Harambe, Parenting, People and Grace

May 31, 2016

Last night was one of those nights where I found myself so agitated with the internet/social media and just people. People. I felt like I wanted to disappear on all platforms and not be a part of any of the hypocrisy that constantly rises and arouses another. I thought of my blog and how its been silent around here during the month of May (for a few reasons). I've even entertained the idea of not blogging for a while, simply to decrease my social media presence.

In recent (and viral) news, the story of a young boy, age 4, who fell into a Gorillas pit at a Cincinnati zoo has the internet going insane because the Gorilla, Harambe, was shot dead in order to save the life's boy. I'm 99.5% positive you've heard of this, if not, just google it. But a fair warning, you may become incredibly overwhelmed with the public response, blog posts, & media coverage surrounding this incident.

After watching video footage and photos of the situation, here were my initial thoughts:

 The way people judge so harshly constantly as if they’re so perfect baffles my mind every single time! I hate the fact that this beautiful creature was taken from his natural habitat without his consent, lived 17 years caged and is now dead- because a small human invaded his space. Gorillas are highly intelligent creatures and from all the footage going viral, there’s a pretty clear chance he was sheltering the little boy. As a parent of an eager and walking toddler and older sibling to younger kids myself, I can attest to how a child can get away in a split second. Accidents happen all the time, every single passing day. I can’t believe everyone is flat out calling his mother a “bad mom” because of this incident. Why was there even a chance a small child could fall into that place is beyond me. It should have had better borders. I will say that regardless of how well-behaved this gorilla may have been, he’s still a gorilla. He is still a 400 lb animal with supreme strength right next to a 4 year old in a pretty agitated situation with dozens of people looking down at them amping the hype in the terror. The most horrifying moment for me was watching the gorilla drag the child by the ankles, although it seems the gorilla was trying to guard and hide the child in his own way- from the crowd above them. Place yourself in this horrified child’s shoes- anything could have gone wrong. The risk and chance were present. Thankfully, the child has survived with scrapes and minor injuries, but this is still a tragedy in every sense.
RIP Harambe described as a well-mannered "gentle giant" by his keepers.

So today, I'm scrolling through Facebook, and of course major websites/blogs are writing about the story and the public is absolutely enraged at the Zoo's decision to ultimately kill Harambe to save the child's life. Many people question why tranquilizers weren't set in place prior to going to the all-end alternative; shoot to kill. For 2 logical motives, the zoo keepers didn't go for the tranquilizer. 1. It would take about an hour for it to set with the 400+ lb animal & 2. Harambe, the gorilla, would become even more agitated and angry, which could increase the chances of him severely injuring the 4 year old boy. 
Despite my opinion of Harambe standing in a protective stance towards the boy, I read a status post by an experienced zoo-keeper, Amanda O'Donoughue, earlier this morning who worked closely with Gorillas and in her opinion, she did not find the common persons idea of Harambe being "protective" to be true. She goes on to explain how Harambe's body language and actions towards the boy was in effort to intimidate. She says, "Males do very elaborate displays when highly agitated, slamming and dragging things about." It is seen in the footage that he drags the little boy not once, but twice, at very terrifying speed. Harambe had a lot of attention on him from the crowd so it makes absolutely sense he would be trying to intimidate what he's feeling threatened by. Through her description of the animal and reference from personal experience, she clear mentions multiple times that it wouldn't be Harambe's intention to actually hurt the boy. No malicious intent whatsoever, but it is very clear the young boy could have been hurt badly in the presence of this massive creature. I honestly value this persons opinion because she has direct and hands-on experience with such being, unlike 90% of Facebook users just commenting out of rage, passion, and anger... which brings me to my next point. 

I am trying hard not to be surprised at the rage, but I am stunned at the disgusting words towards the mother of this child. From what I've seen via social media, a mother of 4, in a relationship, with an administrative job in a day care. From the video, you could hear the mother constantly comforting her child with her words and reminding him to stay calm. That she's there, that she loves him. She vocalizes her hope in God to protect him, while she seeks help from the zoo officials. OF COURSE, the savages online completely disregard the mother's efforts to calm her child in this incredibly horrifying situation (speaking from a mother's perspective). Of course they disregard the fact that kids will be kids and accidents happen on a constant basis. Yes, accidents that result in emotional distress as well as those that result in fatal disasters. People are calling this mother lazy, irresponsible, negligent, WORTHLESS, yes, worthless. Many asking why and how could she have kids, many- who have no kids of their own, with the, "If it were my kid..." blah blah. Wow. I have no words. It makes me so angry. It makes me want to curse. It makes me want respond to each attacker individually for being so dismissive of this mothers efforts to keeping the boy calm and gentle AFTER the fact- because truly, at that point, what more can do you? It makes me angry that they don't know or understand the difficulty and challenge that may be presented when being out with multiple kids- especially at a zoo, where the majority of these children are beyond ecstatic about their surroundings and the majestic creatures surrounding them. I get it, its a huge deal. The kid got away and nearly faced death because he escaped his mothers eye. As a result of this, a beautiful gorilla who was simply minding his own business has died. Children get hurt and face life/death situations every single day and just because this childs life came in close contact with Harambe and the decision came down to riding of him, for the sake of the boy, doesn't make the fight for his life any less worthy. Personally, I don't think a "horrible" mother is out with her family at the zoo anyway. When it comes down to the plain and simple fact that she and I and you are human, it is unfair that she's being attacked in such a way. 

I read a comment by someone who I'm going to literally just assume doesn't have kids. After lines and lines and lines of derogatory words towards this woman people just call "the mother of the 4 year old boy", Michelle Gregg, the stranger went onto to blast her and all parents, telling us to control our kids and keep them home until they're well controlled and listen. She asked why was this mother even out with this kid- and even went as far as calling the child stupid. Yep. Flat out- just like that. Look lady, regardless of how well mannered and disciplined a child is, there's no say in what could trigger that child to have a meltdown, act out, give the parent a hard time, or get away the split second he or she can. Is it up to the parent to enforce disciplinary action and a conversation that results in the child acknowledging the dangers of doing such things and LEARNING from his or her poor choice? Of course. But please, be more realistic. "Don't come out of your house until your child is controlled"? What does this even mean? I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt here and say you wish a child would simply listen and comply with the parents commands and/or requests, but simply put, it just doesn't happen- each and every time. And believe me, this is a harder pill for the parent in charge to swallow than it would ever be for you, the annoyed and irritated stranger.

I could only conclude this with wishing there was more grace among us in this world. As for Harambe, I truly feel for this tragic loss. I wish animals weren't kept against their wills in places like zoos or used for entertainment in circuses. They belong in their natural habitat, where they are free to be and do not present any danger to us if they're being left alone. ---Rest In Peace 
Harambe, 1999-2016

Motherhood, balance, clubbing?

May 24, 2016

I feel constantly stretched by everything I want to do and everything time and energy allow me to do. You shouldn't juggle 3 glass balls, if all you know how to juggle is 2, because you'll run the risk of dropping the 3rd one and you know, you'll make a big mess. I've been juggling many balls lately without really knowing how, leading to weariness and burnout. It's May 22nd, which means we have about a week left of the month and then we're onto month 6 of this year. We're just about half way into 2017 which is just mind-boggling.

Mothering - I can't help but laugh at myself when a few months ago I would tell myself this thing would get easier as my son would grow bigger and thus more "independent". That this would open up more time for me to plan content and blog. Jokes on me. Every new day, my son demands more and more attention. More play time, more meals and snacks, more nursery rhymes sing-alongs and dances, more conversing, more correcting, more patience, more intention, more energy. To all those additions, less silence, less calm, less convenience? less focus, less sanity, sometimes.

Over the last few weeks I've been consumed by a sense of inadequacy. I once promised myself I would always remind myself that I can and that I'm able, but sometimes the races of life rush through us more rapidly than we expect or maybe than we could manage. I don't feel I give my best in certain areas and I hate that. Well, then, give it. Give your all. Give your best. I would, if it were that easy. If its not one thing lacking one day, its another lacking some other day. When the energy is present, maybe the time isn't. When the time is available, maybe the desire is gone. When the lies of feeling incapable pollute my mind, I battle them with many thoughts of possibilities and a belief in my being. Sometimes, I feel like a shell. A shell of the person I once anticipated to be. Someone with a guard or protective outing, but empty inside, waiting to be filled again or packed with something new.

In recent weekends, I craved something I never really craved before. Well, that's a lie, maybe I attained a similar craving when I was around 15-17 with my friends in New Jersey, but the fact that this craving was here while I am a mother and wife screamed something was wrong, or maybe it just communicated I needed some sort of measurable balance. I went to some bars, and I went to the club. 2 weekends in a row, I can unapologetically admit. With my husband, of course, but desires of being alone also wired through me. I danced and danced until my feet were tired, I consumed alcoholic beverages (responsibly) right up to the point where I would tell myself, "ok, if I take that shot, I won't really be able to walk, so let me not." The entire time, I remained conscious, I just let go a little. And it was ok. I saw some people that knew me and vice versa, and of course everyone was shocked to see that I was out. My husband had a friend visit him at work and tell him, "hey, I heard your girl was out!" A part of me was proud of the fact that it was noticed and classified as a rather rare occasion because it encouraged me to believe he or she who saw me knew of my priorities and that maybe I was just out for once having a fun time. The third weekend came around, and I wanted to go out, again. The only reason I (or we) didn't is because we didn't have a babysitter and of course I would only leave my son with a very trusted few.

I found myself anxious and feeling like I was wasting a Friday and Saturday night. Lol! What? I go to bed on those nights like any other night, cuddling with my little boy, happy as ever. Why was I not wanting to be home now? Why was I seeing my time at home as boring? As... lonely? My husband was with me, my son was peacefully asleep... everything was in its perfect place, except that balance we're suppose to carry within. Being out, at the club, as a mom, I gained a new perspective. In the simplest terms I whispered to myself over and over again, "it's okay." It was an experience I appreciated by seeing it through a new lens. Time out... literally. Time away from demands, away from routine, away from the calm. It was loud, and I had fun with the noise- for once. To see that everyone I was surrounded by just had an intention to have a good time was enough for me to feel comfortable. I felt SO good about myself. I didn't feel guilty and thats a big deal.

I'll be 24 in a few months and after reading and listening to a lot of inspirational books and podcasts, I realize more and more how young I am and how much of life is ahead of me. I don't think the club scenery was what had me fueled and rejuvenated throughout the week, but the fact that I was exposed  to a night life so different than what I've seen and done the last 2-3 years. I was filled with liberty and embraced all the freedom before me. I was free to be! And what ever I did with that was up to me. Life is really about balance and I learn more about it every passing day. Have your priorities straight, but don't let anyone guilt you to believe you should be a prisoner in your own life because one or two things have welcomed a change. You deserve balance; however that may come to you. With me it happens over some quiet time, blogs, reading and coffee. But on occasion, I guess I can use a night or two away. Time in and time out.

Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Water

May 4, 2016

This little guy came to me through my point accretion at Sephora. It was time for me to choose a mini sample at checkout and I was interested in seeing how this primer spray would prolong or enhance my makeup. Smashbox has a generally good reputation for their primers, but who wouldn't want to try something for free before indulging in the original price?
The Photo Finish line of products are geared to enhance the quality of the skin in preparation for foundation and heavier makeup application to look flawless when photographed. I love that the mist from this water is light and refreshing. It has a delicate scent which dissolves right away and isn't bothersome at all. It suits all skin types which has been a plus for me since apparently I'm in a weird skin-type transition. I found that it absorbed rather quickly leading me to be fast with my application process- which is also a plus. Coating my skin with this prime water really enhanced the performance of my foundation. I can see how it works effectively for all skin types, because in areas where my skin is rather oily, the foundation and everything above that adhered well. In the areas where my skin is a bit drier, the moist of the mist hydrated everything and therefore created a balance well-throughout.

I definitely see myself purchasing this when my sample is up. It gave me a more radiant look and also made my skin appear super soft. I totally recommend this for any photoshoot, night out, or long work days. The price ranges from $16-$32, depending on the size you purchase. I spray about 3 spritz  on my face prior to applying makeup, but after applying moisturizer. It is also recommended to use as a setting spray. I didn't spray any when my make-up was finished, but I am going to assume it'll do a great job locking everything in since it did so well underneath the products.

TIP Spray product onto beauty blender and press foundation into skin for a more natural, dewy look.


Blogging | 10 Things I Wish I Knew

May 2, 2016

I really couldn't count with two hands the things I've learned throughout my blogging experience and the things I wish I knew prior to initiating everything to make the process a little lighter, but today I wanted to highlight 10 things that could potentially ease your journey if you're a starter or if you haven't thought of such things...

  1. An editorial calendar saves time and stress. It serves as direction and a guide towards content creation and publication. Taking the time at the end of each month to brainstorm and plan for the upcoming one can make a significant difference in your blog's growth and audience attraction, as you are more likely to be prepared.
  2. The more I read, the better I write. I didn't find joy in reading until my sophomore year in high school. Although its better I found the joy for it then, than it would have been for me to discover it now, I wish again and again I had started to read for pleasure sooner. Reading is a key component in developing writing and communication skills; which are essential to me as a person who enjoys conversation and authorizing a blog.
  3. Photography quality is supremely important. Sure, in the beginning its ok and understandable not to have higher-end photographing equipment, but a crisp clear photo(s) does wonders to the attraction of a blog. A blog post promoted with a high quality photo and a gripping title is statistically more likely to get clicked on than a bare title.
  4. Sometimes its better not to look so much into the work of others. This may result in your work spinning off of theirs and looking less like something thats more genuinely you. Its ok to seek inspiration and be inspired, but when your work starts looking less yours and more theirs, its time to pause and reflect.
  5. Drafting posts in bulk is awesome. Create the skeleton or layout of a post without thinking much of details and grammar. Just write freely and continuously. Save and come back later. Try doing 3-5. Upon your return, edit, add photos, and perfect the posts and schedule them for a publishing time.
  6. Being active on every social media isn't necessary and can result in distraction. Go with the ones you most enjoy! Don't stress about a following. Establish your presence and the rest will come.
  7. Others will seek your advice- even if you aren't a pro. People are attracted to dedication and consistency. The more you show that, the more someone may feel compelled to look up to you. Whether you realize it or not, you're inspiring someone on a day to day basis. Share what you know from your trials and errors and personal experiences. Everyone is an expert in their own niche. 
  8. Its ok to mess with your layout until its a reflection of who you are and what you want. Every detail and design should reflect you. Copying bloggers you're inspired by will show at some point. Stay true to yourself and develop your own brand.
  9. The building of a brand and aesthetic takes time and exploration. You can't expect to have everything perfect right away and have someone recognize your work at a glance, but you can work hard to achieve what you mentally visualize and feel in your heart every time a post goes live.
  10. Don't worry about income, popularity, or how others do it. Do promote your work because if its going to get somewhere it'll need a little push, but don't stress things like becoming famous or getting money. If that comes, it comes with time and with the obvious hard work you've put forth throughout the years (maybe months). Start it and continue it because you really want it. Because you actually enjoy. Not because such and such has an amazing life doing so. Focus on integrity and connection.
Bonus Don't worry about getting a few reads/views on a post you worked hard on. Realize that a few reads is all you need. Focus on the depth with the audience you're building and not the width of your reach. Appreciate 10, 30, 50, 100, 350 reads/views. That is the start to anything. Overnight success isn't a real thing. It isn't what you should want anyway. You want to get to a point where if and when you are a mega-star, you have all of your smart, hard work and dedication to thank. While you are careful and strive for excellence with every published post, focus on your blog as a whole, and do not measure your success post by post. This will help you keep the perspective of blog growth in line. Think of the new reader stopping by today and all the high quality posts they'll be able to explore through your archive. The posts you worked hard and diligently on will get read. If not today, tomorrow. 

Gift Ideas for 10 type of MOMS (Incl Yours)

May 1, 2016

With Mother's Day around the corner I thought I'd share some gift ideas for our loving, hardworking, gracious mama's. Becoming a mother changed soooo many things about myself internally. It is one of the best roles in my life and I'm encouraged to go forward every single day with just a look from my little boy. I thought it would be fun to throw out some ideas depending on the kind of mom/moms or women in your life. 
  1. Yours - no one knows her like you do. The best gift you could ever give your mother is your time, respect, and appreciation throughout the course of time. Love her infinitely through your actions. Study what she likes and surprise her when she least expects it. Compliment her accomplishments as well as her efforts. Take her to dinner... just the 2 of you. Have a chat.
  2. The New Mom - new mothers tend to be overwhelmed by significant changes in their lives. Whether its the first time welcoming a child, or the second, or third (and so forth), its always a new experience with new challenges to face and new matters to handle. Her sleep routine is off, she's constantly readjusting, she's learning everyday to be more and more selfless, she's trying to be accepting of her new body image. I think its important to give the new mom attention and help. Gift her with an easy, but informative book to motivate this new journey and give her new insights on parenting and newborns. A baby-journal is also a great gift that will benefit her longterm and allow her to become familiar with her past(the baby will most likely appreciate and cherish this when he/she is older as well). The new mom usually has no idea how fast time really does pass until she finds herself raising her little ones. Treat her to a mani + pedi! She probably feels detached from herself and it would be so lifting to remind her of the little things.
  3. The Stay-At-Home Mom - she's tired. Being a stay at home parent is nothing easy although some may assume you just get to lounge around in your PJs all day and watch netflix after waking up when you please. There's a whole lot of energy that goes into taking care of one or multiple children, plus a home, plus a partner (if one is present), plus a pet, plus chores, plus meals, plus errands, plus bills, plus herself (if she remembers). This mama deserves to relax at some point with no distractions. A Spa would be ideal, or a little shopping spree at the mall... maybe some beauty essentials from Sephora. If she's the crafty type, a scrapbook is a fun way for her to keep all the memories in a safe place.
  4. The Working Mom - this mama is always on the go. Between all that goes into caring for the home, the kids, and her career, she probably sacrifices a lot of personal time. Some times, working mothers tend to feel guilty for being home less with the kids and/or having or paying someone else to care for and help raise them. This mom needs a reminder that its ok to be where she's at because she's doing it to feed her children and keep a roof over there head. She's exhausted more often than not. A Spa would also be greatly appreciated for her as well as something to help her find balance between all the different pathways she's pulled through... maybe a daily planner like the Day Designer. Or you can give her a skin-care set to encourage having her 'me-time' at the end of long days or early in the morning before the rush starts. Laura Mercier has great products!
  5. The Minimalistic Mom - she's a simple woman. Its all about quality and experience with her. It really doesn't take much to make her smile. The minimalistic person usually owns less and constantly declutters. They may even be strict with receiving things and may request you don't get them anything physical or materialistic. If this happens to be the case, some flowers and a handwritten note goes a long way. These are classic and timeless gifts you simply can't go wrong with. 
  6. The Fun Mom - we all know one. The life of the party! She's lively and loves getting it on! Give her the opportunity to a night out. Offer to babysit if necessary. Whether it'd be a lounge or tickets to see an artist, surprise her. If drinking is her thing, buy her her favorite bottle of wine. Trust me- it makes them really, really happy!
  7. The Tech-Savvy Mom - is she into social media? Instagram? Facebook? Maybe she blogs or has talked about starting one. Almost every mom I know keeps up with Facebook, at the very least. Hah! Go above and beyond and keep her up with the latest. An iPad or tablet for her digital daily reads, or an iPod Touch for her daily walks or times at the gym, or an Apple Watch for the on-the-go gem.
  8. The Kitchen-obsessed Mom - this mom truly delights in her time in the kitchen with her little loves- or even alone. She loves creating delicious edibles and the thought of cooking isn't a dread to her (like it sometimes may be to the exhausted working mom). Cooking is therapeutic for her. Things like a new set of pots and pans, a marble dish serving tray to have on the coffee table for her friends to eat cheese and grapes when they come over, a new cookbook with recipes that are new to her, or even a beautiful edible arrangement
  9. The Single Mom - she's so strong. She's all about her kid(s) and their well-being. She probably has multiple jobs plus everything else she has to attend to alone. This mama needs some lovin' and a reminder of the beauty that lies in a woman's strength. She barely does anything for herself because her child(ren) are always first; in which case, go all out for her and treat her to a full pampering day- meal included. Breakfast in bed, hair, make-up, nails, lunch or dinner. Hopefully she looks in the mirror at the end of the day and is proud of her courage and on-going will. 
  10. The Undecided Mom - we all know one. She never knows what to get, but she is very aware of her favorite places, stores, restaurants, or hobbies! A gift card with a funny and loving note authentically written about your simple inability to get her something due to you being afraid she may not find good use from it is a perfect gift. This is also a great gift for the picky ones! There's nothing wrong with being particular. And there is nothing wrong with giving a gift card! Some people assume this is a less caring way of giving, but I argue against this. A gift card is giving the receiver the freedom to choose as they please. If you're still afraid a simple one would look rather mindless, then opt for one with more of a focus. For example: her favorite restaurant, the Cheesecake Factory, or load one up for a few trips to Starbucks- on you! If she's a beauty or skincare junkie, you could literally never go wrong with Sephora or Ulta!
a handwritten note is recommended with all of the above.
Hopefully you find this helpful! Feel free to mix and match with who ever you know fits best with whats mentioned above in your lives. And don't forget your grandma! She's a mom, too!

© Gentle Maven.