Me, Myself & My Femininity

Femme Forever

Disclaimer: Perspective is everything, so I recognize that my specific experiences that have shaped my view on this topic may not be relatable to others out there. Also, I am in no way an expert in any of these topics. The following is just a stream of consciousness about a topic that I’ve most likely discussed among my peers and close friends. So, consider this your disclaimer! On that note…let’s talk femininity! 😉


We live in a day and age where the concept of a spectrum is being applied to traditionally polar social constructs. For example: gender identity. Traditionally, the identifiers are boy or girl; male or female; and with that comes the traditional descriptions behind masculine and feminine.

I was raised in a fairly conservative/sheltered environment, so I am absolutely continuing to learn and understand the concept of identity on a spectrum. I agree with the quote that claims that you are a reflection of the company you keep, so it makes me feel a sense of comfort knowing I can explore these topics with people in my life without having to feel judged or shut down. So shout out to those that exist on the same wavelength of learning about and discussing these topics with me ❤

With that said, I’m about to delve into a few traditional concepts of femininity and how I’ve navigated or continue to navigate through them.

Feminine: having qualities or appearance traditionally associated with women, especially delicacy and prettiness.

The above definition is what comes up when the word “feminine” is Googled. I personally believe that femininity is on a spectrum and is not limited to adjectives such as “delicate” or “pretty.” I actually cringe at how limiting those descriptors are. No one ever fits into one adjective. People are intensely more complex than those two words. What makes an individual…well, an individual is a beautiful blend of a breadth of traits.

I spent years internally debating what defined me as a girl and now as a woman (LOL. Cue Britney Spears’ “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman”). This may be the first time I’m ever writing about this subject, but the formulation of my femininity versus the patriarchal definition of femininity has been a reoccurring notion throughout my life. I just didn’t know it as a 9 year old questioning the rationale of a dress…go figure. In fact, I still have this debate with myself all the time and it always seems to be about the little things. Funnily enough, its these little things that end up mattering so much for some reason.


Here are three concepts that I’ve found to contribute in some fashion to the general idea of femininity and my thoughts on them:


Make-up

I’m constantly questioning my need for eyeliner (or make up in general) at work because if I don’t I’m afraid that I’ll either look like a 10 year old boy or be barraged with comments pertaining to looking like I’m tired or “not myself.” Which if you think about it, what kind of messed up insecurity is that? Also, FYI to anyone that says those things to people, that’s #RUDE. LOL. I’ll have you know that I am for the most part an adequately-rested and/or well-caffeinated human being.

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Cabin Trip 2018: No wifi, no make-up, no problem

Anyways, I think what prompted me to write down these thoughts about femininity in the first place came from my reflection about my recent cabin trip with friends to Sequoia. A group of mostly guys and a handful of girls spending a weekend in a cabin in the middle of nature. No make up, no dress up, just pure comfy clothes all day. As we filed into the car, I remembering saying out loud how excited I was to not wear make up for a whole three days…and that externalization of my feelings about make up in that moment actually caught me off guard. It made me think of my dependence on beauty products to make me feel and look some type of way. But liberating myself from make up for at least a full 72 hours…was REFRESHING. My face could really breath. I remember looking in the mirror on Sunday morning, brushing my teeth and liking what I saw lol.

 

That’s something I’ve been working on for the past…I want to say, 2-3 years. Accepting my body as a whole for what it is….including my face. There was a point in my life where I never left the house without some sort of make up on. These days, I am slowly increasing the quality of make up I purchase and decreasing the amount of overall quantity of make up I use on a daily basis. I am also increasing the number of makeup-less days (mostly weekends. It’s a work-in-progress). Those past two sentences seriously sounds like the steps of breaking an addiction. And maybe I am. I mean, I’ve never really worn a lot of make up. I’m honestly just too lazy for all of it everyday. Don’t get me wrong, I actually enjoy the process of make up…It’s just so odd how a bit of concealer and powder can contribute to someone’s definition of femininity.

 


Clothes

Oh, clothes. I didn’t know what fashion really was or even cared until I was forced into it when I started college. Remember when I said I grew up in a conservative/sheltered environment? A big chunk of that environment was going to private, Roman Catholic school from kindergarten through high school. This meant that I wore a school uniform from the age of 5 until about 17. It didn’t dawn on me that I needed to make clothing choices seven days a week until I started college.*insert shrugging emoji* Catholic school girl problems lol.

I always sensed a sort of pressure to be more girly than I personally felt I was…I can even say that some level of this pressure still exists for me to this day (but again, work-in-progress people). Outside of the uniforms, growing up I always found myself challenging the norm of what it meant to be “girly.” AKA I wasn’t a fan of dresses and dresses are the article of clothing traditionally associated with the idea of femininity. But to me, dresses didn’t seem practical. To the dismay of my poor mom, I specifically hated every dress I had to wear to my piano recitals. That forced smile in the picture below (left) just says it all…sorry mom. Lol. The crunchy, over-hair sprayed ‘do didn’t help my confidence either.

 

Going back to the spectrum thing. I felt like I’ve always existed in the middle somewhere. I definitely had a desire for toys that were traditionally marketed towards girls, but I also wondered why I never received those fake tool sets/belts as gifts for my birthday. I wanted to pretend to use a hammer and nails too! I also liked getting into the dirt outside, getting my nails dirty and digging for treasure because for a good while, I wanted to become an anthropologist and uncover fossils for a living (Don’t judge me).

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College Days 2011: I was all about hair-length feather earrings on one ear and thrift store tops.

It was only until college that I started to enjoy clothes and saw it as a tool to express myself. It was no longer something that helped define me as either a “girly girl” or a “tom boy.” I came to the realization that I could be all of the above! I rocked all kinds of accessories in college (including hair length feather earrings) and tried all kinds of combinations of clothes…obviously some I regret looking back at pictures now, but you live, you wait 5 years and then you laugh at it lol. College is also when I actually embraced dresses! I discovered how convenient they can actually be. Wearing dresses meant spending less time trying to coordinate multiple pieces of clothing together. Who knew dresses would save me so much time (peak fashion laziness achieved).

 


Hobbies

I’ve dabbled in a variety of hobbies growing up, but the only one that had longevity was piano lessons. I remember doing ballet as a little girl and always thinking I wasn’t “girly” (let alone graceful) enough for ballet slippers and the leotards. Not long after I started, I stopped going because I would cry every time.

In junior high, I went through this “tom boy” phase. Not a fan of that phrase, but that’s what my parents called it. Mind you, this was during the height of My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy and Paramore. Part of this phase was wanting to skateboard. My supportive parents (bless their hearts) even went as far as to bring me to the local skate shop to customize my very own skateboard. Then when it came to actually learning how to skateboard, it dawned on me how much I don’t like falling down. So…that was the end of that.

Another part of this phase was wanting to learn the drums. I wondered why I never saw a girl drummer in any of the bands I listened to, so I was determined to be the first one. Again, my supportive parents even got me a full drum set. They took me to lessons and I remembered enjoying it other than the fact that I was the only girl in class. But wasn’t that the point? I was supposed to be excited about that fact…but I let that intimidate me and I ended up quitting. Which is something I regret to this day.

I look back at these attempts to find what activities I was good at and realized that I let these weird constructs of what a “girl hobby” versus a “boy hobby” is dictate my life for a long time. Piano was the only extra curricular where I saw a good split between boys and girls, so that’s where I felt comfortable. When the activity I was participating in was on polarizing ends of the spectrum, I felt out of place. Interesting how that works…and how cool would it have been for me to be a ballet-dancing drummer extraordinaire!

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Photo source: @Kolars Instagram

I actually had a “world’s colliding” moment last year when I was in Joshua Tree for my cousin’s birthday. Part of the festivities included attending a music festival. It was there that I saw the Kolars, an indie alternative band from Los Angeles. One half of the band was a woman who sang and played the drums…WHILE tap dancing. Her individual definition of femininity was beaming through her grunge, quirk and grace. She is what I call GOALS my friends. That could’ve been me! Maybe…LOL.

 

 


Anyways, that concludes my mini-analysis of how the idea of femininity and my own personal definitions have developed over time. Thank you for indulging me. 🙂 

Oh, and happy Women’s Equality Day! On this day, I am reminded that while I’ve had the privilege of making significant personal progress in regards to finding where I fit in this world as a woman, there are many women out there who still do not have that privilege. There are many women out there that live in parts of the world where the patriarchy is law and their voices are not heard. I can only hope that the other women out there that have the power and the privilege to make change, continue to bring other women up and expand this culture of supporting and liberating other women along the way. #GIRLGANG ❤

Sincerely,

Melissa Beee

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5 Badass Womyn I Admire

To all my fellow women out there, HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEYN’S DAY! Throughout history, this day has been used as a platform for many causes including: protesting war, promoting women’s rights, and of course, celebrating the accomplishments of women. I am fortunate to live my life standing on a foundation built by many resilient, strong and intelligent women from history. Their work and the support of their allies has granted my generation a number of basic human rights. Basic rights like education and the ability to vote have allowed women today to excel in their chosen craft/work, have confidence in the complex goals they reach for, the access to tools help accomplish these goals and the poised strength to continuously battle sexism in all forms.

Yet, there is still much work to be done. Women, we must continue to celebrate one another and be grateful for those before us, because without their spirit and determination, we wouldn’t be where we are today.  It’s one thing to demand respect from men, but it’s another to give respect to other women. That’s why I love this new wave of movements focusing on viewing one another as teammates as opposed to the competition: #girllove, #girlboss, #thefutureisfemale, etc. It’s up to us to use our privileges to lift other women and their communities up together. We can all lift each other up and as a collective, reach higher places!

Anyways, that is my long-winded way of getting to the point of my post. I want to take the time to celebrate a few women I admire. Specifically, entrepreneurial women. These are women that have taken their struggles, privileges and unique qualities to make a life that is meaningful for themselves and others. Their authenticity and passion are inspiring. So with that, let’s get straight to my woman crushes.

Joanna Gaines

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Co-Owner, Co-Founder & Lead Designer, Magnolia Homes

It’s no secret that the only TV I actually watch is HGTV. I discovered Joanna Gaines like millions of others, through the show Fixer Upper. I gravitated to her design style and the charming working dynamic she has with her husband Chip. They are the perfect duo: designer  and contractor/real estate agent. Her design aesthetic has permeated the mass market and has been taking over Pinterest boards everywhere since the first season of their show aired five years ago. I’m pretty sure most people only know what shiplap or what a farmhouse sink is because of her design choices on Fixer Upper. Who wanted barn doors in their home prior to Fixer Upper? I’m pretty sure no one. lol.

With her husband as her partner in crime, she has taken what she loves: home + design and created a legacy for her family. The brand Magnolia has expanded from a home-flipping renovation service, to a home decor line now available at Target and to a literal marketplace/event space in her home town. Her passion and success has also contributed to the growth and recognition of Waco, Texas.


Lauren Conrad

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Co-Founder, The Little Market

Maybe this newer generation wouldn’t know, but definitely my generation knows Lauren Conrad from her days as a reality TV star on Laguna Beach and The Hills. In junior high I followed her life via these reality shows and always appreciated her authenticity. I admire her to this day for using her privilege and platform to give back to women in communities who don’t have the same access to resources as she does. This is how she came to co-found a non-profit called The Little Market with her friend Hannah Skvarla. The online shop features fair trade products created by women in other countries who don’t have access to a marketplace to sell their goods. The duo travels the world to to find communities in need, develop partnerships, provide guidance and in the end provide a platform to showcase the work of these women artisans, enabling them to make a decent wages in return.


Ayesha Curry

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All Things Kitchen Entrepreneur

Ayesha Curry is a mommy-turned entrepreneur, combining her love of food and quality family time into multiple business ventures. I discovered her through her husband, Stephen Curry and quickly learned how much of a badass she is.  She currently has a cookware line available at Target, a home cooked-style meal delivery service company,  is the author of a New York Times best-selling cookbook, is a co-founder of a paper plate line with a mission to end childhood hunger, has her own Food Network show, and is a co-founder of a BBQ restaurant in San Francisco with plans to expand to other states. I admire her wit and ability to balance being an involved mom, wife and multi-business entrepreneur. I love most of all that doesn’t let her husband’s occupation define who she is.


Zoe Sugg

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Blogger & YouTuber

I love that she knew that she didn’t want to work for anyone else and made it happen. With a lot of hard work she created a living for herself in an industry that didn’t exist at the time.  Zoe Sugg is a UK-based lifestyle blogger and YouTuber known as @Zoella, with an audience base of about 17 million subscribers. She currently has a lifestyle range  that features stationary, home decor, candles and more. She also has a beauty range that features bath bombs, shower gels and fragrances. Zoe shares her life with her audience on YouTube, both the happy and the not-so-happy. She is known for her openness about living with anxiety. I think her level of honesty about the struggles she faces with anxiety is refreshing. She is a fitting advocate for removing the stigma surrounding mental health. Her transparency inspires me because if she can run a multi-faceted brand while dealing with anxious tendencies, then I can too.


Elizabeth De La Piedra

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Photographer & Creative Director

Elizabeth De La Piedra’s level of authenticity is what I love about her. She is herself 110% of the time. She is a photographer and creative director based out of Chicago. Elizabeth was born in Peru, raised in Australia and studied fine arts in the U.S. She flaunts what she has and does not apologize for it. She owns being a mommy of two boys and is her DJ husband’s #1 cheerleader. She has a unique style that is once again, unapologetic. I appreciate that her work focuses on capturing women at their essence that tends to invoke conversations of inclusion, encourages self-love and fosters a supportive and open-minded community.


….and that’s a wrap. If you haven’t noticed already, the common theme about these women is their passion for the work that they do. They all come from different backgrounds and situations and have created their own path for themselves. With that, Happy International Women’s Day ❤  Let’s continue to surround ourselves with and lift up strong, independent, goal-oriented women. These are the women who will help inspire us to do and be better.

Who do you admire?

Sincerely,

Melissa Beee

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New Year, New Perspective.

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Happy 2018! For many, including myself, 2017 was a difficult one. But then again, doesn’t every year bring some form of struggle? I recently heard the phrase “things happen FOR you, not to you.” I thought it was a fresh reminder that what you can control in life is your perception. When you see life through the lens of continual growth, what seems to be difficult times turn into perfect opportunities for development. The last two weeks of 2017 were filled with complications that have actually contributed to the formation of my goals for 2018. Ah, the beauty of perspective.

I have deemed 2018 as the year of “Melissa, The Grown Up.” Sounds pretty cheesy typing that out and I definitely have mixed feelings about it, but it really is a goal of mine this year. 2017 was the year of learning more about myself and exploring my interests. 2018 is going to be a year of focusing on strengthening my foundation as a young adult in as many ways as I can. To some, it may sound like boring “adulting” stuff, but I’ve realized that in order for me to achieve my ideal lifestyle, this is part of process (and maybe it can be fun). This means taking full advantage of the benefits my job offers, developing an investment portfolio, continuing to prioritize and pay off my student loans, and so much more! With all of that i mind, I want to approach these goals with an air of balance. I’m going in with a plan and aiming to maintain flexibility through it all.

What are some of your favorite self-help quotes, books, podcasts that have benefited you recently?


New Year, New Car

Excuse my feverish, puffy face. On top of everything that happened, I was also battling the flu.

One of the first forced steps into this new year of “adulting” was having to deal with experiencing my first major car accident last month. Long story short, I was rear ended on the 405 freeway, which then forced my car into the one in front of mine. My car was deemed totaled and I defined this situation as the universe’s way of telling me to stop putting off a much needed purchase: a reliable car.

This experience, although through non-ideal circumstances, catapulted me into the process of insurance settlements, CHP reports…and of course, buying a new car. It has been a great learning experience for me. A stressful, but helpful learning experience.  All of this has been a whirlwind, dealing with multiple insurance carriers, the DMV and car shopping. As I’m writing this, I’m still working on closing on a settlement agreement with the responsible party’s insurance carrier. On top of that, I got a case of the flu that knocked me out for three days just after the accident . In this time, I’ve had to discover and sharpen a number of skills in order to get things done in as timely as a manner as possible. The universe putting me through the ringer. I had to earn my way to 2018! lol.

Here are 5 mini lessons I encountered from this experience:

  • Do your research – Go in knowing what you want and armed with specific tactics to ensure you achieve that
  • Get your finances right – Prioritize saving in case of emergencies. You never know what will happen! It’s good that I had already been saving for a while. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to independently buy myself a car, let alone the one I wanted.
  • Ask as many questions as needed – You can’t make educated decisions without information. Ask until a concept is clear and understood. The worst answer you can hear is no, but at least you can say you asked.
  • Take your time -There’s no harm in starting again from the beginning if it’s going to lead to a better overall decision. My dad reminded me that ultimately, I can say no if there is anything about a deal that I’m not happy with.
  • Keep accurate records – Organization of important documents as they come will help avoid unnecessary stress when the time comes to dig them up.

New Year, New Clarity

After having some time to recover from post-accident madness and a bad case of the flu, I was able to properly ring in the New Year and take much needed time to reflect. I took a mini retreat to the Huntington Library in San Marino with my older brother and cousin this past weekend. We walked through a few gardens and eventually found a spot to sit and journal. But of course, we couldn’t leave without taking a few pictures 🙂

It was refreshing to step away from familiar surroundings, dedicate quality time to discuss how the past year went and what we are looking forward to achieving in 2018. The day left me with a wave of gratitude for my family’s support and their trust in my opinions. It makes me happy to know that we are each other’s forever team. I forget how good it feels to be surrounded by people that are rooting for each other’s success.

I’ll wrap this up with my hopes that you’ve entered this new year with a clear mind, a sense of adventure and the determination to make change in your life for the better. Let me know what your goals for 2018 are!

Sincerely,

Melissa Beee

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From One Young Woman to Another

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This is a letter to the young woman who stole the package off my family’s front porch:

I genuinely feel sorry for you. I feel sad for you that you are obviously in a place in your life that stealing is a viable option for you. I’m going to assume that you chose to steal today with the intention to make a few bucks. Kudos to you. You succeeded. I hope that the money you make goes towards something worthwhile. Maybe you are saving up to go back to school, buy food for yourself or your family, or maybe you are saving up for a car that you need to get to job interviews. I really hope that it’s something bigger picture like that. But, the pessimistic and cynical side of me thinks you’ll use that couple hundred bucks to buy cigarettes or another one of those energy drinks in a can…just like the one you had in your hand as you grabbed that package. I really hope it isn’t though.

I make an active effort day-in and day-out to envision myself in another’s shoes. Especially in situations when me or someone I care about is negatively affected by someone else’s actions. In this case, my Dad. It helps me cope. By imagining the various reasons for someone to choose to damper someone else’s day, it helps me empathize. Obviously, this person isn’t happy. A person who decided to be rude to me or steal from my family…they are obviously in a worse off position than I am.

So, to the woman who stole that package: we will be reporting you…and I do hope you get caught, if only to teach you that what you are doing isn’t the right way to get what you really want. The footage showed you running away. That means you know what you did was wrong. I can safely state that you were taught the difference between right and wrong.

I am trying to be a champion for women more everyday…and with that, comes with trying to understand what I have in common with other women and vice versa; using commonalities to build bridges and learning new perspectives when there are things we don’t agree with. Anyways, I think what me and you have in common is that we are both young. There’s still a lot of life to live and a lot of potential to unlock. However, the biggest difference between us, given that my initial assumption about your intentions is correct, is that I was at work making a living at 2:14pm and you were wandering my neighborhood searching for packages to steal in order to make a living for yourself. Maybe you didn’t have the opportunity to pursue higher education like I did. Maybe you did. I’ve seen examples of women who have succeeded regardless of their level of education or where they were raised. This gives me hope that regardless of your background, you can make something of yourself too.

As women we need to continue to rise as a group, and in order to do so, we must support one another…and this also means calling each other out on our bullsh*t. Stealing someone else’s hard earned money is frankly, bullsh*t. You can earn your own.  Submitting the footage of you to the authorities is our way of calling you out. I genuinely support your future success by hopefully making this a learning experience for you. I hope that you realize you can do better.

Sincerely,

Another Young Woman…just like you.

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Orlando, Florida.

In no way am I an expert in what I’m about to talk about. In no way am I feeling anything remotely close to what those directly involved must feel. Just witnessing the snippets of their grief has been enough to trigger levels of sadness I haven’t allowed myself to feel for a long time. I am writing this today as therapy for myself and am choosing to publish it in hopes that maybe there is someone out there that shares in some of the thoughts that have run through my head in the past few days.

Orlando, Florida. A place that, to an outsider like myself, is usually associated with an image of a family-friendly, sunny paradise.

While I’m sure, just like any other well-known city in the United States, crimes happen…and no, I am not going to look up that specific statistic because it isn’t the point of this post. My point is this: one person has the ability to affect people’s perception of something, someone, or some place. ONE PERSON.

These horrific instances are blatant reminders of this point. What frustrates me the most is that these heartbreaking events garner the most attention. As a person that studied media in college, I understand that it’s a journalist’s job to report on current events…and this was a big one. Everyone deserves to be informed and I thank all of the reputable resources I have used in the past couple of days to keep up with what has been happening since that early Sunday morning. However, I also know that a big part of a journalist’s job is to listen to the people, report on what they are interested in learning about and to be a watchdog figure for the community.

What I don’t understand is the disproportionate emphasis on negative news. Well, actually, I do understand it. Negative media fosters higher ratings because of an innate response to protect ourselves from harm.

Sadly, we’ve fallen into a cycle of news that is dominated by fear. Something bad happens, the news reports it. In fear, people gravitate to this news in order to file in their brain what to watch out for in order to avoid mental, physical or emotional damage. Valid. Yet, the constant saturation of negative news and this reactive response feeds into the cycle. At least that’s my belief. We have been brainwashed to think negative news is all we want to see.

Anyways, that has the potential to be it’s own separate post.

I’m frustrated because I suspect that the person responsible for all the recent pain and sadness firmly believed that the only solution to his personal problems was violence. He probably felt like he lived in a world so dark and hopeless that the only answer was to try to bring others down with him before he left it. I’m sure he was also aware that his actions wouldn’t go unnoticed.

I’m frustrated that after enough time passes, people will assimilate back to their normal lives and continue to believe that they do not have the ability to affect change.

If one person had the power to instill fear, brew anger and spread sadness in mass quantities, one person definitely has the power to do the opposite.

It is not a Disney dream my friends. We do have it in us to make positive change in this world we live in. Don’t let the negativity belittle your sense of power. ESPECIALLY, do not let those in designated “places of authority/power” make you believe you don’t have a say in what becomes law in our country. We do have a say. Remember that governmental structure called Democracy? Yeah, it still exists. It’s just buried in a bunch of bullsh*t. Don’t let the bullsh*t scare you. Be willing to learn it and navigate through it.

If you want to see less violence, do something about it. If not directly contacting your local representatives to share your thoughts on gun policies…then at the very least spread kindness and compassion in your daily life. I believe I said something similar in my post about Santa Barbara.

Smile at someone. Open a door for a stranger. Say hello to someone you have random eye contact with. Say “thank you” more. Let’s lessen the time spent looking down at our phones and more time looking up and around at our surroundings. Make an effort to genuinely connect with people and learn something new…everyday. I believe that a build up of little positive moments to outweigh the inevitable not-so-good moments leads to an overall positive/hopeful perception of the world.

Here is my message to those who were specifically targeted in Orlando this past weekend and the LGBTQ+ community as a whole: I love you, I support you, I am your ally ❤ I realize I will never fully understand the struggles you go through on a daily basis, but I can do my part and learn as much as I can. I will never stop being willing to learn a new perspective.

To end this stream of consciousness, I have no doubt that the Orlando community will take this instance and come out of the grieving process a much stronger group. ❤

Here are some resources you can access to turn “thoughts and prayers” into ACTION:

Sincerely,

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Mez