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Monday, October 29, 2012

"I wish my life was Twilight.."


Another article written for Teen.com  defending my ultimate Twilight obsession: 

I dream of my high school being filled with Edward Cullen-like monsters. I wish I could be the most awkward “new girl” in the entire high school, falling face first after each bend, and still manage to score the stud. I dream that the boys in my grade sparkled as the sun grazed their pure, and untouched pale skin; not just when they’re dripping with foul-smelling sweat following gym class. I wish I could legally alter my all too mainstream name to Bella Swan. I wish my future boyfriend would whisk me away just before my English final, throw me on his back, and run his way up to an unknown meadow. I wish my life was Twilight.
I was in 5th grade as I sat down at the movie theatre. Popcorn in tow. With my overly-indulged teenage sister, who could not hinder her enthralling tale of this vampire. She dragged me all the way to my plush red seat, plopped me down and stared at the screen as if the scenario were her own. Drool, tears, smiles, and all, my sister had walked me to the front door of my future passion.
In present day, audiences have become cautiously sensitive to the messages which Hollywood feeds them. The subjugation of women is an extreme danger zone in which writers, actors, and directors often seem oblivious towards. No matter the Oscar-worthy acting the film provided. Despite the words it may explain. If that message is clouded by a stereotypical front, a bad name will be plastered over the title. As the world of Twilight has unfolded before our eyes, fan bases grown; anti-Twilight(ers) have become diligent in the field of hating. I, too, am guilty of questioning the real message this vampire is offering the throngs of teenagers swooning over its magnificence. However, after watching each sequel 100’s of times (maybe nearing thousands) I have reached the realization that no franchise could grace over more powerful notions.
Summit
The idea that we must accept our peers for what lies beneath the surface, rather than a monstrous title. The vital message that we must be flexible with our plans; especially the ones which include becoming pregnant with a vampire baby and having it ripped from our bellies. The understanding that falling in love comes with struggles, however, if that feeling is sustainable, no obstacle will prove too large. The notion that we do not have to be known as the “it” girl to seek you’re personal prince charming! Twilight has so effortlessly proved to me, that sometimes we must hold back. We must be patient. We must be different. To stand out with a bright lining, in the eyes of the onlooker.
This movie must not be seen as one, filled with anti-feminist slurs and stereotypical circumstances. Sure, one might choose to see a young woman who must be saved by her lover in order to survive. Or choose to take away the message that as a women, we must be altered to fit standards of unattainable realities. Twilight is a tale of true perseverance. This saga has provided the uplifting faith that true love will discover you in a blinding moment. That prince charming comes in many forms. That a devilish title should never act as a deciding factor of ones affection. Love is funny thing. Love has not one definition, but rather a blank line just awaiting a filled in answer.
Twilight — it is a passion, a dream, a hope, a wish, a tale, an inspiration. Twilight is a blatant reality present in each of our lives. However it is up to each of us, to seek those irreplaceable Edward Cullen-like figures, and hold on to them with everything we are. Go live your Twilight. Go enjoy your New Moon. Go be your own Eclipse. Go create your Breaking Dawn. And allow these messages to find their place in your heart, and remain always.
And don’t forget to witness the epic finale that will live forever — Breaking Dawn: Part 2 hits theaters November 16th. See ya at the midnight screening!


Read more: http://www.teen.com/2012/10/29/movies/teen-columnist-breaking-dawn-part-2/#ixzz2AjhzuBYb

Monday, October 8, 2012

Freshmen Days



That first day is such a blur (and it happened only a few days ago). A complete blank has been folded over those overwhelming 7 hours. The underlying reasoning behind this curtain drawn experience, is less of my conscious actually failing to remember and more of my conscious not wanting to remember. Flashbacks of sweaty palms. A racing heart. Shaking legs and a fidgety mind. An evident outsider to the surrounding jungle: it was day one of my freshmen year.
Now, of course, a complete veteran to the scene, since I am completing week three. Never could I have pictured what I would collect over my first 10 days as a high schooler. I have come to understand that us newbies aren’t being eyed by the upperclassmen as the movies may reveal. They are all too caught up in their own destiny, to worry about ours. Lost in the enthralling “real world” coming their way. Walking into my pea-sized school it felt like a swarm of chaos. With all eyes turning to the lost 9th graders, who were oblivious to the ride they were about to enter onto.
Every hint of laughter in the air, was thought to be directed straight at me. Every smile, a symbolic representation of the tireless eyes which no other student possessed (just one of the many obvious indicators which highlighted our freshmen status). And all in the span of about five seconds I remembered each of my middle school teachers repeating day in and day out “Appreciate 8th grade Lily!” And as a freshmen, I now realize… I should have.
Ninth grade is about paving your road. It is about recognizing your ultimate drive. Acknowledging the mistakes, and celebrating the triumphs. Revolving around the core idea of embracing your flaws not denouncing them, freshmen year is a time filled with great lessons of self-discovery. But, as any high schooler will tell you, entering into those overwhelming hallways it most definitely does not feel that way! I have never been one to be defined as “awkward.” I was never afraid to use my big girl voice and speak. Never afraid to take a leap! To put the matter lightly I felt different on that first day. The braces, the pimples, the pubescent body, the deer in the head light eyes; I was officially a teenager. I never thought I would emote such a wordless feeling, but it was as if someone had slapped a sign on my back that stated “This girl is a high school loser and always will be!”
It took a few nights of confusion. A few minutes of tears. A few hours of pep talks, to open my eyes to the reality at hand. As a freshmen it feels, that the way we are, is the way we will forevermore be. I would have this wire on my teeth as a bride. I would have this disproportional body as a graduate student. I would feel this directionless as I stood in my cap and gown as a senior. Nothing was going to change. The Lily in my ninth grade portrait was the same woman I would be seeing in the mirror 20 years from now (a very stressful epiphany). I still would have no idea, of who it is I wish to become. It was at that moment, by which I realized we are never frozen in time (although I’m sure anyone over the age of 25 wishes this were the case). Never will we ever be set in stone. The journey’s we take. The lessons we learn, every moment we live. That is what allows us to grow up. That is what gives us the strength to move on! This is what provides us the courage, to take a step past your ninth grade lost soul.
Although during these next few months, you may see your reflection, and think “I have no idea what I’m doing here.” Or look to find the new found dweeb within you. The truth actually is that, these moments are the most fulfilling. These are the vital 10 months when you will begin to learn about the person you are. About the strength you possess. This is the mere foundation of who you will grow to be. We all have those ‘awkward’ years. Every single adult you see, has taken that embarrassing class portrait. Every adult, has bumped into those seniors in the hallway, just as they were about to make out (OK fine, maybe that was just me). It is imperative for us infantile high schoolers, to draw through these uncomfortable times. To embrace the unplanned moments, in order to understand times which are better. Experiences which are necessary to appreciate.
Those celebrities you witness on TV on the daily, did not wake up as a 14-year-olds and look at their reflection to say “God, I love myself.” These high school years are weird. These high school days are awkward. It is when you open your eyes, to your classmates around you. Look up to see your best friend. That you begin to understand that each and everyone of us, are in the exact same boat. And as we grow, and as we change, we will only just begin to realize that those “end of the world” days in high school, are probably the best ones to live in the real world.

Friday, August 31, 2012

When I Grow Up.

It was nearly a decade ago that I took my first steps into Kindergarten. It was almost a whole ten years ago, that my life went from fun and games to school and work. I went from my nursery school drop off to the threatening hallways of my elementary career. This adjustment from baby to big girl was one which seemed life changing, a self-defining journey filled with mistakes, lessons, friendships, tears, laughs, smiles, and maybe a few more tears. Kindergarten was the big league. Fast forward over a few grades, a few turning points, and some minor milestones, and you will find the present day Lily. Me. A high schooler. A blogger. A writer. A friend. A teenager. A young journalist. A learner. A listener. A speaker. Still continuing on my eternal journey through my educational carrer, still fearful of change, still feeling my way through the unpaved roads. Looking back at the juvenile years I spent meandering my way through that first floor hallway, I don't recall much. I remember a well-deserved trip I took into the principals office. I reminisce on the day which I was asked to bring the most important person in my life to school, and I chose my uncle. Very few vivid memories come to mind. However, there was that one question which proved effective. One question which I will never fail to lose sight of. The one question we are all asked as little kids with a humorous tone. The one question which no Kindergartener has the comprehension to answer with confidence. "What do you want to be when you grow up?" The answer which I presented to my teachers I cannot remember. That question stuck with me. In my heart and in my soul it forevermore stayed. An idea which would never leave me after that very moment. Every year since, I have been asked this same frightening question. Still there is no definite answer. But each year it is asked with a bit more seriousness. Just a bit more meaning than it was back when I sat in my little blue chair in that vibrant room. "An astronaut!" a young Kindergarten boy shouted. That's the only answer I remember! Press fast forward on this man's life just a couple of years and currently he is a maturing 15 year old. Flourishing in the hectic jungle commonly referred to as Freshmen year. I Facebook messaged him the other day and simply asked "Do you still have the wish to become an astronaut?" His confusion overpowered him as he responded "Lil, how could you possibly remember that?" His answer had struck something within me. Maybe it was his sure fullness. Maybe it was his high hopes. Maybe it was the fantasy I saw in this aspiration. It took a few years to recognize, but the lesson I had learned out of that one question asked, and that one answer given, was that there is no need to know what our plans are for 15 years from now. There is no necessity in knowing what we may be doing in a year. A month. A week. A day even. There is a reason this little astronaut prone-boy is not walking on the moon right now. He is too busy today, to worry about tomorrow. As young Kindergarten students, we have not lived nearly enough. We have not seen. We have not done. We have not heard. The answers we present to our teachers in the moment in which we are asked "what do you wish to be when you grow up?" are meaningless. There is a reason why those answers change. There is a reason why I can't even recall what mine was! Jobs don't define us. Jobs aren't what we are going to BE when we grow up. Lessons define us. Time defines us. Choices: they define us. It is the moments we live to see which make who we will be as we age. Live in the now. Cherish today. Tomorrow will come soon enough, but not yet. The todays of the world, directly effect the tomorrow we plan to live. Never fail to remember the gratitude we must feel for being gifted the opportunity to be living right now. In this very moment. These will all be stories someday, but right now we are alive! Each moment we breathe, we are taking one step closer to the moving target of "growing up." Don't concern yourself with what may or may not happen. With what you may or may not do. With who you may or may not be! This moment will come only once. Appreciate your childhood. Now is not the time to make concrete decisions. Now is the time to test the waters. To experiment. To live. To create error. To answer, and then not remember. To question. To ask. To NOT know what you are going to do as you grow. The knowledge you gain today may truly effect what you end up doing tomorrow, or next month, or next year, or in the next decade. You are touched in the moments when you least expect it. So look up from your drowning sorrow of confusion. Realize what is, and live for today!

  The answer which I will offer in the event which I am next asked "Lily what is it that you wish to be when you grow up?" without a quiver in my voice I will say with extreme confidence, "I don't know."

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Camp Time

We all must take adventures. We all must push ourselves to the farthest of limits. We all must step out of our well defined comfort zones. Change is necessary, experience is needed in order to learn. And so.. I bid you all farewell, as I am taking a journey of my own up to camp!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Summer Anthem



  Invitation after invitation. They kept on coming like water flowing from a fountain. The intimidating words looking me back in the eyes, struck fear deep within. Summer Pool Party. I could not see past the intimidation I felt towards "fun in the sun." Parading around in practically nothing, hardly allowed for an exciting time ahead. Never had I ever felt such insecurity about how I was going to "look" at a function with people surrounding me. Teenage uncertainty regarding external beauty had never felt so strong. It had such power over me. It was the rope strangling my summer of festivities. My summer of confidence! My insecurity had gotten the best of me. My self-doubt was stronger than I, and slowly I was losing myself due to the attempt of finding myself. Acting as a social butterfly I attended these parties sporting jeans, converse, and tied t-shirts. The estranged looks I received were endless. It nearly became a joke between myself and friends alike. I had become the non-swimming vampire who could not be exposed to the sun! They understood my uncertainty. I just could not bring myself to understand their certainty! They all seemed to possess the power and strength to have fun and disregard the voice in the back of their minds. No roadblock was going to stifle a time of pure fun. It was difficult when I would return home to find my Facebook clogged with underwater photographs of these affairs. Picture after picture sans Lily.. It was as if my presence at these parties was invisible. Gone without notice! It took nearly 5 pool parties, a few declines, and the struggle to swap my jeans for a bikini, that I forced myself to overcome this lack of confidence! I sat by the swimming girls, with my feet dangling over the cold stone, when my dearest of friends came up to me and simply said "Lil, it is time you come swimming." I looked back at her with a smirk and wide eyes and replied, "Do we not know each other? I am Lily and really don't DO these swim parties." We laughed for a bit, and danced around the real reason why I refused to take part in such activity. When she came forward to ask the dreaded why, I explained. I admitted my fear. I confided my insecurity. She looked back at me with such strength and said, "You are only going to live one Summer 2012. Don't just dip your toes into it. Put your whole self in!" Never had I ever witnessed such support. Never had I ever been offered such motivational advice. It was that sure-fullness in her voice that made me run into the bathroom rip the tags off my never-worn suit and hopped in that pool. The fear didn't evaporate as the water touched my skin, however it was the power I had, to push it aside that distracted me from it. As I splashed around in the pool with my friends on either side, I realized the fun which my self-conscious behavior had blocked me from all along! It is when you bring yourself to understand that we all have insecurities. It is when you bring yourself to realize that we must overcome them. Live your summer out through confidence. Don't allow your fear of striking out, keep you from playing the game!  Learn to push that little voice within, out! Find your determined and strong motivator, and run with it. This is YOUR time to love yourself. This is your time to feel passionate. This is your summer to be confident. Now put on that bikini. Put down the converse. Run outside. Do something. Make this your summer 2012!


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Daddy's Day

"There is nothing like looking into your little girl's eyes for that first time. There is nothing like realizing, that you have the power to create something so delicate and so precious." This is the classic dad quote. This is what we are told as infants. This is what we are reminded of as toddlers, kids and teenagers. With a dad, comes an irreplaceable source of love. They are the sun to our energy. Never ending, strong, and loyal. The one man in a girls life who can consistently be looked towards for advice, warmth, and a heavy heart. A father and a child share a bond which is rare. A lust for time together, side by side, which never dies. Their protective souls, and pure acceptance is a charm in the scheme of life which we should remember always. Despite the amount of fights, or midnight screams, or even lack of approval for each venture we take, a daddy is the one man you will always return to when the sun crosses down over the mountain tops. Fathers day, represents more than a twenty-four hour period of chocolate, cards, presents, and activity. Just as we encourage ourselves to search deeper than face-value when visualizing ourselves, take this as an opportunity to exercise an analytical eye for thought. Utilize fathers day as a time to aim your attention towards the men in your life whom have made an impact on you! Who have left an etermal footprint on your life. Take fathers day as an opportunity to thank the masculine figures whom have changed you! Whether it be an uncle, or a friend, or a grandfather! Focus your attention on the ways in which you as a daughter. Or you as a child. Or you as a niece. You as a friend or you as a son, are going to re-circulate that love which your father has thrown into your playing field always. Never failing to come around when we need their support most, fathers will never draw back from the love they feel. Whether it may be in a similar fashion in which I reveal my love, in going to sport's games, or expressing interest in their hobbies! Remind your dad of the affection you will feel for him for the rest of forever. Shout from the rooftops tomorrow, "I love you daddy!" Apologize for the eye rolls, and the teenage attitude, and emotion filled days. Thank, for the life which you have been provided. Thank him for being your rock. Thank him for just being him.. Our daddies fill our lives with truth, motivation, laughs, hugs, and devotion. They have shaped us into who we are, the people we once were, and the people we are destined to become. They embody the men which we should all search to receive in our lives. Holding traits which cannot be found in any other relationship. A debt of gratitude is owed towards the men who never fail to be there when the rest of the world is not. Love them on Fathers day. Love them on Monday. Love them everyday. It takes a true father to know his child. But it takes a devoted child to get to know his father. Be that child. Never allow your relationship with a dad to act as a one way street. Respect them in the same manner which they have always respected you. Appreciate your dad for who he is. For the quirks he embraces. For the smiles he shares. For the time he spends with his pride and joy. Continue fathers day, expand that twenty-four hour love to a 365 day period. They love you and always have. Tell your dad that for everyday which you forget, that you love him with every inch in your heart. Without our daddies to show us the way, we would be lost in our own world. They work hard. They play hard. But most noticeably they love hard. Happy Fathers day.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Beauty is in the Acceptance






LUV's first guest blogger is Crystal Maldonado a girl facing the roughest of obstacles, alike the rest of us. Beauty is in the acceptance. Maturity is in the understanding. Just 2 of the many lessons Crystal teaches us as our June LUVgirl! 

“Can I play with it?”  It was a question I got a lot. As a brown girl – 1/2 Puerto Rican, 1/4 Polish, 1/8 Italian, 1/8 French (Canadian, if that matters) – living in a predominantly middle-class, white town, my hair was always a topic of discussion. To me, it was hardly special. Not really curly, sort of wavy, definitely not straight. And brown – not chestnut, not cinnamon not oak – just brown.
My classmates loved it; I did not. In fact, when my kindergarten teacher asked the class to draw a self-portrait at the start of the year, I drew myself as a blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl. 
“That’s not what you look like,” my mom said added. “But that’s pretty!” I’d protest, convinced that my brown hair and dark eyes somehow were not. 
I failed to understand why my classmates enjoyed my hair so much when I couldn’t stand it. They wanted to stroke it, braid it, fluff it, pamper it. They wanted to tie it back and twirl it around a finger. They wanted to close their palms around the thickness of my ponytail and compare it to their own! 
I suspect this had much to do with the fact that I was the brownest person they’d ever known. I was exotic, but not threatening. My hair – and by extension, me – was on display for my peers to examine, though they were always very kind. 
“I love your hair curly,” they’d gush, wrapping a ringlet around their finger. “I wish my hair was ever so curly.”
I was dumbfounded. As much as I relished in the attention (I yearned for anything to make me feel accepted), how could they not want their flowing, golden locks?
How could they want something that I – a chubby, brown girl with glasses – had?
Couldn’t they see how much I longed to be just like them? To look anything like them? Couldn’t they understand that, in kindergarten, I’d forced my mom every single day to untangle my hair and tie it back or braid it so I could pretend my hair was as silky and lovely as DJ Tanner’s on “Full House”? Or how, in third grade, I’d gotten so fed up with the mop on my head that I’d stopped combing through the tangles and let it turn into such an unruly mess, that it actually snapped a hair tie in half while I was giving a presentation in front of the classroom?
Even straightening my hair didn’t make me love it. It either wasn’t straight enough or didn’t fall on my shoulders perfectly. The texture appearing too rough. It wasn’t the beautiful mane I’d wished for as a kid.
I spent an ungodly amount of time wishing my hair – and the rest of me, too – looked more like the celebrities on television or the girls in the classroom (who were usually white, while I was only half, but did not look it).
I started to lose hope. And when I realized I wouldn’t magically wake up one morning with perfect hair on my head, I stubbornly decided it was time to make the most of it. I started to look into how I could ‘tame’ my ‘wild’ locks. I discovered how to use hair products. Learned the purpose of a diffuser. Realized that combing my hair made it frizzy and that letting it air dry and develop into curled ringlets worked a lot more efficiently than washing my hair before bed and waking up looking like a cat had exploded on my head.
It was a struggle. But I managed. And in time, I started to become okay with my brown, wavy mane! It was slow. Very, very, slow. But now? Well, now, I let it hang in all of its curly glory. And I like it. Love it, even. Some days I still wish it was as smooth, straight and perfect as Jennifer Aniston’s, but mostly, I realize now that no matter how badly I hoped I’d someday wake up and look exactly like that yellow-haired, blue-eyed drawing I first made in kindergarten, it was the second picture I’d drawn – of the pudgy, round-bodied, squiggly-haired, brown girl – I should have embraced all along.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Hepburn Quote




This is just a short quote LUV found this afternoon, coming from the mouth of such an iconic figure. Take the words to heart, remember that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder! Choose to define "beautiful" the right way. The real way. The true way.

"For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people". -Audrey Hepburn

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

How Are You?



"How are you doing?" A question we are asked more than a handfull of times each day. The generic answer of "good" often does not properly reflect back on our true state of being. Contemplation of whether or not the questioner is truthfully curious to know how we are doing is something I personally struggle with always. Now is the time to deeply consider your answer. Give yourself the opportunity to change the reaction from the collective good, to a descriptive great. Many of the following are those of which we know but habitually forget; key aspects in becoming a happier, more accepting person! Consider what your answer may be at the upcoming occurrence when you are inquisitively asked "HOW are YOU doing?"

1. Don't take anything at face-value: Never question looking deeper
2. If greatness makes an appearance in your life, share the joy and tell someone! Allow others to recognize your achievements and be proud.
3. Take pride in every endeavor you involve yourself in. Never go in the opposite direction of your heart.
4. Allow negative situations to act as learning experiences, realize your mistake, pick yourself up, and move on.
5. Second Chances are key in moving forward: grudges function as heavy weights which we carry on our shoulders. A burden which is unnecessary. Eliminate those harsh feelings by forgiving and understanding
6. You are not alone! The struggles which you feel you battle solo are those which are conflicting most of the people encompassing your life! Never feel ashamed regarding struggles you face, allow sanction for those bottled up emotions to escape.
7. Love is not the key to happiness! You hold the key to your own destiny, so choose to be strong for YOU. Not in result of someone else's effect on you!
8. Be the person you are for the right reasons. Pave a path for yourself, do not follow in the shadow of those before you.
9. Beauty is not a reflection in mirror but rather the choices we make, the people we decide to be, the strength we persevere with. Realize all the beauty you possess, and accept those flaws with determination.
10. Hiding from the problem, does not make it disappear. Attack your missteps head first, whole heartedly!
11. Do not fear from change, face it with an open mind and a strong heart! With courage. With pride. Realize you are ready and optimistically face the time ahead.
12. Admit your faults and acquire the mature skill to say, "You are right, I am wrong." Be willing to learn from the people in the community around you!

We now ask again.. How are you?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Finger Pointing Criticism




Quit criticizing others. This unkind tool of self motivation is one which has proven to be an essential aspect in creating a united and healthy society, which all feel comfortable finding their spot in. I have found in these past few weeks, that in accepting the peers around you, acceptance for yourself becomes simpler. It becomes your main goal, and slowly transfers into becoming an ambition to attain! However the elimination of denouncing others is something which we each do, more times than that of what can be counted on one hand. Terminating this release of inner anger on the counterparts surrounding us is the epitome of "easier said than done." The flaws we point out in those around us, the fingers we choose to point, often reflect back on the things in which we loathe about ourselves.. The insecurities we wish could evaporate into thin air! One whom criticizes those around him regarding weight, are many a time insecure about their physical appearance. Where as, a person who is able to look into somebody's soul and realize how supportive they are, the friend they constantly prove to be, or the respect which they choose to emit, is able to look at themselves in a similar fashion. This negativity which you pour out concerning somebody else's flaws will be alike a boomerang, and soon come back to paralyze your own happiness. Become comfortable with the person YOU are and learn to gain toleration for the people your friends are becoming. Understand that being agitated with your fellow peers flaw's will become less and less of a worry in your life, the moment you allow it to. However, creating this self-assured atmosphere for yourself will take it's time. We must give time the respect it deserves, and allow nature to take its course. Open yourself up to a world of understanding and gratification for those who encompass your life. A lifted burden will be taken off of your shoulders the second you do. Appreciate that our friend's are just as much of people as we are. They make error. They hurt. They feel. They judge. They learn. However, despite the time it may take to reach the place you wish to be, constantly remind yourself that any step (no matter how small) is farther away from the place from which you started...