2017.

So it’s been awhile since I’ve written anything. Lets just say I am in an interesting place. A place I haven’t been in before in my life to say the least, so I’m trying to adjust. 2017 is a year of change and self-awareness for me. I’m truly going through a full self-reflection.

Many things have happened since the start of 2017. I moved to a new city and state, got a new job, witnessed some crazy things within my friendships and oh yeah got a puppy.

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And guys, we’re only halfway through and I am beat.

The amount of breakdowns I have had this year are out of control. A person who never cries has cried more times than I’d like to admit and I feel tired all the time. Worn down is more like it. So I did something…

I decided to succumb to the thing that I always said I wouldn’t do. I finally looked in the mirror at myself and tapped into what was truly going on.

So clinically I have been diagnosed with severe depression and severe anxiety. Typing this out knowing that possibly my loved ones and people who barely know me could read this makes my chest tight. Makes me want to hit the red button in the top left of this word document and delete it all. But see everyone, this is something I have been doing for so long. I have been ignoring the fact that I am a very sad person. I can’t see my self worth and just feel down 90% of the time. I am finally coming to terms with putting that label on myself, to talking about it, to being open about it. I did this because, well, I need to stop hiding from the fact that I have been avoiding this sickness. It’s been eating me alive for longer than I can remember.

As much as I HATE to do this, and view social media as a toxic thing in my life I needed to speak out about it. I needed to lay it all out there because this is me accepting that this is apart of me, but not who I am. I am battling this disease; I promise you this is a battle, an ongoing one at that. I have continuous hope that I will defeat this, I have to. I will not let the thoughts of no longer being here take over, for they have crept up too many times in the past year than I would fully like to admit.

I know most people have said to me, wow, I would have never known. You put up a good front, you hid it so well. Well I am not going to hide it anymore. I am going to now address it and stop looking at myself as a phony. The song “Fake Happy” by Paramore could not have come out at a better time in my life because that is me most days.

I am sorry to everyone that has seen me become irritable, distant and all over the place, if you are apart of my immediate life, you are so incredible for sticking around as I go through this. Most of you don’t even know how much your love and care has helped me through this.

I guess I’m posting this publicly to let this be something that is not looked down upon anymore and to not be ashamed of it. Just because I suffer from depression does not make me a bad person, or should be looked at any differently than I was before. I am not doing this for attention or sympathy, more of awareness. Be thankful for the people in your life, and just because they have a smile on their face does not always mean they’re the happiest. Be respectful, thoughtful and appreciative of everyone’s worth in this world. We’re all here for a purpose, and I’m trying my damn hardest to figure out mine.

If you read all of this you’re a gem. So I thank you. From the bottom of my heart.

Ale

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SXSW 2016: The Time FLOTUS Changed Me

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So it is officially the end of March which means the sadness and realization that SXSW has come and gone is sinking in.

(Awhile back I chatted about why you be apart of this amazing festival. You can find it here)

I have to say this year was one that I will never forget and changed my life in so many different ways. Each year SXSW has a new adventure for me to take part in, and this year did not disappoint.

This will be a lengthy because so many things happened over the 10 days that I can’t hold anything back. So get comfy!

Although this was my 6th festival, this was the first year I attended any panels and/or keynotes that would personally apply to my career. I was so fortunate to attend the interactive portion of the festival on behalf of the company I work for. All I have to say is WOW.

I sat through a 5 hour workshop that specifically applied to my field of work. Let me tell you, I was so inspired, motivated, and eager to come back and present my information. I truly have found an area of the digital space that gets me excited, keeps my attention, and makes me hopeful for what’s to come. Guys, I laughed at tech related jokes because I understood the humor. Although I have only been in this industry a little over a year, I was not once confused on anything they were referring to. That to me was so exciting.

I got to show two coworkers/friends the city of Austin and the amazing things that SXSW has to offer. We Instagrammed our entire trip and I even had someone approach me that she recognized me from our Instagram. I had a Z-List celebrity moment there for a hot minute and I loved it.

Check out some of the pics below:

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After the Interactive part of the festival was done, I took off my paisley crossbody and put on my Crew Chief snapback. I was ready to get started with the festival.

I am going to tell a story, so bear with me. I had a moment in life that I did not think would move me as much as it did.

Here’s a little back story: if you were not aware, the President and First Lady of the United States were keynote speakers at this year’s festival. When I heard about it I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would see them at the festival. Personally, I was just geeking out to be in the same city as them.

I was lucky enough to be asked to help man the crowds for the FLOTUS panel. Then as my reward, I was able to attend it. I was going to be listening to the First Lady talk about empowering women with such STRONG women (Queen Latifah, Sophia Bush, Missy Elliot, Diane Warren). My feminist self was having a low key freak out walking onto the 4th floor of the Hilton.

The panel was so inspiring, more so than I thought it would be. All of them were so humble, and compassionate that it opened my eyes to so many things that I realized I was ignorant towards. Their passion for women’s rights, and equal rights was life changing. Check out 62 Million Girls.

At the end of the panel we were asked to help make sure everyone got out of the ballroom quickly and efficiently. As I was walked up to the stage to help advise people to leave, I realized that all the women, including the First Lady, were walking down taking pictures and chatting with everyone. As the First Lady came to where I was, something magical happened.

Guys, it was like the sea had split and it was just Michelle and I. She then reached her hand out for mine, and said to me dead in the eye “We need to empower women, you are the change!”

It was maybe a 5 second interaction, but man, it felt like a lifetime. I had tears in my eyes, which I could not wrap my mind around. I never in my life thought I would be moved by a handshake and a phrase like I did. Normally that stuff seems cheesy to me, not genuine, but something about the whole interaction struck a chord with me. No phone, no camera, nothing but the authentic memory of a sweet moment.  It’s a memory, a moment, in my life that I will tell my future children. It was something I checked off my bucket list that I didn’t even know I wanted to have on there.

The festival just got better from there. Unexpectedly hung out with 4 of my favorite bands, stumbled into seeing two bands I love (check out Turnover and Citizen), danced too many times to Troye Sivan, and missed Ron Pope for the 4th year in a row. I drank a lot of free drinks, ate way too much pizza, and rode the struggle bus more times than I like to admit. Even though I was sick for 90% of the time, I got to be with the people I adore in the city that changed me. Made new friends, got reacquainted with old ones, and danced with my bests.

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I feel very fortunate to do this festival year in and year out. This one was one for the books and I cannot wait to start planning for 2017.

Keep things weird and go be the change AA-ers,

Ale
P.S. — McDonalds and YouTube know how to party and Fireball you kill me.

A Big, Fat, Much Deserved, Thank You.

It has been a rough couple of months mentally, physically and emotionally for this little lady. There have been too many trips to the ER, humbling instances of losing all control and overall letting go of the complex that I never need any help. In all of this there has been a constant I am thankful to have: my parents.

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Let’s be clear:

My parents are my best friends.

The type of best friends that you call multiple times a day. The ones you cry to, laugh at, FaceTime in public places with, the best of the best. I did not realize when I moved to Indiana how difficult it would be to be away from them. This is the first time in my life where I can’t pick up my things and drive a couple hours to see them. And after everything that has been happening lately, that’s all I want to do.

I think about this daily, how blessed I am to have them as my role models, my support system. Heck, if you would have told me I would be writing this 10 years ago, I would have laughed.

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My parents and I’s relationship was not always this way. Fighting and yelling was a normal occurrence. Wanting to leave home was something I was itching to do since I was 15. But now that I am so far away, I wish I could go back to those days of us all together.

I do not think I say this enough that I adore my parents. I get emotional thinking about how much they have done for me. From spoon feeding me at 18 during my jaw surgery, to consoling me miles away as I was crying to them on my bathroom floor; these are the moments that mean the most to me.

I am a person that never asks for help. Well I shouldn’t say never, but it is a rarity. When I called my Mom two weeks ago an emotional mess, asking her to come out and be with me, she did not even question hopping on a plane to come here. Her eagerness to be by my side made me realize, I am so lucky.

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So I am here writing to the people that may read this blog, to say a loud and proud THANK YOU to the two most incredible people in my life. From my Mom’s amazing singing skills and her tough love attitude, to my Dad’s repeated stories and heart of gold, I thank you. For being my rock, my constant, the thing that pushes me to stay strong and continue to go after whatever I want in life.

I hope one day to be in a relationship that has the support system for my kids as they do for my sister and I. If we be can be half the parents mine are to me, I can say it’s a  success.

March can’t come soon enough to drink a glass of wine and eat at Amalfi with these two crazy kids.

Cheers AA-ers,
Ale

Tips and Tricks: Volunteering for SXSW

It’s the start to a new year which means the anticipation for SXSW begins. I am going to write about how to survive volunteering for the best festival in the world.

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SXSW, for all those who do not know, stands for South by Southwest. It is the biggest film, music and interactive festival in the world. With their world-wide movie premieres, intimate chart topping performances, and launches of the best apps yet to hit market (Hello Twitter launched there) it appeals to a mass amount of people.  It is hosted in the lovely Austin, TX and happens every year in March.

The best way to jump into this festival, when you are on a budget, is volunteering. Every festival, for the most part, gives the opportunity for people to volunteer which then gives you the chance to experience the festival in the best way.

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When some friends asked me if I wanted to volunteer in Austin 5 years ago, I jumped on it. I had no idea that by saying yes and investing those 4 days in 2011, that my life would change forever.

I became obsessed with SXSW and the head members of my volunteer team noticed. After 2 years with the festival I got the chance to be a Crew Chief. A Crew Chief in SXSW terms means that you are essentially one step below staff. You are still a volunteer but in charge of an entire crew of people. It’s a great way to be 100% involved with the festival from beginning to end. I feel very privileged that I have been asked back each year, it’s my favorite thing to do!

So now as a pro of the festival I am here to offer some tips and tricks. So AA-ers get out your pens and paper, or the notepad app on your phone — let’s get going:

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First and foremost VOLUNTEER!

If you want to really experience the festival (and without spending money your first year) I highly recommend volunteering! I have volunteered for many festivals over the years and hands down SXSW takes the best care of their volunteers, and I mean REALLY takes care of them.

Meals, badges, energy drinks, and SWAG! The swag is just amazing. Plus the SXSW Volunteer Coordinators and staff are the best of the best. From start to finish they make being a volunteer not really feel like volunteering. Which is really amazing.

So Volunteer Calls are this weekend:

Here’s the link go register:

http://volunteer.sxsw.com/register

The biggest perk of being a volunteer is getting your badge. There are different types:

  • Interactive Badge
  • Film Badge
  • Music Badge
  • Gold Badge
  • Platinum Badge

Depending on how many hours or shifts you work gets you one of these badges. What you invest into the festival comes right back to ya in the form of a really awesome perk. Badges (depending on which one you get) can get you into conferences, films, shows, events and SO MUCH MORE!

So now go and register for the best crew in the world: ARTIST PARKING OPS! We are in charge of all Artist Parking during the entire festival. We talk with bands, and people on the street constantly. It’s a really fun and easy way to get your badge and live the festival the best way, on the street! (Shameless plug for my team, but you get to hang with the coolest people and you need to come. Just come.You know you want to. Plus you get to hang with the Awkward Adult trio. COME ON!)

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SECOND: RSVP for all the parties. Every. Single. One.

You need to RSVP for all the parties that are going on throughout the city during SXSW. I made the rookie mistake one of the first years I went by not doing this.

So I advise you go to RSVPster or Eventbrite look up all the parties and RSVP for everything! Most parties have free drinks or food, special performances, and the chance to experience something up and coming! Some party sponsors in the past include: Tumblr, Yahoo!, Samsung and the city of Vegas. GUYZ. The city of Vegas sponsored a bar at a party last year, if that doesn’t reel you in, what could?!

Third: Plan Ahead.

Look up the bands, movies, conferences, panels before you go. Listen, learn, and love them so you can see it all in the most intimate setting with other music/film/interactive lovers.

SXSW has an amazing app that helps with all your planning needs!

Download the app here:

http://www.sxsw.com/mobile

What I love is that it helps you build your schedule for the entire festival. Just click the star and it adds it to your schedule. It helps with prioritizing what you want to see and when you want to see it.

I suggest making this schedule weeks before coming out there so you know where venues are, how long it will take you to get to each show, etc. I have become a victim to running from one side of downtown to the other to see Hanson in years past, and let me tell you, it was rough. Don’t make the same mistake!

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Fourth: Dress Accordingly.

Okay all you festival fashionistas, let me enlighten you on something. Even though this festival is in March, in Texas, 99% of the time it will be raining. Or freezing. Or blazing hot. Or windy. Every possible weather condition you could think of, happens over the course of the 9 days. So dress to accommodate the weather, not to impress. Or if you still have the urge to impress the hundreds of thousands of people in the city, be smart.

I promise you will regret wearing sandals in the rain or pants in 90 degree weather.

Personal opinion, of course.

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Fifth: See anything and everything.

Walking down the street if you hear a band playing in a bar, go inside. If you see that there is a comedy show playing at Esther’s Follies, stand in line. Paramount is playing an Indie Film with not as well known actors? Go see it. EXPERIENCE IT ALL!  I would have never seen Ellie Goulding do an acoustic show or appreciated Joseph Gordon-Levitts awesome-ness if I didn’t just go. Soak in all that you can. You never know who you are going to see, or what you can be apart of. Don’t sit back and watch everyone else.

That was just a little snippet of the Top 5 tips when it comes to SXSW. There are a million more that I could list but I felt this would do.

Now go on and head down to the Austin Convention Center tomorrow if you live in Austin, or if you don’t live in Austin, reach out and you can still help out! SXSW would love to have you.

So go forth and conquer SXSW 2016 my lovely AA-ers, you won’t regret it!

Ale

New Year, New Goals, New Shit.

Once again I feel like I’ve neglected my child for months. So much happened at the end of last year that I decided to embrace the present and ignore technology (okay that’s a lie, but I haven’t sat down at MY actual computer in months). My apologies once again, life has slowed down and will for the next couple months so expect something I’ve promised time and time again; frequent updates of what is going on in the life of Ale. So get ready AA-er’s. It’s happening, whether you’ve been eagerly waiting for this or not.

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So now that we are officially into 2016, I decided to write about what everyone does: NEW YEAR NEW ME!

What will I aspire to accomplish this year that will evidently go unnoticed in a month?

Ah, my apologies, I am seeing the glass half empty. Let me start over.

In 2016, I am trying to actually hold myself to one resolution that has been weighing heavy on my heart. I’ve told many of my close friends about what I plan on doing and even though some say it’s what makes me “me”, I have to truly invest in this.

My resolution this year will be to care less.

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Please let me explain.

I am a person that has always prided myself on the fact that I try to keep relationships when I feel strongly about them. I care so much about the people in my life. I also love meeting new people. Connections with humans is something unlike anything else. An addiction of some sort. I am such a people person, to me being surrounded by people gives me a rush.

Finding someone with similar interests or a connection of any sort I am drawn to them like a magnet. I get so excited to have conversations and memories with people that I sometimes feel I care a little too much. And in the end I get hurt.

I decided this year to not let that happen anymore. I am going to invest in the friendships and relationships that invest in me. I decided to not make myself sick over people who I know wouldn’t do the same for me.

As sad as this makes me to possibly lose friendships that I’ve had for YEARS, it needs to happen. Over the years the connection has dwindled. The urgency for one another and curiosity of each others personal lives has become superficial. There are only so many times I can text saying “I miss you! How are you?!” with crickets on the other end.

So it stops there. I have vented too many times about being let down by people that I need to stop letting it bring me down.

Over the past year, I have rekindled friendships I’ve missed and it has been so refreshing. This made me realize that being attached to friendships I had put on a pedestal for so long, may not be the healthiest for me emotionally.

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So I am asking friends, family, whomever is in my life, to hold me to this. If I call you about how so and so did this and have the same conversation we’ve had before, remind of this. Tell me to let the relationship die, pick up the pieces and move on, you have so many other people in your life that care. Invest in them, drop the rest. (You can quote this exact phrase if you’d like, I support it).

I am not vowing to be a cold-hearted bitch, or stop caring completely, but I will care LESS about somethings and MORE about others.

I am so happy to be surrounded by some of the raddest, most caring, eccentric, bishes in the world that this resolution doesn’t seem unachievable.

Cheers to 2016 AA-ers, let’s vow to keep the best people in our lives and say peace out to the rest.

Much love,

Ale

Becoming a Cameleon: Adapting to Change

First off I want to apologize for the lack of attention to this over the past couple months. If you have stuck around waiting for new posts from your favorite trio, I can confidently say WE’RE BACK! And things will be a little different but ever so awkward. So as I dust off my keyboard get ready to be informed of big things that happened in the past month or so.To put into perspective what my life has been focused around lately: I opened my personal computer for the first time and kept putting in my work password for a good 20 minutes. *insert eye roll emoji here* When working in retail leading up to and around the holiday season, your life is consumed by work and planning to make sure things go as smoothly as possible. I am happy to get back into my “me” time on Saturday mornings at my favorite local coffee shop. So get ready AA-ers your once blonde-turned redhead is ready to give you emotional and trying-hard-to-be-witty posts. __________________________________________________________________________

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Change.

Unfortunately,  this theme has been something in the forefront of my life for as long as I can remember. As much as I always say “Embrace it! It makes you unique and have character!” It’s hard when all aspects of your life change in one day. It makes you sit back and go “Hold on, how am I going to handle this?”

Let me explain. (PREFACE: I will say poop a lot, and like a 3 year old I still chuckle. Just an FYI!)

For anyone who is close to me, they are aware that medical issues come hand in hand with the territory. An “Ale-ism” perhaps. From major jaw surgeries, chronic pain in my hips, lady issues, the list goes on. It is a checkbox short of a laundry list. So when I started to have issues with my stomach a few years back, I honestly played the ignorance card. I chalked it up to being lactose intolerant, or honestly being poop shy. TMI (sorry fellas). I was literally fulfilling the stereotype of women not pooping. And it was miserable. Just imagine going 3 weeks without anything happen, 3 WEEKS! For a person who lives to eat, life was pretty shitty (Okay I had to throw that in there, bowel jokes done!). I won’t go into the gory details but let’s just say it’s not fun. I had to cave and go to the doctor.

I had the worst experience with him. I got the impression he thought I was bluffing and not really having these issues. I had seen a doctor in the past and he suggested I do a series of tests, but I was too nervous. So fast forward 3 years and I am telling my new doctor all the details. He said he knew it was just IBS with constipation but just to check things off we were going to do those tests. So going into the tests I thought I was being over dramatic.

The tests included:

  1. Taking a pill with…wait for it….24 PLASTIC THINGS IN THEM THAT TRACK HOW IT WOULD MOVE THROUGH MY COLON. GUYZ. I HAD PLASTIC IN MY COLON FOR GOD KNOWS HOW LONG! I went back over the course of 6 days and none of them had left my body. So I bet there is still a little plastic nugget hanging out watching Netflix in my colon right now. I try to not think about it because it weirds me out. First red flag something wasn’t normal.
  2. Second test was the blood work. Nothing crazy there. Except blood and I are not best   friends. But I survived and they came back normal.
  3. Finally, the worst test of them all. A colonoscopy. Let’s take a moment of silence to anyone who has gone through this. *30 second silence* It was the worst. Imagine drinking a gallon of flat, salty, lemon lime water, and camping out in the bathroom until 3AM. Everyone has to do it, but man, it’s a ROUGH time. My momma is the best and came out to be with me during this. And when I explain what the outcome was I am SO grateful she was. No one else can take care of me like she can. I don’t care how old I am my mom is the only one I want to see when I wake up from being put under. Hands down.

Waking up from the procedure is honestly very blurry, but a procedure that is supposed to last an hour, only took 15 minutes before he realized what was wrong with me. In my dazed state of mind I heard a mixture of “test failed” “twisted colon” “high fiber diet” “elongated colon” “worse comes to worse we will remove the colon” — HOLD THE PHONE. Remove my colon! I freaked and started hysterically crying. (This is typical when I wake up from anesthesia, but I think this time was a little different)

Let me provide a backstory:

When I was 4 years old I was in the hospital for a little bit due to colon issues. I remember vividly tons of tests being done, eating Jello 24/7, and peeing the bed a lot. The doctors told my parents I had an elongated colon, and the reason I was having all these issues was due to a lactose intolerance. So limit lactose and BAM! All will be fixed. Well 20 years later, I find out I am not lactose intolerant (GIVE ME ALL DA QUESO!) but now my colon has twisted into itself, hence never going to the bathroom. The mood swings, bloating, skin issues, EVERYTHING was due to this.

My mom started to cry with me when she heard this and blamed herself. I think that broke my heart the most. My parents have done so much for me my whole life that blaming them for ANY of this was absurd. They may have known, but the doctors gave them a solution. I was very conscious about my dairy intake and I thought all was well.

My life most certainly changed that day. Now I’m one of those people asking a million questions at restaurants seeing if whole wheat or grains are an option, subbing fries with a salad, and making sure I am getting about 30g of fiber a day. Let me tell you, that is A LOT of fiber. I am on 4 different types of medication and I track everything I do in my life. I am trying to untwist my colon through a healthy diet and exercise. I am trying so very hard to have surgery be the last resort. I do not want my number of surgeries to go up to 8 or 9. I am too young and refuse to let this defeat me.

I am very conscious now of what I put in my body. I am limiting eating out, and drinking beer (sad day!) and overall being aware of what my body is telling me. I fell off the path a little bit when I was in Austin, and I have been sick all week. So now when that happens, I notice it. I realize that I am doing this to make sure that the extreme is a distant memory. 

I can 100% say I have never felt better. Eating healthy isn’t awful, the recipes are fun and experimental. Who knew sweet potatoes would be something I crave daily? And kale isn’t THAT bad. I am lucky that I have family and friends who have been helping me and being there for me. Fingers crossed when I go in January that it is untwisted and things are great! I am determined to never feel like that again. And like I said surgery is not an option, nope not happening.

So here’s to a change. A change in my life that was needed and is being embraced to the fullest.

Stay healthy AA-ers,

Ale

My So Called Personal Brand

The Internet is the best/worst thing that has happened to the 21st century. When I think about the Internet in reference to my life there are not many memories that do not have it being a prominent factor for different milestones.  I mean come on I work on a website now, my life revolves around the internet.  As pathetic as that is, the Internet and social media are in the forefront of almost everyone’s lives. Conversations and social settings are filled with people trying to get the best Instagram picture with the coolest filter, or tweeting something clever enough to get retweeted by your favorite star (I am 100% guilty of this so no judgement).

There’s an app out there called Timehop. The point of this app is to look at all of your social media accounts over the years. It essentially gives you constant #tbt material to put out for the world to read. Remember how you used to post a Facebook status like “is tiredddddddd” or an Instagram of a Blueberry Cobbler from Salt like 5 years ago? Okay maybe that was just me, but now thanks to Timehop I am continuously reminded of the dumb things I put out there forever.

Last week I saw a status I posted 6 years ago about my mom. My mom and I had a very complicated relationship when I was in high school. I know a lot of teenagers go through the angsty teen years where their parents are “seriously the worst” *queue the eye rolls* but ours was a little different from that. I was malicious and relentless with making life for her something she hated. Seeing that status on my Timehop made me cringe. I put it out on there for the whole world to see that I hated my mom. And it lives out there. Forever. I understand that you grow up and the things you did 6 years ago do not make you who you are, but now that the Internet exists it is a constant reminder of the person you used to be.

Let’s just say, I am not overly excited about how I have represented myself over the past decade. All I can think about is how thankful I am Instagram and Snapchat were nonexistent when I went through my rebellious stage in high school. Unfortunately there are pictures on Facebook somewhere of me ontop of a counter with my shirt pulled up exposing my belly ring because I thought I was CoOoOoL. In this day and age those little things can make or break your future, which is so scary to think about. I cringe when I see people posting pictures of their beers or drugs, because this is your brand. Put out there what you want the world to know about you. Now I know I do not use my social platform to the potential I could. But I think it is something to consider, to be conscious of, when remembering the future of my personal brand. My reputation on the Internet.

This blog is a big step to put out there what I want the world to know about me. I am breaking down my wall to give the world my thoughts, passions, and opinions.

This is the future of my personal brand, I am in control and will make it what I want.

Be mindful AA-ers,
– A