Looking Over the Edge of the Roof: My First Blog Workshop

1 TIMOTHY 4:12

“Don’t let anyone look down on your because you are young. Instead, set an example for the believers through your speech, behavior, love, faith and purity.”

When I created this blog, I had one motive: to help others through my own words and experiences. I reflected on the four years of high school that I spent tackling my anxiety and asked myself “What or who did I need back then that could’ve really helped me?” Then one of the best pieces of advice I have ever read (Thanks Pinterest) popped in my head “Be someone you needed when you were younger.” The next thing I knew, my journal was out and I was writing my first post for this blog. She Doesn’t Know She Has It was originally going to be a book. I wanted to write about a fictional teen trying to cope with having anxiety in high school. But the problem with books is, they have an ending. My story with anxiety hasn’t ended yet. With this blog, I can continue to post advice and experiences and growth.

The goal of this blog is for my readers to have somewhere to go to when they need help or even for just entertainment. I cannot physically be there for everyone, although I wish I could, but in writing, people all over the world can read my posts. However, I was blessed this past weekend to have the opportunity to physically be there for others. My former pastor read my blog and reached out to me to run a workshop called “Looking Over the Edge of the Roof: How to Handle with Anxiety” at the Merrimack Valley Catholic Youth Conference. I willingly accepted the offer.

I had a mix of fear and excitement with this challenge. I feared how I would go about running the workshop. Public speaking was nerve wracking for me, but I hoped with God’s help, I would be able to deliver a speech that would hit the hearts of the conference attendees. I was also grateful for my sister Ashley who immediately agreed to help me. The excitement that comes with sharing my blog and helping others and the support of my sister is what motivated me to take on this challenge.


Ashley Jasmin tells students about her anxiety-relieving activity.

I am super pleased and blessed about the outcome of this conference. Within five minutes, the room was filled with students of all ages ranging from eighth grade to seniors in high school. I was nervous throughout my speech but whenever I looked up, I received a reassuring smile from each student, which was more than enough encouragement to go on. Ashley shared some advice of her own, for anxiety runs in the family, and she put together an activity where each student wrote down on a piece of paper what makes them anxious and then they crumbled the paper and threw it away. After my talk and Ashley’s activity, the teens were allowed time to just chat and ask questions. There were smiles, there were laughs, and there was a ever-present feeling of peace in the room. I left the conference and my heart was touched; I can only hope that others left with the same feeling.


Hayley delivers her speech to the students at the Merrimack Valley Catholic Youth Conference.


My AMAZING workshop attendees who willingly took a picture for this post. 

Shout out to my workshop attendees ❤


It was Epic: Farewell to The Vampire Diaries

Parting with the CW’s The Vampire Diaries was like parting with a friend. I mean, this is a slight exaggeration, but I owe a lot to the show. It was one of my first fandoms. The show also got me interested in the book series that the show was based off and by sixth grade, I was fully engaged in reading young adult novels. The Vampire Diaries was a part of me from middle school to college, it inspired my fashion choices, inspired my writing, and was always the fantasy world I escaped to to de-stress from reality.

Although I am sad to see the show end, I am grateful and proud for how the series resolved. Julia Plec, one of the show’s writers, said during an interview that when she created the show, she wanted to talk about grief and moving on from a hard place in your life. Elena’s character had lost her parents and is grieving. At this point in her life she meets Stefan, a vampire trying to hold strong to his humanity despite his curse and his past, and she meets Damon, his brother who seems to be beyond saving. Of course, this theme of loss and moving is always present throughout the series, but it truly was resolved this final season, which included several parallels to the first, one of them being the return of old characters, which pleased many fans. The season is themed around Damnation verses Redemption- as Stefan and Damon question on whether or not they can be saved from their curse. But, spoiler alert, everyone finds peace in the end, showing that everyone can be saved. A show with a not-so-happy beginning reached a happy ending.

So in honor of this happy ending, I thoroughly searched social media for any evidence of my fandom and have found several examples of my fandom that I feel other fans can relate to. Enjoy the laughs.


  1. You owned some sort of TVD merchandise and presented it proudly.


    Yup here’s sophomore Hayley wearing her TVD shirt. Photo caption “#faveshow #TheVampireDiaries #Damon.

  2.  As much as you wanted to hate Katherine Pierce, you wanted to have her style.

    Yet another embarrassing photo of me “recreating” Katherine’s hairstyle for my friend’s sweet 16.

    Image result for katherine pierce










3. You felt the need to tell Twitter whenever you cried during an episode.


How could I not? Damon died!! (and came back to life, but that’s besides the point.)

4. You felt strong emotion for either Klaus, Kai, or both.


This was the second time Ashley heard me scream from the other room. The first was when Klaus and Caroline finally got together.

5. Faux Leather jackets are a staple in your closet.


Sophomore Hayley, why the face? Image result for katherine pierce

6. The music on the show gave you the feels and if your favorite artist was featured, the excitement was too much to handle.


This is me not wanting to swear, but wanting to express my excitement at the same time via Twitter.

7. The Salvatore brothers brought your standards in men to a whole new level.


I might’ve named my car Stefan…

Image result for damon salvatore you want a love that consumes you

*cries for an eternity*

Thanks for reading my little trip down TVD memory lane. If you enjoyed this post, comment below if you’d like one for the Pretty Little Liars series finale.

Never Shy from a  Fandom,


My Favorite Five

One of my favorite video series to watch on YouTube is people’s monthly favorites. It’s always so interesting to see what products people recommend, what shows people are watching, or what music people are listening to. I decided to do the same series and, maybe not every month but every few months or so, post five of my favorite products or trends or shows or apps or music I am listening to. Leave a comment below if you want to see more of these posts!

(Cue Julie Andrews) These are a few of my favorite things:

  1. Favorite Makeup Palette: California Dreaming Palette by Lorac. I first saw this eye shadow palette at Kohl’s and thought it was so aesthetically pleasing, I couldn’t pass it up the next time I saw it. At $30 it is a bit of a splurge, but the quality is so worth it. The palette is inspired by California in the late winter/early spring and features soft neutrals and sandy tones, as well as pastels and beachy colors, both in shimmery shades and matte. Lorac’s eye shadows are so pigmented and last the entire day without budging; it’s been my go-to since I purchased it.img_4479
  2. Favorite Nail Color: OPI’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s Collection in “Apartment for Two.” My favorite color from a collection inspired by one of my favorite movies? It was a no brainer that this ended up on my Christmas list. This hot pink was perfect for Valentine’s Day and coincidentally matches one of my favorite lip colors, Covergirl’s Watermelon Twist lip crayon. 57e4fd2b-05d2-4b2a-a5dc-fea861794531
  3. Favorite Trend: Monochromatic Makeup. I am a lazy college student with barely any time to do her makeup in the morning. I would always rush around trying to blend multiple eye shadows and do a full face look, until I found the solution (thanks Pinterest). An easy way to save time and look like you put forth your best effort is by applying one color to your eyes, lips, and cheeks. My current favorite is an all-over peach look created by applying Benefit’s “Coralista” blush to my cheeks, Lorac’s eye shadow in “Starfish” to my lids, and matching it with Too Faced Melted Liquid Lipstick in the shade “Chocolate Honey”. It takes little time and looks effortlessly chic. img_4463
  4. Favorite Snack: Smoothie. I always go for chocolate, and starting today, I have given it up for Lent. But recently, I’ve learned how to use a blender and have been making better-for-you smoothies, like this strawberry one. This one is a blend of Chobani Vanilla Greek Yogurt, 4 fresh strawberries, some low-fat milk, and a quarter of a spoon of Stawberry  Whey Protein Powder. This smoothie is packed with protein, under 200 calories, and tastes like a dessert. Yum.4ac5bf74-7238-409d-a439-b92469591652
  5. Favorite TV Show: The Vampire Diaries. For those of you that know me, I have been a die hard Vampire Diaries fan since it began its first season when I was in middle school. Well, I have followed the series all the way through to its current eighth season, and am sad to know the show is ending in a mere two weeks (Prepare for a goodbye post for this show in the near future). As sad as I am to say goodbye, the farewell is bittersweet- bitter because it’s the end, but sweet because the show has really upped its game connecting the last season to the first with several parallels and bringing back older characters from the previous seasons. The story line has always been good but I’m happy to see the creators and writers put the effort in to ensure the show ends with a mic drop. I definitely recommend this for a good binge-watch.img_4445

That’s all of my favorites for the past couple months. I would love to know yours. Leave a comment below of some of your favorite things and let me know if you’d like to see more of these posts!

Have a lovely night,


Where Have I Been?

With my last article, I had made a resolution to post more and more on this blog, but I think it is safe to say I hit a slump. With the excitement of the New Year came the stress of a new semester of school. I realized that switching to new classes after a month long break was not an easy adjustment for me. My classes have heavier workloads and focus more on class participation which is good because it pushes me out of my comfort zone, but for a while this discomfort led to much anxiety for me.

So the past month I have been focusing my energy on, well, sorting out the nervous energy and replacing it with excitement. It’s a day-to-day process, but rather than fearing change, I’m striving to look at it as embracing the new. So far, this strategy is working out for me and I have settled into my classes.

In my absence, I have kept up two of my resolutions. My workout routine is still going strong. I strive to work out a minimum of three days a week. Pinterest is yet again my hero for always having different workout ideas for the days I want to spice up my routine. I have also auditioned and joined another production as I had planned to. However, this one holds a special place in my heart because all of the hard work and passion behind my performance is going towards a good cause. I am a proud member of Voices of Hope Boston- a group that raises funds and awareness for cancer through theatrical performance and music. I have always dedicated each and every one of my performances to my Grammy, who passed away in 2012 after a long battle with cancer. Now, this performance helps people just like her. I am blessed to have this opportunity. On a similar note, I have also had the chance to record music with my collegiate a capella group, Vocality, which was another unreal experience shared with another group of amazing people.

And that’s where I was during my “slump” of no posts. But with every sink, there’s a rise. After a winter of severe writer’s block will come a spring of new ideas. I will be posting a lot more this spring. This post was mainly to explain why I was not posting and to promise that I have no given up on this project.

The sun is shining, it’s a new day, and another step on our journey. 


Picture Taken by Tyesin Jasmin


See you soon!



365 New Days, 365 New Chances

Today, I gave the fifth grader I tutor an assignment: to write down three things he wanted to happen in the new year. His answers were “to start a new YouTube account because the other one was hacked, make my fort better, and make my Pokemon collection bigger”- all very important goals for a fifth grader. This made me think, everyone, young and old, wishes for some sort of change in the New Year.

This also made me reflect on 2016 itself and think about how many people I have seen on Twitter saying “good riddens 2016”, “2016 was a nightmare “, etc. I can relate; some years are better than others, but this is the wonder of having a New Year. On the 365th day of the year, you can reflect on what goals you accomplished and the memories you experienced, both good and bad, and then you can come up with new goals to work toward and new memories to create. Even if the year wasn’t your best, you made it through to the end, and on midnight itlifestyleis a fresh slate. Tomorrow marks 365 new days, 365 new chances.

Tonight I reflect on what I accomplished this past year and the memories I’ve made, and I invite you to do the same for yourself. Celebrate the impact you’ve made on this world this year just by being here. 2016 was a year of milestones for me. I got my first lead role in a musical, I graduated high school among an amazing group of friends, I had the second annual race in memory of my grandfather, I got into college, began vocal lessons, was part of my first musical production outside of school, began this blog, started and completed my first semester of college, and got into an a capella group at school. Of course there were many downs to this year, every year comes with failed auditions, heartbreak, losses, and struggles, but I made it. If you’re reading this, you made it. And just making it through a year is a blessing alone.

Tomorrow I will start towards new goals.

  • Tomorrow my family together is starting to eat healthier. We will support each other in trying to not eat out as much and eat more fruit and vegetables and less junk food. We will be referring to this healthy eating grocery list for our trips to the supermarket. http://collegelifestyles.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/grocery.jpg .
  • I will continue to do yoga as I mentioned in my post Breathing&Believing ; I feel yoga has definitely helped me cope with my anxiety as well as feel more confident and at ease.
  • However, I want to take part in more physical activity to build muscle and tone up. I have found a slow and steady fitness plan to train to run a 5K race that I am striving to follow through with this year. This fitness plan is good for beginning runners and includes days for cross training and yoga  http://pin.it/UeZD96c.
  • I will continue this blog and add more posts AND pictures thanks to my new lovely photographer: Janjira Sun.
  • I will take part in new productions and audition, audition, audition!
  • I will organize and plan the 3rd annual race for my grandfather and put in the effort and hard work it deserves.
  • I will balance work with school and make sure to study extra hard for my courses.
  • I will continue to write and complete the projects I have been planning and working on this past year.
  • I will save money and work to be more frugal.

Goals I recommend all of us have:

  • Strive for happiness, not perfection.
  • Leave the past behind. (Be like Elsa, just let it go.)
  • Focus on the future, but live in the now.
  • Don’t take anything personally. There’s almost always an underlying reason why someone behaves the way they do. It’s almost never because of you.
  • Take chances that you know you’ll regret if you don’t.
  • In your decisions and with how you treat others and yourself, be the person you needed when you were younger.

And remember, at the end of the year you may not have achieved all of these things. In your day-by-day journey, you could have gotten off track, and that’s okay. This is the beauty of a year: there’s always a new one. So pop the champagne (or sparkling cider) , say goodbye to 2016. Say cheers and, with a click of a glass, welcome 2017.

Have a wonderful new year,


Ease into the Holiday Spirit

Fa La La La La! It’s that time of year once again. I always feel like after Halloween, Thanksgiving creeps up on us and then Christmas swoops in. I also notice that, as a student, preparation for finals and big papers collides with prepping for the big holiday. It can be so difficult to really find the time to feel and appreciate the Holiday spirit.

It seems every year now I find myself asking the famous question: Where are you Christmas?  I wish nothing more to be young again around the holidays: dreaming of sugar plum fairies, watching Christmas specials, tracking Santa, believing in holiday magic. So this year, I made a decision: to find balance between wrapping up classes and wrapping gifts. I am writing this post specifically for people like me who need to find simple ways to ease into the holiday spirit.

Hayley’s Holiday Guide:

Step 1: Play those Christmas tunes. I know in the Jasmin house, Christmas music starts playing November 1st, right after Halloween. I also realize that might be, to spare my mother’s feelings, “a little” extreme. But, as soon as you are ready to embrace the holiday season, blast those holiday tracks. Buddy the Elf says it best:raw.gif

Step 2: See at least 1 Holiday Concert. It feels weird not participating in my high school’s Christmas concert this year since I’ve graduated. That used to be my way of getting into the holiday spirit. However, I will be going to the concert. To save money, check local schools and universities for holiday concerts. There’s a good chance at least one school will have one, and by attending you’re also benefiting the school’s music program. This year, my aunt kindly brought me to see the Trans Siberian Orchestra’s Christmas concert. I highly recommend it to anyone. This group puts on an amazing show and all of their songs go along with a Christmas story being recited by a narrator.


TSO performing at the DCU Center in Worcester. Photo by Nicolle Wood

Step 3: Go to a Festival of Trees. I don’t know how common these events are outside New England, but a few local towns in my area hold a Festival of Trees.Donors from multiple organizations create their own decorated Christmas trees, which are works of art, and people can enter a raffle to win one of them. With festive background music and aisles upon aisles of these beautifully crafted trees, this event is sure to get you pumped up on Christmas spirit.


Step 4: Drink Hot Cocoa and Watch Holiday Movies. I know we are all dreaming of watching White Christmas with a mug of hot chocolate and a warm fireplace. Study hard for finals and reward yourself with this holiday treat. Don’t know what to watch? Here’s Freeform’s 25 Days of Christmas official schedule: https://www.25daysofchristmastv.com/schedule. (ps. This is great to do with friends and family.)


Step 5: Give, give, give. It’s so easy to get lost in the commercialism of the holiday season. Thanksgiving wasn’t even over yet and it was already Black Friday! I love Christmas shopping, whether it’s online or in stores. I love buying for my friends and family. However, each year I try to give to someone who isn’t as fortunate as I am around the holidays. My family always participates in “The Giving Tree” at my parish where anyone can take an ornament with the name of an item someone in need is asking for and buy the item and return it to the parish. Someone from the parish then brings the gifts to those in need of them. I have also participated in a toy drive in the past. Toys for tots bins are set up in several places locally or you can visit their website for more information. This year my campus had Sun Santa banks set up at the register to our school’s market. I placed change in their whenever I bought something. You can also donate to any local charities this season.

Step 6: Take holiday pictures. This year I decided to take on an Instagram Countdown to Christmas challenge. Each day is an assigned photo that you must post, all with different holiday themes. Below is the challenge I am taking part in. See my December in photos on my Instagram: @hayley_jasmin (Tip: Get your friends and family involved too!)

Step 7: Find a Christmas/Holiday Read! I have finally finished all of my final paper assignments and have read all of the books and sources I needed to complete these papers. Now, I can start my traditional Christmas read. Every year, I try to find a holiday book to read before Christmas. Last year, I read the Christmas class, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. This year I am reading John Green’s Let It Snow. Another author to check out is Richard Paul Evans. He has multiple Christmas novels like The Christmas Box.


Step 9: Go Ice Skating. This is just a fun winter activity in general, so feel free to do this after Christmas. Or you can be like my family and buy a refillable ice skating rink on Amazon. Stay tuned for footage of our first experience with that.

Step 10: Remember the Reason for the Season. For anyone religious, Christmas Eve Mass is a great way to truly celebrate the season. I have also been following a December Bible Quote Challenge I found on Pinterest that has helped me engage in the Advent season. img_4071


I think Linus says it best. 🙂

For anyone who is not religious, connect to the holiday season with a grateful heart. This yoga practice from Yoga by Adriene is a great way to get some exercise and allow yourself to just breathe and be thankful. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pbuvhbg7po

So wrap up those finals, wrap up some gifts and ease your way into holiday magic!

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!


5 Lessons Learned from Disney’s Moana

Maybe I’m biased as a die-hard Disney fan, but I think some of life’s most important values are taught in Disney films. Disney movies have a way of engaging our hearts and souls through their music, characters, and story lines. They truly are magical.

My mother felt that there was no better way to spend the day before Thanksgiving than at the movies with her children and friends to see the newest Disney release: Moana. Now, I had heard only three things about the Moana movie prior to seeing it: Moana was an island girl, Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson played a demi-god; and Lin Manuel Miranda did the music and lyrics. Being a huge Hamilton and In the Heights fan, that was a deal breaker.

And boy, was I not disappointed. Through its incredibly catchy songs, vivid animation, and heart-warming story line with the perfect dose of humor, Moana is a movie to see. I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good Disney film. But what impressed me the most about Moana, is how inspiring it is to its viewers, young and old.

Here are some lessons you can take home from Disney’s Moana:

  1. The value of having a close relative: This lesson hit me the hardest. I think anyone can relate to having a special relative or role model in their life that they go to to guide them in life. Moana’s bond with her grandmother reminded me a lot of my bond with my own grandmother. Moana’s grandmother guides her in following her heart and taking chances. Without spoiling the film, I can tell you that her grandmother’s advice plays an important role in the story.
  2. Your heart calls you to where you’re supposed to be: Anyone can relate to that feeling that you belong somewhere else. It’s a common theme in Disney movies; think Tarzan’s quote “I just know there’s something bigger out there” or Tangled “when will my life begin?” For Moana, she feels a longing to travel outside her island but her father’s teachings hold her back. It’s only with the advice of her grandmother that she finally takes a chance in finding where she truly belongs. She chooses her heart over her mind.
  3. You are the reason you are who you are: I really enjoyed the Rock’s performance in this movie. His character Maui is a demi god who claims “he is nothing without his hook”- his magical fish hook that gives him transforming powers. Moana tells him “maybe someone saw you were worth saving” but that no hook or powers made him Maui- he became a hero all on his own.
  4. Everyone has a purpose in life that is not to be questioned: Moana finds herself chosen by the sea to complete an adventure, but spends the movie not knowing why she was chosen. She questions her own abilities, her own choices, her purpose in her life. But what she finds is that whenever she feels like giving up, it doesn’t feel right. Deep inside her a force drives her to keep it up, to keep going. I think anyone can take this advice home. You might not know the answer, but you are on this planet for a very special reason. You have a purpose. Keep going.
  5. Music awakens the soul: Now this is something I very personally took home from this movie. As soon as the first song began, I was taken away. The soundtrack to this movie is filled with inspirational lyrics, pleasurable rhythms, and a beautiful island sound. I truly left the theater in chills from many of Lin Manuel Miranda’s creation. He has done it again. I am truly thankful for music.

So my advice for this Thanksgiving break is:

1. Take your friends and family to see Moana.

2. Make sure you save room for dessert.

3. Remember to stay thankful and celebrate Thanksgiving to the fullest before you head to Black Friday sales.

4. Have a blessed holiday weekend!

Lots of love,


The Perks of Being An Anxious Performer

I know, I know. Anyone who suffers from performance anxiety is looking at this title and saying “Hayley you are out of your mind, there are no perks to being an anxious performer.” I often think this way too, but the truth is you can find something good in everything, even your worst moments. Looking through dark moments in a positive light will reflect your own strengths and leave you feeling overall more positive.

I often feel my anxiety holds me back in my performances, especially when panic is at its highest. This can be true. There have been auditions, rehearsals, and performances where my own anxiousness has prevented my from performing to the best of my ability. What I have come to find is, however, that same nervous energy can be channeled to strengthen your performances and make them even better.

So what are the perks of being an anxious performer?

  1. Every performance is a victory over your own fears. Think about it. Every time your nerves build up before a performance to the point they seem unbearable, you choose to go out there anyway. Whether it be playing a sport, singing, dancing, acting, or simply walking into a class, you are challenging your own fears. And once you do it, you’ve already beaten them. Congratulations little warrior, you’ve won!
  2. Every failure only strengthens you. Kelly Clarkson was right everyone, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. That audition you jumbled the words to a song out of your own nervousness? Think back on that when you finish slaying your solo in the school musical. When you were so nervous on the field you scored for the other team? Think back on that when you just score the winning goal at a state championship. You didn’t give up after. That voice in your head that said “You’re passionate about this, keep going” kept you strong.


    picture taken by Susan Cutelis.

  3. Nervous energy can fuel emotional connection. This one is for my fellow singers, actors, and dancers. A performance can be extremely well done, but when it portrays real emotion it can drive someone to tears. All of that nervous energy can be channeled to create a killer performance. I’ll give you an example. I get super nervous too. In Grease, there was one scene I used to get so nervous about where Rizzo sings “There Are Worst Things I Could Do” to Sandy and Sandy had to stand still on stage and just react. It’s easier to hide my nervous energy when I am moving around, but standing still is a struggle for me on stage. Luckily for me, I found a way out. The song immediately afterward is “Look at Me I’m Sandra Dee Reprise.” The stored nerves inside me actually drove me to tears which I used to sing the songs beginning where lines included “when they criticize and make fun of me can’t they see the tears in my smile.” There I thought of my anxiety and how it held me back and when people saw me and didn’t understand they would just laugh or make fun of my fidgeting and twitching. Then with the last line of the song, “hold your head high, take a deep breath and cry ‘Goodbye to Sandra Dee!'” I released all of the bottled up energy and took a deep breath. I was saying goodbye to the fear and the nerves. And I was thanking them, for giving me emotion and for showing me I’m human.

Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5)

Stay Strong,


A Cup of Positivi-tea

I dread waking up some mornings, but I’ve come to find that sometimes the slightest moments can bring positive energy to anyone’s day.

So this morning I woke up an hour and a half earlier than I was planning to and found it nearly impossible to fall back to sleep- my head was already running through the course of my day (breakfast, workout, catch the shuttle to class, go to class, get home, go to work,etc.) I opened social media to find nothing but a turmoil of differing opinions so I closed out of it and opened YouTube hoping to catch up on the latest videos of channels I am subscribed to.

That’s when I stumbled across Rclbeauty101’s latest upload (below) titled “Makeup Stereotypes.” For those of you who don’t know her, Rachel Levin is one of YouTube’s beauty gurus who is infamously known for her creative, comical videos of everything under the sun. I always go to her videos for a good laugh. So seeing this upload, I knew my morning was going to be made better; a good laugh was in store for me. However, what I got was even better.

The video addressed a real issue present in society. Creative expression, in makeup or clothes, is being mistaken for extreme insecurity, promiscuity, or as it is put in the video “asking for it”. “Wow you try so hard” is the response me and many others receive when we simply wear a stylish outfit or feel like wearing makeup. People get interrogated when they aren’t wearing makeup and when they are wearing makeup. Why don’t you add more blush, you’re so pale? Why are you hiding behind all that makeup? Are you going on a date or to the grocery store? etc.  Instead of encouraging people to be themselves and express their own creative genius, we are stomping on their attempts. We need to spread positivity to others.

Rachel once again uploaded a very real and touching video. Another video of hers, uploaded a few months ago, changed my outlook on self-love. It was titled in all caps “I AM UGLY.” Immediately I was curious and what I watched changed my life. I have always felt self-love to be one of the most important struggles of humanity. It’s so hard to accomplish- we are constantly bashing ourselves for little things, finding little flaws, developing several insecurities. It’s so easy to bring yourself down. I know I did and sometimes still do. I remember going home in junior high crying because girls thought I was too nice and therefore too weak: an easy target for bullying. I was mad at my own kindness. Mad at the way I looked. Even in high school and to this day, I’ll get mad at how I look some days or mad at my anxiety, my carelessness.

But Rachel put self love in an entirely new perspective. Her video teaches people to pause before they make a negative comment about themselves and to picture saying this negative comment to your younger self. All of a sudden I was looking back to junior high and picturing how I would feel if I would’ve told my thirteen year old self to stop being myself. I picture telling my five year old self that I’m too much of an anxious mess to perform or that I’m not thin enough or fit enough. Like I said, it’s so much easier to bring yourself down than lift your spirits. It’s often said that a child can one’s perspective on life. Little did I know that child could be my younger self.

Using Rachel’s technique has made self-love a little easier. My hopes are only that sharing this video and her last video will change the way people view others and themselves. Right now it seems everyone is on edge with each other. So much hate is being spread.

Take a sip from a cup of positiv-tea and pass it along. Watch the love pour out.



Loss and Living On

Today, I share with you the essay that helped get me into college. I always believed a good essay should come from the heart in a way that the reader can sense the passion behind your words. So I wrote about losing two of the people that inspired me the most but focused not on loss, but on the importance of living on after loss and letting their memories live on as well. Thanks for reading.

A wise person once said, “Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life.” I don’t think this is ever thought about by anyone who takes that small step forward- that little step that, in time, marks their transition into maturity, into adulthood, into themselves. I think these people go into their projects with a checklist with one blank box next to their goal: to make a difference. At least, that’s how it was for me.
Growing up, I rarely experienced loss. I have this huge, close-knit family and we do
everything together. I had that childhood where grandparents visited daily. My grammy always lived across the street from me, and my pepere lived close enough I’d wake up to see him downstairs sipping coffee. When I started performing in plays and talent shows, my grandparents were always there encouraging me. They were always there for me until they couldn’t be.
That’s what hit me the hardest in high school. I lost both of my heros. My grammy
passed away from cancer the fall of my freshman year, and it truly didn’t sink in until the
following spring when something happened to me. I was sitting watching my older sister
perform in a play when I became restless; I was sweating and struggling to breathe. This episode occurred again when I was singing in my church choir. I looked out at the crowd and thought I was going to pass out. These panic attacks grew worse and began to happen regularly: in the halls, in classes, during more performances. Every day for me was a battle against fear. When my anxiety was at its peak during my sophomore year, I lost my pepere who had cirrhosis from exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. More loss meant more panic. I needed a new way to cope.

Top: Roger Cote stands before the Vietnam Wall in D.C.. Bottom: Roger Cote’s grave on Veteran’s Day.

I had a family friend whose nephew committed suicide due to PTSD. He was a veteran
and, like my pepere, had died from an illness resulting from war. In many ways I saw myself in my friend’s nephew and the many other veterans living with PTSD. They were suffering episodes of panic similar to that of mine, only worse. I wanted to help them, and a little voice in the back of my mind said maybe helping them could help me. And that is when I came up with the idea for the Roger A. Cote Run for Courage. My aunt and I dreamed of hosting a run or walk in memory of my pepere and the dream became a reality. With the aid of BNS Event Management, we held our first annual 5K race on June 14, 2015.

A young Roger Cote in his Navy uniform.

The morning of the race, I set up t-shirts and raffle stands and scanned the parking lots.
Could this work? Friends and family came, our dozen volunteers helped out, and the runners began to show- 120 runners surpassed our goal of seventy five. Some said my pepere wouldn’t have wanted anyone to make a big deal out of his passing. “Just honk your horn and wave as you pass by my grave,” he would say. But maybe the truth is, it isn’t so much for him as it is a coping mechanism for my family and me. The money raised would go to Operation Homefront, an organization that financially assisted wounded veterans. We were helping people like my pepere and my friend’s nephew overcome their illnesses. At the same time, I was overcoming mine.

Roger’s grandchildren and wife Rita at the 2nd Annual Roger A. Cote Run for Courage.

I grabbed the microphone and in a shaky, but strong voice, counted off “READY, SET,-”
and the power behind my words was almost unrecognizable; it was the sound of a familiar voice that had been hidden under panic and fear for so long. In complete control, I took a small step toward the crowd: “GO!”…
…And it was the biggest step of my life. Making a difference? Check.
Happy Birthday Pepere!
Your Granddaughter