that I was at the Empire State Building and how excited I was, and we took the elevator up. It was pure magic.
We left the ESB and headed back to the hotel to clean up and relax before dinner. We got ready and headed to Little Italy for my birthday dinner. We ate at Grotta Azzurra Ristorante which has been in business since 1908. The actual RAT PACK use to eat at this iconic restaurant. It was insanely good, the bruschetta, gnocchi ala vodka, and pork braciole was the most amazing food I've ever eaten. The sauce on the braciole tasted just like my grandfather's and as I was thinking about him sipping my wine, a large warm gust of wind came through the dining room and wrapped around me like a hug. I felt like he was right there with me. It was an amazing experience. From there we walked across the street to Caffe Roma and purchased my favorite dessert, cannolis. We walked the streets, and took photos, and headed back to our hotel. It was an amazing birthday, with an incredible friend.
August 31st, 2017
We wake up on the 31st after a late sleep in, and decide to go shopping on 5th avenue. Walking up and down the shops, and seeing all the beautiful people going about their day just made the trip complete. We stopped at this amazing gem shop so LauraAnn could pick up a gift for her daughter who wants to be a geologist when she grows up. We stopped and had some authentic NYC pizza for lunch, and then went back and packed up to head to the airport. We decided to have a stop through at time square and walk around before heading to JFK... So long NYC for now....
Orlando Birthday Dinner
September 2nd, 2017
Upon returning home, a gaggle of my girl friends and I got together and decided to meet up at the Yard House on International Drive here in Orlando, and spent way to much money on great food, and cocktails, and laughter. I love these women like sisters, and I'm so glad to have them want to spend time with me...
Thank you LauraAnn, Makira, Rebecca, Brenda, Jeanna, Annalise, and Mandy for taking time out of your lives to help me celebrate.
There you have it.. My amazing birthday adventure! What's your favorite birthday memory?
I often wonder if you only get an infinite number of chances at love before you're left alone for the rest of your life, and that most times scares the hell out of me. My experiences have proven that dating in the modern world truly bites the big one, yet I still hold out hope for that epic love affair.
The problem? I'm DIFFICULT and I attract men who seem like stand up people in the beginning, but turn into unsavory characters after they've been given time to let their true colors show. We're all damaged in some ways, but I feel maybe after each toxic relationship ends, a little piece of your soul dies along with it. I use to be such a romantic, dreaming of fairytale endings, having crushes on people I grew up with, imaging what my wedding would be like and how many children I would have... but as time goes on, and relationships crash and burn, I've become more of a cynic and less hopeful for that happily ever after.
I've had a handful of relationships in my 32 almost 33 years of life. I truly felt I was "in love" with 4 of them, but in retrospect it wasn't really love. I was in love with the idea of being a part of something more than just myself. Which is probably why I agreed to two engagements way before I should have, without allowing those relationships time to show their true colors. The problem with being a nurturing person who gives of themselves more than they take, you open yourself up for abusers.
First, "A"... now "A" was my "first" love... we were young, dumb, and full of... well you know the rest.. He did some shitty things, but we were kids, and kids do stupid shit... ultimately, he wasn't my "ONE"... we're still friends to this day, and I will always love and cherish him..
Secondly we find ourselves with Mr. "M" was a whirlwind romance, which sparked way to quickly and fizzled out just as fast. I'll spare you all the gory details, but my red flags should have been evident when he was jealous of my dog gaining more attention then he was. He proposed to me one drunken night at a bar high on God knows what after sparking an argument with me over having kids. Prince Charming he wasn't... yet I said yes. Why? Excitement. I wanted the wedding, not the man. Luckily, I came home to find him cheating, and my rational brain kicked in, and help me throw him the hell out.
Then came "T"... Gawd.. he was handsome.. the epitome of badboy rolled into drama mixed with manipulation and I fell super hard. This man had me wrapped around his finger, and he knew it. We had an off and on tumultuous affair for two and a half years, culminating with him raping me. That use to be extremely hard for me to admit. It's taboo to admit your power was taken away from you, and there's still this stereotype that as women, we are somehow at fault. But I've come to grips with the incident, and although I initially consented, I did say no, and ultimately he didn't stop. That's rape. He wouldn't leave my home after that and threatened to kill my dogs unless I paid him money to drive back to NJ to his parents. I should have called the cops, I should have had him arrested, but honestly? I was still in shock. I didn't want to admit what he had done. It took me a month to finally confront what had happened. I just wanted him gone... so I paid him... like an idiot. What Disney movie was this gem from? Oh yeah.. Gaston comes to mine (FYI.. he actually auditioned for that role and was passed on...) I've heard rumors that he's either in jail now, or has fled the country back to Romania. Either way.. If I never see him again, it'll be too soon. But if you were to ask me prior to the "incident" how I felt about "T"? I would have told you he was the one. In my head I was MADLY and deeply in love. WTF? Being cheated on constantly and belittled is NOT love.
I met "G" just a few months after "T" fled my life. Right around the time I started going to church. I had just started my RICA classes (See first blog for description) and I met this sweet Catholic man who wanted to support and stand by me. So I thought, we agreed we were going to stay celibate till marriage (That lasted about a month LOL), we were going to go to church together, build a life together, and focus on God first and then each other. So we told ourselves. To this day I don't think "G" was/is a bad person. I just think he has demons he'll never face and they force him to do irrational things. We got engaged about 5 months into our relationship. I was never happier. Let me be extremely frank here, I WAS most certainly in love with "G", and had he been a whole complete person, we would be getting married and still together. Unfortunately, fate is a bitch, and "G" has a sex addiction so strong that not even love will conquer it.
That was about 2 years ago. I've gone out with many people since, met some great guys, but really have focused on healing myself. Finding the turmoil within me that attracts me to a specific type of man. I have the most amazing father who shows me daily what a real man should be like, so it isn't Daddy issues. I realized I'm a FIXER. I liked men with problems because it made me feel worthy of them. I would feel that because I'm fat, yes fat, not fluffy, not thick, not plus size.. fat, I wasn't worthy of a man of value. How messed up is that? Soul searching sucks sometimes, but it also makes you really look at yourself.
This post isn't about "poor me" at all, honestly, these experiences have taught me strength and dependability on myself. I'm truly proud of who I've become through all this, and I have gained the comfortability in simply being single. There's something super empowering about taking yourself on a "date" and learning to love yourself.
I use to be really sad by the idea of never getting married or having children, because everyone I knew was doing that... but you know what? Their path isn't my path. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with taking a different road to find happiness. Maybe my happiness isn't a husband and children. Maybe I'll be lucky enough to travel the world, find enlightenment, devote myself to my faith, work hard to retire early... who knows.
One thing I know for certain, when I do allow a partner into my world, it'll be because he's the someone who brings me joy and happiness, not pain and suffering, and most certainly not just because I don't want to be alone. He will be a man of substance, faith, and devotion, or he won't be the man in my life. My value and self worth are NOT contingent upon anyone's opinions of me or the value they place on my head.
And how FU*KING empowering is that?
So no, I'm not UNLUCKY in love... I'm LUCKY in life...
I have to start by apologizing. I know I haven't posted in a while, and that was never my intention. It's funny how life can take over and you just put things on the back-burner. So, I had every intention to write this long review on the "Baby Feet" craze that's going on right now, and I even documented my foot progress from start to "finish" but it was such an epic fail that it wasn't even worth bringing to you guys. It was an EPIC FAIL. Do NOT waste your hard earned pennies on this gimmick that does absolutely nothing.
I've been focused on work like normal, but also on my dog Bailey James. He's been in my life for 15 years and I've been so fortunate to have him with me in my late teens through my 20s and into my early 30s, but I can tell our time is coming to an end. Some would say that he's just a dog, and it's sad, but you'll move on. Clearly you've never bonded with a pet the way I have bonded with my dogs. I don't have children. Don't even know if I can have children (I'll maybe get into this in a different post one day), these little four legged creatures have brought me joy, laughter, support, and companionship. They are, for all intents and purposes, my children, and the thought of saying good bye to Bailey is heartbreaking. It's so unfair that their life expediencies are so much shorter than ours.
On a more positive note, my best friend LauraAnn and are are gearing up to leave to New York City for my 33rd birthday in 62 days! I can't wait to see NYC through her eyes. I've been so many time, but this is a first for her, and it can be a truly magical experience standing in Time Square for the first time, and seeing how truly massive the city is. Not to mention, if there were ever "Her" people, they'd be in the NYC.
This past Sunday there was an interesting Homily at church. For those of you that are of a different Christian background, a homily is like the baptist "sermon". Father Fidel talked about letting go of what other's think of you and staying positive through the negativity. We all want to be liked and be included, but it's more important to be in God's "In Crowd" then be in on earth. This hit home for me, as there's a lot of "mean guy/girl" mentality in my day to day forced social circles, and it eats away at me. I use to take it really personally when I wasn't included, or was talked about, but at the end of the day, I forgive them, and will focus on God's love. My friends are amazing, and I'm so lucky, and I'd rather have that sort of support than be included in a group of people who are still growing as adults, and haven't hit a maturity level that will open them up to things they're insecure about. God's love will trump satan's hate EVERY TIME.
There haven't been any updates on my First Communion and Confirmation, but as soon as there are I'll keep ya'll updated.
I guess the moral here, is that not matter what negativity enters into your life, if you focus on the positive, and surround yourself with people who love and support you, you can and will get through anything.
ACURE: Pore Clarifying Red Clay Mask
Mandi is a 30-something, professional woman in the Orlando, FL area. She's a former wedding makeup artist, and marketing guru. She created this blog to share her love of makeup, as well as general life stuff while navigating the difficult world of dating!