What Happened When My Track Coach Told Me I Wasn’t Good Enough

I grew up attending a small Catholic elementary school in town of Endicott, NY, knowing the same 15 other girls and 8 boys since kindergarten. Because our school was so small, we only had CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) sports leagues and then a Modified league in which it joined up with the other 3 local Catholic schools to combine to one team under the local Catholic high school, Seton Catholic Central. In 8th grade, the idea of meeting other kids from the local Catholic schools was exciting and yet terrifying. I was an awkward individual. I had started to lose some of my baby fat, my braces that had been on F-O-R-E-V-E-R were finally coming off, and I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. When you see the same people every single year for 9 years, the idea of meeting new friends is extremely appealing. Although small, my school had cliques and social classes like any other public school.

Under the thought process that “sports gave you structure” imbedded into me by my father, I decided to join the Modified Track team. Not being the star athlete like my brother, I decided to pick a sport where I didn’t feel the pressures of not being in the sport since I was in diapers. Track seemed like a simple sport…or so I had thought.

The new coach at the time (let’s call her Coach M.) expected a lot out of us.  Already a veteran marathon runner who knew the ins and outs of running, she wanted champions. I had wanted fun. It was soon apparent that those who didn’t win her approval or had the immediate talents would soon lose favor and fall into the sidelines.
As a 13 year old on the brink of puberty, I was that awkward, slightly chubby girl who wanted to find something I was good at. It was clear I was not a fast runner, but Coach M. didn’t take the time to figure out why. Parents, I can’t tell you how significant that spring season sticks with me to this day. I remember being told that I wasn’t fast because I wasn’t trying enough. I remember running up and down the dreaded Denton Hill, told to run until I puked in order to win her praise and try harder. I remember crying to my mom because Coach M. would congratulate and rave about her “prized athletes”, but would ignore the trials of the misfits who tried their hardest but didn’t earn a medal. With a cool ease after one track meet, she looked at me and said “Some people aren’t runners.”

With history of exaggeration, my parents would ask me if I was being to hard on myself, or if I had oversaw Coach M’s praises. I had started to doubt myself, thus becoming insecure with my gut instinct, feelings, and my own athleticism. I stopped trying, and with that track stopped being fun. Losing the favor of the Coach also meant losing the favor of the star athletes. Those that won races were perceived as cool, while those that didn’t were not doing their part with the team.
When I write this article, it’s not to whine about not being good enough or to get past inner demons. It wasn’t about the cliques or about losing potential friendships because I couldn’t run fast enough. The experience was traumatizing because one adult had our high school fates in her hands, and she chose to reward the talented and forget the misfits. She set up our high school class hierarchy before we even had a chance to choose. As an impressionable 13 year old, being told I wasn’t good enough by an adult who we were taught to respect and listen to their authority was defeating.
I remember standing at the rewards banquet after the season, where everyone received rewards. Usually, I am a believer that not everyone should get an award. However, in our politically correct Catholic league, everyone received a certificate, with the exception of yours truly. Coach M had forgotten to print one off for me. I remember the embarrassment of standing there in front of our parents listening to Coach M. highlight everyone’s talents but my own. I remember the look on my mom’s face when she realized I not only was the only one who didn’t receive a certificate on a team of thirty plus students, but that maybe my insecurities were true. I remember holding back tears and turning red as I stood there stupidly as my name was overlooked. Most of all, I remember Coach M’s casual shrug and quick apology after the ceremony upon my mom’s request due to the fact that the reward was forgotten.

I carried those insecurities with me throughout high school. Not believing I was good enough to try a sport, I stuck to education and sports I had previously tried. I had accepted being average or “good enough” to participate. My running shoes were put away with those memories mentally tucked away instead of reliving my failures.

Eight years later, a new friend in New York City asked me if I wanted to run a 5K with her. Starting a new life in a new city, I had thought “Why not?” My running shoes had been put up long enough. With each step of running with a new friend, I began to gain my running confidence back. The baggage of the past was becoming lighter with every mile.

One 5K turned into a 10K, which turned into a half-marathon, then several half-marathons, and finally training for the New York City Marathon. My internal revenge is knowing that what Coach M. had said to me didn’t stick forever. Running soon became my own therapy, and I was fastly addicted to a sport that I had given up long ago. She didn’t defeat me. If she had taken the time to invest in me as a runner and suggest long distance running, maybe I would have been one of those “star athletes”. Or, maybe I wouldn’t have been. What matters most is that she didn’t try.

Coaches, take the time to invest in each and every kid you come into contact with. You never know who can be a diamond in the rough. Whether a smile, a good job, or forgetting their certificate at a ceremony, your actions and your words have weight and do not go forgotten. Because of you, they could hang up their running shoes for years because of a single sentence or push to become something they’re proud of. You decide.

No Matter What Happens, It’s Going to Be Okay

After exchanging a few emails on an early Monday Morning with a good friend of mine, we chatted about our beliefs growing up and how society has changed. She was chatting about relationships and drama (as most females do). We started to talk deeper about the beliefs we’ve been taught, and I found myself wondering if they were the same beliefs that we actually put weight into?
During this conversation, we talked about the similarities of our mothers, and their beliefs that you can never have “too many clothes or too many degrees”. Our mothers raised us to be independent and strong women, so that we never had to rely on anyone. They understood that times were changing, and if we wanted to survive in this new world that focused on less family and more career, we would have to have goals and dreams of our own. When it came to men, they taught us that you should find someone who met your match intellectually, humorously, and in faith.
For an early twenty year old, that belief was a literal thought. I skipped two years of college and felt entitled in a way to meet a man of the same aggressive career moves and goals. I looked for the typical “finance boy” or those with or in process of achieving higher degrees, because they were on “my level”. All of this thinking got me with a broken heart, tears over champagne, and waiting like an idiot for a Greyhound bus that would never come.
Through our life experiences, we have lessons. Like our strapping student debt, lessons don’t come without some form of payment. In life, this payment comes in the form of a lot of emotional baggage. Everyone has it. For me, life lessons challenged me to think outside the box of traditional beliefs. Times were changing, and relationships (friendships or more) are not always black and white. In my literal traditional beliefs, I believed if they were motivated in their careers, they were good people. When I started dating a PreMed student, I instantly trusted him because of our common beliefs and good-natured conversations. I instantly trusted him and was enchanted to have found someone who was as motivated as I was. This trust ended with a life lesson that took the form of crying hysterically next to your roommate on the stoop of your Brownstone apartment in New York City after learning that not only this “good-natured” boy cheated on you, but also gave you an STD.
Growing up, I was always the “good girl”. I chose the right paths, wasn’t afraid to say “no”, and kept my goals in front of me. An STD was something I was raised to believe was dirty and something “bad girls” got. Receiving the news that I had not only contracted the STD HPV, but it evolved into cancerous cells, felt like a baseball bat to the head. Everything I believed and stood for were wrong. Every rule I followed had a loophole. Crying on that stoop as a 22 year old I can now realize was a moment of tragic beauty. It was early spring and bright pink cherry blossoms blooming on the streets of the Upper East Side surrounded me. I remember the mascara-stained tears running freely, the smell of my roommate’s sweet “Stella” perfume, and my numbness made everything go in slow motion. It was the moment I had lost my innocence to the world around me.
After a few painful surgeries and emotional fits throughout it, I understood that the material aspect of “degrees and money” were shallow pieces of the puzzle. What truly matters in a relationship has nothing to do with how many zeroes are at the end of their paycheck. I had been hung up on this warped belief for so long, that I imagine I had shut potential real relationship opportunities out.
Life lessons are a moment of fragmented or tragic beauty because you remove those rose colored glasses off your eyes. You look around and appreciate what you do have, instead of what you want to have. When you have these life experiences in your early twenties, you feel like your heart is going to explode. It’s an earth shattering feeling, and you feel like you will die.
While sitting in a Long Island City restaurant with two of my favorite people at the end of October, we talked about our early twenties. When talking about life lessons, my wise friend John talked about learning the simple mantra “No Matter What Happens…it’s going to be okay”.
You will fall in love.
You will have the occasional break up.
People you love will leave you or they will die.
You might lose your job or become disappointed that a life.
But no matter what happens, you will be okay.
Once you learn that, all the other suitcases of baggage will feel a lot lighter and emotional heartbreaks become trivial.

Anti-Heroes Fall Too

At the beginning of March, I had been accepted to write for Elite Daily as an “anti-hero” of relationships. The writers had liked my cynical, New Yorker standpoint that become apparent through my Advice in the AM column. Starting out writing this blog, I had moved to the “city of lights” as a hopeless romantic. I had fallen in love with the bright lights, busy streets, and was enchanted by idea that my soulmate could be walking the very same streets that I was.

Soon, I realized that New York City wasn’t my “city of love”. When you date in New York City, dating becomes a low level priority in comparison to your career, drinking life, and shoes budget. I felt very much in tune with Carrie Bradshaw. I worked in fashion, freelance wrote, obsessed over the next brunch/oyster bar that my friends would visit, and had a credit card bill large enough to match my wardrobe obesssion. My years in New York were the quinessential self-involved twentysomething years that I will hold dear to, but would never wish upon myself again.

When you’re single in your twenties in your small town, you constantly hold over your head that you aren’t married yet. In New York City, you add 5-10 years to your “marriage age”, due to the low priority you give love. My parents were married at 25 and had me at 26. According to their life path, I was way off track. Being the hopeless romantic that I was, I searched for Mr. Right. From internet dating to blind dating to group dating, my roommate and I tried them all. I enjoyed the post date gossip over the late night hashbrowns & hot dogs with my roommate in our tiny Upper East Side apartment more than the actual dates. Soon, every date had become the same, and the “finance boy shine” had dulled in my eyes.

I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to love, you have to look. I’m a big believer of signs. However, my growing cynical side was starting to believe that I saw signs…because I wanted to. I wanted to find the right guy, and I wanted an epic love story. Although when you think about it…who doesn’t?

Those that I fell for, I fell hard…and I fell out of it hard too. Sometimes being a hopeless romantic is a double edged sword because you leap before you look…and most of the time you leap into thorns. Sure, I had my days of crying over wine and wanting to eat tubs of ice cream. But really, how badly was my heart broke if I wasn’t able to tell any of them that I loved them either?

By the time I moved to Charlotte, I was over 2013 and I was over falling for the wrong person. I had realized I had been more in love with the idea of being in love, than actually the person themselves. It’s amazing how you can become stuck inside your own thoughts, and believe your perception is truth. They weren’t for me, and I wasn’t for them.

So when March came rolling around, I saw things less filled with color and the pastels of romance, and more black and white. My cynicism fueled my writing. My “anit-hero” romance posts were fueled by frustration over the male gender. My “going out” moments were more about dancing with my ladies and getting the frustrations out over being in a dead end job.

One day my work bestie and I decided we had enough of the mental abuse at our dead end job. Previously, day by day we were each other’s support team; struggling to make it hour by hour even through this job. Finally, a straw broke the corporate camel’s back, and we decided to end the chapter of our lives. In previous jobs, I have never been able to fully quit and tell them why. The frustrations over the past year had fueled my strength. Before I had known it, I was spilling out all of the illegal and harrassment that had taken place over the past few months. I stood for my word, and I stood ground.

When I walked out of those doors, something had changed within me.

After a long night of celebrating leaving the “hell hole” with mimosas and Common Market, I traveled to Upstate New York with my new puppy in tow. It’s amazing how healing your hometown can be, and I needed some rest and repair after not being home for over 5 months. My trip was filled with family and friends. I was able to get back to my roots and reevaulate the important things in life. I was ready to take Charlotte by storm with a more positive set mind.

I’m convinced the universe has humor. As I’ve said before in all of my posts, the minute you set your mind in one direction and have a plan, the universe tends to knock you off your high horse and remind you kindly that you aren’t the one in control.

On a late Sunday night, after spending time with close family friends and family, I met out one of my best friends for a drink. If we had originally planned to go somewhere besides her work, my universal change wouldn’t have happened. If a freak snow storm didn’t pass through that night, making the roads to slippery to travel home, I wouldn’t have stayed for one more drink.

And if the familiar brown eyed boy sitting at the end of the bar hadn’t recognized me or came over to say hello, my world wouldn’t have turned upside down.

The universe is humorous. Instead of my quiet night out, it made all of those things happen. One casual Sunday drink had turned to another bar, a shot of fireball, and catching up with someone who had caught my eye the prior year. The prior year we weren’t in the same mindset, and we had both been throught the same loss that had severely affected us.  9 months later, all of a sudden, our paths had recrossed and aligned.

So the next morning, when I looked and realized I had a slumber party of two, I shook my head in disbelief.

And the following morning, when I had went on my family’s annual Trout Fishing trip, and looked over to see him there fishing with my family and chatting, I gave up on trying to find reason.

And when three months later, he texted me that he was on his way, moving from Upstate New York to take on Charlotte with me, my heart grew two sizes and I just went along with it.

Life is funny. You can’t plan “taking on Charlotte” or making a plan in its own, because you don’t have the control. Just go along with the ride. The minute you do, you might have a copilot that wants to come along to.





The Power of the Human Heart

The human heart is a magnificent thing.

One minute you can feel absolutely lost, breathless, and feeling like your heart is about so split in two over heartbreak. You don’t know how you’re going to move on, or even make it through the day.

But somehow, someway, you make it through the day. Soon enough, a week has passed. Then the next minute you don’t even know how you fit them in your heart.

When I look back over the past year, I’ve had enough changes to give me whiplash. I can give the cliché advice and agree that yes, everything that I have done or the paths I have chosen have led me to where I am right now.

People make a big fuss about your “firsts” when growing up: your first walk, your first word, your first loss tooth.

When we reach puberty and start to realize the opposite sex exists, our life is all about a set of new firsts: first kiss, first dance, first time you held hands, and your “first time”.

One of the most beautiful and tragic experiences that defines your life is your first love. It’s beautiful because it’s a set of everything new. You’re experiencing a new kind of love, a new set of emotions, and trust in someone not in your family. First love is great.

But first love also leads to that cry your heart out until you can’t breathe/eat a gallon of ice cream/aching breakup and loss that you’ve also never experienced. No, a breakup is never a party. However, the first breakup to your first love, might be one of the most painful experiences that any human has to go through. Some of us don’t ever get over it. Our lives are filled with watching movies and tv that show “idealic love”, but never show the real thing. With our rose-colored glasses on, we believe our first love is the “end all, be all”. When it ends, it’s absolutely gut wrenching.

We carry that baggage from one relationship to the next in hopes of someone “curing us” from our pass ailments.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes that first love does work out. These rare exceptions to this rule is a beautiful thing. However, you can argue that you fall in and out of love with this person. By the time you grow from adolescent to adult…twenty years old to thiry…you are not the same person. If you still love your first love, you know it required work and communication…not unlike anything that those that serial date also face.

By the second and third person that you date, you may or may not love them, but they will be someone you let into your life. They will teach you things about yourself and about dating that you didn’t know with the other person. They will make you smile, make you laugh again, and will dull the baggage of the once requited love. Your insecurities that were turned on after your first love slowly start to diminish, and you start to feel like yourself again.

Everything happens for a reason. Every person that you encounter, every person you date, you were meant to learn a lesson. Your first love is called just that because it is your series of “firsts”. I have cooked many dishes in my life, and the first time wasn’t always pretty. It was an experience, but I’m not going to stop eating steak because the first time I cooked it too well done. When your first love doesn’t work, it’s because it’s generally your first, and not your last.

Your last love is someone who you should truly cherish. Everyone always talks about the “one that got away” or the “first love”. I say that’s bullshit.

I was so romanced by the idea of a first love, that I started dating my first love 10 years later. I fell in love with the story of “us”, and believed that he was my “end all be all”. Yet after a year and a half of trying to make it work, we both realized we didn’t love each other, we weren’t who we wanted to be with, and we had very different goals. He had tried to change me to make me more of the “Mad Men-esque 60s Housewife”, and I was too busy reminding him that women were allowed “crazy things” like goals and opportunities.

So yeah, I’m not all about idea of the “first love”.

It was only until my second love came along that I started to realize how much better love is when you truly know yourself. Everyone has their own baggage. In fact, I believe our baggage makes us interesting. When my second love came around, I had given up on relationships. I had decided that I would be faithful to my dreams and careers, and that I would be too busy to find a guy. In fact, to prove that I was too busy, I got a dog.

So when this one came around, I wasn’t expecting it. But, it’s not to say I wasn’t prepared. Your first love gives you insight into relationships. It provides you caution and stablity to not be knocked off kilter.

The second time around, you know what to expect. You know what to look for in someone you want to be with. You have the confidence to know what you want, and know what you deserve. It also proves to yourself that you can open up again, and you can find something truly amazing. It won’t exhaust you, be filled with drama, and unsettle you. Because you’ve already been through the ringer, you know the warning signs.

And soon your heart will slowly heal from the baggage and the bruising of your first love. It’ll be bursting with happiness, and all your past caution will flee.

And like with any recipe that you try, practice only leads to perfection. My old well done steak will never happen again, and now I can enjoy my medium rare perfection.

Forget about firsts. Learn from them, don’t let them engulf your future decisions.

The human heart is a magnificent thing. 


Some Victories Aren’t So Sweet

Ever since a little girl, my mother has always told me that when I argue, I go for the “goiter”. In other words, if someone hurts me, I find their most obvious flaw or weakness, and shove it right back in their face. It’s the winning kill; the icing on a cake. It’s the ultimate defense mechanism, and truthfully my own very weakness. As I grew, I was able to put a wall around my emotions by pushing away others with insulting comments. Those that stuck around understood that I may have said something spiteful, but it was because I didn’t know how to explain my emotions without looking vulnerable.

Unfortunately, there becomes a time in your twenties when you can’t just “give the blunt truth” to others without thinking of the possible repercussions. In high school, we’re taught that every action has an equal or opposite reaction. This law of science doesn’t just relate to physics, but to relationships as well. I like to think of tolerance and age symbolized as a rubber band. The older you get, the colder that rubber band is, and you have less flexibility. The older you get and the more spiteful of a comment, the less likely people tolerate what you say.

In my early twenties, I was cautious of what I said or whom I said it too. After a tumultuous highschool career, I appreciated each friend I had, no matter how much they walked on me. When my tolerance “rubber band” finally snapped one day in New York City, I was able to trim the fat of those that didn’t value my friendship, and keep those that mattered most close to me. I was able to keep my caustic tongue quiet, with only a few more friendship casualties down the way.

The funny thing about letting your guard down, is sometimes your own self defenses fall down too. By early May, I was falling in a way that left me off kilter and unpredictable. They always show the girls and guys in romantic comedies becoming dreamy or turning into a total klutz…because those are cute things to do. What they forget to show you is that when you start to fall, because you put someone high on a pedestal, they become your own personal kryptonite.

By letting someone in, you fall prey to not only their charms, but also to your weaknesses. Things they say that wouldn’t usually bother you do, because you care about their opinion.

So on one early May, when a conversation topic took a hard turn down south, the normal mid twenties me would have bit the bullet, smiled, and called them out on being rude. However, because I had let my guard down, those comments took an extra hard hit, and the tomboy 8th grader tongue slipped out a caustic curve ball.

I knew it was bad, but I was more concerned of making the inning even.

And when the phone went dead, I knew I had swung it out of the park.

Although this time, the victory didn’t taste sweet.

“My Stupid Mouth, has got me in trouble. I’ve said too much again.”-John Mayer

I had a recent conversation with someone about the differences between calling yourself a “man” or “woman”. In his perspective, even at 25, he considered himself a kid. He referred to his friends as “kids”, and when talking about a female interest, he called her his “girl”. At first, I was a little offended. After moving multiple times, changing careers, and having my own professional life together, I was no where near still being a “kid”.

However, a simple slip of the tongue can ruin your credibility and everything you built up. Words can have a powerful reaction. I’m not young enough to get away with saying anything, and I’m not old enough to have learned this lesson. If I did, I wouldn’t be thinking about eating crow at 4am.

With my little “victory”, I stripped myself of being more than just a “kid”.

Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words can also hurt. They tend to hurt more, since there aren’t any bruises or scratch marks. So next time you feel like taking your own victory lap, think really if it’s that important. I’m all for standing up for yourself, but it has to be said with poise and grace. You can’t fight fire with fire.

Otherwise, you’ll be left on the receiving end of a static phone.

Some victories aren’t as sweet.

Hometowns, Fireball, and the New American Dream

As I’ve often said before, our generation focuses more on being happy with our current life. Our parents and grandparents believed in the “American dream”, the 401k package, and the belief to travel after you retire and the kids are grown.

Our generation chooses simplicity.

We want to live out our dreams without regret.

We make millions of mistakes in our twenties, and promise to have our shit together in our thirties. Let’s be honest…I bet our parents did the same, but they had the society based plan and the picket fence to guard their insecurities. Our generation says “screw it, I’m scared and proud”.

My goal for 2014 has been simple: be happy. In March when I found myself in a mentally abusive job, I quit it. When I found myself wanting more out of life, I started a company with a best friend. I found myself frustrated that the career aspect of my life was taking off, but the romance aspect was a dead lull. My usual hopeless romantic self had lost the “hope”, and I had enough of empty promises. So, like any sane person, I swore off dating, dropped my hopeless romanticism attitude, and got myself a puppy.

Again, like any sane person.

So after all of these series of changes in a week time frame, I needed a little family time. I hadn’t spent a lot of time since moving from New York, and decided to spend the beginning of April with family and friends. Within 24 hours in late March I had quit my job, sworn off dating for 6 months, we landed our companies’ first client, and Andrea & I partied like rock stars with a day drinking celebration because of all of the above.  

10 Hours later with baby ZuZu in tow and a massive hangover to boot (god bless Gatorade), we headed up north for a little R&R. I spent the next few days eating local comfort foods and spending time with my family and one of my favorite gal pals.

I expected a quiet weekend retreat with family.

I expected a quiet catch up with one of my favorite gal pals on a Sunday night, at a new trendy restaurant in my hometown enjoying draft beers and barbecue with Lana.

I expected to be home by 10pm, resting for a camping trip with my family the next night.

I expected to go home to North Carolina rested with a business mindset, and my heart in lockdown.

But why would the universe ever give me something vanilla when I planned to settle for it?

What I didn’t expect was a hand on my shoulder to say hello, and a catch up with my brother’s friend.

I didn’t expect that one bar would lead to two, a fireball shot, and a dancing on a bar.

I didn’t expect waking up to a brown eyed boy, taking him on my family’s camping trip, and waking up to him the next morning.

And I sure as hell didn’t expect to leave my heart back in my hometown.

The universe doesn’t like when you plan things. I should have learned by now that no matter how many times I decide to take control, there’s always a greater plan. You just have to buckle up and enjoy the ride. Our generation was right to enjoy simplicity.

I’m just going to continue the one resolution I’ve kept in 2014: Be Happy.


Eating Crow & Bahama Mamas

One of my favorite Parks and Recreation Episodes is where Ann Perkins goes on a date with Chris because Leslie asks her to. She ends up having a great time with Chris, but Leslie foils the date by giving away the initial ulterior motive. In a way to get back Chris, and apologize for her mistake, she mans up and apologizes by saying “I’m here to eat crow”. Since then, that statement has stuck in my back pocket, with the wisdom and lesson that sometimes even “the beautiful musk ox” character of Ann Perkins has to man up when she’s wrong. The only way to grow is to recognize your faults. The only way to learn is to face your faults and try to resolve them.

Like every February, the Winter cold had beaten down my family and I, and we decided to take a vacation together. After the “Hell Year” (as I so aptly call it) of 2013, my moving (twice), and my brother starting his upcoming Police Academy training, we decided to spend a little R&R together to recollect. The plan was simple: My family would fly down to Charlotte, we would drive the next day to Charleston and board the ship. On the way back, reverse the order and repeat. Being the travel expert, I have been the one in more recent years to plan the trip from the airlines for my family to the cruise itself. My obsessive compulsion of “To Do” lists also included calling my family the day before, ensuring they carried all of their essential items…like passports.

Being the one in charge and the “go to” for Travel Advice, I felt frustrated when people asked me questions. Instead of seeing it from their perspective as I was someone they wanted to  learn from, I became resentful and saw it as being “used and abused”. I didn’t understand why people couldn’t follow the same methods I did, became short and irritable towards those that asked repeated questions, and felt impatient. Being the responsible one, I arrived at the airport to pick up my family 40 minutes early, and realized the flight would be delayed another hour on top of that. I was tired of being the reliable one, the responsible one, and the one who had all the answers. I was letting the “woe is me” attitude suck the positivity of going on a vacation out, and was focusing more on wondering why my family couldn’t just take care of themselves, or me even.

I was wound like a freaking top.

So as the universe would have it, my lesson came a mere 12 hours later as we entered the Carnival ship parking gates…when I realized after 3 hours of driving that I had left  my passport in my kitchen. It was made known through the guards at the gate, that without a passport I was S.O.L.

For the next 2 hours, panic ensued. I had both gut wrenching and calm feelings that I was not going to make it on the cruise ship. I went from crying one moment, to thinking hard at my options. From doctor’s offices, to old high school guidance counselors, to even Ancestry.com, I searched high and low to find a copy of my birth certificate.

..Speaking of, do you know how HARD it is to get a copy of your own birth certificate?

Finally, 40+ phone calls, multiple faxes, and a very close family friend driving all around my hometown just because they’re an amazing person, my family was the last four people to get on the cruise. We had used every any any angle we could use to get that birth certificate-from family friends to calling the New York State DMV. Our resources had been tapped, and it wasn’t until the last 5 minutes did we know I was able to make the trip. Our nerves were raw, my mother and my faces were puffy, and yet we made it.

I am a huge believer that we are given obstacles to face our fears and strengthen our weaknesses. I believe that we entered the beginning of the trip arguing, resenting, and not appreciating the time we had with each other.

We left that experience and boarded the cruise ship a united family. Like Ann Perkins, I realized it was my time to accept I had royally learned my lesson. I had learned that although a world traveler, I was going to make mistakes. Although I had been the one in charge the past few trips, my family were fully grown and capable adults. I learned that if somehow they could raise me, then they must be able to help me out every once in a while. Don’t let pride come in your way.

And when you make a mistake, own up to it, man up, and be sure to buy your family a few rounds of Bahama Mama drinks to take the edge off.

My name is Ashley Massis, and I ate crow.


Follow Up: How Long Must I Stay Before I Can Quit NYC With Dignity?

A dear friend of mine is considering leaving the “city that never sleeps” and moving to the unknown. As she played with her lists of postives and negatives, she sent me a link to Gothamist’s “Ask A Native New Yorker: How Long Must I Stay Before I Can Quit NYC With Dignity?”. After having this constant struggle in my mind about this very subject, I found the article to be refreshing but also sad. After three years of living in NYC, “Country Mouse Ass” asks Gothamist Mag, the very question that I myself have been craving to ask. They ask “how long must they stay in NYC before leaving with dignity”?

Like Country Mouse Ass, I faced the very same question last year, and continually face it today. The rose colored glasses are on, and the grass looks greener back in Manhattan. When you move to New York, everything sparkles. It’s amazing and wonderful to taste, try, and walk everywhere. As someone that moved to NYC right before the summer started, I was enchanted by rooftop bars, city lights, and the allure of getting anything you wanted at the drop of the hat. The first summer I moved to NYC was terrifying, but also limitless.

The Gothamist “New Yorker” responds that not only the fellow “Country Mouse Ass” should leave, but they should embrace their lessons with strength, and wisdom.  “…Your short sojourn in New York has already equipped you with the necessary reflexes and cognitive tools to outwit and outperform your former-neighbors in New England. Like Superman under Earth’s yellow sun, to them you will seem to have great powers.”

By the second and third summer, I had met a core group of friends. Brunches, late nights on Spring Street, and retreats to Long Beach, were all apart of the essential getaways for New Yorkers. I found it funny that after spending so long to live there and make it happen, we were all enjoying when we could run full speed ahead, not looking back, for a few days.

By the fourth summer, I was tired. I was tired of New York and its transportation, tourists, and tight spaces. I craved freedom, a car, and somewhere where requesting a 1 bedroom wasn’t worth giving up my kidney.

In response to Gothamist’s article, I have to disagree about the “native New Yorker” beliefs to the “temporary New Yorker”. I am a New Yorker through and through. When I visit those busy, taxi cab streets, I feel 21 and enchanted all over again. I miss the days of happy hours and when bar hopping meant walking down a block. I hold close to me the early mornings I stretched and went for a run through Central Park to watch the sunrise. I fell in love with Manhattan, and don’t think I’ll ever get my heart back. But, like a bad boyfriend, I needed to breakup with something that wasn’t making me healthy and happy anymore.

You won’t lose your dignity if you leave the city. What you put into Manhattan, Manhattan will put into you. Cherish your time, and if you are temporary, know that you moved not because you failed, but because you wanted something else. Don’t be afraid to move back to your small town and try something new. At one point, New York City was scary and big. It intiminated you and brought you to your knees. At one point, it also made you grin like no tomorrow at unlimited possibilities.

Frank Sinatra said “if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere”. Cherish those words, and know that they hold value. You had a lifetime experience under your belt that not many people will ever be able to understand or know. Hold that close, and embrace change. A tough New Yorker, no matter the location, does not fear change, and they sure as hell don’t regret.

You can always move back. You came, you saw, and conquered. It takes a truly strong person to say “hey this isn’t working for me anymore”. You have only one life to live, and why spend it unhappy because society thinks you should live one way?

Do what makes you happy and don’t care.

That’s the New York Attitude.

Fake Tattoos, Hangovers, and Your Mid Twenties


Thank you Heist Brewery for bottomless bubbles.

For a long time, I believed my small town moral code. I believed that if a guy chased you, he really liked you. If you made him work for it, and he put in the effort, then he was worth it and he would appreciate you. I kept consistency in knowing that if a guy took you on 4+ dates, asked you about your day/week, and paid (although you always offer), he liked you. If he kept following this process, then he would eventually be your boyfriend. If he was your boyfriend, and he worked just as hard as you on keeping the relationship fun and happy, then you would eventually move from like to love and up the relationship ladder.

By the fourth time I got my heart broken, I realized that the world doesn’t shit rainbows and math equations don’t exactly work in today’s relationship roller coaster.

In the 1800s, women showing a little ankle was scandalous. Now, we have Snap Chat (an app that allows you to send a picture and someone to view it for 8 seconds before erasing all together), we have Instagram (an app that shows everyone how much of an alcoholic or foodie you are), and we have Twitter (an app that shows everyone your random thoughts). We can google anything we want, watch whatever we want, and the mystery of a little ankle is no more. We are a highly sexualized nation. If you aren’t serving it, then it’s a matter of time before your partner follows the wafting scent of someone else’s apple pie.

So in 2014, I am going with the “don’t lose yourself but do what you want” mentality. I’m tired of following rules and living up to society’s expectations. Who in society is going to judge me and tell me I’m not a valid person? I’m not naked on a wrecking ball a la Miley Cyrus, nor am I flashing myself getting out of a car Britney Spears style.

When I woke up and realized I had celebrated the pivotal birthday that defined me out of someone in my “early twenties” to someone in my “mid twenties”, I realized that time was running out. No, not in the sense of time running out and I’m going to get gray hairs, cash my security checks, or worry about my 401k. Time was running out for me to make any stupid decision I want and blame it on being young. Once you hit that pivotal “Dirty 30″ mark, you aren’t allowed to use that excuse. By society standards, you’re supposed to have sowed your oats, thrown up enough to know your alcohol limit, and make your first huge purchase whether it be a condo or a house somewhere with a picket fence. I don’t want to get to 30 and realize that I haven’t made those mistakes. Yes, I’ve lived in other ways. I’ve traveled more in one year  than some people do in their entire lifes. But that’s a dream, not a mistake.

Living your life to the fullest means chasing your dreams, but it also means falling on your face and getting back up. It’s during the bruised and broken moments that you can appreciate your life high moments. When I turn 30, I want to be able to laugh at the time I walked into my friend on 2nd Avenue in New York City during her “Walk of Shame” (WOS), and dragged her to brunch while she was wearing the prior night’s clothes. I will think of the time that Brennan and I decided to dance and drink until the sunrise, and almost fell asleep on a park bench in Gramercy waiting, before realizing that the clocks were changed the previous weekend and the sun wasn’t going to rise for another two hours. Or, the time my Australian friends held back my hair over a toilet on my 20th birthday because I thought drinking an entire pitcher of Long Island Ice Tea and trying out absinthe back to back was a great idea. Or, walking to Owen’s bagels with your gal pals in South Charlotte, while rubbing off fake tattoos and talking about the random number your Southern Belle friend found in the jeans of her back pocket.

Hipster animal tattoos. Don't be jealous.

Hipster animal tattoos. Don’t be jealous.

These are moments to be cherished along with achieving your goals, running your personal best, or getting that job promotion you so deserved. I’ve found that after actually living in New York City and evolving in your mid twenties, Carrie Bradshaw still is pretty damn relevant.

You’re going to have your WOS and DOS moments, your hangovers from hell, and pictures on your phones from the best night ever.

Eat the damn cupcake you’ve been staring at in the bakery window. You might not have the time while running around with the kids, or the extra calories to burn later.

Soul Gastrolounge Cupcakes,are all a girl needs sometimes.

Soul Gastrolounge Cupcakes,are all a girl needs sometimes.

Stay up until the sun rises, and capture its beauty. Soon enough you’ll be yawning at 8pm and rubbing that “sore spot” in your neck.

Giggle like a hyena with your girls. Soon enough, life commitments will take you in different directions and you’ll miss having these moments as often as you can.

Drink like a fish at bottomless mimosa brunch.

And when you wake up cotton mouthed in a new surrounding because you threw caution to the wind, remember to quietly grab all of your belongings, be thankful you have face wipes in your car to take care of your racoon eyes, and SnapChat your “Drive of Shame” (DOS) photo to all your friends.

You only live once, and they should be there to experience it too.

From Williamsburg to South End

“Not all who wander are lost”

-J.R.R. Tolkein

When a New York gal moves from her city atmosphere, everything seems to go from 180mph to 30mph. Not including traffic. Used to the hustle and bustle of the city, I started to get a little homesick in early December. I missed the twinkling lights, the fast paced New Yorkers angry at the tourists clogging up our walkways, the sparkle of the department store windows all decorated for the holidays…and especially the people. My friends were apart of my heart, and being so far away while life continued was starting to wear on me.

When one lives in a city like New York, you develop a bond that is stronger than some of the family you have. The things you go through (terrorist threats, Hurricanes) and the things you see (bodily fluids, sardine tight subway cars, vomit on the subway cars), bring you together to cherish the positives. This can be said for any interaction between friends, but there’s something about seeing a homeless man urinating on the subway car you’re commuting on, that really brings you together. Trust me.


For the past year, I had been traveling nonstop. Whether for weddings, freelance work, or just because, my busy schedule had taken me away from my New York Minute. While living in New York City, I had continued my reckless schedule of working full time in fashion and full time as a blogger. Countless times I ran from work in one outfit, called the closest Banana Republic that I had on speed dial, bought an outfit, jumped in a cab, and ran to my next event. It was all about the hustle, and not about the moment. I had begun to crave fresh air, the freedom of driving a car, and people who actually smiled back when you did in passing. I needed a change. The universe had heard my plea, and opportunity was put into motion.

So I packed up everything, sold the things I couldn’t take with me in my new tiny car, and moved to Charlotte, North Carolina.

When you move to a new location, two things always happen.

1. You’re shell-shocked with new surroundings. You’re excited about the potential, but scared to meet new people, try new things, and do things that you’re not used to. It’s scary to be the new kid in class.

2. You have a little bit of longing for what once was. Forget about the bad, and the reasons you wanted to leave in the first place. Your rose colored glasses give everything a bit of shimmer and sparkle, and you start to regret your decisions. Maybe, Woulda, Coulda, are starting to ferment in your brain, and you’re starting to second guess a gut instinct.

Is it our human behavior that we are designed to never fully be happy with our current predicament? Or, did my years of living and breathing the fast paced New York lifestyle turn off my mechanism to literally stop and smell the roses?

By the end of November, I was beginning to second guess my decision. The joys of being a freelancer is never knowing where your pay check will come from. You have to be your own marketer, PR, publisher, image consultant, blogger, and CFO in one perfect package. So I did what any Darwinist would do until something more secure came along-I found a way to survive.


Like any other bohemian in this age with a creative bone in their body and a want of not being “conformed to corporate idealisms”, I freelanced by night and waitressed by day at one of the newest “trendy” restaurants in South End, Charlotte. For those of you who don’t know the area, South End is North Carolina’s own little version of Brooklyn. Old Warehouses, Factories, and Historic buildings have been turned into restaurants and businesses. Trendy young professionals and families live in luxury apartments. Upon visiting the area, I knew it matched my Upper East Side/Williamsbury (yes that’s a real combination) mindset. Add to the fact that the restaurant made me wear a Canadian Tuxedo day in and day out (denim on denim), and my hipster heart sang.

The funny thing about human behavior, is that most people don’t realize how strong they are. They don’t know if they will bounce back, but they do. They don’t know if they will suceed, but somehow they come back stronger and more prepared than ever.

The funny thing about human behavior, is that most people are creatures of habit. I may have moved to a different location, not knowing anyone, nor being the perfect “Southern Belle” idealisms, but I found an area similar to one I lived in 10 hours away. It was a matter of time before I researched and found the art, charity, and fashion scene, and it was a minute later that I became heavily involved in them.

I was able to construct a lifestyle that not only I was used to, but I liked.

Don’t be afraid to take the jump. Don’t be afraid to change careers. I moved from high fashion to serving drinks in a hot minute…just because I wanted to. Life is not about what people think, or the constant ladder of employment we climb. Sometime its about the experience, and how it impacts us. If I didn’t take “fun” waitressing job in historic South End, I wouldn’t have ever met a recent New York City transplant, an Upper East Side boy, who got seated at one of my tables, and caught my eye.


But that’s another story for later.